Classics in translation anyone want join in ?

Well this is a sort of feeler post to see if any one would be interested in reading a few classics in translation , I’m 300 pages into Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone and already have a  list of writers mentioned by him with in these first few hundred pages plato , Virgil, Montesquieu Plutarch to name a few , I read a bit of Homer years ago and maybe three or four other books but that is about it and reading leopardi has made me want to fill this gap and learn more about these writers that so inspired him in thoughts about history and language .So maybe a small club reading three or four of these books a year  maybe starting in the middle of next year .I’ve not look fully into availability translations etc yet . I’m hoping a number of these writers  will be easily available as Oxford classics or Penguin classics .Maybe by the end of Zibaldone I’ll do a reading list of books I want to try if any one want to come along for the ride .

Have you a favourite classic in translation ?


Holmes but will the book be like the films or better ?

hound of the baskervilles ,my 1982 copy

Now Amanda is organising a read along of this classic in October .Now this has set me think ,I think I’ve mention my love of crime tv shows and films ,well my all time favourite is of course Holmes and this story in particular .It’s been twenty plus years since I’ve read it but less than a month since I watched a film version of it that time it was the Ian Richardson and the Basil Rathbone in the same day ,and in the last year or two I’ve watched the hammer version ,Jeremy Brett version ,Matt frewer ,BBC version of the original and of course the Homage of the modern Sherlock series .Each is different in little ways ,not as much of course as the versions of Buchan’s 39 steps are ,but what has been missed from each and will I now be able to separate the films from the book  ?  Do we fix in our mind when we see a film a character ? I often find I have my own vision of characters I’ve read completely different to the actors cast in the film versions ,but in hindsight when think of the book years later see the actor that played the character .I want to break this and enjoy this readalong afresh as it is a classic I loved and think I still will love and also gives me an excuse to buy or get a new copy of the book to read along with ,have you a favourite edition  of the Hound of the Baskerviles  that is out now ?

#bookaday 17 a future classic

When does a book in translation become a classic book ? Well a number of ways win the nobel prize for one , like Laszlo Krasznahorkai with satantango catch the eye of a star critic James woods in his case and finally word of mouth now I would say Haruki Murakami is a perfect example of this in action .Now I’ll give you my tip and it is Andrej Nikoladis here are reviews and piece on the blog I have met Andrej and rather like Andres Neuman he is someone you know is going to be the next great writer in translation .Istros books is due to publish his third book a book which has Sebald as an influence on it I can’t wait .

desert island disc

Well Simon and Richard have put down list for there desert island discs ,well I am a huge fan of the show having listen since roy plumleys time showing my age there lol . Over years have jot my eight records down ,but when I come to write a post that other people are going to see my mind went blank to start with ,then it was all new stuff but after a think and bearing in mind the records are meant to be with you for a peroid of time a mix of what is tried and test and maybe one or two new was the way to go .


1.better together by Jack Johnson ,I first got into jack well before the wave of sucees with his first album as a fan of ben harper he had worked with jack ,but this song is “our song ” we both like it myself and my wife Amanda ,we had it for a dance at our wedding so it means a lot to me and reminds me of my darling wife .

2.Mercy seat by Nick Cave and the bad seeds – I heard this on the John peel show taped it and wore the tape out it is onw of his finest songs epic dark ,religous imagery and full on rock ,nick has mellowed over the years like I have been a tear away as a teen but this song evokes a time and places .

3.Golden lights by The smiths ,now as a teen I had the morrissey haircut glass etc ,he spoke to me then but over the years i fallen in and out of love with his music ,at moment I m in love again after a couple of great albums ,this song is funny and sums him up in a way ,he was a guide to a young man with troubles .

4.Black eyed dog by Nick Drake ,nick Drake was a wonderful guitar player and singer ,he died at a young age and this song about depression touched me at a time I had depression and of course has dog and I had a black dog at the time ,a soul searching song . will tear us apart ny Joy Divison now i grew up around north cheshire near macclesfield went college there ever since I can remember I ve love this song it was a anthem for me growing up ,both joy divison and new order have been bands Ive listen since teens and this brings back my school and first outings to pubs etc

6.Old King by Neil Young ,a song about neils dog enough said

7.razor blades ,,little pills and big pianos by James rhodes ,A collection of piano piece by James Rhodes his first album it is amzingly soothing record from a great self taught talent

8.hallelujah Jordan by hothouse flowers ,this irish band reminds me of my irish roots and the last summer at school it is a very summery album its on .

book proust in search of lost time (complete) a book I really really want to read at some point so may have time on desert island

luxury item – digital photo fram with picture of my wedding and my wife and of course winston .

well there is the 8 sure if you asked me next week sure they be different .


persephone reading week cheerful weather for a wedding by julia strachey


Julia Strachey

Notes – 

Julia strachy was on the fringes of the bloomsbury group she was a cousin to the biograph Lytton Strachey  part of the famous stachey family,she was published by hogarth press orginally that was connected to the group  she also published another novel twenty years after this .It was book 38 in persephone releases . 

The book –  

The book follows dolly the main charcaters wedding day to the hon Owen Bigham , we start with the morning nerves and her brothers frolicking about downstairs on the sofa . 

Robert’s black shoes sticking on the arm of the sofa were crossed one over the other , and revealed a gleam of emerald between the shoes and the trousers . 


her mother flaps as the day progresses nerves run high drinks are taken to calm nerves ex’s appear Joseph that confides he is still in love with dolly  and aunts are abound ,In what seems a typical if a little fraught at times wedding day in  the thirties . 

My view – 

I was looking forward to reading this book and was disappoint it oozes the era ,Dolly’s brothers and the aunts made me think of Woodhouse and Wooster with his aunts .But this book is slightly darker than them ,Julia had wonderful observations and great dialogue in this book .The book is wonderfully produce with an elegant front cover and nice inner leaves .I m a little disappoint that this was the only book i ve got to read for Persephone week , but due to work and home commitments i haven’t had the time .This was a wonderful book to republish a lost gem from a writer connected to so many other writers . 

Links – 

the life of Julia Strachey – a 2 page pdf file 



Early this morning ,we were woken to a banging at the door ,my darling wife went downstairs and was greeted by the  postie saying take this its heavy ,i ask the wife what it was when she came back upstairs she said oh more books again .I wondered what books it could be as wasn’t expecting any ,then saw Faber on label and remembered i won a comp on twitter a few weeks ago ,as those of you who know me i am on twitter all day every day nearly lol . So i quickly opened the parcel and discovered tho complete collection of  the Faber firsts that came out last year to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Faber and Faber .this great collection of Faber’s shows Faber’s wide range of books –

William Golding – Lord of the flies – I read this when young ,but have been wanting to go back to it at some point after hearing about  John Carey’s new bio of Golding ,i want to see if the book has change in the twenty years since i read it .

P D James – Cover her face – Not read any James ,I have enjoyed the tv versions of her work  over the years .

John McGahern – The barracks – This is a new name to me  I ve read the blurb on the back of the book and its set in Ireland ,and sounds quite good .

Sylvia Plath – The bell jar  – This is one i read as a teenager as well and had mislaid my copy over the years so is a welcome edition to my bookshelves

Peter Carey – Bliss – I feel bad I ve not read this as a huge fan of Carey’s work I feel iI should have read his debut ,so this is going near top of tbr ,expect a review soon

Kazuo Ishiguro – A pale view of the hills  – i had this on tbr pile after reading nocturnes last year i decide to read some more of his books again ,

Paul Auster – new york Trilogy – i read this last year from library the same edition and like the cover design so will be please to have it on my shelf as i really enjoyed it as i have with many of Auster’s books ,this book set in new york a collection of three stories with a detective theme .

Orhan Pamuk – The White castle – I read this last year also ,an italian sailor is sold as a slave in arab world ends up educating a sultan ,wonderful  storytelling ,I would recommend this book to any one .

Hanif Kuriesh – The Buddha of suburbia – I ve not read any Kureishi ,I  remember catching a couple of the tv version of this years ago as David Bowie had written the music for it . shall see if the book is better than the show ,which bar the music was a little silly at times .

Rohinton Mistry – such a long journey –  The debut of the Canadian based indian writer ,i ve enjoy one of his other books ,so will be reading this as well .


Don Quixote readalong ?



I was wondering if any one would like to join a read along of Don Quixote the new Edith Grossman translation .It is one of those books you think you should have read like my self but haven’t got round to it ,This may be your chance ,this new translation has freshened the text and has gained praise from both Harold Bloom and Carlos Fuentes .the book is published in the U.K by Vintage Classic and in the U.S.A by  Harper Perennial ,both editions appear to be the same length at 992 pages ,if there is interest i ll work out a timetable and plan to start late summer . 



Don Quixote-UK EDITION

all that glistens is it gold

I have Been pondering if all that glistens is gold ,this last few months for the first time in my life .I ve been mainly reading new books as in just out .I ve enjoyed a good many ,my question is how many of these books will be here in twenty years how many will stand the test of time ,what makes a book stand the test of time .Do writers have vogues ? Does the quality of the writing make a difference ,i ve a number of books from Persephone and capuchin both who publishers books that have fallen by the wayside the ones i ve got and have read all seem great books .Most of my life i ve read books that have been out for a while read many by the writers i love Burgess ,Doyle ,Maugham ,Roth ,Updike,Mailer Kerouac,Burroughs most of these have stood the test of time .so the question is –

what makes a book last ?





Today is st Patricks day ,as my father is irish and I was born in northern Ireland I d thought i do a post .I spent most of my childhood holidays in Ireland in Donegal making peat fire ,fishing ,rockpooling ,visiting the lakes of the south-west of Ireland ,time in cork .falling as a ten-year old in to a pond the main park in Dublin .My family history goes back to the 15th century in Ireland ,my grandparents had many books on irish myth that i read when young tales of giants and great kings .As a teenager i loved Wilde’s books .the above books are a few of my favourites – 

  • from the top -down
  • Oscar Wildes collected works -this has most of Wilde’s works ,i love his stories for children they are touching at time and at others funny just like the man himself
  • Ulysses by James Joyce -this is a treasure of mine an early 60’s edition from Bodley head before the text had been hacked ,I ve read it once and to be frank I was lost I will read it again till I get it fully.
  • a star called henry by Roddy Doyle – Roddy Doyle was some one i read a lot in my teens and early twenties this book isn’t his best that is paddy Clarke but I lent that someone and didn’t get it back .
  • the best of Myles Flann O’Brien this is a collection of piece Flann O’Brien published in the irish times from 1940 onwards
  • the master Colm Tobin his shortlisted booker novel

all behind our irish beleek candle tray ,that was a wedding gift  and we treasure.

a bargain and a thousand treats !

a thousand stories


 This was one of my best bargain book finds late last year at a charity market in town where my employers had a stall selling cakes , i d help make .i had a look round and spot this on a stall for people in Palestine ask how much it was they said three-pound but i gave them five-pound .this huge collection includes a thousand short stories from around the world mainly nineteenth century by such great writers as Hugo,Maupassant,Dickens,Thackary and Twain . I think it will take me the rest of my life to work through them but sure it ll be worth it .

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June 2023


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