Dienstag, 23. April 2013

World Book Day - Literature Recommendations

しびれるね、文学。                 Artist: Suou
397 years after the death of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, we celebrate - at least those who actually read books - the World Book Day, which is also called World Book and Copyright Day, but for some reason the first name is generally preferred. This day is or ought to be to book sellers what Valentine's Day is to the chocolate industry. Either way, without further delay I will present to you 5 pieces of literature I highly recommend, beginning with...

Demons (Бесы) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This is one of the lesser known books among Dostoyevsky's big five or '5 Elephants' (from Crime and Punishment to The Brothers Karamazov), but it is by far the most radical and devilish of them. Apart from that, there is a lot of humour in it, espescially when it comes to poetry, though I had to read it twice to realize. And for those of you who want to become God and don't have a Death Note at hand, Kirillov's philosophy might be very intriguing.

Kafka on the Shore (海辺のカフカ) by Haruki Murakami

In my opinion, this book is Murakami's magnum opus. A surreal masterpiece. The story of Kafka Tamura, the world's 15 year-old, will open "a window to a particular place inside" yourself, as Murakami once commented on Maki Sasaki's manga. Then there are Colonel Sanders, who likes to think of himself as a concept, a philosophy studying prostitute and Jonny Walker who kills kittens and takes their souls to create flutes. Seriously, what more do you want in a book?

The Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung) by Franz Kafka

To understand or grasp the meaning of some books, you have to interpret every sentence. When reading Kafka, you have to interpret every single word. The story of Gregor Samsa is one of unbearable nihilism,  of a cruel society and also one of self-pity. You could call Gregor Samsa the predecessor of Japan's Hikikomori
By the way, if you're tough enough to withstand even the most atrocious horror manga, In the Penal Colony is definitely worth a try.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Despite, or especially because the pedophile Humbert Humbert is the protagonist of this novel, it is one of the funniest books I read (it might depend on one's definition of humour though). For example, when Humbert thinks he is pursued by a heterosexual Erlkönig or when he's agonized be the thought that his little Dolores will become older one day. This and the fact that Kubrick made a movie out of it, turn Nabokov's book into every lolicon's favourite.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In literature, it is not a rare phenomon to write about characters who try to live up to an ideal and, as a last consequence, fail. Wilde's Dorian Gray or Butler Stevens from Ishiguro's Remains of the Day are just some examples. Mysterious self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby is definitely one of them, pursuing the green light, the hope of finally getting the love of his life, Daisy. Densly written, Fitzgerald reconsiders the American Dream, ending in tragedy. Next month, the new movie adaption will air in America. If you can't bear to wait, try out this super awesome NES-Video Game Adaption of the novel. 

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all"
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Preface)