Voltaire’s Candide (originally published 17581) is alternatively titled Optimism. A rosy outlook on life is the main target of Voltaire’s satire. Rather than embracing a truly pessimistic approach to the world, however, Voltaire seems to me to be arguing for a realistic and reasonable approach to life. The humorous look at both optimism and pessimism

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If you follow my twitter stream, you may have noticed that in the last few days a few complaint tweets about the never-ending nature of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Well, it ended. This morning I finished the last fifteen pages. My book club discusses it tomorrow night, but I wanted to record my initial impressions

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In The Girl Who Owned a City (first published 1975, reissued 1995), O.T. Nelson creates an entirely unbelievable post-apocalyptic scenario for middle-grade readers. In the past month, the world population of adults has died of a rapidly spreading plague. All that remains in ten-year-old Lisa’s immediate world are other children, all under the age of

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As I helped compile the listing of Imperial Russian Literature for the Classics Circuit a few months ago (found here), I found my TBR list growing exponentially: there are so many authors I want to read that I just don’t know when I’ll get to them all. Through my searches at the library and at

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Knut Hamsun’s Hunger is about pride in being human, the ridiculousness of everyday life, and the hopelessness of the two of those combined. As the title may suggest, the unnamed narrator is a hungry starving artist, struggling to write to earn money to pay for a meal. His life physically depends on his ability to

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Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino was a book that confused me from beginning to end, and yet I am glad I read it. Calvino was trying to do something creatively strange, and I think I missed it, but the strangeness was a bit rewarding in the end. All that said, I am struggling to say

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