2021 Reading Challenge – Week 36

Thirty-four books! Well, thirty-four and a half and a half books. I started this week reading a collection of Gogol, but ended up lending that one out to a coworker to read. After that I read Fables and Fairy Tales by Tolstoy, Madame de Sade by Yukia Mishimo, and Labyrinth and the Song of Songs by Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion all in the same day! Currently, I’m about halfway through Contemporary Yugoslav Poetry translated by Vasa D. Mihailovich.

Fables and Fairy Tales

Of all of the fables and fairy tales in the Tolstoy collection, The Duck and the Moon has got to be my favorite. It’s a 2 paragraph story about how a duck mistakes the reflection of the crescent moon for a fish and dives for it. The other ducks make fun of her, so she never dives for another fish again and ends up starving to death.

This story, I think, has two important lessons. The most obvious one is, of course, don’t give up! Chumbawamba said it best when they said “I get knocked down, but I get up again
You are never gonna keep me down.”

Secondly, this story is telling us not to make fun of others for trying. Don’t discourage people who are just trying to live their best lives!

I get knocked down, but I get up again

You are never gonna keep me down!

Tubthumping, Chumbawamba

Tolstoy is, well, Tolstoy! He’s well known for a reason, and if you haven’t read his short stories already, I highly recommend that you do.

Madame de Sade

Mushima’s Madame de Sade is a play that imagines the life of the wife of the infamous Marquis de Sade. For those of you who don’t know, the word ‘sadism’ is derived from the Marquis’ name. He spent time in prison, where he wrote Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue, which I wrote a little about earlier this year. This play is now one of my favorite books! Some of the characters are fictitious, others are based on real people, and the general plot is based on real events.

The Marquis de Sade really did spend years in prison, and his wife really did stay faithful to him for all those years. Madame de Sade is Yukio Mishima’s attempt to understand why on earth a woman would stay with a husband as depraved as the Marquis, no less why she would stay while he’s incarcerated.

One of the passages in the play immediately reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite movies, American Psycho.

There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping you and maybe even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I am simply not there.

Patrick Bateman, American Psycho

I won’t quote the passage from Madame de Sade because I don’t want to give anything away.

Labyrinth and the Song of Songs

This book was mostly just the Song of Songs, with some added meditations and poems that Geoffrion wrote while in the labyrinth at Chartes Cathedral. For the most part, it’s a book focused on the Song of Solomon and not any particular religion, although it does mention Christ just ones. You’ll have that, though, reading a book written in a cathedral, I suppose.

There were some lovely poems in this book! I won’t post them here though. You know, copywrite infringement and all. But if you like the Song of Songs then this book might be right up your alley!

Sunday Reading

I read all of these books on the same day. Needless to say, it’s light reading! So light, in fact, that I didn’t even have to check out the Tolstoy collection from the library. Which brings me to some news….I got a job in a library! Hopefully, this new job will help me on my quest to read 52 books this year.

Only time will tell!


Thank you so much for reading! Come back soon 🤗

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