“The Invisible Collection” by Stefan Zweig

Conciseness has always seemed to me to be the most essential problem in art. To fit his destiny to a man so nicely as to leave no vacuum, to inclose him as radiantly as the ember does the fly and yet the while preserve every detail of his being has, of all tasks, ever been the dearest to me. –Stefan Zweig Stefan Zweig was an … Continue reading “The Invisible Collection” by Stefan Zweig

“The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Brothers Karamazov has the reputation of a great philosophical and psychological novel, and that was the main reason I chose to read it, but I have to admit I was disappointed on both counts. Dostoevsky’s philosophical arguments lack clarity and logical coherence. He shares this characteristic with another Existentialist philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who was no doubt influenced by him. His psychological portraits, while perspicacious … Continue reading “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

My taste in fiction is quite naive: If it can’t be adapted into a great motion picture, I don’t read it. For this reason, I have not read any of Dickens’s novels, as none of the movie adaptions impressed me enough to read the original. The only exception is the movie “Scrooge” (1951) starring Alastair Sim. I watched it for many years around Christmas, almost … Continue reading “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

“Four Quartets: IV. Every Life a Poem” by T. S. Eliot

Words move, music moves Only in time; but that which is only living Can only die. Words, after speech, reach Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern, Can words or music reach The stillness, as a Chinese jar still Moves perpetually in its stillness. Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts, Not that only, but the co-existence, Or say that … Continue reading “Four Quartets: IV. Every Life a Poem” by T. S. Eliot

“Four Quartets: III. Freedom” by T. S. Eliot

The Dry Salvages Eliot weaves together almost seamlessly the teachings of Eastern and Western religions and philosophies in “The Dry Salvages”. First, there is a lesson from the Hindu scripture The Bhagavad Gita, “Do not think of the fruit of action. Fare forward”, which seems very similar to the deontological ethics of Kant and the ancient Stoics. We’re not to think of the fruit of … Continue reading “Four Quartets: III. Freedom” by T. S. Eliot

“The Cossacks” by Leo Tolstoy

Young Tolstoy in Love One must taste life once in all its natural beauty, must see and understand what I see every day before me–those eternally unapproachable snowy peaks, and a majestic woman in that primitive beauty in which the first woman must have come from her creator’s hands–and then it becomes clear who is living truly or falsely. Three months have passed since I … Continue reading “The Cossacks” by Leo Tolstoy

“La Vita Nuova” by Dante Alighieri

The Death of Beatrice I was a-thinking how life fails with us Suddenly after such a little while; When Love sobb’d in my heart, which is his home. Whereby my spirit wax’d so dolorous That in myself I said, with sick recoil: ‘Yea, to my lady too this Death must come.’ And therewithal such a bewilderment Possess’d me, that I shut mine eyes for peace; … Continue reading “La Vita Nuova” by Dante Alighieri