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Old 04-01-2013, 01:39 PM   #1
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Obscure Nominations • April 2013

Help us select what the MR Literary Club will read for April 2013!

The nominations will run for three days until April 4. Then, a separate voting poll will begin where the month's selection will be decided.

Note - We no longer aim for a certain number of fully nominated works; rather, we now aim for a certain length of time for nominations (three days).


The category for this month is:

Obscure


In order for a work to be included in the poll it needs four nominations - the original nomination plus three supporting.

Each participant has four nominations to use. You can nominate a new work for consideration or you can support (second, third or fourth) a work that has already been nominated by another person.

To nominate a work just post a message with your nomination. If you are the first to nominate a work, it's always nice to provide an abstract to the work so others may consider their level of interest.


What is literature for the purposes of this club? A superior work of lasting merit that enriches the mind. Often it is important, challenging, critically acclaimed. It may be from ancient times to today; it may be from anywhere in the world; it may be obscure or famous, short or long; it may be a story, a novel, a play, a poem, an essay or another written form. If you are unsure if a work would be considered literature, just ask!


The floor is now open!

*

Nominations closed. Final results:


Oroonoko by Aphra Behn - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - issybird, Bookpossum, fantasyfan, sun surfer


Behn is the first professional woman English writer and one of the first English novelists, writing during the Restoration. Oroonoko is the story of an African slave to the king in Suriname and his love for a general’s daughter and is considered a critical work in the early history of the novel. The novel reflects Behn’s trip to Suriname; she had an interesting life, spying for Charles II and serving a stint in debtor’s prison. She was also a successful poet and playwright. And, Oroonoko is short!

There’s a very nice free copy at Girlebooks.


The Silent Duchess (La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa) by Dacia Maraini - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - paola, issybird, Bookpossum, Bookworm_Girl


Dacia Maraini's The Silent Duchess (original title La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa in case translations use different titles).


Here is Goodreads' blurb:

Finalist for the International Man Booker Prize, winner of the Premio Campiello (Italy’s equivalent of the National Book Award), short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Award upon its first English-language publication in the U.K., and published to critical acclaim in fourteen languages, this mesmerizing historical novel by one of Italy’s premier women writers is available in the United States for the first time.

The Silent Duchess is the story of Marianna Ucrìa, the victim of a mysterious childhood trauma that has left her deaf and mute, trapped in a world of silence. Marianna searches for knowledge and fulfillment in a society where women have few choices. In luminous language that conveys both the keen visual sight and the deep human insight possessed by her remarkable main character, Dacia Maraini captures the splendor and the corruption of Marianna’s world and the strength of her spirit. The Silent Duchess is the timeless story of one woman’s struggle to find her own voice after years of silence.


Dacia Maraini belongs to the same generation as the better known Alberto Moravia, who left his wife for her.


Available in e-book format.


This Is the End by Stella Benson - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - issybird, fantasyfan, Synamon, caleb72


The potted bio from various places:

Stella Benson (1892-1933) was an English feminist travel writer and novelist. Stella was noted for being compassionate and interested in social issues. Like her older female relatives, she supported women's suffrage. During World War I, she supported the troops by gardening and by helping poor women in London's East End at The Charity Organisation Society. These efforts inspired Benson to write novels I Pose (1915) and This Is the End (1917).


Unfortunately, most of her work isn't available in ebook. This Is the End is short.


A review of This Is the End from Goodreads:

I absolutely love Benson's prose. She makes the ordinary interesting and the mundane sparkle. I love the elements of magical realism which she weaves into her stories. I found the characters endearing in their entirety, and cannot wait to read more of her books. It's a real shame that she isn't better known, because she certainly deserves to be.


Project Gutenberg also has it in various formats:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11324


The Return by Walter de la Mare - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - fantasyfan, caleb72, Synamon, Hamlet53


De La Mare was enormously popular in his day--especially as a poet--but aside from a few poems, his work has faded since. Yet he was a very fine writer of short stories and novels which explored the strange twilit world of consciousness with remarkable beauty of language and sensitivity. Nor did he ignore the darkness of nightmare.

The Return is available in the public domain and there is a copy right here in the Mobile read library.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16822

There it is described as follows:

"Written in 1910, this poignant tale of psychic possession concerns a Mr. Arthur Lawford, who appears to have been possessed by the spirit of a long-dead 18th-century pirate.

One of de la Mare's finest occult stories, the novel also deals with domestic trauma, unrequited love and philosophical reflection--all blended into a seamless whole."


It sounds to fantasyfan like vintage material from this now-neglected writer.


The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - Hamlet53, Billi, issybird, fantasyfan


From Wikipedia:

The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.

It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature. The Kalevala played an instrumental role in the development of the Finnish national identity, the intensification of Finland's language strife and the growing sense of nationality that ultimately led to Finland's independence from Russia in 1917.

The first version of The Kalevala (called The Old Kalevala) was published in 1835. The version most commonly known today was first published in 1849 and consists of 22,795 verses, divided into fifty songs The title can be interpreted as "The land of Kaleva" or "Kalevia".


It can be found at PG, and if an epub will do for you in the MR Library here.


Chess Story (Schachnovelle) by Stefan Zweig - Fully nominated
Spoiler:
In favour - paola, Bookworm_Girl, Billi, sun surfer


Also known as "The Royal Game".


Stefan Zweig - Wikipedia says he was one of the best known authors in the world (!) in the 20s and 30s.


From Goodreads:

Chess Story, also known as The Royal Game, is the Austrian master Stefan Zweig's final achievement, completed in Brazilian exile and sent off to his American publisher only days before his suicide in 1942. It is the only story in which Zweig looks at Nazism, and he does so with characteristic emphasis on the psychological.

Travelers by ship from New York to Buenos Aires find that on board with them is the world champion of chess, an arrogant and unfriendly man. They come together to try their skills against him and are soundly defeated. Then a mysterious passenger steps forward to advise them and their fortunes change. How he came to possess his extraordinary grasp of the game of chess and at what cost lie at the heart of Zweig's story.


It fits the supershort category, as it is just over 60 pages long in paperback. Kobo sells it for £2.99 (Penguin Edition) in the UK.


History: A Novel (La Storia) by Elsa Morante - 1
Spoiler:
In favour - paola


Elsa Morante's History: A novel (La Storia). Unlike The silent duchess, this is a bit more of a tome (just shy of 800 pages in paper version).


From Goodreads:

History was written nearly thirty years after Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia spent a year in hiding among remote farming villages in the mountains south of Rome. There she witnessed the full impact of the war and first formed the ambition to write an account of what history - the great political events driven by men of power, wealth, and ambition - does when it reaches the realm of ordinary people struggling for life and bread.

The central character in this powerful and unforgiving novel is Ida Mancuso, a schoolteacher whose husband has died and whose feckless teenage son treats the war as his playground. A German soldier on his way to North Africa rapes her, falls in love with her, and leaves her pregnant with a boy whose survival becomes Ida's passion.

Around these two other characters come and go, each caught up by the war which is like a river in flood. We catch glimpses of bombing raids, street crimes, a cattle car from which human cries emerge, an Italian soldier succumbing to frostbite on the Russian front, the dumb endurance of peasants who have lived their whole lives with nothing and now must get by with less than nothing.


Available in e-book format.


Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto - 1
Spoiler:
In favour - caleb72


`I sing of knights and ladies, of love and arms, of courtly chivalry, of courageous deeds.' So begins Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (1532), the culmination of the chivalric legends of Charlemagne and the Saracen invasion of France. It is a brilliantly witty parody of the medieval romances, and a fitting monument to the court society of the Italian Renaissance which gave them birth. This unabridged prose translation faithfully captures the narrative entire and is a kaleidoscope of scenes and emotions of fact and fantasy.


Roman de la Rose by Guillaume de Lorris & Jean de Meun - 2
Spoiler:
In favour - Hamlet53, sun surfer


Here is what Kenneth Clarke had to say about it in his book Civilisation:

For two hundred years the Roman de la Rose was with Boethius and the Bible the most read book in Europe. I don't know many people who have read it through today, except perhaps in pursuit of a degree. But of course the effect of these romances on nineteenth-century literature was decisive . . .


Hamlet53 could not locate any ebook in English translation, but PG has it in the original French. Paperbooks in English are available though.

Last edited by sun surfer; 04-05-2013 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:53 PM   #2
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sunsurfer, a question on "obscurity": there are some European authors who are fairly well known in their own country but not in the English speaking world - can we count them as obscure?
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paola View Post
sunsurfer, a question on "obscurity": there are some European authors who are fairly well known in their own country but not in the English speaking world - can we count them as obscure?
It's up to you and the rest of the nominators, since surely "obscure" has vague limits.

Personally, I would think it would count as obscure for this month if one thinks that most of the people here in this club would view it as obscure, and what you are referring to sounds like it would be obscure to me.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
It's up to you and the rest of the nominators, since surely "obscure" has vague limits.

Personally, I would think it would count as obscure for this month if one thinks that most of the people here in this club would view it as obscure, and what you are referring to sounds like it would be obscure to me.
yep, that's clear and reasonable enough

Ok, then brace yourself for some Italian authors - I am shunning Cassola, Pavese, Sciascia, whom I love dearly but I presume they are either well known, or (as for Cassola) it is hard to find good tralsations, let alone ebooks!

So I will kick off with Dacia Maraini's The Silent Duchess (original title La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa in case translations use different titles). Here is goodreads' blurb:

Quote:
Finalist for the International Man Booker Prize, winner of the Premio Campiello (Italy’s equivalent of the National Book Award), short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Award upon its first English-language publication in the U.K., and published to critical acclaim in fourteen languages, this mesmerizing historical novel by one of Italy’s premier women writers is available in the United States for the first time.

The Silent Duchess is the story of Marianna Ucrìa, the victim of a mysterious childhood trauma that has left her deaf and mute, trapped in a world of silence. Marianna searches for knowledge and fulfillment in a society where women have few choices. In luminous language that conveys both the keen visual sight and the deep human insight possessed by her remarkable main character, Dacia Maraini captures the splendor and the corruption of Marianna’s world and the strength of her spirit. The Silent Duchess is the timeless story of one woman’s struggle to find her own voice after years of silence.
Dacia Maraini belongs to the same generation as the better known Alberto Moravia, who left his wife for her. So this prompts me to my second nomination, Elsa Morante's History: A novel (La Storia). Unlike The silent duchess, this is a bit more of a tome (just shy of 800 pages in paper version). Again, blurb from Goodreads:

Quote:
History was written nearly thirty years after Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia spent a year in hiding among remote farming villages in the mountains south of Rome. There she witnessed the full impact of the war and first formed the ambition to write an account of what history - the great political events driven by men of power, wealth, and ambition - does when it reaches the realm of ordinary people struggling for life and bread.

The central character in this powerful and unforgiving novel is Ida Mancuso, a schoolteacher whose husband has died and whose feckless teenage son treats the war as his playground. A German soldier on his way to North Africa rapes her, falls in love with her, and leaves her pregnant with a boy whose survival becomes Ida's passion.

Around these two other characters come and go, each caught up by the war which is like a river in flood. We catch glimpses of bombing raids, street crimes, a cattle car from which human cries emerge, an Italian soldier succumbing to frostbite on the Russian front, the dumb endurance of peasants who have lived their whole lives with nothing and now must get by with less than nothing.
Please do let me know if I've been arrogant in assuming these authors are obscure if they are not to you.

EDIT: both books are available in ebook format

Last edited by paola; 04-01-2013 at 04:35 PM. Reason: two nominations added
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Old 04-01-2013, 04:43 PM   #5
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I’d like to nominate Oroonoko, by Aphra Behn. Behn is the first professional woman English writer and one of the first English novelists, writing during the Restoration. Oroonoko is the story of an African slave to the king in Suriname and his love for a general’s daughter and is considered a critical work in the early history of the novel. The novel reflects Behn’s trip to Suriname; she had an interesting life, spying for Charles II and serving a stint in debtor’s prison. She was also a successful poet and playwright. And, Oroonoko is short! for those of us, including me, who are still reading The Conquest of the Incas.

There’s a very nice free copy at Girlebooks.


And I'll second The Silent Duchess. (I've read History: A Novel.)
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Old 04-01-2013, 05:19 PM   #6
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I second Oroonoko and third The Silent Duchess.

Sorry paola, I don't think I could cope with another long book as I'm only halfway through The Conquest of the Incas at this stage. It sounds very good all the same.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:07 PM   #7
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I'll third Oroonoko, by Aphra Behn.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:59 PM   #8
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All three sound interesting, but for now I'll fourth Oroonoko. It sounds very interesting - a novel(la) set in little-written-about Suriname, and an (obscure) classic, written in the 17th century, by the first professional female writer, to boot!
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:11 PM   #9
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I will fourth The Silent Dutchess.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:56 PM   #10
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Oroonoko is already in, so no need for anything there. I'm not as good with obscure, my literary choices have always tended towards the more well known. I was about to make a play for Quo Vadis until I realise the author won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I don't think that can really count as obscure.

I'll throw this out there and paola might have a go at me for encroaching on firm Italian territory, but how about Orlando Furioso?

Quote:
`I sing of knights and ladies, of love and arms, of courtly chivalry, of courageous deeds.' So begins Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (1532), the culmination of the chivalric legends of Charlemagne and the Saracen invasion of France. It is a brilliantly witty parody of the medieval romances, and a fitting monument to the court society of the Italian Renaissance which gave them birth. This unabridged prose translation faithfully captures the narrative entire and is a kaleidoscope
of scenes and emotions of fact and fantasy.
I'm not totally invested at this stage, but I'll throw it out there as a nomination in case others think it would be a good read.
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:15 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
I’d like to nominate Oroonoko, by Aphra Behn. Behn is the first professional woman English writer and one of the first English novelists, writing during the Restoration. Oroonoko is the story of an African slave to the king in Suriname and his love for a general’s daughter and is considered a critical work in the early history of the novel. The novel reflects Behn’s trip to Suriname; she had an interesting life, spying for Charles II and serving a stint in debtor’s prison. She was also a successful poet and playwright. And, Oroonoko is short! for those of us, including me, who are still reading The Conquest of the Incas.

There’s a very nice free copy at Girlebooks.
great, just downloaded it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookpossum
Sorry paola, I don't think I could cope with another long book as I'm only halfway through The Conquest of the Incas at this stage. It sounds very good all the same.
you are indeed right, I am still on chapter 3
Caleb, for the same reason (i.e., quite a tome), I'll stick around before seconding Orlando Furioso, as it may be to tall an order for me at the moment.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:47 AM   #12
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I nominate The Return by Walter De La Mare.

De La Mare was enormously popular in his day--especially as a poet--but aside from a few poems, his work has faded since. Yet he was a very fine writer of short stories and novels which explored the strange twilit world of consciousness with remarkable beauty of language and sensitivity. Nor did he ignore the darkness of nightmare.

The Return is available in the public domain and there is a copy right here in the Mobile read library.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16822

There it is described as follows:

"Written in 1910, this poignant tale of psychic possession concerns a Mr. Arthur Lawford, who appears to have been possessed by the spirit of a long-dead 18th-century pirate.

One of de la Mare's finest occult stories, the novel also deals with domestic trauma, unrequited love and philosophical reflection--all blended into a seamless whole."

I haven't yet read it (in fact, I only heard about it recently} but I have read a great deal of De La Mare generally and this obscure novel certainly sounds like vintage material from this now-neglected writer.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 04-02-2013 at 05:59 AM.
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by paola View Post
Caleb, for the same reason (i.e., quite a tome), I'll stick around before seconding Orlando Furioso, as it may be to tall an order for me at the moment.
That's OK. I wasn't convinced myself - but it still looked interesting enough to put forward just in case.
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:34 AM   #14
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I'm very happy to second The Return by Walter De La Mare. Psychic possession? Gimme! gimme! gimme!
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:20 AM   #15
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I was waiting for fantasyfan to nominate something by Stella Benson, but since he hasn't, I see I must!

The potted bio from various places:

Quote:
Stella Benson (1892-1933) was an English feminist travel writer and novelist. Stella was noted for being compassionate and interested in social issues. Like her older female relatives, she supported women's suffrage. During World War I, she supported the troops by gardening and by helping poor women in London's East End at The Charity Organisation Society. These efforts inspired Benson to write novels I Pose (1915) and This Is the End (1917).
Unfortunately, most of her work isn't available in ebook. I know fantasyfan has read I Pose, therefore, I'll nominate This Is the End available at manybooks. And it's short!

A review of This is the End from Goodreads:

Quote:
I absolutely love Benson's prose. She makes the ordinary interesting and the mundane sparkle. I love the elements of magical realism which she weaves into her stories. I found the characters endearing in their entirety, and cannot wait to read more of her books. It's a real shame that she isn't better known, because she certainly deserves to be.
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