Help us choose the March 2014 selection to read for the MR Literary Club! The poll will be open for three days.
The vote is multiple choice. You may vote for as many or as few as you like.
A discussion thread will begin shortly after a winner is chosen.
In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day non-multiple-choice run-off poll. In the event that the run-off poll also ends in a tie, the tie will be resolved in favour of the selection that received all of its initial nominations first.
Select from the following works:
Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixons
By Andrew Graham-Dixons, an art critic who generally writes very well, entitled Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane. Caravaggio himself had a very tumultuous life, and I expect Graham-Dixons also to go over life in Rome in the 17th century in some detail - here is Goodreads blurb:
"Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (29 September 1571–18 July 1610) lived probably the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters. The worlds of Milan and Rome through which Caravaggio moved and which Andrew Graham-Dixon describes brilliantly in this book, are those of cardinals and prostitutes, prayer and violence. Graham-Dixon puts the murder of a pimp, Ranuccio Tomassoni, at the centre of his story. It occurred at the height of Caravaggio’s fame in Rome and probably brought about his flight through Malta and Sicily, which led to his death in suspicious circumstances off the coast of Naples. Graham-Dixon shows how Caravaggio’s paintings emerged from this extraordinarily wild and troubled life: his detailed readings of them explain their originality and Caravaggio’s mentality better than any of his predecessors."
Available from Kobo in the UK (and perhaps India as well).
Reluctant Accomplice by Konrad H. Jarausch
Reluctant accomplice, by historian Konrad H. Jarausch, is centred around the letters that his father, a Nazi officer also named Konrad Jaraush, and also a historian (and theologian), wrote to his wife, another well educated member of the German intelligensia As reported in a review in The Spectator,
"As a particularly high-minded secondary school teacher, his correspondence is unusually reflective about the war. While his patriotic support for German territorial expansion is palpable in the early letters, by 1941, when he is charged with feeding up to 20, 000 starving Russian prisoners of war every day, his certainty in the rectitude of the cause begins to waver. Like many others, Konrad senior was frustrated that doing his duty left little or no time for doing the things that interested him, namely reading works by the likes of Aristotle."
Available from Kobo in the UK (and perhaps India as well).
A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
In 1933 Patrick Leigh Fermor was eighteen. Expelled from school for a flirtation with a local girl, he headed to London to set up as a writer, only to find that dream harder to realize than expected. Then he had the idea of leaving his troubles behind; he would "change scenery; abandon London and England and set out across Europe like a tramp . . . travel on foot, sleep in hayricks in summer, shelter in barns when it was raining or snowing and only consort with peasants and tramps." Shortly after, Leigh Fermor shouldered his rucksack and set forth on the extraordinary trek that was to take him up the Rhine, down the Danube, and on to Constantinople.
It was the journey of a lifetime, after which neither Leigh Fermor nor, tragically, Europe would ever be the same, and out of it came a work of literature that is as ambitious and absorbing as it is without peer. The young Leigh Fermor had a prodigious talent for friendship, keen powers of observation, and the courage of an insatiable curiosity - raw material from which he later fashioned a book that is a story of youthful adventure, an evocation of a now-vanished world, and a remarkable unfolding of the history and culture of Central Europe. Taking in not just haylofts but mountain heights, country houses as well as cottages, with stops along the way in the great cities of Hamburg, Munich, Vienna, and Prague, A Time of Gifts is a radiant evocation of people and places and one of the glories of modern English prose.
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, by Henry Adams
Here's the blurb from GR:
"Mont Saint Michel and Chartres is a record not of a literal jouney but of a meditative journey across time and space into the medieval imagination. Using the architecture, sculpture, and stained glass of the two locales as a starting point, Adams breathes life into what others might see merely as monuments of a past civilization. With daring and inventive conceits, Adams looks at the ordinary people, places, and events in the context of the social conventions and systems of thought and belief of the thirteenth century turning the study of history into a kind of theater."
Privately published in 1904 and released publicly in 1913, it's in the public domain. My copy is from Manybooks, but the link isn't working for me at the moment. Here's the Gutenberg copy and it should be available cheaply at all the usual venues.
Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel
In 1970 Studs Terkel set out to write a history of the Great Depression in America, not as a dry history, but from interviews conducted with people from all walks of life and of every economic class who lived through it.
An exhilarating meditation on nature and its seasons—a personal narrative highlighting one year's exploration on foot in the author's own neighborhood in Tinker Creek, Virginia. In the summer, Dillard stalks muskrats in the creek and contemplates wave mechanics; in the fall she watches a monarch butterfly migration and dreams of Arctic caribou. She tries to con a coot; she collects pond water and examines it under a microscope. She unties a snake skin, witnesses a flood, and plays 'King of the Meadow' with a field of grasshoppers.