Thread: Literary Obscure Vote • April 2013
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Old 04-04-2013, 02:52 PM   #1
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Obscure Vote • April 2013

Help us choose the April 2013 selection to read for the MR Literary Club! The poll will be open for two 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:

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!

There’s a very nice free copy at Girlebooks.

The Silent Duchess (La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa) by Dacia Maraini
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
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:

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.

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
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
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.

Link to German version in MR library:

Last edited by sun surfer; 04-05-2013 at 03:00 PM.
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