What are you reading? – 16 March 2017

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

三月 16, 2017
Books on a shelf
Source: iStock

Harriet Dunbar-Morris, associate pro vice-chancellor, University of Portsmouth, is reading Marcel Pagnol’s La Gloire de mon père (Editions de Fallois, 2004). “This is the first in a series of four autobiographical novels, telling the story, in this case, of Marcel’s childhood family holiday in the back country of Marseilles. Its centrepiece is a hunting expedition, led by Uncle Jules, in master-teacher mode, with Marcel’s father Joseph in apprentice-student mode. Marcel has secretly followed the expedition and, much to his relief and pride, his father shoots two legendary birds, which Marcel himself recovers. Joseph is therefore covered in the ‘glory’ of the title!”

Sir John Holman, emeritus professor of chemistry, University of York, is reading W. Somerset Maugham’s On a Chinese Screen (Vintage Classics, 2000). “These little pieces, some short stories, most just vignettes, were written by Maugham on a journey on the Yangtze in 1919. It’s a long time since I read Maugham, and I’d forgotten how spare and graceful his style is. These 58 pieces are little miniatures, each with a human character at its centre, drawn sharply against a lightly painted Chinese landscape. Maugham draws his yearning characters, often long-posted colonials, with some sympathy, but always with an eye for the imperfections in human nature. He tells of Europeans longing for ‘home’ but unable to return from their bubbles afloat in the teeming, complex, subtle world around them. Their distance from home is great, but their distance from the rich Chinese culture surrounding them is often greater still.”

Maria Delgado, professor and director of research at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, is reading Corín Tellado’s Thursdays with Leila (translated by Duncan Wheeler, Modern Humanities Research Association, 2016). “The Asturian novelist Corín Tellado (1927-2009) wrote over 4,500 novels as well as a plethora of soap operas and radio plays. Her sweeping, sentimental tales of loves lost and gained made her the favourite writer of countless working-class women in the Spanish-speaking world and the best-selling Spanish-language author of the 20th century. Wheeler offers an idiomatic, lively translation of this 1961 novella – the first of her works to be published in English – where the resourceful orphaned Leila finds that duty and passion collide when she encounters an alpha male whose supposed modernity may not be all it purports to be. Wheeler also co-authors with Diana Holmes an incisive introduction positioning Tellado within wider discourses of romantic fiction as well as the social conservatism of the Franco regime.”



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