An Alexander Grin Sentence in “The Ratcatcher”

Even though he was carrying a very thick briefcase, he lacked the power to just house me wherever he pleased, but he did offer me the empty quarters of the Central Bank, where 260 rooms stood like pond water, quiet and empty.

— The Ratcatcher, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

He just tosses these sentences off like they were so many bon-bons.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: Alexander Grin

As for firewood . . . in those days, many ventured into the attics, and so did I — walked along the slanted darkness of the roofs like a thief, listening to the wind blaring in the chimneys, and spying a pale splotch of the sky through the broken window as the snowflakes settled over the debris.

The Ratcatcher, Story # 73 in The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

There is such an immediacy to his voice.

Kudos to translator Ekaterina Sedia. According to the Editor’s note, this was the first English translation of The Ratcatcher.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Alexander Grin (1880 – 1932)

The thing about this anthology, it is just TOO LONG. How can one properly appreciate stories when the text is so dense and infinitesimally small, and the pieces are mostly short, so there is a pattern of same-ness that tends to dull the appetite.

Nevertheless, self has encountered a treasure in the latter stages of this book! And that treasure’s name is Alexander Grin!

He is represented by two short stories, and they are completely different from each other. One is about a house spirit with a tooth ache (In Russian, the house spirit is known as a domovoi). The second story (Story # 73 of this anthology) is about a ratcatcher and begins this way:

  • In the spring of the year 1920, specifically in March, specifically on the twenty-second — let’s give the accuracy its due, so we may join the lap of sworn documentarists, without which the curious reader would probably start asking questions of the publishers — I went to the market. I went to the market on March 22 of, I repeat, the year 1920. It was the Sennaya Market. I cannot tell you that I positioned myself on a certain corner, nor can I remember what the newspapers were writing about on that day.

Wow, she loves that opening!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: Leo Tolstoy

“The women began to rain down bombs onto the army like borax upon cockroaches.”

The Story of Ivan the Fool, Story # 24, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

Whew, this story! Another multi-chap, the second one so far in this anthology. She doesn’t like these long fables as much as the short ones. In fact, the only long fable she liked was one of the early ones in this volume, the excerpt from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker. The Jules Verne multi-chap was just painful to slog through. And even though she read it only a few days ago, she’s already forgotten the title.

Story #10, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

The Nose, by Nikolai Gogol (Ukrainian, 1809 – 1852)

translated by Claud Field

You will notice that self moved rather quickly through the Dickens story (Story #9). That means self found it engaging. Unlike the Mary Shelley story (Story # 6), which had the most laborious pace, and took self almost an entire day to read. The only time self was truly interested in Shelley’s story was when the ugly, hunchbacked dwarf appeared and offered to exchange bodies with the (stupid) main character. After that, it moved along at a fairly brisk pace.

Anyhoo, Story # 10 has a great opening sentence:

  • On March 25, 18__, a very strange occurrence took place in St. Petersburg.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

ANNA KARENINA, p. 733

A conversation between Levin and his old beekeeper, Mikhailych. (Even the most insignificant of supporting characters gets vivid description: The beekeeper, a “handsome old man with a gray-streaked black beard and thick silver hair, was standing motionlessly, holding a cup of honey, looking kindly and calmly at the gentlemen from the fullness of his height . . . “)

Levin: “Have you heard, Mihailych, about the war? What was that they read in church? What do you think? Should we be fighting for the Christians?”

Mikhailych: “What’s for us to think? Alexander Nikolaevich, our emperor, he’s thought it over for us, he thinks everything over for us. He knows best.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Dolly (Darya Alexandrovna), the Wife of Stiva, Reflects

Anna Karenina, p. 555:

“And in general,” thought Darya Alexandrovna, having surveyed her entire life in these fifteen years of marriage, “the pregnancy, the nausea, the dullness of mind, the indifference to everything, and above all, the ugliness. Kitty, youthful, pretty Kitty, even she has lost her looks, and me, when I’m pregnant, I become ugly, I know. The birth, the sufferings, the outrageous sufferings, the final minute . . . then the feeding, those sleepless nights, those terrible pains . . . “

Darya Alexandrovna shuddered at the mere memory of the pain of cracked nipples, which she had suffered with nearly every child. “Then the children’s illnesses, the perpetual fear, then their upbringing, their vile tendencies (she recalled little Masha’s crime in the raspberries), the lessons, the Latin — it’s all so mysterious and difficult.

Self really feels for Dolly. An argument with Stiva about his infidelity is the opening scene of this novel. The two have been married nine years and have five (or is it six?) children. And now, over 500 pages later, she is still his wife, and he is still having affairs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: PAIRS

Self is always happy when she can participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!

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Rose Bowl Parade, 1 January 2019

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Straw Angels, December 2018

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Reading, December 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

True Russian Spirit: ANNA KARENINA, p. 326

This is a Vronsky chapter. (Self has been skipping all the Anna chapters; she can’t believe how suddenly and decisively Anna has fallen, from being a calm and exemplary wife to being a mewling, desperate and unhappy mistress. Is such a drastic change even realistic? Maybe such things do happen in real life — perhaps Vronsky truly was that charming — but that’s no excuse to make them happen in fiction, lol)

A foreign prince visits Russia:

In Turkey he had been in a harem, in India he had ridden an elephant, and now in Russia he wished to sample all the special Russian pleasures.

Vronsky, who was with him as a kind of master of ceremonies, took great pains to apportion all the Russian pleasures offered the prince by various individuals. There were trotters, bliny, bear hunts, troikas, Gypsies, and drinking bouts with Russian plate smashing. The prince assimilated the Russian spirit with extraordinary ease, smashed trays of plates, sat a Gypsy woman on his knee, and seemed to ask, Isn’t there something else, or does the Russian spirit consist merely of this?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Self’s Favorite Character in ANNA KARENINA

A young doctor has examined Kitty and prescribed for her a period of travel abroad. After he delivers this news to Prince Alexander Dmitrievich and his wife, Kitty’s parents, the old prince pats Kitty’s hair and says:

  • “These idiotic chignons! You can’t get to your real daughter, you’re petting the hair of dead peasants.”

WAAAH!!!

Stay tuned.

 

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