Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López, The Eternaut

The Eternaut by Héctor Germán Oesterheld My rating: 4 of 5 stars Though The Eternaut only appeared in an English translation in 2015, it is often considered one of the central texts in the canon of Latin American comics and graphic novels, a work of the stature of—in other national or linguistic traditions—Maus or Watchmen,… Continue reading Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López, The Eternaut

Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz

Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin My rating: 4 of 5 stars Let's get the literary-historical info and honorifics out of the way first: Berlin Alexanderplatz is one of the monuments of the modernist novel, often compared to Joyce's Ulysses ("quite wrongly and needlessly," says the present translator, about which more later) for its linguistic and… Continue reading Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz

Jens Peter Jacobsen, Niels Lyhne

Niels Lyhne by Jens Peter Jacobsen My rating: 4 of 5 stars This 1880 Danish novel was once immensely influential: it and its author were cited or praised by Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, and Rainer Maria Rilke. That is reason enough to read it for those interested in literary history, but it is… Continue reading Jens Peter Jacobsen, Niels Lyhne

Jean Giono, Melville

Melville: A Novel by Jean Giono My rating: 4 of 5 stars Twentieth-century French novelist Jean Giono is currently being introduced (or re-introduced by NYRB Classics) to American readers, and what better introduction than Giono's bio-fantasia about Herman Melville, now translated by Paul Eprile? Melville was published in 1941 in France, and written in the… Continue reading Jean Giono, Melville

Dante, Paradiso

Paradiso by Dante Alighieri My rating: 4 of 5 stars Here is what you've heard about the Divine Comedy: the Inferno, with its poignantly vivid tortures and its cacophony of wicked voices, is the most entertaining canticle, beloved of various and sundry; the Purgatorio, with its wistful focus on the lives and ambitions of poets and its… Continue reading Dante, Paradiso

Dante, Purgatorio

Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri My rating: 4 of 5 stars Allen Mandelbaum begins his introduction to his wonderful translation thusly:   For the Virgil of Dante's Purgatorio, "love is the seed in you of every virtue/and of all acts deserving punishment" (XVII, 104-105). To find one same source for all good and all evil is… Continue reading Dante, Purgatorio

Dante, Inferno

Inferno by Dante Alighieri My rating: 5 of 5 stars You know the story: a man in the middle of life is lost in a shadowy forest of ignorance and error, his path to wisdom blocked by impassable beasts. Then he is saved by the shade of the great poet, Virgil, sent to rescue the… Continue reading Dante, Inferno

Virgil, The Eclogues

The Eclogues of Virgil: A Bilingual Edition by Virgil My rating: 4 of 5 stars I read this, mistakenly, because of Willa Cather; it wasn't until I brought it all the way home from the library that I checked again and saw that she was quoting not the Eclogues but the Georgics in My Ántonia.… Continue reading Virgil, The Eclogues

Valeria Luiselli, Faces in the Crowd

Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli My rating: 3 of 5 stars The honest critic must be content to find a VERY LITTLE contemporary work worth serious attention; but he must also be ready to RECOGNIZE that little, and to demote work of the past when a new work surpasses it. —Ezra Pound, ABC… Continue reading Valeria Luiselli, Faces in the Crowd

Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin My rating: 5 of 5 stars Well, this is a fun book. So fun, in fact, that I wonder why people go on about the "Pushkin problem"—the supposed problem that non-Russian readers do not understand the esteem in which the poet is held by Russians, especially as compared to other… Continue reading Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin