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Monday, March 19, 2007

One Person's Trash...

One man's trash is another man's treasure. The Academy was doing some "house cleaning" in the library and many books were being canceled from the main library catalogue. They usually put a cart with freebies outside the main entrance to the library. Here are two titles I found that I couldn't pass up.

Mortimer Adler's "How to Speak, How to Listen"
Maxim Gorky's "The Life of a Useless Man"

The Mortimer Adler comes as a nice addition to my own library where I have several of his volumes, the most famous being "Six Great Ideas." If you've never heard Mortimer Adler's life story you must really check it out. Here's a quick example.

The Gorki book really attracted me because of the Neil Armstrong "Gorki story." I won't go into it here but I just thought I mention it to explain why I picked up the book. I read the dust jacket description of the story and it totally won me over.

This novel was begun by Maxim Gorki in 1907, less than two years after the unsuccessful rebellion on Bloody Sunday. Gorki personally was extremely involved with the insurrection and this book is consequently an intimate document of the terrifying upheavals of the times. The protagonist is Yevsey Klimkov who is caught up, willy-nilly, in the events which culminated with the storming of the Czar's palace and the violent aftermath. Yevsey, frail and orphaned, is given various educative occupations, one finally as assistant to a bookseller. Through this bookseller's and subsequent police coercion, Yevsey, his will defenseless, is induced into spying for the military in support for the Czar. Unable to restrain the forces which carry him, Yevsey eventually reports his young friends for running a subversive underground press. The interior crisis, mass hysteria, and ultimate brutal repression and bloodshed must rank among the most exciting literary moments.

Even the biography of the woman who translated it sounds like an adventure in its own right:

Moura Budberg was born in Russia in 1892, and by the age of twelve spoke five languages fluently. She began translating in 1917 when Gorki founded Znanie, a publishing house in St. Petersburg. She received critical acclaim for her translations of Chekov, Turgenev, Maurois, and others.

So there's absolutely no way I can fit these into my reading list this year but I will nevertheless keep them as priced possessions. I could definitely use the Adler volume in class next year.

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At 4:55 PM, Blogger Nick Senger said...

I think you'll really love the Adler book. Not only does he write about traditional speaking (in front of groups), but he also talks about how to have an intelligent conversation. It's definitely one of my favorites of his. And you got it for free!

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Imani said...

The same thing happened at one of my campus libraries but all I left with was a few old journal issues and Paulina 1880 by Pierre-Jean Jouve.

At 1:39 AM, Blogger Susan Abraham said...

That would have been a steal, Jose, getting all those priceless bits from the library. :-)

At 6:49 PM, Blogger Amelia said...

Lucky you to get them for free. My campus library sale and I walked away with 4 bags full of books. The saying is definitely true - their cast-offs was my treasure :)


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