Updates: Recent Book Acquisitions No. CLXXXVII (Burgess + Strugatsky + Fernández + Buzzati)

1. More Strugatsky? Of course. One can never have enough.

2. Anthony Burgess’ overpopulation novel… color me intrigued. Huge fan of overpopulation SF — > I’ve compiled a list here. And as diligent readers of my site might know, John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968) is my favorite SF novel.

3. I recently read Dino Buzzati’s SF novel Larger than Life (1960) and decided to pick up his graphic novel… An enjoyable visual and textual experience. Not sure I’ll write a review but worth picking up!

4. I’d heard of Macedonio Fernández (1874 – 1952) only due to his relationship with Borges…. The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel) (1967) is a fascinating experience (and experiment). Need a while to collect my thoughts….

1. Hard To Be a God, Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (1964)

(Eamon O’Donoghue’s cover for the 2015 edition)

From the back cover: “Anton is an undercover operative from future Earth, who travels to an alien world whose culture has not progressed beyond the Middle Ages. Although in possession of far more advanced knowledge than the society around him, he is forbidden to interfere with the natural progress of history. His place is to observe rather than interfere–but can he remain aloof in the face of so much cruelty and injustice…?

2. The Wanting Seed, Anthony Burgess (1962)

(Wilson McLean’s cover for the 1970 edition)

From the back cover: “THE WANTING SEED the shocking, provocative vision of the future, when the phony war is permanent, homosexuality is encouraged, and cannibalism is the ultimate solution for a desperately overcrowded world.”

3. Poem Strip Including An Explanation of the Afterlife, Dino Buzzati (1969)

(Dino Buzzati’s cover–and image from the graphic novel–for the 2009 edition)

From the back cover: “There’s a certain street—via Saterna–in the middle of Milan that just doesn’t show up on the maps of the city. Orfi, a wildly successful young singer, lives there, and it’s there that one night he sees his gorgeous girlfriend Eura disappear, “like a sprit,” through a little door in the high wall that surrounds a mysterious mansion across the way. Where has Eura gone? Orfi will have to venture with his guitar across the borders of life and death to find out.

Featuring the Ashen Princess, the Line inspector, trainloads of Devils, Trudy, Valentina, and the Talking Jacket, Poem Strip–a pathbreaking graphic novel from the 1960s–is a dark and alluring investigation into mysteries of love, lust, sex, and death by Dino Buzzati, master of the Italian avant-garde.”

4. The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel), Macedonio Fernández (1967)

(Cover for the 2010 edition)

The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel) is a book written ahead of its time. Written during the 1930s and’40s–the heyday of the Argentine literary culture–Museum is in many ways an “anti-novel.” It opens with more than fifty prologues—including ones addressed “To My Authorial Persona,  “To the Critics,” and “To Readers Who Will Perish If They Don’t Know What the Novel is About”–that are by turns philosophical, outrageous, ponderous, and cryptic. The second half of the book is the novel itself, a story about a group of characters (some borrowed from other texts) who live on an estancia called “La Novela”…

A hilarious and often moving book, Mecedonio’s masterwork redefined the limits of the genre and has had a lasting impact on Latin American literature–authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Ricardo Piglia have all fallen under its spell. Now, English readers can finally experience the book that cemented the reputation of Borges’ mentor.”

16 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Book Acquisitions No. CLXXXVII (Burgess + Strugatsky + Fernández + Buzzati)

      • Excellent writing; characters + plot are well-crafted, engaging; and the theme/ethical concept implied by the title fascinates me. (Plus, the allegorical implications of a planet that has not experienced the Enlightenment is intriguing.)

        • Yeah, but I’m guessing it’s not a “medieval” world much interested in the creation of universities or the study of the liberal arts of the vast collections of knowledge embodied in medieval encyclopedias or much interested in literature or historical writing….

          (my major pet peeve, as a historian and teacher, when it comes to that type of historical parallel type fiction)

          • Well, no, the rulers of that world/planet do not wish to create those institutions of knowledge. Is that your pet peeve – that the fictional world has rejected Enlightenment (as it happens in Wells, for example), or did you mean you’re suspicious that the Strugatskys simply depicted a pseudo-medieval world (i.e., lacking historical accuracy)?

  1. Glad to see you’ve got the new translation by OIlena Bormashenko because I found the previous one a real slog! The new one’s much better!

  2. Hi

    Some interesting books here. I have, but have not read the Strugatsky. I like your cover more. I have never even seen the Burgess so I will be interested in what you think.

    Happy Reading

    • Do you have an older edition? I wish I had an older one… but….. It was on sale for a few dollars despite being new so I had to grab a copy.

      As for Burgess, I’ve not read any of his work! I know, shame shame….

  3. A second on the film version of Hard To Be A God. Fascinating. Oddly enough, it’s put me off reading the book (for good reasons, not bad–I wanna catch my breath). As you’ve also seen the film, would be nice to have a brief mention if/when you review the novel. 😉

  4. Hard To Be A God – what a cracker! It even has a critique of the “progressivist” theory of history redolent of ‘Marxism-Leninism’! I had the good fortune to read this novel in sequence, i.e. placed after the Noon Universe short stories, and then the novels Escape Attempt, The Final Circle of Paradise, and Far Rainbow. Though it is not necessary to read them in sequence (and the sequence is a little wonky…) it helps one see the growing disenchantment of the Strugatsky’s with the Soviet regime ending the Khrushchev thaw.
    Also, I didn’t find The Invincible the chore you describe. Short and too the point I thought. Maybe I’m just tolerant of bad translations, having made a few myself!

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