Mission

Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Literary Blog Hop February 17-20


I really love good questions, and Mel U of The Reading Life came up with a stupendous one for this week's Literary Blog Hop. To take part in the Literary Blog Hop, go visit The Blue Bookcase to read about the hop and sign up on the linky.

Here's Mel U's question:  If you were going off to war (or some similarly horrific situation) and could only take one book with you, which literary book would you take and why?

This intriguing question arises out of the plot of The Harp of Burma by Michio Takeyama, in which the main character's one book is Stendhal's The Red and the Black.

I can't wait to read the responses to this question. This is a good one.  I devoutly hope never to need to make this choice in real life, but it's interesting to think about.  Should I bring Shakespeare's history plays, or the tragedies? What would offer solace, consolation, and maybe even advice? Whatever single volume I bring, it must be tremendous and contain worlds. Too much happiness wouldn't be good--it might seem cloying, or simply painful. But there should be some joy, some pain, some beauty, some ugliness. It must be a book I can reread many times. I believe I'll take Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.  Then I might read it backwards, forwards, and from the middle. I hope Raskolnikov's madness doesn't infect me, but it's a risk I'll have to take.

Gentle readers, if you were facing war and horror, what one book would you be sure to bring?

14 comments:

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Good answer. I used a similar rationale and went with The Lord of the Rings.

Nymeth said...

I might go with Middlemarch. Not only is it long, but it contains such a wide range of human emotions.

Adam said...

You are crazy. Crime & Punishment?! My brain would explode - I mean, I haven't read the book, but I am a fan of Dostoevsky (love his style, love his prose, love his themes) and I know I wouldn't want something that deep and complex in war-time. Good for you, though - if it keeps you distracted and grounded, more power to ya!

parrish lantern said...

great choice, but would go with the Brothers. I chose an Anthology of poetry myself.

bibliophiliac said...

@Emily-Lord of the Rings would have the advantage of being a distraction and also a meditation on good and evil--good choice!
@Nymeth-Middlemarch is one of my very favorite, if not *the favorite* of all books. But I couldn't imagine bringing Dorothea into combat!

bibliophiliac said...

@Adam--isn't it a great question? In the English Patient, the character is reading Heroditus. I think a complex book, with deep themes, would be the only kind of book to bring to war. But then, think about The Things They Carried. I forgot to worry about the weight of the book. Actually, maybe The Things They Carried would be a good choice...

bibliophiliac said...

@Parrish Lantern-Brothers Karamazov came to mind as well. I'll have to stop by and see which poetry anthology you chose...

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

The Bible or Gone With The Wind because both books would remind me to persevere.

I'm following :)

ecwrites.blogspot.com

mel u said...

I am glad you enjoyed my question-I was partially stimulated to ponder this question when I thought about writers from the WWI era as I have been reading a lot in that period lately who fought for England-people like Ford Madox Ford(severly shell shocked) and Saki-(killed in the war)-I wondered what they read while at war-or did they read?

Esoteric Muse said...

An anthology of poetry I think. Probably a Norton anthology as I would want something with classic and modern poetry in it. It would be so difficult to choose though...

Laura said...

I own Crime and Punishment (and, in fact, war and peace. And Anna Karenina) but I always find them far too intimidating to read! I might have to give one or all three a go now, especially if you think Crime and Punishment might get me through a war!

Melody said...

I like that you mentioned being able to read it backwards and forwards--I love it when a book is so packed with good stuff that you don't necessarily need to read it chronologically. :) I haven't yet read C&P...or any Dostoevsky actually...but I own it, for whatever that's worth.

Trisha said...

LOL! I wonder if reading C&P would allow the slide into insanity needed to escape the war. :)

Risa said...

I was under the impression that Crime and Punishment was a rather heavy book. Sounds like an impressive choice!