Jij zegt het / Connie Palmen || #thereadinglist

Jij zegt het / Connie Palmen || #thereadinglist

Hi everyone

I have been eager on discussing a famous couple of the literature world with you: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. There is a lot to be told about them and there surely has been and I still keep wondering who they were.

Jij zegt het

I haven’t read any of Sylvia’s work yet, but I plan to do that this summer (my reading list is getting a bit too long I think… :p ). What I want to read to, is a book by the Dutch author Connie Palmen, who won the Libris Literature Prize with Jij zegt het (in English: You say so), in which she apparently points out Ted Hughes’ view of the whole story. I read in an article once that Sylvia suffered from depressions and ultimately commited suicide and that Hughes got the blame for the sad occurance…

Sylvia Plath1

I am so very interested in the life of Sylvia and Ted. I read and hear that she was a talented poet who died way to soon. I would love to analyse her poems, but I am not going to study literature next year, so I fear I will not be able to do it on an academic level…

By the way, I really wonder what the fox and the bird on the cover stand for… I’ll let you know when I find out. 🙂

Do you have these authors you always keep wondering about? And what do you think of Sylvia and Ted? Wanting to know how they were, what occured in their life? Let me know in the reactions below!





Christ stopped at Eboli / Carlo Levi || Reviews

Christ stopped at Eboli / Carlo Levi || Reviews

Hi everyone

A little while ago, I got an assignment for Dutch. It included reading an international novel and then design your own cover for the book you had read.

I wandered about on which book I should read. I was thinking about reading ‘The Black and the Silver‘ by Paolo Giordano, but then I remembered an episode I had seen on Flemish television of the series ‘In Italy’, presented by Giorgio Locatelli and Andrew Graham-Dixon.

In this episode, they visited Matera in Basilicata and talked about a book ‘Christ stopped at Eboli’, in which the author apparently described the poor situation there so well that it became internationally known.

Triggered by the book’s history and subject, I changed my mind and went to the city library to fetch it. And what I read, I had never read before.

Carlo Levi, the author, lived as an exile in Basilicata (then still Lucania) in the fascist regime of Mussolini. Levi, a G.P. turned into painter, finds a creative way to pass his time: he paints the people, the views of the rough landscape, cures the ill (although he is at one point in the story not allowed to) and critises, in his book, the regime and the way the state governs.

He calls the locals ‘earthly people‘, they have not taken part in any “grand philosophy” that has ever passed their teritories; the Greek, the Romans, christianity… they just didn’t engage; they were always forgotten. The town priest complains they do not go to church or let their children be baptised, the tax collector complains the farmers cannot pay their taxes and that there is nothing of any value to confiscate. Some families only possess one bed, one table, a plate, a fork and one glass. Confiscating a goat does not fill the gap of the not payed taxes. (People even have to slaughter their goats because taxes have risen so high).

Malaria triumphs in these regions, because of poor medical care and lack of infrastructure to canalise watercourses, the musquitos infect the villagers time after time, so that eventually the people’s faces turn slightly yellow. This is shown in Levi’s paintings and is for me the characteristic of these people. They endure everything. They seem to be bound by a fatalist philosophy which tells them that nothing will change after all. They even have given up on ‘the American dream’, which was popular idea at the time. And you see it in their faces; the malaria, the worries, the poverty…

Even after Levi’s book was published, it took a while before investments in the region have been made. Cities like Matera and Aliano still have their small homes, in Matera even cave-like, but living standards have seriously improved. I hope to travel there to see it for my own.

The region and the story it holds have grabbed me and I just can’t let it go. That’s why I decided to make a drawing of one of his paintings. I called her Giulia. (‘Julia’ in English).

Cristo si è fermato a Eboli

Foto's - video's iPod 1805

When I picked up the pencils, I was not sure if Giulia would come out well. I had never really drawn before. But I am very pleased with the result, if I may say so O:) .
If you have ever read the book or will after reading this post, please let me know! I would find it lovely to discuss it with you!



PS1: For those who want to know more about Carlo Levi:

Carlo Levi Wikipedia

PS2: “Looking back at Copenhagen” is coming up soon!



Next post: Christ stopped at Eboli

Next post: Christ stopped at Eboli

Hey guys!

I know I’m a silent one and it must be so annoying that I don’t post that often, which I’ll try to improve (I’ve got some travelling coming up, so I’m going to make it up to you). But before that, I’d like to discuss a book with you.

I have been reading Christ stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi (Cristo si è fermato a Eboli / Christus kwam niet verder dan Eboli) and it has left me heartbroken and shivering. In his book, Levi describes the lives of the people in the region Basilicata, Italy, where he is banned to by the fascist Mussolini-regime. He finds himself in a region of huge poverty, malaria and earthly people. They seem to have passed every ideology which crossed the region; the Greeks, the Romans, the Middle Ages, the fascism… They don’t bother, because no one is trying to improve THEIR situation and in a way, they seem to have accepted their fate.

In his descriptions, Carlo Levi has brought me to another Italy than I knew. After reading his book, Basilicata is certainly on the to visit-list.

I’m using the book in an art assignment in school, and I’ll save the rest of what I want so say about Christ stopped at Eboli until I can post it all together.

(feature image: Aliano, Basilicata, Italy)



Over de grens (Dear Leader) – Jang Jin-sung || Books

Over de grens (Dear Leader) – Jang Jin-sung || Books

Hi everyone!

Over the past few weeks, reading works have been rather sloppy and I set the goal: reading at least one book per month. When I used to be younger, I’d easily accomplish that goal but now it seems to be a lot more difficult.

I read Dear Leader in Dutch and the book left a huge impression on me, as it gives a look over the high walls of North-Korea, perhaps the most enclosed country in the world.

Jang jin sung 3

Jang Jin-sung, a poet close to Kim Chong-il, the leader in that time.  As a poet, his job is to fake South Korean poetry to brainwash the population of North Korea and to actually make them believe that the whole world adores the NK system. But bit by bit he sees through the rough philosophy of NK and tells us this about ‘the great leader’, a sentence who stuck in my head from the minute I had read it:

“Startled I realized that the tears I had seen during the encounter were not the tears of a human; they were the tears of someone who was desperate on becoming a human.” – Jang Jin-sung on Kim Chong-il

Lending out South Korean literature is prohibited or actually impossible for non-Party members and there even are strict rules for members. Jang Jin-sung takes a magazine home, which is forbidden. He gives the magazine to a friend, Yongmin, who loses the magazine along with some other prohibited writings of Jang Jin-sung. This is considered a serious crime – all ‘publications’ should pass the Party control before being published or spread – and the two are forced to run off, which is not easy in North Korea, as the citizens are almost controlled by every move they make. They choose to cross the Tumen river, the Northern border, to get to China and via China to South Korea. They astonishingly make it across the river, but the euphoria is soon to be over, as they clash with the fact that the Chinese are often not very welcoming and scared to house a NK refugee, even for a short period of time. The two friends are forced to rely on strangers, who often do not have good intentions. They live on vain hope – almost literally.

Jang Jin-sungJang Jin sung 2

This book got me, certainly with huge migrations going on today (think of the Middle East) and also because the reserve of North Korea fascinates me. I cannot believe how a country can hold it’s own people so strict on a leash while those very own people are starving and have hardly any chances in life.

I surely recommend this book to people wanting to know more about life in North Korea and wanting to know what it’s like to leave everything you know for a really long shot chance.