Sunday, May 29, 2011

Just one more exam to go.

I haven't finished a book in ages. But let forget about that, it's only making me depressed. I'm in the middle of four now. Perhaps more. Gngh.

I always kind of envy people who study Japanese, because they have a ton of anime they can get addicted to and thereby get lots of free exposure. I'm never able to find anything interesting in Russian (just like I can't find any fabulous novels in Russian). Buuut, luckily, other people occasionally find things for me. Vera recommended the series И всё-таки я люблю, and finally I have something to watch. I once tried my luck with a modern version of Dr. Zhivago, but I found the horrible overacting insupportable. This series is much better, and even though I have only seen two episodes so far, I think I'm already a bit hooked. Which was exactly what I was looking for.

Try it for yourselves.

Of course, other suggestions for Russian series are very welcome.

Other than that, I can mention that I got my first "Russian" working at the tourist information the other day. Of course, I have never spoken Russian so badly before, but that's life. My job is proving very useful for my French, because I get French tourists almost every day, and I realize that my spoken French is perhaps not what it used to be. Children, never forget the importance of maintenance!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More cat.

Norwegian has one word that is very cute: ymse. In Swedish, I would use a far less exciting word, notably diverse. This word suits this post very well, because it's just a little bit of everything.

I have almost caught up with my book reading. With almost I mean that I've been cheating a bit. In order to be able to say that I have read anything at all, I decided to throw in the tiny volume Mordre au travers by Virginie Despentes, and since I finished reading Three Sisters in Russian, I will count that as well.

So what do I have to say about Mordre au travers? This is a collection of short stories written in the 90s; most of them in classical prose, two in a semi-poetry format. First of all, I must say that Despentes is not the kind of author that is suited for collections of short stories. Her short stories are always sensational, and they are best enjoyed one by one in some obscure literary journal. When you read them in a collection like this, you get used to the format and you know that whatever the topic is, it's going to end very, very badly. And it does. This collection of short stories contains the most provocative material I have seen from Despentes so far. Sometimes, it's too provocative and it loses parts of its literary value because of it. But some of these short stories contain very good stuff. Despentes is very skilled at creating frantic inner monologues. And she can paint a picture that will stay put in your mind for quite some time. These short stories talk about sex, prostitution, poverty, murder, weird stuff and self-hatred. Sale grosse truie is among the saddest things I've ever read. A terme is definitely one of the most disturbing things I've ever read - but it may be going go a bit over the top (people with children should probably not read it). A little bit less sensational, and it would have been better. I very much like the touch of... fantastique, that she quite unexpectedly threw into two of the stories. I see myself rereading these stories sometime in the future, and that's a really good sign. As I was reading them, I did however feel that something was missing in them, that they could have been better than this. Or other, that they should have been.

And today I happened to visit a flea market.

A friend of mine didn't know who August Strindberg was during our bi-monthly Quiz at University, so for her birthday - as a joke - I gave her one of his books in Norwegian. Since I have been wanting to re-read Röda Rummet (the only novel of his that I have read), I was quite pleased to find it today in Swedish (together with three other works by him). I'm not reading Swedish classical literature in Norwegian. Anyway, I find it quite strange that Norwegians should not know who Strindberg is, when they are so obsessed with Sweden. Now, I'm not sure if regular Swedes know who Hamsun and Ibsen are, but I "always" have. As a funny side note, when the Russian author Aleksej Slapovskij visited Oslo during the Russian days at the House of Literature, he spoke of how Russians are interested in the culture of other countries. He said that they are familiar with Norwegian authors, and listed Hamsun and Strindberg ;) The audience began laughing (it happened to be an educated one, with people who know who Strindberg is and where he comes from) and then he corrected himself with "of course I meant Ibsen". Alexander Kielland is a classic Norwegian realist author, and I have already mentioned Bjørneboe a thousand times. I haven't actually read anything by Rainer Maria Rilke, but I've understood that I should, and I have Lettres à un jeune poète in French.

I got a request for more photos books, and since a cat happened to climb into this particular bookshelf, I couldn't resist taking a photo of it. A second cat came to join it.

Even though I should be preparing for exams and writing essays, I have been flirting with... Lithuanian. It's a very cute looking language, and it is a very interesting one because of its archaic character. I haven't been doing anything serious with it though, I've just done a couple of lessons over at - a great site for easy going introductions to languages. The site happens to be owned by a Lithuanian, so the Lithuanian course is quite extensive, and very much fun!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Busy times ahead.

I promised Vera I would show some photos of my notes from my Slavic language history class. The exam is in a month, so I had better start learning all these rules. I'm not at all worried about the part where we have to read a text in old Slavic, but memorizing rules... not my favorite thing to do, unfortunately. Posting may become somewhat sparse here in the time to come since I have to write two more essays (one includes reading quite a lot), prepare for this exam and the translation exam, pass a smaller literature exam in eight days and somehow try to read some fiction. I have now missed two 1-book-a-week books :S

This is the most recent text I've been reading, on how Oleg took Kiev in 882. Doesn't it look pretty?

And happy news! I got my Bible from the Ukraine a couple days ago. Once again, I love eBay. When exams are over I'm going to have some fun with this one and the old church Slavonic textbook I read through.

I never post photos of my cats anymore. Let's change that.

Also, I kind of have a problem with Blogger. Every time I use the non-HTML version of the text editor, the text changes into some Indian script every time I press space. Anyone know why that is?