A Handful Of Dust

27 05 2008

… I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
THE WASTELAND

‘A Handful Of Dust’ from Evelyn Waugh is one of the first and finest satirical fiction that I read since a long time. With an intriguing title lifted from ‘The Wasteland’, Waugh indeed paints a satirical stylish picture of the society through the breakup of the marriage of Brenda and Tony Last. Laced with wry wit, sarcastic humor and subtle irony, Waugh elegantly draws out the superficiality of the upper class.

The novel begins with one of the friend’s of Tony quoting, β€œI often think Tony Last’s one of the happiest men I know. He’s got just enough money, loves the place, one son he’s crazy about, devoted wife, not a worry in the world.”

Tony is happily married to Brenda and to his Victorian Gothic country home. In love with the happenings around London and bored by the country lifestyle, Brenda fancies herself in love with an opportunistic and worthless social climber Mr. Beaver. When Tony’s Son is killed in an accident, Brenda reveals her affair to Tony and requests for a hefty divorce settlement that forces Tony to sell his home. Betrayed by his wife, Tony embarks on a harebrained expedition to discover a lost city deep in jungles, only to find himself as a prisoner to a Mr.Todd. The novel signs itself with Tony resigning himself to read Charles Dickens’s works to Mr.Todd in jungles for eternity, and Brenda marrying one of the obliging Tony’s friends as her lover Mr. Beaver leaves her for New York, whilst the house went to Tony’s distant relatives.

The novel is filled with impersonal and often cruel satire. Sample this musing of Tony towards the end: “He had always rather enjoyed reading aloud and in the first year of marriage had shared several books in this way with Brenda, until one day, in a moment of frankness, she remarked that it was torture to her.”

The casual tone in which Brenda’s betrayal of Tony is handled and the social sanction it received makes one wonder at the moral corruption of the society. Being Amusing, melodramatic, tragic and cold, Waugh brings out the phoniness of the aristocratic society in a subtle sarcastic fashion that’s beautifully supported by a vividly descriptive style. A great example of dark humor that presents a scathing commentary on the society and the phony relationships.






My Ebook Collection…

22 05 2008

As I have promised, here is the list of the ebooks from the TIME top 100 Novels list that I have in my personal collection. If you are interested in having any of these,just click on the name for the rapidshare link, orΒ  just drop me a comment with your email ID, and I would be able to email the book for you. πŸ™‚

A disclaimer here: I am encouraging the usage of Ebooks indeed, though I would prefer the silent rapture of being immersed in a physical book any day. Yet, if we look at the availability and access to these modern classics, most of these are rare treasures that are hard to come my way over a breezy shopping fest. And I don’t believe that these 100 Novels are the best of the literature ever produced, for some of my most cherished books like Life Of Pi, Alchemist, Kite Runner, The Stranger, Fountain Head, Alice In Wonderland are still treasured even if they are not hailed in any literary short lists. However, I still see this as an opportunity to discover new worlds that are ensconced in these books.

I am hoping to update this list, as and when I acquire more books. If you come across any of the books that are not listed here and are part of the TIME collection, please do share. πŸ™‚

For the lucky ones for whom this link works, all the below books can be downloaded as a single file. πŸ™‚

  1. The Adventures of Augie March By Saul Bellow
  2. American Pastoral By Philip Roth
  3. An American Tragedy By Theodore Dreiser
  4. Animal Farm By George Orwell
  5. Appointment in Samarra By John O’Hara
  6. At Swim-Two-Birds By Flann O’Brien
  7. Atonement By Ian McEwan
  8. Beloved By Toni Morrison
  9. The Big Sleep By Raymond Chandler
  10. The Blind Assassin By Margaret Atwood
  11. Blood Meridian By Cormac McCarthy
  12. Brideshead Revisited By Evelyn Waugh
  13. The Bridge of San Luis Rey By Thornton Wilder
  14. Catch-22 By Joseph Heller
  15. The Catcher in the Rye By J.D. Salinger
  16. A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess
  17. The Crying of Lot 49 By Thomas Pynchon
  18. Death Comes for the Archbishop By Willa Cather
  19. A Death in the Family By James Agee
  20. Gone With the Wind By Margaret Mitchell
  21. Gravity’s Rainbow By Thomas Pynchon
  22. The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald
  23. A Handful of Dust By Evelyn Waugh
  24. A House for Mr. Biswas By V.S. Naipaul
  25. I, Claudius By Robert Graves
  26. Infinite Jest By David Foster Wallace
  27. Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison
  28. Light in August By William Faulkner
  29. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe By C.S. Lewis
  30. Lolita By Vladimir Nabokov
  31. Lord of the Flies By William Golding
  32. The Lord of the Rings By J.R.R. Tolkien
  33. Midnight’s Children By Salman Rushdie
  34. Money By Martin Amis
  35. Mrs. Dalloway By Virginia Woolf
  36. Naked Lunch By William Burroughs
  37. Neuromancer By William Gibson
  38. 1984 By George Orwell
  39. On the Road By Jack Kerouac
  40. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest By Ken Kesey
  41. Pale Fire By Vladimir Nabokov
  42. A Passage to India By E.M. Forster
  43. Portnoy’s Complaint By Philip Roth
  44. The Power and the Glory By Graham Greene
  45. Slaughterhouse-Five By Kurt Vonnegut
  46. The Sound and the Fury By William Faulkner
  47. The Sun Also Rises By Ernest Hemingway
  48. Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe
  49. To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee
  50. Tropic of Cancer By Henry Miller
  51. Watchmen By Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  52. White Noise By Don DeLillo
  53. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  54. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
  55. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  56. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
  57. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
  58. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  59. Play it as it Lays by Joan Didion
  60. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
  61. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  62. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

P.S. For those who are list hungry, Susheel shared 1001 books list, which can also be found here. Worth checking out. πŸ™‚





Some Book Fetish…

20 05 2008

I came across this link yesterday. Its a list published of all time top 100 Novels published since 1923 by TIME Magazine in 2005. Apparently, it took me 3 years to discover it. A quick glance through the list highlighted 15 titles that I am familiar with and also introduced me to a world of 85 books and authors whom I never heard of. Going by the experience of those 15 which I loved, my expectations on the rest 85 are really sky high.

And so began a book fetish to hunt these books. I spent some quality hours tracking these books and I can say that I have around 40 of them in my collection now. πŸ™‚

For those Ebook lovers, these Websites offer most of the books in list for free download.

http://www.truly-free.org/
http://www.4shared.com
http://www.esnips.com
http://www.scribd.com
http://avaxsphere.com/ebooks

Apart from grinning like a Cheshire cat, I cannot offer a reason to myself as to why did I spend so much time assembling them together, when I would have read them one by one. For me, greed has a pet name. Books. I feel strangely secure when I am around books that I haven’t discovered. Peculiar Behavior, isn’t it? Am planning to read 50 of the list by Feb 2009 and hopefully share the experience here. Wish me luck, for its a stretch goal, even for me. πŸ™‚





Free E-Books!

29 03 2006

I am doing quite a lot of research on free E-Books these days. Here are a couple of links that I have discovered. Hope this would be of some use!

http://www.gutenberg.org/about/
(Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and related technologies today. )

http://www.esnips.com
(Lots of English fiction and nonfiction books are loaded here)

http://www.esnips.com/web/pgwodehouse (For PG WoodHouse)
http://www.esnips.com/web/calvinnhobbes (For Calvin Comics)
http://www.planetpdf.com/free_pdf_ebooks.asp?CurrentPage=1 (For Classic English Fiction)

http://fictionbook.ru/en/search?search=english
(Albeit a Russian Website, it contains lots of English Fiction Works)

http://www.masalatalk.com/masalaboard/showthread.php?t=208649

Kudos to innumerable people who shared their collection over Internet!
Happy Reading for All!