Book Excerpt: The Beggar

The ecstasy of love fades and the frenzy of sex is too ephemeral to have any effect. What can we do when we find no food to satisfy our hunger? You’ll be swept into the tornado and annihilated. There is no way to bring back stability after it has died.

A brunette dancer at the New Paris attracted him with her gaiety and lithe body, so he went after her. He saw Margaret on the stage, returned her smile, then invited the brunette to his table. To Margaret it must have seemed a clumsy play in the game of love, but in the storm he’d lost all sense of humor. The brunette left with him, enticed by money. It didn’t really make things better, but he thought his heart stirred slightly as she laughed. If his heart didn’t stir, it would die. Poetry, wine, love – none of them could call forth the elusive ecstasy.

Every night he picked up a woman, from one club or another, sometimes from the streets. At the Capri he sat with a dancer called Muna. Yazbeck rushed over to greet him, exhibiting obvious pleasure. It angered Omar, for he saw it as a kind of death notice of his frustrated hopes.

“My good man. Did….?”

Omar looked at him sternly and left with Muna. As he pressed her to him, he trembled with an unaccountable urge to kill her. He imagined himself ripping open her chest with a knife, and suddenly finding what he’d been looking for all along. Killing is the complement of creation, the completion of the silent, mysterious cycle.

“What’s wrong?” Muna whispered.

He awoke, startled. “Nothing, just the dark.”

“But there’s no one around.”

He raced the car at such a speed that she grasped his arm and threatened to scream. Later, as he was undressing, he felt that the end was coming – the answer to his search – insanity or death. Warda sat on the bed. “I’m going away,” she said.

He answered gently, “I feel responsible for you.”

“I don’t want anything.” After a moment’s silence, she spoke again. “What’s sad is that I’ve really loved you.”

He said wearily, “But you’re not patient with me.”

“My patience is at an end.”

He felt such revulsion toward her in his soul that he didn’t comment.

Finding no trace of her when he returned the next night, he smiled in relief and lay down in his suit on the divan to enjoy the silent, empty flat. Every night he brought a new woman to it.

Mustapha laughed and said, “Hail to the greatest Don Juan on the African continent.”

Omar smiled lamely as Mustapha continued. “It’s no secret anymore. Several of my colleagues have spoken about you. The news has also reached your cronies at the club. They wonder what’s the story behind your rejuvenation.”

He said with distaste, “Honestly, I hate women.”

“That’s obvious!” Then he continued more seriously. “Empty your heart of what’s troubling you so you can settle down, once and for all.”

In the spring it was a relief to sit outdoors in the nightclub gardens, rather than in the closed halls. But the agitation remained, and he was exhausted by his dreams. Occasionally he found solace in reading, especially the poems of India and Persia.

His nighttime adventures took him once more to the Capri. As he sat under the trellis, sipping his drink and receiving the spring breeze, Warda appeared again on the stage. He felt no emotion, surprise, agitation, or pleasure. In autumn it had started. Ecstasy, love, then aversion; when will the grieved heart smash these vicious cycles? When will it break through the barrier of no return? She sees him, then continues dancing, while Yazbeck steals worried glances. He felt no determination. But after the show, noticing Warda not far from him, he invited her to his table. She approached with a smile, as though nothing had happened. He ordered the usual – the drink which had earned him renown in the clubs – and said with sincerity, “I”m really sorry, Warda.”

Smiling enigmatically, she said, “You shouldn’t regret what has passed.” Then gaily: “And the experience of love is precious even if it brings suffering.”

He said, biting his lip, “I’m not well.”

She whispered, “Then let’s pray to God for your recovery.”

He felt the glances of the other women who’d gone with him, night after night. As Warda smiled, he muttered, “I didn’t desire them.”

She raised her eyebrows.

“I know them all, without exception, but there was never any desire.”

“Then why?”

“Hoping the divine moment would unlock the answer.”

She said resentfully, “How cruel you were. You men don’t believe in love unless we disbelieve in it.”

“Perhaps, but that’s not my problem.”

The scent of orange blossoms drifting from the dark fields suggested secret worlds of delight. Feeling suddenly light and unfettered, he asked her fervently, “Tell me, Warda, why do you live?”

She shrugged her shoulders and finished her drink, but when he repeated the question, he was so clearly in earnest that she replied, “Does that question have any meaning?”

“It doesn’t hurt to ask it once in a while.”

“I live, that’s all.”

“I’m waiting for a better answer.”

She thought a moment, then said, “I love to dance, and to be admired, and I hope to find true love.”

“To you, then, life means love.”

“Why not?”

“After loving once, weren’t you disillusioned?”

She said with annoyance, “That may be true of others.”

“And as for you?”


“How many times have you loved?”

“I told you once…”

He interrupted her. “What you told me once doesn’t matter; let’s discuss things openly now.”

“Your violent nature is getting the better of you.”

“Don’t you want to talk?”

“I’ve said all that I…”

He sighed, then continued feverishly. “And God, what do you think of Him?”

She looked at him distrustfully, but he entreated, “Please answer me, Warda.”

“I believe in Him.”

“With certainty?”

“Of course.”

“How does such certainty arise?”

“It exists, that’s all.”

“Do you think about HIm often?”

Her laugh was a bit forced. “When in need or adversity.”

“And other than that?”

She said sharply, “You love to torture others, don’t you?”

He stayed in the club till 3 a.m. and then raced out in the car to the Pyramids Road. Going out alone that night, he reflected, was an interesting development. He parked the car along the side of the deserted road and got out. The darkness, unrelieved by ground lights, was peculiarly dense, unlike any night he could remember. The earth and space itself seemed to have disappeared and he was lost in blackness. Raising his head to the gigantic dome overhead, he was assaulted by thousands of stars, alone, in clusters, and in constellations. A gentle breeze blew, dry and refreshing, harmonizing the parts of the universe. The desert sands, clothed in darkness, hid the whispers, as numberless as the grains, of past generations – their hopes, their suffering, and all their lost questions. There’s no pain without cause, something told him, and somewhere this enchanted, ephemeral moment will endure. Here I am, beseeching the silence to utter, for if that happened, all would change. If only the sands would loosen their hidden powers, and liberate me from this oppressive impotence. What prevents me from shouting, knowing that no echo will reverberate? He leaned against the car and gazed for a long time at the horizon. Slowly it changed as the darkness relented and a line appeared, diffusing a strange luminosity like a fragrance or a secret. Then it grew more pronounced, sending forth waves of light and splendor. His heart danced with an intoxicated joy, and his fears and miseries were swept away. His eyes seemed drawn out of their very sockets by the marvelous light, but he kept is head raised with unyielding determination. A delirious, entrancing happiness overwhelmed him, a dance of joy which embraced all earth’s creatures. All his limbs were alive, all his senses intoxicated. Doubts, fears, and hardships were buried. He was shadowed by a strange, heavy certitude, one of peace and contentment, and a sense of confidence, never felt before, that he would achieve what he wanted. But he was raised above all desire, the earth fell beneath him like a handful of dust, and he wanted nothing. I don’t ask for health, peace, security, glory, or old age. Let the end come now, for this is my best moment.

The delirium had left him panting, his body twisted crazily toward the horizon. He took a deep breath, as if trying to regain his strength after a stiff race, and felt a creeping sensation from afar, from the depths of his being, pulling him earthward. He tried to fight it, or delay it, but in vain. It was as deep-rooted as fate, as sly as a fox, as ironic as death. He revived with a sigh to the waves of sadness and the laughing lights.

He returned to the car and drove off. Looking at the road dispiritedly, he said, as if addressing someone else, “This is ecstasy.” He paused before continuing. “Certainly, without argumentation or logic.” Then in a more forceful voice: “Breaths of the unknown, whispers of the secret.” Accelerating the car, he asked, “Isn’t it worth giving up everything for its sake?”

– The Beggar by Naguib Mafouz


The Beggar
is available from

My Desert Island Books

Here are some Desert Island Books:




01 The Bible
02 The Heart of the Matter Graham Greene
03 The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
04 Samson Agonistes John Milton
05 Martin Eden Jack London
06 The Beggar Naguib Mahfouz
07 100 Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
08 Dune Frank Herbert
09 Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis
10 The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien

Desert Island Authors

There are certain authors that strike a chord with me. Their works have probably formed my world view as much as anything, other than my faith. Strangely, only three from this list are Americans. Is that because I am drawn to things other than what I already know? Perhaps that sort of sedentary wanderlust has informed my taste in literature, but regardless, I would be perfectly happy with works from any of these authors on my desert island.

Graham Greene
Ernest Hemingway
Jack London
Joseph Conrad
C. S. Lewis
Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
J.R.R. Tolkein
Naguib Mafouz
Milan Kundera
Paul Theroux

Book Excerpt: Chance

The absurd temptation to remain and see what would come of it got over my better judgment. I hung about irresolute, wondering how long an embassy of that sort would take, and whether Fyne on coming out would consent to be communicative. I feared he would be shocked at finding me there, would consider my conduct incorrect, conceivably treat me with contempt. I walked off a few paces. Perhaps it would be possible to read something on Fyne’s face as he came out; and, if necessary, I could always eclipse myself discreetly through the door of one of the bars. The ground floor of the Eastern Hotel was an unabashed pub, with plate-glass fronts, a display of brass rails, and divided into many compartments each having its own entrance.

But of course all this was silly. The marriage, the love, the affairs of Captain Anthony were none of my business. I was on the point of moving down the street for good when my attention was attracted by a girl approaching the hotel entrance from the west. She was dressed very modestly in black. It was the white straw hat of a good form and trimmed with a bunch of pale roses which had caught my eye. The whole figure seemed familiar. Of course! Flora de Barral. She was making for the hotel, she was going in. And Fyne was with Captain Anthony! To meet him could not be pleasant for her. I wished to save her from the awkwardness, and as I hesitated what to do she looked up and our eyes happened to meet just as she was turning off the pavement into the hotel doorway. Instinctively I extended my arm. It was enough to make her stop. I suppose she had some faint notion that she had seen me before somewhere. She walked slowly forward, prudent and attentive, watching my faint smile.

“Excuse me,” I said directly she had approached me near enough. “Perhaps you would like to know that Mr. Fyne is upstairs with Captain Anthony at this moment.”

She uttered a faint “Ah! Mr. Fyne!” I could read in her eyes that she had recognized me now. Her serious expression extinguished the imbecile grin of which I was conscious. I raised my hat. She responded with a slow inclination of the head while her luminous, mistrustful, maiden’s glance seemed to whisper, “What is this one doing here?”

“I came up to town with Fyne this morning,” I said in a businesslike tone. “I have to see a friend in East India Dock. Fyne and I parted this moment at the door here . . . ” The girl regarded me with darkening eyes . . . “Mrs. Fyne did not come with her husband,” I went on, then hesitated before that white face so still in the pearly shadow thrown down by the hat-brim. “But she sent him,” I murmured by way of warning.

Her eyelids fluttered slowly over the fixed stare. I imagine she was not much disconcerted by this development. “I live a long way from here,” she whispered.

I said perfunctorily, “Do you?” And we remained gazing at each other. The uniform paleness of her complexion was not that of an anaemic girl. It had a transparent vitality and at that particular moment the faintest possible rosy tinge, the merest suspicion of colour; an equivalent, I suppose, in any other girl to blushing like a peony while she told me that Captain Anthony had arranged to show her the ship that morning.

It was easy to understand that she did not want to meet Fyne. And when I mentioned in a discreet murmur that he had come because of her letter she glanced at the hotel door quickly, and moved off a few steps to a position where she could watch the entrance without being seen. I followed her. At the junction of the two thoroughfares she stopped in the thin traffic of the broad pavement and turned to me with an air of challenge. “And so you know.”

I told her that I had not seen the letter. I had only heard of it. She was a little impatient. “I mean all about me.”

Yes. I knew all about her. The distress of Mr. and Mrs. Fyne–especially of Mrs. Fyne–was so great that they would have shared it with anybody almost–not belonging to their circle of friends. I happened to be at hand–that was all.

“You understand that I am not their friend. I am only a holiday acquaintance.”

“She was not very much upset?” queried Flora de Barral, meaning, of course, Mrs. Fyne. And I admitted that she was less so than her husband–and even less than myself. Mrs. Fyne was a very self-possessed person which nothing could startle out of her extreme theoretical position. She did not seem startled when Fyne and I proposed going to the quarry.

“You put that notion into their heads,” the girl said.

I advanced that the notion was in their heads already. But it was much more vividly in my head since I had seen her up there with my own eyes, tempting Providence.

She was looking at me with extreme attention, and murmured:

“Is that what you called it to them? Tempting . . . “

“No. I told them that you were making up your mind and I came along just then. I told them that you were saved by me. My shout checked you . . .” She moved her head gently from right to left in negation . . . “No? Well, have it your own way.”

I thought to myself: She has found another issue. She wants to forget now. And no wonder. She wants to persuade herself that she had never known such an ugly and poignant minute in her life. “After all,” I conceded aloud, “things are not always what they seem.”

Her little head with its deep blue eyes, eyes of tenderness and anger under the black arch of fine eyebrows was very still. The mouth looked very red in the white face peeping from under the veil, the little pointed chin had in its form something aggressive. Slight and even angular in her modest black dress she was an appealing and–yes–she was a desirable little figure.

Her lips moved very fast asking me:

“And they believed you at once?”

“Yes, they believed me at once. Mrs. Fyne’s word to us was “Go!”

A white gleam between the red lips was so short that I remained uncertain whether it was a smile or a ferocious baring of little even teeth. The rest of the face preserved its innocent, tense and enigmatical expression. She spoke rapidly.

“No, it wasn’t your shout. I had been there some time before you saw me. And I was not there to tempt Providence, as you call it. I went up there for–for what you thought I was going to do. Yes. I climbed two fences. I did not mean to leave anything to Providence. There seem to be people for whom Providence can do nothing. I suppose you are shocked to hear me talk like that?”

I shook my head. I was not shocked. What had kept her back all that time, till I appeared on the scene below, she went on, was neither fear nor any other kind of hesitation. One reaches a point, she said with appalling youthful simplicity, where nothing that concerns one matters any longer. But something did keep her back. I should have never guessed what it was. She herself confessed that it seemed absurd to say. It was the Fyne dog.

Flora de Barral paused, looking at me, with a peculiar expression and then went on. You see, she imagined the dog had become extremely attached to her. She took it into her head that he might fall over or jump down after her. She tried to drive him away. She spoke sternly to him. It only made him more frisky. He barked and jumped about her skirt in his usual, idiotic, high spirits. He scampered away in circles between the pines charging upon her and leaping as high as her waist. She commanded, “Go away. Go home.” She even picked up from the ground a bit of a broken branch and threw it at him. At this his delight knew no bounds; his rushes became faster, his yapping louder; he seemed to be having the time of his life. She was convinced that the moment she threw herself down he would spring over after her as if it were part of the game. She was vexed almost to tears. She was touched too. And when he stood still at some distance as if suddenly rooted to the ground wagging his tail slowly and watching her intensely with his shining eyes another fear came to her. She imagined herself gone and the creature sitting on the brink, its head thrown up to the sky and howling for hours. This thought was not to be borne. Then my shout reached her ears.

She told me all this with simplicity. My voice had destroyed her poise–the suicide poise of her mind. Every act of ours, the most criminal, the most mad presupposes a balance of thought, feeling and will, like a correct attitude for an effective stroke in a game. And I had destroyed it. She was no longer in proper form for the act. She was not very much annoyed. Next day would do. She would have to slip away without attracting the notice of the dog. She thought of the necessity almost tenderly. She came down the path carrying her despair with lucid calmness. But when she saw herself deserted by the dog, she had an impulse to turn round, go up again and be done with it. Not even that animal cared for her–in the end.

“I really did think that he was attached to me. What did he want to pretend for, like this? I thought nothing could hurt me any more. Oh yes. I would have gone up, but I felt suddenly so tired. So tired. And then you were there. I didn’t know what you would do. You might have tried to follow me and I didn’t think I could run–not up hill–not then.”

She had raised her white face a little, and it was queer to hear her say these things. At that time of the morning there are comparatively few people out in that part of the town. The broad interminable perspective of the East India Dock Road, the great perspective of drab brick walls, of grey pavement, of muddy roadway rumbling dismally with loaded carts and vans lost itself in the distance, imposing and shabby in its spacious meanness of aspect, in its immeasurable poverty of forms, of colouring, of life–under a harsh, unconcerned sky dried by the wind to a clear blue. It had been raining during the night. The sunshine itself seemed poor. From time to time a few bits of paper, a little dust and straw whirled past us on the broad flat promontory of the pavement before the rounded front of the hotel.

Flora de Barral was silent for a while. I said:

“And next day you thought better of it.”

Again she raised her eyes to mine with that peculiar expression of informed innocence; and again her white cheeks took on the faintest tinge of pink–the merest shadow of a blush.

“Next day,” she uttered distinctly, “I didn’t think. I remembered. That was enough. I remembered what I should never have forgotten. Never. And Captain Anthony arrived at the cottage in the evening.”

“Ah yes. Captain Anthony,” I murmured. And she repeated also in a murmur, “Yes! Captain Anthony.” The faint flush of warm life left her face. I subdued my voice still more and not looking at her: “You found him sympathetic?” I ventured.

Her long dark lashes went down a little with an air of calculated discretion. At least so it seemed to me. And yet no one could say that I was inimical to that girl. But there you are! Explain it as you may, in this world the friendless, like the poor, are always a little suspect, as if honesty and delicacy were only possible to the privileged few.

“Why do you ask?” she said after a time, raising her eyes suddenly to mine in an effect of candour which on the same principle (of the disinherited not being to be trusted) might have been judged equivocal.

– Chance by Joseph Conrad

Chance is available in print and electronic editions from

Book Excerpt : The Dhammapada

[ This is the first time I have commented on an excerpt. Here’s why – these are holy Buddhist verses. Quite powerful verses, I must say, but you should know a little history before you read them. Whenever you look up The Dhammapada or Buddha, it seems everyone is at great pains to say these verses were written several hundred years before Christ, probably because some of Jesus’ teachings can find antecedents in these verses. But several hundred years before these verses were written, the Psalms were written. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 147:4 says, “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.” And even earlier, several more hundreds of years earlier, Moses says, “Behold, to the Lord your God belong the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it,” in Deuteronomy 10:14. These, and many other biblical passages, are antecedents to what Buddha was seeking. Not antecedents really, but the answer he sought. Buddha was on the right path, but he stopped before he reached his destination. He knew there was a source of perfect love and happiness, “harmony” he called it. He said it could be found within us. But God is external to us; He supersedes us. And He is the only source of harmony. It is one of our greatest foibles that we believe the answers are within our power to control, even to find. Only when we accept God’s gift, salvation through his perfect son, does His Spirit dwell within us. Only then do we know there is no perfect love and happiness without Him. Any other path to harmony ends in futility. ]


What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow; our life is the creation of the mind.
If a man speaks or acts with an impure mind, suffering follows him as the wheel of the cart follows the beast that draws the cart.

What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow; our life is the creation of the mind.
If a man speaks or acts with a pure mind, joy follows him as his own shadow.

“He insulted me, he hurt me, he defeated me, he robbed me.” Those who think such thoughts will not be free from hate.

“He insulted me, he hurt me, he defeated me, he robbed me.” Those who think not such thoughts will be free from hate.

For hate is not conquered by hate: hate is conquered by love. This is a law eternal.

Many do not know that we are here in this world to live in harmony. Those who know this do not fight against each other.

He who lives only for pleasures, and whose soul is not in harmony, who considers not the food he eats, is idle and not the power of virtue – such a man is moved by MARA, is moved by selfish temptations, even as a weak tree is shaken by the wind.

He who lives not for pleasures, and whose soul is in self-harmony, who eats or fasts with moderation, and has faith and the power of virtue – this man in not moved by temptations, as a great rock is not shaken by the wind.

If a man puts on the pure yellow robe with a soul which is impure, without self-harmony and truth, he is not worthy of the holy robe.

But he is who is pure from sin and whose soul is strong in virtue, who has self-harmony and truth, he is worthy of the holy robe.

Those who think the unreal is, and think the Real is not, they shall never reach the Truth, lost in the path of wrong thought.

But those who who the Real is, and know the unreal is not, they shall indeed reach the Truth, safe on the the path of right thought.

Even as rain breaks through an ill-thatched house, passions will break through an ill-guarded mind.

But even as rain breaks not through a well-thatched house, passions break not through a well-guarded mind.

He suffers in this world, and he suffers in the next work: the man who does evil suffers in both worlds. He suffers, he suffers and mourns when he sees the wrong he has done.

He is happy in this world and he is happy in the next world: the man who does good is happy in both worlds. He is glad, he feels great gladness when he sees the good he has done.

He sorrows in this world, and he sorrows in the the next world: the man who does evil sorrows in both worlds. “I have done evil,” thus he laments, and more he laments on the path of sorrow.

He rejoices in this world, and he rejoices in the next world: the man who does good rejoices in both worlds. “I have done good,” thus he rejoices, and more he rejoices on the path of joy.

If a man speaks many holy words but he speaks and does not, this thoughtless man cannot enjoy the life of holiness: he is like a cowherd who counts the cows of his master.

Whereas if a man speaks but a few holy words and yet he lives the life of those words, free from passion and hate and illusion – with right vision and a mind free, craving for nothing both now and hereafter – the life of this man is a life of holiness.


The mind is wavering and restless, difficult to guard and restrain: let the wise man straighten his mind as a maker of arrows makes his arrows straight.

Like a fish which is thrown on dry land, taken from his home in the waters, the mind strives and struggles to get free from the power of Death.

The mind is fickle and flighty, it flies after fancies wherever it likes: it is difficult indeed to restrain. But it is a great good to control the mind; a mind self-controlled is a source of great joy.

Invisible and subtle is the mind, and it flies after fancies wherever it likes; but let the wise man guard well his mind, for a mind well guarded is a source of great joy.

Hidden in the mystery of consciousness, the mind, incorporeal, flies alone far away. Those who set their mind in harmony become free from the bonds of death.

He whose mind is unsteady, who knows not the path of Truth, whose faith and peace are ever wavering, he shall never reach fullness of wisdom.

But he whose mind in calm self-control is free from the lust of desires, who has risen above good and evil, he is awake and has no fear.

Considering that this body is frail like a jar, make your mind strong like a fortress and fight the great fight against MARA, all evil temptations. After victory guard well your conquests, and ever for ever watch.

For before long, how sad! this body will lifeless lie on the earth, cast aside like a useless log.

An enemy can hurt an enemy, and a man who hates can harm another man; but a man’s mind, if wrongly directed, can do him a far greater harm.

A father or a mother, or a relative, can indeed do good to a man; but his own right-directed mind can do to him a far greater good.

– The Dhammapada translated by Juan Mascaro


The Dhammapada is available from

My Jack London

The Call of the Wild was the first adult book I ever read. Suddenly there were worlds arrayed around me on the bookshelves that filled the corners of my childhood home. I guess I was then like I am now, I had found something I liked and I looked for more. Next was White Fang and then The Sea-Wolf, adventures in worlds I would never know. Later in life I discovered there is also much political dissent and social commentary in London’s work. I embraced that, too. Not so much my belief in his beliefs, but in the straightforward style and stories that carried me along into his world of early 1900s America. I owe a great debt to Jack London. He, as much as any author, made reading an adventure and not just something I had to do for school. Here is a list of some of his works that set me upon the path of that adventure.

Martin Eden (1909)
White Fang (1906)
The Sea-Wolf (1904)
The Call of the Wild (1903)
The Iron Heel (1908)
The Abysmal Brute (1913)
The Scarlet Plague (1912)
The Game (1905)
John Barleycorn (1913)
The Valley of the Moon (1913)

Recent Reads

My reading has expanded beyond the classics of late, to my loss in some cases. I almost didn’t make it through VALIS by Phillip K. Dick. The concept for the story kept me going, but it was couched in such California cool, hippie claptrap that I struggled to hold on to the story. The Everlasting Hatred by Hal Lindsey provides some important insights, but seems hastily written, more mindful of the message than the flow of the words. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the early Hunter S. Thompson work, Rum Diary, and The Long Goodbye from Raymond Chandler. And, as always, it is the ideas that keep me reading, like the retelling of the Psyche myth in Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and the combination of faith and deeds in The Book of James.

I hope you enjoy as much as I do the stories you read, and glean a bit of man’s insights into our world and perhaps even a glimpse of God within every idea.

Title Author
Timeline Michael Crichton
King Solomon’s Mines Henry Rider Haggard
The Book of James Holy Bible
Till We Have Faces C.S. Lewis
The Lower River Paul Theroux
VALIS Phillip K. Dick
Rum Diary Hunter S. Thompson
The Everlasting Hatred Hal Lindsey
A Princess of Mars Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler

My Graham Greene

I’ve posted here for all to see my favorite books, favorite authors, what I’m reading now. Thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of books from my favorite author – Graham Greene.

I know, I know, nothing too modern here. But morals aren’t subject to modernity (don’t say it, because you’d be wrong). Neither is faith, whether you believe in man or God or little green men. Graham Greene novels just have what appeals to me; it can be summed up in the word “exploration”. Exploration of times and places I would never have known otherwise. Exploration of what makes men do the things they do. Exploration of what men believe and what they doubt and how they choose between the two.

Explore any of these for yourself, and there are many others not listed (The Quiet American, Ministry of Fear, The Third Man, etc.), and perhaps you will discover as I have that searching for the answers to eternal questions is always modern.

The Heart of the Matter (1948)
The End of the Affair (1951)
The Comedians (1966)
Monsignor Quixote (1982)
Our Man in Havana (1958)
Travels with My Aunt (1969)
Loser Take All (1955)
A Burnt-Out Case (1960)
The Power and The Glory (1940)
The Tenth Man (1985)

Russell’s Books 21008

Russell is getting in the game. Records last week, books this week. This is a very interesting list. As I’ve said many times before, I’ve learned more from the books I’ve read than from all those years in the classroom. I think Russell is in that same school. The world is our classroom, after all, and together through time we have learned many things. I’m going to include the comments he sent with his list.

In response to your invitation to send you a list of books
I’ve been reading or have re-read:

Selected Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant

The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler

Ecce Homo Friedrich Nietzsche (translated by Walter Kaufmann)

The Trial and Death of Socrates by Plato

Conversations of Goethe by Johann Peter Eckermann
(I highly recommend to anyone. This is one of my most cherished books. A vast wealth of information, insight, analysis, commentary about life, art, existence written by Goethe’s close friend/apprentice/assistant Johann Peter Eckerman, taken from conversations with the greatest poet/writer/mind in German history, during the last nine years of Goethe’s life. I bought it last year and I read and study it often. Exceptionally well written and expressive.

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt
(Considered to be the best book ever written on the Italian Renaissance and it’s historical signicance.
From a review of the book:
“A brilliant piece of writing— and the source for what so many of us in my generation believed about the history of the Renaissance. The prose here was celebrated in Peter Gay’s (classic) “Style in History” for both its cool patrician detachment and deep aesthetic sense, and reading Burckhardt is a pleasure. I have a History PhD, and I’ve taught History at universities— and while there are newer visions of the place and time that are more “scientific” and based on findings and techniques unavailable to Burckhardt, “Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy” is always and ever the place to start. History grew out of literature, not science, and Burckhardt is a master of narrative and of creating a world. Witty, ironic, put together out of a mastery of sources and a wealth of cultured knowledge – you can’t begin to know 15th-c. Italy without Burckhardt.”)

What I find an invaluable guide for my reading program and journey of learning is the eloquent introductions in many of the books I choose. For example, in the Maupissant book, I learned of his key influence Flaubert, and the short story masters of the nineteenth century like Turgenev and Chekhov. So, I will at some point read some of their works next. We’ll see where the journey takes me.

Brittany’s Desert Island Books

I like the mix or old and new in this list. Me, I’m stuck in the past, so maybe I’ll have to try some of the newer ones here.

Title Author
1 All the Pretty Horses Cormac McCarthy
2 The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
3 The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
4 Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson
5 El Laberinto de la Soledad Octavio Paz
6 Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë
7 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince J.K. Rowling
8 Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
9 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
10 The Man of Mode George Etherege