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Archivo de la categoría: Club de Lectura en Inglés

“The sense of an ending” by Julian Barnes

In Julian Barnes’ awarded novel The sense of an Ending, its author deals, under a philosophical point of view, with all those feelings and actions that, when getting older, give our human nature sense. The novel is divided into two parts, “One” and “Two”, both narrated by Tony Webster , its main character, when he is retired and living alone.

The first part begins in the 1960s with four school friends, of whom two are the main characters in the novel: Tony, the narrator, and Adrian, the most intelligent of the four. Towards the end of their school days another boy at the school hangs himself, apparently after getting a girl pregnant. The four friends discuss the philosophical difficulty of knowing exactly what happened.

Adrian goes to Cambridge University and Tony to Bristol University. Tony meets Verónica and she becomes his girlfriend. tony is invited to Veronica’s, where he spends an awkward weekend and meets the whole family . Tony and Verónica broke off in his final year at university and then Tony receives a letter from Adrian telling him that he is going out with Veronica. Tony writes back to Adrian and warns him that Verónica isn’t an easy woman to go out with.

Some months later he is told that Adrian has committed suicide, leaving a note saying that the free person has a philosophical duty to examine the nature of their life, and may then choose to renounce it. Tony admires the reasoning. He briefly recounts us the following  forty years of his life until he is in his sixties.

The second part of the novel  begins with the arrival of a lawyer’s letter informing him that Veronica’s mother has left him £500 and two documents. These force him to re-establish contact with Veronica and after a number of meetings with her, to re-evaluate the story he has narrated in the first part. During this period of time only Veronica knows the real truth and Tony and the reader are forced to fill the gaps to know the facts. It is at the very ending that Tony and the reader learn the reason why Adrian took his life.

Its reading is fantastic and the plot really intelligent, we specially enjoyed the second part of the book as it can be considered a thriller because the author writes events and facts in such a way that the reader must take an active role to find out. It was a nice way to finish our reading club and we had an interesting debate about some aspects of the novel.


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“The Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye was written by JD Salinger.  Since it was published  in 1954  it was followed by controversial critics because of its protagonist’s explicit sexual language,  that’s why it had been censured and prohibited for years. The book tells us the three days’ journey its protagonist, a sixteen year old boy, makes from New Jersey to New York after being expelled from a boarding school and before going home and telling his parents the bad news.

The book opens when the protagonist and narrator, Holden Caulfield, has failed all his exams and has been expelled from Percy Prep school, the school his parents had sent him as his last chance to get a degree and go to University. At school he shares dormitory with two room mates he hates but things get even worse when we hear about his teachers. Holden feels nothing has sense and needs to escape and that’s when he decides to go to New York and spend the three days he has left before going home for Christmas. He takes a late train and gets to Penn Station where he tries to phone an old friend and some friends in town. Again Holden feels lonely in a city he can’t understand and both the places he visits and the people he meets make him clear this is not the world he should be. In the end, desperate, he comes back home to see his little sister, Phoebe, the only person he really loves, that’s when he tells her he would like to be in a rye field and protect all those kids playing unaware of the danger, just be “The Catcher in the rye”.

In The Catcher in the Rye Salinger tries to describe not only  Holden’s three days in NY but its protagonist’s inner voyage from childhood to manhood. He deals with subjects like loss of innocence, death, youth and religion from a teen’s point of view you will like to understand and love. No wonder the book is considered a classic in American literature since, as all classics, it describes all  those human feelings that are always true.


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“Flowers for Algermon” by Daniel Keyes

The protagonist of the novel , Charlie Gordon, is a mentally retarded thirty-two-year-old man who is  chosen by a team of scientists to undergo an experimental surgery designed to increase his intelligence. Alice Kinnian, a teacher at the Beekman College Center for Retarded Adults, has decided to choose Charlie for the experiment because he is always eager to learn. The two directors of the experiment (Dr. Strauss and Professor Nemur), ask Charlie to write reports about his experience. The entire narrative of the novel is composed of the “progress reports” that Charlie writes.

At the beginning Charlie works at Donner’s Bakery in New York City as a janitor and delivery boy. The other employees often laugh at him, but Charlie  cannot understand that he is the subject of mockery. He believes that his colleagues are good friends. After some experiments and tests Charlie undergoes the operation and with work and help from Alice, he gradually improves. Charlie also begins to recover lost memories of his childhood, most of which involve his mother, Rose, who resented and often brutally punished Charlie for not being normal like other children.

As the book goes on we learn Charlie doesn’t feel happy with his new situation as he becomes aware that he is only part of an experiment where he is not treated as a real human being. His anxiety increases when he becomes more intelligent than the Doctors involved in the experiment and discovers that the operation was a failure as there was an error they couldn’t solve, Charlie starts losing his intelligence and ends up being the same man as at the beginning of the story.

In fact the author starts with Plato’s Alegoria of the Cave and tries to analyse.

  • The mistreat of mentally disables.
  • The tension between emotion and intellect.
  • The persistence of the past in the present.


Click on the image to see a presentation created for the meeting:


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“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen ” by Paul Torday

18924040When we start reading the book the protagonist, Dr Alfred Jones, a  civil servant at the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence, is merely a shy man who is more at home researching the mating habits of freshwater mussels than trying to find out why his marriage has become a real bore, and why his financier wife Mary has decided to work abroad.

But everything changes when a rich Yemeni, Sheikh Muhammud, offers to fund a project to populate the wadis of his desert lands with Scottish salmon. The project is finally known by the Prime Minister, who is delighted to support any Middle East initiative that involves no dying soldiers. The project starts and Dr jones seems to be the only one who believes this project is possible, as all the others are for the money and their own political interests.

However, he is not alone, he’s got two allies: the sheikh himself, a well-evoked figure with a visionary fondness for his hobby  and the other is Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, a beautiful woman working for the sheikh’ whose fiancé is stationed in Iraq. Together they set out to make the sheikh’s dream a reality. Dr Jones, Harriet and the sheikh are like three salmons swimming up the stream  in a desert of ignorance, hypocrisy and  interests. At the same time we read Dr Jones and Harriet are living a short love story which is not possible and that makes Dr Jones to start working in a project nobody believes and become a strong and more mature character.

The ending of the book is unexpected, as the whole project fails the same day of the opening ceremony . The book is in fact a moral tale about the importance of believing in something. and the comparative unimportance of everything else. We all liked and agreed about the most important aspects of the book.

 

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Publicado por en 12 febrero, 2017 en Club de Lectura en Inglés

 

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“A pale view of hills” by Kazuo Ishiguro

a-pale-view-of-hillsA Pale View of Hills is Ishiguro’s first novel, the narrative is quiet, subtle and must be read slowly if you don’t want to miss anything. The story starts with Etsuko, a Japanese woman who is living in England , reflecting on the suicide of her elder daughter, Keiko, while her younger daughter, Niki, has come to see her.  One night Etsuko has a dream which reminds her of a woman she met in Nagasaki and  then, she starts retelling her own memories. The memory  of a woman she knew  named Sachiko, who lived in a cottage miraculously spared by the bomb with her young daughter Mariko.

Etsuko remembers Sachiko’s desperate aimlessness. We know than an American man, identified only as Frank, has offered to take Sachiko and Mariko to America, and while the little girl is obviously made miserable by the idea of both America and Frank. Through the story this little girl disappointment is more and more evident and her mother’s behaviour doesn’t help as she doesn’t seem to care about her own daughter. It’s then when Atsuko decides to become her childminder.

On the night before Sachiko leaves Nagasaki to go to America, Mariko pleads with her mother to bring her kittens with her. Sachiko’s response is to admonish Mariko that the kittens are only animals, no more, and that she mustn’t develop foolish attachments to creatures. She then takes the crate of kittens from Mariko and drowns them in the river while Mariko and Etsuko watch. As a reader is shocking the passivity of Atsuko who doesn’t react and doesn’t try to do something to save the kittens and prevent the small child from seeing this act of cruelty.

kauo-ishiguroThis passivity begins to make sense in the next scene, as Etsuko and Sachiko come back  to the cottage, then Etsuko takes the lantern to go and find Mariko. When she finds the little girl near the river bank in misery, the narrative abruptly  changes from third person to first person, and while there is no doubt it is Etsuko who has left with the lantern to find Mariko, she speaks to her as her own daughter, telling her to be brave, that tomorrow they are leaving to America, that if it’s terrible they can come back to Japan, but that Frank will treat them well.

Finally Etsuko, in the present (not flashback) day makes reference to Niki and Keiko being half-sisters, with different fathers and it becomes clear that Etsuko’s memory of Sachiko and Mariko is really her own memory of her raising Keiko in Nagasaki – before they moved to Britain to be with her new husband.  Etsuko remembers the terrible mother she was to her first-born daughter, and now, in the present-day, that Keiko has never recovered, and in fact taken her own life, the only way she can begin to remember without being entirely overwhelmed by grief, guilt and shame, is to detachedly remember through a third-person filter.

Click on the image to see a presentation with photos and music created for the meeting:

a-pale-view-of-hills


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“The End of the Affair” by Graham Greene

Graham GreeneGraham Greene‘s novel The End of the Affair was first published in 1951 in England. The events of the novel describe an adulterous affair in England during World War II. When the war is over and his affair got to an end, Maurice Bendrix tries to find an explanation of why his lover, Sarah Miles, broke off their relationship so suddenly. This setting helps Greene explore themes of love and hate, faithfulness, and the presence of the divine in human lives.

In the opening of The End of the Affair  the main character, Maurice Bendrix,  and narrator too explains that he is a writer and thus is in control of the story he is about to tell. Although it is a true story, he determines what point he will begin his tale and at what point he will end it. He begins with the night he meets Henry Miles, the husband of a woman Bendrix used to have an affair with. Henry ignores that Sarah and Bendrix were lovers. The two men go to a bar to get out of the rain, and Henry tells Bendrix that Sarah (his wife) is seeing another man. Pretending to be a friend to Henry, Bendrix offers to find out the truth. In fact, Bendrix is jealous and wants to know why Sarah is seeing someone. Bendrix’s affair with Sarah ended suddenly, and he is tormented by the breakup and longs to know the reason she had to end their affair. Bendrix decides to hire an investigator who reveals him some irrelevant information which doesn’t help to find out. The only real important fact is that Sarah is visiting a rationalist who she has been debating the existence of God with. During this part of the narrative, books 1 and 2,  Graham used the “Stream of Consciousness” a technique Joyce introduced in his “Ulysses” and that is based in Freud studies of Conscious and unconscious, according to which the narrator opens an internal dialogue where the memories make the narration go backwards and forwards.

end-of-affairIn the second part of the novel (books 2 and 3) Parkis takes Sarah’s diary and Bendrix can finally know why she broke off their relationship. He reads Sarah’s diary and finds the entry about their last day together. They had been in bed when bombs started to fall and he was knocked unconscious. Seeing him Sarah thought he was dead or dying, so she went back to the bedroom and pleaded with God to let him live. She felt so strongly about this that she vowed she would give up her sinful ways, and Bendrix, if only he would live. When he walked in shortly thereafter, Sarah believed that her prayer had been answered. She broke off their relationship to keep her vow.But Sarah’s inner conflict did not end on the day of the air raid. She embarked on a spiritual journey of deep, painful struggle. At the end  she feels the power of God’s love in her life, and she dedicates herself to Him. After reading Sarah’s diary, Bendrix is convinced that she still loves him and that he can offer her a real love. He calls her, but she says she does not want to see him. Eight days later, Bendrix receives a call from Henry. Sarah has died of pneumonia.

In the end ( book 5 ) Bendrix and Henry find themselves surprisingly close as they grieve the loss of Sarah. Although Sarah had expressed a desire to become Catholic, Henry and Bendrix decide against giving her a Catholic burial. In fact, when visited by a priest, Bendrix makes it clear that Sarah will be cremated, despite the Church’s objections.

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Publicado por en 9 diciembre, 2016 en Club de Lectura en Inglés

 

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Programación de las actividades de las bibliotecas – OTOÑO

PORTADAHOJALas Bibliotecas Municipales del Ayuntamiento de Huesca organizamos una serie de actividades para el fomento de la lectura dirigidas tanto al público infantil, como al juvenil, adulto y colectivos especiales. Puedes conocer todas las actividades y horarios en este enlace:

 

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