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Author Topic: What Book Are You Currently Reading?  (Read 65526 times)
TheDeadFlagBlues
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« Reply #1075 on: July 20, 2014, 04:32:37 pm »
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« Reply #1076 on: July 20, 2014, 05:01:16 pm »
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I'm currently reading Bob Shrum's No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner on John Kerry's 2004 veep search. I wonder why he chose Edwards over Vilsack and Gephardt.
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« Reply #1077 on: July 20, 2014, 10:34:23 pm »
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Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction by Allen C. Guelzo. Guelzo is without a doubt the finest Ciivl War historian writing today. This book reads like a greatly updated (and far more readable) Battle Cry of Freedom. McPherson has always hit me as too heavy on data, far too light on story. Guelzo finds an incredible balance and also works a new view of Reconstruction into the treatment as well. A fine read and highly recommended. 
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Nathan
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« Reply #1078 on: July 23, 2014, 04:25:31 am »
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I just read All That's Left to You, by Ghassan Kanafani, in one sitting. Weird and wonderful--one of Kanafani's multiple first-person narrators is a completely inanimate object. Now back to Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic.
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« Reply #1079 on: July 23, 2014, 06:34:31 am »
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Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic.

Yey! Finally a brainy book mentioned on here that I've read. Though it was ten years ago.

I have a soft spot for Socialist-Realism, though artistically it was horribly romantic (which I'm not fond of) but architecturally could be functional (which I do like). I also like Brutalism so whatever...
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« Reply #1080 on: July 23, 2014, 06:44:55 am »
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The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan.
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Nathan
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« Reply #1081 on: July 23, 2014, 06:50:52 am »
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Socialist Realism: An Impossible Aesthetic.

Yey! Finally a brainy book mentioned on here that I've read. Though it was ten years ago.

I'm a little over halfway through. I just got through the bit on Lenin's attempt at constructing and advancing the image of a 'Red Tolstoy'.

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I have a soft spot for Socialist-Realism, though artistically it was horribly romantic (which I'm not fond of) but architecturally could be functional (which I do like). I also like Brutalism so whatever...

In that case like (at least some of) the aspects of socialist realism that you don't, and don't like (at least some of) the aspects that you do. And if you like brutalism you'd love my now-former university campus. I mean that sincerely--it's the best-integrated and (for someone who doesn't like brutalism) overall least objectionable use of brutalist architecture I've ever seen. It helps that the brutalist buildings are mixed in with Colonial revival, postmodern, and in one incongruous case Gothic revival buildings in an interestingly heterogeneous way.
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A shameless agrarian collectivist with no respect for private property or individual rights.

His idea of freedom is - it is a bad thing and should be stopped at all costs.

Nathan-land.  As much fun as watching paint dry... literally.
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« Reply #1082 on: July 23, 2014, 01:05:56 pm »
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'Socialist' 'Realism' was effectively the kitschification (for glorification of political power) of the Russian Realist tradition, which - as bad luck would have it - was actually one of the most interesting and artistically accomplished of the various 19th century Realist tendencies. Rather delightfully, the American Realist tradition was also pretty accomplished and dynamic, and it also suffered the fate of kitschification-for-politics in the 1930s... though (mercifully) to a less extreme degree.
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« Reply #1083 on: July 23, 2014, 02:32:28 pm »
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'Socialist' 'Realism' was effectively the kitschification (for glorification of political power) of the Russian Realist tradition, which - as bad luck would have it - was actually one of the most interesting and artistically accomplished of the various 19th century Realist tendencies.

That's exactly the process that Robin is discussing. Because of my great fondness for Russian realism I like the aspects of socialist realism that suffered less than others from the kitschification, generally because of the skill of the artist in question rather than because some fields of the arts or areas of subject matter were somehow more immune to it than others (although I have seen it noted that socialist realist paintings of Lenin tend on balance to be less atrocious than those of Stalin, which comes as not much of a surprise at all).

Robin seems to think that what Gorky seemed to mean by his preferred term 'revolutionary romanticism' would probably have been more artistically fulfilled, but that's an effect of the fact that Gorky was a better writer and more honest than a lot of the people surrounding him and a lot of the other people at the First Soviet Writers' Congress to which Robin devotes Part One of the book. (The book focuses mostly on novels. Part Two is about the 'realist obsession of the nineteenth century' and spends a lot of time on Goncharov and Turgenev as novelists--there's a particularly vivid dissection of Bazarov from Fathers and Sons--and Belinsky, Dobrolyubov, and Pisarev as critics, along with the requisite Chernyshevsky, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy.)

Robin spends the introduction talking about her personal background with Soviet film and literature and her genuine childhood love for this sort of thing. She's for the most part semi-sympathetic--more sympathetic to her former self than to the art in question--without being an apologist, although the 'insane dream' sequence at the end of Part One--which I'll type up if anybody is interested in reading it--is one of the most full-throated criticisms I've read in any book of this kind.

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Rather delightfully, the American Realist tradition was also pretty accomplished and dynamic, and it also suffered the fate of kitschification-for-politics in the 1930s... though (mercifully) to a less extreme degree.

By the pre-kitschified form are you referring to (in visual art) painters like the Ashcan School, and by the post-kitschified form such as Norman Rockwell, or is my understanding of American realism constrained because I've spent so much of my life focusing on European and Asian art?
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A shameless agrarian collectivist with no respect for private property or individual rights.

His idea of freedom is - it is a bad thing and should be stopped at all costs.

Nathan-land.  As much fun as watching paint dry... literally.
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« Reply #1084 on: July 23, 2014, 05:22:37 pm »
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I'm reading Tony Judt's Postwar. It's okay so far, I hope it gets better. The first few chapters just seem to be endless lists of numbers and statistics. His actual analysis is interesting, but reading page after page listing the numbers of refugees from each European state is kind of exhausting.

I've read it as well as a couple of other books by Judt.  I have read a lot of european history and I think he is a little biased on certain things.

Right now I'm reading "Globalization and its enemies" by Daniel Cohen
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« Reply #1085 on: July 23, 2014, 07:38:15 pm »
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I still think the USSR should have made constructivism, instead of socialist 'realism', its official art style... just think of the possibilities, never mind its effect on Communism's low aesthetic reputation.
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