Sunday, February 25, 2007

Interesting Articles

Book Buff in Oz posted links to a couple of articles today. I highly recommend reading the second one: you can find my thoughts in that comments section. :) It's about reading, and the conflict between 'low-brow' and 'high-brow' books. I found the conclusion especially true: "This is what I would say to any reader: If you give a book a good go and it doesn't sweep you up, don't worry, don't feel guilty. Put it down and try another one. You might come back to that first book, perhaps years later, and find some magic that eluded you the first time. And if it does sweep you up, however surprising and disturbing that might be, don't worry about whether the world considers it treasure or trash: go for the ride."

The New York Times had a really good essay today called "Rediscovering Alexander Herzen." Anything Russian, of course, has a soft spot in my heart. I was impressed with how well-written the article was (yes, even for the NYT). This passage really struck me:
"Herzen regarded the world with a cool, ironic eye. It is the source of his comedy. But he burned with a sense of the world’s injustices. His denunciations of the bourgeoisie match Marx for vituperative heat. The petty, calculating side of British and French middle-class life repulsed him. Italy, with its spontaneity and warmth, was more to his taste — more Russian, in fact."
In America, I've noticed people think of Russians as cold. Russians feel the same way about Americans. Having lived in Russia, I can see both sides. Americans are friendlier to strangers, smile more, etc. But Russians bring more immediate passion to their friendships; Russians accepted me more quickly than Americans tend to.

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