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Hm. The meme I bastardised a couple of days ago.... It's actually supposed to one's ten most important/formative/influential books.

1. R.Kipling, The Jungle Books, or rather, Das Dschungelbuch: I don't even know why I would single out this one from my children's books as particularly influential, and in any case after twenty years it's nearly impossible to tell which, if any book had a influence, but somehow I have fond memories of the beautifully illustrated edition I had. And unlike the Greek mythology my father used to read to us, this was always my book. There is some connection, I can't quite define... early escapism, perhaps?

2. E.M.Forster, Maurice: It's either this or A Room with a View, but at a toss, Maurice. I've since come to prefer both A Passage to India and The Longest Journey, but this was the first book by Forster I read, in German translation after I'd seen the movie, later in English. I still like it - I chose Forster for his emphasis on the importance of personal honesty, something that pervades all his writing, but in a sense this novel with its defiant insistence on a happy ending, even if as a result it had to remain unpublished, is proof that he was very serious about what he believed in. Also my first real exposure to gay literature.

3. Patricia McKillip, The Riddle Master Trilogy: I guess there ought to be at least one SF/fantasy book on the list, seeing as at one point of my life this genre made up a great part of my reading. As far as I remember, the first fantasy book I ever read - I recall checking out the German translation from the library - and one I still like, unlike e.g. Tolkien, who I've grown rather less fond of, or, god help me, Mercedes Lackey, who I cringe at the thought of ever having read at all.

4. William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, for the reason already given.

5. Mary Renault's Alexander trilogy, ditto.

6. Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoires d'Hadrien [Memoirs of Hadrian]: If I have to chose between her books it's this one. Aside from the reason given before, it has a special place in my mind, and not only because of the person who gave it to me. Some books/characters you connect with easily, others... there is a connection, but not necessarily of easy familiarity or ready understanding, and those books open a door, widen your horizon, push you to another mental level, however you want to phrase it. This was one of them.

7. Derek Jarman, Modern Nature: Shook up my notions about gender, sexuality etc... I also fell in love with his garden. I remember reading it one summer on the train to the excavations in Enns, and one of the students from our group, who'd earlier expressed her disgust at 'that scene' in The Crying Game picked it up. I don't really know what she thought, except that it must have finally convinced her that I was lesbian.

8. Norbert Elias, Über den Prozess der Zivilisation [The Civilizing Process], cf. the earlier post.

9. Clive Barker, Sacrament. Hard decision. I'll stick with Sacrament, not only because it was the first of his novels I read, but because it's perhaps more personal, less diverse than most of his other books, the story more condensed and the message clearer in a sense. The moment when Rosa and Jacob realise that they're part of one being and all the pain came from having forgotten this... very beautiful, a wonderful reworking of the platonic myth.

10. Thoman Mann, Buddenbrooks: Again, an almost impossible decision. I really believe the most interesting thing will be the balance/interaction/comparison between the novels and diaries, but if I had to decide on one single book.... *sigh* Maybe, but only maybe. Der Zauberberg was the first one I read, and it still very much fascinates me; Doktor Faustus is the more psychologically and artistically intriguing, but Buddenbrooks almost shocked me with its sheer perfection, the brilliance of the language, the mixture of humour and tragedy... and it firmly hooked me.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 13th, 2004 06:22 pm (UTC)
i gave my mother the book 'derek jarman's garden', she really took some of the ideas up, her garden is full of rusty sculptures, here and there
and last february i showed that book to my friend To in Portugal, who's a teacher in a secondary school, and next thing he buys it and starts a project with his students to recreate his garden. an amazing book. and i seem to have become its messenger
Apr. 13th, 2004 07:35 pm (UTC)
now you made *me* want to buy it, after all.... I'm almost embarrassed to say, I never actually got around to, it always seemed a little too expensive.

Apr. 13th, 2004 07:41 pm (UTC)
trust me, it's worth it :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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