Of Contempt and Edgewood and Hard-Boiled Wonderlands (Read-alongs This May)

Frances and Richard, two bloggers whose opinion I have long valued, are hosting a read-along of Contempt by Alberto Moravia, which is the “…story of a failing marriage. Contempt (which was to inspire Jean-Luc Godard’s no-less-celebrated film) is an unflinching examination of desperation and self-deception in the emotional vacuum of modern consumer society.” Their read-along is to take place on May 23-25.

In lieu of reading the novel, or perhaps in addition to one’s reading, we are also invited to see the film produced by Jean-Luc Godard in 1963:

contempt Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 film

(Produced by Carlo Ponti, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 Contempt, based on Alberto Moravia’s novel, Il Disprezzo, was an Italian and French co-production. ~ DoBianchi)

Little Big

But before I come to that, I am fully immersed in John Crowley’s Little, Big. It is the perfect read for me now, in a time of frenetic activity involved with closing school and the heaviness of many  books I recently read for the IFFP. I am absorbed every night in cottages which smell of roses and old fires, or the edge of a wood whose floor is covered in moss. The peace there is soothing beyond words.

Hard-Boiled Wonderfland

This morning, Terri sent me a tweet reminding me of our shared read for Haruki Murakami’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of The World. In 1985 it won the Tanizaki Prize, which is one of Japan’s most prized literary awards, named in honor of the Japanese novelist Juni’chio Tanizaki. This book, too, has long been anticipated for reading this May.

So today begins a month which is filled with exciting reads for me. I can barely bring myself to school when I want to read all day long, yet the evenings to be spent with each piece of literature here hold great anticipation. I’m so glad that several of you are joining Tom and Helen and I with Little, Big, and I encourage all others who want to join in any of these three to do so.

It will be such good reading.

24 thoughts on “Of Contempt and Edgewood and Hard-Boiled Wonderlands (Read-alongs This May)”

  1. You found a much better designed Contempt! I’ll go looking for that one now. I’m with Richard about the current NYRB design. I’m so excited by all of this that I’m going out to pick up a copy of Little, Big this weekend so that I can join in that fun too!!


    1. Yeah, there couldn’t be a much worse cover than the spinning heads. But who knows, maybe that’s indicative of the contents as I understand Moravia has psychological games in his writing. I’ll find out soon, I suppose…

      As for you joining in Little, Big I couldn’t be more thrilled! It’s long, and I’m not usually a big fantasy fan, but this book is so beloved, and has earned so many accolades, that I had to try it. And nothing could be better than reading with friends. Plus, it was the perfect thing to sit down with every evening this week…such an escape.


  2. I’m taking an eCourse, Shakespeare in Community, through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
    I finished H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald.Very good read. Lyrical.

    Currently reading the Blue Zone Solution, about centenarians from different parts of the world.


    1. I have heard such excellent things of H is for Hawk, and I’ve been wanting to read it for quite some time. My mother even asked for it a few weeks ago, but so far it hasn’t been delivered to her. I may have to buy it for her and then borrow it when she’s done.

      I know you have taken online courses before. Are they fulfilling? Do you feel you have discussion over the texts? I’d be interested to hear of your experiences.


      1. Shakespeare in Community through University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the best MOOC I have taken. The first one we have to study is Romeo and Juliet. There are lots of discussion and of course movies.


  3. This will be my first Read Along experience. Is there a theme to discuss or just blog about your reaction to each half of the book? I want to finish off a couple of half finished books before setting off. Otherwise it should be a nice counter balance to my other major read, a classic South African epic (Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk) that I want to read before visiting that country in June.


    1. My favorite way to participate (host?) in a read-along is for those who read to post their thoughts, insights and questions as we go along. Or, one might even feel like quoting a favorite passage and reflecting on that. Someone always picks up a point I hadn’t thought of before, or has a new angle of looking at something, and that is what I like best. Please feel free to write a review, or leave a comment, as you see fit. I will probably leave thoughts after each Book, around the middle May and then at the end. But there is no set way to do any of this. Hope I didn’t confuse you further!

      By the way, I’m finishing Book One, Edgewood, now and I love it. But apparently his book is so complex and multi-layered with meaning, some people feel it needs multiple readings.


      1. I am relieved that it is not too structured. I will probably aim to post two installments and take part commenting on other people’s posts as we go along.


        1. Thanks for the recommendation, I’m eager to discover more of John Crowley. Have you a blog? I tried to visit but only found your Gravatar, which is fine but I would return the favor of leaving a comedy. Thanks for visiting.


  4. Themes, ha ha ha, how horrible. I sure hope not,

    Next week I will put up my Little, Big announcement, too. It will be “preparation for Little, Big week,” at least for a few days.

    DB, have you read that Murakami before? There are some curious resemblances to Crowley’s novel.

    It is a shame that “fantasy novel” means nothing more than “Tolkien knockoff” to so many people. There are many kinds of fantasy.


    1. Themes…how horrible. You crack me up! We are not in school, are we, Tom, and therefore we will pick and choose what to discuss at our own discretion, n’est ce pas? Can’t wait, really, to see your thoughts. You always have a fresh perspective on what we read.

      Wonderland is one of the few Murakami’s I have yet to read. Thrilled to see that there will be some “curious resemblances”; how wonderful!

      And, it’s so true how fantasy has come to assume an association with wizards and fairies and sprites.


  5. I would love to take part in the read-along, as I quite enjoyed reading Moravia back in college, how can I do that? Also, I have started looking for the movie (starring Bardot), since Godard is seen as a household name in the field…


    1. Ally, I would love to have your thoughts, and I’m sure Frances and Richard will as well. They are the hosts for the Moravia. Of whom I’ve never read. Please visit their blog posts announcing the event which I’ve linked to in this post, and I’m sure they’ll welcome you with open arms. I’m sure I’ll have to view the film, as well as read the book. I see that you can rent it from Amazon.com


  6. Enjoy your readalongs, Bellezza. I’ll have to pass on these novels as I’m committed to reading from my TBR for the foreseeable future. Looking forward to following your reviews though. All the best, Jacqui x


    1. Yes, but Jacqui, your TBR pile is quite formidable as far as I can see. You have a gorgeous stack while will keep you meaningfully occupied for quite some time. Are you following any set procedure, or blogger, as you work through your stack?


      1. Oh, I’m all for variety, so I tend to pick as I go according to my mood…and I try to join themed events where possible (Spanish Lit Month and German Lit Month, for instance). Contempt isn’t in my TBR, but I have another Moravia, which I’m reading at the moment, so I hope to blog it later in the month. 🙂


  7. I may join in with moravia if i can get a copy have a number of his other books and recntly watch the comformist another film based on one of his books .


    1. I am not familiar with Moravia at all, so I’m really looking forward to discussing this author and learning what I can about his writing. Hope you can join if you find the time. Or, the book!


    1. I have wanted to read it for at least several years. I got the extra push I needed when I saw it at the Art Institute of Chicago when the Magritte exhibit was there last summer. Then, when Tom said he was willing to read it this Spring, I was thrilled. I’m even happier that several bloggers want to share it together.


  8. I hope I am not too late to join the Little, Big readalong. I would very much like to be part of it if I may — one of my very favorite novels and authors.


    1. You’re not too late at all, and I’d love to have you! This is my first time through either Little, Big or anything by John Crowley, but I can already see why it would be one of your favorite novels, and he one of your favorite authors. I’m already completely entranced. I’ve added your name to the sidebar of participants. Thanks for joining us.


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