I'm a GoodReads user testing new waters after the serious website changes. I mostly read fiction, usually Anglophone classics/ modern classics; I like nonfiction (mostly social and cultural history), good fantasy and graphic novels. For guilty pleasure, I read advice and how-to books. I made at least two reading resolutions recently; 1. read less, live more; 2. read books which give me more pleasure. I have poor filters, and books I find stylistically pleasing tend to be depressing, so I need to do something about that; if you think you know a book that is very well written, but won't make me weep, please drop me a line.

Memoirs of Hadrian

Memoirs of Hadrian - Marguerite Yourcenar, Grace Frick My reaction to [b:Memoirs of Hadrian|12172|Memoirs of Hadrian|Marguerite Yourcenar||1064574] astonished and amused me: I'm not used to reacting to novels the way people react to [b:The Secret|52529|The Secret (The Secret, #1)|Rhonda Byrne||2001660] - with a deep conviction that this book could give me strength and shield me from depression; a need to underline three passages per page, to buy copies for my honours students, to recommend it to past students and my friends; finally - a desire to own a copy, which vanished the moment I read the final sentence.

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that I found this novel difficult to discuss other than in terms of my reaction to it; I found it dissolved my criticism. Moreover, I was simply embarrassed at my reaction, and had a crawling suspicion that something is wrong with this book; that my reaction cannot be attributed to anything else but kitschiness of sorts; that this novels tricks me, on some level.

I mentioned to that to an elderly and extremely well-read friend of mine, who listened patiently to my infatuated-but-mistrustful story, and said:

- It's the French way. They tend to articulate every last bit of their thoughts in a very polished way. We tend to look for the missing two-thirds of an iceberg, and in French books, there's frequently nothing left under the surface - they deliver their message fully and openly. You said it felt like a manifesto, and to me, French literature frequently has this manifesto-like feel.

To conclude: it is a beautiful, didactic and uplifting novel, written soon after the dramatic events of World War II; it can make you feel like a better person - or, if you're anti-establishment, anti-interventionalism, it can make you irritated. My inner Ventrue loved it.

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