Sunday, 16 November 2014

Reading and then more reading

As you probably know by now I have very diverse taste in my reading, currently I finished a short biography on the Painter and father of German realism in painting Otto Dix, entitled Otto Dix, The art of life by Philipp Gutbrod.  A fascinating man who led an incredible life in Germany, acclaimed as a great artist and condemn by others dodged by controversy and terrible dangers for himself and his family during the Nazi dictatorship to received accolades and honours after the War but was generally ignored by the Art scene. I wish I could have met him.

I am also reading Teaching in the Art Museum by Rika Burnham and Elliott Kai-Kee. This to help me in my volunteer work at the National Gallery of Canada. A very good guide to develop techniques  on interpretation of art works and how to entice the public in participating and looking at pictures.

I started on a novel entitled to Wake the dead by Marina Belozerskaya, her book is the history of archeology as she follows a man Cyriacus da Pizzicolli also known as da Ancona,(1391-1455) a merchant who has a keen interest for all things antique especially the monuments of ancient Greece and Rome. He wrote but never published many manuscripts on ancient monuments and was read by many powerful people of this time, friend of Popes and Princes, he was highly respected. The story is around 1421 when the Renaissance in Italy was about 120 years old and the Popes in Rome where returning from  their exile in Avignon and rebuilding Rome. There was no archeology before the Renaissance and little knowledge of what the classic Roman or Greek had been like before the start of the Middle Ages around 500 AD. It's an easy read and it is fun.

I am also reading about Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrona, daughter of Tsar Alexander III and sister to the last Tsar Nicholas II. She fled the Revolution in 1920 with her family to Canada and lived until her death in 1961 in Toronto. The family still lives in Toronto today and are active within Romanov Circles promoting the restoration of the Dynasty in Russia. This book entitled; 25 Chapters of my life: Memoirs of my life,  is a diary of the Grand Duchess and her life in Russia when her father was the Tsar and then under her brother and the violent end of the Monarchy and aftermath. It is an interesting read as it gives you an idea what life was like at the Imperial Court.

I also finished reading the short stories of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Professor and the Siren. What an incredible writer he was and it is so sad that his greatest literary success came after his death and that he wrote only in the last years of his life. Imagine what a success he could have been during his lifetime. He is the author of one of the most famous modern Italian novel The Leopard. Lampedusa is the archetype of the Sicilian nobleman, stuck in the past and unable to move forward or even wondering why he should move at all. I remember one passage where he explained that all the Nobles in Sicily and there were quite a few, did not see any reason to change after Sicily was annexed by Italy in 1870. They had lost everything but since they were Princes, they did not see why they should change just because now they were part of Italy. Many cloistered themselves in their Palaces in Palermo and continued to live as if nothing had happened, life became more and more financially precarious but it never occurred to them to find a job.  This was his world, educated, erudite, well traveled, it is and was the dilemma of Sicily then and now. Not really belonging to Italy and no longer part of a greater Kingdom with ties to Spain.
I find him a fascinating character and his writing is beautiful.

I have many other titles waiting for me to read and I have to be more disciplined in my reading schedule.


  1. Right now I'm reading "The Regeneration Trilogy" by Pat Barker. It's set in World War I in England and has gay themes as well. Has a mix of historical characters (like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owens the war poets) and fictional characters. Well worth reading!

  2. I think your taste in reading is remarkable and admirable.

  3. Wow! I am now making a list. Thanks for the wonderful reading recommendations.