Book Review: Dickens by Stefan Majchrowski

the book


dickens-majchrowski
Original Title: Dickens
Author: Stefan Majchrowski
Publisher: Obzor
First published: 1977
Pages: 299
Language: Slovak
Format: print. (library copy)
My rating: 4/5

 

the author

“Stefan Majchrowski (1908 – 1988) was a Polish writer who fought in the Invasion of Poland of 1939. He was later captured and incarcerated in the German POW camp. After his liberation by American forces, he served in the Polish Armed Forces in the West. In 2009, he was posthumously awarded by President Lech Kaczynski the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta “for outstanding contribution to the independence of the Polish Republic, for activities on behalf of democratic change in Poland as well as veterans and social activities for their performance in the work undertaken for the benefit of the country and social activities”. // wikipedia

the review

I will start off by saying that this was the first biography of Charles Dickens I have read, so I realize I have nothing to compare it to, therefore, my giving this 4 stars is solely based on my enjoyment of Majchorwskis book and not on comparison with other Dickens biographies.

Majchrowski provides a great insight into the life and work of one of the world’s most famous and beloved authors. Despite the fact that I’ve only ever read one, I would say this is a pretty good introduction to Dickens‘ biographies. It has a nice mix of Dickens‘ personal life and the political and historical situation in England as well as France, so you are able to put things into further context with regards to happenings and events of that time.

Along with describing and introducing Dickens as a man of the 19th century, he provides some brief analyses of his literary works in relation to his current situation and his motives and inspirations for his works.

The book is divided into 21 parts/chapters according to several periods of Dickens’ life, which make it fairly easy to read. It is written in chronological order starting with Dickens’ difficult childhood which is critical in understanding his later works. Same goes for Dickens’ writings – Majchrowski mentions them chronologically and spends some time introducing and analysing each of his works.

The reason I did not give this biography 5 stars is the lack of pictures and visual evidence. There were no pictures or photos in this book and even though it is still an interesting read, if the author would have provided some photos, it would have been a more enjoyable book.

Dickens’ fame & success

What makes Dickens different from many other world-famous authors is the fact that he was incredibly famous & beloved even in his own time. Many writers that are now considered the best in their field were not, infact, quite as popular when they lived. But Dickens was. He was very much appreciated and every one of his novels (then released in monthy installments) was anxiously expected by the whole England. That is why I find reading about Dickens and his success not only intellectually enriching but also quite motivating. He knew what he wanted and he worked hard for it.

“My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.” – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield.

Overall, I consider this biography a great and insightful material to study the ever fascinating Charles Dickens and his interesting and eventful life.

my rating

4 stars black

 

Thank you for reading!

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New In: Lots of new books!

Hello!

Since I’ve been at my new job and finally making money, I’ve been constantly making excuses to buy new books and in the past two months it’s been worse than ever. I bought 8 books! For me, that’s a lot! And I’m not saying I regret these purchases, but I’m saving up for college so I should really think twice before just buying any book that I see at the bookstore. I might go on a book-buying ban soon… Right after I receive another 3 books in the mail, that I ordered from BookDepository, lol.

So today I’m gonna share with you the books that I’ve purchased in February and March.

new in books 01

Most of these books are in Slovak – in my mother tongue. Mainly because I’ve been reading so many English books lately that I started to really neglect my native language! Plus, my mom, who is also an avid reader, hates it when I buy books in English because she doesn’t speak English, therefore she can’t really read them, haha. (But I always say that there’s a very simple solution – just learn English, no excuses.)

new in books 03

The first purchase that I’m gonna mention made me the happiest! I bought the Lord of the Rings (Pán Prsteňov) trilogy in Slovak for less than 15€ altogether! That is an amazing price! They were in the “damaged” section at our local discount bookstore and even after carefully examining them, I couldn’t really see where they were damaged, so I bought them all. They’re in a perfect condition and for less than 15€! Also, the translation usually makes the book a little more expensive, as you would expect, so that’s another aspect where I managed to save some money. Woop woop!

new in books 04

Under the Never Sky (Pod vražednou oblohou) by Veronica Rossi: this one I also bought at our local discount bookstore for only 2€. Another great purchase!

I think you’re all familiar with the book We Bought a Zoo (Kúpili sme Zoo) by Benjamin Mee, which was also made into a movie. I think they had it for about 4€ and I really wanted to read it so I just bought it.

The one on the right, The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted (Provensalský dom zázrakov) by Bridget Asher, I knew nothing about. I simply bought it because I fell in love with the cover (yes, I do judge books by their covers), it had a very summer-y feeling, it made me really excited for spring and summer and of course, this one was also really cheap.

new in books 02

Lastly, I’ve got two English books.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – I’ve been toying with the idea of starting The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices series. I have a feeling I would really dislike TMI and The Infernal Devices series has better reviews anyway, so I decided I’d read the first book in TID series and then see for myself if I wanna continue with the series or if it’s just not for me.

I was really surprised to see that The Hitchhiker’S Guide to the Galaxy is such a short book! I had no idea! Had I known it was so short, I would have read it ages ago, haha. But I finally got it and I can’t wait to start reading it. A friend of mine is constantly telling me about how crazy and incredible it is, I think his favorite is book 2, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

These are all the books I managed to buy in the recent months.
Thank you for reading and now I’ll hopefully focus on posting more and more reviews!

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Book Review: Vojnové 40. roky (The Warring Forties)

BOOK INFO

vojnove 40 roky book cover

Title: Vojnové 40. roky
Author: Juraj Šebo
Publisher: Marenčin PT, 2013
Pages: 270
Language: slovenský / Slovak
Version: print

 

MY RATING:

4 stars black

I decided to write a bilingual review, since this book is in Slovak, but I write my blog in English. 
So this review is gonna be in both, Slovak and English. (Hence the little flags in the corner.) 


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MOJE HODNOTENIE: 

Po tejto sérii pokukujem už dlhšie a konečne som sa rozhodla s ňou začať po tom, ako som videla tieto knižky v našej renovovanej knižnici. Začínam „odspodu navrch“, teda od 40. rokov vyššie, aj keď myslím, že autor ich písal v opačnom poradí.

Ako prvý ma zaujal autorov sarkazmussuchý humor, ktorý ja osobne vždy viem oceniť. Počas čítania som sa viackrát zasmiala na autorovom výbere slov a na nezmyselnosti niektorých jeho výrokov.

„V našom okrese bolo osem daždivých dní. Z toho dva dni vôbec nepršalo.“
„WHW – Winter Hilfe Woľačo“

Knižka sa číta veľmi dobre, je rozdelená na krátke častikapitoly, a približuje bratislavský život počas vojny ľuďom, ktorí vojnu možno nikdy nezažili. Pán Šebo veľmi často spomína názvy konkrétnych ulíc a bývalých a súčasných podnikov v Bratislave, preto si myslím, že najviac to dokážu oceniť ľudia, ktorí poznajú Bratislavu ako svoje ponožky.

Mňa osobne najviac zaujala časť, kde autor opisuje históriu (v tej dobe) najobľúbenejšej bratislavskej kaviarničky Štefánky. Tu sa schádzali bohémovia a velikáni 40. rokov, medzi nimi mnohé známe mená, slovenskí básnici, prozaici, politici a iné dôležité a zaujímavé osobnosti.

cr02Autor poskytol obrovské množstvo fotografií, ktoré sprevádzajú jednotlivé kapitoly, a vďaka ktorým si človek môže vytvoriť ucelenú predstavu o spomínaných veciach a udalostiach. Či už sa jedná o prídelové lístky, rodinné fotografie, cenník automobilov, rôzne reklamy, listy, politické plagáty, atď.  Toto všetko podáva lepší a presnejší obraz o dobe, kedy samotný autor a mnohí naši predkovia vyrastali.

Boli tam aj isté veci, ktoré si autor mohol odpustiť, napríklad časté konštatovania typu „Dnes to už nie je čo to bolo kedysi; dnes sú veci nanič, v minulosti bolo všetko lepšie“, lebo to mi potom príde, akoby som čítala memoár nejakého frustrovaného, zatrpknutého starca.

Celkovo sa mi však knižka páčila, rozhodne by som ju odporučila všetkým, mladým aj starým, ktorých zaujíma história „bežných ľudí“ a ktorí si chcú priblížiť život svojich starých rodičov a vo všeobecnosti život Slovákov v 40. rokoch.


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MY REVIEW:

Even though I believe this book is not translated to English, I still decided to write an English review, so that I can introduce our current Slovak literature to my readers.

I’ve been eyeing this series for a while now and I finally decided to start it when I saw this book in our newly
refurbished library. I’m starting with the 1940s and I’ll work my way up chronologically to the more recent decades, even though I think they were written the other way around.

When reading, the first thing that caught my eye was the author’s sarcasm and his rather dry humor, which I always appreciate. There were several instances when I laughed out loud at the author’s interesting choice of words or the absurdity of some of his conclusions.

“WHW – Winter Hilfe Whatever”

The book is very well written, and despite there not being any real plot or action, it reads quickly and not at all like a boring history book. It is divided into several parts and short chapters and offers a nice look at the life in Bratislava during the war to people who might not have experienced it first-hand. Mr. Šebo often mentions the names of particular streets and businesses and/or buildings that used to be there, which only those who really know Bratislava can appreciate.

The part I was most interested in, was introducing and describing the history of the most famous café of that time called Štefánka (Stephania). Here, many of the Slovak greats gathered, including poets, writers, politicians and lots of other interesting and important individuals.

The author offered a great amount of photographies in particular chapters, which help in creating a whole and complex picture of the events mentioned. Be it family photos, car prices, advertisements, letters, posters, etc. All this offers a better idea of the times in which many of our ancestors grew up.

However, there were few things that could have been left out. For instance, the author frequently commented that “In these days, everything sucks; everything was better back then”. This does not read well. It reads like a memoir of a frustrated, angry old man.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone who enjoys the history of “the common people” and to the curious ones who just want to get a better look at the lives of our ancestors in the 1940s Slovakia.


That is all for my first review on this blog.
Thank you for reading and have a nice day!
Oh, and Happy Easter!

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