Supposedly Human, the World’s Shame

Between Enemies
Andrea Molesini, trans. Antony Shugaar and Patrick Creagh
Allen & Unwin
November 2015
AU $29.99

between_enemiesAndrea Molesini’s Between Enemies is an eloquent tale of occupation, collaboration and resistance set in WWI.  Based on true events, it follows the aristocratic Spada household as their property is requisitioned by German soldiers, then Austrians.  Their village is occupied.  Eventually the whole household as well as several villagers are drawn to resist the occupiers.

Told from the perspective of 17-year-old Paolo, writing as an adult some ten years later, the story is full of high drama, but also nostalgia and melancholy.  Because the narrator is a teenage boy during the events, the story is also sadly filled with the objectification of Paolo’s crush Giulia.  While this is probably realistic, it’s a little tiresome to read, especially when the novel purports to say something about the natures of men and women and their relationships*.  This is usually by way of commentary delivered by Paolo’s eccentric but wise grandfather, and manages to be the same sort of thing supposedly wise men always say about women in stories of this kind.  If authors** could stop doing that, that would be swell. Continue reading

The Military Experience in the Age of Reason

military_experience_in_theage_of_reason
THE MILITARY EXPERIENCE IN THE AGE OF REASON
Duffy, Christopher (Wordsworth Editions Limited: Hertfordshire, 1998, ISBN 0710210248)

I find I have a copy of The Military Experience in the Age of Reason on my bookshelf. I assume I must’ve purchased it for its cover art. Could I ever, in sincerity, have doubted the general tenor of that ‘experience’? Could I have imagined that soldiers woke up in the morning and thought, “My do I enjoy catching diseases out here in the mud. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank providence for the string of circumstances that led to my becoming an artillery target in the Austrian Plumed-Hat Corps.”?

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      BRILLIANCE OF THE MOON Lian Hearn (Hodder, 2004, ISBN: 0-7336-1564-3) Brilliance of the Moon is the last in Lian Hearn’s original Tales of the Otori trilogy.  It takes place shortly after the conclusion of Grass for his Pillow.  Takeo and Kaede have married in secret, against the wishes of their protector, the warlord … Continue reading