The Phantom of the Opera

Le Fantôme de l'Opéra
,

Poisoned Pen Press
1909
Paperback
304
French
?
January 2, 2022 January 10, 2022
,

Every night at the Palais Garnier, hundreds of guests sit on the edge of velvet-covered seats, waiting for prima donna La Carlotta to take the stage. But when her voice fails her, La Carlotta is replaced with unknown understudy Christine Daaé, a young soprano whose vibrant singing fills every corner of the house and wins her a slew of admirers, including an old childhood friend who soon professes his love for her. But unknown to Christine is another man, who lurks out of sight behind the heavy curtains of the opera, who can move about the building undetected, who will do anything to make sure Christine will keep singing just for him…
This curated edition of The Phantom of the Opera, based on the original 1911 English translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, brings an iconic story of love and obsession to today's readers and illuminates the timeless appeal of Leroux's masterpiece.


About the book

First book of the year. As a first reading, I decided to immerse myself in the classics and read The Phantom of the Opera. For various reasons. First of all my favorite skater played this music and since I can’t find the movie, I decided to read the story. Second is the favorite book of a booktuber that I follow and I wanted to see why.

Poor unfortunate Erik! Should we feel sorry for him? Should we curse him? He was just asking to be someone, like everyone else! He had a heart capable of holding the whole world, but he had to settle for a cave.

Continue reading “The Phantom of the Opera”

The Monk

The Monk


Oxford University Press
1796
Paperback
456
English
November 1, 2021 November 5, 2021

Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt.

Inspired by German horror romanticism and he work of Ann Radcliffe, Lewis produced his masterpiece at the age of 19. It contains many typical Gothic elements - seduction in a monastery, lustful monks, evil abbesses, bandits an beautiful heroines. But Lewis also played with convention, ranging from gruesome realism to social comedy, and even parodied the genre in which he was writing.


About the book

We are in Madrid, in the 18th century, a period in which the Inquisition and death by burning existed. Here preaches Ambrosio, abbot of the Capuchin monastery present in the city, a virtuous man who manages to charm the congregation with his sermons. He never leaves the monastery and preaches in church only on Thursdays.

Antonia is a young woman who is bewitched by the abbot one Thursday when she goes to hear the homily with her aunt. Here, however, she also meets Lorenzo, a young noble who gives her his seat.

Agnes is a nun of the convent of Santa Chiara adjacent to the monastery and Lorenzo’s sister. As we learn, she hides a secret that will be the beginning of Ambrosio’s ruin (even if it has nothing to do with it directly).

Continue reading “The Monk”

The Betrothed

I Promessi Sposi
, ,

Penguin Classics
1840
eBook
720
Italian
Bruce Penman
July 31, 2021 August 9, 2021
, , ,

Set in Lombardy during the Spanish occupation of the late 1620s, The Betrothed tells the story of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, prevented from marrying by the petty tyrant Don Rodrigo, who desires Lucia for himself. Forced to flee, they are then cruelly separated, and must face many dangers including plague, famine and imprisonment, and confront a variety of strange characters—the mysterious Nun of Monza, the fiery Father Cristoforo and the sinister “Unnamed”—in their struggle to be reunited. A vigorous portrayal of enduring passion, The Betrothed‘s exploration of love, power, and faith presents a whirling panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life and is one of the greatest European historical novels.

“The 19th-century Italian literary classic renowned for its vivid descriptions of the 1630 pestilence that gutted Milan.” —The New York Times

“Compulsory reading for Italian high school students, The Betrothed gives a historically accurate account of the bubonic plague that wiped out a quarter of Milan’s population in 1629-1631.” —Politico

“This is not just a book; it offers consolation to the whole of humanity.” —Giuseppe Verdi


About the book

The Betrothed is the first novel written by an Italian author and is a milestone in our literature. Everyone, or almost everyone, studied this book in high school, especially those who attended a “liceo” (I’m not going to explain the difference among all the high schools we have) or an advanced technical institute (usually in the second grade which is 10th grade for non-Italians).

With Manzoni, Italian fiction adapts to the modern reality already present in France and England for more than a century, thus guaranteeing the return of our literature in Europe after a crisis that lasted more than two centuries.

Two cultural strands converge in The Betrothed: the Lombard Enlightenment which aims to bring the intellectual closer to society and the Romanticism with its attention to national history. Without Manzoni there would have been no history of the novel in Italy.

Continue reading “The Betrothed”

Heart

Heart
Cuore
, ,

Fredonia Books (NL)
1886
Paperback
274
Italian
Isabel Florence Hapgood
March 18, 2018 March 21, 2018

Written following the Italian war for independence by a sub-lieutenant who had fought in the siege of Rome in 1870, Heart is the fictional diary of a boy's third year in a Turin municipal school. It was written to foster juvenile appreciation of the newfound Italian national unity, which the author had fought for in the recent war. The book is often highly emotional, even sentimental, but gives a vivid picture of urban Italian life at that time. A master, introducing a new pupil, tells the class, "Remember well what I am going to say. That this fact might come to pass--that a Calabrian boy might find himself at home in Turin, and that a boy of Turin might be in his own home in Calabria, our country has struggled for fifty years, and thirty thousand Italians have died." The novel became internationally popular, and has been translated into over twenty-five languages, and is part of the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works. Edmondo de Amicis (1846-1908) established a reputation as a writer in various genres after his experience as a soldier.


About the book

This is a book that when I was a child everyone told me “read it”, “it’s a beautiful book for kids” and now that I read it, I wonder how is it that a book so “out of the Italian language” being for children? I need to say that I read this book just because, for the Challenge of Popsugar, I had to read “a book from my childhood that I wanted to read and I never read”, otherwise, as I said on Goodreads where I added all the books that I own, I would have never read it.

First of all, the book was written in the nineteenth century so obviously the Italian is not the Italian of today, so I wonder how a child/boy who has just started his journey in the Italian language can fully understand what is written. Not all the book is like that but if it is not fluent for me because of ancient Italian, how can it be for a boy? How can a child like this book? Now I know why I never read it when I was young, as soon as I started it I gave up.

Continue reading “Heart”