Rén is a traditional Chinese character that can be roughly translated as "humanity" or "humaneness". The rén rén is a "benevolent" or "humane person".

Bǐ mò is a term for "pen and ink", "words" or bits of writing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Challenge Update

Today I finished The Evil Guest by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. What a strange book. It was published in 1851, so it has all of the stilted language and sometimes overt authorship that writing of the 19th century normally brings. 

The problem I had most was the strange secretiveness of the author. He would sometimes endeavor to set up a confession of a character (this was a murder mystery - sorta, but I'll get to that soon), only to hide the revealed information repeatedly from the audience. 

So getting back to that murder mystery part. While there was indeed a murder and an ongoing mystery about that murder, I believe this book could be much more accurately described as a character study of highly depressed, agitated and otherwise guilty (and probably insane) people. Not that it's very psychological - for most writing of this period that I've encountered lacks the psychological attention that modern writers use to entice their audiences. No - there was description of the psychological devastation of a man, but it wasn't really explored in ways that satisfactorily explain his motivations. The reader has to make assumptions of his or her own on some accounts. 

An interesting read, but not one that I'll repeat ad infinitum (or possibly at all). 

 11/30 books completed for 2011. 

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