Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

"Murder in Byzantium" by Julia Kristeva (Columbia University Press, 2006)

A novel. The flyleaf says "suspenseful ... an engrossing portrait ... vividly evoke ... stunning, closely observed portraits". I'm not utterly convinced that she can write well or even clearly. The italics are mine

  • "he went to bed with a smile on his face" (p.viii)
  • "Spiritual leaders with more or less imagination would troll the world's religions" (p.2). "troll" as in online forums, or is "trawl" intended?
  • "thought to himself" (p.7)
  • "Many times the historian had felt this trouble that wasn't really troublesome, since his familiarity with the feeling as though he belonged to another world took away the fear to the point of reducing it to something evident to him but unspeakable to anyone else" (p.8)
  • "As soon as he set to work, glued to his PC, Sebastian would reach that state of mental combustion, rare for a researcher, in which the life of the mind, or to put it more modestly the professional life, initially intended to flee anxieties, actually made them grow, would meld with them, aggravating and pacifying them at the same time" (p.17)

The translator's fault? Maybe it's me - I have trouble with those log-jammed subclauses. Maybe the French like their sentences longer. There's also a lack of narrative drive and empathy with the characters, which may be intentional. I'm bailing out after 20 pages - a shame because by the sound of it there are interesting ideas later on, but I've other books to read.

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