Monthly Favourites – October 2019

October was not a particularly fruitful month when it comes to favourites. I liked all of the books that I read in their entirety, but I DNFed two books in a row at the beginning of the month. I also didn’t watch many TV series or films. So, this instalment will certainly be much shorter than usual.

I finished reading three books last month – A Espada e a Azagaia by Mia Couto, The Devil’s Footprints by John Burnside and Mar Novo by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. Although I enjoyed the three of them almost equally, I decided to choose as my favourite the poetry collection Mar Novo, mainly because I relished analysing some of the poems featured in it more thoroughly, something I hadn’t done in a while. Various poems in this collection have pessimistic undertones and allude to a world of darkness. The sea is used as a symbol for freedom.

More or less two weeks ago, I watched the fifth season of Peaky Blinders. I was not impressed by the first episodes, as they don’t seem to have a clear focus, but adored the last two (5 and 6). This season is set in the 1930s, and the Shelby family becomes embroiled in the rise of Nazism in the UK. Continue reading

‘Mar Novo’ by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

My rating: 4 stars

Pessimism and despair loom large in the majority of the poems that are part of the collection Mar Novo by the Portuguese author Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. Originally published in 1958, when Portugal was under a fascist dictatorship, they allude to a world of darkness and terror and to the need to build a new one. As in other of her collections, natural elements are used as metaphors for concepts that could have been censored.

The sea is constantly used as a symbol for freedom, a desirable right that at that point in time she didn’t believe could soon be attained. In ‘Marinheiro sem Mar’, one of my favourite poems in this collection, that symbolism is particularly noticeable. It mentions a sailor without sea, which can be interpreted as a metaphor for a people without freedom. In that world, where the sea had dried up, it was also impossible to find the truth. While this poem has a gloomy undertone, ‘Liberdade’ is more positive. There are references to beaches and waves, elements with no impurities.

One poem that stands out because of its sonority is ‘Porque’. It emphasises the reasons why a specific person, most certainly her husband, is different from the others. She lists what makes him a good man by juxtaposing what others do and he doesn’t. The repetition of “tu não” (“not you”) is powerful. He is brave, honest and stands up for his values, even though it’s dangerous to do so. Her husband, Francisco Sousa Tavares, was an opponent of the fascist regime. Her love and admiration for him is mentioned in other poems as well. Continue reading

Book Haul – September / October 2019

I was not expecting to buy as many books as I did during September and this month. However, after deciding not to finish four novels in the latest months, I was running out of books to read. I usually keep a relatively small number of unread books on my shelves. I tend to only buy new ones once I’ve finished a few of those that I already owned.

So, I acquired nine new books!

 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Set in Paris and in London, it was described by Dickens as his best story. A French aristocrat and a dissolute English lawyer face chaos and fall in love with the same woman. I’m expecting it to delve into a variety of social issues that characterised the 19th century. Continue reading