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Last Words from Montmartre

af Qiu Miaojin

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1346154,792 (3.75)12
"An NYRB Classics Original Last Words from Montmartre is a novel in letters that narrates the gradual dissolution of a relationship between two lovers and, ultimately, the complete unraveling of the narrator. In a voice that veers between extremes, from self-deprecation to hubris, compulsive repetition to sublime reflection, reticence to vulnerability, it can be read as both the author's masterpiece and a labor of love, as well as her own suicide note. Last Words from Montmartre, written just as Internet culture was about to explode, is also a kind of farewell to letters. The opening note urges us to read the letters in any order. Each letter unfolds as a chapter, the narrator writing from Paris to her lover in Taipei and to family and friends in Taiwan and Tokyo. The book opens with the death of a beloved pet rabbit and closes with a portentous expression of the narrator's resolve to kill herself. In between we follow Qiu's protagonist into the streets of Montmartre; into descriptions of affairs with both men and women, French and Taiwanese; into rhapsodic musings on the works of Theodoros Angelopoulos and Andrei Tarkovsky; and into wrenching and clear-eyed outlines of what it means to exist not only between cultures but, to a certain extent, between and among genders. More Confessions of a Mask than Well of Loneliness, the novel marks Qiu as one of the finest experimentalist and modernist Chinese-language writers of our generation"--… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 6 (næste | vis alle)
I stumbled on this at the library, and because I liked Notes of a Crocodile so much, I had to check it out. (Especially because it was #witmonth.)

As in Crocodile, Miaojin writes with a kind of heavy mistiness, where you can feel the full weight of all the emotion happening -- even if you can't always make out exactly who is feeling it or about whom. The book claims that the letters can be read in any order, and though I read them in the order in which they were presented, there remained a kind of shiftiness where it wasn't always clear which events happened in what order. These aren't necessarily criticisms, because the feeling is, as always, what seems important here.

I don't know how anyone who remembers what it was like to be young and heartbroken, rationalizing and overthinking, making grandiose statements in their diary, can fail to be moved by this book. It's beautiful and tragic, always so heartfelt. As a Westerner, I can't help wondering what Miaojin would have done/written/become, had she not committed suicide -- the knowledge of which permeates this book -- even as it is complicated by the different cultural meanings of suicide -- both in terms of East/West and the sometimes romanticization of depression and suicide among the creative class -- artists, writers, filmmakers, some of whom are referenced in this book.

Haunting, intimate, amazing. ( )
1 stem greeniezona | Nov 14, 2020 |
An astoundingly odd book, and not necessarily in a good way. The translator (and publisher) makes great claims for Qiu's text, and in some ways they're completely justified. This is a novel in a great tradition stretching back at least to Goethe's Werther: an utterly sincere discussion, in epistolary form, of love and one's authentic self. As well as the literary tradition, Qiu's letter-writer is deeply invested in high art film and late twentieth century French theory, and productively brings them both into her story.

On the other hand, Qiu was only 26 when she killed herself. Gentle reader, consider yourself at 26, and now imagine yourself roughly twice as smart as you were. Do you want to read a book written by that ultra-smart version of yourself? How much stomach do you have for naked emotion disguised as intellectual depth? In order to get to the interesting discussion-with-a-tradition stuff, through how much Hallmark greeting card meets self-help malarkey about true souls and fate and ineradicable connections are you willing to wade?

Well, fear not, because if nothing else this is pretty short, and you can roll your eyes past the truly atrocious bits--or, as I found myself doing, appreciating just how unpleasant it is to be in one's early twenties, intellectual, and have a well-honed sense of the world's injustice (against yourself). Because Qiu captures this exceedingly well. Now my stern aesthetic philosophy voice kicks in with "well yes, but if the author is just *doing* something, rather than *reproducing it ironically*, how much praise can you give?" I have no answer for this. I did not enjoy the "this is how it feels to be 26, single, and aggrieved." I did not enjoy the sensation that, if our letter writer had been male, reviewers would all have pointed out that he was an incredibly creepy, borderline stalker, psychopath. I did not enjoy the boredom and pain induced by a book that harps constantly on some injustice, but never tells us what it is, and leaves me suspecting that there was no more injustice involved here than there is in the life of most young lovers.

And yet I was very happy to read the book. Qiu is exceptionally talented, which becomes obvious in one scene--a scene other reviewers have pointed to. An older woman picks up our letter writer, and they go to the Seine; the description of this scene, plus the eerie calm at the book's conclusion, make it well worth reading. And if nothing else, it's a great book to argue about: how much praise, after all, does someone deserve for doing what everyone does, and writing it down? And would this even be in print if Qiu were still alive? ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
Yesterday in the National Museum of Literature in Tainan, a middle-aged schoolteacher explained to his high school field trip group why they should read Qiu Miaojin. They looked about as bored as the average American high schooler does when told there's *really* something to Salinger or Plath. I was inspired to reread; it measures up to any comparison you could hope to throw at it. Somehow it doesn't feel right to go any further in evaluating this particular book.

My edition's afterword says that, "from our digital era," this book reads like an elegy to the physical letter; you might add an elegy to Paris and an elegy to eros. It's hard not to see a passed world here; I wonder whether Qiu's intensity of feeling, commitment to beauty, or skills in connecting the two make sense in the world we have now. I'm almost certainly wrong to ask the question: a better direction to wonder in is who those high schoolers' Qiu Miaojin will be. ( )
  Roeghmann | Dec 8, 2019 |
Despite the pretension and obtuseness it's beautiful and honest and cutting in many ways I think. ( )
  slplst | Jun 23, 2019 |
I feel like I've been through the wringer, which, was possibly the intent. ( )
  encephalical | May 11, 2019 |
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Qiu Miaojinprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Heinrich, Ari LarissaOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet

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"An NYRB Classics Original Last Words from Montmartre is a novel in letters that narrates the gradual dissolution of a relationship between two lovers and, ultimately, the complete unraveling of the narrator. In a voice that veers between extremes, from self-deprecation to hubris, compulsive repetition to sublime reflection, reticence to vulnerability, it can be read as both the author's masterpiece and a labor of love, as well as her own suicide note. Last Words from Montmartre, written just as Internet culture was about to explode, is also a kind of farewell to letters. The opening note urges us to read the letters in any order. Each letter unfolds as a chapter, the narrator writing from Paris to her lover in Taipei and to family and friends in Taiwan and Tokyo. The book opens with the death of a beloved pet rabbit and closes with a portentous expression of the narrator's resolve to kill herself. In between we follow Qiu's protagonist into the streets of Montmartre; into descriptions of affairs with both men and women, French and Taiwanese; into rhapsodic musings on the works of Theodoros Angelopoulos and Andrei Tarkovsky; and into wrenching and clear-eyed outlines of what it means to exist not only between cultures but, to a certain extent, between and among genders. More Confessions of a Mask than Well of Loneliness, the novel marks Qiu as one of the finest experimentalist and modernist Chinese-language writers of our generation"--

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