#6Degrees May 2021

You know you love it: seeing where this daisy chain of random literary connections will take you every month, as hosted by the lovely Kate on her blog. This month we start with a Beverly Cleary book, in honour of the recently deceased author. I cannot remember if I’ve read Beezus and Ramona, but I know there were some Ramona books in the school library, even though we were officially an English school (in practice, a very international one).

Another book that I found and devoured in the school library was Gone with the Wind, when I was about eleven, and thought the Southern States during the American Civil War were terribly romantic. (Full disclosure: As a child, I was also a Royalist in the English Civil War and a supporter of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Maybe just a fan of lost causes?)

A book about a very different, more recent and long-lasting civil war is one I am reading this month, namely White Masks by Elias Khoury, about Lebanon. Beirut, with its pleasant climate and spectacular Corniche coastal road, was considered a jewel of a city before all the fighting started, often dubbed the Paris of the Orient.

Another city that was supposedly called ‘Little Paris’ during the interwar period was Bucharest. For an incomparable (if rather depressing) look at life in Bucharest during the 1930s and then the Second World War, I would recommend – of course, you were expecting this, weren’t you? – Mihail Sebastian’s Journal (1935-1944), available in English translation by Patrick Camiller.

Another, very different Sebastian is the link to my next book, namely Therapy, the debut novel by German bestselling author Sebastian Fitzek, whose big boast was that this novel managed to topple the seemingly relentless No. 1 ranking of The Da Vinci Code in Germany in 2006.

Another huge bestseller that you may not have heard of is She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard, published in 1887, which has sold over 83 million copies worldwide. Apparently a Victorian tale of archaelogy and adventure, it follows a professor and his colleague on a journey prompted by a shard of ancient pottery. Sounds very Indiana Jones (and of course reinforces the idea of white Western superiority).

A week or two ago, someone mentioned George Sand’s many novels on Twitter, and I remembered vaguely that Indiana was the name of one of them. The novel is set partly in France and partly in the French colony of Réunion, it is a story of passion, adultery, betrayal and loyal friendship. Very dramatic indeed and this cover seems to indicate a bodice-ripper, which I’m pretty sure it’s not.

So, another whirlwind tour of the world, from the state of Georgia in the US, to Beirut, to Bucharest, to northern Germany, to ‘a lost kingdom in the African interior’, to Paris and La Réunion, you cannot complain you’ve been cooped up in the house this month!

20 thoughts on “#6Degrees May 2021”

  1. What a great chain, I love the variety of books you’ve put together. I’ve read two – Gone with the Wind and She, both of which I loved, especially She, which I read in my teens.

    1. I’ve never heard of anyone who’s read She, so kudos to you! It sounds a bit like King Solomon’s Mines, which I remember feeling oddly conflicted about (I suppose it’s different when you read it at an old-fashioned English school, but you and so many of your classmates are not British, in fact, many experienced British colonialism).

  2. Well, I’ve read not one of these – no, not even Gone with the Wind. I’ve just looked at a few reviews of Mihail Sebastian’s Journal (1935-1944),, and might see if I can find this. Lots to chew over here – as ever, a really interesting selection.

  3. If I were wearing a hat, Marina Sofia, it’d be off to you. This is such a clever chain, and I really like the links you’ve chosen. Trust you to find a way to link Beezus and Ramona with Gone With the Wind! Impressive. And I must read the Sebastian…

    1. I recommend to dip in and out of the Sebastian Journals, otherwise it can get a bit too gloomy. Yes, I had to do some nifty choreography there to link the books.

  4. I’ve never read the book, but rather loved the 1965 film of She with Ursula Andress in the title role many years ago. What a variety of books you’ve featured this month.

  5. Great links! I enjoyed Gone With the Wind too, although I was slightly older than you when I first read it – about fourteen, I think. I haven’t read Indiana, but I have read one of George Sand’s other books, Mauprat, which wasn’t a bodice ripper exactly, but very Gothic and melodramatic!

  6. Another She reader here! I love Rider Haggard and would defend him a little, in that more than most of the colonial writers of that period he shows a great deal of respect for the indigenous cultures of Africa, and many of his heroes and heroines are African rather than British. From memory, though, She might be one of the more problematic in terms of race and gender. Now I want to re-read it…

  7. I read and loved the Beezus and Ramona books. But never saw or read Gone with the Wind. I knew it glorified slavery and was racist. My parents never discussed it nor saw the movie. And my school classes never brought it up. I didn’t even know it was widely read nor the movie seen until sometime in my 20s. And I have avoided the book and movie. I haven’t read any of the other books. When I was in elementary school, I would have done anything for a Beverly Cleary or Carolyn Keene Nancy Drew book.

  8. A brilliant chain – I love that first link which provides a magnificent springboard for some fascinating titles. Bravo!

  9. What a clever way to get onto Gone with the Wind! I was going to read that for Simon and Kaggsy’s 1936 Club, then discovered that my copy (which was actually a school prize given to my mother in the 1940s) had disappeared down to London with my elder daughter…so I still haven’t read it, but I would like to.

    My parents also used to have a copy of She in their bookcase, but I have never read it and I’m not sure it would be my kind of thing.

    Indiana sounds quite something! The only George Sand book I have is Winter in Majorca, and I’ve yet to open that.

    I’d like to read about Lebanon, but I’m not sure I could face a book about their war. I remember when I worked in the registry of one of the colleges of London University, a postgrad applicant came in in tears – she could not prove any of her qualifications as all of her papers had been destroyed in an explosion. Very sad (though I think the college found a way round it, thank goodness.)

    My chain is far less adventurous than yours, but it’s here: https://sconesandchaiseslongues.blogspot.com/2021/05/six-degrees-of-separation-may-2021.html

Do share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.