26 July 2017

Book Review: The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb

Oh man, I devoured this. This was a book that just kept me on the edge of my seat, while putting a smile on my face at the same time.

See, until now, my experience with Hungarian literature was rather bleak and depressing. The books I have read before written by Hungarian authors were all dark and wallowing in melancholia. So this is a refreshing change. The Pendragon Legend is actually a satire and a Gothic novel: it incorporates plenty of references to the occult and mystical societies that the author was highly interested in, in a murder mystery format that somehow reminds me of the dark Gothic novels by Mary Shelley or Emily Bronte. And yes, this is gripping. I finished it in just a few days.

The Pendragon Legend is about a Hungarian scholar, Janos Batky, who is doing research in the British Museum. Somehow this character is almost autobiographical, and there are plenty of parallels between the author's interests and the main character's. He gets invited by a certain Earl, to his castle in Wales. And this is where strange things start happening.

24 July 2017

A Long Weekend in Oslo: Akershus Fortress

Oslo is not only a modern city, but it also has a medieval fortress right at the eastern side of the harbor. It is very strategically located, after all, this structure dates back to 1299 when the king ordered the fortress to be built so as to protect the city from threats. Nowadays, it doesn't have that role anymore, but nevertheless the military still has some buildings inside the complex. The yards are free to stroll around, which is what we did when we visited.

22 July 2017

Book Review: Mahābhārata

It's been a while since I have read an epic. When I was younger, I picked up Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, two massive books that acquainted me with Greek mythology. While I have read other thick books since then, I haven't read another epic after that. So I decided to venture east, picking up the Mahābhārata. After all, I don't know much about Hinduism, and this book seemed a good place to start.

The Mahābhārata is they say, the longest piece of literature out there. The edition I picked up was abridged, but nevertheless, it had more than 800 pages. The editor and translator mentioned that if the summarized parts were kept intact, then one would need five volumes of the same thickness more or less. That was daunting. Anyway, this epic is about the Kurukshetra Wars, which happened centuries ago, or at least that's what the legend says, between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The war was 18 days long, and by the end of it, almost everyone dies. It is a very bloody book. But there's actually a bigger picture than that.

20 July 2017

A Long Weekend in Oslo: The Fram Museum

As I said before, my visit to Oslo was very educational. I learned a lot, and the amazing museums definitely played their parts in this endeavor. One of the best museums I have entered was the Fram Museum. This is part of a collection of museums located in Oslo, and this museum concentrates on the Norwegian efforts regarding polar exploration. It also focuses on the lives of three Norwegian explorers: Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen. And finally, it also displays two ships that these brave men used: the Fram and the Gjoa.

18 July 2017

Emerging from the Cave

We had a guest recently who curiously enough, tested my patience. There are many different ways how it happened, but in hindsight, there is a common theme that ran through all of these issues. It is because this guest was not too experienced with the world, and there were plenty of issues that were rather different from what he was used to. These issues then rubbed on us the wrong way, so to speak.