CanLit Challenge Book #33: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler
Filed under: CanLit Challenge — Ibis at 11:06 am on Sunday, May 24, 2009

Book 33, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959) – Mordecai Richler
From a publisher:
“The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is the novel that established Mordecai Richler as one of the world’s best comic writers. Growing up in the heart of Montreal’s Jewish ghetto, Duddy Kravitz is obsessed with his grandfather’s saying, ‘A man without land is nothing.’ In his relentless pursuit of property and his drive to become a somebody, he will wheel and deal, he will swindle and forge, he will even try making movies. And in spite of the setbacks he suffers, the sacrifices he must make along the way, Duddy never loses faith that his dream is worth the price he must pay. This blistering satire traces the eventful coming-of-age of a cynical dreamer. Amoral, inventive, ruthless, and scheming, Duddy Kravitz is one of the most magnetic anti-heroes in literature, a man who learns the hard way that dreams are never exactly what they seem, even when they do come true.”

Other useful links:
the Wikipedia entry for Mordecai Richler
the Wikipedia entry for The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

My thoughts:
I wish I had read this around the same time as I read St. Urbain’s Horseman because the memory of the figure of Duddy Kravitz from that book is a little fuzzy. A very interesting book with a misogynist, greedy protagonist that you can’t help but root for, even as he destroys everyone around him. In real life I’d be signing petitions against development of the lake and I’d think Duddy deserves to go to jail for something, he’s just so inconsiderate and immoral. And yet, and yet, he still has a kernel of conscience and sensitivity (although it may be completely egocentric). Not as full a book as Horseman, but excellent none the less.

Metaphysica (Metaphysics) by Aristotle, Book Α, c. 3
Filed under: Reader of the Stack Goes Canonical — Ibis at 2:25 pm on Saturday, May 2, 2009

Book Alpha
3. The successive recognition by earlier philosophers of the material, efficient, and final causes


  • recap of the four types of causes: material (of what a thing consists), formal (how a thing results from patterns or laws), efficient (the agent of change), and final (to what end)
  • earliest philosophers focused on material causes, trying to figure out what the basis of the existence of things is (i.e. what is the cosmos made of?)
  • different philosophers saw different “elements” as primary (e.g. water, air, fire, four principal elements, infinite elements)
  • from material causes, speculation grew respecting the efficient cause of the cosmos—why do things come to be and be destroyed?
  • some proposed a single unchanged actor (Nature) that was the efficient cause of change
  • though some thought change was random, that idea was considered by others as unseemly
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Filed under: Book Reviews,Infinite TBR,Reader of the Stack Goes Canonical — Ibis at 12:07 am on Friday, May 1, 2009

From the publisher:
“First published in 1895, America”s greatest novel of the Civil War was written before 21-year-old Stephen Crane had “smelled even the powder of a sham battle.” But this powerful psychological study of a young soldier”s struggle with the horrors, both within and without, that war strikes the reader with its undeniable realism and with its masterful descriptions of the moment-by-moment riot of emotions felt by me under fire. Ernest Hemingway called the novel an American classic, and Crane”s genius is as much apparent in his sharp, colourful prose as in his ironic portrayal of an episode of war so intense, so immediate, so real that the terror of battle becomes our own … in a masterpiece so unique that many believe modern American fiction began with Stephen Crane.

The Red Badge Of Courage has long been considered the first great ‘modern’ novel of war by an American–the first novel of literary distinction to present war without heroics and this in a spirit of total irony and skepticism.”

My thoughts:
I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book. I knew it was a nineteenth century American novel about a soldier, but aside from that I had no knowledge. The writing itself was very good, but the entire novel was really one long description, so it was more than a tad dull. On the other hand, the description was quite accurate, I could tell & I couldn’t help but compare Henry’s experience to those related in recent read, Fifteen Days. Also brought back memories of my time in basic training. I enjoyed the essay that ended the book, putting the events in their ironic context.