Friday, April 1, 2011

Two modern classics this month.

'The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, which sold 50 million copies worldwide, is an experimental medieval whodunit set in a monastic library. In 1327, Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate heresy among the monks in an Italian abbey; a series of bizarre murders overshadows the mission. Within the mystery is a tale of books, librarians, patrons, censorship, and the search for truth in a period of tension between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire.'

'Equal parts comedy and autobiography, Portnoy's Complaint endeavors to explore Roth's own cultural identity and stemming anxiety as a Jewish-American. Considered to be his most popular novel, Portnoy's Complaint is a masterful work of American fiction that remains the acme of one of the world's greatest living novelists.

When Portnoy's Complaint was first published in 1969 it was a work of boldness that addressed the sexual revolution and challenged the mores of the previous generation. The work is obliquely lascivious (even by today's standards) and remains absurd and hilarious to this day. Roth's comedic prose has been likened to the tangential comedy stylings of Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce. Philip Roth's work also expresses an anxiety that seems part of an uniquely American perspective during the years in the heart of the Vietnam War.'

Happy reading!