Book Journal: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Metamorphosis

Book Journal: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Read on April 29 2017

I absolutely loved this book: the title, characters, transformation they all go through as a family after Gregor’s illness which transforms him from a useful bread winner to a burden to the family.

I can easily picture the whole flat where this story takes place (I just need to reorganise the furniture a wee bit, that’s all), Mr Samsa’s polished gold buttons, even the swishing sound Mrs Samsa’s skirt makes. Not many authors can paint a vivid picture like this.

Here’s some of my favourite lines from the book:
As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.

Was he an animal, that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for were coming to light.

He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone.

What a fate: to be condemned to work for a firm where the slightest negligence at once gave rise to the gravest suspicion! Were all the employees nothing but a bunch of scoundrels, was there not among them one single loyal devoted man who, had he wasted only an hour or so of the firm’s time in the morning, was so tormented by conscience as to be driven out of his mind and actually incapable of leaving his bed?

But Gregor understood easily that it was not only consideration for him which prevented their moving, for he could easily have been transported in a suitable crate with a few air holes; what mainly prevented the family from moving was their complete hopelessness and the thought that they had been struck by a misfortune as none of their relatives and acquaintances had ever been hit.

The door could not be heard slamming; they had probably left it open, as is the custom in homes where a great misfortune has occurred.

I only fear danger where I want to fear it.

If I didn’t have my parents to think about I’d have given in my notice a long time ago, I’d have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything I would, let him know just what I feel. He’d fall right off his desk! And it’s a funny sort of business to be sitting up there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there, especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is hard of hearing.

His biggest misgiving came from his concern about the loud crash that was bound to occur and would probably create, if not terror, at least anxiety behind all the doors. But that would have to be risked.

However, Gregor had become much calmer. All right, people did not understand his words any more, although they seemed clear enough to him, clearer than previously, perhaps because had gotten used to them”

Then his head sank to the floor of its own accord and from his nostrils came the last faint flicker of his breath.

Gregor’s serious wound, from which he suffered for over a month – the apple remained imbedded in his flesh as a visible souvenir since no one dared to remove it – seemed to have reminded even his father that Gregor was a member of the family, in spite of his present pathetic and repulsive shape, who could not be treated as an enemy; that, on the contrary, it was the commandment of the family duty to swallow their disgust and endure him, endure him and nothing more.

A man might find for a moment that he was unable to work, but that’s exactly the right time to remember his past accomplishments and to consider that later on, when the obstacles has been removed, he’s bound to work all the harder and more efficiently.

The main thing holding the family back from a change in living quarters was far more their complete hopelessness and the idea that they had been struck by a misfortune like no one else in their entire circle of relatives and acquaintances.

The next train left at seven o’clock, and in order to catch it he would have to rush around like mad, and the sample collection was still unpacked and he was not feeling particularly fresh and energetic. And even if he caught the train, a bawling out from the boss was inescapable, because the office messenger had arrived by the five o’clock train and reported his absence long ago; he was the boss’s creature, mindless and spineless.

Sometimes he mulled over the idea that the next time the door opened he would take control of the family affairs as he had done in the past; these musings led him once more after such a long interval to conjure up the figures of the boss, the head clerk, the salesmen, the apprentices, the dullard of an office manager, two or three friends from other firms, a sweet and fleeting memory of a chambermaid in one of the rural hotels, a cashier in a milliner’s shop whom he had wooed earnestly but too slowly- they all appeared mixed up with strangers or nearly forgotten people, but instead of helping him and his family they were each and every one unapproachable, and he was relieved when they evaporated.

“I hope it is nothing serious. On the other hand, I must also say that we business people, luckily or unluckily, however one looks at it, very often simply have to overcome a slight indisposition for business reasons.”

Calm consideration was much better than rushing to desperate conclusions.

And for a little while he lay still, breathing lightly as if he expected total repose would restore everything to its normal and unquestionable state.

The door could not be heard closing; they must have left it open as is usual in houses visited by great misfortune.

For now he must lie low and try, through patience and the greatest consideration, to help his family bear the inconvenience he was bound to cause them in his present condition.

Travel Journal: Sacher-Torte from Café Sacher, Vienna

When in Rome do what Romans do. When in Vienna, go and have a slice of rich Sacher-Torte and don’t just stop there: have Vienna style coffee, too.

It goes without saying that Café Sacher is known for its famous chocolate cake: Sacher-Torte. It was the creation of Chef Franz Sacher who was asked to make a desert for a party in 1832 when he was only 16 years old. The reputation of the Sacher’s cake quickly spread and an overwhelming number of orders made his family very rich. Later on, Sacher’s son Ed opened the Sacher Hotel and Café in 1876. When he died 16 years later his wife Anna took over. This famous cake with a secret recipe is still around. So is Hotel Sacher and its Café.

Sacher-Torte

Famous Sacher-Torte (above). It’s soft, rich and something quite special. It just melts in your mouth and yet the taste lingers for some time. Just divine. Absolutely divine.

Sacher-Torte

A little bit about Viennese style of coffee: It is a cream-based coffee made of strong black coffee and whipped cream. Unfortunately, mine was lukewarm.

Café Sacher is on the opposite corner of Wiener Staatoper (Opera Building of Vienna), ground floor of Hotel Sacher. For more information, check out the information below.

Sacher-Torte

Above is Wiener Staatoper, Opera Building of Vienna. Cafe Sacher is right behind this building, on the ground floor of Hotel Sacher.

Café Sacher in Vienna
Philharmonikerstrasse 4, A-1010 Vienna
Tel. Café Sacher Wien: +43 (0)1 – 51 456 661
Tel. Sacher Stube: +43 (0)1 – 51 456 751
Fax: +43 (0)1 – 51 456 810
E-Mail: wien@sacher.com

Büyük İnsanlık Kendi Sesinden Şiirler by Nazım Hikmet

I have recently read/listened Nazım Hikmet’s Büyük İnsanlık Kendi Sesinden Şiirler which lead me to write this post.

It’s a poetry book of Nazım Hikmet in Turkish and it comes with a CD. I remember buying it from Turkey during one of my trips.

Nazım Hikmet

There is an interesting story behind the book and its recording. Since you cannot get the book in English, I thought I would write about it for English speaking Nazım Hikmet fans out there. Kathryn Stripling Byer in particular who was one of the judges of Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival in North Carolina.

The CD contains real recording of Nazım’s voice, reading out his own poems. There are two poems in the recording which are new to Nazım’s fans one way or another. One of them has never been published before, neither in Turkish nor in Russian. The other one was published in Russian but not in Turkish.

The Story of the Tape Recording
Nazım Hikmet and Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu (another famous Turkish poet) got together in Paris, perhaps in 1961 to record Nazim’s voice, reading out his own poems. At the time, everything about Nazım Hikmet was banned. As a precaution, Eyüboğlu starts reading one of his own poems, Mor (Purple) in the beginning to make it sound like it’s him all the way through, not Nazım Hikmet.

The book and the CD contain fifty-eight poems by Nazım Hikmet. I must admit, his voice is nothing like I expected to a degree that I’m now struggling to match his face to his voice.

Hiding the Recording
Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu constantly changed the hiding place of the recording in his home as the place was raided and searched by the police regularly. Eventually, after Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s death, Mehmet Eyüboğlu (his son) and Hughette Eyüboğlu (daughter-in-law) inherited the reel. However, it was after Mehmet Eyüboğlu’s death, his wife decided that it was time for the recording to be published.

Because the recording was always well hidden, when Hughette Eyüboğlu finally decided that it was time to hand it over to Eyüboğlu’s publisher (İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları), it took her a week to locate it within the house. She was also looking for something else: Nazım’s portrait done by his mother, Cemile. Nazım had given it to Badri Rahmi Eyüboğlu years ago (see photo below). Now, it’s in the inner cover of this book, protecting the CD.

Nazım Hikmet

Copyright Issues
After the famous ‘Nazım Hikmet’ ban was lifted, all of his poetry was published by Yapı Kredi Yayınları. On the other hand, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s publisher was İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları. Since there are poems in the book which have been published before, you would expect some copyright issues here, wouldn’t you? However, through a unique collaboration between the heirs and the publishers, it wasn’t a problem. Everyone seemed to have focused on getting the book out unconditionally. And for that reason, the book has two publishers.

Nazım Hikmet may not have been able to return to Turkey or even burried there but because of this unique book/CD, at least his voice returned to his beloved country. It just took some fifty years, that’s all.

State Hall of the Austrian National Library

State Hall in the heart of the Austrian National Library is the most impressive place I have ever been in my life. We could have finished visiting the place in 20 minutes but it was so amazing; we stayed there for about an hour and a half. That’s what libraries do to me.

State Hall, also known as Prunksaal has its entrance right next door to Hofburg, the Imperial Palace. Even though your Hofburg combination ticket will not cover The State Hall and you will have to pay something like EUR 15, it is well worth it. Once you’re in, you can stay as long as you like and are allowed to take photos, too. Without using flash, of course.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Construction of this Baroque style library was ordered by Emperor Charles VI—hence the large statue in the middle of The Ceremonial Room—as a private wing of the Hofburg Imperial Residence. The State Hall was built from 1723 till 1726 according to the plans of the famous court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and carried out by his son Joseph Emanuel.

State Hall

‘A library is a hospital for the mind.’
—Anonymous

These books were singled out. You just wonder why. Have they been naughty?

The Ceiling of State Hall, Austrian National Library

State Hall Austrian National Library

The dome of State Hall is adorned with beautiful, celestial frescoes as seen in the photos below and above. It is the work of court painter: Daniel Gran. The frescoes were completed in 1730.

The Globes of State Hall
Among the exhibits are four exquisite Venetian baroque globes: two for the earth (terrestrial) and another two for the sky (celestial), each with a diameter of more than one meter. These globes are the work of Vincenzo Coronelli and located in the central oval of the State Hall.

Vincenzo Coronelli (1650 – 1718) completed and donated these globes to Emperor Leopold I in 1693. He initially had them placed in his summer residence. Emperor’s summer residence is today’s private high school and diplomatic academy Theresianum. However, in the mid-18th century, all four globes were moved to the central oval of the State Hall.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Himmelglobus (above)
Due to the special representation of the heavens chosen by Coronelli for this celestial globe, the right and left sides of the constellations are not reversed, appearing against their unusual bluish green background in the same way we see them on the firmament at night.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Erdglobus (above)
Notable in this topographically very precise terrestrial globe with its numerous records on voyages of discovery are the very accurate and artistic representations of human beings, animals, plants and even ships.

The Statues of State Hall of Austrian National Library

State Hall Austrian National Library

The statue of Emperor Charles VI (above) is located in the middle of the State Hall is created by the sculptors Peter Strudel and Paul Strudel. Sweet!

Does that bottom shelf look familiar to you?

For more photos and videos please go to my photo blog.

Happy New Year!

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
― Neil Gaiman

Happy Holidays!

After NaNoWriMo 2016 (National Novel Writing Month)

NaNoWriMo 2016

On November 30, I typed in ‘The End’ and finished my new novel; Bonded in Heaven as part of NaNoWriMo 2016. We celebrated with a bottle of vintage Morton.

This year, I wasn’t well prepared—just a very big research on each character and their countries, that’s all. And yet, I managed to write 60,433 words in 30 days. Well, two of those words are ‘the end’ of course and you might like to subtract them from the total word count. But if you do, I name one of my nasty characters in my next book and kill you!

Last year, I hit 50,000 words benchmark pretty much around the same time as I did this year but the story wasn’t finished. I stopped writing. I thought I would go back and finish the manuscript during January. I didn’t. Once I was out of dangerous waters and swam to safety, I simply wanted to stay there. On top of that, I had no idea about tying up the lose ends and conclude the story. The idea of the right series of events to match the ending I had planned came to me very recently. It’s scribbled on a tiny piece of paper, waiting to be inserted into the novel now. I promised myself not to make the same mistake with my second book. So, I now have a finished shitty first draft.

Even though I wasn’t at all prepared for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I had cleared my schedule properly; I cancelled my singing lessons, didn’t go out much, didn’t even shave (much), got groceries and everything else (sometimes even meals) delivered, Olly didn’t get a bath and remained in his ‘skunk’ state till the end of NaNoWriMo 2016.

The topic of Bonded in heaven was an incredibly difficult one to write. It is the kind that makes my blood boil, shreds my insides and turn them out to expose to the outside world. On top of that, I killed six ‘darlings’ in my novel while I was carrying their load all the way through November. I lived with those imaginary people who became very real for me in the end. Actually, each one is based on a true story. It was pretty hard going, Peoples.

NaNoWriMo 2016

Now that I finished my shitty first draft, I can shelve the manuscript for at least 6 weeks before I go back and edit and rewrite (you know how it works). In the meantime, I need to shave, give Olly a bath, clean the house, book a hair appointment, mail Xmas cards and put the tree up or even order my NaNoWriMo winner t-shirt. While I’m doing all of that, I will also be visiting my last year’s manuscript and finally finish it. Promise.

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo and panicking

NaNoWriMo

It is that time of the year again and I am preparing myself for another writing marathon during NaNoWriMo. This time with another story, another theme, different to what I wrote last year.

What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, for those of you who don’t know. It is pronounced as “na-no-rye-moh” however, I pronounce it as “nah-no-wree-moh” because I’m me. It’s a one month challenge of writing a complete novel from start to finish. And you are expected to write 50,000 or more. Yes, in just 30 days!

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing and keep them motivated throughout the process. The NaNoWriMo website provides participants all kinds of support. At this point of novel writing, you are not expected to write well; you just need to hit the mark. So, this is the time for shitty first drafts; not literary fantabulousim.

NaNoWriMo comes around every year and asks you to write your novel. For me, last year was my first time. And I did write over 50,000 words —got the t-shirt which I am wearing now.

This year I am a little behind my preparations, to be honest. Although, I have been planning on writing a book about crimes against women in Middle East and Africa for a long time, it took me ages to come up with an idea around how I was going to structure or present the book. When I finally figured it out, I also started to panic. Because, at that time NaNoWriMo was just around the corner.

Is it easy to write 50,000 words in a month, you may ask? I’m not going to lie; it is absolutely not easy. It’s just possible with a little bit of planning, preparation and Scrivener.

Now, if you please excuse me, I have some planning to do. My Scrivener awaits…

Evening Class: The very first book I read in English

Evening Class

Evening Class by Maeve Binchy: The Very First Book I read in English.

I remember making an attempt to read The Outsiders in the 80s and after several trips to my dictionary while reading the first page, I decided to give up. Years later, I made another attempt to read Misery or Insomnia —can’t remember—by Stephen King and that didn’t get me anywhere either. The truth is, my English wasn’t good enough at the time and it wasn’t going to be good enough until year 2000. It was only then did I manage to read a book in English. And that book was Evening Class by Maeve Binchy.

Evening Class was also the first book I had read by Maeve Binchy. A friend of mine recommended and lent it to me at the same time. Of course, I didn’t know that the author actually carried several characters from her books into other novels.

The Plot
Evening Class is story about a bunch of Dubliners who come together two evenings a week to study Italian and the culture of Italy. Each chapter in the book is narrated by a different character, revealing their backstories, secrets, hopes and dreams. And the story flows like you wouldn’t believe. I couldn’t put the book down although it was written in a foreighn language.

Maeve Binchy is, without a doubt, one of the best story-tellers of our time. Her characters are so alive and well developed. Her stories have layers, richness, depth and her style wraps you up like a warm blanket.

Years later, after I had read Evening Class, I read several of Maeve Binchy books like Nights of Rain and Stars, The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club and Tara Road —the movie was a disappointment, don’t you think? But, Evening Class was my first love and will always be my favourite.

Scrivener Writing Software; using it, loving it

Scrivener

I use Scrivener and I am absolutely loving it! It is the coolest, sexiest writing software ever!

I came into this writing business late. Very late. One of the reasons why it took me ages to start writing is this: a novel is a very large piece of writing and if you’re new in this game —like me —there is a very good chance of creating a pile of “unflushable” mess. I’m Virgo Peoples; I hate clutter: I hate disorganised work or anything for that matter: I can’t even function in a cluttered environment. Just by typing these words of disorder, disarray, unorganised, I can feel that my heart is pounding, my mouth is dry, absolutely can’t breathe. And I haven’t even typed my first “once upon a time” yet!

Luckily, Scrivener came into my life at the right time. I stopped procrastinating and started writing. It helped me tidy up my research, develop my plot and characters and during NaNoWriMo last year, I even managed to write over 50,000 words. All because of Scrivener.

Yes, I know the fact that I bought Scrivener before I even started to write and it’s a bit like trying on shoes before you actually learn to walk but Scrivener was the one for me. It was love at first free trial. Especially, after trying out yWrite. Although yWrite is a free application and it is relatively easy to learn, I thought it was clunky. In the end yWrite and I didn’t gel. So I broke up with yWrite and decided to take up on a younger software. 🙂

Most writers would tell you how drastically Scrivener had changed their writing. Well, I can’t say that for myself because before Scrivener, I didn’t have a writing practice. But now, I do have one because of it.

Scrivener may look quite intimidating at first although it has many useful, cool features. Ask anyone; they will all tell you that there is a steep learning curve. However, there are books and courses. I will talk about that and more in my next post on the topic.