Sunday, 20 April 2014

Marcel Proust | Cream of Asparagus Soup + Roasted Asparagus

Some books you just never get to read - despite best intentions! Some books change with us and so does our appreciation of them when we realise they no longer hold the same appeal. And then, there are those long-forgotten books that still echo in our mind in fragments of thought, in scattered words, and we read with new eyes.

I started Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust years ago when I was studying European Literature but put it down 100 pages later; it seemed too long and I too impatient. I picked it up again recently, partly to check out a quote and partly out of nostalgia for my own lost time, and found myself entangled in a weave of surging memories, melancholic episodes and philosophic reflections.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Nathaniel Hawthorne | Redcurrant and Poppy Seed Mini Cakes

What is so interesting about American literature is not only the fact that American writers are always experimenting with style and ideas but also that many of their works continue to remain relevant today. One of my great favourites is The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The book was published in 1850. It became an instant best-seller but (unsurprisingly) met with wide protest from religious leaders who disapproved of the book's unsavoury depiction of the people of New England during the period in which it was set, almost two centuries earlier in Puritan Boston, Massachusetts.

Ironically for a book that explores the idea of freedom from religious bounds and moral idealism, The Scarlet Letter opens outside a prison door. Hawthorne wryly observes that the founders of any new colony, 'whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project', are soon obliged to realise that it is 'among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison'.