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The Ghazals of Ghalib (from the Urdu), demonstrate Ghalib's mastery of the two-liner. His relationship to God is that of a rejected lover. Is he Muslim? Half, he says: he drinks wine but he doesn't eat pork.
Jorge de Sena cut his ties with Salazar's Portugal at age 40, turned his naval career into academics and poetry, where he won acclaim. In Santa Barbara, he mused "Sobre esta praia" (on this nude beach) next to his memory of the wild horses of the Camargue. In Portuguese, with translation by Jonathan Griffin.
Hadji Murad relates the circumstances of a real renegade Chechen leader seeking aid from the Russians to reclaim his rightful place.
After Tolstoy gave up writing his enormously popular novels, he delved into the "real" Christianity, which he didn't find in the Russian Orthodox churches. As soon as he delved into the scriptures, his novelist's eye immediately spotted all the miracles and mystical stuff as window-dressing added in to "sell" the Gospel story. So Tolstoy pared it down to just two things: what Jesus said and what Jesus did, throwing away all the miracles, rumors, genealogies, resurrection, virgin birth. He found five "commandments" and a much clearer picture of how different that teaching was from the whole religious edifices that had been erected afterward. The Gospel According to Tolstoy is the sum of his findings, which inspired Gandhi, and later, Martin Luther King, Jr.
The bilingual Berlin anthology has been updated, with poems, stories, photos from the period just five years before the Berlin Wall came down. Most sales of this unique book with both East German and West German writers together may have helped lead to the recognition that the Wall had to come down. Germany's progress since then has proved that to be the right decision.
The Chinese fortune book I Ching Passages: he/she is one of a set of eight gender-neutral editions of the same text, each volume using a different third-person singular pronoun. Colleges have been struggling with the "correct" grammar for a few years now. Although references to "the prince" or "the housewife" clearly imply a gender, "the upright (person)" in the original (1500 BC?) text had no gender-referent attached to it because Chinese, until recently has been gender-neutral. Each volume uses only one of these choices: he, he/she, he or she, s/he, they, one, she, and hu (for human). Pick the one you would feel most comfortable reading. Oxford dictionaries record instances of "they" used for a person of unknown gender.
The Babylonian Captivity, an allegory for the Ukrainians under the yoke of Tsarist Russia in 1900, reminds us that current events often stem from prior situations.
This beautiful oversize bilingual (Spanish/English) Mitos y Leyendas de México/Myths and Legends of Mexico by Luis Leal shares twenty stories of the origins of Mexico, myths and stories right up to the Revolution. With color illustrations by Álvaro Ángeles Suman.
Gandhi on the Gita is a compilation, chapter by chapter, of Gandhi's attempt to answer people's questions on spirituality based on the Bhagavad Gita, an episode in the Mahabharata in which Arjuna questions his charioteer (the god Krishna in disguise) on the right decisions in the midst of battle.
Joan, the story of Joan of Arc, as retold by Mark Twain in the voice of the character who had been a childhood playmate of Joan, held with her from the campaign to get the reluctant French King to agree to let her lead troops, which turned into battles and strategems against the English— but they finally took her as a captive before a religious tribunal, and eventually had to "trick" her into the "sin" of wearing men's clothing (forced to don her battle gear when they took away all of her regular clothes), and burned her at the stake. Twain regarded it as his best work, but readers had come to expect wry humor; instead, they were engulfed in the Fourteenth Century, in a country about to fall apart.
Sappho: The Poems in a new translation, including fragments discovered in 1950. Although the Byzantine Christians tried their best to obliterate her poetry completely, we are left with quotes in other authors' works, enough to show her real contribution: unlike the epics or the encomiums celebrating champions, Sappho opens up the heart to bring personal emotion into poetry, what we now call "lyric poetry." That is, sung with a lyre; in fact, Sappho is credited with introducing the plectrum for the lyre, or what we now call the guitar pick.
Apology of Socrates and The Crito is, as far as we know, Plato's own eyewitness account of the famous trial of Socrates, a sham trial about worshipping other gods, and misleading the youth— because the judges were forbidden, by agreement after civil unrest, to put on trial Alcibiades and other rebels who had listened to this old man who "thought anew" on many topics. Socrates does reveal the origin of his persistent questioning to find someone who knew the truth better than he did— always failing.
The Crito is the imagined scene of a follower visiting Socrates after the death sentence has been declared, trying to convince him to escape from Athens entirely. Socrates, however, said that his duty, as a longtime citizen of Athens, was to follow what Athens had decided; otherwise it would go against his bond with the city. Since Plato wasn't present at this scene, The Crito may be among the first dialogues that Plato wrote featuring Socrates as the symbol of inquiry, in what came to be called Platonism.
The Changes, Ovid is a lengthy series of tales from the beginning of the world (twice) through all of Greek and Roman history up to the coronation of Caesar Augustus. His recurrent theme, however, was the changes or metamorphoses of gods, humans, habitats, animals into a different form, sometimes with super powers, other times into a spider or a laurel tree or another gender. This version was organized, with help, by Jacob Tonson from various stories translated in iambic pentameter by a number of English poets, including Joseph Addison, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, etc.