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2 december 2016

Niels Klim's Journey under the Ground belongs to the 18th-century genre of fantastic voyages, often seen as precursors to science fiction: Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Johnson's Rasselas, Voltaire's Candide and Micromégas. Ludvig Holberg's entry into the genre is notable for arriving from Denmark and using the "hollow earth" motif. The latter is familiar to me from Edgar Rice Burroughs' much-later Pellucidar series. Burroughs too made elaborate use of the idea that there's another world, inverse in many respects, occupying the inner side of the Earth's shell in the same way that we occupy the outside.     read more


19 november 2016

When we last saw Jeppe of the Hill, he was just sobering up after having been the butt of an elaborate practical joke foisted to convince him that he was a baron and not a drunken peasant. Now, in Ludvig Holberg's sort-of-sequel, Erasmus Montanus, Jeppe has bounced back to do pretty well for himself. He, his wife Nille, and his industrious son Jacob are prosperous enough to send his elder boy Rasmus up to Copenhagen for a higher education. Now Rasmus Berg, having taken the Latinate name "Erasmus Montanus" as proper to his baccalaureate self, is coming home for a visit, hoping to marry his longtime (and very eager) sweetheart Lisbed.     read more


18 november 2016

I knew nothing about Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad before starting to read it except its title and the fact that Colson Whitehead is one of my favorite contemporary novelists. If you want the full surprise experience I had, stop reading here, because reviews are full of spoilers and mine are fuller than most.     read more


15 november 2016

Like his Jeppe of the Hill, Ludvig Holberg's Political Tinker takes a poor sap and tricks him into believing that he occupies a place far above his station. And like Jeppe of the Hill, the joke turns out only to be partly on the poor sap.     read more

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