- Alexander S. Pushkin: The Gypsies.
Pushkin is the Russian Goethe or as you would probably say in England: the Russian Shakespeare. He mastered language as no one before or after. The Gypsies is a particularly beautiful and tragic love story of a young man falling in love a wild gypsy woman. He feels attracted to all that is alien and different and dark to him. He gives up his life for her and lives with the Gypsies. But in fact he never gets to understand her and her way of living. What he had found attractive at first, her wild and free spirit, becomes dangerous to him as soon as he considers her to be his. As she falls in love with another man and he finds the couple together, he kills them both.
- Margret Mitchell: Gone with the Wind.
I grew up with this novel. And the movie. I cannot even remember when I saw it first. Whenever it was on TV, we would watch it with my mother. Like a ritual. When I was about 14 or 15, I finally read the book. And it became the most influential novel of my youth. While reading I wouldn’t do anything else during this time. For two weeks. Today I cannot even say that I particularly like the style or the story, it is just a part of my life. I was very impressed with the character of Scarlett O’Hara. She was a strong woman, who took her life into her own hands and would not let others decide. At the same time as she was rational, she also was very passionate and emotional. Of course always with the wrong men. But this is life. My favourite part of it though was after all the ending. No happy end.
I reread the book years later, feeling kind of embarrassed with myself for having been so impressed with a character as hard and even cruel and selfish as that of Scarlett O’Hara. My perception completely changed to considering Red Butler as the only character who was honest, in queer way though, and the only one with a sincere and persistent love.
- Andrei Sinyavsky: A voice from the chorus.
This is the wisest book I ever held in my hands. It consists of pieces of letters written by Andrei Sinyavsky to his wife, while he was imprisoned in Siberia for political reasons. Whatever this means in the context of Russian history. Especially striking is the clear, laconic and aphoristic style. There are scenes and anecdotes from everyday life in the prison, life stories of fellow prisoners, thoughts and theories on the nature of life and survival, on literature and religion as well as on the most trivial things as the weather and the food. On a whole the book gives a deep inside on a man living in an extreme situation and coping with life on the margins. He is a writer, but of course is not allowed to write nor has he the possibility. He gets only this small supply of paper to write the letters to his wife on. He has to be strict to what to say and which words to put it in.