Many of my friends first encountered modern European literature through Camus' Stranger or Jean Paul Sartre's No Exit. I read both when I was 17. The former is much better than the latter, but I suspect that, when I was 17, I preferred Sartre's didactic play to Camus' almost perfectly balanced work, perhaps because No Exit was easier to understand -- the journalist will go through eternity unable to sleep with the willing hot babe because of the other woman. Frustrated sexual desire is a hell any 17 year old can grasp. Camus was far more subtle.
My first encounter was a few months earlier, with a very different kind of writer -- Bertolt Brecht. Perhaps in the same way that one's parents' religious and political views imprint their children, Brecht imprinted me; after all these years I cannot entirely escape the impact some of his plays had on my thinking.
In the mail today I received a translation of the Threepenny Opera--I must say that even just holding it provides aesthetic pleasure. I've never read the play, though I've seen G.W. Pabst's version of it, have a few different recordings of it, and feel like I know the work quite well. But being alone with Brecht's words will provide a different experience, one I eagerly anticipate...
Posted by Ideofact at January 31, 2008 12:32 AM