Martin Kaptein.

Library

Martin’s personal Library

Martin Kaptein in a Library

This page features the most essential and valuable writings to me personally. Hence this page doesn’t constitute my entire library but rather serves as an introduction to it, as well as simultaneously introducing myself. Direct links to all of the writings are provided for reference - like a real library, as well as my own short introductions.

Please be aware that this page is international and contains links to literature in many different languages, all languages I speak and in translations I prefer - for one reason or another:

Religion / Faith

Picture of the Holy Trinity, painting by Andrey Rublev

Let me preface that I am an Russian Orthodox Christian (Русская Православная Церковь). As such the choice of the Russian translation of the bible is the The Synodal Translation (Синодальный перевод Библии), which is the translation into “regular” Russian from Church Slavonic (Церковнославянский) from 1876.

Picture of Jesus, healing

However, as the Synodal translation uses partially different sources for the Old Testament than the Church Slavonic Version, the latter might still be very much preferred. After all, it is the canonical Bible Translation in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Isaak Sirin

Absolutely timeless reflections have been written by Isaak Sirin (Isaac of Nineveh) (преподобный Исаак Сирин Ниневийский), which serve as a breathtaking introduction into the mysticism of Eastern Christianity. In his writings he teaches us to look at the world as a school and learn to have admiration even for the tiniest details of our everyday lives. Hereby the first edition of the Mystic Treatises (Слова подвижнические) by Isaac of Nineveh:

In the following a fairly recent translation of the recently discovered and translated 2nd series of the Mystic Treatises from Syrian (Syrian dialect of Aramaic) into Russian, by Metropolite Hilarion (Alfeyev) (Митрополи́т Иларио́н (Алфеев)):

Philosophy

Taoism / Chinese Culture

A detail of Chinese artist Ma Yuan’s “On a Mountain Path in Spring”. 1190-1225 CE. Ink and colour on silk. (National Museum, Taipei, Taiwan).

Introducing Taosim is an almost impossible task (just read the first chapter of Tao te Ching and you will see why). All of the Taoist texts bellow are attempts at translating the untranslatable Traditional Chinese language. These texts greatly shaped my own philosophy and thinking as well as my journey towards belief. The translation of the most famous Taoist Writing, Tao te Ching, which I prefer, is the German translation by Richard Wilhelm.

An old Chinese text, dealing with eternal life. When coupled with the Christian teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church this writing becomes surprisingly clear. Interestingly the English translation is based on the German translation (also done by Richard Wilhelm):

Non-fiction

The following book by Leonid Sabaneev (Reminiscences of Scriabin) directly influenced my interest towards the composer Alexander Scriabin. A speciality of this book is that it is not a tedious biography but rather is a very entertaining read. Here I am including it in the Russian language:

This book was even one of the reasons I started the Scriabin Club, a place for conversations about Art and Life.

Scene from Tarkovsky’s Andrey Rublev

For any person interested in Art I can highly recommend Sculpting in Time by the famous movie director Andrey Tarkovsky, here included both in Russian as well as in English. His views on art, its connection to spirituality and religion, its role in society and some of the dangerous tendencies of modernism are an important eye opener for all people even remotely interested in Arts. I might as well add in the same breath that my favourite movie of all time is his Andrey Rublev (Андрей Рублёв).

Literature (fiction)

Painting of Dostoevsky by Vasily Perov

If asked what my favourite books of the fiction genre is, I would answer it is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. To introduce it in a short paragraph isn’t possible, but in short: This book has everything. Even characterizing it as fiction wouldn’t do it fully justice, because in its own way it exposes the reality of human behaviour and humans’ tormented souls that desperately require meaning, simultaneously with surgical precision and unmatched elegance, especially in its original language. For me personally it has been of very great influence in my own journey towards a more meaningful existence. Believe it or not, Dostoevsky even references Isaak Sirin1.

One of my favourite German writers from the period of the Sturm und Drang is Friedrich Schiller. In my eyes he has a deeper intuition for human psychology, masterfully incorporated in a subliminal way and transcending the cultural clichés of his time. His work has an Shakespearean element, and in its drama sometimes feels very “Russian”. Unsurprisingly in his Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky often hints to Schiller’s The robbers (Die Räuber).

Roerich Painting, referencing Lovercraft’s At the mountains of madness

A less philosophically demanding, but definitely no less captivating read, are most of HP Lovercraft’s works. After the inclusion of all the above literature, their place on this list might seem surprising. However, next to understanding life, books sometimes can also be used for entertainment, and this definitely entertainment of highest quality, while also highlighting the beauties of the English language. The picture from up above is from Nicholas Roerich (Road to Kailas, 1933), whose paintings Lovecraft also references in my favourite novel of his - At the Mountains of Madness.

Page last updated on 26 Oct 2023


  1. Salvestroni S. Dostoevskij e la Bibbia. Biella, 2000 (рус. пер.: Библейские и святоотеческие источники романов Достоевского. СПб., 2001). ↩︎

Laotse - Tao te Ching