I have never read a book like "Arcadia". I've had some dreams like it, and dreamed of writing books not unrelated to it, but I never, in twenty years,I have never read a book like "Arcadia". I've had some dreams like it, and dreamed of writing books not unrelated to it, but I never, in twenty years, imagined a play like this could exist.
To summarize the play, I'm reminded of Richard Lovelace's line, "I sing of times trans-shifting" -- this play is all about time, the passage of time, and certainly, how we see time as we look backwards through history. The play takes remarkable twists and turns that hinges upon an unusual idea: what if what you thought about history wasn't really true? How would you ever know? He manages to take a jab at the world of academia while he's at it -- a neat trick, given the play hinges severely on selling the academic "history making" process.
The characters are all brilliant, but also funny -- Stoppard's knack for dialogue means that no opportunity for an amusing reference, a witty pun (including several translingual puns) or a hilarious misunderstanding is lost. The story is dense with allusions -- I admit a lot of the mathematical concepts were largely "over my head" but that almost seems not to matter, the crux of them got through anyway. Stoppard does not stop to explain his references -- footnotes would not be amiss for the reader who is not extremely well-read in the England of the Romantics.
I wish I could impress strongly enough upon people to read this play. It was fun, funny, but provocative, earning serious thought from me for the next few days. It seems to have a power of its own -- thoughts from the text keep surfacing, milling around, waiting to be turned upside down and examined in more depth. It's more than a play, or a satire, or a comedy -- it's also a philosophy, a love story, a tragedy. Would that more writers could express themselves so....more
The heart of "Acedia and Me" lies in a quote 3/4ths of the way through the book: "A refusal to suffer pain is a refusal to feel love". Part memoir, paThe heart of "Acedia and Me" lies in a quote 3/4ths of the way through the book: "A refusal to suffer pain is a refusal to feel love". Part memoir, part history, part theology, Acedia and Me is Kathleen Norris' exploration of a powerful dark force in her life, one of the monastic 8 bad thoughts, the "noonday demon" that kills joy and disengages people from the world. It's also a moving testimony to the love of her life, her late husband David, and to the power of goodness, grace, and love to save us from loneliness, darkness, and fear.
I've loved Norris' writing since "The Cloister Walk", and she remains with this book one of my favorite writers. At times, Acedia and Me is a difficult book to read -- Norris' writing seems so transparent, so honest, that it is tempting to not let her inside where her prose turns over forgotten stones and stirs up old memories. But if you slow down and read the book the way it deserves to be read -- one page at a time -- she is really a very rewarding author, exploring on the one hand the academic, literary, and theological, while simultaneously examining the humane, the common, the spiritual.
After having read "The Cloister Walk", "Dakota" and "The Virgin of Bennington", I suspect the book that I identified most with was this one. Acedia, despair, existential anxiety, has sucked the life out of me many days. But I take courage from Martin Luther's admonition that Norris quotes with such gusto: "To Hell with death and dying! You will live and you will like it!" In many ways, this book seems to epitomize that phrase -- to the darkness, Norris says, "to hell with you! I will live" and proceeds to tell us how such a thing is possible....more
This translation of Beowulf is beautiful. The meaning of the rhythm is maintained in the forceful verse and the phrasing keeps a lot of the mystery anThis translation of Beowulf is beautiful. The meaning of the rhythm is maintained in the forceful verse and the phrasing keeps a lot of the mystery and magic of the old alliterative poem. By far my favorite translation yet....more