My final jaunt into the world of Samaria (at least for now), this was interesting in general for being set before any of the other books, so certain tMy final jaunt into the world of Samaria (at least for now), this was interesting in general for being set before any of the other books, so certain things hadn't yet been established or developed. Susannah and Gaaron were a cute lead couple but a little dull (missing some of the passion of the earlier books' romances I guess), and I found myself really loving wild child Miriam's "Prince and the Pauper"-esque escapade with the Edori. The over-arching drama of weird humanoid invaders was pretty cool, just to see how this concept that is so familiar to us is met with complete befuddlement in a theocratic culture without weapons or advanced technology....more
The premise is a little gimmicky but I'll admit I was hooked. I loved the attention to detail, both historically and technically, as well as the varieThe premise is a little gimmicky but I'll admit I was hooked. I loved the attention to detail, both historically and technically, as well as the variety of characters. There is a reverence for art objects and their history that is palpably felt in the writing. Some of the segments were less interesting to me (surprising no one, I was kind of bored by the male-centric chapters) but since the book is episodic in nature nothing was dragged out too much. The central protagonist of Dr Hanna Heath is a weaker point of the overall story of the haggadah, I think, but she is of course necessary to pull everything together and also serve as an anchor for modern readers. I didn't mind her as a character, I mostly just thought there was too much forced drama in her personal life, when I wanted to get back to the mysteries of the book she was researching....more
A little dry in some sections and naturally a bit dated in its pre-internet understanding of film culture (and not especially expansive in its understA little dry in some sections and naturally a bit dated in its pre-internet understanding of film culture (and not especially expansive in its understanding of gender), but overall an enlightening read. I haven't seen many of the films discussed but still found Clover's analyses readable and often fascinating, even if I didn't always agree with them. She's given me a lot to think about as I watch and re-watch some of these films.
The best part is I got tons of movie recommendations out of this....more
Spooky spooky stuff in the best way, with a fantastically intimate, detail-oriented writing style. I'm actually glad I saw the film first since I coulSpooky spooky stuff in the best way, with a fantastically intimate, detail-oriented writing style. I'm actually glad I saw the film first since I could easily mentally invoke the creepy use of sound during the scariest scenes in the book. But here Eleanor's gradual descent into madness is made that much more interesting because the reader is inside her head as it happens. Shirley Jackson. Jeez. So good!...more
I studied a lot of Japanese art in college, and of course heard about The Tale of Genji often (it was a really common subject to illustrate and refereI studied a lot of Japanese art in college, and of course heard about The Tale of Genji often (it was a really common subject to illustrate and reference in art). The fact that the first recognized novel was written by an 11th-century Japanese woman has always been one of my favorite trivia facts, so I figured I might as well actually read it.
While historically significant and interesting for its influence and evocation of the time period, I wasn't actually that engaged by the book. It's mostly about an astonishingly beautiful man, born into extreme privilege, who can literally do whatever he wants because of those factors. Shades of Dorian Gray, but in this case the protagonist doesn't realize how vile he is. I don't necessarily mind that the story focuses on a beautiful rich guy (I knew that going in), but almost every episode chronicles a sexual escapade that ultimately leaves the woman in question miserable, or even dead. At first I was kind of viewing it as a sort of parody, but when Genji adopted a 10-year-old girl with the intention of raising her so he could marry her, because she reminded him of the woman he loved but couldn't be with, it was just too gross. And that's only halfway through the version I read (which admittedly was abridged, and helpfully annotated).
I recognize that a lot of what I didn't like about the story is due to the time and culture in which it was written, and it is surely difficult to translate a lot of the prose across centuries and continents, so I couldn't really even appreciate it on a formal level. Especially since half the dialogue is composed of references to then-famous Japanese poems and stories that I don't know. I did appreciate the different views on love and sex, which are generally enlightened for the time compared to western culture, and the detailed descriptions of daily life in the Heian period are of course invaluable. Through Genji we see how women courtiers lived during that time, which I find really interesting, but because the focus is always on him I was ultimately disappointed since he is terrible....more