If you think your family is bad, especially the in-laws, the one in this book have got you beat! I like sentimental when it is so over the top that itIf you think your family is bad, especially the in-laws, the one in this book have got you beat! I like sentimental when it is so over the top that it makes fun of itself but sentimental that tries to be serious and have a moral message is not my cup of tea....more
For the longest time Rumi was my favoritest Sufi poet. He's funny, daring at times, and never failed to make me feel peaceful when reading his wise woFor the longest time Rumi was my favoritest Sufi poet. He's funny, daring at times, and never failed to make me feel peaceful when reading his wise words. Well now Hafiz has gone and tied with Rumi for the gold. Hafiz is funny, daring, and makes me feel happy when I read him. What's a girl to do? I must embrace them both.
Hafiz was born about 100 years after Rumi in about 1320. To put him in a little perspective, he was a contemporary of Chaucer. There is no consensus on how many of Hafiz's poems we still have, though the experts estimate it is somewhere between 500 and 700 which is only about 10% of his total output.
Hafiz was born to a poor family and was the youngest of three sons. His father was a coal merchant and died when Hafiz was in his teens. Hafiz went to work as a baker's assistant to help support his family and put himself through the equivalent of night school. He wrote poems even as a child and when in his twenties he received patron support for his work. He was a spiritual student as well and studied many long years before reaching what one might call enlightenment. There is not much more in the way of trusted biography. As one can imagine, a great poet and spiritual teacher is surrounded by lots of mythologizing.
The book of his poems I read is called The Gift. The translator, Daniel Ladinsky, notes that he chose to use very modern language, sometimes even slangy, in order to best convey Hafiz's meaning and message. While I sometimes found myself wondering if those were Hafiz's real words, for the most part I think Ladinsky made a good decision.
Because Hafiz was a Sufi master, all of his poems are about God in one way or another. But his God is not an angry God or a God who plays religious favorites. Hafiz's God is one of pure love and our job as humans is to love each other, because God is within everyone, and to let God love us. The ultimate goal I guess you could say, is to be annihilated in God's love. It is because Hafiz's poems are so full of love that I couldn't help but feel happy when reading them. Even if I began reading them when I was in a bad mood, by the fourth or fifth poem I felt so good.
If you asked me to name one or two favorite poems I wouldn't be able to because I wouldn't be able to decide. Hafiz is one of those poets where you can open to any page and read a poem and like what you have read and even feel like it was speaking directly to you at that particular time. In fact, many people use Hafiz as a sort of I Ching, opening up his poems to a random page for an answer to what ails them.
As a joke, my husband did this to me one evening when I was feeling especially stressed and the poem was so completely relevant I thought at first he was just making it all up. Here's the poem:
Find a Better Job
All your worry
Has proved such an
Find a better
Hafiz and I Ching kinda seems to work.
One more poem before I wrap up.
Scratching My Back
You Can think of Hafiz as a divine Old dog
Who just keeps scratching his back On the Moon.
O, I don't care about your thoughts Or what you have ever done,
Just open up this book whenever you are Sad
For I love the way you Smile!
Go ahead, open the book. Open it anytime, but especially when you are sad. You will never be sorry....more
Written in 1932, the dissertation examines Woolf's work up to and including The Waves. Gruber's thesis in a nutshell:
Virginia Woolf is determined to write as a woman. Through the eyes of her sex, she seeks to penetrate life and describe it. Her will to explore her femininity is bitterly opposed by the critics, who guard the traditions of men, who dictate to her or denounce her feminine reactions to art and life.
The way Gruber sees things Woolf had a choice to write to please the critics and their arbitrary standards, to write in the male novelist tradition, or to create something altogether new and different.
Gruber traces the evolution of Woolf's style through her novels. While it is a decidedly feminist analysis, it is interesting to note that her idea of femininity squares up with the prevailing notions of the time. She therefore says much about "feminine sensitivity" and discusses Woolf's "feminine impressionism."
Gruber makes a really interesting analysis of Orlando as Woolf struggling between a sort of Scilla and Charybdis of critics and male influence in order to find her way into her own style. These days it seems Orlando is talked about mostly as a biography and love letter to Vita Sackville-West. Gruber makes no comment of this and I suspect that at the time, she probably didn't know the two women had been lovers. Her analysis does prove, however, that there is a lot more going on in the book then we generally account for.
Woolf's use of painting and music are traced out through her work. Gruber also notes, "It is the mark of Virginia Woolf’s organic concept of life, that she concludes an endlessness in conflicts."
As long as there is night and day, light and darkness, there will be antithetic stylists, inimical poets and negating critics. The conclusion that there is no absolute truth in either fact or fancy, structural or rhythmic form, enables her to employ both styles without self-consciousness or doubt.
The Waves, Gruber concludes, shows Woolf as having at last achieved the style she had been working towards.
There is much of interest in this dissertation that I haven't even mentioned. I think much of what Gruber wrote still holds up today. As I was reading, I had to pause in wonder now and then since Gruber wrote it when she was only twenty. Oh, and she wrote it in a year while also taking a full load of classes. She also uses no secondary sources because no one had really done any critical analysis of Woolf at the time. Gruber's range of knowledge about Woolf's work and literature in general left me impressed and envious. How did she know all that without the aid of Google or other critical sources? It's enough to make one feel both lazy and stupid.
I don't think The Will to Create as a Woman would be of interest to everyone, but if Woolf is one of your favorite authors this is a book that will definitely appeal. And here is an interesting non-related tidbit I gleaned from the acknowledgements: author Dava Sobel is Gruber's niece....more
Bloom is a very smart man and his writing at times is beautiful. The book doesn't do anything to teach anyone how to read. It is essentially Bloom intBloom is a very smart man and his writing at times is beautiful. The book doesn't do anything to teach anyone how to read. It is essentially Bloom interpreting various novel, poem, and plays that he thinks we should read. But his interpretations assume you have read them already. He also gets a little too close to having an ecstatic religious experience when he writes about Hamlet. Also every author and piece of writing is held up in comparison to the Bard. It gets really annoying really fast. ...more
This book was terrible. Badly written with a cliff hanger ending which means a second book I will definitely not read. I don't even know why I finisheThis book was terrible. Badly written with a cliff hanger ending which means a second book I will definitely not read. I don't even know why I finished this one expect that it was pretty much the only thing I had to read at work. The really sad part about this book is that it could have been good....more
I liked this one slightly better than the other handwriting manual only because there is more explanation about why some letters can be connected andI liked this one slightly better than the other handwriting manual only because there is more explanation about why some letters can be connected and others can't and why it is a good thing to lift your pen while writing. I also found it more encouraging to the learner in developing a personal style. And he talks about adding small flourishes and gives examples to practice with. The actual practice exercises in this book are not as good as the other one though....more
I'd give this 4 1/2 stars if I could. It is wonderful reading. There are lots of slow bits, but all in all the real history combined with the sometimeI'd give this 4 1/2 stars if I could. It is wonderful reading. There are lots of slow bits, but all in all the real history combined with the sometimes fantastical stories make up for the slow parts. From the Battle of Marathon on it picks up speed, culminating in the final defeat of Persia by the Greeks. Have you ever gotten to the end of a book and wanted to immediately start over even if that book took you almost a year to read? Yeah, that's this book for me. Now I am looking forward to reading all kinds of books about Herodotus and books inspired by Herodotus. ...more
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany takes place in Cairo in the 1990s during the first Gulf War when Iraq invaded Kuwait and the U.S. attacked IrThe Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany takes place in Cairo in the 1990s during the first Gulf War when Iraq invaded Kuwait and the U.S. attacked Iraq in return. But the war is not the focus of the book, it is pretty much background. The center of the book is the various stories of some of the people who live and work in the Yacoubian Building.
I wanted to the like the book but I just haven't been able to. I read a few reviews in the book papers to try and figure out if I missed something. They mention how funny parts of the book are but I didn't find anything funny. I found the book to be rather sad and depressing. The book portrays a society that gets along on corruption and bribes, where nearly everyone is using everyone else to get whatever they can to make a better life for themselves or gain power and influence.
There is Taha, a young man who has done well in school and scored high marks on all the entrance exams for the police force, he just has to pass the entrance interview. But at the interview he quickly learns that unless he has money to pay bribes, he is not going to get a job as a police officer. Disillusioned, he gets recruited into the Muslim Brotherhood and ends his life a martyr for the cause.
There is Busayna, a young woman engaged to Taha. Her father dies and the family has no money. She has to work in order to help feed her mother and siblings. But she gets fired from every job after only a few days because when the boss makes sexual advances she refuses to play along. A friend eventually tells her that if she wants to keep a job she has to go along and explains to her what to do, how to give the boss what he wants while still remaining a virgin and making a little extra on top of her regular salary. She quickly becomes bitter and resentful and says cruel things to Taha who tells her she needs to put her trust in God who will provide for her.
There is a large cast of characters I won't go through them all but you get the idea from Taha and Busayna what the book is like. What I had a really hard time with, and why I didn't like the book, is the way women are portrayed and treated as well as the way Hatim, a gay man is portrayed.
The women are all pretty much prostitutes in one way or another or they are older and angry. None of them want an education or look for any way out of their situation other than being attached to a man. Their position mainly is to provide sex on demand. Early in the book women are described as loving sex "enormously" but
They do not love it simply as a way of quenching lust but because sex, and their husbands' greed for it, makes them feel that despite all the misery they suffer they are still women, beautiful and desired by their menfolk….Do these brief hours of pleasure not furnish her with proof that her wretched life is somehow, despite everything, blessed with success?
Being desirable makes everything ok. And Busayna, she gets a happy ending in the book because she gets to marry the old man for whom she is a "secretary."
Poor Souad is not so lucky. A widow, she leaves her child in the care of others in order to marry Azzam, a wealthy heroin dealer and politician. She is Azzam's second wife and a secret, even though more than one wife is legal. Souad's only purpose is to provide Azzam with sex whenever he wants it, keep quiet, and don't get pregnant. In return, Azzam pays for her son to attend school. But Souad gets pregnant and when Azzam finds out he demands she have an abortion. When she refuses he has her drugged and forcibly aborted.
Then there is Hatim, a successful journalist who is gay. But homosexuality is unacceptable in Egyptian society and picking up anybody is always risky. Eventually Hatim finds Abdu who is married with children. Abdu is probably not himself gay, but because Hatim pays for his family's upkeep and buys Abdu presents and a small business, Abdu does whatever Hatim wants. The relationship ends, however, when Abdu's small son becomes sick and dies. The reviews I read called the Yacoubian Building a groundbreaking book for portraying a homosexual character as being just like anyone else. And this is true and good. However, I could not help but notice that Hatim is the only one who gets a childhood backstory. And in this backstory he is molested over a number of years by Idris, the manservant who essentially raises him because Hatim's parents are wealthy workaholics. While it is never said outright that Hatim is gay because of Idris, I have heard too much anti-gay rhetoric to be able to overlook the implications of Idris having sex with Hatim, who very quickly enjoys Idris's attentions even though he suspects it is wrong.
I tried really hard while reading the book to take into consideration cultural differences but when it came down to the way women were treated and what their roles were assumed to be and to what Hatim's backstory seems to imply, I couldn't let it slide. I don't require vocal feminists in my cross-cultural reading, but I cannot accept women being portrayed as good only for sex. Nor can I accept the implication that a character is gay because he was molested as a child.
Taha's story was the most interesting and well-done part of the book but it was not enough. Even without the objections mentioned above, I found the dialogue to often be stilted and the tone flat. Whether this is Aswany or the translation, I don't know, but it was at times distracting. A book not having a plot is generally not a problem for me, but somehow this book's lack of plot made it feel more like a mash of stories with nothing holding them together other than a a setting.
The book was not a success with me. That happens sometimes. ...more
Also part of my how to write letters binge. This one, not so very good. More of a how to write specific kinds of letters, especially love letters andAlso part of my how to write letters binge. This one, not so very good. More of a how to write specific kinds of letters, especially love letters and break up letters, than anything else. Not even any interesting quotes....more