If you like cats, especially if you live with cats, this is a wonderful book. I think actually own three of the ones Eliot writes about. I HATE the muIf you like cats, especially if you live with cats, this is a wonderful book. I think actually own three of the ones Eliot writes about. I HATE the musical; really hate the musical. I LOVE this book. You have to read it aloud. My favorite Eliot work by far....more
I recently re-read this book as part of a group read. I've always loved it, but this is one of those books that you only realized how much you love itI recently re-read this book as part of a group read. I've always loved it, but this is one of those books that you only realized how much you love it when you read again.
Beagle's writing is prose-poetry. This book is also one of the few books that was adapted to film very well.
In case you don't know, The Last Unicorn is about a unicorn who goes on quest to discover what happened to the rest of her kind. She meets a wizard and a woman who add her. On the way, she learns some un-unicorn like traits.
And that is what makes this book so great. It is the feeling of regret mixed with joy. It is the sense of wonder being returned. It is the 1001 references in the story that you don't fully know or understand as a child. It is a book about being human using an un-human agent to explore the idea, but not done in the way such stories are usually done.
. I've been watching the old BBC An Age of Kings. For those who don't know, this is an old BBC series of Shakespeare's history cycle from Richard II t. I've been watching the old BBC An Age of Kings. For those who don't know, this is an old BBC series of Shakespeare's history cycle from Richard II though to Richard III. It has a young Sean Connery as Hotspur and Tom Hardy as Henry V. Judi Dench is there as is Angela Baddley (Mrs. Bridges from Upstairs, Downstairs. It got me thinking about the timeless of Shakespeare. Why does everyone on the planet read Shakespeare? Why does the Bard's work appear on stage, in film, on television? Why does his work inspire other stories? Why can his work be placed in almost any context and still be good (okay, Julius Caesar set in Panama didn't work, but that was the smoky cap guns).
Perhaps the answer to the above questions is that Stratford-Upon-Avon needed a good tourist draw. No, of course not. It is because Shakespeare is da bomb.
There is something for everyone in Shakespeare. There is love in R&J or any of the comedies. There is murder in several plays. There is family relationships constantly being examined such as in Lear and Hamlet. There are thousands, if not millions, of dirty jokes. And don't forget the sonnet that is only about sex. Shakespeare was a beautiful poet who had a really perverted sense of humor sometimes. I half agree with one of my professors, Titus just might be Shakespeare's attempt at comedy, trying to mock the revenge tradition. It does, as the Reduced Shakespeare Company has shown, make a really good cooking show.
I personally find the less well known plays to be the better ones. I love Tony and Cleo. I love Much Ado. Even King John has its high points It is in lesser known plays that the average reader can discover gems. It’s true that Hamlet and the other big plays are wonderful, brilliant, but the reader should also play attention to the others, the ones that haven’t been talked to death. Because it is in those, that in many ways, the reader can reach Shakespeare. If you know what I mean.
It’s true that the Bard has had some misses. I don’t think anyone truly, really knows what he was doing with Trolius and Cressida, though I have a soft spot for that play. I read The Phoenix and the Turtle but can’t remember it very well.
But Shakespeare is still da bomb.
The important thing to remember about Shakespeare is that he wasn't meant to be read, but meant to be seen, to be heard. The plays work best when they come off the page, either though performance or simply reading aloud. It also helps to have a working knowledge of the Bible and mythology....more
George Eliot’s masterpiece is Middlemarch, but Adam Bede has always been my favorite Eliot novel. I’m not sure why this is. It might be because Bede wGeorge Eliot’s masterpiece is Middlemarch, but Adam Bede has always been my favorite Eliot novel. I’m not sure why this is. It might be because Bede was the first Eliot book I read. I doubt this, however, because the first Austen book I read was Pride and Prejudice, but my favorite Austen book is Persuasion. I understand why Middlemarch is a masterpiece, yet I find myself agreeing with Dumas pere in considering Bede to be the “masterpiece of the century”.
I first read Bede after watching the first part of a Masterpiece Theatre (remember when Cooke hosted it?) showing of the story. I only saw the first part and it ended with the fight between Adam and Arthur, where Adam knocks Arthur done and thinks he has killed the squire to be. I had to know what happened next so I went out and brought the book.
Since then I have read Bede far more than I have read Middlemarch, though I have never tracked down and brought the Masterpiece version of the story. There is a beauty and simplicity about Bede and yet it is a complex and deep story. It almost seems like a paradox, but it is not.
I find myself wondering how this book was received in general when it was first published. Like Scott’s Heart of the Midlothian, this work concerns a woman, a young girl, who embarks on an ill advised affair and finds herself pregnant. And yet, Eliot’s use of this plot is far superior to Scott, even to someone like me who considers Heart to be one of Scott’s best works, if not his best work. It is the use of this plot in Bede that make the book a masterpiece. It must be due to the fact that Eliot is a woman and knows far more about how much farmer’s niece would in fact know about her cycle. She makes very good use of the word dread.
It’s true that the title character is the central character. He is not a saint, he is not perfection; he is good people, perhaps a finer version of Othello. One feels for him, and he does have faults. His blind love of Hetty, and his quickness of temper. Dinah, too, as a few faults, and this stops her from being a total unlikable Mary Sue. The reader knows what is best for these two characters long before they do. In many ways, however, the kennel of the story concerns Hetty and Arthur, and far more of Hetty. It is interesting for the narrator always points out Hetty’s faults to the reader. Hetty doesn’t seem like a particular nice or attractive person, especially when compared to Dinah. The narrator is right in pointing out that Hetty’s looks cause people to forgive and over look her other faults. Despite Hetty’s petty ways and her inability to tender feeling, both the narrator and the reader feel sympathy for her. I hesitate to say like. I don’t know even now if I like Hetty, but I feel sorry for her. Hetty does something stupid, but she plays a high price. Even before the modern era, with our debates or discussions about single mothers and how (or whether) to make fathers responsible, Eliot touches on it. Constrained by the time she lived in, Eliot cannot give it the graphic blow by blow that would be used today. This restraint, however, makes the story are the more tragic and touching. Even in the darkness of the tale, Eliot arranges to show the reader a degree of pity. Hetty might feel alone due to the shame, her family might cast her off, but she is not truly alone. At least not wholly. There are helpful strangers and Dinah. Of course, the reader still knows that Hetty is not in a good place, that society has by and large cast her off and has made no true provision for her.
Eliot does not fall into the trap that other authors, such as Hardy, have. We know that the relationship between Arthur and Hetty is consensual. Further, Arthur is treated far more gently than Alec in Tess. Perhaps this simplifies matters or cheapens the story as some critics have pointed out, but I don’t think it does. Arthur is close in age to Hetty, 21 to her 17. Older, more educated, but still young enough to make mistakes. It should also be noted that both lovers are in essence orphans. Because Arthur repents, because he suffers somewhat, he becomes likable. He can’t fully save Hetty, but he does not fully abandon her when he realizes what has happened. If anything, the book can be seen as a non flattering comment on society’s rigid rules, despite the fact that Eliot does not make Hetty and Arthur spotless lambs. Hetty is less likable, but far more real than say Hardy’s Tess.
The story of Arthur and Hetty shows how much and how little society has changed.
The lovers are not the only winning feature of this novel. There are wonderful descriptions and beautiful comments about people. The seeds of Middlemarch are here. There is a wonderful chapter about what makes a good clergyman and how things should be portrayed in literature. Beautiful and thought provoking lines, like “We are kinder to the brutes that love us than to the women that love us. Is it because the brutes are dumb?” The reader is given a picture of time and place that passes before the eyes, much like a movie. ...more
One of the questions that people ask is why do we still read old books? What's so great about them anyway? My brother asked me this after I was shockeOne of the questions that people ask is why do we still read old books? What's so great about them anyway? My brother asked me this after I was shocked that he hadn't read Canterbury Tales. I undoubtably get the same shocked expression when I hear someone hasn't read over a dozen other things.
So why should we read Canterbury Tales? Well, I suppose the technical answer would be because each tale represents a style or type of writing. The collection is different forms that were popular in the day, making it some type of historical document (at least, according to my local bookstores if their shelving is anything to go by).
Okay, I hear the no name complainer say, that's good for you English people, but I only take English because they make me. Why should I read it?
Because it is the funniest thing in the whole world! You have farting! You think The BFG started it? You're wrong! Chaucer used the funny fart long before. It has sex! There's lots of sex! Everything is having sex! Okay, not everything, but even the chickens. There's chickens! There's marriage! There's love! There's fighting! There's the Wife of Bath! She is awesome. Who doesn't like the Wife? Even Shrek! knows the Wife of Bath. There's the second flood (maybe)! There's a knight, who to believe Terry Jones, isn't as honorable as he thinks he is. See, there is a Monty python connection! There's May/December romance!
Canterbury Tales is one of those works of literature that is going to last simply because it is about the truth. True, you have very dated tales, such as the Nun, but there are also tales that are still current today, that would make good television even. Chaucer, like Shakespeare and Dickens, speaks to the human condition. He shows use that such speaking isn't a late idea, but started well before we think it did.
I also think people should read it aloud so we can all sound like the Swedish Chef....more
The Woman in White was the first book by Wilkie Collins I ever read. Someone had left it at the "Leave a book, Take a book" shelf at my college librar The Woman in White was the first book by Wilkie Collins I ever read. Someone had left it at the "Leave a book, Take a book" shelf at my college library. I picked it up.
I couldn't put it down.
Many people point to The Moonstone as Collins' best book. Not me. The Woman in White is superior. It has everything, or almost everything. There are no elves, dragons, singing bananas. Okay, it doesn't literary have everything, it just feels like it does. It does have doubling, evil husbands, evil Italians, jealous women, smart women, a hapless woman, and a hero who is nice but a little dull (and perhaps shallow).
The most interesting character, outside of the villain Fosco, is Marian. Marian is one of those characters who overtakes her creator. You can almost see Collins wrestling for control of the book. Her voice is so real, her character so believable that at times it feels like she is next to you, telling you the story. The book suffers just a little when she is not present. While the story is somewhat sexist by today's standards, Collins should get a round of applause for having the two central female characters truly like and care for each other. Even today, it is far more common to see two such woman in competition. By the end of the book, the reader has come to love Marian as much as the other characters do.
If you have never read anything by Collins, start with The Woman in White.
It's no surprise that this book has stood the test of time, no surprise at all. Even without the movie and its beautiful images of horse and boy on th It's no surprise that this book has stood the test of time, no surprise at all. Even without the movie and its beautiful images of horse and boy on the desert island, this book stands out in ways that other teen mets horse books don't. The possible exception to this My Friend Flicka (Black Beauty is about a horse, not a boy and his horse). Perhaps this is because both books have the horse be a horse. In other words, the Black Stallion is always a stallion. He doesn't get magically gelded and then ungelded.
That seems part of his greatness in this series; for at no point does Farley ever condsend to his young readers. He presents the world where the rules don't magically change; Alex only finds a way to work with them or around them. Yes, perhaps the book is part wish fulfillment, but it is also a non-Gary Stu wish fullment.
There is such passion and love for horses in this series, but in a non-romantized way. A child could do far worse than starting this series....more
Hot Money is one of my favorite Dick Francis novels. What makes this novel stand out is how different each member of the family is. Each person is uniHot Money is one of my favorite Dick Francis novels. What makes this novel stand out is how different each member of the family is. Each person is unique and well rounded....more
This edition presents stories about horses that are related to Black Beauty while capturing the tone and ideas being the original. One stand out storyThis edition presents stories about horses that are related to Black Beauty while capturing the tone and ideas being the original. One stand out story takes place during WW I. ...more
Black Beauty is one of those rare books that can preach without being preachy. Anna Sewell wrote this to illustrate the abuse of horses, in particularBlack Beauty is one of those rare books that can preach without being preachy. Anna Sewell wrote this to illustrate the abuse of horses, in particulary the harsh use of the bearing rein. The bearing rein was used to get the horse's head arched, but made it difficult for the horse to breathe and near impossible for the horse to pull a carriage uphill. When Sewell died, the hearse to carry her body used horses with bearing reins. Her mother went out and made the driver get rid of them.
Another Sewell story. On her way home, driving her own trap, she was able to tell that her horse picked up a stone simply though the reins. Sewell was an awesome woman.
Sewell was truly a horsewoman and an educator, both of which are on display in Black Beauty. The plot deals with the abuse and mistreatment of horses; it teaches and raises awareness while it entertains. Sewell respects readers of all ages enough not to shy away from unpleasentness, though she never ever descends into shock value (and disregards more pressing questions for the adult reader wonders if Beauty is a gelding). She makes both her animal and human characters real and doesn't over romantize the story, as has been done in some adaptions of her work.