Carter's essay are entertaining and thought provoking. Also, very often funny. In this collection, there are book reviews, travelogues, and political...moreCarter's essay are entertaining and thought provoking. Also, very often funny. In this collection, there are book reviews, travelogues, and political commentary. My favorite essay is the comparison/contrast essay about Paddington and Winne the Pooh.(less)
My edition is published by Quality Paperback Book Club. A Reader's Companion is a collection of responses to both The Hobbit and TLOR when the books f...moreMy edition is published by Quality Paperback Book Club. A Reader's Companion is a collection of responses to both The Hobbit and TLOR when the books first were published. It includes essays by C. S. Lewis, Issac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, and W. H. Auden. Some essays are favorable to the books, while others are not.(less)
A wonderful book for English Composition classes. It makes a good reader for a reading skills class as well. The readings are varied in difficulty as...moreA wonderful book for English Composition classes. It makes a good reader for a reading skills class as well. The readings are varied in difficulty as well as period. In fact, several of my students this semester liked the book so much that they are not selling it back to the bookstore!(less)
The essays in this book center around the writing of historical fiction as well as the use of stories. Byatt gives insightful comments abouts the popu...moreThe essays in this book center around the writing of historical fiction as well as the use of stories. Byatt gives insightful comments abouts the popularity of the genre as well as analysis of some of the writers in the genre. She focuses on Penelope Fitzgerald, Bowen, Swift, Blixen, and Pratchett among others.
Byatt also includes remarks about her own works - Possession, Angels and Insects, and the Fredericka novels. After reading this book, I think I finally understand the ending of Still Life. She also discusses her methods in writing the books as well as where the ideas for the stories came from.
Byatt's prose is engaging, and you do it have to have a degree in literary theory to understand her. In fact, sometimes she seems to be writing aganist theory and for the text of books. This theme is in Possession and having read some far out criticism in my time, Byatt's theme is one I am in agreement with.(less)
Byatt writes her criticism as if she is speaking to you. The essays in this collection are all good and enterating. I enjoyed the ones about Browning,...moreByatt writes her criticism as if she is speaking to you. The essays in this collection are all good and enterating. I enjoyed the ones about Browning, Ford, Coleridge and Van Gogh. Now, I want to re-read the books she talked about.
Of more interest to me was her essay about judging the TLS poetry competition. The essay deals with how to teaching writing and her remarks about how writing should be taught stuck a chord.(less)
It is important to note that Six Myths of Our Time was published in 1994 so Warner's comments about video games, while still much on point, are dated...moreIt is important to note that Six Myths of Our Time was published in 1994 so Warner's comments about video games, while still much on point, are dated (there is, of course, no mention of Grand Theft Auto). After reading the first chapter, I doubt that I will be able to ever look at Jurassic Park(book or movie) the same way. I enjoyed the last chapter which dealt with the changed view of the British monorachy, and why, to an a extent that change happened. Warner comments much on how myths effect our day to day and social life and raises some good questions. What has happened to the male trickster hero for instance? She has a point. I had trouble thinking of one.(less)
While some of the essays meant be a little dated, they are all well written. This collection looks at the debate over being politically correct (mostl...moreWhile some of the essays meant be a little dated, they are all well written. This collection looks at the debate over being politically correct (mostly in Britian and America, but with a nod to France). The author's are diverse.
Linda Grant's essay about rape and PC culture is rather interesting, but one does have to question the small sample size. Perhaps the two best essays are the ones by Lisa Jardine and Lisa Appignassi. Appignassi's essay is on PC culture in France(there is one, you ask? No, but that's the point). After reading it, I have to wonder if any of this has changed since the DSK mess. Jardine's essay focuses on texts and teaching, and she has some rather intersting remarks on excluded groups.(less)
I went to a college that believed, strongly believed, in a well rounded education. We had to take many courses that were outside of our major. A reall...moreI went to a college that believed, strongly believed, in a well rounded education. We had to take many courses that were outside of our major. A really good idea considering the state of education today. One of the courses I took for my distribution requirements was a sociology class that dealt with race and ethnicity. We had to buy and supposedly read three books for the class. I say supposedly because even though we were told to read This Bridge Called My Back Writings by Radical Women of Color, we never ever discussed it in class. I hated that book for three reasons. One, we paid for it but the teachers never used it. Two, we were told to read it, but the teachers never used it. Three, there was an essay in the collection that said you couldn't be a feminist if you were a white woman or a heterosexual. The class was taught by two women, one of whom made fun of a female student who said she would change her last name upon getting married. I got a good grade because I barely said anything. I hardly said anything because I felt like my views were wrong or strange or too different (as well as low self esteem), and I saw what happened in that class if you disagreed with the status quo. You have no idea how much guts it takes me to post reviews on this website I wish that I had read Vamps and Tramps or anything by Camille Paglia at that time. I think it would have saved me years of feeling too different and strange. I think students should be challenged by ideas that are different, radical, or upsetting, but students should have the right to challenge those beliefs too.
Today, Paglia's book is somewhat dated. It is most likely not as shocking as it once was. Some of what she tackles, however, is still current today. There is a backlash against different views on college campuses which I believe hinders learning. There is a tendency of young women to see feminism as something evil. Today, too often people only read opinions that they 100% agree with, and there is a tendency to put everything and everyone into a nice, neatly labeled box. How boring! I may disagree with Paglia on some things, but she is never boring. I think we need more writers like her. That is, writers who are not afraid to say what they think and to challenge mouthpieces.
In this collection, the best and most thought provoking essay is "No Law in the Arena". In this essay, Paglia tackles views on the gender wars as well as rape and pedophile. What Paglia does in her writing is truly examine something. I may not agree with all her conclusions, but at least she makes me think. At least, she doesn't make me feel stupid if I disagree with her. This last bit is interesting because Paglia is cutting in some of the transcripts, but when she is talking to the reader, she is never condensending, challenging but not insulting. It really is a dialogue. Even though the essay appeared 15 years ago, it still is current because we are still wrestling with the same issues.
Other essays in the book are slightly dated. One wonders, for instance, how different "Diana Regina" would be today after Princess Diana's death, something that in retrospect, Paglia's seems to foreshadow. Additionally, the book is getting four stars because it is very heavy on the ego. This is very true of the last 60 pages.
What I found most interesting, however, were her comments about teaching and about students which are still current today. I would take her attack on Political Correctness further. I would say in addition to hindering debate and learning, PC hinders the student from learning to read actively. So many students have been turned off of reading for a host of reasons. They are told they are not reading literature, that they are stupid if they like that book, that they shouldn't read that because it is X (X is always something bad). Reading is a skill that needs to be developed. Only reading political correct works hinders that.(less)
However, there are far too many essays about fashion for a non-fashionista like me to really, truly, enjoy the book. I doubt really want to read about Chanel or Blass.
The essays that are not concealed with fashion are interesting. Perhaps the most interesting is the one that describes the history and process of tofu. I still don't like it, but now I have respect for it. (Inicidentally, the best fashion essay was about kimono making. Thurman does seem to like Japan). I also enjoyed her essay about the Brontes. I do like reading essays about books I like, and Thurman's critique of Possession A Romance was on point. Her closing essays are historical sketches.(less)
I first heard about Ali when reading the BBC news website after the death of Theo Van Gogh. While I followed her story in the news, it was years later...moreI first heard about Ali when reading the BBC news website after the death of Theo Van Gogh. While I followed her story in the news, it was years later that I read Infidel, and not until this year that I read this book.
This book includes Ali's screenplay "Submission Part 1" which was filmed by Van Gogh and was the excuse given for the murder of Van Gogh. I was glad to have read it because you should see what makes people angry for yourself. For instance, if you stopped reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone because you are anti-witchcraft, fine, at least you looked at yourself. If you judge it without reading it, then I got problem with your complaints.
If I were a devout muslim within a certain cultural type, I have no doubt that I would be angry by "Submission" and several of the other essays in the is book. But Ali has a point, and I'm not. Christianity, for instance, has grown and lived due to questioning, to debate, to discussion, to an openess of ideas. Ali writes that debate is needed within a religion so it can allow for the growth of the people. It's hard not to argue with her logic.
She also is critical of the West. One of the points that she makes both in this book and her other two works is that the West, for a variety of reasons, is ill equiped to deal with immigrants that come from radical different cultures. While her examples are confined merely to her experiences in the Netherlands (she was an immigrant and then worked as a translator for other immigrants), the examples could be for any country. It isn't just about behavior, for instance, but also the use of credit and the change in how money is handled as well as how much things cost. She also considers the legal ramifications. Is it right, she asks, that a woman who is barely literate and who was raised to always obey her husband's commands be held repsonible for a signing a legal contract such as loan document, especially when she has no say in how the money will be used?
She also demands less cultural sensitivity and more feminist action. Alice Walker, for instance, has been active in trying to end female gential mulitation, and American women condemn her for sticking her nose into another culture. Ali says that women should, that the pratice is horrible. (Okay, I admit that I already agreed with her on these points, but it's nice to someone put into print). Ali even proposed screening for the daughters of immigrants who come from cultures/regions where the scarring is practiced. It sounds harsh, and to be honest, part of me feels that it is too much governmental oversight, but I cannot see how else to stop it.
At the ever least, reading Ali's books will get you to think, and that's a good thing.(less)
Does anyone else feel sorry for John Stuart Mill, after all those years waiting for the woman he loved to be free, they finally get married, then she...moreDoes anyone else feel sorry for John Stuart Mill, after all those years waiting for the woman he loved to be free, they finally get married, then she catches TB and dies.
I've read these before; I'm sure of it. This year, I decided to re-read them because of Mill's mention in a PBS special and in A History of Britain.
The surprising thing is that much of what Mill says, even the feminst tract is still current today. We are still debating freedom and gender. I don't know whether Mill would be groaning that we still haven't gotten it right, but he would at least be happy that we're discussing it.(less)