Of course a classic, and I'm glad I finally read it. A good fable, a modernday cautionary tale; Orwell is excellent.
I will admit that it took me some...moreOf course a classic, and I'm glad I finally read it. A good fable, a modernday cautionary tale; Orwell is excellent.
I will admit that it took me some time to get into it (even though it's such a short book!)--for some reason my mind wasn't fully immersed in the book's magical realism until much later, probably the last third of the book.(less)
Though a little wordy, Conrad really gets into early African exploration and commercial exploitation by the white man. Lots of psychological explorati...moreThough a little wordy, Conrad really gets into early African exploration and commercial exploitation by the white man. Lots of psychological exploration as well. Now I need to go see Apocalypse Now!
The Secret Sharer is also an exciting little story, keeping the suspense coming (though with no apparent realistic purpose)--until the very end which doesn't have much of a punch or payoff. A good read nonetheless.(less)
A wonderful book, filled with culture and ethical dilemmas. Your loyalties will swing one way and another, trying to figure out the best course of act...moreA wonderful book, filled with culture and ethical dilemmas. Your loyalties will swing one way and another, trying to figure out the best course of action along with Okonkwo. I highly recommend, and now I'm ready to read No Longer at Ease.
"There is no story that is not true. The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others."(less)
I love reading John Muir's writings. He is so passionate, so intense and animated about that which he loves. This, his first trip into the high Sierra...moreI love reading John Muir's writings. He is so passionate, so intense and animated about that which he loves. This, his first trip into the high Sierra country, contains countless exclamatory passages and endless quotables. His naturalist interests and tendencies come out as he analyzes and categorizes and theorizes, on geology, botany, zoology, meteorology (the man is ENTRANCED by cloudscapes).
"How interesting everything is! Every rock, mountain, stream, plant, lake, lawn, forest, garden, bird, beast, insect seems to call and invite us to come and learn something of its history and relationship." (240)
Minor complaint, or noted content: He seems fairly racist towards the natives, calling them "not a whit more natural than the tourists" at least twice, and continuously calling them unclean (therefore unnatural). I understand the prevailing sentiments at the time, and also that these Indians had already been tarnished by the white man's intrusions, but you would think with all his admiration for Nature (with a capital N of course) and a natural way of life he may think differently.
I like that John Muir is outwardly fascinated with all aspects of nature--attributing all of it to God, but not letting that get in the way of or cloud his passion. He finds true divinity, religion, worship, in nature, and many of his ideas here ring loud and true still.
"Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,--a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal." (16)
"From form to form, beauty to beauty, ever changing, never resting, all are speeding on with love's enthusiasm, singing with the stars the eternal song of creation." (128)
"the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself." (146)
"the devil ... cannot be much of a mountaineer, for his tracks are seldom seen above the timberline." (150)
"it seems reasonable that what interests Him may well interest us. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." (157)
"I should like to live here always. It is so calm and withdrawn while open to the universe in full communion with everything good." (204)
"everything in Nature called destruction must be creation--a change from beauty to beauty" (229)
"In our best times everything turns into religion, all the world seems a church and the mountains altars." (250)(less)
I decided to read Erewhon because we were going to New Zealand, and I thought it appropriate to have read some its (outdated) literature. (This being...moreI decided to read Erewhon because we were going to New Zealand, and I thought it appropriate to have read some its (outdated) literature. (This being said, I still have a couple of others NZ books to read.)
Erewhon is the "second great satire of the nineteeth century" (following Gulliver's Travels). It follows Higgs as he travels to and meets the Erewhonians and their bizarre double-standards and lack of reason. It is meant as satire against Victorian culture. The only problem with this is that much can be lost on an unsuspecting and unknowing reader (I think in particular of The Musical Banks--something that did not resonate with me).
Butler humorously treats religion, education, technology, diet, crowd mentality, criminal justice, currency, health, pregnancy--all skewed through the light (dark?) of a culture that sees logic in a backward way, against typical western mindsets. He crafts grand mythologies and prophets, provenances for the strange ways. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on machines, vegetarianism, and unreason.
I will admit it took me a fair amount to slog through it (my ancient mass market paperback with minute and fading text may partially be to blame).
Diet: -- "What is the offence of a lamb that we should rear it, and tend it, and lull it into security, for the express purpose of killing it? Its offence is the misfortune of being something which society wants to eat, and which cannot defend itself." (81) -- "Birds, beasts, fishes, have as full a right to live as long as they can unmolested by man, as man has to live unmolested by his neighbours." (166)
Religion: -- "I have since met with many very godly people who have had a great knowledge of divinity, but no sense of the Divine" (109) -- "Mention but the word divinity, and our sense of the Divine is clouded." (109) -- "whenever any one ventured to differ from him, he referred the matter to the unseen power with which he alone was in direct communication, and the unseen power invariably assured him that he was right." (166)
Politics: -- "A man's business ... is to think as his neighbours do, for Heaven help him if he thinks good what they count bad." (136)
Lifestyle: -- "you ought by this time to have outgrown the barbarous habits of your ancestors. If, as you believe, you know better than they, you should do better." (167) -- "there is no genius who is also not a fool, and no fool who is not also a genius" (136) -- "an art is like a living organism--better dead than dying" (88)
Technology: -- "How many men at this hour are living in a state of bondage to the machines?" (150) -- "it is the machines which act upon man and make him man, as much as man who has acted upon and made the machines" (160)(less)