Excellent translation. Easy to read, and some exquisite word choices that give a satisfying pop and rattle while reading it (if one reads portions of...moreExcellent translation. Easy to read, and some exquisite word choices that give a satisfying pop and rattle while reading it (if one reads portions of it aloud, as I did). (less)
I quite enjoyed this story. It's heroic and tragic in all the right ways, and it is more accessible, I think, than many of Tolkien's other "lost tales...moreI quite enjoyed this story. It's heroic and tragic in all the right ways, and it is more accessible, I think, than many of Tolkien's other "lost tales" and mythologies in his legendarium. It succeeds in being a well-structured story with a set of boundaries, and although there might be a few too many names to remember (and that's just referring to the names Túrin gives himself!), it is well worth the read.(less)
Although I clearly lack the language and culture to fully appreciate this collection of legend (or what have you), I found much of The Kalevala very i...moreAlthough I clearly lack the language and culture to fully appreciate this collection of legend (or what have you), I found much of The Kalevala very intriguing. I liked best the exploits of Väinaöinen, as he set about doing...whatever it was he set about doing...but the craftsmanship and courtship of Ilmarinen also held some interest for me. I liked least the beginning (though, that may simply have been because I was coming upon something completely unknown and didn't yet know how to approach it) and the ending (a very bizarre tale that reeked of Christian allegory and which I think suffers from the melding of allusions).
I would like to read other translations. I really would like to read it in the original, but Finnish is somewhat far down on the list of languages I likely will never learn.(less)
This was tougher to read than it should've been. I read it at least once before, in high school, but I don't recall it being quite so...uninteresting,...moreThis was tougher to read than it should've been. I read it at least once before, in high school, but I don't recall it being quite so...uninteresting, for lack of a better term.
There are some moments of worth. Lewis has a knack for description, and his portrayal of Ransom's perusal of Perelandra is well done. Also, portions of dialogue between the various characters are quite well done.
However, Lewis seems to take things to the extreme. His description and dialogue become tedious at times, and his narrative devolves into tiresome reports of concepts that perhaps could be described more succinctly and clearly. (less)
Read "The Lost Road" section for a a course at The Mythgard Institute. It was good, but I'm always a little put off by Christopher Tolkien's commentar...moreRead "The Lost Road" section for a a course at The Mythgard Institute. It was good, but I'm always a little put off by Christopher Tolkien's commentary and notes. Christopher gets a little hard to follow when he starts talking about variations in different manuscripts. Definitely will take some additional reading.
I look forward to reading other sections, in particular the Etymologies, but will likely need to put them off until I have more Time. (less)
"Smith of Wooton Major" is a delightfully short tale about a blacksmith named Smith. (We find out some of his friends are named Cooper and Miller -- I...more"Smith of Wooton Major" is a delightfully short tale about a blacksmith named Smith. (We find out some of his friends are named Cooper and Miller -- I wonder what they do....) As a boy he eats a magic star that gives him a passport to the land of Faery, where he wanders and has some mostly harmless adventures, until one day he is told he must give up the star to another child.
The story is quite un-Tolkienian in the sense that he barely explains anything. Which is good. I mean, I love the guy, but sometimes he's just too damn wordy.
"Farmer Giles of Ham" is another playful short (though, a bit longer than "Smith") about an agriculturist who accidentally becomes a hero, and as such he is democratically chosen by the townspeople to face a dragon, much to his chagrin.(less)
I enjoyed re-reading this more than re-reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Some great moments of humor (er, humour), and I really enjoyed ea...moreI enjoyed re-reading this more than re-reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Some great moments of humor (er, humour), and I really enjoyed each of the mini-adventures the crew and passengers of the Dawn Treader experience.(less)
This is perhaps my favorite of Gaiman's novels that I've read so far. Gaiman is a fantastic storyteller, and his descriptions are extraordinarily vivi...moreThis is perhaps my favorite of Gaiman's novels that I've read so far. Gaiman is a fantastic storyteller, and his descriptions are extraordinarily vivid.(less)
I have not read all of the pieces in this book, but what I've read is fantastic. I will make some comments about the pieces I most enjoyed, and list s...moreI have not read all of the pieces in this book, but what I've read is fantastic. I will make some comments about the pieces I most enjoyed, and list some quotations from each.
"On Stories" is Lewis' quintessential essay about, well, the "story-ness" of stories; it may be likened to Tolkien's essay "On Fairy-Stories," which despite its narrower scope, covers many of the same ideas. Lewis describes the two different ways in which stories are enjoyed by different people, which is really a distinction of the people and not the stories themselves: Through "excitement" or through the greater atmosphere created by the story. He prefers the latter. A few great quotes, completely out of context:
(After describing a scene from Last of the Mohicans) "Dangers, of course, there must be: how else can you keep a story going? But they must...be Redskin dangers. The 'Redskinnery' was what really mattered."
"Nature has that in her which compels us to invent giants: and only giants will do."
"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty...."
(After referring to the story of Oedipus and The Hobbit) "We have just had set before our imagination something that has always baffled the intellect: we have seen how destiny and free will can be combined, even how free will is the modus operandi of destiny. The story does what no theorem can quite do."
"The more imagination the reader has, being an untrained reader, the more he will do for himself."
"The real theme may be, and perhaps usually is, something that has no sequence in it, something other than a process and much more like a state or quality."
"In life and art both, as it seems to me, we are always trying to catch in our net of successive moments something that is not successive."
In "On Criticism," Lewis admirably touches on one of my great pet peeves (along with another problems of literary critique): Those people who claim to know what the author intended. "In fact," he says, "most of what we call critical writing contains quite a lot of things beside evaluation." He goes on to name those things and show why they are bad. Some more discontextual quotations:
"I think fatuous praise from a manifest fool may hurt more than any depreciation."
"Ignorant as [an author] may be of his book's value, he is at least an expert on its content."
"To have read an author who affects one like a bad smell or a toothache is hard work."
"...the meaning of a book is the series or system of emotions, reflections, and attitudes produced by reading it." [cf. the penultimate quote from "On Stories" referenced above]
"Where [the critic] seems to me most often to go wrong is in the hasty assumption of an allegorical sense..." (Tolkien also disliked hasty allegory)
I originally read "After Ten Years" in college (in the fall of 1998, I believe...) in The Dark Tower and Other Stories and loved it immediately. I was immensely intrigued with the idea of Helen's fading beauty, and it inspired me to write a rather poorly constructed song called "Yellow-haired Man," which I still melancholically sing in my echoing boudoir from time to time. It's too bad Lewis never finished it; I think it could have rivaled Till We Have Faces. (less)
A good read, but only because I knew the story already having read The Saga of the Volsungs immediately before it. I fear it may be a bit obtuse for a...moreA good read, but only because I knew the story already having read The Saga of the Volsungs immediately before it. I fear it may be a bit obtuse for anyone who comes at it freshly.
I especially enjoyed Tolkien's careful attention to the meter and alliteration. Christopher Tolkien provides a brief introduction about the meter (and other considerations); however, a bit longer introduction can be found in Tolkien's essay "On Translating Beowulf" in The Monsters and the Critics and other Essays. (less)
William Morris may be a good writer, but I dislike his translation skills. Working through the language of the translation is a task in and of itself....moreWilliam Morris may be a good writer, but I dislike his translation skills. Working through the language of the translation is a task in and of itself. (My commented to my friend Dave while reading it: "This Volsunga translation is truly f***ing awful.")
That said, the story is quite enjoyable once you get past the awfulness of the translation. I don't why ancient epics always have such a penchant for nefarious things like incest and gratuitously horrific murder, but they do make for a good tale.
Tolkien's The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun is a reboot of part of the Volsungasaga, and well worth a read in tandem with this book. Apparently, he quite liked the translation, and he knows more about languages than I do, so take that for what it's worth.(less)
This was good. Really good. Better than I expected, frankly.
My initial thought is that if it's about anything, A Game of Thrones is about how the foll...moreThis was good. Really good. Better than I expected, frankly.
My initial thought is that if it's about anything, A Game of Thrones is about how the folly of youth becomes the folly of adulthood. The sins of the father (and mother and siblings and distant cousins, bastard or otherwise) are visited upon the son (etc.), and all that.
My first favorite character is Arya. Arya reminds me of my younger daughter, who at the age of six leapt out of a tree and beat down a boy larger than her as he was hitting her repeatedly with a stick. (Thankfully, my daughter has not learned how to use a sword.) Arya is courageous, not just because she's a tomboy who prefers gauntlets to thimbles, but because she makes no bones about it. She is the most interesting of the Stark children. I will admit I was much dismayed when there was like 200 pages where she didn't appear. I actually flipped ahead to make sure there was at least one more section/chapter focusing on her. And I never flip ahead in books (well, almost never, apparently...).
My second favorite character is Tyrion. His clarity and candor are awesome, and I think both of those characteristics point to a deeper genuineness that nobody else in the book — even Eddard, perhaps especially Eddard — seems to possess. In Tyrion I see not only an earnest enjoyment of life ("I like living" he tells Bronn, perhaps the most honest statement uttered by a character in the book), but a desire to actually make life better — and not only for himself. Yes, Tyrion is an ardent opportunist, and he does not shy from any opportunity to better his situation; however, he is also an ardent supporter of the win-win situation. The other Lannisters only want to win. Furthermore, Tyrion's design for Bran's saddle is perhaps the only truly selfless act in the entire book.
I was pleasantly surprised by Eddard at the end, although obviously disappointed by the outcome. His willingness to recognize the situation and do the distasteful thing shows his humanness. To avoid spoilers for that one person who hasn't read it (you know who you are), that's all I'll say about that.(less)
Great story. I love the keywords for each record, and I smiled at all of the the running mathematical analogies (especially D's fear of and trepidatio...moreGreat story. I love the keywords for each record, and I smiled at all of the the running mathematical analogies (especially D's fear of and trepidation at the "irrational root").
I was surprised at how much the story made me think of other stories, despite knowing before reading it that it has influenced a number of better known tales. The world of "We" is incredibly well constructed, and there are a number of jarring juxtapositions: the writing of a semi-surreptitious journal among the panopticon beehive that leaves almost no privacy; the sexual belonging of one's body to everyone except, apparently, one's self; the assignment of titles like Benefactor and Builder in a society that supposedly shuns class division and individual distinction; even the pacing of the story, from D's initial rational pursuit of his thoughts to the rapid and sometimes scattered, even fragmentary, narrative near the end.
The story is a bit confusing at times. I had to re-read the incidents aboard the Integral, and I'm still not entirely clear what happened, though I think I got enough to understand how the ending plays out.(less)
I will take this opportunity to once again reiterate that Bradbury is at his best when keeps his stories tightly focused. These incisive imaginings ar...moreI will take this opportunity to once again reiterate that Bradbury is at his best when keeps his stories tightly focused. These incisive imaginings are incredible, and he rises to the challenge of offering us a world that is familiar-yet-strange. It's impossible not to feel feel the heavier air at the bottom of the uncanny valley every other page or so.
I remember reading "There Will Come Soft Rains" in high school, and having now read the rest of the Chronicles, it remains one of my favorites. Add to that "The Earth Men," "Usher II," "The Off Season" and "—And the Moon Be Still as Bright" ("We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things") to get my top five favorites. However, all of these stories are great, as is the thread twining them all together.(less)