This concise book is a collection of well known quotations from his work, organized loosely by topic. The beg...moreAh, who doesn't love William Shakespeare?
This concise book is a collection of well known quotations from his work, organized loosely by topic. The beginning features a nice biography of the author, although it does report some stories that are more likely inventions than truth. It does, however, quote some of the better Ben Jonson mentions of Shakespeare.
All in all this book, as previous reviewers have commented, is a bit too PG rated to be truly good fun. It is a good quick reference to various quotations, and a decent introduction to the life of the Bard.
All in all, quite fun, but a bit too whitewashed.(less)
Definitely worth reading for "The Green Automobile" and "Dream Record". A general knowledge of the beats will explain why. "Siesta in Xbalba" and "On...moreDefinitely worth reading for "The Green Automobile" and "Dream Record". A general knowledge of the beats will explain why. "Siesta in Xbalba" and "On Burroughs' Work" were also good.
"Aether" killed the collection for me, sadly, and brought the rating down. All in all not Ginsberg's best, but still worth looking at for the above mentioned poems.(less)
The Canterbury Tales is one of those books often mentioned in any survey of classic literature, and certainly with good reason. The structure of the b...moreThe Canterbury Tales is one of those books often mentioned in any survey of classic literature, and certainly with good reason. The structure of the book itself (stories within stories) predates A Midsummer Night's Dream rather notably and Geoffrey Chaucer is with necessity a force of wit to be reckoned with.
Geoffrey Chaucer's writing still seems fresh, and more of the stories in this collection hold up to the passing of time rather than fall flat from it. The snippets of the original poetry included in quotes make me want to read it in the original, in spite of what difficulties there may be, and the notes in the back helped expediate understanding when the language did get confusing.
Chaucer's social commentary was hilarious, and his characters were all rather notable. His use of doggerel for humor was extremely effective, and his views towards women's rights remarkable for their time. Hell, The Wife of Bath's prologue regarding men is still rather remarkable to read.
All in all, an excellent collection and one I look forward to reading again.(less)
I bought this book years ago at a library sale in Poolesville. During high school, as a matter of fact, when I was a poetry-reading-and-writing fiend...moreI bought this book years ago at a library sale in Poolesville. During high school, as a matter of fact, when I was a poetry-reading-and-writing fiend and wanted to better acquaint myself with old poems. You know, like you do. Well, this treasury of American poetry introduced me to the hilarious poem "Casey At The Bat" and the knowledge that my baseball loving boyfriend will look at me funny when I admit that I had never heard of the poem until yesterday. That was embarrassing.
Anyway, my true joy in this book did not come from revisting poems I used to know, or poets I had never heard of before, but from the fact that some (presumably high school) boy decided to write in it. A lot. And circle things like the word "breast" and page "69." In a bout of note passing he lamented the fact that Alex wouldn't dump her boyfriend for him until he promised to send her his picture. Though he wasn't "on the fone" with her.
I found this book absolutely delightful, a bit thought provoking, and very rhythmical. The cadence of...moreI won this book through the first-reads program.
I found this book absolutely delightful, a bit thought provoking, and very rhythmical. The cadence of the poems is a bit infectious. The poems are funny, evocative, and clever in unexpected places. The words bounce off the page in excitement, and then sulk back only to cut through with an unexpected remark.
Leigh Stein is well versed in mythology, and "Oregon Trail". She writes with a cynicism that tends towards the snarky rather than the hurtful. Her poems burst at the seams, and would be best read with a grin and curious expectation.
I normally don't read books of poetry, but this one was a good exception. What fun, what bright eyed stares, and what an interesting future. I wouldn't object to living in Switzerland, even if everyone else is missable and sexy.(less)
I bought this book several years ago and by several I mean many but never got around to reading it in its entirely. I thought it was about time I did...moreI bought this book several years ago and by several I mean many but never got around to reading it in its entirely. I thought it was about time I did that, so.. well, I did. Although it took me ages to finish it, that is in no way a reflection on the quality of the book itself - more my ability to be distracted, etc. So, let's get on with the review.
As someone not terribly familiar with Norse myth, I came away from the book feeling that I understood the essence of it a bit better. Having recently traveled to Austria, and in previous years been to much of the Baltic region, I felt that those trips supplemented my understanding of the text a bit more than the copious notes at the back of the book did.
The way that the book was set up was a bit troubling to me. The notes at the back of it, rather than say.. footnotes, or notes on the side of the page, made for much flipping. At times, the notes were just reminders of the meaning of certain words (e.g. norns and disir) rather than truly supplementary or explanatory material.
The translation of the texts was good, if a bit.. heady. Having the translation be rather literal, including phrases such as "slaughter dew" when referencing blood, or "foot twigs" instead of toes always came off as a rather interesting choice. It added to the feel of the text itself - you could never forget you were reading something fairly ancient, rather than bringing the ancient into a more modern time period such as Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf did.
All in all, I did enjoy the book, but it would not be remiss for me to look into more contemporary or, rather, just alternate translations of what I read. I'm tempted to read Snorri's translation of the Prose Edda, though, which would be an even more.. insurmountable sort of task. Perhaps I should look up easier guides to the Nordic mythology prior to doing so, so I'm not jumping in entirely brainlessly.(less)
I would give "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" or "Kubla Kahn" five stars easily, but a lot of the poetry in the book beyond that didn't do much for m...moreI would give "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" or "Kubla Kahn" five stars easily, but a lot of the poetry in the book beyond that didn't do much for me. Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a brilliant writer of the more supernaturally minded poems, and his verses of love are generally rather good. Personally, I'm a bit uncomfortable reading this, as I really haven't a lot of experience with anything beyond the epic poems.(less)
Seamus Heaney breathed new life into the unknown poet's text and brought it into a recognizable vernacular - I could e...moreBeowulf was pretty damn awesome.
Seamus Heaney breathed new life into the unknown poet's text and brought it into a recognizable vernacular - I could easily imagine my grandfather being the one to tell me this story. The poem became direct, important, and even strangely intimate. The advice that Hrothgar gives to Beowulf reads as if it is being whispered in your own ear. The text feels important - it's truly extraordinary.
Not being able to read Old English, I still appreciated being able to look at it, and found myself studying it a couple of times. It's incredible both how far the language has advanced, and how little it has - seeing words that I could recognize without much difficulty (or sound out) went a bit beyond novelty. I really gained an appreciation of the old language.
Furthermore, the introduction (Yes, I read those) lent further import to the text itself. Reading the poem trough the lens of both time and distinctly Irish history (yes, I know the poem isn't Irish) brought it into a rather different perspective - particularly the ending. Watching the death of a culture, and a people who knew they were soon to be defeated, hit home in a variety of ways. Beowulf signifies an end of an era - the change from Paganism to Christianity, from the Geats being a force to be reckoned with to knowing there is no way they can survive - in a lot of ways, I think only an Irishman born to a family with a healthy respect of that Republic could translate it with such a keen eye towards how that feels.(less)
Yes, I am on a semi classical literature binge at present.
The Song of Roland is the story of Ganelon's treachery against Charlemagne's right-hand man,...moreYes, I am on a semi classical literature binge at present.
The Song of Roland is the story of Ganelon's treachery against Charlemagne's right-hand man, Count Roland. Whereas Beowulf offered a good look into the medieval and pre-medieval ideas of what made one a hero, The Song of Roland offers a brilliant picture of what compels one to follow their king. The praise of Charlemagne and the reasoning behind Roland's refusal to blow the oliphant in the midst of battle are both beautiful things to read.
I read the Harris translation, and am quite happy I did. The non-rhyming poetry still offers a sense of both rhythm and importance, and the introduction was very in depth. I left the text with a deep appreciation of the dignity that was so prized in earlier times, and a small wish that it was more apparent today. Chivalry, in theory, was a very beautiful virtue.(less)
This book took a good deal of time to read, but not for lack of interest. The language of it is beautiful, Byatt's vocabulary immense, and the story i...moreThis book took a good deal of time to read, but not for lack of interest. The language of it is beautiful, Byatt's vocabulary immense, and the story itself enthralling. Do not let the nature of the book itself fool you - for all of its pretentious trappings, the book is rather funny.
Possession tells the story of an aspiring scholar, Roland Mitchell, who discovers two drafts of a love letter written by the poet he has been studying. The story, from there, follows his quest to discover who the letters were addressed to, what was the nature of this relationship, etc. The story turns into a commentary on scholarship, on literature, on poetry, on the nature of romance itself. It is ambitious, and often self-deprecating. It is a truly wondrous work.
I would be lying if I said that the book didn't intimidate me, but around 90 pages in I got so wrapped up in it that that initial humbling feeling was lost. It is lofty, yes, but not impossibly so. Think of it as an educated Da Vinci Code. It's all about the mystery and the quest. (less)
A Season in Hell & Illuminations was a book that I was introduced to in the dead of night. I was handed the text and asked to read and, being me,...moreA Season in Hell & Illuminations was a book that I was introduced to in the dead of night. I was handed the text and asked to read and, being me, proceeded to open to random pages and read aloud in an impassioned tone. When read like this - in the middle of the night with all of its magic and attractions, the text is like fire.
Rimbaud's words alternatively scorch and caress, they raise up the most enlivened fancies and play out dark fantasies unlike anything else one could ever be exposed to. Rimbaud becomes the Father of all that is brutal and metal, he becomes the embodiment of debauchery and dark poetry; in this light he is pure electricity, and being that, strange, mysterious, and wonderful.
In the light of day, his prose loses some of that intensity. He becomes something tamer, better understood. In light of the preface, Rimbaud runs the risk of even failing to be purely Rimbaudian - he is human, after all, and simply a man, behind a desk, writing... I feel he loses his allure in this light, rather than gains it. Yes, he is human, but the legend is so much more fun and eagerly traced...?
I struggle between giving this novel three stars or four - in the right conditions, he is truly incredible and quite the beloved read. For now, I shall settle with three, and perhaps increase upon a later date. (less)
This is definitely one of the stranger books that I've picked up. Sharp Teeth is a werewolf novel, told in verse form. Imagine the old epic poetry of...moreThis is definitely one of the stranger books that I've picked up. Sharp Teeth is a werewolf novel, told in verse form. Imagine the old epic poetry of the Greeks, or even the ballads told in medieval times - you'll get a good idea of how this novel is told.
The epic nature, and the sheer length and subject matter of the book, had me doubting whether or not Barlow could make it work. He did. The story is worthy of the way it is told.
In the dead of night in southern California, the different packs of lycanthropes plan their games and their attacks. He details the society in a way that is surprisingly close to how wolves tend to operate; he brings werewolves into the twenty first century, and more than that, keeps them true to the old myths as well. It's a fascinating story, well told, and with wholly believable characters. In particular, I liked the way he handled female werewolves - a topic rarely touched upon well in modern horror literature.(less)
I'd wanted to reread this book since it was mentioned in Inkdeath, though not by name. I grew up reading Shel Silverstein as I'm sure many others have...moreI'd wanted to reread this book since it was mentioned in Inkdeath, though not by name. I grew up reading Shel Silverstein as I'm sure many others have by now, and the illustrations stick in my memory as clearly as some of the poems. I still wonder about Ickle Me, Pickle Me, and Tickle Me too. The poems are so bizarre.
The rating is a bit biased, as for me I was transported to my childhood with the poetry and pictures. I can recall the basement library where I first heard some of the verses and the time we were meant to memorize a poem to recite it to the class. I can remember the cover of the book and how many hours I spent imagining just what the end of the world would look like, with the sidewalk jutting briefly over it.
As far as poetry goes? This is an amusing bit of verses that's pretty good, but not great. The illustrations can be likewise rated. As far as nostalgia goes? It's tops, for me. It's one of those books you'll love if you grow up with it and kind of struggle to understand fully if you didn't...(less)
There are certain books that are forever a comfort to us; certain books whose beauty touches us, and demands a reread or two - if not just to capture...moreThere are certain books that are forever a comfort to us; certain books whose beauty touches us, and demands a reread or two - if not just to capture the feeling of the first read, than perhaps to discover a deeper truth within it. To me, Horse's Neck is that book.
Horse's Neck is, as Townshend states in the forward, a search for beauty. In truth, it is more a search for a kiss. Throughout the stories within it, one sees the different forms that beauty and love can take - not all of them beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but all strangely valid if sometimes disturbing. The book is a spiritual quest, a study of questions, and a surprisingly insecure search for validation. Every story is tinged with Townshend's gift for songwriting, for character and atmosphere.
This book is not for everyone. It is disturbing at points, and troubling. It takes a certain kind of person to truly grasp some of the emotions it evokes and the points that it makes. I can say that this book is for me - and for anyone who has felt truly out of place and inadequate. Like Quadrophenia not all of the themes it explores are comfortable, but isn't art meant to put us out of our comfort zone on occasion? (less)