I would never have understood this as soon as a month ago, perhaps. I would have understood the struggle of the Steppenwolf, but not the resolution. II would never have understood this as soon as a month ago, perhaps. I would have understood the struggle of the Steppenwolf, but not the resolution. I'm really not sure this book could be appreciated (other than on a literary level) by someone who has not deeply known existential crisis -- and, I might say, the ending may be just out of reach for those who, in their crisis, have not yet learned the surprising lesson of the crisis. The last chapter of existential crisis is itself quite like the last chapter of "Steppenwolf". I say this in defense of the book. Some things need *empathy* in the purest sense to be understood....more
Summary: The audiobook narration is truly one of the finest that can be found -- really superb. The book itself is particularly good, and educational,Summary: The audiobook narration is truly one of the finest that can be found -- really superb. The book itself is particularly good, and educational, though some caveats must be made.
The Book: Just absolutely delightful! Keenly imaginative, clever, and funny. Interwoven naturally with charming little lessons (which don't feel like lessons) about wildlife, biology, even geology and meteorology. Really very excellent morals throughout the whole tale. Keep Wikipedia and Google near at hand in order to look up all the interesting real-life creatures (some of whose popular or scientific names have changed since 1863), and historical or literary figures. This would make a great book to read along with a child, and will not only fascinate them but spark quite a number of good discussions. That said, I read this for the first time as an adult, and without a child to read it to, and I loved it as well.
Disclaimer: You must remember the era in which this was written, and the subsequent changes in the attitudes of society, or you may be taken aback by an occasional comment which we may feel is rather too comfortable with racial and national stereotypes -- the most malicious being one or two to the effect that the Irish tend to lie or be poorly educated. Others include: Jews are rich, blacks know how to dance, and Americans are spoiled due to their comforts. Still -- good occasions for discussion and another good reason to read this along with your children. It is worth it.
The Editions I Read: I listened to the Simon Vance audiobook, which turned out to be, to my surprise, one of the best narrations I've ever had the pleasure to hear (and I listen to lots and lots of audiobooks, many by Simon Vance in fact). I also read along in an illustrated Kindle ebook (though the illustrations appears to be out of sequence), in order to look up the words and make highlights. This method worked very well. But the audiobook really brought the whole thing to life, giving it a vibrant and contextualized character I'm not sure I would have succeeded in matching on my own. I've heard Simon Vance on a number of occasions before, and he's always wonderful, but he really outdid himself this time. It feels as though he really loved the book personally (perhaps from his own childhood) and so gave more of himself to the narration than usual....more
This is no sort of typical prose: know it now. It is a cyclical series of journal entries, brief historical records, quotations, meteorological minutiThis is no sort of typical prose: know it now. It is a cyclical series of journal entries, brief historical records, quotations, meteorological minutiae, and statistical expositions -- sequentially disjointed from one another at angles and near-parallels like Friedrich's "Wreck of Hope": but it takes more effort to see the larger picture. These shards share a poetic-thematic resonance which make up the heart of the book, but it takes a special reading style to appreciate it.
It is a discovery-book: like some poetry and certain fiction, you are required to make the meaning yourself, but without clear plot and with a distended anthological meter. Annie tells you nothing of what she thinks about the connections between these disparate excerpts, except what the reader can infer from their inclusion and sequence.
I am appreciative of the alternative form of Kierkegaardian "indirect communication" which this work employs, but I have to confess my weakness with this particular style: though I am deeply interested in the book's themes, I felt as though I were watching a show which changed scenes far, far too frequently. Half-way through and I have changed the channels; I hope I have the wherewithal to resume it again....more
Lucy Snowe is Jane Eyre in an obsidian mirror: she is poor, even more profoundly damaged by the loss of her family, introverted, and something a littlLucy Snowe is Jane Eyre in an obsidian mirror: she is poor, even more profoundly damaged by the loss of her family, introverted, and something a little like Mr. Rochester. Paulina, the character Lucy credits as knowing her best, is probably the real "Jane" of the book – and for this reason, I think, partially, you find Lucy explicitly contrasting herself and her history to Paulina.
So, "Villette" is emotionally weighty, and not so humorous – written with the intensity of Charlotte's recent loss of her sisters. But the writing, the whole method, is absolutely the work of genius. Don't expect a romance exactly (although still I found the primary romance here more pleasing, if not quite more entertaining, than the capoeira that is Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy).
If the film were ever made, it would have to be approached as a work of art itself, to be attempted only by a director and screenwriter accustomed to psychological film-making and experimental storytelling – and this is probably why of all the greatest Brontë novels, this is still the glaring omission in film (with the sole exception of a made-for-television short-run series which apparently no one in the world has seen in nearly half a century).
Villette is apocalyptic, melancholy, poetic, sociopolitical, paradoxically-but-defiantly hopeful (*I* find it there anyway), and very pleasantly unusual....more
### Middle-Point Thoughts ### I had expected to find this exceedingly boring. I am now pleasantly surprised. It won't pull you out of your seat -- but### Middle-Point Thoughts ### I had expected to find this exceedingly boring. I am now pleasantly surprised. It won't pull you out of your seat -- but in few pages it does a commendable job of summarizing the history of the relationship between philosophy, theology, and science in the West, expressed in Pre-Modernism, Modernism, and Post-Modernism from the Classical Era through the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Post-Kantian Scientism, etc. With only one or two minor quibbles, I can recommend this book -- despite the terribly unoriginal title -- as a fascinating read by the middle point. Thus far, it serves as suitable and concise introduction to the critical topics and the prototypical thinkers involved (though be careful not to miss Footnote 5, on Duns Scotus)....more