From Shakespeare and Modern Culture by Marjorie Garber: ". . . all these tragic figures with their titanic strengths and their titanic weaknesses – priFrom Shakespeare and Modern Culture by Marjorie Garber: ". . . all these tragic figures with their titanic strengths and their titanic weaknesses – pride, stubbornness, vanity, and ambition on the one side, and on the other side radical insecurity, self-doubt, lack of self-knowledge, a fear of being merely human, of the bare, forked animal, of the boy of tears. It is through these figures, and these passages, that we discover that which above all Shakespearean tragedy has to offer us, for the radical question that was posed by tragedy is always the riddle of the Sphinx, the riddle that was posed to Oedipus, and that, by his answering it, sealed both his doom and his greatness: ‘What goes on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, on three in the evening?’ The answer to the riddle, and the name behind all these names, is the name of mankind, the name, as Coriolanus says, ‘most mortal’ to us. What Shakespeare accomplishes so brilliantly in Coriolanus is to make his bluntest, least-reflective, and most heedless tragic hero live the riddle – and then solve it.”...more
Brought back memories of my high school English class as this is the only Shakespeare play I remember reading at that time. Appreciated it more now! PBrought back memories of my high school English class as this is the only Shakespeare play I remember reading at that time. Appreciated it more now! Possibly my favorite Shakespeare play so far. In chronological order of the date presumed written, Julius Caesar is #20 of 38.
This day I breathed first; time is come around, And where I did begin, there shall I end. The pathos of the parting predicts the outcome: For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius! For ever, and for ever, farewell, Brutus!
The battle has been fought and decided in the bottom of their hearts before it is even begun. It is more the conviction of certain defeat than the forces arrayed against them that determines the issue.
…men may construe things after their fashion, Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.
So Cassius does in mistaking the shouts of joy of friends at the arrival of his messenger for the exultation of enemies at his capture. Not even waiting to confirm his conjecture, he covers his face and bids a servant run him through with the very sword with which he had assassinated Caesar –
Caesar, thou art reveng’d, Even with the sword that kill’d thee.
The advantage the impulsive Brutus had gained over Octavius on the other wing of the battle is thrown away.
O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet! cries Brutus when he gazes down at his dear friend, Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords In our proper entrails.
The Ghost promised to meet Brutus again at Philippi. He has kept his word. What Brutus did not reckon on was what the Other World would say to his deed. He realizes at least that he has brought down on Rome in hundred-fold measure the very spirit to exorcise which he sold his soul to the conspiracy. Alive, Julius Caesar was a feeble epileptic. Dead, he has become an annihilating tide.
O hateful error, melancholy’s child, Why doest thou show to the apt thoughts of men The things that are not? O error, soon conceiv’d, Thou never com’st unto a happy birth, But kill’st the mother that engender’d thee!
The whole plot against Caesar has been such an error. Brutus returns to the field, but he is soon convinced that there is nothing left him but to follow Cassius. ‘Caesar, now be still,’ he cries as he runs on his sword held by a servant (after three others have refused that office):
I kill’d not thee with half so good a will.
Those ten words are the Last Judgment of Brutus on a conspiracy the mortality of which other men, strangely, have long debated....more
More of a religious read than I had bargained for, and way too much description too keep it moving with any speed at all. I read this in short doses,More of a religious read than I had bargained for, and way too much description too keep it moving with any speed at all. I read this in short doses, and like the movie (which I saw WAY long ago), the chariot scene was the most exciting part. I had forgotten about all the connections with Christ and the emotional impact of the crucifixion part. I found this, like the Bible, mostly boring, with some exciting and emotionally powerful parts.
I read this as part of the Cafe Libri Discussion Group. Interesting to read that the author was the governor of the New Mexico Territory in the 1800s and wondered if the camels in the NM/AZ desert might have prompted his interest in writing this book....more
Enjoyable geological reading but more esoteric than the first in McPhee's Annals of the Former World series, Basin and Range, which I would recommendEnjoyable geological reading but more esoteric than the first in McPhee's Annals of the Former World series, Basin and Range, which I would recommend reading first. This second book, In Suspect Terrain, finds McPhee on a road trip with Anita Harris, a geologist specializing in Conodonts (fossil remains whose classification is uncertain, possibly an eel-like marine animal of the Paleozoic era), from NYC to Indiana along I-80, roughly the 40th Parallel, exploring the geology of road cuts and making frequent diversions into the history of geology and the plate techtonics theory vs glaciation.