Sigh, yet another art book from the library that has had several pages torn out. People seem to regard nice pictures in Library books as being their oSigh, yet another art book from the library that has had several pages torn out. People seem to regard nice pictures in Library books as being their own private property to do with as they please.
I have no particular interest in Goya. I'm not even sure he's that great a painter. The aspect i liked most was the idiosyncratic, lifelike expressions in his portraits. You look at them and you don't necessarily feel you are seeing a very accurate likeness of a real person but you get the uncanny feeling that you have caught a glimpse of their true character, a flash of something that their friends and family would recognise. He has a funny knack of painting people as they really are, not how he wants to see them or how they would like to be perceived. Sadly this is an aspect of his work that only really stands out in a few of his earlier paintings. As he got older, he made more personal art, more humane, political, more weird and imaginative and oddly i found that stuff far less interesting than his portrait commissions.
He's not one of my ten favourite painters or anything......more
This was pretty charming. As it was for kids it had more of the quaint, rhythmic elements of Eliot's idiom and not so much of the detached, Eastern feThis was pretty charming. As it was for kids it had more of the quaint, rhythmic elements of Eliot's idiom and not so much of the detached, Eastern feel, although there was still a little of that.
I love the way he portrays these cats in such an anthropomorphic, children's sort of way and at the same time does so in a way that genuinely reminds you of a lot of cats that you've met in real life. These cats are fantastical and yet somehow still well observed and true to life. Ted Hughes wrote about how poets capture the essence of their subject by whatever means necessary and this is what Eliot has done with Cats in this book. He has written something silly and entertaining and yet the true essence of his subject has been captured brilliantly.
Strongly recommended to anyone who likes cats or TS Eliot. I think it probably gains a lot with good illustrations so I'd like to read the Edward Gorey illustrated version soon....more
Hughes brings his typical style to these myths; an intense, peering, pondering vision - resonant, soaked in blood and perhaps a little lugubrious.
It'Hughes brings his typical style to these myths; an intense, peering, pondering vision - resonant, soaked in blood and perhaps a little lugubrious.
It's better written, more insightful, more immersive and more readable than perhaps any other volume of mythology i've read.
I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been written with a lighter tone. On the other hand, as it was a transcription of Greek Myths by a poet known for his seriousness who happened to be dying of cancer at the time, I guess a light tone is the most unreasonable thing I could possibly ask of this book.
Recommended to anyone interested in Greek/Roman Myths....more
At first Hitchens' cerebral, superior tone left me cold, but after a while, after all the clever arguments and extensive historical examples, you haveAt first Hitchens' cerebral, superior tone left me cold, but after a while, after all the clever arguments and extensive historical examples, you have to concede that the man makes a valid point. I don't consider myself to be anti-religious but after Hitchens' incessant and eloquent tirade I'd be forced to admit that, on balance, humanity would surely be better off if religion had never existed.
On the other hand an agressive piece of polemic like this is the type of text that will surely only be preaching to the choir. It's hard to imagine the devoutly religious even picking up a copy of a book entitled "God is not great", which perhaps makes you wonder as to the value of writing such a book at all. I'd be inclined to say that more moderate figures like Carl Sagan who preach their case in a more subtle way and do so within the context of broader subject matter are more likely to be genuinely persuasive in furthering the humanist cause. It's this that makes me suspect that this book will not stand the test of time in the same way that Cosmos has.
I'd recommend this to non-believers who want to read an excellent essay that supports their viewpoint. If you do believe in God then you almost certainly aren't reading this review....more
I wasn't especially impressed with this. I suppose it was a lot more readable than a lot of what I read these days. It's typical terry pratchett; TheI wasn't especially impressed with this. I suppose it was a lot more readable than a lot of what I read these days. It's typical terry pratchett; The content is likeable, the intent is laudable and the execution is questionable.
Not really worth reading but not an unpleasant reading experience either....more
Pretty boring all in all. This is the typical story of my journey through ancient and mythological texts. The mindblowing, magical, profound moments aPretty boring all in all. This is the typical story of my journey through ancient and mythological texts. The mindblowing, magical, profound moments are few and far between and the tedious recounting of boring battles and exaggerated degrees of scale (how incredibly strong someone is, how incredibly noble another character is etc) fill most of the pages.
This was a version where the translator chose to present many, non-essential parts in abbreviated form. The problem here was that the book still clocks in at 790 pages (the main text) and the bits that he considers to be important are not necessarily the bits that are of interest to me. The side stories and philosophical discussions that he skimmed over intrigued me far more than the dreary battles which dominate the narrative.
I came to greatly regret reading this penguin version instead of the Rajagopalachari version which is highly acclaimed and roughly half the length. His version of the Ramayana was so informal and charming, entertaining and concise. It was one of the most enjoyable mythological texts I've ever read. I'm actually tempted to buy his version of the Mahabharata and try again. Maybe the source material is just not as strong as the Ramayana but I suspect that it was the long-winded and overly respectful translation that made it so boring.
I wouldn't recommend this version of the Mahabharata, or any version of this length (I'm not convinced that there is enough interesting material here to warrant any more than 500 pages) but I wouldn't dissuade you from reading any version. I would think that there must be one or two worthwhile versions out there somewhere. Read Rajaji's version and let me know if it's any good....more
Cezanne definitely fits more into the category of "worthwhile" or "interesting" than ultimately "artistically successful". He never could draw very weCezanne definitely fits more into the category of "worthwhile" or "interesting" than ultimately "artistically successful". He never could draw very well. His real influence seems to have been to initiate a stream in art that derived its aesthetic choices from personal, internal principles, rather than academic ones. The impressionists could explain the theory behind their approach and you could see what they were getting at but it seems that Cezanne is the only person who ever truly understood the logic behind his own idiom.
He's one of these artists who was perhaps never very good at what he did but gets along on the strength of what he is trying to say. You can look at his paintings and read an analysis and say "yes, that is interesting" but for me, I was never convinced by the painting itself. A critic might say "this arrangement of elements increases the overall harmony of the composition" but i can only reply "ok, if you say so, I guess I'll have to take your word for it".
I like some of his paintings... a little bit... I wonder about artists attempting something interesting but failing in their execution. Is it enough simply to have tried? I'm not sure....more
I enjoyed this one a lot. Besides the sort of stuff you would expect, Maugham also offers some interesting insights and speculations into the lives ofI enjoyed this one a lot. Besides the sort of stuff you would expect, Maugham also offers some interesting insights and speculations into the lives of his subjects. I especially like his contention that numerous men proposed to the plain and penniless Charlotte Bronte on the grounds that she was clearly "highly sexed". It's a nice little mix of biography and criticism but the fact that it is the work of a good Novelist means that the personalities of these authors really do come across in a very rich sort of way.
I'd recommend this to any reader of classic novels....more
This was OK. I've already forgotten what happened in it. It's pretty insubstantial but then so are an awful lot of graphic novels. I guess the main thThis was OK. I've already forgotten what happened in it. It's pretty insubstantial but then so are an awful lot of graphic novels. I guess the main thing you want from a graphic novel is to have one or two bits that make you go "ah, yeah that's cool" and this had that so I wasn't disappointed.
I'd recommend this to any fan of Supherhero graphic novels who has already read the big ones....more
An illuminating and fairly well-written biography. It's nice to read around the factual side of an author like Bukowski where you feel like you alreadAn illuminating and fairly well-written biography. It's nice to read around the factual side of an author like Bukowski where you feel like you already know his life story from his work....more
This book had a funny quality of being printed on paper that had a sort of seam in the pages about 1cm away from the spine. This meant a lot of the paThis book had a funny quality of being printed on paper that had a sort of seam in the pages about 1cm away from the spine. This meant a lot of the pages were coming out, almost as if the book had intentionally been designed to have the pages be easily pulled out (though I'm not sure this was actually the case). So a lot of pictures were missing.
Klimt is a great draughtsman and has a knack of creating those weird, lush, shiny surfaces. I don't think he's a very interesting artist though. Besides his fascination with eroticism and the female form I don't think he has anything very interesting to say with his work. Many of his commissions were supposed to be based on certain themes (Medicine, Justice etc) and the writer of the book seemed nonplussed as to how Klimt's final work related to the original specifications. I like his famous portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer but i wouldn't call myself a fan of his work or anything....more
I really enjoyed this audiobook. Obviously any account of the production of the worst film ever made is going to have plenty of amusing anecdotes butI really enjoyed this audiobook. Obviously any account of the production of the worst film ever made is going to have plenty of amusing anecdotes but I was also impressed by how poignant and sinister the narrative occasionally became.
I think this is a must-read for anyone who likes "The Room" and probably also a very rewarding read for anyone interested in how films get made....more
Mandela is without question an impressive and inspirational figure. I don't know if he's much of a writer though. I listened to an abridged audiobookMandela is without question an impressive and inspirational figure. I don't know if he's much of a writer though. I listened to an abridged audiobook (about 6 hours). I'd say it was just about worth it. If I'd had to work my way through the 600+ page book I'm not so sure I'd feel the same way....more
For the most part I enjoyed this series way more than I expected and I also felt that the ideas really resonated with me. The first 4 books in the serFor the most part I enjoyed this series way more than I expected and I also felt that the ideas really resonated with me. The first 4 books in the series (in publication order: Lion, Caspian, Dawn Treader, Silver Chair) are probably the best overall. #5 (the horse and his boy) is almost as good. 6 and 7 (The Magicians nephew, the last battle) are pretty cool but also kind of inaccessible. The first 5 books really feel like powerful, mystical fantasy novels that clearly have philosophical ideas running the proceedings, and yet the philosophy itself feels quite open to interpretation. There are a few "on the nose" moments where the christian allegory is a little thinly disguised but the theology functions more as fuel for Lewis' ideas rather than the central message. The final 2 books were just a little too heavily laden with the Christian Dogma and they lost that openness of interpretation and ultimately feel like sermons more than real novels. I think these last two books in the series are the ones that are responsible for the Narnia curmudgeons like Phillip Pullman who hate the ideologies that Lewis is trying to impress upon his audience. If he had ended the series after book 4 or 5 i think the Narnia books would be a little easier to stomach for a secular audience. As it is, the series overall kinda irks me.
Having said all that I still think the good bits are so brilliant that I would recommend this series to most readers, though somewhat reservedly. I was thinking of buying a copy for a 12 yr old boy i know but now I'm not sure. Those final 2 books remind me of Life of Pi, a novel that fails as a novel thanks to its insincere, polemical agenda. Having said that, this kid says he liked Life of Pi, so I guess he doesn't mind being lectured....more