Having read READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN since I've read this book, that woman really bashes THE PEARL as inferior again and again. But I feel like I've gHaving read READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN since I've read this book, that woman really bashes THE PEARL as inferior again and again. But I feel like I've got a tendency to look for things I like and take the rest lightly, so my reviews tend to have the number of stars inflated.
old review from my old blog Nearly 10 PM now, and I've just successfully played opera loudly enough on the computer to wake my step-dad up from the couch to send him into his bedroom (so that I can take over the living room and watch the Daily Show and Colbert Report)
This afternoon at my grandparent's I finished THE PEARL by John Steinbeck. I had read the first 30 pages of both a Faulkner novel and Grapes of Wrath, so I expected something along the lines of these works. And I enjoyed the book a whole lot, though the Latin characters were not allowed to show great depth as characters in anything other than their emotions. The plot was great, and they had to struggle with differing motivations, like good literature is supposed to have, but their inner being was very one-dimensional, though the story moved at a very brisk pace and I was swept up in the story as to what would happen to them. The woodcut illustrations added a whole lot.
At the same time, Steinbeck showed a great deal of empathy for the Mexican people in his story, and I think that is what most prefigures the work of Cormac McCarthy and even the movie BABEL. There's no doubt he's on the side of the rural fisherman, and that he brands the city folk and the people that buy
The scenes I most liked were when the villagers move en masse to the doctor and later to the pearl vendor. And I enjoyed when he believes he's found the giant pearl, but as they sit in the boat, he and his wife Juana, sitting there staring at each other & they are so superstitious about the order they have to open the oysters in order to get the giant one. Just in case they get too excited, open the big one first and it somehow won't be there.
And the parts where the pearl buyers are so obviously running a racket behind his back, and all of them are run by the same boss (instead of legitimate competition). But the man dreams how, with the money from the pearl, his son will be able to verify the authenticity of the lies people tell them, both about the effects of the scorpion bite at the beginning, and also about what the books say a pearl is worth. So he dreams of his boy going to school so that he can sit by a book as large as his house, and they'd be liberated from people's 'professional knowledge' that they have to believe and pay them for their services, or else possibly risk death going against the smart man's orders.
My last thought about this short story is the fact that the story seems very reminiscent of THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, and how we depend on nature but we sometimes get more than we bargained for, as well as our ability to take something good and pure and destroy ourselves over it. Sort of like Moby Dick, the one book my mom repeatedly says I must read....more
**spoiler alert** This is a review from my old blog... i might have to take off a star considering the fact that I remember almost NOTHING about this**spoiler alert** This is a review from my old blog... i might have to take off a star considering the fact that I remember almost NOTHING about this book.
Finished a shorter Penguin Classic tonite, the 200 page PENROD by Booth Tarkington. Pretty great! I believe it is somewhere between Huck Finn and Calvin and Hobbes. While he doesn't rely much on imagination, since his world is already chaotic without any cerebral enhancement, the comparison to Bill Watterson is more in the hightened diction, that takes the inane and aggrandizes it into high drama.
The part I liked best was the fight in the tar pit, where Penrod becomes angry at how they call him 'little gentleman', so he heaves a big rock down into a tar pit, conveniently situated around all of his tormenters. They like him, and their affection comes across throughout the book, even if he doesnt always deserve it. So the occasion of the tar battle is more an excuse to get dirty together and vent their frustrations while having fun (especially with his love interest Marjorie).
I like also how he is able to corrupt 'the best boy in town', to the point where he embarasses the whole family by climbing into a tree and yelling, 'the devil's trying to pull me down into hell!'. Penrod just watches from the sides, exiting the scene when he sees the parental authority on their way. The group also puts on a vaudeville show in their barn, and Penrod barely escapes the backlash against all the young people at his 12th birthday party when the cosmpolitan girl from New York, Fochan, teaches them all a scandalous dance. One of my favorite lines comes in this part: Jealousy is the great elevator of virtues. In this sense, it means that people jealous of you instantly become your greatest moral critics, while being blind to their own faults.
Excellent read, though it is dated in how it describes race relations....more
This is a book with a long history of me picking it up, reading the same 30 pages and then putting it down again. But this year I picked it up, and afThis is a book with a long history of me picking it up, reading the same 30 pages and then putting it down again. But this year I picked it up, and after the first 100 pages I was hooked. There was only one time when I set it down (the past little bit, when I read the several short novels on this blog). But it was Saturday when I resumed it that I couldn't hardly put it down for the last 150 pages, which are some of the best literature to be found anywhere. Instead of reading the books on the computer or getting them at the library, this is a very rare one that I bought myself after finishing the Harvard Positive Psychology class pnline with Dr. Tal Ben-Sharar, who said on the program that this was his favorite book ever.
Many key moments touched me in ways books usually don't, and it was the very final page, which I'll copy at the bottom of here, that touched me the most. While reading the book, I wish that people would place her real name alongside her pseudonym George Eliot, Marian Evans. Because she only chose a man's name in order that she might not be at a disadvantage, where men would disregard her work as not being serious. But now those days are long gone, so ... back on with her woman's name!
Now I'm in the process of reviewing the book online by skimming through the Classicnote.com commentary, and I'll read the introduction now while the book is still so fresh.
But this book is quite similar to that film Synechdoche, New York, but it's also part War and Peace. It took some while to realize the book mainly focused on three couples that might or might not get married because of impending circumstances, whether in their control or beyond it. But in the Finale, these are the three people that she returns to, and so it helped see the book in that sense. I wonder how much of her other work will live up to the satisfaction I got from reading this one? I sometimes wish that they
Much of the book dealt with consequences and guilt, as well as outsider vs. native, modern vs. old, tradition vs. reform, and appearances vs. desire fulfillment, with a dose of moral ambiguity and the prospect of living with lowered expectations.
I would be happy to see someone write a book similar in scope about Sucre, SUGAR CITY. Maybe that's something I could do? Sort of my Ulysses. Now having read this, Ulysses would be a good companion, since it deals similarly with the aggregate life of one town. Like Phillip Seymore Hoffman's character says in Synechdoche, NY " There are no extras. Everyone is a unique story just like me, a drama of their own and with cares different than mine."
This is the only thing similar that I found of the script at IMSDB.com
CADEN Everyone's dreams in all those apartments. All those secrets we'll never know. That's the truth of it -- all the thoughts nobody will ever know.
That is paraphrasing, but it's nearly the same thing that Eliot says in her book about how she presents her narrative of Middlemarch. The introduction describes it like this:
George Eliot's method of controlling the variety of her themes and characters is to have her large-minded narrator explore in a spirit of criticism, but also of understanding and sympathy, the consciousnesses of a remarkably wide range of individuals as they face changes in their lives. For though George Eliot is most interested in the heroes of her two orginal stories, the idealists Dorothea and Lydgate, who have to learn through suffering to accept the frustration of their early aspirations, she frequently turns the spotlight on other characters, each of whom possesses 'an equivalent centre of self, whence the lights and shadows must always fall with a certain difference'.
The introduction, by Rosemary Ashton, from University College, London, also points out this section of the book where Eliot describes how the circumstances of life in Middlemarch are illuminated depending on who it is that is the focus:
Let the high Muse chant loves Olympian: We are but mortals, and must sing of man.
An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify even your ugly furniture by lifting it into the serene light of science, has shown me this pregnant little fact. Your pier-glass or extensive surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a housemaid, will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in all directions; but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination, and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun. It is demonstrable that the scratches are going everywhere impartially and it is only your candle which produces the flattering illusion of a concentric arrangement, its light falling with an exclusive optical selection. These things are a parable. The scratches are events, and the candle is the egoism of any person now absent—of Miss Vincy, for example. Rosamond had a Providence of her own who had kindly made her more charming than other girls, and who seemed to have arranged Fred's illness and Mr. Wrench's mistake in order to bring her and Lydgate within effective proximity. ................................
Like I said, the part I liked most about the book was the last 150 pages, especially this part:
Sir James never ceased to regard Dorothea's second marriage as a mistake; and indeed this remained the tradition concerning it in Middlemarch, where she was spoken of to a younger generation as a fine girl who married a sickly clergyman, old enough to be her father, and in little more than a year after his death gave up her estate to marry his cousin—young enough to have been his son, with no property, and not well-born. Those who had not seen anything of Dorothea usually observed that she could not have been "a nice woman," else she would not have married either the one or the other.
Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. A new Theresa will hardly have the opportunity of reforming a conventual life, any more than a new Antigone will spend her heroic piety in daring all for the sake of a brother's burial: the medium in which their ardent deeds took shape is forever gone. But we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorotheas, some of which may present a far sadder sacrifice than that of the Dorothea whose story we know.
Her finely touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
quotes from George Eliot: the most prominent one, one the back of the cover:
*People are almost always better than their neighbours think they are'
*The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.
*Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
*We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us.
*Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
*I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.
*There's folks 'ud stand on their heads and then say the fault was i' their boots.
*The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone....more
**spoiler alert** from my old book blog, comparing Chesterton and Shaw
Finished this one earlier in the afternoon. It reminded me a great deal of anoth**spoiler alert** from my old book blog, comparing Chesterton and Shaw
Finished this one earlier in the afternoon. It reminded me a great deal of another Penguin classic I read in October, MAN AND SUPERMAN by George Bernard Shaw. Both of them are witty and feature anarchy as a seductive force, but that demonstrates the conflict between the anarchy inherent in modern life and the desire to accomadate diversity. Part of that is that we hide our identities to become part of society, when we´re not complete unless we can truly be ourselves, something that is not always permissible in society. Anarchy then allows us to be ourselves, but at the expense of the good parts of society. This was a difficult struggle in the 1890s, 1900s. So when these books were both written, anarchism was a genuine philosophical force that caused some havoc. Man and Superman was written in 1903, and Man who was Thursday came out in 1908. The first is a play that reads like a novel, and the other is considered by the author : ¨A nightmare¨. And it is a great deal more edgy and surrealistic, though it was somewhat predictable once people began to reveal themselves as policemen rather than anarchists. But the end was unlike anything I had thought. It seemed to be a very conservative book, and one anti-Darwinian, with a strict interpretation of the bible... an example is this:
"But perhaps I misunderstood the delicacies of your German philosophy. Perhaps policeman is a relative term. In an evolutionary sense, sir, the ape fades so gradually into the policeman, that I myself can never detect the shade. The monkey is only the policeman that may be. Perhaps a maiden lady on Clapham Common is only the policeman that might have been. I don't mind being the policeman that might have been. I don't mind being anything in German thought."
As I read Chesterton´s work, I remembered a scene where an anarchist runs forward with a bomb in a park, but accidentally blows himself up. But later it is revealed it was really someone else stupid enough to carry his package, and he trips on a root. Landing on the ground on top of the bomb, it blows up. It took a long time to remember what book it was, but then I remembered it was Shaw.
This is a demonstration of the wit in Shaw´s work:
THE CHIEF. Friends and fellow brigands. I have a proposal to make to this meeting. We have now spent three evenings in discussing the question Have Anarchists or Social-Democrats the most personal courage? We have gone into the principles of Anarchism and Social-Democracy at great length. The cause of Anarchy has been ably represented by our one Anarchist, who doesn't know what Anarchism means [laughter]—
THE ANARCHIST. [rising] A point of order, Mendoza—
MENDOZA. [forcibly] No, by thunder: your last point of order took half an hour. Besides, Anarchists don't believe in order.
And this is a good part from Chesterton:
"Then, and again and always," went on Syme like a man talking to himself, "that has been for me the mystery of Sunday, and it is also the mystery of the world. When I see the horrible back, I am sure the noble face is but a mask. When I see the face but for an instant, I know the back is only a jest. Bad is so bad, that we cannot but think good an accident; good is so good, that we feel certain that evil could be explained. But the whole came to a kind of crest yesterday when I raced Sunday for the cab, and was just behind him all the way."
"Had you time for thinking then?" asked Ratcliffe.
"Time," replied Syme, "for one outrageous thought. I was suddenly possessed with the idea that the blind, blank back of his head really was his face—an awful, eyeless face staring at me! And I fancied that the figure running in front of me was really a figure running backwards, and dancing as he ran."
"Horrible!" said Dr. Bull, and shuddered.
"Horrible is not the word," said Syme. "It was exactly the worst instant of my life. And yet ten minutes afterwards, when he put his head out of the cab and made a grimace like a gargoyle, I knew that he was only like a father playing hide-and-seek with his children."
"It is a long game," said the Secretary, and frowned at his broken boots.
"Listen to me," cried Syme with extraordinary emphasis. "Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front—"
"Look!" cried out Bull clamorously, "the balloon is coming down!"
There was no need to cry out to Syme, who had never taken his eyes off it. He saw the great luminous globe suddenly stagger in the sky, right itself, and then sink slowly behind the trees like a setting sun. ...more
I read this book in a day, the same day I finished Dubliners. It was a very powerful book to try and read in one sitting. I enjoyed everything thorougI read this book in a day, the same day I finished Dubliners. It was a very powerful book to try and read in one sitting. I enjoyed everything thoroughly about the book, from it's poetic precision, its emotional immediacy and the compassion created for the main character and Loethe. When they kiss in the book, Wertehr kissing his married love, it is the greatest thing, only to have the man crumpled on the ground as she runs away.
The only disappointment is that the first page of the introduction told me everything to expect in the novel. This is why nearly all introductions for classical books should be left at the finish. 'SPOILER ALERT' doesn't seem to enter into the editor's minds if the book is older than 100 years. But why shouldn't it? If I read the book it would have been infinitely more suspenseful, even more so when Werther asks the man for his pistols 'to go on a hunting trip'. It would have blown my mind, instead of the thought I had when I arrived there: "the end is near", a thought much less charged and dramatic.
This is the first book I've read in the Sturm und Drang, or the storm and drive style in German literature, predating Romanticism. And I had always heard of Goethe but had never read anything by him. Now I see why he was Napoleon's favorite!
This ranks near the top of my list, especially since it is so accessible, so forceful and very concise....more
**spoiler alert** I'm trying to get through the War of the Roses within the next 2 weeks, while I have my sister's Complete Shakespeare volume.
My thou**spoiler alert** I'm trying to get through the War of the Roses within the next 2 weeks, while I have my sister's Complete Shakespeare volume.
My thoughts about the play: I was afraid that there would be a whole level of historical allusion that I would miss by reading this, and while that may be so, I was pleased to see that Shakespeare explained enough of the relationships between the historical characters so that I could follow the plot and find the play meaningful, the dramatic integrity intact even for an ignorant person.
Very quickly does Richard II realize that he has little power, and gradually has less and less. It reminds me some of what my father has gone through lately, where he wakes up one day and the rug has been pulled from his feet (or rather, was never there at all). But he finds that his allies have gone to the other side, his army has deserted him, and he hasn't necessarily done anything wrong. But partly it was the fault of relying too much on divine right, rather than down and dirty political maneuverings to keep the base happy and not take people for granted.
Possibly what I mean by that is, it seems to me that Richard the Second was an asshole that relied on being good by birthrigh, rather than working to be fair and just in his own right, apart from being God-ordained. Because once you believe that everything you do is perfection, then nothing you do will be any good. And so he made people angry with his constant heavy taxation, and usurpation of property rights. It is a sad part when the new King splits up him and the Queen, and as he becomes weaker in his political power, he actually becomes more of a genuine and righteous human being. So, maybe it is that power corrupted him (especially the religious aspect), and as that power ebbed he became more whole.
OK! So this is the first part of the War of Roses play cycle by Shakespeare. I didn't realize until this month that he had a cycle of anything. But that seems to be the case. Now I have about 8 more plays in it, from here until Henry the VIII. No problem, I just hope the others are as good as this one was, or better. It was pretty cool when at the end, he starts randomly stabbing people around him until he is "struck down" and gives a good dying monologue.
"Richard II is in many ways a tragedy, and follows the traditional pattern of a hero who will fall. Thus throughout the play we are given images of Richard descending from his throne. This is first brought out in 1.3, where Richard tells Bolingbroke that, "We will descend and fold him in our arms" (1.3.54). The act of descending for Bolingbroke is of course foreshadowing the actual plot, since later in the play Richard will literally be forced to descend the throne for Bolingbroke, who will ascend it. While the play focuses on Richard's descent, it also serves to illustrate Bolingbroke's ascent, which is from the bottom upwards. In fact, one of the reasons Richard gives for banishing Bolingbroke is his familiarity with the commoners. "Observed his courtship to the common people, / How he did seem to dive into their hearts" (1.4.23-24). For Richard such descent to the common people would be unthinkable, but for Bolingbroke it is a stepping-stone on his path to the throne."
and this, about act III:
"We are given two views of what it means to be a king throughout the play. Most notable is Richard's version, which relies on divine right and the fact that he is God's elected official. "Not all the water in the rough rude sea / Can wash the balm from an anointed king" (3.2.50-51). Richard relies on this interpretation to defend all of his actions, crying out, "Am I not King?" (3.2.79). It is this concept of divine support which also allows Richard to order his men to "Arm, arm, my name!" (3.2.82).
Yet the use of a name is precisely what leads to Richard's downfall. Bolingbroke has no pretensions that a name, even one given by God, is sufficient allow a man to rule. Instead, he believes in using materials and men to defend his name. Thus Bolingbroke denies his title of Hereford and instead demands to be called Lancaster in Act Two. It is this use of a name that Richard completely fails to understand. The noblemen cannot allow Richard to confiscate Gaunt's property, because it is the property which gives the name. Thus for Richard, it is God who grants his title, but for Bolingbroke it is his property."
I give this heavy weight from off my head,
And this unwieldy scepter from my hand,
The pride of kingly sway from out my heart.
With mine own tears I wash away my balm,
With mine own hands I give away my crown,
With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
With mine own breath release all duteous oaths.
All pomp and majesty I do forswear.
My manors, rents, revenues I forgo.
My acts, decrees, and statutes I deny. (4.1.194-203).