I found you by chance, my darling, on one of those voracious raids I make on Chapters when lucky enough to get near a city with one. I was thinking ne...moreI found you by chance, my darling, on one of those voracious raids I make on Chapters when lucky enough to get near a city with one. I was thinking nervously of starting university in a few months, altogether doubtful of my worthiness to pursue an English degree, and this caught my eye. I knew nothing, or at least believed I did – or was afraid to believe in my grasp of anything at all. I decided it was high time I Took an Interest In Literary Theory. (My, my, aren't we a gung-ho little English major?) So I picked you up, slim volume that you are, and read you over a series of happy, early-morning book-with-coffee sessions. I kept notes while I read through you, silly notes of what was truly a mind-stretching lecture so valuably committed to paper. Immature as I was, you shaped me and deserve the truth, wonderful little book. This tribute cannot be enough, but here is a selection of what I was thinking about you.
"I am thus far hooked. I've read the first chapter through twice, and comprehended that much more for the extra reading. This is, hopefully, just what I need to reaffirm and elaborately develop my knowledge of how important literature... truly is to humankind, individual and social. It makes so much sense. 'The motive for metaphor ... is a desire to associate, and finally to identify, the human mind with that goes on outside it....' Yes, I know he's right, because I've experienced it. I am familiar with, amorous for that sense of connection with the entire world..." - - - - "It's such a basic statement, yet such a broad one... we use the imagination to create joy, and joy is created chiefly through the use of imagination (is basically what Frye is saying.... Note to self: look up D.H. Lawrence [after admiring an excerpt from "Song of a Man Who Has Come Through"].
"This is helping me find new ways to view life and literature in their primary relation to each other... I've always had this sense that most of the 'great' stories are hopeless ones, and that if I lived a blessed and optimistic life, it seemed less and les likely that I could become a 'person of literature.' But how could I bear to live in a world of no happy endings at all – of sad, inevitable pattern? "Now I'm beginning to see, perhaps, another way. We write of our dark times, and of the hope that we may rise above them to be happy again.... the cycle Frye mentions is still happening, "of how man once lived in a golden age .. how that world is lost, and how we may some day be able to get it back again." -- - - "Funny how the stories a child invents are imaginary, while from a writer the same creations are deemed imaginative. Of course, when you think about it, the latter implies far more intention. If a child's games or tales hold symbolic elements that are also within literary convention ... The writer designs, specifically for the purpose of – what? Well, I guess that's what I'm reading this for.... Ah, and now he's connecting religion, science, politics –>allegories –>literature. Trés passionant, à moi. - - - - "So now I've got a good deal ahead of me. Yay. My ultimate goal? To decipherFinnegan's Wake. Without help. And right now? To read the Bible. Kind of makes me feel a tad nauseous. ... so I see that before I go for Paradise Lost I need to have a thorough understanding of the Bible and classic mythology. Damn, will I ever get to read these things? (I expect the same would go for The Iliad and The Odyssey ... god, don't know if I can even spell that....)"
- - - - - - -
"How can this talk have been given in 1962? It's today, it's me, it's us.
"I'm breathing fast and my brain fears to think as fast as it wants to; the dangers of hyperspeed are formidable. Yet I cannot wait to start reading this book again.
"It has everything I need right now, all that I've needed for months and cried about, literally and internally, for countless hours. The answers are here, for me: I hold them in this slim volume that was written forty-seven years ago and I could cry once again, with gratitude and relief and the transformative power of new-discovered insight.
"I know where I went wrong, and why (or most of why ... we are, after all, complex beings – but I can see now what [names of several counsellors] and myself never saw before). I know what's been unproductive over my months of struggling with spirit and mind. And I am beginning to know what to do next.
I read this little volume while on a solitary evening walk, in spring, near the countryside bordering my town. The whole walk/read was less than an ho...moreI read this little volume while on a solitary evening walk, in spring, near the countryside bordering my town. The whole walk/read was less than an hour, but an intense hour. Between the sunset and the poems, murmured aloud – often twice or more – I was full when I got home. Full of the richness of words, and perhaps also a bit overwhelmed by them. A strong poet will always create that feeling.
These poems made me really want, for the first time, to learn Spanish so that I could read their originals. Translating novels is iffy enough; translating poems – particularly from a romance language to a Germanic one – is, I cannot but think, almost perilous. And still the English versions are vivid, tasteful, haunting, reverent, desperate. Like/approve of his style or not, you have to admit that Neruda knew how to write love. He also knew how to write the self-abasement and loneliness and longing-for-the-past that tend to accompany love. The experience of love covers you like a blanket when you read his words. I hear in them a Hawaiian song, but also a lone eagle's cry. I can't put it any more clearly than that, so I should exit my abstractions.
To whom was he writing, though? In general, it's clear to me (though I'm sure one could formulate a gripping argument on the contrary side) that the poems are composed for a woman (many women?), but I think there is more. Neruda expresses love like it is a sea, broader and deeper and infinitely simpler than the love of one individual for another. His writing makes me believe that he was in love with the beauty of people and of nature in such deep connection that he could not glorify one without also praising the other. You might sneer that he sees women instead of seeing nature, but the reverse is true too, that he could identify and admire all that is beautiful in nature with the women he loved. A supreme equalizer in that way, Neruda:
The big trees on the other side of her, uprooted. But you, cloudless girl, question of smoke, corn tassel. You were what the wind was making with illuminated leaves. Behind the nocturnal mountains, white lily of conflagration, ah, I can say nothing! You were made of everything.
And of course there's the ever-adored I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. To women, to nature; sometimes I feel he is writing to me, the reader wistful for meaning:
We have lost even this twilight. No one saw us this evening hand in hand while the blue night dropped on the world.
… … …
You gather things to you like an old road. You are peopled with echoes and nostalgic voices. I awoke and at times birds fled and migrated that had been sleeping in your soul.
I have to wonder if she for whom Neruda wrote this has been reincarnated in the woman I love. Of course, in the language of love, every one beloved is the same … yet after him, nobody else has license to write this way and be taken seriously. That, I think, is as it should be. There can only ever be one speaking Neruda. The rest of us only echo him in whispers, alone in the presence of beauty we can hardly survive.
A sincere thank you to Rose for drawing my attention to this!(less)
(Approximated) My colleagues' and my pre-class musings over this play:
Elizabeth: What questions is Dr. Bamford writing on the board now... 'Why does C...more(Approximated) My colleagues' and my pre-class musings over this play:
Elizabeth: What questions is Dr. Bamford writing on the board now... 'Why does Claudio shame Hero?' Well... Me: Because he's a gullible jerk. With the excuse of being young. Lame. Elizabeth: Agreed. Caroline: 'Why is Don Pedro involved?' Elizabeth: Because he's an arrogant, gullible prick. Man, I can't wait to see those two get brought down a notch. Me: 'Why does Leonato not believe Hero?' Caroline: Because he doesn't care what his daughter has to say. He's jerked around like a puppet between Don Pedro / Claudio and the Friar / Benedick, because THEY are men, after all. Elizabeth: Well, that's all basically plausible. Me: And my question is, why does Benedick immediately know that Don John's the perp?
Because Don John is a bastard. Of COURSE.
That out of the way, Benedick and Beatrice – increasingly through the play – are adorable and proud and clever (mainly Bea on that count) and unreasonable and hilarious and miraculous and, oh yes, in all other ways irresistible, embodying this and all else that can be liked about any of Shakespeare's lovers. Especially in the 1984 version. Go to about 3:45 in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAt_Mj... Don't ask me quite why it appeals to me so much, but it makes me want to act in this play. Someday? Till then, I'll be re-re-reading it and imagining them with great enjoyment. I'm sure Shakespeare would consider such reactions to be proof of his play-writing triumph.
This graphic novel makes for a great little trip, with touch-down in several literary worlds within a single night. That's all I needed to finish the...moreThis graphic novel makes for a great little trip, with touch-down in several literary worlds within a single night. That's all I needed to finish the actually graphic part – don't be fooled by my start-finish dates; that's how long I spent coaxing myself to read the "Traveller's Almanac" at the end. Kept falling asleep, and at last I gave up, 'cause there's just no point in denial: I read only for the pictures. Still, there's something in these pictures for everyone. Sci-fi tones, explosions, talking tigers, a scandalous and long-awaited romance, diabolical government action. Really, there is no good reason not to pick this up "unless, of course [I quote the narrator], you are a sissy, coward, or girl." That ought to convince ya. I can't think of a good reason to award less than five stars, and my fingers itch for Volume Three.
The question on everyone's tongues, by the end of this one, is 'DID Hyde and Griffin really die?' Beats me. Between the two, I most hope that Hyde will turn out to be still alive. Hyde is intriguing. I can't like him, after what he does to Griffin. But his love for Mina isn't monstrous, it's more like that of a shy schoolboy. We are left grappling with whether the true Hyde is pure love or pure hate. It's possibly the most serious, and the most unexpected, question that Moore could bring up in the midst of the adventure: what do we have the right to do, in the name of love and vengeance?
Of course, others are also doing shocking things with only uneasy justification. The ruthlessness of Mr. Bond continues from the earlier story, and worsens if anything. How shall the nation cope with this disastrous breach of security – protecting, obviously first and foremost, its innocent citizens?
Bond: Oh yes. Yes, it's a hybrid all right. Anthrax and streptococcus, if I remember correctly. ... Mina: Bond, there must still be people in South London! Bond (unfazed): Officially, the Martians died of the common cold. Any humans died of Martians.
Does that neat, self-serving wrap-up remind you of 'real-world' politics? For a mere comic book, things look acutely familiar to me.
end of spoiler
On a lighter note, I'd like to mention my favorite panels:
#1. the fifth-to-last, where Mina kisses Quatermain in the park. A gorgeous scene, and one that's somehow foreign to the rest of the last two volumes. Even in romance, Mina is a powerful lady. The expression on Quatermain's face here is heart-wrenching, hers serene. She isn't playing hard-to-get, quite the reverse, it's just that he is so painfully grateful for her love. In short, my inner feminist approves of the way this romance was handled.
#2. partway through chapter five: who shows up to drive them to the "island" of Dr. Moreau? None other than Toad of The Wind in the Willows. I can't quite explain why, but I cracked up. I loved this whole interlude with Moreau. It meshes with some of my favorite childhood stories, the animal-oriented ones, but it's also evocative of conspiracy theory. More questions: whose side is Science on, anyway? And what happened to Prendrick? ... I think Tim should have joined the team and become Mina's fiercely protective companion. It would have been brilliant for the upcoming volume.
I feel, however, there is a minor plothole with the Moreau bit, in that this painting and its artist are referenced, but never did we see the chimera. Too bad. Oh! It could have stolen Mina from Quatermain!
Due to my apparent inability to focus on the existing story, I think I'll go lose myself in packing for university, and thinking further fanfiction-esque thoughts about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moore and Neill, regardless of my overeager imagination, I really enjoy what springs onto each page from your own.
**spoiler alert** Finally, finished Jhereg! Yay. Running alongside Vlad on life-threatening missions was fun, and I'm certain it's going to continue t...more**spoiler alert** Finally, finished Jhereg! Yay. Running alongside Vlad on life-threatening missions was fun, and I'm certain it's going to continue to be fun through the next two in this volume....
UPDATE: Okay, here are my thoughts on the first book I've read in the Vlad Taltos series. First things I'll get over with are what didn't necessarily impress me. This book contains, for lack of a better term, a lot of 'tell-don't-show' style information: "Wow, Vlad/Boss, how did you figure THAT out?" "Genius explanation by Vlad." "Shit, Boss. That's bad, but you're brilliant." I'm not saying Vlad is too perfect as a character, far from it - it's just that his revelations somehow got a tad dry by the end. Don't know exactly how it could have been done differently, and maybe I'm just not used to it because I just haven't read enough crime novels lately.
The other thing which I was more disappointed with was the very ending itself, with the return to Vlad's contemplation of whether his past life as a Dragaeran greatly affects who he is now. It's presented (apparently) for the sake of a moralizing conclusion, which was totally misplaced in my eyes:
" ' You know, Aliera,' I said, 'I'm still not really sure about this genetic inheritance through the soul. I mean, sure, I felt something for it, but I also lived through what I lived through, and I guess that shaped me more than you'd think. I am what I am, in addition to what I was. Do you understand what I mean?' Aliera didn't answer; she just looked at me, her face unreadable. An uncomfortable silence settled over the room, as we all sat there with our thoughts. Kragar studied the floor, Cawti [who provided her husband with his current 'revelation' about ten chapters ago] caressed my forehead...."
Enough about the downsides. I greatly enjoyed the depiction of this universe, which I can't help linking intrinsically with the Star Wars galaxy. (Vlad should build himself a podracer so he can stop teleporting.) The addition of sorcery and witchcraft, however – with a neat distinction between the two – makes it unique, less hokey than 'the force.' The detailed weaponry is also, I must admit, rather intriguing. So is the link that Aliera, Morrolan and Vlad have with their particular weapons, which have really cool names. I mean, I seriously want to carry on a kick-ass fight with a two-foot length of gold chain called Spellbreaker. I'm not kidding.
I will wrap this up with my hypothesis that Brust has strictly personal reasons for giving Vlad Taltos a moustache. Namely, Vlad is a bit of a Mary Sue. Just look at some concept art for Vlad:
And look at Stephen Brust:
Poor Stevie. All he's got is a parakeet.
I can't help being amused, but I honestly feel empathy for the guy. Who wouldn't want to be Vlad Taltos? And who has more right to be than the person who created him in the first place?
One thing I have to admire, I can not predict the twists that these books' plots take. I'm not much good at predicting plot twists anyway, but in the case of the Vlad Taltos books I doubt it's just me. I think it proves how well-versed Brust is in the science of intrigue, and how artfully crafted this entire world is.
So, Vlad and Cawti met up in this one. That was fun and frisky. Cawti's an excellent character, not least because she is equal or possibly superior to Vlad in every conceivable way. I'm glad that Vlad doesn't fall in love with some wimpy female and awaken his 'soft side' to protect her. That would have weakened the action.
In the sidelines, Vlad and Loiosh's bickering continues to be amusing, and after the hundredth "Shut up, Loiosh" it doesn't really even get stale. Not much. It just makes one feel how well they know each other. I still hope we'll hear them having a real psionic heart-to-heart one day, not just their banter between Vlad's other conversations.
I will maintain that Sticks is the best character in Yendi. "There's no future in it, Boss." (less)
Since there are no reviews of this yet, I'll give it the basic breakdown.
The good: - a very quick read (took me less than two hours) - does not try to c...moreSince there are no reviews of this yet, I'll give it the basic breakdown.
The good: - a very quick read (took me less than two hours) - does not try to convince you it's the ONLY worthwhile weight loss method in existence - advocates a healthy *lifestyle*, including exercise, rather than pushing toward any type of diet whatsoever - aims for flexibility, and achieves it more successfully than any other plan I've tried, read or heard of - uses common sense, not popular "sense" - recommends NOT stressing over food as the #1 most important thing you can do for your overall health (boy, we should all know that!)
The bad: - spends at least 10 pages on the exordium ("just a regular concerned guy = this is why you should believe me" section), which is not what I paid $40 for. Had to expect it, but I still skipped over much of Pilon's Life of a Subversive Health Nut story. Actually, the fact he collected Muscle and Fitness issues at age ten kind of creeped me out. - one part near the end where he seems to contradict his own earlier declarations about the metabolic results of fasting - a 'reassuringly long' reference section, which nobody will actually read and which probably allowed him to charge more for the ebook (adding 25 pages or so) - quite a bit of discussion on exercise, even though he is careful to admit that it's not his area of expertise. A bit confusing there.
The ugly: - dismal grammar and punctuation at times. Not that I expect anything else from the genre. - why the hell does he keep capitalizing 'Calories'?! For effect? Eye-catchiness? Loser.
All this said, I'd recommend this to others and I'm not sorry I bought it. The approach is something of a breath of fresh air: a theory of health that explicitly tells you NOT to focus on what you eat. If you've been looking beyond the glittery magazines and billboard adverts for Miracle Weight Loss / what-and-what-not-to-eat plans for any length of time (which I have), you'll be able to appreciate the simplicity and pragmatism backed by more than corporately-sponsored "studies." I think in many ways Eat. Stop. Eat complements John Robbins' Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples. Now there's a fascinating nutritional and cultural voyage. A grammatically-correct one. Double bonus! I knew there was something else to which I was subconsciously comparing this ....
I'm not actually sure why I am giving this 5 stars. Mainly, I suppose, because it's Frankenstein. I found it to be everything great that I knew it wou...moreI'm not actually sure why I am giving this 5 stars. Mainly, I suppose, because it's Frankenstein. I found it to be everything great that I knew it would be. In my opinion this is the most important parable anyone could tell - the need for admonitions against hate is crucial and perennial. And yet I can't help but feel this story, wonderfully told in itself, hasn't dated all that well. Couldn't it have been ... well... a third of the length? That would still have afforded plenty of gushy landscape imagery, and quite sufficient passages of Frankenstein's whinging.
Speaking of him, I've got to doubt that there has been a half-sensible reader of this book who did not find herself thinking:
I hate Frankenstein I hate Frankenstein I hate Frankenstein I hate Frankenstein
- I really do prefer not to swear in reviews – but as politely as I can put it, that lowlife @$$#()!* must have turned a lot of readers from mounting the god-pedastal, or so I would love to believe. Listening to parts of this on audiobook, I was more than once moved to sympathetic tears for the fiend. Rambling as his narrative section was. (One thing Shelley didn't do too well here was differentiate her characters' voices. They sound exactly alike. Then again, she may have done that on purpose. Hm. Sorry, Shelley. Extra points for you.)
This is exactly the moral -emotional reaction intended, and I honour it. Nevertheless, as I was saying, it goes on forever. Too bad she could not have somehow resisted the style of her contemporaries – an illogical thing to wish, I know – and cut down on the floweriness. The stylistic contrast to the raw and mostly-ugly nature of the plot is chilling. That's cool - but it takes so long to read. Or it *would* if I hadn't started to merely skim most of the imagistic paragraphs by about page 20.
Altogether, by the final sentences I felt less thrills&chills related to the story itself than admiration for Mary Shelley. Because she managed to write in that really-gotta-say-it asshole Frankenstein's voice for how many pages? Far more than enough, that's how many, to convince us to join her in deepest sympathy toward the "monster." She created a "hero" indubitably more hateful to me (and i would think far less fun to write) than any in the order of Ralph & Jack, Holden Caulfield, Alex or the darling H. Humbert.
Needless to say I do not believe there is virtue in banning books; be assured my argument is hypothetical. Why would any of those characters' books be banned, and not this one? Why not Frankenstein – why unbanned the portrayal of a so-called civilized and learned man who epitomizes cruelty and ignorance, beside whom the fiend himself is innocent in an entire world of fiends? Gee - because there are no cuss words in Frankenstein, marm, that's why. What's more dangerous a social criticism than what Shelley's said over and over and over in this book? If we started to take this seriously, how much would we have to change? Appearances are deceiving. End of scanty thoughts. I revere this book. Because of it, I want to think and feel and fight more courageously for the monster in every sentient being. That is all.
**spoiler alert** shortly after finishing: One more classic down. No less tragic than expected. I have to admit, however - by the last pages I though...more**spoiler alert** shortly after finishing: One more classic down. No less tragic than expected. I have to admit, however - by the last pages I thought more of this book than I sometimes did in the middle of it.
My annoyance and even hatred of the characters was, at times, my strongest feeling for them - Tess because she is so inconsistent, strong one moment and self-effacing the next; Angel because he's the worst damn hypocrite ... I mean, he's just too realistic for comfort; is that a legitimate criticism here?! - and Alec, well, because he's Alec. But, to shorten this, my roller-coastering opinions ended up on a level of greater sympathy for our two protagonists than I had projected. I had to wrap my head around the sense that they are essentially allegorical, while at the same time being very true to life in their inconsistency and late realization of serious mistakes. Ah, me.
Something that bothered me in the end is the seeming disintegration of what I was finally beginning to feel were appreciably lifelike characters. I felt such distance from Tess & Angel, as though they were different characters than we had seen so far, or at least as if the author had taken a few major steps backward and viewed them through binoculars. Perhaps that's the only way to tell a story that nosedives like this one. As soon as Angel returned, the resolution was simply crammed into a very low number of pages. Almost like Hardy resented what he had to write. Didn't want to linger on the destination as he did over the journey.
Still not sure how I feel about Tess's final actions. "I killed him! Love me now!" Wow, like what?! Sorrow does interesting things to the mind. Why didn't they psychoanalyze Tess instead of killing her? *I RESERVE ALL RIGHTS to that plot for the modern film version* Oh yeah, and what happened to Tess, anyway? Must admit, I am not well versed in British turn-of-nineteenth-century death penalties. Still, while I have a gruesome curiosity for detailz, I approve of the way Hardy skipped over the whole episode. He had said what he needed to say. In the end, it is his silence - his disgust and disdain to comment any further on what 'had to' follow – that hits us hardest.
I tended to skip over a lot of his descriptive paragraphs. I know I could/should have appreciated them more. No fear, I'll review (when actually studying it, in a few weeks' time). At which time I'll perhaps reorganize and add to my review. It's just notesy for now. But yowza, Hardy. I hope we'll get the option to write essays on this one. (less)
This book has a reputation for depressing content, but I couldn't agree less. Not because it's cheerful; no, yet the compassion with which each and ev...moreThis book has a reputation for depressing content, but I couldn't agree less. Not because it's cheerful; no, yet the compassion with which each and every story is recorded proves that, behind these stories of cost, there exists an unquenchably courageous spirit. That of the author, and that of humanity in all its wondrous, horrendous, and unknowing potential. If you find it 'depression', you're not thinking far enough. The whole thing is very concise, which means there's a lot more consideration necessarily involved to 'get' what you can. But this book is highly worth reading, and worth thinking about. I know I will be going back to peruse it, many times. Rather than real, in-depth analysis, I'm going to build this review around a few of my book-inspired thoughts...
First thing to get out here is my sense about the introduction. On its own, it's a spectacular sort of essay. However, it seems to bear very little relation to the book. That is, it's loaded with well-presented insights, yet I can't easily transfer many of these to the book itself. I hope this is not because I'm philosophically incompetent compared to the average fellow reader - I can't be the only one who's a little confused at the loftiness of this introduction. It certainly provides one frame of reference, and I'm not saying it's invalid - just, personally speaking, it's not the frame through which I best understand Brad's stories. Luckily, the stories more than stand on their own.
You'll find yourself smiling, laughing on occasion, crying or near tears, as I was in Calvary: A Silent Film . A man is living with his small daughter on the street, struggling to create a life for her as his own is smashed irreparably. Dean's not a bad man - it's hard to imagine a more gentle and loving father and husband, as we are privy to his haunting memories. Dean's a great guy, and Brett is a beautiful little girl, and we feel the beauty of every homeless, teenage, or otherwise marginalized person who holds up a Bible verse throughout – the genuinely voiceless members of our society, those about whom we'd prefer to forget. The irony of their 'speech' – spitting back at us the very commands of compassion that we profess to follow – and their inescapable presence is disturbing, in the most imperative way. Genuine love is something we scarcely know how to invoke or deal with, in the 'real world.' With the loss of his wife and son, home and career, the loving mirror Dean lived in was shattered. He is broken not by lack of courage or resourcefulness, but by the strength of his love and the fact that it is nevermore reflected back upon him or his daughter. Two people simply cannot their own world make. And so this thing, love, which we can't live without is one of the things that costs us the most – in its power and its rarity.
I love that three of the chapters (? stories?) are written as scripts or screenplays; it's a format most of us are unacquainted with, but it's so much fun to read that I think more people should give it a try. The scene is instantly before your mind's eye and you simply watch as the story unfolds. You get to discover your inner cinema screen and it's hugely rewarding.
The vivid, fast-paced writing lets us feel, lets us be, other than ourselves and feel the urgency of the connections between people. There is no separation. The stunning awake segments come together into a Holocaust-esque story of several undercover fighters, in principle against the oppressors of humankind, but mainly these characters are struggling with their priorities. The worst battle, maybe. Before you judge Kurt and Max, think: in their place, would you really do anything differently?
You can take something different from each of these stories; I took more from certain ones than others. The strongest truth I found was in the confluence of violence and feeling, which are diametrically opposed - violence seeks to kill feeling, but for the reader of EC, its darkness and fear and all portrayed ugliness is the key to reawakening our innate but deadened sense of empathy. What are we as human beings? Are we deceptive? Are we selfish? Are we too often eager to let ourselves remain blind? Undeniably we are.
And yet, as awake i and awake vi (at the opening and closing of the book) imply, life goes on. We are all asked to make of this fact what we will. Life is creation and destruction, laughter and tears, and very often all at once, blurring 'reality' beyond importance (I think of Wyrm as I type this). What lies at the heart of it, the mundane and the possibly mystical? Ourselves - our selves, our consciousness. Each of these stories gives us a different chance to recall, and awaken.
So please don't turn away because this isn't The Story of Dolly Darling in Fairyland. Dolly has to look up, too, sooner or later, and gaze upon what is gritty, what is true, about her place here. That's how we become awake . Whether or not you'd say human energies are typically misdirected – alongside cruelty and hatred, yes, the only other factor keeping us going, keeping us living and dying alike, is the force of our own love. Brutal and beautiful, that's one truth in EC which the author asks us to remember. Thank you, Brad. (less)
(This ended up much longer than I expected it to. If you like, skip over paragraphs nine through twelve, which are less review than one-sided debate....more(This ended up much longer than I expected it to. If you like, skip over paragraphs nine through twelve, which are less review than one-sided debate. I published them anyway to make provision for two-sided debates. Jump in.)
Hmmm. I don't feel right about reviewing this, considering I read it immediately after Christmas, which can no longer (if it ever did) hold deep meaning in itself for anyone except a) the bourgeoisie or b) devout Christians, who tend to be misled if well-meaning folks, brainwashed within and/or by the bourgeoisie.
(Notice I said in itself. Yeah, Xmas is now synonymous with a time of togetherness and blah blah blah, but none of that is closely related to the original point of the holiday.)
So, to continue. Hmmm. Yeah, I felt rather disconnected from this during much of the reading. Maybe I'm just not much for political philosophy. What observations can I make... the second chapter is much more fun than the first. The first sets up the purported historical basis for Marxist theory, though I found it less insightful about the past than about the future, i.e. our own present. I was impressed by Marx's statements about what we now call globalization, a dangerously seductive program if ever we've witnessed one. It's amazing to me that 160 years ago he could not only see it coming, but see the negative upshot for "barbarian" societies and for all nations, the bourgeoisie carbon-copying its own patterns all over the world.
But I think I digress. I also like his notion of the bourgeoisie God-complex: "In one word, it creates a world after its own image." (He says "in one word" continually, always following it with what appears to be well over one word. What's been lost in translation...?)
Section the Second has a good old classical exordium (establishing the reliability of the speaker) and a refutatio. I found the refutation to be convincing, and equally enjoyable is the authoritative, often jeering tone.
"The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality -- The working men have no country" (still true, in most countries). "
"But you Communists would introduce community of women, screams the bourgeoisie in chorus.... the real point aimed at is to do away with the status of women as mere instruments of production" (still a worthy aim, esp. if you're a feminist).
"It has been objected that upon the abolition of private property, all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us [Atlas Shrugged much?]. According to this, bourgeois society ought long ago to have gone to the dogs through sheer idleness; for those who acquire anything, do not work" (oh, so true... variantly, since not everything in our day depends upon inheritance, we work toward the eventual CEO-dom, that happy state of making others work for and instead of us).
Section Three is a critique of socialist and communist literature. My only comment on this part of the Manifesto is about that which made me feel damn guilty and unfairly attacked both at once. This bit reminded me of a passage in Freedom and Necessity:
"... we shall begin at the beginning [says Friedrich Engels]. Our first duty is to our class, yes?' 'No,' said James, still hidden. 'Bugger our class, our nation, and the horses they rode in on.' " (p.352)
According to Marx, James would be in denial about his reasons for consorting with Chartists and Communists. Are we all being attacked here? Of course, and rightly so. He lumps together "economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind" (all bourgeoisie, of course) and says their respective efforts to address social problems are motivated by nothing more than self-interest. Talk about a question deserving lifetimes of study. I know he's right in a very, very big way. However, I cannot fully agree with Marx on this one. Of course we're self-interested; we're human beings. Wasn't self-interest the reason for the neonate bourgeoisie to overthrow the feudal lords? And for the proletariat to fight to overthrow the bourgeoisie? Apparently, the essence of history is self-interest. I believe it.
Still. Label me a soppy soft-headed sentimentalist, but I'm only speaking from my own experience. When I get involved in efforts to 'help others', I do so with the awareness that I am luckier than 99.5% of conscious beings on this planet, that that isn't fair, and that I can try to give back from where I am. I can't imagine why, when any of us could make a great deal more in provincial government jobs – I get up at 7 a.m every summer day to clean shitty cages at the animal shelter, or a friend worked with battered women, or another works herself to the bone rehabilitating abused horses, in order to keep our privileged social positions. As undeniably as greed runs in my human blood, so does compassion. So does empathy. We are not simple creatures. For many of us, at least, more than emotional gratification is at stake.
Oops. Boy, can I rant. I doubt seriously whether humanitarianism, etc as these movements currently exist will be THE solution to every-or-anything. But I don't like Marx's generalization that individuals' morality is determined by their social class of birth.
Finally I've run out of steam on this, for now. If you have issues with anything I've said, please comment. I'd positively love to hear other, likely wiser ways of understanding the Manifesto. It's a fun trip, and it does make some damn good points. This innocently small work has, indeed, endured. WORKING [HUMANS] OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!(less)
Fantastic, awe-inspiring character creation. I want to explore all the nuances of Christine Linde, and Dr. Rank, and Krogstad, and especially Nora. An...moreFantastic, awe-inspiring character creation. I want to explore all the nuances of Christine Linde, and Dr. Rank, and Krogstad, and especially Nora. Anyone who essays to interpret this merely as some sort of feminist power-politics commentary is seriously shortchanging themselves, and misusing the play. I'm itching already to reread it, multiple times, as well as to actually see it. (Maybe I'll start with the Christopher Plummer & Julie Harris version, I think it's all on YouTube.)
Yep, I am officially an Ibsen admirer. Longer review-thoughts to come.(less)
**spoiler alert** I don't yet know dramatic theory, and I'm not used to reading plays – aside from Shakespeare, which Pirandello most definitely is no...more**spoiler alert** I don't yet know dramatic theory, and I'm not used to reading plays – aside from Shakespeare, which Pirandello most definitely is not. But I don't mean that pejoratively. This was a great quick read, one of those succulent works that takes longer to digest than to devour.
What did I like about this? Off the top of my head, a great deal. I like the way we come to feel for the Characters who are pleading their case, as it were, before the stage. It feels like a life-or-death scenario for them, even though one is half-chuckling over the whole dilemma. It's so like a silly mixed-up children's story, taken to the level of serious consideration about what theatre is/does to people... how we see ourselves in life, never mind on the stage. But I'll get back to that. I like the setting/premise: we've seen a play-within-a-play, but not so often is an entire performance based around a rehearsal-within-a-play. A totally botched rehearsal, no less. It would be refreshing to watch. I liked the ending, a cliffhanger with nowhere to drop into but one's own thoughts about the play. I liked the Characters' arguments with the Manager and actors, although I didn't feel the philosophizing was very smoothly incorporated. The father didn't really come together for me; he never seemed coherent, between what he (believes he is) supposed to do versus what he preaches. Existential questions, indeed.
I like the way Pirandello didn't set up any "good" or "bad" guys, only the confusion of different people each pursuing a different sense of "truth." The father might have been constructed as a baddie, but he can't be, because his story never really happened. None of their individual stories did, and they're in agony for that. They're left trying their hardest to account for themselves, defending themselves such a profundity as might terrify the author who thought they were under his control. They have a fierce drive to realize their identity, while the actors want to realize an illusion. So I loved the father's challenge as to who is more 'real.' Pirandello, though rather awkwardly through the father's mouth, is pointing out the utter elusiveness of identity – whether you are an actor or a character.
This graphic novel really couldn't impress me that much. The straight visual quality is good but, despite the fairytale origins this story's meant to...moreThis graphic novel really couldn't impress me that much. The straight visual quality is good but, despite the fairytale origins this story's meant to be drawing on – an immediate attraction, to me – the majority of the graphics are sadly simplistic. The graphics are the meat of a graphic novel, right? – and no matter how good the mashed potato text is, you can't have a good meal without a juicy (soy) steak, rich and chewable to the eyes. Compared to the finer graphic novels, there seems to be a lack of revelry-in-detail here as far as the visuals go. If I were the artists, I would have wanted to embellish a lot more thoroughly with any well- or lesser-known fairytale/fable reference that For that matter, the same is true for the plot. A fake-murder whodunit with the 'chance' (thus totally predictable) creation of a man-woman detective duo, sprinkling behind them the bean-seeds of romance – sprouting, needless to say, from the male character ("Bigby" Big Bad Wolf) and, till he states it explicitly, overlooked by the powerful and businesslike female (Snow White, Director of Operations and icicle of fury if you mention 'dwarves').
What else let me down? Crappy, fails-to-be-suave-when-recycled murder mystery dialogue. The last chapter, the supposed big reveal in more ways than one, is particularly bad on this. An example:
"Then get ON with it, Mr. Wolf. TELL your story. I can't tolerate the SUSPENSE." "When the Lord Mayor of Fabletown COMMANDS, I can only OBEY. – My suspicions about he TRUE nature of this case were raised the very MOMENT I first learned of it."
And so on. Here's one of my general beefs with graphic novels: why do the authors feel the need to emphasize in the script the words that we'd know have weight in the run of the sentence, anyway? Regular novelists do it as well, to varying degrees, but do we need it in every single speech bubble of the graphic novel format? I feel as though it engenders a more childlike treatment of the reader than is usually appropriate.
Altogether, I also think Willingham could have gone much, much deeper into the world he tries to recreate. It's a fantastic idea, in my opinion: a secret community of fairytale characters, cooling their heels in New York after some mighty power has forced them out of their various kingdoms. I can't even begin to imagine all the fun you could have with that. Unfortunately, this first volume strikes me as only minimally creative, tossed-together with only the most well-known characters – did I miss anybody, though? If so, I'd be delighted for someone to correct me on this. These characters feel superficially developed, their respective myths incorporated rather too obviously (finer technique would have contributed so much more wit) ... it just feels like a waste of the idea. Not sure how else I can say it.
What I did love are the end-of-chapter page graphics. I wish I could copy-enlarge and collage these all over one of my walls. Also, I wish I could give five stars to this page alone from Chapter Four:
(Pretty blonde lady approaches a sulky-looking child)"Hi, Pinocchio. I haven't seen YOU in a while. Enjoying the party?" "No. I am most certainly NOT having a good time. I never Have a good time at this ridiculous celebration. " "Then why do you come each year?" "Because, sooner or later, that blue fairy, who turned me into a REAL boy, is going to show her face at one of these things, and I'm going to kick her pretty azure ASS." "Why? I thought you WANTED to become a real boy." "Of COURSE I did. But who KNEW I'd have to stay a boy FOREVER? The ditzy bitch interpreted my wish too LITERALLY. I'm over three centuries old and I STILL haven't gone through puberty. I want to grow up, I want my balls to drop, and I want to get LAID."
Rather a sexist portrayal of the "real boy", don't you think? Still, I have to admit that I laughed. The sequel really should a sub-plot romance between Nocchy and, say, Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood. That would be adorable.
Perhaps, and again I'd love to hear other opinions on this GN - I'm looking for something in Willingham's tale that he never intended to put in it. It's a fun modern re-interpretation, the kind of story that I can see becoming a postmodern 'classic,' if the lost art of oral storytelling were to ever resurface. Such stories don't need complexity, they only need recognizable figures and a relatively engaging plot, which I'd say Fables has got. Since I have the deluxe edition anyway, I am going to read Volume II. Hopefully I'll be able to enjoy it more, knowing what kind of thing to expect.(less)
*afterthought: I know this review reeks of "I just took a class in early British Modernism", which is partly because I did - but honestly, these thoug...more*afterthought: I know this review reeks of "I just took a class in early British Modernism", which is partly because I did - but honestly, these thoughts are my own. Have no clue if my prof would agree with what I've said (luckily, he's not on Goodreads). So perhaps I fail on two counts. Anyway.
This novella finally brought me to a deep appreciation of Woolf's prose. As my English professor phrased it, "the narration is like a monkey with a video camera, jumping onto the shoulders of different characters who have nothing in common but the monkey's fascination with all of them." (Actually, that's the gist of what he said but much more elegantly stated. Gad, how do I do it. Anyway -) The interweaving of so many characters is Dickens-esque, but far more intricate, and with darker undertones, considering the 20th-Century shift in social awareness. Woolf's become one of my favorite Modernist writers. (Next stop: Orlando!)
I particularly, well, 'like' isn't the right word, but I am particularly moved by the passages about Septimus and Lucrezia. With their youth and Lucrezia's longing for home and Septimus's reaching, straining for some bit of wisdom to hang onto, and their love becoming so painfully complicated. They, the Septimuses and the Lucrezias, they are the most tragic casualties of the first World War. I can read Septimus over and over. His dying days will always be great and terrible, his memory of his friend Evans' fall at the Front choking him like gas. The irony and the pathos so tangled:
"Men must not cut down trees. There is a God. (He noted such revelations on the backs of envelopes.) Change the world. No one kills from hatred. Make it known (he wrote it down). He waited. He listened. A sparrow perched on the railing opposite chirped Septimus, Septimus, four or five times over and went on, drawing its notes out, to sing freshly and piercingly in Greek words how there is no crime and, joined by another sparrow, they sang in voices prolonged and piercing in Greek words, from trees in the meadow of life beyond a river where the dead walk, how there is no death. "There was his hand; there the dead. White things were assembling behind the railings opposite. But he dared not look. Evans was behind the railings!"
Tangled in themselves and each other though her characters are, Woolf writes in a crystal clear voice with an equally clear understanding of her characters and of their time. That's not something that's easy to find before the Modern period, in my experience, and rarely with as artful a blend of poetry and prose. (Woolf's elsewhere-inflicted Three-Mile Convoluted Sentence of Death doesn't even make too frequent an appearance in this work. Apparently it doesn't come into its full glory till two years later, in To the Lighthouse.)
I can't articulate everything I like and admire about this book, but – not to make lazy excuses for myself – there is, after all, an unspeakable quality about it; there is a sense of irony because no matter how many words are written about the inner world of any person, that inner world remains what it always has been, inscrutable. Can we ever know each other? Woolf asks. I feel that her work offers no solution, but merely elaborates on the question. Perhaps, then – being one of the more astute writers of her time – she didn't believe in a singular answer. Mrs. Dalloway is an exploration, and that's how it asks to be read. Open-mindedly, with occasional breaks to run to your window and gulp the fresh air. And, subconsciously, to listen for sparrows and wonder how they could possibly be said to sing in Greek. (less)
**spoiler alert** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS if, for some reason of your own, you do not know what happens to Faustus in the end.
Can I just note...more**spoiler alert** THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS if, for some reason of your own, you do not know what happens to Faustus in the end.
Can I just note that Mephistopheles is a really smooth name? I know Marlowe didn't invent it, but still.
Cool names aside, I have to say that I was expecting rather more from this play - unfairly? It is only 56 pages long, small pages at that. But whatever I hoped to find here, it wasn't delivered. Dazzling prose? Not a chance (or not much - I have admitted my overgeneralization as per review comments). I've just come off a term of Shakespeare. Marlowe's can do nothing for me after that. Riveting action? OH NO! FAUSTUS TOOK THE POPE'S WINE AND RAN AWAY!!! Steamy romance? If you count the conjuring of Helen of Troy so that wrinkly old Faust can sleep with her. Well... nah.
Skillful characterization? For the time, probably. The protagonist, so I hear, is transformed from a mere "naughty trickster" of the German folktale into a more sympathetic character, and that's true to an extent. As the play progresses, you certainly see the Doctor losing confidence in his chosen life of "sin", more and more easily twisted back by the nasty wasty fingers of Mephisto, Lucifer, etc. Poor old guy. He was relatively young and stupid when he set himself up for this which is, I guess, part of Marlowe's point. My dissatisfaction lies in the fact that his condemnation of the character seems half-hearted. He has Faustus do nothing genuinely wicked; during his recurring chances to be 'saved,' there is precious little in the language of the altercations to convince me that Faustus has any substance of character whatsoever, good or evil (as per Elizabethan definition, which are all I was looking for). It's all too rushed, and thus only pseudo-serious. So could I really care about him? It sounds cold-blooded, but I couldn't.
Dr. Faustus felt to me like a Grimm's fairy tale. It's written for adults, perhaps, but best suited to frighten kids into stiff Christian unseen-unheardness. Faustus is like a child himself, clever and bored: medicine is too easy, law is too easy, divinity is WAY too easy. So he goes looking for some fun. And he gets it. Twenty-four years of self-indulgent mischief. He never grows up. For that, he goes to Hell.
If Faustus goes to Hell, all the idiots who hired him to conjure for them damn well should, too. Talk about suspension of disbelief. If he was trying to do this, I admire Marlowe for pointing out the (willful?) ignorance of those who summon and praise Faustus for his feats. They don't see the evil in him (hmm. Neither do I). They don't try to save him. They're no better than he is.
What nags me about giving this just three stars is sensing how much more could be done with it on-stage. As I read, I imagined wonderful spooky verbal effects during passages of otherwise-flat language. Scenes like the Doctor's snitching-nibbles-from-the-Pope could be made very amusing. Alas, I am rating the book and not the performance. I look forward to studying it next term, and hopefully updating this review from a more knowledgeable vantage point.(less)
I'd buy this book in a moment, if only it would kindly appear before me on a bookstore shelf. I started reading it at a sadly tardy point in the summe...moreI'd buy this book in a moment, if only it would kindly appear before me on a bookstore shelf. I started reading it at a sadly tardy point in the summer, and by the time I was heading back to school the unfinished library book was screaming at me in frustration at my leaving it behind.
Okay, so I could be anthropomorphizing there. Maybe I'd just like to believe that this book loved me as much as I was loving it. David Ulin, I promise I will return to your fabulously far-reaching and philosophical gem. It made me feel a bit like I did when reading The Educated Imagination: as though I had been transported into a world where books are at the centre of everything, where reading books and thinking about books and talking, theorizing, worrying, feeling wholeheartedly passionate about the written world is not the least but the most necessary prereq to being fully alive in the physical world.
I started reading in an airport around six a.m, after having scarcely slept for days. I was feeling queasy from exhaustion. I had a muffin and a Starbucks coffee so dark it was scarcely drinkable, even with the sugar I don't like to add. Ho. Hum. Then - cramping, overtired and concerned about catching my bus - I was sucked into Ulin's smooth stream of commentary - by the end of the first few pages, I felt ridiculously/miraculously transcendental.
Too soon, it had to be sent back to its rightful library. But I will find you, lovely book, and when I do there will be no separating us till I have read to your last page, preferably in one sitting. (less)
Goodnight Desdemona, o'er all others Did not fail this reader to impress. Even Shakespeare's characters could not Leap off the page the way MacDonald's...moreGoodnight Desdemona, o'er all others Did not fail this reader to impress. Even Shakespeare's characters could not Leap off the page the way MacDonald's do, Though hers are take-offs on th' originals. Even Shakespeare's verse has not endured So well that I did not find hers more fresh. The meeting of her world and the Bard's! The call to revere him, though she dares adapt, Truly I believe is answered well. Playfully done, and with true art accomplished. (I would go on, but pure awe shuts me up.) Hear me, though: you shall enjoy this play! Vibrant life's in this slim tome of drama, And I'll re-read it many a future day At home upon my couch, or – heck – in class; In Constance's dream I'll gladly lose myself – one day, if lucky, glimpse it on a stage? O, eyes wouldn't dare to hear, nor ears to speak. Hey, Anne-Marie! Do you think you could Try something with A Midsummer Night's Dream next?(less)