Some lovely passages - loved the creepiness of Alice getting hypnotised - and it'll be useful for comparisons with James and The Scarlet Letter, but fSome lovely passages - loved the creepiness of Alice getting hypnotised - and it'll be useful for comparisons with James and The Scarlet Letter, but fuck me, this was long, boring, and tedious. I think it gave me a headache, and my first thought after I finished was "thank Christ I don't ever have to read that again."...more
It's hard for me to compliment something - even something with as many virtues and plainly amazing writing in parts as this - when my first act afterIt's hard for me to compliment something - even something with as many virtues and plainly amazing writing in parts as this - when my first act after reading this is to pull up the Wikipedia summary and think, "Damn, I would've enjoyed this a lot more if I'd read this first."...more
This is just a stunning reworking of Aeschylus's Oresteia. It is exactly what a retelling should be - recognisable, true to the spirit of the originalThis is just a stunning reworking of Aeschylus's Oresteia. It is exactly what a retelling should be - recognisable, true to the spirit of the original, yet profoundly disturbing, haunting, and fresh. It's a little overwrought in places - even taking into consideration the heightened and anachronistic nature of Greek drama - and the ending is disappointing for its abruptness - if only Klytemenestra's speech had been longer. Though I don't doubt that Farber's admiration rests with Elektra, the slave and victim of horrific torture and atrocities from her mother, her truly majestic, beautiful, and unforgettable rhetoric rests with Klytemenestra. Perhaps because Klytemenestra is the only member of the cast not asked to bear any strong moral significance, she is allowed to act and respond in a way that makes her perhaps the greatest (and worst, and most terrifying) Klytemenestra from the modern stage....more
Shakespeare's last tragedy, and arguably one of his worst, possibly because Coriolanus shows flickers of being the best. Unlike the big, bloody, nastyShakespeare's last tragedy, and arguably one of his worst, possibly because Coriolanus shows flickers of being the best. Unlike the big, bloody, nasty Titus Andronicus, there are moments of pure grace and ecstasy in Coriolanus - not least in the portrayal of the man himself: fickle, proud, dangerously out-of-step. The "man vs. ideal" tension that Shakespeare mines for such wonderful drama in Othello is richly present here, especially in the wonderful, challenging ending. I think no other author in the English canon has been capable of making oddness so damn fascinating as Shakespeare.
Yet the play suffers from an absurdly long buildup, full of idiosyncrasies of Roman history and almost bureaucracy. It just takes aaaaaages to go anywhere, dragging its feet through two rebellions, two wars, and several very long and dull Senate scenes. The rare Shakespeare play that made me go, "oh, just get to the point." But when it's on that theme? Sublime, make no mistake. ...more
Frankly, for how often people in this novel write this, the reader themselves may find themselves staring at the 1,400+ tigh4.5 stars
"I cannot go on."
Frankly, for how often people in this novel write this, the reader themselves may find themselves staring at the 1,400+ tightly-packed remaining pages in horror, and thinking, if only you bloody hadn't.
No, I did not read it all. I think my abridgement probably totalled over 1,00 pages though, which, in three days, is not bad. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this once I started. It's a surprisingly modern novel in many ways; though Clarissa may be a perfect, luminous "angel" - aren't many of the eighteenth-century heroines? - Richardson spares no blushes in his totalling of Clarissa's treatment and the novel was bizarrely addictive. It's thrilling in places, Clarissa is no passive fool, and the dialogue sparkles between Clarissa and her best friend, Anna, and particularly Clarissa and the horrible Lovelace, a preening, self-indulgent, narcissistic villain of whom writers of twenty-first century psychological thrillers would be proud. It really does feel like a pioneering classic in places, stretching its use of form and Richardson's talents.
Until it pushes its conceit too far. After the immediate fallout from Lovelace's sexual assault of Clarissa, the novel just seems to run out of steam, a sad thing given that there were still at least 500 pages to go. I read an abridgement of the Penguin edition that my supervisor recommended and, despite missing out chunks of the text, when Belford repented his actions and Clarissa levelled up so completely in sainthood that one could be forgiven for expecting her to suddenly grow wings at any moment, it seemed like I had missed absolutely nothing. (Unlike earlier in the text, where I could tell that I was missing nuances of the plot by skipping letters.)
Nevertheless, I'm giving this one 4 stars because...it's the classic, okay? I enjoyed this one a lot more - and read it a hell of a lot faster - than Richardson's other novel, Pamela, despite the fact that Pamela is about 1/3 of the length (still no mean feat - you will wonder if anybody in the eighteenth century experienced hand cramp.) In many ways, they could almost be two different variants on the same story, both featuring a virtuous young woman being pursued by a rakish and seemingly unreliable potential lover. However, while Pamela is stilted, dry, dull, and slow, Clarissa is dark, mesmerising, and fluent in its sustained skill. Its main dark topic - rape - is handled with a sensitivity, comprehension, and quiet devastation that many modern authors could learn from. Am I really giving 4 stars to a book for it not being Pamela? Yes. Yes, I am....more
This is okay. If you want to read some classic Brit Lit, I guess you could do worse. At least it doesn't fall into the trap of Mansfield Park2.5 stars
This is okay. If you want to read some classic Brit Lit, I guess you could do worse. At least it doesn't fall into the trap of Mansfield Park, and of having absolutely nothing happen at all. A lot happens in these 887 pages of text (the rest are notes and epilogues), but they can't quite redeem the fact that it's really fucking long. It goes on and on and on and, sure, it's funny and frank and stuff happens but, by page 750, do you really care?...more
There's a reason why Shakespeare is The King, and this is it. This is such a rich, beautiful play, tragedy at its finest. Two of Shakespeare's most coThere's a reason why Shakespeare is The King, and this is it. This is such a rich, beautiful play, tragedy at its finest. Two of Shakespeare's most complex characters inhabit a believable and visceral Egypt/Rome, accelerating towards an inevitable yet moving end. Wonderful, and one of the few texts that remind me why English Literature is a fantastic subject to study....more
Literally one of the worst novels I've ever read. Follow a morally superior girl in her (non-existent) adventures, during which nothing happens exceptLiterally one of the worst novels I've ever read. Follow a morally superior girl in her (non-existent) adventures, during which nothing happens except you upgrade your fantasies of punching the incredibly irritating main character to homicide. I'm mostly just impressed I finished it. The only interesting action happens within the final 30 pages, entirely off-screen. Her and Edmund deserved each other. I've never been so bored by two such snotty, unbearable and thankless characters....more