Despite its listing, my copy of The Book of Romance ed by Andrew Lang (Blue leather, gold inset illustration on the cover, numerous illustrations by H...moreDespite its listing, my copy of The Book of Romance ed by Andrew Lang (Blue leather, gold inset illustration on the cover, numerous illustrations by H.J.Ford, Longmans, Green and company) was not published in 1919 but 1915 and the original copyright date is 1902. I like it because it makes an astonishing (and vastly original) single story of as much of the King Arthur legend as is possible. It even includes the passing of Merlin and the Fair Maid of Astolat. Another amazing thing is that despite 176 pages being devoted to Arthur, Lang has thrown in Roland and Charlemagne, Diarmid, William Short Nose, Robin Hood, and Grettir the Strong, all from hugely different traditions -- and my favourite, Wayland the Smith. (I'm trying to write a novel based on this tragedy, circulating through time.) I've always been aware that any myth could be turned into story, but what Lang did with Wayland, whose mentions are few in the old Norse and added to by only one old tale from England that I ever found, is eye-blinkingly astonishing. What interested me most was the echoes I felt from the Finnish epic the Kalevala, which is virtually modern (at least, orally). Get past the creativity Lang has used, however, and you can see the germs of many older fairy-tale motifs. It's fun to see them enter and leave this originally tragic tale, but I am left wondering just why and how Lang "edited" this tale the way he did. He even gave people names, and other than the total of three names that I found after long research, his names have the right feel. One is very close to my Bodvid; Nidud is there; and of course, Wayland himself. The skulls, the necklace of pearls, the arm bands with the eyes are all quite close to accurate. Am I just a poor researcher that missed the amazingly detailed source of the story as he presented for Wayland? I hope I'll find out some day. In his preface, Lang says, "Thus the romances are a mixture of popular tales, of literary invention, and of history as transmitted in legend... The story of Wayland the Smith is very ancient. An ivory in the British Museum, apparently of the eighth century, represents Wayland making the cups out of the skulls. As told here the legend is adapted from the amplified version by Oehlenschlager. Scott's use of the story in "Kenilworth" will be remembered." He doesn't mention my sources at all. And once again, Lang attributes the writing of the romances (except for Grettir) to his wife. I can only hope to live up to the company I'm in. (less)
As usual, a lovely book of gem-like philosophy. I loved the way footwear became a focus of the theme, which has to do with loyalty to things whether t...moreAs usual, a lovely book of gem-like philosophy. I loved the way footwear became a focus of the theme, which has to do with loyalty to things whether they grow old and difficult or not. Beautiful writing, though I feel these books are getting shorter, and the price higher. Worth it, but if you can find a good used copy, your pocketbook will appreciate it and you will also.(less)
I think I read this in omnibus form under the title only "Cyteen." I am rereading the whole omnibus now to try to remember it clearly enough to read "...moreI think I read this in omnibus form under the title only "Cyteen." I am rereading the whole omnibus now to try to remember it clearly enough to read "Regenesis." Though I don't like the characters (most of them), there is no doubt that they jump off the page. They are scarily real, and reading the book you feel there is no way to escape some of them. The book has a suffocating feel, though again, I'm reading it in omnibus form. This omnibus has no ISBN and is nearly 900 pages long, which is considerably longer than the omnibus advertised as Cyteen on Goodreads already. I was very worried that it might contain "Regenesis" because three different volumes are all called by the same name. However, I believe Regenesis is actually new.
As with so many of Cherryh's plots, it is very difficult to summarize them. The effort (on bookreads.com) done by someone very brave and hard-working to clarify what Cyteen is about, gives you a sense of the setting, which is mostly a terraformed part of the world below the space station above it, and a new lab-planet in formation. The politics, on the other hand, would be very difficult to describe without introducing spoilers. And so, just to summarize, Ari (Ariane Emory) the brilliant geneticist, is working on the planet with her "family", the only human-born people in her city of Reseune, all of whom she basically despises and uses and torments. In any normal life one would expect serious trouble for Ari, and such does arise, but to say more would be to introduce the spoilers I'm determined to avoid.
After reading nine "Foreigner" books on my own, and then 8 of them so far again (aloud), I realize that the early Cherryh's are much more exciting and alive than her later ones. I'm actually getting bored with the Foreigner series as I read aloud pages and pages of the hero's thoughts that are basically the same thoughts as they were pages and pages and books and books ago. Therefore, the fact that no one can possibly be bored by "Cyteen" is a real improvement, in my mind. Since Cyteen was written a long time ago, this is a bad sign for Cherryh's new writing, because as I understand it, "Foreigner" and all its sequels are her new writing, and Cyteen is old. I loved her Chanur series (old) and her Serpent's Reach (old) and her Fortress series (old to medium new). Chanur had the same rush as sitting down to "Star Wars" as a movie (Part III) for the first time. I want that kind of excitement back, along with the anthropological musings and careful constructions of worlds. So, although I am a current fan of C.J. Cherryh, I am not sure that it will hold up.
Back to Cyteen. Exciting. Scary. Interesting. Isolating. All the elements of a creepy horror story on Halloween night, with none of the hokum. I would recommend it, even on second reading.
What I do wonder is if Cherryh actually writes about five books at a time, each in a different series. Does anyone else think that? (less)
I have to confess to a prejudice against the story of the Nibelungenlied, which is so closely related to the Norse (The Tale of Andvari's Gold) and wh...moreI have to confess to a prejudice against the story of the Nibelungenlied, which is so closely related to the Norse (The Tale of Andvari's Gold) and which I like so much better. The Norse makes sense of all the ruination and despair and doesn't pretend to be history. Unfortunately, the Nibelungenlied (with its anonymous author's emphasis on trickery through (female) magic and its deaths of heroic characters through (female) trouble-making and revenge) lays no real responsibility on any of the male heroes, whom I experience as fools with little to recommend them, except perhaps near the ending of each, where they more or less laugh at death, which I rather liked. The story was used during the 20th century as a kind of definition of the Germanic soul, and so was used by the Nazis (or encouraged the Nazis) to consider themselves the supreme "race". Given the fact that the story pretends to be history (when its origins are pagan) and that it continued to be bastardized (e.g. through the Ring Cycle of Wagner's operas) I find it hard to accept the tale in any happiness. Still, the unknown author's "crabbed medieval German" (M.E. and Ernest Rhys) has been translated with respect and a rousing bloodiness of epic beauty into English prose by Margaret Armour. Sexist, horrific, and endlessly vengeful, this tale turns me off. However, since I love the Norse tale, with all its pre-history of Sigurd (the Norse Siegfried), which has strong similarities to the Egyptian Isis myth, I really can't toss the Nibelungenlied. I believe (with no specific evidence) that the Nibelungenlied was written after the oral Norse tale became known. The Norse version in my modern opinion is vastly superior, with its intervention by pagan gods in a causative way, with absolutely nothing for modern states to use to their own advantage and the world's disadvantage, and really, no hero standing out as different from the heroic desire of all Vikings: which is, to survive (by farming, fishing, stealing and fighting), and with luck to die gloriously in the hopes of pleasing the gods, and all the while knowing that any victory is doomed to failure. Nothing but my affection for the Viking tale keeps the Nibelungenlied in my shelves -- and, of course, its effect on world history. (less)