I absolutely loved this book. It covers a very great deal, and is very informative, while remaining a light, easy and fun read. Nice when an author caI absolutely loved this book. It covers a very great deal, and is very informative, while remaining a light, easy and fun read. Nice when an author can pull that off! There were enough references to Keats to please me, along with a lack of embarrassment about the sexy side of Romanticism, and extra interest was added by some useful examples of creative works that were new to me (though as you've probably gathered I've read a fair bit about the period by now). Even more intriguingly, the tale begins with the Enlightenment and Rousseau's break from it; Blanning glances back earlier still when necessary; and then he finishes by tracing the effects of the Romantic Revolution through to our present day culture. All of that in 186 pages, plus Notes! Bravo, Tim Blanning!
Happily recommended for anyone at all who's interested in this era, its people and its creative works. If you're new to Romanticism, this is a terrific way in. If you're already in, you just might find something new.
As always with Shire books, a good condensed introduction to an interesting topic. I must supplement this by finally visiting the London Transport MusAs always with Shire books, a good condensed introduction to an interesting topic. I must supplement this by finally visiting the London Transport Museum! ...more
I enjoyed the film, which was beautifully photographed and beautifully acted. Alas, I didn't feel the novelisation added much to the experience. But II enjoyed the film, which was beautifully photographed and beautifully acted. Alas, I didn't feel the novelisation added much to the experience. But I did love that the whole thing is structured towards finding reconciliation and friendship and love between former enemies.
The original inspiration behind the project is genuinely awesome, and I feel hasn't been fully mined of its precious stone yet. In a footnote to his book Gallipoli Mission, the Australian war journalist and historian CEW Bean quotes a letter from an Australian Lieutenant of the Imperial War Graves Unit in Gallipoli. "One old chap managed to get here from Australia, looking for his son's grave. We did what we could for him and sent him on his way."
Bless that father, whoever he was. That was a heroic journey, and I hope it brought him some measure of peace....more
A textbook which gives a very brief yet thorough overview of Romanticism. I enjoyed reading it, though by its nature I took it bit by bit. Stevens claA textbook which gives a very brief yet thorough overview of Romanticism. I enjoyed reading it, though by its nature I took it bit by bit. Stevens clarified and illuminated various subjects for me, including spirituality in Romanticism and feminism in Romanticism. I also liked the style of writing, which was concise, solid and not without humour.
Recommended for anyone who'd like a good summation of this fascinating cultural era....more
Absolutely love the cover. The story was good, and it made the most of its interesting setting on the coast of Maine, where the weather is a characterAbsolutely love the cover. The story was good, and it made the most of its interesting setting on the coast of Maine, where the weather is a character in its own right. But I spent most of my reading time feeling frustrated that, with just a bit more writing / editing work, this could have been a really great story. I'm looking forward to next time, when I trust that Ana Matics and Ylva Publishing will earn a fourth star from me! I believe in what you're doing, peeps, I really do. ...more
I figured I should read this, as I write about contemporary characters looking for romance, and (let's face it) the playing field has shifted somewhatI figured I should read this, as I write about contemporary characters looking for romance, and (let's face it) the playing field has shifted somewhat in the three decades since I married Mr B.
This is a rigorous look at the issues around modern-day romance, but written in a very light and accessible way. The author is a stand-up comedian, though he worked in partnership with sociologist Eric Klinenberg. There is a good balance between anecdotal evidence and 'hard' statistics. There were a few surprises, and plenty to think about. There is a focus on male-female relationships, with only an occasional glimpse at gay relationships, but (as Ansari explains up-front) that seemed to be more than enough to be getting on with for one book.
The style won't suit everyone, but if the topic interests you then I think this is at least a good place to start. ...more
Having loved the current production of High Society at The Old Vic in London, I've been catching up on the film versions, and now the original play. AHaving loved the current production of High Society at The Old Vic in London, I've been catching up on the film versions, and now the original play. An interesting story, with engaging characters and moments of real humour. And I did enjoy the echoes of Emma's story in Tracy's. ...more
Well... I liked the main characters, and there were some great moments of emotion and humour. I loved the bit with the ghost best! I had some concernsWell... I liked the main characters, and there were some great moments of emotion and humour. I loved the bit with the ghost best! I had some concerns over one passage on the grounds of dodgy gender politics, and couldn't believe there was apparently no thought at all of safe sex... On the whole, I'm glad I read this, though I don't think I'll continue with the trilogy....more
I really enjoyed this book which was chock-a-block full of LOL-worthy anecdotes, along with some wise and honest advice. Simmo has a great voice as aI really enjoyed this book which was chock-a-block full of LOL-worthy anecdotes, along with some wise and honest advice. Simmo has a great voice as a writer ... and all I could wish for is a little extra proofing.
Recommended if you're interested in actors and acting....more
Another good title in the Literary Lives series. I appreciated all the context about women's writing (and published writing) during the period, and thAnother good title in the Literary Lives series. I appreciated all the context about women's writing (and published writing) during the period, and there were some insights and thoughts on Austen and her writing that were new and interesting to me. Maybe not quite up to the volumes on Keats and Marlowe, but that says more about how very wonderful they are. ...more
Well, I figured I'd better do my Tolkien re-read properly! I have to admit I never got into The Silmarillion as a teenager - the only other time I'veWell, I figured I'd better do my Tolkien re-read properly! I have to admit I never got into The Silmarillion as a teenager - the only other time I've read this cover to cover - and I haven't really been converted now. I felt I understood rather more of it this time round, and there are certainly some wonderful tales in here. I love how it covers life, the universe and everything, with the focus zooming from the macro in to the micro and back out again. Loved the story of Beren and Luthien best, I suppose, and poor old Turin. There's some terrific background in here for the stories which are set later, though I wouldn't consider it a Must Read. (Other people's mileage will, quite naturally, vary.)
Basically, I'm very glad I did it, but this has confirmed that The Lord of the Rings is it for me, and will be for aye. ...more
I love this kind of science fiction: realistic tales about 'ordinary' human beings venturing into space, taking that one small step, thWow. Well. OK.
I love this kind of science fiction: realistic tales about 'ordinary' human beings venturing into space, taking that one small step, that one giant leap. I loved the film Gravity likewise. Just my kind of thing. Add to this the courage, patience and ingenuity shown by the accidental Martian, Mark Watney, and I knew I was on a winner.
This was a real page-turner which made my commutes just whiz past. I enjoyed all kinds of things about this novel, even the way that the story is told in a variety of ways, as a way (I assume) of shaking things up a bit. Bit of a risk, but it paid off.
The best parts, for me, were with Mark on Mars, as he steadily chips away at the impossible task of staying alive, one thing at a time. Loved it. I loved his attitude towards his crew-mates, too, though I felt his relationship with his parents was oddly underwritten.
And of course I was rooting for Mark to survive. Not that anyone would deserve to die out there, but his humour and his tenacity and his refusal to be daunted had me on his side from the first page.
But. And this is a large but. I was haunted for most of the book by the niggling thought that back on Earth, all this incredible time, effort, cleverness and money was being devoted to the saving of one life. Of course it is marvellous how everyone rallies to the cause, and will not give up on Mark. However. What if all that time, effort, cleverness and money was put towards helping save lives here on earth?
This book does not manage to successfully duck the question with one belated, rather smug thought about how wonderful humanity is, that we all pitch in when disaster happens. We do contribute to help our fellow peeps when there's an earthquake in Nepal, yes, and that's wonderful. But what about the daily, 'business as usual' poverty, the ongoing need for proper food, clean water and decent healthcare that so many of us go in need of? (I say 'us' in fellow feeling, not because I am personally in need of anything.)
I am aware of the letter from the then Director of Science at NASA to a nun in Zambia, in which he explains why he thinks it's worth pursuing space travel and all the research that goes with it, rather than directly helping starving children. You can find it here: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/08/... I find it rather less moving and convincing than I used to, but maybe it's just his pedantry and condescension that get up my nose.
The thing is, generally I agree in principle that we need to devote time, effort, cleverness and money to things that can't be immediately seen as useful. Including science. Including art. But when faced with a story about all the effort that went into saving one life on Mars, when there were many many thousands of lives on Earth that needed help throughout the tale, well ... The direct contrast just threw the whole question into sharp relief for me.
Here's hoping that Mark's innovative approach to potato farming had a direct and beneficial effect on us learning how to better grow crops in the desert. Author Andy Weir just didn't find the time to mention it while telling his tale. There was a lot of other stuff going on, after all.
I'm still giving this five stars, because hell I just love this kind of science fiction, and I'm looking forward to the film. It just barked my ethical shins occasionally, is all. ...more
An excellent book - though if you're only going to read one book about Wilfred Owen, I'd suggest Hibberd's other biographical tome, Wilfred Owen: A NeAn excellent book - though if you're only going to read one book about Wilfred Owen, I'd suggest Hibberd's other biographical tome, Wilfred Owen: A New Biography. But while this was more narrowly focussed, it included some great details, and lots of reproductions of photos and manuscripts. A really good look at the crucial period of a very interesting life.
On a more personal note, I was lucky to purchase a copy that had been signed by the author. Worth all the more to me because I hadn't realised Dominic had left us. Rest in peace, Dominic, and thank you so much. ...more
Look, I just love and adore this book. That's the bottom line. I already mentioned that over the years various volumes have taken their turns as my faLook, I just love and adore this book. That's the bottom line. I already mentioned that over the years various volumes have taken their turns as my favourite, but this third and final volume really is just the bee's knees and will be for aye.
Book Five with its marvellously well-told journeys and battles, with whole peoples moving through entire countries, managed by the deft hands of this storyteller. Then Book Six in which The Great Moment finally comes at the end of the third chapter - and there's still six glorious chapters to go before the whole story is finally wound up. Love it.
And then the Appendices. I used to dip in and out of these. I always read the tale of Aragorn and Arwen, but otherwise I might browse or I might just put it aside. There are some hidden gems in here, though, with nuggets of wry humour and fascinating bits of information that aren't included in the book. Who bore the Elves' third ring? Where did Merry and Pippin spend their last years? It's all in there. (Except the names of the other two wizards.) I find the discussion of calendars interesting (to the point of wondering why we don't organise the year that way), though I have to say that Tolkien leaves me loitering far behind when he starts in on languages and alphabets and such. And I thought I was interested in languages! Not as much so as the Professor, obviously. :-)
When I started out re-reading the trilogy, I scribbled notes for my anticipated review, which began: 'Flawed - sexist, racist, Good vs Evil, puritanical - and cheats on a couple of storylines in ways that really annoy me. That said, for better or worse, this story is part of my DNA, and I have been deeply in love with Aragorn for all my adult life.'
The book is flawed, yes. Or maybe it's just 'of its time'. Or the work of a man whose imagination served him marvellously in some ways but not in others. That's all right. It's the flawed works we tend to love the best, I think. They're the ones we really engage with.
One of the flaws is the externalising of a dualistic view of Good and Evil. I mean, could the Orcs be any more lacking in redeeming features? On the other hand, one of the best and most unusual things about this story is its theme of the self-restraint required (indeed, demanded) to refuse personal power, to put both community and integrity ahead of self aggrandisement. That dynamic conflict - fought internally by many (not all!) of those who become aware of The One Ring - is central to this story. It is echoed in the stories of Thorin and the Arkenstone, and Pippin (and Denethor and Saruman) and the Palantiri. The morals and the necessary outcome wound their way so deeply into my heart and mind that I am absolutely flabbergasted and indeed horrified that the film merchandise available includes replicas of The One Ring, complete with Sauron's words engraved around them.
I mean to say. Don't mind poor old Frodo and Sam and the rest dying and struggling and suffering in an effort to destroy the cursed thing... No, now you can buy it on Amazon! I mean, how is that even a good idea? (Sorry, Dear Reader, if you have a One Ring, by the way. I have two good friends who do. But I just don't understand! Maybe I took this whole thing a tad too seriously, back in my formative years.) ... No, I don't get it. I just popped off to look on Amazon in the hope that I was exaggerating for comic effect, and Oh My God they have 'One Ring' wedding-band sets. Absolutely flabbered, I tell you. Completely gasted.
OK, shall I return to the books...? ('Yes, please!' everyone cries.)
So my formative years were also spent in the company of Aragorn (and various others) who embody a real nobility. And I don't mean his hereditary rights or qualities. I mean he's gentle and fierce, considerate and ruthless, swift and patient. He acts and takes on responsibility when it's his to take, and lets others be their own best selves likewise. I love him so damned much.
But you know who I think the real hero of these books is? Samwise Gamgee. I love him, too, so much. And the whole thing would have gone totally pear-shaped without Sam. Everyone played their part, of course, but if Sam had failed then that would have been that. And the notion that Tolkien, who served as an officer in the Great War, based Sam on the men in his command is heart-warming and very reassuring. Salt of the earth, and all that. Steadfast and true, our Samwise.
There are small moments and large moments in this story which I still find incredibly moving, even after reading it all again for the eleventy-first time. I love it. The story and its wonderful characters have moved me to pure tears of grief and of joy so many times in my life. And I'm all the better for it....more
I'm still loving this re-read of these books... There have been times during the decades that this has been my favourite volume of the three. It is alI'm still loving this re-read of these books... There have been times during the decades that this has been my favourite volume of the three. It is all pure adventure and sheer character.
With Frodo and Sam off pursuing the Quest on their own, the remaining members of the Fellowship are free to make their own decisions. It is fascinating to follow them on their various paths during Book Three. I particularly love Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli's indefatigable chase after the Orcs who have taken Merry and Pippin. We visit Rohan and Fangorn, meet up again with the dearest of old friends subtly and powerfully transformed, and make a new friend in the marvellous Eowyn. Aragorn begins to openly declare himself and claim his kingship, and he is met with respect, wonder and friendship.
Meanwhile, in Book Four, Frodo and Sam are bravely continuing on their way to the one place everyone dreads most. They think of themselves as ordinary folk caught up in a much larger story, and of course we wonder if we would be as resourceful and stalwart under the same circumstances. We meet the awesome Faramir who, as Sam declares, proves himself to be of the very highest quality. And we end on a cliffhanger following 'The Choices of Master Samwise', which are of course much wiser than he fears.
All in all, a terrific yarn that is a delight to revisit. ...more