I'm one of very few people in the world that actually really hate the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and 'The Hobbit' as well. I've read 'The Hobbit' twic I'm one of very few people in the world that actually really hate the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and 'The Hobbit' as well. I've read 'The Hobbit' twice, trying to capture the second time what I was sure I must have missed the first time round... but no. And then I read The Fellowship of the Ring and found Frodo's story to be as drab and long-winded as that of Bilbo. I would have stopped there but my friends told me that I should definitely read this book, promising me great adventure and well-written fantasy worlds. And still no.
I realise I am in the minority and I don't know why. But I've looked for what everyone loves so much about these books and everytime I find pages and pages of boredom. These novels are the kind that make me want to skip pages - and I really hate doing that because I feel like a cheat, but ack! What is it? Really, what am I missing?...more
I've come to the conclusion that Russian door-stoppers might just be where it's at. "It" here meaning general awesomeness that combines the elements oI've come to the conclusion that Russian door-stoppers might just be where it's at. "It" here meaning general awesomeness that combines the elements of history, philosophy and high readability to make books that are both thought-provoking and enjoyable. Granted, I have only read three of the Russian big-uns: War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and now Crime and Punishment, but I intend to rectify this shortly with The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot. Now, I don't want to go blazing with too much excitement into the land of Tsars and vodka, and then just ending up with a load of disappointment like I got from some of the Aussie authors I was counting on this year, but I have honestly liked every Russian novel I've read so far, big and small.
This may seem like a very odd comparison to make, but Crime and Punishment has made me feel much more ready to write my review of Stormdancer. One of my main points I wanted to make about the Japanese steampunk was to do with the massive overload of Japanese words that had me pulling up google every few minutes and resulted in a loss of excitement and appreciation for the story. But I was reluctant to say "this book is too Japanese" because I sound exactly like a typical silly uncultured westerner who isn't interested in learning about other ways of life. However, Crime and Punishment really proves that it isn't me being deliberately ignorant.
I knew only what I'd got from Tolstoy about nineteenth century Russian society and people when I started this book, about as much as I knew about Japan from reading Manga when I started Stormdancer. The difference is that Dostoyevsky took me on an educational - but also gripping - journey around the backstreets and drinking dens of St Petersburg that told me about the nitty gritty details of life in Russia for those less fortunate - drunks, prostitutes, the poor - and I felt I had a very vivid portrait of this time and culture without once having to use google. I had a recent comment on one of my reviews basically saying I owed it to the author to do a little research before I comment on the novel, that it wasn't the author's responsibility to provide all the information. Look, in the end, I prefer a book that can stand up on its own without requiring additional material to have it make sense, I just do. And Crime and Punishment delivers that. It's educational without feeling like one lengthy info-dump, and it's philosophical without being a mindfuck.
Raskolnikov is a great protagonist, he really is. His head is all over the place and he constantly struggles with what he believes in, his conscience and his desire to get what he wants. The reader is pulled so deep inside the dark depths of his mind that it's hard to avoid becoming completely absorbed in the story. He is at times nasty, at others funny, and at others pitiful. Dostoyevsky has created one extremely well-rounded and complex character. Crime and Punishment shows the human capacity for evil, but also for shame and remorse. And this latter is the real "punishment" for Raskolnikov when he is driven near to insanity by his guilt.
I don't really know how best to fully articulate my feelings for Crime and Punishment. I don't give many five star ratings and I rarely feel this strongly about what I've read. I actually had a bloody dream about it! Speaking of dreams, I want to use this one example of Dostoyevsky's ability to engage the reader so thoroughly: I read one particular scene in the book that made me seriously distressed, I was furious, on the verge of tears, I was like a child who wants to jump inside the TV and make everything better... and then Raskolnikov awakes to discover it was just a dream. I swear that my sigh of relief fully eclipsed his! But that's how far into this story I became, how much I really cared about it. That doesn't happen often....more
My re-reading of this for my university course has led me to the same conclusions I found when I first read it a couple of years back, except this timMy re-reading of this for my university course has led me to the same conclusions I found when I first read it a couple of years back, except this time I am fortunate enough to have understood it better than last time. My conclusions being that Plato, and through him Socrates, was very intelligent, believed he was more intelligent than everyone else (no matter how many times he declared himself unwise) and very much loved to talk. Socrates, in particular, must have been very fond of the sound of his own voice.
You can't give a book that revolutionised philosophy any less than 3 stars, even if about 70% of it features many generalisations, jumping to bizarre conclusions, and claims without good reason. And yes, Plato and Socrates had some brilliant ideas - all the more brilliant because they came up with them first - but they don't measure up to today's version of "rational thinking". Good, but outdated. I suppose the best thing about their ideas was that they laid the foundations for the next 2000 years of Western philosophy and politics.
And, though hardly feminists, Socrates and Plato were some of the first to publicly suggest that education should be equal to both genders (apart from military training) and that women should have as large a political role as men, seeing as they make up half of society. Go early Greek gender equality!! Though I suppose the line "whining and crying as if they were but women" (or something to that effect) kind of pisses on that feminist bonfire. Oh well...
So here's some of the reasons why The Republic fails. Firstly, Socrates (the character) assumes that because one example demonstrates a certain type of relationship, then this idea can be applied to all. When he is arguing with Thrasymachus about justice, Thrasymachus says that justice is whatever the rulers decide it to be and that they use this power for their own good and the weaker (i.e. the subjects) get screwed over. Socrates then uses the example of a physician who is stronger than his patients but his agenda is only to help them. Well:
1) Even if a physician selflessly helps his patients, this does not prove that rulers have the best interests of their citizens in mind. There is not a naturally occurring relationship between the two.
2) As Thrasymachus goes on to point out, the physician is doing it for his own benefit because he is paid to do the job.
Stupidity & Contradictions
So then Socrates starts with the bullshit that doesn't get refuted because the author is on his side, of course. He says that the physician is divided into two roles: that of physician and that of moneymaker (yep). So, basically the two are separate and have nothing to do with each other... um, I beg to differ. You see? Some of the arguments are ridiculous. He also goes on to contradict himself later by stating that rulers do get a reward for ruling: money! If he had maintained his previous argument, then they should have done it anyway for the simple benefit of their subjects and moneymaking should be a separate thing entirely.
Agent vs. Act Virtue
Plato and Socrates talked a great deal about justice being an agent virtue and not just an act virtue. They believed that it wasn't good enough to act justly, you had to have a good soul as well. Makes sense until you get to where you judge people based on them having a good soul or not - and just how do you do that?
And they have a very warped view of what makes a person good/just. "A just man values wisdom above all else"... does he? I imagine a person who likes to make friends with the super-smart individuals and disregard the rest to be a bit of an ass. Don't you?...more
I found this incredibly boring when compared to the eroticism and sensuality of Delta Of Venus. I was expecting far more from Anais Nin, especially whI found this incredibly boring when compared to the eroticism and sensuality of Delta Of Venus. I was expecting far more from Anais Nin, especially when regarding a field that she had so much expertise in.
The thing is, erotica is one of those things that is so hard to suffer through when it's dull... there's just no pretending otherwise; and these stories were very similar, caresses followed by a very scientific depiction of oral sex. Sorry to say it did nothing for me....more
This is my favourite book. I do not say that lightly, I've read quite a lot from all different genres and time periods, but this is my favourite book.This is my favourite book. I do not say that lightly, I've read quite a lot from all different genres and time periods, but this is my favourite book. Of all time. Ever. The ladies over at The Readventurer kindly allowed me to get my feelings of utter adoration for Wuthering Heights off my chest in their "Year of the Classics" feature, but I now realise it's time I posted a little something in this blank review space. I mean, come on, it's my favourite book so it deserves better than empty nothingness.
So, what do I love so much about Wuthering Heights? Everything. Okay, maybe not, that wouldn't really be saying it strongly enough.
What I love about this novel is the setting, the wilderness. This is not a story about niceties and upper class propriety, this is the tale of people who aren't so socially acceptable, who live away from the strict rules of civilization - it's almost as if they're not quite from the world we know. The isolation of the setting out on the Yorkshire moors between the fictional dwellings of The Heights and Thrushcross Grange emphasises how far removed these characters are from social norms, how unconventional they are, and how lonely they are.
This is a novel for readers who can appreciate unlikeable characters, readers who don't have to like someone to achieve a certain level of understanding them and their circumstances. People are not born evil... so what makes them that way? What torments a man so much that he refuses to believe he has any worth? What kind of person digs up the grave of their loved one so they can see them once again? Heathcliff was not created to be liked or to earn your forgiveness, Emily Brontë simply tells his story from the abusive and unloved childhood he endured, to his obsession with the only person alive who showed him any real kindness, to his adulthood as an angry, violent man who beats his wife and imprisons the younger Cathy in order to make her marry his son.
It would be so easy to hate Heathcliff, and I don't feel that he is some dark, sexy hero like others often do. But I appreciate what Emily Brontë attempts to teach us about the cycle of violence and aggression. Heathcliff eventually becomes little more than the man he hates, by being brought up with beatings and anger he in turn unleashes it on everyone else. And Cathy is no delicate flower either. What hope did Heathcliff have when the only person he ever loved was a selfish, vindictive, little wretch? But I love Emily Brontë for creating such imperfect, screwed-up characters.
This is a dark novel that deals with some very complicated individuals, but I think in the end we are offered the possibility of peace and happiness through Cathy (younger) and Hareton's relationship, and the suggestion that Cathy (older) and Heathcliff were reunited in the afterlife. I had an English teacher in high school that said Cathy and Heathcliff's personalities and their relationship were too much for this world and that peace was only possible for them in the next. I have no idea if this was something Ms Bronte intended, but the romantic in me likes to imagine that it's true....more
Rebecca is just a great story that never gets old. Great characters, great writing... it remains one of my all time favourites and I seem to appreciatRebecca is just a great story that never gets old. Great characters, great writing... it remains one of my all time favourites and I seem to appreciate something new every time I return to it....more