'Hey, Boo' are two of the most perfect words in literature because they salute the "other" we all are asked to fold into our awareness. This is a univ...more'Hey, Boo' are two of the most perfect words in literature because they salute the "other" we all are asked to fold into our awareness. This is a universal, a spiritual truth that humans have the capacity to experience in life, and Harper Lee tapped it in Scout's salutation to Arthur Radley in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. What are we to do with those unlike us?
Ms. Lee said she wanted to be the Jane Austen of Southern Alabama. Instead, with one novel, she has caused readers everywhere to enlarge their sense of right with each reading.
Few writers achieve what literature is capable of...changing reader's minds. Even when a belief has been taught at the dinner table, confirmed by institutions, and backed by laws, minds can be changed by Atticus Finch's demeanor in a Maycomb County courthouse. This is the potential power of an author's words held in the hands of millions of readers facing universal truths.
Ms. Lee wrote beautiful letters to friends, some essays, but she never published another book. She seems to have told her story in 1960 and believed she couldn't please herself with another narrative.
Re-reading this classic causes readers to evaluate how they have measured up to its truths, a kind of American scripture, I suppose you could call it. FAVORITE! HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
This book is a masterpiece because not a word need be added nor taken away to realize the characters, create the atomosphere, or inobtrusively propose...moreThis book is a masterpiece because not a word need be added nor taken away to realize the characters, create the atomosphere, or inobtrusively propose the symbolism. In under two hundred pages, F.Scott Fitzgerald has, in the smallest detail, rendered universal truths...this is literary perfection.
Holding a mirror to the reader, Fitzgerald asks what is essential, moral, eternal. When should desire, excess, and greed be harnessed instead of rationalized? And how do we balance external rewards and internal values?
Exposure to Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, and the narrator, Nick Carraway will cause the reader to pause and consider our carelessness and it's conclusions.
Upon re-reading: Higher than Highest Recommendation! Favorites! (less)
In George Orwell's preface, which did not appear in the original text but was published in 1972 by The Times Literary Supplement, we learn of the diff...moreIn George Orwell's preface, which did not appear in the original text but was published in 1972 by The Times Literary Supplement, we learn of the difficulty the author had in getting the book published. Written in 1943 during World War II with England's position of voluntary censorship of negativism on it's ally, Soviet Russia, ANIMAL FARM was refused by four publishers.
Orwell includes in this now available preface, an extract from the Ministry of Information who warned, "it might be regarded as something which it was highly ill-advised to publish at the present time. If the fable were addressed generally to dictators...but the fable does follow so completely the progress of the Russian Soviets..." He goes on to say, " I think the choice of pigs as the ruling caste will no doubt give offence to many people, and particularly to anyone who is a bit touchy, as undoubtedly the Russians are."
Intellectual cowardice "is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face..." Freedom for oneself and the other fellow is contained in the famous words of Voltaire: 'I detest what you say; I will defend to the death your right to say it'.
Orwell believed that the Russian regime "is a mainly evil thing" and he claimed "the right to say so despite the fact that we are allies with the USSR in a war which I want to see won."
The allegory of the group of barnyard animals who revolt against the tyranny of their master only to experience the same from their own, does not belong to a decade or a century, but is timeless and universal as a warning to all humans:
"By the known rules of ancient liberty."
For reflection on many levels and application to current times, Orwell's cautionary vision of our political choices is profound...especially in America's election year. Highest Recommendation! (less)
The gothic tale of Frankenstein's over-reach to creator of an animated being has been portrayed as external horror. The creator fears his stalking cre...moreThe gothic tale of Frankenstein's over-reach to creator of an animated being has been portrayed as external horror. The creator fears his stalking creation and suffers from the daemon's revenge on his family and loved ones. The abhorred being finds resolution only after he murders his creator.
Another more horrific interpretation is the novel as a template of man's internal thought life when lust for power, unspeakable means of accomplishment, and disgust for attainment fills every recess of the regretful mind. The creature is consummed with loneliness, alienation, banishment, hatred and revenge.
Frankenstein and his creation are obsessed with destroying each other. It is justice they seek, but it is not to be found in this life. Justice is not afforded though horrific deeds are done to the adversary in an effort to balance the scales. It is not accomplished when loved ones die, hearts are broken, innocents are sacrificed. Pain and revenge continue to be the master, though man is the unwilling slave.
The truth cannot be shared because of the uniqueness of the sin, therefore, all the intensity of condemnation is contained, closed in and sealed until death, where only peace can be found.
William Hazlitt, in his treatise 'On The Pleasure Of Hating' proclaims that good becomes insipid; only hatred is eternal. Nothing is so easily gained at such a high price. Highest Recommendation!(less)
Harold Bloom says that the United States does not have a single national epic, but three very diverse works: MOBY-DICK, "Leaves of Grass", and "Advent...moreHarold Bloom says that the United States does not have a single national epic, but three very diverse works: MOBY-DICK, "Leaves of Grass", and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" with Ahad not being someone we love while Walt and Huck are. This tome is a classic with unforgetable prose, atmospheric perfection, and universal truths.
Three chapters in particular (42, 119, 132) display the epic's transcendental truths, Ahab's religious beliefs, and the strength of his identity. These themes are the core of the story for me. The purpose of living is to fight the inevitability of death with never ending DEFIANCE. "Thou canst blind; but I can then grope. Thou canst consume; but I can then be ashes."
"...let me be then towed to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!" Captain Ahab only finally gives up the struggle with his mortality to its representative in the novel, the whale.
Ishmael will survive the disaster of the Pequod. He is buoyed up to ultimate safety by Queequeg's empty coffin, a remnant of their affection.
Chapter 122: "Um, um, um. Stop that thunder! Plenty too much thunder up here. What's the use of thunder? Um, um, um. We don't want thunder; we want RUM; give us a glass of RUM. Um, um, um!"
FINIS to MOBY-DICK and SALUTE to Herman Melville!(less)