"Othello" is an example of play where the container does not quite match the treasures inside. I did not like the overall frame of the play. And perso"Othello" is an example of play where the container does not quite match the treasures inside. I did not like the overall frame of the play. And personally, I did not find the title a overly-compelling character. In fact, I found most of the other characters more interesting than Othello. I do not find him noble but a normal human being with deep, tragic flaws. But the individual parts of the play make it shine and explain why it has had such an enduring influence on literature.
At the heart of the play is ambiguity and perception. No character embodies that more than Iago, the piece's villain. He is the embodiment of that Japanese proverb that a man has three faces - one he shows to the world, one he shows to his friends and family, and one he keeps only to himself. Due to feeling slighted by Othello, he concocts an elaborate scheme to convince Othello that his wife, Desdemona, has been unfaithful. Unlike some readers, I did not find Iago to be a master-manipulator with a clear plan but an adaptable person who thinks has he goes along. Most of the characters in the play embody some form of ambiguity that make the reader question their motives and make the play fruitful for any theatrical adaptation, giving the actor a wide range of possible options. The themes of vengeance and the terrible toll it can wrought provide us an insightful portrayal of the single-minded madness brought about by jealousy. Another thing that give the work its power its its overt examination of sexuality and gender politics. The play is worth reading not so much for the story but for the multifaceted psychological examination it engages in. ...more
"Letter to a Priest" by Simone Weil is an unvarnished work from one of the twentieth-century's most interesting philosophers. Written in New York in 1"Letter to a Priest" by Simone Weil is an unvarnished work from one of the twentieth-century's most interesting philosophers. Written in New York in 1942 before Weil returned to Europe to join the Free French, the letter catches the author a decisive moment in her short life. In the letter, she explains over thirty points raising questions or objections about modern Christianity, its relationship to other religions, and the faith as embodied in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a short distillation of her thought generally, with the usual elements - her admiration of ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Near Eastern cultures, her virulent anti-Judaism and anti-Roman sentiments, and her agonized position as a Jew who considered herself at the door of the Church but destined never to enter. She is not a systematic thinker but the questions she raises are pointed and insightful - a thinker to consider for anyone, especially those interested in philosophy and theology. ...more
It has been a long time since I read a novel that made me cry at multiple places. Considered by many to be the author's masterpiece, the book is a seaIt has been a long time since I read a novel that made me cry at multiple places. Considered by many to be the author's masterpiece, the book is a searing portrayal of the flight of sharecroppers from the Dust Bowl to California during the Great Depression. Last year was the novel's seventy-fifth anniversary and the pain, anger, and heart-break of the novel is just as raw as it was then.
As described in the introduction of the Penguin Classics edition, the novel presents the narrative in a point-counterpoint fashion, with alternating chapters describing the journey of the Joad Family to California and the story of the refugees in soaring, lyrical prose. Lyricism is the trademark of Steinbeck - the ability to be able to be poetic and philosophical without overwhelming the reader with the author's own voice.
Steinbeck captures the inherent contradictions in American society and the American economy which created the conditions of the Great Depression. He shines a glaring light into inequality, poverty, and violence that were both features of the time and of the American character generally. The best element of the book would have to be its fearless witness to suffering - its willingness to lay bare this dark chapter of American history. It calls everyone to realize that in times of trial, we are not alone but need to struggle together. For it is only in uniting that we can fully live.
This is one of those books that will change you and how you see the world. It is a rousing call for action against inequality, poverty, and for the dignity of every individual. ...more