**spoiler alert** I first heard of Clytemnestra in a college course on classical epic. I thought then that she was an interesting character, cheating...more**spoiler alert** I first heard of Clytemnestra in a college course on classical epic. I thought then that she was an interesting character, cheating on her husband and killing him. Later, reading Lucretius, I learned that according to legend, Agamemnon sacrificed his own daughter (without his wife knowing beforehand, of course). After that, I really wanted to know more. While I enjoyed reading this play, I do wish that I could have seen a little more of the two main characters. Since the whole thing builds to Agamemnon's death, I could have done with a little less exposition and a little more of Aggy and his wife.(less)
This story tells of a man who, while stranded in the desert, befriends a jungle cat. And while the story is certainly interesting – I mean, who wouldn...moreThis story tells of a man who, while stranded in the desert, befriends a jungle cat. And while the story is certainly interesting – I mean, who wouldn’t want a big man-eating kitten who’ll purr and follow people around and save them from danger? – the plot is not what’s really important. This is a story about human emotion, human affection, and human relationships, and it is made to work on a more allegorical level. It actually sort of reminds me of the cautionary tales that parents used to read to their children years and years ago.
This book is very difficult for me to rate. Balzac presents an interesting concept in a fairly original way, and the pacing and editing are great. Nothing drags, and nothing is boring. The writing itself is good, too, although I’m reading it in translation and cannot speak for the original French. On the other hand, there is nothing subtle at all about this story. It leaves little room for reader response, and its first few pages practically spell out what can be learned from the anecdote. Finally, even leaving aside any allegory or lesson, the plot itself is really depressing. On the whole, it’s too polished and artistic to merit less than three stars, yet too depressing and over-the-top unsubtle to deserve more than two. This mathematical possibility notwithstanding, I’m settling on a 2.5 star rating, which, for the purposes of Goodreads scoring, I’ll probably round down rather than up. (less)
Everyone seems to complain that the text is dry and hard to follow, but honestly, it's not bad at all. I read it as a freshman, and it was probably th...moreEveryone seems to complain that the text is dry and hard to follow, but honestly, it's not bad at all. I read it as a freshman, and it was probably the first philosophy that I'd read that dealt so strongly in absolutes. I was impressed by his vehement (and gutsy) assertion that a priori principles must still apply empirically, regardless of the situation's specific details.
It's been years since I've read this, and Kant still stands out in my mind as one of the most powerful philosophers that I've ever studied. I shall try as best I can to explain why, but memory being what it is, many of the details are fuzzy.
Those familar with Kant's works will not be surprised by the meticulous detail, the unimpeachable logic, and the sound reasoning behind his arguments. He has a way of getting right at the heart of an issue and analyzing the bejabbers out of it, for want of a better expression. One example from this text is Kant's study of motive's effect on morality: he examined different ways of thinking that could be selfish or altruistic, demonstrated how they could coexist within the same mind, and just kept delving deeper and deeper. With Kant, there always seems to be another layer, and even when he concludes that it is impossible to be sure even of one's own motivation (and therefore the extent of one's moral fortitude) he has still provided, if not an answer, the next best thing. Kant gives readers a frame for thinking through these issues; he lays out his philosophy, but then he tests it repeatedly, even brutally, which shows not only the strength of his arguments but also his eagerness to fully understand the ideals he seeks and to apply these same parameters consistently to the many changes and unpredictabilities of daily life.
I kind of admire Kant for not trying to come up with a philosophy that can be changed during specific situations. Instead, he maintained that because of the great variety of circumstance, it was absolutely necessary to have a philosophy that would never change.(less)
This book tells of the power of literature to impact people's lives. Also, since it is set in China during the late 1960s and early 70s' "re-education...moreThis book tells of the power of literature to impact people's lives. Also, since it is set in China during the late 1960s and early 70s' "re-education" that occurred under Chairman Mao, it has shown me a particular aspect of history that I had never before known.
That said, I did not enjoy the book. It reads more like a parable or a short story than a novel. In the first place, the characters are not very well-fleshed out. Moreover, the novel is told in the past tense from the first person, and while the narrator constantly alludes to bad/exciting/terrible things that will happen, readers never find out what these things are. There is not even enough information for readers to fill in the gaps on their own. For instance, at one point during the story the narrator works in a coal mine, and he mentions that this brief job would cause many long-lasting ill effects, but he doesn't say what these are. He even alludes to some physical problem--as though he were injured on the job and left disabled--but he does not describe any injury nor does he seem handicapped during the rest of the book. The book is bleak and ends abruptly, with little resolution. It is not exactly a tragedy, since the characters are no worse off at the end than at the beginning, but there is no way for the reader to predict, at all, what will finally become of them.
This story tells of two teenagers whose lives are changed by the discovery of a suitcase full of banned Western literature, including Balzac, Dumas, Dickens, and Brontë. The impact that these books have on the characters' lives, however, is difficult to understand. The stories and authors that the teenagers read have little bearing on the plot--it feels like the author is name-dropping, rather than actually showing the impact that these specific texts can have.
Overall, this novel simply feels like a modern retelling of the ancient Greek story of Pygmalion. It gave me a reading list of canonical Western texts without showing what it is that makes these texts so powerful. It retold an old tale without bringing much that was new to the story. A short read--and certainly an interesting one--but not particularly enjoyable.(less)
This book was fascinating. In terms of science, it was interesting to see how much and how little people knew about the natural world. Some of what Lu...moreThis book was fascinating. In terms of science, it was interesting to see how much and how little people knew about the natural world. Some of what Lucretius believed was accurate, and some was highly inaccurate; but even when his facts are wrong, his way of seeing the world makes for a terrific reading experience. He states a few scientific principles, and then he ponders them deeply, looks at the same principle in several different examples, and then, often, draws moral or philosophical conclusions based on the science. While I don't agree with his philosophy, his dynamic style made for quite an enjoyable read. Moreover, it was fascinating to study Epicurean ideas and to read about the pursuit of pleasure. The six books deal with everything from atoms to the cosmos, from the human soul to the weather. Finally, A. E. Stallings' translation, with its meter and rhyme, makes the book a pleasure to read.(less)