Henry VIII chronicles Henry's divorce of Catherine and marriage to Anne, the birth of Elizabeth I, and the conniving of various churchmen and counse...more Henry VIII chronicles Henry's divorce of Catherine and marriage to Anne, the birth of Elizabeth I, and the conniving of various churchmen and counselors. For my taste, it could have used less pageantry and indirect description and more verbal and physical repartee. If you're planning to delve into the "lesser" history plays, I'd suggest the hot mess of the Henry VI plays instead. (less)
Love witty conversation, frustrated lovers, indecisive monologues, casual misogyny, and long lists of examples? Then these are the stories for you. It...moreLove witty conversation, frustrated lovers, indecisive monologues, casual misogyny, and long lists of examples? Then these are the stories for you. It's certainly not an fast read, but it does have humor and academic interest.
The Adventures of Master F.J. (4): A witty “comedy of manners with a sting in its tail,” packed with lust, scandal, poetry, and an incredibly fascinating and disturbing take on rape.
Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (3): This story about love, society, and putting bros before hoes is interspersed with lists of maxims, examples from nature, messages to the reader, and other ramblings. The style is over the top (even for the period) in a way that is initially delightful but eventually exhausting.
Pandosto, The Triumph of Time (3): The basis for Shakespeare’s The Winter's Tale. The two stories are similar in many respects, though several characters behave and fare worse in this original version.
The Unfortunate Traveler (2): A messy hodgepodge of stories featuring a string of largely unlikable characters that the protagonist (who is sometimes “unfortunate” but more often reckless and callous) encounters in his travels. It is also an excellent example of Renaissance anti-Semitism in its extremes.
Jack of Newbury (3.5): An illustration of how far a man can rise, and bring others with him, when he has a gift for management, one-liners, strategic alliances, and set pieces. We’re also treated to several stories of Chaucerian(ish) revenge; in one tale an Italian looking to cuckold his enemy beds with a pig instead, and in the most strange and disturbing tale, female servants tie up a man who owes them money and force him to drink and wear as blackface a mixture of water and dog feces. Never a dull moment with those weavers. (less)
The cover of my edition features a winter landscape, both idyllic and bleak, and the following praise from the Washington Post: "Further evidence that...moreThe cover of my edition features a winter landscape, both idyllic and bleak, and the following praise from the Washington Post: "Further evidence that Roth can do practically anything with fiction. His narrative power - the ability to delight the reader simultaneously with the telling and the tale - is superb."
As I read Ghost Writer (and decided early on that I would pick up the rest of the Zuckerman series as soon as possible) I had to agree. The opening chapters feature a delightful and courteous narrator; Zuckerman doesn’t seem to withhold information, and he is charmingly self-effacing. He leads the reader through his story with the instincts of Lonoff the good host, and much of his fastidiousness as well.
And then comes chapter three, when the reader is thrust into the gripping story of a woman who claims to be Anne Frank, suspecting but not sure until later whether the story is entirely Zuckerman’s fantasy. Here and in the rest of the novel Zuckerman loses much of his self-awareness, making his less desirable actions and characteristics more jarring. But as is often the case this only makes the man a more compelling narrator.
All in all just a beautiful piece, enlivened with interesting characters and apt observations on art and the writer's life. (less)
Undeniable racism, but stunningly beautiful prose. I will never tire of reading Conrad.
--My favorite quotes:
"It was his deserved misfortune that thos...moreUndeniable racism, but stunningly beautiful prose. I will never tire of reading Conrad.
--My favorite quotes:
"It was his deserved misfortune that those rags which nobody could possibly be supposed to own looked on him as if they had been stolen."
"At the other end of the ship the forecastle, with only one lamp burning now, was going to sleep in a dim emptiness traversed by loud breathings, by sudden short sighs. The double row of berths yawned black, like graves tenanted by uneasy corpses. Here and there a curtain of gaudy chintz, half drawn, marked the resting-place of a sybarite. A leg hung over the edge very white and lifeless. An arm stuck straight out with a dark palm turned up, and thick fingers half closed. Two light snores, that did not synchronise, quarreled in funny dialogue."
"He asked for paregoric. They sent him a big bottle; enough to poison a wilderness of babies."
"Hung-up suits of oilskin swung out and in, lively and disquieting like reckless ghosts of decapitated seamen dancing in a tempest."
"Mr. Baker grunted encouragingly in our midst, spluttering and blowing amongst the tangled ropes like an energetic porpoise."
"The icy south wind howled exultingly under the sombre splendour of the sky... Short moans were swept unheard off the stiff lips."
"The confused voices of men talking amidships mingled with the wash of the sea, ascended between the silent and distended sails - seemed to flow away into the night, further than the horizon, higher than the sky. The stars burned steadily over the inclined mastheads. Trails of light lay on the water, broke before the advancing hull, and, after she had passed, trembled for a long time as if in awe of the murmuring sea."
"A gone shipmate, like any other man, is gone for ever; and I never saw one of them again. But at times the spring-flood of memory sets with force up the dark River of the Nine Bends. Then on the waters of the forlorn stream drifts a ship -- a shadowy ship manned by a crew of Shades. They pass and make a sign, in a shadowy hail. Haven't we, together and upon the immortal sea, wrung out a meaning from our sinful lives? Good-bye, brothers! You were a good crowd. As good a crowd as ever fisted with wild cries the beating canvas of a heavy foresail; or tossing aloft, invisible in the night, gave back yell for yell to a westerly gale."(less)