this slim volume is deceiving ~ it looks slight, but it's very well packed. only after several readings did i really appreciate what it includes. over...morethis slim volume is deceiving ~ it looks slight, but it's very well packed. only after several readings did i really appreciate what it includes. overall could not have asked for a better place to begin understanding the beliefs of this culture. felt a little thin on broader customs, but one gets the impression that the simplicity of the Moravians doesn't particularly lend itself to deeply documenting special habits.(less)
such a huge disappointment. it reads like turgid biography: stilted, rhythmically predictable and monotonous, and, well, just hugely boring. i love th...moresuch a huge disappointment. it reads like turgid biography: stilted, rhythmically predictable and monotonous, and, well, just hugely boring. i love the idea (about the various layers of exile we suffer/endure), but there's no reason for it to have been so incredibly dull. i don't understand how Hansen could take someone whose inner life was so rich and poetic and spiritual and turn him into such a colorless bore. boo. i honestly don't know where the rave reviews are coming from because this book is not one fifth of the awesomeness that was Mariette in Ecstasy. maybe it's not fair to make the comparison, but i can't help it.
all that vented, there's some nice stuff in here. once the cataloging of characters is dispensed with (after about 100 pages), the story starts to form up a bit, but ultimately there are no surprises here, and no revelations. i almost wish Hansen had been more heavy-handed on the theme of exile ~ to give it at least that in more vivid color. (less)
Heavy handed first book in the Drayton Hall Series. Laurence Bronson is a young man whose father is bankrupted by an unscrupulous business partner. Th...moreHeavy handed first book in the Drayton Hall Series. Laurence Bronson is a young man whose father is bankrupted by an unscrupulous business partner. The father has an accident and Laurence must swallow all manner of pride to support his family. Fortunately his goody-two-shoes nature means everyone bends over backwards to see that he succeeds. In the middle of all of this, his best friend Frank Austin has a bizarre conversion experience that has little to do with anything else in the story. Entertaining mostly for its plucky saccharin writing and some nice engravings. I've spent more time reading worse books.(less)
This is truly the height of bizarre sentimental Victorian moralistic gibberish. Since I don't recommend it, I'm going to spoil it for you: Jakey is bl...moreThis is truly the height of bizarre sentimental Victorian moralistic gibberish. Since I don't recommend it, I'm going to spoil it for you: Jakey is blind. He's pitiable, but smart, industrious, and has a heart of gold. He reads Pilgrim's Progress and strives to be of good moral character. Naturally, he's the perfect child save for being blind. So exactly what is the moral of the story when he wishes he could die so he could be in heaven with his mother and then he subsequently (while out playing with his over-privileged little sighted friends), gets run over by a train? If you're blind, be good and hope for death?
So yes, he dies, but what a happy ending, right? Because in heaven, nobody is blind!(less)
macgregor's analysis is almost as repetitive, compulsive, and eccentric as darger himself, but you have to give him props for the undertaking. conside...moremacgregor's analysis is almost as repetitive, compulsive, and eccentric as darger himself, but you have to give him props for the undertaking. considered the "definitive" text on darger, this wrist-breaker of a book is both gorgeous in its presentation and exhaustive in its research. the problem with darger, however, is that there's so little to go on (outside of his massive opus, that is). so we're reduced (if such a word can be employed here) to examining parts of the text of In the Realms of the Unreal and trying to draw conclusions from them.
other critics of this book are justified in saying macgregor goes overboard in emphasizing darger's "genius" and personally, i think his psychoanalysis relies too heavily on freudian hyperbole. but he does insert interesting points and, all things considered, his analysis of darger's violence and sexually-charged sadism is probably the more tempered part of the work. long comparisons to lewis carroll and serial killers, however, seem to dilute the investigation; feels like he's just grasping. and without real substantiating evidence to assert that darger may have been sexually abused as a child or teenager, macgregor tends to put the impetus of rage on darger's abandonment and the loss of his mother and sister ~ too much emphasis, in my (probably useless) opinion.
all that nit-picking aside, this is an amazing work. one only has to spend a short time immersed in darger's words and pictures to enter into what macgregor calls his psychosis, but which i would emphasize is his refuge: a place over which he exerted total control, where the world conformed to his understanding and needs, and where he could perpetually punish himself and anyone else who had ever done him harm.