First read in 1996, second in 2003 (three stars), third 2011 (four stars). It's really rare I read a book more than once, exceedingly so more than twi...moreFirst read in 1996, second in 2003 (three stars), third 2011 (four stars). It's really rare I read a book more than once, exceedingly so more than twice. We're in single digits - probably one hand - the number of books I've read more than three times. ...excluding children's books of course. I probably read That's Not My Princess a thousandy times.
Although I don't often reread books, when I do I like it. It's like visiting an old friend. You know exactly what he's going to say and the jokes and stories he'll tell - but he tells them so much better than you remember.
Granted, rereading any Steinbeck book is like visiting an old friend who's had a rough life. He's not telling so many jokes, but rather cautionary tales that may or may not have a moral. And you're just sitting back in your rocking chair listening to him in his.
The Pearl is a folktale about a poor couple winning the lottery. They hit the jackpot, but don't know how to proceed.
There's symbolism in almost everything in this book - from the names, to what they've found, to the prices the characters - good and bad - pay for their actions. I'm not going to spell it out here, but just think about it while you read it - if you do.
Also, it may appeal to LOST fans as it's more LOST lit. (Hooray for LOST.)
I highly recommend reading this once... or three times. It's quick and interesting. And maybe there's a moral in there somewhere, but if not there's plenty of fodder for those situation ethics games.(less)
this was quite a tedious read. parts of it were great, but other parts, not so much. it was a bit like reading the old testament. exciting stories, bu...morethis was quite a tedious read. parts of it were great, but other parts, not so much. it was a bit like reading the old testament. exciting stories, building the temple. (less)
*Goodreads is weird... since I read this before, my status says: "Began June 13, 2013 - Finished January 1, 2004..."
I guess as soon as I write this re...more*Goodreads is weird... since I read this before, my status says: "Began June 13, 2013 - Finished January 1, 2004..."
I guess as soon as I write this review, I will no longer be credited with reading this book in 2004. I was there, though. It happened.*
Book club books are great. If you're not in a club, I suggest you join one - and not some online forum (although those can be good as well) but a real club - where you sit down face-to-face with people you love to disagree with (or be disagreeable with...)
(If you don't want the central message of either of these books, avert your eyes now. I'm serious, you may regret it if you keep reading. Just head down to the bottom and click "like" out of appreciation for this warning...)
The central message is this: We try to hide it, but we're all depraved beings.
In the Philip Roth book, Mickey Sabbath isn't just depraved - he's totally depraved. I don't mean that in any theological sense, it's just... that guy is bad news. But (I believe) the point Roth was making is that we're all that way. We have hidden desires that we don't act on. And while we're in no way envious of Mickey or what he becomes, we are a little jealous that he has the uhhh... ...guts... to live life on his terms - without remorse or guilt.
The Scarlet Letter is the exact opposite of that. Whereas Sabbath's Theater was a book of excess; a book of sexual deviancy - The Scarlet Letter is a Puritanical book. The most heinous act occurring before page one.
This isn't a spoiler, I'm only putting it in here because it's boring: (view spoiler)[Page one? PAGE ONE?!?! I ordered my book from an independent book store (as I always do for these books) I started reading it, and wasn't 2 pages in when I realized: I'm missing the first 50 or so pages. I had an edition that left out the introduction. Now, the introduction is fairly boring, but it has it's purposes - and a number of good quotes. Why would a book do that? (hide spoiler)]
Yet the theme is still the same: we are the townspeople. We're judging Hester, thankful we have someone to take the focus off the secrets in our own lives.
Obviously, both books were about much more than that. I'm sure you've already beat this horse to death in 9th or 10th grade English.
The Scarlet Letter's about coming clean. It's about the freedom in the truth, and facing adversity head-on. It's about the differences in gender-roles and punishments. It's about hypocrisy (most blatantly with the good Reverend, but also with the townspeople - from wearing the ornate clothes that Hester herself made to the dirty looks they gave.) (...I know, I know, back-to-back parenthetical asides... May I just add that the scarlet letter - the letter mind you, not the book - served as a nice advertisement for Hester's abilities...)
Reading it now, I also see why it's a staple of high school classrooms. It contains all kinds of literary devices: irony, metaphor, simile, symbolism, etc... I mean, Pearl? It's a challenging read, but not overly-so.
If you weren't forced into reading this during your teenage years, consider picking it up.
Or, if you were forced and didn't like it - consider giving it another shot. (Although, I'd skip the intro... apparently it's not worth it.) ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
*********************Possible Spoilers: Probably Not Too Many*******************************
There are SO many books out there waiting to be read, that...more*********************Possible Spoilers: Probably Not Too Many*******************************
There are SO many books out there waiting to be read, that it’s a very select few I read more than once. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of the select, one of the elite.
Dorian is Apollo, he is Michelangelo’s David. He is Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, and everybody – guys and girls alike – swoon over him. He’s the muse (and apparent fantasy) of the artist Basil Hallward. He’s the sociological experiment of Lord Henry. And he’s unaware of the power his looks hold.
At the beginning of the book Dorian appears to be a moral and a decent character, but my contention is that he is not. The only reason he exudes this impression is that he’s untarnished, naïve. His transformation isn’t that of a good man to a bad, but rather a bad one who realizes his consequence-less immorality. He was not a good man who chose the wrong path, he was a bad man who had not yet heard the senseless corruption spouting from Lord Henry’s mouth. Lord Henry ruined Dorian for everyone. He was Dr. Frankenstein, creating a monster he wouldn’t be able to control, but in Dorian’s case, the monster was already there. (Had Lord Henry not gotten involved Dorian would have been a bad man who didn’t know the true limits of his depravity.)
Lord Henry is a thoughtful idiot. He’s full of theories he cannot act upon himself. He thinks them up, and spouts them off without thinking of their possible effects. He has an idea and his mouth just starts vomiting it out. He says the first thing that comes into his head, and then firmly stands behind it whether it’s sound or ridiculous.
Dorian, meanwhile, having been thus far in life unsullied by sin and corruption, soaks in all of what Lord Henry says and because of his naivety is unable to distinguish what is garbage (most) from what has merit (some.)
By this point, Dorian has already sold his soul to the devil for his vanity and now he’s free to live out his life and his sin without having the corruption affect played out on his body.
Dorian must have been unaware that Mephistopheles was in the room when he made the bargain though. It appears he thought he was talking to himself, because when the change was actualized Dorian was taken quite by surprise. If one can unintentionally sell their soul, I suggest we all attempt to be a little more careful.
Once he realizes what he’s done, it’s too late. He has tasted sin and can think of nothing else. He silences his conscience and portends, “If one doesn’t talk about a thing, it has never happened.” (Chapter IX) And in his case, this may very well be put into practice in a literal sense as well, for as his looks conceal his sin, the “gorgeous hanging” (Chapter X) concealed the grotesque portrait.
Dorian had multiple opportunities for redemption. Basil Hallward was his good conscience, perched on his shoulder whispering in his ear that it wasn’t too late to turn from his ways. But Dorian turned to his other shoulder, where Lord Henry, the Lord of Lies was sitting, smirking with a pitchfork and entreating him to continue sinning for the sake of the sin itself.
Not only did Dorian listen to his bad conscience, but he killed his good one. Dorian chose sin. But, of course, who among us can blame him? We all sin and it’s written on our faces. We transgress when we know we can’t get away with it. We sin so much NOW, how would we be in Dorian’s place? (Let each examine his own conscience, I guess.)
Basil’s right, it’s never too late for redemption – that is until we believe it’s too late. Even then it’s not too late, though our belief makes it truth. (less)
It's very quoteable. Parts of it were really long and drawn out - like where he compares Walden Pond to White Pond. I could have done with about 1/8th...moreIt's very quoteable. Parts of it were really long and drawn out - like where he compares Walden Pond to White Pond. I could have done with about 1/8th of that.
Other parts I found quite interesting - where Thoreau compares weeding to the Battle of Troy, or when he takes the time to observe an epic battle of ants.
It was an interesting, and generally a thought provking read. Also, I will say it stays quite modern. However, I will NOT read it again.(less)
There are plenty of reveiws of this book out there, so I'm not going to really give one. I'll just say that I loved this book. I thought it was going...moreThere are plenty of reveiws of this book out there, so I'm not going to really give one. I'll just say that I loved this book. I thought it was going to be a dry, difficult read, but I didn't find it so at all.
I suggest you read the names aloud just so you get used to them.
Favorite character: Marmeladov
Most memorable scenes: (I won't give anything away)
1. Dancing children, screaming wife 2. The act 3. The minute that Razumahin remembered for the rest of his life. 4. The stolen roubles (less)
*edit* I've been thinking about this book a lot lately. I'm not sure why. I just keep picturing the scene with the one-eyed man feeling sorry for hims...more*edit* I've been thinking about this book a lot lately. I'm not sure why. I just keep picturing the scene with the one-eyed man feeling sorry for himself... I want to read it again, but there's just too much out there to read.*
There are plenty of reviews of this book out there, so I'll try to keep mine short.
I don't know how we (my "book club") keep picking classics that are not difficult reads. We keep lucking out I guess. The only difficult part about the book is that sometimes a short poetic essay chapter goes on for 3 pages, and then the next chapter is on the Joads and it goes on for 100. I find it hard sometimes to put a book down mid-chapter... The book moves though.
I'm sure, if you've read this far down that you already know that it's about migrant workers during the depression that have been pushed off their farm. (The pushing them off their farm is what led them to be migrant workers...)
Steinbeck's character development is sensational. Especially minor characters. (For those of you who read it, think - Muley, or the one-eyed man...)
Of course, it is also a religious/political analogy, but it's not too heavy handed. The previous owner of my book wrote some notes in the front, which include "Jim Casey parallel to Jesus Christ. 1. He understood the people - lived with them. 2. Went into the wilderness. 3. Came back and goes all the way with the people." I could add on several other observations, like he taught them how to pray and he was kindof disliked by the "true Christians."
I found that interesting too, because when I lived in Croatia, many Croatians said Jesus Christ was the first Communist, which at first I took as an insult, but then to an extent agreed with. To an extent meaning I don't think Christ would have wiped out the middle class.
NPR did an interesting article on the banning of The Grapes of Wrath as well. Apparently, some people from Cali didn't think it made their state look too good. They even have a picture of a migrant worker holding the book over a trash can. It later came out he never even read the book.(less)
I got tired of being mocked for not having read this book, so I finally got around to it. It's very good. The analogies are obvious and you can find o...moreI got tired of being mocked for not having read this book, so I finally got around to it. It's very good. The analogies are obvious and you can find out about them by a simple google search. I'll just leave you with this quote, "... life would go on as it had always go on - that is, badly."(less)
He makes some friends, slays some monsters, angers some gods and meets the man who survived the flood that ended all life on earth by building an ark and taking along a bunch of animals... Consequently, when the arc hit land the man sent out some birds to see if the land was inhabitable - a dove, a swallow, and a raven.
It was a great book. And it wasn't overly complicated, or incomprehensibly academic - as I thought it might be. I credit that to Stephen Mitchell's translation/paraphrase. It's a clear rendition, and powerful in our language. Sometimes he uses the older texts, sometimes the ones found at our old friend Ashurbanipal's library. (You know Ashurbanipal, I'm sure. He (along with Gilgamesh himself) is one of the Mesopotamians.
A couple more points of interest: I'm generally against reading introductions in books because they don't give spoiler alerts. Somehow it's assumed that you've already read Dracula so they start going on some crazy tangents about when Dracula takes out this guy it means this, and when he kills that person it means that... and you're like, "WHAT THE HECK?!? WHY BOTHER READING IT NOW YOU A HOLES?" Point being, I didn't feel like that this time, even though it did give away a couple plot points.
Also, and *ahem* minor spoiler alert here, there's this scene where the Temple Priestess (we're talking ancient Babylonian polytheism now) is using her, "love arts" to seduce/domesticate a wild man who would become the friend and equal of Gilgamesh. I read this article about a human chick ummm... how to make this school appropriate in case my students stumble this far into the review... about a female homo sapien procreating with a Neanderthal guy. I've since gone back and re-read the article and I guess the girl was the Neanderthal, but still...
As always there's plenty more to write, but seriously... when you've got more than 10 friends on goodreads who are legitimate users, you've probably got quite a few more long reviews to read - so have at them.
I do wish a friend or two would read the book though so we could discuss the finer points.