This book reminds me a lot of C.S. Lewis' "Out of the Silent Planet". It also reminds me of the level of science fiction story telling during the days...moreThis book reminds me a lot of C.S. Lewis' "Out of the Silent Planet". It also reminds me of the level of science fiction story telling during the days of original Star Trek on television.(less)
This book is the next best thing to sitting in a room and having a conversation with Philip K Dick. He was famous for his long speculative conversatio...moreThis book is the next best thing to sitting in a room and having a conversation with Philip K Dick. He was famous for his long speculative conversations. This presents 3 interviews with a young woman with a tape recorder. It is a continuous conversation they had over a few months.
He talks about visiting the set of the movie "Bade Runner". He talks about his writing process. He gives an example by working out ideas for a novel that he did not put to paper before he died.
Oh, and this is his last interview before dying. This is an excellent little book that would be appropriate for anyone with any interest in PKD.
This and "The Exegesis" are opportunities of doing the next best thing to sitting in on one of PKD's conversations. I would only recommend "The Exegesis" to PKD aficionados. It is long and you really need to have read at least 18 of his novels (the editor said so and I think it is true.) But "What if Our World..." is something anyone with an interest in PKD can read and enjoy.(less)
Have just completed "Jerusalem", "Milton", "The book of Thel" the prophetic books. I've been reading and returning to Blake since the mid-1980s and co...moreHave just completed "Jerusalem", "Milton", "The book of Thel" the prophetic books. I've been reading and returning to Blake since the mid-1980s and collect prints of the facsimiles when I can get them. This is my first time to get through the books mentioned above.
They remind me a lot of Tolkien's project. Blake and Tolkien both where English men who created their own mythologies about England. Both were religious. Both made paintings of their imaginative worlds.
The difference is that Tolkien was a practicing Catholic, who was not messing with the doctrines of his faith. Blake was kind of scary. He is highly critical of the deism of his time. He states that forgiveness is the primary characteristic of a person who follows Jesus. He was critical of a society that trammels over the well-being of the weak for industry and profit.
What makes him scary? It is difficult to understand what he is attempting to do with his portraits of the giants that comprise Albion (Britain). I am still not certain if his portrait of Satan is supposed to be a necessary and therefore good force that is a part of the dualism of reality, or if he actually is evil. Whatever he is saying I wouldn't want those words to have come from me.
The character of Satan is a master of extreme heat and cold, very much like Tolkien's Morgoth. They both stir things up in much the way way against the work of the rest of the gods.
Also, striking to me is that Blake uses the word Ork to discribe one of his characters, the only other place I have seen this is in Tolkien's Orc.
I'm not suggesting an influence. I have know idea what influenced Tolkien. I am merely pointing out that these two writers (both poets) achieved bodies of writing that did many of the same things.
Tolkien was able to craft his mythology into complete story and novelistic presentations as we see in the "Silmarillion" and "The Lord of the Rings". Ultimately, the two writers developed in different ways. I, at least enjoy seeing the products of each writer to see how they use the medium of myth creation to explore the world of their times and to critic and respond to the world.(less)
I began seeking out the illuminated books of William Blake almost as soon as I was introduced to his poetry around 1983 or 1984. I like the illustrati...moreI began seeking out the illuminated books of William Blake almost as soon as I was introduced to his poetry around 1983 or 1984. I like the illustrations almost as much as I like the poetry.
Blake had a rich poetic palette to work with. He used dialectical dualism in the structure of "The Songs of Innocence and Experience" and in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell." That alone delivered an interesting set of ideas to think about. He had visions that were important to his work and added depth to his vision.
He also had his own mythology that developed throughout his writing career that seemed to be similar in purpose to the desire of Tolkien to create a mythology for England. Blake's mythology for England is quite different from Tolkien's, for one thing Blake is less subtle about religion. Also, today Blake would have been a hard core socialist or communist. He condemns industrialism and speaks for the poor and weak.
Blake was a printer by trade. He invented a process in which three colors could be printed onto the page mechanically. For his illuminated books he would then water color the rest of what needed to be added by hand.
What do I like about William Blake? He was a visionary. It doesn't matter to me if I believe anything that he expresses. I admire a person who has seen something and developed it into a coherent body of art.
There are icons in his illuminated books that are so simple that an untrained person could do something similar and then on the same page or in a Bible illustration he would create something that requires the craft of a great artist. It always struck me as odd that both would be included. I also wonder what the purpose of that weird blend of simple and sophisticated was intended to do.
His illuminated books have what appears to be hand-written text interrupted or punctuated with the small icons and then decorated with illustrations reminds me of flyers I saw during the 1990s left around the University. The person who made the photocopied flyers wrote pages of diatribe in perfectly square and neat hand-writing on blank paper. The diatribes warned against the actions of the "RoboCop" who was acting on behalf of large corporations to keep the populous under control. The writer claimed antennas where sending mind-control messages into the population. There was also something about a berm that used to be north of town. All of this fit our town into a larger world of conspiracy. Small icons worked into the text of the diatribe, small diagrams of antennas and airplanes, and sometimes the logos of the offending corporations, what ever was being described in the text. Each diatribe would end with a list of contact numbers where a person could report information if they saw the RoboCop in our area. The one that always struck me was a phone number to the Oklahoma City stockyards. This part of the list claimed they had a publication providing information and gave a citation #.
When this person was active I ran across a couple of these diatribes. They were fascinating. When the police asked for them I turned them in without making copies. A policeman later told me that they identified the author, interviewed her extensively and determined that she was harmless.
I think of this incident every time I look at the illuminated work of William Blake. (less)
"Nova Express" one of the novels in the "Nova Express" trilogy. Warning: William S. Burroughs is not for everybody. He is not for children and he may...more"Nova Express" one of the novels in the "Nova Express" trilogy. Warning: William S. Burroughs is not for everybody. He is not for children and he may be offensive to you. I do not want to mislead someone into reading something as though it were a book that anyone can benefit from reading.
The thing I like about the books in the "Nova Express" trilogy are the wacky voices. "Nova Express" begins with a statement from Inspector Lee, whose job is to disrupt the work of the Venusians (inhabitants of the planet) conspiring to cause a Nova event (their work is called a Nova Conspiracy) on places like Earth.
It is the voice of a crazy who is paranoid, who believes he can see directives all around him on public signs, everywhere. You don't have a traditional story in which anything is seen. It is routines of voices and descriptions of events from the world of a Junkie, living life on the edge.
I have talked with people who live on the streets and even read some things written by a person who was concerned about the Cybercops. Burroughs sounds like the person who wrote those flyers.
The imaginative place that Burroughs brings the reader to can be funny, it isn't a fun place to be and it won't make you feel good to be there. But it is interesting and I believe it has literary merit.
This book contains the entries from "The Naked Lunch" rearranges them and includes routines from elsewhere, cuts some of the "Naked..." entries and pr...moreThis book contains the entries from "The Naked Lunch" rearranges them and includes routines from elsewhere, cuts some of the "Naked..." entries and produces a milder version of "The Naked Lunch". The result focuses upon conspiracy and the hero getting away from the police.(less)
This book fascinated me when I was learning to read. I would read and reread it. I had a deep empathy for the bull, who found himself captive and with...moreThis book fascinated me when I was learning to read. I would read and reread it. I had a deep empathy for the bull, who found himself captive and with life in danger because of mistaken identification.
The story and pictures were interesting and left questions open to my young mind that caused me to gaze in with my eyes and imagination to try to see what was beyond the pages of the story and beyond what was shown in the illustrations.
I was raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It was a nice mid-western town of approximately 32,000 residents. To me, Spain was a magical realm and the images of Robert Lawson provided sensory information of that place for my mind. I was so sheltered that I did not know crime existed in our town until I was well into high school. There were a lot of things about the real world around me that I was oblivious to.
The idea of the bull fight as something people actually did teased my mind. I understood the concept, but thought it was something that happened so long ago that it was a part of history. I did not believe the people I knew would kill an animal for sport in that way (I believed hunting was different, because the hunter makes the death quick, and he is justified to hunt because he eats the animal). I also could not believe the people in my town would watch such a spectacle. I remember extrapolating that the people of Bartlesville were no different from the people any place else. Yet, there was a story describing the bull fight as though everyone thought it was good fun. And there were the illustrations showing the people and culture as though they were real.
I didn't know what to think...And, poor Ferdinand. I was horrified.
I remember looking at the faces and hats of the five men, in the illustration, who searched for a bull for the arena. I imaged what they were like and what their conversation was upon seeing Ferdinand during his rampage. I followed them home in my mind to see what the houses would look like for men who were dressed like they were.
The corks hanging from the cork trees like fruit were a detail that really amused me. I discussed them with my mother.
I have since read that "The Story of Ferdinand" was a cast off Munro Leaf wrote in half an hour to give his friend Lawson a story to illustrate. Regardless of how much or how little thought Munro Leaf put into the story it is true that children like myself have enjoyed the story and empathized with the Bull Ferdinand for decades.
Throughout my life, every time I see a copy my heart leaps a little and I always want to open it to go into that world and see my old friend again. I love this book so much that I gave a copy to a colleague at her baby shower. It was an opportunity to share. I wish the enjoyment that I have gotten from that book upon every child.
I had been avoiding it since it came out in 1977. I always really wished Tolkien had written more. But, I coul...moreI have read this book at least 6 times.
I had been avoiding it since it came out in 1977. I always really wished Tolkien had written more. But, I could not get into this particular book.
About 15 or 10 years ago I started reading Tolkien criticism. Particularly Verlyn Flieger's "Splintered Light" and John Garth's "Tolkien and the Great War" which warmed me to "The Silmarillion".
About 6 years ago I listened to "The Silmarillion" as an audio book while I was working on a long stained-glass project. I listen to books that I am interested in but know I will never get around to reading when I work on glass. It gives my mind something to do while I am working with my hands, I chose books that I don't mind if I space out occasionally while listening to them because I am only interested in finding out what they are about, not in absorbing them with any depth.
The narrator was a classically trained Scottish actor. First, his performance took away that discomfort I felt about the question of how names were supposed to be pronounced. But more important, I found that I could appreciate the book when presented orally. It makes sense because Tolkien was a poet and his work was designed to mimic histories from another time. The history he wrote would have been shared via. oral singing.
So, I was won over. Before the first 100 pages were done I had stopped working on the glass and just sat in my garage listening to this beautiful presentation. As soon as possible I bought a copy of the book and read while listening. When that was done I turned the library's copy in and immediately read the book again.
As I wrote at the beginning of this review I have read "The Silmarillion" about 6 times to date. During that time I read Verlyn Flieger's "Interrupted Music" which turned me on to the mythology in "The History of Middle Earth". I have read through to the volume that describes the writing of "LOTR". I love these books and will probably reread them as often as it is possible to do among my other interests.(less)
Have just reread Heaney's translation of the wonderful old classic. Following is my previous review:
I am a fan of "Beowulf". I also believe there is a...moreHave just reread Heaney's translation of the wonderful old classic. Following is my previous review:
I am a fan of "Beowulf". I also believe there is a difference between what we think of as the action of the poem and what actually occurs. The following description of the epic "Beowulf" emphasizes that odd characteristic of this piece of world literature.
(view spoiler)[The narrator began his praise of the hero Beowulf by describing how great and beloved his father was. The story opened at the father's funeral where many trophies of his deeds and evidence of his wealth and power were displayed in the service.
Once the funeral was over there was a leadership opening among Beowulf's disheartened people. The young scion's first action was to outfit a crew to go to resolve a thing he heard a rumor about from a neighboring country.
The issue, in the other country, was that King Hrothgar celebrated his achievements by engaging in conspicuous consumption. He built the largest, most opulent mead hall that anyone had ever seen or heard of and had loud parties every night. This stirred the anger of --descendent of Cain-- the monster Grendel, into showing up at the parties and eating the guests.
Maybe Hrothgar was entitled to be inconsiderate toward his neighbor, but if he had just taken the hint when the trouble first started a lot of his own men would have been spared.
Of course, have mead hall, will party, so they partied on.
More warriors were devoured by the party crasher, and despite the fact that the hall was built to celebrate King Hrothgar's prowess it is also a fact that King Hrothgar needed a hero.
Enter Beowulf. He stiff-armed Grendel and that part of the story was over pretty quickly, which is odd because the villain we hear about is Grendel. The action that covers hundreds of lines is between Beowulf and Grendel's mother. She retrieved Grendel's arm and it took Beowulf 3 days to catch the craggy old she. He followed her into her lair and killed her with a blade he found in her home. This was not the most noble event in the history of chivalry, but Hrothgar rewarded Beowulf and sent him on his way.
Fifty years pass. Presumably Beowulf has had a successful reign. A dragon threatens his people and he is happy to go down in glory to protect them. All of that is well and good, but what about his fifty year reign? We don't get a single story from all of those years about the hero who is worthy of an epic song to celebrate him. That absence is as odd as the other underwhelming events previously described.
Don't get me wrong, I do get it. The narrator opened with a description of the funeral of the father in order to show that Beowulf is of noble linage. The young scion's first act as heir apparent is to take on a monster in another country to demonstrate that he is worthy to follow in his father's footsteps. And, in the end he gets a fabulous funeral, which is an expression of how much his people loved him. So, he must have done something notable during those fifty years. Still, it didn't make it into the celebration of his deeds. (hide spoiler)]
Tolkien single-handedly revived the ailing discipline of medieval studies with his inaugural address of one of his academic chairs. In the address he calls upon scholars to stop treating "Beowulf" and other medieval poetry as a dig to uncover artifacts of the past, and to start reading the texts as poems. That change in approach to the literature and the pleasure generations have gotten from Tolkien's popular writings have both contributed to our contemporary appreciation of "Beowulf".
While it is true that I have described the action of "Beowulf" in a less than reverent way I do enjoy the poem, and I also wonder why it was written the way it was.
Today we have the benefit of being able to enjoyment Heaney's beautiful translation of "Beowulf" into modern English. My guess is that he could tell us a great deal about why that poem has the story telling values that it has. Among its many virtues, his translation gives the reader the opportunity to experience something like the literature of another time with all of its monstrous and dragony glory.["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)
This ends my 14th reading of "The Lord of the Rings". It all started when I was in middle school during the 1970s and asked what my friends were talki...moreThis ends my 14th reading of "The Lord of the Rings". It all started when I was in middle school during the 1970s and asked what my friends were talking about. They were excited about a book called "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings". They sounded good and I wanted to be in on what they were excited about so I gave it a try. "The Hobbit" was easy and I liked it a lot. "The Lord of the Rings" was a lot more difficult to get through. It wasn't like anything I expected. I didn't really get into it until I had read it for my 3rd or 4th time as an assignment in college. The rest is a history of returning to a beloved set of books.(less)
Reading "The History of Middle-earth" books make me think of the commentary and 'special features' on DVD movies. The difference is that the writer/di...moreReading "The History of Middle-earth" books make me think of the commentary and 'special features' on DVD movies. The difference is that the writer/director/producer is dead and so it is all hosted by his son Christopher Tolkien.
"The Return of the Shadow" is so much fun. It contains descriptions of the way Tolkien fumbled his way along as he wrote LTRs. We get to see characters drawn differently, some with different names [So very, very many differnt names]. We see Tolkien discover the story that is so beloved by millions to be probed and uncovered from his designed intention to write a children's book that would be a follow up to "The Hobbit".
Extending the comparison to movie 'special features' a bit further, Christopher Tolkien provides extended cuts and deleted scenes to all of his father's popular published work. To read multiple volumes of Christopher Tolkien's "History" has had a cumulative effect on this reader.
At first, I just wanted to see what was there and I was interested because I have read and reread JRR Tolkien's principle works so many times that I was finally ready to give the "History" a try. I came to appreciate the various versions of stories and poems on their own merit.
Finally, the on going commentary to show the evolution of JRR Tolkien's work has grown on me. Christopher Tolkien has a lot to offer in his description of the various papers he has available to tell his story. He also has personal experiences and memories of living in the household where the papers were written. Sometimes he helped his father with drawing maps or making fair copies of manuscripts or begging his father to keep characters that Tolkien planned to alter or eliminate. Christopher Tolkien stayed in touch with his father's progress even when C. was away fighting in WWII. My point is that Christopher Tolkien has been engaged with his father's work throughout his life in a way that has positioned him to share the story of the evolution of his father's work in a unique way that gives depth to the reader's understanding of all of Tolkien's work.
If you have been rereading "The Lord of the Rings" multiple times then you might want to give this a try for variety.(less)
"The Treason of Isengard: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 2" in which the subject matter is written by J.R.R. Tolkien and the commentary by...more"The Treason of Isengard: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 2" in which the subject matter is written by J.R.R. Tolkien and the commentary by his son Christopher Tolkien is a fun, informative, glorious read.
We millions of die-hard Tolkien fans are fortunate to have Christopher Tolkien in the world to make his father's papers available to us. It is a great fortune that he has just the right educational background, inclination, and ambition to present them as he does in all of the "History of Middle-earth" books.
This particular volume covers a writing period spanning 1941-1942. He explains that this period of productivity on "The Lord of the Rings" started after LTR was unworked-on for over a year. Christopher Tolkien presents the narrative of the writing of LTR in the chronology of his father's writing rather than the chronology of the story of "The Lord of the Rings". The result is that episodes of the novel might appear multiple times and reappear later in Christopher Tolkien's telling of the writing of the novel if his father rewrote an episode in order to make his many changes.
To recap what is presented in "The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 1" describes J.R.R. Tolkien's opening attempt to write a sequel to "The Hobbit". Throughout its evolution the story became darker. The Hero went through many name changes. He got to Rivendall before the first phase of writing ends.
"The Treason of Isengard: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 2" shows the evolution of the hobbit character named Trotter as he changes into a man and becomes Aragorn. This evolution represents a change in the tale from being a hobbit tale to one about the beginning of the age of man. It takes practically the entire volume for Trotter to have completely and securely changed from being a hobbit into the man Aragorn.
The change of Trotter into Aragorn is representative of the many changes occurring throughout the writing of LTR. Earlier editions of the "Lord of the Rings" describe in their front matter how errors were corrected from previous editions. After seeing the fumbling way J.R.R. Tolkien went about discovering his story, the continuous changes in character names and persons, plus Tolkien's hurried pencil penmanship on used paper--it is amazing that a final draft came into being at all that would be acceptable to a publishing company. My point is that Christopher Tolkien's books leave me with no surprise that there were errors in the books long after their first publication.
"The Treason of Isengard" Begins with the secret council in Rivendell in which the forces of good decide what to do with 'The one ring.' A fellowship of 9 representatives of hobbits, men, dwarves, and elves begin their mission. By the end of Christopher Tolkien's volume the fellowship is broken up.
Two side discussions interrupt Christopher Tolkien's larger narrative. One is a description of an early, multilayer-ed map that his father drew during the late 1930s. The second is a presentation rune-lore material created by J.R.R. Tolkien.
"The Treason of Isengard: The History of the Lord of the Rings, Part 2" is another worthy contribution to Christopher Tolkien's larger series on the "History of Middle-earth." The books are demanding. My recommendation is that a person try them if he or she is ready to set aside expectations and simply enjoy the ride as it is.
I loved reading this book. Its beauty is in its contribution to both the "History of Middle-Earth" and "The History of the Lord of the Rings" by provi...moreI loved reading this book. Its beauty is in its contribution to both the "History of Middle-Earth" and "The History of the Lord of the Rings" by providing background depth to the "Lord of the Rings" that we all love. It represents the novel from the "Flotsam and Jetsam" chapter to the parley with the 'Mouth of Sauron' scene.
We see Gandalf's evaluation of Saruman's skill as a wizard. Gandalf is shown to agonize over what the palentir was and we see his attempt to discover its place within the scheme of unfolding events.
More details are provided about the Treebeard, the Ents, and the Hurons.
Also, (again) even more details about the palentir, not just the one taken from Isengard, but all five. Three of the five are described as part of the action: first, at Isengard; second, we see details of the role another plays in triggering the downfall of Denethor, Steward of Gondor; and third, another is retrieved from the Paths of the Dead when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pass through during their mission to conquer the Corsairs, immobilizing them as a threat and to take action that increases their own military numbers.
This volume of "The History of the Lord of the Rings" is different from the first two volumes. In the earlier volumes we see J.R.R. Tolkien stumbling around attempting to discover what his story is. He changes from writing a sequel to a children's story to writing a dark heroic saga with links to his legendarium. He goes through many changes in his cast of characters and finalizing what their names will be.
By the time he has reached the material represented in "The War of the Ring" Tolkien knows what kind of story he is writing and who the characters are going to be. Instead of another presentation as seen in the first two volumes of "The History of Middle-Earth" we see details that were more developed than what remained in the final version of "The Lord of the Rings"
Also, the book describes the chronology of when Tolkien wrote different parts of the book.
"The War of the Ring" does a wonderful job of giving us more from the "Lord of the Rings". Sometimes those extra details answer background questions about what was in the novel. But, it always provides more depth to one's experience of that great novel and the world in which it is set. (less)
I like it. It is a fine contribution to the swords and sorcery genre.
I discovered Red Sonja as a comic book character during the 1980s when I was an u...moreI like it. It is a fine contribution to the swords and sorcery genre.
I discovered Red Sonja as a comic book character during the 1980s when I was an undergraduate in college. I wasn't very interested in comics myself, but I had a friend who was. We used to visit the comic book store in the neighboring town and Red Sonja was the one title I became interested in and began to collect.
Somewhere along the way I ran across the novelizations of the Red Sonja character and I snapped them right up. I have read them before. Now is my time to reread them and this first in the series confirms my memory of the books being high quality serial fiction.(less)
Probably around my 9th time to read this. It has been in the neighborhood of a decade since last time. I remembered liking it. But I had forgotten how...moreProbably around my 9th time to read this. It has been in the neighborhood of a decade since last time. I remembered liking it. But I had forgotten how brilliant the writing is.(less)