This 766 page tome is a great and important book. However, the reader feels the weight of every page. Unlike some long books such as "Against the Day"...moreThis 766 page tome is a great and important book. However, the reader feels the weight of every page. Unlike some long books such as "Against the Day" by Pynchon or "The Lord of the Rings" by Tolkien for which this reader enjoyed each so much that they seem too short. I mention the grueling ponderousness of "The Second Sex", not to steer others from the work, but to prepare them for what to expect. Also, to say, it is worth it.
De Beauvoir observes that women represent 50% of the world population, they are integrated into every social structure at every level of humanity and yet they are still short changed in many ways as though they were a small minority. De Beauvoir searches for the answer to how this inequality can happen throughout the book.
The book is divided in two volumes. The first asks the question "What is the feminine?" Meaning 'Does femininity originate in anatomy or chemistry? Is it a product of social conditioning? It it psychological?' de Beauvoir explores biology and women. Then she discusses women in literature and literature produced by women. Finally, she gets to a sociological exploration of women and femininity.
I found the first volume to be the most difficult to get through. The second volume is about "Lived Experience". Each chapter describes a different aspect of women's lives. De Beauvoir is strongest in this section when she stops describing things she has read and tells the reader what she knows about the experiences of women.
De Beauvoir does answer the question about the inequality between men and women. Her answer is the entire book that describes the many ways that society is male dominated. She says inequality continues because of the complicity of the sexes with each other.
Personally, I hope this new translation of de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex" will attract a new generation of readers. It is a book for all of us. Those of us with daughter's and sons want the best for our children. One way to contribute to the best for everyone is for people to educate themselves instead of simply accepting the way things are around us.
One of de Beauvoir's closing observations is that we should not accept the way things are for fear of losing what is good in the relationships between men and women. She believes this is to lack the imagination to see that equality would lead to something better.
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 is more of a book to make you think about things than it being a book that will provide you with reliable facts. The argument of the book is that...moreThis is more of a book to make you think about things than it being a book that will provide you with reliable facts. The argument of the book is that we have genetic programming that is approximately a million years old that has helped our species to survive. That programming is causes disastrous behaviors for us during the past 10 thousand years since our social behaviors have changed. And it is even more true during the past 150 years of industrialization.
An example, food was scarce for the majority of human history. Our genes urge us to eat all food we can get our hands on as it is available because you don't know how long it will be before there is food again. We have the same urge but there is always food around us. The result is that the same urge that helped us to survive is now urging us to eat until it is killing us.
Another example, for most of the history of humans if you heard a story about something happening to someone then it was probably someone that you knew. In fact, if you heard of someone having good fortune then it was reasonable to believe that you could have the same good fortune because you didn't run into very many people in a life time. That same sense that you too can reasonably have good fortune is not true if you are expecting to win a jackpot lottery, or become an entertainer, or a sports figure.
The above is one example of the way that our senses of proportion are not accurate for the world we live in. That messed up sense of proportion results in things like math being really hard for us. The authors develop the theme of our poor sense of proportions and how it causes unproductive behaviors and poor decisions.
As I said, this is a book to make you think. It is not necessarily telling you the way things are. Either way it is a good read. (less)
This is Faulkner's first book and the one his publisher would only publish if it was cut down to a third of the submitted manuscript. The excised part...moreThis is Faulkner's first book and the one his publisher would only publish if it was cut down to a third of the submitted manuscript. The excised part became "Soldier's Pay." This is the full manuscript and it is difficult why anyone would want to tamper with perfection.(less)
"The Plague" by Albert Camus is one of my all time favorite books. Camus successfully presented a world view (existentialism) and told a solid, enjoya...more"The Plague" by Albert Camus is one of my all time favorite books. Camus successfully presented a world view (existentialism) and told a solid, enjoyable tale.
I say an enjoyable tale without irony. Quality story-telling craft can be a pleasure to read in itself, and that is what this book is. The book is told from the, sometimes unreliable, first person narrative of Dr. Rieux. He is a bit detached, he's not larger than life nor charismatic. He is just a guy who has a job to do. He relates the narrative because he was in the middle of the action and because he had access to all of he records.
Dr. Rieux practiced in the port town of Oran (approx. 200,000 people) during the 1930s or 1940s. He fought the plague that ravaged his community for about a year. This meant he worked night and day to treat and isolate the stricken. He organized sanitation squads, was liaison between the medical community and local and national governments--kept both informed and helped draft polices to isolate the town--and begged for serum to fight the disease. He was also a good friend and participated in community life.
Why?...well...it was his job. And he wanted to have done more for the people than God did.
I like his spirit.
Back to Camus. With this narrative he drew a detailed picture of life in Oran during the year of plague. He developed a cast of characters that were each distinctive and each contributed to the world view the author was presenting, they all move the story forward, and each contributed to the daily mechanics of the world of the drama. As I wrote above, it is good story-telling craft, and his characterizations are a major element of this as a piece of art.
The book presents different kinds of people and their varying reactions to the plague as it enters and settles into their community. There are multiple changes in the same characters as the plague runs through its cycle. There was the professional man who came to town for a little business and spent most of the year attempting to leave but finally embraced the work of fighting the plague and was a hero by the end. There was the self-absorbed man who came to love the plague because the law would never prosecute his case as long as the city was fighting for its life. There was a Priest whose view of the scourge changed as the year passed. In the end he was at peace, but it is difficult to tell if he had a positive change of heart or if he was simply broken. And of course, there was our narrator who doesn't really change, but he relates a great story of humanity.
This is an excellent book for long time Edgar Rice Burroughs fans. It isn't that I see an influence. I don't. What I see is that same ability to tell...moreThis is an excellent book for long time Edgar Rice Burroughs fans. It isn't that I see an influence. I don't. What I see is that same ability to tell an adventure novel that is almost formula fiction using excellent writing craft that keeps moving.
An observation of my 16-year-old daughter, Ellen, who read the books as they came out--this winter she read Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" and she observed that the names of the villains in "Hunger Games" are all in "Julius Caesar". I am just now reading the first HG book for the first time this week. So, that was a good catch on her part. Isn't it true that Rome was divided into 12 Territories? All right, so Panem (Latin for 'bread', as in "bread and circuses" keeping the population from rebelling) is Rome. Very good, Suzanne Collins, that is good story telling craft.
I would place this on the needs to be interpreted using "Being and Nothingness" shelf. There is an excellent exploration of the difference between the nature, being--whatever of the inner person and the way that others experience the person externally and how the 'Other's' interpretation of that external person actually solidifies the being of their interpretation as part of the character's ontological structure.
Also, of interest is to bring in volume one of Sartre's "Critique of Dialectical Being" that explores the relationship of the ontological being of the individual within the structure of society, especially an oppressive society.(less)
"His Dark Materials" is a highly imaginative trilogy. The people have animal familiars attached to them for life with an invisible metaphysical cord.
I...more"His Dark Materials" is a highly imaginative trilogy. The people have animal familiars attached to them for life with an invisible metaphysical cord.
It is a steam-punk world including a dirigible pilot.
There are creatures with a symbiotic relationship with a plant that they make hoops out of. The creatures travel in herds by rolling inside of the hoops. The hoops are so hard that the only way the pods can be broken out of them so they can reproduce is by being used as they are by the traveling creatures.
The heroine is a strong girl, child character that we see personal growth in throughout the series.(less)
I read this book upon Stephen King's recommendation in his book "Danse Macabre". He said it was an excellent book about obsession that is not for the...moreI read this book upon Stephen King's recommendation in his book "Danse Macabre". He said it was an excellent book about obsession that is not for the faint of heart.
I read it and agree. It is an excellent book of obsession. A thing I thought of last night is that the story is a lot like the movie "Ben-hur." (view spoiler)[It is the story of a pair of tight buddies who become murderous to each other throughout the novel. (hide spoiler)]
Not only is it a great story that gives a picture of turn-of-the-20th-century San Francisco, it is an extended dramatic study of human human psychology showing how simple good-hardheartedness can turn to obsession and how love and goodwill can turn to hatred and murder. (less)
This book is fascinating. It is like watching a train wreck that never ends.
Leave it to a man with an ego as large as the great outdoors to write a b...moreThis book is fascinating. It is like watching a train wreck that never ends.
Leave it to a man with an ego as large as the great outdoors to write a book about The Will being the fundamental object in creation.
In the process of developing his view he began by telling the reader not to bother reading his book if the reader is not prepared to read both volumes twice, along with his doctoral thesis, and the works of Kant and of Plato. That was the minimum reading list. He would also like for the reader to be familiar with Berkley, Locke, Spinoza, and to have read Asian religious texts such as "The Dhamba", "The Vedas", and "The Upanishads".
This book is a dense read. Why do I keep reading it? This sort of thing fascinates me. I like to find a truly different and well developed world view like this and dive in just to see how the person could believe what they did.
(view spoiler)[In a nut-shell: The universe consists of God and the physical universe. We have no organ for experiencing God directly. Information about God comes to us through revelation. He repeatedly tells us that his philosophy does not support a theology.
The primary ontological structure of everything, both living and inanimate, of the physical universe is the Thing-in-Itself. The Thing-in-Itself is The Will which is not self-aware nor does it have a plan. It simply attempts to actualize itself in any way possible. The way it does it is via. Representation as objects making up the physical world and universe. Since everything comes from this self-actualizing and grasping "Will" all things have the quality of aggressive striving for self-interest in whatever form the things are able to assert or promote their own being, even at the expense of other things.
Schopenhauer admires Plato and Kant. However, he spends the last section of the book pistol-whipping Kant. (hide spoiler)]
I would recommend this book to a patient reader, who can endure the repeated lambasting of professional philosophers and complaints of being neglected as a literary figure, interested in a unique vision of the existence of the universe that looks like a Western European version of Asian thought. It is also worthwhile as a critique of Kant.
I enjoyed watching this ontological philosophy unfurl to uncover everything. Or, maybe I just like watching wrecks that never seem to end.(less)