This is one of those rare biographies that does an excellent job of both telling the story of the philosopher's life and discussing where the philosop...moreThis is one of those rare biographies that does an excellent job of both telling the story of the philosopher's life and discussing where the philosopher was going with his philosophy.
In fact, Monk successfully shows the impact of events in Wittgenstein's life to the projects he took on in philosophy.
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)
The book takes a multilingual approach to swearing. It identifies types of swearing such as Ritual Insults, Name...moreThis book is slightly better than ok.
The book takes a multilingual approach to swearing. It identifies types of swearing such as Ritual Insults, Name Calling, and Unfriendly Suggestions. It gives a history of swearing. The mechanisms of swearing are explored. All of these are done well enough.
In the end I don't understand why we swear. Categorizing, the history of, and the linguistic mechanisms do not explain why we insert uglinesses into our speech, especially when those uglinesses are space holders or not taken seriously as part of the message expressed. I don't buy that they are successful in expressing strong feeling nor are they usually very good at ornamenting language use.
I have been puzzled by swearing since sometime in the middle of elementary school when the other children started saying "Oh, god!", "god", and "hell". It isn't that I haven't sworn myself. There have been times when I have pursued swearing enthusiastically, but alas, I don't believe I was very good at it. I was doing it because I thought the person I wanted to be swore in a certain way.
Eventually, it was inertia that shut down my swearing, tobacco use, and drinking. They meant so little to me on their own that they weren't worth the spit of energy it would have taken to maintain the habits. Yet, I am interested in why it is such a wide spread habit when it doesn't do much one way or the other. This book does not answer that question.