I suppose this is cheating as I went to see this last night at The Globe's indoor theatre (having read it many years ago), but since the production waI suppose this is cheating as I went to see this last night at The Globe's indoor theatre (having read it many years ago), but since the production was very text focussed -and after all it is drama, I feel I can justify it!
Published in 1633, the play is a direct, often humorous and finally bloody tragedy. Annabel is an eligible virgin of marriageable age who has many suitors vying for her hand: a well connected soldier, and eligible bachelor and a young blustering fool. Unfortunately when her brother, Giovanni, declares his passionate love for her and she reciprocates, the relationship becomes incestuous, she becomes pregnant and the stage is set for disaster.
Ford highlights the hypocrisy of Italian society through the characters of the self absorbed lovers and the cardinal who is happy to both protect a murderer and assimilate the dead families' fortunes. It is impossible not to look at the play through modern eyes and see that all the women are incarnations of lust in some form or other and inevitably all die grisly deaths. However, the men come out of it no better: with perhaps the exception of the friar who wisely high tails it out of Parma before the final scene, or the father who dies of a heart attack once he hears his son's confession. All others are corrupt, fools, liars, murderers, vain, self obsessed or vengeful psychopaths!
I'd like to think that Ford was writing sensationalist drama to pay the bills rather than a reflection of contempory society. Anabelle, despite her inevitable damnation, comes across as the most rational and loyal of all the characters. Hence the cardinal's final summary 'tis pity she's a whore' becomes a parody of judgement when compared to Lodovico's conclusion in Othello....more
Read when I was in yr 8 (12)and was blown away by it. Made me think about the details in our lives which we take for granted. I interpreted David as aRead when I was in yr 8 (12)and was blown away by it. Made me think about the details in our lives which we take for granted. I interpreted David as a holocaust escapee but I think the novel left the narrative more open than that. A very powerful children's read. For some reason the image of David discovering 'soap' has always stuck with me....more
A book in three sections: section one was hugely reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye (which I detest). There is a similar scene of 'teenage' self absorpA book in three sections: section one was hugely reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye (which I detest). There is a similar scene of 'teenage' self absorption and inability to empathise with others. However if Plath's aim was to create a sense of displacement indicating Esther's gradual withdrawal into depression rather than the arrogance (presented by Holden Caulfied) I suppose she succeeded. Certainly, I couldn't engage with Esther any more than she could with her world. The middle section was an account of mental illness and depression and, I guess, written with a cold honesty which make it hard to read or empathise with. The final section charted her recovery and included moments which lit up the narrative.
So the basic problem for me was one of perception. If we see Esther, and by implication Plath, as a victim of society then frankly, I feel like shaking her. She is clearly intelligent, privileged but wallows in self pity and naive, self indulgent perceptions of the world and how it should support her. Gender roles of the period are clearly revealed as is the claustrophobic nature of middle class America in the 1960s, nevertheless she is less disadvantaged than many others in the 1950s and constantly offered help or support (moral, financial, and academic). She may be living in an emotional wilderness but she seems as incapable of offering emotional engagement as receiving it.
However, if you see Esther's problems as the emergence of mental illness then the book reads very differently. I was struck by the similarity between a passage in the novel describing how Esther feels unable to choose when looking at a fig tree, 'I saw myself ...starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose', and a letter I read many years ago written by a young man expressing a similar sentiment: A few weeks later the writer of that letter walked out in front of a train....more
Contains Frankenstein, Vathek and The Castle of Otranto as listed. The first is a must read; the others are much harder going but are interesting as eContains Frankenstein, Vathek and The Castle of Otranto as listed. The first is a must read; the others are much harder going but are interesting as examples of the genre at certain points in time. All round a valuable collection as I otherwise wouldn't have picked up the other two novels. However,the latter two are interesting for literary/genre context rather than engaging as novels in their own right....more
A lovely little gothic vampire tale, the first of its kind written in English, by Polidori. Short, it tells of a nobleman duped by a vampire. InterestA lovely little gothic vampire tale, the first of its kind written in English, by Polidori. Short, it tells of a nobleman duped by a vampire. Interesting to see where lots of later vampire tales derived; includes elements of Byronic pastoral tale as well as classic gothic. Great in that it touches on demeanour and habits of vampires, victims, folk tales and society. Very readable, would definitely recommend it especially as it is a free ebook. Precedes Dracula by nearly 80 or so years and makes an interesting comparison....more
One of the shortlisted books for the Guardian Children's Fiction prize 2012, a beautifully written book. Poetic with a wistful meandering storyline, aOne of the shortlisted books for the Guardian Children's Fiction prize 2012, a beautifully written book. Poetic with a wistful meandering storyline, a kind of cross between Winnie the Pooh and Pilgrims Progress made to be read aloud. Sixteen Face John learns to face his past, his identity as a Northern shaman, father, husband and his place in the world as he comes to terms with the impending birth of his daughter Soonchild. Soonchild is reluctant to be born as she cannot hear the world songs which will entice her into the world and she waits for her father to deliver them to her. John passes through a series of mystical dreamscapes till he rediscovers himself; through his self discovery he is ale to inspire his child. Enchanting illustrations cut in from about a third of the way through the book that help to create a haunting atmosphere (I particularly loved the circling wolves). Possibly more of an adult's book, though my nine year old daughter read it and loved it. The use of names is somewhat whimsical and the narrative is very abstract which may confuse a younger or less experienced reader, though I think it would work beautifully if read aloud. ...more
I'd been putting off reading this since we were in Cannery Row last year as it seemed too much like 'work', but stuck in a cottacge in the Loire withI'd been putting off reading this since we were in Cannery Row last year as it seemed too much like 'work', but stuck in a cottacge in the Loire with a pulled shoulder having fallen out of a hammock it was thinner than all the other bookes I'd taken on holiday and thus easier to read. Moreover, my husband had just threatedned to read it which was a challenge and my daughter had just finished it. Well - a clear 5* and a reminded of how much of a skilled craftman John Steinbeck is. This is a book to savour rather than to read - the first half is a mix of cameos and short stories with a loose overarching plot: the party that Mac and his boys want to throw Doc for being generally a 'good fella'. However it is Steinbeck's beautiful prose, acute observations and gradual revelation of his characters and the snapshots of life that enchant. Reading this is a bit like watching a paining unfold before your eyes: detailed, intense, captivating and sometimes painful in what it reveals. Just beautiful....more
Read many years ago as my GCSE Literature novel - loved it and it started me on a phase of Thomas Hardy - the only problem was that a long time I wasRead many years ago as my GCSE Literature novel - loved it and it started me on a phase of Thomas Hardy - the only problem was that a long time I was expecting Hardy to end his novels with positive resolutions, not realising this one is a typical. I particualrly loved the idea of wessex coming from Wiltshire myself and loving many of the landmarks that he refers to in the novel. ...more
I read this in yr 8 after my English teacher read chapter 1 aloud to the class and loved it. Great humour lovely descriptions of Corfu - though I wasI read this in yr 8 after my English teacher read chapter 1 aloud to the class and loved it. Great humour lovely descriptions of Corfu - though I was disappointed when I visied in a few years later in 1982!...more