Back to the classics. I picked this up in a charity shop some time ago and I'd been meaning to get to it. Having been half-heartedly introduced to E.A...moreBack to the classics. I picked this up in a charity shop some time ago and I'd been meaning to get to it. Having been half-heartedly introduced to E.A.P. in my middle-school days (reading "The Raven" and "The Cask Of Amontillado" as assigments), I thought I should give him another shot.
Ol' Edgar Allan fared much better this time around. "The Cask.." was much more sinister and calculated than I'd remembered and "The Murders At The Rue Morgue" seemed grislier and even though I 'knew' the ending, still seems cleverly-written. I had never read "The Gold Bug" and it too surprised me, as I was waiting for that macabre Poe denouement and it never appears.
I only give it four stars, because I thought "The Case Of Marie Roget" dragged on a bit and became bogged down in too much detail.(less)
I hadn't read any Thomas Hardy previously, so I thought I'd start with his most well-known. I wished I hadn't read the blurb on the back cover, becaus...moreI hadn't read any Thomas Hardy previously, so I thought I'd start with his most well-known. I wished I hadn't read the blurb on the back cover, because the tale held less surprise. I knew the story-arc, but Hardy still managed to hold my attention with his descriptive phrases, especially regarding the English landscape.
I still found the ending quite tragic, despite 'knowing' that it would happen. Hardy does cause one to feel for his doomed heroine, though he implies that she "is" somewhere better. I'd like to think so.(less)
I've only ever read a couple of Shakespeare's works - "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "As You Like It"..I haven't even got to "The Scottish Play" yet....moreI've only ever read a couple of Shakespeare's works - "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "As You Like It"..I haven't even got to "The Scottish Play" yet.
I have seen the 1996 film and I enjoyed it, but reading the play, as always, brings out the subtleness of the chosen words and highlights the characters' personalities...at least for me.
I won't go into a full discussion of the action and scenes in "Twelfth Night", I suspect there are plenty of GoodReads reviews that do so. I found it quite light-hearted, compared to what I read about other Shakespeare works. I even chuckled at some of the dialogue--which I wasn't expecting to. The themes of mistaken identity, unrequited love and family reunion still resonate today and that, to me, is the play's greatest strength.
The edition I read helpfully provided footnotes, which translated the Elizabethan phrases and a short bio of Shakespeare. Also included was a brief over-view of the Elizabethan era.(less)
I had always wanted to read more Ambrose Bierce, since tackling "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge", back in grammar school. I never followed up on th...moreI had always wanted to read more Ambrose Bierce, since tackling "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge", back in grammar school. I never followed up on that until late last year, when I purchased this anthology from a local indie bookshop. Robert Anton Wilson and a few others piqued my interest in Bierce again, so I thought I'd give the short stories a go.
This edition collects all of his short stories, published in various newspapers and magazines, up until the time of his mysterious disappearance in Mexico. It's divided up into three 'sections': horror/supernatural, war and "tall tales". While I appreciate the organisational nature of doing so, I have to say that it did take some of the surprise out of some of the stories and highlighted the themes that Bierce used in them. The horror stories suffered the worst from the collating. When I nearly finished the section, I almost 'knew' that the story would involve either a long-abandoned house, or an apparition spotted just around the time that one of the characters in the story had passed away. The war stories were a bit more varied, even though they all take place during the American Civil War (in which Bierce fought).
"Tall tales" show Bierce's contempt for religion and human behavioural foibles, as well as his decimating humour. The (linked) trilogy of stories about a sea captain and his passengers had me laughing aloud at times.
The famed "Occurrence..." is part of the war stories section, concerning a Confederate spy who is facing being hanged above a river (or the eponymous creek). He 'escapes' when the rope breaks and manages to swim downstream, avoiding bullets shot from sentries' rifles. He notices that all of his senses are heightened, being able to see every vein in every leaf on every tree, etc. He makes it back to his home and just as he's about to embrace his wife....well, I'll let you read it. A very well-written and trippy story - it fascinated me when I first read it. There was an educational film produced, based on the story - which our class watched. It left out some of the detail, but really delivered, in terms of the strange nature of the narrative.
I'd recommend this book, if you're looking for some exceptional American writing of the late 19th century - Bierce seemed exceptional. The satire crackles and the bewilderment and horror of war is perfectly portrayed. I rated it four stars not for content, but because of the sectioning of the stories - more variety in the themes would've helped keep the momentum.