Wow! Charles Williams was a great friend of Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. He was part of their group called the Oxford Inklings. This novel deals with some f...moreWow! Charles Williams was a great friend of Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. He was part of their group called the Oxford Inklings. This novel deals with some fascinating material: the sangraal, and a battle between satanic and heavenly forces on earth. Quite chilling in parts. Take a look at the malleus malificarum in reference to the Witch's Sabbath parts. A bit mind boggling in spots, like reading a whole novel of Neal A Maxwell talks. Heck, he's one of the guys that converted C.S. Lewis to Christianity, he's got to be deep. (less)
Gummere's verse translation is my favorite to date as it takes great care to follow the alliterative structure of the original Old English. He also us...moreGummere's verse translation is my favorite to date as it takes great care to follow the alliterative structure of the original Old English. He also uses Modern English words that have their root in Old English when ever possible. The prose translation by Child is nice to have right at hand as a second opinion so to speak. The prose is more readable but I think less fun. If you read this be sure to read it out loud as it is meant to be. A large part of this book is not the fighting but the feasting and gift giving afterwards. If you are of Germanic/Scandanavian decent think about how your own family's gift giving practices. Chances are you will find some striking similarities in the book. (you're more than you thought you were) It is inspiring to think of the poet/poets who composed this work, fighting against the corrosion of society during the early middle ages. Think of the monsters as metaphors for the corrosive elements in your own life, and think of how Beowulf has to fight them and it will bring a lot of meaning to the book.
You can find online versions of the original Old Englsih with inline translations. If you would like to learn how to pronounce the Old English so that you can hear how the original production sounded let me know and I can help you out with that. It's very fun to hear. Brandon (less)
Fascinating Finish Fairytales. If you are a Tolkien fan you have to read the Kalevala as it was a major source of material for him. The Kalevala seems...moreFascinating Finish Fairytales. If you are a Tolkien fan you have to read the Kalevala as it was a major source of material for him. The Kalevala seems so bizaar at first blush but really has some interesting insights into pre christian bronze age life in Finland. There are certainly Christian elements that have been added to the Kalevala as Christianity reached Finland in the tenth century but this is pretty pure as far as pagan folklore goes. The iron charms portion of the book are of particular interest to me as I think that they represent a technical explaination for creating high grade carbrized iron but wrapped up in a easily memorizable charm for transmition in an illiterate society. The external history of the text and its effects on Finish society and national conceince makes it a five star for me even though the text itself is less inspiring than some of the other epics that I rated as five star. It is in essence a book that created a nation. That may be overstating it, but only slightly. Brandon(less)
This book starts great and ends great but the middle gets a bit slow. If you've only seen the movie read the book, it's very different. I have to admi...moreThis book starts great and ends great but the middle gets a bit slow. If you've only seen the movie read the book, it's very different. I have to admit that I like the Mercedez story line in the movie better though.(less)
Very concise and readable. Lynch has packed an enormous amount of information into minimal space with this book. It is a great starter book for anyone...moreVery concise and readable. Lynch has packed an enormous amount of information into minimal space with this book. It is a great starter book for anyone interested in Church History or Medieval History. I wish it had some information on the development of the Liturgy, which is why I gave it four stars instead of five. (less)
WOW! Absolutely inspiring. This book made me take a thorough look at my own personal axiological assumptions and changed my mind in a couple of instan...moreWOW! Absolutely inspiring. This book made me take a thorough look at my own personal axiological assumptions and changed my mind in a couple of instances. The last Canto of Paradise just about blew my mind- epistomologically speaking of course. The entire progression from underground to mountain to the overpowering radiance of God was very Plotonic; loved it! The unified understanding of God as well as the symbolic representation of the godhead as the only way to mediate the truth of God to Dante was very Owen Barfield, another of my favorites. This book ought to be read by everyone, and not just because your high school English teacher made you.
This version has a lot of helpful foot notes to explain the obscure Italian Renaissance political figures who are mentioned frequently, as well as other mythological and legendary figures that also make appearances throughout. (less)
This book was one of the most influential text of the middle ages, renaissance and early modern period. It helped shape the thoughts of such great min...moreThis book was one of the most influential text of the middle ages, renaissance and early modern period. It helped shape the thoughts of such great minds as Dante, Chaucer (who translated it into Middle English), Alfred the Great (who translated it into Old English), Elizabeth I (who translated it into Early modern English) and countless others. It fell out of popularity in the Victorian ear but has been seeing a resurgence of late. Boethius wrote the Consolation while in jail awaiting execution. Possibly the most inspiring book I've ever read outside of the scriptures. In a nut shell Boethius (through a conversation with Lady Philosophy) is taught to see the false sources of happiness that have brought him to feel the terrible pain he endures when cast unjustly into jail, and then is taught the true sources of happiness that no man can take from him. (less)
Far and away the best book Ludlum ever wrote and possibly the greates spy book out there. I absolutley loved it! If you saw the movie and liked it REA...moreFar and away the best book Ludlum ever wrote and possibly the greates spy book out there. I absolutley loved it! If you saw the movie and liked it READ THE BOOK! The movie goes off in such a different direction you won't even know that it is the same story.(less)
C.S. Lewis is amazing. If you liked the books he wrote for kids (Lion, Witch, Wardrobe, et al) you will love his books for adults. This series is so t...moreC.S. Lewis is amazing. If you liked the books he wrote for kids (Lion, Witch, Wardrobe, et al) you will love his books for adults. This series is so thought provoking and full of metaphor for our day. My favorite part of this book is where Ransom translates into Malacandrian Weston's rant about the future of humanity. The deconstruction of his positivist empirical thought process is classic. That sounds hoity toity but if you read it will know what I mean. You'll laugh through the entire section. Loved it, and I'm off to read the next one in the series. If you read it tell me what you think the Malacandrian word 'hnau' means. I think it may be the entire point of the book. Brandon(less)
WOW! I had never read Milton until I was forced to in my Chaucer/Shakespeare/Milton class and I was blown away! I absolutely loved this epic poem! Mil...moreWOW! I had never read Milton until I was forced to in my Chaucer/Shakespeare/Milton class and I was blown away! I absolutely loved this epic poem! Milton was the best educated man in England at this time. He spoke or read every European language and even dabbled in Algonquin. He was part of the Cromwell government and wrote a lot of political tracts that contain the roots of much of the political philosophy that is the foundation of our country. In a scathing political pamphlet called The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, Milton wrote, “all men naturally were born free, being the image and resemblance of God himself…and they lived so until from the root of Adam’s transgression, falling among themselves to doe wrong and violence…they agreed by common league to bind each other from mutual injury." Milton believed very strongly that governments were necessary to protect men from their own vices, but that the “power of the Kings…is nothing else, but what is onely derivative, transferred and committed to them in trust from the people, to the common good of them all, in whom the power yet remains fundamentally." While this concept of executive power is widely accepted in western society today, it was far from the mainstream for seventeenth century England; where the prevailing philosophy was that the king’s right to rule came from God alone. One of the many purposes of Paradise Lost was a medium through which Milton could present his radical political views. In it he argues that men should ideally rule themselves in small familial groups, but because of men’s vices, they must set up stronger governmental systems. He uses Satan, whom he associates with Charles II, as the model of power unrighteously wielded, and sets up Christ as the model of proper authority. In book four, Milton describes Adam and Eve’s character before the fall, “Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure / Severe, but in true filial freedom placed / Whence true authority in men." Eve is submissive to Adam (at first) and, because Adam is submissive to God, he rules gently and correctly over Eve. In this state, men are in a state of freedom. A natural hierarchy exists in the patriarchal order of the family. It is the “true authority of men” because it mirrors man’s relationship with God. Later, in book twelve, Milton makes this point clearer as Michael shows to Adam the decedents of Noah who “Shall spend their days in joy unblamed and dwell / Long time in peace by families and tribes / Under paternal rule." Milton sees this natural paternal order as the idyllic form of governing mankind, and the one that allows the most freedom and peace for the individual. Of course this peaceful set up cannot last, and in the very next sentence Nimrod “arrogates dominion undeserved” to himself and becomes the first King. This new form of authority is a rebellion from the natural power structure of family rule. It makes the many people on the bottom of the hierarchy slaves to the few on top. While this argument could be brought against most rulers throughout history, Milton implicates Charles II specifically in this description of Nimrod by saying, “from rebellion shall derive his name / Though of rebellion others he accuse." This refers to the restoration of Charles to the throne after the Commonwealth collapsed, after which many of the leaders of Cromwell’s government were hanged as traitorous rebels. Throughout Paradise Lost, Milton makes clear that he is not just critiquing monarchy, but Charles II in particular. He goes so far as to associate Charles with Satan himself. For example, in book one, Milton describes Charles’ heady lifestyle in connection with Satan's brood, “In courts and palaces he also reigns / And in luxurious cities where the noise / Of riot ascends above their loftiest tow’rs…witness the streets of Sodom." Although Milton surely disapproved of this sort of heady living, it is not the main reason that he condemned Charles’ authority. It is Charles’ claim to divine right that so irks Milton, and he uses Satan to show how spurious this claim is, “Me though just right and the fixed laws of Heav’n / Did first create your leader." Later, Adam counters this assertion with Milton’s sentiments, “But man over men / He made not lord, such title to himself / Reserving” (XII.69-71). Book five shows that Satan assembled his crew of demons with the intent that they would help him get what he wanted. In fact, he assembled his leadership together under the false story that they were going to have a council on how best to “receive our King / The great Messiah. He has no thought of the wellbeing of those who follow him, but instead beguiles them with “counterfeited truth” to fight so that Satan can become as God. Satan does not serve them, they serve him; and follow him to their eternal damnation. For Milton, the real evil in monarchy is that inevitably the king will stop seeing himself as the servant of the people, and begin seeing the people as his servants. Compare this to the approach that The Son takes. Christ willingly accepts the role as savior to mankind; knowing that it will mean his death as God’s sacrificial lamb. It is only after this acceptance to be the servant of men that God gives Christ his divine authority: “Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt / With Thee thy manhood also to this throne…All power I give thee." According to this model, an executive should have as his motivation the welfare of the people over whom he lords. It is only through his service to the people that he receives and maintains authority. This is the model that Milton would have earthly governments follow; and if the executive of the nation, whatever title he may bear, does not serve the good of the people, they have the right to select one who will. Though the Commonwealth for which Milton argued so strongly eventually failed, he, like Christ, found a greater victory in defeat. Milton’s political views espoused in Paradise Lost eventually won over England and most of western society. Thomas Paine used very similar verbiage in his extremely influential political tract Common Sense “Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.” And then later he says. “Here then is the rise and origin of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world.” This is the philosophical bedrock of the concept of a limited government. The idea that powers of government ought to be limited to only that which the people cannot do themselves, and to let people govern themselves as much as possible, is one of the foundational philosophies of the Republican Party today. One can even read Milton in our Declaration of Independence, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” The reach of his work has far surpassed the “fit…though few” audience he envisioned for it. It is a part of our everyday lives. I can’t say whether this idea originated with Milton, but his inclusion of it in Paradise Lost, with its widespread sway in England and here in the US, gave it great influence; which we still feel today.
Beyond his political views I was astounded at his theology. I agreed with the vast majority of his doctrinal positions including a trinity of seperate indivduals; God the Father, Jesus Christ and The Holy Ghost (whom he invokes as the muse in good epic fasion). Jesus and several archangels make the earth under the direction of the Father. Satan rebels because of pride and attempts to usurp the Father's athourity, taking a third of the angels of heaven with him. Christ was chosen as the savior in a council in heaven. Men can only be forgiven through the stonement of Christ and through personal repentance...I could go on. He was so ahead of his time in this arena as well. The last thing I wanted to mention was his use of Satan playing the classical hero. Satatn displays the atributes of a classical hero along the lines of Odysseus, and Achiles. Milton does this so that he can show what true heroism is; as modeled by Christ. For Milton the true hero was humble, a servant of the people (which was his ideal for a governmental executive), and found his stregnth in obedience to god's will. He shows throughout the book how the new Christian heroic model is superior to the old classical model of physical prowess, cunning deception, and courtly lover. (for more on this subject I recommend Steadman's Milton and the Renaissance Hero.) It's to bad that Milton is no longer read today as much as it was from the time he wrote it to the twentieth century. It is a true classic, and contains so much that is foundational to our culture still today. If you need help on all of the allusions and classical references in Pardise Lost I recommend this website sponsored by Dartmouth College http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/read... It was very helpful with some of the obscure references.(less)
One of Tom Clancy's great skills is bringing out the complexities that are a such a huge part of human life. The plot lines are really quite simple, b...moreOne of Tom Clancy's great skills is bringing out the complexities that are a such a huge part of human life. The plot lines are really quite simple, but they proceed with the mixed motives and natural complications of real life. All of his characters are a mixture of positive and negative traits that make them human and believable. You understand why each character (especially Ryan) does what he does; they are flawed humans who are the product of their own choices, personal experiences, and the society they live in, which I really apperciate in Clancy's work. (less)