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General > Planning for our Fifth 2017 read

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Fifth read? Wait a minute. What happened to the fourth 2017 read thread? Ah, remember, we decided to do both Cicero and Hume, so Hume becomes the fourth read without any discussion thread. So:

After two challenging philosophical works, Cicero and Hume, our next work is going to be a Summer Beach Read, Classics Style.

All significant classic works, but on the lighter side, which means our random number generator and moderator had to work together, the RNG choosing a set of books for consideration, and the moderator tossing out the ones that couldn’t be considered Summer Beach Reading, Classics Style. I also, as I’m starting to do, added in a prior read for those who weren’t around at the time and for those who think that any book worth reading is worth rereading.

Here, as always listed alphabetically by author, is the selection which will be offered for vote:

Anonymous, Laxdaela Saga
Byron, Don Juan
Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Eliot, Silas Marner
Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
Trollope, Can You Forgive Her
Wharton, The House of Mirth

And here, to offer a chance for you to toss rotten tomatoes at the moderator for deleting books you would have liked to read, are the books that were selected by the RNG but weeded out by the moderator. If you consider any of these legitimate beach reading classics style, you're free to make your case, but ...

Aristotle, On the Soul
Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
Boswell, The Life of Johnson
James, The Principles of Psychology
Marx, The Communist Manifesto
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy
Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans
Smith, The Wealth of Nations

This thread is open for discussion of the choices, with the poll to open shortly.


message 2: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia (anne21) | 0 comments Approximately what dates are we considering reading this 5th read. I need to check my study calendar to see if I will have time to take part. If I dont have time I wont vote. But some of those books look good.


message 3: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments I have wanted to read the Icelandic sagas for a while. Chaucer would be fun also.


message 4: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 531 comments I like all those choices *except* the saga.

And a certain prejudice against Silas Marner as sappy, but what the hey.. I think it's the shortest on offer.


message 5: by Cphe (new)

Cphe | 586 comments I read The Pallisers last year and enjoyed them very much.

My question is if you read Can You Forgive Her? do you think you'll just be able to stop there?


message 6: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments Christopher wrote: "I like all those choices *except* the saga.

And a certain prejudice against Silas Marner as sappy, but what the hey.. I think it's the shortest on offer."


Just curious why the saga is a "no"?


message 7: by Cphe (new)

Cphe | 586 comments Patrice wrote: "plutarch appeals to me because i love biographies and these are short. Easy to pick up and put down at the beach, not that i go to the beach, but i do have a short attention span.

I have heard so ..."


I'd circled around Trollope for years - just didn't know which one to start with.

Was surprised, very surprised just how much I enjoyed the novels.

Felt his female characters really popped on the page especially his delightfully devious Lizzie Eustace The Eustace Diamonds


message 8: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia (anne21) | 0 comments The "Laxdaela Saga" looks fascinating.


message 9: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 531 comments Genni wrote: Just curious why the saga is a "no"?

I'll go with the group, if that's the pick. To tell the truth, I don't know much about sagas.


message 10: by Cphe (new)

Cphe | 586 comments Question - what would be the commencement date?


message 11: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments Christopher wrote: "Genni wrote: Just curious why the saga is a "no"?

I'll go with the group, if that's the pick. To tell the truth, I don't know much about sagas."


I see. I thought maybe you had read them before and thought they were terrible or something. I don't know much about them either, which is why I want to read them!


message 12: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments Cordelia wrote: "The "Laxdaela Saga" looks fascinating."

That is what I am thinking...


message 13: by Lily (last edited Dec 04, 2017 06:39AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments For those of you curious for more about the Icelandic saga (and the other choices):

Anonymous, Laxdæla Saga
Byron, Don Juan
Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Eliot, Silas Marner
Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
Swift, Gulliver's Travels
Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?
Wharton, The House of Mirth


message 14: by Cphe (last edited Jun 08, 2017 12:15AM) (new)

Cphe | 586 comments I was able to get a copy of the "Saga" on kindle, expensive but the download sample looked excellent.

I've read Can You Forgive Her? and enjoyed The House of Mirth a while back as a group read with another group.

But as long as Ulysses doesn't get in the way I'd be happy with the Saga, Silas Mariner or The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Thank you.


message 15: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments I think it depends on how much time we allocate for this. The Trollope is over 800 pages. The Hunchback is over 500 pages. The Dostoyevsky is nearly 700 pages.
If we allocate only few weeks for this read, we might not want to bite off more than we can chew.
Having said that, I'm open to any of these. I'm just glad we're doing literature.


message 16: by Susan (new)

Susan | 387 comments Patrice wrote: "are the Icelandic sagas part of the canon? have they influenced western literature? just curious."

Washington Post critic Michael Dirda persuaded me that I'd like to read them: "During my early years in graduate school, my main interest was medieval literature. Which explains why, in a happy moment, I signed up for a course on the Icelandic saga. I didn’t really know much about Northern Literature, which I then basically associated with myths about Loki and Thor, marauding Vikings, and Wagner’s Ring cycle. But the Laxdaela Saga, Grettir’s Saga, and Njál Saga swept me back into a world of adventure not unlike that of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns, only with swords, in the winter, on ice. The foster son of Njál, the lone survivor of a massacre, methodically tracks down the 40 men responsible for the destruction of the only family he has ever known. Cursed by a demon, Grettir—the strongest warrior in Iceland—suddenly finds himself afraid of the dark. I soon read every saga I could find, and there are quite a few of them. A hefty one-volume compilation is The Sagas of Icelanders, with a preface by novelist and fellow fan Jane Smiley."


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan | 387 comments Patrice wrote: "plutarch appeals to me because i love biographies and these are short. Easy to pick up and put down at the beach, not that i go to the beach, but i do have a short attention span.

I have heard so ..."


Plutarch also appeals to me as summer reading, especially if we read a selection vs the whole thing.


message 18: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1717 comments James, The Principles of Psychology, would make quite a beach read! It happens I started working on it a few months ago. James is just starting the scientific approach to psychology (as opposed to philosophic), and makes some striking observations. He is writing immediately before the Freudian revolution, so he gives a hint at what we would be without Sigmund.

Boswell's Life of Johnson would also be a terrific beach read, and much less demanding. I did it a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely. But you need to read it to the end, where Boswell reluctantly discussed Johnson's regrettable habit of keeping prostitutes.


message 19: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments Patrice, I am not sure about the connection with western literature other than simply being from a country with n the Western Hemisphere. From what I understand, they are a little different from the Nibelungenlied that influenced Wagner in that they are more historically grounded. From Wikipedia, it seems they are concerned with the history of the Icelandic peoples from the 9th through 11th centuries and were written down from the 13th-14th centuries. I agree, they do sound different and strange which was part of the reason why they were on my to-read list. :-)


message 20: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Cordelia wrote: "Approximately what dates are we considering reading this 5th read. I need to check my study calendar to see if I will have time to take part. If I dont have time I wont vote. But some of those book..."

Good question. We'll finish the Cicero discussion on 13th. Two weeks for an Interim read brings us to June 27th. Hume will run either four or six weeks; there are 12 parts, so it would be either two parts a week (six weeks) or three parts a week (4 weeks). I haven't fully decided yet, but I'm inclined at the moment to go for the six weeks. That brings us to August 8th (or if we go four weeks to July 25th). Two more weeks for an Interim Read, and we would start the Fifth read on either July 26 or August 9.

That schedule isn't graven in stone, but it's close. The only difference might be that because these are short weeks I might choose a shorter work for one or both of the Interim Reads and cut them to one week. Haven't decided yet. But hope this schedule gives you enough information for your planning purposes.


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Patrice wrote: "plutarch appeals to me because i love biographies and these are short. ."

I keep looking at Plutarch for possible Interim Reads. Haven't pulled the trigger yet because they're in pairs and doing two would be too long for an IR. But you make me wonder whether, with a fairly short series of reads, we could do a pair at the next two IRs. Not that I'm promising, but it's something to toss into the old thinker.


message 22: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Christopher wrote: "And a certain prejudice against Silas Marner as sappy, but what the hey."

I hated Silas Marner when I was forced to read (well, in my case to skim) it in high school (unfortunately no Cliff Notes back then!). But when I went back to it thirty or so years later, I loved it.

Some books just work better at different times in our lives.


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Cphe wrote: "Question - what would be the commencement date?"

See post below.


message 24: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Tamara wrote: "I think it depends on how much time we allocate for this. ."

We allocate as much time as the moderators think the book needs for quality discussion. We have read works in as short as four weeks; we have read some over several months (The Divine Comedy went 100 days, one per Canto; the Iliad and Odyssey went twelve weeks each, two books per week; Les Miserables took I don't know how long but it was a long read, and deserved the time we gave it. With a lighter novel, like Trollope, we would probably read on the general order of 100 pages a week; with heavier materials, fewer, sometimes considerably fewer.

Not sure that helps much, but it's the best I can say.


message 25: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 561 comments Any of the beach reads are fine with me. If we choose one of the heavier ones, I'll probably have to punt. Too much going on in August and early September.


message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Patrice wrote: "did they write them down? did they have writing?"

I don't know, but keep in mind that the Iliad and Odyssey were both oral tradition works for hundreds of years before they got written down.

We don't choose official translations in the group, so I'm not sure it matters that the edition on the bookshelf is out of print, though available in used copies; there appear to be other editions that are in print. But be a bit careful; people here have referred generally to the Icelandic Sagas; keep in mind that the nomination is for one specific saga, so if you go looking for a volume of Icelandic sagas, make sure it includes this complete saga.


message 27: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments Everyman wrote: "Tamara wrote: "I think it depends on how much time we allocate for this. ."

We allocate as much time as the moderators think the book needs for quality discussion. We have read works in as short a..."


Thanks for the clarification.
I was under the (mistaken) impression you had to get each read in within a specific number of weeks regardless of the length of the work and/or its content, which, now that i think about it, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Glad to know there's flexibility built into the system.
Thanks, again.


message 28: by Genni (new)

Genni | 837 comments I have Jane Smiley's edition of the Icelandic sagas mentioned by Susan and it does contain the Laxdaela Saga, if anyone is curious.


message 29: by Dan (new)

Dan | 13 comments Yes. More Plutarch. The rest of your elims seem very appropriate for beach reading.

I'm just finishing up Essays, Montainge, and almost all he does is talk about how much he loves to read Plutarch, how wonderful the stories are.


message 30: by Cordelia (new)

Cordelia (anne21) | 0 comments Everyman wrote: "Cordelia wrote: "Approximately what dates are we considering reading this 5th read. I need to check my study calendar to see if I will have time to take part. If I dont have time I wont vote. But s..."

Many thanks. I can work with that.


message 31: by Susan (new)

Susan | 387 comments Roger wrote: "James, The Principles of Psychology, would make quite a beach read! It happens I started working on it a few months ago. James is just starting the scientific approach to psychology (as opposed to ..."

The Life of Johnson has been on my to-read list ever since I read some of Boswell's journals in college. From the excerpts I've read, it could be "beach" reading. But I'm glad to know it's on the shelf so maybe its turn will be coming at some point...


message 32: by Susan (new)

Susan | 387 comments Patrice wrote: "are the Icelandic sagas part of the canon? have they influenced western literature? just curious."

Not my area of expertise but I do know Northern European literature in general was an influence on some English authors, including William Morris, C.S. Lewis, J.RR. Tolkien, and A.S. Byatt. And I suppose one could argue that Beowulf which is actually set in Scandavia is an Anglo-Saxon version of a saga....


message 33: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie The Life of Johnson has also been on my to-read list for a long time.


message 34: by Emma (new)

Emma (keeperofthearchives) I already have crime and punishment next to my bedside and was hoping to read that soon so it gets my vote.

This edition has been praised for translation and accessibility...
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2014/09/c...


message 35: by Nell (new)

Nell (sackvillepanza) | 35 comments Ditto on Crime and Punishment. I'd also vote for the weeded-out Nietzsche pick, as it never hurts to have some philosophy in the mix.


message 36: by Ashley (new)

Ashley  Frost (frosphate) | 4 comments Laxdaela Saga sounds really ingesting.


message 37: by Lily (last edited Jun 12, 2017 09:56AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments A. wrote: "Laxdaela Saga sounds really ingesting."

Meaning? [Obscure satire or simple typo or my thick-skull today?]


message 38: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments At 784 pages, it sounds ridiculously long, but Byron is referred to often in other literature and somehow this sounds like a vacation-time read:

"Byron's Don Juan blends high drama with earthy humour, outrageous satire of his contemporaries ... and sharp mockery of Western societies, with England coming under particular attack."

(I have never read Byron in the original and have long felt I "should" even though I suspect there is misogyny or at least chauvinism that will irritate. But probably fun and challenging, too.)


message 39: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 328 comments I intend in future read the original work that spreads the legend of Don Juan, El Burlador De Sevilla by Tirso de Molina.


message 40: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 531 comments Lily wrote: "At 784 pages, it sounds ridiculously long, but Byron is referred to often in other literature and somehow this sounds like a vacation-time read:

"Byron's Don Juan blends high drama wi..."


I was under the impression that Don Juan was the longest poem in the English language- it is roughly double the length of Chaucer's Troylus And Cryseyde (From The Harl. Ms. 3943) Compared With Boccaccio's Filostrato, but barely half the length of Spencer's Faerie Queen.

I don't think I've ever read more than the first two cantos. It's wonderfully discursive and 'casual.'

Is Eugene Onegin on our list?


message 41: by Shelley (new)

Shelley (omegaxx) | 55 comments I'll also cast a vote for Crime & Punishment. There's no one like good ol' Dostoyevsky to send chills up one's spines in the heat of the summer.

The other one that interests me on this list is Plutarch. I've been listening to Dan Carlin's history podcast on the fall of the Roman Republic and it's as riveting a political drama as I've ever imagined--would love to get in on the original.


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan | 387 comments Lily wrote: "At 784 pages, it sounds ridiculously long, but Byron is referred to often in other literature and somehow this sounds like a vacation-time read:

"Byron's Don Juan blends high drama wi..."


I read Don Juan in college, and I don't remember it as being that long even though I read the whole thing (honest). On Amazon, paperbacks seem to range from 350-400 pages?


message 43: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments The poll is up. Good for one week.


message 44: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Haven't heard much buzz for Gulliver's Travels. Since summer beach reading often comes after some traveling, seems like a reasonable choice. Of course, the same is true of the Canterbury Tales -- pilgrims taking a vacation receiving their beach reading through stories rather than books.

Hmmmm.


message 45: by Lily (last edited Jun 20, 2017 09:13AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Everyman wrote: "...Canterbury Tales -- pilgrims taking a vacation receiving their beach reading through stories rather than books. ..."

Been listening to Great Courses as my end of day activity, "The Medieval World," Dr. Dorsey Armstrong, Purdue. These are some of her guide's words about Canterbury Tales:

"As we move into the High Middle Ages—starting around the year 1000, the medieval world began to organize itself in terms of the hierarchical social structures we most often associate with it. This social structure is usually known as the three estates or the three orders. At the top of the hierarchy were the nobles—those who fought. The next tier was made up of members of the church—those who prayed. In many respects, this estate overlapped with the nobility, and the two often vied for prestige and power. At the bottom of the order was the largest group, the peasants—those who worked. They comprised 90–95 percent of the population. There was very little opportunity for advancement out of the lowest estate for most of the medieval period.

"Perhaps the best means of understanding the three-estates model can be found in an examination of the general prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Chaucer wrote at the end of the 14th century, a time when the model held powerful sway over the medieval imagination but its long static divisions were beginning to collapse. He was not the first to write in this literary genre, known as estates satire, but he is arguably the writer who did it best. He makes use of the stereotypes in new and interesting ways and included representatives of the rising merchant class."
....
"His next descriptions are of members of the clergy. Both the prioress and the monk play to stereotyped ideas about how the clergy often fell short of the ideals they were supposed to embody. It has been said that there is not an honest miller in all medieval English literature, and Chaucer plays true to that stereotype with his representation of the miller as a coarse, drunken, base fellow who regularly cheats his customers. The plowman, on the other hand, represents the ideal of the third estate—honest, hard-working, and utterly anonymous. Several pilgrims in the general prologue do not fit neatly into the three-estates model. Perhaps no figure displays this better than the Wife of Bath, whose status as a widow and a merchant contradicts traditional medieval ideas of both gender and class."

Dr. Armstrong uses a bit more of Chaucer in her lectures, but goes on to say Great Courses has one focused specifically on The Canterbury Tales .


message 46: by Tamara (last edited Jun 20, 2017 01:46PM) (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1458 comments Very interesting, Lily. Thank you.

Not too long ago I read Paul Strohm's Chaucer's Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury. It was fascinating.

Excerpt from my review:

Strohm walks you through Chaucer’s London: a time of political intrigue; unscrupulous merchants; traitors’ heads dangling on the tower scaffold; streets teeming with life; church bells peeling at regular intervals; people shouting and jostling through narrow, cobbled streets; strangers accosting each other, eager to share the latest gossip; and the stench of open sewers wafting through the atmosphere. Incredibly, against this chaotic and noisy and smelly background, Chaucer somehow managed to carve out time and space to write.
Strohm’s lively portrayal of London while charting Chaucer’s progression as a literary genius is a must read for lovers of Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales...


I was torn between choosing Canterbury Tales or Gulliver for our next read but finally opted for Gulliver. I'd be happy to do either.


message 47: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5012 comments Everyman wrote: "The poll is up. Good for one week."

It felt as if this poll was up for an exceptionally short time. (Yes, I managed to miss voting.) ;-(


message 48: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Lily wrote: "Everyman wrote: "The poll is up. Good for one week."

It felt as if this poll was up for an exceptionally short time. (Yes, I managed to miss voting.) ;-("


Well, a week is about average, but sorry you missed it. What would you have voted for??


message 49: by Cphe (new)

Cphe | 586 comments I also missed the voting and would have voted for the second nomination however it would have been read after Ulysses (and I don't know when I will finish that)

Note to self.......pay more attention!


message 50: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments The raw vote for this read was:

Crime and Punishment, 7
Laxdaela Saga, 5

However, the weighted vote was more significant:

Crime and Punishment, 13
Laxdaela Saga, 8

That's not close enough, I think, to require a run-off, so we'll be reading Crime and Punishment as our summer Classic Beach Read.

First, of course, we have Hume, which we will start next week.

Then, it will be time to get your Classic Beach Chair, Classic Sunglasses, and Classic Sunblock (SPF 50 or more!) and head to the Classic Beach.


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