Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015: The Year That Was

It's currently late afternoon on New Years Eve and I've been sitting here thinking about the year that was. I didn't have a good year, I'm not going to pretend I did, but I got through it and I'm finally feeling optimistic for the year ahead. Without getting into too much detail I had a lot of health issues, was hospitalised a few times and just generally had a bad time. I completely lost my love for reading, or to be more accurate I stopped loving a lot of things I used to love. I felt extremely bitter and negative and cynical all year. Whenever I have gone through difficult times before I could always turn to literature but not this time. I was alone. If it wasn't for a few friends I would have completely lost my mind. I was just not in a good place at all for a majority of this year.  I'm still not entirely sure how I got through it. But I did and I'm here and stronger than I was and ready to look ahead.

I didn't read much this year outside of assigned readings for University but my favourites out of the ones that I did read were:
  • On the Eve by Ivan Turgenev: I really loved this one. I had read Fathers and Sons the year before and I found On the Eve in a secondhand bookstore and it seemed like my type of book. And it was. Turgenev writes the most beautiful prose it just astounds me. He is also incredibly skilled at characterisation and I just sit in awe of him. This is a novel I'd rec everyone. 
  • The Bacchae and Other Plays by Euripides: These plays include the Bacchae, Ion, Helen and the Women of Troy. Hands down the best book I've read this year. These are the plays that made me fall in love with Euripides and I went on to read seven of his plays this year. He's one of my favourite writers and I cannot wait to discover more of his work next year. 
  • The Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert: This is a short story but it sure as hell packed a punch. It's the story of a simple woman who leads a simple life but is one of the most beautiful humans I've come across in literature. It just goes to show that a good heart of a simple woman is worth more than any number of aristocrats with 900 year old names. 
All the other works I read were great but those three were my absolute favourites. I am finally excited about reading again and I can't wait to begin 2016 with a bang. 

*******

I'll be spending New Years Eve night reading the Devils by Leo Tolstoy and maybe starting the Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (it's calling to me). Couldn't imagine a better way to spend the evening. See you all next year!

Monday, 28 December 2015

2016 Reading Challenges

Ah, what a glorious time of the year. The time where I compile lists and lists of texts I want to read in the following year knowing full well I'll completely fail every single one of them. I'm nothing if not optimistic (just kidding). I have limited the number of challenges I'm going to participate in this year and I've used the same titles for several challenges which might make completing them a little more manageable. I'm really looking forward to these challenges and I'm determined to complete at least a couple. So without further ado here are the challenges I'll be participating in during 2016:

Ancient Greek Reading Challenge:

I'm hosting this one and I think it's the one I'm most looking forward to. I fell in love with Sophocles last year, and Euripides this year and I can't wait to discover more of their work and the work of Aeschylus and Aristophanes as well. I'll be aiming to read around 30 Greek texts (mostly plays) in 2016. My rough list includes:
  • Ajax by Sophocles 
  • Electra by Sophocles 
  • Trachiniae by Sophocles 
  • Philoctetes by Sophocles 
  • The Knights by Aristophanes 
  • The Wasps by Aristophanes 
  • The Lysistrata by Aristophanes 
  • The Frogs by Aristophanes
  • The Peace by Aristophanes  
  • Rhesus by Euripides 
  • Medea by Euripides 
  • Electra by Euripides 
  • The Phoenician Maidens by Euripides 
  • Iphigenia Among the Tauri by Euripides 
  • Iphigenia At Aulis by Euripides 
  • Orestes by Euripides 
  • Hecuba by Euripides 
  • The Suppliants by Euripides 
  • The Suppliant Maidens by Aeschylus 
  • The Oresteia by Aeschylus 
  • The Persians by Aeschylus 
  • Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus 
  • On Poetics By Aristotle 
  • ++ I'll add to this list as I research more. 


                                                                           **********



I am super excited about this challenge. I was kicking myself all year for not joining at the start of 2015 because it seemed like something I could actually achieve. I've taken inspiration from O and Cleo and instead of choosing 52 straight short stories I'm going to split it into four distinct categories: Hearts will be Fairy Tales/Fables, Diamonds will be Plays, Clubs will be Short Stories and Spades will be poetry. Here is my list:

Hearts: Fairy Tales/Fables
Ace: The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Charles Perrault and Little Briar Rose by the Brothers Grimm
Two:
The Little Red Riding-Hood by Charles Perrault
Three: Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm
Four: Cinderella: or, The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault and Cinderella by the Brothers Grimm
Five: Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont
Six: Snow White by the Brothers Grimm and The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights by Aleksandr Pushkin
Seven: Aladdin and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves by Unknown
Eight: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
Nine: Rumplestiltskin by the Brothers Grimm
Ten: Aesop's Fables by Aesop
Jack: The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen
Queen: The Master Cat; or Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault
King: Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm 


Diamonds: Plays
Ace: The Alchemist by Ben Johnson
Two: Agamemnon by Aeschylus
Three: King Lear by William Shakespeare
Four: Medea By Euripides
Five: The Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Six: Othello by William Shakespeare
Seven: Electra by Sophocles
Eight: The Frogs By Aristophanes
Nine: The Love-Girl and the Innocent by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Ten: Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus
Jack: Bartholomew Fair by Ben Johnson
Queen: A Month in the Country by Ivan Turgenev
King: Fortune's Fool by Ivan Turgenev 


Spades: Short Stories


Ace: The Queen of Spades by Aleksandr Pushkin 
Two: The Cloak by Nikolai Gogol
Three: The District Doctor by Ivan Turgenev
Four: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
Five: Hide and Seek by Fyodor Sologub
Six: The Bet by Anton Chekov
Seven: Poems in Prose by Ivan Turgenev
Eight: Lazarus by Leonid Andreyev
Nine: The Diary of a Superfluous Man by Ivan Turgenev
Ten: The Outrage by Aleksandr Kuprin
Jack: One Autumn Night by Maxim Gorky
Queen: Three Portraits by Ivan Turgenev
King: White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 


Clubs: Poetry

Ace: Hero and Leander by Christopher Marlowe
Two: L'Allegro and Il Penseroso by John Milton
Three: Songs of Innocence by William Blake
Four: Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth
Five: Kubla Khan, This Lime-Tree Bower my Prison and Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Six: Adonais by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Seven: Ode; to Psyche, to a Nightingale, on Melancholy, on a Grecian Urn by John Keats
Eight: The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Tennyson
Nine: Hope, Remembrance and the Prisoner, A Fragment by Emily Bronte
Ten: The Waste Land and the Hollow Men by T.S Eliot
Jack: Twelve Songs by W.H Auden
Queen: Ariel and Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath
King: Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti 

             
**********



#Woolfalong: 

To the Lighthouse is one of my favourite books and Virginia Woolf is one of my favourite writers but I haven't read a lot of her work for some reason. I think I'm ready to dive into more of her writing so this challenge couldn't come at a better time. The books I'll be reading for this are:
  • January/February: Mrs Dalloway 
  • March/April: The Voyage Out AND Between the Acts 
  • May/June: A Haunted House and Other Stories 
  • July/August: Orlando
  • September/October: A Room of One's Own 
  • November/December: The Waves 


***********
Back to the Classics Challenge: 


I participated in this last year but I failed epically. I don't accept failure so here I am trying again. I love the different themes this year and I can't wait to get started. The books I'll be reading for this challenge are: 
  • A Nineteenth Century Classic: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • A Twentieth Century Classic: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 
  • A classic by a woman author: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • A classic in translation: Sketches From a Hunters Album by Ivan Turgenev 
  • A classic by a non-white author: Arabian Nights by Unknown 
  • An adventure classic: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe 
  • A fantasy, science fiction or dystopian classic: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien 
  • A classic detective novel: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins 
  • A classic which includes the name of the place in the title: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte 
  • A classic which has been banned or censored: The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli 
  • Re-read a classic you read in high school or college: Othello by William Shakespeare 
  • A volume of classic short stories: First Love and Other Stories by Ivan Turgenev 


***********

Women's Classic Literature Event 2016: 


The Classics Club is hosting this excellent event. I can't wait to get immersed in literature written by females! Here is my list of the books I plan to read for this event:
  • January:- Ban Zhao: Lessons for Women, Claudia Severa: Letters  
  • February:- Radegund: Letters, Empress Jito: Two Poems 
  • March:- Murasaki Shikibu: Tale of the Genji 
  • April:- Marie de France: The Lais 
  • May:- Hadeijch: Selected Poems 
  • June:- Christine de Pisan: The Book of the Duke of True Lovers
  • July:- Gwerful Mechain: Cywydd y Cedor 
  • August:- Lady Elizabeth Cary: The Tragedie of Mariam Fairie Queen of the Jewry
  • September:- Aphra Behn: Selected Writings
  • October:- Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • November:- George Eliot: Middlemarch OR Adam Bede
  • December:- Virginia Woolf: the Waves 


                                                                         ***********

Reading England/Reading London:

O at Behold the Stars is hosting Reading England again and although I won't officially state titles just yet I'm looking at reading a few novels written by English authors this year. Namely Defoe, Woolf, Dickens and the Brontes. I'll also be participating in O's Reading England Challenge by Reading London. The titles I'll be reading that are set in London are:
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 
  • Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe 
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens 
  • And I'm going to try and read a little of the Canterbury Tales. 


And I think that's it for challenges! Should be a fun year. 

:)

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Writer Challenge: The Complete Works of Ivan Turgenev

"Turgenev to me is the greatest writer there ever was." - Ernest Hemingway
I once tried to complete a writer's complete works (Shakespeare) and review each text but I didn't really get anywhere. Greater intellectuals and readers than me have bombed when trying to complete Shakespeare's Complete Works and in hindsight I definitely think it was rather overly ambitious of me to even try. I think I'm ready to try again albeit with a different writer. I've been thinking hard over the past six months about which writers body of work I could realistically read over a year or two and I've finally chosen one: Ivan Turgenev. I was tossing up between Turgenev, Euripides and Dostoyevsky but Euripides wouldn't pose much of a challenge due to a lot of his works being lost (I've read over half of his body of work anyway) and Dostoyevsky has a great number of novels and short stories that are quite challenging and I'd probably burn myself out. Turgenev is a good compromise as he has a handful of novels, a few plays, a mild amount of poetry and a large number of short stories so it's not too big of an undertaking but it will still be quite challenging. I've read two Turgenev novels (Fathers and Sons, On the Eve) and a few of his short stories and I absolutely love the work I've read so far. He's not just one of my favourite Russian writers; he's one of my favourite writers full stop. He's also incredibly underrated so I hope reading and reviewing his work will inspire others to do the same!

I have compiled a list of most of his work but it's still under construction as I'm hunting down a few of his lesser known short stories and poems. However, this list is almost complete and I am really looking forward to getting started in early 2016. Possibly before next year but I highly doubt it.



The Complete Works of Ivan Turgenev (2 / 42)

Novels: 
  • A Sportsman's Sketches (1852)
  • A House of Gentlefolk (1859)
  • On the Eve (1859)
  • First Love (1860)
  • Fathers and Sons (1861)
  • The Torrents of Spring (1872)
  • Home of the Gentry (1873) 
  • Virgin Soil (1877)
  • Rudin (1894)

Short Stories: 

  • A Correspondence 
  • A Desperate Character 
  • A Strange Story 
  • A Tour in the Forest 
  • An Unhappy Girl
  • Andrei Kolosov
  • Asya
  • Clara Militch 
  • Enough
  • Faust
  • Knock, Knock, Knock 10
  • Lieutenant Yergunov's Story
  • Mumu
  • Old Portraits
  • Phantoms
  • Poems in Prose
  • Punin and Baburin 
  • Pyetushkov
  • The Brigadier 
  • The Diary of a Superfluous Man
  • The District Doctor 20
  • The Dog
  • The Dream
  • The Duellist 
  • The Inn
  • The Jew 
  • The Rendezvous
  • The Song of Triumphant Love 
  • The Watch
  • Three Portraits 
  • Yakov Pasinkov 30

Plays: 

  • Fortune's Fool
  • A Month in the Country
  • A Provincial Lady


**************

I have a couple of posts planned before 2015 ends including a post detailing which challenges I'll be participating in in 2016 and looking back at the year that was. I also have plans to write a review of the Dostoyevsky Christmas short story I read on Christmas Eve. I'll be posting that as soon as I am able to. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Ancient Greek Reading Challenge 2016


ANCIENT GREEK
READING CHALLENGE
2016


I've been thinking over the past month or so which challenges I want to participate in for 2016 and as I absolutely love Ancient Greek texts I thought I'd host my first ever reading challenge. So, I am formally announcing the 2016 Ancient Greek Reading Challenge! The premise is simple: read as many Ancient Greek plays, essays, poetry etc as you possibly can from January to December 2016! I am attaching a list of Ancient Greek works in case anyone is stuck choosing texts!

General Rules: 

  • the Ancient Greek Reading Challenge 2016 runs from the 1st of January to the 31st of December 2016
  • I will be accepting sign ups throughout the rest of 2015 and all through 2016. 
  • You don't have to blog about each text, or any, but the purpose of this challenge is to encourage everyone to read Ancient Greek texts so it would be amazing if you spread Ancient Greek love around the blogosphere! 
  • If there is enough interest I'll make check in posts semi often so you can link your reviews or just general comments about this challenge as you see fit. 
  • Everything counts for this challenge: plays, essays, non-fiction history, poetry, fragments of texts, criticism etc. As long as it is an Ancient Greek text or a modern text about Ancient Greece it counts! I'll personally be reading texts from Ancient Greece and the Byzantine Era so you can make this challenge whatever you want it to be. 
  • I'll also love it if you would be interested in writing guest posts here related to this challenge. The more the merrier! 
  • Most of all HAVE FUN and spread your passion for Ancient Greek texts. This genre could always use more love. 

The Levels: 
  • Level One: 1-4 Texts 
  • Level Two: 4-6 Texts 
  • Level Three: 7-9 Texts 
  • Level Four: 10-12 Texts
  • Level Five: 12+ Texts 

I will be aiming for Level Five as I have plans to read as many Ancient Greek plays by the four greats (Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Aristophanes).


List of (some) Ancient Greek Texts: 
****a lot of ancient greek texts only survive in fragments but i've included these in this list if you're still interested in reading some of them
  • Homer: The Iliad and The Odyssey 
  • Hesiod: Works and Days and Theogony 
  • Archilochus of Paros: Fragments 
  • Sappho: Poems 
  • Alcaeus: Fragments 
  • Pindar: Epinikia and Fragments 
  • Aeschylus: The Suppliant Maidens, The Persians, The Seven Against Thebes, Prometheus Bound, Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides 
  • Sophocles: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra, Trachiniae, Philoctetes
  • Euripides: Rhesus, Medea, Hippolytus, Alcestis, Heracleidae, The Suppliants, The Trojan Women, Ion, Helen, Andromache, Electra, The Bacchae, Hecuba, Heracles Mad, The Phoenician Maidens, Orestes, Iphigenia Among the Tauri, Iphigenia At Aulis, The Cyclops
  • Aristophanes: the Archarnians, the Knights, the Clouds, the Wasps, the Peace, the Birds, the Frogs, the Lysistrata, The Thesmophoriazusae, the Ecclesiazusae, the Plutus
  • Herodotus: Histories 
  • Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War 
  • Xenophon: Anabasis, Apology, Symposium, Memorabilia 
  • Aristotle: Metaphysics, On the Soul, On Poetics, etc. A complete list can be found here (x)
  • Plato: Republic, On Justice, On Virtue, etc. A complete list can be found here: (x
  • Theocritus: Idylls and Epigrams
  • Callimachus: Hymns, Fragments 
  • Apollonius of Rhodes: Argonautica 
  • Menander: Fragments 


You can sign up below and don't forget to link your sign up post (if you will be writing one; it's not compulsory). I hope you will join me! 

Buttons for this challenge: 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Classics Club Spin #11

Ah, the time has come for another Classics Club Spin! I've never had to best success with completing any of the spins I've participated in but that doesnt mean I wont keep trying. 


The rules, as always, are:
  • Go to your blog.
  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Try to challenge yourself: list five you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog by next Monday.
  • Monday morning, we’ll announce a number from 1-20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted, and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce.
  • The challenge is to read that book by February 1, even if it’s an icky one you dread reading! (No fair not listing any scary ones!) 

My list is as follows: 

  1. Decameron - Giovanni Boccaccio 
  2. Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas 
  3. Three Comedies - Ben Johnson 
  4. Moll Flanders - Daniel Defoe 
  5. Arthurian Romances - Chretien de Troyes
  6. Arabian Nights - Anonymous
  7. Beowulf - Anonymous
  8. The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli 
  9. Divine Comedy - Dante 
  10. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
  11. Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens 
  12. The Iliad - Homer
  13. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  14. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
  15. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert 
  16. Silas Marner - George Eliot
  17. The Waves - Virginia Woolf 
  18. Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer 
  19. Orlando Furioso - Ludovico Ariosto 
  20. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy 

I chose novels/plays/other texts that all will challenge me. A lot of them are very long and/or very intimidating.
Can't wait to see what I'll be reading. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [Fit I]

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Sir Gawayn and þe Grene Knyȝt) is a 14th century Arthurian chivalric romance, written by an unnamed writer who is often referred to as the Pearl Poet, which is split into four parts called FITS. In each fit there are many short stanzas which all end with a rhyming bob and wheel (the "bob" is a short line, usually not longer than two syllables and the "wheel" is made up of longer lines with internal rhyme). The poem follows Sir Gawain, one of the Knights of the Round Table, as he takes up a "beheading challenge" forced on him by the Green Knight, a mythic figure whom is said to be an allusion to Christ or a representation of the Green Knight of Welsh folklore. As said in another post last week I will be splitting up my Sir Gawain and the Green Knight reviews into four parts (Fit I, II, III, IV) and a general concluding post. This post will review FIT I. 

                                                              
                                                                           FIT I


Fit I is made up of twenty one stanzas with twenty four lines in each which include a five line bob and wheel at the end of each stanza. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight opens with a fictional account of the founding of Britain, describing the Fall of Troy and how heroes from that battle split up and founded the cities of Rome, Tuscany and Briton. The poem then introduces King Arthur, the most legendary King there ever was, and tells how the narrator will relate a story he heard in a hall about a great Arthurian adventure:

Straightaway shall I speak it, in the city as I heard it, 
With tongue; 
As scribes have set is duly
In the lore of the land so long, 
With letters linking truly
In story bold and strong.    

The narrator then moves on to the present, Christmastime in Camelot (New Years Day to be exact). King Arthur, Guinevere, the Knights of the Round Table and other lords have been feasting for fifteen days, and it's now New Years Day. The court participates in the giving and receiving of gifts and then they sit down to feast. The narrator then describes the court of Camelot in beautiful verse:

Friday, 6 November 2015

WOMEN'S CLASSIC LITERATURE EVENT 2015-2016

                                                        


The Classics Club recently announced a fourteen month Women's Classic Literature Event. The premise is simple: you read as many works written by a female writer as you see fit throughout the next year and two months. You can focus on one woman's body of work or you can mix it up. I've decided to mix it up and separate the titles I want to read into different centuries. For the first three months I'll be reading Ancient texts written by women so there will be more texts as a majority of those are only fragments or short poems. As I move into medieval literature I'll just focus on one book per month, with some notable exceptions. I'm really looking forward to this event and I cannot wait to start. Here is the outline (it's subject to change) of what I want to read over the next fourteen months:

November - Pre 4th Century BC:
  • Enheduanna: The Adoration of Inanna of Ur, The Sumerian Temple Hymns
  • Sappho of Lesbos: Fragment 105(a), Fragment 105(c), One Girl, [I asked myself/What, Sappho, can...], [It's no use/Mother dear...], [To an army wife, in Sardis]
  • Erinna: The Distaff, Epigrams 

December - 4th to 1st Century BC
  • Nossis: The Twelve Epigrams 
  • Phintys: On Chastity (dubious authorship)
  • Cornelia Africana: Letters (dubious authorship)
  • Sulpicia: Poems I, II, III, IV, V, VI

January - 1st Century to 4th Century AD:
  • Julia Balbilla: Epigrams I, II, III, IV
  • Ban Zhao: Lessons for Women
  • Claudia Severa: Letters
  • Cai Wenji: Poem of Sorrow and Anger 
  • Etheria: Peregrinatio 

February - 6th Century to 10th Century AD:
  • Radegund: Letters
  • Empress Jito: Two Poems 
  • Ono no Komachi: Selected Poems 

March - 11th Century AD
  • Murasaki Shikibu: Tale of the Genji 

April - 12th Century AD
  • Marie de France: The Lais, Arthurian Legends 

May - 13th Century AD
  • Hadewijch: Selected Poems, Selected Plays

June - 14th Century AD
  • Catherine of Siena: Letters
  • Christine de Pisan: The Book of the Duke of True Lovers

July -  15th Century AD
  • Gwerful Mechain: Cywydd y Cedor 

August - 16th Century AD
  • Lady Elizabeth Cary: The Tragedie of Mariam the Fairie Queen of the Jewry
  • Vittoria Colonna: Selected Poems 

September - 17th Century AD
  • Aphra Behn: Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister, Selected Plays

October - 18th Century AD
  • Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Selected Letters

November - 19th Century AD
  • George Eliot: Middlemarch

December - 20th Century AD
  • Virginia Woolf: The Waves, A Room of One's Own 

Now that took a long time but I am more than happy about my list. The Classics Club also posted a survey to fill out: 


                                                       ************************

Introduce yourself. Tell us what you are most looking forward to in this event.
My name is Keely, I'm 23 and I'm Australian. I'm most looking forward to exploring not just classics written by women in my time, and in my part of the world, but throughout time and in different places.

Have you read many classics by women? Why or why not?
Well I thought I had but as I was researching works written by women I realised I haven't read as many as I thought. It was quite surprising as I do actively try and choose novels to read by women.

Pick a classic female writer you can’t wait to read for the event, & list her date of birth, her place of birth, and the title of one of her most famous works.
Murasaki Shikibu is probably the female writer I'm most looking forward to reading as part of this event. She is Japanese, was born between 973 and 978 AD and was a lady in waiting in the Japanese Imperial Court. Her most famous work is The Tale of the Genji which I'll be reading in March of next year if all goes to plan. 

Think of a female character who was represented in classic literature by a male writer. Does she seem to be a whole or complete woman? Why or why not? Tell us about her.
Hmm. I think I'll go with one of the fictional females I discovered this year: Felicité from A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert. She's not a strong heroine by any means, she's actually quite simple, however I think it's important to talk about different kinds of women in literature. Not just the Elizabeth Bennets and Jane Eyres. She leads a quiet life as a servant, she lets people take advantage of her, but she is loyal, has a good heart and loves deeply and openly. Gustave Flaubert did an incredible job with her and everyone should read this short story. It's important. 

Favorite classic heroine? (Why? Who wrote her?)
Talk about impossible questions. It's a toss up between Emma Woodhouse from Emma and Anne Eliot from Persuasion, both written by Jane Austen, but I'm going to have to go with Anne. I can't really describe the impression Anne Eliot left on me. She's quite melancholic throughout the novel and I just related to her on several different levels. She's a much better person than I will ever be but her inner strength gave me strength to stand up for myself. I'll never forget the first time I read Persuasion and I'll never forget Anne. 

We’d love to help clubbers find great titles by classic female authors. Can you recommend any sources for building a list? (Just skip this question if you don’t have any at this point.)
I used https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Women_writers_by_century as my main source for compiling my list of books written by women I want to read and it's a great starting point.

Recommend three books by classic female writers to get people started in this event. (Again, skip over this if you prefer not to answer.)
Any novel written by any Bronte (specifically Anne and Emily Bronte), any of Jane Austen's novels (Emma and Persuasion are my personal favourites), To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. 

Will you be joining us for this event immediately, or will you wait until the new year starts?
Immediately, I already have plans for November. I need to get cracking. 

Do you plan to read as inspiration pulls, or will you make out a preset list?
I've compiled a list already but it's subject to change. 

Are you pulling to any particular genres? (Letters, journals, biographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, etc?)
The texts I've chosen are mostly essays, poetry, letter, plays and novels. I tried to make it as varied as possible. 

Are you pulling to a particular era or location in literature by women?
Definitely not. There are multiple eras that make up my list and the geographic split is quite varied.

Is there an author or title you’d love to read with a group or a buddy for this event? Sharing may inspire someone to offer.
It would be nice to read Tale of the Genji with someone but it's a big commitment.

Share a quote you love by a classic female author — even if you haven’t read the book yet.
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”  - Jane Austen, Persuasion 

Finally, ask the question you wish this survey had asked, & then answer it.
Which text are you starting with? Enheduanna's Hymns and Poetry. 

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Which female novelists are you reading for this event? Are you as excited as I am? 
Happy reading!


Thursday, 29 October 2015

October Classics Club Meme Question

It's been a very long time since I've updated but I've been so busy with University this year and, as a result, I haven't had time to read many books that aren't assigned for my classes. I've also been in one of the worst, if not the worst, ruts of my reading life. I've had to read a lot of books (mostly very dry books) for my classes and it's kind of sucked the life out of my love of reading. But University commitments are slowing down (last day of the semester is tomorrow!) and I finally have time to read books I want to read. I noticed the Classics Club posted a meme question for October, and being I'm in a rather spooky mood, I've decided to dedicate my first post since June (!) to answering that question.

The question is: "Tell us about your favourite or most terrifying, frightening, or eerie classic (novel, poem, short story) you have ever read." Thinking about the texts in the "horror/thriller" genre I've read I can't really think of many. I read more eerie texts than straight up horror and even then I haven't read many that can be classified as terrifying, frightening or eerie. With that said I have read a lot of 19th century Gothic novels and short stories as well as short stories and novellas post 1900. Instead of choosing one (which I just can't do) I'll choose a few and write a sentence or two on each. Hopefully if you haven't read some of these you'll put them on your TBR's!

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I'll start with Gothic novels I've read that have really seeped into my veins and still haven't quite left. Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole. I really loved it, although the punctuation and pace was almost unbearable at times, and even though it's not a scary story the atmosphere was eerie and it is obvious why it's remained a novel that's read to this day. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, although short, is one of the most terrifying books I've ever read. I am not surprised Stevenson's wife hated it nor am I surprised that Stevenson burned the manuscript (only to write it again in three days). It's a sharp prick of a novel, short but very frightening and I can't wait until I read it again one day. Olalla, another story written by Robert Louis Stevenson, was also quite eerie and frightening. It's a vampire story that influenced Bram Stoker so for that reason it has to be on every Dracula fan's TBR list. Dracula, by Bram Stoker is probably my favourite "terrifying" novel. It's long, and it's dense, and it's not perfect by any means but it's a monster of a book in every sense of the word. A must read for every fan of horror, vampires or the 19th century argument between the supernatural world and the world of science. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is one of my all time favourite novels. It is another novel that discusses science vs the supernatural and Mary Shelley created one of the most terrifying monsters in literature. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle is the last novel/novella I'll discuss in this post. It was terrifying, so terrifying that I couldn't sleep without dreaming of the hound for a week. Maybe that's because it doesn't take much to terrify me but the atmosphere was so eerie and the Hound was so terrifying. My favourite Sherlock Holmes novel so far.


I'll leave it there as this post is getting long but I also have a lot of favourite gothic and "eerie" short stories and poems. Most of which are written by Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven and the Tell Tale Heart stand out amongst the many short stories and poetry Edgar Allan Poe produced during his lifetime. I think I'll spend Halloween night reading some of them again and if I do hopefully I'll be able to write up a post about them.


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I'm currently reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by (Unknown) and I've decided to ease myself back into reviewing books by splitting my Sir Gawain reviews into separate posts. The first post, reviewing the first "Fit", will be up sometime before Sunday. Happy reading! 



Saturday, 20 June 2015

Winter, and other things;


Oh, Winter. Trees are bare, skies are grey, my fingers are blue and my toes are icicles. What a glorious season...

As you can probably tell Winter is not my favourite time of year. I live in a warm climate and Winter often comes fast and without warning. Well, there is plenty of warning but I never take any notice. Winter has one redeeming quality: it provides the ideal atmosphere for reading, especially at night. You know the atmosphere: blankets, hot drink of choice (I often go with hot chocolate or green tea at night, coffee in the mornings), layers of clothing, a lamp, hot water bottles, fire, heaters etc. I haven't been able to enjoy that as of yet, due to exam preparation, exams and other things that took up my time but now I have six weeks off and can read till my heart is content. 

Usually I have lists for each season, and what I think would be good novels/plays/etc to read in different seasons but this year I've just thrown all plans out the window and it's worked out well for me so far. I do want to get to two books this Winter though, and post about them on here. I've been thinking of doing an Aeneid/the Divine Comedy comparison read for a while now. I haven't read the Aeneid before (I know) and from what I have read of the Divine Comedy, I think it would be a good piece to read before I start my new copy of the Divine Comedy. This year I've pretty much only been reading plays/essays/poetry from the Ancient World and the Aeneid is next on my list. As well as reading them I want to split the Aeneid into sections so I can review it in depth. In my copy there are ten books, so ten posts plus a final review of the Aeneid as a whole. I haven't worked out how I'm going to review the Divine Comedy, probably in three sections and then a final review. That should take me all Winter, and possibly a little longer due to other commitments. I am planning to start the Aeneid straight after I have finished Hippolytus by Euripides. So definitely in the next week. Alongside the Aeneid/Divine Comedy I plan to read various plays/novels/poetry to balance my reading. I don't want to burn myself out with epics! I'm not sure which novels I'll pick up but I have a few in mind. I'll just see where the wind takes me. 

Also, Austen in August, hosted by Adam, is coming up towards the end of Winter and I want to read at least one Austen novel for that. I read Persuasion, Emma (only one in August), Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey last year, but Sense and Sensibility was a failed read - I just couldn't get into it. I think this August I might read Mansfield Park but I wont be making any solid plans in case they don't work out. 

Hope you're all having a lovely reading season so far (Summer for my readers in the Northern Hemisphere - which is most of you I would think).

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Ion, by Euripides

If there isn't incest, murder, fratricide
and at least eighty percent of the
characters being fathered by Zeus, is it
really an Ancient Greek play?
"When our oppressor is all powerful, where shall we fly for justice?" 

Ion, an Ancient Greek play by Euripides, was supposed to have been written between 414 and 412 B.C and is defined as a tragedy, although it's definitely not as tragic as a majority of Euripides plays. Ion shares common themes with other plays written by Euripides such as religious scepticism, the clash of God's and men, the injustices suffered by women, and features Greek Gods (Hermes, Apollo) which is another common thread that is weaved into not just Euripides plays, but plays by other Greek playwrights as well.

Ion opens with Hermes, a Greek God, detailing how Apollo raped an Athenian woman named Creusa in a cave under the Acropolis. Creusa, not being able to live with what Apollo did to her, left her son (Ion) in a basket in the cave where Apollo raped her, expecting that the child would be devoured by beasts. I've been an avid reader of Greek Mythology for a long time, and I knew of this story, but I was still horrified with Apollo raping Creusa, and Creusa leaving her child to be eaten by beasts. Later in the play, Euripides put doubt in the mind of the reader/viewer that Apollo raped Creusa, and subtly suggests that something even darker happened (Creusa being raped by another man) but he leaves it up to the reader to decide which of these events they want to believe.

After this opening, the play moves to Apollo's temple in Delphi where the child of Creusa lives and works. Ion is sweeping outside the temple when Creusa arrives, having made the journey to Delphi with her husband to pray to Apollo to give them children. Creusa meets Ion, not knowing he is her son, outside the temple and talk about various subjects, including the injustices women suffer at the hands of men and God's. Cruesa expresses her outrage to Ion about how women are viewed and judged:

"Life is harder for women than for men: they judge us, good and bad together, and hate us. That is the fate we are born to"

The injustices women suffer is a major theme in Ion, as well as several of Euripides other plays (Women of Troy, Helen, Medea). For an Ancient Greek play, it's rather progressive for it's time from a feminist standpoint. Euripides, oddly, has a reputation as a misogynist, but perhaps I just haven't gotten to his misogynist plays yet. It's a sad fact that, two and a half thousand years after Ion was written, women and minorities still suffer similar injustices as they did in Ancient Greece. Forget sad, it's rather horrifying.

Another major theme in Ion is religious scepticism, which I imagine was rather controversial in Ancient Greece. Through Creusa and Ion, Euripides expresses his outrage at how hypercritical the Gods are and at how immoral they are, yet they hold humans to a high standard and punish men for committing similar acts:

"If you are to pay to men the lawful indemnity for every rape you commit, you will empty your temples to pay for your misdeeds. It is unjust for you Apollo, and Poseidon and Zeus, to call men bad for copying what you find acceptable."

Although called Ion, this play is more about Creusa and her plight. I truly loved this play, and felt very sympathetic towards Creusa and her tragic life. It is, like all of Euripides' plays that I have read, very well written and is packed full of raw emotion. I really felt what the characters were feeling and those kind of plays are the ones I love the most. The plays that make you feel right down to the marrow in your bones. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who loves the play form, Ancient Greek plays, Greek Mythology and texts about women and the injustices they suffer.

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(Ion is the first play in the Penguin Classics collection The Bacchae and Other Plays, written by Euripides. I've read the second play, the Women of Troy, and that review will be coming soon. I'm also currently reading Helen which I am loving. I can safely say that Euripides is one of my favourite playwrights, not just from Ancient Greece, but across time.)