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.