Archive for the ‘Books in Exile’ Category

The Daughter of Time–A Different Species of Murder Mystery

Josephine Tey  §  The Daughter of Time  (1951)

Image of "Josephine Tey"   The Daughter of Time

 

Josephine Tey, the English mystery writer, is as good as Agatha Christie.  She wasn’t as prolific – AG was kind of like the Barbara Cartland of mysteries – but her command of detail and plot construction is a wonder of precision and creativity.  Like the writing in Fawlty Towers. TDoT is a great novel for mystery lovers and a stupendous novel for English history buffs.  I don’t know how much is fact and how much is made up for the novel, but the logic supporting Richard III’s innocence is quite seductive.  I consider this novel a different species because it’s not a “whodunnit”, it’s a “howdunnit” – a clinical dissection of a crime, leading to a bold, brick-by-brick deconstruction of a legend.  Shockingly good; refreshingly intellectual.

In a nutshell, the story is about how a detective who’s on injury leave gets bored and entertains himself by looking at pictures of faces. Wearing his detective hat, he does psychological profiles of the faces.  He comes across a pic of Richard 3 that his friend Marta brought him from the V&A.  First of all, he’s never been a big fan of the common belief that R3 murdered his two nephews who were imprisoned in the Tower.  He’s a detective – he doesn’t take anything for granted.  Then he starts reading about the family history.  He reads Sir Thomas More’s version; then a former governess’s biography of R3s mom, then lots of conversations and ruminations about the character of R3 himself.  It’s all very mental. But you have to get to about Chapter 6 or 7 for all the interesting stuff to start.

For all the amazing and tantalizing conjecture of the story, Tey gets off to a slow start with tin-eared exposition for about the first five chapters. That’s why this book sat on my shelf for six years before I got past Chapter 1.  But by Chapter 6, the pieces of the plot start to come together – the detective is going to solve the mystery of R3 and the murder of the nephews.  For all that the beginning chapters were painfully dry and spiritless, the middle chapters all the way to the end were full of spirited and percussive banter.  It seems that the only emotion that was not frowned on as being vulgar was merciless reproach.  Any kind of happiness or good spirits, such as Marta exhibited, was looked on with disdain.  This book was written in 1951, so the attitudes are quite dated. 

However, the conversations the detective has with the intern and his friends about what they are finding out about R3 are rather a lot of fun.  There’s friendly humor and wit.  If you stick with it, you will be rewarded by what the detective finds out about R3 and the people around him that we who have read Shakespeare’s R3 will be shocked to consider.  We will be shocked that we agree.  We will be shocked that we overlooked so much, that we jumped on the “tonypandy” wagon.  There’s a word for the ages, btw.

Through dialogue and rumination, whole chapters are devoted to the dissection of the life of R3 and his family and their times.  There’s a lot of “whys” and “how coulds”.  You know who should read this novel?  JOURNALISTS!  You could make a lot of comparisons between this book and ANIMAL FARM.  We believe what we’ve been “trained” to believe.  Our textbooks are a load of bollix.  They just perpetuate an entire spectrum of lies: flat-out lies, half-truths, omissions, statistics, bogus witnesses, bad translations, political expediency.  That’s the lie that lies at the heart of this story – political expediency.  I won’t give away the shocking conclusion.  I don’t even know if all the details  of the reign of R3 featured in this story are true, but they are so much fun to read, it would be cool if they were.

pearl11

Product DetailsRichard the ThirdRichard III and the Murder in the Tower

 

Richard III: Maligned KingCicely; Or, the Rose of Raby [By A. Musgrave].

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ANTIQUE TEXTBOOKS – STORIES IN VERSE, LYRIC VERSE

  • Lyric Verse by Edwin Rakow

  • Stories in Verse by Max T. Hohn

I wish I could remember where I found these.  I know it was a used book sale.  These two editions from the late 1960s are starting to fall apart.  And the cover art is some of the worst I’ve ever seen! lol.  Very bland, non-committal, faux-psychedelia. Ugh! 

These editions are from 1962 and were used at one of our local high schools – in 1968.  Imagine – using the same textbook from 1962 to 1972 – in light of all that was happening in the world?!  Ten years is eight years too long to be using the same books. 

LYRIC VERSE has some really useful bits apart from the content.  It has a foreword to the “teachers who will use this book” and a another to the “students who will use this book”.   Then the section titles are rare examples of humanity and humor. 

  • “Sources of Pleasure in Lyric Verse”
    —   “Lyric Laughter” – includes limericks, parodies, satire, macabre, nonsense
    —   “Emotional Outlet and Growth” – Wow! Really?  You would never find something like this in a Norton anthology. 
    —    “Music in Words”
    —    “Sharpened Sense Antennae”  (possibly one of the coolest titles I’ve run across in a poetry book) – highlights symbolic language
    —    “The Vision of The Ideal
  • “More Lyric Verse to Read for Enjoyment” –NEVER would you see language like that in Norton

And guess who appears A LOT! in this book! Go on…guess…RICHARD ARMOUR!!! The Don Rickles of poetry!  I love that guy.  The selections that appear in the book are his own – not parodies of the work of others.  You never see Armour any more.  Retired, I guess.  Much less in any kind of anthology.  Being the 1960s, this book is unselfconsciously eurocentric.  It’s all American and British authors.

There’s a kind of sociological archeology to being a book hunter-gatherer.  If you read my “Books in Exile” category, you’ll notice that I mention any odd bits that I find in used books.  This set was no exception. This I found in LV

math paper in lyric bk0001 along with this:  found photo with this drawn on the backside: drawing0001

Then in SiV, I found this:

letr to claudia0001 I’m guessing this book belonged to the person who received the letter. Hee!  Typewriters…aahhh, good times, good times.

Using standard searches (www.amazon.com, various search engines), nothing much comes up on the author Rakow.  Apparently, he didn’t do much after LV.  Or at least, he didn’t get published.  I have it categorized as “Books in Exile” because I only ever take it out in April.  Unlike most supplementary school books, this one is an easy read.  It’s not got cumbersome footnotes that make you feel guilty because you bypass them.  Instead of that, it has easily interpreted section titles and excellent examples of each poetic device.  So it might not be a bad bit of bookage to carry around in your purse for when you’re in line at drive-throughs.  The cover looks completely humble, and the fact that it’s so old and worn, you don’t have to worry that some local yokel will give you the stink-eye for acting literate in public. 

It hit me recently how and why schools are killing reading: they are too cheap to collect proper literature for instruction in reading skills.  Have you ever seen or read an Acknowledgements page in an anthology?  All of that text is a collection of acquired permissions to use real literature.  That’s expensive.  And that’s all the reason they need not to do it.  But that’s another rant for another day.

STORIES IN VERSE:  This one is designed (using the term loosely) in the same mold as LYRIC VERSE.  Copyright-free anti-art on the cover.  Three intro bits, except that SiV has “To the boys and girls who will use this book” instead of “students”.  Interesting…in a not-really-at-all-interesting-yet-different kind of way.  I have to say, though, that I really like the section titles.

   “Finding Enjoyment in Narrative” (Thank you!)
   “Finding Enjoyment in The Music of Poetry” (Hellooo!)
   “Finding Enjoyment in Poetic Imagery”  (Yeah! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!)
   “How to Read Blank Verse, Ballads for Enjoyment”  (Yes! and Yes!)

It’s oddly comforting how Euro-centric this book is – even more so than LV. And yet…and yet – it contains an excerpt from the Sanskrit poem PANCHATANTRA and a Yiddish story by Isaac Leib Peretz.  It’s like buttah!  Even a Chinese story, “The Emperor” by Tu Fu.  I don’t know if Hohn did this on purpose, but a lot of the poems have to do with American history. 

    • “Pocahontas” by Thackeray
    • “The First Thanksgiving Day” by Margaret Junkin Preston
    • “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Longfellow
    • “Independence Bell”  (Anonymous)
    • A ballad of Nathan Hale
    • “Molly Pitcher” by Kate Brownlee Sherwood
    • “The Pioneer” by William B. Ruggles
    • “Kit Carson’s Ride” by Joaquin Miller

Another unique quality of SiV is that in includes an unusual number of female writers.  Very open-minded considering the times. If you’ve ever watched “Mad Men”, you know what I mean.

So these editions are very much of their time as far as material.  Yet, they address what I think we really want out of poetry instead of soulless textbook drek.  Maybe that’s the difference – they’re NOT  textbooks.  They are simply very good anthologies.  They are what used to be called “readers”.  I think we need to go back to this. Simple books.  “Snapple” books.  Full of the best stuff on earth.  With no preservatives. 

WE ARE THE PRESERVATIVES. 
WE carry the knowledge with us. 
WE discuss among us. 
WE decide inside 
US!

 

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CLASSICAL LATIN POETRY: THE ECLOGUES OF VIRGIL

 

“My past’ral muse her humble tribute brings;

And yet not wholly uninspir’d she sings:

For all who read, and, reading, not disdain

These rural poems, and their lowly strain,…

For he who sings thy praise, secures his own.”

Virgil.  “Silenus”, Lines 9-12, 18

     There’s a scene in Never Been Kissed where Drew Barrymore is in class and Michael Vartan, who plays the teacher, is talking…blah blah blah…like teachers do.  He asks if anyone knows where the word “pastoral” originated from, and Drew’s character mentioned that the idea originated from the Eclogues of Virgil.  Well, to a teacher who’s probably used to mental

 

mediocrity from the average high schooler, he gets blown away by what he sees as her unusually deep knowledge.  Here it is on www.youtube.com.  Now, let’s be clear: it was deep because how many American high schoolers have even heard of Classical Latin poetry in the average American high school? EXACTLY! You get it now? Mr. Teacher Man was impressed as hell and couldn’t hide it. 

That said, I thought it sounded familiar so I looked through my collection, and Hey! I have two editions of THE LATIN POETS from The Modern Library.  I even blogged them a couple of summers ago.  [Oldies But Goodies] Essentially, the eclogues are a collection of poems written about country life – just like Josie says.  That’s it.  It really isn’t complicated at all.  What gets super deep are the associations that the word pastoral has with Christianity.  Jesus Christ is referred to as a shepherd.  We are lost lambs, etc.  Bishops use a staff stylized on a shepherd’s staff.  In Spanish, food cooked on a spit outside is referred to as “al pastor” — “shepherd-style”.  Pretty cool, I think.

The Modern Library version that I have does a great job of keeping the lyricism and rhyme as much as possible. And the topics are quite earthly.   “Tityrus and Meliboeus” is an amusing and entertaining dialogue between two blokes.  Then there’s “Alexis” – the lamentation of a young “shepherd swain” named Corydon. He reminds me of Adam Sandler on SNL when Shannen Doherty was on the show and Sandler did a skit where he was the host of a show where he tried to get her back. He was moaning and whining for her to come back to him. That’s what the poem is – Corydon crying for Alexis.  Sammy Hagar wrote a song back in the 70s with the same theme: “I’ve Done Everything for You”, which was covered in 1982 by Rick Springfield.  Good song. Check it out.

If you’re looking for a good reference to the ten eclogues, try The Internet Classics Archive (and please donate to keep it ad-free).  Similar in theme to the Eclogues are the Georgics, but I don’t have an edition of those – yet.

pas·to·ral

 /ˈpæstərəl, ˈpɑstər-/ Show Spelled[pas-ter-uhl, pah-ster-] Show IPA

–adjective

1.  having the simplicity, charm, serenity, or other characteristics generally attributed to rural areas: pastoral scenery; the pastoral life.

2.  pertaining to the country or to life in the country; rural; rustic.

3.  portraying or suggesting idyllically the life of shepherds or of the country, as a work of literature, art, or music: pastoral poetry; a pastoral symphony.

4.  of, pertaining to, or consisting of shepherds.

5.  of or pertaining to a pastor or the duties of a pastor: pastoral visits to a hospital.

6.  used for pasture, as land.

 

RECOMMENDED EDITIONS:

Product Details                  Product Details                  Product Details

Never Been Kissed

LEPRECHAUNS NEVER LIE

Leprechauns Never Lie

 

COPYRIGHT 1994; WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY LORNA BALIAN

A cute story that contains all the Irish pastoral stereotypes: a poor farm, a gran and her granddaughter on the edge of starvation, no potatoes, no water, and no easy solutions. Oy!  The little girl and her gran get into it with the leprechaun.  You know how it goes: they want the wee man to tell them where the pot o’gold is.  He keeps saying it’s in one place, but when the girl goes to look, she can’t find it.  In the meantime, with all the hunting around for the pot, the roof gets re-thatched, the water gets drawn from the river, and the potatoes get harvested.  Mr. Wee Leprechaun is crazy like a fox.  Hoo-boot!

The edition I have is from the 90s.  This one on the left is from the 2004 edition.  Way better.  My old one looks like a low-budget job with it’s brown cover, generic-looking artwork and sepia text.  The artwork is all sepia, too, except the leprechaun who is always painted in green.  Not a bad idea, but the muddy brown of the cover is a turn-off. 

This is a stupid thing to be concerned about, but the story mentions that gran and girl live on potato soup.  That’s it.  Like it’s okay.  No fruits, no bread. No meat.  I don’t know why it’s freaking me out, but it does.

Here’s another book that I have that’s quite nice:

Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk (Picture Puffins)

QPB BOOK OF IRISH LITERATURE

Since I’m running out of March, I figured I’d double up.  During the first year of this blog, it was a regular thing to blog a group of books.  Lately, I’m not doing as much and only blogging one book at a time for the most part.  Just phases, I think.  I got this volume through the Quality Paperback Book Club in 1999.  They’re a nice lot. Good bargains.  But, Oh my God, it took me about two years to shake them off, bless their hearts.  This is a big, fat volume so you don’t read it all through immediately.  Choose your section and dig in.  You may not like everything, but you’ll be impressed by the skill.  It’s an interesting collection.  It’s a lot more thorough than what you’d see in, say “The Norton Anthology of Everything That’s Ever Been Written in Europe Ever”.  Yes, it has familiar standards such as Brinsley Sheridan, but it also has his mother, a great-great granddaughter and his son.  Lashings of Yeats, Shaw, Synge, and Oscar.  Joyce, Heaney, and O’Casey, and an atypical bit o’Beckett.

The editors were savvy about including writers not particularly popular outside of Ireland, but who are staples of native literature.  Kind of like in the Norton Anthology of American Lit, you might find Amy Lowell, but not in their World Lit collection.  There’s also a ridiculous wealth of prose styles: letters, dialogues, novel excerpts (guess who…), the complete “Playboy of The Western World”, and short stories.  There’s poetry as well.  Great poetry.  Illustrations are kind of lame.  Real bargain basement clip art.  If y’all were going to be that cheap about it, why put it in at all?  The Irish manipulate English to an astonishing degree.  They’re like sorcerers, bending phrases to their will and mesmerizing you with all the connotative possibilities.  Sentences are like prisms, turned this way and that, phrases reflecting shades of meaning.  And that’s just the prose! The poetry? Fuggedaboutit!

I made an interesting discovery.  In “Sailing to Byzantium” by Yeats, the first line is “That is no country for old men.”  Sound familiar? Cool! I did not remember that it came from that poem.  Where I live is no place for the living.  People have more in common with a nest of fire ants ‘round these parts. 

The book is for sale at  Amazon through sellers.   It might be available through eBay.  It’s really a super collection.  I’m not a huge fan of Norton books anymore.  They try to be too many things to too many readers.  When you’re reading Joyce, it’s helpful to have a Latin phrasebook handy.  Here’s the search results at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

THE VOICE OF JOYCE: WHAT WAS AFTER THE UNIVERSE?

 

I have this volume containing DUBLINERS and PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN that I got at Barnes&Noble a few years back. I’ve adapted and adopted a couple of bits that “Stephen” wrote in one of his books at college.

clip_image001

  •  Swetergrl
  • “Class of Elements” – Woman
  • South Texas
  • United States of America
  • The World
  • The Universe

Swetergrl is my name,

America is my nation.

Border Plains my “dwellingplace”

And Avalon my “expectation”.

I’ve adapted these (badly) from PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN.

“Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes” METAMORPHOSES VIII, Ovid

  • “and he sets his mind to unknown arts”

Ireland has cultivated extraordinary writers over the past couple hundred years. What I think sets Irish writers apart (and this includes Irish playwrights) from other British writers is their manipulation of language. England is no slouch in the literature department, but there’s something special about the quality of Irish literature. Its prose often has a special fluidity of phrase, a musical quality, a poetic quality in its manipulation of imagery and phrasing. PoTAAAYM, at the beginning sounds like a bedtime story, a nursery rhyme, even.

I like stories that incorporate other forms of writing. PORTRAIT contains a lot of verse bits and songs, diary entries, even a letter to mum. Also, the language is ordinary, everyday English, but the incredible thing is how the different personalities of his writing flow together so seamlessly. Whoever the editor was, editing this work must have been hell, but wow! What a creation! I think I’ve figured out why Joyce used m-dashes for the dialogue – when you’re writing with stubby pencils or scratchy fountain pens, quotation marks must be a bitch to get right. It’s easier to just do this: — . Plus, it’s easier to follow down the page.

He went up to his room after dinner in order to be alone with his soul:…”

I love that line. I wish my students would give that a try. They literally do not know how to be alone with their thoughts.

And can I just say, Joyce leaves off commas in weird places. If my students ever see how he leaves off commas that should go after starter clauses in his sentences or hyphens left out of hyphenated adjectives, they are going to be quite vexed. Again, those itty bitty punctuation marks are probably left out because of some quirk of Joyce’s writing accoutrements or the cost of printing. Hey, in poverty-ridden, post-industrial revolution Ireland, if you can save a few bob on typesetting by leaving out a few dozen commas,…

I really liked the diary entries at the end of the story. They remind me of the last time I went to England. It was going to be my second trip. I was thrilled and nervous because it would be my first time abroad as an independent woman. My previous travels had been as a student :

        Collected
        Herded
        Shepherded
        Girded
        Deliver-ed

Stephen was off to make his way in the world, and I, I was going on vakay. But I kept a diary in the month leading up to the trip and the trip itself. The diary was my stress reliever, my calculator, my day-runner, my book of lists. No detail was too small to make note of. Unfortunately, and because no detail was too small to make note of, and the fact that it’s full of emotional diarrhea, it’s completely tedious and virtually unreadable. I guess that’s why I’ll never be James Joyce — or even a patch on James Joyce.

A lot of readers don’t like Joyce. He was texting when texting wasn’t cool. If you’ve ever been to Texts From Last Night, you know what I mean. Any and every random thought is just thrown down. But therein lies the art of Joyce – it sounds like rambling, but it’s planned, designed rambling. It’s purposeful rambling.

So where am I heading with this? I like the story. For lots of reasons.

Did I mention this volume has an introduction? One of those long-ass, wankfest introductions. It sounds like a doctoral thesis. Really dry, academic cardboard prose. I got the impression even Don wasn’t enjoying it after a while. One of the more interesting bits was the section on a woman’s place in Irish society at the turn of the century. Interesting and depressing. Depressing. They had to wear a burka over their soul. Then he put in a history of Ireland! Oh hell Nah! That took some guts to create a potted history of an island practically as old as time.

I would have appreciated an appendix with translations of the Latin phrases.

I couldn’t let March pass without a nod to Joyce. He made it possible for writers to make their characters think and sound like real people and not propped-up marionettes.

THE JAMES JOYCE CENTER

Music in the Works of James Joyce

www.bn.com

www.amazon.com

OLDIES BUT GOODIES 3: HORS D’OEUVRES OF FRENCH PHILOSOPHERS, APPETIZERS OF A. CONAN DOYLE

 

Sherlock Holmes Detective Stories by A. Conan Doyle. JH Sears & Co. 1923. This is in dodgy shape. Someone spilled liquid on it back in the day (which was a Wednesday — if you didn’t already know*). Can’t tell if it’s coffee or water. The pages are beautifully aged to a soft, antique golden sepia. The end papers’ design is pillars arranged in gothic layers.

Five detective stories in this collection:

  • The Sign of The Four
  • A Scandal in Bohemia
  • The Ring of Thoth
  • A Case of Identity
  • The Surgeon of Gaster Fell

Er…what’s a “fell”? If you know, please e-mail me.

I prefer to see Sherlock Holmes on tv than to read the stories. Victorian literature is a chore for me. However, The Ring of Thoth caught my eye as Thoth is a subject I’ve been reading about for a couple of years now. Scholar Patrick Boylan refers to Thoth as “The Hermes of Egypt”. In Egyptian mythology (and Atlantian – his first incarnation), Thoth/Toth is the scribe god and god of wisdom. What I find especially fascinating is the idea that wisdom and writing are deliberately paired like two halves of a whole. Atlantean/Egyptian Thoth was lucky. He was not punished for bringing writing and wisdom to the human race as Hellenic Titan Prometheus was punished for bringing fire to humans.

Egyptology was very popular in the 1920s. If I’m not mistaken, the tomb of King Tutankhamen (sp?) was discovered in or about that decade and influenced popular literature.  And a funny ditty by Steve Martin.

French Thought in The Eighteenth Century: Rousseau/Voltaire/Diderot. Rolland, R. Maurois, A., Herriot, E. Cassell & Co. London: 37-38 St. Andrew’s Hill, Queen Victoria St. EC4. 1953.

It just occurred to me that in high school and college, I loathed preparing bibliographies. The order of information was unmemorizable. This was a decade before public access Internet. Not only, but also, I hated writing book reports. I was a lazy writer. So $# years later, what am I doing? Writing frikkin’ book reports FOR FUN. Life makes less and less sense. On the bright side, less pressure to take things seriously.

I bought this book at Half-Price Books on Broadway in San Antonio — 1987, I think. Since it was printed in England, it has no ISBN. I would read it at work. It’s a very fulfilling read. It fed my curiosity. It explained several buzzwords associated with philosophy in clear English. The ideas explained within enhanced my understanding of numerous artistic, literary and philosophical concepts. Why Rousseau, Voltaire, and Diderot? Geoffrey Brereton writes in his introduction:

"These three men tower above their contemporaries, yet represent in their different ways all the main characteristics of the age."

According to this book, the chief legacies of the 18th century to the 19th and 20th were:

  • The concept of freedom… liberté
  • The concept of equality… égalité
  • The principle of tolerance… tolérance f.
  • The principle of pacifism… pacifisme
  • The idea of progress… progrès m.

Does that ROCK or what!!! I love this book. I return to it occasionally and read parts. My favorite is the story of Rousseau, who brought us the idea of the “noble savage”. It’s a simple enough idea in that man in his natural state (i.e. country living) is innately honest, uncorrupted and happier in his lifestyle than an artificial man surrounded by and responsible for material possessions. That idea inspired Edgar Rice Burroughs to write the “Tarzan” stories. Rousseau’s writings inspired Count Leo Tolstoi to work in the fields alongside his peasants. Even Goethe and Schiller were fond of R’s ideas. (A German own-goal in the great philosopher soccer game of life!) R. was the French Thoreau. His Rveries are France’s Walden with some Leaves of Grass tossed in.

R’s greatest, most indispensable influence was the Roman historian Plutarch, author of biographies of Roman political figures. Kinda like Nick Hornby is to me.

It’s incredible that one philosopher influenced other philosophers in such diverse countries as Germany, France, America, England, and Russia. It lends weight to my belief that everyone, regardless of where they come from, connects with the same wisdom eventually.


The Bruce’s Song, verse 1

The Bruce’s Song, verse 2 — Check out Steve’s 2 extra verses in the comments!!! Completely and utterly BRILLIANT.

Dane Cook — a comedian who keeps his handsomeness on the down-low

OLDIES BUT GOODIES, PARTE THE SECONDE

 

This is the next bit in my fledgling BOOK-READERS’ BOOKS series.  Series seems to be a theme — quite unintentionally.  Still, with a generation starved of connections to the past, series books are a good way to make connections.  That’s one thing I’ve always found massively boring about uber-modernists (I’m not calling them "thinkers", mind you.) is that they think ALL connections to the past are pointless.  Relationships with the past are critical to one’s psyche.  I guess "foundation" is just something that happens to other people.

Anyway, enough banter. Books, yeah, let’s go…

The Latin Poets. Godolphin, ed. Random House The Modern Library. 1949. Bennett Cerf was one of the owners of TML. How did I end up with 2 copies of this book?  I really need to catalogue this stuff.  This is a fantastic portable reader. Many of the translations are by giants in the field of writing: John Dryden translating some Eclogues of Virgil; Leigh Hunt translating Catallus’s Atys: John Milton translating Horace’s To Pyrrha. Selections from 18 Latin poets are presented in English verse trans. only. It’s rare that I say this, but I like the introduction. Godolphin wrote a description of each poet. This really helped me to, first of all, tell them apart. Second, he managed to combine biography, sociology and literary criticism in each mini-essay. Wonderful!

I’d been interested in Classical Latin and Greek because I love mythology, and one day I hope to atone for this incredibly crap research paper I wrote in Freshman Comp about Greek philosophers. But I saw this movie called Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore and Michael Vartan. Her character was talking about how Shakespeare drew ideas for his plays from the Eclogues of Virgil.  Vartan’s character, the teacher, freaked out at hearing language like that from a “teenager” in a public school. I’m a teacher, and I get freaked out when one of my students has an idea that involves words of 3 or more syllables. So his shock is my shock.

The New Hudson Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice. Henry Norman Hudson, LLD. The Aetheneum Press. 1906. This edition spent time at the Morningside Meadows Library and belonged to a Miss Ella Mae of Yoakum, Texas during 1918-1919, and a Miss Evangeline of Hays St. who penciled in notes throughout the book and filled the back end papers with doodles, questions, lists and comments. There’s even bits of spilled fountain pen ink. This is a book that got used!

It has extensive annotations at the page bottoms as well as tons of student material – at the beginning of the book where I like it. Nine chapters of scholarly material. The Chronological Chart is the BEST part. It’s absolutely magnificently organized. (Sorry, too much Charlie and Lola.) As it traces the publication of the plays, it correspondingly traces Shakespeare’s major life events, what was going on in other European literature, and history/biography of major personages of the times. It’s a masterpiece of brevity and organization combined. As someone who designs databases for fun, it was art to my eyes. Good-ish index to particular words at the end.  Miss Evangeline marked the lines she had to learn. She surrounded the lines with parentheses and wrote “learn” beside them.

The original wording from the Roberts Quarto of 1600.

image

The London Book of English Prose. Selected and ordered by Herbert Read and Bonamy Dobree. Macmillan Co. 1949. Printed in GB. I really like that this book has a chronological list of authors at the beginning. The organization is also helpful.

Ch. 1 – Narrative: story-telling, history, autobio & journals, bio & characters, letters.

Ch. 2 – Scientific: 8 sections including sport, criticism, strategy & tactics, and natural science.

Ch. 3 – Emotive: 8 sections including Pathos, Comedy, Oratory, and “Occasional Writing”. And then an index of authors.

The organization alone teaches much about what writing is and the possibilities available to a student if they will just try something. While I enjoy reading this book, I’m aware that the English is inescapably stolid. This classically-trained artistry has fallen out of favor in public schools. I know a lot of teachers of English/Language Arts who would not be able to handle this elevated style of language for the sad reason that they themselves are not literary. And so they fall back on whatever has a movie attached to it. Shame, really.

 

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