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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works
Thomas Middleton, Gary Taylor
Progress: 92/1183 pages
The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry
Robert Chandler
The Uncertain Land and Other Poems
Patrick O'Brian
Progress: 8/160 pages
The Poems and Plays of John Masefield
John Masefield
Progress: 78/534 pages
Poems Selected
Emily Dickinson, Ted Hughes
Progress: 4/50 pages
Selected Poems
U A Fanthorpe
Progress: 18/160 pages
The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse
Mick Imlah, Robert Crawford
Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2
Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 133/789 pages
The Essential Shakespeare
Ted Hughes
Progress: 82/259 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 164 out of 683 pages.

The Iliad - Homer, Bernard Knox, Robert Fagles

The opposing forces clash and prominent folk on both sides die vividly violent and gruesome deaths. Athena fights for the Argives; Apollo for the Trojans. The first two odd, anachronistic mentions of iron appear - all the warriors are arrayed in bronze arms and armour but Homer mentions iron in metaphorical flights. Mistakes?

Reading progress update: I've read 1970 out of 2016 pages.

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works -  MacDonald P. Jackson (Editor),  John Jowett (Editor),  John Lavagnino,  V. Wayne, Gary Taylor, Thomas Middleton

Microcynicon: Six Snarling Satires - a work having the honour of having been publicly burned!

Reading progress update: I've read 414 out of 704 pages.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) - T.E. Lawrence, Angus Calder

Camels do not do well when pushed to haste across rain-storm generated muddy terrain. Inexperienced riders are lucky not to hurt themselves during falls.

Reading progress update: I've read 52 out of 208 pages.

The History Of Art: The Essential Guide To Painting Through The Ages - A.N. Hodge

Mannerism: I once saw an exhibition of Mannerist paintings. It was very...mannered.

Reading progress update: I've read 157 out of 683 pages.

The Iliad - Homer, Bernard Knox, Robert Fagles

Old-timer, Nestor, may not be the best for spear-fighting anymore, but his experience and calm mean he'll be a good general/tactician!

Reading progress update: I've read 373 out of 2016 pages.

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works -  MacDonald P. Jackson (Editor),  John Jowett (Editor),  John Lavagnino,  V. Wayne, Gary Taylor, Thomas Middleton

Michaelmass Term


This is a comedy reminiscent of Jonson, being set in London and featuring swindlers and conmen as the villains - Volpone and The Alchemist spring to mind. It doesn't have Jonson's extremely heavy reliance on Classical Greek and Latin literary references, though. It also reminds me of Shakespeare, with dense punning and daft romantic plot lines. Unfortunately, most of the wit and puns are focused on bawdy double-entendres and the like that have, over time, mostly become very obscure and opaque, requiring the copious glosses to be recognised and understood - and we all know that a joke that has to be explained isn't funny any more. Presumably circa 400 years ago everybody would have been smirking and sniggering throughout.

 

The story offers plenty of opportunity for other laughs, though, with hardly anybody recognisable to one or more others, including close family members (one character going through at least four aliases!) and the ensuing dramatic irony providing laughs and tension in equal measure.

 

It's structurally conventional, with main plot and sub-plot, but the sub-plot is poorly integrated and might have been better excised completely. The final Act resolves everything extremely abruptly, as was the usual fashion. But plot structure did not seem to have the same level of importance then that we tend to give it, now. For example, examine the structure of A Midsummer Night's Dream; it's a complete disaster! That doesn't stop performances being magnificently entertaining, though.

Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 683 pages.

The Iliad - Homer, Bernard Knox, Robert Fagles Zeus sends athena to interfere again; I'd forgotten just how much immortal meddling there was in the Trojan War!

Reading progress update: I've read 387 out of 704 pages.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) - T.E. Lawrence, Angus Calder

The Brits arrive in force.

Reading progress update: I've read 38 out of 208 pages.

The History Of Art: The Essential Guide To Painting Through The Ages - A.N. Hodge

Shout out to Heironymous Bosch, surely one of the most original painters we have the great good fortune to still have works by. Here's The Garden of Earthly Delights:

Reading progress update: I've read 145 out of 683 pages.

The Iliad - Homer, Bernard Knox, Robert Fagles

Aphrodite saves Paris from miserable defeat and death at the hands of Menelaus, tells Helen to quit moaning and the pair of elopers are shagging five minutes later...

Reading progress update: I've read 366 out of 2016 pages.

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works -  MacDonald P. Jackson (Editor),  John Jowett (Editor),  John Lavagnino,  V. Wayne, Gary Taylor, Thomas Middleton

Michaelmass Term, Scene 4.4: Quomodo, having conned and swindled his way into the landed gentry, wonders what his wife and son would do with their inheritance - so he fakes his own death!

Reading progress update: I've read 36 out of 208 pages.

The History Of Art: The Essential Guide To Painting Through The Ages - A.N. Hodge

Shout out to Albrecht Dürer and his Young Hare:

 

Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 683 pages.

The Iliad - Homer, Bernard Knox, Robert Fagles

The idea of the war ending appeals to just about everyone, even if it's obvious Paris can't beat Menelaus.

Reading progress update: I've read 367 out of 704 pages.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) - T.E. Lawrence, Angus Calder Rather matter of fact about coups-de-grace, mangled corpses and chaos in battle.

Reading progress update: I've read 363 out of 2016 pages.

Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works -  MacDonald P. Jackson (Editor),  John Jowett (Editor),  John Lavagnino,  V. Wayne, Gary Taylor, Thomas Middleton

Michaelmass Term, scene 4.2: A brief switch to the "poor country folk come to the city" sub-plot.

Reading progress update: I've read 32 out of 208 pages.

The History Of Art: The Essential Guide To Painting Through The Ages - A.N. Hodge

Shout out to Jan van Eyck and his picture of a cute doggy!