It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.
1831: Redfield explains hurricanes as "progressive whirlwinds." Not only does the theory explain the changes in wind direction as the storm passes but also the existence of the eye and the associated changes in barometric pressure. Why isn't this guy more famous?
It was fitting to end with Shakespeare's Epitaph on Himself, right?
I feel kinda weird; I started on my 18th Birthday but only made a serious push to get the job done much more recently. It's occupied the last couple of years, roughly, to make a concerted push to finish. And now I'm done. Weird.
Excluding the two major narrative poems:
Snooze. It's not bad, just boring. These days only two kinds of people genuinely like these; those who can cope with Love and the Moon poetry, which, thematically, has been losing ground on my attention since I became an adult and those who are obsessed with Shakespeare's life, biographical and/or psychological, who were satirised up to the eyeballs by Oscar Wilde. I don't have that obsession.
The best part is the epitaphs, which are at least witty.
FitzRoy's first expedition to South America is a success. Beaufort, now in charge of the Hydrographic Department of the Royal Navy, expands FitzRoy's plan to return his famous Fuegians to their native land to a second expedition. FitzRoy hires a stripling lad just graduated from Cambridge, by the name of Darwin, to keep him company. Meteorology is also firmly on the agenda, though. FitzRoy goes out armed with the latest instruments and the modified, 0-12, Beaufort Scale we still use today.
1802: Howard formulates his Latin cloud classification system. A similar one by Lamark (though not using Latin) doesn't catch on.
The book meanders from historical figure to historical figure covering the same time period from different perspectives and shows no sign of cohering into a sensible narrative, or even of revealing its overall aims.
I finished all the plays!
I have circa three pages of short lyric poetry to read and then I'm done!
One more review to come: Sonnets, a Lover's Complaint and "Various Poems."
Shakespeare's final play, a collaboration with Fletcher, is more show than substance and allegedly often stolen by the Jailer's Daughter, who plays a small but crucial role in the main plot but ends up the lead character in a bizarre and controvercial subplot that even on the page is in some ways more interesting than the main action of two knights who fall instantly in love with their enemy's sister and fall to rivalry and rancour despite being cousins and also best pals five seconds earlier... Apparently one such modern day show stealer was Imogen Stubbs, which, given what I've seen/heard her do in other contexts, I find not so much plausible as inevitable.
So this is typical of late Shakespeare - an insubstantial Romance, this time based on Chaucer's Knight's Tale, with a silly plot and thin characters that can probably be made into a lively stage spectacle, at least, but far distant from the works that made his name echo down over four hundred years of history.
Beaufort wants to use Royal Navy ship logs for meteorological research. Currently researchers have a project to digitise the data from those same logs for climate research.
The Shipman's Tale
Short, bawdy and full of deceit and trickery, this is a lightweight but typically Chaucerian tale.
Eirik the Red wasn't in his own Saga very much. Interesting to compare the two Vinland Sagas; Eirik's is fantastical, where-as The Greenlanders is entirely believable. The points of correspondance and divergence are pointed out in the Intro.
Well, that's all the short Sagas and Tales done; two novel length Sagas remain for another time. The difference between Sagas and Tales? Tales are always short, but Sagas can be short, too. Seems to me that Tales are much more obviously constructed narratives and have lost more or all or their connection to history. History is much more visible in Sagas, even when obviously preposterous fantastical elements intrude.
This has all the Classical (geddit?!) elements of an Asterix story; violence, boar, pirates, Caesar's latest plan to conquer the last outpost of Gaul that still resists the Empire and so forth. It also shows the more whimsical tone and more meandering plotting evident in the other volumes written by Uderzo. Feminism comes to ancient Gaul in the form of a female bard who wears breeches and teaches the women of the village to question accepted gender roles. Unsurprisingly, chaos ensues, and that's before Caesar's Secret Weapon arrives to add to the mayhem!
This isn't out there in the stellar regions with Asterix in Britain, Asterix in Corsica or Obelix and Co. but it's still funny and full of surprises.
All my heroes are dead, now.