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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

More Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol 2
Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin
Progress: 56/501 pages
Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2
Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 107/789 pages
Too Brave to Dream: Encounters with Modern Art
R.S. Thomas
Progress: 50/96 pages
The Essential Shakespeare
Ted Hughes
Progress: 61/259 pages
Tales from Watership Down
Richard Adams
Progress: 112/262 pages
Canaletto: Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe
Andreas Schmacher
Progress: 130/360 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 1000/1102 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 51 out of 262 pages.

Tales from Watership Down - Richard Adams

El-ahrairah vs. King Fur-Rocious.

Reading progress update: I've read 302 out of 1327 pages.

The Riverside Chaucer - Geoffrey Chaucer The seven deadly sins: First up - pride.

Reading progress update: I've read 41 out of 262 pages.

Tales from Watership Down - Richard Adams

El-ahrairah goes in search of his youth.

Reading progress update: I've read 22 out of 501 pages.

More Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol 2 - Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin

Interesting to see Wallace's side of the corresponance, too. Discussion of carbon uptake by plants. Earliest reference to biochemistry I've come across. When was carbon fixing by plants discovered?

Reading progress update: I've read 16 out of 262 pages.

Tales from Watership Down - Richard Adams

Folk hero cum trickster spirit, El-ahrairah, goes on a quest to find the sense of smell for rabbits!

Reading progress update: I've read 16 out of 501 pages.

More Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol 2 - Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin

Correspondance with Wallace about geopgraphical distribution of species, dispersal mechanisms and the coming and going of continents ~100 years before any real understanding of how continental formation and destruction might actually occur.

Reading progress update: I've read 298 out of 1327 pages.

The Riverside Chaucer - Geoffrey Chaucer

A very brief re-telling of Adam, Eve, the Serpent and the Tree. More emphasis on Bible story exempla and less on preaching would improve this no end. It's hardly on a level with Patience or Cleanness.

Reading progress update: I've read 10 out of 501 pages.

More Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol 2 - Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin

Arguing about geology and geographical distribution of species with Hooker.

Reading progress update: I've read 982 out of 1102 pages.

Complete Poems, 1904-1962 - E.E. Cummings

Less than 100p of actual poems to go!

SPOILER ALERT!

Reading progress update: I've read 107 out of 789 pages.

Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2 - Ursula K. Le Guin

The Word for World is Forest

 

Short and bitter-sweet. Le Guin's tale of abuse of technologically iron-age forest dwellers by space-faring Earthlings captures the horrors and of colonial rule and their causes. The technological disparity is easily understood as necessary and widely recognised but another essential factor is isolation. In Le Guin's case there's a 54 year communications turn-around, making the colony commander an effective despot. As soon as technology reduces this turn-around time to nil, the colonial system colapses because there is effective oversight. Looking instead to actual history, the Viceroy of India could do as he pleased, because the Empress Victoria was months away by the fasted communication method and therefore orders and policy were always behind reality. Add in assumed cultural superiority and the recipe for extreme abuse is complete.

 

Now, why do I say the book is bitter-sweet? After all the conclusion is that the colony is completely withdrawn and the natives are left to themselves. All is as it was before the arrival of men from Earth, or will be when the trees grow back. But not really - the cultural contact has changed the native people forever - they know what murder and war are now. Cultures can't come into contact without being changed - and in the case of colonial rule, one might be severely damaged or utterly destroyed.

Reading progress update: I've read 96 out of 360 pages.

Canaletto: Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe - Andreas Schmacher Two technical terms I've not come across before: 1. Staffage: Ancillariary people or animals in a landscape or cityscape. 2. Capriccio: A painting made up of imaginary elements or a mix or real and imaginary elements (in the context of landscape and architecture painting).

Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 789 pages.

Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2 - Ursula K. Le Guin

Comparisons with Vietnam are obvious and acknowledged by Le Guin but there's a wider examination of colonialism, hatred of the "other" and avoidance of war going on, too.

Reading progress update: I've read 290 out of 1327 pages.

The Riverside Chaucer - Geoffrey Chaucer

The final Tale! It's a long one and not really any kind of narrative but rather a "handbook on penitance." Could be a bit of a slog, but it's an easier dialect than the Pearl manuscript or Piers Plowman, which have similar passages of religious instruction.

Reading progress update: I've read 87 out of 360 pages.

Canaletto: Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe - Andreas Schmacher

Caneletto as landscape painter: Well, they aren't full on cityscapes but architecture still seems at least as important as countryside.

Reading progress update: I've read 138 out of 818 pages.

The Complete Stories of Robert Louis Stevenson: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Nineteen Other Tales (Modern Library Classics) - Barry Menikoff, Robert Louis Stevenson

So the stories in The Suicide Club and The Rajah's Diamond fit well the over-arching title, New Arabian Nights, in that the stories are serial and nested and involve a Prince more interested in adventure than affairs of State. They aren't Arabian, really, though, being set in Western Europe, contemporary to the author. Still amusing.

Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 96 pages.

Too Brave to Dream: Encounters with Modern Art - R.S. Thomas

The Dressmakers, William Roberts: held by the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath!