It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.
The naturalists of the period were battling with the dual realisations that the planet was very old and that sea level was not constant without any understanding of what time scale they were talking about or what the mechanisms for continental creation and destruction were. It would take just over a 100 years before the latter was corralled into a coherent theory.
Poor Genly Ai, completely out of his depth on an alien world with out a clue how to deal with the locals. The switch from the conception of a League of All Worlds under threat of invasion to an Ekumen trying to peacefully re-integrate a fragmented humanity scattered across many star systems was the stroke that allowed Le Guin to achieve real originality and it started here.
OK, that's done it - I've started Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. 101 stanzas - same as Pearl but more than twice as long. Nearly 50% longer than Cleanness. The most difficult Middle English dialect I've encountered. BUT it IS the reason I bought the book in the first place. It's both daunting and exciting.
Much of the information required for the writing of Origin of Species was obtained by Darwin writing to his scientific acquaintances and simply asking them for it.
Six out of nine stories were familiar to me as they are reprinted from Wodwo. The remaining three were the best ones!
I don't get on very well with symbolism in literature but it was Hughes' favourite thing, so these stories were mostly very hard to decipher and I don't think I really succeeded. The ones I liked most are the ones that were least reliant on such decoding.
Probably for Hughes fanatics only.
The Left Hand of Darkness - the first published of Le Guin's truly great novels. A Wizard of Earthsea was released later in the same year. Le Guin could have retired then and would have been assured of a place in both the SF and the Fantasy canon.
Cloten is praised to his face and mocked behind his back. The allegedly "excellent" Posthumus makes a stupid wager...
Darwin wanted to know how plants colonised islands, so he did experiments with seeds to sea if they floated in salt water and if they would germinate after a week of such. He also tried feeding seeds to fish on the theory that they might be eaten by birds and the seeds then transported to new islands.
So the King's only daughter married a commoner instead of doing as her father wished and taking own step brother. The Queen and courtiers support her but all lie to the King about it. Her husband and step-brother have a sword fight before her husband goes to Rome in exile. Also, her two brothers were mysteriously abducted when they were infants and have never been heard of since and...that's enough for one scene!
Biggest "mini-figure" I've ever built. Maybe Wonder Woman should stab Ares in his toes?
Scrolling back in time for a brief review:
Probably the most conventional SF adventure tale Le Guin ever wrote and yet it shows glimmers of the concerns that would become trade-mark Le Guin themes; clash of cultures, reconciliation of differences, anthropology. Surprisingly violent.
OK, I caved in and skipped over the remaining reprints from Wodwo - I found them fairly tedious and unrewarding last time round. That leaves just the final story, Head, which so far is a story about white hunters disrespecting Slott Indians, their beliefs and forest home.
The Folio edition of Lear represents the results of adaptation from the Quarto version, in response to performance, according to the editors, and is printed separately and in full. Overall it is shorter and the cuts had the effect of making Lear's descent into madness less convincing to me.
Cymbeline, next. Beginning to feel finishing line fever but there's still three whole plays to go!