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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Stig of the Dump
Clive King, Edward Ardizzone
Progress: 37/158 pages
The Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection Berlin
Melanie Franke, Robert McInnes, Silke Krohn, Dieter Scholz
Progress: 68/96 pages
Top 10 Berin 2018
J├╝rgen Scheunemann
Progress: 157/192 pages
Summer Morning, Summer Night
Ray Bradbury
Progress: 84/176 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Four Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, and The Atheist's Tragedy
Cyril Tourneur, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Middleton, George Chapman, Katharine Eisaman Maus
Progress: 217/464 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: 560/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe

Asgard to Valhalla, Heather O'Donoghue

From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths - Heather O'Donoghue

A really interesting survey of the impact Norse mythology has had on culture from the time it was first written down in Iceland onward to the present day (or at least the date of publication, earlier this century).

 

First off there's a look at what we know about Norse myth from written sources and archaeology, noting the problems and uncertainties associated with each and the vast yawning absences in our knowledge that look to be forever irreperable. The most important stories from the written stories are outlined - necessary information for the next part of the book, which surveys how Norse myth impacted all aspects of culture, social, political, artistic in a progression from the 13th Century to the 21st.

 

O'Donoghue restricts herself only to the "highlights" in order to fill in trends and register the most impactful social and artistic movements. This is no doubt essential for a book aimed at a popular audience, with a length restiction, however, I could have wished for both more detail and a more comprehensive discussion, at the risk of ending up with a longer and more academic book.

Reading progress update: I've read 217 out of 464 pages.

Four Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, and The Atheist's Tragedy - Cyril Tourneur, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Middleton, George Chapman, Katharine Eisaman Maus

A good deal of discussion of nobility and noble action, using Classical Greek and Roman models. But now it's Act 4 and crucial events will soon take place.

Reading progress update: I've read 37 out of 158 pages.

Stig of the Dump - Clive King, Edward Ardizzone

Jolly times with Stig...in the dump.

Reading progress update: I've read 148 out of 288 pages.

Early Irish Myths and Sagas - Various Authors, Jeffrey Gantz

The Boyhood Deeds of Cu Chulaind


Celtic heroes were mostly a precocious bunch and Cu Chulaind is a prime example, able to beat the other boys (all three fifties of them (at once)) at any feat of prowess and kill with his bare hands a dog that all the adult warriors are scared of. He goes on to single-handly defend Ulster from the assembled forces of most of the rest of Ireland for days.

Reading progress update: I've read 68 out of 96 pages.

The Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection Berlin - Melanie Franke, Robert McInnes, Silke Krohn, Dieter Scholz

Did you know Victor Hugo did graphic art? He has two pieces reproduced here.

 

One of Hans Bellmer's Doll pictures, an exceptionally creepy image, to me at least, is also reproduced. See it here:
https://www.pinterest.co.kr/pin/245024035960455216/

Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 232 pages.

From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths - Heather O'Donoghue

Numerous contemporary right-wing, racist and white-supremecist groups are still using Old Norse culture as a basis for their beliefs.

Fortunately, the Milk, Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the Milk . . . - Neil Gaiman

Absolute genius!

 

Saying much about the plot would spoil the fun, so I will restrict myself to noting that Gaiman isn't the first author I've come across who has a bit of a dig at Twilight's sparkly vampires and that it's a safe bet the author has seen The Usual Suspects.

Reading progress update: I've read 162 out of 232 pages.

From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths - Heather O'Donoghue

Himmler, in contrast to Hitler, bought heavily into neo-Norse runic mysticism that reflected the generally intensifying racism and anti-semetism of the period in Germany.

Reading progress update: I've read 211 out of 464 pages.

Four Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, and The Atheist's Tragedy - Cyril Tourneur, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Middleton, George Chapman, Katharine Eisaman Maus

Charlotte gets her Lady MacBeth on when the men fail to act.

Reading progress update: I've read 134 out of 288 pages.

Early Irish Myths and Sagas - Various Authors, Jeffrey Gantz

A couple of really short tales about the birth of heroes.

Reading progress update: I've read 40 out of 96 pages.

The Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection Berlin - Melanie Franke, Robert McInnes, Silke Krohn, Dieter Scholz

This collection focuses on Surrealism, its antecedents and closely related schools.

Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 232 pages.

From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths - Heather O'Donoghue

Despite Wagner being Hitler's favourite composer and Fritz Lang's 1924 film, Die Nibelungen, a favourite film, he was contemptuous of anyone espousing actual neo-Pagan spiritual beliefs.

Reading progress update: I've read 138 out of 232 pages.

From Asgard to Valhalla: The Remarkable History of the Norse Myths - Heather O'Donoghue

Wagner draws primarily on Old Norse sources but mixes them with later German work and his own inventions to form a single, coherent narrative for the libretti of his Ring Cycle of operas.

Reading progress update: I've read 127 out of 288 pages.

Early Irish Myths and Sagas - Various Authors, Jeffrey Gantz

The Cattle Raid of Froech


Cattle raiding is a Big Thing in the Irish Celtic stories. It also was a historical fact of the Scottish Highlanders' way of life. I'm not sure if it was pan-Celtic or not. Anyway, Froech wants to marry the daughter of Mebh but he's opposed at every turn and adventures ensue. Lots of Celtic literature motifs, including, rings, fairies, salmon, lake monsters, cattle raiding, feasting and complicated tasks required of the hero in order to get the girl...

Reading progress update: I've read 26 out of 96 pages.

The Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection Berlin - Melanie Franke, Robert McInnes, Silke Krohn, Dieter Scholz

In terms of individual artists, my great discovery during my Berlin visit was Piranesi. Two of his Imaginary Prisons/Prisons of the Imagination (the Italian is open to either interpretation) images are reproduced here but there's a roomful in the museum. They are my strongest memories of my time there.

Reading progress update: I've read 201 out of 464 pages.

Four Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, and The Atheist's Tragedy - Cyril Tourneur, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Middleton, George Chapman, Katharine Eisaman Maus

I've only just twigged that this Chapman is the same Chapman that translated The Iliad and The Oddessy into English.