Posts

Art is long, life is short.

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For a few months now I've been feeling my limitations, particularly in respect to blogging. I love blogging, and, in various places, I've been blogging for thirteen years. But I am changeable and above all I am busy, and I can't maintain On Bookes for the foreseeable future. There is simply not enough hours in the day, and for a long time (well over a year) I've not been able to sit down and write a post without at least several interruptions, and that alone is grating on me.
In order to counteract this I took to writing mini reviews and began posting them on my Classics Club page, and because that was working for me, and because, as I said, I do love changing things about, I decided to try a new blog and migrate those mini reviews to there. I've been doing that this past fortnight and finished this evening: what I didn't want to do was take all the old posts from this blog and put it on the new one - I don't see the point for a start, and I wanted to comp…

The final three chapters of Clergymen of the Church of England by Anthony Trollope.

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Throughout the past two years I've sporadically been blogging about essays from Anthony Trollope's Clergymen of the Church of England. At last I've reached the final three essays, but before I get into them, here's a recap of the essays in the book: The Modern English Archbishop.English Bishops, Old and New.The Normal Dean of the Present Day.The Archdeacon.The Parson of the Parish.The Town Incumbent.The College Fellow who has Taken Orders.The Curate in a Populous Parish.The Irish Beneficed Clergyman.The Clergyman who Subscribes for Colenso. In The Curate in a Populous Parish Trollope writes on the assistant to the parish priest. It begins,
Would that it were possible to enforce upon the bishops, as a part of their duty, the task of furnishing annually a statistical return which should show what proportion of the clerical duties in their dioceses was done by curates, and what proportion by other clergyman; and also what payment had been made to the curates for the work …

The Penguin Book of the Undead: Fifteen Hundred Years of Supernatural Encounters.

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The Penguin Book of the Undead is my first read for the R.I.P Challenge. It's an anthology of writings on the subject of the undead: ghosts, spirits, and other supernatural phenomenon. It was first published in 2016 and was edited by Scott G. Bruce, a professor of medieval history who, the biography at the beginning of the book tells us, worked his way through university as a grave digger!
The book, as the subtitle promises us, takes us through 1,500 years of the supernatural beginning with an extract from Homer's Odyssey: Odysseus in the House of Death, the to Pliny the Younger's musings on the existence of ghosts from his Letters, and finally for that section an extract from Lucan's Pharsalia. Continuing with the ancients, Bruce then offers a further four extracts from early Christian works from the Bible (Deuteronomy 18: 9-14, 1 Samuel 28. 1 and 3 - 25, and Matthew 14: 22 - 33), from the diary of Perpetua, a Northern African woman imprisoned for being Christian, fol…

Essays in Idleness and Hōjōki by Kenkō and Chōmei.

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It was my love of The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon that led me to reading Essays in Idleness by Kenkō and Hōjōki by Chōmei: Kenkō's Essays (1330-32) were inspired by The Pillowbook so I've been looking forward to them for quite a while now, and Chōmei's Hōjōki (1212) was published in the same edition as the Essays.
The shortest is Hōjōki (方丈記), which is also known as  An Account of My Hut or The Ten Foot Square Hut. It begins, On flows the river ceaselessly, nor does its water ever stay the same. The bubbles that float upon its pools now disappear, now form anew, but never endure long. And so it is with people in this world, and with their dwellings. This was written during the late Kamakura period, and it's not surprising that Kamo no Chōmei dwelt on the Buddhist teaching of Impermanence (mujō): the ruling Fujiwara family had essentially fallen apart in the early days of Chōmei's life, leading to great political upheaval and military disruption with the ensuing po…

Wordless Wednesday: The Perfect Autumn Day.

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Cato, a Tragedy by Joseph Addison.

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I'm cutting my Deal Me In title for this week very finely indeed and as a consequence of that and other of the many time constraints of these past four weeks, this will have to be the quickest blog post I've ever done. So buckle up for this one, I'm going to have to fly through it!
First thing to say is I feel fairly confident in glossing over this one: Joseph Addison's Cato (written in 1712 and performed a year later) is, I definitely feel, one to watch and not read. That's not to say I hated it, but I knew as I read it (and, indeed, got tired of it several times) it was definitely one to see performed. It tells the story of Cato the Younger (Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis; 95 B.C. - 44 B.C.). He was a Stoic and statesman during the reign of Julius Caesar and is duly mentioned by Dante in Purgatorioas the guardsman of Mount Purgatory. Cato was frequently in conflict with Caesar and indeed refused to accept Caesar's pardon, killing himself in 45 A.D., just a fe…

Genesis 1–11: Primeval History.

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In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth... Genesis, or The First Book of Moses called Genesis,is the first book of the Bible and the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible). It's title comes from the Hebrew בְּרֵאשִׁית‬ or Bereshith, which simply means "In the beginning"; the word "Genesis" comes from the Greek word γένεσις meaning "origin". According to tradition it was written by Moses in the late Bronze Age (1550 - 1200 B.C.), however some scholars however suggest it was written in the 6th Century B.C.; others even suggest it's a collection of various accounts, and could have come from Adam himself from 3,500 B.C., as well as Noah, Shem, Terah, Isaac, and Ishmael.
The first chapters of Genesis are concerned with Primeval History. Chapter 1, my favourite, is the first Creation story in which God creates the universe in six days: Day 1: Light and darkness, and thus day and night, or time: "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.…

In a Gloucestershire Garden by Canon Ellacombe.

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In a Gloucestershire Garden is a very charming book on gardening. It was written by Henry Nicholson Ellacombe, the vicar of St Mary's Church in Bitton, Gloucestershire, from 1850 to 1916,  who was also, as this book demonstrates, a keen botanist. It first published in The Guardian between 1890-93. 
The book is divided into two parts, the first pat being observations on the garden in Bitton for each month of the year beginning with January. Here's how it begins,
Every garden has its own special and separate character, which arises partly from the tastes of the owner or his gardener, but still more from the situation, aspect, and soul of the garden. It is this that saves our gardens from monotony; if the conditions of every garden were the same, it is to be feared that the love of following the fashion of the day would make our gardens painfully alike. But this is prevented by the happy law that before success can be reached the nature of the garden must be studied, and the stud…

Top Ten Authors I'd Love to Meet... and Top Ten Authors I Wouldn't.

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I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday for ages, so I thought this week I'd join in and do the Top Ten Authors I'd Love to Meet, and because I can't resist, add my Top Ten Authors I most definitely would not like to meet.
Top Ten Authors I'd Love to Meet


Anne Brontë (1820 - 1849) Author of Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848).
Anne Brontë is in my mind one of the best authors England has ever produced and, yes I do dare say it, the most talented of her sisters. This is why it pained me to read this letter from Anne to the Brontës family friend Ellen Nussey shortly before her death: ... But I wish it would please God to spare me not only for Papa's and Charlotte's sakes, but because I long to do some good in the world before I leave it. I have many schemes in my head for future practise - humble and limited indeed - but I still should not like them all to come to nothing, and myself to have lived to so little purpose. To this day that is one of …

October.

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October already - one of my favourite months! It's beautiful here, the village smells of frost and chimney smoke, the leaves are very definitely turning and in the forest most of the ferns are golden-tipped. The days are beginning to noticeably draw in. When I walk Pablo at half six in the evening with some friends the sun has already set and by the time we return from our short walk around the village it's very definitely dusk and we're huddling into our coats and scarves. And as much as I love the walks, part of it is the delight of returning home to a warm kitchen. That's the beauty of autumn and winter: the contrasts. Being outside in the silver frost and golden leaves when it's so cold our icy breath hangs in the air for a moment, and then feeling the voluptuous beauty of warmth. Being at home and lazing around is never so wonderful as it is in the cold months. Electric blankets, hot baths, and the fire is wonderfully comforting.
October is the point where I …