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Showing posts from October, 2014

Macbeth by William Shakespeare.

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The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare was, I believe, the first Shakespeare play I read (at the age of 15), and it's one I've always enjoyed (sadly yet to see it performed, though). I read it last month and it's still one of the most ghostly, engaging, and exciting of all Shakespeare's works.

It was written somewhere between 1599 - 1606 when King James VI was the King of Scotland, and would become King James I of England in 1603 following the death of Queen Elizabeth I. This was not long after the North Berwick witch trials of the 1590s (today North Berwick is referred to as East Lothian, Scotland). King James was both fascinated and terrified of witchcraft, and in 1603 had published Daemonologie, a short treatise in support of witch hunting, writing,
The fearefull aboundinge at this time in this countrie, of these detestable slaves of the Devil, the Witches or enchaunters, hath moved me (beloved reader) to dispatch in post, this following treatise of mine ... to…

The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope.

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The Chonicles of Barsetshire ~ The WardenBarchester TowersDoctor ThorneFramley Parsonage The Small House at AllingtonThe Last Chronicle of Barset


The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope (1864) is the penultimate part of the Chronicles of Barsetshire series, which I've been reading along with Melissa and Amanda since March. It follows The Warden (1855), Barchester Towers (1857), Doctor Thorne (1858), and Framley Parsonage(1861).
This is a novel endorsed by Virginia Woolf, who wrote in a letter to Hugh Walpole (28th February 1932),  I think the Small House at Allington perhaps the most perfect of English novels along with Jane Austen - I cant explain now why.And, in an interview with Sue Lawley for Desert Island Discs, former Prime Minister John Major said it would be the book he would take on a desert island (John Major is a notorious Trollope fan, and though he makes no mention of The Small House of Allington in his 1999 autobiography, he speaks very highly of Trol…

Dewey's Readathon.

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Hurrah, the day has come! This is my sixth readathon, and today is perfect for it: sunny, but cold and rainy, and I have quite a bit of reading to catch up on! So, I'm going to put the fire on, make a cup of coffee, and begin, most likely with Stoner by John Williams (I'm about a third of the way through). 
Other plans? I don't want to commit this time, but - I would loveand I dearly need to finish The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope. I think I've had this on the go since the beginning of September. I'm almost at the half way point with it, and to finish it would be grand. It has been my block for well over a month.
I'm also thinking I may finish The Mabinogion, and quite possibly Dante's The Divine Comedy. I love Dante and I've read it before, so it's no chore. And, finally, I would like to read Joris-Karl Huysmans Against Nature
So, I'm going to be brave and commit to The Small House at Allington, and aside from that I'll see w…

The Belly of Paris by Émile Zola.

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The Belly of Paris (Le Ventre de Paris), 1873, is the third of Émile Zola's Rougon Macquart novels and the second that is set in Paris (the first being The Kill, 1872). It is based on life in Les Halles, the central market of Paris (demolished in 1971) where wholesale fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish were sold, located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, south of rue Montorgueil (on the right bank of the Seine and including the west end of Île de la Cité). The site itself dates back to the Middle Ages, but this 'modern market' was designed by Victor Baltard between 1854-74 (during the 'Hausmannisation' of Paris, which Zola describes in The Kill). Christopher Mead (author of Making Modern Paris: Victor Baltard's Central Markets and the Urban Practice of Architecture) writes,
... the markets marked a significant moment in the industrialization and standardization of architecture during the nineteenth century. At the same time, the markets were instruments…

October (so far).

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Recently I've been suffering from writer's block and a reading rut. A double whammy, yes. No fun for a book blogger: it feels as though my two beloved hobbies have been taken away from me. But I miss blogging very much, and for the past few weeks I've been waiting for the right time, waiting for inspiration to come, waiting for a new book to grab me, but these aren't coming as yet. This is not the right time (I need to tidy up and put the fire on, and it's already 7pm), and, unable to settle in to any new books I've been returning to old favourites: Zola (I've just finished The Belly of Paris and intend to write about it over the next few days), Dante (I read Inferno in one sitting, such is my love for it, and Purgatorio in two sittings. Paradiso I will start soon), and Donna Tartt. 
Donna Tartt, as I'm sure many of you know, is a blessing. I've been looking for a bedtime book for well over a week (The Small House at Allington is a source of vast fru…