Showing posts from 2015

Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns, and some final 2015 thoughts.

Well here we are, the last day of 2015! What could be a more appropriate piece of writing to read today than Auld Lang Syne? It barely needs any introduction: it's a poem (and song) written by Robert Burns in 1788 and it's sung every new year when the clock strikes midnight. Despite knowing this song as long as I can remember I've never actually known what it meant, so partly for me and partly for anyone else who doesn't know either, here's the poem with a translation:
Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Should old acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind? and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne? and times long past ['old long since']


For auld lang syne, my jo, For old times past, my dear,
For auld lang syne, For old times past.
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet, We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne. For old times past.

And surely ye’ll be…

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.

How was it that I ever disliked this book? I remember respecting it when I first read it three years ago, but I didn't like it, and I think I recall finding it a bit of a drag. But not now, though - this is quite possibly my favourite Hardy thus far!
It was first published in 1874 (following A Pair of Blue Eyes, 1873), Thomas Hardy's fourth published novel and first great success, and it was even made into a film in Hardy's lifetime (1915; directed by Laurence Trimble and starring Florence Turner, Henry Edwards and Malcolm Cherry). And, as Hardy wrote in the 1902 preface, it was his first novel to explicitly mention "Wessex", which was an Anglo Saxon kingdom from around 519 A.D. until the 10th Century when England was unified by King Æthelstan (there is, though, currently an Earl of Wessex - Prince Edward). Far from the Madding Crowd would be set in 'South Wessex', which is now Dorset. Hardy explains, In reprinting this story for a new edition I am reminded…

Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy.

Resurrection (Воскресение) is Leo Tolstoy's final novel (first published in 1899) following Anna Karenina(1877 - 22 years prior), and it was my Classic Club Spin book. Despite having read War and Peacethree times and Anna Kareninatwice I'd never read any other Tolstoys, so this is a first dip into the 'less famous Tolstoys' section of literature - and not an easy dip, it must be said.

The novel wasn't unlike Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment from what I remember. It is a philosophical nature on the ideas of redemption, justice, injustice, war, crime, and man-made and divine punishment. Before the beginning of the novel, the protagonist Dmitri Ivanovich Nekhlyudov was in love with a maid however on his return from war he was a different man: desensitised and selfish. He seduces the maid, Maslova, she gets pregnant and leaves the house, and she ends up a prostitute. The next time he sees her, at the start of the novel, he is on the jury at her trial: she is accus…

End Of Year Survey.

It's getting close to that time to wrap things up a little! And what better way than Jamie's End of Year Survey!
Reading Stats -
Number Of Books You Read: 138 Number of Re-Reads: 60 (I'm surprised at that - not sure if it's a good thing!) Genre You Read The Most From: Classic Novels
Best in Books -
1. Best Book You Read In 2015? Novel: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. Play: Electra by Sophocles. Essays: Essays by Francis Bacon. Poetry: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Non-Fiction:Virginia Woolf by Michael Whitworth.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Daniel Deronda by George Eliot.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book essay you read?
The New Realistic Novel by Samuel Johnson: I thought it might be a bit dry and dull and I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it and how readable it was!
 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? Germinal by Émile Zola (as ever!).
5. Best series you started i…

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter.

It's Christmas Eve! To mark the occasion I want to say a few words on Beatrix Potter's The Tailor of Gloucester, and of course share the lovely illustrations!
The Tailor of Gloucester was written as a Christmas story for the daughter of Beatrix's former governess Freda Moore in 1901. The tale was first published privately in 1902 then by Frederick Warne & Co in 1903. It's said to be based on a real story: John Pritchard, a tailor in Gloucester, was commissioned to make a suit for the mayor. He closed his shop on Saturday with the suit prepared but not stitched together. When he returned on Monday there the suit was - finished, sewn together, but with a note attached saying "No more twist". His assistants had completed the suit over the weekend, but Pritchard encouraged the legend that fairies had finished it.
And so Beatrix Potter heard the story, told to her by her cousin Caroline Hutton in 1894. She immortalised the story in The Tailor of Gloucester, in w…

2016 Challenges.

I think I've finally decided on my 2016 Challenges! I've been messing around with these lists for a fortnight now, but I do believe I'm done!
I'm participating in ten challenges:
Reading England - Level 3(my challenge): I'm trying to read some of the counties I didn't last year, though London and Berkshire are repeats.Reading Dorset - Level 2(my challenge): A Thomas Hardy special!The Pickwick Papers Read-Along(my challenge): This will start in March, and if we stick to the schedule we'll be finishing Chapter 29 in December - about half of it.The 12 Month Classics Challenge(hosted by Lois Johnson): I love the categories, though I may well end up changing some of my titles. But I may not, I like what I've picked.Women's Classic Literature Challenge(hosted by The Classics Club): I've already started by reading Sappho for the 'Ancient' category. I hope to read the 'ages' I've listed in order, once a month, but I might switch them a…