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Showing posts from April, 2016

Dido, Queen of Carthage by Christopher Marlowe.

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Dido, Queen of Carthage is a very short play by Christopher Marlowe, with possible contributions by Thomas Nashe (author of the 1594 picaresque novel, The Unfortunate Traveller) and it is thought it was written around 1586, which would make it Marlowe's first play. It's based on the first half of Virgil's Aeneid telling the story of Dido's love for Aeneas and his abandoning of her (this was my favourite section of Aeneid).
The play begins with a tender scene between Jupiter, king of the gods, and his cup-bearer and lover Ganymede (Ovid tells his tale in Book X of Metamorphoses), who tells Jupiter that Juno has been mistreating him. They are interrupted by Venus who admonishes Jupiter for neglecting to take care of her son Aeneas: I this is it, you can sit toying there,
And playing with that female wanton boy,
Whiles my Æneas wanders on the Seas,
And rests a pray to euery billowes pride.She goes on to explain how Juno has directed Aeolus, ruler of the winds, to create a temp…

Pot Luck by Émile Zola.

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Pot Luck (Pot-Bouille, also known as Piping Hot! and Restless House) is the tenth published novel of Émile Zola's Rougon Macquart novels (published  in 1882 between Nana, 1880, and The Ladies Paradise, 1883). Zola's intention for the Rougon Macquart series was to capture the Second Empire of France and in each novel portray a certain aspect of it whilst also writing of a character within the family of the Rougon Macquarts. In Pot Luck Zola writes about the young Octave Mouret (before his Ladies Paradise days). He is the son of Marthe and François Mouret (both introduced in Zola's earlier novel The Conquest of Plassans, 1874, but Pot Luck set a little bit before the action of Conquest): Marthe is the daughter of Pierre and Félicité Rougon, François the son of Ursule Mouret and Mouret: their two families are united by the matriarch of the Rougon Macquarts, Adélaïde, making them cousins. To understand Zola's twenty novel Rougon Macquart series it's important to know t…

Ann Veronica by H. G. Wells.

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Ann Veronica: A Modern Love Story (1909) is the first non-Sci-Fi novel by H. G. Wells that I've read and I read it out of curiosity mainly, partly because I loved The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds, and also an essay because I recently read an essay by Virginia Woolf ('Modern Fiction') in which she essentially argues the Edwardian writers (singling out Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy, and H. G. Wells) perpetually disappoint -  Mr. Wells, Mr. Bennett, and Mr. Galsworthy have excited so many hopes and disappointed them so persistently that our gratitude largely takes the form of thanking them for having shown us what they might have done but have not done...As, by chance, I had read and enjoyed Bennett's The Old Wives' Tale (1908) I thought it would be prudent to make sure I'd read the other Edwardians that had attracted her venom before making my own mind up. Bennett I'll read again, Galsworthy I'll read soon I hope, and Wells …

Virgil's Æneid.

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Virgil's Æneid or Æneis is John Dryden's 1697 translation of The Aeneid by Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro), composed between 29 and 19 BC. I read it for three reasons - one, I was inspired to having read Ovid's account of Aeneas in Metamorphoses(Books XIII and XIV), two - I wanted to read Christopher Marlowe's Dido, Queen of Carthage (which I have now read and will be reviewing next week), and three - quite simply for the enjoyment of reading it. Like, say, Homer's works, Ovid's, and Chaucer's, it would be greatly beneficial to read The Aeneid very slowly and in great depth and one day I will, but for now this is a relatively short review of a work I love very much. However complex and important it is, it is also very enjoyable and accessible (yes, even when translated as Dryden) and I wanted in this post to treat it as such rather than a rather alarming twelve week book by book read that may make it look intimidating.

The Aeneid tells the story of Aeneas, w…

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti.

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Goblin Market is a poem by Christina Rossetti composed in 1859 and published in 1862, and it's one of the first poems I ever read (it can be read online here). It is, Rossetti argued, a poem intended for children and as a child I enjoyed it, but when I returned to it in my young adulthood was rather surprising (which I'll get to in a moment). It was written when Rossetti volunteered at St Mary Magdalene Penitentiary in Highgate, London, a refuge for "fallen women" with a view of saving and rehabilitating prostitutes or unmarried mothers.
The poem begins, Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck'd cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek’d peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries;—
All ripe together
In summer weather,—
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come bu…

Dewey's Readathon.

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It's readathon day! It officially starts at 1pm, but, again, I'm going to have to resist the whole 24 hours so instead I'm starting a little earlier (about 12 or before) and hopefully read until 11pm, or midnight. I do mean to read a lot tomorrow, though!
It's a good day for reading - chilly, cloudy, I won't miss being out in the garden! It started off sunny but very frosty (even had to smash the ice on the chickens' water dishes and bird bath) and I had hopes that the weather forecasters were wrong but it was not to be, though as I say a sunny day would be a distraction!
So, the plans... I've been thinking about this all week! In a fortnight's time I'll be starting a read-along of Spenser's Faerie Queene (with Cleo and Jean) so I thought it prudent to squeeze in a few novels today as I may not have as much time as I'd like in the coming weeks. Here's my list: Pot Luck by Émile Zola. I'm about half way through so I'll start with thi…

Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf.

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Between the Acts is a very short novel by Virginia Woolf and was first published in July 1941. It was one she struggled with: it was to be called Pointz Hall (the stately home in which the novel is based, in Sussex), and after completion, after it had been sent to her publisher John Lehmann, she wrote to him and asked for it back believing it to be "too silly and trivial": she planned, she said, to revise it later in the year. The next day, 28th March, Woolf committed suicide, her body not to be found until the 18th April. But these matters are 'behind the scenes' (to use another play metaphor). One cannot understand Between the Acts in the frame of her suicide.
Like Mrs. Dalloway(1925), Between the Acts is set on a single day, June 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. It's plot is very simple: the owner of Pointz Hall, the widower Bartholomew Oliver, is hosting the annual pageant which all the villagers look forward to. The subject of the pagea…

Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope.

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Phineas Finn: The Irish Member is the second novel in Anthony Trollope's Palliser series (following Can You Forgive Her?, 1864 - 1865) and was first published in 1869 having been serialised in St Paul's Magazine (October 1867 to May 1868). It is not notoriously difficult and yet I've struggled for over a year to read it. I read Can You Forgive Her? in March '15 and made the fatal error of deciding to put off Phineas Finn for a little bit, despite being eager to read it almost immediately, thinking it was a little too soon. After that I could never get into it (for this reason, now having finished Phineas Finn, I'm planning on reading the third of the series, The Eustace Diamonds, for Saturday's readathon, that I think I will like).
And so, this being the third or fourth attempt, I did finally finish Phineas Finn, and no, I never got into it. I did try - sometimes one does have to try with Trollope, I find some of his novels very hard to crack into (sometimes it …

Metamorphoses by Ovid.

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Book I | Book II | Book III | Book IV | Book V Book VI | Book VII | Book VIII | Book IX | Book X Book XI | Book XII | Book XIII | Book XIV | Book XV
I began reading Ovid's Metamorphoses on the 1st January this year along with Cleo of Classical Carousel, and here I am just under sixteen weeks later writing a summary post! How time flies. Spending so much time with a book, one does grow very affectionate towards it - it's been a constant presence for this length of time, and I've loved it, been frustrated by it, enjoyed it, and a few times (just a few) hated it. It's a vast book, a book of fifteen books or sections with around one hundred and forty stories containing some 250 myths and countless metamorphoses.
At the heart of Ovid's Metamorphoses is change and the vast array of possibilities in the world. It's original title was Metamorphōseōn librī meaning 'The Book of Transformations'. He begins in his prologue,
In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas c…

The Heracleidae by Euripides.

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"Heracleidae" is a word that refers to the children of Heracles, the Greek God (son of  Zeus and Alcmene) famous for his strength and carrying out the Twelve Labours, as well as ultimately being defeated by a woman, his third wife Deianeira, who inadvertently killed him having been tricked by Nessus into giving him a poisoned coat (this story is told in Sophocles' The Women of Trachis, and 'The Monk's Tale' in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales). Later in his writing career Euripides tells the story of Heracles' tragic first marriage to Megara (Heracles, 416 B.C.) but in the Heracleidae, Heracles is already dead.
The Heracleidae(Ἡρακλεῖδαι) was first performed in 429 B.C. and it begins with a monologue by Iolaus, a close friend and nephew of Heracles (now an old man), who tells the audience of how they are fleeing King Eurystheus of Argos: previously Eurystheus (a favourite of Hera; Heracles was a favourite of Zeus) set Heracles the Twelve Labours (Eurysth…

Edward II by Christopher Marlowe.

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This year I've been reading Shakespeare's histories, and I've been planning to read some more historical plays from the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline era, so I'm very happy that this week's Deal Me In has brought me Edward II by Christopher Marlowe. Before I begin, I wanted to share a list of the kings of England from King John to Henry VIII and which kings (so far as I am able to find) have been written about in a play of those eras.  King John (1199-1216); House of Angevin) |King John by William Shakespeare, King Johan by John Bale, King John and Matilda by Robert Davenport.Henry III (1216-1272; House of Plantagenet)Edward I (1272-1307; House of Plantagenet) | Edward I by George Peele.Edward II (1307-1327; House of Plantagenet) |Edward II by Christopher Marlowe.Edward III (1327-1377; House of Plantagenet) | Edward III by William Shakespeare.(James IV of Scotland (1473 - 1513; House of Stewart) | James IV by Robert Greene).Richard II (1377 - 1399; House of Pl…