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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962) is one of the most notorious novels of the 20th Century (aided by Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film adaptation) for it's nihilistic 'ultra-violence'. And it's true what they say,  it is ultra-violent, graphic, and disturbing, but it has a philosophical purpose which makes it all very necessary. 
The novel is The Devils meets Nineteen Eighty-Fourmeets Finnegans Wake: it's precisely, in fact, how I imagine a post-war James Joyce. It was written during a time of national panic: in the 1960s, a quarter of teenagers admitted to carrying a knife, one third admitted to breaking the law at some point, and were twice as likely to suffer from rape or other violent crimes (source: Sunday People, 2008). The mods and the rockers were yet to clash in Brighton, but before A Clockwork Orange was published, the Teddy Boys were wreaking their own havoc on the streets. As Vice explains, Edwardian suits and flick knives; greased quiffs and mu…

Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge.

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This morning I officially finished my Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge. It's taken over three years (I began on 27th May 2015) of reading 150 works from Ancient Greece and Rome, and it has been the greatest, most enjoyable, and most useful reading challenge I have ever done!
I'm not quite sure how to bring this to a fitting end, so I thought I'd share a few Top Tens organise some of my most and least favourite parts. I'll leave the list of works I read for the end of the post.
First, my Top Ten Authors and my most favourite works by that author: Hesiod | Theogony. Sophocles | The Theban Plays.Homer | The Odyssey.Marcus Aurelius | Meditations.Seneca the Younger | Letters from a Stoic.Boethius | The Consolation of Philosophy.Aeschylus | Agamemnon.Euripides | Medea.Virgil | The Aeneid.Ovid | Metamorphoses. Next, my Top Ten Favourite Works outside my top ten authors: Homeric Hymns.Aesop's Fables.The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius.Jason and the Golden Fleece by Apollonius …

Apollodorus' Library.

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Bibliotheca (Βιβλιοθήκη) or Apollodorous' Library is a 1st or 2nd Century work by someone who had been assumed to be Apollodorus of Athens however of late this is thought to be false, so Bibliotheca is said to be by the Pseudo-Apollodorus. It's a collection of Greek myths and legends, one of the only catalogue of legends to survive into the modern age. It's divided into three parts and follows a chronology of the gods with a history of the major families.

With that in mind it starts of course with the Titans:
Ouranos was the first ruler of the universe. he married Ge, and fathered as his first children the beings known as the Hundred-Handers, Briareus, Cottos and Gyes, who were unsurpassable in size and strength, for each had a hundred hands and fifty heads. After these, Ge bore him the Cyclopes, namely, Arges, Steropes, and Brontes, each of whom had a single eye on his forehead. But Ouranos tired these children up and hurled them into Tartaros (a place of infernal darknes…

The Fisherman and his Soul by Oscar Wilde.

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The Fisherman and his Soul is the third story in Oscar Wilde's 1891 collection A House of Pomegranates. So far I've read this, The Birthday of the Infanta and The Star Child, and this, The Fisherman and his Soul, is just as wonderful and as magical. 
It begins with a young fisherman discovering a mermaid in his nets: ...  putting forth all his strength, he tugged at the coarse ropes till, like lines of blue enamel round a vase of bronze, the long veins rose up on his arms.  He tugged at the thin ropes, and nearer and nearer came the circle of flat corks, and the net rose at last to the top of the water. But no fish at all was in it, nor any monster or thing of horror, but only a little Mermaid lying fast asleep. Her hair was as a wet fleece of gold, and each separate hair as a thread of fine gold in a cup of glass.  Her body was as white ivory, and her tail was of silver and pearl.  Silver and pearl was her tail, and the green weeds of the sea coiled round it; and like sea-she…

The History of the English People 1000-1154 by Henry of Huntingdon.

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It is my considered opinion that the sweetest relief from suffering and the best comfort in affliction that this world affords are to be found almost entirely in the study of literature, and so I believe that the splendour of historical writing is to be cherished with the greatest delight and given the pre-eminent and most glorious position. For nothing is more excellent in this life than to investigate and become familiar with the course of worldly events. Where does the grandeur of men shine more brightly, or the wisdom of the prudent, or the discretion of the righteous, or the moderation of the temperate, than in the context of history? So begins The History of the English People (Historia Anglorum) by Henry of Huntingdon. It was commissioned by Alexander of Lincoln, the Bishop of Lincoln, who was not only Henry's patron but also Geoffrey of Monmouth's. Alexander wished for a history of England from the earliest times to the present day, and Henry began his work before 112…

50 Club Questions.

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As I've got a new Classics Club list and I do love a meme, I thought I'd revisit the 50 Club Questions...
Share a link to your club list. That's an easy one: here it is.
When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club?  I joined in 2012 and since then I've read 676 books for the club.
What are you currently reading? Valmiki's The RamayanaHenry V, War Criminal? and Other Shakespeare Puzzles by John Sutherland, Clergymen of the Church of England by Anthony Trollope, Apollodorus' Library, Essays in Idleness by Kenkō, and The Masnavi by Rūmī.
What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it? In a Gloucestershire Garden by Canon Ellacombe (I loved it) and The Enneads by Plotinus (that one didn't go too well...).
What are you reading next? Why? London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins: it looks interesting and someone kindly bought it for me. Also planning on reading Story of Sinuhe and The Rig Veda whilst I'm in my Bron…

The Enneads by Plotinus.

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Me reading The Enneads by Plotinus is, I'm afraid, another example of me punching well above my weight. I'm useless with philosophy and yet I always enjoy the challenge. That said, more or less since I started my Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge this has been a book I've been dreading, and it's the reason why, even though I only had two books to go, I stalled and didn't read any of the ancients through August. But, thanks to a burst of determination, I finally read The Enneads this weekend. Because I have not the capabilities to write in depth, this will be a brief post.
The Enneads (Ἐννεάδες) was written in the third century A.D. (around about 270 A.D.) and it's divided into six parts, hence the alternative title of the work - The Six Enneads of Plotinus. It was compiled by Plotinus' student Porphyry of Tyre. It concerns the nature of the soul, being, perfection, free will, and levels of existence. Here's the basic outline of the book: The First Ennead

The Epic of Creation, Theogony of Dunnu, and Erra and Ishum.

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This week I finished Stephanie Dalley's translations of Myths from Mesopotamia. It was a remarkably tough read, not because of the translation but the subject matter: these ancient myths are very overwhelming. But it was an exciting read too: many of these myths have much in common with the later myths in Biblical and Greek myth, so I enjoyed the comparative aspect of this read.
The final three in the collection are: The Epic of Creation.Theogony of Dunnu.Erra and Ishum. I would venture to say The Epic of Creation(Enûma Eliš) was the toughest read yet. It's the second longest in the collection (The Epic of Gilgameshbeing the longest) and the tablets themselves appear to date to the first millennium, though the story itself is probably far older. It begins, When the skies above were not yet named Nor earth below pronounced by name, Apsu, the first one, their begetter And Tiamat, who bore them all, Had mixed their waters together, But had not formed pastures, nor discovered reed…