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Posts from the ‘Classic’ Category

3
Mar

#Classic: Essays by Montaigne

 

Introduction:

  1. Michel de Montaigne  explores the human condition
  2. …in a very personal and clever manner.
  3. His essays chart the course of 20 yr of self-investigation.
  4. He pretends to most of the vices.
  5. If there be any virtue in him, he says, it got in by stealth.

 

Conclusion:

  1. I enjoyed the most personal essays:
  2. Book I
  3. This selection of essays is ‘the hook’.
  4. They are personal and frank.
  5. Unfortunately there are also many essay in
  6. book II and III  …. I consider ‘duds’.

Saddnes
Idleness
Liars
Fear
Happiness not be judged until after our death
Pedantry
Educating children
Friendship
Moderation
Solitude
Sleep
Prayers
Age

Book II

  1. …including 140 pages entitled “Apology for Raymond Sebond’
  2. The “Apology for Raymond Sebond” is
  3. three times as long as any other essay that Montaigne wrote
  4. The essay has been seen as an attack on authoritrian religion and
  5. a covert threat to Christian faith.
  6. It was a slog to listen to….and
  7. I just started to do some household chores
  8. …and let the words go in one ear and out the other!
  9. This essay sticks out like a sour thumb
  10. If you encounter this essay and feel as I did
  11. …just skip it!

 

Drunkenness
Conscience
Practice
Affection of fathers for children
Books
Cruelty
Glory
Thumbs
Cowardice
Anger
On resemblence of children to fathers

 

Book III (…there were only 3 essays I liked)
Repentance
Physiognomy
Experience

 

Last thoughts

  1. Montaigne is the frankest and honestest of all writers.
  2. He does have opinions that still ring true today.
  3. Strong point: Montaigne writes about themes that charm the
  4. reader ( see my list of favorites).
  5. We relate to them.
  6. Strong point: Montaigne’s style is not dry….but daring
  7. …filled with depth and witty observations.
  8. Weak point: don’t approach these essays expecting
  9. that they are an easy read (21st C standard)…they are not!
  10. The book was published 1580 and
  11. …written to one sex only.
  12. A certain nakedness of statement was permitted
  13. …which our manners of a literature addressed
  14. …equally to both sexes, do not allow.
  15. Montaigne could have used the advice of one of his
  16. favorite authors:
  17. “The eloquence that diverts us  to itself harms its content.” (Seneca)
  18. #SomeEssaysBoring
25
Feb

#Classic: Hamlet

 

Quickscan:

  1. Lovers:  Ophelia and Hamlet
  2. Focus: revenge – the obsession to avenge can drive one mad
  3. Family issue: Uncle kills Hamlet’s father and marries his mother (yikes!)
  4. Plot twist: ghost of King Hamlet wants revenge. Triggers entire play!
  5. Hook: Ghost in Act 1…all acts end with cliffhangers!!
  6. Genre:  Revenge play
  7. Pivotal acts:  Act 3 and Act 5
  8. Soliloquies:  7 spoken by Hamlet
  9. Tragic flaw Hamlet: overthinks everything! “To be or not to be…” (Act 3, 1)
  10. Villian: Claudius manipulative, ruthless
  11. Ophelia: weak character compared to Desdamona!
  12. Minor character who plays major role: Laertes
  13. Symbol: poison (weapon, manipulation and madness)
  14. Motif: spying (eavesdropping) to seek truth)
  15. Spies: Hamlet, Horatio, Reynaldo, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Polonius, King Claudius
  16. Victims: Queen, King, Ophelia, Hamlet, Laertes
  17. Shakespeare’s statement: “What a piece of work is man!” (Act 2, 2)
  18. Setting:  Elsinore Castle, Danish coast, graveyard
  19. Major themesrevenge, madness. death. appearance vs reality
  20. Minor themesambition, corruption
  21. …”Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”  (Act 1, 4)
  22. Body count: 9
  23. King Hamlet (before play starts)
  24. Queen Gertrude
  25. King Claudius
  26. Polonius
  27. Rosencrantz
  28. Guildenstern
  29. Ophelia
  30. Laertes
  31. Hamlet
  32. The only main character left
  33. …standing at the end is Horatio,
  34. …who is usually seen sitting on the ground,
  35. …cradling Hamlet’s corpse.
  36. So technically, he’s not standing.
    1 drowning
    2 beheadings
    1 simple stabbing
    2 simple poisonings and
    3 aggravated stabbings (poisoned blade/some poison)
  37. Now that’s what I call a tragedy!

 

Trend:   Theme: illusion vs reality

  1. In Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and Hamlet
  2. ….Shakespeare uses this theme to drive the plot.
  3. I will be looking at other plays by WS to see if he repeats this theme.
  4. Midsummer Night’s Dream: play-in-play (illusion)….is also used in Hamlet
  5. Othello: it appears Desdemona is having an affair ( lost handkerchief)…she is not.
  6. Hamlet: it appears Hamlet is in a legitimate duel…he is not, sword is poison tipped
  7. Hamlet: Claudius appears to be praying on his knees…he is not.
  8. Hamlet: Claudius must appear to be guiltless in death of Hamlet…he is not.
  9. Hamlet: Killing Hamlet must appear to be an accident….it is not, it is premeditated

 

Last thoughts:

  1. I have been avoiding this play for years
  2. …too difficult, complex plot.
  3. Finally I can strike this play off my Bucket List!
  4. I ordered the Kenneth Branagh’s film  Hamlet (1996)
  5. It is the only version that includes the complete text
  6. …nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
  7. …and is 4 hours long.
  8. #GetOutThePopcorn
16
Feb

#Classic: Beowulf

 

Quickscan

  1. Plot:  Beowulf  relates the adventures of its Scandinavian hero,
  2. at the same time presenting a detailed description of
  3. the life and mood of the age during which it was written.
  4. Epic in a nutshell:
  5. Monster kills human – Grendel kills Danes in Herot
  6. Human kills monster – Beowulf kills Grendel
  7. Monster kills human – Grendel’s mother kills Esher
  8. Human kills monster – Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother
  9. Human and Monster  – kill each other
  10. Motif: quest for personal glory
  11. Major Theme: Good vs Evil…slaying of monsters and dragon
  12. Minor theme: Beowulf’s friendships… with King Hrothgar and Wiglaf (warrior)
  13. Question: Why so swords have names? Heruntling, Nagling

 

Conclusion:

  1. I found the translation
  2. …by Seamus Heaney breathtaking!
  3. Strong point: crystalline alliteration!
  4. line 209:
  5. “…the warrior boarded the boat as captain,
  6. a canny pilot along coast and currents.
  7. Strong point: Heaney taps into his vivid vocabulary
  8. …and his writing  is designed to draw the reader
  9. effortlessly from page to page through
  10. …this Medieval classic epic poem!
  11. I was not prepared for such an enjoyable read!
  12. But I must advise any reader to gather the
  13. basic story lines by reading a summary (wikipedia)
  14. before reading the poem.
  15. IMO..the story is simple and  not the best
  16. part of the poem.
  17. It is Heaney’s choice of words ...his translation
  18. …that brings Beowulf  life!

 

Last thoughts:

  1. If you are interested in studying Medieval Literature
  2. …Beowulf is a #MustRead
  3. If not…it STILL is a must read!.
  4. Tip: there is a great family tree illustration in this book!
  5. You can’t read this poem without it!
  6. In the film Annie Hall, Diane Keaton confesses to Woody Allen
  7. her interest in attending some college classes.
  8. Allen is supportive, and has this bit of advice:
  9. “Just don’t take any course where you have to read Beowulf.
  10. I had to laugh when I read that!
  11. I don’t agree with Woody Allen…..
  12. #Classic  for all to enjoy!
9
Feb

#Classic: The Mill on the Floss

 

Finished: 09.02.2019
Genre: novel
Rating: C
#AudioBook  19 hr  – narrator Eileen Atkins

 

Conclusion:

  1. This book has been on my TBR since 2010!
  2. I have finally read this auto-biographical classic by G. Eliot.
  3. Spanning over a period of 10 years,
  4. The Mill on the Floss follows the coming of age of the
  5. …beautiful and idealistic Maggie
  6. …as she experiences family tragedy, forbidden love and
  7. the wrath of the English patriarchy.
  8. The 1+2 books were a (too) long exposition of
  9. family and childhood Maggie and brother Tom.
  10. Eliot in part 1 wants to expose the differences between brother and sister.
  11. TOM: “I’d do just the same again.” That was his usual mode of viewing his past actions.
  12. MAGGIE: Maggie was always wishing she had done something different.
  13. TOM: “Yes, you’re silly; but I never do forget things, I don’t.” (holds grudges like his father)
  14. MAGGIE: “I’d forgive you, if you forgot anything–I wouldn’t mind what you did–I’d forgive you…”
  15. TOM: …instinctive discernment of what would turn to his advantage or disadvantage
  16. MAGGIE: rushed to her deeds with passionate impulse.
  17. Theme: forgiveness is the thread throughout the  book
  18. Book 3 – 5 reveals adult loves and friendships
  19. Part 6 – must be one of the longest ‘break-up’s in literature!
  20. Part 7 – the river is the symbol of life and death.
  21. I was impressed by Eliot’s writing but needed
  22. a combination of audio listen and download Gutenberg.org book
  23. ….to keep me reading through long, long (preachy) speeches by Maggie.
  24. #Classic but you have to be committed to finish it!
2
Feb

#Classic: Heart of Darkness

 

Introduction:

  1. Despite my restraint (book embargo) I still bought
  2. 5 classic books in January.
  3. I was disappointed….not having enough self-control.
  4. The plan for February is to read as many classics as
  5. I can….on my IPOD!
  6. There are 20 audio classics just waiting for me.
  7. The Heart of Darkness has been on TBR since 2017.

 

Quickscan:

  1. Love triangles:  none
  2. Women: Kurtz’ fiancée in Brussels and native mistress in Congo
  3. Major characters: Marlow and Kurtz 
  4. Minor character: “The Russian” (…very irritating Russian accent on audio book)
  5. Genre: Gothic horror novella
  6. Plot twists: no twists or turns only the the idea of
  7. ‘what is going to happen’ kept me reading
  8. POV: unnamed narrator (1st pers) tells the reader about
  9. Marlow telling his story also as 1st person narrator (frame POV)
  10. Title: The Heart of Darkness: interiour workings of the mind
  11. Symbol: journey up Congo River =  sin
  12. Symbol: journey down Congo River = redemption
  13. Structure: 3 parts
  14. present day London/Belgium
  15. journey from Congo Central station –> to Kurtz up the Congo River
  16. return to Europe and a meeting with Kurtz’ fiancée
  17. Message: obsession that drives its victim (Kurtz) beyond the limits of humanity
  18. Message: the darkness of the human heart…man’s capacity for evil.
  19. Setting: London –> Belgium –> Congo –> Belgium
  20. Major theme: madness, moral corruption
  21. Minor themes: racism, violence
  22. Body count: 2 (Kurtz and helmsman)
  23. Conrad’s statement: cynical, critical take on European Imperialism

 

Conclusion:

  1. This was NOT my favorite Conrad novel/novella.
  2. I had to force myself to sit down an listen to this audio book.
  3. Part 1 started with lyrical descriptions of moon, sea, mist, light
  4. that  initially hooked me to keep reading.
  5. Unfortunately these were the only beautiful descriptions in the book IMO.
  6. Part 2: chaotic description of a steamship struggling to creep up river.
  7. Part 3: climax:  Marlow and Krutz finally meet.
  8. Conrad did me a favor and described his book for me
  9. with his comments about Kurtz’ pamphlet:
  10. vibrating with eloquence…but too high strung”.
  11. This book is Conrad’s way of asking ourselves
  12. …if we would have the courage like Kurtz to peer over
  13. …the edge of the abyss:  “The horror, the horror”.

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Conrad captured something about the way power
  2. operated across continents and race.
  3. I would highly recommend the award winning
  4. book Congo by David Reybourck. (2014)
  5. It is a gripping epic imperialistic policy of the Belgians in Congo.
  6. . . . more exciting than the novel The Heart of Darkness!

 

Favorite quote:

Part 1:
Watching the coast…is like thinking about an enigma
There it is before you smiling, frowning, inviting,
grand, mean, insipid or savage and always mute with an air of whisper
‘Come and find out.’

1
Feb

#Classic: The Twelve Caesars (Suetonius)

 

Quickscan:      List of Roman Emperors

 

Notes:

  1. This is not a book that I would choose to snuggle up with
  2. on a cold winter day. Thus I decided to listen to the audio book.
  3. I could keep doing my chores….etc and still absorb the
  4. tidbits of history that I did not know!
  5. 50 % of the book is about the first 3 Caesars:
  6. Julius, Augustus, Tiberius  chapters 1-18
  7. Audio book 40 chapters (20 min per chapter)
  8. Roman emperor was a risky job:  only 3 died of natural causes
  9. …the rest were assassinated or committed suicide!

 

Julius Caesar  (reigned 5 years)

  1. He wore laurel crowns as often as possible.
  2. The wreath suited Caesar especially well with
  3. the green leaves hiding his balding head.
  4. It was good to be reminded that Servilia (b.104 BC, d. 42 BC)
  5. was just a wicked as Livia was
  6. during her relationship with Augustus Caesar.
  7. Livia remains in my memory in TV series I, Claudius.
  8. Servilla came be seen in TV series Rome.
  9. The series I, Claudius NEVER showed
  10. …the audience the sadistic cruelty of Tiberius!
  11. You have to read about it to believe it!

 

Augustus Caesar (reigned 40 years)

  1. Father: Gaius Otavius (politician) but he died when AC was 4 years old.
  2. Adopted father: Julius Caesar.
  3. Wives: each of these marriages lasted 2 yr Clodia, Scribonia
  4. Livia was here to stay.
  5. She was a shrewd woman,  23 yr marriage, no children, 1 miscarriage.
  6. Augustus also divided city regions and districts,
  7. …appointed nightly watch against fires (sort of fire brigade).
  8. Calendar: Augustus was  born in September named 8th month August
  9. because in this month he received his first council ship.
  10. Lists: These pages about Augustus Caesar is a long list of achievements:
  11. circus games, gladiators, laws, allocating corn
  12. exhibiting curiosities: rhino, tiger and extremely long snake!
  13. Lists: of omens Augustus Caesar believed to foreshadow trouble (2 crows attack an eagle!)
  14. As soon as Livia comes on the scene
  15. ….the narrative becomes more interesting.
  16. After watching the TV series I, Claudius
  17. I could apply a face (actor, actress) to many names!
  18. Julia: Daughter is banished for 5 years for her lewd behavior.
  19. Strong point: personal habits were described
  20. …negligent in dress, took afternoon naps with his shoes always on!
  21. Augustus  slept in the same chamber on Palatine Hill for 40 years.
  22. His private room where he was NOT to be
  23. disturbed (top floor Palatine Hill home) called “Syracuse”.

 

Tiberius pg 104 (reigned 22 years)

  1. He was emperor Augustus Caesar’s successor.
  2. Augustus  adopted Tiberius (his mother was Livia AC’s 2nd wife)
  3. Tiberius was a reluctant emperor!
  4. Livia (mother) demanded equal share of power.
  5. Mother and son parted on bad terms.
  6. When she died Tiberius annulled her will and did not grieve his loss!
  7. Daughter-in-law Agrippina the Elder
  8. claimed Tiberius had her husband Germanicus murdered.
  9. Germanicus was Tiberius’ nephew AND adopted son.
  10. Tiberius banished her to the island of Pandateria.
  11. …and ordered a centurion to beat out one of her eyes!
  12. Tiberius was not finished yet….
  13. He starved his 2 (adoptive) grandsons to death.
  14. Tiberius was sadist…deriving pleasure from cruelty.
  15. In one day 20 people (men, women and boys) were killed flung down
  16. the Gemonian Stairs (steps located in the ancient city of Rome)
  17. …and then dragged into the Tiber River.
  18. He put a centurion to death for stealing a peacock out of his orchard!
  19. #Ouch

 

 

Conclusion:

  1. I took notes about the first 3 Caesars.
  2. You can discover the other rulers yourself!
  3. This was an excellent overview of these emperors
  4. The book solidified my understanding of the
  5. Julio-Claudian (27 BC-68 AD)
  6. Flavian dynasties (68-96 AD)
  7. Audio book narrator:  Charles Griffin (excellent).
  8. The writing is clear, simple and easy to understand.
  9. Strong point:
  10. Insights into the social and political order of the times
  11. …and the psychology of these powerful yet flawed individuals.
  12. I loved the music played between chapters….imperial!

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Roman emperors are not known as being compassionate
  2. …but Emperor Vespasian was the exception!
  3. If you like historial fiction perhaps you would like Lindsey Davis’
  4. The Course of Honour.
  5. The love story of Vespasian and his mistress
  6. …the freed slave woman Antonia Caenis.
  7. This book recreates Ancient Rome’s most turbulent period.

 

31
Jan

#Classic: Moby Dick

 

Quickscan:    Mixture  of plots:

1. Overcoming the Monster: (the White Whale)
3. Quest: (Destroy the White Whale)
4. Voyage and Return: (whaling trip on the Pequod)
5. Comedy: (Stubb dialogue)
6. Tragedy: (Dead of Queeseg)
7. Rebirth:  Ishmael (character survives  after so many perils)
9. Rebellion against the one: (Starbuck thinks of killing Ahab to save ship/crew)

 

Characters:   my favorites….

Ishmael:

  1. The narrator in the book, not only relaying the story
  2. …but going on at length about whale facts and
  3. various philosophical questions.

Queequg:

  1. He demonstrates that despite one’s appearance
  2. people have more in common than they believe.
  3. Queequg also brings life through death. (coffin is float for survival)

 

Secret motto:

  1. Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!
  2. Ahab howls these words as harpoon iron is devoured the baptismal blood.
  3. ”I baptize thee, not in the name of the Father, but in the name of the Devil.”
  4. Captain Ahab is speaking to his harpoon as it tastes whale blood for the first time.
  5. The quote is significant because Herman Melville wrote to his
  6. …friend Nathaniel Hawthorne that
  7. ..the line was the book’s secret motto.

 

Conclusion:

  1. On the most basic level, the White Whale in the novel
  2. is the object of Ahab’s obsession.
  3. Everything in the plot of Moby-Dick is directed
  4. …toward the final, tragic confrontation between
  5. …Ahab, his crew, and the White Whale.
  6. The White Whale wins the fight.
  7. Ahab and nearly the entire crew of the Pequod die.
  8. The fact that the White Whale cannot be beaten
  9. ….contributes to the way it is used as a symbol.
  10. Power of Moby Dick is symbolic of God.
  11. Symbol of a force man cannot defeat.
  12. Pursuit of God: Ahab purses God in a manner driven by hate
  13. vengeance rather than something peaceful.

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Ch 1-54  is worth the read….but then I hit a wall!
  2. Ch 55-100….it was a ‘touch and go’ endeavor to keep reading!
  3. The last 30 chapters finally capture my attention again.
  4. This book would be much improved
  5. without the whaling tutorial and scrimshaw! (ch 56)
  6. Sometimes tiresome and challenging
  7. is a compliment about a classic book.
  8. It’s like climbing a mountain….hard work
  9. …but the view is terrific when you get to the top!
  10. Now…the view from the top
  11. …wasn’t worth the hike.
  12. #YouHaveBeenWarned

 

My notes:

November 29, 2018

Learning some basic concepts that play an important role in Moby Dick

Metaphysical – concept focused on the theories of human nature
Transcendentalism – people and nature were inherently good
Melville mixes his love of metaphysics + adventure story.
Melville creates well rounded characters
…who have a good and a
…..”dark side” (obsession with a whale).
December 1,  2018
I know this book will be a challenge…but I am ready for it!
The first paragraph describes my start
“…whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul…”.

December 2, 2018

Slowly moving forward:

Moby Dick covers just about every concept
we read about in books: revenge, death, duty,
freewill vs fate, friendship, madness…
the book feels like the gold-standard for all other novels I’ve read!

December 6, 2018

Starting ch 28 ….now we finally meet Ahab!

December 7, 2018

30 pages a day…

December 11, 2018

Ch 70: I pushed through ch 54-70 which is more or less

a tutorial on whales, harpooning,
the blubber room and why sharks love whale meat!
Ch 1-54 is a good narrative….I expect once we get back to the conflict
…Ahab vs Moby Dick on the high seas.
..the book will recapture its adventerous tone!
December 15, 2018

Ch 94: More whaling…stay away from whale spuits,

fin back whales look similar to sperm whale.
..don’t be fooled!
Knives in blubber room are so sharp
…crew could slice off toes. Jick.
The only chapter with some narrative was
about the man on ship Jerpboam
…who thought he was the angel Gabriel.

January 9, 2019

Finshed during the Christmas holidays.

28
Jan

#Classic Flannery O’Connor

 

Conclusion:

  1. I’ve had this book on TBR for 2 years!
  2. I was very, very impressed.
  3. It would be bleak stuff if it weren’t so enthralling,
  4. ….and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.
  5. O’Connor works in major social issues (race) and religious themes
  6. …( suffering, epiphany), but doesn’t hit the reader over the head with them.
  7. Some stories are dark with a surprise ending.
  8. Strong point: She writes the Negro dialect as if she
  9. …spoke it herself, and portrays
  10. southern speech patterns easily.
  11. I took me 4 days to read all 31  (long) short stories.
  12. A Displaced Person is 42 pages
  13. The Lame Shall Enter First is 38 pages
  14. 10  stories are between 20-29 pages
  15. 54% very good stories!
  16. Reading up on O’Connor’s life, which came to an early end from illness,
  17. ….it wasn’t hard for me to see how some of
  18. …her own personal trials must have informed her work.
  19. #MustRead Classic

 

Table of Contents:

  1. The Geranium – Old man (lives with daughter NYC) homesick for the South (YES)
  2. The Barber – man and barber have a political discussion (YES)
  3. Wildcat – blind man can’t see but can smell the wildcat (YES)
  4. The Crop – writer (O’Connor?)….glimpse how a writer plots a story
  5. The Turkey – young boy…chases turkey, wants to impress family (YES)
  6. The Train – young man on train trip…felt like a pointless story
  7. The Peeler – Fast talking potato peeler salesman vs blind street preacher
  8. The Heart of the Park – Enoch spies on ladies at the swimming pool strange story
  9. A Stroke of Good Fortune – Ruby is having a baby…but she doesn’t know it!
  10. Enoch and the Gorilla – Enoch stares at the ape in the zoo
  11. Good Man is Hard to Find – famous O’Connor story (YES)
  12. A Late Encounter With the Enemy – grandfather attends granddaughter’s graduation
  13. The Life You Save May Be Your Own – one-arm drifter marries young girl (YES)
  14. The River – young neglected boy taken to river baptizing by his babysitter
  15. A. Circle of Fire – three teenage boys come for unexpected visit
  16. The Displaced Person – widow (dairy farm) tries to decide if she will fire employee (YES)
  17. A Temple of the Holy Ghost – 14 yr girls (Catholic school) visit their mother’s friend (YES)
  18. The Artificial Nigger – Grandfather takes grandson on first train trip to Atlanta (YES)
  19. Good Country People – Bible salesman comes to the door….fools everybody. (so-so)
  20. You Can’t Be Any Poorer Than Dead – grand uncle-nephew…bury me. (YES haunting)
  21. Greenleaf – widow owns dairy farm with 2 lazy sons – neighbour’s bull is in her herd! (YES)
  22. A View of the Woods – grandfather – granddaughter (9 yr)..his heir – haunting story (YES)
  23. The Enduring Chill – son travels from NYC back home to mother. (very funny…YES)
  24. The Comforts of Home – Mother takes ‘con-artist’ in home… (surprise ending…YES)
  25. Everything That Rises Must Converge  Mother-son on a bus ride (absolutely amazing YES)
  26. The Partridge Festival – young man (23 yr) visits his two great-aunts (very good..YES)
  27. The Lame Shall Enter First – Father-son (11 yr) grieving for dead mother (powerful…YES)
  28. Why Do the Heathen Rage? widow faced with having an immature and inept young son
  29. Revelation – strange patients in the doctor’s waiting room
  30. Parker’s Back- drifter/handy-man ends up marrying hyper-religious wife…trouble.
  31. Judgement Day – Old man (lives with daughter NYC) longs to return to the South to die

 

 

24
Jan

#Classic: The Symposium

 

What is The Symposium?

  1. This masterpiece of philosophy is
  2. …a dramatic dialogue set at a
  3. dinner party in ancient Athens.
  4. The guests agree not to drink because
  5. …they have over indulged on the previous night.
  6. The men discuss the nature of Love.

 

Why did Plato write The Symposium?

  1. Socrates was interested in the symposium
  2. as en educational form where erotic
  3. relationships took place.
  4. But the symposium was also place of great
  5. fun, merriment and entertainment.

 

Who was influenced by The Symposium?

  1. Plotinus: 3rd C  philosopher An Essay on the Beautiful.
  2. Ficino, M.  translated the Platonic dialogues into latin in the Renaissance
  3. Freud, S.  read and studied The Symposium

 

Most important metaphor?

  1. This topic is long and complicated.
  2. I added this link if you are interested.
  3. Ladder of Love (Wikipedia)

 

What is the significance of a drinking party?

  1. This was a ‘gentleman’s club’.
  2. There was a bawdy side but
  3. ..the most important aspect was
  4. the establishment of
  5. older male-younger male relationships.
  6. The older male (the lover)
  7. would guide the younger male (beloved)
  8. into Athenian social and political life
  9. in return for sexual favors.

 

Who are the important guests?

  1. Aristophanes – one of the greatest Athenian poets
  2. Phaerdus – associate of Socrates
  3. Eryximachus – doctor
  4. Aristodemus – narrator
  5. Aristophanes – poet, playwright
  6. Pausanias – lover of Agathon
  7. Agathon –  tragic poet who is the host of the party
  8. Socrates – Athens’ most famous philosopher
  9. Alcibiades – important politician, rich, influential, womanizer

 

What are the major themes?

  1. Major: passionate love, desire, nature of knowledge
  2. Minor: virtue, happiness

 

What is characteristic of the speeches?

  1. In each of the speeches the nature of virtue is presented:
  2. Phaerdus – heroic deeds on the battlefield are important
  3. Agathon – poetic expertise is important
  4. Socrates – intellectual virtue is important
  5. Each speech is designed to praise Eros.
  6. Speeches explain how desires can be shaped
  7. to help us lead a better and happier life.
  8. Central is all the speeches is the concept of happiness.

 

How  do speakers describe physical desire (Eros)?

 

Phaerdus  (young student of rhetoric and poetry)
Romantic love (male/female and male/male) is praiseworthy.
If we’ve sacrificed our life for our beloved
…the gods will reward us after death.
This type of romantic love sounds admirable
…but there is also a lot of ‘dying young’!

 

Pausanias (legal expert)
The quality of erotic depends on the object of your love
…and the manner of your love.
He divides love into heavenly and common love.
Heavenly: lover (older) – beloved (younger) focuses on
the younger males spiritual development.
Common: physical love for either male or female

 

Eryximachus (doctor)
He divides erotic love in good and bad.
The doctor broadens erotic love to a cosmic force
..in medicine, music, climate, farming.
Good attraction of love = harmony and health
Bad attraction of love = disease and illness

 

Aristophanes (one of the greatest Athenian poets)
His speech is iconic.
This is a quirky almost absurd description how humans evolved.
Must read  to appreciate Aristophanes imagination!
Love will make us find our other half.

 

Agathon (tragic poet who is the host of the party)
He gives a dazzling speech and receives the most applause.
The other speakers praise the benefits that eros (desire) brings
(heroic deeds on the battlefield…harmony and health)
But Agathon says…you can’t give another what you don’t have yourself!
Lovers are thus honorable, beautiful, wise and just.

 

Socrates (most famous Greek philosopher)
He tells a story that Diotima taught him!
She is a fictional priestess. She provides the
question and answer template possible
… that Socrates loves to use!
Diotima says what Socrates wants to say
…and Socrates is now the willing pupil.

 

Drunken Alcibiades…disrupts the party!
He give a moving passionate speech about the joy and
pain of loving Socrates.
Poor Alcibiades….he loves the right man in the wrong way.
I thought this was the most memorable speech! (shocker)

 

Conclusion:

  1. 5 speeches (Phaedrus, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Pausanias, Agathon)
  2. 1 cross-questioning and speech about the truth of Love (Socrates)
  3. 1 dicey speech by Alcibiades
  4. …that is a ‘tell-all’ about his affair with ex-lover Socrates!
  5. After all the guest give their speeches
  6. …of course Socrates will be the last to speak.
  7. He dazzles and confuses me with his ‘typical questions”
  8. (conversation with priestess Diotima)
  9. This is the part of Socrates….I dread reading
  10. …he makes me think!
  11. You have to have at least a good 10 hrs sleep
  12. ..and be sharp of mind if you intend
  13. …to read anything involving Socrates!
  14. Reading time:
  15. It took me the entire day to read + notes  (131 pages)
  16. I hope this review can help you and don’t hesitate
  17. …to try this  #Classic for the die-hards!
22
Jan

#Classic: Richard II

Ben Whishaw

 

Quickscan:

  1. Love triangles:  None!
  2. Focus: the king is God’s appointee and above the law
  3. Family issue: Richard II steals cousin’s inheritance (Bolingbroke)
  4. Richard II: amateur politician, monarch treats England as a possession
  5. Henry Bolingbroke Duke of Herford: Machiavellian strategist
  6. Betrayal: Bolingbroke returns from banishment
  7. instigates a coup, imprisonment and murder

 

  1. Pivotal scene: Act 4,1 – Richard removes his  crown
  2. ” I give this heavy weight from off my head
  3. …And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand…”
  4. Minor characters with major role….move plot along:
  5. Duchess of Gloucester – devastated by loss her husband
  6. Duchess of York –  exemplifies love for a child
  7. Queen Isabel – exemplifies devotion to husband Richard II
  8. Setting: England, Wales,
  9. …Westminster Hall (Act 4: deposition of Richard II)
  10. …Castles Flint, Pomfret, Berkeley and Tower of London

 

  1. Major theme:  legal vs divine right to rule
  2. Minor theme: honor
  3. “My honor is my life; both grow in one
  4. Take honor from me; my life is done (Act 1)
  5. Symbol: hand mirror (Act 4,1) 
  6. Richard speaks to images of himself in a mirror.
  7. ….then shatters the glass (his identity)
  8. Body count: 16

 

  1. Shakespeare mixes fact and fiction:
  2. Richard II wife, Queen Isabel, is an adult when she was widowed in the play.
  3. Reality: Isabel was a child bride (7 yr) and was widowed at 10 yrs old.
  4. Genre: history play used by Elizabethan monarch to legitimize power
  5. Shakespeare’s statement: Act 3,2 
  6. “I had forgot myself; am I not king?
    Awake, thou coward majesty! thou sleepest.”

 

Last thoughts:

  1. Once you know basic story line….
  2. this is a  very readable play
  3. …and you learn about British history!
  4. #MustRead Classic

 

Watched DVD  The Hollow Crown episode Richard II

  1. Act 1, 2: left out  (short scene with John of Gaunt and Duchess of Gloucester)
  2. Act 3,1  beheading of traitors Bugsy and Greene (OMG)
  3. Act 3, 2 beautifully filmed…Richard II realizes….he’s doomed.
  4. Act 3,2  here where you find the title.
  5. “…for within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king
  6. Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits…”
  7. Act 3,4 (short garden scene) the queen eavesdrops on the
  8. …gardener and hears her husband has abdicated.
  9. This scene is more powerful on film than in the play.
  10. Act 4, 1: so impressive!
  11. The film emphasizes the ‘Christ-like’ image of Richard II being
  12. brought to  Westminster Hall in flowing
  13. …white robes and riding on a donkey!
  14. An emotional Richard II finally hands the “hollow crown’
  15. ….over to his cousin Bolingbroke.  (future Henry IV)
  16. Reading the play first  then
  17. …seeing it on film is absolutely thrilling.
  18. Act,5 5: …what a death scene Richard II.
  19. This DVD is truly worth you time and money!

 

Basic story line:

  1. Richard II  is called upon to settle a dispute
  2. …between his cousin Henry Bolingbroke (future Henry IV)
  3. and Thomas Mowbray. (Act 1)
  4. Richard II calls for a duel but then halts it just before swords clash.
  5. Both duelers are  banished from the realm.  (Act 2)
  6. When Richard II banishes Bolingbroke and confiscates his property.
  7. …he begins a chain of events that bring about his own downfall.
  8. Richard II then  leaves for wars against the rebels in Ireland.(Act 3)
  9. Bolingbroke returns to claim back his inheritance. (Act 3)
  10. Bolingbroke forces Richard II to abdicate. (Act 4)
  11. Bolingbroke takes Richard prisoner and lays claim to the throne. (Act 5)
  12. Henry Bolingbroke Duke of Herford becomes King Henry IV.