- Author: Joanna Pocock
- Title: Surrender (360 pg)
- Published: 2019
- Genre: non-fiction (memoir)
- List of Challenges 2020
- Monthly plan
- #WorldFromMyArmchair ( North American West)
- Joanna Pocock is writing realism in her essays
- about nature, environment and herself (memoir)
- ..but not in the traditional style.
- She details the the damage done to the environment (mining)
- ….that made me shudder.
- She details information about the people
- …in her life (family) and who she met in Missoula Montana
- …and on her road trips.
- Shock: Wolf trappers…Ms Pocock is on the side of the wolves!
- The Three Percenters…”3%-ers ” militia movements are growing.
- She shares her feelings during her adventure.
- “I was aware …that the land in the American West was not mine.”
- “…I felt at first lost and had no real concrete reason to be here.”
- But she did know that the West…had changed her.
- She would seek to give herself over to wilderness however she could.
- Best chapter:
- Joanna’s experience at the Ecosex Convergence in Washington state!
- Goal: make sex less shameful and environmetalism more sexy.
- Truly, this was a terrific section of the book.
- Ms Pocock stood among the other attendees, dressed in jeans and
- a warm fleece…surrounded by people
- in gauzy “I Dream of Genie” numbers…!
- Joanna was open to the tribal approach at this jamboree
- …but ” I slipped out before the cuddle circle got going”.
- Montana has been the “last best place” for so many people.
- Ms Pocock’s book goes far beyond the pristine wilderness.
- She stands between youth and old age (52 yr.)
- There are moments Joanna does not want to be back in London
- …but does not know what to do about it.
- Marriage and children are ties that bind,
- …yet sometimes the ties can chafe – and strangle.
- Sometimes….all you can do is Surrender
- …to your circumstances.
- Chapeau au bas for Joanna Pocock!
Feedback to Word By Word:
Claire, every memoir is different and it depends on the level of openness the writer dares to achieve especially concerning very personal thoughts. Joanna Pocock had the perfect balance: personal issues, feelings for nature and skepticism about some cultural practices in the American West. I learned so much from this book!
Feedback to WhatsNonFiction:
I’m sure you will love this book! Joanna Pocock has done her homework and she incudes many reference to the books she read about the American West, evironmentalism and essays by other authors she admires…for instance Rebecca Solnit “A Book of Migrations”. Trivia: Did you know the Appalachian Mountains is the second most biodiverse region in the world after the Amazon? I did not know that!
Set Design by Francis O’Connor for play “The Big House” (Abbey Theatre)
- Author: H. Lojek
- Title: The Spaces of Irish Drama (135 pg)
- Published: 2011
- Genre: non-fiction
- List of Challenges 2020
- Monthly plan
- There is so much to learn from Helen Lojek’s essays.
- I have selected a few ideas to share with you.
- I learned to think more about the title of a play.
- You would be surprised what the author had hidden in it!
- I learned to look carefully at the setting.
- Who knew you could compare a bar (pub) with purgatory!
The Gates of Gold by Frank McGuinnes
- Setting: the domestic interior
- Stage: divided in “living room” and bedroom (“dying room) – EMPHASIS ON THEMES
- Title: explore meaning ‘The Gate’ is the theatre the partners founded in Dublin.
- On a metaphysical level the title frames Gabriel’s looming death.
- Stage directions: Silence: there is a definite significance of silence and lack of action
- Silence and lack of motion can be just as powerful as dialogue and action
- Irony: characters… Conrad is teaching Gabriel how to die
- …and Gabriel is teaching his partner how to live!!
- Dialogue: overlapping it is a
- …challenge to read or follow but provides a reflective commentary.
- Major threat: inescapable biological reality of death
- Ireland: the Irish future has arrived with
- …neither priest nor colleen nor greenfield in sight.
The Weir by C. McPherson
- Setting: local bar
- Bar = sacred place or even purgatorial where people
- can tell the truth b/c no one will return here.
- People ease their loneliness by sharing their interior lives.
- Stage: aging photos on the wall, barflys are male, the fire is peat and
- …the preferred drink is Guinness.
- Titel: is a metaphor The Wier for damned up emotion/feelings
- that will spill out in their stories…
- “on one side it is quite calm on the other side water is being squeezed through.”
- Lots under the surface is coming out.
- Stage directions: Silence: TV and radio are present but not turned on.
- Patrons would rather tell stories.
- Irony: Valerie….the ‘intruder’ is leaving the city for rural Irish landscape
- ….while other characters are rushing to the city!
- Dialogue: no indication that is bar has a window so exterior space
- …is only what the characters describe.
- Major threat: never-seen-but-often-discussed toerists (modernity)
- Ireland: rural area…a place for lonely bachelors and nonworking bathrooms
- …where Valerie comes to heal.
- Author: Scott Peeples
- Title: The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe
- Published: 2003
- Genre: non-fiction
- List Challenges 2019
- Monthly planning
- #RIPXIV @ReadersImbibingInPeril
The Man That Was Used Up: Poe’s Place in American Literature
- Reading time 1 hr 15 min
- Discussion: about Poe’s character by biographers in the the late 19th C
- his alcoholism, inability to sympathize, fickleness, ugly humor, ill- tempered
- Paradox: Poe was unappreciated, rejected….but
- …this aura of mystery was good for business (bookselling)
- Why is Poe considered the most characteristic American poet?
- — he was beaten down by American materialism
- — he did not copy the English literary tradition
- — he explored the pathological side of American temperament
- — he was curious, interest toward the most strange and odd mysteries
- Conclusion: Poe was torn to pieces by many biographers but in
- 20th C he has been rebuilt into an ever more fascinating public figure
A Dream Within a Dream: Poe and Psychoanalysis
- Reading time 1 hr 15 min
- Discussion: Psychoanalysis could inspire new,
- inventive ways of reading Poe.
- Helicopter view…
- of several writers who have psychoanalyzed
- Poe’s writing:
- L. Purette, D.H. Lawrence, Marie Bonaparte, J. Robertson, J. Krutch
- …J. Lacan and many more.
- …looking at the anatomy of Poe’s unconscious.
- Basically this essay is about ‘What made Poe tick?‘
- Some insights made by Bonaparte sounded a bit
- far-tetched “…when Poe was tempted by living women, drink
- cleared the way for ‘flight’ and kept him faithful to his dead mother.”
- Honestly, this essay was more about the analysts
- ….pages and pages about Lacan,
- …then Poe himself!
Out of Space, Out of Time: From Early Formalism to Deconstruction
- Reading time 1 hr 02 min
- Discussion: is about 1950s New Criticism
- ….the deficiencies and limitations of Poe’s work.
- Not every critic feel Poe’s works should
- allowed into the temple of high literary art.
- Critics Brooks and Warren state:
- “…when you learn to read more carefully you’ll see
- that he’s (Poe) only a little better than pulp fiction
- …you read for pleasure.”
- Emerson had famously called Poe “the Jingle Man”
- because his poems sounded jingly, gimmicky!
- Conclusion: The critics want to teach me how to
- read Poe….I wish they would just let me enjoy his
- writing instead of trying to dissect Poe with structuralism,
- Post structuralism, and Deconstructism mumbo jumbo.
- The essay was filled with themes and philosophical issues.
The Man of the Crowd: The Socio-Historical Poe
- Reading time 1 hr
- Discussion: In 1980s placing Poe’s text
- in question to other texts in the
- same period with emphasis on
- representations of race, gender and class.
- Conclusion: Again critics who insinuate the
- The Black Cat is figure for the abused slave
- …seems far-fetched.
Lionizing: Poe as Cultural Signifier
- Reading time 50 min
- Discussion: The pop-culture Poe
- Why has Poe proved so resilient over
- …150 years after his death?
- Peeples reviews books, plays, films and comics
- …entertainment derived from
- …Poe and his works.
- Conclusion: readable
- We all know the uses of research material is
- a vital component to writing.
- Scott Peeples has cited about 350 works to
- create these essays.
- That feels a bit excessive
- for 5 essays with reading times of 1 hour 15 min.
- Great thoughts yes, but there is much
- ….cutting an pasting of direct quotes throughout the essays.
- This results in a confusion of voices and disrupts
- the flow of information.
- The writer must do more than parrot information!
- I did cherry pick some good insights about Poe and
- his writing but it was a laborious task.
- …but you may enjoy this book!
- Author: Leslie Jamison (editor)
- Title: Best American Essays 2017 (20 essays)
- Published: 2017
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- #TBR 2019 challenge update
- #TBR 2018 challenge update
- I’ve reviewed the first 5 essays
- …and will let you discover the rest.
- The BEST essay was by Rachel Ghansah.
- “The Weight”
- Try to read anything by this Pulitzer Prize winner
- ….you won’t be disappointed.
- Personally I was NOT impressed with the selected essays.
- They lacked creativity, insight and
- there were too many long personal essays.
- I’m not interested with your family relationships!
- I’ve read other collections that are WELL worth your reading time:
- Zadie Smith – Feel Free
- Two Shallow Graves C+
- Jason Arment…
- served in Operation Iraqi Freedom
- as a Machine Gunner in the USMC.
- He’s earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction
- from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
- Arment is a warrior as witness who writes down things we don’t want to know.
- Reading time: 22 minutes
- This is not an essay
- …it is probably a chapter from
- Arment’s published book in 2017 Musalaheen (memoir)
- Arment writes vividly
- …but I’m not interested in war literature.
- The Weight A++++++
- Rachel K. Ghansah…
- is an American award-winning essayist.
- She won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2018 for her profile of
- white supremacist and mass murderer Dylann Roof
- who killed nine black people at a church in South Carolina.
- Gahnsah writes about her past reluctance
- to revere James Baldwin in this essay.
- She wants to provide a model others can build upon so that they
- …do not buckle under “The Weight” of Baldwin’s legacy.
- The man can finally rest in peace.
- Reading time: 38 minutes
- This essay is absolutely stunning!
- I suggest you read anything you can find
- by Rachel K. Ghansah!
- White Horse D-
- Elise Goldbach...
- She writes a courageous personal essay about a
- campus sexual attack and its aftermath.
- After 6 minutes I realize this is not the
- …essay I want to spend time reading.
- Reading time: — minutes
- This essay is difficult to read….so DNF!
- The City That Bleeds D-
- Lawrence Jackson…
- is a professor of English and history at
- Johns Hopkins University.
- He is a literary critic and compelling biographer.
- Essay starts out as a description of police officers
- on trial for brutality…and suddenly is a essay about
- L. Jackson’s ancestors in Baltimore.
- Reading time: 15 minutes
- This essay is makes valid points on
- the state affairs in Baltimore
- …the city that bleeds
- …but it did not hold my interest.
- It felt like Jackson shifts words here and there
- and tells me things I read in the news.
- The essay lacks depth.
- We Are Orphans Here C+
- Rachel Kushner…
- is an author of several novels
- The Flamethrowers (2013) and The Mars Room (2018)
- Ms Kushner spends a weekend in the Shuafat Refugee
- Camp in East Jerusalem.
- The essay is probably not simply about a place or a journey,
- but rather is about what she may discover
- about people, life on that journey and in that place.
- Reading time: 15 minutes
- This essay is travel essay
- The hard part was trying to find
- Kushner’s quest…
- …the reason for writing this essay.
- I think she wanted to confront the image
- that the international media uses to depict
- Shuafat Camp…
- ” …as the most dangerous place in Jerusalem”
- with her personal experience pg 66
- “…how wonderful it was in Shuafat Camp…how safe I felt.”
- The essay was….average.
- Unfortunately, it did not appeal to me
- Editor: S. Shannon
- Title: August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle (13 essays)
- Published: 2016
- Wikipedia link: August Wilson (1945 – 2005)
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly reading plan
- August Wilson understood the power of the theater.
- He used it to its full potential by
- …inserting honesty and realism into every play.
- Some consider August Wilson “America’s Shakespeare”.
- August Wilson was an American playwright
- …who did the unheard of- penning ten plays.
- …one for each decade of the 20th C.
- Wilson received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama:
- Fences (1987), The Piano Lesson (1990)
- These 10 plays gives a glimpse into
- …American history through the
- …lens of the Black experience.
- August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle is a
- …series of critical essays about the plays.
- I have reviewed the first 5 essays
- …you can discover the rest of the book yourself!
- Essays 1-6 were interesting
- Essays 7-13 …seemed to repeat many thoughts
- about two plays: Gem of the Ocean and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.
- Weak point: the essays do NOT explain all 10 plays
- One of the most famous play is Fences NOT reviewed!
- It is considered the African-American version
- ot The Death of a Salesman
- A few essays were very instructive about…
- Seven Guitars, The Piano Lesson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- ….but still feel that the book
- does not live up to my expectations.
- Jitney (1982) (no reviewed in an essay)
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1984)
- Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1984)
- Fences (1987) (no reviewed in an essay)
- The Piano Lesson (1990)
- Two Trains Running (1991) (no reviewed in an essay…at length)
- Seven Guitars (1995)
- King Hedley II (1999)
- Gem of the Ocean (2003)
- Radio Golf (2005) (no reviewed in an essay)
1. The emancipated century – J.H. Scott ( 2 plays discussed) – easy to read
- Play: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
- Set in 1911… the play is about African Americans cut adrift by
- The Great Migration to the North and by slavery from their African past.
- The characters meet in a boarding house
- They represent a cross-section of African Americans.
- The boarders are in the midst of a
- …massive search for their “song,” or identity.
- Play: The Piano Lesson
- Set in 1936…this is a …
- Family conflict between Bernice and her
- …brother Boy Willie about the family piano.
- For Boy Willie the piano is a way to get some quick cash to buy land.
- For Bernice, the piano is a source of strength.
- It reminds her of the courage and endurance shown by her ancestors.
- Boy Willie looks to the future
- …while Bernice looks to the past.
2. Situated identity in The Janitor (J. Zeff): short essay about a play that is NOT in the cycle.
- The Janitor is a 1985 4 minute play.
- A janitor is someone society ignores.
- He is left to sweep the floor.
- The janitor gets an idea.
- …sees a microphone in an empty hall
- …and just starts talking.
- Message: identity is a work in progress which is in your control,
- “…but what you are now ain’t what you gonna become.”
3. Two Trains Running (S. Saddler, P. Bryant-Jackson) – This essay did not appeal to me. SKIM!
- This was a comparison of two books by
- American scholars Living Black History, M. Marable and
- The Archive and the Repertoire, D. Taylor.
- Where is the play?
- I noticed they referred to the play
- Two Trains Running but do NOT review this play at length
- …so I decided to skim this essay and
- …investigate the Pulitzer Prize 1992 play on Wikipedia.
- I learned more on Wiki…than in his essay!
4. World War II History (E. Bonds) – excellent essay, I learned a lot about the difficult period just after WW II. Black men struggle to move on after the war. They feel they are not benefiting from the post WW II economic boom. They feel like…they are still fighting.
- Play: Seven Guitars
- Set in 1948…
- …The play begins and ends after the funeral of one of the main characters.
- Events leading to the funeral are revealed in flashbacks.
- The essay explains the 7 characters (7 guitars) and their
- individual out-of-tune chords (life experiences).
- What I did not realize was how important the boxer
- Joe Lewis was for the African American community.
- Wilson uses Lewis’s fame and downfall as an essential part of the play.
- It is so sad to read that African American GI’s were fighting
- …on two fronts:
- the enemy overseas….and racism at home.
5. Stereotype and Archetype in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (M. Downing) – best explanation difference stereotype vs archetype I’ve ever read. Excellent essay, lucidly-written, logically-structured, and convincingly argued.
- Play: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
- Set in 1920s…the historic exploitation of
- black recording artists by white producers.
- The essay explains how August Wilson started with
- stereotypes assigned by whites to blacks in the play.
- Then he remakes them into archetypes.
- I would have missed this
- …completely by just reading the play!
- Wilson places the stereotype (ST) at the beginning of the play
- …adds monologues…adds POV of African American characters
- …draws the original ST (evokes criticism, suspicion, scorn)
- …into an archetype (evokes empathy, understanding, compassion)
- Example: Ma Rainey is introduced as
- ST: chaotic, unreasonable, difficult, a risk with the law
- Wilson breaks this ST into components and rebuilds Ma as
- AT: mother, queen, goddess
- Author: Gerard Dawe (1952)
- Title: The Wrong Country (14 essays)
- Published: 2018
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
Gerard Dawe is a retired (2017) Professor in English from Trinity College Dublin and a poet.
Born in Belfast and started is family life in the west of Ireland, Galway.
Series of 14 essay on modern Irish writing from from WB Yeats onwards.
The epigraph is by Hugo Hamilton’s The Speckled People and
reflects Irish writers and their writing for me….excellent choice of words by G. Dawe!
“…You can’t be afraid of saying the opposite,
even if you look like a fool and everybody thinks you’re
in the wrong country, speaking the wrong language.
The book is also dedicated to an Irish poet who passed away in 2017, Gerard Fanning.
I have never heard of him.
His poem collections are difficult to find in The Netherlands.
I ordered his collection Water & Power.
I was the last book before his death.
I’m curious what he has to say.
The essays are in the form of invited lectures or contributions given by G. Dawe.
Tone is conversational and because it is a lecture it takes random turns.
I had to read carefully and ask myself “what did I really learn from this lecture?”
I read about the author on Wikipedia before starting Dawe’s writing.
It gives a helicopter view of the writer before I start an essay.
Some of the writers discussed in the essays:
W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) Nobel Prize 1923 and
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) Nobel Prize Literature 1969
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) Nobel Prize 1995
- Note: …it is quite exceptional to have 3 Nobel Prize winners
- emerge from an Irish Protestant Group in literature!
James Plunkett, John Hewitt, Eavan Boland, Dorothy Molloy,
Michelle O’Sullivan, Leontia Flynn, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Ethna Carbery
Elizabeth Bowen, Mary Lavin, Kate O’Brien, John McGahern, Brendan Behan, JP Donleavy, Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Deane, Derek Mahon, Medbh McGuckian, Stewart Parker.
- Read Eavan Boland’s The Poet’s Dublin....beautiful
- Reading Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin‘s
- The Boys of Bluehill (40 poems published 2015)
- Read an essay by Seamus Heaney about Patrick Kavanaugh.
- Read Seamus Heaney Poetry
- Read Elizabeth Bowen The Death of the Heart
- Reading Medbh McGuckian Selected Poems 1978-1994
- Early years: 1913 – 1939: Lockout Dublin, WW I, Easter 1916
- 1940s – 1950s: Tragic writing lives of American and Irish generations
- 1950s: Emigration of young Irish women to Britain
- 1960s: Boozy literary Dublin
- ….and onwards 2010s.
My notes on 7 essays:
Hearing Things: W.B. Yeats – S. Beckett
Beckett and Yeats had similar social, educational, Irish Protestantism backrounds. Beckett would create in his drama testimonials to Yeats. Beckett and Yeats met only once . 1933 Beckett went through extremely difficult tragic year: death cousin (TB) May 1933 and loss of his father (heart attack) June 1933. This marked the real beginnings of his life as a writer. He was 27 years old.
Plunkett’s City: James Plunkett
James Plunkett was an Irish writer (1920-2003) He was educated by The Christian Brothers in Dublin.
Plunkett grew up among the Dublin working class, petty bourgeoisie and lower intelligentsia.
Strumpet City is a 1969 historical novel by James Plunkett set in Dublin, Ireland, around the time of the 1913 Dublin Lock-out.
Strumpet City is movement between Dublin, Kingstown and the coastline of Dublin. Characters talk to one another as they observe the city around them. This is the long tradition of perambulation in Irish writing. The book starts in 1907 and ends 1914 with a troop ship leaving Dublin Bay for WW I. In the seven years the 1913 Lockout, struggles for social justice and democracy in Ireland revolve around Dublin.
Dawe introduces met to a poem which I read and listened to: Easter 1916 by W.B. Yeats.
This is a nice read/listen on Easter Morning….and remember what happened en changed Ireland forever.
John Harold Hewitt (1907 – 1987), who was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was the most significant Belfast poet to emerge before the 1960s generation of Northern Irish poets
that included Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Michael Longley.
Hewitt’s verse expresses the
damage done by political division and nostalgia for a different past.
John Hewitt was a father figure for young Northern poets like Heaney and Longely.
I read Dawe’s essay and did not learn very much. I kept searching on the internet for a better image of this poet.I listened to readings of his poems “The Watchers” and “The Local Poet.” In this poem you can sense Hewitt’s modesty and shyness between the lines. Beautiful.
On Culture Northern Ireland website I found a concise introduction to John Hewitt that appealed to me more than Dawe’s essay.
We need Hewitt now more than ever to remind us that we have a tradition and a definable, colourful, multi-layered Ulsterness. That Ulster has a cultural and cultured mind that has nothing to do with universities. Now that we have, at least for political reasons, ceased to kill each other, Hewitt can teach us how to write poetry again in the peace of who we really are.
From The Ginger Man to Kitty Stobling
This is going to be an interesting essay because I HATED The Ginger Man by P J Donleavy. It was listed on Modern Library’s list of Best 100 novels of 20th C. Perhaps Gerard Dawe can tell me what I was not ‘getting’ in Donleavy’s book!
60% of the essay was a Dawe’s attempt to put Irish literature in the historical context of the 1950s (social,political) Donleavy was mentioned in two sentences! No analysis. 40% of the essay was about Patrick Kavanaugh. He produced an Irish classic “The Great Hunger” (poem) and fought tirelessly against the establishment in Dublin. Ireland 1950s was an age of innocence but also full of dark secrets (difficult (patriarchy) conditions for women, child abuse in the Catholic Church, Magdalene laundries).
The Passionate Transitory: John McGahern – REAL DISCOVERY!!
The Observer hailed him as “the greatest living Irish novelist” before his death in 2006 and in its obituary the Guardian described him as ‘arguably the most important Irish novelist since Samuel Beckett’. I never heard of John McGahern! (1934-2006)
Dawe’s essay was not very enlightening. I learned more while reading McGahern’s Wikipedia page!
McGahern had a very challenging life, moving schools repeatedly – often for no good reason – losing his mother to cancer when he was 10 yrs old…growing up with an absentee father and enduring physical, emotional, psychological abuse at the hands of his policeman father.
One of the preeminent Irish writers of our time, John McGahern has captivated readers with such poignant and heart-wrenching novels as Amongst Women and The Dark. Moving between tragedy and savage comedy, desperation and joy. John McGahern….all his books reflect his hard life experiences. Characters, events, attitudes are all peeled back to reveal reality. Sounds like a good author to add to reading lists!
I bought his first novel….The Barracks (1963) and his last book before he died…Memoir (2005).
Elizabeth Reegan (represents McGahern’s marries into the enclosed Irish village of her upbringing. The children are not her own; her husband is straining to break free from the servile security of the police force; and her own life, threatened by illness, seems to be losing the last vestiges of its purpose.
The Barracks (1963) AE Memorial Award, McCauley Fellowship.
The Dark (1965)
The Leavetaking (1975)
The Pornographer (1979)
Amongst Women (1990), Irish Times Literary Award (1991), nominated for the Booker Prize (1990).
That They May Face the Rising Sun (2001), Irish Novel of the Year (2003), nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award.
Non-Fiction: Memoir (2005)
Fatal Attractions: John Berryman in Dubiin
John Allyn McAlpin Berryman (1914 – 1972) was an American poet and scholar…not Irish but visited in Dublin. I wonder why Dawe added this essay to his book? This essay feels out of place…#JustSaying
History Lessons: Derek Mahon and Seamus Deane
Derek Mahon (1941) is an Irish poet. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland child of Ulster Protestant working class parents. Derek Mahon is regarded with Heaney and Longley as the leader of the resurgence of Irish poetry from the late 60s onwards. He writes lyric poetry of enormous wit, elegance and scepticism
Seamus Deane (1940) is an Irish poet, novelist, critic and intellectual historian. Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, Deane was brought up as part of a Catholic nationalist family. Of all the writers I’ve read about in the first 7 essays….Deane is the least interesting. Sorry, Seamus.
- I’ll let you discover the last 7 essays yourself.
- The purpose of reading this book was to broaden
- my Irish reading horizons.
- Author: M. de Montaigne (1533-1592))
- Title: The Complete Essays
- Published: 1580
- Edition: Penguin Classic (1344 pages) + audio book 49 hrs 56 min
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- Classic Club Master list
- Michel de Montaigne explores the human condition
- …in a very personal and clever manner.
- His essays chart the course of 20 yr of self-investigation.
- He pretends to most of the vices.
- If there be any virtue in him, he says, it got in by stealth.
- I enjoyed the most personal essays:
- Book I
- This selection of essays is ‘the hook’.
- They are personal and frank.
- Unfortunately there are also many essay in
- book II and III …. I consider ‘duds’.
Happiness not be judged until after our death
- …including 140 pages entitled “Apology for Raymond Sebond’
- The “Apology for Raymond Sebond” is
- three times as long as any other essay that Montaigne wrote
- The essay has been seen as an attack on authoritrian religion and
- a covert threat to Christian faith.
- It was a slog to listen to….and
- I just started to do some household chores
- …and let the words go in one ear and out the other!
- This essay sticks out like a sour thumb
- If you encounter this essay and feel as I did
- …just skip it!
Affection of fathers for children
On resemblence of children to fathers
Book III (…there were only 3 essays I liked)
- Montaigne is the frankest and honestest of all writers.
- He does have opinions that still ring true today.
- Strong point: Montaigne writes about themes that charm the
- reader ( see my list of favorites).
- We relate to them.
- Strong point: Montaigne’s style is not dry….but daring
- …filled with depth and witty observations.
- Weak point: don’t approach these essays expecting
- that they are an easy read (21st C standard)…they are not!
- The book was published 1580 and
- …written to one sex only.
- A certain nakedness of statement was permitted
- …which our manners of a literature addressed
- …equally to both sexes, do not allow.
- Montaigne could have used the advice of one of his
- favorite authors:
- “The eloquence that diverts us to itself harms its content.” (Seneca)