Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Blaugust 25/31: She is Only a Woman

This post is the 25th part of the Leaflocker's attempt to be a credit to the name of Blaugust.

If you've not yet voted in the Great Tie Election, then resident code-monkey, fellow Blaugustine and all-round creative type Alecat has built a web-app to help you do so! Voting will close in three days, so go do your duty, citizen! 

Though it is less important for the future of democracy in the Commonwealth, I feel compelled to note that last week's quiz will be marked in the next 24 hours. Go show us all how much nonsense you have in your head.

With all that housekeeping out of the way, we can finally get down to the meat of the post, which this being a Tuesday consists of our weekly book reports, so I hope that you've all been keeping up with the suggested readings before each weekly lecture. I found this week's reading load an easy burden indeed, and I hope that you all found time to read something you enjoyed too.

This week, Greek went rocketing past French in the pages read department, thanks to the valiant efforts of Homer, and it's probably going to stay in the lead for the rest of the project unless the French really start getting some runs on the board. Don't worry, France, at least you're still bigger than the Romans!

Week 8 in Review

Last week: 109
Conversation so far: 939

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Part Two, Ch. 1 - 2
I see the change that Michael was asking me to look for this week, indeed I could hardly miss it, as in these chapters Lolita changes from being a story about a forbidden love to finding room to add a love story about a country to the mix. Do I like the change? Well, I'm not sure about that, just yet. The change seems so abrupt that Nabokov has me distrusting it, reluctant to allow myself to be sucked into this new, idyllic, gentle view-point without any of the desperation that was at the heart of the preceding chapters. Undoubtedly, some of the Americana is wasted on me, a hick from the Antipodes, just as so many of the French phrases are, but we will soldier on irregardless. 

Hard Times by Charles Dickens
Book the Third, Ch. 1 - 5
Mr Dickens continues to surprise, though the ease with which me disposes of all those plot points and barely stops for breath leave me feeling a little unsatisfied. Of course, many of the predictable elements came together here, but there was enough content that I hadn't called chapters ago to keep me reading happily, and one senses that the author has more in store for us before we reach the conclusion of the journey.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Book Four
And now all the pieces are in place for the story to properly begin. Euphanie (I don't think that I'd ever realised before that Cosette had another name) has been left with the Thenardiers. I understand that her mother was desperate, but I think if I were going to leave my precious daughter with the first happy-looking family that I run across I'd at least take the time to observe them for a while before making such a major call, but I guess when you're an author looking for a good story you're allowed to cut corners like that.

The Odyssey of Homer
Books V-VIII
Eight books in, and we're finally getting to the bit where the Odyssey proper begins as Ulysses tells his story to Alcinous and the Phaecians. Up to this point, we've really just been getting warmed up. All we really know about this Odysseus fellow is that he has a pretty good son, that he can throw a discus pretty good, and that all the ladies, whether they be mortal or goddesses, are pretty darn crazy about him.

I am struck by the humble but unmistakable passion in this throwaway phrase: "Goddess," replied Ulysses, "do not be angry with me about this. I am quite aware that my wife Penelope is nothing like so tall or so beautiful as yourself. She is only a woman, whereas you are an immortal. Nevertheless, I want to get home, and can think of nothing else".

To the Reader by Michel de Montaigne
The same disclaimer can be read in the archives of pretty much every personal blog on the internet. /I'm writing this for me. You don't like it, then bugger off. It's not FOR YOU anyway./ Exactly why it's in a list of great books is a little beyond me, but I'll begin lobbying the Adler estate for the Leaflocker to be added to the list directly. I'm going to try not to hold this one against Montaigne when we get to some of his more substantial works.

Week 9 Readings

I hope you'll find room in your schedule to join with me in one or more of our little reading this week, dear friends. There's a little more in the proscribed reading list for this week, so we'll be moderating our consumption of our ongoing novels to compensate. We're also going to reverse the captain's call that we made a couple of weeks ago in skipping out on the Essays of Francis Bacon and play a little catch-up just for the sake of trying to keep the administrative burden down.
Hard Times by Charles Dickens
#not_gbww #fiction #english
Book the Third, Ch. 6 - 9 (31 pages)
I've been missing out lately on the big quotable lines that I've been enjoying in Hard Times so far, but here's hoping that there's still plenty more in that tank as the novel winds to a close. This is the final run for Dickens for a while as we finish up Hard Times, so I hope you all enjoy one final dose of Victorian  fiction.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#not_gbww #copyrighted #fiction #english
Part Two, Ch. 3 - 4 (16 pages)
There's no end in sight for Lolita, but at least we are making more progress in it than we are in Les Mis. The road-trip without end shall continue, so we might as well feel the wind in our hear and try and keep up.

The Odyssey of Homer
#gbww #fiction #greek
Books IX-XII (68 pages)
Don't be scared by the enormous page-count, it's hideously inflated by the large-text version in the physical copy that I have on the desk here in front of me. The same text only takes up 44 pages of the rather tight pages that I imagine form the physical copies of the GBWW, so it's not as bad as all that. Besides, there's bound to be cyclopes and nymphs and manly deeds, and I hope that sounds as fun to you as it does to me.

Crito by Plato
#new #gbww #philosophy #oneshot #greek
 (7 pages)
It's been a couple of weeks, so it's time to get back to our old friend Plato. We visit our other friends Socrates again in this edition, I gather, so let us hope that it is at least better than Meno even if we daren't hope that it might be as good as the Apology was.

Of Death by Francis Bacon

#new #ggb #reallyshort #philosophy #english

 (GGB) 2 pages
We skipped this a couple of weeks ago, so for our sins we're catching up now. This of it this way, we have to read the book either way, so if it stinks then the rest of the volume has been shortened, and if it's good then we get a nice foretaste of what is to come.

The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon
#new #gbww #philosophy? @english
 (GBWW Vol. 28,(16 pages)
I know absolutely nothing about this text, but I'm told that it's good to keep a little mystery in a relationship, so I'll just hope to find that it's secretly a science-fiction novel. I'm not sure that I'm properly ready to handle Baconian-era (Elizabethan?) philosophy just yet, if that's what we really have in store for us.

Happy reading. 

Edit 26/8/2015: I just realised that I missed out on a lame literary pun this week. I was telling my Kiwi friend here about it, and she was all "that's Les Mis, bro". #punachieved

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