Thursday, 2 August 2018

To ebb and flow darksomely

Post 2 of ? for Blaugust 2018.
It's time to pick up our conversation where we left off. Where were we, again?

If you're not familiar with my 'seven-year' reading project you can check out a little about the project on the page, on the first post, or by checking out the previous editions in the series. The idea is that I read about 100 pages of classics a week and report back, it's just that any given 'week' might take longer than that. This week has taken...just over eleven months. Don't ask what else I've been reading because I think I'd struggle to give you a straight answer.

Never mind that, though. The important thing is not how long it has taken but that we have gotten here, even if it took throwing the father of geometry from a moving bus to make it happen.


This 'Week':

Confessions of Augustine of Hippo

Ouch. Jumping back into Augustine after a few months off means getting reaquainted with this horribly archaic translation all over again. I can't help feeling that this one is always much more work than it ought to be due to the antiquated style. Theology can be confusing enough without having to wrestle with the whole sentence structure. note to self: do some research before picking a translation for a long book next time!

As we finish this book, I'm left in no doubt that it's surely not the theology that's the best bit of the Confessions. My advice, if you've not read them before and are considering it, is just to dive in at the beginning and to read the autobiographical section, which I found very human and relatable, until you get bored. For me it peaked around chapter 5 and everything was downhill from there, and the last few books really don't seem to belong at all.

Dream Children by Charles Lamb
(3 pages)

Wow. Lamb is just fantastic, isn't he? Do yourself a favour and read this, it's extremely short and it's just a charming exercise in wistfulness with a real punch at the end. What a joy.

Elements by Euclid
Book X(i)

Nah, I give up. I've been struggling with him for a while, but I've finally decided that Euclid is either not for me or just requires more interpretation than I'm able to put in. I got through the designated reading foe the week, but it's was close, and from here I'm throwing in the towel on this work and adding a new 'abandoned' category to my booklist.

The History of Herodotus
Book I

I can already tell that I am going to have a ball with my friend Herodotus. These chapters are full of the stories of characters whose names are familiar from folklore and from games of 7 Wonders, but who I've never properly encountered before: Croesus, Tomyris, Solon... There's a reason that these are stories that have lasted. Herodotus'  earnestness at assuring the reader that he's done the research and that these stories are all as true as he can make them is very endearing too. All in all, those 50-odd pages disappeared in of an eye.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Chapters V-VII

Crusoe has been on the island about as long as I've been reading about him being on the island, at this point. In parts I feel very jealous of his life of no obligations to anyone and feel compelled to go crash myself on some forgotten island somewhere, but then I recall that not only is Robinson Crusoe stranded on a surprisingly fertile and diverse island, he also has to work pretty hard. Since my favourite activity is sitting on a comfy couch nursing a cup of tea maybe that sort of life isn't for me after all.


The Stats:

After 20 'weeks' of reading and about 170,000 words consumed since August 2014, we're running at about 10% of the speed that I originally planned to get this project done in. Still, at this rate I'll be more or less finished by the time I reach a century in age, so all is well.

Pages last week: 136
Pages so far: 2226


Week XIX:

The reading list now has a great big Euclid-sized hole in it, and with Augustine done as well you might be forgiven for thinking that we were going to have a little time off from the Greeks for a while. It's not to be, however, as joining Herodotus we have a little bit of Epicurus, as well as a smattering of Poe, which is always fun. If you were thinking of reading along with me a little this week, you should pick the Poe. We also have a number of novels this week, as we read chapters from Defoe, Hugo and Dickens.

The History of Herodotus
#ggb #fiction #english #new
Book II (46 pages)

Very excited for this after last week's readings. While it's not necessarily an easy read and comes in yet another enormous chunk, if last time is any accurate measure this is going to a a lot of fun, and might even be vaguely educational, which is always nice.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
#ggb #fiction #english #new
Chapters VIII - X (22 pages)

I feel like we're due a little bit of conflict here, as our friend has had life a little bit too easy, but somehow I feel that if that conflict is coming it's still a long way off, as he has a few more cottage industries to get off the ground yet.

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe
#ggb #fiction #english #oneshot
(4 pages)

I've read a reasonable about of Poe's short stories in the past, so I've probably read this one, but if that's the case then it's not one that lodges in the memory-banks. Hopefully I'll be able to go into this with fresh eyes and just be carried away by Poe's mastery of mood.

Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus
#ggb #philosophy #greek #oneshot
(3 pages)

Something tells me that the Epicureans aren't my jam quite as much as the stoics are, but there's only one way to find out. I have no idea what we're getting ourselves into, here, but anyone who has an entire branch of philosophy named after him has to be worth a couple of minutes of reading.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#non_gbww #fiction #french
Volume II - Book I (30 pages)

We come at last to the infamous Waterloo section of the book, the part that stops so many people from reading this classic and the first part that is mercilessly culled in any abridged version of the story, as it has nothing at all to do with the events of the tale. That said, I've heard that it's considered one of the first and most important French sources on the battle of Waterloo, so let's try to appreciate it for what it is and not get caught up in modern ideas like advancing the plot.

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
#non_gbww #fiction #english
Chapters III - IV (13 pages)

I remember thinking that Pickwick was a bit of fun last time we picked this one up, but all that I can recall now is that it seemed to involve a bunch of gentlemen playing jokes on each other and ignoring the consequences of their actions. Still, I'm always up for a little Dickens, especially when he's feeling playful, so let's have a go.


I hope you've gotten a chance to engage with one of our little texts in the last week, but even if you haven't, why not take this chance to let me know what you've been reading?


Tessa said...

The only classics I've read recently are Jane Austen books. I'm having a hard time reading others, although I did enjoy The Picture of Dorian Gray. Do you have any recommendations for a Jane Austen lover?

UnwiseOwl said...

Hi Tessa,
I haven't read all that much either, which was at least partially the point of this little series, but I also enjoy Jane Austen.
If you like Austen, I'd recommend trying something like Great Expectations, by Dickens. It's got a lot of the similar drama and romance elements, and I think Dickens has a similar sort of humour to Austen, too.

Thanks for dropping by.