Thursday, 24 October 2019

The Poetry of Things Themselves

This 'week' has actually been a very efficient one for reading. I've probably read more in the month or so since the last post than I did in the rest of the year up to that point. Unfortunately, most of the books that I read were extra-curricular. I've been thinking about maybe doing a review of some of them for the blog at some point, but for now I thought it would be best to get this post out there in the world and set off into Week XXVI rather than putting it off any longer.

The Week That Was:

The History of Herodotus

Book VII
The poor Spartans wish they looked this cool, but their helmets couldn't hold up their glasses.

I greatly enjoyed the way that the slow build and the pages and pages of descriptions of all of the different soldiers in Xerxes' army emphasised just how mindbogglingly huge his force is, whereas the Greek forces are barely mentioned in passing. I expected to feel cheated that all this had built up to a climax that arrived and was over so quickly, but on thinking back on it, it just somehow feels right, that the Persians had spent so many years building up this force and yet the battle was over in a moment.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Chapter XVII

Convenient, isn't it, that when Crusoe leaps mindlessly to save someone in a position of peril he turns out to have saved the captain from mutineers rather than the more likely option of having just laid the captain out. I guess even 26 years alone on an island just can't stop him from being on the side of the establishment. Probably a pretty good metaphor for the whole book, really.

Lucretius by George Santayana

I was not disappointed by picking up this one. Santayana's wit drips off the page, and while he doesn't pull any punches, one can feel his affection shining through. After reading this I am stoked to actually read Lucretius himself, although we're not due to get to him for another three 'months' if we keep to the plan.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 

Volume III - Books II-III

I like Hugo's constant diversions at least as much as the next guy, but having some indication that this little diversion is actually important information that the reader needs to care about is useful, and these chapters do it well. The musical tells us that you don't actually need any backstory about Marius at all to make the story work, but these chapters make a significant difference in helping us understand him and care about him as more than just a pretty face.

Some Numbers: 

The most significant number that we passed this 'week' was that we've now been having this little conversation for five years. At this point, 25 'weeks' into the project, I think it's time to find another name for each group of readings. I haven't come up with a better idea, but if you do, please suggest it in the comments. Though the whole 'seven year reading project' idea has obviously been blown well and truly out of the water by this point, I'm still enjoying myself, so let's keep going.

Pages last week: 112
Pages so far: 2915

Readings for Week XXVI

This week we are in for a lot of Greek even if our dose of Herodotus is a little more managable, since his good buddies Plato and Archimedes are along for the ride. I am particularly looking forward to both of them, because Republic seems to be the Platonic work that causes the most rolled eyes around here, and because, well, Archimedes! I imagine that both will probably be pretty hard work, but all in all it's a relatively quiet week, so I hope that we'll be able to manage, even if my history of managing the mathsy stuff shouldn't fill us with a lot of confidence. Then we're going to finish off Crusoe as a bit of a bit of a palate cleanser, and squeeze in a little Les Mis as well, just for fun. Dr J also had a little more Santayana this week, but while I've enjoyed the diversion, I don't feel like I need to go there.

The History of Herodotus

Book VIII (34 pages)
#gbbw #mands #history #greek

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Chapters XVIII-XX (26 pages)
#ggb #imaginativeliterature #novel #english

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 

Volume III - Book IV (18 pages)
#non_gbww #imaginativeliterature #novel #french

Republic of Plato

Book I (26 pages)
#gbbw #pandt #philosophy #greek #new

The Sand Reckoner by Archimedes

(10 pages)
#gbbw #mathmatics #greek #oneshot

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