Thursday, 9 August 2018

Neither wholly our nor wholly not ours

Post 9 of ? for Blaugust 2018.
It's been a whole week already, and thanks to the wonders of bus rides I've more or less been able to keep up to date with my reading obligations, so it's time for yet another episodes of our 'seven year' reading project, The Great Conversation.

This 'Week':

The History of Herodotus
Book II

Everything that you ever wanted to know about the geography, history, religion and social structure of the Egyptians, as seen through the eyes of a Greek who thinks they're all crazy. What's not to love? There wasn't as many classic stories in this book, but it held together well and made for a fun read that had me repeatedly reaching for an encyclopedia to check Herodotus' facts.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Chapters VIII - X

No drama just yet, just cottage industry. It amazes me that Crusoe can apparently use his ingenuity to complete anything he sets his mind to, but can't come up with a way to build a good boat. It's been fun, but it's time for something to actually happen in this story sometime soon, methinks.

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe

Wow. I thought that this was going to be good fun, but it was not fun at all. I'm sure there's some deep and interesting allegory that Poe was going for with this one, but if it's there I think it's fair to say that I completely missed it. This was an excellent example of I should refrain from recommending titles before I read them, as all I got out of it was a bit confused as to how it even got published in the first place. 

Letter to Menoeceus by Epicurus

Epicurus doesn't seem to me to meet the definition of Epicurean that I'm familiar with, which is a little surprising to me. I thought Epicureans were all about enjoying the finer things in life but here he seems to be advocating finding enjoyment in the exact opposite. I guess we're just going to have to read more Greek philosophy to find out.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Volume II - Book I

If you ignore the fact that this is an excerpt from a novel, then this is a perfectly passable musing on the Battle of Waterloo, the loss of national pride and the end of the First French Empire. Inside a novel, though, this is some weird junk.

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Chapters III - IV

I found keeping up with these chapters a little tricky after a year away from the characters, as I can't really remember anything about any of them apart from that scoundrel Mr. Tupman, but I think I'm back up to date again now. I'm not entirely sure that I'm 100% on top of everything that's going on, but I daresay it will all work out in the end. 


The Stats:

Twenty weeks down (I declared that prematurely last week because I got a little ahead of myself, I suppose), and we've hit more than 1000 pages of supplementary reading of classics that Mr. Adler didn't see fit to add to the Great Books of the Western World. This is largely thanks to Victor Hugo's Les Mis, which despite barely having gotten started at this point, sent him past Charles Dickens for the most-read author in the project last week. Don't worry, though, I fully expect Dickens to end up on top eventually given the cheer number of his works that we're going to end up reading.

Pages last week: 118
Pages so far: 2344

Week XXI:

We have three novels and the History on the go, and just a couple of little bits and pieces on the side this week courtesy of Dr. J. I've been thinking of condensing this part of the posts in future and just listing the readings, as there's only so many times that I can say 'I've got no idea what I'm about to read but I hope that it's good' without getting a little repetitive. Any thoughts on the topic, dear reader?

The History of Herodotus
#ggb #fiction #english #new
Book III (41 pages)

We've done the Persians and the Egyptians, I wonder where Herodotus is going to take us next. We've got no way of knowing from the chapter title, since like the rest it's just named after one of the muses, so we're going to have to just jump in and see, I suppose.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
#ggb #fiction #english #new
Chapters XI-XIII (24 pages)

Nothing new to say about Crusoe this week, so I'll just repeat what I said last time. "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."

Two Friends by Guy de Maupassant
#ggb #fiction #french #oneshot
(6 pages)

Guy de Maupassant has a name like a chess move, so I'm naturally predisposed to like him. I've also been quite fond of our forays into French fiction that we've taken so far, as it's a brave new world for me, so I look forward to finding out if he's the Guy for me. #punachieved (Go on, admit it, you've missed my literature puns)

Immortality by Thomas Browne
#ggb #philosophy #english #oneshot
(6 pages)

All I know of Thomas Browne is that he was relatively prolific and coined a lot of words that we still use today. I feel like that probably means that he's too clever for his own good and that this won't be any fun at all, but how bad can a six-page excerpt from a discourse on funeral rites really be?

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#non_gbww #fiction #french
Volume II - Books II & III (28 pages)

Can we have a little story, here, Mr. Hugo, please? I understand that you're being paid by the word and all, but this is all getting a little silly.

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
#non_gbww #fiction #english
Chapters V & VI (13 pages)

Dickens also has the distinct feeling of being paid by the chapter at the moment, but as long as his asides that don't move the story on continue to have decent jokes I'm alright with it. It's possible that there's an actual plot-line coming along to sweep our heroes along sometime, but then again, maybe it's already happening and I've just missed it. That would be very Pickwickian of me, I think.


I hope you enjoy reading along, or at least a little reading of your own this week.

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