Thursday, January 31, 2008

January Readings

This has been a busy reading month.

I read the play Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare. I remember this being my favorite play that we read in high school. I loved Puck back then, now I see why. He's such a little troublemaker! Of course a rebellious teen would love Puck. I enjoyed the play as much now as I did then. The six plotlines that twist and overlap with comedy are just fantastic! That's Shakespeare!

I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. I've also read this before. But I couldn't remember exactly what it was about until I got started. I kept saying "oh yeah!" It was nice to be reacquainted with the girls in the book and the old English manners and behaviors of the day. It still just amazes me that there was a time when a woman's only ambition was to find a husband. Poor Mrs. Bennett trying to find property holding husbands for her five daughters, their character was of lesser importance than their money. I love Mr. Bennett since he was the voice of contention and brought humor to the seriousness of the characters' quests.

I read Mary Wollstonecraft's The Vindication of The Rights of Women. This is a long critical essay about women's rights. Really well written! I loved it! This essay is a great set up for Pride and Predjudice or Wollstonecrafts novel, Maria (which I intend to read someday when I have more time). There is a lot in this reading that still rings true today. But mostly the author points out that women are lacking education, goals, and respect. They are slavic and expected to have a "spanial-like obedience" to their husbands and fathers. Women have come a long way, but there is still a long road to travel to lift the glass ceiling. Mary Wollstonecraft was way ahead of her time. She is the mother of Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein. Great authors in those genes!

I read Passing by Nella Larsen. It was about some African American women in the very early 1900s who were not very dark complected, and they could pass as white women while out in public. This book was about race, acceptance, self image, and an inner identity struggle. It was very good and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to write a research paper on the author as my semester term paper project.

I also read Death Comes for the Archbishop by Wella Cather. Another good book. This is a book from the genre of realism, so it isn't really a page turner with a great plotline but it is more of a story that doubles as a regional travel log. It is about two priests who rise in the ranks of the church and they are placed in New Mexico for their mission work. The book discusses the landscape and the native peoples to a great extent. Also the narrative explores how Catholicism works with and against the culture and beliefs of the local people. I enjoyed this storytelling style novel even though it was easy to put down at any given time. The story rolled along nicely at a gentle pace.

I read an excerpt from Plato's Republic. I've read the Republic before, I think it was 3 or 4 years ago now and I remember thinking how Socrates just drove me crazy with all his questions and twisting words around. This was more of the same however I thought the content of what I read this time was very thought provoking. My goodness the world has changed! The topic of discussion between Plato and Socrates in this section called Phaedus was the debate over whether people should learn to write. Yes, should people learn to write was questioned! Who do you know who cannot read and/or write? It is a given these days that everyone will learn to read and write. But they discussed the pros and cons of learning the written word and there were some very good arguments presented. Theirs was an oral tradition of learning, sharing, and knowing. Memory and repetition, public speaking was highly valued. It was thought that writing would devalue a man's wisdom (yes, a man's because women were not educated). Man would not rely on his memory and wisdom but would become lazy and use the written texts instead. Intelligence would suffer from neglect. Audiences would not be able to be chosen if people wrote their speeches and stories. The author would lose control of his own words. What a strange concept to think that people debated over whether learning to write was right or wrong.

I have more to read in February. I'd say January started the year off great with the readings that I accomplished. I didn't realize how much I read until I started making a list of works that I've finished.

1 comment:

Jess said...

I saw a midsummer nights dream performed here

When I was in high school our english teacher was a volunteer there and we were able to borrow the costumes for our own play. It was really cool. We also went there either junior or senior year and saw a play. It was pretty cool. Of course back then I thought it was kind of lame but looking back on it, I would love to go again. If you ever get this way, we should go! I can already here R groaning if I were to ask him so I need to find someone that would be interested in that sorta thing. Bring the littles and we will leave them with R and have a great time. LOL.