1001 Books: Metamorphoses; Chaireas and Kallirhoe; The Princess of Cleves

In this post you get 3 for the price of 1!

As part of my 1001 books personal challenge I read:

  • Metamorphoses by Ovid: Ancient Greek tales of metamorphosis told in beautiful language
  • Chaireas and Kallirhoe by Chariton: painful.  Utterly painful
  • The Princess of Cleves by the Comtesse de La Fayette: Easy language, but a really boring read.

Sadly, I don’t remember much of the actual stories.  It’s like once I finished reading them I blocked the bad memories.  Well, to be fair Metamorphoses was actually pretty good.  It was nice to re-learn the Greek myths that explain how things came to be (why mulberries are red, why certain flowers grow together, etc.).  The language used was beautiful and simple to read.  It was one that I could see myself referencing again in the future.

1001 Books Challenge: Gargantua and Pantagruel

Some of the stuff discussed in this book were hilarious.  One character was advised not to marry because his wife would end up cheating on him with a priest.  There were pages and pages of insults.  That’s it, literally, pages of insults.  Then at the end another character describes a magic grain/herb/plant thingie that does just about everything – it cures a bunch of diseases, provides shelter, repairs weapons… and even gives gods the ability to travel among the stars!  If I were one to buy into snake oil sales, I’d totally buy some Pantagruelion!

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Gargantua and Pantagruel
by Francois Rabelais

Post-a-day for 2011?

Hmmm…  am I up for this?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I can try, right?

See, WordPress has challenged us to post every day for a year.  They’ll provide the topics and we can use them (or not) for inspiration.  I’ve been doing pretty well at posting regularly, so I’m gonna try for this.  It may not work so well when I’m traveling, but the most important thing is to try, right?  Right.

So, I hereby promise to attempt to post every day in 2011.  Maybe I’ll learn something about myself along the way, ya know?

Want to join me?  Check out the rules here.

1001 Books Challenge: Oroonoko

To see the list of 1001 Books click here.

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn
ISBN 0-140-43988-9

———————

I’m not normally one to read introductions to books before I read the book itself.  It used to make me crazy that my teachers would force us to read the intros first when they would often contain interpretations of the work that I didn’t agree with… oh yeah, and spoilers too.  So, I didn’t read the intro for this story until I was about halfway through.

I only read the intro because the work itself struck me as being something of a fairy tale.  A beautiful (by Anglo standards), noble (by those same standards), naive, trusting warrior prince becomes a slave through trickery.  It’s a story of an idealized version of a person’s life, with love, rebellion and murder mixed in.  I came to find out that Behn wrote this story as a social/political commentary for her own time.  Although it wasn’t completely obvious to me initially, I could see it as I thought about it a bit more.

The language used was beautiful. I read parts of it aloud for the sheer pleasure of hearing the words that were written.  And, at only 73 pages long it was a quick read that was easy to follow.

 

1001 Books Challenge: The Adventures of Don Quixote

Yay!  I finished the first book in my 1001 Books Challenge! I knew I wanted to start at the bottom of the list with the oldest books and work my way up to more recent publications, but the only one I had in my hot little hand was The Adventures of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

I knew it would be a difficult read, but I didn’t anticipate having quite so much trouble.  It’d been awhile since I read anything resembling Shakespeare or old fashioned texts so I was very challenged by this book.  There were a couple of times where I wanted to give up but I figured that it wouldn’t be a good way to start a challenge, so I continued.  After the first half of the book I started to read with more ease.  Even still, I couldn’t read with any background noise – it took all my concentration to be able to understand what I was reading.

DH reminded me that the book was supposed to be a parody and therefore funny.  I’m not sure if the funny parts went over my head because I was concentrating so hard on understanding everything or if it just wasn’t funny, but I found myself laughing at very little.  If it’s one of those things you have to read a second time to “get” the jokes, well… I’ll just have to pass on the humor this time.

Don Quixote is the story of an old man who believes himself to be a knight errant, and a simple man who he has conned into becoming his squire.  Don Quixote is quite delusional and he manages to convince Sancho (his squire) that his delusions are real.  Eventually, gossip about this crazy duo spreads: books are being written by bunches of different authors, each with their own spin on the exploits.  People begin to play tricks on the knight and squire so that they can be written about as well.  Eventually Don Quixote loses a challenge and is forced to go home where he passes away.

Towards the end of the book I began to feel bad for Don Quixote.  Maybe that was the problem: I empathized too much with him to ever think that what was happening was funny.  It just seemed like everyone was making fun of him and teasing him, but he was completely unaware of it and thought they were all being completely sincere.  It truly reminded me of a bunch of bullies making fun of a mentally retarded person for their own entertainment.  Or like the popular kids tricking the outcast into thinking that they’re important to the group.

1 book down… 1,000 to go!

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