Sunday, October 23, 2011
I can’t say it was as exciting as the last two Austen novels I read (Emma and Northanger Abbey) but it appeared to be A LOT more interesting while I was reading due to it following so close to putting down Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. After Richardson’s work it was like watching one of the Die Hard films after watching a documentary about the process of making paint (as you know I didn’t hate Pamela I just found it to be a real exercise in patience).
In romantic nature, Fanny is rewarded for her patience and virtue in life and gets the man of her dreams- Edmund. Although Austen tackles a narrative based around the clash between morals and desires it never becomes ‘preachy’ and is constantly an enjoyable read that had me rooting for Fanny throughout.
The edition I read was ISBN: 0-14-062066-4.
Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Toronto: Penguin, 1994. Print.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Among other things, the play focuses around the conflict between the Andronicus family and Tamora’s Goth family; for this reason, children (although not necessarily youth) fill the scenes. However, not all the children present indicate a change in views that will bring about the positive future discussed above, the individuals that do include; Bassianus, Lucius, and young Lucuis. For the purpose of my argument, please note that Bassianus is deemed a ‘youth’ or ‘child’ due to him being younger than his brother Saturninus.
After the death of the Roman Emperor, Saturninus fights to become emperor. He does this not because he would be the better ruler for Rome but because he believes in the pre-established monarchy and his right to the throne as the eldest son. When he supposes that Titus is not going to support him he instantly shouts “Patricians, draw your swords, and sheathe them not/ Till Saturninus be Rome’s emperor” (I.i.208-9). On the other hand, Bassianus fights for a more democratic government and respects whatever decision will be made, as the best thing for Rome, confirming this with Titus by saying ““Andronicus, I do not flatter thee,/ But honor thee, and will do till I die” (I.i.215-6). As can be seen in the language, Saturninus is an instantly angry, unreasonably and self-interested person, whereas the younger Bassianus supports whatever is for the greater good of Rome’s inhabitants. Through Bassianus, Shakespeare is showing a more reasonable thought process held by the younger characters.
the proudest prisoner of the Goths,
That we may hew his limbs and on a pile
Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh
Before this earthy prison of their bones.
Even during the narrative of the play we can see the maturing of Lucius’s understanding of the world; this provokes the audience into believing only good can from Lucius after the curtains close.
Traitors, away! He rests not in this tomb:
This monument five hundred years hath stood,
Which I have sumptuously re-edified.
Here none but soldiers and Rome’s servitors
Repose in fame; none basely slain in brawls.
Bury him where you can, he comes not here.
Titus wouldn’t even allow his own son to get a admirable burial due to a family disagreement but Lucius can put aside differences with an enemy to do the right thing. Through the father and son, Shakespeare is showing us a shift from unreasonable, fiery actions to more logical, moral decisions.
These positive changes in Lucius are also passed on to his son, Young Lucius. When Titus is wrapped up in terrible events that have fallen on his daughter, Young Lucius suggests “Good grandsire, leave these bitter deep laments./ Make my aunt merry with some pleasing tale” (III.ii.46-7). The Grandson is able to understand that Titus focusing on his own pain is not beneficial to helping the situation that has and his energy would be better put towards actually helping his daughter deal with her own pain.
In Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare contrasts the actions of the youth with those of the elders to show that the future of Rome is likely to take a positive turn and move from barbaric actions to a civilized way of solving problems. The words and actions of these figures of youth throughout the play symbolize this change when compared to the pre-established ideals of Rome we can see in the older characters.
The edition I read was ISBN: 978-0-14-071491-3.
Shakespeare, William. Titus Andronicus. Toronto: Penguin Pelican Shakespeare, 2000. Print.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Each of the trials and tribulations that Tess Durbeyfield/ d’Urberville faces can be traced back to her father receiving this news- epiphany- in the first chapter of the novel. As David Lodge states in his The Art of Fiction, “An epiphany is, literally, a showing” (146); this ‘showing’ is not guaranteed to bring about positive or negative results but will inevitably bring about a change of some kind. Although Sir John believes this new found kinship will bring his family close to a state of nobility, as his wife puts it “great things may come o’t” (59), it is the Parson’s news that instigates all of the actions that eventually lead to Tess’s fall.
Even after the death of her husband, Joan Durbeyfield’s choices are propelled by her husband’s emphasis on the d’Urberville heritage. This is what leads Tess and her family to set their sights on Kingsbere and, in turn, into the hands of Alec d’Urberville. As Tess explains, after Alec asks where they will be going, “Kingsbere. We have taken rooms there. Mother is so foolish about father’s people that she will go there” (Hardy 438). Joan does not take the time to chose a place most suitable for her remaining family to settle but uses the information provided by the Parson as the only determining factor leading her to a place that will lead to their homelessness. Although she can see that this is foolish, Tess is yet again caught up in the knock on effects of the epiphany.
In Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy delves into the potential destruction possible with the modern epiphany. Hardy places this epiphany at the very beginning of his novel so he has the full narrative to investigate just how a life can be changed- shattered- with a single discovery.
Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, Tristan, and Tonio Kröger) a lovely postcard.
It is likely you can't read what is on the back so here it is; "Dear Jackie,
Just about to sail back from Dublin, it's been really good. I'm now knackered, fat, I have blood shot eyes. Bought us some gin... been a bit naughty though and opened it the night we met a bunch of rugby players! Tell you later! You should have been there- maybe come next time. See you next weekend?
All my love
We can only guess what Kaz was up to with those gin-chugging rugby players!
The edition I read was ISBN: 0-14-043-135-7.
Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Markham: Penguin Books, 1983. Print.
Lodge, David. The Art of Fiction. Toronto: Penguin Books, 1992. Print.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Kafka manages to make you feel just as lost as Josef K., the main character, in the events that make up the year of The Trial. When K. is confused, you are confused. When K. questions the ‘facts’ provided to him around the mysterious laws, you question those facts. When K. considers just giving up, you consider just putting down the book because you can’t make sense of it (although you won’t because you really want to see how it all ends).
As I mentioned in the start of this post, the novella will continually make you question exactly what you are reading and how it makes any sense in the realistic world the narrative inhabits. At some points, Kafka tricks you into believing the story is taking a more logical turn; however, he will suddenly throw a spanner in the work. For example, at the end of Chapter Four the narrative seems to become a more ‘regular’ story but Chapter Five immediately adds that crazy aspect the rest of the story requires;
“…he heard a sigh from behind a door which he had himself never opened but which he had always thought just led into a junk room. He stood in amazement and listened again to establish whether he might not be mistaken […] in the cupboard-like room itself stood three men, crouching under the low ceiling […] one of the men was clearly in charge, and attracted attention by being dressed in a king of dark leather costume which left his neck and chest and his arms exposed.” (Kafka 60)
K. then sees that this leather bound gentleman is beating (spanking) the two cops that arrested K. in the first chapter; this thrashing then continues for a few days.
I’m not sure about anyone else but whenever I opened junk room doors at my old office I never saw, or expected to see, a man spanking two other large men.
The edition I read was ISBN: 978-0-486-47061-0.
Kafka, Franz. The Trial. Trans. David Wyllie. New York: Dover Publications, 2009. Print.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
The story centers around the most loathsome fictional family I have ever come across; the Hubbards. They are a southern American family living in the late 1800s/ early 1900s (the play itself is set in the Spring of 1900). They are the embodiment of all the terrible traits you would imagine linked to the rising middle class of this time that felt it their right to build themselves up in society no matter who they walked over; selfish, angry, rude, and disrespectful describes the majority of this family in a nutshell.
To be fair, this was heightened by the fact that I was reading a production version of the text; meaning that it was filled with very lengthy stage directions and not in the enjoyable novel-esque descriptions of the likes of Bernard Shaw.
- Addie and Cal- The servants/ slaves of Regina Giddens (an original Hubbard) who show more humanity than their, supposedly, civilized masters throughout the play.
- Birdie Hubbard- The wife of Oscar Hubbard who has a kind flame in her spirit that is slowly being extinguished by the awful Hubbard family.
- Alexandra Giddens- The daughter of Regina and Horace Giddens who, like Birdie, does not share the terrible characteristics with the majority of the family and actually seems to be the anti-thesis of her own mother.
- Horace Giddens- As stated above, the husband of Regina and father of Alexandra. He is mentioned throughout Act One but then only comes onto the stage in the final two acts and really gives the Hubbards what they deserve!
The final escape, at least for myself, was singing snatches of Malvina Reynold’s Little Boxes in my head;
Hellman, Lillian. The Little Foxes. New York: Dramatists Play Service, Inc, 1969. Print.