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review 2018-01-19 16:47
Didn't get the word play of the title until I was writing out my notes
The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People - Oscar Wilde

After what feels like a millennium, I have read The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and I totally get the hype now. Oscar Wilde's play focuses on two men who independently of the other have invented alternate personas that allow them to cut loose without (hopefully) any repercussions. One of the men has created Ernest who is by all rights a scoundrel and his creator has finally decided to do away with him so that he can settle down and get married. The problem is that his friend (the other deceitful man) has decided to take on the mantle of Ernest so that he can win the heart of a girl that he's just met. (I recommend reading this in one sitting because otherwise you're liable to get confused.) Wilde uses word play and absolutely ridiculous circumstances to discuss the folly of youth and poke fun at the whims and fancies of people who believe they are really truly in love even if they don't truly know the other person. For instance, the two women of the play are determined that they will only marry someone named Ernest but as it turns out no one is named Ernest there is a bit of a kerfuffle. After all is said and done, no one comes out on top and everyone is depicted as foolish and unimpressive. It was thoroughly amusing and I guess now I'll have to see the movie that was based on it. :-P If you haven't read it yourself and you'd like a quick, fun read this will do just the trick. 9/10

 

And yes the title of this post is true. I was staring at the book's title and then it hit me: "Oh because it's about two men proclaiming to be Ernest and they do it will all earnestness."  *facepalm* 

 

What's Up Next: The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2018-01-03 10:08
Looking back on 2017
The letters of Herman Melville - Herman Melville,Merrell R. Davis,William H. Gilman
A True Novel - Juliet Winters Carpenter,Minae Mizumura
Wir - Евгений Замятин
Der Glöckner von Notre-Dame - Else von Schorn,Victor Hugo
What the Hell Did I Just Read - David Wong
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
Сердешна Оксана - Григорій Квітка-Основ'яненко
The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo - Oscar Zeta Acosta,Manuel Acosta Sero,Hunter S. Thompson
The Revolt of the Cockroach People - Oscar Zeta Acosta,Marco Acosta,Hunter S. Thompson
Ein so langer Brief - Mariama Bâ,Irmgard Rathke,Rolf Italiaander

Hey there! I hope everyone had a fantastic start into 2018!

 

I always like to take the first days of January to look back and recap what I read in the past year – which books did I love, which ones did I like ok and which ones did upset or disappoint me. So here we go – quick and dirty!

 

Books I loved

There were a lot of books which I really liked in 2017, so I wrecked my brain to distil the three absolute best of the best for you:
My favourite book must have been The Letters of Herman Melville – interesting, well written and as an highlight I recommend reading the letters he addressed to Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Another one of my favourites was A True Novel by Minae Mizumura which I binge read in 11 days despite the sheer amount of nearly 900 pages. And last, but definitely not least was the mother of all dystopian novels We by Evgenij Zamjatin.

 

Books I was disappointed in

Luckily, in this category there were not that many books to choose from. The biggest letdown and as I can remember also the most exhausting one to read must have been The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which is sad, because I expected so much more from this classic. What the Hell did I just read was no favourite of mine neither, although this did not come as a surprise, because David Wong’s books are gradually declining in quality. And since I mentioned We as one of the best books, I have to admit that 1984 wasn’t really a good one, despite its status as the dystopian novel par excellence.

 

And some honourable mentions

Сердешна Оксана as the first (and so far only) book I read in Ukrainian, So long a letter as a fascinating account of the life of African women and both books written by Oscar Zeta Acosta (The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo and The Revolt of the Cockrach People), because Acosta proves that even lawyers can be amazing writers and fight for what is right.

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review 2018-01-02 21:04
A Classic Short
The Canterville Ghost - Oscar Wilde,Inga Moore

I know that this was a short story and really only needed an hour to read or less, but when your kids take the tablet and read the book and then you have to find your place and then the tablet needed to think while returning and replacing books, it just took some time. This is one of my favorite "ghost" stories. I have assigned the book to my girls for school. 

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review 2017-12-16 00:00
The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer
The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pione... The Conquest: The Story of a Negro Pioneer - Oscar Micheaux This is a sort of autobiography of Oscar Micheaux's early life. He did change names of some people and places for some reason. But, one assumes, the events are more-or-less accurate. Of course, we've just learned, in Prairie Fires, how little of the events in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books were fact and and how many were fiction. Basically, I got engaged by a long, multi-thread, twitter rant by Ana Mardoll about the Wilder books as she was "live tweeting" her reading of Prairie Fires. That got me thinking about homesteaders, like my great grandparents, which reminded me of an African American homesteader, Oscar Micheaux. I'd read Micheaux' so-called novel, The Homesteader, and thought to read this book. As nearly as I can remember, much of the action in this book is similar to that in the latter. But it was a worthwhile read none the less.

One of the interesting features of the book is its many discussions of the development of the newly settled areas of South Dakota. Of course that would be newly settled by people who weren't already living there. The Native Americans, of course, were shoved from or swindled out of their lands. Anyway, new towns would be sited, but their prosperity or not depended greatly on where the railroad would run. The towns, if seems often preceded the railroad beds, and many mistakes were made, so to speak. There was lots of competition between towns to get the railroad folks to run their lines by their particular towns.

The action in this book takes place in the very early 20th century, around 1907 or thereabouts. Micheaux settled in one of the most southern counties of S. Dakota, only three or four counties west of the Minnesota line. The interest for me is that my great grandparents settled in the most eastern county, and along the southern border of Dakota Terrirory, some 30 years previously. So, it would seem, the opening of S. Dakota took some time to evolve.

Anyway, it's a fascinating read, all the more so because it features a young African American who was also desirous of achieving the American Dream, and who, in many ways, succeeded at that, albeit in the long term not as a farmer. Micheaux' fame comes primarily from his career as a film producer and director, beginning some five to ten years after his homesteading activities.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-14 07:55
November 2017 — A Wrap-Up!

I know, I know. It has been forever since I last posted. So, I combined my wrap-up post with an infographic to atone for my er blogging sins.

 

 

For all that they are “novellas”, these books have way too much happening in them! I read and loved the first one (Read my ravings here). This one, I found to be okayish. Maybe it was the attitude of Binti’s family towards her that I didn’t like. Or, maybe it was the plot device, “something that happened a long long time ago is disregarded by everyone to such a degree that its origins are completely lost”. I just don’t buy it. For instance, look at the words that have now become obsolete. They might not be used today but that doesn’t mean they have been erased from the record.

 

I didn’t completely hate it though because it was saved by the ending. It was a cliffhanger where an important character is killed off. Don’t you just love that feeling you get when you don’t know what might happen in the next book? I sure do!

 

 

Someone somewhere (I forget who and where now) described this book as Jane Austen in Dragon world. Of course, I just HAD to read it and duh, I ended up liking it.  I mean, I liked the part about:

putting out a gentle claw

I also liked that the dragon stayed true to their natures yet maintained Austen-tatious sensibilities as a son promised his dying father, his still unestablished siblings would:

take the greater shares when we eat you.

I found myself chuckling when a parson made untoward advances to a maiden of quality. It put me in mind of Mr. Collins. She responded in the right manner:

I am sensible of the honor you do me…

And then I shuddered when the full implications of what had just happened hit me. The maiden’s scales colored when the parson crowded her. She didn’t feel anything for him, yet her honor had been compromised: she had been raped!

 

I rooted for my favorite character: Sebeth, a female dragon who had suffered the same fate when she was kidnapped. She didn’t let a thing like that stop her from falling in love, earning a living, becoming a clerk, and secretly following an outlawed branch of religion.

There was the usual gender discrimination, females with a less than useful dowry, proud males who fell for them, manners and sensibilities, scary rich disapproving mothers in law, and females with backbone who gave no inch.

 

No wonder I loved it!

 

 

If I have to come to expect anything from Wilde’s works, it is laugh-out-loud funny prose that bites:

I guess the laws of Nature are not going to be suspended for the British aristocracy.

This one didn’t disappoint on that account! A ghost who wouldn’t accept its defeat and an American family that refused to be haunted made up the plot:

(said to the ghost) My father will be only too happy to give you a free passage, and though there is a heavy duty on spirots of every kind, there will be no difficulty about the Custom House, as the officers are all Democrats.

It is amazing that Wilde knew exactly the right length of the story and when it should end. If this is what I have to look forward to, I can’t wait to read The Picture of Dorian Gray!

 

Now for the promised infographic: During our trip, we stayed at a hotel for a few days. It was amazing to indulge ourselves in all the hot showers we wanted after we returned to the hotel every night. And, it felt decadent to not have to do anything but sink into the fluffy pillows and let the housekeeping staff take care of the rest. But, we also learned a few things; things that might have helped us save a few bucks had we known about them before.

 

And then, I thought, why not compile them and make them into an infographic? If nothing else, it might help you guys when you go on vacation. So, here goes…

 

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on December 14, 2017.

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