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text 2015-11-27 02:39
School reads...
Macbeth - William Shakespeare
The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
Paradise Lost - John Leonard,John Milton
Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift,Robert DeMaria Jr.

I haven't had much time for leisurely reading (although my stack is seriously tempting me), but at least my school assignments have been fairly interesting, if at times somewhat tedious. 


I re-read Macbeth for an English paper, but I just kept wishing that I was back in high school English joking with my friends about Ian McKellen as Macbeth yelling at the ghost of Banquo. 

I also read The Wife of Bath's Tale a while back which, surprisingly, was actually pretty cool. I made a note that if and when I ever teach it, I would compare the Wife of Bath to Samantha Jones from Sex and the City. It was awesome to read a character like that in something like Chaucer- it made the language feel a lot less tedious.

Currently, I'm working my way through Paradise Lost, but it's slow going. Still, it feels like I'm accomplishing something as I read it. I think I'm enjoying it more because I just think of Supernatural as I'm reading. Also, it's in my giant English textbook, which I like to plop on a table and mark with washi tape tabs.

Alongside the first few books of Paradise Lost, my English teacher assigned a couple of chapters out of Gulliver's Travels. I just started reading the part where he's marooned on an island of intelligent horses and 'Yahoos', hairy animal-like savages who somewhat resemble humans. I've only read a few pages of it but it reminds me a bit of The Time Machine. I can't decide if I'm going to read the whole book yet.


I still read In Search of Respect here and there, but it's tough to read about the lives of people who really never even had a sliver of a chance at a good life. There are a lot of things that you don't really think about when considering why people can't escape extreme poverty. In one example I read, a neighbor of Philip's "subjects" (for lack of a better word) gets a good job at an office- a rare accomplishment and her first decent-paying job. She buys a new outfit for work- a bright yellow, tight jumpsuit. Her friends and boyfriend think she looks gorgeous and wish her good luck at her job- they don't even realize that the outfit alone will be enough to get her into trouble, and maybe even let go. They have no access to what "dressing nice" means in that situation. It's mind-boggling, but it's understandable- they're stuck in the bubble of their neighborhood's street culture, where "dressing nice" means something very different. 


I'm still keeping up with my readings in Freedom On My Mind for African American History class. Currently we're learning about the Underground Railroad... well, everyone else is learning about it. I already knew pretty much all that we've covered so far- I've had an interest in it since my dad taught me about it when I was very young. Harriet Tubman was ridiculously badass and if you haven't read much about her, you really should. 


It's been great reading epic works of literature and learning so much, but damn I can't wait to be done with this semester and get started on all my fun books! 

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review 2015-05-25 20:38
Review: Amber and the Hidden City
Amber and the Hidden City - Davis John M... Amber and the Hidden City - Davis John Milton

Solidly plotted and filled with interesting characters, but goodness gracious does this manuscript need a serious copy edit.


The cover and title describe a standard portal fantasy novel, but rather than starting with our heroine falling into a magical world, getting through the portal is the goal. And rather than adventuring to eventually find out how she is tied to this world through some blood relations, she's traveling there with her knowledgeable grandmother. 


I like so much about this book. All the characters are pretty great, evil or good. The gender swapping shape shifter is a bit of scene stealer, though. Overall, a fun adventure. Bonus points for a black heroine gracing the cover.


And then there is the plethora of typos. Most are simple things. Like when Amber's luggage is "backed to capacity," or when she "looked tapped" a taxi driver on the shoulder. A few times later in the book, the wrong character name is used. They both start with B. Very confusing. 


The Kindle edition includes a credit for an editor, but my paper 1st edition does not. I do hope that means the most egregious errors have been corrected.


I am seriously debating taking a red pen to this copy before gifting it to my niece.

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review 2015-03-25 00:00
Doré's Illustrations for "Paradise Lost"
Doré's Illustrations for "Paradise Lost" - Gustave Doré,John Milton Publisher's Note
Plot Summary

--Doré's Illustrations for "Paradise Lost"
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review 2015-03-21 12:32
Milton's epic tale of the fall and redemption of humanity
Paradise Lost - John Leonard,John Milton

With the exception of Shakespeare this, I believe, is the greatest work of English Literature. Paradise Lost tells the story, in epic poetic form, of the fall of mankind as outlined in Genesis 1-3. While the story is constricted to the opening chapters of the Bible, the scope of the story itself is much wider and encompasses all of human history (at least up until the death and resurrection of Christ). In fact, it is the death and resurrection of Christ that forms the pivotal turning point of the poem, though it is the fall of humanity that is reason for the redemption that is the poem's focus.

A friend of mine once said that Satan that was the main character in the poem and our sympathies were to lie with him. This I cannot disagree with more. Milton was a puritan and it was not his intention to create Satan as a sympathetic character. He wanted to create a poem with a scope that was equivalent to the Odyssey, and while Satan does appear often in the poem, it is very clear that he is the villain of the piece. The central character is Christ, though he does appear to sit in the background a lot, but despite this we are always brought back to him and to his redeeming work.

Like the Odyssey, Paradise Lost does not begin at the beginning, but rather after Satan's fall and his plans on wrecking God's creation. At the beginning, Earth has already been created and humanity already exists. However, like the Odyssey, the events that occur before, and after, this part of the play are narrated to us by the archangel Michael (as he tells Adam the past and the future). It is the fall of humanity upon which the play turns, and this can be seen where there is a sexual liaison between Adam and Eve both before and after this event.

Like Homer, when Milton wrote the play he was blind and it is said that he narrated the play to his daughter. This raises the question as to whether it really is an epic or not. Some have said that it is a written epic, however Milton himself did not write the poem (just as the Odyssey was originally an oral tale that was written down, many believed by Homer). So, it can be argued that the poem is truly an epic for this one point. However, the poem itself was crafted by Milton, and there was not a period prior to him when the poem was recited orally.

It is clear from the play that Milton was a Christian in that his focus is on the grace of God. When humanity falls, God does not want to destroy them, but knows that because he is just, punishment must be dealt. However, Christ steps in and says that he will take the punishment in their place. As such, grace is a major theme that runs throughout the poem and we are reminded that it is through grace that Christ offers himself up on the cross. As such this is not a play that is intended to exonerate and makes us sympathetic towards Satan but to remind us of where we have come from and what Christ's death really means.

I must admit, though, the poetic form, and the language used, makes the play very hard to follow, though I wonder if it could be converted into dramatic form. Maybe it is possible, maybe it is not, however I have not encountered anything as such yet. Milton did write a sequel, Paradise Regained, however this poem does not need a sequel as everything that the poem needs to say, of the fall and the redemption, is within the poem itself.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/207425622
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text 2015-03-09 07:25
Paradise Lost - John Leonard,John Milton

A classic

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