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text 2018-08-05 08:19
Reading progress update: I've read 3 out of 464 pages.
Four Revenge Tragedies: (The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, and The Atheist's Tragedy) (Oxford World's Classics) - Katharine Eisaman Maus

The Introduction observes that Elizabethan-Jacobean Revenge Tragedy has antecedents in Classical Tragedy and descendants in Holywood revenge movies - however the latter often allow the protagonist to get away with mass murder entirely consequence-free which is a distinct evolution away from the English Renaissance dramatic genre.

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review 2018-07-22 17:34
The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila
The Ultimate Tragedy - Jethro Soutar,Abdulai Sila

In 2017, this book apparently became the first novel (though more of a novella really, clocking in around 180 pages) from Guinea-Bissau to be translated into English. It doesn’t do too well in the storytelling department, and despite being first published in 1995 it is a simplistic criticism of Portuguese colonialism (Guinea-Bissau became independent in 1973-1974), so I can see why there wasn’t a rush to translate. But of course there’s something to be said for reading voices from a particular place even if their literary merits are weak.

There will be SPOILERS below, though no more than are found in the book description (which gives away most of the story).

The book begins with a teenage girl, Ndani, traveling from her village to the capital city, Bissau, with hopes of becoming a domestic servant in a Portuguese home. After a few chapters, it skips abruptly to a village chief, smarting over an insult from a colonial official and thinking at great, repetitive length about the paramount importance of thinking. The stories come together when the chief marries Ndani (who has somehow learned to be a great lady by being a housegirl, yet is somehow the only such woman available even though the earlier chapters show that there are plenty of housegirls, and Ndani is not the brightest bulb on the tree). Then she falls in love with a local teacher, a young man trained by priests but questioning the righteousness of colonial rule. Tragedy, naturally, ensues.

The story is kind of a mess, unfortunately. It skips long periods of time without giving any sense of what Ndani’s life was like in the interim, leaving unanswered questions in its wake. Ndani’s abrupt shift from housegirl to fancy lady is not particularly convincing, nor did I find her cheerful willingness to jump right into sex believable from a woman whose only sexual experiences were rape. There’s a prophecy about Ndani that causes people to shun her, until they don’t, with no reason I could see for the change of heart other than that this plot device was no longer needed. Being in the chief’s head is tedious due to the long-winded repetition, and the teacher’s realization that the reality of colonial rule is inconsistent with Christian principles is painfully obvious; decades after colonial rule ended, I doubt this was a new idea to the book’s readers.

The translation is fairly smooth, but a number of words and concepts are left untranslated, and these are not always immediately obvious from context; most of these words appear to be from a local African language and were probably untranslated in the Portuguese original too, but a glossary would help foreign readers understand the references to local culture better.

Ultimately, this is a fairly quick and easy read, but the simplistic political commentary dominates over the story; I missed more of Ndani’s life than I saw, never got to know who she was as a person, and had no particular reason to care about her or anyone else in the story (her mistress was perhaps the most interesting character to me - a Portuguese woman who, after a near-death experience, devotes herself to "improving the natives" - but this character doesn't have the space to fully develop). I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you are specifically looking to read a book from Guinea-Bissau. If you are, this is a readable option.

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quote 2018-06-18 07:20
“Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy.”

 F. Scott Fitzgerald

― F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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review 2018-05-28 06:04
The Shack
The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity - Wm. Paul Young,Brad Cummings,Wayne Jacobsen

I read this book several years ago but I couldn't remember much about it. I came across another copy so I read it again. I remember hearing other people talk about it and it seemed there were three camps. There are those that loved it, those that hated it, and those were afraid to say what they thought about it. 

Many of those that hated it had a problem with God being depicted as a black woman. I thought this was very clever because it brings out the prejudges of people. God is not black or white or male or female. Anyone who believes in God knows that God is not limited to any one of those things. 

I really enjoyed the story, although it was very sad, but I enjoyed the way things were wrapped up. I got a lot out of the chapter A Morning of Sorrows which talked about forgiveness.

I have to admit I didn't like everything about this book and what was said and some things I will have to continue to chew on for a while. I do plan to go back to this book later and think about these things some more. I have ordered a hardcover copy for my permanent library.

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quote 2018-05-28 01:16
Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.
The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity - Wm. Paul Young,Brad Cummings,Wayne Jacobsen

Chapter 13, page 187-188

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