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Showing posts from February, 2011
15. The Belgariad Volume One: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician's Gambit by David Eddings I've been reading this for a while, interspersed with all my school books. It's actually three books in one, but each book is only a couple hundred pages, so I'll count this as one book. I plan on returning this to the library and immediately checking out Volume Two! I've been raving about The Belgariad to anyone I know who likes or might like fantasy. This is classic high fantasy with some of the best writing I've seen in the genre. Eddings himself in his introduction admits that this is a straightforward quest for a sacred object with all the stock characters; our underdog hero, our wizard-guardian, a female protector-sorceress (anima), several animuses, and a love interest. Eddings excels in crisp, evocative language and an intricate blend of legends and cultures. He creates seven different Gods with seven different peoples, but some of the peoples

The Moor, the Villain, and Chastity Slandered

14. Othello by William Shakespeare As I mentioned in my review of Titus Andronicus , reading that play has deepened my understanding of this one. Aaron the Moor is split in two here, into the noble Christian Moor Othello and the manipulative, evil atheist Iago. As I mentioned, Aaron's race provides him with a motive for his evildoing, either the racist implication that the 'Other' operates outside of the moral realm, or his own resentful, psychological response to this racial construction. Neither of these reasons can justify Iago's villainy, but they can play a role in Othello's self-image and willingness to believe that Desdemona is unfaithful to such as him. I found Iago's various motivations to add to the psychological complexity of the character; my professor seems to suggest that his actions stem from a spurned homosocial affinity for Othello, while I see where that's coming from in the text, I still have a more traditional idea of Iago as someone wh

The Fantastic Margaret Cavendish

13. Assaulted and Pursued Chastity by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle I just finished reading this and I don't think I can convey how enthusiastic I am on so many levels. This is another one of my early modern women's books and I'm more and more stumped why we aren't reading these women along with Spenser, Shakespeare, Marlowe and the like. They're just as witty, clever, and thoughtful with characters as psychologically complex. While they may be new "discoveries" of the past couple decades, I think that's more than enough time to move them into the classroom. In any case, the work of the "thrice Noble, Illustrious and Excellent Princess" Margaret Duchess of Newcastle is well deserving of its unconventional self-promotion. This work is also unconventional as it is admittedly a "feigned" story rather than a history, as many contemporary fictions were designated. And boy is this fiction. I see origins of fantasy novels here

Early Modern Hits and Misses

11. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare I read Julius Caesar for the first time years ago, but my professor provided background information that was new to me and brought new perspectives to the text. Shakespeare's source-text for his Roman plays, Plutarch's Lives , includes the rumor that Julius Caesar had an affair with Marcus Brutus' mother and Brutus may have been his illegitimate son. What I also found interesting is that the famous line "Et tu Brute?" is not what Caesar is reported to have said, rather some accounts (not Plutarch's), say he spoke to Brutus in Greek; "You too, my son?" Shakespeare's decision to put the quote in another language indicates that he was aware of this rumor, but decided not to focus on the "son" part, changing it to Brutus. Previously, my interests in the play have been in Portia's role and the classic speech of Antony, but this time I looked at the characters psychologically, as I feel we'

The First Slasher Parody?

10. Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare I cannot believe that this play exists. It is one of the few Shakespeare plays I had not yet read (including Cymbeline and Coriolanus , both of which will be remedied shortly), and although I had some idea of it from The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged ), I HAD NO IDEA. I'm just going to make a list of some wtf moments (I'm paraphrasing): FIRST SCENE "Let's hew off all his limbs! Yeah, sounds like fun!" "Here Lavinia, hold my hand in thy mouth" "Don't kill that fly! Wait, it looks like Aaron the Moor? Die, die already dead fly!" "I'm going to make a powder out of your bones and then make a paste of it with your blood!" "Now I'm going to kill my daughter, who already was raped and had her hands cut off and her tongue cut out" Yeah. It's just Too Much. I was fascinated with Aaron the Moor, the arch-villain(they're all kind of villains except poor

Feminist Early Modern Verse

9. The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Ex Judaeorum Ed. Susanne Woods My directed study professor introduced me to this book that I'm now very excited about. It may have been the first book of poetry ever published by an Englishwoman. It was printed in 1611. There were other famous women writers of the time, Queen Elizabeth I for one and Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, sister to Sir Philip. However, their work was privately circulated in manuscript. Lanyer is one of the "new discoveries" of Renaissance women in the last couple decades. Her verse is in iambic pentameter, lyric poetry of the type Shakespeare was writing in Lucrece . She re-envisions the passion of the Christ, but with many reminders that men are to be condemned for this deed, not women, who committed a far less grave sin in eating from the tree of knowledge. She also extols the virtues of her patroness Margaret, Countess of Cumberland and suggests that she was born to chronicle the Passion of Chri