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Top Ten Favorite Reviews

Cleo's twist on today's Top Ten Tuesday is right up my alley.  I've been reviewing books for a while now, and sometimes it's nice to reflect on what I've written about books in the past.

Here's ten of my favorite book reviews, some old and some newer (for simplicity's sake, not including podcast episodes or movie reviews, only written book reviews):

1.  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - This is long overdue for another reading (plus a reading of Chinua Achebe's criticism of the book).  That said, I still like my theory about Kurtz being Marlowe's alter-ego!

2. Amerika by Franz Kafka - Kafka is tricky to review; in spite of that, I think here I hit upon all the important points.

3. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe - Should I apologize for this??? I took WAY too much delight in this scathing review of a book by Goethe (of all people).  I don't often write negative reviews, but when I do... whew!

4. Magellania by Jules Verne - Objectively this…

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Week #3

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Week 3 of the Readalong covers chapters 6–11 which deal with early childhood, concepts of modesty vs humility, a woman's reputation, class differences, and parent-child relationships.  Whew!  In all seriousness, though, while I personally would have chosen a narrower scope for such a book, I admire Mary's willingness to take on a broad range of subjects and deal with each one in some detail.

I think my biggest takeaway from the book thus far is how much it puts into context Jane Austen's work (and, no doubt, her contemporaries').  After an Austen phase in my tweens, I later became disenchanted with her stories, finding (frankly) not much in them which seemed relevant to my life.  However, if I had any doubt before what "sensibility" means or whether Anne Elliot's odious relatives were true to life, those doubts have been dispelled by reading Vindication. In fact, for the first time, I earnestly want to re-read Jane Austen, because everything makes sense n…

Kreisler's "Syncopation" (1925) - A Classical Cousin

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Recently, I dreamed I was playing the second movement of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, on stage, in front of a professional violinist, whom I was trying to "prove myself" to (!!).  I did tolerably well, which is the surprising thing, considering I never learned the piece (though always wanted to).


Ever since then, I keep thinking about picking it up again. I've barely touched my violin since I quit taking lessons about ten years ago (can it be, already?), when college took over my time and energies.  I generally don't put much stock into dreams, but if nothing else, I feel inspired to start again, in seriousness.

Some of my favorite music for the violin was written by Austrian composer Fritz Kreisler.  He's best known for his soulful "Praeludium and Allegro" (a piece I learned once) - in style, a kind of 20th-century successor of Vivaldi.  More delightful to me, however, are his lighter pieces in the turn-of-the-century style, or even a bit later.

Thoughts on Revelation

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Just finished re-reading The Book of Revelation this morning.  This is one book I may never be able to analyze or understand satisfactorily; much of it still confuses me.  Still, I wanted to share some memories, literary references, and thoughts about Revelation, since it may be some time before I read it again.

First, a note on the edition.  For this re-reading of the Bible, I've chosen the New King James translation in single-column format.  I grew up with the NIV and KJV, and I was curious about the NKJV.  Compared to the KJV, I've noticed not many, but some, differences.  Translation is a topic on its own; so far, though, I can say I've had a good experience reading this one.


Flashback #1 - "Revelations" I don't know why, but since childhood, I thought the book was called Revelations, plural.  It appears this is a common misconception, according to Wikipedia.  Other titles mentioned on Wikipedia are:
The Revelation to JohnThe Apocalypse of JohnThe Revelati…

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Week #2

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Week 2 of the Readalong spans chapters 4 & 5 on the topics "the state of degredation to which woman is reduced" and "writers who have rendered women objects of pity, bordering on contempt."

It looks like I highlighted more quotes in these chapters than in all of the first part. I was especially impressed by chapter 5, where Wollstonecraft responds to opposing views, including those of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  Boy, she cuts him down to size (and reading what he wrote, I don't blame her). 

I'm not sure I can put together a coherent summary of this section, so instead I'll go straight to Ruth's discussion questions (warning, LENGTHY post ahead!!):

Echoes of Literature in "Julia Ross"

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If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The cautionary cliche, while well known, still remains almost limitless in its potential for the mystery and thrillers genres.  Perhaps this is why watching My Name is Julia Ross (1945) immediately calls to mind its literary precursors from the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and Daphne du Maurier.


The opening, in fact, takes a page out of Doyle's "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches," only this time set in the 1940s.  Londoner Julia Ross is a beautiful young woman, recently unemployed and completely alone in the world.  Her only friend and would-be boyfriend, Dennis Bruce, has just announced his marriage to someone else.  Depressed, and at a loss for how to pay the bills, Julia responds to an ad seeking a secretary for a wealthy Mrs. Hughes.  Mrs. Hughes makes Julia a generous offer, on the condition that Julia come to live with her at her mansion in Cornwall.  When Julia wakes up the next day, she realizes she's been be…

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Week #1

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Finally reading this classic that's been on my list so long!

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) My Gutenberg edition began with a brief biography of the author.  She had an interesting but tragic life:
Apparently her father was very overbearing ("a despot," according to the biography) and unkind to her mother.Mary didn't receive anything in the way of higher education, but a good friend of hers, Frances Blood, appears to have helped her along in her early adult life.  They set up a school together where Mary worked as a teacher.Her first writing success appears to have been a response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.  Burke wrote against the French Revolution; Mary's publication, A Vindication of the Rights of Men, was pro-republican.  It seems like her success with this piece was what gave her the impetus to take on none other than Jean-Jacques Rousseau (or "J. J. Rousseau" as she calls him... I got a kick out of that) in he…