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Showing posts from January, 2012

Lensky's Idealism, and Why Onegin Fought a Duel

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Last night I finished my first re-reading of Eugene Onegin (Alexander Pushkin).  The plan is to use a different translation for each re-read--this time I used Henry Spalding's, which you can find at Project Gutenberg.  While I didn't stumble across any words like zen, I found parts of the translation to read awkwardly, as if a thesaurus had been referenced once too often.  On the positive side, it is overall a very readable translation, and it rhymes. 4.5/5 stars for the Spalding translation.

As for the re-read itself.  Much has been made of Tatyana's bookish dreams, but I'm convinced now that the poet Lensky is the only idealist, the only dreamer in the whole book.  His last thoughts were what really stood out to me this time.  I understood better where he was coming from, and I actually felt very sorry for him.

(Spoiler alert)
After the ball--where Onegin childishly vents his anger by flirting with Olga--Lensky's reaction goes from feeling hurt at his gi…

"The Mystery of Uncle Jeremy's Household"

A couple of years ago, I found an interesting book at a thrift store:  The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  It is a collection of stories, essays, etc, related to Sherlock Holmes, and almost all of them are entirely written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I skimmed through the book; some of the stories I had read before, but others were quite new to me.  My favourite was "The Mystery of Uncle Jeremy's Household", which I certainly hadn't ever heard of before.

This story, though not strictly a Holmes story, has a few things in common with the Holmes series.  Firstly, it is a mystery; secondly, it has two characters who are much like Holmes and Watson.  Hugh Lawrence is the "Watson" character, and John Thurston is the "Holmes" character.  Interestingly enough, it's Lawrence who does the detective work.  Thurston has a similar personality to Sherlock Holmes's, but he is more interested in his chemical experiments than in solving a …

"'Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,' said Stamford, introducing us."

"Who is Sherlock Holmes?"
    Few people ask this question, because almost anyone could give an answer to it.  Sherlock Holmes is one of those unusual literary characters who lives outside of his stories; ask that question, and most people will be able to tell you that he's a detective, distinguishable from other detectives due to the accessories of a magnifying glass, deerstalker hat, and pipe.  He is as well-known by name as Santa Claus, Frankenstein, or Dracula.  He is, as others have put it, "the world's most famous detective"; he's the detective to whom nearly all other fictional detectives are compared.  Before we ever "meet" Sherlock Holmes in the books, we have an idea of who he is.  But does this idea truly answer the question?
   Interestingly, we're not the only ones who think we know Holmes before we've met him.  In the very first chapter of A Study in Scarlet, Dr John H. Watson is a wounded soldier ju…