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Showing posts from January, 2013

The House of the Seven Gables

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New England, early 1800s.  Hepzibah Pyncheon, a hermit-like woman with a severe face and a soft heart, lives quietly in the seven-gabled Pyncheon House.  She is rescued from poverty only when her young relative, Phoebe, comes to live with her and help her run a small shop.  Phoebe is interested to meet the other lodger at Pyncheon House, a daguerreotypist by the name of Holgrave, but more mysterious is Hepzibah's desperation to protect her brother Clifford from the influence of Judge Jaffrey, a cousin and seemingly benevolent man.  As Phoebe and Holgrave discover, the key to the Pyncheon siblings' troubles is deeply connected to the house's history, and that of its sinisterly respectable founder, Colonel Pyncheon.

I must say I found Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables to be overall disappointing, in comparison with The Blithedale Romance or The Marble Faun.  If this were a movie, I'd sum it up by saying that the concept was great and the execution wa…

Weekend Quote: The Law

"The law - 'tis bad to have it, but, I sometimes think, it is worse to be entirely without it."
- James Fenimore Cooper, The Prairie J. F. Cooper's The Prairie (1827) is the last book in the Leatherstocking series, of which his more famous The Last of the Mohicans is also part.  The beauty of this quote is that it succinctly sums up a classic theme of the Western genre - that is, lawman vs. outlaw, and the injustices done by both sides, in a time and place where towns were small and law officers were few. This comes up pretty frequently in my favorite TV series, The Virginian, which portrays both noble and corrupt lawmen, and the moral dilemmas that result.

I am only about 1/3 into The Prairie (and taking a break to focus on other homework), but so far it's been pretty good.  Cooper has a delightful sense of humor - you gotta love Dr. Battius's Facebook-style friending/unfriending: "I rejoice greatly at this meeting; we are lovers of the same pursuits, and…

Turn of the Century Salon - a literary event

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Hosted by Katherine at November's Autumn.  My participation may be sporadic, but I'm going to try to fit this challenge into my schedule.  :)

Here's my answers to the questionnaire/prompts for January (Introduction):
What draws you to read the Classics?Classics are works of art, unlike most contemporary fiction.  I love reading, and though I also love the era I live in, I cannot relate to it in the same way that I relate to classic lit and classic authors.  On the other hand, classics have taught me a lot about the modern world (some things never change).  I hope for there to be great authors in the 21st century, but it is looking doubtful - the books of today tend to display "quantity over quality" characteristics.
What era have you mainly read? Georgian? Victorian? Which authors?19th century British lit.  It's great, but right now I'm eager to read more world literature (and non-fic)!
What Classics have you read from the 1880s-1930s? What did you think of t…

2013 Reads

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I have never been good at sticking to book challenges - not to mention, my reading list grows at an outrageous pace!  However, there are a few (very simple) reading goals I'd like to accomplish this year.

For sure, I will be reading James Fenimore Cooper's The Prairie, required for my upcoming Early American Art/Music/Lit course.  I love Hawthorne and Melville, and I've heard good things about Cooper.  His style intimidates me, but so did that of those other two authors . . . there seems to be a trend of 19th c. American lit being hard to read (though well worth it!).  If I like Prairie, I might read the whole Leatherstocking series.

From my reading list, I would like to read at least one biography (most likely Eva Perón or Bonhoeffer), one political science book, and one philosophy book.  The sheer length of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and Karl Marx's Das Kapital, vol. 1 gave me a hilarious idea - what if I were to read them side-by-side?  A nice thought, if …

2012 End of Year Book Survey

I saw this on Délaissé, and thought it looked fun!  Though I haven't read a ton of books this year, I'm going to give it a try:

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? Hard to say - probably Dracula for a new book, and definitely Heart of Darkness and Eugene Onegin for re-reads. 2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? The Remains of the Day, The Great Enigma, and The House of the Seven Gables. 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?  Dracula, definitely!  It was way better than I expected. 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012? Probably Heart of Darkness. 5. Best series you discovered in 2012? I didn't read any series.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012? Chesterton was awesome, and I'd read more Turgenev and Zola! 7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?  Chesterton's Orthodoxy, somewhat of a new genre and not a typical choice for me. 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?…