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Somewhat Off-Topic: What have you been reading lately?


misswonderly3
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i really didn't intend to, but i ended up finding an EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY EDITION of MIDDLEMARCH and (after three or four aborted attempts in recent years where i only made it to page 200 of other editions) i am now on page 500

so i guess i am gonna finally finish this b*****.

(for the record,) the EVERYMAN'S EDITION makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD, it has good sized font and notsomuch crammed on a page- you actually feel like you're moving through the book. the two other editions of MIDDLEMARCH I tried to read had some of the eenty-teentiest font i have ever seen in my life. i have good eyesight for a 44 year old, but damned- making it throgh GEORGE ELIOT is hard enough without having to SQUINT ALL THE TIME.

ALSO, I love the built-in bookmark on EVERYMAN EDITIONS. whoever got that idea was a damned genius.

Middlemarch - (everyman's Library Classics) By George Eliot (hardcover) :  Target

 

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ps- i know there are some GEORGE ELIOT fans out there among you (myself included)- but I have to ask- do any of you ever get annoyed by how she starts EVERY CHAPTER with some YE ANCIENTE QUOTATIONNE that- half the time- is in LATIN or FRENCH or CHAUCERIAN ENGLISH and THEY NEVER BOTHER TO TRANSLATE IT???

And the other half of the time, the placement and meaning of the quote flies way over my head- especially as it relates to what action follows in the chapter.

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I took a quick look through some of  her novels and didn't  see quotations at the head of each chapter or even one at the beginning,

except for a Wordsworth  quote  in Adam Bede. I think readers imagine  them as more frequent then they  actually  are  because  they

do  appear in a small number of novels of the era. I do agree in general that it's a pain when the quotes in a foreign language are not

translated, though in my experience  most of them are. And for the rest one can always get a translation on the net. Littera scripta manet. 😊

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On 5/24/2022 at 5:02 PM, Vautrin said:

I took a quick look through some of  her novels and didn't  see quotations at the head of each chapter or even one at the beginning,

except for a Wordsworth  quote  in Adam Bede. I think readers imagine  them as more frequent then they  actually  are  because  they

do  appear in a small number of novels of the era. I do agree in general that it's a pain when the quotes in a foreign language are not

translated, though in my experience  most of them are. And for the rest one can always get a translation on the net. Littera scripta manet. 😊

I think she does it in DANIEL DERONDA too…

(And I know that Thomas Hardy is big on using classic quotes to start new sections in chapters of his works, which are often also not translated from the original languages)

anyway, point is MaryAnn does it aggressively in MIDDLEMARCH, there are a lot of chapters- which I like because it makes one feel as if one is moving forward in the work – but every single chapter starts with a quote from a classic work or proverb and nearly all of them are untranslated from the Latin or Ye  olde English, And some of the ones that I can understand had, in my humble opinion, not much to do with the action of the chapter which they started.

There’s only the one that was worth anything, and it was a Spanish proverb that they actually took the time to translate. It was - and I’m paraphrasing – “since we may not have what we like, let us like what we have.”

A little on the fortune cookie side I know, but it’s the only one that’s gotten over the plate with me.

At this point I’m not even so much as glancing at the quotes that start every chapter, you could probably sneak one in that said “HonkyeTonkke badonkusdonkke, how didst thee ever gitte thy britches on?”  and so help me- I wouldn’t even notice.

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5 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

I think she does it in DANIEL DERONDA too…

(And I know that Thomas Hardy is big on using classic quotes to start new sections in chapters of his works, which are often also not translated from the original languages)

anyway, point is MaryAnn does it aggressively in MIDDLEMARCH, there are a lot of chapters- which I like because it makes one feel as if one is moving forward in the work – but every single chapter starts with a quote from a classic work or proverb and nearly all of them are untranslated from the Latin or Ye  olde English, And some of the ones that I can understand had, in my humble opinion, not much to do with the action of the chapter which they started.

There’s only the one that was worth anything, and it was a Spanish proverb that they actually took the time to translate. It was - and I’m paraphrasing – “since we may not have what we like, let us like what we have.”

A little on the fortune cookie side I know, but it’s the only one that’s gotten over the plate with me.

At this point I’m not even so much as glancing at the quotes that start every chapter, you could probably sneak one in that said “HonkyeTonkke badonkusdonkke, how didst thee ever gitte thy britches on?”  and so help me- I wouldn’t even notice.

I've never read Middlemarch, though I probably will one of these days. Sounds like it might be  a good book to read in a cozy room during winter.

Maybe these quotations mean more to the authors personally then they do to  readers. I think one relevant and well-phrased quotation on the

title page should  be sufficient.  Any more and why not substitute lucky numbers for quotations. 

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The Mill on the Floss (1860) is my favorite Eliot book, but I honestly can't remember if I've seen the 1937 film. 

Lorna, you mentioned Thomas Hardy whom I ADORE. Jude the Obscure (1895) is my second favorite book of all time. I can't believe it took till 1996 for someone to adapt it for film. I did enjoy the film, but I still think it wasn't dark enough. Hardy is DARK. A man after my own heart, he was. 

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On 5/26/2022 at 9:34 PM, BunnyWhit said:

The Mill on the Floss (1860) is my favorite Eliot book, but I honestly can't remember if I've seen the 1937 film. 

Lorna, you mentioned Thomas Hardy whom I ADORE. Jude the Obscure (1895) is my second favorite book of all time. I can't believe it took till 1996 for someone to adapt it for film. I did enjoy the film, but I still think it wasn't dark enough. Hardy is DARK. A man after my own heart, he was. 

i also love love love THOMAS HARDY- but- I am not a huge fan of JUDE THE OBSCURE, although I want to like it. The THOMAS HARDY book that make THE BIGGEST IMPRESSION ON ME has been THE WOODLANDERS, which was his own personal favorite amongst his works, even though it is not as well known as TESS and RETURN OF THE NATIVE and so-on.

if you have not read it, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT, but make sure NO ONE SPOILS THE ENDING FOR YOU.

THE WOODLANDERS is one of my favorite books of all time.

https://www.amazon.com/Woodlanders-Thomas-Hardy/dp/B08T6X4SGS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=3B49RIL3YVGOU&keywords=the+woodlanders&qid=1654176625&sprefix=the+woodlanders%2Caps%2C93&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFIQkgxWlQ0RDBRM0cmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA4NTYwNzgxUzVVVTRBREwzRjFGJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTAyMDg4NDQyS1FWWVM0STVNTklTJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

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Almost finished with Bottom Feeders by John Shepphird, published in 2018.  I picked it up as a remainder.  Fairly good little mystery type book.  Centered around a very low-budget movie filming which is what makes it most interesting.

Shippird has directed TV and feature films.   Also publishes a PI series in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

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holy ****, i went and finished MIDDLEMARCH.

See the source image

Lemme go sit by the mailbox and wait for my tee-shirt to arrive.

[it's 888 pages]

did i skim the occasional paragraph? yes, but only when MARYANN was on one of her high-fallutin prattle sessions. also, as aforementioned, i did not read a majority of the quotes from classical works that start each chapter- but the publisher is more to blame for not translating/annotating ANY of them then I am for not knowing LATIN.

i'm of two minds about this book.

on one hand, yeah, it's masterful- and GEORGE ELIOT has a way with words- like DICKENS- which reaches across the centuries and- for whatever reason- speaks to me, which is odd, because I am not a patient person and I am not blessed with a tight attention span- but for whatever reason, I really enjoy both of their bodies of work- even if the reading experience of certain titles outweighs the overall final impression of the novel. (reading DICKENS or ELIOT perform their acrobatic circumlocutions for 20 pages can be fun, even if nothing happens in that 20 pages to advance the plot one iota)

 that said...

as a fan of GEORGE ELIOT- one thing about her that I have admired has been THE WAY SHE INTRODUCES CONFLICT INTO HER STORIES. In THE MILL ON THE FLOSS and ADAM BEDE she has rather stunning third act twists that put some of her characters into VERY REAL LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLES that the reader does not see coming. so between that and the fact that I was reading MIDDLEMARCH  here in this springtime of 2022, deep in a 21st century mindset- [ie one frazzled by pandemics and insurrections and the ongoing Idiocracy simulation in which we are consigned to exist] I could not help feel that- well-crafted as the verbiage was and all- it was a little difficult to muster up much care or concern for A BUNCH OF CHARACTERS WHOSE PROBLEMS WERE NOT REALLY PROBLEMS AT ALL- AND WHAT PROBLEMS THEY HAD WERE 100% THEIR OWN DAMNED FAULTS.

Oh, really, your husband put it in his will that you cannot marry after his passing or you shall lose his 500 a year and his estate and only have your 700 a year (and two estates) that you inherited from your parents? OH, CLUTCH THE PEARLS, HORROR UPON HORRORS, HOWEVER WILL YOU FIND THE STRENGTH TO GET UP OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING???"

I mean, usually I have time for "rich white people problems" but, I dunno, ever since 2016 I've had a harder and harder time gettin as "into" them as I used to be.

 

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As mentioned before, I've been on a Michael Connelly kick of late. The new Lincoln Lawyer series on Netflix and Bosch:Legacy  on Freevee both are based on books I recently finished. Now I have  found another author I like named David Baldacci. I'm currently reading Last Man Standing and it's great.  I guess I'm just a sucker for crime novels. 

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THIS STORM by James Ellroy

How I discovered Ellroy: Some years ago I became fascinated by the case of an infamous unsolved murder that took place in 1947. Over the years there have been many theories as to who the murderer was, not unlike the speculations over the Jack the Ripper cases. One day I found a movie drama about the '47 case. Decent movie, although I wasn't thrilled with the choice of killer. Then I read the Ellroy novel it was based on. Amazing writing.

Anyway, back to THIS STORM.

Crime novel set in Los Angeles, beginning a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Complicated plot. Murders. Human trafficking. Drug addiction. Promiscuity. Racism. War profiteering. Torture. Revenge.

 A huge number of characters (six main ones). So many in fact (more than ninety) , the author provides a list of most of them after the story ends. About a quarter of the characters are real people from that time. Real cops, movie actors, a journalist, musicians etc.

Why did I love this book?

First of all, solving of the crimes are secondary. It's really all about the lead characters personalities and the huge consequences their actions have on each other and themselves. There are no good guys or gals in this book. As an example, the LEAST corrupted lead character refuses to murder someone for his boss. He's down for everything else.

Secondly, the writing style. Most characters are revealed to the reader through their inner dialogues and how they treat others. Two of the six also write diaries, which give the reader interesting insight.

Ellroy uses a lot of slang from the times to tell the story. It was fun to try and figure out what certain words meant. There is still one that I haven't been able to figure out.

Here's a few lines from the book. I've cleaned some of it up, not because I'm a prude but because I don't know what will be flagged on these forums.

A policeman in an opium den:

"The fumes got to E.  "O" plus bennies induced all this weird wispy s___. He upchucked on an addict's shoes. He bumped into Veronica Lake. She said "Whoa sailor."

A physician:

"The mad eugenicist.  He packed Chinese refugees into gimcrack cribs and charged usurious rent."

A diary excerpt:

"The antithesis of resolve is relinquishment. It's wartime L.A., and I am a brilliant and passionate young woman with stories to tell. Circumstance is destiny. I may never live as boldly and adroitly as I live now."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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517188.jpg

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks originally published in 1961

 
 
Muriel Spark packs a little plot and a lot of ideas and philosophy into her short novel about a charismatic teacher in an upper-class girls school in Scotland in the 1930s.
 
Miss Jean Brodie uses her classroom as a pulpit to preach the ideas of Miss Jean Brodie, whom she self describes as being "in her prime." Being a progressive teacher for her day, she wants the children to think, not learn by rote, but really she wants them to think what she tells them to think.
 
In her first year, she identifies six, ten-year-old girls to be "her" girls, "the Brodie set." Until they graduate at seventeen, she continues to meet with and "mold" them. 
 
While Miss Brodie presents herself as having a deep interest in their well being, it's really just a self-aggrandizing project where she's trying to raise little disciples devoted to Miss Jean Brodie. No humble person constantly describes herself, as MIss Brodie does, as "being in my prime." 
 
All the Brodie girls play a part in the story, but it is really one, Sandy, who becomes the main focus of Brodie's ambitions. Sandy also, though, becomes Brodie's crypto antagonist. 
 
Liberal Miss Brodie dates a bachelor (and sleeps with him!), but really pines away for a married Catholic art teacher who seems to love/lust after Miss Brodie. But Miss Brodie swears off him because he is Catholic and married.
 
Unrequited love is hardly special, but Brodie obsessively focuses on the married art teacher for years. As the girls enter their mid teens, she even tries to arrange for the prettiest of her girls to have an affair with the art teacher, while Sandy is supposed to report the progress of this scheme back to her. What? If it sounds pretty creepy, that's because it is.
 
Miss Brodie's oddness doesn't stop with sex, though, as she has a passion for Ancient Rome (nothing odd about that) and class struggle (par for a liberal teacher), but also for fascism (bam!). In pre-World War II England, she has a picture of Mussolini on her wall and nice things to say about Hitler.
 
Her fascist passions run so strong, she convinces a troubled seventeen-year-old girl to quit school to fight for the fascists in Spain. This unfortunate young lady gets killed on her way over. Later, it's obvious that Miss Brodie has washed her hands of the matter. She believes her advice was appropriate with the only tragedy being the girl never got a chance to join the fight. 
 
While Brodie is playing demigod to "her" girls, the school's headmistress spends years looking for a way to oust this self-centered "free spirit" from her school. But as long as Brodie's girls remain loyal, the headmistress keeps running into walls. 
 
(Spoiler alert) After graduation, though, very perceptive Sandy, who sometimes bought into, but also often questioned, Miss Brodie's ideas, finally sees the danger this egotist presents to young women.
 
(More spoilers) Sandy, in private, delivers the information - she teaches fascism you know -  the headmistress needs to "retire" Miss Brodie. Miss Brodie spends the next decade before her passing trying to identify her betrayer. 
 
When Miss Brodie finally succeeds, right before her passing, she feels she's had her epiphany moment, but sadly she lacks any such true insight as an epiphany moment for Miss Brodie would be if she saw the harm her arrogance caused to so many young women. 
 
There are more characters, nuances and ideas in Muriel Spark's tightly written short novel, which argues for another read at some point. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie has an echo of Winefred Holtby's 1936 novel South Riding, which is also about a free spirited young teacher shaking up the educational establishment, but this time, in Yorkshire. Iconoclast teachers clearly had a moment in 1930s England.
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On 5/23/2022 at 1:42 PM, LornaHansonForbes said:

i really didn't intend to, but i ended up finding an EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY EDITION of MIDDLEMARCH and (after three or four aborted attempts in recent years where i only made it to page 200 of other editions) i am now on page 500

so i guess i am gonna finally finish this b*****.

(for the record,) the EVERYMAN'S EDITION makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD, it has good sized font and notsomuch crammed on a page- you actually feel like you're moving through the book. the two other editions of MIDDLEMARCH I tried to read had some of the eenty-teentiest font i have ever seen in my life. i have good eyesight for a 44 year old, but damned- making it throgh GEORGE ELIOT is hard enough without having to SQUINT ALL THE TIME.

ALSO, I love the built-in bookmark on EVERYMAN EDITIONS. whoever got that idea was a damned genius.

 

 

Today I learned that George Eliot was a pseudonym for a female author.  I had no idea. Goes to show you how much I know about literature.  Lol.   Obviously she adopted the pen name was so that her work would be taken seriously.  However, I just learned that she also adopted a pen name to hide the fact that she was an unmarried woman living with a married man.  How scandalous, especially for the 19th century.   

My husband read War and Peace and the copy he had used teeny tiny font, yet he managed to finish the book. 

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6 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

Today I learned that George Eliot was a pseudonym for a female author.  I had no idea. Goes to show you how much I know about literature.  Lol.   Obviously she adopted the pen name was so that her work would be taken seriously.  However, I just learned that she also adopted a pen name to hide the fact that she was an unmarried woman living with a married man.  How scandalous, especially for the 19th century.   

My husband read War and Peace and the copy he had used teeny tiny font, yet he managed to finish the book. 

this is part one of s six part documentary on GEORGE ELIOT,

I absolutely LOVE THE TRIO OF SALTY GOSSIPS WHO FIRST APPEAR AT 1:00 MINUTE IN (right after the title card) and appear THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE DOC, STEALING EVERY MOMENT WITH THEIR B!TCHY LITTLE ASIDES AND CATTY REMARKS AND I WISH EVERY BIO FEATURED THEM!!!

(EVEN IF YOU DON'T WANNA WATCH THE WHOLE THING, CHECK THEM OUT AT LEAST, THEY ARE A HOOT!!!!)

 

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I have just finished reading: If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond. It is a sequel to their wildly popular book: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

I am sorry to say that this one does not carry the same appeal. It feels much more contrived rather than being spontaneous. It has also tangents which make no sense. 

I am sure that my little fuzzy's great-granddaughter for whom it is intended as a birthday gift will like it but I will suggest that he buy no more in the series. 

I have read/inspected also the book and toy combo of: Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin. The toy is a small stuffed dragon holding a taco. It is very poorly designed as it can not sit upright on its own because the taco tips it over. I found no charm in the story. I had the feeling that I was reading either an instruction manual or a police report stating only the facts, ma'am. 

I fear that the golden age of imaginative, charming and intelligent books for small children is drawing to a close. 

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