Saturday, 2 August 2014

Good books/ Bad books- part 7

Let's tackle the classics.

"As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner
This is a bizarre book.  It is an existential struggle for identity and purpose ( so says the internet).
The style of writing is stream-of-consciousness with 15 different narrators.  Each chapter contains the thoughts of a different person.
It is very difficult to understand.
It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren.  Her family is taking her to be buried as she requested. 
These quotes give you a taste:
"When He (the Lord) aims for something to be always a-moving, he makes it longways, like a road or a horse or a wagon. But when He aims for something to stay put, he makes it up-and-down ways, like a tree or a man...Because if He'd a aimed for man to be always a-moving and going somewheres else, wouldn't He a put him longways on his belly, like a snake?"
Moseley ( the druggist): "Life wasn't meant to be easy on folks: they wouldn't ever have any reason to be good and die."
Addis' father: "The reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time."
Vardaman" "My mother is a fish".
Darl: "Jewel's mother is a horse".
Vardaman asks Darl. "What is yer ma?"
Darl: "I haven't got ere one.  Because if I had one it is was.  And if it is was, it can't be is.  Can it?"
Yes, a confusing book!  But a classic!

"Beowulf" by Seamus Heaney
Originating around 680 A.D., this poem was probably composed orally and memorized, then passed on by traveling poetic entertainers before being written down.
The first two major episodes (Grendel and Grendel's mother) take place in and around Heorot, the Danish King's great hall.  The surrounding countryside is marshy, wild and desolate.  Grendel's mother is killed in a cave at the bottom of a monster-infested lake.  The poem's final episode occurs on a seaside cliff in the land of the Geats (southern Sweden).
Beowulf crossed to Denmark when he heard about Grendel- fought him, tore off his arm.  Grendel's mother returned to revenge the death.  Beowulf beheaded her.
Beowulf was king for 50 years.  A dragon is disturbed and Beowulf died trying to kill it.  Wiglaf stayed with Beowulf and finished off the dragon.
"It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.  For everyone of us, living in this world means waiting for our end.  Let whoever can, win glory before death".
This poem, written in England, is the foundation of English poetry.
Way too violent for me!

"The Iliad" by Homer
This story is about the war between the Greeks and the Trojans.  There is a quarrel between Agamemnon (leader of the Greeks) and Achilles.
The story takes place during the last year of the Trojan war during the 12th century B.C.
Agamemnon's sister-in-law (Helen) had been abducted by Paris.
Fire is the dominant image- a symbol of war.
I found this book completely out of my realm of understanding.  I tried Coles Notes but could not relate to the subject matter.

Perhaps I should admit that much of my dislike of these books is based in ignorance.  But thankfully, there are many other classics that I love.

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