I personally love poetry anthologies, and I have searched for something my son would also enjoy so he could learn to appreciate poetry as I do. We may have found a winner! Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year (Little, Brown and Company, 2012) is a poetry anthology organized by month. Each season of the year and specific holidays have poems, and the pages are illustrated by Marjorie Priceman with child-friendly bright watercolor paintings. (more…)
Wise Women of the Dreamtime: Aboriginal Tales of the Ancestral Power (Inner Traditions International, 1993) is a fascinating collection of tales from Australian Aboriginal woman as dictated to a Western woman in the late 1800s. Editor Joanna Lambert expands upon these tales by providing commentary and discussion after each tale, focusing on the various folkloric traditions around the globe and emphasizing both the uniqueness of the Aboriginal tales and the similarities the Aboriginal folklore has with other cultures. Given the thousands of years in which Aboriginal traditions flourished essentially unaltered, I found it fascinating to read the folklore.
Kate Langloh Parker was fascinated by the Aboriginal traditions as a child, and as an adult, she collected the stories the women told her. Tragically, in her day, such folkloric anthropological research was not appreciated in Australia. In the past century, Aboriginal traditions have been overshadowed by the Western traditions entering into the territory and the 60,000 year old culture is losing it’s solidarity.
Ms Lambert’s volume reintroduces Ms Parker’s anthology of collected stories with sensitivity into a world that may be better equipped to appreciate the culture of the Aborigines. Although I am not an anthropologist, I greatly enjoyed Ms Lambert’s commentary. The stories of Dreamtime are a fascinating look at an ancient culture and religious tradition. I only wished Ms Lambert and Ms Parker had more folklore collected to share with me!
Fleas, Flies, and Friars: Children’s Poetry from the Middle Ages by Nicholas Orme (to be published March 2012, Cornell University Press) is something completely different from my normal reading, but I enjoyed it very much. It is part anthology of poetry that children learned and recited from 1200-1500 CE (translated from Middle English or Latin) and part a description (annotation) of how children lived and learned during those years.
At just over 100 pages, it is obviously just a brief glimpse into medieval children’s poetry and society. Yet, because the annotations are written with an informative but friendly tone, it was a pleasant read for me, a curious historian and admirer of poetry in general. Children in the Middle Ages learned standards of behavior from poetry, as well as experienced the to-be-expected pleasures of lullabies and nonsense rhymes. Poetic stories of Robin Hood were immensely popular, and poetic reminders of school learning (Latin grammar, for example) helped the young child study.
Although the volume is slim and I was not a reader familiar with the status or literature of children in the Middle Ages, I highly enjoyed it. In some respects, it reminded me how some things really haven’t changed. Given the songs I learned in elementary school for learning the parts of speech, the nonsense poetry ridiculing silly teachers, and the poetic stories I still read in picture books, I’m simply pleased poetry has continued to define childhood and that there is a lot more of it to enjoy!
Read as a digital review copy from the publisher via netgalley.
Although the RIP challenge technically ended last week with Halloween, I had one more week of ghostly short stories to enjoy. As with past weeks, I enjoyed how each of the stories I read had a different feel. Walter de La Mare’s story was probably my least favorite of the week, but I enjoyed each story (also including stories by Penelope Lively, Alison Lurie, and Ray Bradbury) to some degree. (None of these stories are in the public domain, so I cannot link to them for you.) (more…)
As I helped compile the listing of Imperial Russian Literature for the Classics Circuit a few months ago (found here), I found my TBR list growing exponentially: there are so many authors I want to read that I just don’t know when I’ll get to them all. Through my searches at the library and at Amazon.com, I discovered a volume by Penguin Viking: The Portable Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader. It was just what I was looking for: stories, novellas, and poems from twenty different Imperial Russian writers.
I intended to read the entire volume for the Circuit (about 600 pages), but I’m finding that summer living has made reading time scarce. Even reading half the volume, though, makes for quite a long post here, so I hope you don’t mind. I read the authors I had never read before and share my thoughts below: Aleksandr Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Mikhail Lermontov, Sergey Akaskov, Karolina Pavlova, and Ivan Goncharov. Some of them are writers that I intend to revisit. Other writers were a good read, but I’ll probably not revisit them.
According to Merriam Webster, superfluous means “exceeding what is sufficient or necessary: extra; not needed: unnecessary.” As I read the collection of stories, poems, and novellas, I couldn’t help thinking of that word. Ivan Turgenev wrote the novella “The Diary of a Superfluous Man” in 1850, which focused on one of the gentry who lived a rather aimless life. I haven’t read the novella (it is not in my Reader), but I read Mel u’s post about it early in the Classics Circuit Tour. As I read my selections, I kept thinking about how each story or poem seemed to discuss one of these “unnecessary” people in Russian society. Reading Russian literature in that light is quite depressing, yet the stories are, for the most part, wonderfully drawn together. (more…)