Today, I’m using the opportunity of not having any other reviews written to share thoughts on kid’s books I reviewed a long time ago and never posted. Some of these are ones my son loved; others he was too young for at the time we read them and we will probably visit them again in the future. (more…)
I was not in the mood for trying to write about Paradise Lost last night, so I thought I’d take a Milton break and read something else on my shelf. After I finished I Kill Giants (read my thoughts) two weeks ago, I’d felt a strange compulsion to go check out some more graphic novels. It’s only strange because I have never felt that before! Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood caught my attention from the YA shelf at the library, and last night was the perfect time for a little folkloric fun. (more…)
To my relief, I was not the only one at the book club meeting that didn’t love this month’s choice!
I don’t usually read modern fiction; it’s just not my thing, and I can’t really say way. Maybe I’m just always reading the “wrong” modern fiction and so it has a bad rap in my mind. I did try to have an open mind when I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. I think discussing it with others did help me to give it more of a chance. I probably wouldn’t have finished it, despite its brevity, if I didn’t know the book club meeting was coming up.
In the end, I thought the writing trite and the underlying message saccharine. The author was aiming for a specific religious agenda, and it seemed forced and inappropriate to me. Besides, the back cover of The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo claims, “Every few decades a book comes along that changes the lives of its readers forever.” I guess that just meant that I expected more from it. (more…)
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the boars lead the other farm animals in a revolution against Mr. Jones’, in hope of a better life. Together, the animals take over Manor Farm, making it their own farm. Running a farm is a lot of work, but the farm animals are convinced the work is worth it because the land is their own. Basing the philosophy of “Animal Farm” on a few basic commandments (the main one being “four legs good, two legs bad”), the boars lead the animals on to relative commercial success. As time goes by, life on the farm remains challenging for the animals, and few can recall the difficult days of Mr. Jones’ rule. But few complain because they have so much pride at maintaining their own farm.
By itself, Animal Farm is an odd, but amusing tale. The animals are successful in their revolutions against humans and the reader wants to cheer them on. Then the subsequent slow transformation of Animal Farm back to the necessary evil of doing business with humans (for Animal Farm is, unfortunately, not completely self-sufficient) seems sad, for we wish success to the remarkable animals, despite the obvious treachery of the leading animals.
Put into the cultural context in which it was written, however, Animal Farm clearly mocks the rise of communism in Russia. To me, Animal Farms‘ ironic humor becomes all the more sad when one realizes the correlating story among humans suffering in Orwell’s contemporary Russia. I liked rereading Animal Farm, and now that I understand a bit more of the context, I found it quite sad, and not nearly as funny as the first time I read it. (more…)
In his introduction to a 1912 translation by V.S. Vernon Jones of Aesop’s Fables (available online here via Project Gutenberg), G.K. Chesterton claimed that Aesop’s fame “was all the more deserved because he never deserved it.” Chesterton continued:
“The firm foundations of common sense, the shrewd shots at uncommon sense, that characterise all the Fables, belong not to [Aesop] but to humanity.”
I agree to some extent: the themes in Aesop’s fables are universal. However, I also believe that Aesop (whomever he was) had an amazing ability to capture familiar human traits in such simple “impersonal” fables of just 3-10 sentences. We read them today because they remain relevant. After reading the fables attributed to Aesop, I believe Aesop does deserve every bit of the fame granted to him. (more…)