Wednesday 30 December 2015

2015 In Review

2015 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books You Read: 50

Number of Re-Reads: 

Genre You Read The Most From: Classics

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2015: The Canterbury Tales.

Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn'tOn The Road by Jack Kerouac.  I had read his The Dharma Bums and just loved it, but On The Road simply didn't have the charm of the former.  It was a chronicle of a bunch of irresponsible young men getting drunk and stoned across America.  Just not for me.

Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read in 2015: In a good way, Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington.  I was a little fatigued with the slave narratives, but Washington, without anger or bitterness, presented such a balanced view of the issues, and a way for the people coming out of slavery to really move forward and feel like they were building useful lives for themselves.  He definitely goes on my hero list. 

Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did) in 2015:   Well, I'll say Beowulf because I hosted a read-along of it.  I had a great time; I hope everyone else did too!

Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender:  I read through Jane Austen's novels and was so pleased to revisit old favourites and finally read the two that I had never read before (Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion).  Pride and Prejudice remains one of my all-time favourites.  I also developed a new appreciation for both Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2015:  Michel de Montaigne.  He is such a unique thinker and his writings are so personal that after you read a few of his essays, you feel like you're talking with an old friend (although one you conversely often argee and disagree with).  He's fabulous!

Best book from a genre you don't typically read/ out of your comfort zone:  Montaigne's Selected Essays.  I don't usually read essays, even though I want to read them.  Montaigne was a blast!  I can't wait to read more of him.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year: Dracula.  We seek him here, we seek him there, we very-credulous-and-always-one-step-behind men seek him everywhere.  Is he in heaven or is he in hell?  That damn'd elusive Count Dracula!

Book you read in 2015 that you are most likley to reread next year: I will definitely read The Canterbury Tales again, but not next year.  

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015: Probably this Ignatius Press edition of Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Most memorable characters of 2015:  Michel de Montaigne (Selected Essays)Hamlet (Hamlet), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Confessions - the mould was broken when God made him), Beowulf (Beowulf) Basil Grant (The Club of Queer Trades), Gandhi (The Story of My Experiment With Truth)

Most beautifully written book read in 2015: The Forgotten Daughter.  I was truly blown away by Snedeker's writing.  Not only does she create a believable and vibrant setting, she brings to life the characters within it.  The true degradation and loss of liberty under slavery resonates in this book, yet without becoming maudlin.  An excellent read.

Most-thought provoking/ life-changing book of 2015: The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas Gandhi

Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read: The Canterbury Tales

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2015: There were so many and this is perhaps not the favourite but it's a valuable one that springs quickly to mind: "...... Nature has given it (life) into our hands, trimmed with so many and such happy surrounding, that we have only ourselves to blame if we feel it a burden, and if we waste it unprofitably ......  And yet I am resigned to lose it without regret; but as a thing that is by its nature losable, not as if it were a troublesome burden ...... Not to hate the idea of death is properly becoming only in those who enjoy life .... I enjoy it doubly as much as others, for the measure of enjoyment depends upon the more or less attention we give to it .....  The shorter my possession of life, the fuller and deeper must I live it ...... Rather should we study, relish and ruminate it, in order to give adequate thanks to him who bestows it upon us."  ~~ Michel de Montaigne

Shortest/longest book you read in 2015: Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mary Rowlinson and The Christmas Child by Hesba Stretten (both 52 pgs.) & Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (676 pgs.) (although the longest would have been  Mein Kampf [710 pgs.] if I'd read the part about the National Socialist Movement)

Book that shocked you the most: Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.  It is astounding and more than a little unsettling that he grew to rule a nation. His delusional hatred of Jews and non-Arians was not cloaked at all.  It made me realize that if it could happen once, it could happened again.

OTP of the year: Every year I have to look up what OTP means.  Sigh!   ;-)  Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice!

Favorite non-romantic relationship: Pinocchio and Geppetto - very much a Prodigal Son story.  Otherwise the Little Women family.

Favorite book you read in 2015 from an author you've read previously: Price and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Notes From the Underground by Dostoyevsky

Best book you read in 2015 that you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else: The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year: Hamlet by William Shakespeare.  I read it twice this year thanks to Hamlette's read-along!

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read: The Club of Queer Trades by G.K. Chesterton.  I just realized that I didn't read many fun books in 2015.  I'll have to rectify that next year!

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2015: The Forgotten Daughter by Caroline Dale Snedecker.  Again it communicated the hopelessness of slavery while giving hope in another way.  Just excellent.

Hidden gem of the year:  The Brubury Tales by Frank Mundo.  I'm not a fan of modern fiction and I'd expected these tales to be definitely weaker versions of The Canterbury Tales, but I was absolutely blown away.  His poetic skill resonated throughout the stories and his insight into human nature was exemplary.  I will read this one again, for sure. 

Most unique book you read in 2015: The Journal of William T. Sturgis.  It was refreshing to see a man who acted with honesty and integrity towards the native people, yet also held them accountable to basic human behaviour.  Quite a man.

Book that made you the most mad: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.  I wanted to smack most of the characters.  

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015:  We Went Outside and Saw The Stars (Keely reads the type of books I absolutely love and compiles thoughtful and insightful reviews) and Gently Mad  (Sharon reads a very eclectic panorama of books and her reviews are always thought-provoking)  I know that I've forgotten somebody .....

Favorite review that you wrote in 2015: Wow, this is tough.  I'm going to choose my Montaigne essay posts, of which there are three, plus an introduction.  These reviews took up an inordinate amount of time, but I'm glad that I have little snapshots of all the essays I read.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog: Ooo, I don't know.  Perhaps my  Join the Beowulf Read-Along post where we had some discussion of translation and other fun Beowulf-related things. I didn't do many other survey-type posts this year. 

Best event that you participated in: The Hamlet Read-Along at The Edge of the Precipice.  I also enjoyed my Beowulf Read-Along, and my read with O of The Canterbury Tales was a blast.  It was so helpful to read her excellent posts as we read along.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015:  Meeting new bloggers and responding to comments on my blog. 

Most popular post this year on your blog: My The Canterbury Tales/The Brubury Tales Project post with 371 views.  After that my Ecco Homo review at 311 views.  Honourable mentions go to Sonnet XXIX by Garcilaso de la Vega and Christianity and the Survival of Creation by Wendell Berry.  I was amazed at the top winners this year.  

Post you wished got a little more love:  This year I can't answer this question.  A number of posts that I was certain wouldn't be popular received tons of views, and my others had a good number of views as well, so I'm happy. :-)  

Best bookish discovery:  I was excited to purchase C.S. Lewis' English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, one of the Oxford History of English Literature volumes.  I also scored The Riverside Chaucer in a beautiful hardcover edition, but after I'd finished reading The Canterbury Tales.

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year: I completed Back to the Classics Challenge, Reading England Challenge, Jane Austen Project, The Canterbury Tales/The Brubury Tales Project and the Books in Translation Challenge.  I failed at The Pre-Printing Press Challenge, 52 Books in 52 Weeks (reached 50 books), my TBR Pile Challenge, reading only 9 of the 12 books I should have, and the Deal-Me-In Challenge.  I also hardly read any C.S. Lewis for that project, read only a couple of Shakespeare for my Shakespeare project and did not read any Trollope from my Barsetshire read.  Woe is me!

Looking Ahead

One book you didn't get to in 2015 but will be your number 1 priority in 2016: The History of Napoleon Buonaparte by John G. Lockhart.  Good grief, this is ridiculous!  I'm fascinated by Napoleon and I absolutely love this book, but I've been working on it for a couple of years and something else always takes my attention away from it.  I simply MUST finish it this year.

Book you are most anticipating for 2016 (non-debut): Metamorphoses by Ovid, and The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2016: The Last Chronicles of Barset by Anthony Trollope.  No, you're not seeing double from last year.  I'm leaving it here because I can't think of another book and I hope to get to Trollope in 2016, but knowing me and what I have planned, I can't see getting to the end of the series.  I also would like to read The Lord of the Rings, but I'm hesitant to make a commitment, as I have so many other books that I'm planning to read.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2016: Keep up with my books!  Keep up with my posts!  It's my perpetual resolution and hope.

Wishing everyone happy reading days and lots of them in 2016!!

Monday 28 December 2015

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare

"To be or not to be, that is the question ......."

First publish around 1602 (although a working copy is thought to have been in use in 1601), Hamlet has come down to us in two forms. Issued in 1603, a corrupt or crude and probably pirated copy called the "First Quarto" (Q1) was produced, then in 1604 a more complete and artistically styled "Second Quarto" (Q2) followed.  It is supposed that the errors in Q1, complete with pretentious and often meaningless rhetoric, spurred Shakespeare and his company to press for a more complete and credible version.  Surprisingly, Hamlet was never performed or printed in its entirety during Shakespeare's lifetime and the copies we read today are a compilation of Q2 and the 1623 Folio edition.  In spite of the errors and incompleteness of the play, there is little doubt that it is Shakespeare's as it was performed by his own acting company. The evidence of the dating of the play is quite fascinating, as it not only uses clues from registries, but clues imbedded within the play to events that happened in 1601 and 1600. Shakespeare actuates very detailed detective work.

Portrait of Hamlet (c.1864)
William Morris Hunt
source Wikimedia Commons
The legend of Hamlet goes back centuries, dating to around the Scandinavian sagas.  It was familiar to the people of Iceland in the 10th century, although Shakespeare possibly drew from Histories Tragiques (1559-70) by Francis de Belleforest, relating tragic stories of great kings and queens whose lives had been ravaged by love or ambition.  A second hypothesis is that Shakespeare revived an extant version of a play by Thomas Kyd, revising this earlier piece to become the Second Quarto (Q2), and then afterward rewriting the complete acting text and play, which then became the basis for the Folio of 1623.  With regard to the first hypothesis, the similarity of the stories are too apparent to be coincidental, but there are differences in names and some differences in narrative that indicate Shakespeare was intent on making the play his own.

Hamlette at The Edge of the Precipice hosted a Hamlet Read-Along beginning in October and set a very leisurely pace, which was wonderful as it allowed me to dig very deeply into the play.  My scene-by-scene postings were as follows:

Act I :   Scene I,  Scene II,  Scene III,  Scene IV,  Scene V
Act II:   Scene I,  Scene II
Act III:  Scene I,  Scene II,  Scene III,  Scene IV
Act IV:  Scene I,  Scene II,  Scene III,  Scene IVScene V,  Scene VI,  Scene VII
Act V:   Scene I,  Scene II

The Young Lord Hamlet (1867)
Philip Hermogenes Calderon
source Wikimedia Commons

The play itself begins in Denmark at Elsinore castle where two soldiers see a ghost on the ramparts.  It is the ghost of the newly dead King Hamlet and immediately they inform his son, Hamlet, of the apparition.  Horatio, his friend, keeps watch with him the following night, whereupon the ghost claims to his son that he has been murdered by his own brother, the new king, Claudius.  To add insult to injury, Claudius has married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, an outrage that can hardly be borne by Hamlet.  Yet questions pile upon Hamlet, enough to smother.  Was the ghost truly there, and if so, was it really his father?  Revenge was called for but how could the deed be done, and was he justified in taking a life?  His father's life was cut short "in the blossoms of his sin", but if he dispatched Claudius in his guilty state, would not their deaths become parallel?
Hamlet encountering the Ghost (1768-69)
Benjamin Wilson
source Wikimedia Commons
The contrary questions paralyze Hamlet into a mire of inaction.  He then works out a contrary persona, playing at an odd type of insanity, yet often dispensing insightful, sharp and clear rhetoric to torment Claudius into confusion.  Is Hamlet as dangerous as Claudius believes or is he merely an innocent victim of the circumstances, grief-stricken over the death of his father?  After Hamlet unwittingly commits the murder of Polonius, the advisor of Claudius, he forces the hand of the new king who sends him to England, with the intent of extinguishing any threat to his kingdom.  Yet Hamlet has also injured the mind of one once dearest to him, Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius, and her decent into madness colours the kingdom with further calamity. Upon Hamlet's return, the culmination of this revenge tragedy is set into motion. Will Claudius' plotting bring him success?  Can Laertes avenge his father, Polonius', murder, and will Hamlet's revenge bring him the peace he seems to seek?

You can see throughout the play the emphasis on action vs. inaction, words vs. action, thoughts vs. action, etc.  While Hamlet bemoans his inability to act to avenge his father's death, on the surface seeming cowardly and ineffective, the actuality is quite the opposite.  All throughout the play, Hamlet uses thoughts and words to manipulate his enemy.  His thoughts, though he bemoans them, actually have more of an effect than he imagines, controlling certain small acts in a very effective manner.  His act of insanity twists Claudius into a Gordian knot of uncertainty, his letters announcing his return to Denmark pushing Claudius to drastic action. Thoughts and words appear to be more important and certainly more effective than action, torturing his enemy to the very limits of his endurance.  While it's demonstrated in the play that revenge only brings suffering, is there a underlying theme that words can be more effective than action?

Ophelia (1863)
Arthur Hughes
source Wikiart

While the cultural precepts of the Danish society in Hamlet seem to support the desire for revenge, Shakespeare's Elizabethan audience would have viewed the thirst for vengeance as primitive, and perhaps rather shocking. There is evidence throughout the play that revenge brings only suffering and death to those involved.  Fortinbras, the heir of the Danish kingdom at the end of the play, calls for all the noblemen to hear the story of Hamlet:

"                                    Let us haste to hear it,
And call the noblest to the audience ......"

He wants the nobles of the kingdom to attend to this tragedy and learn from it. Horatio responds:

"But let this same be presently performed,
Even while men's minds are wild, lest more mischance
On plots and errors happen."

Hamlet does get a hero's remembrance, but the deaths, suffering and pain caused by his vengeful actions, and those of others, are strongly emphasized.

There is a question throughout the play of Hamlet's sanity.  Is he truly mad, or is it simply an act produced to set a trap for the murderer of his father?  I tend to think the latter, but Shakespeare appears to quite closely link insanity with revenge, perhaps alluding to the fact that vengeance has a detrimental effect on our minds, distorting perceptions to bring about a type of madness.  Hamlet is playing at being mad, but madness also plays with him, his malevolent sentiments poisoning his very psyche, and modifying his entire moral perspective.  The whole character of Hamlet is played out in the agonizing conflict within his mind.  Mad he is, and mad he is not, perhaps making him at once to be and not to be.


Sunday 27 December 2015

Hamlet ~ Act V Scene II (the end)

Hamlet, Horatio and Osric (1830)
H.C. Selous

Hamlet  ~~  Act V  Scene II

Ah ha!  Hamlet reveals to Horatio that on his way to England, he discovered one night upon opening the sealed directive to the English king, that Claudius had plotted his murder.  Covertly, he replaces his name on the letters with those of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and reseals them with his father's old seal.  It appears that Hamlet has no regrets, except perhaps in his treatment of Laertes, as he sees Laertes as a mirror image of himself.

Madness (1883)
Odilon Redon
source Wikiart
A young courtier, Osric, enters and announces a request from Claudius for Hamlet to spar with Laertes using swords, but not before much circumlocution and apparently senseless bantering between Hamlet and the courtier.  Hamlet reveals to Horatio that he expects to emerge the winner, but still he has a unsettled feeling.

The King and Queen enter with Laertes and entourage. Hamlet makes an apology to Laertes, blaming his madness for his actions, whereupon Laertes proclaims that he will not accept the apology upon his honour until a higher council has advised him, but he will accept Hamlet's love.

Before they begin, Claudius announces that he will drink each time Hamlet scores a hit and will drop a precious pearl into the cup.  Hmmm, we can only imagine what the "pearl" will be.  They begin, yet Hamlet refuses to drink from the cup, claiming that he wants to finish the match.  Gertrude, however, drinks before anyone can stop her and the tragedy is underway.  After Hamlet scores two hits, Laertes decides to deal the fateful stroke but guilt nearly stays his hand.  However, Laertes scores a hit, then they scuffle, somehow the rapiers are exchanged and Hamlet wounds Laertes.  The queen collapses from the poisoned drink and likewise, immediately afterward, Laertes announces that he has been slain by his own treachery.  He tells Hamlet that he, too, has only an half hour to live, implicating Claudius in the murderous plot.  Hamlet then both skewers Claudius and forces him to drink the poison, thereby killing him with his own poisonous "union".  Laertes requests Hamlet's forgiveness as he dies.  Yet the drama is yet to abate.  Horatio, claiming he is more Roman than Dane, attempts to follow Hamlet to the grave, but his friend stays his hand.  He needs Horatio alive so his story can be told, otherwise who is to really know the truth of the plotting and machinations.  Horatio is to revel the implications of the "rottenness" in Denmark.  With his "dying voice", Hamlet passes the crown to Fortinbras who arrives to witness the carnage.  The English ambassador announces that Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are dead but wonders who will receive the news.  Horatio begins his promise to Hamlet:

"And let me speak to the' yet unknowing world
How these things came about.  So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall'n on th' inventors' heads.  All this can I
Truly deliver."

Fortinbras will call the nobles to audience to hear of these deeds and Horatio urges:

"But let the same be presently performed
Even while men's minds are wild, lest more mischance
On plots and errors happen."

The trust must be told before more unwitting tragedy unfolds.  Hamlet is born away like a soldier, with honour and respectful words from Fortinbras.

Prince Hamlet kills King Claudius
Gustave Moreau
source Wikiart


In the last scene it appeared that the returned Hamlet was a different Hamlet than had left Denmark, and this scene confirms it.  Hamlet begins to act, but act with reason and deliberation.

Hamlet's Death
Eugène Delacroix
source Wikimedia Commons
Osric's behaviour towards Hamlet is suspect.  He agrees with everything Hamlet says as if he's trying to placate him.  Hamlet must know that Claudius' machinations are behind his behaviour.  The Prince appears to know that the confrontation with Claudius is coming to a head. However, Osric also defies Hamlet in refusing to put on his hat when requested.  Really?  Defy the Prince of Denmark?  Is this an indication of Hamlet's loss of power?

Again, instead of being wholly fixated on revenge, Hamlet shows concern for others, regretting his behaviour toward Laertes and wishing for a reconciliation.

There are a number of questions this scene brings up which will perhaps remain unanswered.  Does Hamlet really believe that he is/was mad?  Does Gertrude drink the poison unknowingly or not?  Does Claudius make a true effort to stop her drinking?  Does Hamlet suspect about the poisoned drink?

Initially all three characters, Fortinbras, Hamlet and Laertes are united by the deaths of their fathers and a thirst for revenge; at the end of the play they are united by a goodwill towards each other, and perhaps a realization that revenge only brings catastrophe and tumult into lives, and in this case, a kingdom.  The latter point is amplified by Horatio at the end, where he appears to want to educate the influential masses, using Hamlet as an example. Revenge is like a poison and kills those who come in contact with it.

Hamlet Read-Along Posts

Friday 25 December 2015

2015 Challenge Wrap-Up

I've been dreading this post, because I feel like I've failed at most of my challenges during the year.    However, all is not usually as dire as I expect, so let's have a look at my successes and failures for 2015.

I completed this challenge, strangely most of it in the first three months of the year, then it took me right to the end of the year to read the last book. The titles I read were:

  1.  Persuasion - Jane Austen
  2.  East of Eden - John Steinbeck
  3.  Orlando: A Biography - Virginia Woolf
  4.  The Plague - Albert Camus 
  5.  Confessions - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  6.  Ethan Frome - Edith Wharton
  7.  The Narrative of the Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
  8.  Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
  9.  The Club of Queer Trades - G.K. Chesterton
10.  Meditations - René Descartes
11.  The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi
12.  Hamlet - William Shakespeare

My accomplishment on this one was a pleasant surprise.  I'd aimed for Level Two at 4-6 books, but made Level Four (12+ books) reading 15 books during 2015.  Woo hoo!



  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen




  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen


I managed to read all 6 of Austen's main novels in 2015.

1.  Persuasion
2.  Sense & Sensibility
3.  Pride and Prejudice
4.  Mansfield Park
5.  Emma
6.  Northanger Abbey

I still want to add her lesser known works but I'm pleased that I managed to finish all of these.

Ew, this was a fail for me this year.  Normally I have no problem covering a number of pre-printing press books, but this year I only read three.

1.  Beowulf
2.  The Canterbury Tales
3.  The Rule of Saint Benedict.

Yipes!  Next year with my Ancient Greek challenge, I will certainly read more.

Oh, another fail.  I've never been able to complete this challenge. That's because it's impossible for me to follow a list. Actually I didn't do too badly this year, managing to read 9 of the 12 books.

1.  Meditations - René Descartes
2.  Orlando: A Biography - Virginia Woolf
3.  The Plague - Albert Camus
4.  Confessions - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
5.  Hamlet - William Shakespeare
6.  Walden - Henry David Thoreau
7.  Persuasion - Jane Austen
8.  Notes from the Underground - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
9.  The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer

This was one of my favourite challenges of the year.  The Canterbury Tales were so wonderful ---- Chaucer is not only a poetic master but a connoisseur of human nature.  And Frank Mundo's The Brubury Tales were a delightful surprise.  Like Chaucer, he not only showed a poetic prowess but also gave wonderful insights into the human condition, and wove a number of classic allusions through his modern retelling.  And excellent read!

In spite of initially being wary of my success with this challenge because of my concurrent Reading England challenge, this challenge turned out to be rather successful.  I made it to the highest level, "The Linguist", reading 15 translated books.

  1. Meditations - René Descartes
  2. The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi
  3. The Plague - Albert Camus 
  4. Erewhon - Samuel Butler (original in Latin)
  5. Confessions - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  6. Beowulf 
  7. Ecce Homo - Friedrich Nietzsche
  8. What Is To Be Done? - Nikolai Chernyshevsky
  9. Money (L'Argent) - Émile Zola
  10. Mein Kamp - Adolf Hitler
  11. The Story of My Experiments with Truth - Mohandas Gandhi
  12. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
  13. Notes from the Underground - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  14. Selected Essays - Michel de Montaigne
  15. The Rule of Saint Benedict 

I didn't make it!  Boo hoo!  I read 50 books.  I've never read so few books in one year.  I'm pathetic!  And that's all I have to say about that!

In spite of failing miserably at this challenge, it was one of my most beneficial challenges ..... well, ever.  It forced me to focus on so many categories that I've always have good intentions to read from but never do: poetry, essays, short stories and classic children's books.  I'm definitely going to choose this challenge in 2016 and hopefully improve my Deal-Me-In reputation.

Clubs - Short Stories
3 - Doctor Marigold - Charles Dickens
6 - The Princess - Anton Chekhov
7 - Father Brown: the Worst Crime in the World- G.K. Chesterton

Spades - Essays
2 - Friendship - Emerson
4 - Christianity and the Survival of Creation- Wendell Berry
5 - A Panegyric for Dorothy L. Sayers - C.S. Lewis

Diamonds - Poetry
A - Ode to a Nightengale - John Keats
4 - Sonnet XXIX – Garcilaso de la Vega
7 - Ode VIII: Quiet Night – Fray Luis de León
J - Song II:  The Dark Night – San Juan de la Cruz
Q - A Red, Red Rose - Robert Burns

Hearts - Children's Classics
A - The Forgotten Daughter - Caroline Dale Snedeker
4 - The Ides of April – Mary Ray (1)
8 - The Cabin Faced West - Jean Fritz

I was quite astounded that many of these reviews were some of my most popular reviews of the year.

I'm still mulling over my challenges for 2016.  Deal Me In, Back To The Classics, Reading England, and the Ancient Greek challenge are definite choices, but there are so many other tempting ones floating around.  Stay tuned!

Thursday 24 December 2015

Ancient Greek Challenge 2016

Woo hoo!  After some not-so-subtle prodding by yours truly, Keely from We Went Outside and Saw The Stars has decided to host a Greek literature challenge for 2016.  I'm so excited about this challenge as it will allow me to choose books from one of my favourite periods.

General Rules: 

                the Ancient Greek Reading Challenge 2016 runs from the 1st of January to the 31st of December 2016
                I will be accepting sign ups throughout the rest of 2015 and all through 2016. 
                You don't have to blog about each text, or any, but the purpose of this challenge is to encourage everyone to read Ancient Greek texts so it would be amazing if you spread Ancient Greek love around the blogosphere! 
                If there is enough interest I'll make check in posts semi often so you can link your reviews or just general comments about this challenge as you see fit. 
                Everything counts for this challenge: plays, essays, non-fiction history, poetry, fragments of texts, criticism etc. As long as it is an Ancient Greek text or a modern text about Ancient Greece it counts! I'll personally be reading texts from Ancient Greece and the Byzantine Era so you can make this challenge whatever you want it to be. 
                I'll also love it if you would be interested in writing guest posts here related to this challenge. The more the merrier! 
                Most of all HAVE FUN and spread your passion for Ancient Greek texts. This genre could always use more love. 

The Levels: 
                Level One: 1-4 Texts 
                Level Two: 4-6 Texts 
                Level Three: 7-9 Texts 
                Level Four: 10-12 Texts
                Level Five: 12+ Texts 

I will be aiming for Level Five as I have plans to read as many Ancient Greek plays by the four greats (Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Aristophanes).

List of (some) Ancient Greek Texts: 
****a lot of ancient greek texts only survive in fragments but i've included these in this list if you're still interested in reading some of them
                Homer: The Iliad and The Odyssey 
                Hesiod: Works and Days and Theogony 
                Archilochus of Paros: Fragments 
                Sappho: Poems 
                Alcaeus: Fragments 
                Pindar: Epinikia and Fragments 
                Aeschylus: The Suppliant Maidens, The Persians, The Seven Against Thebes, Prometheus Bound, Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides 
                Sophocles: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra, Trachiniae, Philoctetes
                Euripides: Rhesus, Medea, Hippolytus, Alcestis, Heracleidae, The Suppliants, The Trojan Women, Ion, Helen, Andromache, Electra, The Bacchae, Hecuba, Heracles Mad, The Phoenician Maidens, Orestes, Iphigenia Among the Tauri, Iphigenia At Aulis, The Cyclops
                Aristophanes: the Archarnians, the Knights, the Clouds, the Wasps, the Peace, the Birds, the Frogs, the Lysistrata, The Thesmophoriazusae, the Ecclesiazusae, the Plutus
                Herodotus: Histories 
                Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War 
                Xenophon: Anabasis, Apology, Symposium, Memorabilia 
                Aristotle: Metaphysics, On the Soul, On Poetics, etc. A complete list can be found here (x)
                Plato: Republic, On Justice, On Virtue, etc. A complete list can be found here: (x
                Theocritus: Idylls and Epigrams
                Callimachus: Hymns, Fragments 
                Apollonius of Rhodes: Argonautica

                 Menander: Fragments 

I'm not sure what I'm going to choose to read, but I have some literature on my Classics Club list that I should get to, and then there are so many other possibilities.

Menander - Fragments
Aristotle - Nicomachean Ethics, Poetics
Ovid - Metamorphoses
Plato - The Republic, Meno, Crito, Phaedo
Plutarch - Lives
Aristophanes - Birds, Lysistrata
Euripides -
Aeschylus - The Suppliant Maidens, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes, Prometheus Bound
Sophocles - Ajax, The Women of Trachis, Electra, Philoctetes

Ooo, I can't wait to get started!