11 Jun 2012
Despite not having written a post here on the blog in ages, I have been reading a lot. Each day I have a choice few minutes where I have to decide, should I read or should I post on the blog? And reading has been winning out. I can’t feel too bad about that, although I wish I could some how find the time to be a better blog writer.
Since my last post on the Hunchback of Notre Dame I pulled a 180 and instead of reading Les Mis or another French work, I picked up Mark Twain. It was actually Dd’s doing. She was reading her kid’s version of Tom Sawyer and wanted me to join her when she found out Twain was in my book collection too. I think she ended up liking Tom Sawyer more than I did, not surprising as it really does a wonderful job of capturing childhood adventure. I moved on to Huckleberry Finn next. Dd had finished her Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry way before me but Hey, mine’s got a lot more words!
I remember Hemingway saying that ‘all modern American lit comes from Huckleberry Finn‘ so I was intrigued and curious how Huck would differ from the simplicity and scattered story of Tom Sawyer. Well I don’t know if I see in Huck what Hemingway saw, but it was certainly better. I loved Huck’s voice and his conflict between being a “good boy” and doing what was truly Good. Towards the end of Huck, Tom Sawyer shows up and things get very comical and borderline silly. Poor Jim for having to put up with those boys lol. I felt torn about Jim’s character overall. It seemed he was just on the edge of being a fully developed real person but then Twain would pull him back and use stereotypical humor. Perhaps this was Twain’s intent and not failure but I was disappointed that Twain was not… a little braver.
My daughter moved on to reading The Prince and the Pauper but I was Twain-ed out, so I picked up George Eliot’s Middlemarch. I’ve been wanting to read Middlemarch for awhile since everyone talks about how wonderful it is. But I was a little worried that I would need my full concentration cap on for Eliot’s writing. I’ve read some of her short stories, some being easy reads but others requiring focus. I’m almost on page 400 of Middlemarch now and I am really enjoying it. The reading is going faster than I expected, really not difficult at all. Although, there are some paragraphs, that I must admit, I have little idea about what the heck Eliot is on about. I think this is just a problem of historical perspective though. I just don’t get her timely political jokes. It does not take away from the story though.
I am getting to the point where I am a little annoyed with the lack of footnotes in the Barnes and Noble classics editions. It’s bothered me in multiple books now. There are clearly references that should be explained that have no footnotes at all. In the Hunchback of Notre Dame for example, there is a lot of Latin and there was only footnotes with translations for about half of the Latin phrases! Where is the sense in that? If you’re going to translate SOME of the Latin then we are obviously under the assumption that the reader does not read Latin lol, so why not translate all??
Besides Middlemarch, I am also reading Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. I actaully picked this one up because I was on my way to the hair salon and I didn’t want to huck around the 5lb book that is Middlemarch! I was enjoying the kaleidoscope view of Madame Bovary, it was an interesting contrast with the more straight froward Middlemarch. But I’ve set aside Flaubert for awhile until I finish with Eliot. I’ve got about 200 pages left in Madame Bovary and I’m interested to see if she has “actual” affairs or if the affairs in her head are it lol. I do feel for her, her loneliness and depression. But there is definitely a distance from the characters created in Flaubert’s writing. I think it is like looking through a keyhole rather than experiencing the character’s lives directly.
Also on the night table, well not actually because it would cause my table to flip over, is Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. This is a college art history text book, technically two books volume 1 and 2. I ordered these for what I felt was a good price via Amazon marketplace. When I saw how large they were I wasn’t sure if I was going to make any good headway with them since I have so many other things going on. But surprisingly, I am already half was through the first volume. It’s looking like I’ll be able to finish both in a timely manner, vs having another large book that I have not cracked yet guilting me from the shelf.
Even though they are textbooks, the Gardner’s art books are very interesting, not dry at all. Volume 1 starts off with pre-historic art and moves through to Gothic in the Middle Ages. Volume II picks up there and moves through to modern times (leaving off at 1990). What I really enjoy about these books is that there is as much history as art. Each piece and movement is really put in context. Also the books include much about architecture, which hasn’t been a passion of mine in the past but I am finding it really interested along side other art. The only problem with these Gardner books, is they are so big and heavy that I can only read them in certain situations. These are not bring to bed books lol. I almost ordered the all in one Gardner’s art, I think that one must be 1500 pages. Can you image how cumbersome? I dodged a bullet there!
When I’m not reading one of the above books, I’m teaching myself Latin. For fun. ‘Cause I’m a nerd like that lol. I am using Wheelock’s Latin and worbook. Plus Lingua Latina textbook and workbook. I started out with Wheelock which is grammar based because in the past I tried to learn French with Rosetta Stone. I got pretty bored with RS and felt it kind of useless because it just taught random words with out any grammar context. With Rosetta I ended up knowing random bits like: black cat, horse, red car, but really nothing useful and I didn’t have any understanding of the language. So this time I decided to use the good old fashion book method, including grammar.
I’m am slowly chugging away with Wheelock but I’ll admit it’s not the most fascinating layout or method lol. Along side though, I am using Lingua Latina which is an immersion method. The whole book is in Latin. It starts out very simple and you can figure out what is being said by the context. So that I don’t miss out on the grammar with Lingua Latina, I am using the student book on the side. This extra book just points out and explains the grammar more fully and includes vocab lists for each chapter.
I am enjoying Lingua more than Wheelock but I think both are important. I am on chapter 4 with Lingua and just finished chapter 2 in Wheelock. I find I have to reread each chapter 3-4 times, with each read I absorb something more. Using the workbooks with both is also a must for me! So it’s slow going but I’m looking forward to one day being able to read Latin. I image going into a museum and being able to read the Latin carving under a sculpture or notes under a painting, how cool would that be!
Another thing keeping me busy is preparing for school in the Fall. I took my college placement test a few days ago. I did well on the English portions, only missing one or two. But the math….was sad lol. Oh well, I expected it. I had been reviewing math knowing that I had to take this test but at this point I just feel if I don’t know if fully I might at well just take the class, no big deal.
So that’s my little update, now back to reading!