Representation of Human: "The Odyssey" by Homer (translated by Robert Fitzgerald; read by Dan Stevens)

Review:

The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation - Homer, Robert Fitzgerald, D. S. Carne-Ross

I humbly declare this book to be the greatest literary work of mankind. If you don’t learn Greek (worth it just to read this Meisterwerk, never mind the rest of the immortal trove of Greek literature) you can read it in so many translations that have become classics in their own use of the English language, Fagles and Murray, just to mention two. Oh, what the Hades, let’s throw in a third, not just for its brilliant translation, but also owing to the exotic character behind it: no less than Lawrence of Arabia.

 

The Homeric poems were sung in a less-enlightened time, in comparison with the later Greek tragedies, and with the later epics too. Apollonius’ Argonautica was composed, post Greek Tragedy, and his audience would have been, no doubt, familiar with Euripides’ Medea. Questions such as how justice and revenge affect societies were addressed by Aeschylus in the Oresteia; likewise, the reception of the anthropomorphic gods, and their pettiness, was raised by Euripides in Hippolytus and the Bacchae. Furthermore, the real nature and brutality of warfare was also raised in the Trojan Women. Throw in how one state views another state, and questions of racial identity, and you have The Persians by Aeschylus, and Medea by Euripides. Additionally, if you include Philoctetes by Sophocles, and the issue of how youth should conduct themselves is also raised. If you consider, too, Ajax by Sophocles, and you find that the bloodthirsty myths of an earlier age are filtered through questions that C5 Athenian society faced. What is better, the brute force of an unsophisticated Ajax, or the sophistry and rhetorical arguments of Odysseus in Ajax? By the time we arrive at Virgil, and The Aenied, brutal events such as the death of Priam by Neoptolemus in Aeneid Book II, are tempered with a more enlightened approach. Neoptolemus is condemned for killing Priam, and rightly so, as mercy is important, and exemplifies the Romanitas of ‘Sparing the humble, and conquering the proud’. However, Aeneas doesn’t show mercy in his killing of Turnus at the end of Book XII.

 

 

If you’re into Greek Literature, read on.

Original post:
antao.booklikes.com/post/1616972/representation-of-human-the-odyssey-by-homer-translated-by-robert-fitzgerald-read-by-dan-stevens

Anúncios

I Do Repent, and Yet I Do Despair: “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe, Simon Trussler

marlowe

For me, the key to Faustus is his interaction in Act V, Scene I with the “old man”. The old man gives us Marlowe’s theology:

Yet, yet, thou hast an amiable soul,”

—even after Faustus has made his deal with the devil and used the power he got for the previous 23 ‘years’ and 364 ‘days’, Faustus’s soul is lovable. Just repent! Faustus replies:

Where art thou, Faustus? Wretch, what hast thou done?

Damned art thou, Faustus, damned: despair and die.”

Echoing the stories of Cain after his fratricide and Jesus on the cross, Faustus insists on his damnation. The old man contradicts him:

“Oh stay, good Faustus, stay thy desperate steps.

[. . .

…] call for mercy and avoid despair.”

The old man leaves, and Faustus speaks out his dilemma:

“I do repent, and yet I do despair.”

Mephistophilis calls Faustus a “traitor”, and “arrest[s his] soul / For disobedience” — don’t doubt the keenness of Marlowe’s irony, or sarcasm —, and Faustus repents of his repentance —irony! sarcasm! —, and gets his final wish, to see “the face that launched a thousand ships“. While he’s going on about how he’ll “be Paris” and get Helen—does Faustus not remember how that turned out??—, during his poetry the old man returns to the stage. When Faustus leaves, intoxicated with sexual love for Helen, the old man, before defying the devils who’ve come to take his body to fire (but not his soul), says of Faustus:

“Accursed Faustus, miserable man,

That from thy soul exclud’st the grace of heaven,

And fliest the throne of his tribunal seat.”

 

If you’re into 16th century literature, read on.

 

Academic Side-Shows: “Owning Shakespeare” by James J. Marino

“Those who have taken Heminges and Concell at their word, hoping for some unmediated record of the authorial intent, have made a serious miscalculation. The writer, William Shakespeare, is not to be found in the Folio pages. The figure critics have embraced is an actor.”

In “Owning Shakespeare” by James J. Marino

Mediocrity has always ruled. And it still rules today, but in a different form. Someone once said that great poetry can no longer be written because we are now all democrats, aren’t we? Mediocrity is good these days because it is ‘democratic’, not because it is aristocratic or Oxbridge elitist. But what we mean by “democracy” here is really bureaucracy. The plethora of creative-writing scholarships and courses promoting the most mediocre work is just one expression of this. For me, I think some of the great Shakespeare debates are side-shows (in Marino’s case the so-called “Sincklo/Soto Problem” in the play “The Taming of the Shrew”, or, should I say “The Taming of a Shrew”?) distracting us from the fact that mediocre values continue to be triumphant in our present poetic culture. I’m sure books and “problems” like these contribute to a true appreciation of Shakespeare unlike the ones dealing with the ill-reputed Authorship Question…Everyone is dancing round their handbags at this party… Once you get into the core truth of what Shakespeare is about – the philosophy, the language, the breathtaking understanding of human nature, the poignancy, you have to concede to a greater power somewhere within. Yes a genius, there’s no other word, but surrounded by a core group to feed ideas, information, tales from Italy, the classics, translations (and works not yet translated). But there are so many questions and interrogations regarding Shakespeare: The Authorship Question I mentioned above, Who Edited the 1623 FolioWho Shortened King Lear, etc.

 

If you’re into Shakespeare, read on.

 

Intellectually Arid Work: "The Handmaid’s Tale" by Margaret Atwood

Review:

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

This is the second time I’m reading Atwood’s book, and one of the things that stood out was the fact that an important feature of “The Handmaid’s Tale” was that the women in the book are as responsible as the men for the gender roles being enforced. The older women at the place where the protagonist was first held captive were important reinforcers of this. It’s like a nunnery or girls school where the older women subjugate the younger. Just take a look at countries where female circumcision takes place for a real world example of how older women act to control the lives, and bodies, of the younger. Also in the book, the rich woman – the military man’s wife – who the protagonist acts as a surrogate for, is as much part of the system of enforcing the handmaiden’s role as anything.

One of things I find disturbing about people labeling “The Handmaid’s Tale” as “feminist” is how easy it makes it to overlook this part of the book. The female characters are an integral part of the system of societal control which brings about handmaidens. It’s not a question of “men versus women”; it’s a question of two different ideas about how society should function.

If you’re into SF, read on.

Original post:
antao.booklikes.com/post/1616415/intellectually-arid-work-the-handmaiden-s-tale-by-margaret-atwood

The Holy Book of Blake: "The Poetic Image" by Cecil Day-Lewis

Review:

The Poetic Image - Cecil Day Lewis

Word of Warning: What you’re about to read might not make much sense if you don’t have read the book. Read at your own peril…

 

 

Perhaps what Blake also represents to me is the “thou” in performance, on a threshold over which lay different spacial awareness, new, thee in triplicate state, digital long haul through double-number’s realm – restoring boring patter to the even lie that led to this.

 

PS

 

Goodbye

 

I cannot go on for very much longer, because Carol’s shelf-life, at the bottom of a reject-pile, thee’s words, alert the authorities to one’s ‘undercover’ performance as thine own Songs of Experience and Failure, ‘shit’, you know how it is. Blake here, he did you feel injustice because it is all there?

 

Anonymity, rejection, failure. It’s all you knew and experienced, as a prophet: not only unrecognised by the community in your own land of ‘Albion’, as their Prophet; but also viewed with bafflement, indifference, disconnection, de-friend quality in personal dealings with your fellow bards, more or less, wholly inconsequential; you have, like, ‘zero’ effect you, in Albion thine of a too, too soppy mug, sceptic tank, this beach, this hut, this sea, this dump, this fecking Portugal’s greater glory, God and Lady AD’s words, offering tokens of animal sacrifice and conditions on a toilet by the lake where.

 

 

If you’re into Poetry and Blake in particular, read on.

Original post:
antao.booklikes.com/post/1615959/the-holy-book-of-blake-the-poetic-image-by-cecil-day-lewis

Sexual Proclivities: "The Politicians and I: what I couldn’t (or didn’t want) to write until today" by José António Saraiva

Review:

Eu e os Políticos (Portuguese Edition) - José António Saraiva

 

Is it possible for a journalist (or an author “who was once a journalist”) to cross the line? When someone gave me this book I wasn’t sure I’d read it. I’m not really into the gossipy side of politics. But because I was on a boat cruise on route to the Greek Islands everything sort of made sense…

 

António José Saraiva makes quite clear what’s wrong with this kind of book; a book of this kind chooses a bunch of people who didn’t consent to be a subject, rather than the ones who did. If Miguel Portas were alive this kind of privacy violation would probably be traumatic and maybe involve legal action. He’s dead, yes but ..is it not still better that Saraiva should just have found a consenting subject? (For my foreign readers, Saraiva claims Miguel Portas said to him that Paulo Portas, his brother, was/is gay).

 

I mean; are you interesting? Are you flawed? Is it ok for a book to talk about things you wished to remain private, and said in a private conversation, to be made available to audiences without your consent? If you are dead, is it OK then, and if you say yes, does it matter how it will affect other still living people who knew you and if you still say yes – should journalists assume its OK for all subjects just because some subjects would be OK with it? Audiences might not care about any of this, but how to get the story without doing anything defamatory or breaching privacy for the subject is what journalists question all the time. I do think it is a more complex issue than that when we are still dealing with the all-pervasive structures of the closet. Individual agency is not always what is keeping something secret in such structures. And I really don’t think that one is right that people would have been shouting louder about journalistic ethics if the subject were a straight man.

 

 

If you’re into gossipy politics, read on.

Original post:
antao.booklikes.com/post/1615809/sexual-proclivities-the-politicians-and-i-what-i-couldn-t-or-didn-t-want-to-write-until-today-by-jose-antonio-saraiva