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Old 01-03-2015, 06:03 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by Major Tom View Post
I had a girlfriend in college with whom I used to play a game. We'd compare each other to various inanimate objects in an attempt to convey an aspect of the other's personality. For example, "If you were a kitchen utensil, you'd be a potato peeler".

She said to me, "If you were a book, you'd be Catcher In The Rye." Several decades later, I still occasionally wonder about that. Sadly, she is no longer with us, so I cannot ask her what she meant by it...........
OMG... It was "banned" or at least talked about in back rooms when I was in H.S. Probably the first book I read in College, in 1954. The transition between the Victorian morality that my extended family lived in, and the new age rebellion. The family saw young boys as Tom Sawyer, or Penrod. After "Catcher", we saw ourselves as freed libertines.

You might have missed out on something exciting with your liberated friend.

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Old 01-03-2015, 10:39 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by clifp View Post
My ex-girlfriend turned me on Jane Austen, and I agree interesting witty characters even the the action can be a be slow.

There is a lot of classics I like Twain, Jack London, Shakespeare, Hemingway, most Dickens, and some like Gibbons that I've tried many times to read and failed.
+1 on the Decline and Fall. Decided to give it another try after quite a while, and scored a free download for my Kindle (as always, "Yay, Gutenberg!"). Made it 9% of the way through, then "Remove from Device."

OMY * 3 2ish
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Old 01-03-2015, 01:16 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by martyp View Post
I've read or seen most of Shakespeare and am not a big fan for the reason you mention. However, I would recommend the Kenneth Branagh movie version of Henry V (1989). It's terrific and makes me wonder why so many performances of Shakespeare are stilted.
I agree, this is excellent. Also Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Keanu Reeves and Kate Beckinsale
star in an excellent version of As You Like It. I think Shakespeare's plays are better seen than read, for most of us anyway. As to War and Peace, I foundered once, then read Anna Karenina and then I was ready for another go at War and Peace. I loved it this second time. I also think that Anna Karenina is one of the all time great books.

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Old 01-03-2015, 03:04 PM   #64
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I think many works that were considered "classics" a hundred years ago are largely forgotten today. Tastes change, and styles change just as quickly.

I was just thinking recently that while it takes a bit of effort to appreciate Shakespeare, it takes a lot more effort to appreciate Chaucer. And it's impossible, without copious footnotes, to appreciate Beowulf. Yet they are all written in English. Sure, Beowulf is Old English and Chaucer is Middle English, but they are still versions of the same language.

So now that we have a lot more standardization of the language and widespread availability of nearly everything, is it likely that what we consider classics today will endure?

Ha! Fat chance.

Runners have a little trick for when we really don't want to go out but feel we should. We go for a one mile jog, then make the decision whether to continue or not. I use the same technique when I encounter a so-called classic. I'll try it out for 20-30 pages, then decide whether I want to keep going or not. Works for me.
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Old 01-06-2015, 05:48 AM   #65
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Very interesting interview:

Author Says a Whole CultureŚNot a Single 'Homer'ŚWrote 'Iliad,' 'Odyssey'

The Iliad and The Odyssey are two of the key works of Western civilization. But almost nothing is known about their author and the date and manner of their creation. In Why Homer Matters, historian and award-winning author Adam Nicolson suggests that Homer be thought of not as a person but as a tradition and that the works attributed to him go back a thousand years earlier than generally believed.
(As an aside: My recalling this quote -- "No one agrees with other people's opinions; they merely agree with their own opinions- expressed by somebody else." --Sydney Tremayne -- makes me particularly fond of this passage)

We have a modern assumption that something only has meaning if it's written down. But the literate world is minimal compared to the depths of human history. We're essentially oral. And in a funny way the modern, electronic communicative world is making orality take on a new significance.

In traditional societies, the person who can learn and perform the stories has been treasured. That's true not only in the European world but across Africa and the Americas too. We've only got a few fragments of that left. And one of those fragmentary remains is in Gaelic Scotland, where certain families still preserve storytelling traditions that draw on ancient roots. Some of these bards have dazzling capacities of memory. They can remember stories that last hours and hours, nearly word-perfect. Some of them have been recorded over a period of 20 years, and they've told the same story in almost the same words.

Most of us can't remember a single phone number nowadays, because they're all in the phone memory. Yet buried deep in us is this ability to remember important things. And one of the things about poetry and the rhythmic, heightened language of poetry is that it makes it easy to remember. You can sing a story more easily than you can tell it.

"It's tough to make predictions, especially when it involves the future." ~Attributed to many
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." ~(perhaps by) Yogi Berra
"Those who have knowledge, don't predict. Those who predict, don't have knowledge."~ Lau tzu
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