The 'Currently reading' thread...

Discussion of other topics not necessarily Keats or poetry-related, i.e. other authors, literature, film, music, the arts etc.

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Postby greymouse » Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:10 pm

I'm finally reading The Great Gatsby. Unfortunately, I'm having a terrible time with it. :oops: I've had so many recommends on it, and yet I don't get it at all. I mean, I can respect how well he writes, but there's something about the story that's unbearable for me. I hate the characters and desire for them to suffer, and I feel I don't need to stick around to watch it happen.

What is the key to this book? You'd think I could finish it since it's so short. I've always had trouble with classic novels, and it makes me feel very inadequate.

A month ago, I read The Rum Diary by Hunter Thompson and loved it. What a beautiful book!
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Postby Saturn » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:16 pm

dks wrote:
Saturn wrote:Currently reading Gibbon's History Of The Decline And Fall Of The roman Empire - Chapter 50, which is the history of the prophet Mohamet and his impact on the world and the early growth of Islam.


You and your light reading, Saturn. :roll: :wink:


Actually I've barely read this at all - I've been on teh saem chapter for about a week - I've been more into playing guitar than reading the last few weeks. Lots of new effects pedals and a new amp to play with 8)

I'm not all cerebral, in fact only on this site.

I like nothing better than to crank my guitar up to 11 and annoy the neighbours :lol:
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby AhDistinctly » Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:27 pm

Saturn wrote:I like nothing better than to crank my guitar up to 11 and annoy the neighbours :lol:

:D Have any Spinal Tap moments you'd like to share?
...perched and sat and nothing more...
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Postby Saturn » Mon Oct 16, 2006 10:00 pm

No not really I never really play outside my bedroom :oops:
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Postby Papillon » Fri Nov 03, 2006 4:39 pm

greymouse,

Don't feel inadequate! It's okay not to enjoy every classic. And sometimes reading a classic by yourself is rather challenging. It's much more engaging to read "heavy" literature with a group, I think.

At any rate, The Great Gatsby is about the inability to accomplish the American Dream--that we Americans possess too much avarice to ever be satisfied. Fitzgerald was disillusioned with the people in his generation, the Roaring '20s.

I will admit that the first few chapters were a bit daunting. However, if you can make it through those, the book gets markedly more interesting....lots of love triangles, affairs, even a drive-by murder! And the symbolism, well, if you like to look for symbols, this book is chock full!

As for me, I just finished reading The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult. I love reading her fiction; it's always a captivating weaving of social problems and inner conflicts.

Now I have to tackle Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own so that I can teach it to my classes. I must confess that I abhor Modernism with all its random stream of consciousness and disjointed settings/plot lines. *sigh* But, I MUST get enthusiastic about it so that my students will want to study her. :?
"The true voyage of discovery lies not in discovering new landscapes but in having new eyes." ~ Marcel Proust
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Postby Saturn » Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:10 pm

I bought my first book in months yesterday:

Image
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Postby dks » Fri Nov 17, 2006 6:18 pm

That looks good--you must tell us how it is as you read along... :shock:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Postby Saturn » Mon Nov 20, 2006 2:23 pm

Very interesting and absorbing so far.

I haven't read that much about Wordsworth's early life so this book fills in a lot of gaps for me.

I was surprised to read just how fervent a republican and a radical he was during the French Revolution. He was much more involved than I ever realised, even possibly attending meetings of the National Convention, or at least meeting deputies.
This makes his later arch-conservatism all the more surprising and it helps us to understand why Byron, Shelley and of course Keats began to dislike the older Wordsworth for his political opinions.

One of the most fascinating and little known facts about Wordsworth is that while in France he fathered a child by a French woman called Annette Vallon whom he abandoned [but may have kept in touch with] when he returned to England. The relationship has always been known but the fact that Annette had a child was kept hidden from the public unbelievably until the early 20th century :shock:

Coleridge's initial friendship with Southey is also explored in detail - their early enthusiasm for "pantisocracy" and joint writings and the hurtful and devastating fall-out of Southey's apostasy from his early radicalism.

One think I am looking forward to hopefully exploring further is Wordsworth's relationship with his sister Dorothy which I always thought was a bit strange and rather too close for comfort.
I'm not saying they were incestuous lovers but at times it seems like he loved his sister with too great a passion :?
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Postby dks » Mon Nov 20, 2006 6:35 pm

I took a Romantics MLA course last spring and we studied Wordsworth's life, as well as his relationship with Dorothy. We also studied many of Dorothy's own writings. I had known about his illegitimate child and his deep involvement with the radicals during the Revolution--his political about face was indeed surprising and loathed by the new, younger Romantics.

One thing I can say, with regard to Keats and his relationship with Wordsworth is that Keats remained in reverence concerning the aging poet for the remainder of his life. Even after being shunned publicly at a dinner where Keats interrupted him to make a point and Dorothy put her hand on our man's arm and politely said, "Mr. Wordsworth is speaking." :roll: Keats still admired him to a point. Wordsworth became so famous, that he was seeing up to 30 visitors a day... :!: Yes, Wordsworth and his sister were very close, but she was responsible for many of the journal entries which gave him his ideas for many of his poems...if you read her entries about their long walks through the countryside, meadows and glens, there are an abundance of lines which he takes directly and implements them into his work...it's quite interesting to study her apart from him. She was very intelligent and well read, but content to take a complete back seat to her brother. She was indeed in love with Coleridge for a spell--although Coleridge never seems to have returned her affections...

I should like to read that book, Saturn...I need to visit my friend Amazon. com...they should name me an honorary benefactor on that site...or at least just allow me to open an infinite tab... :wink: :lol:

Please keep us posted on your reading...I can, until I can order the book, read vicariously through you... :wink:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
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Postby Saturn » Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:37 am

It's very good you'll enjoy it :D

Also, if you can try and track down a movie I've mentioned many times before called Pandaemonium which is a semi-fictionalised account of Coleridge and Wordsworth's friendship - I know that sounds unpromising but it is one of the best films made about any of the poets in my opinion.
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Postby Credo Buffa » Tue Nov 21, 2006 11:06 am

Saturn wrote:I bought my first book in months yesterday:

Image

Oooo, very interesting! I'll add that one to the "Someday when I am out of school again and have time" list. ;)

And about Gatz. . . Papillon hits it on the head about disillusionment and the American dream. Those themes really don't start to emerge so strongly until the second half of the book or so, when you learn Jay's story. Until then, though, I'd say just revel in the atmosphere of the book. I think Fitzgerald is one of the best writers for creating and sustaining mood that I've ever encountered. I figure if you don't like the characters much, greymouse, it's probably because on some level, Fitzgerald doesn't want you to like them, because they are representing that disillusionment. It seems to me like he wants you to see them almost like a car wreck: you don't want to look, but you can't help it. I personally didn't like them much either until later on when their humanity (versus their decadence) starts to emerge.
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Postby Saturn » Tue Nov 21, 2006 11:24 am

The characters are hard to like I know, even Nick is somewhat aloof and, if not one dimensional, just rather jaded and nondescript.

Gatsby himself, though charming, fragile, romantic and extravagant of course has a very shady background and history.

Perhaps Fitzgerald is pointing out the bareness of those who dedicate their lives to the American dream, the soullessness and emptiness behind this pursuit of wealth and perfection.
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Postby greymouse » Tue Nov 21, 2006 6:19 pm

Thanks everyone for the tips on The Great Gatsby. I'm going to give the book another crack. I have a long weekend coming up, so this may just be the chance (so little time to read lately) :( !
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Postby Credo Buffa » Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:00 pm

Saturn wrote:Perhaps Fitzgerald is pointing out the bareness of those who dedicate their lives to the American dream, the soullessness and emptiness behind this pursuit of wealth and perfection.

Oh, I'm absolutely sure he is. Perhaps not so much to say that the people themselves are "soulless" so much as lacking in purpose. Gatsby dedicates his life to his great ambition of wealth and society, and once he has it, he has nowhere to go. All the money and careless ease the world has to offer can't buy him the things in life that are really worth having, and that is the great folly of the decadent lifestyle of the Jazz Age. Like you say, Saturn, Gatz has all the characteristics of an engaging, sympathetic character, but it's almost impossible to identify with him because he has reached a stasis where all those characteristics that led him to where he is now--ambition, charisma, determination--have fallen victim to disillusionment, and disillusionment is something that is difficult to observe on the surface, which is why I think it takes so long for us (as privy to Gatsby's character through Nick's perception of him) to recognize that he is the way he is because of it.
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Postby Saturn » Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:38 pm

Actually Malia I don't think Gatsby had a lust for wealth or possessions in themselves except as a means to try and repossess that one thing he couldn't have - the beautiful Daisy.

All his achievements, financial pursuits and accumulation of possessions were all designed to make him more attractive and desirable by his one true great lost love.
He was trying to recreate his past happiness but with the difference that their previous inequality in social status and wealth was eliminated.

I read The Great Gatsby as a romantic tragedy of a man who tried and ultimately failed to make himself into the person he thought he should have been, rather than accepting the person he really was.
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