Monthly Archives: February 2015

George Harrison’s Birthday…

George Harrison’s 72nd birthday…a bittersweet reminder that All Things Must Pass… In many ways it’s pointless to write or say much more about The Beatles. They remain, despite revisionist rock historians’ best efforts, rock music’s most important band. Arguments about … Continue reading

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The Brothers Grimm and the functions of the folk tale…

Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm‘s compilation of stories known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales are powerful, perhaps shocking (perhaps not), entertainment for children of any age – and a structuralist literary critic’s dream… The next book from the 2015 reading list is another … Continue reading

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Love and Time: Medieval Chinese Poetry

The poems of Ou-yang Hsiu reflect both the poet’s refined understanding of the complexities of his life as part of a multi-layered, ritualized culture and his desire to look beyond that culture at the question of being human…. Another look … Continue reading

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How to be Good: Denis Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew

Diderot’s most well known piece, the dialogue Rameau’s Nephew, is a discourse on what good behavior is – delivered with droll irony by one who has found being good beyond his capabilities…. Part of the pleasure of reading is finding those … Continue reading

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The Ink Dark Moon: Medieval Japanese Poetry

As women members of the Heian court of medieval Japan, poets Ono no Kamachi and Izumi Shikibu lived lives that were proscribed and governed by artifice. Through poetry they found ways of expressing their feelings and insights about those lives.  This book … Continue reading

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The Art of War as Explained by a Simpleton…

Call it Simplicius Simplicissimus or The Adventures of a Simpleton – H.J.C. von Grimmelshausen’s picaresque novel of the Thirty Years War is the godfather of all great anti-war literature whether solemn indictment like The Red Badge of Courage or All Quiet … Continue reading

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The Mabinogion: Mythology? Heroic Tales? Romance? Mess?

The Welsh collection of ancient tales called The Mabinogion is an intriguingly messy collection of tales that run the gamut from myth to romance with a disregard for continuity… The last of the “folk literature” I’ve completed for this year’s … Continue reading

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