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The Devils by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

The Devils (Бесы; also known as The Possessed, The Devils, and Demons) is a novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, first published in 1871–2. It's one of his 'Big Four', the others being Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov. The title comes from a passage from the New Testament, Luke 8: 32 - 36, known as the Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac: 32 And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. 33 Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. 34 When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 36 They al…

The Republic by Plato.

For most of 2017 I've been struggling my way through the 4th Century B.C. for my Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge. My aim, for this year, was to finish the 4th Century B.C. - 2nd Century B.C. section, and my fear was the philosophies and histories of the 4th Century B.C., comprising mainly of Aristotle, Plato, and Xenophon. With Plato's Republic, I've now finished that part and am looking forward to starting the 1st Century B.C. next year!
Now, Plato. Given that when I've been reviewing these books I've made it clear that I find philosophies very difficult, so it's no surprise when I begin by saying that Plato's Republic (Πολιτεία) is very difficult. Writing about it is even harder, but I'll do my best.
It was written around 380 B.C., and it is not only one of his most famous works but also one of the most influential books ever written. It's divided into ten books, which I'll try to summarise in the briefest possible way:

Book I

Plato begins b…

Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen.

Rosmersholm is one of Henrik Ibsen's later plays written in 1886, around the time of The Wild Duck (1884) and The Lady from the Sea(1888). I'm starting to think that this is the best era for Ibsen, though having read very few of his pre-The League of Youth(1869) plays I should really hold my judgement. Whatever the case, I would say Rosmersholm is my new favourite Ibsen play.
It's about two people living in Rosmersholm, which is described in the stage directions as "an old properly near a little town on a fjord in the west of Norway". They are Johannes Rosmer and Rebekka West (the author Rebecca West, born Cicely Isabel Fairfield six years after the play was written in 1892, took the name Rebecca West as a pseudonym from Ibsen's play). Rosmer, the owner of Rosmersholm, is a recent widow, his wife Beata committing suicide a year before the play begins. It would seem she did so because she was unable to have children and carry on the Rosmer name, important in t…

The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities.

The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities (La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades) is a Spanish novella first published anonymously in 1554 during the Spanish Golden Age of arts and literature. It's a novella that is regarded as the first of the great picaresque novel tradition.

The first chapter begins,
Well, first of all Your Grace should know that my name is Lázaro de Tormes, son of Tomé Gonzáles and Antona Pérez, who lived in Tejares, a village near Salamanca. I was actually born on the River Tormes and that's why I took that surname and this is how it all happened. My father, God rest his soul, was in charge of a water mill on the bank of the river. He'd been there for fifteen years. My mother was there one night during her pregnancy, and her time came and she had me there, so I can say in fact I was born on the river. Now when I was about eight years old they caught my father bleeding the sacks belonging to the peopl…


Yesterday morning I woke up to about an inch (or less) of snow. It was completely dark but later there was a beautiful sunrise: a few peachy coloured clouds and a soft blue sky. A beautiful start to December! This morning: still dark, but the light is starting to creep in and I can see it's going to be a very cloudy morning. And I can start this post with some good news: I have a new baby budgie! I had no plans to buy her, but when I was in the pet shop there was a man there planning on buying her  (she was the only one left) and he was asking some rather alarming questions which unnerved me to the point where I thought I should intervene. So, she's my budgie now, and she's called Snow, partly because I like the name and also because on the drive back there was a blizzard. It's very early days to judge her personality, but she does seem very docile. Yesterday, for example, I had to vacuum and she sat quietly watching me as Bram and Pepys shouted their usual objections…

2017 Challenges.

Yesterday with the post on Fielding's Tragedy of Tragedies I managed to complete my 2017 Reading Challenges! Here's my completed list:

Back to the Classics

12 / 12 A 19th Century ClassicNo Name by Wilkie Collins.A 20th Century ClassicFinnegans Wake by James Joyce.A classic by a woman authorThe Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M. Yonge.A classic in translationThe Cowards by Josef Škvorecký.A classic published before 1800Histories by Herodotus.An romance classicTristan by Gottfried von Strassburg.A Gothic or horror classic: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole.A classic with a number in the titleThe Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare.A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the titleThe Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen.A classic set in a place you'd like to visitUtopia by Thomas More.An award-winning classic: Old Cantankerous by Menander.A Russian ClassicOn the Eve by Ivan Turgenev.
⚜⚜⚜ Deal Me In

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Essays I

AceThe Art o…

The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great by Henry Fielding.

The Tragedy of Tragedies is a marvellous play (first performed in 1731) by Henry Fielding, better known for his 1749 novel Tom Jones. It is a rewritten and reworked edition of an earlier play, Tom Thumb, first performed a year earlier in 1730.
Fielding aside for a moment, Tom Thumb is a character in English folklore, though perhaps more associated with the German writers the Brothers Grimm his story in fact was one of the first English fairy tales - Thomas Langley's The History of Tom Thumbe, the Little, for his small stature surnamed, King Arthur's Dwarfe: whose Life and adventures containe many strange and wonderfull accidents, published for the delight of merry Time-spenders (1621). It's even thought he was based on a real person: in the Holy Trinity Church at Tattershall, Lincolnshire, there's a grave, about 16'' long, engraved with the inscription "T. Thumb. Aged 101 Died 1620." Returning to the fairy tale, Tom Thumb was said to be the size of hi…