Monday, January 31, 2011

William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying

"There is a chapter in this book that consists entirely of the following line: 'My mother is a fish.' I've been telling myself since high school that I need to give this one another try, but then I remember that chapter. I don't plan on reading it again any time soon."

"I know you're 'supposed to' love this book because it's Faulker, but I HATED IT! I know you're 'cool' and 'intelligent' if you read Faulkner, but I can't stand him. Sorry, I don't know what he's talking about (and at the risk of sounding immodest, I am bright). I DON'T think it's cool and 'hip' to write in a confusing manner, and I don't try to impress others by liking ambiguity. I had my fill in college with snobs who pretended to like this stuff. Sorry I sound harsh here (I'm really a nice person), but YUK!"

"'My mother is a fish.' w.t.f."

"I prefer to call this book 'As I Lay Dying...of Boredom, Reading This Book'. That's what it is: boring.

The plot, such as it is, is simple. There's a family that lives in the Deep South of Mississippi or somewhere like that in a ridiculously-hard-to-pronounce county. The mother dies, and the family decides to take the body to a far-off city, where she has requested to be buried. So the book is basically them trying to get the mother's body to this cemetery in Jefferson, an interminable journey filled with approximately 20 different yet identical-souding narrators who are not interesting in any way whatsoever. Actually, there is ONE narrator you can identify without needing the chapter titles, and that is Cora, the Christian lady. She's easy to tell from the others because she mentions God once every two sentences.

This book is probably the worst book I have ever read, and I have read MANY books. I just could not care about these people, because they all sounded alike and did ridiculous things, such as:

- calling their mother a fish
- talking in short, simple sentences with basic words, then suddenly launching into poetic and polysyllabic rapture upon seeing the sunset
- setting their son's broken leg with CEMENT (I kid you not)
- NARRATING FROM THE GRAVE (I'm looking at YOU, Addie Bundren)

This book is the reason I refuse to read anything by William Faulkner. Perhaps his other work is better. I don't know and I don't care to find out."

"The only remotely happy occurrence in the book was that Dewey Dell was expecting."

"I can see why people like this book, as it the action is simple, and yet the symbolism is rather complex. To be honest, I did not enjoy this book. The prose is far too self indulgently arty and yet completely devoid of any epiphany inducing insights into human nature. All in all, I find this book to have a sickeningly pessimistic view of human nature as a whole. If there is anything that can be taken away from this book, it is that human beings are scum. I personally do not share this belief. The writing style is purposely ambiguous and leads the reader to discover symbolism that is contradicted later on in the story, which in turn is contradicted again. I find that aside from Cash, these characters are so unbearably unstable and utterly diverse in their ramblings that it is difficult to remember exactly who is monologuing. I find it disturbing also that I seem to be the only one I know who actually understood it. They either scoff at it and say that it's too repetitive and fail to realize the symbolism, or absolutely love it because they interpreted it in such a way that it could be mistaken as a great work. I considered each interpretation and decided that a book with this much meaning and yet in the grand scheme of literature says nothing is a waste of words. I believe this book to emphasize, nay, personify the disgusting drivel that American Literature has become. I shall not be reading Falkner again and shall return to Skaldic and Norse literature very soon. GOOD DAY"

"What can I say 'My mother is a fish'"

"By the time i reached the last quarter of the book, Faulkner was at least writing language that made sense. Most of the time, it was either ridiculously simple, in a 'country-boy' hillbilly way, or just distastefully packed full of words that the average person would rarely use, and often more than likely couldn't even define. It seems that Faulkner likes to hear himself talk, throwing in as many three and four syllable words as he can fit into a sentence."

"Dewey Dell is a slut. An irresponsible slut."

"Faulkner writes in jargon he understands with little to no respect for the reader and I can't forgive him for it. If you don't believe me then write something. Write a short story. Write 3, or 4, or 5 pages. Flesh out the characters and their histories and their conflicts. Got it? Okay, now when you are writing a scene with multiple people use only the pronoun he. You will know who you are talking about - do we? Is that good writing? No, it isn't."

"I don't care if Faulkner is a classic. I HATE this book. I think it's chapter 13 that is simply 'my mother is a fish'."

"I liked this book okay until towards the end. Then I thought to myself, "I don't like this book." Jewel has a potty mouth."

"My mother is a fish?"

"My mother is a fish?!?"

"Oh and I almost forgot 'My Mother is a Fish.' WTF?"

"quite possibly the worst book I've ever read. Only redeeming quality? 'my mother is a fish' and there you go."

Plato - The Republic

"It's important that you all understand that Western society is based on the fallacy-ridden ramblings of a retarded person. Read this, understand that he is not joking, and understand that Plato is retarded."

"Recommends it for: people who don't want to learn things about the human condition and that modernity is poison.
Recommended to ________ by: My idiot Intro to Philosophy professor who was sexist and old.

No state is a good state.

Fxxx your oppressive hierarchical dualistic obsession with the success and value of the Philosophical classics. Innate ideas? No way, Plato.

Go grab some Sartre.
Or a primer on how to build REAL community by coming to consensus on what's 'fair' and 'just' instead of just forcing those ideals on the masses. Masses that the founders of this republic get to control and keep stupid.

Republic is just an outdated term for society, and society is poison. This book defends the workings of modern Western Civilization, and if that's your cup of tea we're probably not friends."

"It is also hard to tell exactly what they mean, since some key words have changed meaning since Plato's time."

"I had to read this three times for school, and each one blew my asshole a little more... and not in the good way (RIMJOB!)."

"plato was a fascist and crazy-opportunist and its good he died before modern government was created, so that no one could base the building blocks of their system on."

"This essential work of philosophy suffers from its antiquity. Long stretches of Plato's famous dialog make the point over and over, too much for today's readers. Though repetition may have been useful in ancient times, it's through modern lenses that I read. Any editor today would have chopped fifty pages off this treatise in an eye blink."

"Basically this is a bunch of dudes talking about some shit they think. The Republic is the equivalent of me making a book about all the stupid shit kids have said in my basement."


"I know Plato is important for politics and all that crap, but vomit."

"That cave thing was kind of cool, but it doesn't really seem to reflect my own experiences; I don't think he really did much research into caves before writing this thing."

"'ideas need expanding' ha, like those teachers use to tell me... now i tell him.. ha"

"In this work of Plato, the author greatly strives to define justice. He tries to put forth what would be a perfect society. The problem with Plato is that he left Jehovah, the true God, out of his philosophy. Jehovah is the center of everything, and without Him, there is no truth. Since Plato rejected belief in the true God, and whole, intact truth is only found in that true God, Plato's philosophy is understandably flawed. Of course, as THE REPUBLIC is a popularly recongnized classic, one may find it useful to read it, in order to understand the viewpoint of the masses who accept it, provided one compares it with the truth of God's word, the Bible."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Epic of Gilgamesh

"This story has been an apt reminder of why my background in the classics is so spare. I find the story barely tolerable. For example: "Suck my rod"?? That phrase would render any other book as fodder for the recycling bin. But this one is still a valued classic. Someone PLEASE help me understand this. I'm seriously asking. Is there anyone who can help me understand why this isn't trash?"

"Defiantly not a fun read the fight scenes scenes few and not very good at all."

"i guess i am not an 'medievals' person."

"The explicitly X-rated scene in the first tablet did it for me. I didn't think this was appropriate at all. The ending, furthermore, was hopeless, but what other conclusion could be expected from a society that didn't have the truth?"

"I didn't really like how it wasn't a modern book so it was kind of hard for me to understand."

"The Epic of Gilgamesh, written by David Ferry, is one of the oldest epics on Earth today."

"I have not read the whole book, but I have read so much about the book and have read large chunks of the book. Thus reading the book in its entirety seems a waste of time. Also, the worldview is not particularly great. Okay it is just plain bad. At least the worldview lens that many use to intrepret the book today is bad. Many try and say that this was the original story of the flood and that Noah's flood was a remake."

"It's good to be open minded, and considering that this is the oldest recorded work of literature there are many similatites. The structure of the book is how most books are structured."

"I had to read this book for school. I was tired of it after the first page. How was this story so popular back then? It's boring and unreal. C'mon! One guy lived with animans most of his life anf Gilgamesh was part god. I know a story of a real hero, Neo from The Matrix. That guy is cool and interesting. Also, he is cool to watch. Gilgamesh would never become a movie. People would fall asleep. Besides, any school book isn't fun to read."


"i liked it because people died in it and dieing makes books interesting to me. if someone dies, the book is more dramatic and i like that."

"the epic of gilgamesh is poem made more then a thousand years ago. it is an epic about two men who are built like gods yet they are anly half complete. together they are complete enkidue beong the calm and gilgamesh being the tyrant. it shows how far to companitons and brothers would go for eachother. it also shows how every person has another half because they need someone to tame them."

Shakespeare - The Tempest

"This book was very boring, it was hard to understand and i didnt like it at all. Its about a man named prospero and a girl named miranda. miranda marries ferdenand and prospero is making a plan to see if they are worthy.
I would not recommend this book to anyone because it is from shakespear and that makes it a bad book to read."

"This could have been one of the most boringest and confusing books of all time. I had no idea what was going on, and I still don't."

"A really weird languaged book about the main character, Prospero. How he got back his dukedom after losting it. I learned from this book of how millde English become Modern English."

"This was never written to be read as literature, and still shouldn't be."

"I HATE SHAKESPEARE!!! This book was dumb. I quote 'widow dido? Ay widow dido! Yes, widdow dido.' WTF?!?"

"Prospero was the over protective father that had his greed and power. Miranada and Ferninad was the young couple that met, it was love at first site. The whole story was very clique."

"the only reason i understanded this play even a little was because of episode of wishbone"

"it's soooooooooooooooooooooo imaginary....i don't like it so much"

"the plot just did not bone me up."

"Actually I think it's just a tale for kids.No one would believe in that kind of magic in the world today(in my opinion)."

"Thank God for Amazon reviews, since it would be suicidal for somebody in the academy to point out all the obvious flaws of this crud. So allow me:

1. We're constantly being reminded about Ariel's upcoming freedom: Was this meant to be the real tension of the play? Because even at final curtain, we never actually see him freed. This is dramatically unsatisfying.
2. Prospero breaks his staff and drowns his books before sailing back to Milan. So what's to prevent him from being stabbed, thrown overboard, or dispensed with once everybody reaches the shore? He's made tons of enemies - and now he hasn't his magic to protect him. Admit it: this was in the back of your mind as the play ended, marring its grace.
3. Doesn't anybody in this play ever have a look around before jumping to three pages of high-blown philosophical conclusions? (E.g., "This is some monster of the isle...")
4. On this island, what has Miranda been using for tampons and stuff?
5. You get leery when thinking what a cruddy job Prospero does of vetting his daughter's future husband. I suppose the idea of having him make Ferdinand's pursuit of Miranda fraught with difficultly so's he'd appreciate her more was serviceable enough, but all it really amounts to is making him schlep some logs around for an afternoon.
6. It would appear that Prospero was usurped with good reason. He apparently had his nose in books all the time, whereas his brother evidently has the wherewithal to manage affairs of state with a more hardheaded realpolitik. (He's just concluded, for example, a valuable alliance-by-marriage with Tunis.) If Prospero really had the makings of a Prince, he would have demonstrated same by offing Alonso and company right there and then, since permitting them to live is bound to lead Milan into civil war later, when they regroup.
7. That sappy, stilted, and pretentious "masque" scene doesn't belong there. Or at least not at such length. The young lovers aren't even married yet! That's another thing:
8. The subplot between Ferdinand and Miranda is resolved far too early in the play, making the ending intolerably long.
9. The introductory shipwreck scene is totally unnecessary! What does it add? It's like Shakespeare was trying to show off his command of nautical terminology.
10. Most of the poetry is forgettable. Some of it blows outright. E.g.: "You sunburned sicklemen, of August weary, / Come hither from the furrow and be merry. / Make holiday; your rye-straw hats put on, / And these fresh nymphs encounter everyone / In country footing." Uh, you're joking, right?
11. What's up with Prospero having Ariel maliciously taunt the bereaved Ferdinand about his drowned father? What did Ferdinand do to deserve that?
12. Seems like there more characters than are really needed. If this has been bandied about as a script these days, any Hollywood studio would have immediately made the obvious decision: combine Antonio, Sebastian, Adrian, and Fransisco into fewer, or delete them. And that studio would have been right.
13. Uh . . . has anybody noticed that the entire five-minute scene between Prospero and Miranda just after the shipwreck scene is nothing more than bald, unimaginative exposition? Master playright, eh? Heck, same thing goes for the scene just after that with Ariel, now that I think about it.

Oh, you're being too literal, too realistic, you might complain. You've been ruined by the 19th century. Okay, then let's take the play on its grander meanings. Here's what it teaches us:

12. Usurpation is bad. Everybody should know their place in society and not rock the boat by getting uppity. Caliban was wrong to have pursued his freedom: he should have known his place as a slave.
13. It's the height of wisdom to marry somebody you just met yesterday without investing a greater effort in trying to get to know them.
14. Women must not have their "virgin knots" broken, or they are impure and will not make acceptable wives.
15. Getting drunk helps you make stupid decisions.
16. Big psychological insight: Instead of endlessly justifying themselves, people have sudden epiphanies where they immediately and clearly perceive their guilt, causing them to change their worldview and lives on the spot (e.g., "Therefore my son i' th' ooze is bedded.")
17. As always in Shakespeare, prophecies always come true, so it's pointless to try to change one's destiny. Just once I'd like to see some withered old hag utter some omen of doom, then at the end of the play it turns out to be nothing. That, at least, would constitute some insight into the human condition: people can't tell the future!

So literally the play is a flop. And as for the play's deeper meanings - can somebody tell me why such sentiments are thought to be worth our time these days?

I think people find this play gratifying because the setup (i.e., a remote, green, magical island; a shipwreck; a benign magician; a beautiful and innocent daughter; a misshapen fish-like beast) is such an alluring daydream: people like to picture themselves in such a setting. Hard for me to play along, though: apparently that island won't shut up long enough for you to take a nap."

Henry James - The Turn of the Screw

"It is supposed to be a 'ghost' 'story' but is neither a story nor is it about ghosts ... Apparently it's a must for the GRE, but do not be mistaken. It is the most un-literary thing I have ever listened to. And there is no screw."

"Henry James over uses the English language with an onslaught of fluffy words that waters down the text, diminishing any hint of fright or suspense. He uses words excessively, saying close to nothing. Nearly all of the writing was very vague and foggy."

"This book had an original plot, but was weird, in a strange way."

"Henry James, and many others from his generation, writes in such a way that I have to really think about each sentence to comprehend it. Not what I want from a book. Too many commas in each sentence."

"I've just finished reading this story and feel as if I've wasted 3 months of my life!"

"This book was like the movie The Others, but this was terrible."

"Spoiler alert: governess comes, master leaves, kids act weird, ghosts appear, no one knows what is happening or who to believe. You be the judge. That is the entire book and I wrote it in ONE sentence."

"Not worth wading through the archaic verse. Disappointing"

"Is all Henry James this hard to read? The sentences are so long with so many commas, I have to re-read sentences to get the meaning sometimes. I'm not a fan of books that make me feel dumb. I'll give it a little while longer.

Eh, couldn't finish. I started counting the commas, I got up to 9 in a single sentence! I find it hard to believe that that's correct grammer, but it must be I guess."

"OK, you see, the thing is, this was required reading for a Senior Writing Seminar. I was told that this was scary. Hmm, tlet me think... uh, no. Boring."

"Now maybe ghost sightings themselves were enough to give a shiver at the time TOTS was written, but in the age of Stephen King and Clive Barker, mere apparitions just aren't much of a challenge."

"So, I just finished The Turn of the Screw and found Henry James' writing to be agonizingly verbose bordering on pretentious. I think I'm officially out of the Brit Lit phase."

"This is the hardest book I've ever read."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dante - The Divine Comedy

"You meet a lot of ancient Greeks and Romans who are apparently famous, though I knew less than half of them."

"The Inferno is a book about a totally biased queer who writes about him traveling to hell. There, he receives Virgil as his guide and jollily travels along hell's circles (levels). There, he witnessed the punishments people would receive and it got harsher as he went on. Eventually he met the devil and climbed him back to earth. What a story."

"Although Dante's Inferno is supposed to be the best Commedy, I find that hard to believe."

"Too many circles of hell."

"inferno is a book in old old english so its really hard to understand but what i got is that its about hell. inferno tells how someone is pick to go to hell and what the 9 rings are like throught poetry.

when i was reading inferno i could not connet to any thing. i keep on thinking about where i would go and what it really was like when you died.

this book is for any one who is religous."

"The book was also very bias because Dante only wrote good things about the christains, everyone else was being tortured in hell. Overall, I would not recommend this book because I feel it is not worth reading, unless you need it for some type of literature test."

"As one of the girls in my book club noted when talking about the lower circles of hell, 'Dante must have been on something.'"

"Really it's only the fact that the book was written in poem form that annoyed me."

"This book is highly annoying. Seriously. Dante is a man that 'sugar-coats' stuff. In other words, he doesn't say things straight up. He says things too detailed and even though we want to know stuff with details, he takes a long time saying it. For example, if he wants to say 'The ice cream is white.' he will say 'The ice cream is as white as the first fallen snow in a cold winter day when the birds are cuddled in their nests and the fireplace...' Like that. Catch my drift?"

"An interesting look at what the afterlife might be in the 1600s.Old english is hard to read."

"It was very challenging to read because it was written as a epic and the words inside this epic were challenging. The way Dante the poet wrote the book was always challenging because he wrote in a way it was hard for us readers to understand."

"Shocking, I'm sure, back when there were no reality t.v. shows..."