Pierre Abélard and Héloïse, The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse: Abelard seems to have a talent for pissing people off.

Both Abelard and Heloise are good at expressing themselves (and the translation I am reading seems to be a good one — it has many interesting explanatory footnotes).

I know I should not be so surprised, but I am finding Abelard to be nothing more than a total self-centered jerk and I find myself getting cross at Heloise for taking it from him. Admittedly I have only read his narration of his “troubles”, which tells of their meeting, their romance, their secret marriage, his sudden castration by her male relatives, and their entrance both into separate, but nonetheless related, lives within the Church; and the first three letters (there are 8 total).

Heloise, so far, spends half her letters worshiping him and the other half begging him to say a nice word to her, a private, caring word. In contrast, Abelard whitters on about how he needs her (and all the woman in the convent) to spend more quality time saying prayers for him so that he might be delivered from his current calamities (Abelard seems to have a talent for pissing people off, justified or not–I think he brings much of this on himself through sheer arrogance, but I may be being unfair), and how she must make sure that if he should be killed that his body is buried at the monastery where she is so as to be closer to them so that they won’t forget to continue praying for him.

Yes, yes, he did suffer for his “love” for her, quite dramatically and I expect painfully, though he claims the castration was so quick it hardly hurt and that he was more worried over the state of his reputation than his physical well-being. Still it seems overwhelmingly that he just sees Heloise as an object to use, first to satisfy lust and personal vanity, and later as a conduit to win him favor with God against his enemies. He seems a very cynical man.

Source: Goodreads, Carol

Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe: This woman was crazy. Hands down, batshit, insane.

So, let’s start with the good things first. This was the first autobiography practically and it is by a woman. A woman who got to do things not a lot of other medieval women got to do. That’s where the good ends however.

Unfortunately, the story of Margery Kempe, while it could be extremely interesting, is actually more irritating. This woman was crazy. Hands down, batshit, insane. Anyone that not only talks to a entity before them, but claims it’s Jesus, and then has visions about her being at the birth of Christ and being the one to swaddle baby Jesus, has issues. She later goes on to insinuate she would also like to “lie” with Jesus as well and Jesus is pretty okay with that… because you know, Jesus talks to her. Physically.

The women obviously had some mental health issues and I’m not condemning her for them. What does irritate me however is the fact that she spends the entire book waving around a flag saying “Look how pious I am”. I feel like this defeats the purpose of what she is trying to do. I also find it interesting that any time she wants to justify something, she hides behind religion. It’s okay for her to be the way she is and act the way she does, and also lecture and preach to others, because Jesus gave her the rubber stamp of approval. Overall, Margery Kempe is not a religious figure to look up to and instead is a self centered, self serving, medieval woman who used religion to gain fame. Sadly, I think she, if she ever realized this, would have hated herself for it.

Now, all in all, based on what I said above, that might even make the story a good read. However, the text is dry and self righteous and while I’m sure there are people out there who would like this novel, I found myself ranging between bored, and angry that this woman was our first example of a female autobiographer (although she didn’t write it herself. She dictated it to a man). I wouldn’t suggest picking up this book. If you’re curious, there are plenty of things to read about her on the internet and I can almost guarantee you’ll get more out of that, then this text here.

Source: Goodreads, Dana

Philip K Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: If he had been forced to kill Rachel, then, that could have been something

Not a fan. This was poorly written with very confusing analogies and pointless literary phrasing eg. “He sat and cogitated.” Someone was playing with his thesaurus instead of trying to write something well. The idea has a lot of food for thought: what defines the human experience. Could androids mimic empathy (which it’s worth considering, that many people who are well along the ASD scale would fail at)? The commentary on depression, while always being a good message, that it isn’t something one can snap out of, was pointless. It really had nothing to do with the story…in fact, I struggled to work out what the story was…there was no actual ending, Dick just continued to write until he got bored with his character, I suspect.

I don’t know what it was about this book that made it possible to get through it. Perhaps like “Twilight” I just kept expecting it to get good at some point. There were a few times when it did have potential. If Deckard was an android- like was a possibility for a half page after heading to the alternate precinct- that would have made a much more interesting story. If he had been forced to kill Rachel, then, that could have been something, but in e end, nothing happened. It was an entirely, and pointlessly depressing book. I then watched the movie to see if Hollywood managed to fix it, and was again disappointed. The Deckard android story would have worked perfectly in the movie, but they didn’t take it. At least the Replicants had a motive to do what they were doing, to extend their life, which was missing from he book. There really were so many ways to take the idea of this story and make it something great. Seriously disappointing :(

Source: Goodreads, Kathy

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: It was very similar to carrying on a convoluted one-way conversation

This is the rambling story of Miss Brodie, who is a teacher of girls in the 1930′s. The whole of the book is spent bopping from 1 subject to the next and from 1 time frame to the next. It was very similar to carrying on a convoluted one-way conversation. You know the ones, where the listener (or in this case, the reader) eventually gets glazed over look and just starts mindlessly saying, “Uh-huh”. They’re no longer paying attention, they’re thinking of other things and actually wondering when they can politely walk away.

Miss Brodie’s character is narcissistic, delusional, and as ridiculous as Sandy (one of her students) says. She sees only what she wants and only as it pertains to her and her world. She thinks nothing of her impact on others, she only thinks of their reflection on her.

I don’t recommend it.

Source: Goodreads, Kristi (Books N Beans)

 

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: Miss Jean Brodie was a very amoral character.

I was looking forward to reading this book as it is very famous, a classic, hasn’t everyone heard of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? Sadly, I didn’t like it at all; Miss Jean Brodie was a very amoral character and her girls were at a vulnerable age. Weirdly, it seems like Miss Jean Brodie was unaware of her own lack of moral compass, she really thought she was doing the girls good. There was also the aspect of Miss Brodie living through the girls; again very amoral and self-centered. Overall, a short and disturbing read.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage: I’m just thankful that it was a quick read

So, hey. There’s this guy. His name’s Henry, but that’s not really important. He really wanted to join the army, cuz, well, that’s what all the cool kids were doing. So he did. And hey, who doesn’t wanna blow shit up? I know I’d wanna blow shit up. Everybody loves blowing shit up.
Anyway, so yeah. That happened. They all sat around for a while, and then there was this one fight, and then there was this other fight, and some stuff happened. Nothing to get excited about. And oh yeah, after that there was this other thing.
And now, I’m gonna describe the way the MAGNIFICENT SUNBEAMS HIT THIS BEAUTIFUL SHARD OF DECAYING, MAGGOT-INFESTED TREE BARK IN GLORIOUSLY POETIC DETAIL. Y’know. Because this is a good book, and they do that kind of thing in those.

…Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

I hate this book. I really do. Maybe I missed something, but I found no emotion, dimension, or depth in it whatsoever. And maybe that makes me ignorant, but hey, so be it. I had to force my way through this droning, monotonous mess just so I could then be made to write a paper on how supposedly brilliant/amazing I thought it was.

I guess I can respect it for what it is, but personally, I’m just thankful that it was a quick read.

Source: Goodreads, Stitchen

As You Like It, by William Shakespeare: The characters often speak in lengthy prose passages

Surprisingly, the sex jokes are the downfall of this work. There are so many, but since they’re from the sixteenth century, you initially don’t understand them. And when you do, it’s just not funny anymore. Also, the characters often speak in lengthy prose passages that can be challenging.

Source: Goodreads, Rebecca.

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