Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, February 24, 2023

And There Was Light:Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle by Jon Meachem- 2022- 1268 pages

 And There Was Light:Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle by Jon Meachem- 2022- 1268 pages

"In life, Lincoln’s motives were moral as well as political—a reminder that our finest presidents are those committed to bringing a flawed nation closer to the light, a mission that requires an understanding that politics divorced from conscience is fatal to the American experiment in liberty under law. In years of peril he pointed the country toward a future that was superior to the past and to the present; in years of strife he held steady. Lincoln’s life shows us that progress can be made by fallible and fallen presidents and peoples—which, in a fallible and fallen world, should give us hope." - Jon Meachem 

Born - February 12,1809 - Hodgenville, Kentucy into a poor uneducated family 

November 4,1842- Marries Mary Todd

Served Four Terms as a Representative in The Illinois House of Representatives

March 4, 1847 to March 3, 1849- serves as a congressman from Illinois- in the Republican Party

Admitted in 1836 to the Illinois Bar

March 4, 1847 to March 3, 1849 - serves as Illinois Representative in U.S. Congress 

March 1, 1861- Begins his term as president of the United States- he ran on an anti-slavery platform which alarmed slave owners in the southern states.

December 20, 1860- South Carolina succeeds from the union

 By February 1, 1861 Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Texas have all succeeced 

February 9, 1861 -Jefferson Davis elected President of the Confederacy.

On April 12, 1861 -Confederate troops fire on Fort Sumter

April 12, 1861 to May 26, 1865- The American Civil War (sometimes called The War Between the States)--The number of soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865, generally estimated at 620,000, is approximately equal to the total of American fatalities in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, combined.

Assassinated: April 15, 1865, - Washington DC by John Wilkes Booth

This book is a masterpiece of historical biography. I wish all teachers of American history would be required to read this work.

Meachem shows us in detail the conditions of his upbringing. Lincoln had very little formal education but while in his early twenties he became an avid reader of Shakespeare, The King James Bible and then well known political treatises. American politics was divided into two camps, those who wanted the national government to abolish slavery and those who wanted the states to regulate this. Slaveholding states were made wealthy by Cotton plantations which required lots of enslaved workers to be profitable. Abolitionists cited the words of Thomas Jefferson to support their views:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

On the other side slave holders quoted scriptures from the bible advising slaves to obey their masters.

Lincoln did strongly believe slavery should be ended. However, as Meachem documents clearly, he felt African descendants were intrinsically inferior to whites and he wanted freed slaves transported out of the country. Above all he wanted the Union to survive.

In his alternative history, The People's History of the United States Howard Zinn there is an account of the war for different from either the fantasies of Gone with the Wind or presentations of Lincoln as another Abraham.

"The participants in the American civil war on both sides fell for the drum beats of patriotism.  The wealthy could buy their way out of military service.  Southern soldiers come across as complete dupes, owning no slaves  or land but seeing it as their duty to die for those who did while wealthy slave owners set the war out.  Zinn details how after the south lost, laws were passed to keep ex-slaves in subjugation.  Poor whites were made to think they were superior to African Americans and did not understand that the elite cared nothing about them" from my post 

Meachem shows us the tribulations Lincoln went through during the war. He quotes extensively from some of his famous speeches. We learn of his at times tumultuous marriage and his wife's mental issues, his tremendous grief over the deaths of his sons.

The book is more than just a biography, it is a portrait of an era.

"Abraham Lincoln did not bring about heaven on earth. Yet he defended the possibilities of democracy and the pursuit of justice at an hour in which the means of amendment, adjustment, and reform were under assault. What if the constitutional order had failed and the Union had been permanently divided? What would have come next? A durable oligarchical white Southern slave empire, surely strengthened and possibly expanded, would have emerged from the war; and, as Lincoln saw, the viability of popular self-government would have been in ruins."

The states that formed the Confederacy all voted for trump. They have passed laws designed to make it difficult for the descendants of enslaved persons to vote. Several of the states rank at the bottom in Education, income of population and numerous other factors. Their leaders are obsessed over trans persons and idiotic anti "woke" agenda. This is a direct legacy of slavery.

I am very glad I read this wonderful biography. I have Meachem's biography of Andrew Jackson on my Amazon wish list 

Mel Ulm

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko was first published in 1996 by Zhoda in Kyiv as Pol´ovi doslidzhennia z ukraïns´koho seksu.- Translated from the Ukrainian by Halyna Hryn. First published in English in 2011

 Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko was first published in 1996 by Zhoda in Kyiv as Pol´ovi doslidzhennia z ukraïns´koho seksu.- Translated from the Ukrainian by Halyna Hryn. First published in English in 2011

Over the past ten years or so I have posted upon a number of authors originally from what is now known as the Ukraine. These include Gogol, Clarice Lispector and Josepth Roth as well as Yiddish Language authors. All of them left the Ukraine as soon as they could, most to escape pervasive Anti-Semitic pograms. Of course they are long since deceased. 

Early this month I posted upon my first reading of a work by a contemporary Ukrainian writer,Sweet Darusya:A Tale of Two Villages by Maria Matios -2003- 159 pages- translated from the Ukrainian by Michael M. Naylan and Tytarenko-2016.  

Today I am posting upon a very highly reviewed work by a second contemporary Ukrainian author, Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko, first published in 2003. I will mostly just make a few observations. I cannot help but relate the struggle of the narrator to deal with men who use her sexually to what is happening in the Ukraine now.  

I am glad to have read this famous work but also glad I am done with it. I am pretty much in agreement with these remarks I found on a review:

"Reading Oksana Zabuzhko’s Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex is like having bad sex. You’re not enjoying yourself but you don’t necessarily feel like stopping. Your mind wanders, you wonder how long until it’s over, and you may even fake a response just so it’ll stop. After all, it’s late and you need to get some sleep." 

 I was kind of reminded of a conversation in a Seinfeld Episode, The Mango-Season 5-Episode 1. Elaine earlier in the show told Jerry she facked all her orgasms with him. Talking later in her office to a female coworker she asks if she had ever "faked it" with her husband. She says sure "I mean some times enough is enough and you just want some sleep".

The narrator’s abusive love affair mirrors the historical cultural norms and imposed values in Ukraine. It symbolizes a generation’s struggle to free itself from the past, to forge its own identity, and yet hold onto the best parts of the former identity, the traditions and historical moments that made independence worth fighting for despite years of being suspended between wars, languages, identities, and hostile neighbours that would crush, assimilate or extinguish them. Thus the narrator reflects on the tenderness and love that was present in her relationship as much as the painful parts, the destructive parts, and the unbearable and everlasting scars that remain.

"…obviously her mother tongue was the most nutritious, most healing to the senses: velvety marigold, or no, cherry (juice on lips)? strawberry blond (smell of hair)? …it’s always like that, the minute you peer more closely the whole thing disintegrates into tiny pieces and there’s no putting it back together; she hungered for her language terribly, physically, like a thirsty man for water, just to hear it — living and full-bodied with that ringing intonation like a babbling brook at at the historical trauma passed down from generation to generation becomes clear and inescapable. Although the word “Gulag” is only used twice, in one of the small snippets of poetry peppered throughout the novel, the vast system of Stalinist concentration camps is present, quiet and ghost-like, throughout the narrative.

And, though the crux of the novel is Ukrainian identity, the book is not exclusively about being Ukrainian. It’s about being on your knees under the weight of any culture. The narrator wryly observes the same struggle in America. “… the Great American Depression from which it seems that about 70 percent of the population suffers, running to psychiatrists, gulping down Prozac, each nation goes crazy in its own way…”

This is a novel that digests its reader; you feel as if you are becoming fluid — dissolved into something at once more complete and yet more disjointed. 

Oksana Zabuzhko was born in Lutsk (Ukraine) in 1960. Her novel ‘‘Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex’’, translated into sixteen languages, made her well known on the international literary scene in 1996. She has published eighteen other books, including the award-winning novel ‘‘The Museum of Abandoned Secrets’’ (2009). She is also a leading public figure in Ukraine.

I hope to read her The Museum of Abandoned Secrets soon.


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meachem- 2012- 1159 Pages

 Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meachem- 2012- 1196 Pages-

A Post in Observation President's Day- An American Holiday 

Thomas Jefferson

Born- April 13, 1743- Dies July 4, 1826 - in Virginia 

January 1, 1772 - Marries his third cousin - Martha Skelton 
September 6, 1782- She dies- he kept his promise never to remarry-2 daughters survived to adulthood 

Authors The Declaration of Independence-1776

American Revolution- April 19,1775 to September 8, 1783

Governor of Virginia- June 1, 1779 to June 31,1781

Ambassador to France- May 17, 1785 to September 26,1789

Secretary of State for President Washington - March 20, 1793 to December 31, 1793

President of the United States- March 4,1801 to March 4, 1809

April 30, 1803. The Louisiana Purchase doubles American territory 

In a high school in Florida I was taught the standard history of the American Revolution. A few men of heroic status lead us to independence from the British, aided by a Nobel French man. We learned about the Boston Tea Party, the Minute Men, George Washington at Valley Forge. The credo of the country, taken from The Declaration of Independence authored by Thomas Jefferson was 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.."

When The Declaration of Independence was put forth in 1776 the population of to be 13 states was about 2.5 million, including 500,000 enslaved persons mostly in the south.(I am assuming this leaves out native Americans).

But then there is this "Article one, section two of the Constitution of the United States declared that any person who was not free would be counted as three-fifths of a free individual for the purposes of determining congressional representation." A significant part of Meacham's biography is devoted to Jefferson's attempt to reconcile his words in the Declaration of Independence with his support for the continuation of slavery. Another fly in the hagiographical story of Jefferson is his long term sexual relationship with an enslaved woman, Sally Hemings who was the half-sister of his late wife. Meacham indicates she was about 15 when Jefferson initially impregnated her.  

As suggested in the title the book is developed around an account of how Jefferson governed, how his life experiences shaped his methods and expectations. Jefferson grew up having slaves around him. His father was a tall man, a marvellous horse rider, as Jefferson became. Meacham tells us that Jefferson loved learning new things. As an adult he accumulated a vast library. He loved fine food, taking a slave with him to Paris to learn to cook. (He met Sally Hemings in Paris, the full facts are unknown but it seems she was the mistress of the captain of the ship who brought her to France- she was 14)

Jefferson was learned in the classics as well as a reader of the works of English political philosophers such as Locke and Hobbes.

Jefferson got involved in Virginia politics when relatively young. He preferred to have cordial relationships with others and learned to manipulate others into thinking he agreed with them only go get them in accord with his own views. He enjoyed holding political office.

Meachem presents early post Independence American political ideology as having two advocates of very different visions of what America should become. Alexander Hamilton wanted a strong federal government, a central bank, to give the Federal government the power to tax (initially the only federal revenue was from customs duties) and a standing navy. Drawing from his upbringing and his reading Jefferson wanted most power in the hands of the states, he had a vision of plantation owners. He did not initially want a central bank and did not seek powers when President that were not spelled out in the Constitution. However as Meacham saw, when this got in the way of something Jefferson wanted to get done, he did not hesitate to act beyond spelled out powers.

 I learned how Jefferson backed down North African countries that captured American sailors and enslaved them. This motivated him to build up the American Navy.  

This is a long book. I know my post has been a bit rambling but I want to talk about three things before I close.

Jefferson marries when he was 29. He totally adored his wife. She died ten years latter when he was 39. She made him promise to never remarry, not wanting their children to have a step- mother. Jefferson never remarried. He had to fight the urge to end his life. My wife died last January after 18 years of marriage. I had little interest in going on but I knew our daughters needed me. I felt a deep affinity to Jefferson. He did have some relationships, probably without a physical element, with highly placed women in Paris. Meacham does not romantise Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings. It seems just a source of sexual gratification. It was customary for enslaved women to be used as concubines though polite society frowned on it. He was mocked in the press for his "darkie" children. In his will he freed them.

The conceded by historians biggest Presidential accomplishment of Jefferson was the doubling of American territory through the Louisiana Purchase from France. Napoleon needed money to finance his wars. Wanting very much to make the purchase, Jefferson at first thought he did not have the Constitutional right to do this on his own authority. Then in a letter from the American delegates in Paris, word was sent that Napoleon was having second thoughts about the sale. Jefferson at once found the means to pay the French, acting without constitutional authority, as he had previously seen it.Jefferson knew the purchase was a wonderful thing for America so he put that first.

Meachem basically says Jefferson believed slavery was morally wrong but he could not see how Virginia and other states could function without slavery. I recently read a brilliant book that convinced me that Jefferson is being given a much more favorable treatment by Meachem. I am referring to The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry by Ned and Constance Sublette - 2015

The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry should be required reading for all teachers of American history. It shows how slavery corrupted all slavers and inflicted terrible cruelty on the victims. I cannot find a way to adequately praise this book. Those taught the after school cartoon version of the founding of America will be shocked maybe even hurt by what they learn about God - Like figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  

1810 - the importation of slaves into USA is banned. This was sponsored and pushed for by then President Thomas Jefferson. The as taught in schools myth is that this showed Jefferson, a slave owner, long term wanted to end slavery. The exposure of the venality and self-serving reasons for Jefferson's actions is presented in completely convincing details in The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry by Ned and Constance Sublette - 2015 - 752 pages
 By stopping the import of slaves those already here became much more valuable. It became very profitable to breed slaves. When a slave was too old for field work, Jefferson cut their food rations in half.  

The costliest slave was a light skinned early teenage female, called "A Fancy Girl". In auctions in New Orleans, they were sold naked. Owners had full sexual rights to slaves and many a southern matron sold off slaves resembling their husbands.  

I will give Meachem the next to last words.

"He endures because we can see in him all the varied and wondrous possibilities of the human experience—the thirst for knowledge, the capacity to create, the love of family and of friends, the hunger for accomplishment, the applause of the world, the marshaling of power, the bending of others to one’s own vision. His genius lay in his versatility; his larger political legacy in his leadership of thought and of men. With his brilliance and his accomplishment and his fame he is immortal. Yet because of his flaws and his failures he strikes us as mortal, too—a man of achievement who was nonetheless susceptible to the temptations and compromises that ensnare all of us. He was not all he could be. But no politician—no human being—ever is. We sense his greatness because we know that perfection in politics is not possible but that Jefferson passed the fundamental test of leadership: Despite all his shortcomings and all the inevitable disappointments and mistakes and dreams deferred, he left America, and the world, in a better place than it had been when he first entered the arena of public life. Jefferson is the founding president who charms us most. George Washington inspires awe; John Adams respect. With his grace and hospitality, his sense of taste and love of beautiful things—of silver and art and architecture and gardening and food and wine—Jefferson is more alive, more convivial." 

To expand your understanding beyond high school history I suggest you read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and The 1619 Project edited by Nikole Hanah-Jones 

I am currently reading Meacham's biography of Abraham Lincoln 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Sweet Darusya:A Tale of Two Villages by Maria Matios -2003- 159 pages- translated from the Ukrainian by Michael M. Naylan and Tytarenko-2016

 Sweet Darusya:A Tale of Two Villages by Maria Matios -2003- 159 pages- translated from the Ukrainian by Michael M. Naylan and Tytarenko-2016

Over the past ten years or so I have posted upon a number of authors originally from what is now known as the Ukraine. These include Gogol, Clarice Lispector and Josepth Roth as well as Yiddish Language authors. All of them left the Ukraine as soon as they could, most to escape pervasive Anti-Semitic pograms. Of course they are long since deceased. Today I will post upon an author many consider the best contemporary Ukrainian author,Maria Matios, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament since 2012.

The Guardian has a very insightful and elegant post on this work. I suggest those considering buying it, which I personally strongly endorse for anyone wanting to get into post independence Ukrainian literature, read The Guardian's review. I will just make a few observations on what struck me.

The linchpin character is Darusya, she is a deaf mute, a holy fool.In the Eastern Slavic tradition holy fools are considered to be touched by God and sacred. Their seeming insanity is a mask in the world of human beings where they must dwell, while they are believed to be privy to higher truths in the spiritual realm. Darusya is also part dervish with her penchant for dancing alone in a circular motion in her need to escape the world of reality that causes her pain. Much of the plot turns on her involvement with men.The story line proceeds backwards in time, starting in the early 1960s and going back to the World War Two period.

The setting is Bukovina (sometimes rendered as Bukovyna).Most of the action in the novel occurs in two neighboring villages called Cheremoshne in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains on opposite sides of the Cheremosh River. Educated Ukrainian readers would be familiar with the complex history of this region. My understanding of the events and attitudes depicted in the novel were greatly enhanced by an article in The Internet Enclopedia of the Ukraine. The region then as now is divided between Romania and the Ukraine. The residents have little sense of political identity other than to their villages. Jews and Roma were quite common before the Germans entered the area. We see them being deported.  

 A fascinating view of the reliance of people on magic thinking emerges. If your cow will not give milk or a woman is baren it is from a curse. In the prevailing ethos, if a woman is raped she is either denigrated as a whore or her husband has come home drunk. No one has any education beyond minimal literacy. They cannot really speak with Germans or Russians. They speak their own dialect.

When the Soviets invade, we see the impact of their imposition of collective farming on the residents. Petty Government officials of all sorts are looking for bribes, exhorting sex for food for resident's families. Both the Germans and the Russians engage in horrifying torture to find out where partisans are hiding. Then the partisans show up at your door demand food or torture you to see if you gave out any information on them.

"Sweet Darusya” (Solodka Darusya) was awarded the Ukrainian Book of the Year Award in 2004, and in 2005 Ms. Matios received the Taras Shevchenko Prize for the novel, the highest national literary honor in Ukraine. Prior to this English translation, “Sweet Darusya” appeared in eight other languages, including German, Italian and French. It is being made into a feature film in Ukraine.

Ms. Matios, a native of the Bukovyna region of Ukraine, lives in Kyiv, where she continues to write. She is the author of 19 volumes of fiction and poetry. Since 2012, she has been a national deputy in the Ukrainian Parliament." From the Ukrainian Weekly

I hope she is safe.

Mel u

Friday, February 3, 2023

Whereabouts: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri -2021-167 Pages

 Whereabouts: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri -2021- 167 pages - first published in 2018 in Italian by the author and then in her translation in 2021

"Here you are, in the heart of the city, surrounded by the dead: all those souls still wreathed and garlanded, lined up like boxes in the post office. You always occupied your own space. You preferred dwelling in your own realm, closed off. How can I link myself to another person when I’m still struggling, even after your death, to eliminate the distance between you and my mother?" Spoken by the narrator at her father's grave site

 Whereabouts is the fifth novel by Jhumpa Lahiri I have had the great pleasure of reading. I am close to saying it is my favourite. This maybe because of the profound feeling of aloneness wbich the passing of my wife have brought upon me and which is reflected in the narrative.  

Whereabouts follows the daily activities of a 46 year old woman,a professor. We never learn what she teaches. She has never married, is childless, we never learn her name or where she lives but it does seem she lives in Europe. Never has she been outside the city in which she resides. She has a relationship with an older, married man, a writer and a scholar. There seems little passion between them. His wife is frequently out of town and they meet in his apartment. It seems almost like a way to kill time.

The narrator loves swimming in the local pool, but afterward, in the locker room, she eavesdrops on the naked women who chat and confess their misfortunes, which robs her of whatever contentment she had found. “As I take in these losses, these tragedies, it occurs to me that the water in the pool isn’t so clear after all,” Lahiri writes. “It reeks of grief, of heartache. It’s contaminated.” A carefree vacation reminds her of her unhappy origins. A pharmacist encourages her to pamper her skin with a scented oil, and she buys pills for her headaches.

The numerous reviews of Whereabouts in major sources like The New York Time, The Harvard Review, The Guardian all talk a lot about what is to be made of the fact that Lahiri originally wrote the work in Italian then translated it into English.  

The narrator toward the end of the novel is given a grant to participate in a symposium in her field she will travel outside of her country.

Perhaps I am reaching but I see the narrator's teaching, her love of reading, her frequent visits to her mother, whose death will set a bookmark in her life, her residing in a presumably ancient city as meditation on death.

The narrator's observations about those she encounters are acute, things of beauty. The prose exquisite. The chapters are all quite short and named after where the narrator is located as she goes about her day.

"Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of four works of fiction: Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland; and a work of nonfiction, In Other Words. She has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize; the PEN/Hemingway Award; the PEN/Malamud Award; the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award; the Premio Gregor von Rezzori; the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature; a 2014 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama; and the Premio Internazionale Viareggio-Versilia, for In altre parole. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012, and named Commendatore Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic) by President Sergio Mattarella in 2019. Editor of The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories, she has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award, both as a novelist and as a translator." From the publisher 


Thursday, February 2, 2023

Medea by Euripides 431 B.C. E. - translated by Rachel Kitzinger - 2016 This play is included in The Greek Plays: Sixteen Plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides-Preface, general introduction, play introductions, and compilation copyright © 2016 by Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm

 Medea by Euripides- 431 B.C. E. - translated by Rachel Kitzinger - 2016 This play is included in The Greek Plays: Sixteen Plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides-Preface, general introduction, play introductions, and compilation copyright © 2016 by Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm 

 Euripides- 480 to 406 BCE- Athens CAST OF CHARACTERS (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE) NURSE, Medea’s personal attendant TUTOR, teacher and minder of Medea and Jason’s two sons MEDEA, member of the royal family of Colchis, on the Black Sea; granddaughter of the Sun-god; wife of Jason CHORUS of Corinthian women CREON, king of Corinth JASON, heir to the throne of Iolcus, living in exile in Corinth AEGEUS, king of Athens CHILDREN, Jason and Medea’s two sons MESSENGER, a slave in the royal house of Creon 

In Greek mythology, Medea was the granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and ran away from her father’s house to marry the hero Jason. Euripides re-sculpted her story in his play, adding the element that made her the Medea we know today – the woman who kills her own children to avenge her husband’s betrayal.

So the first  audience who saw Euripides’s play would have been in for something incredibly shocking, unfamiliar as they were with a Medea who kills her children for vengeance. When the play was first performed in an Athenian tragedy competition of 431 BC, it came in last place, and it’s often thought that this was because of the heroine’s dreadful actions. But regardless of the first audience’s response, the play quickly became a classic, and Medea’s infanticide supplanted all other versions of the story

The play takes place in front of Medea and Jason’s house in Corinth. Of the two entrances to the stage, one is understood to come from the royal palace where Creon and his daughter live, the other from the town and surrounding countryside. My main purpose here is to just keep a record of my reading. Wikipedia has a decent overall article on the play. YouTube has videos of Plays, an opera and a movie based on the play. Medea seeks revenge, she is known as a sourcer and a witch. The plot centers on Medea's, a former princess of the kingdom of Colchis, and the wife of Jason; she finds her position in the Greek world threatened as Jason leaves her for a Greek princess of Corinth. Medea takes vengeance on Jason by murdering his new wife as well as her own two sons, after which she escapes to Athens to start a new life. The depth of hatred felt by Medea is startling even when we know before we read the play what will happen. Like other Greek and Roman dramas I have recently read, the precarious nature of life, which can change in a moment at the whims of the Gods, is on center stage in Medea.

"Professor Kitzinger began teaching at Vassar in January, 1982. She taught courses in Greek and Latin literature, specializing in Greek tragedy, her field of research.She was involved in the development of the college course, Civilization in Question, which she taught for many years, often with Professor Mitch Miller from the Philosophy Department. In addition to articles on Sophokles, she published The Choruses of Sophokles’ Antigone and Philoktetes: A Dance of Words, translations of Sophokles’ “Oedipus at Colonus” and “Women of Trachis”; translations of Euripides’ “Medea,” “Hippolytus” and “Alcestis” in Greek Plays (Modern Library); she also edited with Michael Grant the three-volume Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean. She directed a production of “Oedipus at Colonus” in collaboration with the Drama Department and gave frequent recitals of Greek poetry using the restored pronunciation of Ancient Greek. She sat on the Matthew Vassar Junior Chair of Greek and Latin Languages and Literature. Professor Kitzinger also worked in the administration in various roles: Advisor to the Junior Class, Director of Teaching Development and the Freshman Seminar; Associate Dean of the Faculty." From

I hope to soon read Seneca's Medea.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Reading Life Review - January 2023 - Future Plans- New Project Ancient Lives

The Reading Life Review- January 2023- plans for the future 

In January I posted on three works by women and six by men. Six are still living and five were featured for the first time in January.

Home Countries of Authors 

1. USA- 4
2. Italy - 1
3. New Zealand- 1
4. U.K. - 1
5. Greece - 1
6. Japan - 1

In January I posted upon four works of non-fiction, two novels, one short story and for Ancient Dramas, three by Seneca and one by Euripides.

Blog Stats 

There are currently 4,157 posts online. My posts have been viewed 6,896,608 times 

Of the most viewed posts in January, eight of the top ten were about short stories.

Home Countries of Visitors 

1. USA 
2. Germany - first time at this level
3. Phillippines 
4. India
5. Canada
6. Sweden 
7. Russia 
8. U.K.
9. Netherlands 
10. Israel 

Future Plans

I have started a new project, Ancient Reads. I hope to read most of the Greek Tradgedies, Homer, Virgil and Ovid in highly regarded new translations. I have collections of Roman Comedies on my E Reader as well as the complete plays of Aristophenes.Beyond this I plan to read Ancient Sumerian works as well as works from India, China, Britain, Japan also in mind. Additionally I have begun to read relevant histories and biographies. Additionally I will include modern Fiction set in Ancient Times.

Books I hope to read and reread by May 1

Rereads by Thomas Pynchon first Gravity's Rainbow, then Against the Day, and Mason and Dixon.

Also on my list is Recognitions by William Gaddis, a work I read about fifty years ago.

I am considering reading for the first time Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

I also want very much to read more short stories by Sholom Aleichem