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Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.
This rather ponderous tome which arrived today.
I am currently reading "The Complete Fiction" by H.P. Lovecraft. It contains all his works, the popular and the very rarely encountered ones.
On Joyce and Syphilis, Kevin Birmingham
Culled from a literary blog at work last week, this excerpt is drawn from KB's A Portrait of the Artist as a Syphilitic,
and is not very pleasant reading, but Joyce conjures speculation and closely reasoned scholarship.
"Psychology of Sex" by Havelock Ellis. Published in 1933, this was probably the best-selling book on human sexuality to be published during the Era prior to the Kinsey Reports, a condensation of much of what Ellis had published in his landmark series "Studies In The Psychology of Sex" in the 1920s. This was probably the first book most Americans had easy access to that discussed such matters as birth control and homosexuality in a reasoned, tolerant manner, and had extremely wide distribution thru the Sears and Roebuck catalogs, which offered it as "recommended by doctors!" in its book department from the mid-thirties into the forties, and thru mail-order advertisements in many popular, mainstream magazines. There's a pretty good chance someone in your family had a copy hidden in the bottom of the towel drawer.
Wow, nice find. Enjoy that read!
I'm re-reading McKenna's The Sand Pebbles. I enjoyed it the first time and it is not disappointing on the second go around!
Continuing my trend pf presidential biographies, I just finished Woodrow Wilson by John Milton Cooper, Jr. I found him a MUCH more attractive and sympathetic character than I expected. He is a VERY important president for many reasons. Among many fascinating things I learned was the connection between him and FDR. FDR was his Under Secretary of the Navy, and FDR to a great degree thought he was continuing Wilson's program when he introduced his social legislation in the 30s. But also, after FDR was stricken with polio, Wilson, who never fully recovered from his debilitating stroke in 1919, gave Roosevelt a lot of moral support, and FDR visited Wilson shortly before the latter's death in 1924.
Slip opinions. Justice Sotomayor's dissent in Schuette v. BAMN is legally illiterate.:icon_smil
You expected differently?
After the bench salvo, no. And despite the cruelty of my last post, I have great admiration for Justice Sotomayor,
who has written better and reasoned much more closely to the issues. I particularly agreed with her in Calhoun.
Conservative that I am, I listen to the liberal voice because I have learned its wisdom too often not to heed all sound.
Justice Sotomayor has become the heart of the Court; arrogant, vicious and wild to some extent, which when placed in
context along Charlotte Bronte's observation: The heart has hidden treasures, in secret kept, in silence sealed, defines
Sonia Sotomayor. Unfortunately, a heart can be broken, and, if worn on the judicial gown sleeve, such wounding can lead to a regrettable illegitimate dissent. But I have great expectations for a Justice with a gold heart. [angel]
"Of Time And The River," by Thomas Wolfe. I've had this sitting on my shelf for years, having started and abandoned it at least six times since the year 2000, and am determined to get thru it this time. There are individual passages that are breathtaking, but there's an awful lot of vamping for time in between them.
Wolfe has been elusive for me as well. Look Homeward Angel sat unread for an unusually long time.
A man who recognized his genius early, but portrayed his life while pursued by tuberculosis.
I suspect he knew his time would be brief.
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," I somehow missed this one as a kid and a few months back read a book "When Books Went to War," which described the military's program of working with book publisher during WWII to produce cheap, easily portable books for the servicemen and "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" was mentioned several times as a favorite. Just started it, so I'll report back when I've gotten into it.
I tried it but the grinding poverty and dark depressing story just wore me out.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn endears as Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
"Grinding poverty" is an incredibly apt decryption, but despite that - and at times it does emotionally wear me down - I am enjoying the book. And the character and integrity with which some of the characters approach their poverty is awe inspiring.
I just read a scene where Katie - the mother of two, with a third on its way, has just buried her husband, is too pregnant to do her work as a maid (scrubbing floors, no light dusting for her), is out of money, might have to pull her children (age 13 and 14) out of school to get jobs so that the family can eat - is offered money as compensation owed her dead husband by his friend and local bar owner.
This money - while a pittance to the bar owner - would bridge the gap the family has until Katie can give birth and get back to work - and would allow her children to stay in school. A few minutes before the owner came in to make the offer, Katie was at wits end, literally fearing having to live on the street or kill herself and her children as she won't accept charity or have them become wards of the state.
Despite this - she knows her drunkard husband was not owned money - she tells the bar owner (who, it was clear, did not have a nefarious ulterior motive) that she knows her husband was not owed any money and, in fact, probably still had an outstanding bar bill. She thanks the owner for his kind intention, but refuses to accept the money.
I was raised with the same value system as she was - no charity to be accepted, ever / earn your way in this world, period - but I've also never been tested the way Katie was. I hate to admit this, but I'd have taken the money and, then, done everything I could to repay it with interest over time. That she refused, that her principals and character were that strong, just left me in awe.
Yes, the poverty is brutal, but that was an inspiring scene.
What was always interesting to me about that scene is that Betty Smith herself -- thru her fictional avatar Francie -- saw Katie's attitude about such things to be intrinsically selfish, putting personal convinctions ahead of the well-being of her family, and as you work thru the story this will become more clear. Smith knew that she herself, coming from a poor, working-class background, would never have gotten into Yale's drama program, regardless of her skill and hard work, without the intercession of others, and then had gone from Yale straight into the WPA Federal Theatre Project.
Katie likely wouldn't have approved, but Francie was more of a realist about the way the world works.
Wolfe is like that. There are times when he's all over the place and you're thinking "what the hell is he talking about", but when he's on his game, holy sweet cherry pie with whipped cream on top...he has no equal.
His description of a cross-country railroad trip in "River" is one of the most sublime things I've ever read. The essence of Americana, boiled down into a prose poem.
Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again is a wonderful detail of life in the Era, the "modernization" of America and the illusion of prosperity it brings. It contains some of my favorite Wolfe passages, such as:
And one of my favorites:
It should be required reading.
Arthur C. Clarke's "2061 (Space Odyssey Book 3)"