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Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.
For fans of the greatest band Canada has ever produced!
I just finished Bernard Cornwell's last ever Saxon Chronicle / Last Kingdom novel War Lord.
I have been following Uhtred of Bebbanberg since 2006, and will miss looking forward to new adventures.
Cornwell discovered his biological father was a Canadian soldier named William Oughtred and traced his family to a Saxon in Bebbanburg named Uhtred, thus inspiring his character.
An Argument Open to All; Reading the Federalist in the 21st Century; Sanford Levinson
Levinson authored Framed and Our Undemocratic Constitution; neither of which I have read,
but, res ipsa loquitor the titles rightly state a lack of valid nihil obstat. A bastard spec most unlike
Gladstone. Levinson's new tract follows the same path towards disavowal penumbra, a subjective
reading of Publius, that amounts to little serious scholarship. Got Levinson's latest for a buck, $1.00,
plus postage-knew what I was getting, of course, but wanted to read the other side of the
Love the song Freewill - the lyrics are impressively libertarian and philosophical.
That is (was sadly) Neil all the way.
I’m glad having had the opportunity to see them playing live shows on several occasions. These are unforgettable hours to me and at least the music and the wonderful lyrics will live on. A truly great band and in my opinion not only Canada’s finest.
Anthony Gottlieb, The Dream of Enlightenment
Concurrent with Levinson's Argument, Gottlieb is most definitely not an academic- a refreshing change.
As Schopenhauer claimed, all advance in philosophy occur outside the academy; ditto traverse histories
which explore subject and verse.
The Apple Tree by Daphne du Maurier originally published in 1952
This long short story is billed as a ghost story, but you have to decide as the surface story is more of a psychological thriller than traditional spirit tale.
A middle-aged man loses his wife and, through third-person narrative, we learn that their marriage was an unhappy one in a very British way of surface politeness, quiet suffering and some vicious passive aggressiveness. Who's at fault? Probably both as he's a generally inactive guy who likes things done for him, but also just likes to be left alone; whereas, she's a doer who resents if her every action isn't acknowledged with applause.
Overtime, they had settled into an unpleasant armistice of living together for practical reasons, but apart emotionally. He would escape from her to his study; she would escape from him by going to committee meetings or seeing friends.
The story opens a few months after her passing where he's content to have the house to himself as we are sure she would be had he passed first. But then he notices an ugly, craggy apple tree in his yard - amidst all the healthy apple trees - whose existence begins to irritate him in an eerily similar way to how his wife irritated him.
From here the story becomes one of man versus tree, at least in his head. The view from his bedroom window is spoiled for him because of the tree's ugliness. The gardener objects to his suggestion to cut it down arguing that it's still alive and bearing fruit. The fruit it does bear is, only to him, inedible. When a dead branch of the tree is cut up for firewood, he finds the smell it makes in the fireplace intolerable; whereas, others enjoy it.
On it goes in this tale of man versus tree with him getting more and more desperate to get rid of the tree. As his antipathy increases, we begin to wonder how much of this is in his head or if the tree really is haunted with the ghost of his bitter dead wife. The ending is effective if not a complete surprise leaving you to decide if it was a ghost or mental anguish at work.
It's a quick one- or two-sittings read that's enjoyable enough for what it is. I bought the Biblioasis edition, which is part of a ghost-story series. The book, while paperback, had a nice hand feel to it with thick pages and a few wonderful sketches, similar to the cover one above, spaced throughout. For seven bucks on Amazon, if you enjoy the look and feel of physical books, this is a fun one to get.
We began our annual reading of Mr. Christmas, Mr. Baxter by Edward Streeter, illustrated by Dorothea Fox. My personal reading begins with Peter Spier's Christmas! by Peter Spier, followed closely by William Joyce's excellent Santa Calls.
Reading Bogret v Boockvar petition to US Supreme Court
Questions whether Pennsylvania Secretary of State; Pennsylvania State Supreme Court
are held to US Constitution Article II and Equal Protection Clause primacy, and validity
of Purcell v Gonzalez relevance to enjoining unconstitutional usurpation in federal election
by state courts and executive branch officials.
A valid constitutional question and case due for decision later this month.
It's been a COVID filled time for reading books about the great state of Mississippi. A few months ago covered Dispatches From Pluto by Richard Grant 2015. Then quickly moved on to Most Southern Place on Earth by James C. Cobb 1992. Afterwards a friend had recommended Rising Tide by John M. Barry 1998. They've all been excellent but think I've actually saved the best for last.
Rising Tide is mainly about the 1927 great flood of the Mississippi River. The worst natural disaster the United States has ever had to deal with. But it's about sooooo much more than just that. Southern politics, national politics, race relations, immigration, Ku Klux Klan, cotton, etc, etc, etc. It's amazing how the events of the early 20th Century can be compared to events of today. Recommended reading for anyone and everyone.
Texas v Pennsylvania
Innovative filing and original jurisdiction with US Supreme Court.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Baxter, about one-third of the way in. Read aloud with the Missus.
A Christmas Carol, by you know who. 1940 edition, illustrations by Philip Reed. Original spelling and grammar retained.
Rome: a history in seven sackings (from the Gauls to the Nazis) by Mathew Kneale. A nice popular history. Easy to read and not too academic. If you are done with classical Rome and want an overview of what happened between the fall of Rome and 1945, this is a fun choice.
The Late George Apley by John P. Marquand originally published in 1938
This novel is a 1930s' version of a progressive look-back at a Boston Brahmin born just after the Civil War who tried to embody all that being an upper-class, protestant, proper-Bostonian of his day, 1870s - 1930s, entailed.
Today, it's easy to mock, even denounce, that culture and conduct, but as always, using simple shorthands and only a modern perspective to judge a different time and place misses the context and circumstances that created that man, moment and way of life.
And it is a way of life that clearly was already on the way out when this Pulitzer Prize winning novel was penned. Written in the form of a memoir, we learn about George Apley mainly through his copious correspondence with family and friends. It takes some adjustment reading a novel composed mainly of the lead character's letters, but once you settle in, the different personalities come to life and the family reveals are powerful.
Apley was born on third base, but breaking the metaphor, he understood that his entire life, and tried to live up to the responsibilities the role and fates demanded of him. It meant following a prescribed path and belief system where one's individual wants and passions are suppressed because the good of the family, the social structure and Boston comes first.
And that makes it, despite his, for the most part, unearned wealth and position, an odd and, oftentimes, difficult life as one rarely does what one wants to, but what one is supposed to do as George Apley's father, wider family and circle of older friends makes very clear to George from an early age. College-age George painfully learns this lesson when an affair with a local Irish girl (the horror!) turns serious and the family steps in, not to force - almost nothing is forced on George - but to explain why a marriage to this admittedly nice girl would damage, not just George, but all those directly and indirectly relying on him to carry on the responsibility of being an Apley.
They note the clubs he wouldn't be admitted to (important for connections in that day), the leading businessmen that would turn away from the family's firm, the social circles and other informal seats of power that would shun him and how even his children would carry a stigma. And as the male heir of the main Apley branch, he would be undermining the entire family and its history. Even with a modern perspective of how ridiculous all this sounds, you can feel the intense pressure on Apley to part company with his Irish girlfriend and marry only within his class - which he sadly does.
That sets the pattern for George's life as choice after choice - work, clubs, committees, how to raise his children, even where to bury the family's dead - is made for the greater good of the family, the Brahmins and the city of Boston. He does all this even though, in Boston, his class's leading influence is already, if not admittedly, in decline. At some point, George the individual almost ceases to exist as his fealty to his role, to its value to the family and wider society becomes who he is. Decisions aren't made based on individual desire but a holistic-group perspective, which (theme alert) diminishes and damages the individual.
Harder still, all this attempted molding and grooming to lead the Apley family is repeated in George's son John. (Spoiler alert) However, after seeing up close what this soul-crushing responsibility did to his father - a polite but passionless marriage and public and private behaviour dictated by expectations not personal choice - son John walks away from it all. However, he did it not in a 1960s style "I hate you" rebellion, but by graduating Harvard Law (as expected) and then taking a job and building a career and life in New York (Sodom and Gomorrah to a Boston Brahmin).
In some of the most heartbreaking moments in the book, George tries to cajole and induce, but never force or threaten, John back to Boston as he sees all that his life has stood for implicitly renounced by his son. But the son and daughter, who refuses to marry "in her class," want no part of the Apley legacy as they see, not only the personal damage the Brahmin life causes, but that its entire belief system is dated and failing.
The Late George Apley is not only a eulogy for George Apley the man, but also for the Brahmin way of life, especially as social and civic leaders of Boston. Today we see that former leadership as prejudiced, classist and elitist. It was all those things and it was wrong. But those inside the system were no more all evil than the oppressed are ever all angelic. Apley was a man of his times; times we can denounce today, but a man who lived a life within that construct with integrity and fortitude that can't so easily be dismissed. The value in Marquand's Pulitzer Prize winner is its perceptive capture of George Apply as a representative of a ruling class in its twilight.
Gibbons drove me up a wall. Looks good.
Yeah. I do still toss out the occasional Gibbons quote to suppress friends and family.
I think you could write book reviews for a living. Enjoyable to read.
Oddly enough, even in 2020, I know a Boston Irish Catholic family that, even today, is PURE Irish Catholic, even after 100+ years in this country.
Thank you, that's very nice of you to say.
Only because I lived in Boston for eight years does your reference to a "PURE Irish Catholic" family not surprise me as I saw some of that living there.
I'm an American mutt, but grew up, in NJ, with some Catholic families in our neighborhood, which I loved as, if you were one of the kids' friends, you were always welcome in their home.