On Poetry Anthologies

Last month I finished a poetry anthology and last weekend I finished another one. I took months for each of them and liked many poems and disliked or didn’t care for a lot of them as well. As you do with anthologies – usually you don’t like each and every poem, but anthologies help you to find poets whose work you enjoy and want to read more of. Both anthologies delivered on this requirement, but otherwise one was very usable and the other wasn’t.

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The usable one is this: Eighteenth Century Women Poets edited by Roger Lonsdale. It lists the poets in roughly chronological order and gives a brief biographical introduction before a selection of their poems. Each poem included information about when it was written and any notes were on the same page as the poem, that is, at the bottom of the page. No paging back and forth to find end notes, for instance. All poets and poems and all the required context on the same pages. This was a reasonably priced paperback.

The second anthology is one of German poetry edited by Heinrich Detering: Reclams Buch der deutschen Gedichte. It’s a two-volume hardback edition with a nice cloth cover and an attached satin ribbon bookmark, but that’s about it for the usability. It is also organized by poets in chronological order, but it doesn’t give the info when a poem was written and the short biographical details of the poets are collected at the end of the second volume, but not (as you would expect) in the order of appearance in the book, but in alphabetical order. So, you’re reading a poem in the first volume, but you need to look up the poet in the second volume. And you can’t just use the ribbon to mark the place where to find the next poet, you have to find each poet where they occur in their alphabetical order. A lot of leafing though the end of the book before you find what you are looking for. Also, footnotes are at the end of a poem which is a real pain if it is a long poem, as you either have to keep paging back and forth or read the footnotes after the poem when you’ve forgotten what they refer to.

Maybe next time I read this anthology, I will note the page number of the biographical details next to where a poet appears in the text body of the two volumes, but who knows if I will ever get around to it. I found having to search for the biographical details and notes in this way absolutely cumbersome. And it’s otherwise a very nice edition, nice cover, binding, paper quality, some really great poems… but the usability of the much cheaper paperback was a lot better. Goes to show…

I’ve recently treated myself to a lovely paperback version of Emily Dickinson’s Complete Poems which is what I’ll be reading as my next poetry project. If it gets to be a bit too much of Dickinson, I’ll swap over to some of Shakespeare’s sonnets of which I have a nice paperback edition that I’ve had for years and only ever dipped into. I’m rather looking forward to reading more of both poets.

We finished watching the new miniseries with David Tennant Around the World in 80 Days that I posted about in my last post. It is really very good. And I’ve finished reading the Arabian Nights Entertainments except for the last ten or so pages which I will read in bed tonight. The last tale is one of the ones that I like a lot, so I’m almost sorry that I’m almost done.

I’ve got tons of work tomorrow, on my last day before my long Christmas vacation (I’m off work until January 11), so I’m rather sure I will be too tired to post anything. On Friday, Mum and I are driving to Bavaria, where we will stay until the end of December, so I won’t be posting anything on Friday either. Maybe on the weekend. Partner has already left for his place as he had things to do.

Keep safe, world.

November Reading

A very short list of books read in November. I took part in Non-Fiction November (as last year) and that made me read less, because I have a slower reading speed with non-fiction.

Ongoing project:
Murasaki Shikibu and Royall Tyler (trsl.), The Tale of Genji.
I read a lot of this and now only have about 200 pages to go which I hope to finish this weekend. It’s fascinating but also very strange. When I’m done, I’ll write a review.

Non-Fiction:
Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence.
My project for Non-Fiction November. It was super interesting, see my review here.

Howl

Poetry:
Robert Lonsdale (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Women Poets.
Finished this anthology that I started in July. I enjoyed it a lot. It’s amazing how many women poets were around in the 18th century. Their poetry is no worse than that of a lot of male poets who are listed in all the major literary histories, while no-one has ever heard of most of the women. Unfair!

Children’s Literature:
Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle.
A modern classic of children’s lit. Part of a trilogy and I’m certainly planning on reading the other parts too (they are already on my Kindle). I love the Chrestomanci Series and wanted to read some of Jones’ other works because they are just so quirky and imaginative. Somehow, I never came across her books as a child or a teenager, which is a pity, as I’m sure I’d have loved her books as much as I loved Joan Aiken’s works.

Keep safe, world.

September and October Reading

I read more in August than in September and October combined. I was busy with other stuff on most of the September weekends and as weekends are my main reading time, I naturally couldn’t read as much as I usually do. I’m lumping September in with October, which was a better reading month, but also not optimal. I was on vacation and did things with my family and only read a bit every now and then. Still, October was passable, as my vacation only took up the first half of the month. Here’s the list of books read:

 

Ongoing project:
Murasaki Shikibu and Royall Tyler (trsl.), The Tale of Genji.
I read a few pages, but not very many. I need to prioritize it in November and December to get through it this year.

Poetry:

  • Roger Lonsdale (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Women Poets.
    I’m about three-quarters done. Some of the poems in this anthology are very good. It’s a mixed bag, but no worse that poems by the more well-known male 18th century poets. I’m enjoying it.
  • Heinrich Detering (ed.), Reclams Buch der deutschen Gedichte.
    I continued reading this poetry collection in September (too unwieldy to take on vacation). I’m not yet done but should be done soon. I quite like my foray into German poetry.

Non-Fiction:

  • Robert Alter, The Pleasures of Reading in an Ideological Age.
    A short book that explains the elements of style that distinguish literature from other texts. I enjoyed it a lot.
  • Adrienne Rich, Essential Essays: Culture, Politics, and the Art of Poetry.
    This was a kind of companion to Rich’s Selected Poems that I read in April. Some of the essays were very good, others I  didn’t find particularly memorable.
  • Mitchell Zuckoff, Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11.
    Inspired by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. A detailed look at what happened during the terrorist attacks, with a focus on people’s experiences. Terrible and moving.
  • Michael Schmidt, The Novel: A Biography.
    An amazing tome that I spent about three weeks reading.

Novels:

  • Laurie R. King, The Murder of Mary Russell.
    The 14th in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. Not bad, but not one of my favourites.
  • Louise Erdrich, The Bingo Palace.
    The next novel in the Love Medicine series. It was great. My review is here.
  • Halldor Laxness, Fish Can Sing.
    The first book I’ve read by this author from Iceland, who won the Nobel Prize. I once had a Nordic phase, where I read all the Icelandic Sagas (very good) and I’ve always wanted to try a novel by Laxness. I enjoyed it a lot and am up for reading others by him.
  • Anthony Trollope, Phineas Finn.
    The second of Trollope’s Parliamentary series. I read the first one, Can You Forgive Her, last year but never got around to writing a review. I still remember it because it was great. This one had a slow start but improved in the second half. My only Victober read for this year.

Children’s Literature:

Jutta

  • Helga Marten, Juttas großer Tag (German for Jutta’s Big Day).
    I found this one, which used to be a great favourite during my childhood, while I was sorting boxes of old books to get rid of. I reread it, still mostly liked it, and kept it for nostalgic reasons.
  • Robert O’Brien, The Silver Crown.
    Also one of the books I discovered, reread and kept. A classic fantasy story
  • Michelle Magorian, Goodnight Mister Tom and Back Home.
    Two books set in or just after WWII in the UK. The first is about a young boy sent to the country for safety, the second about a young girl just returned from America, where she had been sent during the war and the difficulties she faced on her return. An awful depiction of boarding school life – quite the anti-Blyton version. Both books were good reads.

I plan to write more detailed reviews for most of these books, so I didn’t go into much detail in this list. I’m rather behind with my reviews. As I only did one post in October, I haven’t managed to review the books I read in August. This will give me lots of topics to write about this month when I’m planning a post per day, to get back into the groove and catch up on things. I managed it last year and hope to manage it this year too – as I said before, it’s my NaNoWriMo project.

Keep safe, world.

July Reading

In an unprecedented display of efficiency, I’m actually posting my July reads at the end of July instead of sometime in the next month. The reason is that as my cousins are visiting from Friday to Sunday, I won’t get much more reading done, so I might as well do my wrap-up today.

SilverBrumby

Ongoing project:

Murasaki Shikibu and Royall Tyler (trsl.), The Tale of Genji
I read a few pages this month but not that many. I’ll have to pick up again next month.

Poetry:

Roger Lonsdale (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Women Poets
I started this anthology for Jane Austen July and am enjoying it very much. I’m about half way though and will continue with it till I’m done. It’s a shame that these poets aren’t more widely known, as they are just as good as male poets.

Short Stories

Robert L. Mack, Arabian Nights’ Entertainments
I didn’t make much progress with this either, but I’ll keep at it.
Also short stories by Laurie R. King listed with the novels.

Non-Fiction

  • Claire Tomalin, A Life of My Own
    This was also a round-about Jane Austen July book. It was very good, see my review if you are interested.
  • Peter Martin, Samuel Johnson: A Biography
    This one I reviewed yesterday. Not bad but only if you are interested in the details of Samuel Johnson’s life. But in that case, you should start with Boswell’s Life, which is great.

Novels

  • Jane Austen, Persuasion
    Read for Jane Austen July – very good.
  • P.D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley
    Also part of Jane Austen July. I reviewed it and Persuasion here.
  • Janice Hadlow, The Other Bennet Sister
    Another excellent (except maybe a bit long) novel for Jane Austen July, reviewed here.
  • Laurie R. King:
    • Mary Russell’s War and Other Stories of Suspense
    • The Language of Bees
    • The God of the Hive
      My ongoing project to read all of the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, reviewed here.
  • Elyne Mitchell, The Silver Brumby
    Revisiting my childhood with this lovely book about the adventures of a special wild stallions in the mountains of Australia. I wrote a bit about it in this post and then felt the need to read it once again. It’s very good and available on Kindle. My edition is an old library book which I got second-hand, which has lovely drawings of brumbies and other Australian wildlife (see the photo above).

July was a good reading month – I read a lot and managed to write all the reviews this months, too. I’m not sure if I ever managed this before. I hope you also had a good time reading in July!

Keep safe, world.

Bits and Pieces

I’ve enthusiastically started Jane Austen July and am already up to p. 88 of Persuasion (its very good) and have read some poetry by Mary, Lady Chudleigh and Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea. They aren’t contemporaries of Austen, since they died in the early years of the 18th century and Austen was only born in 1775. But I will get to the later poets eventually. The month is early yet.

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I thought I’d share this interesting poem from 1703 by Lady Chudleigh (whose marriage wasn’t the happiest):

To the Ladies

Wife and servant are the same,
But only differ in the name:
For when that fatal knot is tied,
Which nothing, nothing can divide,
When she the word Obey has said,
And man by law supreme has made,
Then all that’s kind is laid aside,
And nothing left but state and pride.
Fierce as an eastern prince he grows,
And all his innate rigour shows:
Then but to look, to laugh, or speak,
Will the nuptial contract break.
Like mutes, she signs alone must make,
And never any freedom take,
But still be governed by a nod,
And fear her husband as her god:
Him still must serve, him still obey,
And nothing act, and nothing say,
But what her haughty lord thinks fit,
Who, with the power, has all the wit.
Then shun, oh! Shun that wretched state,
And all the fawning flatterers hate.
Value yourselves, and men despise:
You must be proud, if you’ll be wise.

Roger Lonsdale (ed.), Eighteenth Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology, 1990 (1989), p. 3.

Glad I’m living in the 21st century, where one can get a divorce (at least most of the world) when one’s husband turns into a tyrant.

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Partner and I got up slightly later than on workdays but not much later because we usually wake up early anyway and in summer it’s best to walk with Curious Dog before it gets too hot. Not that it’s been hot. This week was all about rain, thunderstorms (bad ones in places, but not were we live in Baden Württemberg), and cool temperatures between 18 and 23°C. Quite pleasant really (especially when one considers those parts of the world currently experiencing horrific 45°C and higher – dreadful!). Today it’s slightly warmer, tomorrow it’s supposed to be warmer yet, but on Sunday we are expecting the next wave of storms and the next cool period. Fine with me as long as the thunderstorms stay moderate.

So, we walked with Curious Dog in the pleasant morning sunshine, had a glimpse of the young stork and one of its parents and on our return, I read a bit of Persuasion. I managed to pull myself away from the novel to go grocery shopping. A couple of things I couldn’t get at my usual supermarket so maybe I’ll take another short trip tomorrow. We had lunch when I returned, just some corn on the cob and bread with our usual vegetarian spreads. We’ll be cooking a mushroom risotto tonight for dinner (well, Partner will probably do it). After lunch I put a load of washing into the washing machine and cleaned the bathroom. In between I took part in a short social call with my work colleagues (I usually join if I’m not otherwise occupied on my Fridays off). Then we had coffee and some lemon cake (baked by Partner yesterday – he’s the baker in our household) and now we are lazing around. I still need to hang up the washing, but that’s it with housework today. I’ll be doing some more tomorrow but am not inclined to overdo it.

My new work notebook arrived today. I’d ordered it in early April, but apparently there are delivery delays. Good thing my old notebook is still working (even if it’s having trouble installing updates to the operating system). I’m going to do the setup of the new one tomorrow or on Sunday, as I haven’t got time during the week. I must return the old one soon, so can’t dawdle with the setup. But it should be easy, as all my work documents are stored in the cloud and just need to be synched with the new notebook. Then I only have to install the tools I need and configure them (some of them take about an hour to configure which is a bit of a pain).

Yesterday I had an annoying workday, analyzing errors and checking the completeness of documents on our database. Earlier during the week thousands of documents had disappeared and we had to trigger a reload to the database. My colleague and I raised an IT ticket but didn’t get much of a response – we wanted to know what and why the disappearance had happened. So yesterday after analyzing the database all morning, I found that everything was available again after the reload. However, this afternoon, when I logged on for the social call with my colleagues, I was told that the documents had disappeared again. Very odd. My colleague raised another IT ticked, but since it’s Friday afternoon, I guess the issue won’t be solved until next week, cutting it very close to our next deadline. Looks like I can anticipate another stressful week. But I’ll be enjoying the weekend first.

Keep safe, world.