MissWatson tries again in 2016
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Der Zauberring is a very odd book indeed, a tale of knights and their ladies, a magic ring, and far too many coincidences for the modern reader. It's the Middle Ages as idealised by the Romantics, in this case someone who overdosed on Gerusalemme liberata and Orlando furioso, at least I was constantly reminded of the operas based on these poems. Plus a library's worth of other romances of chivalry.
I'm still surprised I made it to the end, because the prose was very hard to swallow, again faux medieval. But I wanted to know how it played out and if I had guessed correctly who is who.
This is book 5 of his Barsetshire Chronicles and I was surprised to find that there is barely any mention of Church of England affairs. The others so far have been set mostly or partially among clergymen. Instead we get a glimpse at Plantagenet Palliser's relationship with Lady Dumbello and his future wife is described. There's also the failed romance of Lily Dale who is jilted by her social climber of a fiancé. Trollope himself describes her as a bit of a prig in his authobiography, and I would agree with him. Still, it's amazing to find a Victorian novel where she remains unwed at the end, although a likely candidate is presented. I'm looking forward to my next journey into Barsetshire, he is so good at creating believable, likeable women.
edited for touchstone
This was a real chunkster at 1081 pages. And a little odd, set in Berlin in 1805-1806, with Naopleon looming large. There's a large number of characters and many short scenes where they hold forth on politics and how to deal with the French. It reminded me a little of a kaleidoscope, a slight shift of the tube and you get an entirely different picture, or in this case opinion. The author writes a very distinctive (convoluted) prose, not without sarcasm or humour, and is very much interested in psychology.
So, I got sidetracked into reading many other, short books from my TBR and poor Quixote fell by the wayside. The most recent distraction was The aeronaut's windlass which was mentioned favourably by some fellow LTers. And then I found myself in abookstore last weekend and succumbed to tentation. Ah well. It's an entertaining SFF tale with a very arrogant cat among the main characters.
It's taken me nearly three three months to finish this, as the subject matter is extremely dense. I freely admit that some of this went over my head, the study of ancient Greek philosophy was no longer part of the curriculum when I went to school. But it was very stimulating and I come away with some very interesting nuggets of knowledge (such as that Leibniz took inspiration from the hexagrams of the I Ching for his binary mathematics) and a much better appreciation of the way the Chinese see the world. It also provides a highly appreciated warning to approach Western translations of Chinese classics with more than a pinch of salt, because they often impose their own world view on the ancient texts.
This is the first work George Sand had published, co-written with Jules Sandeau and presents the story of two young girls who meet by chance on a journey. One is destined for a convent, the other belongs to a theatre company. Both meet with much unhappiness.