Sunday, July 27, 2014

BW31: Come In by Robert Frost



I'm off in the mountains this weekend, so leaving you with something simple this week.





Come In

by 

Robert Frost

As I came to the edge of the woods,
Thrush music -- hark!
Now if it was dusk outside,
Inside it was dark.

Too dark in the woods for a bird
By sleight of wing
To better its perch for the night,
Though it still could sing.

The last of the light of the sun
That had died in the west
Still lived for one song more
In a thrush's breast.

Far in the pillared dark
Thrush music went --
Almost like a call to come in
To the dark and lament.

But no, I was out for stars;
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked;
And I hadn't been. 

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

BW30: World War I and II European Theatre

Abandoned building in Black Forest, Germany
Next month we are coming up on the 100th Anniversary of World War I and currently my son's personal interest of late is all things world war II. We've been watching Great Courses lecture series on WWII: A Military and Social History, plus the history channel just did a marathon run of their series, The World Wars.  I recently finished The Monument's Men, hubby is reading John Toland's The Last Hundred Days and James just finished The Book Thief and is now devouring William Shirer's  Berlin Diary.   His birthday is coming up in August and one of the things on his list is the dvd of the tv miniseries War and Remembrance.  It aired back in the 80's and starred Robert Mitchum and Jane Seymour.  I remember reading Herman Wouk's book way back when and probably still have it on our shelves somewhere.  I'll have to see if I can find it.  

Several years ago I discovered Bodie and Brock Thoene's Zion Covenant and Zion Chronicles series which followed the struggle of  Jewish people from the time of Hitler's takeover through Israel's statehood in 1948.  After I read the first book, I was hooked, collected and read every single book.  The story has been on my mind of late, so think I'll be rereading  Vienna Prelude.  




Synopsis:  No one is safe. . . .  In 1936 Nazi darkness descends upon Europe. Every person is only one step away from being swept into the nightmarish tide of evil. Blond Elisa Lindheim, a violinist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, adopts an Aryan stage name for protection. But her closest friend, Leah, a talented Jewish cellist, is in a perilous position.
There are those who choose to fight Hitler’s madness. Elisa’s father, Theo. A courageous American reporter, John Murphy. Winston Churchill, the British statesman. A farm family in the Tyrolean Alps. The Jewish Underground. But will all their efforts be enough to stop the coming Holocaust? And now Elisa must decide. If she becomes part of the Underground, she will risk everything . . . and put everyone she loves in danger.

Which brings us back to World War I and II and armchair traveling.  After hanging out for several months in England, it's time to move on.  And since the theatre of operations is so huge - from Poland,  to the Mediterranean to the Middle East and North Africa, it's a pretty broad range of countries from which to choose.  Dip your toes in, dive in with both feet or hang glide across the continents and see where the wind takes you.

Currently in my backpack are: Rebecca Cantrell's A Night of Long Knives, Thomas Keneally's Schindler's List and Mark Helprin's  A Soldier of the Great War.

Check out historical novels huge list of selections as well as the Goodreads World War II fiction and WWII Holocaust Fiction and Non Fiction

Read books set during World War I or II or just read books set in those countries - it's up to you.  

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

BW29: Armchair traveling through the 18th Century

Caspar David Friedrich



The 18th century, from 1701 to 1800, began in the the age of Enlightenment, turned to Romanticism in the later part of the century.   In the late 1700's in Germany, Wiemar Classicism was dominant, combining the elements of romantic, classical and enlightenment.  Rather than the seriousness portrayed by English romanticism, German writers veered towards beauty, humor and wit.

Key literary figures during that period of times were Germany's Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel; French writer Fran├žois-Marie Arouet, better know as Voltaire; Irish poet, essayist and cleric Jonathan Swift; British writers Henry Fielding and Jane Austen, among others.

Currently in my backpack is Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, Matt Rees Mozart's Last Aria, Diana Gabaldon's Voyager and Mathew Gregory Lewis's The Monk.  

Be sure to visit Historical Novels which has a great list of books from Britain, the European Continent and North America.   Plus Goodreads list of Popular 18th Century Literature.  Also check out The Search for National Identity - Russian Literature of the 18th Century.

Join me in exploring the 18th century.  


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Sunday, July 6, 2014

BW28: Thomas More and Utopia


We are moving on from the philosophical ideas of steampunk to the philosophical ideals of a perfect society, or maybe not so perfect.  

Today is the anniversary of the death of Sir Thomas More. He was tried for treason when he refused to sign the Act of Succession and when he refused to accept King Henry III as the head of the Church of England. He was beheaded on July 6, 1535 and his final words were "The King's good servant, but God's first."  He was canonized by the Catholic Church as a saint in 1935. 

More wrote many works including Utopia, and essentially popularizing and influencing the genre of the Utopian literature. Utopia is essential an ideal society and Dystopia is a society in decline, characterized by dehumanization, strife, or totalitarian government to name a few.  The earliest novel about a utopian society was The Republic written by Plato in 350BC.   Dystopia is an offshoot of Utopian literature, popularized in the early 1900's.

Goodreads provides the best synopsis:


First published in 1516, Thomas More's Utopia is one of the most important works of European humanism. Through the voice of the mysterious traveler Raphael Hythloday, More describes a pagan, communist city-state governed by reason. Addressing such issues as religious pluralism, women's rights, state-sponsored education, colonialism, and justified warfare, Utopia seems remarkably contemporary nearly five centuries after it was written, and it remains a foundational text in philosophy and political theory.
Since Susan Wise Bauer includes Thomas More's Utopia in the list of great history/political reads in Well Educated Mind, now seems like a good time to read it. 

Currently in my stacks, along with Utopia, are James Hilton's Lost Horizon, Veronica Roth's Divergent,  Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.  

Check out this list from Utopian Literature and the ever popular goodreads list of Best Utopian and Dystopian fiction.

The theme of the month for July is reading Utopian/Dystopian novels.


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