Friday, March 23, 2007

Before I go

First of all, this has to be the coolest thing ever! Hat/bonnet/chapeau tip to Orthodixie.

Now on to the 100 books thingy that's been circulating the internet.

Haven't read
Read parts
1 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen--Absolutely. One of my all-time favorites, although I contest that Persuasion is better.
2 The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien--Again, absolutely. Two of my three favorite authors in the top two!!! Woo hoo!
3 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte--Yes. It's good but not a favorite like Dickens, Austen, or even Gaskell
4 Harry Potter series by JK Rowling--Well, I've read two. Didn't find them to be that good and didn't like the magic part. So no, not really.
5 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee--Yes! Awesome book. :D
6 The Bible--Having just finished Revelations for the first time, yes.
7 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte--Nope.
8 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell--Nope
9 His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman--Read the first two, heard how #3 ended and decided it was stupid. Later found out he hates Narnia and lost all respect for him.
10 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens--Yes, my least favorite Dickens. Estella needs a smack upside the head.
11 Little Women by Louisa M Alcott--Yup. Love it!
12 Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy--Yes, in AP English. Beautiful writing, terribly depressing story.
13 Catch-22 Joseph Heller--No.
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare by William Shakespeare--I've read some of them, but certainly not all. The histories don't interest me so much.
15 Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier--Yes. Liked it, but I don't know that I'll ever read it again.
16 The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien--Yes. Not as good as LotR IMHO.
17 Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks--Never heard of it.
18 Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger--Nope
19 The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger--Nope
20 Middlemarch by George Eliot--Yes. Need to re-read it. My unread copy from Barnes and Noble is looking at me reproachfully on the bookshelf.
21 Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell--Nope.
22 The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald--AP English Language! Beautifully heartbreaking book, but not, IMO, as depressing as Tess.
23 Bleak House by Charles Dickens--YES!!! Love Bleak House!!!
24 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy --No. Maybe someday, but Doestoevsky takes precedence.
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams--Yes. Completely disagreed with it, but so funny!!!!!
26 Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh--Nope
27 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky--I probably will at some point.
28 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck--Veggie Tales is what I first thought of and I only heard of that song after I got to college. And I knew about the book before the song. Anyway, no I haven't.
29 Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll--Parts of it.
30 The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame --Yes.
31 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy --Nope. Dostoevsky still takes precedence over Tolstoy.
32 David Copperfield by Charles Dickens--Yep. First Dickens I ever read.
33 Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis--Naturally!
34 Emma by Jane Austen--Yes. I don't like Emma Woodhouse, but I do like the book.
35 Persuasion by Jane Austen--They put this AFTER Emma??? Not right! Best Austen ever!!!!
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis--Wait, isn't this part of Chronicles of Narnia?
37 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini--Never heard of it.
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières--Never heard of it.
39 Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden--No.
40 Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne--YES!! I love Winnie the Pooh. (Or Pooh for short. ;))
41 Animal Farm by George Orwell--Yes. Interesting but not the best ever.
42 The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown--No.
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez--No.
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving--Never heard of it.
45 The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins--YES! It's only the first mystery story ever!!
46 Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery--YES!!! I love AoGG. :D
47 Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy--No.
48 The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood--No.
49 Lord of the Flies by William Golding--No. Not really.
50 Atonement by Ian McEwan--Never heard of it.
51 Life of Pi by Yann Martel--Read it. Meh.
52 Dune by Frank Herbert--No.
53 Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons--Nope.
54 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen--Yes. Good, but not my favorite.
55 A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth--Never heard of it.
56 The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon--No.
57 A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens--Yes. Only an awesome book. :D
58 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley--Nope.
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon--Never heard of it.
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez--No.
61 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck--No.
62 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov--No.
63 The Secret History by Donna Tartt--No.
64 The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold--No.
65 Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas--Yes. Awesome bbook.
66 On The Road by Jack Kerouac--No.
67 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy--No, but I own it.
68 Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding--I think I'd like to some day, because of the Austen connection.
69 Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie--Never heard of it.
70 Moby Dick by Herman Melville--Bits.
71 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens--This isn't my favorite Dickens but yes, I have read it.
72 Dracula by Bram Stoker--Nope.
73 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett--YES!!!
74 Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson--No.
75 Ulysses by James Joyce--No.
76 The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath--Yes. Very sad book.
77 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome--Grew up on them. Pretended I was Nancy. Any other questions?
78 Germinal by Emile Zola--Nope.
79 Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray--No.
80 Possession by AS Byatt--No.
81 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens--Yes.
82 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell--No.
83 The Color Purple by Alice Walker--No.
84 The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro--I read When We Were Orphans by the same author.
85 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert--Nope.
86 A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry--No.
87 Charlotte's Web by EB White--Yes. And I cry at the end.
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom--No.
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--I'm not sure that i've read the whole thing, but I've read most of them.
90 The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton--No.
91 Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad--Yes, in AP English. Beautiful writing, not so sure about the sentiment.
92 The Little Prince byAntoine de Saint-Exupery--Yes.
93 The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks--Never heard of it.
94 Watership Down by Richard Adams--Nope.
95 A Confederacy of Dunces byJohn Kennedy Toole--Nope.
96 A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute--Nope.
97 The Three Musketeers byAlexandre Dumas--Yes. Not as good as The Count of Monte Cristo.
98 Hamlet by William Shakespeare--Yes! Best play he ever wrote.
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl--Yes. :D
100 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo--YES!! So amazing.

Intermittent posting

for the next two weeks. Next week is spring break so I'll be home and without wireless. I may post once or twice but it definitely won't be as regular. The week after that is Holy Week and I'm going to try to stay off the internet as much as possible. So look for regular (or as regular as I get) posting to resume on April 9th!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Blog housekeeping

As you should know if you read my LJ, I've been trying to come up with a new title for my blogs. After much reflection I decided on "By Singing Light" from a poem by Dylan Thomas. Here it is:

In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

So there we are!


Music I've been listening to lately:

La Forza del Destino by Giuseppe Verdi. This isn't the best known of his operas but I've found it very beautiful, especially the overture, "Madre, Madre, pietosa Vergine," and "La Vergine Degli Angeli." If any of you have seen the French movies "Jean de Florette" or "Manon des Sources [Manon of the Springs]," one of the main themes is taken from the overture. (Which is how I found out about the opera in the first place.)

The Sense and Sensibility soundtrack by Patrick Doyle. Just got ahold of it and it's very beautiful. Makes me want to see the movie again.

Assorted Faure music. Faure is one of my very favorite-ist composers and this lovely CD includes the Requiem, the Messe Basse, and the Cantique de Jean Racine. If you like Faure, try to get ahold of this CD!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Boring" classics

I have Google Alerts set to send me anything about Charles Dickens and this Guardian article popped up today. It was honestly one of the sadder things I've ever read. I knew that education was bad, I knew it was going in that direction, but to have a free gift of some of the greatest books in the English language rejected for Japanese manga (no offense manga fans, there's nothing necessarily wrong with it, IMO) is highly depressing. Go ahead and read the whole thing. I'm adding commentary here.

Dozens of schools have rejected gifts of free classic books because today's pupils find them too 'difficult' to read, it has emerged.

Let's start here. They're free. These schools are not being asked to pay money, taxpayer or otherwise, to buy them. They're being donated. But today's pupils find them difficult. And heaven forbid we even think of challenging them a bit.

Around 50 schools have refused to stock literary works by the likes of Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens after admitting that youngsters also find them boring.

The worrying figures were released by the Millennium Library Trust, which donates sets of up to 300 books to schools across the country.

David Campbell, who runs the Trust, also revealed that a further 50 schools had sent back the gifts as they were on the verge of closing down and another 40 said they had no library to store the books.

This organization evidently sends not only Dickens, Austen, and Shakespeare but George Eliot, Charlotte Bronte, and J.R.R. Tolkien to schools in England. Good grief, it sounds like a great idea to me! But then I doubt the idea would work here either.

The bottom line is getting the pupils to read, whether it's a newspaper, comic novel or magazine.

"In an ideal world, I would love it if the pupils came into my library and requested some of the classics, but the fact of the matter is that pupils today are living in a different world."

She added that pupils are more interested in Japanese comics rather than literary greats. "Kids love action and adventure," Miss Read said. "They want books that excite them and are current. They love fantasy.

"The books for nowadays are Manga, the Japanese comic books that you read from back to front."

It's funny how quickly that, "As long as they're reading, it doesn't matter what they're reading" argument has caught on. As far as I'm concerned it's absolute rubbish. It does matter what they're reading. I hate to say it, but there are good books and there are bad books. I'm not saying that manga is necessarily bad (I haven't had enough exposure to it to say) but it is not Jane Austen. It is not Charles Dickens. It is certainly not Shakespeare. It's not even really George Eliot. The article isn't really clear if Tolkien's books were among those sent back or not, but if they were then it's very odd that the librarian thinks they love fantasy. I suspect they weren't sent back, if only because the movies are still fairly recent.

Another school, which rejected the free 'Everyman's Library' books, wrote: "The paper jackets are ugly and unattractive and the binding is dull and boring.

"What is needed is the familiar paperback format with attractive jacket and abridged versions."

Strange, I own several Everyman's Library editions and find them to be very attractive. My "Rossetti" poems book comes with a nice dust jacket, good paper, and a ribbon to keep your place. That 1906 edition of Jane Austen I was raving about? An Everyman's Library edition. And let's see. They are free. They are not costing you a penny. If you don't have room that's one thing, but to send them back because they're too boring? Hmm. No sympathy here. A call for an abriged edition is ridiculous unless you are talking about War and Peace or Les Miserables. Abridgments only edit all of the beauty out of the author's prose. If these kids are used to abridged editions no wonder they haven't learned to love the books.

"These book were not considered too difficult. It is shocking that they are being described in this way and children who have been taught properly should have no problem enjoying them.

"It can only mean that standards of literary are much lower that the government claims."

Hmm, you think? Especially considering there are numbers of people out there who love them. Do you think they suddenly wake up in college and decide to love them? Some probably do, but there are others who have been reading them since age 10.

However, not all the responses were negative. One school librarian wrote: "We are a low-achieving high school, but we're improving. I would never have been able to find the money in my meagre budget to buy copies of these classics."

That is encouraging. At least there are a few children and a few librarians out there who will have the opportunity to be exposed to these books. Not all of them will learn to enjoy them, but perhaps one or two will. That's all right with me. I am unhappy that some adults seem to think that because children haven't learned to like something they have had little exposure to, they will never learn to like it. Did they like olives the first time they tried them?

If we put the bar low that's all anyone will ever learn to jump over. If we raise it, we will probably find that at least some will find it in themselves to jump over.

C.S. Lewis fans

We were reading William Wordsworth in my poetry class the other day and I thought some of you might like to see this.

"Surprised by Joy"

Surprised by Joy--impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport--Oh! with whom
But thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind--
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss!--That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heat's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

~William Wordsworth

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Literary news

This review piqued my interest. I'll try to get ahold of the book it mentions and if I do read it I'll be sure to review it here. I find the Inklings quite fascinating and would be glad to learn more about them.
Interesting article from The Guardian asking why the intelligent authors today do not fill the same sort of role that George Orwell and Charles Dickens did in their time.
Another article that only tangentally mentions Dickens. It's mostly about Jane Austen (Or "Austin" as the author spells it.) and the need or lack thereof for annotated versions and "Regency Handbooks." (I like Regency handbooks myself. Although I see his point.)
Picture from Jane Eyre 2006, edited by myself.

St. Nicholai Velimorvich

St. Nicholai of Ochrid and Zicha--Mar. 5/18
St. Nicholai is one of the most beloved saints of modern times. He was born on Dec. 23, 1880 to a large peasant family. He received a doctorate in sacred theology in 1909 and was tonsured a monk later that year. He was eventually ordained a priest and became an archimandrite later. He spent time abroad during World War I but returned to Serbia in 1919 and was ordained a bishop at age 39.
He spent 1921 and 1922 in America, organizing the Serbian Orthodox Chruch in the U.S. and Canada. Until Yugoslavia collapsed in World War II he lived in Zicha and Ochrid, administering both dioceses. Along with Patriarch Gavrilo he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp where they suffered horribly although both survived. After his release he found that he was not welcome in Serbia and therefore spent the rest of his life in exile.
In 1946 he re-located to America where he spent the next ten years teaching, preaching, writing, and living a spiritual life. He fell asleep in the Lord on March 5/18, 1956. He was initially buried at the St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois but on May 12, 1991 he was re-buried in his native village next to his parents and nephew.
Prayers by the Lake by St. Nicholai.
The Prologue from Ohrid, arranged by St. Nicholai.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tell me not that I am too late

A real review of P&P 2005

After reviewing P&P 2005 without having actually seen the movie I thought I should probably watch it so that I would be able to talk about it intelligently. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. Although given my expectations, almost anything would not be as bad as I had thought it would be. Here are my thoughts, the bad first.

A minor note. Since someone involved in the 2005 movie decided to change Elizabeth’s nickname from Lizzy to Lizzie, I have seized on their (odd) change. Througout, “Lizzie” will refer to the Elizabeth of the 2005 movie, “Lizzy” to the book or the 1995 miniseries.

Spoilers, somewhat obviously.


Major problems first. The dialogue is…well, I wrote abysmal down while watching it. Perhaps not wonderful would be kinder. I simply don’t understand many of the changes made. For instance, one of the very first sentences we hear from Mr. Bennet has been stripped of its charm. Compare, “You wish to tell me and I have no objection to hearing it,” to “As you wish to tell me, my dear, I doubt I have any choice in the matter.” What? How do you go from one to the other? And why was such a change made? There is no reason that I can see. This is Jane Austen we’re talking about, not some unknown and still untested writer. In fact, messing with her work is only going to make Some Folks Very Unhappy. (I’m done channeling A.A. Milne now. I promise.)

In this screenplay Lizzie turns from a witty and intelligent young woman to a pouty and bitter girl. I am still not sure why this line was added: “Humourless poppycocks, in my limited experience.” Lizzy would not have given voice to such a sentiment and I am highly doubtful as to whether she even would have thought it. The men in her world are not perfect but they are not all humourless poppycocks either. Again, after Mr. Collins proposes to Lizzie, she refuses to marry him saying, “You cannot make me.” Lizzy certainly refuses to marry Mr. Collins but she does not do it in such juvenile terms. I can respect Lizzy; I cannot respect Lizzie despite my agreement with her position.

She is also highly vocally critical of her parents. In the book we see Lizzy’s criticism and share it but we only know her criticism because we are privy to her thoughts. She never expresses it except to Mr. Bennet when he allows Lydia to go to Brighton and then in mild terms under extreme provocation.

Speaking of her parents, I feel that no one involved really understood the Bennets. They come off as an almost-happily married couple. Wha-at?? Mr. Bennet is particularly butchered, not so much by Donald Sutherland’s acting (although I still like Benjamin Whitrow better) as by the strange changes made to his character in the script. For instance, why is he at the Meryton ball? While he does attend the Netherfield ball, I hold that he is not really a ball-goer. He is a gentleman most at home in his library (“In his library he had been always sure of leisure and tranquillity; and though prepared, as he told Elizabeth, to meet with folly and conceit in every other room in the house, he was used to be free from them there” Ch. XV) and one who is a master of snark and sarcasm. One lovely example from Chapter VII:

“After listening one morning to their effusions on the subject, Mr. Bennet coolly observed,

‘From all that I can collect by your manner of talking, you must be two of the silliest girls in the country. I have suspected it some time, but I am now convinced.’”

Where is the 2005 sweet, bumbling, diskempt Mr. Bennet in that statement? If more proof is needed, just look at his treatment of poor Mr. Collins.

Another set of major faults I find with the film are the gratuitous historical inaccuracies. A great deal of ink has been spilled about these but I’ll spill my own bottle willingly. Honestly, one would assume that if one is going to set a film in another time period one would do some research into that time period and it’s social conventions. Wouldn’t one? This one would at any rate. I cannot see much evidence of any such research. There is a general sense of the time period—the sort of general sense you get from a superficial glance at a textbook. A friend of mine pointed out that a large portion of the general public won’t really care one way or the other. This is true. But that other portion is quite vocal and will be ever so much happier with everyone if they know what they’re talking about. Here are the glaring inaccuracies that I spotted, in chronological order:

1) Why the livestock all over the place at Longbourn? The Bennets may have had a farm but this does not mean that they were incapable of keeping their animals properly sectioned off, nor does it mean that they roamed through the house.

2) At Netherfield, why oh why oh why does Bingley come into Jane’s room? What on earth were they thinking? Bingley is a gentleman, Jane (to steal her sister’s phrase) a gentleman’s daughter. He simply would not have done this. Period.

3) Why is there only one Bingley sister? Mrs. Hurst actually serves a very useful purpose. Caroline can say things to her that should not possibly, with any propriety, say to either Bingley or Darcy. Taking her away leaves Caroline confiding in Darcy, of all people and telling him the most inappropriate things, as in the breakfast scene at Netherfield after Lizzie comes in. (And where is Bingley in this scene, might I ask?)

4) Wickham is not a foot soldier. He is an officer. See Chapter XV: “Mr. Denny [an officer] addressed them directly, and entreated permission to introduce his friend, Mr. Wickham, who had returned with him the day before from town, and he was happy to say had accepted a commission in their corps.” Unless they are interpreting “foot soldier” very loosely as anyone-who-is-not-cavalry I’m not sure where they got that idea from. And they evidently don’t see the implications. If Wickham really is a foot soldier then he is not a gentleman and the Bennet girls probably would not have been on the same level of intimacy. We can, of course, argue that he is not really respectable given his actions, but until he runs away with Lydia he has standing in society. Not a very high standing, but a standing none the less.

5) What on earth is Lady Catherine doing visiting the Bennets in the middle of the night? The book clearly states that she visits during the day (Ch. LVI: “One morning, about a week after Bingley’s engagement with Jane had been formed….”) and it would beyond all bounds of propriety for her to visit in the middle of the night. Couldn't she have stayed the night a) with the Bingleys or b) at an inn? Besides, since this scene is now set in the middle of the night and Lizzie and Lady Catherine’s conversation takes place in the house, the wilderness remark becomes meaningless. Why was it left in?

6) Second proposal scene anyone? I spent the entire scene asking myself, the air around me, and my roommate why Darcy would even be near Longbourn that early in the morning and dressed like that. Gracious, couldn’t the man put some clothes on before traipsing over the three miles? And when he sees Lizzy wouldn’t he turn around and go home to return later in the day? Oh, but he was too enamoured of her! How unutterably sweet. He can’t even wait a few hours to propose.

My Brontë point from the first review still stands.

Minor problems. Some of these will probably make some ask what on earth is wrong with me. But they bothered me, so here they are in all their prejudiced and geeky glory.

What is up with the costumes??? I could forgive the inaccuracies if they were at least pretty. They aren’t. Caroline Bingley wore red with her carrot-y red hair for heaven’s sakes! And Lizzy was kept in a depressingly drab palette throughout the movie except for the Netherfield ball and the visit to Pemberley (the only dress of hers I actually liked). Jane’s costumes weren’t bad but all in all the costuming was quite sad. In my opinion.

And on a similar note, “The hair, Louisa, the hair!” Why was Lizzie’s hair down so much? It may have been tousled on the walk to Netherfield but there is absolutely no indication that it was fully down. Also, I could tell KK was wearing a wig in the last bits and I usually miss any and all goofs.

I thought Mary was very pretty to be Mary and could easily have pulled off Lydia. In the same vein, I thought Jena Malone was mis-cast. Not flirtatious enough, and not obviously pretty enough either. (I’m not saying that I don’t think Miss Malone isn’t pretty. I just don’t think she’s Lydia pretty.)

I missed Sir William Lucas and his ridiculous funniness. I know that for a two hour movie they had to make cuts but he is honestly one of my favorite minor characters and I was sad that he didn’t make it into much of the film. And what little he was in wasn’t very funny at all.

Why the red hair for the Bingleys? Was this just a, “Oh we cast Simon Woods. We should find a red haired actress to play his sister,” or was there some deeper significance that I missed? (The Scarlet Hair: Or Caroline Bingley as Secret Adulteress.)


I did have some, believe it or not.

The beginning. If they had kept that mood up throughout the movie I would have been a happy camper. It was intimate, lovely, and Austeny.

The laundry at Longbourn was fine with me. The animals I object to. Strenuously.

Rosamond Pike as Jane. I thought she did a lovely job and gave Susannah Harker a major run for her money. In fact, she may even have beaten her. She radiated a sweet and lovely composure that concealed a depth of feeling which I thought fit very well indeed with the Jane of the book.

Matthew MacFadyen was not bad as Darcy. He wasn’t amazing either (in my opinion) and Colin Firth still owns the role, but he had his moments. He redeemed the first proposal from utter abyssmalness. If he had come before the 1995 version I’m sure we would all have thought him very good indeed. The fact that he’s married to Keeley Hawes, one of my favorite actresses, only helped his case. (Yes, I am that shallow, in case you were wondering.)

Mr. Bingley is dorkily cute. Crispin Bonham-Carter still gets the award for bringing a smile to my face whenever he comes in the room—a very Bingley characteristic—but Simon Woods was not at all bad. I especially liked the part when he practices his proposal, extraneous and non-book as it was. And his line when Jane is ill at Netherfield: “It’s a pleasure. I mean, it’s not a pleasure that she’s ill, of course. But it’s a pleasure that she’s here…being ill” (Paraphrased, so please don’t come at me with cries of rage and copies of the script if I’m wrong. Although gentle correction is always appreciated.) had me in tears of amusement.

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collins. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone could come close to David Bamber. I was wrong. Tom Hollander was superb. I almost fell out of my chair several times. Osbourne, what have they done to you? (If you got the reference, cyber chocolate points come your way. If you got it without looking him up on IMDb, you get more cyber chocolate points.)

The music was all I had heard it was. Now I can enjoy TWO P&P scores!! Aren’t I a lucky girl? I do wish they had used period instruments but otherwise it was loverly.

Judi Dench’s delivery of the “shades of Pemberley” line made me laugh quite a bit.
The UK last scene with Lizzie asking Mr. Bennet’s permission to marry Mr. Darcy. That was lovely and the best acting from Miss Knightley or Mr. Sutherland in the entire movie. I especially liked the “He has been a fool, but then so have I” line. If they had taken that concept and run with it I would be a much happier person.

All in all, I’m not going to buy it. The 1995 version will remained enshrined in my heart as THE version to go by. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be either. The acting was very good in parts, especially the supporting characters, and it redeemed some of the horrible dialogue. I didn’t swoon and gush, but I didn’t (quite) throw up either.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Orthodox Church: A review

The Orthodox Church by Timothy (now Bishop Kallistos) Ware is probably one of the best introductions to the Orthdox faith available in book form. It is helpful whether you are an Orthodox Christian looking to learn more about your own faith (me), a new convert, or someone who doesn't know anything about Orthodoxy at all. I have two major reservations which are really two parts of a larger problem, but besides these two issues I would recommend this book to anyone.

The first major problem is his unquestioning acceptance of the evolutionary theory. I can't say how many Orthodox do this but there is at the very least a highly vocal minority in favor of creationism (although this differs in some respects from the Protestant/Catholic model) and he does not address this at all. I personally would argue that the writings of the Fathers absolutely support creationism and that
we should not change their words to fit the western scientific world-view.

The second major problem is his easy approach to ecumenism and reconciliation with other Christian churches. I don't think we should alienate each other and we should, in my opinion, have some form of dialogue. However, he generally goes much further towards a sort of pluralism in denominations than I am comfortable with.

Still, his view of Orthodoxy theology is very sound and his explanations, geared as they are towards non-Orthodox, make this book accessible and very informative. In many cases topics I already knew something about were explained and clarified in a simple and understandable manner. I highly reccommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn more about Orthodoxy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

They just don't make them like they used to

Books, that is. I recently checked out a 1906 edition of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion and was enchanted to discover the lovely drawings in the front of the book.

The one on the top is a inset before the title page. The one on the bottom is the title page and facing page. As you can tell, this is the Everyman's Library edition. They're quite lovely, in my opinion. I apologize for the blurryness of the fold. Not much I could think of to remedy it. I think the general idea is clear, at any rate.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Heaven on earth

"We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you: only this we know, that God dwells there among humans, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty."

~Two emissaries of St. Vladimir, Prince of Kiev, after attending an Orthodox service at the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. St. Vladimir and his people later converted to Orthodoxy. (Quoted in The Orthodox Church by Timothy [now Bishop Kallistos] Ware.)

"Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim and chant the trice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity now lay aside all earthly care."
~The Cherubic Hymn from the Orthodox liturgy
Pictures here and here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Home Economics, A Review

I recently read Home Economics by Wendell Berry for either the second or third time. I am a Berry fan and this is one of his best books, in my opinion. It contains fourteen essays on a variety of subjects including national defense, higher education, and the family farm. He speaks from where he is: a farmer dedicated to the preservation of sustainable agriculture. This does not mean that he speaks only to those like him. In fact I see his wide appeal as one of his main strengths. His message begins with the farm but extrapolates to a national and international level. He is obviously widely read and has created a cohesive and (to me) convincing view of our world.
His writing style is clear and at times funny. He is emotional without being maudlin; respectful of the past without sentimentalizing it. He is realistic without being pessimistic.

I do not always entirely agree with him. At times he skirts a little too close to pantheism for my taste. While I agree for the most part with his assessment of higher education I feel that ignoring the smaller private university in some measure reduces the impact of his argument when he discusses higher education. However, I recognize that the main thrust of this discussion is based on the state supported public universities.

All in all, I find Berry's world view and writing most refreshing and convincing. Home Economics is an excellent read for anyone although most especially those interested in agriculture.

"It is this balance of the natural and the human that makes a landscape look comfortable and comforting, and this is the work of an old kind of mind, of long attention and familiarity--a mind as different as possible from the industrial or moder mind, which comes into a place, aware only of its own demands, imposing its own geometry."
~Wendell Berry, Home Economics, "Irish Journal"

"Education in the true sense, of course, is an enablement to serve--both the living human community in its natural household or neighborhood and the precious cultural possessions that the living community inherits or should inherit."
~Wendell Berry, Home Economics, "Higher Education and Home Defense"

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fellow Janeites!

Just in case you hadn't heard: ITV (a British TV station) has commissioned three new Jane Austen dramas. They will be airing in the UK at the end of this month and into April and here in America on Masterpiece Theatre starting in November 2007. (November. I am going to die between now and then.)

The three are:
~Northanger Abbey
~Mansfield Park

The official ITV Jane Austen website. Not much to see at the moment, but there is a trailer.

Because I'm more interested in Persuasion than anything else, two articles, both with interviews. The first one contains short interviews with a number of people, the second one is just Rupert Penry-Jones, the new Captain Wentworth.


You could also check the Pemberley boards for those novels or Austenblog for more information as it becomes available.

I for one am quite hopeful, particularly since I love Persuasion and was never a fan of Ciaran Hinds. We shall see, we shall see....

The BBC is also, at some point, making a new S&S. We don't know when, and as far as I know, we don't know casting.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Reading in my family

I went over to the Common Room today and came across this post which got me thinking about how my family reads books. This isn't really about that post, it's more what I thought about because of that post. Anyway.

We're all readers in my family. My brother was the slowest to catch on, but when he did he certainly went. Given that we are such voracious readers, there is almost no way that my parents could have read all the books we do. When we bring them home from the library my dad looks through them before we read them and if he's not sure about one of them he'll preview it. Usually, however, he trusts our judgement and lets us read it even if he hasn't. In some ways we often preview books for him. That is, he'll come up and say, "I need a good book to read. Do you have anything?"

We are also book thieves. We steal books from each other all the time, especially my sister and I. One of us will get out a book from the library and everyone in the family will end up reading because we all leave our books lying around the house. It is so bad that sometimes I will tell my sister, "I get to read this book first. You're not allowed to steal it." She makes a sad puppy dog face but I ignore her. (Evil book thief. Not that I ever do it. Oh no......) And when a book goes missing we ask, "Have you seen my book?" and "Did you steal my book?"

Here are two we've passed around:

The Shadow Children series (Among the Hidden is the first) by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I think my mother originally got this for my brother but it made the rounds. My father hasn't read the series but everyone else has.

The Minnow Leads to Treasure by Philippa Pearce.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Prayer of St. Ephraim

Orthodox people say this prayer twice a day during Lent. I've always loved it.

The Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency and ambition grant me not,
But rather a spirit of purity, humility, patience and love bestow upon me thy servant.
Grant O Lord King that I may see my own faults and not condemn others for blessed art Thou unto the ages, Amen.