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Old 01-24-2014, 04:50 PM   #76
DiggertheDog
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Interesting....I will see if I concur. I have only got through the first scene between the artist, Grey and Sir Henry - so I am in no position to argue. But I do not recall thinking that in terms of Earnest.
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Old 01-24-2014, 04:59 PM   #77
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

So I was annoyed by both his authorial asides directly to the reader (few at start and end) intensely.

- the passage is where he is discussing directly his construct of an anti-hero and ruminating on its purpose. That I think is...if not a full step outside of the text at least tapping the glass too explicitly.

Bah, I just want to express a figurative throwing of Notes into the corner with the satisfaction and relief that it provided.
Unless you are reading Russian history or Russian Literature in a professional capacity - I would not bother with this particular work of his.
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:21 PM   #78
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Here is a sample of Wilde's poetic voice....although I am only a novice teacher, and only a high-school teacher at that, I believe that poems should be read and heard aloud. So hopefully you might try reading this aloud in a quiet moment. I will post this poem in each of its 6 sections for digestability.

Ballad of Reading Gaol - I




I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.


He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.


I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.


I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
'That fellows got to swing.'


Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty place

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes
Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
Fingering a watch whose little ticks
Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
That sands one's throat, before
The hangman with his gardener's gloves
Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
The Burial Office read,
Nor, while the terror of his soul
Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
Through a little roof of glass;
He does not pray with lips of clay
For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
The kiss of Caiaphas*.


p.s. As an aside, I should learn to more closely edit my posts in this blog. I have re-read a few of my posts and I am slightly embarrassed by some of the errors. Thanks for your silent forgiveness and forebearance. I am too used to using conversational English, apparently.

* Caiaphas - NT Gospel's have Caiaphas as one of Jesus's chief antagonists amongst the priests of Jerusalem. There are religious paintings depicting scenes between the two.

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Old 01-24-2014, 08:26 PM   #79
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Take a look at David Denby’s piece on the novella: “Can Dostoevsky Still Kick You in the Gut?” <http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/06/dostoevsky-notes-from-underground.html> Denby writes:
Quote:
Nietzsche’s writings, Freud’s theory of neurosis, Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” Bellow’s Herzog, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, perhaps Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and half of Woody Allen’s work wouldn’t have been the same without the existence of this ornery, unstable, unmanageable text—the fictional confession of a spiteful modern Hamlet, … a man unable to act and also unable to stop humiliating himself and embarrassing others.
My own sense of "Notes from the Underground" is that it is an early existential text, one that positions itself against beliefs in rationalism—especially the idea that intellectualization and reflection is a gateway to happiness—by showing the reader that we get much satisfaction from irrational behaviour because it satisfies our love of drama (“I invented adventures for myself and made up a life, so as at least to live in some way”), and allows us to impose meaning on life’s meaninglessness:
Quote:
man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic.
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:42 PM   #80
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I did note that there was a peculiar post-modern sensibility to the construct but knowing the historiography of existentialism as well as some of Dostoyevsky's socio-political perspective - I put it to one side. I suppose if you put aside authorial intent - the text itself could very well be considered an early existential artefact.

Perhaps I misremember Dostoyevsky's philosophical outlook but his obscurantist political idealism and his anti-western, Anti-papist religiosity seems to overwhelm any common ground (the common opposition to hyper-rationalism and claims of positivist philosophy) he shares with Nietzche, Satre et. al. Dont you think?

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Old 01-24-2014, 08:44 PM   #81
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Portnoy's Complaint is a work I need to read. 20th century American literature is a certainly a short suit of mine.
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Old 01-24-2014, 09:00 PM   #82
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I suppose if you look upon Notes in isolation, it might be considered to presage - elements of existentialism. It is hard to reconcile that thought, with my mind's eye picture of Alyosha Karamazov, Dostoyevsky's iconic hero. Or the saintly idiot, I forget his name, of The Idiot.

Having said that, I greatly appreciate the input and the connection drawn, Russell. I like things being cast into a new light - a disruption to one's considered positions are usually fruitful.

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Old 01-24-2014, 09:05 PM   #83
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Wilde's

Ballad of Reading Gaol - I
(cont'd)

II.

Six weeks our guardsman walked the yard,
In a suit of shabby grey:
His cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its raveled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
The man who had to swing.

And strange it was to see him pass
With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
Had such a debt to pay.

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
That in the spring-time shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
With its adder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murderer's collar take
His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dock's dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In God's sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other's way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men were we:
The world had thrust us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.


* Note how Wilde is able to animate emotions like despair, sin, love and hope merely by capitalising them. They are no longer private, his, the reader's - but something separate, objectified, concrete perhaps even personified/deified?? At least that was my intial reading of it.

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Old 01-25-2014, 04:12 AM   #84
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Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
Portnoy's Complaint is a work I need to read. 20th century American literature is a certainly a short suit of mine.
It did strike me when you posted in the op that you want to cover the 'English canon' or whatever it was, to ask you to expand on that. My experience is that, despite their obvious overlaps, there seems to be quite a lot of difference between the American literary world and the British, to the extent I'm not sure what an English canon would look like, even if I wasn't temperamentally annoyed by the idea of a canon.
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:38 AM   #85
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I am approximately half-way through Dorian and despite my heroic struggle to fight off an off-season mild cold with a mixture of cold medicines, cigarettes and coffee - I seem to be losing the battle. That one quote of Russell's instigated a flood of thoughts, whirlling eddies that seem to not coalesce into a meaningful idea in my head. I find the sentence that he quoted with a veritable laundry list of literary comparisons incredibly frustrating - how is one to wrestle with a multi-headed hydra-like sentence like that?

Anyway - I will set aside my habit of disputing or testing everything about every critical observation to the point of distraction for the moment. But, with the mention of the dark prince, and the melodramatic death in Dorian of Sibyl I could not help but sigh inwardly thinking " Dear Lord, oscar please not a literary allusion to Hamlet and Ophelia."
I have a deep, jealous attachment to Hamlet and I tend to get angry or cringe at literary allusions to him. Perhaps, that was an unacknowledged frustration I had with Notes. Ha, the cold has taken hold.
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:43 AM   #86
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Ballad of Reading Gaol - I(cont'd)


III

In Debtors' Yard the stones are hard,
And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called
And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
The hangman's hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher's doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderers' Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brother's soul?


With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Fool's Parade!
We did not care: we knew we were
The Devil's Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a weed-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.

That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watcher watched him as he slept,
And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
With a hangman close at hand?

But there is no sleep when men must weep
Who never yet have wept:
So we-the fool, the fraud, the knave-
That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
Another's terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel another's guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
Grey figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
Mad mourners of a corpse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
Was the savior of Remorse.

The cock crew, the red cock crew,
But never came the day:
And crooked shape of Terror crouched,
In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
Like travelers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
They trod a saraband:
And the damned grotesques made arabesques,
Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and loud they sang,
For they sang to wake the dead.

'Oho!' they cried, 'The world is wide,
But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the secret House of Shame.'
No things of air these antics were
That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
Some wheeled in smirking pairs:
With the mincing step of demirep
Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning-steel
We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars
Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
God's dreadful dawn was red.

At six o'clock we cleaned our cells,
At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
Had entered in to kill.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
Are all the gallows' need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness grope:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.

For Man's grim Justice goes its way,
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man's heart beat thick and quick
Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
From a leper in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman's snare
Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who live more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:48 AM   #87
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Quote:
Originally Posted by kokiri View Post
It did strike me when you posted in the op that you want to cover the 'English canon' or whatever it was, to ask you to expand on that. My experience is that, despite their obvious overlaps, there seems to be quite a lot of difference between the American literary world and the British, to the extent I'm not sure what an English canon would look like, even if I wasn't temperamentally annoyed by the idea of a canon.
You make great points.
Are you American Kokiri?

Re 'the canon' - when I read a great critical theorist I tend to agree with their objections to the function and purpose of the 'canon'. When I read or listen to Bloom and his ilk - I change my mind.
Can one stay on the fence on that question and have any credibility?
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Old 01-25-2014, 10:11 AM   #88
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Old 01-25-2014, 02:53 PM   #89
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

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Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
Bob - I think you will find he does also do it right at the end of the novel too. Yes I appreciate the difference between his narrator's voice and the authorial voice as well as the distinction between his intended reader and his real reader.
- So I was annoyed by both his authorial asides directly to the reader (few at start and end) intensely.

Is that more precise?
Yes, Digger, that's very helpful. A major misreading of Dostoevsky is to take what his characters say as Dostoevsky's own position--failing to distinguish between a narrator and the author, as you say. This is especially bad because he often creates character who voice opinions diametrically opposed to his own--not only the Underground Man but the Grand Inquisitor, Smerdyakov, Kirillov, etc. I see now that you haven't fallen into this trap

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
So I was annoyed by both his authorial asides directly to the reader (few at start and end) intensely.
Randall already gave a good explanation of how Notes is understood as a forerunner to existentialism--and that's how the book is often remembered (and taught). Let me add some historical context in the hopes that the preface might be better understood. Notes is a direct response to one of D's longtime sparring partners, Nikolai Chernyshevsky. Chernyshevsky's What is to Be Done? preached something called "rational egoism," the idea that living rationally and selfishly would result in a utopia. Being the good Slavophile that he was, Dostoevsky feared that Chernyshevsky's doctrine (which came from Western values) was destroying Russian society. Godless, selfish men were popping up on the streets of St. Petersburg. "What's to be done?" Dostoevsky must have thought. His strategy in Notes is to introduce us to a character who's the product of rational egoism--The Underground Man--and show how this kind of ideology is self-defeating. Hence his insistence that "such persons as the writer of these notes not only may, but positively must, exist in our society, when we consider the circumstances in the midst of which our society is formed." The "circumstances" are rational egoism/the dangerous values of the West.

This is a pretty obscure tactic, and I share your frustration. Few people understood Dostoevsky's strategy back then and fewer still do today. Fortunately a really smart guy wrote a a biography of D that ranks among the best studies of both Dostoevsky and his literary/cultural milieu: http://www.amazon.com/Dostoevsky-A-W.../dp/0691128197. I'd recommend checking it out if you return to Russian lit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post
Bah, I just want to express a figurative throwing of Notes into the corner with the satisfaction and relief that it provided.
Unless you are reading Russian history or Russian Literature in a professional capacity - I would not bother with this particular work of his.
Ditto. I much prefer the Brothers K or, when it comes to short fiction, "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man."

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Old 01-26-2014, 08:10 AM   #90
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

I have just finished The Potrait of Dorian Grey and I enjoyed the book. I will need some time to think about what I would like to say about the writing and the themes of the book. I am curious what queer theorists have to say about Dorian/Sir Henry relationship - there was a long period during my reading where I had a fixated Faustian relationship for the pair but that parallel evaporates near the end. Not being gay, I am curious if the older man/ young man relationship which is at the heart of sections of this book - is a commonly interrogated constellation within queer culture.
Anyhow.......

Ballad of Reading Gaol - I(cont'd)

IV.

There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far to wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God's sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man's face was white with fear,
And that man's face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

But their were those amongst us all
Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each go his due,
They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived
Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood
And makes it bleed in vain!

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
An Horror stalked before each man,
And terror crept behind.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were ***** and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at
By the quicklime on their boots.


For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by the day,
It eats the flesh and bones by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer's heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God's kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings his will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That God's Son died for all.

Yet though the hideous prison-wall
Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit man not walk by night
That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may not weep that lies
In such unholy ground,

He is at peace-this wretched man-
At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to make him mad,
Nor does Terror walk at noon,
For the lampless Earth in which he lies
Has neither Sun nor Moon.

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
They did not even toll
A requiem that might have brought
Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
And gave him to the flies;
They mocked the swollen purple throat
And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonored grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.

Yet all is well; he has but passed
To Life's appointed bourne:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourner will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.
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Old 01-26-2014, 08:13 AM   #91
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera is my next journey.
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Old 01-27-2014, 05:04 AM   #92
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Ballad of Reading Gaol - I(cont'd)

V

I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in goal
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother's life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know-and wise it were
If each could know the same-
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!

The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair

For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
Is foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanity's machine.

The brackish water that we drink
Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
Wild-eyed and cries to Time.

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes one's heart by night.

With midnight always in one's heart,
And twilight in one's cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.

And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred.

And thus we rust Life's iron chain
Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But God's eternal Laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.

And every human heart that breaks,
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leper's house
With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy day they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?

And he of the swollen purple throat.
And the stark and staring eyes,
Waits for the holy hands that took
The Thief to Paradise;
And a broken and a contrite heart
The Lord will not despise.

The man in red who reads the Law
Gave him three weeks of life,
Three little weeks in which to heal
His soul of his soul's strife,
And cleanse from every blot of blood
The hand that held the knife.

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal:
And the crimson stain that was of Cain
Became Christ's snow-white seal.


VI.

In Reading gaol by Reading town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Oscar Wilde
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:21 AM   #93
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

The Potrait of Dorain Grey there are many quite insightful observations that Wilde makes of humanity that are original in very subtle ways. There are Austen-like scenes that are both satirical and sincere simultaneously. There is a realism and an absurdism cohabitating some scenes. There are intimate moments that can be closely followed by an almost psychopathic emotional distance. Perhaps some of his conversations are too good to be true - but they may very well have been intended to be that way.
9/10


p.s. It occurred to me how controversial the last 3 books I have read were - in each of their respective countries.
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:49 AM   #94
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Further thoughts on P of DG copied from my response to Lounge thread...

I just read Portrait of Dorain Grey recently too, stylistically it is a beautiful piece of writing. I think it would be a mistake to read it as if it was within a realist genre, not only are the aesthetics not realistic, the dialogue, the emotional connections, the drama is hyperbolic, fantastical, dream-like....
it would, of course, be 'high-camp' for its time (perhaps now too - I am unsure as I am only a layman on queer theory).
There is a brillance to writers that have to circumvent social and cultural stigmatas - for instance my guess is that the most insightful works and potentially classical works being written now are likely to be being authored by say Arab women.
Didn't you savour the unfolding pathos of Dorian? - we could anticipate the ending and we could mull upon his blindness to it and the enduring naivety within him despite all of his experiences. In that sense it was very much in the grand classical tragic tradition. I think it is a highly underrated work and I have only read it once.
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Old 01-31-2014, 03:11 AM   #95
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Well it appears I will fall short on 8 books for Jan. and given it is one of the longer months - it is fair to conclude that 100 books might be unrealistic. Not that I am giving up, a goal just out of reach is a key concept in teaching, so no chance of me lowering the bar.

About 100 pages into Lightness of Being....

Anyway, onto more pressing matters, you have 12 hours from this post approximately to recommend a book for my February list. It should be available in a run of the mill Australian bookchain - as I am shopping tommorrow for a wider buffet to choose from (so to speak). Bovary, Lucky Jim - are not having me licking my lips.

So 12 hours - come up with something ---> literary, no more than 500 pages, that I have not read, that can be bought at a chain bookstore...if it ticks all the boxes and you sell me on it.......it will be first cab off the rank for Feb.
Chimp's honour.
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Old 01-31-2014, 08:33 PM   #96
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

February potential reading list otherwise known as my recent purchases.
In the Winter Dark by Tim Winton
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Pearl John Steinbeck
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Non Fiction
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius


Still stuck in Prague with Teresa, Franz, Sabina and Tomas....did not get much reading done last night. A shame noone had the courage or willingness to throw up a suggestion.
Remember if you do have one - throw it out there.
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Old 01-31-2014, 08:35 PM   #97
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob_124 View Post
Very ambitious. I look forward to following. I recently finished grad school in English, so I can't resist offering some reading suggestions. I'll lean towards shorter books:

poetry

John Donne (the canonization is good)
George Herbert (donne's lesser-known contemporary)
t.s. eliot, four quartets. i much prefer this one to "the waste land."


fiction

voltaire, candide.

samuel johnson, rasselas. both of these books are "novels of ideas" or philosophical novels, which may appeal to you given your goals. Candide is better imo but rasselas is very good too.

faulkner, as i lay dying. his stuff is difficult but well worth it. This novel is absurdly good.

dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov. If you don't have time to read this one--it's 800ish pages--read his short story "the dream of a ridiculous man."

Chekhov's short stories--especially "the lady with the dog" and "gooseberries."

nonfiction

I've recently been reading "creative nonfiction" or "narrative nonfiction," which applies the tools of novel-writing (scenes, dialogue, point-of-view, detailed characterization) to journalism. Here are a few good ones:

Gay Talese, "Frank Sinatra has a Cold." An incredible short piece.

David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster. Yes, Infinite Jest is the one book to read but it would take months. This nonfiction collection is excellent.

Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains. A biography of the wunderkind doctor Paul Farmer.

Al Alvarez, The Biggest Game in Town. I've been reading a bunch of poker fiction and nonfiction lately and, yes, most of it is weak compared to the books just mentioned. But Alvarez's book is excellent--he's an accomplished poet, essayist, and reviewer--and his account of the 1981 World Series is def worth your time. I'll be posting a review shortly in my goals thread: https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...r-u-s-1334833/

Enjoy all the reading! What an awesome goal.
Bump this as a reminder to self.
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Old 01-31-2014, 09:01 PM   #98
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

January Books Read
1.A Farewell to Arms by E. Hemingway
2.Gulliver's Travels by J. Swift
3.Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
4.What Do You Care What Other People Think? Richard P. Feynman
5.Slaughterhouse 5 Kurt Vonnegut
6.Gulliver's Travels Jonathon Swift
7.Notes From the Underground Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8.Portrait of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
9.The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (Unfinished)

Poems read:
My Native Land by Sir Walter Scott
Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen
Canto V Inferno by Dante
A Revocation by Sir Thomas Wyatt
The Skip by James Fenton
Epitaph at Thermopylae by Simoneides
A Description of Morning by Jonathon Swift
An Elegy by Alexander Pushkin
A Bronze Horseman by Alexander Pushkin
A Ballad of Reading Gaol I Oscar Wilde

+ Short reviews and comments

The road ahead

February Reading List
In the Winter Dark by Tim Winton
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Pearl John Steinbeck
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Non Fiction
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Stubbornly on shelf list
One Hundred years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Madame Bovary by G. Flaubert
Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence
Catch-22 Joseph Heller
Plus
Virgil The Aeneid spotted that one aha you're one I have on my shelf but have not read.

I was also given recently:
Stalingrad by Antony Beevor and Another non-fiction An Illustrated History of Medieval Europe -by ..... I am not sure because I lent it out to a friend.
Three men in a boat Jerome K Jerome

Need to find
Pourtnoy's Complaint by Roth
Faulkner
Chekov
Rasselas
Voltaire? Candide

+
buy some criticism by Johnson and Bloom


Actually having piled together what I did in January - I have renewed optimism that I might get to my 2014 goal - it looks quite productive.
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Old 02-01-2014, 02:01 AM   #99
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

"So, you mock my blindness? Let me tell you this. You, with your precious eyes, you're blind to the corruption of your life ..." Tiersias 469 Oedipus Rex



Oedipus and Antigone Antoni Stanislaw Brodowski


Stravinsky..1927


All of this prompted by Kundera's intertextual connections to Oedipus and culpability in the oppression of Iron Curtain Czech life.......I think I need to read the play to understand why Oedipus puts out his eyes....surely, in doing so, he confines himself to memories of his actions that horrify him. Is that it? a self-punishment - to continually remind himself?

It also occurs to me that, Oedipus is brought up by a shepherd - shepherding must be the second oldest 'profession'.

A representation of a mask used in portraying Oedipus.
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Old 02-01-2014, 02:18 AM   #100
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Re: Digger's Blog on Words, Words and More Words

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKr6tqYqbx4

Deconstructing Oedipus - I have not listened to this but I plan to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9WOQT7qD7w

Audiobook - I need to listen to - I also need to decide whether to listen to the play before or after the criticism.

Know thyself

Delphic Maxim inscribed at Temple of Apollo in Delphi


Sophocles 497BCE-403BCE

Bust found in the Pushkin Museum.
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