The Twelve Caesars
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
‘Twenty-three dagger thrusts went home as he stood there. Caesar did not utter a sound…’
This vivid, racy account of the men who wielded absolute power over ancient Rome – including maniacs, tyrants, warriors, sadists and murderers – is the source for nearly everything we know about one of the most dramatic periods in history.
This was one of the new titles that were recently included in the Pocket Penguins line-up and as I had never read this book, and it looked quite shiny amongst the other titles, I decided to pick it up. I had been reading this book to and from work but alas, my book met quite the accident when my water bottle leaked all over my knapsack and drenched most of the book. The stuff of a bookworm’s nightmare O_o The remainder of the book was still readable but it’s all cold and wrinkly and messed up now 🙁
By: Alessandro Manzoni
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
‘I pity this house; the curse of God is hanging over it’.
Set in Lombardy during the Spanish occupation of the late 1620s, The Betrothed tells the story of two young lovers, Renzo and Lucia, prevented from marrying by the petty tyrant Don Rodrigo, who desires Lucia for himself. Forced to flee, they are then cruelly separated, and must face many dangers including plague, famine and imprisonment, and confront a variety of strange characters – the mysterious Nun of Monza, the fiery Father Cristoforo and the sinister ‘Unnamed’ – in their struggle to be reunited. With a vigorous portrayal of enduring passion, The Betrothed‘s exploration of love, power and faith presents a whirling panorama of seventeenth-century Italian life and is one of the greatest European historical novels.
Goodness, how long has this book been on my TBR pile? At least a good five or so years…I had the eBook sitting on my Kobo but it took a reprint through the new Pocket Penguins series and a scheduled flight to finally read this book.
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
By: J.R.R. Tolkien
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun is a poem of 508 lines, written by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1930 and published in Welsh Review in December, 1945 (vol. IV, No, 4).
Aotrou and Itroun are Breton words for “lord” and “lady”. The poem is modelled on the genre of the “Breton lay” popular in Middle English literature of the 12th century, and it explores the conflict of heroic or chivalric values and Christianity, and their relation to the institution of marriage.
A major source for the poem has been identified as the Breton song ‘Le Seigneur Nann et la Fee’, which Tolkien probably knew through Wimberly’s Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads (1928).
Honestly, I had no idea that this book was coming out until it was mentioned in passing somewhere either on Twitter or on Goodreads (and omg did I add that book so fast onto my wishlist). Having found this poem he wrote amongst his notes, does it warrant a whole book about it? Ehh, like previous books before it (Beowulf (review) and The Fall of Arthur (review) spring to mind), probably not, but whatever, it’s something by Tolkien 😛 Not to mention it staved over my wait for Beren and Luthien coming out in 2017 🙂
East of Eden
By: John Steinbeck
Format/Source: Paperback; won from a contest held by Penguin Classics on Twitter
Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.
Omg, I fianlly read this book! John Steinbeck is one of those classic authors you often hear about but yeah, I just never got around to reading any of his books though I did add them to my wishlist. So I was pretty psyched when I won a copy of this book from Penguin Classics on Twitter but it did sit on my TBR pile for a while. I guess I was feeling a bit intimidated as to what to expect from such a prolific author as Steinbeck. But I finally started reading it to and from work and during break at work towards the end of last year.
Measure for Measure
By: William Shakespeare
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my copy
My first review of the play
Although performed before King James I in 1604, the text of Measure, For Measure was not published until 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. This First Folio text, printed from a transcript by King’s Mens scrivener Ralph Crane of Shakespeare’s own foul papers, preserves Shakespeare’s authorial process, including his changes in plot, character, theme and structure. As such it offers a unique view of the author’s writing and rewriting of his own play. Once dismissed as an ‘assembled’ text or as a ‘darkened’ text, adapted or botched by later revisers, the Folio text instead presents a superbly written play about intensely complex issues, including the uses of morality and sexuality. The original and genuine text of Measure, For Measure offers Shakespeare at his most brilliant and intricate.
So I read this book sometime in the first half of 2015 and thought it interesting if not also problematic and a bit of a head scratcher. Strangely enough though it sort of stuck in my mind long after I read the text so I decided to re-read it in the latter half of 2015 in hopes of gaining some more insight about the play and the characters and the themes of the story (rather OT but poor book review kept getting pushed back later and later, as you can see by the date; oops). Contains spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the play/are not familiar with it!