Tag: Books: Drama


Commentary: Measure for Measure

Posted 1 February, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

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!

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Review: Prometheus Bound and Other Plays

Posted 15 November, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Prometheus Bound and Other Plays
By: Aeschylus
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The first of the great Greek Tragedians, Aeschylus wrote a large number of plays, of which seven survive. Of the four included in this volume, The Persians is unique in Greek tragedy in having as its subject matter a recent historical event, the defeat of the Persians at the famous battle of Salamis. The other three, Prometheus, The Suppliants and Seven Against Thebes, were all written as parts of trilogies and take their themes from Greek legend, but in each Aeschylus’ interpretation reflects the new morality of classical Athens. Thus, in Seven Against Thebes the fate of the two main figures, Eteocles and Polyneices, is not entirely controlled by the gods, for Eteocles is free to choose whether or not he should fight his brother. And in Prometheus and The Suppliants Aeschylus shows that although the struggle of reason against violence can never be an easy one, it is reason that is the proper principle of civilized life.

I had read Aeschylus’ The Oresteia (review) earlier this year and greatly enjoyed it. I ended up picking up this book as I was planning on re-reading Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound and was curious on reading a classic playwright’s take on the original story. A bit of searching on the internet led to me Aeschylus’ remaining plays which unfortunately comes down to us only in fragments.

Of the four included in this collection, my favourite hands down was “Prometheus Bound.” It’s a fascinating take on a familiar Greek classic, and the themes between obedience and foresight, of challenging the status quo, of justice and punishment, are very strong here. Plus, of the four plays I found it to be the most entertaining as Prometheus straddles between trying to be dignified over his situation and spreading his misery with everyone who comes across him (Io, the Chorus, Oceanus). Like most of his works, it’s a pity that it’s not complete as from the four collected here this was the story I would’ve read the most. The other plays were all right–man, the Oedipus story just has all of these twists and turns, the tragedy never ends does it? as “Seven Against Thebes” follows the Oedipus family–but they weren’t as interesting as “Prometheus Bound”, not to mention a lot of the dialogue went on and on and sometimes it felt like nothing was happening. But like any of Aeschylus’ other stories, he does focus a lot on large thematic questions about law and order, violence and fate, etc.

Despite of their incompleteness, I thought it was great to read up on these other plays, read more antiquity classics–definitely a change of pace from Renaissance/Jacobean dramas! I’d definitely recommend reading The Oresteia first but if you’re interested in reading more of his works then this is something worth picking up.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 25 July, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Pretty sure I mentioned this last time but I seem to be on a roll with these mini-reviews this year 😛 Lots of books I read recently that didn’t warrant a post of their own; included in this batch of mini-reviews are some classics and one DNF *le sigh*


The Major Works
By: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, critic, and radical thinker, exerted an enormous influence over contemporaries as varied as Wordsworth, Southey and Lamb. He was also a dedicated reformer, and set out to use his reputation as a public speaker and literary philosopher to change the course of English thought.

This collection represents the best of Coleridge’s poetry from every period of his life, particularly his prolific early years, which produced The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla Khan. The central section of the book is devoted to his most significant critical work, Biographia Literaria, and reproduces it in full. It provides a vital background for both the poetry section which precedes it and for the shorter prose works which follow. There is also a generous sample of his letters, notebooks, and marginalia, some recently discovered, which show a different, more spontaneous side to his fascinating and complex personality.

I finally got around to reading some of Coleridge’s works when I picked up one of the mini Black Classics (review). I greatly enjoyed it and decided to pick up his collected works. While this is a good collection of his works and ideas, I was much more interested in his poetry and some of his lectures than his essays and his Biographia Literaria, which to be honest I decided not to read at this time.

Anyway, his poetry was interesting, a mix of long epics and shorter poems. His poems reminds me a bit of John Keats, which makes sense given that they were contemporaries, but they aren’t as flourishing or as ingrained in the nature thematics as Keats is. There’s also a more morose feeling to his poems; it’s hard to explain, maybe the book cover had something to contribute to this overall feeling, but there’s that. I wish the poetry was more complete in this collection but nonetheless it’s a solid selection and I enjoyed reading it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Books: Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 1 June, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

Not bad, it’s been about two months since my last batch of mini-book reviews, lol 😛 As always, this batch features books I’ve read that, while I had a few thoughts on it, they didn’t warrant review posts of their own. Included in this batch of reviews are mostly classics and one fantasy novella 😉


The Canterbury Tales
By: Geoffrey Chaucer
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

Lively, absorbing, often outrageously funny, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a work of genius, an undisputed classic that has held a special appeal for each generation of readers. The Tales gathers twenty-nine of literature’s most enduring (and endearing) characters in a vivid group portrait that captures the full spectrum of medieval society, from the exalted Knight to the humble Plowman.

Gah, I finally got around to reading this! It’s been on my wishlist for quite a long time and I actually started listening to bits of it last year via LibriVox when I was sick but I got impatient in the end and picked up a copy of the book. Well, I appreciate how expansive this classic is, featuring people from all walks of life in Medieval England and taking part in this tale. The stories range from chivalrous and thematic to bawdy and hilarious and some where more interesting that others but yeah, it’s one of those classics you can’t just pick up on a whim. In restrospect, I think perhaps I should’ve have chosen this book as my travelling read whenever I was outside (not to mention it made for a hefty carry in my purse) but some of them were so long that they just didn’t hold my interest like others. So yeah, it was an okay reading experience for me overall but I’m glad I took a crack at it 😛

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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Review: The Oresteia

Posted 2 May, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

The Oresteia
By: Aeschylus
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

In the Oresteia—the only trilogy in Greek drama which survives from antiquity—Aeschylus took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos.

Moving from darkness to light, from rage to self-governance, from primitive ritual to civilized institution, their spirit of struggle and regeneration becomes an everlasting song of celebration.

This Greek drama piqued my interest after it was mentioned in one of the Sebastian St. Cyr novels (see tag) I was reading at the time. To date the only Greek drama I’ve read has been from Sophocles (err…I never reviewed it? I’m surprised) but I’m always open to checking out more Greek drama and classical theatre, especially as I’m slowly dwindling down on the popular Renaissance/Jacobean titles (I know there’s plenty else out there to check out, not to mention those from other countries, but it’s nice to get through the famous ones first). Anyway, I was quite excited to start reading these plays after writing my board exam a few months ago (case in point) 🙂

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