Tag: Books: Drama

So You Want to Read… (Federico Garcia Lorca)

Posted 14 July, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

So for this month’s edition of “So You Want to Read…”, I’ve decided to focus on Federico Garcia Lorca, another Spanish artist but from the early twentieth century. It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten now as to how I first stumbled across his works but I haven’t looked back since; I’ve read both his poetry and his plays and I consider him to be my absolute favourite poet. I love the feelings he evokes through his imagery, his use of words, that sense of duende. If you’ve never read any of his works, here’s the three I recommend starting with:

  • his early poetry (review) — He’s written a number of collections, but I love his early works the most, his ghazals. Honestly I could just say pick up his poetry, period, but I do find my least favourite are his poems from New York; they’re a little longer, he was trying a different form, and it just didn’t quite work for me compared to his other poems. But do check the review link I posted there and the one over here for a sampling of some of his poems.
  • Blood Wedding (review) — From the four plays I’ve read by him, this one stands out the most in my memory. The tragedy is on a number of different levels, that sense of inevitability in the decisions that these characters make, and the imagery evoked here is just fantastic. Re-reading the plays again two years ago this still stood out for me.
  • Yerma (review) — This play was depressing but it’s quite a study in a marriage lacking in communication, lacking in direction where both parties have different outlooks and goals in life, gender roles and personal fulfillment. My heart really went out for Yerma.

And that’s my list! I hope it helps if you’re interested in reading something by Federico Garcia Lorca! Have you read any of his works? If so, which one is your favourite? Which titles have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

So You Want to Read… (Christopher Marlowe)

Posted 24 May, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 2 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

I was pondering for a while as to who to feature for this May edition of “So You Want to Read…” I sometimes schedule posts based on the time of year, what holidays are coming up, etc. It took a bit of pondering, but in the end I decided to go with Christopher Marlowe (see author tag), a contemporary of William Shakespeare’s (see author tag) and whose works I more or less read at this point. I find his works are much darker and much more dramatic than Shakespeare’s, entertaining if not a bit abrupt and unpolished at times. He’s definitely a playwright to check out if you’re looking to read beyond Shakespeare.

The following thus are three works by Christopher Marlowe that I’d recommend to start with:

  • Edward II (review) — Okay, perhaps it’s a bit bias that I’ve set this play first as it is one of my favourite plays, but it is easily the most accessible of his works. Events escalate pretty quickly and the character drama is absolutely fascinating to read/listen/watch unfold. Edward II is such a drama queen and you can’t help but feel bad for him but at the same time he is clearly out of his league as everyone around him is machinating for their own power. My review expands on my thoughts a lot more on the play but suffice to say I highly recommend starting here if you’ve never read any of his works.
  • The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (review) — This play is probably his most notable work–or at least that’s my impression when I look him up, it’s the first title listed–and for good reason as it explores the idea of what happens when you make a bargain with the devil. It completely veers into the fantastical and the darkness is quite apparent in this work but it explores concepts like good and evil and ambition and piety. It’s weird, but it’s different.
  • Hero and Leander — Okay, kind of weird to include an incomplete poem here but I found it to be rather beautifully written and it contains some familiar phrases such as “Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?”

And that’s about it for this list! I hope it helps if you’re interested in reading something by Christoper Marlowe for the first time! If you’ve read any of his works in the past, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which plays have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

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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