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02 March 2012
The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.
At the very beginning of the novel, there is discussed of the viel. According to Du Bois, this veil is worn by all African-Americans because their view of the world and its potential economic, political, and social opportunities is so vastly different from that of white people. The veil is a visual manifestation of the color line, a problem Du Bois worked his whole life to remedy. Du Bois sublimates the function of the veil when he refers to it as a gift of second sight for African-Americans, thus simultaneously characterizing the veil as both a blessing and a curse. I really enjoyed Du Bois’s writing. Obviously, it was highly controversial for the time it was published, but the words are still as important as they were then.
 Rating: ★★★★

The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.

At the very beginning of the novel, there is discussed of the viel. According to Du Bois, this veil is worn by all African-Americans because their view of the world and its potential economic, political, and social opportunities is so vastly different from that of white people. The veil is a visual manifestation of the color line, a problem Du Bois worked his whole life to remedy. Du Bois sublimates the function of the veil when he refers to it as a gift of second sight for African-Americans, thus simultaneously characterizing the veil as both a blessing and a curse. I really enjoyed Du Bois’s writing. Obviously, it was highly controversial for the time it was published, but the words are still as important as they were then.

 Rating: ★★★★

02 March 2012
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.


As the crowd watches, Hester Prynne, a young woman holding an infant, emerges from the prison door and makes her way to a scaffold (a raised platform), where she is to be publicly condemned. The women in the crowd make disparaging comments about Hester; they particularly criticize her for the ornateness of the embroidered badge on her chest—a letter “A” stitched in gold and scarlet. From the women’s conversation and Hester’s reminiscences as she walks through the crowd, we can deduce that she has committed adultery and has borne an illegitimate child, and that the “A” on her dress stands for “Adulterer.”
I really enjoyed this novel. It was Hawthorne’s first attempt at what he liked to call “romances”. He said that a novel was something full of some truth, while romances were supposed to be filled of fiction and set in with the supernatural. Many points of The Scarlet Letter are based on his own family history. For example, like Hester Hawthorne went back to his home “to pay his family’s debt”. That is more explained in The Custom-House, which is normally the introduction of The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne’s style has really grown on me. Sometimes the wordage can be cumbersome, but it’s really beautiful prose. If you haven’t read it, you really should!
 Rating: ★★★★

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.

As the crowd watches, Hester Prynne, a young woman holding an infant, emerges from the prison door and makes her way to a scaffold (a raised platform), where she is to be publicly condemned. The women in the crowd make disparaging comments about Hester; they particularly criticize her for the ornateness of the embroidered badge on her chest—a letter “A” stitched in gold and scarlet. From the women’s conversation and Hester’s reminiscences as she walks through the crowd, we can deduce that she has committed adultery and has borne an illegitimate child, and that the “A” on her dress stands for “Adulterer.”

I really enjoyed this novel. It was Hawthorne’s first attempt at what he liked to call “romances”. He said that a novel was something full of some truth, while romances were supposed to be filled of fiction and set in with the supernatural. Many points of The Scarlet Letter are based on his own family history. For example, like Hester Hawthorne went back to his home “to pay his family’s debt”. That is more explained in The Custom-House, which is normally the introduction of The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne’s style has really grown on me. Sometimes the wordage can be cumbersome, but it’s really beautiful prose. If you haven’t read it, you really should!

 Rating: ★★★★

02 March 2012
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.
As the sun sets in a southern town, a mysterious woman trudges down the main road. The local residents, gathered on Pheoby Watson’s porch, know her, and they note her muddy overalls with satisfaction. Clearly resentful, they talk about how she had previously left the town with a younger man and gleefully speculate that he took her money and left her for a younger woman. They envy her physical beauty, particularly her long, straight hair. She doesn’t stop to talk to them, and they interpret her passing by as aloofness. Her name, it is revealed, is Janie Starks, and the fellow with whom she ran off is named Tea Cake.
I really enjoyed this novel. I had heard so many interesting things about it before I finally got to read it for school. What I liked the most about the novel was the usage of the perspective in the novel. Hurston talks as Janie, but she also pulls it back and talks as a narrator. I found it really interesting for the novel. I’ve gotten used to this free-indirect discourse in reading Ulysses, and reading it from another author was extremely new for me. I really enjoyed the novel and highly recommend it! 
Rating: ★★★★

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.

As the sun sets in a southern town, a mysterious woman trudges down the main road. The local residents, gathered on Pheoby Watson’s porch, know her, and they note her muddy overalls with satisfaction. Clearly resentful, they talk about how she had previously left the town with a younger man and gleefully speculate that he took her money and left her for a younger woman. They envy her physical beauty, particularly her long, straight hair. She doesn’t stop to talk to them, and they interpret her passing by as aloofness. Her name, it is revealed, is Janie Starks, and the fellow with whom she ran off is named Tea Cake.

I really enjoyed this novel. I had heard so many interesting things about it before I finally got to read it for school. What I liked the most about the novel was the usage of the perspective in the novel. Hurston talks as Janie, but she also pulls it back and talks as a narrator. I found it really interesting for the novel. I’ve gotten used to this free-indirect discourse in reading Ulysses, and reading it from another author was extremely new for me. I really enjoyed the novel and highly recommend it! 

Rating: ★★★★

02 March 2012
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.
The leading character, Viola, is shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria during the opening scenes. She loses contact with her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she believes to be dead. Masquerading as a young page under the name Cesario, she enters the service of Duke Orsino through the help of the sea captain who rescues her.
This play is one of my favorites. It is a more famous of Shakespeare’s comedies. I love especially Viola and her use of language. Orsino isn’t my favorite male role in Shakespeare, but he is definitely very interesting to me. Shakespeare gives him a person he finds every aspect of intrest in, but can not love by society’s standards. I feel that Shakespeare kind of withdraws at what could have been at the end of this play. It would have been highly radical for the time period, but I think it definitely could have been done.
Rating: ★★★★★

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.

The leading character, Viola, is shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria during the opening scenes. She loses contact with her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she believes to be dead. Masquerading as a young page under the name Cesario, she enters the service of Duke Orsino through the help of the sea captain who rescues her.

This play is one of my favorites. It is a more famous of Shakespeare’s comedies. I love especially Viola and her use of language. Orsino isn’t my favorite male role in Shakespeare, but he is definitely very interesting to me. Shakespeare gives him a person he finds every aspect of intrest in, but can not love by society’s standards. I feel that Shakespeare kind of withdraws at what could have been at the end of this play. It would have been highly radical for the time period, but I think it definitely could have been done.

Rating: ★★★★★

02 March 2012
Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.
We read several of Emerson’s essays in class, but I most enjoyed “Self-Reliance”.  The essay has three major divisions: the importance of self-reliance, self-reliance and the individual, and self-reliance and society. As a whole, it promotes self-reliance as an ideal, even a virtue, and contrasts it with various modes of dependence or conformity. I suppose that’s why I enjoyed it. Emerson has always been one of my favorite writers, but I been able to read “Self-Reliance” before now.
Rating: ★★★★

Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.

We read several of Emerson’s essays in class, but I most enjoyed “Self-Reliance”.  The essay has three major divisions: the importance of self-reliance, self-reliance and the individual, and self-reliance and society. As a whole, it promotes self-reliance as an ideal, even a virtue, and contrasts it with various modes of dependence or conformity. I suppose that’s why I enjoyed it. Emerson has always been one of my favorite writers, but I been able to read “Self-Reliance” before now.

Rating: ★★★★

17 February 2012
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 
The play is set in a duchy in France, but most of the action takes place in a location called the Forest of Arden, which may be intended for the Ardennes in France, but is sometimes identified with Arden, Warwickshire, near Shakespeare’s home town.
Frederick has usurped the Duchy and exiled his older brother, Duke Senior. The Duke’s daughter Rosalind has been permitted to remain at court because she is the closest friend and cousin of Frederick’s only child, Celia. Orlando, a young gentleman of the kingdom who has fallen in love at first sight with Rosalind, is forced to flee his home after being persecuted by his older brother, Oliver. Frederick becomes angry and banishes Rosalind from court. Celia and Rosalind decide to flee together accompanied by the jester Touchstone, with Rosalind disguised as a young man and Celia disguised as a poor lady.
Let it be known, that I really dislike this play. I know it’s Shakespeare, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’ve tried reading it so many times, but I always fail to find it funny or enlightening. My teacher even has a distaste for this particular play. I think you should read it, and exclaim how it’s really funny and engaging. 
2/5

As You Like It by William Shakespeare

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 

The play is set in a duchy in France, but most of the action takes place in a location called the Forest of Arden, which may be intended for the Ardennes in France, but is sometimes identified with Arden, Warwickshire, near Shakespeare’s home town.

Frederick has usurped the Duchy and exiled his older brother, Duke Senior. The Duke’s daughter Rosalind has been permitted to remain at court because she is the closest friend and cousin of Frederick’s only child, Celia. Orlando, a young gentleman of the kingdom who has fallen in love at first sight with Rosalind, is forced to flee his home after being persecuted by his older brother, Oliver. Frederick becomes angry and banishes Rosalind from court. Celia and Rosalind decide to flee together accompanied by the jester Touchstone, with Rosalind disguised as a young man and Celia disguised as a poor lady.

Let it be known, that I really dislike this play. I know it’s Shakespeare, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’ve tried reading it so many times, but I always fail to find it funny or enlightening. My teacher even has a distaste for this particular play. I think you should read it, and exclaim how it’s really funny and engaging. 

2/5

17 February 2012
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 
At Messina, a messenger brings news that Don Pedro, a Spanish prince from Aragon, and his officers, Claudio and Benedick, have returned from a successful battle. Leonato, the governor of Messina, welcomes the messenger and announces that Don Pedro and his men will stay for a month. Beatrice, Leonato’s niece, asks the messenger about Benedick, and makes sarcastic remarks about his ineptitude as a soldier. Everyone knows that they like each other and so they try to get them together.
This and Twelfth Night are my absolute favorites of Shakespeare’s plays! I’ve read it so many times and it never gets old. It’s nothing but a comedy. Of course, there is conflict within the play, but the way it has been written is in a way not to misdirect from it being a comedy. 
The major conflict is that between Hero and Claudio. I have a few problems with their relationship to begin with. Claudio doesn’t really seem to want to marry Hero. He, basically, says in the beginning that now he’s finished a war and needs a wife. It’s not her beauty or Hero herself that Claudio is enamored by, but the idea of her. So when the plot thickens toward the end of the play, I honestly was not surprised by Claudio’s choice. It, of course, was terrible of him, but I wasn’t severely surprised seeing it from him.
It’s one of my favorites. I certainly recommend it!
6/5

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 

At Messina, a messenger brings news that Don Pedro, a Spanish prince from Aragon, and his officers, Claudio and Benedick, have returned from a successful battle. Leonato, the governor of Messina, welcomes the messenger and announces that Don Pedro and his men will stay for a month. Beatrice, Leonato’s niece, asks the messenger about Benedick, and makes sarcastic remarks about his ineptitude as a soldier. Everyone knows that they like each other and so they try to get them together.

This and Twelfth Night are my absolute favorites of Shakespeare’s plays! I’ve read it so many times and it never gets old. It’s nothing but a comedy. Of course, there is conflict within the play, but the way it has been written is in a way not to misdirect from it being a comedy. 

The major conflict is that between Hero and Claudio. I have a few problems with their relationship to begin with. Claudio doesn’t really seem to want to marry Hero. He, basically, says in the beginning that now he’s finished a war and needs a wife. It’s not her beauty or Hero herself that Claudio is enamored by, but the idea of her. So when the plot thickens toward the end of the play, I honestly was not surprised by Claudio’s choice. It, of course, was terrible of him, but I wasn’t severely surprised seeing it from him.

It’s one of my favorites. I certainly recommend it!

6/5

17 February 2012
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.  
The House of Mirth tells the story of Lily Bart, a woman who is torn between her desire for luxurious living and a relationship based on mutual respect and love. Lily is initially of good social standing and rejects several offers of advantageous marriage. 
Firstly, it has to be said that this is a novel about manners. Everything within it talks of what it means to correctly behave in this upper level of society. Lily naturally can flow throughout this society, but when it comes to the manners of keeping in fashion she falls a bit behind. She can’t afford to stay up with the trends, but she can hide it a bit by borrowing from her friends. 
What I really liked about this novel is it’s focus on describing the aesthetics of Lily’s being. Lily is beautiful, but through Selden’s eyes she becomes this beautiful piece of art. Whenever they talk he always brings up this side of view her. I think it’s very good explanation of Selden to call him a spectator. He stands backs and judges Lily as a beautiful work and more intently the circle of the upper class. 
Now, the ending of the book. I don’t want to give it way, so I’ll say it as gently as possible. If you’ve read it then you know the ending has a huge amount of ambiguity to it. I am more on the side of it was purposeful. I feel like there’s just more to support that then the other. If you’ve read it we can discuss why I felt that way in my inbox, because I really don’t want to give it away. I have to say that I felt like the fact that it happened was more important as to way it happened. I’m sorry I’m being so vague. I really just don’t want give the ending away, because it definitely surprised me. I would really recommend it. I found it engaging and really well written.
4.5/5

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.  

The House of Mirth tells the story of Lily Bart, a woman who is torn between her desire for luxurious living and a relationship based on mutual respect and love. Lily is initially of good social standing and rejects several offers of advantageous marriage. 

Firstly, it has to be said that this is a novel about manners. Everything within it talks of what it means to correctly behave in this upper level of society. Lily naturally can flow throughout this society, but when it comes to the manners of keeping in fashion she falls a bit behind. She can’t afford to stay up with the trends, but she can hide it a bit by borrowing from her friends. 

What I really liked about this novel is it’s focus on describing the aesthetics of Lily’s being. Lily is beautiful, but through Selden’s eyes she becomes this beautiful piece of art. Whenever they talk he always brings up this side of view her. I think it’s very good explanation of Selden to call him a spectator. He stands backs and judges Lily as a beautiful work and more intently the circle of the upper class. 

Now, the ending of the book. I don’t want to give it way, so I’ll say it as gently as possible. If you’ve read it then you know the ending has a huge amount of ambiguity to it. I am more on the side of it was purposeful. I feel like there’s just more to support that then the other. If you’ve read it we can discuss why I felt that way in my inbox, because I really don’t want to give it away. I have to say that I felt like the fact that it happened was more important as to way it happened. I’m sorry I’m being so vague. I really just don’t want give the ending away, because it definitely surprised me. I would really recommend it. I found it engaging and really well written.

4.5/5

17 February 2012
Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.  
I read quite a few of Hawthorne’s tales and reviewing each of them seems rather tedious, so I’m going to just choose Young Goodman Brown, because it was my favorite of the ones we read.
Goodman Brown says goodbye to his wife, Faith, outside of his house in Salem Village. Faith, wearing pink ribbons in her cap, asks him to stay with her, saying that she feels scared when she is by herself and free to think troubling thoughts. Goodman Brown tells her that he must travel for one night only and reminds her to say her prayers and go to bed early. He reassures her that if she does this, she will come to no harm. Goodman Brown takes final leave of Faith, thinking to himself that she might have guessed the evil purpose of his trip and promising to be a better person after this one night. Where he goes I don’t have the heart to say. It is a huge part of the plot and I don’t want to give it away.
I think this one is my favorite, because I feel like it explored the idea of knowing that people aren’t inherently good. This is a theme that Hawthorne discusses a lot. Herman Melville even wrote about it in his essay “Hawthorne and His Mosses”. Melville called it the “power of darkness”. I think that’s an accurate term for it. Hawthorne has this ability to show that not all people are good, which now seems very over used in literature. At the time Hawthorne was writing, it was very different. Within the tale, he showed what happens when we learn of that evil thing people could be. It was interesting to see Goodman Brown’s expectations and trusting of people once he found everything out. It was definitely an interesting read.
3.5/5

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne 

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work.  

I read quite a few of Hawthorne’s tales and reviewing each of them seems rather tedious, so I’m going to just choose Young Goodman Brown, because it was my favorite of the ones we read.

Goodman Brown says goodbye to his wife, Faith, outside of his house in Salem Village. Faith, wearing pink ribbons in her cap, asks him to stay with her, saying that she feels scared when she is by herself and free to think troubling thoughts. Goodman Brown tells her that he must travel for one night only and reminds her to say her prayers and go to bed early. He reassures her that if she does this, she will come to no harm. Goodman Brown takes final leave of Faith, thinking to himself that she might have guessed the evil purpose of his trip and promising to be a better person after this one night. Where he goes I don’t have the heart to say. It is a huge part of the plot and I don’t want to give it away.

I think this one is my favorite, because I feel like it explored the idea of knowing that people aren’t inherently good. This is a theme that Hawthorne discusses a lot. Herman Melville even wrote about it in his essay “Hawthorne and His Mosses”. Melville called it the “power of darkness”. I think that’s an accurate term for it. Hawthorne has this ability to show that not all people are good, which now seems very over used in literature. At the time Hawthorne was writing, it was very different. Within the tale, he showed what happens when we learn of that evil thing people could be. It was interesting to see Goodman Brown’s expectations and trusting of people once he found everything out. It was definitely an interesting read.

3.5/5

17 February 2012
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 
I feel like A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s more famous of plays. It basically houses two worlds. One of order and law in city and the world of disorder and fairies within the forest. There are two couples, love triangles, and a bit of magic. It’s one of my favorites.
What I really found interesting was this usage of two different worlds within the play. In the city, the rules are strict and more certain. When they run off to the forest, they’re breaking the rules of the city. They’re running into this world of passion and disorder. But instead of being passionate they fall asleep, which is breaking the rules of the forest. Puck obviously mistakes them for Thesus and Hippolyta and we have the rest of the play. Still, in the end of the play Thesus changes things in his speech. He wants to take the two ideals of law and passion and make them work within Athens. It goes on to say that solely being ruled by just law or just passion does not make for a stable person. There needs to be a balance between the two that makes them work. 
5/5

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 

I feel like A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s more famous of plays. It basically houses two worlds. One of order and law in city and the world of disorder and fairies within the forest. There are two couples, love triangles, and a bit of magic. It’s one of my favorites.

What I really found interesting was this usage of two different worlds within the play. In the city, the rules are strict and more certain. When they run off to the forest, they’re breaking the rules of the city. They’re running into this world of passion and disorder. But instead of being passionate they fall asleep, which is breaking the rules of the forest. Puck obviously mistakes them for Thesus and Hippolyta and we have the rest of the play. Still, in the end of the play Thesus changes things in his speech. He wants to take the two ideals of law and passion and make them work within Athens. It goes on to say that solely being ruled by just law or just passion does not make for a stable person. There needs to be a balance between the two that makes them work. 

5/5

31 January 2012

Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 
David Wilson, a young lawyer, moves to town and a clever remark of his is misunderstood, which causes locals to brand him a “pudd’nhead” - a nitwit. His hobby of collecting fingerprints does not raise his standing in the townsfolk’s eyes, who see him as an eccentric and do not frequent his law practice. Puddn’head Wilson moves into the background as the focus shifts to the slave Roxy, her son, and the family they serve. Roxy is only one-sixteenth black, and her son Valet de Chambre (referred to as “Chambers”) is only 1/32 black. Roxy is principally charged with caring for her inattentive master’s infant son Tom Driscoll, who is the same age as her own son. After fellow slaves are caught stealing and are nearly sold “down the river”, to a master further south, Roxy fears for her life and the life of her son. First she decides to kill herself and Chambers to avoid being sold down the river, but then decides instead to switch Chambers and Tom in their cribs so that her son will live a life of privilege.
Slavery was a huge deal especially when this short story was published. It was published one year before the Plessy v. Ferguson case. Twain plays on Dicken’s story of the Prince and the Pauper by switching twins at birth. The use of twins is also playing on identity. Twain’s argument: is what defines race? If you can switch two boys at birth and can’t tell what race they are, then what does that mean about the way their culture sees race? It’s true we have this kind of idea circulating still, but during the time it wasn’t always a person’s skin color that had them marked for slavery. It was their blood line or one grandparent or a bad attitude sometimes. I think he did an excellent job in discussing it as plainly as he could at the time. I always love to read Twain. I love how he always works something funny into a more serious topic. I would recommend it!
3.5/5

Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 

David Wilson, a young lawyer, moves to town and a clever remark of his is misunderstood, which causes locals to brand him a “pudd’nhead” - a nitwit. His hobby of collecting fingerprints does not raise his standing in the townsfolk’s eyes, who see him as an eccentric and do not frequent his law practice. Puddn’head Wilson moves into the background as the focus shifts to the slave Roxy, her son, and the family they serve. Roxy is only one-sixteenth black, and her son Valet de Chambre (referred to as “Chambers”) is only 1/32 black. Roxy is principally charged with caring for her inattentive master’s infant son Tom Driscoll, who is the same age as her own son. After fellow slaves are caught stealing and are nearly sold “down the river”, to a master further south, Roxy fears for her life and the life of her son. First she decides to kill herself and Chambers to avoid being sold down the river, but then decides instead to switch Chambers and Tom in their cribs so that her son will live a life of privilege.

Slavery was a huge deal especially when this short story was published. It was published one year before the Plessy v. Ferguson case. Twain plays on Dicken’s story of the Prince and the Pauper by switching twins at birth. The use of twins is also playing on identity. Twain’s argument: is what defines race? If you can switch two boys at birth and can’t tell what race they are, then what does that mean about the way their culture sees race? It’s true we have this kind of idea circulating still, but during the time it wasn’t always a person’s skin color that had them marked for slavery. It was their blood line or one grandparent or a bad attitude sometimes. I think he did an excellent job in discussing it as plainly as he could at the time. I always love to read Twain. I love how he always works something funny into a more serious topic. I would recommend it!

3.5/5

31 January 2012
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare 
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 
The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship, but Petruchio tempers her with various psychological torments—the “taming”—until she becomes a compliant and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina’s more desirable sister, Bianca.
I’ve read almost all of Shakespeare’s plays, and this one is amongst my favorites. One of the major things I hadn’t thought of before discussing it in class was the idea of ‘female behavior’. Even in the induction, there is a quick gender swap to fool dear ole Christopher Sly. It’s the first of many times the play says something about gender roles. It begs to question what constructs them. The answer is most obviously the culture constructs them. The culture of the time was that a woman be more like Bianca who is obedient, quiet, and beautiful. Kate, on the hand, is none of those things some would argue. It’s up to Petruchio to ‘tame’ her to be the ideal woman. If you haven’t read Shakespeare and have watched 10 Things I Hate About You, then you’ll really enjoy this. 
5/5

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare 

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 

The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio, a gentleman of Verona, and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew. Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship, but Petruchio tempers her with various psychological torments—the “taming”—until she becomes a compliant and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina’s more desirable sister, Bianca.

I’ve read almost all of Shakespeare’s plays, and this one is amongst my favorites. One of the major things I hadn’t thought of before discussing it in class was the idea of ‘female behavior’. Even in the induction, there is a quick gender swap to fool dear ole Christopher Sly. It’s the first of many times the play says something about gender roles. It begs to question what constructs them. The answer is most obviously the culture constructs them. The culture of the time was that a woman be more like Bianca who is obedient, quiet, and beautiful. Kate, on the hand, is none of those things some would argue. It’s up to Petruchio to ‘tame’ her to be the ideal woman. If you haven’t read Shakespeare and have watched 10 Things I Hate About You, then you’ll really enjoy this. 

5/5

31 January 2012
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man tells the story of Stephen Dedalus, a boy growing up in Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century, as he gradually decides to cast off all his social, familial, and religious constraints to live a life devoted to the art of writing.
This was my first Joyce novel to read. I actually really enjoyed it, which honestly I didn’t expect to. Now, this novel doesn’t have too many instances of the dreaded stream-of-consciousness, which is a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual’s point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character’s thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her actions. Joyce does uses indirect discourse to make the transition between the narrator and Stephen’s actual thoughts. It was a little confusing at first, but since it is only about one person it wasn’t too hard to follow. I really liked that Joyce used the Greek myth of Daedalus, which where Stephen gets his last name. I really like Greek mythology, so I already had a grasp on the parallels. If you don’t know Daedalus is most famous for creating wings of wax. He and his son flew too close to the sun and the son’s wings melted. Also, I think Joyce’s proses are so very beautiful in many instances throughout the novel. I say don’t be too afraid to read Joyce and try reading this or one of his short stories like “The Dead”. 
4/5

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man tells the story of Stephen Dedalus, a boy growing up in Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century, as he gradually decides to cast off all his social, familial, and religious constraints to live a life devoted to the art of writing.

This was my first Joyce novel to read. I actually really enjoyed it, which honestly I didn’t expect to. Now, this novel doesn’t have too many instances of the dreaded stream-of-consciousness, which is a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual’s point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character’s thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her actions. Joyce does uses indirect discourse to make the transition between the narrator and Stephen’s actual thoughts. It was a little confusing at first, but since it is only about one person it wasn’t too hard to follow. I really liked that Joyce used the Greek myth of Daedalus, which where Stephen gets his last name. I really like Greek mythology, so I already had a grasp on the parallels. If you don’t know Daedalus is most famous for creating wings of wax. He and his son flew too close to the sun and the son’s wings melted. Also, I think Joyce’s proses are so very beautiful in many instances throughout the novel. I say don’t be too afraid to read Joyce and try reading this or one of his short stories like “The Dead”. 

4/5

31 January 2012
 The Aspern Papers by Henry James
*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 
A nameless narrator goes to Venice to locate Juliana Bordereau, an old lover of Jeffrey Aspern, a famous and now dead American poet. The narrator presents himself to the old woman as a prospective lodger and is prepared to court her niece Miss Tita (renamed Miss Tina in later editions), a plain, somewhat naive spinster, in hopes of getting a look at some of Aspern’s letters and other papers kept by Juliana
I really enjoyed this short story by James. The thing I found to be most interesting was it’s based off of real events. I believe it was Lord Byron’s papers and took place in England, though. I feel like that has a lot to do with the idea of literature more than just a fictional story, but as a historical narrative. I also enjoyed the writing. I hadn’t gotten to read James before, but his writing is very engaging. My professor kept saying that it was a funny story, but I politely disagree. I did really enjoy it, but I didn’t find it as comical as he explained it would be. I would suggest reading it and I will be reading more of James’ work in the future.
3/5

 The Aspern Papers by Henry James

*This is one of the many required reads for this semester. These types of reviews will consist more of what we discussed in class than my thoughts on the work. 

A nameless narrator goes to Venice to locate Juliana Bordereau, an old lover of Jeffrey Aspern, a famous and now dead American poet. The narrator presents himself to the old woman as a prospective lodger and is prepared to court her niece Miss Tita (renamed Miss Tina in later editions), a plain, somewhat naive spinster, in hopes of getting a look at some of Aspern’s letters and other papers kept by Juliana

I really enjoyed this short story by James. The thing I found to be most interesting was it’s based off of real events. I believe it was Lord Byron’s papers and took place in England, though. I feel like that has a lot to do with the idea of literature more than just a fictional story, but as a historical narrative. I also enjoyed the writing. I hadn’t gotten to read James before, but his writing is very engaging. My professor kept saying that it was a funny story, but I politely disagree. I did really enjoy it, but I didn’t find it as comical as he explained it would be. I would suggest reading it and I will be reading more of James’ work in the future.

3/5

19 January 2012
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 
            I have a lot to say about the novel and how I felt about it. First of all, you should be warned this book review probably will not be as simple as the others. The likelihood of me rambling is rather high. For that I am sorry in advance. Secondly, I must say that I know it took me a long time to finish this novel. I have a theory. Well-written books should be thoroughly absorbed. They should be breathed in slowly and appreciated, so I waited for the moments to read this when I had enough time to devote to it.
            To be as spoiler free as possible, I will say that the book is about young Liesel Meminger. She is a German girl growing up in Nazi Germany who falls in love with words. I know that’s vague, but I feel like giving you anything else will ruin the book.
                  I will be completely honest with you I didn’t like the book. I didn’t like it at all. I loved it. I loved everything about it even the sad things. I loved the narrative. I feel like that’s the biggest surprise of the novel so I won’t tell you what or who is telling you this tale. You should know that is absolutely perfect for this time period. Next, I enjoyed the writing. Zusak has a way of taking the reader in and not letting them finish until he’s done. His writing was never dull or too detailed. It was just enough to take to make me want to read more and find everything out. The next thing I enjoyed was the fact that’s written about a German girl. (Now, this is the part when I ramble a bit.) I know of several wonderful fictional books written about Jews during this period, but I haven’t read many from a German perspective. I think it’s really important to tell a story from this perspective because of what people tend to do. When there is evil in this world, people tend to not only blame the one or ones at fault but also their nationality or race. I want to tell you bluntly. Evil is not predetermined by ones race, nationality, sex, or sexual orientation. Evil is determined by where that person draws the line of right and wrong or the truth and a lie. It’s that simple. 
            The last reason I really loved it is a somewhat selfish one, well of my history. My lots-of-great grand father was a German Jew. He was in Munich of all places and was able to escape around 1933. I suppose this fact makes me a little more emotional when I read anything World War II related, but it’s not just that. This book was really good. I would highly recommend you read it and find out for yourself all of things I vaguely referenced!
5/5

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

            I have a lot to say about the novel and how I felt about it. First of all, you should be warned this book review probably will not be as simple as the others. The likelihood of me rambling is rather high. For that I am sorry in advance. Secondly, I must say that I know it took me a long time to finish this novel. I have a theory. Well-written books should be thoroughly absorbed. They should be breathed in slowly and appreciated, so I waited for the moments to read this when I had enough time to devote to it.

            To be as spoiler free as possible, I will say that the book is about young Liesel Meminger. She is a German girl growing up in Nazi Germany who falls in love with words. I know that’s vague, but I feel like giving you anything else will ruin the book.

                  I will be completely honest with you I didn’t like the book. I didn’t like it at all. I loved it. I loved everything about it even the sad things. I loved the narrative. I feel like that’s the biggest surprise of the novel so I won’t tell you what or who is telling you this tale. You should know that is absolutely perfect for this time period. Next, I enjoyed the writing. Zusak has a way of taking the reader in and not letting them finish until he’s done. His writing was never dull or too detailed. It was just enough to take to make me want to read more and find everything out. The next thing I enjoyed was the fact that’s written about a German girl. (Now, this is the part when I ramble a bit.) I know of several wonderful fictional books written about Jews during this period, but I haven’t read many from a German perspective. I think it’s really important to tell a story from this perspective because of what people tend to do. When there is evil in this world, people tend to not only blame the one or ones at fault but also their nationality or race. I want to tell you bluntly. Evil is not predetermined by ones race, nationality, sex, or sexual orientation. Evil is determined by where that person draws the line of right and wrong or the truth and a lie. It’s that simple. 

            The last reason I really loved it is a somewhat selfish one, well of my history. My lots-of-great grand father was a German Jew. He was in Munich of all places and was able to escape around 1933. I suppose this fact makes me a little more emotional when I read anything World War II related, but it’s not just that. This book was really good. I would highly recommend you read it and find out for yourself all of things I vaguely referenced!

5/5