measure for measure

Welcome Home: Books that Arrived in January & February 2012

“The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.” ― Vladimir Nabokov

“Which literary character/hero/heroine do you most identify with?”

This is definitely a ‘frequently asked question’. Many readers I know identify with Anne from Anne of the Green Gables, Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, some with Hermione, Ron or Harry from the Harry Potter series of books, others with the characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy; etc, etc. Whoever you identify with, the fact of the matter is that most readers identify with someone. But being the weirdo that I am, I almost never have identified myself with any literary character. Rather I have identified with the people behind the words and the characters, the writers.

The author I most identify with is Emily Brontë. I grew up in a place that is quite similar to Haworth, Yorkshire. Not only do I have the same birthday as her but I also share a lot of her characters traits. Shyness and suffering from severe bouts of ‘social awkwardness’ are only two of them. I, of course, do not have her talent. She wrote about raw and unrestrained human emotions without the fear of meeting with the disapproval of the 19th century audience. She is probably one of the most honest writers I’ve ever come across.

Alright, enough of comparing myself with one of the greats of literature. Here are the books I bought in the months of January & February 2012.

January 2, 2012.

The Agony and the Ecstasy. Irving Stone.

The Day Of The Jackal. Frederick Forsyth.

The Railway Children. E. Nesbit.

Measure for Measure. William Shakespeare.

Cranford. Elizabeth Gaskell.

I have been wanting to read Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy for a long time. I have seen this book on shop shelves but never picked it up till now. I have recently started it. Lets just say I shall reserve my judgement till I write my review of it.

The Day Of The Jackal, classic suspense from the 60’s. Do I need any other reason to pick it up?

I have been making up for lost time for the past two years. Growing up, I have missed out on a lot of children’s classics. Even though I may have enjoyed children’s books such as The Railway Children more as a child, I do still find joy in these books.

I bought Measure for Measure while participating on the Shakespeare Reading Month this January. I have always been kind of intimidated by the Bard but after breaking the ice with two of his comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night, I felt much more confident. And Measure for Measure didn’t disappoint.

I have been watching this battered copy of Cranford lie neglected in a book shop for over a year now. No one seemed to be interested in it. I felt sorry for the book (yes, I quite often feel sorry for books) and having never read anything by Elizabeth Gaskell decided to bring it home.

Feb 18, 2012.

A View from the Bridge and All My Sons. Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is one of my all time favourite plays. I had been eying this Penguin edition of two of Millers most famous plays f0r a while. I hope to enjoy A View from the Bridge and All My Sons as much as his Death of a Salesman.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare.

ANGELO: Then must your brother die.

ISABELLA: And ’twere the chapter way:

Better it were a brother die at once,

Than that a sister, by redeeming him

Should die forever.”

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare was written in 1603 or 1604.

The duke of Vienna leaves the city for a short while and puts Angelo in charge in his absence. Isabella, a novice nun, goes to plead with Angelo for the life of her brother, Claudio, who is accused of ‘fornication’. Angelo, taking advantage of the situation tries to blackmail Isabella into sleeping with him. But the Duke, who is observing everything in disguise, comes to the rescue. With his help the virtuous Isabella saves the life of her brother and keeps her honour intact.

Measure for Measure reads like a comedy but many think of it as a ‘problem’ play. I guess it may be classified as a problem play as it shows the rampant licentiousness and the appalling corruption of the rich.

The central theme of ‘illicit’ sex (even though by law at least both Claudio & Juliet and Angelo & Mariana are considered to be married) was unique for me. I have read many Classic plays where only ‘villains’ engage in ‘illicit’ sex. But in Measure for Measure Claudio & Juliet are not portrayed as immoral people or as villains. In fact a lot of later productions of Measure for Measure toned down these elements by showing everyone to be either secretly married or by showing Angelo as a good person who was only testing Isabella’s virtue.

This was one of my more unsettling reads by Shakespeare. Themes of debauchery, prostitution and corruption are not really fodder for comedy. Angelo’s abuse of power and the apparent helplessness of the common people when faced with this kind of corruption rings really true even today.

Overall, Measure for Measure is a good read but I will not call it light entertainment.

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Teaser Tuesday (Jan.31)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My Teaser:

“ISABELLA: Oh fie, fie, fie:

Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade;

Mercy to thee would provide itself a bawd,

‘Tis best that thou diest quickly.”

~ p.64, Measure For Measure”  by  William Shakespeare.