SAHM the Libby
I just finished How to Read a Book. This is a classic and I don't feel like really getting into my thoughts about it but I will say that either Adler and Van Doren think everyone reading this book is very dim or they just are that verbose. Here are some of my favorite sections though:

A house is more or less livable, so books are more or less readable. The most readable book is an architectural achievement on the part of the author.

Strangely enough, in recent years,...there is a dwindling concern with this criterion of excellence. Books win the plaudits of the critics and gain widespread popular attention almost to the extent that they flout the truth- the more they do so, the better. Many readers, and most particularly those who review current publications, employ other standards for judging, and praising or condemning, the books they read- their novelty, their sensationalism, their seductiveness, their force, and even their power to bemuse or befuddle the mind, but not their truth, their clarity, or their power to enlighten.

Not only are many of the great books related, but also they were written in a certain order that should not be ignored. A later writer has been influenced by an earlier one. If you read the earlier writer first, he may help you to understand the later. Reading related books in relation to one another and in an order that renders the later ones more intelligible is a basic common-sense maxim of extrinsic reading.
It has often been observed that the great books are involved in a prolonged conversation. The great authors were great readers, and one way to understand them is to read the books they read. As readers, they carried on a conversation with other authors, just as each of us carries on a conversation with the books we read, though we may not write other books.
...novels and plays can be read in isolation... although of course the literary critic will not want to confine himself to doing so. (which I note most book bloggers are doing.)

...Activity is the essence of good reading, and that the more active reading is, the better it is.

We have made this point before, but we want to make it now again because of its relevance to the task that lies before you. If you are reading in order to become a better reader, you cannot read just any book or article. You will not improve as a reader if all you read are books that are well within your capacity. You must tackle books that are beyond you, or, as we have said, books that are over your head. Only books of that sort will make you stretch your mind. And unless you stretch, you will not learn.
SAHM the Libby
com·pen·di·um
Pronunciation: \kəm-ˈpen-dē-əm\

1 : a brief summary of a larger work or of a field of knowledge : abstract
2 a : a list of a number of items b : collection, compilation

From Merriam-Webster online

My sister, knowing my penchant for self improvement, gave me The Intellectual Devotional which is a compendium of seven fields of knowledge, one for each day of the week with entries for the entire year. I hope everyone received wonderful books for Christmas as well (and gave them too).
SAHM the Libby
Merry Christmas to everyone but especially to my brother who is in Iraq on his third deployment. Come home soon, there is a little elf here who can't wait to meet her Uncle Ryan.
Labels: 3 comments | | edit post
SAHM the Libby
Tendentious : \ten-ˈden(t)-shəs\ marked by a tendency in favor of a particular point of view : biased

ten·den·tious·ly adverb

ten·den·tious·ness noun

Merriam-Webster online

Autodidacts need to avoid tendentiousness or they will end up with a very lop-sided education, and then they'll walk funny.

SAHM the Libby
Okay this doesn't have anything to do with books but I wanted to share it none the less.
Love is for the birds.
SAHM the Libby
Well, the comments feature is working again.
Thank you to Sylvia bookworm for all of your help.
Labels: 2 comments | | edit post
SAHM the Libby
I added the The New Lifetime Reading Plan into The Well-Educated Mind. I found her list a bit eurocentic and using two lists ensures a more well rounded reading plan. My goal will be to read at least thirty of these a year which will mean this project will take me at least ten years.

Italics are The New Lifetime Reading Plan, Bold is where they agree, between brackets are my own additions.


1 Epic of Gilgamesh
2 & 3Homer, Iliad; Odyssey
4 Greek Lyrics
5 Confucius, the Analects

6-8 Agamemnon, Aeschylus; the Oresteia; Aeschylus
9-11 Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone
12 Herodotus, Histories
13-18 Euripedes, Medea; Alcestis; Hippolytus; The Trojan Women; Electra; The Baccae
19 Sun-tzu, The Art of War
20-22 Aristophanes, The Birds; The Couds; Lystrata;
23 Thucydides, Peloponnesian War
24 Plato, Republic (and selected works)
25 Mencius, The Book of Mencius

26 Aristotle, Poetics, Ethics, Politics
27 The Ramayana, attr. Valmiki
28 The Mabharata, attr. Vyasa
29 The Bhagavad Gita, Anon
30 Ssu-Ma Ch'ien, Records of the Grand Historian
31 Lucretius, Of the Nature of Things
32 Virgil, The Aeneid
33 Horace Odes
34 Plutarch, Lives
35 Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

36 & 37 Augustine, Confessions; City of God
38
Kalidasa, The Cloud Messenger; Sakuntala,
39 The Koran, Revealed to Muhammad
40 Hui-Neng, The Platform Sutra for the Sixth Patriarch
41 Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People
42 Firdausi,
Shah Nameh,
43 Beowulf
44 Sei Shonagon, The Pillow-Book
45 Lady Murasaki, The Tale of Genji,
46 Omar Khayyam, The Rubaiyat

47 Dante Inferno
48 Sir Gawain & the Green Knight
49 Luo Kuan-Chung, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms
50 Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales

51 Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe

52 The Thousand and One Nights, Anon
53 Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
54 Sir Thomas More, Utopia

55 Francois Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

56 Attr. Wu Ch'eng-en, Journey to the West
57 Essays Montaigne
58 Life of Teresa of Avila
59 Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
60 William Shakespeare, Richard III; Midsummer's Nights Dream; Hamlet; Sonnets

-LRP suggests reading Shakespeare's Complete Works
61 Poems of John Donne
62 Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

63 The Plum in the Golden Vase, anon

64 Galileo Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
65 & 66 Rene Descartes, Meditations; Discourse on Method

67 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

68 Blaise Pascal, Thoughts (pensees)
69 & 70 John Bunyon, Grace Abounding; Pilgrim's Progress

71-75 John Milton, Paradise Lost; Lycidas; On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, Sonnets, Areopagitica,
76-78 Moliere, Tartuffe; (LRP suggests several others)
79 Mary Rowlandson, Narrative of Captivity & Restoration
80 & 81 John Locke, True End Civil Government; Second Treatise of Government

82 Matsuo Basho, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
83 Congreve, Way of the World

84 Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
85 Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
86 & 87 David Hume, History of England; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

88 Henry Fielding, Tom Jones

89 Voltaire, Candide and other works

90 Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy
91 Rousseau, Social Contract; Confessions
92 Paine, Common Sense
93 Gibbon, Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire
94 Sheridan, School of Scandal

95 James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

96 Thomas Jefferson and others, basic documents in American history ( The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, etc), ed. Richard B. Morris

97 Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. The Federalist Papers, ed. By Clinton Rossiter

98 Ts'ao Hsueh-Ch'in, The Dream of the Red Chamber
99 Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
100 Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Women
101 Poems of Wordsworth

102 Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Faust

103 William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience

104 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Kubla Khan, Biographia Literaria, Writings on Shakespeare
105 & 108 Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice; Emma [Sense & Sensibility; Persuasion]
109 Keats, Odes & Poems
110 Longfellow
111 Tennyson

112 Edgar Allen Poe

113 Stendhal, The Red and the Black

114 Honore De Balzac, Pere Goriot; Eugenie Grandet; Cousin Bette
115 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
116-123 Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist; Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Great Expectations; Hard Times; Our Mutual Friend; The Old Curiosity Shop; Little Dorrit

124 Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls,

125 Ralph Waldo Emerson
126 Bronte, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, [Agnes Grey by Anne]

127 William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
128 Marx & Engel, The Communist Manifesto
129 Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
130 Emily Dickinson
131 Christina Rosetti
132 Herman Melville, Moby Dick; Bartleby the Scrivener
133 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin
134 Henry David Thoreau, Walden, and Civil Disobedience

135-139 Anthony Trollope, The Warden; The Last Chronicle of Barset; The Eustace Diamonds; The Way We Live Now; Autobiography

140 Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
141 Gustav Flaubert, Madame Bovary,

142 John Stuart Mill, On Liberty; The Subjection of Women

143 Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle; The Origin of Species

144 George Eliot, Middlemarch; Mill on the Floss; [Adam Bede]
145 Burckhardt, Civilization of Renaissance
146 Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

147 Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
148-151 Dostoyevsky, Crime & Punishment; The Brothers Karamazov [The Idiot, and selected short stories]

152 Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking-Glass
153 Paul Laurence Dunbar
154 & 155 Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, War and Peace
156-158 Thomas Hardy, Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge, [Jude the Obscure]
159 Carl Sandburg
160 Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House
161 Life & Times of Frederick Douglas
162-164 Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady; The Ambassadors, [The Turn of the Screw]
165 William Carlos Williams

166-169 Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra; The Genealogy of Morals; Beyond Good and Evil; Ecce Homo
170 Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
171-174 William James, The Principles of Psychology; Pragmatism; Four Essays from The Meaning of Truth; The Varieties of Religious Experience

175 George Bernard Shaw, Selected Plays and Prefaces; St. Joan

176 Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
177 Oscar Wilde, Importance of Being Earnest

178-180 Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams; Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality; Civilization and Its Discontents
181 Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery
182 & 183 Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Nostromo
184 Langston Hughes
185 DuBois, Souls of Black Folk
186-189 Anton Chekhov, Cherry Orchard; Uncle Vanya; Three Sisters; Selected Short Stories
190 Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of Capitalism
191 Edith Wharton, House of Mirth; The Custom of the Country; The Age of Innocence
192 Poetry of W. H. Auden

193-195 E.M. Forster, A Passage to India, [Howard's End, A Room With a View]
196 Poems of Robert Frost

197-203 Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, [all of In Search of Lost Time]

204-206 D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, Women in Love [Lady Chatterly's Lover]

207 Natsume Soseki, Kokoro,

208 Collected Poems and Plays of T.S. Eliot, Murder in Cathedral

209 Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
210 Lu Hsun, Collected Short Stories

211 Lytton Strachey, Queen Victoria
212 Phillip Larkin

213-215 James Joyce, Ulysses [A Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist & The Dubliners]

216 William Butler Yeats, Poetry and Autobiography

217 Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

218 Ernest Hemingway, Short Stories
219 Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
220-224 Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; To the Lighthouse; Orlando; The Waves; [A Room of One's Own]
225 & 226 Franz Kafka, The Trial; Selected Short Stories [The Metamorphosis]
227 Allen Ginsberg
228 Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth

229 & 230 William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury; As I Lay Dying,

231-233 Eugene O'Neill, Mourning Becomes Electra; The Iceman Cometh; Long Day's Journey into Night
234 Sylvia Plath

235 Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
236 Gertrude Stein, Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
237 Mark Strand

238-241 George Orwell, Animal Farm; 1984; Burmese Days; Wigan Pier
242 Adrienne Rich
243 Thornton Wilder, Our Town
244 Seamus Heany
245 & 246 Perry Miller, The New England Mind
247 Richard Wright, Native Son
248 Robert Pinsky
249 C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy
250 Albert Camus, The Stranger; The Plague

251 Tanizaki Junichiro, The Makioka Sisters
252 Jean Paul Sartre, No Exit

253 R.K. Narayan, The English Teacher; The Vendor of Sweets
254 Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire
255 Jane Kenyon
256 Thomas Merton, Seven Story Mountain

257 & 258 Mishima Yukio, Confessions of a Mask; The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
259 Henry Miller, Death of a Salesman
260 Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
261-263 Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Endgame; Krapp's Last Tape
264 Rita Dove
265 John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash

266-268 Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Pale Fire; Speak, Memory
270-273 Saul Bellow, Seize the Day; The Adventures of Augie March; Herzog; Humboldt's Gift

274 Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
275 Cornelius Ryan, The Longest Day
276 Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

277 & 278 Jorge Luis Borge, Labyrinths; Dreamtigers,

279 Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
280 Betty Frieden, The Feminine Mystique

281 Kawabata Yasunari, Beauty and Sadness
282 The Autobiography of Malcolm X
283 Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

284 & 285 Aleksander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle; Cancer Ward
286 Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildentern are Dead
287 Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
288 May Sarton, Journal of Solitude
289-290 Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago
291 Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll
292 Charles Colson, Born Again
293 Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
294 Barbara W. Tuchman, Distant Mirror
295 Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory
296 Don Delillo, White Noise
297 Woodward & Bernstein, All the President's Men
298 James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom
299 Jill Kathryn Conway, Road from Coorain
300 A.S. Byatt, Possession
301 Francis Fukuyama, The End of History & the Last Man
302 Elie Wiesel, All Rivers Run to the Sea

SAHM the Libby
Discovered in 1872 The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in 1200 b.c.e and is the oldest story known. From the cradle of civilization Mesopotamia (which means the land between the rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates) the epic was lost in 612 b.c.e when the Assyrian city of Nineveh was sacked and deliberately broken to bits. It is unknown whether Gilgamesh was a real king, an inscription with a king list of Sumeria lists him but it also says that he ruled for 126 years and it was a common name at the time. The story of the story is really more interesting but I'll write more about that at a later time.

Gilgamesh begins as a jerk, it says that he hoards the wives of other men for his own purpose, Robert D. Biggs who wrote the intro for my translation says that this means as king he demanded the first night of a marriage. The men naturally complain. Specifically to the Gods who then create Enkidu. Enkidu begins life as a wild beast of the field. A shepherd though isn't to pleased about the wild man drinking from his pool so he and his father come up with a plan to bring a temple priestess over to tempt him. There is an interesting debate in the appreciation written by James G. Keenan on the translation of Shamhat to temple priestess. Some translations say she is a prostitute but at that time that profession has a different connotation than it does now. Personally I think they made the correct choice in light of the role she plays. They bring her to the pool and wait for several days until Enkidu shows up, then she disrobes and flaunts before him her womanly graces. There is some description here that gave me a sophomoric chuckle and then a groan and eye roll as it was obviously written by a man. It is very openly sexual and even raunchy. After this tryst the animals he once ran with want nothing to do with him and that animal power is gone from him so he returns to Shamhat who in turn brings him to Uruk (civilization) where he meets Gilgamesh. Enkidu and Gilgamesh are alter egos. They immediately clash (a recurring masculine theme) fighting until exhausted and after are immediate friends.


There is some debate of whether or not this is a homosexual relationship. Before they meet Gilgamesh has a dream of this meeting where he embraces him as a wife. It is suspicious imagery but I agree with Robert D. Biggs who says, “It seems inappropriate, in any case, to apply the modern European concept of homosexuality to an ancient text.” Enkidu then go to slay Humbaba, who is a god of the forest. This event is likened to the death of nature by the representatives of civilization. This is a very interesting idea from the cradle of civilization and one wonders how much they understood about the destruction of nature because of civilization. The slaying of Humbaba is a rather merciless scene, first Humbaba is bracketed by forceful winds sent by Shamash, Gilgamesh's patron god, until he is exhausted and weakened. Then in column vi Humbaba cries out, “Please, Gilgamesh! Have mercy on me, wounded. I shall freely give you all the lumber of my mighty realm and work for you both day and night.” It is Enkidu who tells Gilgamesh to ignore his cries. Since we first meet Enkidu in the wilderness I find this interesting, his transformation is complete, he is converted.


After that there is an episode with Ishtar (an Assyrian Goddess) which I found uninteresting but it results in a bull from heaven being released which Gilgamesh and Enkidu fight and then slay. As punishment the gods smite Enkidu. He spends days ill and finally dies. Before that he curses the woman Shamhat. A bible parallel. Always the woman's fault eh?


One of the most beautiful parts of the story is how Gilgamesh grieves when Enkidu dies. This death confronts him with his own mortality and he sets out in search of Utnapishtim who is an ancestor of Gilgamesh and who survived the flood. After the flood Utnapishtim was granted immortality by the gods.


The biggest stand out in the text are the parallels to the bible. While completely different in the particulars the similarities are unmistakable. His mother Ninsun has never 'let a man touch her' so he is born of a virgin. In the story of Enkidu and Shamhat we see a parallel with the loss of innocence and the garden of Eden, also with the story of Samson and Delilah who losses his strength because of a woman. Of course the story of Utnapishtim and the flood. Then Gilgamesh is directed to a plant that will grant him eternal life but when he stops to get a drink from a lake a serpent slithers up and snatches it (enter that here). What all this means for the Bible is something I won't comment on. Believers and non-believers just see and interpret things differently so any debate is pointless. I noted a parallel Biggs and Keenin did not between Gilgamesh and Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), a prince who spent all his days in luxury who when confronted with the realities of life sickness, old age and finally death went in search of meaning.


Gilgamesh ends by accepting the eventuality of death and adopts an eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die attitude. There is the important theme: the fear of death and the meaning of life. Apparently we've been pondering it for thousands of years and we're not any closer to an answer than Gilgamesh.

SAHM the Libby
Laconic: \lə-ˈkä-nik\
To the point, concise. Using the minimum amount of words to the point of appearing rude or mysterious.
Merriam-Webster

I've been goofing off a bit this week, finals are over and its my vacation, plus my husband was sick the past few days so I had two babies (haha, just teasing honey...sort of). I'll have a post about the Epic of Gilgamesh tomorrow.
SAHM the Libby



Happy anniversary sweetie!

Wedding Prayer by Robert Lewis Stevenson

Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank you for this place in which we dwell,
for the love that unites us,
for the peace accorded us this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow,
for the health, the work, the food,
and the bright skies that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Amen



Labels: 1 comments | | edit post
SAHM the Libby
John Lennon was shot December 8, 1980.
Click on the link for the 1971 video.


Imagine
there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
it isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
and no religion too
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm note the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
and the world can be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm note the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
and the world can be as one

You may say I'm a sap, but that song gets me every time.
SAHM the Libby
Fungible: Returnable by exchange. Interchangeable.

Fill out some post its and place them on the T.V. the refrigerator, the car stereo, the baby's forehead, any where your likely to see it often.
SAHM the Libby
I have this little book called The Book of Brevity, which is a book of Latin American short short stories or mini-cuentos. I came across it because the translator Jose Chaves taught at the community college I was attending. I like to take it out every now and then and thumb through it. They are funny, charming, and thought provoking. They are little puzzles without answers for you to sort out and have fun with. I'll share a couple with you.

The Burro and the Flute

A flute that no one had ever played had been lost in the country for quite some time, unitl one day a passing burro blew hard into it, making it produce the most beautiful sound in their life; that is to say, the life of the burro and the flute.
Incapable of understanding what had happened -as rationality was not his strong point, and they both believed in rationality- they quickly separated, ashamed of the greatest thing either one had accomplished during their sad existence.

Augusto Monterroso (Guatemala)

The Arms of Kalym

Kalym took off his arms and threw them into the abyss. When he arrived at home, his wife asked him, astonished: "What have you done with your arms?"
"I was tired of them, so I threw them away," said Kalym.
"Well, you had better find them. You're going to need them to eat lunch. Where did you put them?"
"They're sitting in an abyss, miles from here."
"How did you even manage to get them off?"
"I just took my right arm off with my left and my left arm with my right."
"That's impossible," cried his wife, "You needed your left arm to take off your right, but you had already taken it off."
"I know sweetheart, my arms are a very strange things. Let's just forget the whole thing and go to bed," said Kalym embracing his wife.

Gabriel Jimenez Eman (Venezuela)

...and my favorite...

The Dinosaur

When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.

Augusto Monterroso (Guatemala)
SAHM the Libby


Last night I bought nearly fifty bookmarks. I'm always losing them and down to one. I'm currently reading about five books in addition to my text books so I thought I'd look on Amazon and see how much their book marks are, but I didn't think I'd buy any since paying four dollars for shipping on a bookmark is kind of insane. But I found twelve Emily Dickinson bookmarks for a dollar fifty and free shipping, well, sold, but should I get the Emily ones, the Shakespeare, or the Degas ballerinas? Also contenders were the Henry David Thoreau and Van Gogh ones, then I saw Fairy bookmarks and thought of my little niece who loves fairies and is getting several books for Christmas so I had to have those as well. So having narrowed myself down to four sets of twelve I went to the check out and found they were having a four for three deal so I got the fairies for free. Four sixty three for forty eight bookmarks. It will take me a while to lose that many.

All this book mark buying reminded me of a comic I saw years ago of a very unhappy cat stuffed into a book. The caption read, "In a readers home everything is a bookmark." I nearly chocked on my tea because I had done that. I had used my cat as a bookmark. She, like all cats, would come sleep next to me while I was reading and I had several times layed the book over her while I went to the bathroom or the kitchen. Nothing is safe.

It's finals week so I'll be gone for a bit. Hope your finishing up Don Quixote because I've started on The Epic of Gilgamesh. See you next week and wish me luck.
Labels: 4 comments | | edit post
SAHM the Libby
Warning! If you haven't finished Don Quixote don't read this post until you do. It is important to read the book and formulate your own opinion first.

I have several concerns with Don Quixote. The side stories are my biggest question with this book. The style of the book and the plot. The premise seemed so promising but in the end I feel it fell flat. Lastly the sexism and racism is a concern for me.

On a pragmatic level I understand the reason Cervantes had so many diversions. Cervantes was not very successful and Don Quixote was sold as a series. It creates a disjointed feel. In the second half the central characters weren't even the same, Sancho was more intelligent and Don Quixote was less insane. The side characters had disappeared and we had new ones, the graduate and the Duke and Duchess. Things really went down hill for me when the Duke and Duchess entered into it. At first it was funny, that he was famous and that they set up some adventures for him. But they took it too far, especially when they were laughing at Teresa, Sancho's wife, she wasn't a part of it, that made me mad. And when they drag Don Quixote back and present a 'dead' Altisidora who is raised by pinching and poking Sancho (and that's another thing why are they so interesting in flagellating Sancho?) you have to wonder don't these people have better things to do? Then I thought that perhaps Cervantes was trying to make a point about the spoiled bored upper-classes and then I connected it back to Dorotea and Don Fernando. That was an annoying side story. Boy what a relief when he marries Dorotea and we know she can look forward to a long life with him cheating on her. This isn't the promised meaning of the book but it is something to connect the stories. However there are many other stories and what about them?

Cervantes invented the novel but it has been greatly improved upon since then. Supposedly written by two different people who interject often, while interesting because it is so unusual, every time the translators showed up I felt assured that the style for less obvious narrators is superior. I understand a lot of that is a satyr of another work but as a modern reader it makes it disjointed and takes me out of the story. I imagine it did back then as well but it was more accepted by people in on the joke. While reading the section on poetry in The Well-Trained mind Susan Wise Bauer tells us that poetry was delivered orally and mostly on the spot. To help the poet remember the story they used formulas, the Hero is away from home, there is a great battle, the loss of a friend, struggle for return,...you can see that there is that formula in Don Quixote. Poetry was the first way of relating these stories so of course it would be the most familiar method for Cervantes. Ms. Wise Bauer writes: “Other memory aids shape the epics as well: The poet often began with an oral “table of contents,” a prologue that outlined what he was about to do...and halted occasionally to recap the action, to remind himself of where he had been before he proceeded on.” Sound like Don Quixote? So the epic poems that preceded him is a good place to start understanding him. It's a good thing The Epic of Gilgamesh and Homer are next.

The case of accused rape that Sancho judges which Cervantes meant to show Sancho's homely and surprising wisdom showed me something different. It was (and still is) the attitude that a woman cannot be raped but that at the last moment she had to acquiesce. From there people felt that the woman had brought it upon herself. The attitude toward the Moors is unsurprising considering the time and place but just how much of these kinds of attitudes are forgivable and understandable? It is hard to answer that because as much as we would like to believe we would have been intelligent and feeling and progressive enough not to be that way we simply cannot know. Our society and how we were raised plays a lot more into our attitudes than we would like to admit to ourselves. The fact is we have opinions that will melt with time as our grandchildren will show us. I liked that sanity returned to Don Quixote but I was also dissatisfied with the ending. I thought it would have been funny and more suited had they stumbled into exactly what they sought just as they stumbled into their adventures. If it had ended the way of Don Quixote's knight errant stories with Sancho proving better at being a governor than had been expected and being allowed to keep his post and with our knight winning the hand of his fair lady. If the real Dulcinea, Aldonsa Lorenzo, had figured “Hey sure he's a rich Hidalgo I'll marry him.” When Don Quixote regains his senses before he dies I'm actually disappointed. For me the fun is that he has his adventures and is a knight errant despite everything. No matter what happens or what anyone says he explains it away and enjoys himself. That is what makes me root for him and when he realizes the insanity of it all he losses that, the whole point of the adventures, of the bumps and bruises. He realizes he is a laughing stock and everything he has wasted and lost. It's not that I believe ignorance is bliss but when so much has been sacrificed to maintain that ignorance it is sad when it is lost.

Altogether I really enjoyed the book, which is what it all comes down to any way, no matter how genius a book is supposed to be (which is still up in the air as far as I'm concerned) it should be enjoyable. It was funny, even if a lot of the jokes are four hundred years old and are lost on me. It was a fun and interesting concept. The stories were entertaining if questionable why they were there. I can see why it has endured and inspired for so long. I am looking forward to expanding my reading of Don Quixote and deepening my understanding of Cervantes. The plot is thin, very little actually happens, there is no transformation or awakening, which leaves me wondering why I came along for the ride in the first place. It is the first novel so it deserves its place on our list but it's clunky and unrefined.

Doctoral dissertations could be written about this book (and probably have) but this was my first reading which Ms. Wise Bauer calls the grammar stage reading. I am now acquainted with Don Quixote but we have yet to make friends.

SAHM the Libby
This week's word is a bit different, it's a Filipino word which I think we should adopt. There is a precedent for this, we have a Filipino word in our common lexicon, boondocks, which means mountain in Filipino, though our usage is a bit different you can see the progression. So the word is gigil (gee-gil), its meaning is that odd feeling you get when you're holding a kitten and it's just so cute you start talking high in pitch and you just want to squish its little face. Or your holding a baby and hugging him and his cheeks are just so plump and rosy you just want to chew on them. It's being overwhelmed by love or emotion or beauty. I've mentioned that my husband is from the Philippines, he will be hugging me and will squeeze me hard and say, "I'm so gigil for you." Or I'll be holding our baby and she'll bury her head in my chest grabbing at me and kick her legs like she wants to climb me and he'll say, "She's gigil for her mommy." It's a great word because it makes you feel like less of a weirdo when that feeling comes, and since I'm a new mommy it happens to me often, since its been legitimized with its own word.
SAHM the Libby
Sancho and his proverbs, but this one gave me pause. "The kettle calling the pot burnt-arse."
Hmmm...never heard it that way before.

I hope your thanksgiving looked like below though I don't know why Rockwell put celery on the table he could have at least covered them in marshmallows or cream of mushroom soup. Something healthy on a thanksgiving table, what is he thinking?
SAHM the Libby
SAHM the Libby
I just finished reading Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .. Many of you probably already read it but I abide by Ralph Waldo Emerson's advice never to read a book younger than a year old. For those of you who don't know this book it is a brief primer to philosophy and a lot of great jokes. I thought my fellow beginning autodidacts would appreciate such a fun intro to a tough subject. It made an excellent bathroom book.


Claes Oldenburg, Soft Toilet

Ted meets his friend Al and exclaims, "Al! I heard you died!"
"Hardly," says Al, laughing. "As you can see, I'm very much alive."
"Impossible," says Ted. "The man who told me is much more reliable than you."

A woman reports her husband's disappearance to the police. They ask her for a description, and she says, "He's six feet, three inches tall, well-built, with thick, curly hair."
Her friend says, "What are you talking about? Your husband is five-feet-four, bald, and has a huge belly."
And she says, "Who wants that one back?"

A man with a parrot on his shoulder attends services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. He bets several people that the parrot can lead the service more beautifully than the cantor. When the time comes, though, the parrot is totally silent. At home afterward, the man berates the parrot and bemoans his losses. The parrot says, "Use your head, schmuck! Think of the odds we can get now on Yom Kippur!"
SAHM the Libby
I got this one from Don Quixote, eructate: to belch.
SAHM the Libby
I'm still not done with Don Quixote but I'm going to amp it up. I've been carving out thirty minutes every night to read it but now I will try an hour because I want to be done next week. I'll be reading it again but a new translation and I am planning to read some critical works about it as well as that Arthur du' Morte book so I won't be done done but I want to move on to other things.
Next is Epic of Gilgamesh, and as I said I'll be starting next week so order your copy now, preferably here, which is the oldest selection on Ms. Wise-Bauer's list snd perhaps the oldest story ever written. Originally written in cuneiform around 2750 and 2500 BCE. It was written by (or probably for) King of Uruk, Enkidu. Written in ancient Sumerian. Sounds fun huh?
SAHM the Libby
I haven't posted anything on grammar in a while because I haven't had much time and English Grammar for Dummies hasn't been as helpful as I would have liked. I haven't forgot my goal to become a grammar curmudgeon though and so last week I ordered Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English which has turned out to be perfect for the beginning autodidact. It is clear and concise, concise being one of the more important aspects, because as I said, I don't have a lot of time. It's also occasionally funny which is always a plus. There is a glossary and there is a section on writing email. I am not a book reviewer but I will pass on books that I enjoy or found interesting. This is one I definitely recommend.
The problem of its versus it's: an apostrophe stands in for words that have been omitted, so if you replace it's for it is (or it has) and the sentence still makes sense then it is correct.
This rule applies to many such conundrums such as who's (who is) and whose and you're (you are) and your.
SAHM the Libby
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday dear me-ee!
Happy birthday to me.

Yup today is my thirtieth birthday. Don't worry I'm not going to whine about my youth being over or get prosaic and talk about how nice it is to get older because you become more confident in who you are because neither are true. The two most immature and self-loathing people I know are in their forties and fifties. Birthdays and senescence do not make you better, learning does.

Senescent (say-nes'nt): To grow old, growing old, aging.
SAHM the Libby
Love not what you are but what you may become.
Our incomparable Cervantes.
SAHM the Libby

From J.P.

First, it is helpful to know that Cervantes was poking fun at the chivalrous romances that were so popular in the middle ages, and even more so at the people who were reading them. If you have waded through Mallory’s Le Morte d’ Arthur (the whole shebang, or even a partial read of the original) you will appreciate the wit in DQ and the formula that he is both following, and yet at the same time rewriting. The other thing about DQ is that it is an incredible window into Spanish-life. So your complaint about it being more about everyone else in Spain is partially true – that is part of the author’s intent. The third aspect to remember is that the book is actually a novel inside a novel (Cervantes is one of the first, if not the first to do this – it is good to realize the novelty of this – no pun intended). In addition, between the two volumes of DQ there is a huge back story going on– After Cervantes wrote the first part of DQ, an anonymous author (many believe it was Lope de Vega with whom he had a big rivalry) released an unauthorized “second edition” of the book. Often, the second part of Cervantes’ DQ is a reaction and response to both the “unauthorized” version of his novel as well as the writing conventions of the age. Much of Cervantes’ genius was not recognized at the time that he wrote (just look at the entire canon of his writing if you are not familiar with it). He wrote in a number of different genres – some with more success than others, but he tried his hand at them and he came up with something totally new in DQ. Some of his most entertaining writings are his short stories. The second part of DQ was finished at the end of Cervantes life.

There will be resolution at the end of part II, but part of the reason it is so long is because of the “quest” inside the quest that is going on, and because Cervantes uses second volume to reply to the unauthorized version that was written (think early literary criticism). I will say that the first time I read DQ in my humanities class I did not enjoy it nearly as much as the second time through (in many ways it just seemed like a crazy guy writing a crazy story…and what was the point). Granted the second time through I read in the original Castilian – and I was living in Spain (so could appreciate the window into the Spanish life). More recently (last year) I waded through Le Mort d’ Arthur and gained a whole new appreciation for the entertainment of DQ – which I have been reading in parts again in English when I have time (I homeschool my kids, so I have to set aside my pleasure reading often).

Cervantes books usually combine an element of the autobiographical, many references to classical works (he does this as a critique of the accepted formulas for writing different genres that were common at the time – and actually REQUIRED to be published). All that to say, I think you will probably be frustrated with the story if you don’t want to explore some of the additional levels of story going on both within the story and outside of it. If you get a good translation with ample textual notes, it will be helpful to that end. It can be read just for itself – but I think much of the pleasure of reading it comes from “getting” many of the inside jokes, because it helps you to appreciate the genius of the man and the skill of his writing. At least that has been my experience with Cervantes.


I am so happy to get some input from a reader. I haven't enabled comments because a, I don't know how, b, I want to make sure that all the comments are only about the books, and c, that everyone plays nice. I welcome emails but reserve the right to reprint it unless you ask me not to I will not print names unless asked but will abbreviate. Thanks J.P..

SAHM the Libby
I have just ordered Nabokov's Lectures on Don Quixote and there are several books on the Don that I intend to read. I have a feeling that Don Quixote is one of those Swimmer incidents where there is more the deeper you dig. Also being that Cervantes is the inventor of the modern novel I am wont to call him a genius and cut him all kinds of slack out of gratitude and respect. I am planning to begin reading from oldest to youngest rather than through each genre so the Epic of Gilgamesh is next but expect Don Quixote to keep popping up as I am planning to make him a project of mine.

SAHM the Libby
I am taking an Archeology class and we are talking about an ancient town discovered in Turkey. As far as we know thousands of people lived in Catalhoyuk but none of the homes are larger or more opulent and all of the burials are the same signifying that this was perhaps an egalitarian society. For this size that is rare. Also there are no streets. People moved from one home to another over roof tops and entered in through the window. That's kind of fun don't you think?

Also, I just discovered Library Thing and am obsessed so welcome if your following me from there. I really want this to be a buddy reading system. I have been debating and debating on whether or not to have a comments feature. Being right there would encourage more response but from prior experience this can open up a whole can of worms. For now just email me. Let me know if you think there should be comments or not.
SAHM the Libby
Stentorian: Loud and powerful of voice. Origins in Homer, Stentor is a herald in the Iliad.
SAHM the Libby
While I am still enjoying Don Quixote it seems to be less about him than every other person in Spain. I am hopeful that all the side stories will relate to Don Quixote, that they will reflect and be a counterpart to the story as the second story (I forget their names) in Anna Karenina showed how leading a chaste and moral courtship would lead to happiness while the adultery of Anna led to misery and despair. But I am a little afraid that at least some is simply to stretch the story out. Don Quixote was published as a series and, as can be imagined, a writer would wish to have as much story to publish as possible. My worry is that if he is in fact padding the story with these sub-stories then isn't he giving in to the tastes of the masses for sensationalist nonsense that Don Quixote pokes fun of? I am only half way through the book so I am still hopeful of a satisfying resolution and eager to get on with the story of Don Quixote instead of all these maidens, Dorotea, Luscinda, Zoraida, and the other one, each more beautiful than the last (gag).
SAHM the Libby
One nice thing that happened during my move was that I got to drive through the Columbia River Gorge which I always enjoy. Besides being beautiful it is the site of fissure eruptions which is an unusual occurrence on continental crust, it usually happens under the sea in oceanic crust. A fissure eruption is where the entire surface cracks and lava bubbles up and spreads out like pancake batter. So when I'm driving through the gorge I look up at the cliffs and think 'Lava, miles and miles of lava.' It astounds me. It has also seen another geologic event. During the ice age a finger of a huge glacier held back an enormous lake, bigger than the great lakes, and when the ice damn broke the water flooded western Washington and Oregon and the water escaped to the Pacific through the Columbia River. This happened about forty times. Here is more about it and here are some pictures of its loveliness.
SAHM the Libby
Mendacious men-dey-shuhs; a flaw, shortcoming, not truthful; lying or false
Mendacity: the quality or state or being mendacious 2. a lie; falsehood
New World Dictionary
SAHM the Libby
I thought it might be illuminating to learn a bit about the world Cervantes lived in. Here are a couple sites about the time of Don Quixote and once I can find the toilet paper among all the boxes I'll write a bit more.
Spain 1600
This Painting by Caravaggio was finished near the same time Don Quixote was published. Caravaggio is one of the last great Renaissance artists, after him they would move into the period known as Baroque.
SAHM the Libby
Well that was about the worst thing ever. My poor sister and husband had to do almost all of the grunt work because the baby, most likely upset by everything, would scream the second I put her down. And the cats peed on themselves during the drive to Washington. So the poor things had to sit in thier own urine, because all the towels were packed, and when we finally arrived at our hotel in Yakima Washington at about midnight, exhausted, we got to give the cats a bath.
We were unable to come up here to look for a new apartment so moving in was the first we've seen of it and well...its a roof I guess. We can't live here because of all our stuff. Sigh. There is still a lot of work to do and I have a midterm this week. Wah wah wah.
Labels: 0 comments | | edit post
SAHM the Libby
I'm just going to post the word of the week a little early. Usually I'll post that on Monday, a good start for an autodidact's week, but the big move starts tomorrow and even though the internet is scheduled for Monday you never know what will happen. I found this word on this great site though I already know quite a few of the words it may be informative for some.

abstruse adj. Dealing with matters difficult to be understood.

So fill out some post its and put them on the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, the car stereo, the baby's forehead, the remote control, any where you'll see it often and I'll be back next week with more on Don Quixote
.
SAHM the Libby
From one of my newest treasure A Book of Days for the Literary Year which I learned from about from Mental Multivitamin: on October 20th (yesterday I know) in 1955 Jean Cocteau is initiated into the Academie Francaise, declaring "Since it's now fashionable to laugh at the conservative French Academy, I have remained a rebel by joining it."

Exactly. I had an art instructor who was a real dolt, he declared that even if he had wanted a white pickup truck for years if he suddenly started seeing a lot a white trucks he'd get the opposite. The relentless pursuit of being 'different' being 'unique' is itself not an original idea. Why not try just being.
Labels: 0 comments | | edit post
SAHM the Libby
Reading Don Quixote it is easy to draw comparisons to so many things even in modern culture. Though this book is considered the first novel and was written in 1605 it has the grain of truth of human experience that keeps it relevant. When Don Quixote begins bragging "Before anyone shears me I will pluck the beards off the chins of all those who even contemplate touching a single hair of mine!" I think of my brother as a teenager and his dopey friends half seriously knocking each other about. I read about how Don Quixote has so enamored himself of his knight errant books and wasted his life in the reading of them that he has lost grip with reality and I think of a World of Warcraft player thirty years old and living at home, he delivers pizzas for a living comes home and spends all of the rest of his time online. In my minds eye I see his fat hairy belly hanging over the elastic band of his grey sweatpants, a neon orange Cheetos trail down the front of his t shirt his only company the glow of his computer screen and his only sense of purpose, accomplishment and self-esteem his current level. A modern day Don Quixote.
I also thought of young women who watch those Hills reality shows, I'm sorry I don't really know the name but you know the ones I mean. The made up drama, the feeling that these people are their friends and that they know those reality show actors can entertain and dull the minds of silly girls who can then search that same kind of vapid interaction in their own relationships. I thought of women who read harlequin romances ad naseaum until they are no longer happy with their own real relationships (though sometimes its the other way around, their dissatisfaction with their husbands make them look to those books) and then I realized I was not the only person to think of that.
Gustav Flaubert's Madame Bovary is on our list and I know that that is the story, a woman who, bored of marriage reads to many romances and tries to find that same kind of passion in reality. I can guess the ending. It's one of those books I've been meaning to read and now I have a new vain to analyze it in: Cervantes influence on Flaubert.
Which brings to mind what Ms. Bauer said about reading the books from oldest to newest to retain the historical flow. I mindlessly agreed and now I realize just how wise that is.



Don't forget to link through my page to get these books and help me keep this blog going. Its a big list.
SAHM the Libby
The Seasons

Then sleep the seasons, full of might;
While slowly swells the pod,
And rounds the peach, and in the night
The mushroom bursts the sod.

The winter comes: the frozen rut
Is bound with silver bars;
The white drift heaps against the hut;
And night is pierced with stars.

Coventry Patmore
From A Victorian Posy
SAHM the Libby
We all procrastinate but some of us are chronic. From an article by Steven Kotler in Psychology Today:

"Procrastination reflects our brain's hunger to feel good now rather than reap future rewards. But at the end of the day, it's really about choice: You have to decide exactly who it is that you intend to be."

"Expectancy of success is essentially a measure of confidence. The more confident you are, the less likely you are to put off a task. Task value is a combination of two factors: how much fun this particular job is and what it means to you and your life. The more fun, the more meaning, the less procrastination.

The need for instant gratification looks at both how much time will pass before you are rewarded for doing the job and how badly you need a reward for its completion. You're more likely to finish a report due next week if it results in immediate promotion. But if that promotion must wait until a year-end review that is still six months away, the urge to tarry increases. Finally, impulsiveness measures how easily distracted you are. The more readily you succumb to distraction, the greater the chance you'll procrastinate."

How much does it help to know why you procrastinate? There are some interesting ideas in the article but I like the bottom line message, it's about choice.

Labels: 0 comments | | edit post
SAHM the Libby
















A couple of great finds I thought I'd share with you. A Victorian Posy
is full of gorgeous pictures, lovely poetry and prose, and it smells amazing.
I Also noticed that most of my visitors are coming from The Well-Trained Mind site so I can only assume most of you are homeschoolers so I thought you might like this, Isaac Asimov's The Rocky Planet, very cool even though it's a bit out of date.
SAHM the Libby
Dog Blog
SAHM the Libby
Preamble: pree-am-buhl–noun
1. an introductory statement; preface; introduction.
2. the introductory part of a statute, deed, or the like, stating the reasons and intent of what follows.
3. a preliminary or introductory fact or circumstance: His childhood in the slums was a preamble to a life of crime.
4. (initial capital letter) the introductory statement of the U.S. Constitution, setting forth the general principles of American government and beginning with the words, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union. …”
I am moving this week from Oregon to Washington, which will probably mean I won't be able to post very often. The husband also packed my dictionary along with some other books even though I pointed to the stack next to the couch and told him that I was using those. I guess he didn't believe me. We're newlyweds, he'll learn. So I copied and posted this from here.
SAHM the Libby
My set daily puzzle time is getting better. Its amazing how much better my time is when my husband isn't over my shoulder.
"What about that one?"
"I already got that one."
"What about that, that and that?"
"No those two are both green."
"Oh."
SAHM the Libby
Y? Care? About? Grammar?

Did any of that alarm you? Did the 'y' irritate you? Then you are no grammar curmudgeon.

I didn't care about grammar until recently (note I didn't say 'used to' I have learned it's a no no). I have always wanted to be a writer but for various reasons I won't get into here I have only recently sat down with serious intent. After a month of hacking away I found that my former devil mare care attitude had left me in such a state that I did not know how to use the tools of the trade. Visiting sites like Mental Multivitamin, the Underground Grammarian, and The Mudge left me cold and a bit shame faced. But after a moment I realized I didn't need to be embarrassed about my ignorance. I know I am not the only person who's education has failed them and who from lack of exercise has lost the bit of grammar muscle we had and are now weak, uh is there a comma here or,...eh I'll just leave it. After all the supplier you're sending that email to won't know either. But is that okay? I don't think it is and I've been trying to come up with the explanation for that idea. Here's what I've come up with: it's like driving without traffic rules. I know, it's something Mrs. Bosselman would have come up with (Second Grade-shiver). Never the less it's true. Would you want to drive somewhere where there are few rules and no one to enforce the rules?
My husband is from the Philippines and it took him a long time to get comfortable driving here. He'd grip the wheel sucking air in between his teeth, when someone tried to pass him I thought he was going to have a heart attack. In Manila there are few rules and fewer police to hand out tickets. He told me that people will fly up the shoulder of the road and cut you off...from the right! Yikes. Here we have a lot of traffic rules which he had to get used to and he had to learn that he didn't need to worry about what everyone else was doing.
English is a living language and so it will change. The true grammarians can fuss and complain about all the little rules and pull out their little glasses and sniff at our errors. I want only a working knowledge. That's why I am posting quick little references. After a bit there should be a good library of tips, some will hopefully stick in your mind. If not, then next time you find yourself staring at an email wondering if the comma is in the right spot, rather than hoping the other guy won't know any better then you, glance over here.
That is the point of this blog, as I learn I want to share it with you.
SAHM the Libby
A few months ago I took an online class. An English class, into to literature or something like that. One of the stories I was asked to read was John Cheever's The Swimmer. I read it and didn't like it, didn't understand it, put it away and went to sleep. The next morning I picked it up and read it again because I was going to have to post some comments about it and comment on other peoples comments that day so I needed to be clear why I didn't like it and see if I couldn't make better sense of it. After reading it again I understood what was happening so I posted and started a conversation with another student about it. It still wasn't my favorite of the four stories I'd been assigned but that student noticed some things I hadn't and I told her some things I saw. Pretty soon we had a good discussion going and I was referring back to the story to see what she was saying and vice versa. Another student see's our conversation and says she doesn't know why we're so excited about she thought the story quote 'sucked'. I told her go read it again. She posts back, 'you were right' and she joins in, there are so many layers to this story. By the end of it The Swimmer had become one of my favorite short stories ever and I knew John Cheever was a genius.

I know most people won't want to read this entire list but as I go I hope some will join in a few of the books. I hope some people will read this blog and be encouraged to pick up some of the classics. I hope some people will see this blog and be inspired to look a bit closer while reading. But my real goal is to open up a dialogue about what we're reading. I hope people will email me and I will post it. I'm interested in what people will say about these books. You can email me at autodidact101@gmail.com.
SAHM the Libby
There never was a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
SAHM the Libby
From The Well-Educated Mind:
"Sustained, Serious Reading is at the center of the self-education project. (...) Reading is the most important method of self-improvement. Observation limits our learning to our immediate surroundings; conversation and lectures are valuable, but limit us to the views of a few nearby persons. Reading alone allows us to reach out beyond the restrictions of time and space,...."

And this, "Even before the advent of television, reading that required concentration was a difficult and neglected activity." As Don Quixote can attest to. A lot of blame has been placed on television for the dumbing down of America, there is always someone saying that things are going to hell in a handbasket.

Ms. Bauer's book is teaching how to use a classical education as an approach to reading. She is suggesting reading a book three times. The first time is the grammar stage reading where you get a sense of the information and story. The second is the logic stage where you begin analyzing the material, is it true, etc. She recognizes that most of will not have the time to read each book (and in fact she doesn't say that you need read all of the books) this is where the reading notebook comes in. If you have been underlining important passages (or using post it flags), writing questions down, and keeping a record of facts in your note book you can go over that for the logic stage. The rhetoric stage is the hardest. This is when you'll develop your arguments about the book. (I'll go into this later.) She writes, "You don't have to progress all the way through grammar-stage reading, logic-stage inquiry, and rhetoric-stage discussion for every book. If a book enthralls you, linger over it. If you barely make it through the first reading and close it with relief, there's no reason to feel that you must go on to the next stage of inquiry."

After I posted the list of novels where I whined about Moby Dick I picked up TWEM. "But if you simply cannot wade through a book after a good solid try, put it down and go on to the next book on the list. Don't jettison the whole project because you can't stand Paradise Lost. Even literary scholars have books that they have never managed to get all the way through. My bete noire is Moby-Dick; I know it's one of the great works of American literature, but I have made at least eight runs at it during my adult life and have never managed to get past midpoint."
HA! Very nice to know you have company. I've only tried half as many times but I think its plenty. It's such a shame too because it starts out so well.

I have also excluded Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, she writes that it is on the list because it started a war but for me it isn't somewhere I want to go. So Moby-Dick is gone and Adolf but other than that I am up to the challenge.

Have you ordered Don Quixote yet?



SAHM the Libby
Hey she looked. I got a nice little email from Mental Multivitamin and it made my day.
I Just saw this author on the Daily Show and I'm intrigued. I already have a huge list to read but I think this will be added to my extra credit wish list on Amazon.
Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
Jon Stewart asked her whether it wasn't okay for people to believe thought could make them richer and healthier wasn't harmless like hey Jesus makes you stop drinking well that's fine. She responded, 'No I don't think self delusion is ever okay."
Hehe.
SAHM the Libby
From On the Uses of a Liberal Education by Mark Edmundson.
Is it a surprise, then, that this generation of students -- steeped in consumer culture before going off to school, treated as potent customers by the university well before their date of arrival, then pandered to from day one until the morning of the final kiss-off from Kermit or one of his kin -- are inclined to see the books they read as a string of entertainments to be placidly enjoyed or languidly cast down? Given the way universities are now administered (which is more and more to say, given the way that they are currently marketed), is it a shock that the kids don't come to school hot to learn, unable to beat their own ignorance? For some measure of self-dislike, or self-discontent -- which is much different than simple depression -- seems to me to be a prerequisite for getting an education that matters. My students, alas, usually lack the confidence to acknowledge what would be their most precious asset for learning: their ignorance.

Ah how comforting because I have no problem declaring my ignorance and my eagerness to learn. I came by this essay from Mental Multivitamin my favorite blog. I avoided blogs before because I am somewhat of a technophobe but M-mv is the exception. In fact it is my inspiration. I have done these kinds of projects before, I tore out a page from the back of a Penguin Classic listing other books and slowly read my way through them, (I would have to say that this is the largest one) and that is why I ordered Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well-Educated Mind. On their website they have a list of blogs but most were awful mommy blogs. I was hoping to find a blog of a homeschooling mother talking about how she uses the trivium to teach her children not writing about nonsense. On the list though was Mental Multivitamin. I am slowly reading through the back postings and am finishing up 04. She really inspired me, Ms. Bauer's book and M-mv coincided and here I am.
M-mv is the cool adult blog and I am a little bit like a little kid jumping up and down, "Hey look at me! Look look, watch me. Are you watching?...Hey you weren't watching!" Just desperately trying to get noticed. Oh well, education is it's own reward.
SAHM the Libby
Duane Hanson, this artist amazes me. Yes those are statues. Check this one out too.
SAHM the Libby
An independent clause can be separated from a subordinate clause with a subordinate conjunction and/or a comma.
Translation: An independent clause is a complete thought or sentence, a subordinate clause adds to the independent clause with more information, a subordinate conjunction is a word that connects the two clauses.
Subordinate conjunctions: while, because, although, though, since, when, where, if, whether, before, until, than, as, as if, in order that, so that, whenever, and wherever.
False subordinate conjunctions: however, consequently, therefore, moreover, also, and furthermore.
Examples: Jack needs to do the dishes before his mother has a fit. Before his mother has a fit, Jack needs to do the dishes.
His mother has a fit. This is not a complete sentence but Jack needs to do the dishes is.

How to avoid the dreaded comma splice: make sure you have an independent clause or whole sentence that can stand on its own, use an appropriate subordinate conjunction, do not try to connect two complete sentences with a comma (that is what semicolon's are for).
SAHM the Libby
Aggrandize \ə-ˈgran-ˌdīz 1. To make greater, more powerful, richer, etc.: often used reflexively 2. To make seem greater or more exalted. Aggrandizement, aggrandizer

I don't think Obama needed any aggrandizement from the Nobel prize committee, but that is what he got.

How 'bout that, a little topical example with our weekly word.
SAHM the Libby
I'm not going to dig up all of these from Amazon as I did for the novels but please click through for any upcoming book purchases and help me buy all these books. Think of it as good karma, helping me save my marriage hehe.


Memoirs and Autobiography
The Confessions, Augustine
The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe
Essay, Michel de Montaigne
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself, Teresa of Avila
Meditations, Rene Descartes
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, John Bunyan
The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration, Mary Rowlandson
Confessions, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written By Herself, Harriet Jacobs
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington
Ecce Homo, Friedrich Nietzsche
An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Mohandas Gandhi
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein (eshk, Moby Dick)
The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton
Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, C.S. Lewis
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X
Journal of a Solitude, May Sarton (ooh I like that)
The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
Born Again, Charles W. Colson
Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, Richard Rodriguez
The Road from Coorain, Jill Ker Conway
All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs, Elie Wiesel

History
The Histories, Herodotus
The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides
The Republic, Plato
Lives, Plutarch
The City of God, Augustine
The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Bede
The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli
Utopia, Sir Thomas More
The True End of Civil Government, John Locke
The History Of England, Volume V, David Hume
The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Common Sense, Thomas Paine
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville
The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Jacob Burckhardt
The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B Du Bois
The Protestant ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber
Queen Victoria, Lytton Strachey
The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell
The New England Mind, Perry Miller
The Great Crash 1929, John Kenneth Galbraith
The Longest Day, Cornelius Ryan
The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, Eugene D. Genovese
A Distant Mirror: The Clamitious Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman
All the President's Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, James M. McPherson
A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Dairy, 1785-1812, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama

Drama
Agamemnon, Aeschylus
Oedipus the King, Sophocles
Medea, Euripides
The Birds, Aristophanes
Poetics, Aristotle
Everyman, Aristotle
Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlow
Richard III, A Midsummer's Dream, Hamlet, Shakespeare
Tartuffe, Moliere
The Way of the World, William Congreve
She Stoops to Conquer, Oliver Goldsmith
The School for Scandal, Richard Brinsley Sheridan
A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen
The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde
The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov
Saint Joan, George Bernard Shaw
Murder in the Cathedral, T.S. Eliot
Our Town, Thornton Wilder
Long Day's Journey Into Night, Eugene O'Neill
No Exit, Jean Paul Sartre
A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams
Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller
Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
A Man For All Seasons, Robert Bolt
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard
Equus, Peter Shaffer

Poetry
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Iliad, The Odyssey, Homer
Greek Lyricists
Odes, Horace
Beowulf
Inferno, Dante Alighieri
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
Sonnets, Shakespeare
John Donne
Psalms, King James Bible
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, William Blake
William Wordsworth
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
John Keats
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson
Christina Rossetti
Gerard Manley Hopkins
William Butler Yeats
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Robert Frost
Carl Sandburg
William Carlos Williams
Ezra Pound
T.S. Eliot
Langston Hughes
W. H. Auden
Philip Larkin
Allen Ginsberg
Sylvia Plath
Mark Strand
Adrienne Rich
Seamus Heaney
Robert Pinsky
Jane Kenyon
Rita Dove

...I feel sick. Also I feel like Homer Simpson looking at a mountain of donuts, 'ahhh boooks, aaahh' tongue lolling out. Somehow, I'm going to read all of these, but for now I'm going to bed.
SAHM the Libby
Don Quixote, so far, is hilarious. I did not know that. It is easy to read even though it was written in 1602. I'm sure that is due to the translator and the fact that it wasn't written in old English.
It is the story of a man who has been reading to many romantic tales of knights and ladies, he becomes a tad nutty and runs off, with a not-to-bright farmer Sancho Panza as his side kick though Sancho is often the voice of reason, in search of adventure after making a make shift suit of armor, getting an old nag of a horse and imagining up a lady paramour he names Dulcinea. Here is a taste:
"After a a couple of miles, Don Quixote spotted a throng of people who, as it afterwards transpired, were merchants from Toledo on their way to Murcia to buy silk. As soon as Don Quixote saw them, he imagined that here was the opportunity for a new adventure; and, wishing to imitate in every way he believed he could the passages of arms he'd read about in his books, he decided that one he had in mind was perfect for the situation. And so, with a gallant bearing and a resolute air, he steadied himself in his stirrups, clutched his lance, lifted his shield to his chest and, taking up his position in the middle of the highway, awaited the arrival of these knights errant, for this was what he judged them to be; and when they came within sight and earshot, Don Quixote raised his voice and, striking a haughty posture, declared: 'You will none of you advance one step further unless all of you confess that in all the world there is no maiden more beauteous than the Empress of La Mancha, the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso.'" Imagine this scene on your commute hehe.

And here:
"'...and if I do not utter any complaint about the pain it is because knights errant are not permitted to complain about wounds, even if their entrails are spilling out of them.'
'If that's so there's nothing more for me to say,' replied Sancho, 'As for me, I can tell you I'm going to moan like anything about the slightest little pain,...'" Hehe, once again Sancho is the one to make sense.
SAHM the Libby
Susan has several good suggestions I want to share from The Well-Educated Mind. On page 68 She begins a section about how to read a novel based on the trivium which is, grammar, logic, and rhetoric, a classical method of teaching and learning. She says to read the preface only if it is written by the author or you will be swayed in your reading by another persons opinion. Look the book over before beginning, read the back, front, and table of contents. Look at the brief author bio. In your notebook keep a list of the characters and their relationship to each other. This is a very good idea when reading Russian writers as a common complaint is the difficulty keeping people straight.

She also writes that when reading nonfiction you need to ask yourself what the author is trying to convince you of, but that that is not necessary when reading a novel. She writes that the novelist is not presenting you with an argument. I disagree. Every author has a unique perspective of the world and they present that with their book. When you are reading Dickens he is trying to convince you that if you work hard and are a good moral person you will succeed, get the girl, inherit a large amount of money and go to heaven. Kafka and Sylvia Plath will present you with a different take on the human condition. I'm only a little way into Don Quixote but I can see that Cervantes is trying to present an argument to me about how to live about how people are. When reading a novel look for the authors view of the world, and his beliefs about the human experience.

SAHM the Libby
Adler and Van Doren have succinctly described what I feared and what I am aiming for. "There have always been literate ignoramuses who have read widely and not well." "To avoid this error-the error of assuming that to be widely read is to be well-read are the same thing- we must consider a certain distinction in types of learning (page 12)."
In chapter two they outline levels of reading: elementary, inspectional, analytical, and syntopical reading. Inspectional reading is where most people stop, after elementary you can answer, "What does the sentence say?" After the second level you can answer, "What was the book about?" How many times have you asked that question or answered that? For many books that is enough, after reading the Notebook knowing the answer to this question is enough. However, reading Crime and Punishment requires more. "Analytical reading is preeminently for the sake of understanding (19)." This is the level that I am trying to achieve. I will try to gt to the last level at another time. For now gaining a better understanding of what I am reading is enough.
Tip from the book: ask these questions during your reading, what is the book about as a whole, what is being said in detail and how, is the book true in whole or in part, and, what of it?