Thursday, 5 May 2016

Starting again

I abandoned this blog three years ago because of personal difficulties I was having at the time. I didn't stop reading or writing stories (and I've had several published since then), but I did stop blogging about them. I wouldn't have written a new story every week or read a poem/story and essay every night though, and now things have settled down on the home front, I'm starting again. I won't be posting here any more though as it takes almost as long to blog about it as it does to do the reading. I'm recording my readings in a notebook instead, but may post a summary here some time.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Suspending the blog

I haven't suspended the writing a story a week or reading an essay, story and poem, but I have found that the blogging about it took up too much time, and took time away from writing, as it takes as long or longer to blog about the reading than to just do the reading. I will make an occasional report, but that's all for now unless I find some extra hours in the day.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Night 34: 15th August 2013

Essay
Germaine Greer. The Pulitzer Divorce (1983). Essay about injustice in divorce in America, especially when the wife is poor and young, and the husband is older and rich.


Poem
Robert Browning. Incident of the French Camp. Poem about a boy soldier meeting Napoleon as he is cut down. A sad tale of war, and all the sadder because nothing has changed and boys (and girls now) are still dying in stupid wars.


Story
Graham Greene. The End of the Party (1929). A weird story that was boring at first as it seemed to drag on and on. The ending was strange, and I still wonder why Francis was so frightened when his twin was not. A well-crafted story, but for me (living some 84 years after it was written), I thought it needed some editing and tightening up. Which is probably more a reflection on our shorter attention spans than on Greene's genius as a story teller.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Night 33: 14th August 2013

Essay
Germaine Greer. The Dalton Syndrome ~1981. The syndrome is usually known as PMS, but Greer names it after a Dr Dalton, who spent her career on premenstrual syndrome, treating it with progesterone, and keeping women who did terrible things out of prison using PMS as their defence. Greer's argument about PMS and the underlying mysogyny is a powerful one.

Poem
Richard Lovelace. To Althea from Prison. A poem about liberty, famous for the lines:
Stone walls do not a prison make
Nor iron bars a cage
Story
Graham Greene. Brother (1936). A powerful story about powerlessness in the face of external conflicts. A group of communists enter a cafe and demand drink but don't pay. Then the police come with their guns and drive the communists away, and then they demand drink. The proprietor has empathy for the communists and the Germans with them, but he is trapped and powerless with both groups.

Night 32: 13th August 2013

Essay
Germaine Greer. On Population and Women's Rights to Choose (1975). An interesting essay, especially seen from this distance, when the issues haven't changed that much – the world is still overpopulated, women are still oppressed, and their wombs are still political footballs.

Poem
Samuel T. Coleridge. Kubla Khan. An interesting poem, and I would like to learn more about it as I've no idea what it's about, except that it's about Xanadu and the grandson of Genghis Khan, who built the palace Xanadu in Mongolia. The language, images and rhythm are beautiful.

Story
Graham Greene. Jubilee (1936). Chalfont is a male prostitute who picks up women who will pay for his drinks. He meets a woman who has made a lot of money during the Jubilee, by 'cleaning up the streets' and through his meeting with her he becomes an old man. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Night 31: 12th August 2013

Essay
David Hume. Of Refinement in the Arts. According to Hume indulgences are only vices when pursued at the expense of virtues, but in the Latin classics the ruin of the state was ascribed to the arts and riches imported from the East. Hume says they were wrong and contends that progress in the arts leads to greater freedom and equality.

Poem
William Blake. To the Evening Star. A very poetic and beautiful poem about the planet Venus (I assume!) Lots of symbolism and use of metaphors in this one. 


Story
Graham Greene. Special Duties (1954). I love Greene's descriptions, such as in this story of Miss Saunders, who mouses in and gives the impression of moving close to the ground. Miss Saunders is employed to seek indulgences from the Catholic Church for her rich employer.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Night 30: 11th August 2013

Essay
Germaine Greer. Dear John (1969). An unpublished essay/letter to John Gorton, which I couldn't even read. Very disappointed as I like Germaine Greer and have a great deal of respect for her, but I'm over this kind of essay. No more from this book for the moment! I understand the anger, but I don't feel it in the same way.

Poem
William Blake. The Tyger. 'Tyger! Tyger! burning bright/ in the forests of the night. An interesting poem, with some great rhythm and images, and also with intrigue.


Story

Graham Greene. Alas, Poor Maling (1940). An hilarious story about a man's stomach doing impressions of noises it 'hears'.