penguin little black classics 01 – 03

I opted to just review three Penguin Little Black Classics books in one post, as my reviews for this series is usually short. So here is my review for Books No. 1 to No. 3.

PENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 1

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“You’re not doing anything to me,” said the Priest, “but you don’t let me do what I’d like to you, which is love my neighbour as god commanded.”

Title: Mrs. Rosie and the Priest

Author: Giovanni Boccaccio

Summary: Bawdy tales of pimps, cuckolds, lovers and clever women from the fourteenth-century Florentine masterpiece The Decameron.

My Thoughts: Who knew 14th century literature could be so lewd! These short stories came from the Florentine book The Decameron. Humor as one of the main points decided that I should get the complete work. It is lighthearted and good for the weary heart.

Rating: 4/5 stars

PENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 2

Title: As kingfishers catch fire

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“As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s”

 

Author: Gerard Manley Hopkins

Summary: Considered unpublishable in his lifetime, the Victorian priest’s groundbreaking, experimental verse on nature’s glory and despair.

My Thoughts: This one is just bad haiku. You tend to set a mind frame when you read something like ‘consered unpublishable in his lifetime” but I’m sorry Gerard but I think your poems are far too religious for my taste. Included in this little book are diary entries that still didn’t catch my eyes. These poems are difficult to understand and I did not enjoy them to be honest.

Rating: 2/5 stars

PENGUIN LITTLE BLACK CLASSICS NO. 3

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“This is the saga of Hrafn and of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue, as told by the priest Ari Thorgilsson the Learned, who was the most knowledgeable of stories of the settlement and other ancient lore of anyone who has lived in Iceland.”

Title: The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue

Author: Anon

Summary: Ranging across Scandinavia, England and Ireland, a Viking-age epic of two poets in doomed pursuit of Helga the Fair.

My Thoughts: Who doesn’t like tales of princesses and warriors? This a story of Gunnlaug, a viking poet-warrior and Hrafn. He meets the most beautiful woman, Helga the Fair and asks for her hand in marriage. But of course, Helga’s father disagreed and tells Gunnlaug to come back when he’s mature. Hrafn finds out about this arrangement and steals Helga. The plot thickens at this point and ends in a fatal disaster. This is my first time reading about Scandinavian literature. I found it hard to get around too because of the torrent of names being thrown at you. It’s a good read if you’re a fan of adventures.

Rating: 2/5 stars

book review: possession / a.s. byatt

 

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“The book was thick and covered with dust. It’s boards were bowed and creaking; it had been maltreated in its own time.”

Book Title: Possession

Author: A. S. Byatt

Theme: Romance

How It All Goes Down:  The story opens up in London Library in the autumn of 1986. Sitting in the library is a postgraduate in literature, Roland Michell, poring over a dusty old book previously owned by a celebrated-poet (fictional) in the 19th century. He then finds two drafts of letter addressed to some woman. Shocked and thrilled by this discovery, he slips the drafts of letter into his own book and leaves the library and decides to seek the mystery woman.

My thoughts:

The first part 300 pages of the book was dragging that I thought of not finishing it but eventually came to enjoy reading and loving it. The writing is eloquent and the plot is masterfully written. Being a romantic, I daresay this is one of the most remarkable book I’ve read in awhile.

“Never have I felt such a concentration of my whole being – on one object, in one place, at one time – a blessed eternity of momentariness that went on forever – it seemed.”

“I have dreamed nightly of your face and walked the streets of my daily life with the rhythms of your writing singing in my silent brain. I have called you my Muse, and so you are, or might be, a messenger from some urgent place of the spirit where essentially poetry sings and sings. I could call you with my greater truth – my Love – there, it is said – for I most certainly love you and in all ways possible to man and most fiercely. It is a love for which there is no place in this world – a love my diminished reason tells me can and will do neither of us, a love I tried to hied cunningly from, to protect you from, with all the ingenuity at my command.” 

“No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed.”

To understand this more clearly, there are two timelines in this story, that of the nineteenth-century poets and the 20th century literary scholars, that is essentially interweaves with each other. The story between the Victorian poets fills my heart with so much passion and I too, was possessed, wanting to know more of what happened to them. As Roland and Maud, discovers the truth behind the poets, you will be slowly immersed into British, European and Scandinavian literature and storytelling.

This book is a reminder of how good it is to fall in love with books and the joy of reading. I definitely recommend this to fans of romance and the Victorian era.

Rating: 5/5 stars