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RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment?

 
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RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 9:20:11 PM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Chickenboy


Sure, there are novels and other literature that is impenetrable to my perspective, that I just 'don't get'. If I want to be lost in old books that I don't understand, I can read up on initial works by Pythagoras, Euclideas or some of Einstein's scientific publications. I won't claim they're bunk because I can't understand them or find them interesting, I promise.

"Classic" literature is supposed to be different. Not necessarily written for the masses, but it should elicit thought, enjoyment and appreciation for the medium amongst many, if not most, of its readers. Not a popularity contest mind you, but a classic cannot be a classic if very few think it a useful or worthwhile read.

I won't argue that the philosophers you cited are classical philosophers and worthwhile for most people to have at least a passing familiarity with their works. I cannot say the same for Flaubert's POS fictional novel. It "ate" about two weeks of my life, I sure as **** am not going to take a class explaining why I 'should' like it, if only I were more intellectually sophisticated.

What is a 'classic' and a 'must-read' is not exclusively personal choice, but it is mostly personal opinion, IMO.



Literature and fiction are sort of studies of their own and there are people whose expertise is interpreting the history of literature and discerning the merrit of various styles of an author's writing and to them Madame Bovary may be a great novel for reasons most of us may not understand. I don't understand why Madame Bovary is so great either. But isn't it likely that there may be good reason? And before dismissing the novel as junk, might it not be a worthwhile endeavor to try to learn why it may not be junk?

The fact of the matter is that many literary experts seem to think Madame Bovary is great stuff. Do we dismiss them as simply having nothing more than opinions? As experts on literature isn't it likely that their opinions about literature are better formed than those of novices? To someone who's never read a lick of philosophy Plato may seem like a bunch of nonsense. And they may be equally put off by having to read him. It doesn't make sense to that person because the person has no idea of how it fits into anything else. Do we therefore say great works of philosophy are mostly someone's opinion? Does that therefore put Plato on the same level with Jerry Springer?

I'm simply suggesting that there may be good reasons for a piece of literature being considered a classic that we just aren't aware of. This whole thing started with the idea that teachers are doing a disservice to kids by making them read things they don't want to. If that is so, then should they start conferring college degrees to people for sitting around and reading Harlequin romances? Or should college literary courses require reading of the classics? And if college literary courses should require reading of the classics, then shouldn't pre-college education prepare people for what they will encounter in college by requiring them to read the classics as well.

Of course these are just my speculations as a literary philistine. Maybe there isn't anything great about Madam Bovary, but the fact that it is so highly praised leads me to suspect otherwise.

_____________________________

My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to Chickenboy)
Post #: 211
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 9:44:29 PM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress
quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
I don't think fact and fiction can be mixed for the purposes of this discussion - bringing in Shattered Sword, great book that it is, does not add anything to advance this subject of what is a classic and who decides.

I disagree.
Warspite1

Fair enough - lets agree to disagree...btw - that is not what Shattered Sword was getting at......


Fair enough as well. Didn't Shattered Sword, though, make a radical change to the way the battle of Midway has been interpreted? If some complete novice picked up Shattered Sword and read it might that novice just think it was "just another book about World War II" and perhaps even a "boring" one? Don't you as a military enthusiast know better--that Shattered Sword is an "important" work of noteworthyness? Or is Shattered Sword just like any other book and not all that recommendable?

_____________________________

My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 212
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 9:51:44 PM   
warspite1


Posts: 17035
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress
quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
I don't think fact and fiction can be mixed for the purposes of this discussion - bringing in Shattered Sword, great book that it is, does not add anything to advance this subject of what is a classic and who decides.

I disagree.
Warspite1

Fair enough - lets agree to disagree...btw - that is not what Shattered Sword was getting at......


Fair enough as well. Didn't Shattered Sword, though, make a radical change to the way the battle of Midway has been interpreted? If some complete novice picked up Shattered Sword and read it might that novice just think it was "just another book about World War II" and perhaps even a "boring" one? Don't you as a military enthusiast know better--that Shattered Sword is an "important" work of noteworthyness? Or is Shattered Sword just like any other book and not all that recommendable?
Warspite1

No, Shattered Sword is, as I have said numerous times - and am happy to continue saying, a fantastic book. Why? Because it is written from the IJN perspective (but is objective and not biased), it details how the KB went about its business (fascinating - and written in a way that is not boring) and it de-bunks a lot of myths about the battle.

Above all, it is written in an enjoyable, easy to read, yet forensic stylee, that I wish more authors could copy. If you haven't read this and you are interested in World War II and / or the Pacific War and / or naval warfare then you need to do so.

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 213
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 9:56:34 PM   
shunwick


Posts: 1691
Joined: 10/15/2006
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress
quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
I don't think fact and fiction can be mixed for the purposes of this discussion - bringing in Shattered Sword, great book that it is, does not add anything to advance this subject of what is a classic and who decides.

I disagree.
Warspite1

Fair enough - lets agree to disagree...btw - that is not what Shattered Sword was getting at......


Fair enough as well. Didn't Shattered Sword, though, make a radical change to the way the battle of Midway has been interpreted? If some complete novice picked up Shattered Sword and read it might that novice just think it was "just another book about World War II" and perhaps even a "boring" one? Don't you as a military enthusiast know better--that Shattered Sword is an "important" work of noteworthyness? Or is Shattered Sword just like any other book and not all that recommendable?
Warspite1

No, Shattered Sword is, as I have said numerous times - and am happy to continue saying, a fantastic book. Why? Because it is written from the IJN perspective (but is objective and not biased), it details how the KB went about its business (fascinating - and written in a way that is not boring) and it de-bunks a lot of myths about the battle.

Above all, it is written in an enjoyable, easy to read, yet forensic stylee, that I wish more authors could copy. If you haven't read this and you are interested in World War II and / or the Pacific War and / or naval warfare then you need to do so.


I shall have to order that one from the library as well by the looks of it. Thanks.

_____________________________

I love the smell of TOAW in the morning...

(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 214
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:04:03 PM   
warspite1


Posts: 17035
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: shunwick


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress
quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
I don't think fact and fiction can be mixed for the purposes of this discussion - bringing in Shattered Sword, great book that it is, does not add anything to advance this subject of what is a classic and who decides.

I disagree.
Warspite1

Fair enough - lets agree to disagree...btw - that is not what Shattered Sword was getting at......


Fair enough as well. Didn't Shattered Sword, though, make a radical change to the way the battle of Midway has been interpreted? If some complete novice picked up Shattered Sword and read it might that novice just think it was "just another book about World War II" and perhaps even a "boring" one? Don't you as a military enthusiast know better--that Shattered Sword is an "important" work of noteworthyness? Or is Shattered Sword just like any other book and not all that recommendable?
Warspite1

No, Shattered Sword is, as I have said numerous times - and am happy to continue saying, a fantastic book. Why? Because it is written from the IJN perspective (but is objective and not biased), it details how the KB went about its business (fascinating - and written in a way that is not boring) and it de-bunks a lot of myths about the battle.

Above all, it is written in an enjoyable, easy to read, yet forensic stylee, that I wish more authors could copy. If you haven't read this and you are interested in World War II and / or the Pacific War and / or naval warfare then you need to do so.


I shall have to order that one from the library as well by the looks of it. Thanks.
Warspite1

Defo - I can't praise it highly enough.

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to shunwick)
Post #: 215
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:09:27 PM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress
quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
I don't think fact and fiction can be mixed for the purposes of this discussion - bringing in Shattered Sword, great book that it is, does not add anything to advance this subject of what is a classic and who decides.

I disagree.
Warspite1

Fair enough - lets agree to disagree...btw - that is not what Shattered Sword was getting at......


Fair enough as well. Didn't Shattered Sword, though, make a radical change to the way the battle of Midway has been interpreted? If some complete novice picked up Shattered Sword and read it might that novice just think it was "just another book about World War II" and perhaps even a "boring" one? Don't you as a military enthusiast know better--that Shattered Sword is an "important" work of noteworthyness? Or is Shattered Sword just like any other book and not all that recommendable?
Warspite1

No, Shattered Sword is, as I have said numerous times - and am happy to continue saying, a fantastic book. Why? Because it is written from the IJN perspective (but is objective and not biased), it details how the KB went about its business (fascinating - and written in a way that is not boring) and it de-bunks a lot of myths about the battle.

Above all, it is written in an enjoyable, easy to read, yet forensic stylee, that I wish more authors could copy. If you haven't read this and you are interested in World War II and / or the Pacific War and / or naval warfare then you need to do so.


Exaclty and doesn't its context with other books and ideas also make it important for someone interested in WW2 (and most particularly Midway) to read? There are easily dozens of other books about Midway, why should I read Shattered Sword at all and not some other book about the battle? Isn't it just my opinion what is a good book about Midway? And is it really so easily understandable? What the heck is a "Dauntless Dive Bomber"? What's so great about them. Sounds like a lot of boring stuff to me. I'd rather read about alien invasions and cool sci-fi stuff, not silly stuff about dive bombers. And BTW I don't recall Madame Bovary being all that difficult to read either. Maybe it was boring to me because it didn't seem all that important but it wasn't that difficult to understand what was going on in it.

Secondly suppose something is difficult to read. I understand some literary styles are very difficult but the fact that they are difficult is sometimes an object of appreciation and greatness about a book. Literature is also a study of HOW one writes, not only of WHAT one writes.

_____________________________

My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 216
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:15:32 PM   
warspite1


Posts: 17035
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress
quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
I don't think fact and fiction can be mixed for the purposes of this discussion - bringing in Shattered Sword, great book that it is, does not add anything to advance this subject of what is a classic and who decides.

I disagree.
Warspite1

Fair enough - lets agree to disagree...btw - that is not what Shattered Sword was getting at......


Fair enough as well. Didn't Shattered Sword, though, make a radical change to the way the battle of Midway has been interpreted? If some complete novice picked up Shattered Sword and read it might that novice just think it was "just another book about World War II" and perhaps even a "boring" one? Don't you as a military enthusiast know better--that Shattered Sword is an "important" work of noteworthyness? Or is Shattered Sword just like any other book and not all that recommendable?
Warspite1

No, Shattered Sword is, as I have said numerous times - and am happy to continue saying, a fantastic book. Why? Because it is written from the IJN perspective (but is objective and not biased), it details how the KB went about its business (fascinating - and written in a way that is not boring) and it de-bunks a lot of myths about the battle.

Above all, it is written in an enjoyable, easy to read, yet forensic stylee, that I wish more authors could copy. If you haven't read this and you are interested in World War II and / or the Pacific War and / or naval warfare then you need to do so.


Exaclty and doesn't its context with other books and ideas also make it important for someone interested in WW2 (and most particularly Midway) to read? There are easily dozens of other books about Midway, why should I read Shattered Sword at all and not some other book about the battle? Isn't it just my opinion what is a good book about Midway? And is it really so easily understandable? What the heck is a "Dauntless Dive Bomber"? What's so great about them. Sounds like a lot of boring stuff to me. I'd rather read about alien invasions and cool sci-fi stuff, not silly stuff about dive bombers. And BTW I don't recall Madame Bovary being all that difficult to read either. Maybe it was boring to me because it didn't seem all that important but it wasn't that difficult to understand what was going on in it.

Secondly suppose something is difficult to read. I understand some literary styles are very difficult but the fact that they are difficult is sometimes an object of appreciation and greatness about a book. Literature is also a study of HOW one writes, not only of WHAT one writes.
Warspite1

As we agreed, lets agree to disagree.

I thought the thread discussion developed from the idea that being forced to read "classics" as a youngster can put children off reading for life.

I just don't think a work of fact and a work of fiction can be looked at in the same way.

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 217
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:22:27 PM   
british exil


Posts: 1516
Joined: 5/4/2006
From: Lower Saxony Germany
Status: offline
The Shattered Sword was the book that really opened my eyes, as to how the IJN went about it's day to day work.

I had never really read a book in such depth about the Pacific Warfare. Oh I'd seen the films about Midway and Pearl but never thought about about the Japanese as the people they were.

Shattered Sword is a book well worth reading and "The Lost ships of Guadalcanal" brings out the ways the Allied navies fought in the beginning of WWII. The mistakes that were made.

Mat

_____________________________

"It is not enough to expect a man to pay for the best, you must also give him what he pays for." Alfred Dunhill

WitE,UV,AT,ATG,FoF,FPCRS

(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 218
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:24:43 PM   
warspite1


Posts: 17035
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: british exil

The Shattered Sword was the book that really opened my eyes, as to how the IJN went about it's day to day work.

I had never really read a book in such depth about the Pacific Warfare. Oh I'd seen the films about Midway and Pearl but never thought about about the Japanese as the people they were.

Shattered Sword is a book well worth reading and "The Lost ships of Guadalcanal" brings out the ways the Allied navies fought in the beginning of WWII. The mistakes that were made.

Mat
Warspite1

Mat, have you read Guadalcanal by Frank? Another quality piece of writing on what is perhaps the most interesting area of the Pacific War.


_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to british exil)
Post #: 219
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:31:05 PM   
parusski


Posts: 4608
Joined: 5/8/2000
From: Wyoming, Even Liberals Welcome
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: JW


quote:

ORIGINAL: parusski


quote:

ORIGINAL: JW

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. At 58 I finally think I am old enough to appreciate it. A wonderful book. I'm 36% through it.


Yes, you are old enough. I did not appreciate it till I re-read it recently.

By the way, what mathematical formula did you use to arrive at that 36% figure(unless you're reading on an eReader)???


My Kindle tell me the percentage complete.


I was just joking.

_____________________________

"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast."- W.T. Sherman

(in reply to JW)
Post #: 220
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:37:21 PM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

I just don't think a work of fact and a work of fiction can be looked at in the same way.


And you may be right. But again, unless I'm mistaken, you seem to be saying elsewhere that works of fact and works of fiction should BOTH be equally clear and understandable. As you say above perhaps they are NOT to be looked at in the same way. What is a great work of fact should, under most circumstances, be clear and understandable. What is a great work of literature may have reasons for not being so clear and understandable. One reason is censorship. Sometimes writers may go about something in a convoluted way so as to avoid censorship of a radically new idea.

But now suppose fact and fiction ARE similar in the sense that both make sense to those who are properly initiated to the respective topics. Plato's theory of forms sounds like a lot of bunk to me and probably most modern readers might agree. But his philosophy is still considererd "great" by the amount of influence it had in its own time and by the fact that it entertained questions which up to that point had either been largely ignored or else answered in radically different ways.

I'm simply saying that I am not even close to being an expert on literature and I'm guessing there aren't many others here who are either. But my inclination is to want to find out why Madame Bovary is so great or not before dismissing it as boring and unimportant. I just find it hard to believe that thousands of literary types can be so misled as to think something great which isn't. I wonder if it isn't because we just don't fully understand literature and its contexts. Maybe it's like painting? What makes Monet greater than someone else out there right now who is copying his style even better than he himself could? Yet the copier probably won't go down in history as great an artist as Monet. There are contemporary impressionist painters whom I think paint better than Monet but Monet is famous for being more or less a founder of a style.

PIcasso, OTOH, I can't stand his paintings either. But if I had more context on them, perhaps I could come to like them more.

_____________________________

My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 221
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:42:49 PM   
british exil


Posts: 1516
Joined: 5/4/2006
From: Lower Saxony Germany
Status: offline
Yep. I read it, took me a while to really get into it,as it was quite detailed, but whilst recovering from a damaged cruciate ligament followed by a thrombosis I had plenty of time to read it. The book really made clear to me just how bad it was to fight there in the jungle. And how "crazy" the Japense command was to let hundreds of men move throught the dense jungle with no radio link-up but to appear on time for a major attack.

Did not sound like a nice place to spend.

I'm thinking of looking for a book on the Aussie side of the war. The battles around the Kokoda Trail would be an interesting read.

Any ideas?


Mat

_____________________________

"It is not enough to expect a man to pay for the best, you must also give him what he pays for." Alfred Dunhill

WitE,UV,AT,ATG,FoF,FPCRS

(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 222
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:53:19 PM   
warspite1


Posts: 17035
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

I just don't think a work of fact and a work of fiction can be looked at in the same way.


And you may be right. But again, unless I'm mistaken, you seem to be saying elsewhere that works of fact and works of fiction should BOTH be equally clear and understandable. As you say above perhaps they are NOT to be looked at in the same way. What is a great work of fact should, under most circumstances, be clear and understandable. What is a great work of literature may have reasons for not being so clear and understandable. One reason is censorship. Sometimes writers may go about something in a convoluted way so as to avoid censorship of a radically new idea.

But now suppose fact and fiction ARE similar in the sense that both make sense to those who are properly initiated to the respective topics. Plato's theory of forms sounds like a lot of bunk to me and probably most modern readers might agree. But his philosophy is still considererd "great" by the amount of influence it had in its own time and by the fact that it entertained questions which up to that point had either been largely ignored or else answered in radically different ways.

I'm simply saying that I am not even close to being an expert on literature and I'm guessing there aren't many others here who are either. But my inclination is to want to find out why Madame Bovary is so great or not before dismissing it as boring and unimportant. I just find it hard to believe that thousands of literary types can be so misled as to think something great which isn't. I wonder if it isn't because we just don't fully understand literature and its contexts. Maybe it's like painting? What makes Monet greater than someone else out there right now who is copying his style even better than he himself could? Yet the copier probably won't go down in history as great an artist as Monet. There are contemporary impressionist painters whom I think paint better than Monet but Monet is famous for being more or less a founder of a style.

PIcasso, OTOH, I can't stand his paintings either. But if I had more context on them, perhaps I could come to like them more.
Warspite1

I gave the painting comparison earlier - there is no context or greater understanding in my personal view that could make me understand or like or even appreciate Picasso and what he was trying to achieve, why he's so great etc etc. I Don't like his paintings, they mean NOTHING to me, are ugly and an eyesore. But someone, somewhere (or more accurately, lots of people) have decreed that Picasso is a genius and his works are worthy of forking out flippin great wadges of cash. Fine, that's up to them, so long as no one forces me to put a Picasso print in my house then that's okay.

But I still think that forcing children to read "classics" is counter-productive. May be it's me - and I am too simple - but I know when I do not like an authors style within the first page. I want to read a story because I want to read a story - I do not want to have to second guess what a writer is trying to say because the narrative is couched in incomprehensible terms!

As far as literary experts are concerned - well I have no idea how many we have on the forum, other than I definitely am not one!!



_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 223
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 10:54:57 PM   
warspite1


Posts: 17035
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: british exil

Yep. I read it, took me a while to really get into it,as it was quite detailed, but whilst recovering from a damaged cruciate ligament followed by a thrombosis I had plenty of time to read it. The book really made clear to me just how bad it was to fight there in the jungle. And how "crazy" the Japense command was to let hundreds of men move throught the dense jungle with no radio link-up but to appear on time for a major attack.

Did not sound like a nice place to spend.

I'm thinking of looking for a book on the Aussie side of the war. The battles around the Kokoda Trail would be an interesting read.

Any ideas?


Mat
Warspite1

Best place to ask is the WITP-AE thread - they are a pretty knowledgable crowd generally and may be able to point you in the right direction.

_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to british exil)
Post #: 224
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 11:17:16 PM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

I just don't think a work of fact and a work of fiction can be looked at in the same way.


And you may be right. But again, unless I'm mistaken, you seem to be saying elsewhere that works of fact and works of fiction should BOTH be equally clear and understandable. As you say above perhaps they are NOT to be looked at in the same way. What is a great work of fact should, under most circumstances, be clear and understandable. What is a great work of literature may have reasons for not being so clear and understandable. One reason is censorship. Sometimes writers may go about something in a convoluted way so as to avoid censorship of a radically new idea.

But now suppose fact and fiction ARE similar in the sense that both make sense to those who are properly initiated to the respective topics. Plato's theory of forms sounds like a lot of bunk to me and probably most modern readers might agree. But his philosophy is still considererd "great" by the amount of influence it had in its own time and by the fact that it entertained questions which up to that point had either been largely ignored or else answered in radically different ways.

I'm simply saying that I am not even close to being an expert on literature and I'm guessing there aren't many others here who are either. But my inclination is to want to find out why Madame Bovary is so great or not before dismissing it as boring and unimportant. I just find it hard to believe that thousands of literary types can be so misled as to think something great which isn't. I wonder if it isn't because we just don't fully understand literature and its contexts. Maybe it's like painting? What makes Monet greater than someone else out there right now who is copying his style even better than he himself could? Yet the copier probably won't go down in history as great an artist as Monet. There are contemporary impressionist painters whom I think paint better than Monet but Monet is famous for being more or less a founder of a style.

PIcasso, OTOH, I can't stand his paintings either. But if I had more context on them, perhaps I could come to like them more.
Warspite1

I gave the painting comparison earlier - there is no context or greater understanding in my personal view that could make me understand or like or even appreciate Picasso and what he was trying to achieve, why he's so great etc etc. I Don't like his paintings, they mean NOTHING to me, are ugly and an eyesore. But someone, somewhere (or more accurately, lots of people) have decreed that Picasso is a genius and his works are worthy of forking out flippin great wadges of cash. Fine, that's up to them, so long as no one forces me to put a Picasso print in my house then that's okay.

But I still think that forcing children to read "classics" is counter-productive. May be it's me - and I am too simple - but I know when I do not like an authors style within the first page. I want to read a story because I want to read a story - I do not want to have to second guess what a writer is trying to say because the narrative is couched in incomprehensible terms!

As far as literary experts are concerned - well I have no idea how many we have on the forum, other than I definitely am not one!!





I agree, Picasso is quite an unbelievable phenomena as far as fame and monetary matters. There's a young girl out there now, I forget her name, but she paints very similar to Picasso yet claims that she had never heard of him nor seen any works by him before adopting her style. I find that hard to believe, considering how similar their work appears. But she has a few pleasing looking paintings out there.

I have seen a few Picasso, wanabees at some art shows and festivals whose paintings I thought were VERY likeable. Picasso's paintings seem often rather blan and ugly in color. But there are some out there who do paint like him but seem to have a better command of color and composition. I have heard that Picasso was present in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and that some of his paintings are more or less reactions to what he witnessed going on in his society around him.

Sometimes knowing the story behind a piece of art makes a difference. Like listening to Strauss' "Zarathustra" after knowing more about Nietzsche makes Strauss' piece more interesting to me. If I knew nothing else about the work I would say it was just elevator music or something. However, having an idea of Neitzsche's life and works I see a pattern to the music and a sense behind why the artist chose a particular mood and such to the piece. The music itself in a strange way seems to mimic the spirit of Neitzsche's life and works as I have come to understand him, at times moments of elation and epiphany at others a sudden sort of melonchaloy and "loneliness" in tone.

Another book I recently "discovered" was Charlotte's Web. I'd read it as a child and didn't get much out of it because no one explained it to me. E.B. White wanted to present the concept of death and loss to children but censorship at the time pretty much forbid the topic from being present in children's books. So White used animals to convey what he wanted to convey. If I hadn't known anything else about White's book I would say it was readble but not very interesting, just another book about animals for children.





_____________________________

My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 225
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/1/2012 11:43:30 PM   
warspite1


Posts: 17035
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

I just don't think a work of fact and a work of fiction can be looked at in the same way.


And you may be right. But again, unless I'm mistaken, you seem to be saying elsewhere that works of fact and works of fiction should BOTH be equally clear and understandable. As you say above perhaps they are NOT to be looked at in the same way. What is a great work of fact should, under most circumstances, be clear and understandable. What is a great work of literature may have reasons for not being so clear and understandable. One reason is censorship. Sometimes writers may go about something in a convoluted way so as to avoid censorship of a radically new idea.

But now suppose fact and fiction ARE similar in the sense that both make sense to those who are properly initiated to the respective topics. Plato's theory of forms sounds like a lot of bunk to me and probably most modern readers might agree. But his philosophy is still considererd "great" by the amount of influence it had in its own time and by the fact that it entertained questions which up to that point had either been largely ignored or else answered in radically different ways.

I'm simply saying that I am not even close to being an expert on literature and I'm guessing there aren't many others here who are either. But my inclination is to want to find out why Madame Bovary is so great or not before dismissing it as boring and unimportant. I just find it hard to believe that thousands of literary types can be so misled as to think something great which isn't. I wonder if it isn't because we just don't fully understand literature and its contexts. Maybe it's like painting? What makes Monet greater than someone else out there right now who is copying his style even better than he himself could? Yet the copier probably won't go down in history as great an artist as Monet. There are contemporary impressionist painters whom I think paint better than Monet but Monet is famous for being more or less a founder of a style.

PIcasso, OTOH, I can't stand his paintings either. But if I had more context on them, perhaps I could come to like them more.
Warspite1

I gave the painting comparison earlier - there is no context or greater understanding in my personal view that could make me understand or like or even appreciate Picasso and what he was trying to achieve, why he's so great etc etc. I Don't like his paintings, they mean NOTHING to me, are ugly and an eyesore. But someone, somewhere (or more accurately, lots of people) have decreed that Picasso is a genius and his works are worthy of forking out flippin great wadges of cash. Fine, that's up to them, so long as no one forces me to put a Picasso print in my house then that's okay.

But I still think that forcing children to read "classics" is counter-productive. May be it's me - and I am too simple - but I know when I do not like an authors style within the first page. I want to read a story because I want to read a story - I do not want to have to second guess what a writer is trying to say because the narrative is couched in incomprehensible terms!

As far as literary experts are concerned - well I have no idea how many we have on the forum, other than I definitely am not one!!





I agree, Picasso is quite an unbelievable phenomena as far as fame and monetary matters. There's a young girl out there now, I forget her name, but she paints very similar to Picasso yet claims that she had never heard of him nor seen any works by him before adopting her style. I find that hard to believe, considering how similar their work appears. But she has a few pleasing looking paintings out there.

I have seen a few Picasso, wanabees at some art shows and festivals whose paintings I thought were VERY likeable. Picasso's paintings seem often rather blan and ugly in color. But there are some out there who do paint like him but seem to have a better command of color and composition. I have heard that Picasso was present in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and that some of his paintings are more or less reactions to what he witnessed going on in his society around him.

Sometimes knowing the story behind a piece of art makes a difference. Like listening to Strauss' "Zarathustra" after knowing more about Nietzsche makes Strauss' piece more interesting to me. If I knew nothing else about the work I would say it was just elevator music or something. However, having an idea of Neitzsche's life and works I see a pattern to the music and a sense behind why the artist chose a particular mood and such to the piece. The music itself in a strange way seems to mimic the spirit of Neitzsche's life and works as I have come to understand him, at times moments of elation and epiphany at others a sudden sort of melonchaloy and "loneliness" in tone.

Another book I recently "discovered" was Charlotte's Web. I'd read it as a child and didn't get much out of it because no one explained it to me. E.B. White wanted to present the concept of death and loss to children but censorship at the time pretty much forbid the topic from being present in children's books. So White used animals to convey what he wanted to convey. If I hadn't known anything else about White's book I would say it was readble but not very interesting, just another book about animals for children.

Warspite1

I think having something to think about when listening to music can really enhance a piece and the film world is excellent for that. Eternal Father is a stonking piece of music that I have always loved - and have been listening to a lot because of the Military Wives album that I recently downloaded (and they covered this). This piece of music always brings to mind the scene in Crimson Tide when Denzil Washington orders the hatches to be sealed to save the submarine; knowing that in doing so he is condemning a number of sailors to a watery grave. A sad episode that heightens the music experience - ditto Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber - and the connection to that hideous war called Vietnam.

There is a track by the Russian female duo Tatu. Its called Stars and I have absolutely no idea what they are singing about (the rap element of the song is in Russian and the English bit does not make too much sense). However, in part of the track the choice of instrument used, and tune played, is clearly very Russian in origin. This very melancholy piece always brings to mind the endless Russian Steppe across which, German panzers rolled in the summer of 1942 as the German Army desperately tried (and failed) to encircle Soviet troops - troops that simply melted away into the vast Russian hinterland. All the time, the Landsers were heading unknowingly for a terrible fate; the river Volga and a city that ran along its banks...... Stalingrad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvaN1Sx7ucg&feature=fvwrel

< Message edited by warspite1 -- 7/1/2012 11:49:55 PM >


_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 226
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 12:09:05 AM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

I just don't think a work of fact and a work of fiction can be looked at in the same way.


And you may be right. But again, unless I'm mistaken, you seem to be saying elsewhere that works of fact and works of fiction should BOTH be equally clear and understandable. As you say above perhaps they are NOT to be looked at in the same way. What is a great work of fact should, under most circumstances, be clear and understandable. What is a great work of literature may have reasons for not being so clear and understandable. One reason is censorship. Sometimes writers may go about something in a convoluted way so as to avoid censorship of a radically new idea.

But now suppose fact and fiction ARE similar in the sense that both make sense to those who are properly initiated to the respective topics. Plato's theory of forms sounds like a lot of bunk to me and probably most modern readers might agree. But his philosophy is still considererd "great" by the amount of influence it had in its own time and by the fact that it entertained questions which up to that point had either been largely ignored or else answered in radically different ways.

I'm simply saying that I am not even close to being an expert on literature and I'm guessing there aren't many others here who are either. But my inclination is to want to find out why Madame Bovary is so great or not before dismissing it as boring and unimportant. I just find it hard to believe that thousands of literary types can be so misled as to think something great which isn't. I wonder if it isn't because we just don't fully understand literature and its contexts. Maybe it's like painting? What makes Monet greater than someone else out there right now who is copying his style even better than he himself could? Yet the copier probably won't go down in history as great an artist as Monet. There are contemporary impressionist painters whom I think paint better than Monet but Monet is famous for being more or less a founder of a style.

PIcasso, OTOH, I can't stand his paintings either. But if I had more context on them, perhaps I could come to like them more.
Warspite1

I gave the painting comparison earlier - there is no context or greater understanding in my personal view that could make me understand or like or even appreciate Picasso and what he was trying to achieve, why he's so great etc etc. I Don't like his paintings, they mean NOTHING to me, are ugly and an eyesore. But someone, somewhere (or more accurately, lots of people) have decreed that Picasso is a genius and his works are worthy of forking out flippin great wadges of cash. Fine, that's up to them, so long as no one forces me to put a Picasso print in my house then that's okay.

But I still think that forcing children to read "classics" is counter-productive. May be it's me - and I am too simple - but I know when I do not like an authors style within the first page. I want to read a story because I want to read a story - I do not want to have to second guess what a writer is trying to say because the narrative is couched in incomprehensible terms!

As far as literary experts are concerned - well I have no idea how many we have on the forum, other than I definitely am not one!!





I agree, Picasso is quite an unbelievable phenomena as far as fame and monetary matters. There's a young girl out there now, I forget her name, but she paints very similar to Picasso yet claims that she had never heard of him nor seen any works by him before adopting her style. I find that hard to believe, considering how similar their work appears. But she has a few pleasing looking paintings out there.

I have seen a few Picasso, wanabees at some art shows and festivals whose paintings I thought were VERY likeable. Picasso's paintings seem often rather blan and ugly in color. But there are some out there who do paint like him but seem to have a better command of color and composition. I have heard that Picasso was present in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and that some of his paintings are more or less reactions to what he witnessed going on in his society around him.

Sometimes knowing the story behind a piece of art makes a difference. Like listening to Strauss' "Zarathustra" after knowing more about Nietzsche makes Strauss' piece more interesting to me. If I knew nothing else about the work I would say it was just elevator music or something. However, having an idea of Neitzsche's life and works I see a pattern to the music and a sense behind why the artist chose a particular mood and such to the piece. The music itself in a strange way seems to mimic the spirit of Neitzsche's life and works as I have come to understand him, at times moments of elation and epiphany at others a sudden sort of melonchaloy and "loneliness" in tone.

Another book I recently "discovered" was Charlotte's Web. I'd read it as a child and didn't get much out of it because no one explained it to me. E.B. White wanted to present the concept of death and loss to children but censorship at the time pretty much forbid the topic from being present in children's books. So White used animals to convey what he wanted to convey. If I hadn't known anything else about White's book I would say it was readble but not very interesting, just another book about animals for children.

Warspite1

I think having something to think about when listening to music can really enhance a piece and the film world is excellent for that. Eternal Father is a stonking piece of music that I have always loved - and have been listening to a lot because of the Military Wives album that I recently downloaded (and they covered this). This piece of music always brings to mind the scene in Crimson Tide when Denzil Washington orders the hatches to be sealed to save the submarine; knowing that in doing so he is condemning a number of sailors to a watery grave. A sad episode that heightens the music experience - ditto Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber - and the connection to that hideous war called Vietnam.

There is a track by the Russian female duo Tatu. Its called Stars and I have absolutely no idea what they are singing about (the rap element of the song is in Russian and the English bit does not make too much sense). However, in part of the track the choice of instrument used, and tune played, is clearly very Russian in origin. This very melancholy piece always brings to mind the endless Russian Steppe across which, German panzers rolled in the summer of 1942 as the German Army desperately tried (and failed) to encircle Soviet troops - troops that simply melted away into the vast Russian hinterland. All the time, the Landsers were heading unknowingly for a terrible fate; the river Volga and a city that ran along its banks...... Stalingrad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvaN1Sx7ucg&feature=fvwrel


There are "post-modernists" out there who advocate or have pronounced the dissolution of boundaries between "higher art" and "lower art". In other words art is to a large degree subjective in its "greatness". I don't completely agree but I suppose I tend to agree with them in some respects.

What is to say that Shattered Sword isn't a "great" work within it's sphere of influence almost if not as equally so as "War and Peace" is within it's sphere of influence? Of course that is not to say that there aren't such things as complete crap books. If someone wrote a book on Midway that was completely riddled with factual errors then that would probably qualify it as crap in almost anyone's estimation. There are "classical" composers who try to capture the spirit of "popular" music in their "masterpieces" and there are "popular" artists who try to capture the spirit of the "great" composers in their works. I once heard a "classical" rendition of a song by Metalica that sounded pretty good.

Art is fascinating stuff the more I learn about it. I really wish I had the same spirit when I was younger as I do now. I was really put off by having to read some things. Honestly I would have rather played with my HO army soldiers than read Moby Dick. But my teachers knew better than I did and made me do things I really didn't want to do. I'm glad they did. For that I owe them a great debt. I just wish they had taught philosophy in the high school I went to. I would have gobbled that stuff up.

_____________________________

My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 227
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 1:50:54 AM   
Chickenboy


Posts: 17828
Joined: 6/29/2002
From: Twin Cities, MN
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: Chickenboy


Sure, there are novels and other literature that is impenetrable to my perspective, that I just 'don't get'. If I want to be lost in old books that I don't understand, I can read up on initial works by Pythagoras, Euclideas or some of Einstein's scientific publications. I won't claim they're bunk because I can't understand them or find them interesting, I promise.

"Classic" literature is supposed to be different. Not necessarily written for the masses, but it should elicit thought, enjoyment and appreciation for the medium amongst many, if not most, of its readers. Not a popularity contest mind you, but a classic cannot be a classic if very few think it a useful or worthwhile read.

I won't argue that the philosophers you cited are classical philosophers and worthwhile for most people to have at least a passing familiarity with their works. I cannot say the same for Flaubert's POS fictional novel. It "ate" about two weeks of my life, I sure as **** am not going to take a class explaining why I 'should' like it, if only I were more intellectually sophisticated.

What is a 'classic' and a 'must-read' is not exclusively personal choice, but it is mostly personal opinion, IMO.



Literature and fiction are sort of studies of their own and there are people whose expertise is interpreting the history of literature and discerning the merrit of various styles of an author's writing and to them Madame Bovary may be a great novel for reasons most of us may not understand. I don't understand why Madame Bovary is so great either. But isn't it likely that there may be good reason? And before dismissing the novel as junk, might it not be a worthwhile endeavor to try to learn why it may not be junk?

The fact of the matter is that many literary experts seem to think Madame Bovary is great stuff. Do we dismiss them as simply having nothing more than opinions? As experts on literature isn't it likely that their opinions about literature are better formed than those of novices? To someone who's never read a lick of philosophy Plato may seem like a bunch of nonsense. And they may be equally put off by having to read him. It doesn't make sense to that person because the person has no idea of how it fits into anything else. Do we therefore say great works of philosophy are mostly someone's opinion? Does that therefore put Plato on the same level with Jerry Springer?

I'm simply suggesting that there may be good reasons for a piece of literature being considered a classic that we just aren't aware of. This whole thing started with the idea that teachers are doing a disservice to kids by making them read things they don't want to. If that is so, then should they start conferring college degrees to people for sitting around and reading Harlequin romances? Or should college literary courses require reading of the classics? And if college literary courses should require reading of the classics, then shouldn't pre-college education prepare people for what they will encounter in college by requiring them to read the classics as well.

Of course these are just my speculations as a literary philistine. Maybe there isn't anything great about Madam Bovary, but the fact that it is so highly praised leads me to suspect otherwise.


A well-reasoned post, Gary.

I think the operative word (upon which this discussion hinges) is 'kids'. The age at which they should be reading "junk food" versus "brocolli" literature is a subjective one to be sure. I think younger children are put off by having many dry classics stuffed down their piehole before they are ready to appreciate it. Akin to making a horse 'saddle shy' by poor breaking in.

Reading should be-first and foremost-an enjoyable pastime for young people. After enjoying some easy-to-read fare, they can play around with other literature like you describe. Early in life, teachers do a disservice to kids by making them read at a level that is beyond their comfort. Show me teachers that encourage young kids to read comics, Mad magazine (sometimes Cracked and rarely Crazy) and enjoy the experience and I'll show you kids' teachers that are setting the kids up as lifelong readers.

_____________________________


(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 228
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 3:31:17 AM   
JW

 

Posts: 1024
Joined: 8/12/2000
From: Monroe, LA, USA
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: parusski


quote:

ORIGINAL: JW


quote:

ORIGINAL: parusski


quote:

ORIGINAL: JW

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. At 58 I finally think I am old enough to appreciate it. A wonderful book. I'm 36% through it.


Yes, you are old enough. I did not appreciate it till I re-read it recently.

By the way, what mathematical formula did you use to arrive at that 36% figure(unless you're reading on an eReader)???


My Kindle tell me the percentage complete.


I was just joking.


No problem. I knew you were either joking or unfamiliar with Kindle and e-readers. I figured it was a joke, but decided to give it a straight answer.

Now I was going to comment on the idea of teaching difficult classics to high school students, since I teach high school English, that is, the American version of English. But I've been gone a few days, and after reading over the discussion on the classics, I think I will just stay out of it.

(in reply to parusski)
Post #: 229
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 3:51:14 AM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Chickenboy


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: Chickenboy


Sure, there are novels and other literature that is impenetrable to my perspective, that I just 'don't get'. If I want to be lost in old books that I don't understand, I can read up on initial works by Pythagoras, Euclideas or some of Einstein's scientific publications. I won't claim they're bunk because I can't understand them or find them interesting, I promise.

"Classic" literature is supposed to be different. Not necessarily written for the masses, but it should elicit thought, enjoyment and appreciation for the medium amongst many, if not most, of its readers. Not a popularity contest mind you, but a classic cannot be a classic if very few think it a useful or worthwhile read.

I won't argue that the philosophers you cited are classical philosophers and worthwhile for most people to have at least a passing familiarity with their works. I cannot say the same for Flaubert's POS fictional novel. It "ate" about two weeks of my life, I sure as **** am not going to take a class explaining why I 'should' like it, if only I were more intellectually sophisticated.

What is a 'classic' and a 'must-read' is not exclusively personal choice, but it is mostly personal opinion, IMO.



Literature and fiction are sort of studies of their own and there are people whose expertise is interpreting the history of literature and discerning the merrit of various styles of an author's writing and to them Madame Bovary may be a great novel for reasons most of us may not understand. I don't understand why Madame Bovary is so great either. But isn't it likely that there may be good reason? And before dismissing the novel as junk, might it not be a worthwhile endeavor to try to learn why it may not be junk?

The fact of the matter is that many literary experts seem to think Madame Bovary is great stuff. Do we dismiss them as simply having nothing more than opinions? As experts on literature isn't it likely that their opinions about literature are better formed than those of novices? To someone who's never read a lick of philosophy Plato may seem like a bunch of nonsense. And they may be equally put off by having to read him. It doesn't make sense to that person because the person has no idea of how it fits into anything else. Do we therefore say great works of philosophy are mostly someone's opinion? Does that therefore put Plato on the same level with Jerry Springer?

I'm simply suggesting that there may be good reasons for a piece of literature being considered a classic that we just aren't aware of. This whole thing started with the idea that teachers are doing a disservice to kids by making them read things they don't want to. If that is so, then should they start conferring college degrees to people for sitting around and reading Harlequin romances? Or should college literary courses require reading of the classics? And if college literary courses should require reading of the classics, then shouldn't pre-college education prepare people for what they will encounter in college by requiring them to read the classics as well.

Of course these are just my speculations as a literary philistine. Maybe there isn't anything great about Madam Bovary, but the fact that it is so highly praised leads me to suspect otherwise.


A well-reasoned post, Gary.

I think the operative word (upon which this discussion hinges) is 'kids'. The age at which they should be reading "junk food" versus "brocolli" literature is a subjective one to be sure. I think younger children are put off by having many dry classics stuffed down their piehole before they are ready to appreciate it. Akin to making a horse 'saddle shy' by poor breaking in.

Reading should be-first and foremost-an enjoyable pastime for young people. After enjoying some easy-to-read fare, they can play around with other literature like you describe. Early in life, teachers do a disservice to kids by making them read at a level that is beyond their comfort. Show me teachers that encourage young kids to read comics, Mad magazine (sometimes Cracked and rarely Crazy) and enjoy the experience and I'll show you kids' teachers that are setting the kids up as lifelong readers.


Maybe you're right. I don't know. I don't really remember my teachers throwing me in the deep end at an early age. And I sort of believe that reading things we don't want to read is unavoidable in school in order to learn. It's hard for me to picture an alternative.

_____________________________

My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to Chickenboy)
Post #: 230
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 4:09:49 AM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: JW


quote:

ORIGINAL: parusski


quote:

ORIGINAL: JW


quote:

ORIGINAL: parusski


quote:

ORIGINAL: JW

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. At 58 I finally think I am old enough to appreciate it. A wonderful book. I'm 36% through it.


Yes, you are old enough. I did not appreciate it till I re-read it recently.

By the way, what mathematical formula did you use to arrive at that 36% figure(unless you're reading on an eReader)???


My Kindle tell me the percentage complete.


I was just joking.


No problem. I knew you were either joking or unfamiliar with Kindle and e-readers. I figured it was a joke, but decided to give it a straight answer.

Now I was going to comment on the idea of teaching difficult classics to high school students, since I teach high school English, that is, the American version of English. But I've been gone a few days, and after reading over the discussion on the classics, I think I will just stay out of it.


Hi JW,

Sorry to try to drag you into this but the conversation might benefit from your insights as a high school English teacher. I can't think of a more appropriate person to discuss the topic with. What are some of your thoughts on requiring students to read the classics of literature? I'm sure as a teacher you probably have your hands pretty well handcuffed on how you are or aren't allowed to teach. However, if you were given free license to teach however you thought best what do you think would be in the best interest of students?

EDIT: And/or what would be in the best interest of society to teach students?

< Message edited by Gary Childress -- 7/2/2012 4:22:03 AM >


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Post #: 231
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 6:31:35 AM   
JW

 

Posts: 1024
Joined: 8/12/2000
From: Monroe, LA, USA
Status: offline
As for the classics, there is a generally accepted Western Canon. There is much argument about this. I am more traditional regarding the Canon, though even traditionalists disagree on the Canon, so I'm not going to argue specific books. I believe in the validity and importance of a Western Canon. I think it reinforces our shared cultural heritage. It is part of our cultural memory. I'm not ready to argue that point though.

As for teaching the classics or even teaching novels, it is a difficult task with average high school students and with the situation in public schools regarding standardized testing.

First, I teach average to below average junior and seniors (11th and 12th grade, the last two years of the American public school system). 11th grade focuses on American literature. 12th grade on British literature. This is a traditional sequence followed by many states. This may change with the implementation in the next couple of years of the nationalized Common Core Curriculum, which most state are implementing based on the inducement (coughlegalbribescough) of federal education funds. Even conservative governors like Jindal in Louisiana jump at the chance to obtain more federal education funds by implementing this curriculum.

Getting my students to read anything is difficult. Getting them to read novels is very difficult. I generally avoid novels for my students except for one short novel each year with much of the reading done in class. Otherwise, many students simply would not read the book. I vary the novels. Note that this is not true for more advanced students, i.e., honors, gifted/talented, advanced placement, dual enrollment (college credit and high school credit granted simultaneously). Most students at that level will read novels readily and many read novels on their own. My students balk at reading. I do not push them to read novels. Most would simply not read and would happily take failing grades in the novel units if asked to do a lot of reading outside of class. That is modern American culture.

There is also the American fixation on standardized testing. A standardized test given near the end of the year is used to evaluate students, teachers, principals, schools, and school districts. The reading focus of the standardized test is short fiction and nonfiction selections, one to two pages. Our literature textbooks contain many shorter selections. I focus on those selections. The students will read them, and we can use them to practice standardized test skills. One can argue about what is called 'teaching the test' or 'teaching to the test,' but I look at it this way. The state has determined that our primary product is test scores. They are used to evaluate everything we do. Thus my primary job is to prepare students for the tests that are used to evaluate everyone. That may sound negative and cynical, but I think I am being realistic. If the state says my evaluation is based on improving students' standardized test scores, then I am going to focus on improving standardized test scores. In Louisiana we are implementing a teacher evaluation system in which 50% of the evaluation is based on student standardized test scores. So it goes.

Without the straitjacket of standardized tests, I would read more novels in class. Some of my students have NEVER READ A NOVEL until we read one in class. That means most of the reading is done aloud. Some have a sense of accomplishment and pride at finishing the novel. I would take more time to do that. Read and discuss.

Last school year my American Literature students read a condensed version of The Scarlet Letter. Most became very interested by the end. But I have to focused on testing. I could go on and on about how standardized testing affects things, but it just depresses me.


(in reply to Gary Childress)
Post #: 232
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 8:46:41 AM   
mikkey


Posts: 731
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From: Slovakia
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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1
quote:

ORIGINAL: british exil
The Shattered Sword was the book that really opened my eyes, as to how the IJN went about it's day to day work.
I had never really read a book in such depth about the Pacific Warfare. Oh I'd seen the films about Midway and Pearl but never thought about about the Japanese as the people they were.
Shattered Sword is a book well worth reading and "The Lost ships of Guadalcanal" brings out the ways the Allied navies fought in the beginning of WWII. The mistakes that were made.
Mat
Warspite1
Mat, have you read Guadalcanal by Frank? Another quality piece of writing on what is perhaps the most interesting area of the Pacific War.
yeah, Frank's Guadalcanal is excellent book

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Post #: 233
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 8:50:19 AM   
nicwb

 

Posts: 275
Joined: 4/26/2010
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[quoteYep. I read it, took me a while to really get into it,as it was quite detailed, but whilst recovering from a damaged cruciate ligament followed by a thrombosis I had plenty of time to read it. The book really made clear to me just how bad it was to fight there in the jungle. And how "crazy" the Japense command was to let hundreds of men move throught the dense jungle with no radio link-up but to appear on time for a major attack.

Did not sound like a nice place to spend.

I'm thinking of looking for a book on the Aussie side of the war. The battles around the Kokoda Trail would be an interesting read.

Any ideas?


Mat
][/quote]


Hi British Exil,

I would recommend "Kokoda" by Peter Fitzsimmons which is a very good highly personalised account but is restricted to the Kokoda Track Campaign OR

"A bastard of a place; The Australians in Papua" by Peter Brune which is far more of a military history and covers all of the New Guinea Campaign

BTW the official Australian designation is Kokoda Track rather than trail - mainly because that's how the veterans themselves referred to it.

(in reply to JW)
Post #: 234
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 2:53:54 PM   
Gary Childress


Posts: 5477
Joined: 7/17/2005
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quote:

ORIGINAL: JW

As for the classics, there is a generally accepted Western Canon. There is much argument about this. I am more traditional regarding the Canon, though even traditionalists disagree on the Canon, so I'm not going to argue specific books. I believe in the validity and importance of a Western Canon. I think it reinforces our shared cultural heritage. It is part of our cultural memory. I'm not ready to argue that point though.

As for teaching the classics or even teaching novels, it is a difficult task with average high school students and with the situation in public schools regarding standardized testing.

First, I teach average to below average junior and seniors (11th and 12th grade, the last two years of the American public school system). 11th grade focuses on American literature. 12th grade on British literature. This is a traditional sequence followed by many states. This may change with the implementation in the next couple of years of the nationalized Common Core Curriculum, which most state are implementing based on the inducement (coughlegalbribescough) of federal education funds. Even conservative governors like Jindal in Louisiana jump at the chance to obtain more federal education funds by implementing this curriculum.

Getting my students to read anything is difficult. Getting them to read novels is very difficult. I generally avoid novels for my students except for one short novel each year with much of the reading done in class. Otherwise, many students simply would not read the book. I vary the novels. Note that this is not true for more advanced students, i.e., honors, gifted/talented, advanced placement, dual enrollment (college credit and high school credit granted simultaneously). Most students at that level will read novels readily and many read novels on their own. My students balk at reading. I do not push them to read novels. Most would simply not read and would happily take failing grades in the novel units if asked to do a lot of reading outside of class. That is modern American culture.

There is also the American fixation on standardized testing. A standardized test given near the end of the year is used to evaluate students, teachers, principals, schools, and school districts. The reading focus of the standardized test is short fiction and nonfiction selections, one to two pages. Our literature textbooks contain many shorter selections. I focus on those selections. The students will read them, and we can use them to practice standardized test skills. One can argue about what is called 'teaching the test' or 'teaching to the test,' but I look at it this way. The state has determined that our primary product is test scores. They are used to evaluate everything we do. Thus my primary job is to prepare students for the tests that are used to evaluate everyone. That may sound negative and cynical, but I think I am being realistic. If the state says my evaluation is based on improving students' standardized test scores, then I am going to focus on improving standardized test scores. In Louisiana we are implementing a teacher evaluation system in which 50% of the evaluation is based on student standardized test scores. So it goes.

Without the straitjacket of standardized tests, I would read more novels in class. Some of my students have NEVER READ A NOVEL until we read one in class. That means most of the reading is done aloud. Some have a sense of accomplishment and pride at finishing the novel. I would take more time to do that. Read and discuss.

Last school year my American Literature students read a condensed version of The Scarlet Letter. Most became very interested by the end. But I have to focused on testing. I could go on and on about how standardized testing affects things, but it just depresses me.




Thinking more about it, I'm sure there are different types of students out there as well. There are students who benefit from being required to read something and I suppose there are students who end up being turned off to reading because of it. There probably isn't a magic bullet that will suit everyone. And because of standardized procedures it's difficult to tailor learning to help a specific student on an individual basis. Like I say, I am grateful to my high school teachers for requiring me to read things I would not have normally read. It has helped me tremendously in my pursuit of knowledge by giving me a background in which to situate new things I learn in a context.

A teacher's job is not an easy one and probably seldom do students thank their teacher for making them do things they don't want to do. But where would we all be if it weren't for our teachers?

_____________________________

My WitP webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/garyswitpsite/


(in reply to JW)
Post #: 235
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 8:58:28 PM   
Orm


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Joined: 5/3/2008
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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1


quote:

ORIGINAL: Gary Childress


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

I just don't think a work of fact and a work of fiction can be looked at in the same way.


And you may be right. But again, unless I'm mistaken, you seem to be saying elsewhere that works of fact and works of fiction should BOTH be equally clear and understandable. As you say above perhaps they are NOT to be looked at in the same way. What is a great work of fact should, under most circumstances, be clear and understandable. What is a great work of literature may have reasons for not being so clear and understandable. One reason is censorship. Sometimes writers may go about something in a convoluted way so as to avoid censorship of a radically new idea.

But now suppose fact and fiction ARE similar in the sense that both make sense to those who are properly initiated to the respective topics. Plato's theory of forms sounds like a lot of bunk to me and probably most modern readers might agree. But his philosophy is still considererd "great" by the amount of influence it had in its own time and by the fact that it entertained questions which up to that point had either been largely ignored or else answered in radically different ways.

I'm simply saying that I am not even close to being an expert on literature and I'm guessing there aren't many others here who are either. But my inclination is to want to find out why Madame Bovary is so great or not before dismissing it as boring and unimportant. I just find it hard to believe that thousands of literary types can be so misled as to think something great which isn't. I wonder if it isn't because we just don't fully understand literature and its contexts. Maybe it's like painting? What makes Monet greater than someone else out there right now who is copying his style even better than he himself could? Yet the copier probably won't go down in history as great an artist as Monet. There are contemporary impressionist painters whom I think paint better than Monet but Monet is famous for being more or less a founder of a style.

PIcasso, OTOH, I can't stand his paintings either. But if I had more context on them, perhaps I could come to like them more.
Warspite1

I gave the painting comparison earlier - there is no context or greater understanding in my personal view that could make me understand or like or even appreciate Picasso and what he was trying to achieve, why he's so great etc etc. I Don't like his paintings, they mean NOTHING to me, are ugly and an eyesore. But someone, somewhere (or more accurately, lots of people) have decreed that Picasso is a genius and his works are worthy of forking out flippin great wadges of cash. Fine, that's up to them, so long as no one forces me to put a Picasso print in my house then that's okay.

But I still think that forcing children to read "classics" is counter-productive. May be it's me - and I am too simple - but I know when I do not like an authors style within the first page. I want to read a story because I want to read a story - I do not want to have to second guess what a writer is trying to say because the narrative is couched in incomprehensible terms!

As far as literary experts are concerned - well I have no idea how many we have on the forum, other than I definitely am not one!!





I agree, Picasso is quite an unbelievable phenomena as far as fame and monetary matters. There's a young girl out there now, I forget her name, but she paints very similar to Picasso yet claims that she had never heard of him nor seen any works by him before adopting her style. I find that hard to believe, considering how similar their work appears. But she has a few pleasing looking paintings out there.

I have seen a few Picasso, wanabees at some art shows and festivals whose paintings I thought were VERY likeable. Picasso's paintings seem often rather blan and ugly in color. But there are some out there who do paint like him but seem to have a better command of color and composition. I have heard that Picasso was present in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and that some of his paintings are more or less reactions to what he witnessed going on in his society around him.

Sometimes knowing the story behind a piece of art makes a difference. Like listening to Strauss' "Zarathustra" after knowing more about Nietzsche makes Strauss' piece more interesting to me. If I knew nothing else about the work I would say it was just elevator music or something. However, having an idea of Neitzsche's life and works I see a pattern to the music and a sense behind why the artist chose a particular mood and such to the piece. The music itself in a strange way seems to mimic the spirit of Neitzsche's life and works as I have come to understand him, at times moments of elation and epiphany at others a sudden sort of melonchaloy and "loneliness" in tone.

Another book I recently "discovered" was Charlotte's Web. I'd read it as a child and didn't get much out of it because no one explained it to me. E.B. White wanted to present the concept of death and loss to children but censorship at the time pretty much forbid the topic from being present in children's books. So White used animals to convey what he wanted to convey. If I hadn't known anything else about White's book I would say it was readble but not very interesting, just another book about animals for children.

Warspite1

I think having something to think about when listening to music can really enhance a piece and the film world is excellent for that. Eternal Father is a stonking piece of music that I have always loved - and have been listening to a lot because of the Military Wives album that I recently downloaded (and they covered this). This piece of music always brings to mind the scene in Crimson Tide when Denzil Washington orders the hatches to be sealed to save the submarine; knowing that in doing so he is condemning a number of sailors to a watery grave. A sad episode that heightens the music experience - ditto Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber - and the connection to that hideous war called Vietnam.

There is a track by the Russian female duo Tatu. Its called Stars and I have absolutely no idea what they are singing about (the rap element of the song is in Russian and the English bit does not make too much sense). However, in part of the track the choice of instrument used, and tune played, is clearly very Russian in origin. This very melancholy piece always brings to mind the endless Russian Steppe across which, German panzers rolled in the summer of 1942 as the German Army desperately tried (and failed) to encircle Soviet troops - troops that simply melted away into the vast Russian hinterland. All the time, the Landsers were heading unknowingly for a terrible fate; the river Volga and a city that ran along its banks...... Stalingrad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvaN1Sx7ucg&feature=fvwrel

Thank you for the music.

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Belli dura despicio

(in reply to warspite1)
Post #: 236
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 9:11:22 PM   
warspite1


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Glad you like it - a very melancholy piece of music.

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Post #: 237
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 9:15:21 PM   
Orm


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Joined: 5/3/2008
From: Sweden
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quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

Glad you like it - a very melancholy piece of music.

I like it a lot.

I find that I often like sad songs. And melancholy pieces of music are often the best kind of music. That is in my humble opinion.

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Post #: 238
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 9:21:35 PM   
warspite1


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Joined: 2/2/2008
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Orm


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

Glad you like it - a very melancholy piece of music.

I like it a lot.

I find that I often like sad songs. And melancholy pieces of music are often the best kind of music. That is in my humble opinion.
Warspite1

Me too - did you get a chance to listen to the Military Wives album? I recommend Eternal Father, Fix You, Silver Tassie and In My Dreams - beautiful songs, beautifully sung.


_____________________________

England expects that every man will do his duty - Horatio Nelson 1805.




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Post #: 239
RE: What Book Are You Reading at the moment? - 7/2/2012 9:24:49 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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From: Back to Reality :(
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Melancholy? Nah. Nothing beats a good old Siberian tune aka throat singing

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