Thursday, May 28, 2015

Daphnis and Chloe by Longus, 200AD

Daphnis and Chloe, was my idea of a break from "The Whale"

Typical of early works it is simple but provides human insights that never seem to change even over 1800 years.

This 1949 publication is illustrated by Aristede Mailol

 Basically a coming of age tale.
With the classic by the way we are actually (abandoned at birth) royalty; this plot devise always provides for a happy ending.
The erotic passages are very clipped or short but good. It is entertaining to see not much has changed. These two young people have not been educated in the birds and the bees so they are on their own for a while.
Daphnis receives training in the basics of love making (as all young men should) from an older woman. Daphnis also learns about men that "like" boys; this is clearly indicated as being despicable behavior.

Living in paradise they have a complete peasants world. But like any fruitful land it is invaded by pirates and the like.

A couple of passages that I like:

But Daphnis for his life could not be merry, because he had seen Chloe naked, and that Venus of her beauty, which before was not unveiled. His heart was gnawed, as with a secret poison; and had deep sentiments of grief and anguish: insomuch, that sometimes he puffed and blowed thick and short, as if some body had been in a close pursuit of him: sometimes again, he breathed so faintly, as if he had been quite spent in running. That washing seemed to him more dangerous and formidable, then the Sea: And he thought his life was still in the hands, and at the dispose of the Tyrian Pirates, as being but a young Rustic, and yet unskilled in the Assassinations and Robberies of Love.

Ah, Love that makes you so happy, you are sad!

 It was the beginning of Spring, and all the flowers of the Lawns, Meadows, Valleys, and Hills, were now blowing; all was fresh, and green, and odorous. The Bee's humming from the flowers, the Bird's warbling from the groves, the Lamb's skipping on the hills, were pleasant to the ear, and eye. And now when such a fragrancy had filled those blest and happy fields, both the old men and the young, would imitate the pleasant things they heard, and saw; and hearing how the birds did chant it, they began to carrell too; and seeing how the Lambs skipped, triped their light and nimble measures; then to emulate the Bees, they fall to cull the fairest flowers.

Spring is always the same... 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Moby Dick or The Whale by Herman Melville (1851) Illu. by Rockwell Kent (2nd reading)

The 2nd reading is far better than the 1st; you are fully aware of what you are in for / up against, can sit back and savor the details better than in the headless slog of the 1st reading. The reading is not unlike the progress of the 80 foot leviathan; slowly, deliberately through the ocean swells, then dive deep, then come up for air.

Its like reading a hundred short stories, or maybe like a thousand ideas that could be turned into short stories.

Hint for you aspiring Writers, take any one page and create a story from the depths of insight that little Herman provides free for the taking.

The Rockwell Kent illustrated version is more pleasing than the previous version I read. The illustrations are more woodcut like and invoke the earlier time being portrayed. Kent also illustrated one of my other readings Candide

One quote that spoke to me:

I try all things; I achieve what I can.

The reading is a wild experience in that there are so many complex statements that if you stopped at each of them to ponder the depth you might never finish.

This is typical of the 19th cent. heroic language that Melville loved to use:
The wind that made great bellies of their sails, and rushed the vessel on by arms invisible as irresistible; this seemed the symbol of that unseen agency which so enslaved them to the race.

Kent took a more realistic (in most instances) look at MD than in Candide because MD one being pure fantasy and the other not so much. 

 Arrrgh... the Spouter-Inn
 Rendering of the vast South Pacific
 Moby D takes revenge!
 Everyone up on the yard arms

There are now several web based outlines of the passage.