Brief Highlights in the History of American Poetry

American FlagOkay, I’ll be honest, I tried to research and write a detailed history of American poetry, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered, so here instead is a selection of the really important bits. Continue reading “Brief Highlights in the History of American Poetry”

The Worst of Times: Classic Dystopian Fiction

abandon-hope-all-ye-who-enter-here-8Dystopian fiction tells the story of a world gone bad. Exactly how and why it’s gone bad can vary: there’s usually a totalitarian government of some form, but whether they caused the bad or rose to power because of the bad isn’t always clear. What is clear is that now, everything sucks. In this post I’ll be looking at a few of the most famous works of classic dystopian fiction.

 

Continue reading “The Worst of Times: Classic Dystopian Fiction”

Shakespeare at the Pop Up Globe

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The Pop Up Globe, as seen on the walk from my hotel to the conference venue.

Earlier this month work sent me to a conference in Auckland. This isn’t something which would normally make the pages of this blog – which I intentionally keep quite separate from my working life – except for the fact that the conference in question was being held at the Ellerslie Events Centre in Auckland. The hotel at which I was staying was about five minutes’ walk away, and in between lay something which I’d longed to visit ever since I first heard of it – the Pop Up Globe. Continue reading “Shakespeare at the Pop Up Globe”

Playtime: The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie

“Keep the secret of whodunit locked in your heart.”

The Mousetrap 1.jpgThe longest-running West End show ever (it opened in 1952 and has just kind of kept going) is actually quite hard to track down online, especially if you’d like to be able to hear what the actors are saying and not get seasick from shaky camera action. The version I eventually settled on was pretty good apart from the person who coughed all the way through. And the rather hit-and-miss efforts of the American actors to affect British accents, but then I am British so I know the difference. Continue reading “Playtime: The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie”

Author Profile: Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

 

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Virginia Woolf 1902

Acknowledged along with James Joyce as one of the foremost Modernist writers, and by Simone de Beauvoir as one of the few female writers to have explored what she referred to as “the given” – the assumptions made about what a woman ‘is’ – Virginia Woolf is best-remembered today for a handful of her most prominent novels, but during her lifetime was also a noted essayist and critic.

 

She was born in London on the 25th of January 1882, into an upper middle class family with strong literary and artistic connections. Continue reading “Author Profile: Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)”

New Zealand Literature

mapofnewzealand.jpgThus far in this project I’ve rather neglected New Zealand literature, so I thought I should pay it some attention. Doubly rooted in the rich oral tradition of the indigenous Maori people and the equally rich literary tradition of Britain and Europe, New Zealand offers a great deal that is worth paying attention to. The following is little more than a taster of works by some of our most celebrated writers, arranged in chronological order. Continue reading “New Zealand Literature”

Recommended Read: Book List Challenges (Facebook page)

Like many people whose dominant learning style is Reading (VARK: Visual, Aural, Reading, Kinesthetic), I just love lists, so a Facebook page dedicated to lists of books to read, where you can check off the ones you’ve already read and compare your score to other users, is an extremely happy-making thing for me.

They have an increasing number of other lists as well, but book list challenges still feature regularly. One of my favourites, and one which was a starting-point for The Culture Project, was The BBC Book List Challenge, which apparently has nothing to do with the BBC but did the rounds of the internet a couple of years back with the sub-heading ‘the BBC believes you’ve only read six of these books.’ The average Goodreads user has a score of 23/100. I started at 38/100 in October 2014 and am now at 66/100, not counting all the other books I’ve read which don’t feature on this list.

What’s your score? Are you pleased with it? Surprised? Displeased? Let me know.

On My Reading List: February 2017

February has been a quiet month for me, reading-wise. I’m well behind in my annual Bible read, which is a situation I must rectify during this Lenten season. I have, however, completed the four Shakespeare plays I mentioned back in January. Perhaps it’s having slogged through the Canterbury Tales last year, but I’m finding Shakespeare much easier to read these days. Still not easy, mind you, but easier. These are the other things I’ve been reading: Continue reading “On My Reading List: February 2017”

Treasure Trove: This Really Cool ‘Prize Bound’ Book Awarded By My Old High School Nearly A Hundred Years Ago

While browsing one of the second-hand book-stalls at my local market, as I am wont to do on a Saturday morning, I found… THIS!

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The cover caught my eye immediately: while my school crest has changed over the last hundred years, the school name – Wanganui Girls’ College – hasn’t. (The spelling of ‘Whanganui’ has changed, but that’s a don’t-mention-the-War kind of thing). Continue reading “Treasure Trove: This Really Cool ‘Prize Bound’ Book Awarded By My Old High School Nearly A Hundred Years Ago”