March was another successful reading month for me and I am happy to say that I even managed to fit in a good amount of personal books as well as those for my studies.
Specifically with what I read towards the end of the month, I learned a lot about the influential movements in early modernist writing and was completely blown away by the ways in which authors such as Hardy and Wells chose to display the progression of society. So, without further ado, here’s my monthly reading…
The Wild Duck by Henrik Ibsen (1884)
My Edition: Taken from university library
This was both the first text I read in March as well as a play that I was studying for my European Theatre class at University. I must say that while I really struggle to enjoy a lot of the texts in that particular class, this was an exception. The Wild Duck was a wonderful display of symbolism as a family struggle with some of the most tragic news any father can receive.
The complex interaction of characters and the psychoanalysis of the individual response was fascinating to watch play out. I was especially intrigued by the sudden change in attitude in the father (no spoilers) and the way in which Ibsen chose to portray the ever important details.
My only hesitation towards the play is that it was quite predictable. Once you caught on to the major symbols – which isn’t hard to do – the unfolding of the plot became very clear, very early on. That being said, it was regardless a great read and one that i actually look forward to using in my exam.
Patti Smith Collected Lyrics by Patti Smith (2015)
My Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015
For any of those readers that used to watch my original YouTube channel (bless you) it will come as no surprise that I made time between uni reading to get into the writing of Patti Smith once more. Her first book Just Kids has remained one of my favourite of all time. While I wait until I have a bit more of my own time to read the follow up, M Train, I thought it only right to read the poetry and lyrics she has written over the past forty-odd years.
This book felt like such a treat to me. You could really see the formation of Smith’s writing and how it evolved from when she was starting, to what it has become now. I also found it interesting how the line became much clearer between her poetry and he lyrics over time, as the two seemed to meld into one in the beginning if her writing career (and rightly so, as some of her early poetry was used for a lot of her first musical works).
If you’re a fan of Patti Smith’s music, I definitely recommend this one. I think it may come as a shock of a read for those more drawn to her books, but if your willing I would definitely recommend.
War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (1898)
My Edition: Penguin Classics, 2005
I was beyond excited to see that War of the Worlds was on my reading list for this semester. After months of slaving over obscure poetry or ambiguous prose, it felt like such a luxury to get a novel that was both accessible and entertaining.
Intended to be a commentary of life after the war, I found this novel to be incredibly eye opening to the notion of otherness. This is a topic that has come up a lot, and in different forms, in my literature class of late and it is one that I find myself drawn to. I think that is probably because as much as it was far more obvious in the early twentieth century, there is still so much otherness and alienation given to those that are different to ourselves. Relateability can be comforting, but it can also compromise the way in which we treat those surrounding us, and I really appreciated the way this novel comments on that, keeping it relevent even years after it’s publication.
Letters of a Portuguese Nun by ? (1669)
My Edition: Borrowed (photocopies)
There’s not much I can say about this text – for which I, once again, studied for uni – mostly because of the mystery surrounding it.
I enjoyed reading the letters, but the question of authorship had me wondering whether we could take them as love letters or as a beautiful calculated play where all the action happens between the lines.
Paris Street Tales Edited by Helen Constantine
My Edition: OUP Oxford, 2016
Another little treat to myself, Lewis bought me this collection while we were up in St. Andrews in January and I have been reading it on and off since then. However, I finally finished it this month and I am so happy to say so.
As you would expect within a collection, I can’t say that I loved every story included. Regardless, my overall impression of the collection was positive, and I especially liked the amount of crime and mystery stories included.
Hint: the last story in the collection hits you with a bang! So good!
The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
My Edition: Included in the Norton Anthology of English Literature
I’m not even going to pretend that I can say anything critical about this poem. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy reading The Waste Land (I know, I know – I can feel the disappointment from here).
While I don’t completely understand the poem (~understatement~), it would take me weeks alone to try to piece together every little reference and language made.
I know that it is a much loved classic, and I can respect it – especially after talking about it with a tutor. I guess all I can really say is, it’s not my thing (?).
Side Effects by Woody Allen
My Edition: Random House, 1975
This was a really exciting read for me. If you’ve been reading my monthly film wrap-ups (here) then you will already know that I am really, really enjoying Woody Allen films, and thus couldn’t wait to get my hands on some of his literature.
Side Effects is actually the third collection of comedy writing Allen has produced, and I currently have his second in my collection.
While I wouldn’t say that it is laugh-out-loud funny, I did find myself chuckling a lot while reading these stories. I think one of the best things for me is that Allen writes the way he speaks. So, while you are reading any of his writing you can actually hear the narrative in your head, just as he would say it.
P.S. If I do say so myself, he makes some really great diabetes jokes. Just saying.
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
My Edition: Oxford World’s Classics, 2008
My memory of this book is a little interrupted, to say the least. Although I finished it this month, I started it way back at the beginning of February and only got but half of the way through it.
This was another one on my reading list for university and really challenged the notion of “the modern woman” – a motion in which women were doing a lot of what was considered to be “men’s work” because of the war. However, Hardy challenges our perceptions of what the modern woman is supposed to look like when offering up his two female leads, Arabella and Sue. In the beginning, Sue is unquestionably Hardy’s example of what it means to be the newly independent female. Later, though, as Sue succumbs to her guilts and conventionally “female” emotions, we start to wonder if it is Arabella after all that is supposed to be our heroine.
This is my first Hardy novel and going forward with the knowledge that he was so influential in this wave fo the feminist movement makes me even more excited to continue on with his work.
Another long post! Maybe one day I will learn to summarise my thoughts better. For now, thank you so much for reading all about my thoughts on March’s literary adventures. I can already say that my personal reading for April has had a magnificent start.
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