Henry VI Part One

I quickly finished the first of Shakespeare’s plays and it was very positive. I didn’t do any prep for reading Shakespeare other than to look up a chronology in which they were written. I’m very happy with the approach so far.

Initial impressions were that texts notes to explain archaic idioms and word meanings were helpful. I also found that about half of them were unnecessary for me, which was nice to know about my reading skills with older works. I was also surprised that Joan of Arc was a character in this play. And not just a character but as the story focuses on the English side of war, she was the primary antagonist, even more so than the French nobility.

The story of this play had a climax around a father and son conflict which was one of the only parts with rhyming verse. Essentially the father is a general and about to die because their army is surrounded. He tries to send his son away to escape and live, but basically the son refuses on grounds of the family name. It was really powerful and my favorite part of the play. Also, I initially wondered if Joan of Arc would play a part in the second or third plays, but she ends up being captured and executed in this one.

I’ve started Henry VI Part Two already and it looks like most of these plays will be very quick reads. I also like the division into acts and scenes which helps me pick up and read them as I have short bouts of time to do so. My next two plays after this one will be Richard III, and The Comedy of Errors.

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Foundation and Earth

I have finally reached the chronological ending of Isaac Asimov’s three main series which began last summer with I, Robot. To be honest these final three books were quite entertaining. I was really apprehensive about finishing the series as there are no further books after this. I got a lot of closure, however, as the final book brings everything back to the Robot series and ties up many loose threads.

There still remains two prequel books to read. I’m still processing the story and am going to delay a bit before finishing the last two books maybe. Thinking back, the main character from these last two novels is my favorite of all of Asimov’s books that I’ve read so far. He’s decisive but unsure of why that is the case. And this drives him on a quest to figure out why he is the way he is. It just felt good, which isn’t always normal in sci-fi, and made the narrative feel more real. In fact, the technology gets pushed to the extremes of believability but the story carried it through.

So, I’ll finish the prequels soon enough and take a break from Asimov. I am currently reading Shakespeare’s first play, Henry VI, and it is fascinating and a nice change of pace. More soon!

Reflection on Foundation’s Edge

So the fourth book in Isaac Asimov’s series was just as good as the third. I am enjoying how he tied it into his previous series about Robots. I’m actually starting to wonder what it will be like to go back and reread the first two books.

The characters and twists are interesting and basically the lore of the series continues to expand. I also like how the various factions are constantly second guessing everything and the central gimmick (predicting the future with math) is used fully throughout.

I have already moved on to book five, which is the last chronologically. I have begun reading Shakespeare already but am doing so slowly so that I can finish the Foundation series first.

Reflections on Second Foundation

A few days ago I finished the original Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. The first two books were pretty good and Sinai was caught off guard by the excellent finish in the third book. It was easily my favorite of the three, mainly for how well it tied back to the prior works and also for the new additions brought up in it.

I find myself wrestling with where to fit Asimov into my ranking of favorite authors. I don’t think he is in the top ten, but he is not someone whose writing I dislike. This makes sense, I suppose, or I would not have read him for this long. This also reminds me, that after I finish the Foundation books, I also have one or two books of collections of Asimov I could look into.

Compared with the two preceding collections of books I agree with what I read before starting them all; that the Foundation books are his best works. I also enjoyed the Robot books but not nearly as much. In fact, I didn’t write this post until now because I was caught up immediately into the fourth book, Foundations Edge, and will be finishing it soon. A testament to the quality of this series.

The New Testament and Bird Box

One of my goals for 2018 had been to read through the entire Bible, a goal I did not complete. However, this morning I finished my NT read through with the book of Revelation.

It was interesting timing because yesterday I watched Bird Box, a recent Netflix movie set in an apocalypse. The main idea is that there is some sort of evil demon monster that causes people to commit suicide if they see it. Quite graphic, disturbing, and the characters spend much of the movie blindfolded.

So as I was reading about the end of time in the Bible I was making these connections between plagues, Satan run amok, angelic hosts and the woe to those humans unfortunate enough to live through the terrible end of Earth as we know it. Mildly amusing and entirely unexpected.

This reminds me that our current experiences in life, with art, and other factors can influence the lens with which we approach other arts, in this case my Bible reading. I’ll revisit this goal again in 2019 and should meet it this time.