Post by Mike Burke
On Tue, 11 Apr 2017 22:47:45 -0500, Howard & Mary Duck
On life support, Howard. Most of the action is on Facebook where
there is a Group for Past and present RAMmers.
I'm still here, and others post when they have something to say.
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
Hello. I have been reading books a lot, thinking a lot, reading the
posts here a lot, but have had a quiet period for posting. In part, I
suppose that is because a lot of my reading has been in books far from
the usual scope of interest here. Not all though.
The books on the far end include the following:
Israel Finkelstein, The Bible Unearthed. This is written by the
Director of the Archaeology Institute at Tel Aviv University and
presents what archaeology has to say about the historicity of claims in
the Deuteronomistic History, i.e., the Books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel
(I and II) and Kings (I and II). It concludes that most of the
historical claims in these books were simply false, and that the purpose
of the history was as propaganda, to enhance the stature of Josiah, in
whose reign it was written (rather like Shakespeare giving Richard III a
hunchback to please the Tudors). For instance, it was claimed that
Solomon built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem and an even bigger
palace in the 10th C BCE. But archaeological digs have found nothing of
stone at all that is earlier than the 8th C.
Jody Gentian Bower, Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the
Heroine's Story. Bower is a specialist in mythological studies with an
emphasis on depth psychology. The book is a feminist response to Joseph
Campbell's 1949 book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which explored the
archetype of the hero (of which Frodo in The Lord of the Rings is a
perfect example), whose story can be summarized as follows: the call
(from outside by a wizard, a giant or a hologram) and acceptance of the
call, initiation, commencement of the quest, comrades and a wise man to
guide (Gandalf, Dumbledore, Obi Wan) but who leaves the hero at a
crucial point in time, crisis which the hero has to face alone, (near)
death and resurrection, and return to help the community with what has
been learned on the quest. Bower points out that while this is all well
and good for the masculine archetype, it does nothing for the feminine
side, who in these stories is often part of the prize for the hero. She
calls as witness the failure of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz to be taken
seriously upon her return, breaking the mold of the hero in so doing.
Women, Bower claims, follow a different pattern, not one of quest and
return, but always one of moving away like an arrow and not returning.
I have been reading a couple of mystery novels by Benjamin Black
(pseudonym for the Irish novelist John Banville). These are Christine
Falls and The Silver Swan. I finished the first and am reading the
second. I was inspired to read these after watching the three episodes
of the Quirke series on PBS about a year or two ago. It starred Gabriel
Byrne as Quirke, Michael Gambon as his father, Nick Dunning as Quirke's
half-brother, Brian Gleeson (as the Garda) and Geralding Somerville as
Sarah, married to Quirke's brother. This is one of the rare cases where
seeing the film beforehand actually enhances the reading experience.
Why? Because the writing is so subtle, so beautiful, so significant
once you know what is coming much later, perhaps in the next novel, that
it would be a shame to miss it. And you would. If you don't watch the
films, you have to read the books twice after finishing at least the
third book (Elegy for April). The setting is Dublin in about 1957 and
thereafter, though the first novel makes a side trip to Boston. Quirke
spent his first nine years or so in an Irish orphanage. Sadly, as I
finished the first novel, I read about the finding of a mass grave in
one of those infamous Irish orphanages in Galway.
I will probably have more to say about the Quirke novels in future
posts. I have more ruminating to do, and perhaps yet another read of
Francis A. Miniter