Day 456: David Copperfied + Caruso CD 4

A18VK9Yti2LPublished in 1849-1850, David Copperfield is arguably Charles Dickens’ most famous novel. I’m reading is the Nonesuch Dickens edition.

Some info on Charles Dickens, from his entry on Wikipedia:

Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s most well-known fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented popularity, and by the twentieth century he was widely seen as a literary genius by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.

Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens was forced to leave school to work in a factory when his father was thrown into debtors’ prison. Although he had little formal education, over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. The installment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. For example, when his wife’s chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens went on to improve the character with positive features. His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives. Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers.

Dickens was the most popular novelist of his time, and remains one of the best known and most read of English authors. His works have never gone out of print, and have been adapted continually for the screen since the invention of cinema, with at least 200 motion pictures and TV adaptations based on Dickens’s works documented. Many of his works were adapted for the stage during his own lifetime, and as early as 1913, a silent film of The Pickwick Papers was made.

My listening pleasure this month comes from Continue reading

Day 425: Jane Eyre + Caruso CD 3

JaneEyreSmallToday marks the start of a new book (Jane Eyre), as well as a new CD (Enrico Caruso CD 3).

In my opinion, Charlotte Bronte‘s book Jane Eyre, is vastly superior to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which I spent the month of November wading through.

According to its entry on Wikipedia,

Jane Eyre (originally published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published on 16 October 1847 by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name “Currer Bell.” The first American edition was released the following year by Harper & Brothers of New York.

Primarily of the bildungsroman genre, Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its title character, including her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr. Rochester, the byronic master of fictitious Thornfield Hall. In its internalisation of the action — the focus is on the gradual unfolding of Jane’s moral and spiritual sensibility and all the events are coloured by a heightened intensity that was previously the domain of poetry — Jane Eyre revolutionised the art of fiction. Charlotte Brontë has been called the ‘first historian of the private consciousness’ and the literary ancestor of writers like Joyce and Proust. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a strong sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic character of Jane and the novel’s exploration of classism, sexuality, religion, and proto-feminism.


Sounds like a lot of egg-head gobbledygook to me.

What critics think the book is isn’t as interesting to me as Continue reading

Days 401-424: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverAfter slogging my way through Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for a month, I can definitely say this: I’m glad the month is over.

I just could not get into this book. I found its style off-putting, tedious, and amateurish.

But I dug Caruso.

So it wasn’t a total loss.

By the way, I think I figured out how to handle blogging about one topic for an entire month: “Days 401-424.” Rather than post every single day, I’ll post in chunks when something arises that matters to me.

Problem solved.


Day 400: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverStill reading Jane Austen’s famous first work, Pride and Prejudice, and listening to CD 2 from the Naxos box set Enrico Caruso: The Complete Recordings.

Today is a milestone: 400 days of delving into the creative works of others. (Which is ironic since I’m supposed to be working on creative works of my own.)

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: Reading is much harder to write about than listening. What do I say day after day – for 30 days, no less – about the same book and author?

Music, especially a different CD each day, is much more interesting for me.

It’s even hard to write about music if it’s the same CD every day for a month. What else can I say about Enrico Caruso or the songs I’m listening to?

By the end of all of this, I’ll have learned a lot. But, finding a way to write about it daily is proving to be a challenge.

Day 397: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverStill reading Jane Austen’s famous first work, Pride and Prejudice, and listening to CD 2 from the Naxos box set Enrico Caruso: The Complete Recordings.

I enjoy Austen’s style. On one hand, it seems amateurish. Or quaint. Or antiquated. Or all three.

Yet, this book has stood the test of time since 1813 – two centuries! So it’s not like the writing is terrible. It’s just different from what we see in novels written today.

Here’s the poop on Jane Austin’s novel from its entry on Wikipedia:

Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth.

Though Austen set the story at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of “most loved books.” It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen’s memorable characters or themes.

Here’s an example of writing (end of chapter one) from Austen’s book:

Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.

Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice (p. 4). Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Kindle Edition.

That paragraph was well written. Very descriptive and clever.

CarusoCD2While I’m reading Jane, I’m listening to the great tenor Caruso. Of special note on CD 2 are these tracks:

Track 11: LEONCAVALLO: Pagliacci – Vesti la giubba.

Track 12: MASSENET: Manon – II Sogno: Chiudo gli occhi.

The former is the famous song from the opera Pagliacci, which was one of Caruso’s signature roles. It was recorded on February 1, 1904, at Carnegie Hall.

The latter is a song with a very, very pretty piano introduction. It was recorded on February 9, 1904, in Carnegie Hall.

Day 395: Pride and Prejudice + Caruso CD 2

AustinBookCoverToday begins a new novel – Jane Austen’s famous first work, Pride and Prejudice.

And that, as everyone knows, begins thusly:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice (p. 3). Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

91J-4v0phfL._SL1500_There have been many film adaptations of Austin’s work, perhaps most notably the 1995 version starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I know that one had girls’ hearts racing. If memory serves my wife had a cardboard standup of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in her dorm room in college.

I recently bought the Blu-ray of the Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. I started to watch it…and gave up because of a few of the high-pitched female British voices sounded like nails on a chalkboard to me.

However, in the spirit of this month’s reading assignment, I’ll give it a go.

I may even watch a few more adaptations of P and P. (Is it blasphemous to use initials regarding this book?)

We’ll see.

Day 399: Something Wicked + Caruso CD 1

WickedReading. Listening.

Well, it was a long, tiring drive back home, with much of it the white-knuckle kind.

The winds were high, it was snowing in Indiana, and I was tired.

But, it’s All Hallows Eve.

And Ray Bradbury’s book has drawn to a close, just as vividly and emotionally as it began.

Caruso CD 1 is now shelved.

Tomorrow starts a new book (Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice) and a new CD (Caruso CD 2).

CarusoThe edition of Austen’s classic novel that I’ll be reading is from Barnes & Noble, one of their leather-bound editions.

The Caruso CD comes from the Naxos box set Enrico Caruso: The Complete Recordings.

See you tomorrow.