Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Sorrows of Young Werther Letters July 30- September 10

Lotte's fiance predictably shows up, as fiances have a tendency of doing. He's a likable bloke named Albert who Werther admits isn't a bad guy and who seems to like him. Werther can't stand to see them together, but can't really find anything bad to say about Albert, who he really finds himself liking. Werther considers leaving but finally decides he'd rather be a permanent third wheel and spends almost every evening hanging out with the couple.Werther borrows Albert's hunting pistols and HAHA! pretends to shoot himself in the head. Albert is understandably horrified and they have a discussion about the acceptability of suicide. Werther finds himself more and more miserable having to watch the happy couple together (akin to Facebook stalking a crush and their partner). Wilhelm urges him again to get a job. Lotte and Albert participate in some serious enabling behavior by presenting Werther with a ribbon from Lotte and a book that Werther wanted for his birthday. He is finally convinced he needs to accept the job that Wilhelm got him. Werther doesn't tell Lotte he is going away, but it doesn't matter because he collapses after their last meeting like a drama queen on realizing he won't be near his beloved any longer.

The Sorrows of Young Werther Letters June 16- July 26

Werther is in love! So in love he can't even be bothered to sit and finish a letter before running off to see Lotte, daughter of the before mentioned bailiff. She is taking the place of her deceased mother and Werther first sees her tending a brood of siblings with chunks of bread. They share a similar taste in literature and can dance well together so behold! she must be the girl for him. Unfortunately Lotte is already engaged, something Werther seems to brush aside in his passion for her. They end up hanging out a lot and Werther is convinced she must feel something for him, though there isn't much to suggest she feels anything for him to ever pull him out of friendzone. His friend Wilhelm isn't so keen on the idea of Werther being smitten with someone else's lady friend and tries to talk Werther into settling into a good job and maybe not being so moony over Lotte but Werther ignores him. HOW CAN HE THINK ABOUT A NORMAL JOB WHEN SOMEONE PERFECT AND ANGEL LIKE LIKE LOTTE IS AROUND?

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The book that caused countless young romantics across Europe to kill themselves when they couldn't get their way. The story of lovelorn Werther, a delicate artist who falls passionately in love with Lotte, a woman engaged to another and who may just not be as into Werther as he'd wish. What is there for a young man to do but bewail his fate before offing himself?

Letters from May 4-May 30

Ah yes, Werther has gone out to the country, something he's even more delighted about since he has ditched a bothersome young woman who seemed smitten with him. You know what they say about karma, Werther... He writes his friend Wilhelm of how enchanting he finds the country folk and begs him not to send his books. Werther's had enough intellectual pursuits. Now is time to relax and do his art, something he doesn't seem to do too much of actually. He meets the bailiff and hears that his daughter is highly praised. He throws a bit of emo foreshadowing in, commenting how those who are really happy are those who are ignorant to the injustice of the world. He meets more charming rustic folk and a young man who is in love with his widowed land lady, something Werther finds poetic and whatnot.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Portrait of a Lady Chapters 4-5

Chapter 4

Isabel is proved to be the "smart" one among her sisters. Her sensible sister hopes traveling to Europe will give Isabel some advantages she'd been lacking from indifferent upbringing by her father. Lillian's husband says that Isabel already has too many ideas. A woman isn't supposed to think, after all. Isabel enjoyed her educational career, even though it was strange and many thought it scandalous. She also realizes that she puts men off by being intelligent and bookish. She reflects on the unfortunately named Casper Goodwood, a suitor who she rejects at the end of the chapter. She thinks that maybe she's not as interested in marriage as she should be.

Chapter 5

Ralph runs to talk to his mother, mainly about Isabel. Ralph admires his father a great deal and wanted to take over the banking business, but he's a semi-invalid from a lung disease. This is unfortunate because he really would like to live life to the fullest. Ralph asks his mother if she intends to marry Isabel off. Mrs. Touchett says that she's not worried about that. The most annoying thing is that Isabel wants to pay her own way, but she knows nothing about money and can't afford to so Mrs. Touchett is having to trick her into thinking she's paying. Ralph goes down to dinner and shows Isabel the paintings in the house because she seems interested. She asks about whether the house has a ghost and Ralph makes the comment only people who have suffered can see it. Isabel makes the stupid foreshadowing comment that she's not afraid of suffering. This means she will suffer.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Portrait of a Lady Chapters 1-3

Chapter 1

Mr. Touchett, his son Ralph, and a family friend Lord Warburton are having tea and discussing Mrs. Touchett, who has been traveling America and sending poorly worded cryptic telegrams back home to England. The men believe she's picked up a niece somewhere, but can't determine what is meant by her being described as "very independent". They joke that Lord Warburton can't fall in love with her since she's the family niece, while he makes a crack about her possibly not being worth his attention. This obviously means everyone will fall in love with her.

Chapter 2

Isabel, the independent niece, shows up at the home with her aunt, who has retired to bed rather than greet her family. Isabel charms the men and their dogs. They declare her very interesting and she makes a point of letting everyone know she's very independent.

Chapter 3

This chapter goes into how Isabel and Mrs. Touchett meet. Mrs. Touchett and her husband are basically separated and she travels to America all the time. She finds Isabel at her home in the library where Isabel and her sisters are trying to sell the house. Mrs. Touchett discusses letting Isabel travel to Florence with her even though they don't know each other very well. The family had had a falling out and Isabel really hasn't seen her aunt before. She finds her aunt eccentric, but agrees that she will try to behave if she gets to go to Florence. Obviously she won't behave or this would just be a travel guide.

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

"Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

And so begins the first novel on the Read Along Book List from the 100 Books Every High School Student Should Read. Henry James and I have a long and storied history dating back to the fact that I hate him. I think I'm one of two people in the world who like Edith Wharton, but can't make it through a James novel. I vividly remember Turn of the Screw being the longest, most boring ghost story on the face of the earth in high school. I remember as a high schooler trying to figure out how someone managed to make a ghost story so tedious and not interesting.

So here we are years later, with me as an adult deciding to try to muddle through 400+ pages of manners, suppressed emotions, and general descriptions of rooms. Clearly from the first sentence you can tell this is going to be a rip roaring, action packed adventure.