home_forarest (home_forarest) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 72 and 73 for 2012

I've read very little in August. I was looking forward to recuperating from knee surgery, and off work for six weeks (still have another two to go), and was planning to read for a lot of it. It did not happen the way I'd planned it.

72. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, 1990, 412 pages.
This was a re-read of an old favourite, and it was just as delightful as I'd remembered. The end of the world can be highly amusing if the story is told as well as this was.

73. For book #73 I read three short plays, which added up, in total, to 171 pages. I read Augst Strindberg's Miss Julie (1879); Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House (1888); and Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer (1773).

August Strindberg had put me in a bad mood even before I started reading the play. Miss Julie comes with a long preface, in which Mr. Strindberg, who was Swedish, explains his philosophy of life in general, and his condescension towards women in particular. I was not thrilled by the thought of reading a play in which men's views are naturally superior, but I wanted to expand my horizons....they have expanded and I won't be annoyed by this man again. The story was of a young woman of high birth who has a liaison with one of the household servants; it leads to the quite elegant conclusion that still abounds greatly in society, about how men who sleep around are relieving their natural feelings, and women who do so are sluts. Was not impressed.

.....excuse me while I climb down from my soapbox.....

I loved the Ibsen play. Ibsen was Norwegian, and had thoughts almost diametrically opposed to those of Strindberg. Apparently there were near-riots upon A Doll's House opening in the Oslo theatre, and given the time period I can see why. The story is of a woman who is greatly constricted and talked down to within the confines of her marriage, and the solution that she comes to in order to change her life. It was well-written and enjoyable, and managed not to be preachy about its viewpoint, but to allow theatre-goers to understand her husband's behaviour and its consequences for themselves. I'd like to read more of Ibsen; he and I would be sympatico, I think.

Oliver Goldsmith's play, She Stoops to Conquer, was such a relaxing work to read. It had all the old tropes. There were hidden identities, soliloquys overheard by other players, conversations behind screens, people being deliberately misled....it felt a bit like a Shakespeare comedy and was enjoyable, if rather predictable.
Tags: 19th century literature, british, classic, drama, european, fantasy, international, play

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