Feelings are for suckers.

31168Shirley was an interesting read. From the introduction to this book, you would expect the book to be about nothing — like the Seinfeld of Victorian England literature, but without the comedy. Although, I must admit, there are some moments of humour, when it seems Bronte can’t hold herself back and the narrative is so thick with sarcasm and satire that it’s impossible to ignore.

The introduction to this edition, written by Lucasta Miller, a Bronte scholar, informs the reader (i.e. me) that Bronte took a particularly ‘masculine’ approach to the narrative voice in this text…whatever that means. You see, apparently people had begun to suspect that Currer Bell (Bronte’s pseudonym) was a woman. Suddenly, in light of this new information, Jane Eyre went from being praised as original and intense to being “an affront to femininity,” “morally suspect,” and “politically subversive” (xii). So you know, normal Victorian gender biased bullshit. Of course, I’m not suggesting that Jane Eyre was not all of those things — I haven’t read it (yet), but if it’s anything like Shirley, it probably was guilty on all charges. In Bronte’s defence, the definition of femininity at the time was crap, morals were a bastardisation of Christian values loosely applied to men and used a tool to control women, and politics can always use a little subversion, can they not? So, there’s that.

The first half of this book is kind of boring…but on purpose, so Bronte gets a pass. Apparently she was trying to appear more masculine and throw off the sent of her femininity (good luck, doesn’t she know our smell is so strong it attracts bears?). According to Miller, ‘more masculine’ means writing frivolously about womanly things like feelings and romance. What is funny, though, is that this book does involve a romance. Two key romances, actually…so nice try, Bronte. But, the men are the ones who have all the feelings and need help controlling their emotions, so that’s pretty funny.

Anyways – I’m off to read Bleak House and try to wrap my head around Jameson’s theories on cognitive mapping.

Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?, Northanger Abbey, and My Reflections on Balance

I was speaking to a PhD student in my program yesterday and the topic of balance came up. I mentioned I was going home to finish a short story about a screw, to which she commented that it was good I was setting time aside from my studies for creative pursuits, taking some time for myself, so to speak (d’awww).

SIDE BAR: Seriously – the universe has been sending me a veritable army of angels of encouragement and support. I am stunned at how lucky I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people who are taking my imposter syndrome, or whatever it is, and helping me tell it to kindly STFU. This is my life right now, except that for me this applies to friends of all genders, and instead of ugly, I feel like I’m not smart enough to be in my MA program (this opinion is largely due to the fact that I’m literally surrounded by geniuses):

 

Image result for sarah's scribbles friends compliments

Once again, Sarah Andersen perfectly expresses my sentiments. She’s inside my head, people.

 

Back to what I was saying. Short story. Right.

Sadly, I am not engaging in any such pursuits – sorry to disappoint, people, but you will see no short stories published by me any time soon. If you’re really itching for some short story action, check out Alice Munro or something. The short story I was referring to is The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which I’m reading for my class on fantasy and the social imaginary (YUP! That’s a class and I’m taking it BECAUSE THIS IS MY LIFE NOW AND ITS AWESOME…sorry was that out loud? #sorrynotsorry). I cleared up my miscommunication, but it did bring up the topic of balance.

It was an interesting question for me, because after a brief reflection I said that I don’t really have any balance in my life right now; essentially all of my time is dedicated to being a graduate student. But (ha! this is my blog, I can start a sentence with the word “but” if I want to!) But, I don’t need balance, I don’t need “me time” or “down time” or any such thing, because for me, this entire degree is my “me time.” Leaving behind a full-time, permanent position and throwing myself fully into a masters degree in English is pretty much one of the most selfish things I have ever done (if not the most selfish). This entire degree is a self-indulgence for me, and though it is challenging and demanding, it is a wondrous, exhilarating kind of exhaustion that I feel at the end of the day.

I know – “exhilarating kind of exhaustion”? Come on – don’t I know what “exhaustion” even means? But (ha! did it again!) But I’m being serious. Whenever I start to feel anything even remotely close to spent, or burn out, from late nights reading, or hours of research, or prepping for tutorials, all I have to do is remind myself that I’m feeling tired because I’ve been spending all of my time reading and writing and/or thinking about reading and writing and/or talking about reading and writing and then – BOOM – I’m exhilarated.

I was speaking to another friend recently and I said that whenever I start to complain, I realize that all of my complaints are actually things that make me really happy, so my complaints turn in to just proclamations of how awesome my life is right now. For example:

Concerned Friend: You look tired, what’s wrong?

Me: I stayed up until 2am reading last night.

Concerned Friend: oh, that sounds awful.

Me: wait, that’s not awful – THAT’S AWESOME!!!!

See what I mean? That book that kept me up until 2am? It was Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? and if you don’t follow me on Twitter (which you should, I’m awesome and witty), then take my advice now and GO. READ. THIS. BOOK. It was ah-mah-zing.

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That’s right. I’m bringing Casey Williams back (you may remember her from such posts as my one on The Count of Monte Cristo) because that’s how good this book was. It gave me all of the feels, you guys. I was in a glass case of emotion. I couldn’t even handle it. I was up at 2am reading a book bawling my eyes out and I couldn’t put it down.

Image result for all the feels gif

CYHtNC tells the story of the diasporic journey of three women who emigrate from India to Vancouver during the mid-20th century. The novel begins around the time of Partition (1947) in India, when Punjab was hacked and sawed apart by the Border Commission to be split between India and Pakistan. It ends with the Air India bombing (1985) which had its 30-year anniversary last year. I was familiar with a *little* bit of this part of India’s history from reading Midnight’s Children and I think I first heard of the Kamagata Maru incident (1914) on an episode of the podcast Stuff You Missed In History Class but otherwise I was exposed to a lot of new history. In the instances where I was familiar with the historical events, I got a new perspective, as well as a pointed (and fair) reminder that many of these events are as much part of Canadian history as they are Indian/Punjabi/Pakistani history. I cannot stress this enough, go out there and READ THIS BOOK!

Over the last couple of weeks I also read Northanger Abbey for the first time. Although Jane Austen appears a number of times on The List, I haven’t made my way to any of her books yet, so this was my introduction to Austenian literature. Full disclosure: one of the reasons I hadn’t read Austen yet was because I was HELLA avoiding it. I thought that shit was going to suckkkkkkkkk. As it turns out, Austen is hilarious! I see the same sarcastic, satirical tone in her writing that I loved in George Eliot. This is basically me the whole time I’m reading Jane Austen:

Image result for jurassic park clever girl

N.B. This happened a lot during Mary Barton too. I have a feeling this gif is going to come up a lot in my MA…fair warning…seriously, you should see the number of times I scribbled “clever girl” in the margins.

I’m so glad I was introduced to Austen this way – Northanger Abbey is short, sweet, funny, sarcastic, and has me now looking forward to reading her novels which are on The List (which is basically all of them, except Northanger Abbey, because of course).

Note: I haven’t read this post over, but I have to go be a grad student now, so apologies for any typos, etc.

CORRECTION: I searched the Stuff You Missed in History Class website and did not find the Kamagata Maru on there, so maybe that’s not where I heard about it. I did hear about it, though…just not sure where…I feel like it was on the radio…

Image Sources
Sarah’s Scribbles: http://sarahcandersen.com/
My Heart Can’t Handle It gif: http://img.pandawhale.com/38353-the-feels-gif-Vvyf.gif
Jurassic Park gif: https://lovelace-media.imgix.net/uploads/36/3722fa90-f5bc-0132-f117-0ed54733f8f5.gif?

Succulents, coffee and reading – I have arrived.

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I promised I would be taking you all with me on this reading journey through grad school and now I’m making good on that. A little bit. I have a lot of reading to do, guys, you can’t be my first priority all the time (I love you, please don’t leave me).

To give you an idea, in my first week as a grad student, I have read Mary Barton, approximately 10% of Don Quixote, and an avalanche of other readings including short stories (such as The Demon Lover) and other scholarly works from apparently eminent authors. I say “apparently” because I seemed to be the only one in the room reading Northrop Frye for the first time. I’m going to take their word for his eminence, though, what with them having degrees and doctorates in English. Meanwhile I’m over here like “I really like books…”

If my calculations are correct, which they probably are not, I have nearly 7,000 pages worth of reading to do by the end of November. That’s fourteen books, two coursepacks (collections of readings), and a smattering of articles and excerpts. To date, I’ve read about 1,440 (20%) of those pages (remember, I’m in week 1, also I’m bad at math).

Tragically, with the exception of Tale of Two Cities (which I’ve already read) and Don Quixote (of which I only read an excerpt) none of those texts appear on The List.

We are reading Dickens, but not what’s on the List. We are reading Bronte, but not what’s on the List. We are reading Marques, but not what’s on the List. We are reading James Joyce, but not what’s on the List. We are referencing Middlemarch and A Fine Balance in some courses, but not reading them (damn!!). There are no Shakespeare courses being offered this year. Of course, the one course I decided not to register in to is reading Cloud Atlas.

I know, I know. You’re disappointed and sad for me. Don’t be. My life is awesome right now.

Image result for spongebob super happy

what I look like on the inside right now

I’m still spending all of my time reading and talking about books, and when I’m not doing that I’m thinking about what I’ve just read and what I’m going to read next. And when I’m not doing that I’m going to be writing about books.

I have nothing to complain about – read Mary Barton, or The Inconvenient Indian, or anything about the Komagata Maru – those people have things to complain about. I, on the other hand, am living in my very own belle époque.

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Lilith, my new succulent

Spongebob image credit: http://images2.fanpop.com/image/photos/9500000/happy-sponge-future-wives-of-spongebob-9518085-1024-768.jpg

Rage, My Darling, Rage

Oh Sydney…you fool. I don’t know who broke you, but my heart hurts for you. Isn’t Sydney Carton just the most tragic character you have ever encountered? Move aside, Anna Karenina, you’ve been dethroned.

Reading Tale of Two Cities for the second time was like reading it for the first time, except it was so much better! I can’t account for the difference in the reading experience, I have no explanation, but I LOVED this book the second time around.

Set against the backdrop of revolutionary France and late-18th century England, the history alone in this book was enough to keep me entirely engrossed. It was interesting to see how Dickens contrasted the two cities, and very obvious from how he did so that he was an Englishman…his writing was not unbiased.

His portrayal of the French revolutionaries seemed to be that of a group of wild animals, reacting violently to being held in a life of captivity:

And yet there is not in France, with its rich variety of soil and climate, a blade, a leaf, a root, a sprig, a peppercorn, which will grown to maturity under conditions more certain than those to have produced this horror. Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious licence and oppression ever again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind. (p. 367)

Even though the above seems to absolve them from blame, the revolutionaries are characterised as murderous, blood-thirsty villains throughout the book, which leaders such as Defarge and The Vengeance.

The Reign of Terror was a horrifying time, and yes, France struggled to get their shit together, but the portrayal of the revolutionaries as the villains of the plot is in such contrast to other historical narratives that it sticks out in my mind.

More later – gotta go to school! *YAY*

*title of this post is inspired by Sarah Slean’s song Duncan which you can listen to here

Sorry, Lamb, but I want to read other books.

I tried, Christopher Moore, I really did. Unfortunately, Lamb just wasn’t doing it for me. I had to put it down and move on to something else.

And isn’t that just the hardest thing to do?

But sometimes reading a book can feel like this:

I find the world of readers is pretty split on the “when do you give up on a book (if ever)?” question. It’s pretty divisive, actually. Some people are fine with putting down a book they are not enjoying – there are so many books out there, why waste time on one that’s not giving you what you want out of it? Right? Others disagree – you started it, you made a commitment. Suck it up and finish that thing! Maybe it gets good at the end!

I seldom give up on a book. Even when the plot plateaus, the characters all begin to irritate me, and I have almost entirely disconnected from the narrative, I’m usually still able to push through it and get the job done. Primarily because I’m stubborn AF. Case and point: Lord of the Rings.

Then, sometimes, I say, life is short and I have a list to read so I don’t have time for you, Mr. Bad Book. Or, I lie to myself and say, “You can go back on the bookshelf for now, I will try again later. Maybe I’m just not in the right place/state of mind/environment/mood to appreciate you right now.” This is also because I’m stubborn. I’m also in denial about my addiction to books.

I can list on one hand the number of times I’ve given up on a book: (1) The Shadow Boxer (a bargain book I picked up because I fell in love with the font and paper), (2) Watership Down (which I will eventually have to read as its on the list), (3) Interview with a Vampire (this one is definitely getting a revisit, I refuse to believe this book is not for me), and now, (4) Lamb.

BUT THAT’S OKAY, wanna know why? Because soon I won’t have time to spend on any of these books anyway.

Wanna know why?

Okay, I’ll tell you why.

It is because as of this fall I will be starting my English Masters program! SQUEEEEEE! This means my days of self-directed reading are behind me for the next little while. I have reading lists upon beautiful reading lists on my horizon, and I cannot wait to tear through them all.

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Unfortunately, this means I also need to press pause on Middlemarch – though that decision is not a reflection of my enjoyment of the book. It is a treasure and I am looking forward to picking it back up.

So, over the next week I’ll be re-reading Tale of Two Cities, which as it turns out is even better the second time around, as well as a number of course readings in preparation for my first term as a graduate student. Oh, I will also be finishing up Clockwork Princess because that will take me all of one day to do. I’m so close to completing that series, I just want to finish it while I still can, okay?

What will happen to this blog while I’m focusing on fancy book learning? Don’t worry, kids, you’re all coming along for the ride 🙂

read all the books: https://lezbrarian.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/40fe7-readallthebooks.jpg

Dorothea doesn’t care about your small talk: Middlemarch progress update and predictions

My progress on Middlemarch has been slow but enjoyable. I’m currently on Chapter 9 and finding George Eliot (née Mary Ann Evans) to be a hilarious writer. Turns out the Goodreads reviewer was right – it is B-A-N-A-N-A-S, and I’ve only just begun!

So far Middlemarch has a real The Awakening/Taming of the Shrew vibe to it. Granted, I haven’t read the latter, but I have seen it on stage and I’ve seen “10 Things I Hate About You,” which we can all agree is pretty much the same thing. Regarding The Awakening, though there hasn’t been any ring-throwing or adultery action yet, I can feel it all coming. It’s going to happen, just you wait.

HOLY CRAP. I just realized that the bathroom scene from 10 Things I Hate About You is from Middlemarch! You know the one I’m talking about. The one where Kate has her mom’s pearls and Bianca wants to wear them. Then Kate is all:

To which Bianca responds:

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Guys, Dorothea and Celia have the same exchange in Chapter 1 of Middlemarch. For real.

This just blew my mind. This whole time popular culture was gently nudging me towards Eliot, and I didn’t even realize it. I’ve been subliminally exposed to the classics, people! It’s a conspiracy, is what it is. This obsession I have with The List is simply the natural culmination of years of conditioning.

Maybe I should move on to a new thought now…

A brief overview of MM thus far: Dorothea has accepted the marriage proposal of Mr. Casaubon, much to the dismay of pretty much everyone. She doesn’t mind, though. Dorothea does not suffer fools; she has no time for morons and seeks only the company of those who can stimulate her intellectually. Which, apparently, is an exclusive group of people consisting only of herself and her fiancé. This makes for a narrative full of exceedingly enjoyable contempt.

This contempt is primarily directed from Dorothea towards pretty much everyone around her. Her general opinion of men seems to be that they are boring and unintelligent creatures, endlessly annoying her with trivial small talk. She spends a decent portion of the book so far waiting for James to kindly STFU (and hinting to it not-so-subtly).

Annoyed by stupidity. Bored by small talk. Unimpressed by social decorum regarding grooming and courtship. This girl is playing my jam!

Correction: playing what I wish was my jam. My actual jam is being polite, respectful, and passably assimilated to cultural norms.

Now for my favourite part of reading ridiculously massive classics: PREDICTION TIME!

Full disclosure: I *may* have come across some spoilers online. Predictions still count, though. Called it!

Okay, here we go.

Prediction #1: Celia and Sir James are going to get married. This is barely a prediction, though, it’s too obvious.

Prediction #2: Uncle Brooke dies. I’m guessing natural causes. There will be a long drawn-out illness in which either a) Celia cares for him out of fidelity, b) Dorothea cares for him out of Methodist piety, or c) a random caretaker takes care of him because Celia is too busy having babies and playing house, and Dorothea is too preoccupied with intellectual pursuits. He dies alone. Both his nieces are overcome with guilt and vow to spend more time together lest the same thing happen to them.

Prediction #3: one of the following will occur:

  • Dorothea gets bored of Casaubon and leaves him.
  • Casaubon wants Dorothea to bear children, she refuses, he has their marriage annulled.
  • Dorothea falls in love with the young, handsome carpenter hired to build her cottages, has an affair and leaves Casaubon for him.

Prediction #4: Casaubon is going to end up being awful and I’m not going to like him at all. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I don’t trust him…

Prediction #5: ring-throwing action.

Prediction #6: regardless of how Prediction #3 plays out, adultery is a near certainty as far as I’m concerned.

Place your bets in the comments below.

Until next time, Cat out!

credits:
Lin Manuel Miranda gif: http://38.media.tumblr.com/e9806cf4a8146a2cfbcacebb6eb6ba38/tumblr_nsq8qjj9mN1qgggqfo3_250.gif
10 Things I Hate About You – Kate image: https://67.media.tumblr.com/b4dce9b42e7df483771dc9846215bf5d/tumblr_mu780kxHj71rsyukao1_500.jpg
10 Thigns I Hate About You – Bianca gif: https://media.giphy.com/media/3rgXBz7QgBMAu90Xu0/giphy.gif
Big Bang meme: http://static.topnettools.com/10.jpg

Did I mention I’m reading Middlemarch?

dsc_0078.jpgMy next read from The List is none other than George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Admittedly, I did not know this book existed until The List brought it in to my life. According to the interwebs, I’m lucky as Middlemarch is bananas, according to this awesome review on Goodreads:

middlemarch bananas

 

Middlemarch has nearly 100,000 reviews on Goodreads, and they are overwhelmingly positive. 90% of people liked it. 90%!!

So, you know, no pressure.

Reading this book, I’m going to feel like Stella watching Star Wars for the first time, and the Internet is Marshall and Ted, listening through a door for my reactions. Judging me.

Off I go to broaden my understanding provincial life through 889 pages of classic British literature!

I am *totally* going to love it. I will totally understand the walking bear.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: A Play Delivered in Memes, GIFs, and Images

The Two Gentlemen of Verona was all about love – annoyingly so. I am not new to Shakespeare’s love stories and sonnets, so don’t start in on me about “Well duh, you were reading Shakespeare – what did you expect? People fall in love and everyone dies. That’s his shtick.” This was different. This was a love sonnet in the form of a play that would never end. And no one died, though some characters really had it coming.

Maybe I’m just used to his tragedies, where everyone does die…

Anyways.

To save you from having to read the play yourself, I’ve benevolently provided a brief recap of the play below (as best as I could gather), delivered in a string of memes, gifs and images. You’re welcome.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: A Play Delivered in Memes, GIFs and Images

First, we meet Valentine and Proteus, BFFs who love the poop out of each other.

 

Adorable, am I right?

They are separated because Valentine leaves to serve a duke, and Proteus hangs back to be with Julia, who he loves (d’awwwww). The boys are sad because this means they won’t be together anymore.

It’s okay, though. Valentine’s sadness from being separated from his one true bro is quickly forgotten as he meets Silvia and immediately falls in love with her. For reasons. Isn’t love grand?

MEANWHILE back at home, Proteus’ dad decides he’s going to send his son to meet up with Valentine. You’d think this was good news – WRONG – Proteus doesn’t want to leave because he wants to stay with Julia. They’re in love! If they’re not together, what’s the point of going on??!

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He goes anyway, because that’s what a good son does. Turns out it was all for the best, because when he meets Silvia he falls in love with her and forgets all about Julia!

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Now Valentine and Proteus love the same woman. Can their friendship survive (she said in a movie announcer voice)??

Did I mention that Silvia’s been promised to some other guy, Thurio? What is it with this woman? Honestly! It must be her milkshake. There is no other explanation.

Silvia loves Valentine and spurns all of Proteus and Thurio’s advances, making them feel sad and rejected.

You can guess where this leads, as it is well established that men have historically handled rejection very well. They accept Silvia’s decision and return to their respective lives, leaving Valentine and Silvia in peace.

Just kidding! HA! You didn’t seriously believe me, did you? Of course you didn’t. My readership is made up of wise and clever individuals who wouldn’t be taken in by such a ruse.

No. What actually happens is that the boys convince themselves that increased efforts and persistence will ultimately result in their success. Proteus especially believes this is true. Silvia loves him, she just doesn’t know it yet! “No” doesn’t mean “no” – it means “try harder”!

Throughout all of this, Valentine fails to realize that his BFF, Proteus, has fallen in love for his girl and is pulling a complete Andrew Lincoln in Love Actually on his ass.

So, not knowing any better, Valentine tells his bro about his plans to run away with Silvia. Proteus tattles him out to Silvia’s father, who in turn banishes Valentine. That’s what you get for trusting someone. Sorry ’bout your luck, bro.

Having rid himself of his biggest competition, Proteus figures the time is right to make his move. He asks his boy servant, Sebastian, to give Silvia his ring as a token of his love.

The only thing is, Sebastian is actually Julia, who has disguised herself as a boy and run away to be with Proteus, and the ring is the SAME ONE that Julia gave him so that he would remember her when they were parted, as a symbol of their love and commitment to one another. Jerk.

So now Julia has to give HER OWN RING to Silvia.

 

Thankfully, Silvia recognizes the ring as Julia’s and turns it down. She also gives Proteus shit for trying to give her another girl’s ring. Atta girl.

Fed up, Silvia decides she’s going to run away and find Valentine.

Proteus & Co. form a search party for her. They find Silvia being attacked by a band of outlaws, from whom Proteus rescues her. He then demands a reward in the form of affection from Silvia for saving her life.

Of course he does.

She refuses, so he tries to rape her.

Yup. That happened.

But then, Valentine jumps out of the bushes and stops his bro from raping his one true love. Proteus apologizes: “Sorry, bro. I didn’t know.” Valentine accepts his apology and offers him Silvia as a token of their friendship.

Yup.

Sebastian a.k.a. Julia is just as stunned as we are by all of this, and faints (she was part of the search party looking for Silvia) thus revealing her true identify.

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Proteus decides that Julia isn’t so bad after all, so he goes back to her.

Silvia’s dad gives Valentine his blessing to marry his daughter.

They all get married. The end.

Continue reading

Et tu, Brutus?

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar was an amazing read. I found it engaging and I understood 99% of the things that were happening. Yes, those are the two measures I have for Shakespeare now: (1) how interesting is this? and (2) do I understand what’s going on? Julius Caesar scored big points on both scales.

First, the themes were clearly identified and reinforced throughout the play. It is obvious that Shakespeare is dealing with some interesting philosophical questions here (big shocker there, that’s so unlike him! — that’s sarcasm, in case you can’t tell). I mean, it’s not “to be or not to be” meaning of life meta crisis, but there are some poignant ideas presented here nonetheless.

For example, the relationship between folly and courage, which I briefly discussed earlier, is fascinating. Does one genuinely need to be a little bit crazy in order to be brave? I personally think that, yes, one does. In order to do something truly courageous, I think you need to be able to tell logic to STFU for a little while. Otherwise, logic will make good points and will talk you out of it.

Another element of Julius Caesar which I thoroughly enjoyed was the reoccurring juxtaposition of private vs. public selves. The separation which exists between the two, for most characters, appeared to be complete. This is not uncommon in today’s society: there’s work-me and private-me. The characters here seem to understand that there is a different between their public personas and their private selves, however that’s where their awareness seems to get blocked. They enter this mystical world where somehow their corporeal selves are imbued with superhuman strength and mythical protection. They believe that the celebrity of their public selves is ambrosia for their private selves: you can’t kill me, people like me too much! Caesar and Brutus both do this.

Lastly, the power of pathos in this play is awesome. Literally – it fills me with awe. Entire populations moved by speech! I can barely win an argument with my partner relying only on words. That’s one person. Meanwhile Brutus, Marc Antony, and Cassius can bend entire swarms of plebeians to their will. The outcome of this play, and the deaths of many characters, are determined by moving speeches and deliberate confessions.

In closing, I want to mention that Julius Caesar is a special play for me, which warranted some special attention. Making my way through this List has resulted in a lot of Shakespeare (a full quarter of my remaining reads are Shakespeare) and not all of it is good. I have to read all of it, and that means the flops too. There is some Shakespeare that is just a grind. As long as I’ve read more words I’ve made progress and that’s good enough for me!

I couldn’t do that with Julius Caesar. With this one, I promised myself to make the extra effort for a deeper reading. You see, my partner and I had our first date at a production of Julius Caesar and our first kiss along the river after that play. That particular production included roller blades, machine guns, and that we both fell asleep somewhere around Act III or IV. It was a magical night.

To honour my commitment, I am not ashamed to say I relied heavily on SparkNotes. I will not apologize for this. I am not a Shakespearean scholar, nor am I an expert in Olde English, or Roman history or mythology. In light of that, I adopted a three-step approach to Julius Caesar which I think worked really well for me:

Step 1) Read a scene, try to figure it out on my own.

Step 2) Read SparkNotes summary and analysis of the scene.

Step 3) Compare & contrast.

Doing it this was was actually a lot of fun, and a huge boost of confidence, as I saw how much I caught on my own. It also helped to correct any misunderstandings before I got too far in the play, and called my attention to things I would have otherwise missed.

Pensive Brutus in HBO’s Rome

Until next time, plebes!