The Canterbury Tales – drunkenness, fart jokes and arse-kissing

The Canterbury Tales was written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the late 14th century. It’s 24 very different short stories held together by the idea that a group of pilgrims are travelling together from London to Canterbury and decide to have a story-telling competition. It’s worth reading for a lot of reasons (and there are plentyContinue reading “The Canterbury Tales – drunkenness, fart jokes and arse-kissing”

What Robinson Crusoe Did Before The Shipwreck

You may have guessed this if you’ve been following me for any length of time, but I read a lot. As well as stuff I pick up because it looks interesting, I’ve also got a ‘100 books you should have read’ list that I’m very slowly working my way through when I’m not distracted byContinue reading “What Robinson Crusoe Did Before The Shipwreck”

Young vs Old

A couple of months ago I discussed Tolstoy short stories and how people of different generations discussed each other. Seeing as Wilkie Collins was alive and writing around the same time as Tolstoy (and they both had great beards), I thought I’d return to the subject through his eyes. The Woman in White was firstContinue reading “Young vs Old”

Purple Facial Hair

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope is weighty tome, getting on for 1000 pages, but is mostly an easy read – lots of characters living their lives, all interesting folk and many of whom are deeply morally ambiguous, against a backdrop of political satire and a biting response to the recent financial scandals.Continue reading “Purple Facial Hair”

A Thinking Horse

Anton Chekhov was a Russian writer who lived in the late 19th/early 20th century. He was a pretty good playwright but I’d say his short-stories are his best work. I’m not alone is thinking that either; even Wikipedia says he’s ‘considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history’ (although it doesn’tContinue reading “A Thinking Horse”

The Best Linen And Cambric For Her Underclothing

Middlemarch by George Eliot (or rather by Mary Ann Evans writing under that pseudonym) was published in 1871/2 and is about the lives of characters in a fictional English Midlands town. There’s a lot of focus on marriage, family, courtship, hypocrisy and disgrace, and it’s generally considered her best work, but today I’m just goingContinue reading “The Best Linen And Cambric For Her Underclothing”

Victorian Gammon

I know that I’ve written about Dickens a few times now – my first ever post was about the dinosaur at the start of Bleak House – but, well, posts about his work pretty much write themselves. I’ve talked specifically about Nicholas Nickleby before, and I still maintain that the bit about The United MetropolitanContinue reading “Victorian Gammon”

Beards and Beer Milkshakes

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck was published in 1945 and is set during the great depression, but is significantly less depressing than some of his other novels. It technically has a bit of a plot but it mostly reads like a series of interlinked short stories or vignettes about the deadbeats, the general store, theContinue reading “Beards and Beer Milkshakes”

Odd Colours in The Odyssey

Homer was a Greek poet writing around 750BC and we think he’s the author of The Odyssey. It’s an epic poem about Odysseus and his ten-year journey back to Ithaca after the fall of Troy. There’s an awful lot of intelligent discussion to be had about this important piece of literature but today I’m justContinue reading “Odd Colours in The Odyssey”

In My Day…

One of the many things I like about novels from different times and places is when something is said that is so utterly timeless that it reminds me that we aren’t all that different. Last month I talked about how even the ancient Greeks knew what it was to really fancy a particular food forContinue reading “In My Day…”

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