Challenges: Greek Classics, 2012 Classics, Gender in Fantasy and SciFi
Soooo…remember when I swore off challenges? I was so clever, thinking I’d just do book lists without external prompting, as my whim took me. Let’s see how that worked out, shall we? Later that month, I posted one list. In all of this year, I’ve posted three, including my 2010 round up. Um, how pitiful is that? Even with all my blogging breaks, it’s rather depressing (and detrimental to my self image as a list addict)! So clearly, my clever plan wasn’t terribly clever. Not to mention, I miss <strike> my command, which makes me feel all happy and powerful and nerdy all at once, which is pretty much my favourite combination of feelings. All of this is a build-up to the fact that I’m planning on joining a few challenges again in 2012. Who me? Change my mind? I won’t tell if you won’t. ;)
Time will tell if I’m a better participant than before, or if I’m just looking for an excuse to make lists and <strike> books of them. But for now, I can revel in making lists! Of old books!
In chronological order, Howling Frog’s Greek Classics Challenge comes first. Isn’t that a gorgous button? Who can resist a multi-millenia year old owl? With the exception of Homer, Plato, and Aristotle (all of whom I read regularly in high school for fun…yes, my nerdiness goes way back), I’m a newbie to the Ancient Greek scene. Earlier this year, I read Anne Carson’s unorthodox Oresteia and loved it. I especially loved Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon”, so then I went and read Fagles’ translation of his three-play Oresteia cycle. Guess what? I loved it. Euripedes’ “Orestes” was my least favourite of Carson’s cycle, but I wanted to give him, and Carson, another go, so I checked out Grief Lessons, which includes “Herakles,” ”
Hekabe,” “Hippolytos,” and “Alkestis.” And, shockingly enough, I loved all of them too. Conclusion? I need more ancient Greeks in my life. Here’s my pool of potentials:
- Robert Fagle’s The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles (“Antigone,” “Oedipus the King,” and “Oedipus at Colonus”), because I loved his “Electra.” And I’d like to see the story from a non-Freudian point of view, please. Yay for a pre-Freud world!
- If Not, Winter : fragments of Sappho translated by Anne Carson: I’ve loved Carson’s other two translations, and it’s nice to see a Greek woman for a change! Sadly, she will be the token on this list.
- Lattimore’s Aeschylus II, which includes “The Suppliant Maidens,” “The Persians,” “Seven Against Thebes,” and “Prometheus Bound”: I’ve decided I can’t have too much Aeschylus.
- “Medea” and/or “The Bacchae” by Euripedes (I haven’t decided on a translation yet, since my library doesn’t offer Carson, Fagles, or Lattimore as options. If you have a preferred one, let me know!), because of Grief Lessons.
- “The Clouds” by Aristophanes (I’m learning towards the Harvard Uni Press edition translated by Jeffrey Henderson, which also includes “Wasps” and “Peace”.): I’m tickled by the idea of a satire of Socrates.
- “The Poet and the Women” also by Aristophanes (I’ll probably go with David Barrett’s translation, published by Penguin, which includes “The Wasp” and “The Frogs.”): having seen “Lysistrata” performed, I’m very interested in his depiction of the position of ancient Greek women.
- “On the Nature of Things” by Lucretius (no idea which translation to choose): I’m thinking about returning to my roots and reading more philosophy next year, and I’m curious to learn more about Epicurism. Also, my library catalogue files it under ‘didactic poetry.’ Who doesn’t love didactic poetry?
- The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories by Robert B. Strassler & Andrea L. Purvis: because I am insane. But not too insane: if I’m going to read 700+ pages of ancient Greek history, I want the book with 300+ pages of supporting notes. I’m not committing to this for certain, but I am very tempted. It makes me feel better about not including any more philosophy.
- The Odyssey by Homer, trans. by Robert Fagles: it’s been too long since I’ve caught up with the wily trickster! I’ve suggested that my library purchase the unabridged audio narrated by Ian McKellen, and if they don’t follow my suggestion I’ll pout a lot. But I have high hopes: they have the audio of Fagle’s Aeneid.
I’m not actually sure what level all of this would put me at, because I don’t know if I should count each play separately or just count each book/collection as one. So, depending on that and my stamina, I’ll either end up at Herodotus (8-10) or all the way at Thucydides (11+). Speaking of whom, I’m hoping my library also pays attention to my purchase suggestion of The Landmark Thucydides, because I’m not going to read a 1952 edition whose translation apparently includes errors. Anyway, the only one that makes me at all nervous is the Herodotus, which is why he’s there: it’s good to pop out of the comfort zone every now and then! Also, I might include some Plutarch, but the translation question seems so vexed. Really, why didn’t my college-self study Greek as well as Russian and French?! If only my college hadn’t separated the majors into modern languages and classics. And if only I could be a perpetual student. *sigh* If anyone has any opinions on Plutarch translations, please share them.
Then there’s the Classics Challenge at November’s Autumn. It’s a kind of challenge/event/meme mash-up, but the gist of it is to read seven classics in 2012. I tend to think of classics as books written before 1950, and I read quite a few of them on my own. But I thought some structure would be fun. The seven books put me in mind of seven continents, so I’ll be reading one from each inhabited continent, plus a bonus. (Unfortunately, I had to stick with more recent classics for most of the continents, due to book availability/existence, so this is more heavily geared towards the first half of the twentieth century than I would have liked. Expect to see some lists of older classics, primarily European, soon.)
- South America: Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges (1944) or Dom Casmurro by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1899)
- Africa: Rhadopis of Nubia by Naguib Mahfouz (1943) or Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (1948)
- Asia: I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki (1905)
- Australia: Bring the Monkey by Miles Franklin (1933)
- North America: Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson (1947) or Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso (1925) or The History of Emily Montague by Frances Brooke (1769)
- Europe: La Princesse de Clèves by Madame de La Fayette (1678) or Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605/1615) or The Tattered Cloak and Other Stories by Nina Berberova (1930s-ish)
- Bonus: Helen by Maria Edgeworth (1834)
Finally, for now at least, is another challenge with a pre-made list: Cynical Bookworm’s Gender in Fantasy and SciFi Challenge. When I envision my reading next year, I definitely see myself exploring more imaginative/speculative books. And I’m always interested in gender issues! So this book list is like waving candy in front a baby…my will power lasted about two days. Challenge participants have all of 2012 to read (or reread: I’ve read six of the twenty-two before) six to twelve titles from the list. I’ve already mentioned this on Twitter, because I think a lot of my bloggy friends would be interested in this! And I’m all about the peer pressure. ;)
The nicest thing about these challenges is that each of the hosts are bloggers I hadn’t run across before, and now they’re all in my feed reader! I’ve subscribed to a couple of the participants from these challenges as well. I’m always delighted when I find inspiring new-to-me blogs; it makes me all warm and fuzzy. It’s been a good week for that!