Thursday, January 6, 2022


I had planned to chatter here more in advance of the Greek play event, but circumstances have intervened.  That is sufficiently vague and passive-voiced.  I am tapping this out on my phone.

Still, onward.  The schedule for reading the Greek plays, beginning with "The Persians," is two posts down and also off to the right.  The more I think about it, the more that play seems like a good place to start - typical in some useful ways but really quite odd, like all of the early Aeschylus plays.

The Greek plays risk swallowing my reading, since they are so interesting in many directions, and have led to a lot of great criticism and scholarship and artistic responses.  But with effort I will resist the temptation.

Last year my concentration was poor - life events - and I read fewer and easier books than usual, and read more randomly, although my Education continued, and now I think I will be able to get back to my push through the major works of the 1930s.

Plus I continue to work on reading in French, which has gone well enough that I am also working on reading in Portuguese, starting from a low, low level.  I think I have learned some skills for this sort of thing. Or I will give it up as too difficult. Who knows.

Aeschylus, in a little over a week - exciting!  My impression is that quite a number of people are reading along, in one way or another.  I should learn a lot, which is how I measure these things.


  1. The 1930s? You have to read Rebecca now.
    Yesterday I looked at a few lists of 10 greatest novels of the 30s (obviously Western only, English only). If I remember correctly, every single one of them included Gone with the Wind and Brave New World, but a few of them didn't include a single novel by Faulkner. Unbelievable.

  2. Yes, "Rebecca," "Gaudy Night," and maybe "The Hollow Man" top my 1930s crime novel wishlist. None of them are at the priority level of "The Man without Qualities" or "In Parenthesis" or the Faulkner and Nabokov books I last read thirty years ago. So we'll see.

    My impression, reading book bloggers, is that Faulkner us much loathed. Those who read him out of duty are repelled and disgusted. He's still got it! So if the lists are not based on academic citations, his absence does not surprise me.

  3. "horrible people doing horrible things to each other".

    Although in that case I don't see how that's sufficient. She reads Icelandic sagas and the like. Anyway, not a rare reaction.

    1. I don't under the complaint in the comments about Faulkner not using real language.

    2. Horrible people doing horrible things to each other may well be a fruitful topic for Greek tragedy. I read Media and Hecuba at the end of last year, and was pondering the idea suggested in the Introduction that Euripides intended any moral message by this, especially considering both heroines appear to be completely exonerated of their despicable crimes by the playwright at the end.

      Maybe it's because Icelandic heroes are working on some basis of honour, whereas Faulkner's heroes, Horace Benbow apart, are thoroughly unregenerate.

      People have always had this moral view of faulkner. On the other hand, sanctuary was his biggest commercial success.

  4. I had to read a few of the Ancient Greek plays for a course I took last semester and felt the need to read more. Thanks for pulling this together.

    Before starting, though, I re-read A E Houseman's "Fragment of a Greek Tragedy." I think I'm in the right mood now. "He splits my skull, not in a friendly way"

  5. So many horrible people doing so many horrible things on the Greek plays, in many of them at least.

    Faulkner engages deeply in Southern honor culture, which he sees as degenerate or as poisoned. The ultimate expression of honorable behavior had become the lynching.

    Dwight, good to hear. I would say at least a dozen, maybe half, of the plays are foundational to Western literature.

  6. obooki and Tom,
    I just had to put down Light in August- for a bit, perhaps.
    It does seem to be a great novel though.

  7. Ordering Faulkner's books a little, I was surprised how many are not about race at all, or only obliquely, but Light in August is head on, like a terrible car crash, so if you are not in the mood for that it is the wrong book.

  8. Your timeline looks pretty good, given my limited knowledge on things.

    One suggestion: Antigone is one of Sophocles' first plays, but I think it would make more sense to post/cover it after Oedipus at Colonus (404-401 BC) since it follows that storyline. I hate to meddle with the historical timeline, but I think the play will make more sense for readers if they have read the other two Sophoclean Oedipus plays first.

  9. Ha ha, if you think that, what to do with next week's Seven Against Thebes?

    But in fact readers, like the Athenian audience, already know the story, and the frequent return to the story, not just by Sophocles, is part of what makes the chronological approach interesting.

    Imagine the plays we are missing. Imagine being able to read the two - three - eleven - that accompanied Antigone.

  10. Great point on timing. Best to just pick an approach and go with it.

    The ones we're missing...have been reading some of Aeschylus' fragments and the guy was wicked. One I'll pass on, then off to write up a post on The Persians.

    "I shall not fail to mark
    The glowing eye of a girl who has tasted man,
    For in these things I am a connoisseur..."

  11. I am tempted to pursue some fragments. Every scrap has some interest.

    So glad you're joining in, by the way.