Sunday, July 17, 2011

21. Joseph Andrews

Joseph Andrews
Henry Fielding
1742

I was astonished by how much I enjoyed this book seeing how no one I know has ever heard of it.  Including me.  However, this has been my second favorite book so far (second of course to Don Quixote). The books are actually quite similar and there are numerous references to my old favorite in the text.

This novel is about a handsome fellow named Joseph Andrews (who I pictured as Ewan McGregor from the description).  He is in love with, get this, Fanny Goodwill.  He has many adventures which include really interesting and unpredictable twists.  It is really hard to surprise the audience when your book is almost 300 years old but old Henry does it.

I really loved this book but to be fair, I should address other people's complaints about it.  For one, I have read that people thought it was boring.  I did not get that at all and this book is really short.  How come this is short but Gargantua and Pantagruel was like 700 pages?  But I am digressing.... The book is also pretty sexist but you cannot expect much from a book from the 1700s.  It also is really Christian which always annoys the shit out of me but it is worth it.  Definitely worth it.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

One of the characters is named Lady Booby. HEHE!

Fielding develops one of the first London police forces.

Sorry about the serious post.  Rough day...

Friday, July 15, 2011

20. Modest Proposal

Modest Proposal
Jonathan Swift
1729

If you read my last review, you probably think I am going to tear this apart. I liked it though.  This is the first book on the list so far that I had read before I attempted this crazy goal.  It is a mere eight pages and actually conveyed meanings rather than just packing punches like other Swift novels.

I would be surprised if you had never read this in high school, but if you haven't, here is the premise.  Swift suggests that we should eat children to solve the problems of poverty and overpopulation.  He is, of course, not being serious (apparently when it was published people really did not get that).

Few books up to this point have been laugh-out-loud funny but this one certainly was.  The size also helped.  I get sick of Swift and his smarminess after over two hundred pages of pointless rants.  Definitely worth the ten minutes it takes.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

The milestone of twenty has been reached!

Swift's novel made fun of all the illogical solutions that people were coming up with during the times.

Parts of this were read on The Colbert Report which is indeed worth mentioning.

19. Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels
Jonathan Swift
1726

Ugh, Jonathan "The Ultimate Armchair Analyst" Swift.  That smarmy son of a bitch. Another book that is known by almost everyone since childhood.  When you reread it as an adulthood, however, you see that there is a powerful politic message!  The message is complete bullshit and is not interesting in the slightest, but hey: it is there.

This book is about a man who travels around the world because he has an insatiable need to go to sea (that is said in almost the exact same phrasing as it was in Sinbad the Sailer; really, Swift?).  In his most famous adventure, he is big and everyone else is small.  He also goes to a place where the reverse is true.

Swift had many messages that he wanted his book to convey (you can just picture his smirk).  First off, he was making fun of the success of Robinson Crusoe. This is why I hate Swift so much.  You can feel the punch but afterwards you are like: what was that for?  He was probably just jealous that it was more success than Tale of a Tub (cannot imagine why).  Swift also mocks religion and power and human nature.  After reading it though, I didn't feel like I had read a clever way of looking at things.  I was just kind of wondering what his point was.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

I read this book on my trip after a particularly mean French waiter started doing nasty imitations of us to the other waiters.  Maybe that is why I hate this book so much.

New adaptation starring Jack Black came out in 2010:

18. Roxana

Roxana
1724
Daniel Defoe

Well, I am back from my total calamity of a trip to France (we are talking lost luggage, rude French people, liitle sleep, and around 300 embarrassing moments).  There will be no more interruptions in my posts from now on so hopefully I will not be in my eighties when I finish this list.

Roxana is very similar (a little too similar for my liking) to Moll Flanders. Roxana goes through her life being wicked and benefits from it.  Of course, like in Moll Flanders, Roxana would not have been as horrible of a woman now as she was back then.  Sure, making your maid sleep with your lover and watching is a bit awful. She also abandons a lot of her children.  But some of her other "crimes" were having sex without being married and refusing to marry a man because she didn't want him to take her money. I don't blame her for a lot of her life.  Woman could not exactly support themselves back then and Roxana knew she had what men, ahem, want and made use of it.

I enjoyed this novel more than Moll Flanders, but again I do not think that an author should have two novels that have basically the same plot.  It came across as a little lazy.  So we say goodbye to Defoe.  Nice finish.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Roxana was avant le lettre. That means that she was a feminist before there was a word for feminists.

The only movie version of this book is some dramatic dance.  I think I will pass.