Sunday, August 19, 2012
Friday, August 3, 2012
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats was written by T.S. Eliot. It was also the basis for the musical CATS, the second longest running Broadway show.
The book is actually a collection of seventeen poems about, obviously enough, cats. I enjoyed the subject matter; I am definitely a cat person. I also liked the rhythm and the nonsensical qualities of the poetry. Some of the poems are quite accurate; cats can indeed be little beasties at times. My personal favorite poem is 'The Naming of Cats'. Other favorites are 'The Addressing of Cats' and 'Macavity: The Mystery Cat'.
"The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter,
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES."
-T.S. Eliot, 'The Naming of Cats'
"You now have learned enough to see
That Cats are much like you and me
And other people whom we find
Possessed of various types of mind.
For some are sane and some are mad
And some are good and some are bad
And some are better, some are worse-
But all may be described in verse."
-T.S. Eliot, 'The Addressing of Cats'
Note: The link to the poems only give selected portions of the poems.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
|Thomas C. Foster|
This book is about how to analyze the patterns and symbols in other books. Most of the book is spent on common symbols and what they may or may not mean. For example, there is a chapter about weather. Rain can be used to force characters together or to isolate them. Some rain can be cleansing; it all depends on the story. Snow can be insulating and create a close, cozy environment; however, snow can also be a severe, inhuman element of a story. There is also a small section on irony, which turns everything upside down, and a part about reading with the mindset of the author's intended audience. Common patterns that may relate to myths, Biblical stories, or fairy tales are also discussed. In one case, Foster explains how Eudora Welty's "Why I Live at the P.O." is also another version of the story of The Prodigal Son from the Bible.
Multiple examples are used throughout the book to illustrate points, but even if you haven't read the book he is referring to, the examples have enough information in them that you will understand what they mean.
While you can't expect one book to make you as good at analyzing literature as an English professor, I think this book can help you to look out for symbolism and deeper meaning in literature.