Musings on Grammar, Usage, and Garner’s

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Be honest with me: how serious are you about the serial comma? Do you wade into discussions on language forums and social media brandishing citations from your favourite authorities? Do you dismiss dissenting authorities as heretics? Are there style and usage guides on your bookshelf with sticky notes and bookmarks in them so you can immediately find your references should anyone post a contrary opinion? Do you haughtily refer to it as the Oxford comma instead of the serial — or, the gods of language … click below for more ↓

Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics

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You might think, while reading Henry VI Part 2, that Shakespeare was writing about recent events, the writer merely masking them in archaic historical dress. Okay, even if you have read some of the Bard’s plays, the three Henry VI plays probably aren’t among the ones you read in university or high school. They can be a slog to read in part because they were among his earliest, and the story meanders a lot. But bear with me. They were the lead into Richard III, … click below for more ↓

Reading the Iliad

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There was a moment when I was reading The Iliad that I thought to myself, “This is it. This is what the epic is really all about.” Somehow it all seemed to come down to one particular scene and all the rest was just leading up to it. Why I had that epiphany, I’ll explain in due course. But what struck me is that the real message of this epic poem was almost hidden by all the thousands of lines that came before it. I … click below for more ↓

Seven Faces of Marcus Aurelius

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I am going to assume that you, dear reader, already know who Marcus Aurelius Antonius was. I have respect for both the intelligence and education of my readers, enough to feel I can avoid making pedantic explanations and reiterating his biography that is more fluently available on dozens or hundreds of better, more encyclopedic websites. No, this is not a treatise on him, or even on his Stoic philosophy. It’s a look at how six different translators rendered some parts of his book, Meditations. But … click below for more ↓

Reading Animal Fairm

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Animal Fairm is a 2022 translation into Scots of George Orwell’s classic satire on Stalinist (and in far too many ways, modern conservative) politics and ideology. As the cover of this edition says, it was “translatit intae Scots by Thomas Clark.” I recently purchased the book for my reading entertainment. And quickly discovered it’s so delightful that it makes me want to read more of and learn more about the language. The book is published by Luath Press, in Edinburgh. Scots (no, not Scottish) is … click below for more ↓

A Brief Review of Two ERB Books

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I am deeply disappointed in the quality of these two ERB books received from Amazon yesterday in my efforts to complete my collection of Burroughs’ novels. Both are noted as “Manufactured by Amazon.ca” in Bolton, ON. Production quality is poor, particularly in the designs and layout: they are more like amateur efforts than professional publications. The Jungle Adventures book from “Premium Classics Books” (no address is indicated anywhere) is not only too big for comfortable reading (8.5 x 11″), the lines of type inside are … click below for more ↓

Musings on Collecting and Reading ERB

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As some readers here know, I’ve been a lifelong aficionado of Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB, born 1875), particularly of his Barsoom (Mars) series, but also his Pellucidar and Caspak series. Well, I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of them, including, of course, the iconic Tarzan novels for which he is best known. Okay, maybe not so much his westerns (but then, I was never a fan of that genre). Burroughs wrote about 100 titles (and more information on them is here) between 1912 and his death … click below for more ↓

Books for the Kaiju Aficionado

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With possibly two new Godzilla films coming to theatres in 2023*, it may be time to refresh your memory and appreciation of the previous films in the franchise. And what better way to do it than with a brand-new book about them? And perhaps re-reading some of the content in your older book and movie collection (especially that Criterion Collection of the first 15 Godzilla films on Blu-Ray — see below — which you can start watching now to build your anticipation for the new … click below for more ↓

Bread Machine Cookbooks

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Among my shelves of books on baking bread by hand, is a smaller selection of books about using a bread machine to craft loaves and other items. I admit I’ve been somewhat lax in my creative uses of the bread machine, using it only to bake somewhat plain, whole loaves when I wasn’t up to or able to bake one entirely by hand. The results, I also admit, have been somewhat mixed, in large part because I tend to experiment with ingredients and settings rather … click below for more ↓

Real Bread, Slow Dough, Bread Books

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Making bread is a small passion of mine, has been for many years as readers here will know*, although the results of my efforts do not always match my optimism. It’s always a bit of a guessing game what will result when I put the dough in the oven. That doesn’t stop me from trying, though, and I thoroughly enjoy the tactile process of making the bread, even if the end result is occasionally more brick-like than loaf-like. There’s something to be said about making … click below for more ↓

Hobbesian vs Benthamite Politics

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Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) was not an optimist about human behaviour. Writing more than a century after Niccolo Machiavelli, the English political philosopher argued in his masterwork, Leviathan (1651), that the quest for power was the main motivation for humans. And that our quest to acquire more would never cease until we were dead. He wrote: …in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind a perpetual and restless desire of Power after power, that ceaseth only in Death. And the cause … click below for more ↓

The Book of Knowledge: 3

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Back in the Mesozoic of my life, I came across a quotation from Giacomo Casanova that, as far as I can remember these days, went “No man can know everything, but every man should attempt to.” For many decades, I didn’t know the source, or whether it was misquoted, misattributed, or simply a fake as we experience so often on most internet quote sites (aka clickbait sites). But it stuck with me. I recently found a more fulsome translation of his words from Chapter V … click below for more ↓

Ars Poetica

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Horace’s Ars Poetica, or the Art of Poetry, was written as a 476-line poem in a letter to his friend, the Roman senator  Lucius Calpurnius Piso (Lucius) and his two sons, around 19 BCE. It was known for a time as the “Epistle to the Pisos” until 95CE when the critic  Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (Quintilian) called it the Ars Poetica in his a twelve-volume textbook on rhetoric, the Institutio Oratoria. The name stuck. Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) was popular during the Renaissance when Latin was … click below for more ↓

Milton Was Wrong

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In 1644, the English poet and pamphleteer John Milton wrote an impassioned defence of free speech (or, more factually, against censorship of print and in favour of restriction-free publication) called the Areopagitica. It was subtitled A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England. In it, Milton argued that, given the choice between truth and lies, people were wise enough to see what was true. And that people’s character grew stronger when presented with a wide variety … click below for more ↓

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