Jul 17, 2017

The Iliad Resources

Links page for Free Translations, Maps & Dictionaries

Free Translations of The Iliad:

Versions Translated by Samuel Butler
(Lots of ads in this version Grr….)

Free Audiobook for Samuel Butler’s Translation:

Translated by Ian Johnston — Aesthetically pleasing layout!!! WITH an AUDIOBOOK (but have to buy)
https://www.naxosaudiobooks.com/iliad-the-unabridged/ ($53.00 USD as of July 2017)

Translated by Ian Johnston — Book Image, downloadable copy

Translated by Robert Fagles

The PDF Version is a scanned book:

Translated by Mr. Pope — Also a scanned book, PDF form

Helpful Online References for understanding:

Basic Overview of all things needed for The Illiad (Very General Overview)

Dictionaries for Greek Mythology:

1100 Page Dictionary in Searchable PDF/EPub/etc Form

Old Style Dictionary!! Scanned Book (Not Searchable)

Searchable Dictionary, looks like a Google Style Set Up (Type & Search)

Alphabetical Order in the Links Bar on the Right Side 

Alphabetical Order in the Links Bar on the Right Side (Looks incomplete or broken links)

1 Page synopsis & analysis with links to online versions

A version that’s provided via link is:
Greek version with word-by-word translation (Perseus Project): http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0133

Detailed book-by-book summary (About.com): 

On the right side of the page, in the grey header bars under “Places” is a link to a Google Map that shows the most frequently mentioned places in this document.  I think the map is updated for each book/section of the text.

Maps for the Iliad:
Black & White, Great for Printing, Various Images

Awesome!!! Full Colour, clearly labeled — Character & Their Hometowns

Pretty Map shows description of event & dates when hovered w/ mouse

Jul 12, 2017

Cultural Literacy

Let's Talk About It!!

Our online societies are are evolving light years faster than human civilization.  In the early days, everyone was stumbling around in their caves with Dial Up, each folk was alone in their little cave, amazed at the fire that is slooooowly downloading.  Then Piracy began with folks taking to the seas, Napster is one example.  This was a stormy time for pirates.  Like little self proclaimed Headmen or Big Men of our own domains, we asserted ourselves over each other.  The comment sections in Youtube and Blogs were filled with the new word, Trolls.  I’d have to say these were the Autonomous Crusades for self promotion. 

 Folks were eager to take to the internet and conquer it with their own point of view, barbarically beating everyone else down.  These Autonomous Crusaders have moved over to their own channel and occasionally emerge with pranks.  Actually, a good one is where they stole a flag from an unknown location.  They rallied among themselves, pooled their mental resources of CIA level Intelligence and found the damn flag based on meteorological reports.  Amazing what communities can accomplish when they work together.  

This brings me to today, and to book tube specifically.  We are a great community, a bookish party if you will.  I can see book tube evolving to become so much more than just books.  It can develop into a section of the pioneers for cultural literacy.  I think one of reading’s most powerful aspects is the power of education.  It encourages us to become self educated and autonomous learners.  The purpose of to educate is to develop the ability to think for oneself.  You can trace it back etymologically to mean this.  

Since we are a community of readers, we must have some desire for knowledge regardless of what we read.  Reading and watching TV/Movies affect our minds differently.  Reading is slower, so we are aware of our side of the conversation with the medium.  Watching TV is faster, so we turn down our side of the conversation until later.  It’s just my observation, I could be mistaken or others could have a different opinion on this.

For the most part, active readers enjoy thinking and reflecting on things.  In a community, they would enjoy sharing their ideas.  Globally, we interact with folks from so many different countries.  We are learning how to engage with each other, not only online but among cultural barriers.  The more international book tubers that come on to the scene, the more important cultural literacy becomes.  

If the CC improves, our community can expand beyond language barriers and that’s damn exciting!! It’s also increasingly important to become more responsible and respectful of our cultural differences.  

I’ve heard of Cultural Sensitivity and that’s a great word, it’s important to develop.  But I think Cultural Literacy is a far more profound achievement.  Literacy is the ability to understand and apply what you’ve learned.  To me, it means that knowledge becomes a part of you.  If we’re culturally literate, we can understand more of the culture we are engaging with.  That understanding means we share a connection with that person regardless if we agree with everything they stand for.  It’s far more difficult to become literate in a culture. 
 And it’s slightly different than simply respecting a fellow person.  Because our view of respect and theirs could be different.

How can we learn Cultural Literacy? Is it attainable?  How can we become literate without putting the culture into a box?  What stones do we need to share with each other as we develop this ability? 

A culture is an evolving, living, shared part of the human experience.

Jun 17, 2017

Last Day of a Condemned Man

Journey to the End

By Victor Hugo
Translated By Christopher Moncrieff
France, 1829
Romaticism, Philosophical

Main Attractions

Translated by Christopher Moncrieff, Alma Classics Edition
1. Resonating, Haunting details
2. Very Quotable Lines
3. Short & Powerful Narrative
4. Progression of Thoughts
5. Intro to Death Penalty Issue 
6. Hugo's a Death Penalty Abolitionist
7. His Crime Remains Unknown
8. Entices the Reader to Reflect
9. We Empathize with Him
10. Dark Humour & Surprises


Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Ghost Pepper BBQ Ribs
The thoughts of this man are so real.  For each reader, some parts could seem more raw than others and have a longer lasting impression.  The descriptions are chiseled like a master craftsman.  Some phrases could be haunting and memorable and I think that’s the real power of this book.  It’s short and not a word is wasted.  It’s easy to read, but difficult to forget.  The shortness is a powerful reminder of how fleeting life is.    

Why Visit Here

It’s a very short yet seemingly real portrayal of a man’s final thoughts on death row.  It’s even more powerful because the reader never learns what the condemned man’s crime is.  The reader cannot judge him based on his crime or whether he’s guilty or not.  The man is already condemned to death, so the focus is on his mind’s final journey.

Hugo wrote it with the desire of abolishing the death penalty which is still a very relevant issue today.  This book can launch ethical discussions as well as policy driven ones.  Does the death penalty reduce criminal activity?  Is it ethical to take a life for some crimes?  What effect do these situations have on the family of the criminal and the victim’s family?  Why are we still evaluating the policies of the justice system?

Off the Beaten Path

Overview of the Current Debate in the US in 5 minutes.

Packing List

✓ A Documentary on the Death Penalty
✓ A Quick Self Check for Pro or Con
✓ Time to Reflect on Impacts after Reading

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
Crime & Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky (Year) - Extensive journey into the mind of a one time criminal and the after effects on his mind.

Jun 15, 2017

The World's Writing Systems

A Serious Overview W/ Samples

By Peter T. Daniels & William Bright
Published by Oxford University Press

Main Attractions

by peter t. daniels & William Bright
1. Detailed Accounts   
2. Grammatology, Decipherment
3. Near Eastern, East Asian, European Writing Systems
4. South Asian, South East Asian, Middle Eastern Writing Systems
5. Invented Scripts 
6. Use, Adaptation & Sociolinguists 
7. Secondary Notation, Imprinting & Printing
8. How Scripts & Cultural Development Influenced Each Other
9. Spread & Cultural Impact
10. Linguistic Breakdown, IPA Charts, Change of Letters, Current Issues   

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Roasted Chicken Dinner
This book is the first of its kind and is only available because of a newly created software program that makes it possible for the various contributors to share their final text with each other.  Outside of the specialized Linguistic material, it’s very easy to read and understand.  It could replace some mainstream books on this topic.  The bulk of it is specialized information that would only  be interesting for Linguistic students or the seriously interested nerdy person!  

Why Visit Here

After reading this book, a lot of the mystery of the world’s writing systems are gone.  I’m familiar with just the appearance of them and how they developed.  Also, learning some of the historical tensions the writing system endured sheds light on some of what they face today.  

I do recommend it for people who are greatly interested in this topic, avid travellers and those who associate with multicultural folks.  I think this book could be a great way to gain insight & an appreciation for some of their cultural history.

Destination Summary

Each chapter is organized in a similar style.  The first one or 2 paragraphs on the history and development of the writing system.  It includes brief info of where/how it originated and any discrepancies, debates or current issues.

The editors reached out to numerous specialists requesting a ‘historical sketch and the table of [letters] in their standard order and their variations… [the majority of their contribution is] how the script actually works-how the sounds of a language are represented in writing, along with a brief text in the languages the script is used for.”

The generous tables that show Romanized & IPA forms of the original ‘signforms’ are informative & help to become familiar with the script for non-specialists.  The generous bibliographies after each chapter are great for learning more about a very specific topic.

Travel Advisory

Most of this book is academic and a background in Linguistics would be very helpful for understanding it.

Packing List

✓ Gear up with an Intro to Linguistics Book
✓ A World Map for tracking the mind blowing journeys!
✓ An Undying Love of the Written Word, in Any Language.

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
✓ Letter Perfect: The Marvelous History of Our Alphabet From A to Z By David Sacks (2003) - This book is a portable, informative bunny slipper introduction to the development of the Roman Alphabet.  It’s a great introduction to the World’s Writing Systems
✓ Study of Writing By Ignace J. Gelb (1963) - This book is referenced numerous times by Daniel, it could be a classic in this field.

Jun 10, 2017

Western Philosophy

A New History

By Anthony Kenny
Published by Oxford University Press

Main Attractions

1.  Overview of Western Philosophy
2.  Ancient Philosophy  
3.  Medieval Philosophy 
4.  Rise of Modern Philosophy 
5.  Philosophy in the Modern World
6.  Introduces Key Thinkers & Works
7.  Explains Context & Influence
8.  Summarizes Key Thought & Works
9.  Accessible & Readable
10.  Updated, Comprehensive Introduction 

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Roasted Chicken Dinner
It begins with the roots of the Ancient Greek thinkers and moves through a variety of thinkers right up until works published before 1975.  It’s the author’s personal choice to include philosophers up to this point.  

In the introduction, Kenny states that writing this book from one author’s point of view, can give a more generalized ‘aerial view’ of this far reaching history where specialists may explore some aspects in slightly greater detail.  Kenny acknowledges that he lacks the specialized knowledge in some areas of this book.  It does show a bit in his writing that some areas are less familiar to him.  He still gives an insightful and informative introduction to these less familiar topics.  In other areas, the writing is more fluid and is much faster to read.  

I do recommend Kenny’s book over Bertrand Russel’s classic because Kenny’s is well researched, filled with interesting tidbits, is up to date and is fairly biased free.   

Why Visit Here

Again, in Kenny’s introduction, he states this book is geared for 2nd or 3rd level undergraduates of philosophy.  His writing style makes it a great serious introduction for anyone interested in Western philosophy.  
I recommend some familiarity of philosophy before reading this book.  It could also serve as a great reference for book for those who are new to philosophy.  The chronology of philosophers is a goldmine for the curious.   Students of History, Political Science or related fields could also find this book a great resource for learning who’s who in Western Philosophy.  I’m reading this just as a lay person with an interest in expanding my knowledge of Western Philosophy and the historical context of the thinkers.  

It summarizes 1386 years worth of great thinkers into a mere 996 pages while remaining accessible and very readable.  It’s more dense than a fiction book or DK’s 100 Greatest Philosophers.  But is far less dense than the actual philosopher’s book!

After reading it and highlighting key phrases, I feel confident in which philosophers books I want to pursue and why.  Kenny covers 100s of philosophers and their major works.  He highlights some minor works also.  So he gives a very broad scope over a vast amount of knowledge.  It’s impossible to read all of these books or even to skim them in one lifetime, outside of being a professional endeavour.  So, I’m glad to invest my time and money for this broad overview.

Destination Summary

He traces the history of philosophy in chronological order.  He goes through major and some minor philosophers.  He clearly summarizes their key points, books and who influenced them.  He includes some historical context that directly relates to the philosopher and their published book.  He also includes nuances of what sets related philosophers apart from each other or what they agreed on and expanded upon.

Travel Advisory

Depending how you build your reading lists, it may add significantly to it or reduce it!  It may also reveal some new & interesting areas you’ve never considered!

Packing List

✓ Buy a copy and a highlighter!
✓ A library card for scoping out new thinkers!
✓ A credit card for buying more books!
✓ Beverage of your choice for a job well done.

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy By Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan & Charles A. Moore (1957) - It’s a great introduction to Eastern Philosophy
✓ A Sourcebook in Chinese Philosophy By Wing-Tsit Chan (1969) - It’s the other great introduction to Eastern Philosophy
✓ History of Western Philosophy By Bertrand Russell (1945) - It’s the classic book Kenny’s is based on.

Jun 7, 2017

Dead Souls

A Baffling Masterpiece

By Nikolai Gogol
Translated By Bernard Guilbert Guerney
Russian, 1842
Historical Fiction, Existential, Satiric, Dark Comedy

Main Attractions

Bernard Guilbert Guerney Translation1.  Unpredictable events  
2.  Laugh out loud dialogue
3.  Dark humour 
4.  In Depth Portrait of Rural Russia
5.  Raises Many Interesting Questions
6.  Quirky Cast of Characters
7.  Explains so Many Cultural Norms
8.  Touches on Russian Language
9.  Baffling Ending.. But a Good One.
10.  An Unfinished Masterpiece

Video Postcard

Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Lasagna or Hearty Casserole
This book has more in common with Crime & Punishment than with We.  Meaning that it’s more saucy and thought provoking than it is mysterious and baffling.  Don’t get me wrong, this book has more than it’s share of baffling, confusing content.  But there is just so much good stuff to chew on!  I’m still pondering and chuckling at that chess scene!  I’m left with more stuff to happily mull over than with unanswered questions.    

Why Visit Here

Gogol is one of Russian Lit’s foundational writers.  The coolest feature, he’s not even Russian!  He gives us insight into what a Ukrainian protagonist can offer the Russian literary world.  He inspired Dostoevsky, a pinnacle grandmaster of Russian Lit.  

He also was a hero for Bulgakov, the Satirical King of Russian Lit, whose heritage is disputed between Russia & Ukraine.  Gogol can begin the conversation of what’s the difference between Russian and Ukrainian writers?  Should they be considered more different than similar?  So many traditions and histories are shared between these nations.  That it’s difficult to keep their influences separate from each other. 

Destination Summary

An old wagon pulls up to the countryside house.  He’s on a journey to purchase as many dead souls as he can.  He wants the souls only and barters for them in any way necessary.  In part 2, he returns to the city with his purchased souls.

Off the Beaten Path

30 minute instrumental interpretation of Gogol’s works by Alfred Schnittke Very thematic and bang on!

Travel Advisory

This book is Gogol’s unfinished masterpiece.  The 1st half reads like a well planned out novel.  The 2nd half suddenly changes in the way the story is told.  Dead Souls was a planned modern retelling of Dante’s The Divine Comedy.  The Inferno was to be Part 1, Pergatorio was the incomplete part 2 and he never started Paradiso.  Dead Souls isn’t overtly religious in nature, it does have a dark feel to it where even insects play a roll in the narrative.  Finished or not, it’s still a great read for anyone interested in the concept of soul ownership.

Packing List

✓ Some of Gogol’s Short Stories
✓ An Old Horse Drawn Wagon
✓ A Cricket Imprisoned in a Jar

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
✓ Eugene Onegin By Alexander Pushkin (1833) - The stories seem to compliment each other thematically, Pushkin’s influences can be seen.
Fathers and Sons By Ivan Turgenev (1862) - This deals with the emancipation of the serfs but from a very different tone, is much easier to understand and relate to than Dead Souls
Master & Margarita By Mikhail Bulgakov (1966) - It has the dark, dry and unexpected humour of Gogol but taken to the next level!

Helpful Links
NY Times Review of Guerney’s Translation - This review compares other translations and bit of the history & significance of Dead Souls 
This blog post displays paragraphs of various translations 

Jun 3, 2017


Calculated, Haunting World

By Yevgeny Zamyatin
Translated By Gregory Zilboorg
Russian, 1924
Philosophy, Dystopian

Main Attractions

Zilboorg Translation

1.  Unique Dystopian    
2.  Unreliable Narrator
3.  Told in Record Form
4.  Inspired Many Classics
5.  Chiseled Word Choice
6.  Memorable Story
7.  Highly Re-Readable
8.  Some Confusing Facts
9.  Smuggled from the USSR
10.  Interesting Publishing History

Coming Soon!

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Mystery Meat
I have to class this one in a similar light as The Librarian.  Some moods or storytelling methods are reminiscent of each other.  They both left me puzzled at the end.  We is told in a diary or record form.  So a lot of information is left out because the narrator just doesn’t have all of the information.  The result is, he can only tell us part of the story.  It makes me wonder what is truly happening and I doubt that he makes the right choices.  This lack of information makes the story seem more real life or maybe the narrator suffers from some delusions?  Overall, it’s a very effective way to tell this story.    

Why Visit Here

We has inspired many books in the Dystopian genre, according to Wikipedia.  If you’re interested, I recommend looking more into this literary background.  For now, here’s a nifty list:

✓ Brave New World (1932) By Aldous Huxley
✓ Anthem (1938) By Ayn Rand
1984 (1949) By George Orwell
✓ Player Piano (1952) By Kurt Vonnegut
✓ Logan’s Run (1967) by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson
✓ The Dispossessed (1974) By Ursula K Le Guin

Destination Summary

We Tribute & Summary Video

Off the Beaten Path

There are a lot of interesting discussion topics for We and related dystopians.  It can branch out into political science or even why should we create & read literature.   

Orwell’s Review of We: Click Here 

TED-edTalk on How do Recognize a Dystopia

Utopia vs Dystopias 

Packing List

✓ A Calculator, Pencil & Eraser just for setting the numerical mood.
✓ Maybe drape a jumpsuit or painter’s suit from a nearby chair for effect.
✓ A copy of another dystopian for comparison after reading.

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
1984 By George Orwell (1949) - We inspired him to write 1984, after reading both, the influence is apparent.
The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood (1985) - It would be interesting to compare the role of women in both books.
The Librarian By Mikhail Elizarov (2015) - I can see some influences but it’s a widely different take on the dystopian/Soviet satire genre.

Movie Adaptations
✓ Wir (1982) Directed by Vojtech Jasny - This movie is a German adaptation of the book.

✓ The Glass Fortress (2016) Directed by Alain Bourret - A French adaptation of the book.