It's been long since I've last updated, so now is high time, seeing as I'm not going to get anything done just yet anyway.
The transcription project went well, now I just hope to get a decent grade from my Austen essay. I'll be getting that one back in a week... just before linguistics final paper is due. After that, it's only exams. Four of them.
Yesterday I finally finished Mansfield Park. Took me AGES to read it, at least three weeks! But now it's done, and I can proudly say that yes, I have read all Austens. Afterwards I felt so Regency-oriented that I started re-reading Wrede and Stevermer's the Grand Tour, because I just love references and connections to real history - and during the first 50 pages the heroines of the book had dinner with Beau Brummell! Since I found this awesome website the other day, it's now easier than ever to keep track of who's who: http://www.candicehern.com/regency.htm I most warmly recommend it!
I've done little book shopping. I know I'm not supposed to, but when there's something cheap or something I'm convinced I need, there's no way to stop me. First of all, I got my own copy of Pollington's First Steps in Old English, a book a teacher lent for me and I liked so well I decided I'd get my own. It's very clear, so if you're interested in learning Anglo-Saxon, it's worth taking a look at!
Then I was talking to my friend about how I would love to read Hannu Rajaniemi's the Quantum Thief, but the waiting lists at libraries are extremely long and the book is expensive even in paper back. She told me she had seen it in the window of an antiquary close to where she lives, so off I went to see if I could get it. I'm not sure I got the right antiquary, and I didn't get that particular book, but boy, was it worth it! For what I did find was Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies for the measly price of 1.5 euros! I've already got it, but not with this cover, and, well, needless to say it's now sitting on the shelf, waiting for its new brothers to come home.
About a week later I happened to stumble upon Melissa Anelli's Harry, A History in a sales bin at a bookstore. It was even cheaper than before, so now I've got that one, too.
So that's about it. I'm now on Easter Break for three more days, and then it's back to school for a while. Next weekend is the end of April and May Day. In Finland it's a big occasion for students, and it's called vappu. As I'm a university student, I get to wear my graduation hat/cap/whatever that thing should be called, and our wonderful red overalls. There will be drinking and partying late into the night, and a traditional picnic on May 1st. Great occasions to see friends!
Now I think I should get back to semantics. I was clever enough to take an easy topic to write about: lexical fields. They're interesting enough, and just briefly explaining them takes a lot of space. I've got three more fields and conclusion to write, and three pages to do it.
Oh! I'm also going to France in a couple of weeks! We'll be visiting a friend in Poitiers and on our way back home spend a day in Paris. I want to pay my respects to Mr Wilde.
Happy Easter! I'll see you around the end of May, I think! Maybe then I'll say something about Red Riding Hood, if I remember. And Rise Against's new album!
So, my Spring Break ended yesterday, but as today's Latin lecture is cancelled, I got another day off. Tomorrow it's school again. Austen and BritLit. My class talk on ballroom etiquette is in a week, and I'm getting a little nervous about it. I know my subject this time though, so I should be fine. The essay I'm slightly concerned about, it should be turned in in about a month and I've barely started... I finished reading and marking Northanger yesterday, so basically I'm set to start writing, but it needs some thinking first...
Not that I haven't been writing a lot! I've written over 20 pages of fanfiction - finished a 12-page fic and am just getting started with another one, currently 13 pages. Plus some tidbits. It felt so good to be on writing spree, it happens so rarely. Too bad it was in a bit a bad time, seeing as I should have been working hard for school. But then again, it was the contactless week. ^^
Alongside Northanger I've been reading Horace Walpole's the Castle of Otranto, the first English Gothic Novel, published in 1765. It's a lot of fun to read, though I make very slow progress. I also got Karen Joy Fowler's the Jane Austen Book Club and Georgette Heyer's Lady of Quality from the library - hopefully I will have time to read them. They look like quick reads, but I've been wrong before. In addition I bought (from the library) Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies for 20 cents(!) and Elaine Cunningham's Elfshadow from an antiquary. I read the latter in Finnish when I started 7th grade, and actually got a friend through it - she saw me reading it and came to tell it was one of her favourite books. And we're still friends, even though we can't agree on most things. xD But I digress. This list was just to show I don't lack reading, particularly when I should also be reading David Crystal's Stories of English for class. It's not a requirement, but it would help so much... But maybe I'll get into it. Hopefully sometime before the exam.
Rise Against's new album Endgame will be out this week! I'm looking forward to it so much! I've got a reservation, and happen to have a convenient two hours off on Wednesday to go get it. So exciting! Now I just hope they would come play here again... It's so typical, they go to Sweden but for some reason skip Finland. Just like all bands. So unfair. :/
But now I think I should get on with school stuff. There's Latin to do, literature to read, transcription (of George VI's first war-time speech 1939) to check, and a million other little things. Two months of school to go, and I really hope I land a job this summer.
I can't believe how long it has been since I last updated... So here's a little something.
Let's take books first for a change. I've recently read Eva Ibbotson's Magic Flutes, which I found from Wikipedia as I was going through the list of things inspired by Mozart's fantastic opera. The book tells the story of two people - funny enough, I can't remember their names anymore. However, the male protagonist is a foundling, brought up by a relatively poor woman in London. He falls in love, but the girls family doesn't exactly like his origins nor situation when it comes to money. So, he starts working hard to earn money and reputation to be able to marry the woman he loves. The female protagonist, on the other hand, is the last descendant of an Austrian noble family. She has left her life of rumbling splendour to do what she loves; she works backstage at a little opera company in Vienna. The protagonists naturally meet, and you can probably guess the rest when I tell you it's a romance.
I liked it, it was a quick read and rather entertaining, seeing as I've been to Vienna once myself and some of the places mentioned were familiar. The main characters weren't that interesting, but then again, they usually aren't. One of the minor characters appealed to me quite a lot, but it might have been because he liked his dogs. (I find myself fond of men who like dogs, like the prince in Deerskin!)
After that I read Melissa Anelli's interesting book called Harry, A History: the True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon. I'm a heavy potterist myself, having grown up with the books (I was nine when I read the first one and just about 17 and a month when the last one came out), and Anelli is the webmistress of the fansite the Leaky Cauldron. The book is everything the title promises - there's the history of Harry Potter, both of writing and publishing, different sorts of people and cultural side-effects (such as bands and my old-time love, fanfiction) and the life of a fan. The things that stuck with me? Laura Malory, the woman who spoke for banning the Harry Potter books from schools. Anelli's meetings with JKR herself. The unity the fans felt at conventions and other meetings of that sort. I was frequently in need of handkerchiefs, being easily moved.
As I already said, an extremely interesting book. There's so much I didn't know, for I started to find myself interested in fan culture only about a year or two ago. If you're a potterist, you'll probably cry too. The nostalgia is amazing.
So there's what I've last read. I think. Now I'm rereading Pride and Prejudice, because I wanted to see whether I'd write my essay about it. Turn out the answer is no. I'll probably end up choosing Northanger Abbey anyway. :P
Tonight is the night of the Oscars! I was supposed to go to a friend's to stay up with her - it airs at a time slightly inconvenient, 3-7am between Sunday and Monday - but as she's very busy tomorrow, one of my other friends is coming over to my place. I've got pizza coming, she'll bring some snacks, we'll watch a movie before the pre-Oscars stuff starts (around 1am) and then stay up. Needless to say, I will be skipping Latin tomorrow afternoon. Luckily the introductory course to areal and cultural studies ended last Friday.
I've been under a severe Lynch fever for a couple of days, due to the new interview! (It can be found at Camorr) Let's hope that Republic of Thieves will be out this year! ^^
Today's topic is Jane Austen. Why? Because I'm taking a course at Uni! That's right, we have the possibility of attending classes on Miss Austen. It was recommended we read at least two of her books beforehand - though it turned out that we only needed to read one after all - but I've read almost all of them. For some reason my brain doesn't like the idea of having to read Mansfield Park, so that one is still unopened.
My first touch with Austen was when I was 13 years old and we watched Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility in class. Back then my reasons for liking it were simple: the relationships between people and Alan Rickman. (Not that these reasons have much changed in seven years.) I wanted to see it again and again, and when I told my dad I'd seen it and liked it, he gave me a stack of videos. On those videos my mum had recorded to whole Pride and Prejudice when it was on TV. I remember very little of my first reactions to this classical version of PandP, but it must have been good because I now have it on DVD and watch it once or twice a year.
For a long while PandP and SandS were the only ones I knew about. Finally in 2008 there was a lot of new Austen on TV. Northanger Abbey, Emma (with Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong), Persuasion, Mansfield Park... All the lot. I was thrilled, but still hadn't picked up the books as I thought them too hard for me. 2009 there was more new Austen, Sense and Sensibility in four parts. In 2010 I got myself the version of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam (and Ewan McGregor, even though he really isn't too good in it) and saw the new 4-part version. I also saw the 1980's version of it, as well as Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park.
Also, in the spring of 2010, I read my first Austen. I liked Northanger Abbey, even though the style it's written in felt heavy and I made slow progress. In the summer I read Emma, but after that had a few months' break before a friend at the University demanded I read Pride and Prejudice. Now it's 2011, and I've read Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey (minus the five last chapters) in the matter of couple of weeks.
So that's my history of Austen. Now about the course I'm taking. Our teacher specialises in Austen, so he really knows what he's talking about. In order to complete the course we need to write an approximately 2000 word essay on the book of our choosing and have a class talk. Of the latter I was a little nervous about, since I'm a terrible public speaker, but when I heard what it'll be about, I got excited. One of the options for this 15-20 minute speech is ballroom etiquette, which I've been searching just for fun lately. I intend to get that topic. It would be good for my performance, to be genuinely interested in what I'm talking about.
In short, I'm already in love with the course, even though there's been just one class thus far. I even put a little more effort to my homework than was strictly necessary - we are all supposed to find out what certain words meant in Miss Austen's time. My word is 'fortune'. ^^
I simply have to share what I realised a short while ago.
I've been re-reading the Lies of Locke Lamora, as I just got it back after about 3-4 months. Couldn't keep my hands off it, really, I've missed it terribly even though I read RSURS in the meanwhile. I also just finished the Blade Itself, and so have a very fresh feeling of it.
Now, I found out about both Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie in an SFX books special. (I've been trying to figure out when I bought it, but can't find any sort of year in the actual magazine. But as there were the first pictures I ever saw of the first Twilight film, I'm guessing it was summer 2007.) There's a list of "the top 100 sf and fantasy authors of all time", and Lynch and Abercrombie are numbers 88 and 81, respectively. In the bit about Lynch his books are recommended for people who like Abercrombie, and vice versa. Abercrmombie's bit even starts with the words: "The UK's answer to Scott Lynch".
That naturally made me suppose that their stuff was somehow similar to each other. A stupid idea, but it stuck to me. Now that I have read both, however, I find that I enjoy Lynch far better than Abercrombie. The reason for this took a discussion with a friend and a rant to my brother.
To the actual point, then. Joe Abercrombie writes what I (perhaps wrongly, as I have all the fantasy sub-genres nice and muddled in my head) would categorize as swords-and-sorcery. He writes about people who are not beautiful, not perfect, and not Chosen Ones. They are regular people facing problems that are quite ordinary, such as wars between nations and power-hungry superiors. There's absolutely no fault in this, on the contrary, I quite support this kind of fiction. It's brutal, it's conniving, and often unfair, but so is real life.
But what I miss in Abercrombie is the wit. That's what Scott Lynch has, and that's what I enjoy. As an admirer of Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Ellen Kushner, Terry Pratchett and, as much as I can be without having read too much of his works, P.G. Wodehouse, I just love word-play and the sort of flowing of language that I think all of the authors mentioned above have mastered. Lynch writes the most amusing dialogue, and I find myself grinning half the time, not because something funny happened but because someone said something in a way that tickled my fancy. But Lynch also has the not-very-pretty characters with flaws - I was very pissed with Locke in RSURS - although he does not display them as prominently as Abercrombie does. In the Gentleman Bastard sequnce there's both sword-and-sorcery (though very little actual sorcery, which pleases me, too) and mannerpunk. And I love the combination.
Another reason I prefer Lynch might be that when I finished the Lies I felt I could either continue of leave it at that and be satisfied with it. With only two books of seven out it's a tad early to say, but at least these two have plots of their own that get completed when the book ends, but under them lies a larger picture that will slowly unfold as the series progresses. It's something like the plotting in Harry Potter - you can read the books as individual stories, if you really insist, or you can see what the significance of the earlier books is in relation to the on-going plot.
With the Blade Itself, and with A Game of Thrones, I was almost frustrated when I realised the book ended and the story was still wide open. It's a matter of preference, of course, but I'm too impatient to wait for three or more books before something gets settled. (A reason I tend to steer away from long series. I started the first Wheel of Time a long, long time ago, got bored on page 10 and quit it. It was probably a wise decision with my attention span.)
If somebody finds this, and they have read the authors concerned, I'm sure to get very angry mail. Now that I've tried both Lynch and Abercrombie, I see they are nothing alike, but the comparison has been in my head for so long now it's hard to get rid of it. But I'm positive that in time I'll be separating the authors comfortably from each other. But for now, I'm a total Lynch-fan, unless someone can point out something I really missed in the Blade Itself.
Now I'm going to go read Lies again. If you're a fan, too, you may want to visit Camorr
Great people, interesting discussion, fairly active with the little members there are. Or at least the little active members there are. We always need more! :D
Eva Hoffman: Lost In Translation (x3, an entrance exam book)
Scott Lynch: the Lies of Locke Lamora
Anne Rice: Angel Time - the Songs of the Seraphim
Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimna: Good Omens
Humphrey Carpenter: J.R.R. Tolkien - a biography
Jaana Kapari-Jatta: Pollomuhku ja posityyhtynen (a book by the translator of the Potter-series, about her decisions in translating)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Study In Scarlet
E.M. Forster: A Room with a View
Mike Ashley (edit.): the Mammoth Book of Fantasy
Ellen Kushner: the Privilege of the Sword (x2)
Ellen Kushner: Thomas the Rhymer
Gregory Maguire: Wicked
Ellen Kushner: Swordspoint
Jane Austen: Emma
Gregory Maguire: Son of a Witch
Trisha Telep (edit.): the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance
Gregory Maguire: A Lion Among Men
Diana Wynne Jones: Tough Guide to Fantasyland
Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman: the Fall of the Kings
Terry Pratchett: Going Postal
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix
Oscar Wilde: the Picture of Dorian Gray
Jonathan Strahan and Lou Andrews: Swords and Dark Magic: the New Sword and Sorcery
Donna Tartt: the Secret History
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Choderlos de Laclos: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (in English despite the name)
Jon Sprunk: Shadow's Son
Diana Wynne Jones: House of Many Ways
Scott Lynch: Red Seas Under Red Skies
Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: Sorcery and Cecelia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot
Robin McKinley: Deerskin
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
Toby Barlow: Sharp Teeth
George R.R. Martin: A Game of Thrones
Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: the Grand Tour, or the Purloined Coronation Regalia
Soooo. That's quite a few books more than last year. The list doesn't include stuff I've read for school:
Shakespeare - King Lear
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Graddol et al. - Changing English (x4)
Yule - Pragmatics (x4)
Melchers and Shaw - World Englishes
+ miscellaneous items of literature, such as Swift's A Modest Proposal and excerpts from Beowulf
The Graddol book and the Yule book were entrance exam books, hence why I've read them so many times. Have to say, Changing English is actually very interesting, not to mention useful in my line of study.
I'm not gonna add pictures just now, maybe later.
At the moment I'm contemplating on buying all the three books by Stevermer and Wrede, but maybe I'll just start with buying the third one, since it's not available in the libraries.
I just watched the Serpent's Kiss for the second time after buying it, and I love love love love it. It's still wonderful, and I've probably seen it about ten times. ^^
That's all folks!
//2nd Jan 2011: Added pictures, but couldn't be bothered with the Potter covers.