Looking Forward to September!




Saturday, February 1, 2014

Reading and Skiing Like Crazy & Ivanhoe & Zealot, etc.

We desperately need snow, but that has not stopped me from skiing like a mad woman at our local mountain resort. We are so looking forward to a much-heralded snowstorm on Wednesday, which is promising to be the most significant snowfall of the winter thus far. Snow dancers are actively leaping and bounding.

Skiing excessively is good for reading: I become so exhausted from skiing that I come home and fall into the loft bed over the living room and READ for hours and doze a bit until it's time to cook dinner.

Ivanhoe News:
I must say that after reading Chapters 31-40 in Ivanhoe, I'm more eager than ever to read the history of King Henry II's sons, Richard Coeur-de-Lion and John, as well as the aftermath of the Crusades in England. But I'm also fascinated by the sharp divide between the Norman "Conqueror" society and the "defeated" Saxon society. Before reading Ivanhoe, I had assumed, wrongly, that the rift between the two cultures would have been settled by the time of this novel, which I think is, at the least, 200 years after the Norman invasion. Actually, I think the time gap is more like 250 years or more, but I need Katrina of Pining for the West to set me straight on that. I definitely need some tuition in this time period of English history.

The young Jewish woman, Rebecca, daughter of Isaac, is in far greater straits than she was when I last wrote. But because the Black Knight (King Richard) and Wilfred (Ivanhoe) have at long last united to form a bold front that appears to be insurmountable, I'm much less worried. I'm sure they will see that justice is done in Rebecca's case.

Earlier in the novel, it seemed that the fair Saxon princess Lady Rowena would play a greater role in the novel than Rebecca, but that has not happened. I do wonder about English cultural attitudes toward Jews in Sir Walter Scott's time. It would be very helpful to know this as a means of understanding the ways in which Isaac and Rebecca have been presented.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is so lucidly written, which is so important in unraveling the extraordinarily complex era of the first century in Palestine. I'm halfway through and the pages slip by as I find myself in complete awe of the actual history. Such horrendous turmoil and bloodshed throughout this entire century. With all the dozens and dozens of "messiahs" in this tortuous period in Jewish history, how is it that Jesus of Nazareth was seized upon as the Messiah of early Christians? After reading the 92 pages of Part One, it seems miraculous that a group of believers seized upon this one zealot among so many.  I highly recommend this book. Not a difficult read at all, though well researched and footnoted by a scholar.

15 comments:

  1. I could never see myself reading from this time period but your posts make it sound so interesting. I think it has opened my mind a bit. So many interesting time periods to read. Overwhelming. Hope you get your snow storm!

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    1. I have always loved historical fiction, but I have noted that I've read less of it in the last 15-20 years than I did in childhood and teenage years and in young adulthood. Because of Ivanhoe, I am interested in reading more fiction and nonfiction of the medieval era.
      And thank you! for the wish for our snow,
      Judith

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  2. I'm hoping the weather forecasters are wrong about the timing of the storm... we have an early evening flight on Wednesday :(

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    1. JoAnn,
      I do hope that the worst of the storm is over by Wednesday evening, which it is predicted to be. Sorry for the timing, but I hope you get out and enjoy your adventure!
      Judith

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  3. Judith, I'm just beginning chapter 40 tonight. I think that it is set around 150-200 years after the Norman invasion, you would think that things would have settled down in that time but I suppose that the fact that the Normans were speaking French meant that they kept aloof from the 'natives'. I believe that around about the time Ivanhoe was written there was pressure to give Jews in Britain the vote and it did happen not long after publication. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emancipation_of_the_Jews_in_the_United_Kingdom
    I think Jesus of Nazareth had some great PR guys who bent the reality! I love Sasha.

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    1. Katrina,
      I just finished Chapter 42 late this afternoon. Two more chapters and it's over. I'm sad, in a way. Where are you now?

      Thanks for the historical insight. Actually, I suppose 150-200 years is not all that long to make enmity between peoples change. Just look at how discussions about the U.S. Civil War still divides the North and South!

      As far as Jesus of Nazareth goes, his brother James maintained a following in Jesus's name until his death at Roman hands in 65 C.E. Paul (of the Gospels) and James were completely opposed to each other as far as what Jesus of Nazareth intended. Paul really didn't know Jesus, but it's his shaping and massaging and warping of Jesus's message that became the Christianity we know today.
      And thank you for enjoying the photo of Sasha!
      Judith

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  4. You are brave up there in the snow and ice. But I must say you have a beautiful canine companion with you. I come to this website, and am taken with how beautiful is your dog.

    And also, in this weather you can curl up in a comfortable chair or couch with good books, tea, cookies and that lovely dog. The idea just increases my endorphins.

    And that's what I've been doing (sans dog) since I broke my arm in December -- in the city just walking; I fell. So you haven't heard much from me. I could not type until a few days ago or I typed with one hand and 50 percent typos.

    I've been reading up a storm! Good books, too, one after the other as I've been homebound between the arm and the ice and snow outside.

    Am now reading Pilgrim Soul, by Gordon Ferris, Jewish community/Nazi hunters in 1947 Glasgow, a good book.

    Hope you and your family have a good winter, nice and cozy with excellent reading material.

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    1. Kathy,
      I'm so sorry to hear about your injury!!! What a nuisance injuries are! I've had a slight fibro relapse and when it happens, I'm so thankful for books! They take me away when I can't do the things I'd like to do.

      I'm so glad your reading is going like crazy. I'll look up Pilgrim Soul. 1947 Glasgow. Is Gordon Ferris a Scottish writer, by any chance?
      Judith

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  5. Is the dog in your picture new? Didn't the picture used to be just snow?

    I'm not sure you can trust Walter Scott for historical accuracy, but as long as he tells a good story....There are several good books on Eleanor, King Richard's and King John's mother if your interested in reading more about the time period. It's hard to write a dull book about Eleanor so you can probably go with whatever one your library has.

    It's a fascinating time period.

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    1. Sasha answered your question as to whether she is new. She said, "It's as if I've been born anew each day when new snow covers the landscape!" Actually, Sasha, our dear Golden, has been with us for two and a half years, and she is now five and a half. She's rather spunky in the mischief category, which is why we exercise her a lot! She's very affectionate and loves to cuddle, and will also sit by me by the hour while I read.

      Yes, Scott's not long on historical accuracy, but I loved Ivanhoe. Thanks for the mention about books about Eleanor (of Anjou), n'est-ce pas? I very much want to read more about Saxon England at this point as well.
      Thanks for writing!
      Judith

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  6. Yes. Gordon Ferris is Scottish. I was entertained by his blog's post about his childhood without central heating, indoor plumbing, electricity.

    He has two series. Douglas Brodie is in Pilgrim Soul, which is the only book about Jewish people in Glasgow. Unfortunately, it does cover some sad, horrific things in WWII, but I waited until the scene shifted back to Glasgow from Hamburg.

    Your dog is adorable. This is what I would wish: to sit in front of a fire on a couch cuddling with a dog or a few cats, reading, drinking tea and eating cookies. I would never "budge till spring crept over my window sill," as Eliza Doolittle said.

    We had a beautiful black cat named Sasha.

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    1. I'm going to list Gordon Ferris and his books in my "WannaRead" computer file.
      Sasha wants me to thank you for the kind words about her. Yes, she is as cute as she can be, but although she can be extremely obedient, she can also be extremely mischievous and devious at times, especially outdoors. She sat by me all afternoon today while I read in the loft bed. Having an animal companion is wonderful, and healthy! I wish there were some way you could have a cat. Cats are nowhere near the effort of a pooch. Or, a small dog that wouldn't need much exercise.
      I'm very interested in Ferris's Pilgrim Soul novel.
      Judith

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  7. Let me know what you think of Pilgrim Soul. There are some interesting moral dilemmas in that book, like about what should have been done with war criminals. The author wrote interesting notes in the back about complicity in the "ratlines," Nazi escape routes.

    I wish I could have pets. But I became allergic to cats iin my 20s after years of owning them. And I'd love to have a dog, but it's too much work, walking them in bad weather, too much where there is no backyard in which to let them out.

    Two neighbors have dogs. One just adopted a second dog to keep her dog company as she was whining and crying all day. Now it's quiet over there during the day.
    The second dog she adopted from a "rescue" place. The poor dog came from a puppy mill, never let out of a cage! So horrendous. But the dog has a great home now.

    I'd like to send that shelter a donation so now two happy dogs next door and no one is whining.

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    1. Oh, Kathy, I'm so sorry to hear that you became allergic to cats. Ken is terribly allergic to them and I am, too, though I can spend a few hours in a home that has cats without trouble.
      I'm so glad you have happy dogs next door!!! There is nothing worse than a neighbor who leaves barking and whining dog(s) behind. Torture.
      Have you thought of some nice, peaceful fish?
      I will let you know when I do get to Pilgrim Soul. Sounds very interesting.

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  8. I don't think fish would do it. I thought of a guinea pig, but that doesn't do it either, and the thought of having to clean up a cage every day doesn't inspire me.

    I enjoy a long-time neighbor's dachshund, who is very cute, affectionate, opinionated and eccentric. The things she does are quite amusing. And I have known the cat who lives there for years; I pet him, and if I have to, I change my clothes and wash my hands later.

    And now there are two little dogs next door who seem quieter, but I do see them sometimes.

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