RIP XIV Part 1 & Witch Week 2019

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RIP XIV

Autumn in Southern California does not bring with it any kind of turning inward, cool temperatures or spooky feelings. In September, the sun is still high and we have some of the hottest temperatures of the summer in September and into October. The necessary ‘woowoo’ caused by darker evenings, the robust wind and cool nights doesn’t start until October, which is when I usually begin this challenge. But I was anxious to read some of my choices this year, so I went ahead anyway and surprisingly, it was a success.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson is considered a classic in both literature and film. And while I had a difficult time with the writing in most of the book, the later quarter was worth the time. I liked being asked to think about the dual nature of good and evil as it exists in a human soul.

The next book I read, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde thoroughly surpriseddoriangray.jpeg me. I knew the basics of the story: an artist paints a portrait of a man called Dorian Gray and it is somehow possessed so that it ages, while he stays youthful. What I didn’t know about the book is how much Wilde talks about love and beauty and what is our obligation to them? It is almost a plea to consider these concepts. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, there are two parts of the story, the horror part and in this case, the philosophy of aesthetics part of the story.

Lord Henry: “People say sometimes that Beauty is only superficial. That may be so. But at least it is not so superficial as Thought is. To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”

Dorian Gray: “I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June. If it were only the other way.”

H.P. Lovecraft is a wonderful story teller of the macabre. He uses history, legend and popular culture to give his stories a weird and sometimes awful twist. I always thought I hated horror, but once I read his novel, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, I realized that a good story is what matters. This month I am reading several short stories in his Cthulhu Mythos. Last month I read, “The Cats of Ulthar.”

It is said that in Ulthar, which lies beyond the river Skai, no man may kill a cat; and this I can verily believe as I gaze upon him who sitteth purring before the fire. For the cat is cryptic, and close to strange things which men cannot see. He is the soul of antique Aegyptus, and bearer of tales from forgotten cities in Meroë and Ophir. He is the kin of the jungle’s lords, and heir to the secrets of hoary and sinister Africa. The Sphinx is his cousin, and he speaks her language; but he is more ancient than the Sphinx, and remembers that which she hath forgotten.

The moral of this short story? Don’t mess with the village cats, or the consequences are deadly….

For October I am also reading The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, regardless of how embarrassingly I created the last Classics Club Spin. Which just goes to show you, don’t try to stack the deck, the Spin Gods have other plans!

Witch Week 2019!

Finally, a note about this year’s Witch Week, a week-long celebration of magic and fantasy in memory of Diana Wynne Jones. Commencing as usual on October 31st and going through November 5th. This year’s theme is Villians!

cartcwidderCreated by Lory Hess at The Emerald City Book Review it is now co-hosted by Chris of Calmgrove, whose blog this year will be the center focus and Lizzie Ross at Lizzie Ross Writer. Guest posts on a variety of fantastic villains will celebrate the week as will a discussion on this year’s chosen community read, Diana Wynne Jones Cart and Cwidder. It’s not too late to pick up a copy and join the discussion. I read it for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it. I won’t give away any plot points, but I can promise you will never look at a stringed instrument in the same way again…..

Happy season of the turning year to All, whether you are beginning Fall or Spring!

 

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16 thoughts on “RIP XIV Part 1 & Witch Week 2019

  1. I hated The Picture of Dorian Gray until about 3/4 of the way through and finally it because one of my favourite all-time books. 🤣 Wilde explores some deep topics and his characters are so effective!

    Can you believe that I have never read any Diana Wynne Jones? Isn’t that terrible? Goodness, perhaps next year … I have too much going on at the moment. But it’s nice to read the posts of others.

    Happy reading!

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    • Why did you keep going with Dorian Gray if you hated it for so long into it? I would have given up on it way before then! But because you did it became one of your favorites. Wow!! Now I am wondering if I kept going with Wuthering Heights if I would have ever at least liked it?!!

      My first book DWJ was Dog’s Body and that was really fun. This is good, too. For the Witch Week event beginning on October 31st we are reading Cart and Cwidder. You still have time to give it a go! 🙂

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      • I kept going because a classic is usually a classic for a reason so I kept plugging along. I found that Wilde wasn’t just being graphic or negative for effect, he was actually trying to communicate deeper truths. Even though his methods weren’t pleasant, they were very effective.

        I’ve ordered Cart and Cwidder from the library. Is it best to start with this one? I can’t promise anything because I have so many other reads going on but I’m going to try. Thanks for the push!

        Liked by 1 person

        • You do have a lot on your plate as I saw with your readalong, as well as all the other reading you have!

          Cart and Cwidder isn’t long and it’s the first of a four-part series. I have tried a few of her other titles and some I could not get into. I found this to be a fun adventure story with some important underlying details that admittedly passed me by during the first read through.

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  2. Laurie, looks like you’ve already done some great reading for R.I.P. XIV, even if the weather where you are is not suited. And you have some more great reads lined up for October too: Frankenstein is one of my favourite novels and The Turn of the Screw is great too. Happy October reading! 😀

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  3. I think I must read the Cats of Ulthar – that quote alone is worth it. I’ve never been drawn to Dorian Gray but you’ve given me a different angle on it so maybe one day I shall give it a try. I’m definitely reading J & H though and will be re-reading your review on that one 🙂 👻

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    • I am still surprised to see Laurie and horror in the same sentence! I find Lovecraft tells good, smart stories even if they are bizarre. I will look forward to your thoughts on Dr. Jekyll.

      Btw and off topic. I was so taken with your review of A Single Thread I put a hold on it from the library (which I am now third in line from 15 when I asked for it)! I am not sure why this book struck me to the extent I have to have it now? Something about the time period and the main character’s journey and needing something to absorb me as a respite from the political situation here. Not sure….! Anyway, I should get it soon.

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      • Oh I’m with you, Laurie; the idea of horror and Sandra is equally astonishing! But I love how my reading tastes expand and contract and epand again as the years pass. Dr Jekyll is a good example of how, had I read this when younger, I would have missed much of what you discussed in your review. My partner is a great lover of darker fiction – not for the horror, blood and terror but for the themes which are under the surface. I’m slowly beginning to see what he sees. (ONly in small doses though!)

        I wonder what you will think of A Single Thread; I hope it won’t be disappointing. It’s an easy read and not great literature, lacking in subtlety perhaps. But there is comfort and solace and a sense of timelessness in it, perhaps because of the cathedral, which features heavily, and the knowledge that the work crafted by real women at the time still sits in the cathedral today providing solace for creaky knees!

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