Thursday, September 20, 2012

Quick Looks

Strange Tales by Rudyard Kipling
Eerily atmospheric tales, set in British India and other places.  Told in graceful prose, with a strong sense of place.  Just what I like, although I did get a bit tired of the natives-as-cowardly-simpleminded-liars subtext.

We were alone in the house, but none the less it was much too fully occupied by a tenant with whom I did not wish to interfere.  I never saw him, but I could see the curtains between the rooms quivering where he had just passed through;  I could hear the chairs creaking as the bamboos sprung under a weight that had just quitted them;  and I could feel when I went to get a book from the dining-room that somebody was waiting in the shadows of the front veranda till I should have gone away.

 To Build A Fire by Jack London
My oldest is taking an American lit class, and I'm enjoying reading some of what she is assigned.  This story's theme is typical London--man's hubris contrasted with animals' instincts in the Arctic north.  Rather sober and chilling (!) account of a man whose fate hinges on his success or failure in building a fire.

His pace of four miles an hour had kept his heart pumping blood to the surface of his body and to all the extremities.  But the instant he stopped, the action of the pump eased down.  The cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet, and he, being on that unprotected tip, received the full force of the blow.

 Alcestis by Euripedes
A short play about a man who allows his wife to sacrifice her life for him, and immediately regrets it.  Various types of loyalty are explored, sometimes with great eloquence.

Oh, my return to home is return to lament
Oh, the emptiness left in unwelcoming rooms!
Go where?  Be where?  What say?  What not?
I wish I were dead.
What doom-laden womb, what mother produced me?
I yearn for the shade.  I lust after phantoms.
Theirs are the homes I crave to indwell.
The joy in my eyes is a light gone dim.
The joy in the tread of my feet is gone.
Death has cleft from me half my life:
Traded to Hades.


  1. What a wonderful grouping of authors and stories. I love the prose of Jack London although Kipling, especially Kim, is an author I enjoy more. Perhaps it is his "atmospheric" tales. And Euripides' drama has power that transcends millenia.

  2. Kipling's prose is my favorite, I think, although I was impressed by London with this story.