Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Age of Innocence - Movie Version

When I watch a movie made from a book I have read and enjoyed, I usually like the book better.  This was true about The Age of Innocence, although I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I thought it was very well done, the acting was excellent, and the main characters were well cast for the parts (Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, Michelle Pfeiffer as Madame Olenska, and Winona Ryder as May Welland).  I had actually seen the movie several years ago (before I read the book), and I remembered scenes from the movie as I read the book.  (This may have colored my impressions of the movie and/or the book - I usually prefer to read a book first before seeing the movie.)  After reading the book, I wanted to see the movie again.  I don't have the kind of memory required to be able to say "this scene was changed" or "this scene was left out," but it seemed to follow the book fairly closely and had a similar "feel" as the book.  But a book can go into so much more depth than a movie can, which is why I usually prefer a book.  You can read my review of the book here.  This is my final category for the Back to the Classics 2014 Reading Challenge.  I rate this movie 4 out of 5.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

In the New York City of the 1870's, Newland Archer is engaged to be married to May Welland but has fallen in love with May's cousin, Madame Olenska, who has returned to New York from Europe after leaving her husband. This puts Newland in a serious dilemma, because:
Few things seemed to Newland Archer more awful than an offense against "Taste," that far-off divinity of whom "Form" was the mere visible representative and vice regent.  
I thought the author did an excellent job of showing how hypocritical society was in valuing appearances over substance. I rate this book 5 out of 5. It counts as my Classic That's Been Adapted into a Movie or TV Series; I will re-watch the movie in a couple of weeks and then I will have completed my Back to the Classics Challenge 2014. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Planting Peas

I don't read a lot of poetry, although I am subscribed to American Life in Poetry's weekly newsletter.  This week's poem was one of my very favorites, so I thought I would share.

Introduction by Ted Kooser, US Poet Laureate:  The ancient Chinese poets used to say that at some point in each poem the poet ought to lift his (or her) eyes, ought to look beyond the surface of the present into something deeper and more meaningful. Here is just such a poem by Linda M. Hasselstrom, who lives in South Dakota.

Planting Peas

It’s not spring yet, but I can’t
wait anymore. I get the hoe,
pull back the snow from the old
furrows, expose the rich dark earth.
I bare my hand and dole out shriveled peas,
one by one.

I see my grandmother’s hand,
doing just this, dropping peas
into gray gumbo that clings like clay.
This moist earth is rich and dark
as chocolate cake.

Her hands cradle
baby chicks; she finds kittens in the loft
and hands them down to me, safe beside
the ladder leading up to darkness.

I miss
her smile, her blue eyes, her biscuits and gravy,
but mostly her hands.
I push a pea into the earth,
feel her hands pushing me back. She’ll come in May,
she says, in long straight rows,
dancing in light green dresses.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©1984 by Linda M. Hasselstrom; Her most recent book of poems, written with Twyla Hansen, is Dirt Songs, The Backwaters Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Linda M. Hasselstrom and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Cranford by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

I found this to be a delightful story (or series of vignettes). Most of the residents of Cranford are women.  Visiting and calls had rigid rules and regulations:  from twelve to three are the calling hours, stays must not exceed a quarter of an hour, and no more than three days should elapse between receiving and returning a call.  No one ever spoke about money.  And manners were more important than anything. 

According to Goodreads:  "First published as a magazine serial from 1851 and then in novel form in 1853, Cranford is the best-known work by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810 65)."  I read this as my 19th Century Classic for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2014, and I rate it 4 out of 5.  This is my final book for the required categories.  I plan to read The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton for the category "A Classic That's Been Adapted into a Movie or TV Series" (unless I change my mind - which I've done several times with this challenge already).