Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 & 3 by William Shakespeare

Over Christmas break I’ve been bingeing on Shakespeare plays. I just finished all three parts of Henry VI and… Well, it’s a little disturbing. The reason it’s disturbing is because it’s about the Wars of the Roses, and those were absolutely brutal. 

Cruel acts pervade both sides in this conflict, and I found my tender mother’s heart hurting every time a young boy was killed in revenge for his father’s crimes. (And this happened way too many times!)

So I’m not sure you could say that I enjoyed reading these plays, exactly. Sure, there were some beautiful lines, as there are apt to be in Shakespeare. But the subject matter was heavy enough to hurt.

And in this lies its merit. It’s kind of like watching Hotel Rwanda or Schindler’s List. You are moved by the atrocities. You need to know such things have happened. You have to realize these events aren’t just numbers of dead on a page. They’re real. They’re awful. They’re atrocious.

One of the most moving scenes for me was when the peaceful and gentle Henry VI, sickened by the horrors of the civil war battlefield, stumbles upon a son who has just killed his father in combat, and only recognizes him once he pulls off the dead man’s helmet. And then, Henry also sees a father unmask his son after killing him. Both of the poor, surviving soldiers pour out heartbreaking monologues. 

Poor Henry is overwhelmed and distraught; these scenes are before him because of decisions he’s made as king. What a horrifying situation! He suffers as he ponders his responsibility for the lives lost in the conflict.

Woe above woe, grief more than common grief. / O that my death would stay these ruthful deeds, / O pity, pity, gentle heaven pity.

Henry VI, Part 3, II, v, 94-96

Sometimes when I hear about people protesting about our new president-elect, I wonder… Do we really appreciate what it means to have a bloodless transfer of power? It’s kind of a big deal, in a good way. It’s amazing.

So all in all, I prescribe more Shakespeare for the masses. Also, more British history.

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Up and Coming Classics Challenge 2017

So Amy is doing this and I think I’m game. I’m not going to settle down exactly on what I’ll read this time, but I’ll write down some ideas here. 
General non-fiction:

  • What’s Going on in There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot (2000)
  • The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater (2013) 
  • A Touch of the Infinite: Studies in Music Appreciation with Charlotte Mason by Megan Elizabeth Hoyt (2016)
  • The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws (2016)
  • Some more Katy Bowman?  

History/biography:

  • Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober (1995)
  • John Adams by David McCullough (2001)
  • Those Who Love by Irving Stone (1965)
  • The Women of Genesis series by Orson Scott Card

Children’s fiction:

  • Brandon Sanderson is supposed to release The Aztlanian this year
  • Terry Pratchett has some Discworld books for younger readers (the Tiffany Aching books)
  • The Circle of Magic series by Debra Doyle, not Tamora Pierce (The Dilts family apparently loved these relatively unknown books in their childhoods, and I want to know if they’re really that good…  If I can find copies, that is.)

General fiction:

  • The Work and the Glory series by Gerald N. Lund (1990-1998): LDS historical fiction
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer is supposed to release in 2017!
  • I plan to read Isaac Asimov’s Empire, Foundation and Robot series. The later books in the series are recent enough to count! 
  • Maybe the Dune series by Frank Herbert.
  • I still have more books to read in the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card
  • Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

Back to the Classics Challenge 2017

This will be my first year participating in this, but I’m excited. Here are my ideas for this year! Wish me luck! 

  1. A 19th century classic: Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (1820). Dawn Duran told me I need to read this, stat. Plus, I haven’t read any of the Waverley novels, and I know they were Charlotte Mason’s favorite.
  2. A 20th century classic: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (1945). I like everything I’ve read by Lewis, but I haven’t read this one yet. Plus, there will be a forum discussion. 
  3. A classic by a woman author: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852). I got my copy of this something like 15 years ago. I, uh, still haven’t read it. Another discussion book.  
  4. A classic in translation: Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1830). I know nothing, but we’re discussing it on the forum. 
  5. A classic published before 1800: Book I of Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queene (1590). I’m pretty excited. Everything I’ve heard about this says reading it will be a happy experience! Yet another discussion, too! 
  6. A romance classic: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811). I just finished Northanger Abbey with some friends and we’re thinking of this one next. 
  7. A Gothic or horror classic: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844). I need to carve out the time to just read this one, dang it. It keeps moving between my to read pile and my current reads pile. I just need to start over. 
  8. A classic with a number in the title: Richard III by William Shakespeare (1592). I’m planning to read all three parts of Henry VI beforehand, and then lead a discussion on Richard III. I also watched a version with Benedict Cumberbatch and it was amazing. So I’ve got to read it. 
  9. A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title: Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851). Another forum discussion.
  10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit: Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald (1879). This is set in Scotland! And it’s a forum discussion. 
  11. An award-winning classic: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (1931). Another book discussion. What can I say, I’m a addict.
  12. A Russian classic: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1880). I found a copy and some friends recommended it.