Although my profession may not be the oldest, it was already the brunt of jokes and bad-mouthing even in quite ancient times. Here’s a passage I came across yesterday, which sounds so relevant still today:
We earned our pension rights – and was that enough? It wasn’t. Our claims are contested, we’re dragged into court, humiliated by smart-arse, beardless barristers who sweep us aside like fluff, like chaff. — Aristophanes, Acharnians (425 B.C.)
Sounds like an editorial in the New York Times! Aristophanes’ anti-war theme, which is the main theme of many of his plays, also resounds in today’s world.
As an animal sympathizer, I probably should have read Richard Adams’ Watership Down decades ago. But somehow I never got around to it until now. It’s not that it delivers an overriding message about animal exploitation. But it does subtly dramatize the everyday mistreatment of animals that our society tolerates. However, simple themes of courage, loyalty, friendship, and freedom were what the book was really about.
And those themes were presented in one of the most exciting, suspenseful plots I’ve ever read. I was on pins and needles for half the book.
The book is rather sexist, which is strange to say of a book about rabbits. But most books are sexist.
If you want to come across the names of every conceivable flower, tree and shrub in rural England, Richard Adams is your man. He’s amazing when it comes to knowing every obscure weed that grows upon the down or heath. Anyway, all things considered, it’s quite a remarkable and rewarding book.
I realize now that what I really aspire to, even more than writing a successful new novel, is to have written an acclaimed novel back in the 1930’s and to have had it made into a great black and white movie in the 1940’s which we watch on cable TV today. That’s my real dream. Sadly, my chances of achieving the latter are almost as good as my chances of achieving the former!
You really can’t judge a book by its cover, because you might overlook something really good. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver was in the romance section of a used book store, so I took a quick look and bought it for my wife for a dollar. It looked and sounded like something light and romantic that she would enjoy. She did enjoy it, and passed it on to me with the prediction that I would like it too. By golly, she was right. It’s a terrific, smart, funny and powerful novel that I think most readers would appreciate. It’s something like The Grapes of Wrath meets The Catcher in the Rye. You’ll have to read it to understand what I mean. Trust me.