Thursday, December 31, 2015

One Year Chronological Bible

I finished the One Year Chronological Bible this morning. I have no intention of reviewing the Bible, but I will comment on the arrangement in this version. The traditional Bible is not arranged chronologically. This version attempts to put things into chronological order.

For instance, the books of I Kings and II Kings are historical accounts of the Kings of Judah and Israel. Most of the prophetic books, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. were written during the same periods, and in fact many of the prophecies were intended for the reigning King. The chronological Bible, interjects those prophetic passages into the corresponding historical passages in I and II Kings.

Similarly, in the New Testament, the epistles (letters) of the apostles, Paul, Peter, John, etc, are interjected into The book of the Acts, which is the historical record of the first century church.

It is a bit cumbersome at times due to redundant historical records of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, as well as the four Gospels. In the chronological Bible, you may read of a single event, two, three, or even four times in succession as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, before moving onto the next event.

So it doesn’t always flow well, but it was still interesting to read things in chronological order. It also divides it up nicely into 365 sections, so you can easily read the entire Bible in a year.

I am a lifelong student of the Bible. I’ve read it numerous times before, and I’ll read it again. As I stated in the beginning, I don’t intend to review it. I’ll offer something that someone else has written about the Bible. I cannot cite the author, but this is from the inside cover of a small Bible, that a Gideon missionary handed to me as I went off to war.

*snicker* I’m exaggerating greatly. It was actually, when I was herded off to basic training with several hundred other scared and excited young men.

But again, from the inside cover of my Gideon Bible:

The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of Hell disclosed.

Christ is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Reading Year in Review

Last year I read 14 Quest novels, and hoped to double that number in 2015. I didn’t quite make it, reading 27 this year. I’m about half-way done with Money though, so I only missed by ½ book. Not really loving it by the way.

I completed the 2015 Classics BINGO Challenge, filling in the entire BINGO card. That was fun, but I won’t take up that challenge again this year. I was able to make the BINGO challenge coincide pretty well with my quest. This year it just doesn’t fit. Plus, I have some BIG thousand page novels this year, and I am quite certain I will not complete 24 novels, let alone 24 that specifically fit all the BINGO categories. But, if you are not on a strict, self-imposed schedule as I am, I highly recommend the Classic BINGO Challenge 2016, hosted by Catching up on Classics (and lots more!) at GoodReads.

Literary Bucket List:

I read The Call of the Wild in entirety at the Library of Congress. Click here to read about that adventure.

I read Gadsby, a 50,000+ word novel without the letter "E".

AND ***drum roll please*** I was honorable mention, or dishonorable mention on the prestigious Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. It's sort of like a Pulitzer, but WAY more exclusive. For more on that distinction, click here.

Quest novels completed in 2015:

38. ★★★½ One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez (1970)
39. ★★★½ Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner (1936)
40. ★★★The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles (1969)
41. ★★★½ Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
42. ★★★½ I, Claudius by Robert Graves (1934)
43. ★★★Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (1962)
44. ★★★Nostromo by Joseph Conrad (1904)
45. ★★★Emma by Jane Austen (1816)
46. ★★★½ The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925)
47. ★★★½ The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (1961)
48. ★★★★½ Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)
49. ★★★The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (1953)
50. ★★★★★ David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850)
51. ★★★ The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)
52. ★★★½ Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham (1915)
53. ★★★Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (1927)
54. ★★★Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
55. ★★★ The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (1939)
56. ★★★½ Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (1954)
57. ★★★The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
58. ★★★The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)
59. ★★★ Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)
60. ★★★½ Light in August by William Faulkner (1932)
61. ★★★½ The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961)
62. ★★★½ A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (1929)
63. ★★★American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997)
64. ★★★ A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (1979)

Favorite: David Copperfield  Honorable mention: Dune

Least Favorite: Mrs. Dalloway

Best hero/heroine: Denver from Beloved  Honorable mention: Jessica from Dune
**NO WAIT…my apologies, that should actually be Best heroine: Jessica first runner up: Denver

Most Villainous: Caligula from I, Claudius, no contest.

Most interesting/complex character: The Creature from Frankenstein  Honorable mention: Hester from The Scarlet Letter

Best film adaptation: TIE – Beloved and I, Claudius (1976 BBC miniseries)

Worst film adaptation: Dune, no contest…it was awful

Best Quotation: A World is supported by four things…the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing…without a ruler who knows the art of ruling ~ from Dune

Best Subtitle: Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Gadsby by Ernest Vincent Wright: 50,000 word novel without using the letter "E" (novel #101)

Gadsby by Ernest Vincent Wright is a novel of over 50,000 words, not once using the letter “E”.  This is known as a lipogram: a written work where the author constrains themselves, usually by omitting some specific letter. There have been many lipograms by many authors, most of them either omitting a less essential letter, or omitting “E” in a FAR shorter work. A full novel lipogram omitting “E” was considered impossible. Wright accomplished this feat – to prove it could be done. In tribute, I will attempt a single paragraph of review without the letter "E".

Gadsby is a story of "Youth's Champion", John Gadsby. Commit no fault and think this is that famous story of Jay Gatsby; it is not. Gadsby is a man, a visionary, who knows his small town of Branton Hills is a tiny burg without ambition or distinction, for lack of vision. Gadsby thinks on many obstructions and knows his first shot is with Branton Hills’ youth. Gadsby forms a Youth Organization and drafts local youths as assistants to bring about all sorts of civic growth: a library, hospital, city park, zoo, night school, airport, and on and on. Branton Hills blooms to a modish city and a paragon of civic growth, with Gadsby as its mayor. It is a happy story with not many villains. As a story, it is only so-so, but I must applaud its author for an astonishing victory.

That was difficult. As I’ve stated, the story is nothing to rave about. It was sweet, a bit too sweet for my taste. Gadsby met some opposition, but generally everything turned out rather perfectly.

But the story itself is secondary to the amazing accomplishment. This novel is not part of my Greatest Novels Quest, it is just something I have wanted to read since I first learned of it some years ago on Jeopardy. In spite of the most extreme constraint, the story flows quite well most of the time. There were occasional passages, where a word such as “kids” was substituted for what would flowed much more naturally with “children”, but still…amazing.

The introduction by the author was quite interesting. He explains some of the difficulties, beyond the most obvious – no “the” allowed. He could also use very few past tense verbs, and no number between six and thirty. He also did not use any contraction where the full word contained an “E” such as “Mr.” for “Mister”. Wright faced skeptics and critics that were utterly ridiculous. Some claimed he failed because his name, the author’s name, contains the forbidden letter, and others pointed out that “chapter” also contains an “E”. Not that it is a valid dispute, but Wright did not use the word chapter, but used roman numerals to divide the text. One critic called him a “genuine fraud” which Wright pointed out was a most interesting paradox, and then committed his own by claiming to have accomplished the impossible.

This was not part of my original 100 Greatest Novels Quest. I am designating it novel #101

I give it 4 Stars for the extraordinary achievement. 

A few excerpts to demonstrate how Wright improvised to comply with his self-imposed constraint:

“You know that good old yarn” said Gadsby, “about making so good a rat-trap that millions will tramp down your grass in making a path to your front door.
(If you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door)

…music truly “hath charms to calm a wild bosom.”
(Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast.)

…by substituting outwards for inwards.
(inside out)

I wish I could call this grand church affair by its common, customary nomination, but that word can’t possibly crowd into this story. It must pass simply as church ritual.
(wedding and/or marriage)

Also, last night, at a big “so sorry, old chap” party.
(bachelor party)

I don’t expect there has been or will be a film rendition.