More of What I’ve Read

It has been awhile since my first post in this irregular series, but at last there is a second. What follows are some brief thoughts on several of the works I have recently read, or am currently reading.

Henry VIII: This is one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays, but lesser-known plays are all that I have left to read at this point. It is certainly not his best play, but it particularly suffers when being read. You see, much of the play is spectacle, and reading stage directions is always the most boring part of a play. Still, the Cardinal’s speech upon his downfall is good poetry, and there are other parts that make worthwhile reading as well.

Shadow of the Hegemon and Shadow Puppets: These sequels to Ender’s Shadow continue to follow the adventures of various Battle School graduates in earth’s future. I loved Ender’s Shadow, and loved Shadow of the Hegemon almost as much, but Shadow Puppets is a little weaker. I think part of the problem is that I wanted Achilles to die far sooner than he did, so I got tired of things dragging on. Still, the competing strategic and political machinations of rival geniuses is quite stimulating, as well as entertaining, in the latter book as well as the former. Card must have done a massive amount of research to come up with scenarios as intelligent and plausible as he did.

News from Nowhere and Other Writings: This is a collection of several shorter works and one utopian novel by William Morris. I knew of Morris as a 19th-century reviver of various medieval arts and crafts, and as a famous writer, but had never actually read his work. I am reading selections in this collection to get a better idea of what he did and thought. It turns out being a socialist in love with the Middle Ages makes for an odd combination. For example, he follows John Ruskin in loving medieval Gothic architecture for its giving opportunity to individual craftsmen to do creative work, but ignores its religious significance. He also sees the medieval economic system as far more moral than 19th-century capitalism, and wishes for pure communism (in the theoretical Marxist sense), but does not explain why people’s behavior would become better with a change of system. He seems to believe that people will become moral again, without religion, if capitalism is eliminated. I still have much to learn of Morris’s thought, and I have found ideas of value, but he does have some clear errors.