Book Review – Julius Caesar

juliuscaesarJulius Caesar

Author: William Shakespeare

Series: None

Genre: Classics, Plays

Published 1599

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

 

Goodreads Description (another edition)

The Tragedie of Julius Caesar dates from around 1599, and was first published by Heminge and Condell as the sixth play in the Tragedies section of their First Folio of 1623. The Folio text is thus the only authoritative text of the play and has been the basis of all later editions. Julius Caesar is also a particularly clean text with few obvious errors and comparatively few points where conjectural readings are called for. There is ample evidence of thematic ambiguity in the play, an ambiguity which the play’s editorial and theatrical history has sought to smooth over. The editorial resolution of ambiguities has closed off certain routes of interpretation, directions that the original text offers its readers and performers. This new edition presents the play in the form in which it appeared in the First Folio, restoring, for example, the Folio’s punctuation and lineation and revealing through these rhetorical emphases and nuances of characterization lost by later editorial regularization. Julius Caesar is a profoundly political play easily made to reflect the political dilemmas of the society in which it is produced. Not only is it amenable to such appropriation by virtue of its political themes but also because of its essential enigmatic nature. The editorial tradition of removing these complications has the effect of modifying and distorting the play. This edition returns the original form of the play to circulation and thereby reopens the avenues of interpretation that were originally offered by Julius Caesar.

Review

Julius Caesar, one of William Shakespeare’s plays featuring a historical figure, was an interesting look at the death of Caesar at the hands of his friend Marcus Brutus. Looking at this like it’s a novel doesn’t really work, of course.  It’s a play, and was written to be dramatic.  The story within this book was rather brief and simple. Not at all complex. It’s a story of tragedy, and it just seems like everything goes wrong. But that’s the way of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

The edition I read has an extensive section on William Shakespeare, the source of the story (Plutarch), and commentaries by people involved in various productions of the play. Those are just extras that don’t factor into my review.

The story is very simple, as I said. It’s about the downfall of Julius Caesar at the hands of Marcus Brutus and his conspirators. On Caesar’s side is Marcus Antonius, who delivers a very famous speech. It’s full of drama, that’s certain. It’s not a particularly well-written story, as it’s overly dramatic, and sometimes reads as if there are no real emotions. Take Julius Caesar’s death, for example. I found it had very little impact on me. Sure, Caesar gives the very famous line, “Et tu, Brutè?” But his death was incredibly early in the play. It’s really not so much about Caesar, but more about his killers and those who come after him, such as Mark Antony. Surprisingly, Caesar isn’t in this play very much. We don’t really get to know him well. We get to know Brutus and Antony, though. The entire story goes like this (spoiler warning!): Brutus loves, but hates Julius Caesar. He decides to kill him because he doesn’t like the way he’s become. Caesar dies. Mark Antony makes a big speech, vows revenge. Big battle, and Brutus’ entire side dies. The end.

The characters are very unlikeable, as they usually are in Shakespeare’s tragedies. Mark Antony is maybe the most likeable character, though. Brutus is a hypocrite, loving Caesar, yet wanting him to die. Caesar was portrayed as a cold leader. Antony was the most passionate, and could be considered a protagonist. But I just couldn’t sympathise with anyone.

The setting was in Rome, of course. As it is a play, there’s little in the way of descriptions of the setting. You just have to imagine ancient Rome.

It’s difficult to review a play in book form, especially when the language is from the late 16th century. It’s quite different than modern English, though Shakespeare’s English is considered early modern English. However, it’s not easy to read because of the differences in the language. This edition has a lot of footnotes on each page, which is extremely helpful. It’s recommended that you read it with footnotes, or else you may completely miss the meaning of many words.

Overall, I would give this 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. It’s not my favourite play of Shakespeare’s, but it was enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone who loves history (however inaccurate it may be) and classic plays. It’s also great for those who enjoy language.

Choose My Best Instagram Photos – Round 1, Group 3

Group number three is here. These are still some of my earlier photos, but I think you’ll find some interesting. I’d like to thank everyone who voted on the first two groups, here and here.  They’re still open for votes if you haven’t done so yet!

The rules are simple. I post 10 of my Instagram photos every 2 or 3 days, and you get to vote on your favourites. It’s multiple choice, so please vote for 2 to 4 photos (3 is ideal). Leave a comment saying why you voted the way you did.

So, here are group 3’s pictures:

Red light in the rain

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

Spiral ramp

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

Huge underground passage connects 3 train lines

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

Through the door

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

2 Sotetsu trains at the terminal

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

Rain streaks on the bus

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

Fast flowing mini river

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

Video tape on a bus stop bench. They've been there for 2 days.

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

Did someone have sushi delivered?

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

Biscuit

A photo posted by @jaydeejapan on

 

Please vote on your favourites!

Immigration – The Wait Begins

Well, it’s done. We’re off to mail the visa application to Canada.

20150525-110855-40135585.jpg
The actual address it’s going to! Note the wonderful shadow.

If things go well, we’ll hear from them with a case ID so we can track the progress. However, the length of time it’ll take to process can be up to 17 months, though I’ve heard of them being done within 9 months.  The package will go to Mississauga, Ontario, then will be forwarded to the visa office in Manila, Philippines. Why Manila? Well, that’s where visa applications for East Asia are processed (except China).

Things that may happen include my wife having an interview at the Embassy. And there’s a possibility that we’ll be in Canada before the visa is approved. In that case, we’ll have to get my wife a visitor visa, though she may be allowed a temporary work permit (new rules as of last year!).

So now, we just wait. And try to enjoy our last year in Japan.

Life in Japan: Surprising First Impressions

When I first came to Japan, I had some expectations. I thought I knew what I was going to see. But I was pretty surprised in many ways. This week’s question comes from moldydaisy.

What were some of the things that really surprised you when you moved there? What things stood out in your mind that you would never have thought of before your arrival?

The very first thing that surprised me was before I even landed. From the airplane, I could see the rice fields near the airport. From the air, they weren’t a uniform shape. No grid, no squares, no rectangles. They were very organic in shape.

After landing, I was on the Narita Express to Yokohama, and I saw so many houses that were different than anything I’d seen in Canada. They were small, built close together, and everything was so dense.  Yet there were pockets of green. Very dense green trees and plants on hills. And bamboo!

Around my new home, I was surprised by the smells. I could smell a lot of ramen. There were many ramen shops near my home at the time. That first night, I also went shopping at the supermarket. What surprised me was that salt was with the oil and soy sauce, not the spices. The packaging also surprised me. They used far too much packaging for everything.

But probably the biggest surprise was my apartment. It was small, and it had very poor insulation. It was April when I arrived, and the nights were still pretty cool. It was cold inside my apartment.

All of these things I’m used to now. They seem normal. Having been here for ten years, not much surprises me anymore.

If you have any questions about living in Japan, please see the original post and leave your questions in the comments.

Do Japanese Like Marmite?

I thought I’d share this funny video I came across tonight. How would Japanese people react to Marmite? Take a look.

I really want to do this! I’d like to see some of my students react to the taste.

I personally love Marmite. It has a strong taste, but on toast with some butter, it tastes amazing. Really amazing. I grew up eating the stuff, as my dad also likes it.

As for Vegemite, I like it, too.  It’s been so long since I’ve had it, though. Have any of you tried Marmite (or Vegemite)? What did you think?

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.

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