Long Lost Review: Medea by Euripides

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 10th August 2006Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Pages: 116
Format: Paperback
Genre: Play
★   ★  ★  ★ – 4 Stars

Euripides was one of the most popular and controversial of all the Greek tragedians, and his plays are marked by an independence of thought, ingenious dramatic devices, and a subtle variety of register and mood. Medea, is a story of betrayal and vengeance. It is an excellent example of the prominence and complexity that Euripides gave to female characters.

As I was looking for a review for this month I realised I had a few written that I never shared outside of Goodreads. I found this one from 2008 when I read Medea and thought it suited the LLR perfectly because it was an actual lost review.

Euripides tells the story of Medea who uses her anger and feeling of personal betrayal as a means to seek vengeance on the husband she thinks has wronged her. Reading this play was rather different. It was strange, amazing and a little bit horrible.

Medea connects to other ancient Greek Myths and this is one of the stories that follows Jason and the Argonauts. After Jason leaves Medea for another, Medea justifies her actions by blaming Jason for leaving after all she had done to help him in the past.

There are some pretty strong themes in this story, there are various forms of violence and Euripides does describe them well despite their nature. being a play a few things are left off stage and no seen but the meaning is clear and the results are obvious. You get to understand where Medea is coming from the way Euripides presents her. She has monologues and discussions with various people, but you can also see how irrational and ridiculous she is being as well.

As I say, it isn’t the most pleasant story, but it is interesting and amazing at what this woman does. The lengths she will go to and the destruction she intentionally causes with justifications for every step simply for revenge is astonishing.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (spoiler free) by Jack Thorne & John Tiffany, J.K. Rowling

Published: 31st July 2016 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Little Brown UK
Pages: 343
Format: Hardcover book of the script
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

I had mixed feelings about reading this script. I was excited for a new Harry Potter story, but I was also unsure how it would be treated. After years of Rowling feeding us new information and revealing more of the story I was eager to see how the kids of the famous trio were getting on. How the original gang were all enjoying their adult lives and new jobs. I was, however, also worried that it would ruin the magic and the near perfection of the original series. I was worried that it would be a half hearted extension that didn’t have the same depth and feel and immense pleasure of reading. How wrong I was. Don’t get me wrong, there are things about this that make it not perfect, but I stayed with the five stars because while the faults are there, I did so incredibly enjoy it.

From the first page I was back in the Harry Potter world, I could picture it, feel it, it was like we’d never left. I fell hopelessly into the story and fell in love with characters new and old. My heart was overjoyed and breaking for so many reasons and I was barely ten pages in. For a script it felt so much like a story, I have no doubt the one actually used was a bit different again, and no doubt will be changed as the performances go on, but for now I like to imagine this is the one that will be seen on the stage.

A few stage directions are included, as a script would have, and it was fascinating to try and picture how this would be performed on stage, but when I wasn’t doing that I was picturing it in my mind as a novel, the back and forward of my imagination wasn’t an issue, and it was remarkable how a play script could be as evocative as a fully fledged novel that has scenery and more detail given to surroundings and character thoughts.

There are old names I would have loved to have seen included, but understandable this is the next generation’s story and you can’t include the old guard just for nostalgia purposes and to satisfy the long time fans. But those that are included are a joy to read about.

There are surprises, wonderful surprises, and less wonderful surprises, and I can already see opinions divided about the story, but as I say, I loved it, I devoured it. I loved every character for so many reasons, they have come across complex and full as any novel could make them, and it’s wonderful in a way to see the idiolised characters with faults and human mistakes of their own, even in the wonderful wizarding world.

Overall I think the writers did a wonderful job capturing the original Rowling style, and Thorne’s play reflects the amazing world Rowling spent so long creating. I was surprised, delighted, shocked, and concerned about so much in the story and it has certainly provided enough new material and controversial topics for lengthy debating to occur. Whether that is a good thing overall I’m not sure.

I hope your own Harry Potter experience has been spoiler free, and that you derived some enjoyment from the story if you were one of those who were not thrilled at the plot, or the fact it exists at all. Personally, I’m glad it is a play and not a new book, and I’m glad, that while I won’t get to see the play, I could experience it all the same. I could easily and happily see this as a fitting end to Harry’s life and story, but whether that is to be the case, we’ll have to wait and see.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Birthday

Happy Birthday Samuel Beckett!

In honour of Mr Beckett’s birthday I am reviewing one of his famous works, Waiting for Godot which it itself turned 60 this year. Premiering January 5 1953, Beckett’s play has gone on to become extremely popular, highly debated, and widely interpreted by many. I first read this in 2009 and since then I have adored it. I could read it over and over, and I could watch it being performed all day long. I do not know what it is but there is something in its absurdity that is so engaging and appealling. I loved its obscurity, I loved the fact it goes around in a circle, and I love the meaning and details and messages hidden through it. How people can find this play boring is beyond me.

Published: January 5th 2006
Goodreads badgePublisher: Faber and Faber
Pages: 87
Format: Book
Genre: Play
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

“Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful?” Estragon’s complaint, uttered in the first act of “Waiting for Godot”, is the playwright’s sly joke at the expense of his own play – or rather at the expense of those in the audience who expect theatre always to consist of events progressing in an apparently purposeful and logical manner towards a decisive climax. In those terms, “Waiting for Godot” – which has been famously described as a play in which “nothing happens, twice”- scarcely seems recognizable as theatre at all. As the great English critic wrote “Waiting for Godot jettisons everything by which we recognize theatre. It arrives at the custom-house, as it were, with no luggage, no passport, and nothing to declare; yet it gets through, as might a pilgrim from Mars.”

Waiting for Godot is a play, rather on the absurd side, that tells the story of two men, Vladimir and Estragon. We are introduced to these characters as waiting by a tree, for what for we know not. The pair muses the notion that there’s “Nothing to be done”, the implication that nothing is a thing that must be done, and we then go on to watch the pair do it. The cover of this play descibes it as a tragicomedy in two acts, and it is both tragic and comedic in all aspects. The comedy comes from the characters interactions, the dialogue, the mumbling, the circular conversations, the passersby – they are the comedy. And as far as I am concerned the tragedy aspects are the exact same things.

We get our first mention of Godot after Estragon says they should leave – ‘We can’t’ says Vladimir, ‘we’re waiting for Godot’. And thus the cycle begins. The waiting is filled with discussions about religion, hunger, sleeping, hat exchange, and the option of suicide – just to see what happens. The waiting is also interupted by the arrival of visitors through the play, these visitors do little to help the men in their mental assurences about their purpose, past, or Godot, and as a reader you too start to realise that perhaps like Wonderland, every one is mad here. These passerbys help to reveal slightly more about why Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for Godot, but the majority of the time they have their own interests and obscurities to contend with.

To some degree this story is hard to describe, you do have to read it to understand it completely without giving a completely plot breakdown, even then I can’t assure you’ll understand it. But it is well worth it, it gets you thinking, but you also are not entirely sure what about. It’s great. This play has been voted the most significant English language play in the 20th century and I don’t disagree. I know I am not exactly across the ins and outs of what the best of the best, most influential and socially criticising literature works are, but I know that others do, and when you read something you love, that has been acclaimed and loved for 60 years, than who am I to argue? I simply read it, and decided whether I liked it or not. Isn’t that all we can do with any story.

I know people like to think of people like Beckett and Kafka as being some sort of obscurist, high class, meaningful literature that cannot be enjoyed by everyone, but I think they are wrong. People are not so daft that they would not be able to take soemthing away from reading Beckett or Kafka. Whatever the intention and messages woven into these kinds of stories are meaningful, and are often good reflections on ironies and social behaviour, but what you take from any story is going to differ the person beside you, and even in a simple novel people are not always in touch with author intensions to the letter, yet people find their own ideas to take from it.

There are versions of this play being performed on YouTube if you care to see it played out for you, it can give the discussions and the scenes a lot more when you see them being performed. It also can have a greater impact I find. This play is certainly one that stays with you and I will admit, a small laugh escaped me when I say it referenced in a Jasper Fforde book. Good to know Mr Beckett is not being forgotten, happy birthday.