Strassur the Red Panther

Toughts of a Reader and a Writer

Category: Books

The Wife of Bath’s Tale

The Tale begins by talking about the old days of King Arthur and the fairies and supernatural beings that walked among the land.  The narrator mentions an evil being like no other, “Ther is noon other incubus but he” (886).  It sounds like Arthur dispatched a young knight to search for the evil creature, but instead he became distracted by a maiden that was seen in the woods.  After raping her, Arthur sentenced the knight to death.  The queen begged Arthur to spar the knight, which he finally agreed.  She asked him, “What thing it is that women most desiren” (911).  She warned to think hard and if he does not know, he will have twelve months to find the answer.  The knight took his leave and searched everywhere, relying on God’s grace to guide him to the answer, but nowhere could he find two responses that agreed with each other, “Some saiden women loven best richesse;/ Some saide honour, some saide jolinesse;/ Some rich array, some saiden lust abedde” (931-933).

He eventually sees twenty four women dancing in the forrest.  Hoping to gain some insight to the Queens question, he rears his horse to discover all but an ugly woman remains, “A fouler wight ther may no man devise” (1005).  She makes a deal to give him the answer he needs, based on her experience up to being an old woman, but in return he must marry her.  The young knight returns to the court and tells the queen his answer, “Wommen desire to have sovereinetee (dominion)/ As wel over hir housbonde as hir love” (1044-1045).  The old lady tells the court of the knights promise and the two eventually marry.

The remainder of the poem is very long, but essentially the old lady is upset that the knight thinks she is ugly.  She asks, would he rather have a loyal wife, or one he would doubt, “To han me foul and old til that I deye/ And be to you a trewe humble wif,/ And nevere you displese in al my lif,/ Or ells ye wol han me yong and fai,/ And take youre aventure of the repair” (1226-1230).  The knight responds that it is her choice, which she loves his answer.  She asks for a kiss, and when he builds his courage, he turns and discovers she is now a young and fair woman.

Do you think Chaucer is saying women are underappreciated or possible seen only on the surface?  Is this a cautionary tale?

Chaucer, Geoffrey. “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. A. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 282-310. Print.


 The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale (Cambridge School Chaucer)


The Wife’s Lament

The Wife’s Lament is a poem of exile and suffering that is believed to be narrated by a female, or as the title suggests, a wife. The sex of the narrator is believed to be female because of the reference to “my lord” which according to our text, the Old English pronouns have grammatical gender and refer to “my lord” as a husband. She initially talks about her husband leaving his people after a dispute, then causing her to leave in a “friendless exile” (9). She then talks about hearing that her husband is also down on his luck, or exiled, as a result of murder, which weighs heavy on his heart. The remainder of the poem talks about how powerful and enjoyable her marriage was, and how now in the absence of him, it feels cruel and uncomfortable.

What’s interesting about this poem is in the beginning, the narrator talks about the exile, then explains how she misses her husband and the affect his absence has on her. What follows is what sparks questions. She then begins to teach the reader how to deal with his situation and advises to essentially stay positive. “If ever anyone should feel anguish, harsh pain at heart, she should put on a happy appearance while enduring endless sorrows” (42-45). Being in exile, the narrator has had time to reflect and create alternate solutions to the problems she faced that resulted in her banishment. It almost feels as though medieval exile was a permanent form of our modern “time out” system we may use with small children.

Do you believe exile was used so the community would never have to deal with the subject again, or a long term method that forced the subject to nearly experience the stages of grief and ultimately see the errors of their ways?


Works Cited:

“The Wife’s Lament.” Trans. Alfred David The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. A: The Middle Ages. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 120-122. Print

The Norton Anthology of English Literature (Ninth Edition) (Vol. Package 1: Volumes A, B, C)

Book or Film? That is the question.

I was recently asked whether I preferred books or films, and if I could name an awesome one in each, and the question was a little more difficult than I thought.  Like most, I generally feel that a book is a more descriptive medium than a film because of the time limitations that movies have.  One movies that I found better then the book was Rambo: First Blood.  It’s possible that this is due to me seeing the movie when I was very young and reading the book, First Blood by David Morrell many years later.  I like the way the director portrayed Rambo in the film, more of a victim of society due to his status as a Vietnam vet.  Sylvester Stallon did a decent job playing the part that showed a man just passing through, being driven to the point of his violent reaction by the Sheriff.  I think the film does well in showing his confused emotions and PTSD like behavior.  In the book, Rambo is much more of an asshole that almost deserves the initial conflict.  Both are great pieces, but the film drew me in much more. 

               For books being better than films, the list is long. I am a huge medieval and fantasy genre fan, but to stick with the war type stories, my top choice is Blackhawk Down, by Mark Bowden.  Both the book and film were well done, showing the leadership challenges and frustrations of the conflict in Mogadishu, but the book dove much deeper into the perspective of the Somali people.  The author actually interviewed many people who were there during this time frame, and described how some Somalis wanted to stay out of it. One scene talks about a pharmacist who intended to staying indoors, but became angered when this friend was struck by a stray bullet, which he blamed on the US soldiers.  This angered him and encouraged him to take up arms and join the fight.  A movie simply does not have the time to get into lore, back story or even character development as much as a book does.

               Character and conflict can still be created in film, but a well written book seems to make you love or hate the people involved much more.  A huge benefit of film, however, is the time investment.  You can essentially watch an abridged version in 2 hours and still grasp the main story and message.  Books can take much longer, especially those 800 pagers like Pillars of the Earth or Sword of Shannara.

Only for Posers, the Artistic Kind

I received a digital copy and was interested in reviewing Art Models 7 due to my photography enjoyment and me being a go-to person amongst my friends and coworkers as the book recommender. It is most likely the format that I download, but the pages were scrambled and only 1 out of 10 are actually visible. The few I was able to see would be a great reference for any artist when crafting the human image.

There seems to be such a wide variety to chose from, including props and unusual poses like one of a person casting a magical spell. From what I can tell, this book would be a must for anyone with a creative mind that plans on putting their mental image to paper or canvas or clay. I would recommend this to my friends. Just a quick blurb, but I wanted to share this with everyone.

Art Models 7: Dynamic Figures for the Visual Arts (Art Models series)

To Arms! A Graphic Novel Review

Reading a fiction story is a great way to escape reality, discover new lands, and experience a tale as visioned by a great author. I love fiction, but at times I want to experience something a little closer to home, something within my world, either modern or in the past. This is where my love of historical fiction began, and reading of tales of action packed ancient spear swinging Chinese warriors in the Han Dynasty is a great experience. And when we want to view the story through the eyes of the creator instead of our own imagination, a graphic novel is a great form of media to read.

One recent graphic novel I read was Legends From China: Three Kingdoms Vol. 1 by Wi Dong Chen, author of Monkey King. His action packed story is about several clan leader’s attempt to rescue an empower and restore their kingdom from an over zealous tyrant. Aided by three tough bannerless warriors, artist Xiao Long Liang captures the authors image as beautiful scenery is the setting while intricately crafted armor and weapons are wielded. The master plan to save the day quickly begins to crumble as each clan leaders own ambitious twist to the war causes inner turmoil. Will the clans reunite and fight as one, or will their own separation continue to destroy a great land?

Overall a great story. The translation was pretty good aside from a very few cases that still did not take away from the story. The only problem I had was at times keeping up with the many characters, all of whom had names very foreign to me being unfamiliar with the Chinese language. Occasionally I was required to slide back a few pages to confirm who was being talked about or when I had heard the name before. If you’re a fan of historical fiction or other graphic novels such as Lonewolf and Cub, then you should enjoy the first installment of this new series, Legends From China. I would give it 7 out of 10 tankards of fine ale.


Three Kingdoms 01: Heros and Chaos (Legends from China: Three Kingdoms)

Shannara the Movie? Nay!

When writing the post about the Annotated Sword of Shannara anniversary edition I was reminded about a rumor I heard awhile back that a Shannara movie was in the works. I did a little searching, actually Google did, and found some info. Apparently Warner Bros. had purchased option from Terry brooks in about 2007 once they saw how cool Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of Fellowship of the Ring looked, with today’s amazing technology and CGI stuff.

A script was worked on and actors were eyeballed, but nothing ever emerged. According to the option was returned to Brooks in August 2010. It would seem to me that a Shannara movie would be epic to see on the big screen, but perhaps there was already enough drama with the theory that Brooks copied Tolkien to closely in his adventures. It’s not uncommon for an aspiring author to write something similar to the powerhouse writer they wish to emulate and aspire to become.

With the Shannara movie slain before it’s creation, many Brooks fan were saddened to the point of relying on free to play MMO’s and comic book bundle packs to get by. There is, however, a possible alternate route on the horizon. Brooks wrote in a January 2012 blog that Warner Bros. bought the option to his Landover series, starting with the first book, Magic Kingdom For Sale-Sold!

I have not read his series yet, but after hearing this news I felt as though it was a must. Unfortunately, my local giant bookseller was sold out the other night. Hmmmmmm, maybe someone beat me to it. If anyone has read this series, please drop me a note and let me know what you thought. Until then, I will keep looking for it.

New Sword of Shannara Anniversary Edition

The Annotated Sword of Shannara: 35th Anniversary Edition came out this month. For those who have not read this series by Terry Brooks, you are behind the curve. A epic adventure where an “ordinary” half-elf, Shea Ohmsford, gets forced into a journey that spans the Four Lands. Shea discovers he is the only one who can wield the legendary Sword of Shannara which is needed to defeat the evil that is beginning to shadow the world. Brooke does an amazing job creating a vast world filled with unforgettable characters. My favorite character, introduced later in the series, is Garret jax, the weapons master. He is one tough dude.

Having read The Sword of Shannara series many years ago, I was so excited to see the short story by Terry Brooks, titled The Paladins of Shannara. For any fan, this closes a few gaps. This approximately 30 page piece follows Allanon on his journey that leads up to his meeting with Shea and Flick Ohmsford in Shady Vale. I don’t want to spoil too much here. I found it free as a digital download through my Nook.

For the Shannara anniversary edition, check it out here:
The Annotated Sword of Shannara: 35th Anniversary Edition

The Underbelly

Whenever crafting a novel, character development must be at the forefront of the authors mind, as believable or relatable characters help the reader become involved in the story. In the novel, The Underbelly, author Gary Phillips does a great job at creating a very real and very relevant Magrady. As a Vietnam vet, the protagonist is searching for a friend and for answers, all the while dealing with his own sobriety, his damage from the war, and his accelerating age. I like how he author shows that Magrady does have some skills left over from his youth, albeit a little slower, but still present. At one point in the story, he gets in an altercation with Boo Boo and Elmore Jinks. His muscle memory from the days of judo and his patience were able to get the upper hand on the overconfident thugs in the beginning, but then their youth allowed them to retaliate faster than Magrady could follow up (28). When compared to other vets that are portrayed in books or film, this scene was much more believable. Rambo, for instance, would have quickly dominated the two assailants and shortly after taken over the town.

With worries of where to sleep or where Floyd was, Phillips still writes quick blurbs about Magrady fretting over hair loss (43) or blushing when being kissed by the much younger Janis (40). This realism adds depth to the character and helps readers relate. At the very end when Magrady visits his son, his lifelong experience and knowledge of his children helps identify Luke as Kang Fu, showing not only the fatherly side of the character, but adding up the pieces like any parent would be able to do. By Gary Phillips creating a believable protagonist, the story comes to life in a very real way, unlike other heroes such as Rambo, who brings lots of plausibility to the movie, which differs greatly from the novel, but is far from probable. Character development is the key to creating a story with depth that a reader wants to invest in, unlike Spears of God, by Howard V. Hendrix, which has too many characters to track and not enough time and details for us to get to know.

The Underbelly (Outspoken Authors)