Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Lion and the Mouse

Robert Henryson's Moral Fables include a tale taken directly from Aesop.  The author justifies this with the medieval dream device wherein Aesop narrates the story during a dream.  Justice tempered with mercy is a significant portion of the well developed legal argument in this tale and is worthy of study by law school students as well as literary scholars.  Morality and spiritual leanings may be fading in current educational trends so perhaps Henryson's lion and mouse story will disappear into the Book Wraith's mist.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This book is short, reads well and appears on school reading lists so will undoubtedly continue to be popular for some time. I see few references to a previously addressed book by James Hogg but the similarities are obvious.  Ian Rankin stated he has attempted to make Rebus a Jekyll and Hyde character to some degree and makes references Hogg's Justified Sinner in the very opening of The Black Book to make it easy for the reader.  Edinburgh itself may be a Jekyll and Hyde city with the popular imagination being one and Rankin's view being the other.  Will any of these works survive the test of time or will the Book Wraith claim them all as his own?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Knots & Crosses

Too early to tell if Ian Rankin will disappear into the mists of time.  Knots & Crosses was his first Rebus novel and it presents a somewhat less romantic picture of Edinburgh than Scottish tourism would advertise.  The novels of Sir Walter Scott attracted droves of travelers to Scotland.  The seamy underside of Auld Reekie is displayed in this novel by Rankin which would keep me in my hotel after the sun set if I were a tourist.  Perhaps it would be best if the book wraith claimed this work for his own?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper’s The Spy  was based on Sir Walter Scott’s stories of adventure and romance set in Scotland. However in The Spy Cooper broke new ground by using an American Revolutionary War setting (based partly on the experiences of his wife’s British loyalist family) and by introducing several distinctively American character types. Like Scott’s novels of Scotland, The Spy is a drama of conflicting loyalties and interests in which the action mirrors and expresses more subtle internal psychological tensions.  I find it difficult to ignore the Scottish characters in Cooper's novels but my guess is The Spy will soon belong solely to the book wraith and in my sole possession.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lady of the Lake

Sir Walter Scott's narrative poem "The Lady of the Lake" was published in 1810 and was highly influential for several decades but now is almost forgotten.  Rossini's opera La Donna del Lago is occasionally performed.  "Hail to the Chief" taken from this poem was composed shortly after Scott's publication but the words have been changed and few realize where the tune originated.  A silent film is still available in which the song is heard as originally intended.
Besides owning the first edition of this work, the engraving plate for the frontispiece, the silent film and the first printing of the Presidential march, I have read this very enjoyable piece of literature more than once and look forward to the next reading.  The Book Wraith appreciates the neglect of this masterpiece so that I may claim these for my own.
Print copies may still endure for a long time but the brief digital life of great art will not.  Here is a link to one of those pieces of great art taken from this poem by Schubert:
Enjoy it before I file this in my dusty digital archives.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Almost finished with George Mackay Brown's Greenvoe and was planning on waiting until the finish before posting my impressions of this book until I read, "She was young in the ruins of her body" and "The sky was a broken net of stars above them."  There are many moments in this book that are striking and which only a poetic sensibility could compose in supporting the thread of the story.  I am not certain Orkney considers itself to be Scottish, but I will add this to my blog and hope that it survives the tsunami of popular culture because this book should be read. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Knight Errant

Since Merlin is currently one of my favorite TV shows, perhaps it is time to post a reference to Sir Walter Scott's "Bridal of Triermain."  One year before he started his run of Waverley novels, Scott published his tale of a maiden placed in a deep sleep by Merlin 500 years ago.  This Sleeping Beauty, however, has a knight who seeks to rescue her.  As long as the Arthur legend continues to have its appeal, the Book Wraith cannot claim this modest bit of poetry.  Have you read it?
Definitely shorter than an opera by Wagner, so I will free some of your time and provide a link to an awesome chorus of Grail Knights at the end of this scene from Parsifal: