Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Scotch whisky tasting

All five single malts we tasted at the scotch tasting/murder mystery dinner were from Pitlochry and nearby distilleries.  Pitlochry is a scenic town just south of Killiecrankie where John Graham of Claverhouse won the battle but perished.
The five whiskies:
Edradour 10 year old
Edradour 12 year old
Aberfeldy 12 year old
Blair Athol 12 year old
Robertsons of Pitlochry MacDuff Limited Release (bottle 22 of 320)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lay of the Last Minstrel

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung.
--Sir Walter Scott
Every see the film "Groundhog Day?"  The female lead quotes part of this.  Have you read "The Lay of the Last Minstrel?"  Not as well developed as "The Lady of the Lake" but it has magic and this quote by itself should be enough of an incentive to read it.
The plethora of plays and operas based on Scott's works that filled the theatre's of the 19th century may be more difficult to find now, but this film is not the only 20th century hollywood production that quotes Scott.

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: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT_prP_MNaQ
Enjoy it before I file this in my dusty digital archives.