More Writings by Richard Amero

Articles and Book Reviews on Varied Topics

Childe Harold by Lord Byron By the time the third canto of Childe Harold was ready for the publishers in 1818, Lord George Gordon Noel Byron had dispensed with the notion that Childe Harold would be the subject of his comparatively short four canto narrative poem. His first idea in writing the poem was to present in poetry an account of the Grand Tour which upper class Englishmen were to take at the conclusion of their minority. Byron was 21 years old and, as there is no reason to think otherwise, it must be assumed Childe Harold was of the same age.

The Bible in Spain by George Borrow (Kindle edition, 2010) sold more copies than A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens when it was first published in 1843. This seems odd today, but at the time of its publication it was understandable. It covers five years from 1835 to 1837 and geographically it ranges over the Iberian Peninsula. Its appeal for English readers is that it was unabashedly patriotic while at the same time it defended the Protestant religion against the arguments and blandishments of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church which he headed.

Lavengro and Romany Rye are halves of one book by George Borrow. At the age of twenty-two Borrow decided to leave London where he had not succeeded in establishing a permanent livelihood and to set forth on a four-month walking tour of Staffordshire and its environs. As a youth under the suzerainty of his father, a military man, he had become habituated to moving from encampment to encampment. He had discovered during these changes in location that he had a knack for picking up the colloquial and dialect languages that were spoken by natives in the British Isles and by gypsies who appeared from time to time in the villages and fairs of pre-industrial England.

Decline of fishes is a novel by Peter Anastas that focuses on an attempt by developers from outside Gloucester, to develop a vacant parcel on the downtown waterfront that had been formerly occupied by Davis Brothers Fisheries.

Glucestermas by Jonathan Bayliss As this is a late novel, it shows the effects of the author’s declining libido. Taken as a whole it is a baffling mixture of autobiography and fiction, and is marked by an abundance of dimly defined characters and by haziness in plot development.

Dogtown by Elyssa East As Elyssa East tried to do in “Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town (Free Press, New York, 2009), it is a philosophical must for me at the age of eighty five to attempt to separate fact from fiction, illusion from reality, and poetry from prose.

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (Simon & Shuster, New York, 2009) will appeal principally to readers who have some prior knowledge of what he is writing about. The major and minor plots can probably be reversed, but, to me, the principal subject or theme is poetry.

Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee deserves the praise that has been showered upon it. Telling descriptions and torture sequences stay in the mind. The narrator’s sexual desires are somewhat at odds with his role as Suffering Servant and Savior God (Read Prometheus Bound). Legends, however, have been made from even weaker and less substantial sources.

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien Is the novel worth reading without knowing the denouement? Definitely, for all the meanderings and lucubrations lead up to a grand surprise which one thinks shamefacedly they should that thought of all along. Second, is the novel worth reading after knowing the metaphysical and moral reasons for its existence? My answer is Yes...

Albert Camus, An Existentialist and a Modern Diogenes More than most of the existentialists, Camus was unflinchingly honest which may be the reason why he was endemically unhappy. To understand Camus’ conviction that life is meaningless and yet still worth living, one must read his novels and philosophical writings, particularly “The Myth of Sisyphus” (1941).

Tahl is a long poem by Jeremy Ingalls. If an epic poem is supposed to depict the rise, development, conflicts and eventual success or defeat of a hero battling malevolent, cosmic or political forces, then, to me, “Tahl” is not an epic. If it does not meet epic qualifications, then what is this rambling 619 page poem about?

PROLOGOS by Jonathan Bayliss Let others have their say, for me reading PROLOGOS (Basilicum Press, Ashburnhum, Mass., 1999) was a struggle because it is interwoven with too many strands picked up from too many netting baskets.

The documentary film Polis is This: Charles Olson and the Persistence of Place is a thoroughly professional and deeply thought portrait of Charles Olson, a poet more than a philosopher who has left a deep imprint on all those who knew him. Thanks to this film Olson will continue to have an imprint on present and succeeding generations. The locale is mainly Gloucester, a New England fishing city that is undergoing commercial and industrial transformations most of which appalled Olson.

"Michael Tolliver Lives" by Armistead Maupin is not as good as some claim it to be; and it is not as bad as others say it is.

Review of "Broken Trip" by Peter Anastas (Glad Day Books, 2004) The book consists of ten short stores that are tied together because they interact with the professional activities of Tony Russo, a welfare consultant who provides his clients with shelter, food, medical treatment, and pats of encouragement. Reading the book is something like drinking a martini. At first one feels the astringent taste and then the BANG hits you.

Review of "Gloucesterbook" by Jonathan Bayliss If the book didn’t interest me, I wouldn’t be re-reading it, while also trying to extend my vocabulary and acquaintance with quantum physics and anamnesis by looking up esoteric references. The book begins by describing the problem of a business executive who is intent on writing a thesis to qualify for an MBA by way of a correspondence course conducted by Ipsissimus Charlemagne. Caleb is selfish and calculating and, like Bayliss, a master of saying many things simultaneously. He is involved with an Anglican-Benedictine Order as an altar boy (while he may or may not agree with the two ordained priests who are its main and only representatives in Gloucester.) Both priests make money on Wall Street (the Graveyard) with Caleb playing a supporting role.

Review of "Gloucestertide" by Jonathan Bayliss continues the spasmodic look at Gloucester (Dogtown) and a few of its more interesting and atypical inhabitants. Interesting, that is, if one counts personal ineptitude, eccentricity, and a loose regard for sexual constraints as interesting aspects of human life.

Review of “The Last Fish Tale” By Mark Kurlansky While some of his statements are exaggerated or veer toward the ridiculous, they are also provocative because they challenge readers, particularly readers who have lived in Gloucester, to weigh them carefully, in which case there is enough substance in them to provide nourishment of an ample, digestive character. (Digestion, or the culinary part of it, is a prominent sub-theme in the book.)

The West Facade of San Francisco Javier in Tepotzotlan: The west façade of the Church of San Francisco Javier (1760-1762), the principal church of the college and monastery of San Martin at Tepotzotlan (1584-1767), is one of the best know churrigueresque facades in Mexico. It ranks with the facades of the Church of El Carmen at San Luis Potosi (1749-1764), the twin facades of the Sagrario Metropolitano at Mexico City (1750-1768), the façade of the Sanctuary of Ocotlan at Tlaxacala (1745 ? )), the façade of San Cayetano de la Valenciana at Guanajuato (1765-1788), the façade of La Santisima Trinidad at Mexico City (1775-1783), and the façade of San Francisco at San Miguel de Allende (1779-1799).

Index to City Park in the United States: Acres and prominent attractions of parks around the United States

Inside City Parks by Peter Harnik; Book: (Reviewed by Richard W. Amero)

Japanese-Style Gardens of the Pacific West Coast by Kendall H. Brown; Book (Reviewed by Richard W. Amero).

Capital Punishment: Now that Caryl Chessman is dead the public will breathe a sigh of welcome relief for he had become a sore trial to all.

Lessons from Hetch Hetchy After being informed of the loss of Hetch Hetchy Valley, John Muir wrote to a friend: "The destruction of the charming groves and gardens goes to my heart. But in spite of Satan & Company some sort of compensation may surely come out of this dark damn-dam damnation."

Milton and Dostoyevsky There are many approaches to the study of English poet John Milton.  Biographers discuss his life, thinkers his thought, artists his art.  Each approach is valuable, yet each is so limited that complete understanding is impossible.  Scholars are forever discovering new aspects of Milton's personality and thought.  Ideally, the end product of this research should not be obscurity, but an increase in knowledge.

Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Unquiet Element: Thirty years ago readers regarded The House of Seven Gables as Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterpiece. Students discussed its meanings in high school English classes. Today readers put The Scarlet Letter in the number one spot. The reader's increasing awareness of the techniques that go into the making of a novel and of the complications that bring individuals and society into conflict are responsible for their changing preference.

Bridge Hart Crane: Hart Crane, prominent poet of the twenties, combined the optimistic outlook of Walt Whitman and the pessimistic outlook of Edgar Allan Poe in his poem The Bridge. These were not the only people to influence Crane. Other writers contributed to the formation of his views, but Whitman and Poe were his primary American poetic parents.

Henry David Thoreau and Self-Realization: To begin to think about Thoreau meaningfully, one must understand his ideas for it is through them that he approaches and challenges us.

Striking Through the Mask or the Allegorical Meanings in Moby Dick: Herman Melville's habits of writing and rewriting and of intensifying and philosophizing transformed his story into a tragedy of many meanings

Quality of Experience in Proust and Joyce: In Remembrance of Things Past and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Marcel Proust and James Joyce are concerned about the artist's relation to his craft and his relation to society. Artist-heroes in both books share many of the traits and experiences of their authors. The artist-heroes shed light on the problems of the artist in the modern world as they cope with and are shaped by their experiences. The characters are, nonetheless, conceived within the context of novels and are not transcriptions from personal diaries.

Tale of Genji, Lady Murasaki and Buddhism, Chapter 1: Murasaki does not relish dying and the Lady of Akashi reminds her that the Buddha served a hermit for a thousand years before he obtained The Scripture of the Lotus Flower.

Tale of Genji, Historical Background, Chapter 2: In its production of an art of pleasing beauty, this age is comparable to the Augustan Age in Rome, the T'ang Age in China, the Golden Age in France, and the Elizabethan/Jacobean Period in England

Tale of Genji, Character: Four main character types occupy Lady Murasaki. There are those who are analyzed more thoroughly from within than the others, such as Genji, Kaoru, Agemaki and Ukifune. These are the well-rounded. There are those who are presented through pertinent detail and incident, such as Yugao, Utsusemi, Rokujo, Tamakatsura, Kashiwagi, Higekuro and Niou. The latter people, though they feel their predicaments intensely, do not have the emotional or philosophical depth of the former.

Tale of Genji, Scenery: In a book as large as The Tale of Genji some scenes are more impressive than others. The readers' choice of such scenes depends on the significance they have for him. Many readers (and critics) have, however, acclaimed certain scenes above the rest.

Lady Murasaki and History: Above all, Lady Murasaki is discreet. She knows her role well. Supposed to please and ornament a society that exalted female beauty and gracious behavior, she, by neglecting this, risked abandonment. Already by learning the Chinese language she had transgressed one of the established rules, for educated women were looked upon as upsetting. Nonetheless Lady Murasaki's discretion was not entirely assumed since she accepted the values of her society. Still it puzzles by its implications of the unspoken, of the so much more she could tell, but will not from fear of shocking masculine notions and placing herself too far outside graceful spheres as an oddity.

Tale of Genji, Evaluation: So widespread was the power of The Tale of Genji that Buddhists and Confucian thinkers claimed it as their own. To Buddhists the novel was a literary rendition of the Lotus Sutra, while to Confucians it contained edifying female biographies. As a counter to these distortions, Motoori Norinaga , an eighteenth century critic, said the love poetry of The Tale of Genji was superior to didactic verse and its reflections on beauty superior to essays on good and evil.

Thoughts of Censorship: As I am a supposedly educated person who has been exposed to some of this world's most famous and controversial thinkers, it appears to me I should have some thoughts on the subject of censorship.

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