Blair & Robertson’s THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, 1493 – 1803

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1000 sets were printed of this massive series.

Self has Copy No. 179 on her MacBook Air.

60 volumes.

She does all her writing in son’s room, where daily she looks at the map of the Philippines that’s been hanging there for over two decades. She doubts if son even knows the names of the two main islands, Luzon and Mindanao. This is self’s failing.

No woman is mentioned in the first nine volumes.

Later, there is a decree about educating the sons of Spanish civil officials. And in volume 10, a mention of nuns.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Travels with Charley, p. 58

Steinbeck heads for the Connecticut River:

It is very strange that when you set a goal for yourself, it is hard not to hold toward it even if it is inconvenient and not even desirable.

This is very true. Human beings are SO confused.

Quote of the Day: Jay Parini in the Introduction to Travels with Charley

There was a year when all self did was read travel books. She might have missed Travels with Charley. She remembers reading so many others that year, books that brought her to Africa, to the Arctic and the Antarctic, to Turkey and Eastern Europe, to Burma. She might have skipped Travels with Charley because it was only about travel in America. How foolish!

Steinbeck’s journey lasts eleven weeks. Reading Travels with Charley during the Trump presidency is a very fraught experience. “Beneath its surface” is “a sense of disenchantment that turns, eventually, into anger.”

Steinbeck does deal with “the naked face of racism,” which fills him with a “weary nausea.” In Texas, he describes a group of women — white “mothers” — who “gathered each day to jeer at the black children as they entered or left” recently desegregated schools.

Oh. And here self thought that nothing in U.S. history could have been as bad as the present.

Jay Parini in his Introduction:

The idea that objectivity is inevitably tainted by mere expression — and by the fact that a single human being has but a single viewpoint — permeates this travelogue, making all of Steinbeck’s conclusions tentative, as they should be.

Stay tuned.

Explorers of the North

Self has always been fascinated by explorers, which is why she’s writing her novel about 18th century missionaries. She also has a very long story (32 pages currently, and nowhere near done) about an alien invasion in the Bering Sea. That story is all about Ice, but every day she reads various scientific reports about the disappearing glaciers so she feels mild concern that if she takes too long to finish this story, the context of the physical setting will cease to make any sense.

Today, she reads about the Penny and Barnes ice caps on Baffin Island, and about the Laurentide ice sheet that once covered much of North America. She learns that Baffin Island was known to the 11th century Norse of Greenland and Iceland, and that Baffin Island is postulated to be the Helluland of Viking sagas.

She also reads up on Sir John Franklin. The two ships that were lost during his fourth and final Arctic expedition were named the HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus. The HMS Erebus was a 372-ton Heclaclass bomb vessel, built in Wales in 1826. The wreck has been located, in Queen Maud Gulf. The wreck of the HMS Terror lies under the water of Terror Bay. (Who names ships Erebus and Terror? Isn’t that like asking for trouble?)

She reads that Georgian Bay has 30,000 islands. Fresh in her mind is the fate of Kat, in the novel she just finished reading, Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods. Who sets off alone in a small boat and becomes lost and lost and more lost.

She learns about the Jesuit mission of Saint-Marie, founded on Lake Huron in the 17th century.

She reads about Lewis and Clark and about rivers like the Columbia and the Hood, which she has seen, long ago, on a driving trip north that started out in San Francisco and hugged the coast of Oregon and Washington.

And she also reads about Celtic and Norse mythology, in a book she found in son’s room.

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So many books, so little time!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

New for the Reading List: The Economist Books, 12 May 2018

  1. The latest from Rachel Cusk: Kudos (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series is mentioned in the review: self has been wanting to read Knausgaard. Hopefully, someday.
  2. Eye of the Shoal: A Fishwatcher’s Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything, by Helen Scales (Bloomsbury Sigma). Scales’s earlier book, about seashells, is Spirals in Time.
  3. Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, by Zora Neale Hurston: written in 1927, finally out in print!!! (Amistad)

Alcina Describes Philippine Boats (from Historia de las Islas Filipinas, 1668)

The vessels are called balutu and are made from a single hollowed-out log or trunk. Although they have little cargo capacity because the sides are low in the water, they are very light. This is because there are some artisans (referred to as pandays, a generic term for all crafters) who make them so graceful and of such elegant lines that they say of them that they are like arrows.

#amreading about 16 March 1521: Magellan in the Visayan Sea

On the Feast of St. Lazarus, Ferdinand Magellan spotted the coast of Samar in an archipelago which had not been named by Europeans.

Because it was the feast of the saint who Jesus brought back to life, Lazarus the brother of Martha and Mary, Magellan named the island in honor of the saint. He had “discovered” the Philippines (The name was given to the archipelago 50 years later, during the reign of Philip II, Hapsburg monarch of Spain)

When Magellan made landfall, it was barely 30 years after the fall of Granada, the last outpost of the Nasrid Empire. In 1492, Boabdil, last Muslim King of Granada, surrendered to the Catholic forces of Ferdinand and Isabella. When Granada capitulated, it had become a swollen knot of refugees from all over the Iberian peninsula.

The island in the Visayan Sea where self’s father was born is called Negros (That name was given to the island by the Spanish because islanders were dark-skinned). She doesn’t think Magellan or any of the explorers who followed actually set foot on the island. But there is a Barangay Granada, which is part of a cluster of land self inherited from her Dear Departed Dad.

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She gleans all this fascinating information from a book which Dearest Mum gave to her a few years ago: La Casa de Dios (The House of God) by Father René B. Javellana, SJ.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Economist Obit, 14 April 2018: Louie Kamookak, Explorer and Researcher

His ramshackle house outside Gjoa Haven, with hot water drawn from a camping stove, also had the best internet connection in town. Here he read and read and read.

Work-in-Progress: The Rorqual

Word Count: 6,313

The day he noticed the first strange animals, Pitt had been missing over a week. Joshua was looking down at a bird. He couldn’t be sure what kind of bird it was, it had an odd wing structure.

He felt a premonition, a twinge. He got those, sometimes, every year or so. It was always a signal of some change, not always bad.

First Stop on Telemachus’s Journey

Self is fascinated by Telemachus, that poor boy who never knew his father because Odysseus left for Troy when he was but a baby (this is definitely giving her Will Parry feelz). Thank goodness Telemachus has found a Mentor in the goddess Athena.

The first stop of Telemachus is PYLOS. Here’s a map from the book:

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It’s just a wee way from ITHACA.

Pylos is the home of Nestor, “horse-lord.”

Telemachus encounters him barbecuing (or grilling some dark meat anyway) “in the center of the town” with several “companions.” This is a somewhat disconcerting image, self is not sure why — probably because she expected a more dramatic encounter? Why —  of all the different things Nestor could be doing when he encounters the son of Odysseus for the first time — should he be barbecuing? (On the other hand, the fact that Lord Nestor is engaged in grilling meat humanizes him in a very definite way, and that is cool)

Self is very admiring of Telemachus, especially when he comes right out and says to Nestor: “Tell me the truth!”

And Nestor begins his response with, “Dear boy . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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