Book Review: Euripides, “The Suppliant Women,” The Complete Greek Tragedies

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

In Euripides IV, “ The Suppliant Women,” of  The Complete Greek Tragedies, a female narrator in third person is caught in the aftermath of war and goes about much like as in “Antigone,” with a desperation over the future of the subsequent dead and whether or not they will have a proper burial.  The tone is regal, medieval, desperate, however romanticized and wise.  It is as if all forthcoming action in such a context would elicit rape.  For every query, in every context perhaps the women keep falling from “suppliance.” 

I would like to address a dramatic backdrop and create a romanticized context. I appreciate the plot, the tone and setting within the aftermath of war.  What to do with all these dead?  Perhaps in this case the women go around hoping to solicit the burial and are raped.  Perhaps that is a proper description of what the aftermath of war could be like. I appreciated the narrator’s language, storytelling, use of the introduction for introspection and the chorus to enhance the storytelling with perspectives.  The tragedy reads like a play, crossed with a poem, crossed with fiction.  The characters are cited. 

Works Cited:

Greene & Lattimore (editors) Euripides IV, “The Suppliant Women,” The Complete Greek Tragedies, University of Chicago Press, 1958, pp. 51-104

Book Review: Confucius, aim for morals and political betterment then consequently elevate mankind, but aim there for a trickledown

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

I read some of Confucius.  Looking through a Chinese cultural lens, the book uses dialog between Confucius and several masters via maxims and questions.  They are essentially engaged in a high caliber Q & A, where the results bring about knowledge, or wisdom or dignity or the acquisition of a station in life.  For example, one may be in pursuit of the role of a Prince and pursue Confucius for such related noble ideology.  Looking deeper into this cultural phenomenon where knowledge is chief, where advice is sage, where one may pursue the path of a sage. It may be more if not most often in Chinese culture that one pursues mastership in general.  In some circles the word mastership may be scarcely  heard or valued.  It may be valued for this cultural perspective, as a whisper in one’s ear, what one may pursue and perhaps what was their scaffolding of questions.

I chose this particular theory to read to look at a spiritual style.  I read in the introduction about how Confucius was looking at moral and political teachings-as if to establish leaders and consequently mankind.  Could it be through this door that a writer could impact the plight of man, should he align with morals, should he connect to politics for its betterment.  Will that save us?  Does one need such an aim?

Works Cited: 

Confucius, Harvard Classics Sacred Writings, P.F. Collier & son, New Yrok, 1910, pp. 5-69

Book Review: Solmaz Sharif, “From Reading Guantanamo” and Edgar Allan Poe, “Tell Tale Heart”

Solmaz Sharif, in “From Reading Guantanamo,” in Paper bag  Number One Summer 2010, writes in a style that is reflective of the theory “reader-response.”    It is as if the writer is beside himself, maybe a torture case, he wishes for a part of his words, to leave a blank and elicit them from me as the reader or another.  Perhaps to elicit his words from a stranger, perhaps from a lover, perhaps anyone.  Perhaps it is the day following torture.  He speaks in partial sentences, in every line there is a blank and your ability to fill that void will bring you closer to him, perhaps you know or knew and can feel for him this tragedy or this closeness.  Perhaps, he has reached a juncture that is his end, and all his blanks will be filled by you or others. 

Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Tell -Tale Heart,” in a close reading could be compared to other texts of that period within a structuralist lens that  illustrates the hearing of sounds or voices or the “over acuteness of the senses,” or  generally texts that look at ideas around madness (Poe 319).  “The evil eye” could also be looked at as if a common cultural phenomenon which could be searched in literature. The evil eye could be a downcast eye that presents itself as a motive when crossed with madness.  The acute senses were described as hearing “all things in heaven….all things in hell” (Poe 319). From such texts one may arrive at theories about social constructs born in literature that may exist in many works.  For example, there may within madness always exist a downcast eye.  Perhaps, there is the second suggestion to remove the downcast eye.  In Poe’s work, the mad man hears with his acute hearing the heart still beating, the beating heart that reveals him to the police, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” after this elaborate scheme plays out and the madman has removed the evil eye. 

Works Cited:

Poe, Edgar Allan, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Barnes and Noble, 2011, pp 319-324

Sharif, Solmaz. “From Reading Guantanamo,” Paper Bag Number One, Summer 2010

Book Review: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis emerges, almost completely from the photo he describes on pg. 6 where he has “cut out of an illustrated magazine, a picture of a women in a fur hat and fur boa” (Kafka 6).  The crux of the story is then described as this woman in a “gilt frame” when her “forearm disappears into a fur muff,” as man himself turns into an animal.  Perhaps it was this vision, this disappearing arm into a fur muff that leads man to arrive at an idea that man in many ways transforms, sexually or in his work or with his desires-he transforms into an animal-as simple as the forearm slipping into the muff. 

From a Formalist perspective, one can extract from this text minutiae a paradox to defamiliarize man with common mans identity to hold a mirror for man that he is in all, if not many forms, an animal.  It was both paradoxical and defamiliarizing.  Why did Kafka choose this juncture, the muff, the slipping away, the becoming an animal, a species, a kind of subcategory for his being that regardless of how hard man tries to get up, to get out of bed and go to work a man, he lays there feet “wringling.” Metamorphosis has to do with the social entrapment of gender, of being.  Perhaps the advantage of this story was to delicately shine a light on man’s social entrapment in terms of his gender and being.  To delve into man’s psychology.  To unveil emotions, and modus operandi for the uncrying man, for the high achieving man, for the consumed by desire.  Metamorphosis presents man with a context to freely be man and have a discourse with the world-free of tears-about his plight. A man and not a man, was a man, will always be a man, needs to be a man, but is an animal.

Works cited:

Kakfa, Franz. The Metamorphosis, The Floating Press, 2008

Up to Snuff #127: Extracting Meaning, Creation of Knowledge, Consequent Value

Extracting Meaning, Creation of Knowledge, Consequent Value

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

I am Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu. A short version or nickname would be FaFa Bonsu.  A Ghanaian American who, resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. I am a Creative Writing English and Poetry major (CWE.POE).  I have been reading about ideological writing and Marx and recently reading Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Dorothy Parker, Sophocles-however I would like to get into some new areas.  I have been collecting spiritual literature.  I recently assembled a list of what is included in my spiritual library.  I will for this opportunity select Confucius from a Harvard Classic Reader.  I am aiming to get into some new areas and perhaps look at sacred or religious or sage writings.

What do I know about literary theory?  I am intrigued by the word theory alone.  I wonder what the word theory can imply.  Does it require proof like “justified true belief” or JTB or is it the un-established? Is it to perpetually establish?  If one says art theory versus literary theory, I suppose I want to be more- clear about what is suggested by that terminology.  I would love to write theory but feel still naïve.  If I were to write art theory, what is its approach, or have I already?  Is theory a scaffolding of ideas upon which or with its guidance one may arrive or question or analyze or create? If one may arrive, is it then theory? Theory may be some kind of wise guide. Theory may answer a kind of question, perhaps even how or why? A theory may result in a kind of questioning.  Or does it mean that there are established theories and one’s work becomes the analysis in response to the theories or the work that is derivative of the theories?  So, I guess there are two products, theories, and something else? Both can be written, the theory and the theories subsequent writing.  I enjoy both of those.  Or the art theory and the arts subsequent product and the products criticism.  Then there are three products. Perhaps you have the piece of literature as product one, then the theory laid upon it, then the resulting criticism and even the analysis of the variety of criticism. So, theory may have a trajectory, art and or literary.

What is my understanding of literary theory at this time?  It has to do with value, with the creation and manufacture of meaning itself.  There is at once the literature, whose secondary function may be its interpretation or its context and ultimately its meaning.  The extension of writing is the thought around it-its secondary, and that secondaries building blocks.  But then theory leads you not to take a sip, but a full drink.  Theory then becomes the octopus, the world view, the connecting points that make a defined way of thinking, a kind of enlightenment.   Theory helps you to extract meaning, look at purpose and reasoning or variations. (Klages)  Theory helps a writer to achieve a close reading.  Theory may guide one to look first at emergence, then at context, then conclude with results or relationships (Klages 5).  It can be like a scaffolding that becomes a boilerplate.  What can be impressive is when you extract meaning that becomes world view as in the example of “language, gender, and consciousness” (Klages 5).  Meanings extracted from literature can define movements or be existential.  Literature has left a trail, as if it were archeology or anthropological.  Literary theory then provides one a tool.

Literary Theory is perhaps the most significant factor in giving literature or the field of writing its value.  Extraction of meaning transforms writing into knowledge.  It transforms the entire field into knowledge.

I think you are correct in your estimation about the value behind “how does it mean, what does it produce and what effect does it have on us and the world? ”  It is as if it is one’s duty or task to ascertain the quality, value, meaning, the giving of a piece of literature.  The reasoning is interesting and the desire to learn from it, to grow from it and arrive at a knowledge juncture.  Perhaps certain techniques get you there, then get you there every time.  I suppose it is the scholar that wants to get there at all.

I am intrigued by when you wrote literary theory is whether it is or is not literature. Is that a prize, or bar or distinction, or quality?  Are you protesting that this fine Dystopian novel may for you have equal value? I have writings that I wonder how they will be classified, who is the classifier and what are the terms? What makes up the literary theory that classifies it?

Works Cited:

Klages, Mary. “Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed” Edition 1.  Bloomsbury Publishing 2007-01-23, pp. 1-9

Book Review: Antigone by Sophocles

Book Review:  Antigone by Sophocles

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

The film version is highly effective in illustrating the story, “Antigone.” The Sophocles play is a charged-up drama, with a desperate and heroic feeling. The scene opens with this vision of an empty throne and two sisters passionately detailing their plans.  “Antigone,” featured as the title of the tragedy, is a round character and protagonist who confronts conformity and rebellion.  The story takes place before the Palace of Creon, King of Thebes.

Literary elements in the written version of Antigone, play out differently than in the film version.  The characters become more dimensional with breathlessness, passion, and greater physicality in the film version.  There may exist extraordinarily little physical description of the characters in the written version.  The Chorus sang out in verse which was particularly dynamic in the film version with alot of dramatic movement cascading up and down stairs with soloists.  However, the overlapped wording  or unison of the Chorus as well as characters were easier to discern in the written version.  There was also little or no movement in the written version.  The written version of the Chorus was highly poetic where one might find literary devices or rhyme and look for incidence in the writing.  The film version presented a dramatic take with rich characterization.

The Play commences with Antigone’s lamentation to her sister over their dueling brothers feud, consequent, “double death,” and later issue, the nature of their burial (Sophocles 418).  Those who defy the ruling class face stoning to death (Sophocles 418).  Despite, the current direction, Antigone defies the ruling class and vows to her sister, Ismene, in the opening scene, to bury her brother Polyneices who is to be devoured in a field by carrion birds (Sophocles 418).  Antigone illustrates a dominate idea of which she decides not to conform and initiates her subsequent rebellion.

Works Cited

Sophocles. “Antigone,” Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print. pp.417-447

Book Review: Sonnet 130-The Sonnets of William Shakespeare

Book Review:  Sonnet 130-The Sonnets of William Shakespeare

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

I took this opportunity to learn something about 16th-century writers, Shakespeare’s associated writers and clear examples of literary devices for which he may be well known.   I was taken by gender subtleties and the use of  the buried “tenor” to illustrate a male subject or “target domain.” ( 1)  In Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130” one word (tenor) is pivotal in a prior sonnet’s text and provides the texts “evidence” which shifts the focus for the reader.  I appreciate this kind of “driver,” and “target domain” that creates for the reader a  societal shift or movement towards the period’s radicalism. The whole poem may be anchored in this way, by one word, with which he reveals the text. Coincidentally, Shakespeare may be well known for the use of the target domain.  I was enchanted by the use of literary devices to layer his meaning both in ”form and function” as if in design.  Form and function are illustrated by the dynamic way in which each line is laid in a reverse pattern juxtaposed with the content also written to the contrary.  Shakespeare was privy to a 16th-century “sonnet craze” and chose to contrast as well as identify with many poets of this period.  Some associated writers of the period were:  Petrarch, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Watson, Michael Drayton, Barnabe Barnes, Richard Linches and Sir Philip Sidney. About Shakespeare’s poem, it is written, “to play off the tradition of Petrarchan love poetry.” (Abecarian, 839).  Shakespeare presented in response to classical comparisons of beauty, ideals and love of the period, a radical contrast in Sonnet 130.  Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 parodies and satirizes beauty, ideals, and love in terms of reversals with the use of alliteration, assonance, and anastrophe.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 uses alliteration where consonants are used close together.  (owlcation) In the first line of verse in Sonnet 130, Shakespeare uses alliteration to insert deeper meaning and even “coded” or hidden meaning often or for special effect.  The first line codes my mistress’s eyes, where one hears “stress mistress and eyes” as if in code.  There were earlier poets in the fourteenth century such as William Langland and Piers Plowman and even still earlier (Hildebrand) such was titled “Alliterative Verse,” and employed a diversity of rhyme scheme or in this case unrhymed scheme utilizing perhaps code or just repetition and consonants.

Shakespeare utilized the literary device “assonance” where words have similar vowels.  In the second line, it may have been in code “coral and far,” perhaps suggesting a clandestine meeting place in a barn or distant place.  Shakespeare, a master of English, style and writing as if by design, inserted innuendo, and perhaps coded messages within a variety of literary devices.  Shakespeare was said to have “written sonnets 127-154 to this mysterious dark lady.” (owlcation)

Shakespeare used negated similes to illustrate the reversal of ideals in the 16th-century society by employing anastrophe in his line structure. (owlcation) Although a variety of rhyme schemes were employed from Petrarchan Sonnet methods to alliterative verse, to assonance, what gave Shakespeare’s poetry its depth and richness were perhaps the layers of form and function.  The inverted language embodied an inverted idea which had inverted lines.  Shakespearean poems when dissected had perhaps several instances where for example he writes in reverse “in some perfumes, is there more delight.”  He inserts, in this case, intrigue and question, and perhaps the suggestion of an alternative or question whether a greater pleasure.

Shakespearean Sonnet 130 challenges beauty, ideals, and love via literary devices such as alliteration, assonance, and anastrophe.  Sonnet 130 is typical of an English love sonnet emanating from true Petrarchan style. Petrarchan sonnets during the 16th century followed a 14-line formula, an 8  line “octave” followed by a 6 line “sestet” and couplet. The rhyme may have had a “Valentine” 14-line love structure depending on which came first. The rhyme scheme for these poems was abab cdcd efef gg structure. (Petrarch Slide Share) On closer inspection, society may find Shakespeare referential, full of innuendo, coded, as if written to wife and lover simultaneously-for the blind and the seer.  The 16th-century culture may have reflected on this use of a literary device or on what became a sonnet craze, where one’s identity or even “intimacy” may be still further conveyed in myriad and dynamic rhymed and unrhymed schemes. As if one may insert into life something in every consonant, vowel, syllable, line-in every literary corner-one may find a place to insert meaning, impacting one’s identity and consequently one’s language and culture.  As if to use “all,” every consonant, every vowel, every literary ability, not efficiency or economy, but down some other road of utility, structure, architecture.  When one may have believed meter limited content, a fallacy indeed.  Shakespeare is perhaps made for the close reading, the examination and analysis,  the scrutiny, the more-and-more to find, the Easter egg hunt.  As if the document had pockets, or corners or roads, as if the writer were builder and words were bricks.  All methods or rather literary devices were carefully coded, perhaps to man and to language.  Man’s language and literary devices may reflect on the man himself.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 130,” Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print. p.838

Abcarian, Richard, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature: The Human Experience: Reading and Writing. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016. Print. An Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130. The concept of love and beauty, Bergische Universität Wuppertal  (Anglistik und Amerikanistik) Introduction to Literary Studies,  2017 Anthology, Norton, 2005…

Book Review: Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”

The wartime setting in “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien supports the characters tragic journey, rucksack and vision of death.  Each item they carried was given “weight,” inclusive of magazines, foods, artillery, photos etc. The story takes place in the trench, real ones or perhaps fantasy trenches.  As if the weight of every item pulled them so many pounds further into their grave.  They lived with a vision of what they required to live and what they required for “last wish.” They lived a dream/death state of mind.  It was perhaps the “dream state” the “foxholes” conjured, where photos and fantasy life were made profound.  They speak knowledgeably of death, of “twitching and flopping.” (O’Brien 1072) The characters are emotionalized and supported by the setting.

Obrien, Tim, “The Things They Carried,” Richard Abercarian, Marvin Klotz and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature:  The Human Experience:  Reading and Writing.  New York:  Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016, Print. pp. 1070-1083

Richard Abercarian, Marvin Klotz and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature:  The Human Experience:  Reading and Writing.  New York:  Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016, Print

Book Review: Edgar Allan Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado”

Book Review:  Edgar Allan Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado”

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Edgar Allan Poe is a celebrated author, perhaps America’s finest, of such works as “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” “Fifty Stories for Boys,” and “The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.”  Edgar Allan Poe is known for his “poems, stories, criticism and journalism”-as well as literary devices like onomatopoeia. (Gaimain xiii) John Webster described Poe as “obsessed with death….as seeing the skull beneath the skin.” (Gaiman xiii) In Poe’s short story, “Cask of Amontillado,” he writes as if his own epilogue, every line a connotation or personification of the ultimate- death.  “Cask of Amontillado’s” main protagonist was “Fortunado,” or the personification of luck or lack there-of, which also equals death.  “Fortunado” is akin to the “American comic masterpiece,” “The Confederacy of Dunces” where Ignatius J. Reilly makes deep sighs as Kennedy’s main character, to “oh Fortuna.”  (Kennedy 1) Cask of Amontillado is set in the din of the Parisian Catacombs where Poe’s characters seem to be wandering around.  Poe described death with “bells tolling,” or a “Fierce light,” or “masonry,” or “a white web,” or to extinguish the “flambeaux.” (Poe 1019-1024)

Poe’s death theme brilliantly leads the reader, as if every “line” of life leads to death.  The tone becomes macabre and darkly comedic when Poe cites the grave dimensions as “depth 4 ft, width 3 ft, height 6 or 7 ft.” (Poe 1022) You must read Poe carefully, listening for assonance or onomatopoeia, or alliteration. Poe’s Tone is reflected in his use of personification of death.  None of Poe’s character appears to be literal or living, they all appear to be kicking over a pile of bones.  In the end, Poe’s theme suggests that all equals death, every word, every line, every breath, one arrives at the same domino stance.  Poe’s “Cask” could perhaps be a “flask” juxtaposed with a casket; one could drink themselves to death- “all roads lead to death” was Poe’s theme.

Works Cited:

Kennedy, John, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” Louisiana State University Press, 1980, p. 1

Poe, Edgar Allan, “Cask of Amontillado,” Richard Abercarian, Marvin Klotz and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature:  The Human Experience:  Reading and Writing.  New York:  Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016, Print, pp. 1019-1024

Poe, Edgar Allan, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” Barnes and Noble, 2011

Richard Abercarian, Marvin Klotz and Samuel Cohen, eds. Literature:  The Human Experience:  Reading and Writing.  New York:  Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016, Print


Book Review: “Likes” by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

Book Review:  “Likes” by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

“Likes” by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum is another coming of age story where there are three distinct familial characters:  father, mother and daughter.  The narration vacillates between the author and the father.  The crux of the story or plot has to do with the delicacy of family relationships and how parents respect the maturation of a child.  The plot employs the use of modern technology.  Technology and social media are threaded through the story, which drives a moving story via the child’s Instagram images. (Bynum 119) The narrator describes both parents “tracking” of their daughter’s interests, their direct way of relating personally to their child and lastly their ongoing desire for privacy with each other. (Bynum 123) The story presents perhaps a candid look into what makes up this century’s childhood and familial experience.  The title “Likes” may reflect on the ongoing attention to the child’s interests or other likes such as her inability to make friends or later technological likes as those in social media.  Perhaps much of childhood encompasses strange likes, like a parent’s rules or a child’s interests or friendships.  In the end, life is perhaps made up of these “likes” and the struggle for parent and child to align their likes and satisfy their own.  The story’s main protagonist is the father, who perhaps, in need of sexual attention is the most wounded by familial relationships.  The father becomes the focus.  The character of the daughter is told mostly through indirect characterization and even via the Instagram imagery.  Instagram and other social media may ironically, present modern youths convoluted story to the world. (Bynum 123) For the daughter, personality and indirect character development were done via the Instagram images. Modern children, it was suggested, may be more remote, less engaging or talkative from technological exposure. (Bynum 119) In the end, the success of one social media star suggested that this generation may, still yet, have a successful trajectory.  Both parents were also cold and remote as perhaps the Instagram imagery had also become a reluctant and guiding force in their lives.  Modern character development or personality for that matter may be hinged on social media where young users are likely products of such outcomes.  Parents may not be fond of the modern child’s personality development, it seemed as though they may even have a difficult time “liking,” them.  The impact of literary elements on the reader may guide the reader towards insight or compassion.  They may emotionalize the reader and connect them with an issue.  In this case, a reader may become ignited.  The connection with the story or the story’s analysis, may illuminate a reader to the point of activism or change.  A reader may place themselves within the context of the story’s plot or characterizations and utilize it as a juncture where they my engage in introspection.  The familial relationship as well as the technological issues in “Likes,” are controversial, parents may feel we have a lost generation.  They may equate a vision of their own with the intimate struggles of Bynum’s “Likes” characters family.

Shun- Lien Bynum, Sarah. “Likes.” Literature and Human Experience, edited by Richard Abcarian et al., Bedford/St. Martins, 2017, pp. 118-129