Friday, November 14, 2014

The 306 Greatest Books #127 - The Lady of the Lake

The next book up on my reading of the 305 Greatest Books is The Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List.

The Lady of the Lake is a story written as a rhyming poem where, for the most part, each line is eight syllables and every two lines rhyme throughout the entire poem. This structure is often interrupted though, when other aspects of the story take place, such as someone singing a song where the structure would change to every other line rhyming, or some other poetical construct. Structurally speaking this poem is a marvel to read. The poem is laid out fantastically and it is easy to get lost in the words on the page. Unfortunately, this is also a detriment to the story because I found it extremely difficult to follow due to getting lost in the words. Unlike Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, which I felt created a flowing poem and an easy to follow story, this story is very difficult to piece out of the poem. I had to read summaries of the chapters before and after reading them in order to fully understand what I had read. Also, many times the flow of the story would be interrupted by lines that were meant to rhyme but didn't. For instance "stood" and "blood" would be used as a rhyming pair and although they look like they should rhyme it really creates an incongruity within the flow. I wonder if perhaps some of these instances indicate that these words were pronounced differently back when this story was written. This also goes for words with extra syllables that didn't fit the pattern of the poem. It makes me stop and have to reread a line 3 or 4 times, breaking the flow of the story. As for the story, like I said, the story itself is difficult to piece out of this work and I wonder if that is even the reason it is on this list. I assume it is on the list because it is structurally a literary masterpiece but as a story I can not recommend it.

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