I have quite a few books to read now. I am reading on Women in Greek Mythology as they are represented in the most earliest plays from 600 BC. Yes the Greeks invented plays and theatre, not as we know it today. Their theatre originally had a chorus and one actor, always male for all roles, women did not appear on stage. On the slopes of the Acropolis in Athens you can see the remains of the oldest theatre in the Western World originally with 17,000 seats, the theatre of Dyonisus Eleuthereus where the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes were first performed.
The Book is entitled Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes, the author takes us through all the women of greek history and how they are portrayed, from Pandora to Phaedra, Medea, Helen, etc. The author also explains how Greek society viewed itself, it was the original patriarchy and women were largely kept at home and rarely seen in public. The Greek plays based on myths and the religion of the time presents the complex character of these women and of the gods. The stories are violent and full of atrocious acts by those women as we know them, the story line is twisted and the gods and goddesses always have a large part to play. Very educational and instructive.
The second book I am reading is Stalin’s Library by Geoffrey Roberts. It is the story of Stalin’s vast library and how he accumulated all 25,000 books during his lifetime from the earliest age to his death in 1952. Like Mao in China, Stalin who was his mentor, read everything and annotated the text he read. The author explains what drove this complex and paranoid man to read so much, his thirst for knowledge and understanding based on his own fanatical views of the triumph of Marxism.
The following book is by the first Egyptian (arab) writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Naguib Mahfouz. The book is entitled On Literature and Philosophy. Mahfouz lived from 1911 to 2006. In his lifetime he saw old Egyptian society become the beacon of the Arab world in art and culture but also in politics and the development of the ideas of modern society through socialism and secularism. With the overthrow of the Ottoman dynasty in Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1921, ideas of modernity then swept the old colonies of the Arab world.
Egypt being the most populous country of the region and with the humiliation of British occupation, a weak monarchy tied to ultra-conservative ideas, many Egyptian politicians openly presented a model of a modern Egyptian society based on science, education and secularism. King Farouk was forced into exiled and the army took over, unfortunately not realizing the hopes and aspirations of the people. This is what Mahfouz wrote about not only in his many novels but also in other writings presented in this book.
I was fortunate to have lived in Egypt in 1989 to 1991 and observe Egyptian society.
I have other books to read, 4 which I have not started yet, but they promise to be equally interesting.