The last section of this book was all “Sacred Eloquence” practice speeches. Some were very good, but more than a few focused on why it’s “necessary” to convert the world to Christianity and how absurd it is for an educated person not to be a Christian. There were even pieces about how impossible it is for government to work without religion or for people to act morally without it. The problem is that none of the arguments really worked. It was kind of weird. I felt like not only had none of these writers ever actually met someone who wasn’t Christian, but they just couldn’t imagine what it might be like to think or live in any way other than theirs. I felt like they lived in very sad, tiny worlds (and, unfortunately, there are still quite a few people who think that way).
There are some great selections in here. I’ve really enjoyed reading this book. I wish that the practice speeches were attributed better, since some I would like to read more of or learn more about some of them, but I don’t know where to find them. There are several anti-slavery pieces, which is wonderful, but also several pieces discussing the evils and dangers of Native Americans. It’s certainly an interesting collection and I wish Mr. Porter had said more about how he chose what to include!
This is a fascinating book. Unlike most instructional books of this nature today, there is no attempt by the author to either neutralize his presence in the text or to avoid commentaries on previous works or the subject which the student is not actually expected to be familiar with. Many of Mr. Porter’s comments (some of them rather extended) appear to be part of some kind of scholarly rivalry based on a fundamental disagreement about core principles relating to the subject. While these types of rivalries still very much exist, they rarely make it into writings intended to instruct beginning students. Of course, this may be partially because students are no longer as involved in academic discussions as they were once both permitted and expected to be. Anyhow, I’m enjoying the book very much and think this type of study of rhetoric could be very useful for many people who haven’t had access to it today (not to mention some of the lessons to priests and ministers would be useful to many people in those professions who seem not to get the same training or advice today). It’s too bad none of the public speaking classes I had growing up covered useful things like this. They were all focused more on format and less on actual delivery, which is a really big shame, since poor delivery will ruin the best speech and good delivery can make a poor speech appealing to listen to!
This is an absolutely fascinating book so far. It’s really interesting and incredibly illuminating. I am surprised at how little everyday speech has apparently chanted since this book was written because he accurately describes many of the most common American accents today. It’s fun to read this book – physically hold it and smell it and turn the pages, since it’s so very old. I find myself wondering who else held this book and turned these pages! The author has some great comments about Shakespeare and I’m looking forward to reading more of them.
The American Dream was an extremely strange, disturbing play. Parts of it were almost too absurd to really make any sense while the plot that was there was just creepy. I can’t even imagine what the impact of this play would be if one actually saw it performed! It’s extremely disturbing.
The preface to The American Dream was little more than a rant against critics. It read very strangely. Albee railed against critics, called them little more than censors and all but stated that they shouldn’t exist. It was a “they just don’t get my art” rand of the first order.
And it was followed by three clips from critics’ reviews of the show praising it highly.
This was an extremely strange play (The Zoo Story). I keep trying to figure out what it said about human nature or something, but I’m not certain that it really said anything. Peter was really dumb. He should have left as soon as Jerry mentioned that he would see what happened at the zoo on TV. That suggested that either Jerry was involved in something illegal or that Jerry was crazy (or both). The play was really just weird and disturbing.
It is indeed strange that Albee’s first premiere was in Berlin and in German, a language he does not speak a word of. I find it interesting that his second premiere was also in Berlin and his third play was commissioned for a festival in Italy, but opened in New York instead. He certainly had an odd beginning to his career as a playwright!