Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fiction can be educational

Fiction is usually considered a form of entertainment, but it can also teach you lot. And I'm not just talking about writers learning their craft. Even casual readers can learn a lot from fiction.

One of the more famous examples is "Moby Dick." While some readers might find Melville's classic dry and lengthy, they can learn a lot from it about whaling.

Recently, myself, I've learned quite a bit about French and Italian theater and acting in Rafael Sabatini's "Scaramouche." While "Scaramouche" was only a kicking off point for me, it lead me to places on the Web that were informative. Now I'm chomping at the bit to see some of these old theatrical art forms in practice, though it's not likely I'll see such a traveling troupe in my area. Still, elements of Renaissance theater are kept alive in opera, at Renaissance festivals and a few other venues, so hopefully I can get my fill there.

Of recent interest, I've been drawn to Ruggero Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci," an opera in two acts with an ending I find quite dark.


Howard von Darkmoor said...

Ahh, interesting direction Logical Misanthropy is exploring. Opera, dramatic presentation, classical romance.

I enjoy reading your blog, Ty, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Ty: I really hope you are enjoying "Scaramouche." I really love Sabatini's books.

As for "Moby Dick" and whaling ... if you have an interest, you should try to get to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. It's a great museum, recreating a 17th century New England whaling town. Tied up at the docks are several saling vessels, one of which is an actual whaler lovingingly preserved. You can go aboard and down into the decks where they did much of the bloody work. Absolutely fascinating.

-- Steve

Swashbuckler said...

I just realized there's an option to post as "other" as opposed to "Google/Blogger" or "Anonymous." Henceforth, I shall be known as Swashbuckler here.

Geez, I'm slow on the uptake sometimes!

-- Steve

Ty said...

HvD, as I said, fiction can open new worlds for you. I've never had any interest in opera, other than maybe some of Wagner's music.

Steve, I've never been to Mystic Seaport, but I have spent some time in Newport, Rhode Island. The Newport ships and museums I saw didn't focus much on whaling, more on U.S. Navy history, but it was still great stuff.
As for "Scaramouche" and Sabatini, so far I'm enjoying it immensely. His writing style is easier on the eyes and brain than that of Dumas, though I'm thinking ole Alexandre has him for overall plotting. "Scaramouche" has a good plot, but there seems to be a little too much serendepity for my taste. For characterization in main protagonists, I think Sabatini is on equal ground with Dumas. However, I think Dumas' secondary characters are stronger and more interesting.
Still, I've not finished "Scaramouche" yet.

Howard von Darkmoor said...

I picked up Scaramouche a few months back (my first Sabatini as well), but have yet to read it. It will probably be a bit, too, as I've fallen behind on reviews I need to do.

I look forward to reading his works, though, based upon all this enthusiastic discussion by Steve and TW.