Friday, 14 December 2012

Book 84 of 2012: Oroonoko

Somehow when writing in the number that each book has been this year, somewhere around The Hobbit I got a bit confused and somehow ended up with two books labelled as #83. I only just realised this as I was writing up my reviews and I noticed that something wasn't tallying up right. Hopefully now I've got it all straight.

Oroonoko is another of my course books for my A230 OU course. This one tells the story of Oroonoko, an African prince, who is captured and sold into slavery. When he is captured he is reunited with his love, Imoinda, and due to his royal status is able to avoid doing any actual work. However everything goes bad when he tries to lead an escape attempt.

I found this quite a difficult book to read. I'm not sure exactly what it was about it, but something about the way that it was written just seemed to make it very hard to follow. I think that part of it was probably to do with the age of the text, it just seemed to have great long paragraphs of description which doesn't normally bother me, but the language was old-fashioned which I think just made it that bit trickier.

The notes in the back of the book were definitely useful. There were things that I probably wouldn't have been able to understand without them. In a book of this age there's a lot of historical context that you need to be aware of, which are all important points to appreciate the story. Most of them were quite short and I think they might have worked better as footnotes. It's a petty little point but the book is quite thin and because I was using a brand new edition and it was kind of stiff, so it was really awkward flicking back and forth from the front to the back.

There was a LOT of history and geography to take in. For a long time I wasn't actually clear about what was happening and where it was taking place. Luckily studying the course materials helped to make it clear and the assignment is dealing with a passage from the text that I feel quite happy writing about now. In my book journal I wrote 'hopefully I'll appreciate it more when I understand the context' which I think I do, I still don't particularly like the book though.

The final point to make is that the introduction and notes kind of give the ending away. It doesn't really bother me when I'm reading a course book, but if I'd been reading it for fun it would have been really annoying, especially as I don't like holding off reading the introduction until after I've read the book. Sometimes I think that books like these should let the text speak for itself and put all the additional information in at the end.

"A poet is a painter in his way, he draws to the life, but in another kind; we draw the nobler part, the soul and mind; the pictures of the pen shall outlast those of the pencil, and even worlds themselves."
Page 3

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