Friday, 14 October 2016

Michael McCooe – Common Era: War and Peace

Set in the Russian city of St. Petersburg in 1805, War and Peace is set in the era of Napoleon’s conquest of Western Europe.
The novel’s characters are introduced at a party, including socially awkward Pierre Bezukhov, ambitious Andrew Bolkonski, as well as the Rostovs – a notable Moscow family.


The Russian troops are mobilised in alliance with the Austrian empire, which is currently resisting Napoleon’s onslaught. Nicholas Rostov joins Andrew in heading to the front, where Andrew is wounded and long presumed dead at the Battle of Austerlitz, though he survives.
Read the article in full with Michael McCooe.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Michael McCooe – Common Era: Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary begins with a young Charles Bovary starting a new school where he struggles to fit in. Ridiculed by his classmates, Charles grows into a mediocre, dull adult.

Charles’ tough start

He first fails a medical exam but passes the second one to become a second-rate country doctor. His mother marries him off to a widow who dies soon afterward, leaving Charles much less money than he expected.
Charles then falls in love with a patient’s daughter named Emma and the two are married before Charles sets up his own dental practice. Emma had dreamed that marriage would be the solution to all of her problems as a young woman, but this is not the case and she immediately begins to dream of a more sophisticated life.
Read the article in full with Michael McCooe.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Michael McCooe – Common Era: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a fictional story by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg in the Roaring Twenties.
It takes a close look at the ‘American Dream’ which was a popular ideology at the time. As well as closely exploring themes of idealism, the novel also covers resistance to change, social upheaval, decadence and excess.

Setting the scene

It’s the summer of 1922 and a young man from Minnesota, (Nick Carraway), moves to New York to take a job in finance. Renting a house on Long Island, which at the time was a wealthy but unfashionable area, he moves in next door to a man named Jay Gatsby.
The neighbourhood is full of many people who have made their riches too soon to have established social connections and Gatsby in particular is prone to garish displays of wealth including extravagant Saturday night parties.
You can read this article in full with Michael McCooe.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Michael McCooe – Shakespeare: Hamlet

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Shakespeare (1892) is a cornerstone of classical literature.


The book begins by following the ghost of King Hamlet who is paying a visit to his old Castle in Elsinore, Denmark. He is first discovered by a pair of watchmen, then by the scholar Horatio.

Hamlet’s brother Claudius has inherited the throne, while also marrying the King’s widow, Queen Gertrude. Prince Hamlet, the son of the Queen and deceased King, is taken to see the ghost by the watchmen, and it speaks to him. The ghost says it is indeed his father’s spirit, and that he was murdered by none other than Claudius. It tells his son to seek revenge, before disappearing with the dawn.

Read this article in full with Michael McCooe.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Michael McCooe – 16th Century: Don Quixote

Don Quixote is a novel written by Miguel de Cervantes about a middle-aged gentleman, whom the book is named after, from the region of La Mancha in central Spain.
Don Quixote develops some chivalrous ideas from the books he has read, taking up his lance and sword to defend the helpless and fight evil.

The First Part

By riding the roads of Spain on an old horse by the name of Rocinante, Don Quixote searches for glory and grand adventure. He eventually gives up food, shelter and comfort for a peasant woman named Dulcinea del Toboso, whom he envisions as a princess.
This adventure is deemed therefore as a failure, and his second expedition is much more fruitful as he has an accomplice in Sancho Panza, who he manages to convince to come along by promising to make Sancho the wealthy governor of an isle.
You can read the article in full with Michael McCooe.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Michael McCooe – Literature: Ulysses

James Joyce’ novel Ulysses holds a special place in the heart of classical literature. One of the greatest masterpieces of modern literature, it’s often seen as being as hard to explain as it is to read – though the story is fairly simplistic.

Summary of Ulysses

The book is about two characters – Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus – during a day in Dublin. Its innovative and mythical style keeps the reader guessing while remaining engaged throughout through a stunning portrait of internal psychological processes and high art.
Bloom is aware that his wife, Molly, is probably having an affair at home and buys a liver, attends a funeral and watches a young girl at the beach. Meanwhile, Daedalus expands on a theory of Shakespeare's Hamlet in a public library, visits a maternity ward and meets Bloom to head on a drunken spree.
You can read the article in full on the new site of Michael McCooe.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Michael McCooe – Literature: In Search of Lost Time

In Search of Lost Time is a novel by Marcel Proust which is written in seven parts. It translates from French to Remembrance of Things Past.
The novel is the story of Proust’s own life, told as an allegorical search for truth, and is one of French fiction’s greatest works of the early 20th Century.

Early life of Proust

In January 1909, Proust was dipping a rusk into his tea and recalled his childhood. It prompted him to begin writing his novel in July. The first novel, Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way) was finished and published in 1912, and he had planned to write a further two sequels.
During the war years, Proust was able to triple the length of his novel, enriching and deepening its feeling, texture, and construction, as well as enhancing the realistic and satirical elements of it. This made it into the profound novel that it is today, having stood the test of time as an achievement of human imagination.
You can read the article in full with Michael McCooe.