A couple of weeks ago it came to my attention that the Egotist's Club blog - from whom, readers may recall, I borrowed the 30 Days Book Challenge - have started a new round of structured literary posting. While I'm far too behind on that to even consider participating, interested parties should go read all their Book Meme 2012 posts.
And speaking of the Book Challenge, I should probably be getting back to that:
Post 9 - A Book You Thought You Wouldn't Like But Ended Up Loving
One of the things I appreciated about my college education was the encouragement to read things that were out of my comfort zone, making me and the other students more well-rounded, better educated individuals, at least in theory.
Which isn't to say that "loving" isn't too strong a word for my feelings about, say, Aristophanes' comedic play The Frogs, but I still found it much more enjoyable than one would expect of a work over twenty-four centuries old.
Ironically enough, one of the things that I enjoyed about it was how modern it seemed at times. The first half of the book, particularly, is absolutely rife with the sort of metafictional commentary that one would expect to find in a more modern piece - the first line, even, is one of the characters offering to present the audience (this was a play, remember) with "one of the old gags".
Not all of the play was this sort of modern-seeming meta-referencing, however - several amusing parts, such as a sequence where Dionysus and his slave Xanthias keeping switching around their single Heracles costume (depending on whether or not it was advantageous to be mistaken for Heracles), have the air of something that made slightly more sense, or at least had better resonance, in its original context*. On the other and, much of the second act devolves into a argument among Dionysus and various Greek literary figures, which I found to be highly technical and not interesting in the least.
But, if only for the first part where Dionysus and Xanthias are making their farcical journey to the Underworld, I am glad that I was compelled to read The Frogs. It's always a good idea to break away from "the usual" once in a while, and believe me - not much about The Frogs is "usual".
*On the other hand, I freely admit that "slapstick comedy" isn't my preferred genre, and it's quite possible that the quick-change clothes-swapping trope is alive and well in contemporary comedy and just escaped my notice.