Taken in context of today's views on the subject, this book is hilarious yet frightening. M.C. Stopes produced what in 1918 must have been considered a scandalous and filthy tome, which discusses certain private aspects of married life in detail.
Many of the author's views are quite progressive. Subjects such as equality of self exploration and expression between the sexes are discussed as being vital to the establishment of a healthy relationship. The radical notion that wives should be allowed to read those books they desire is also mentioned. It also contains the astonishing revelation that women are physically able to enjoy marital relations and it may be the shortcomings of their husbands that prevents some from fully appreciating the joy of it.
In this regard, the book is quite refreshing. However, one must think these ideas would have been dangerous at the time of their publication and it was they, rather than the purely scientific explanations of the biological act which saw this book banned.
Though this book seems as though it were a serious study, some of the medical opinions are, of course, preposterous and laughable. That a married couple sharing a bed would be considered detrimental to the health and well being of both is rather amusing. The differentiation between the "English speaking races" and "others" such as the "Scandinavians" caused me to snort and chuckle with delight in its absurdity.
And yet some of the bold, immutable and blind ignorance of 1918 persists even in modern society. This is the frightening aspect of the book and many times I found my laughter and sense of modern superiority tempered by dread at how little we seem to have progressed in the area of education on the subjects discussed in this book.
I did find it somewhat humbling to consider that the science of today will likely become comic in later years.
As a serious scientific work, this book fails to deliver. There are far too many anecdotes and not enough hard evidence for many of the wild positions taken by Stopes. Perhaps this was due to the time in which it was written and the shame people attached to certain aspects of the content. However, it is odd to read with today's skepticism and I found myself longing for data to back up the author's claims.
In all, this was a brief and amusing book that appealed at once to my sense of humor, my critical personality and my interest in history. It was worth the read.
This is the second in Burrough's Barsoom series and it is excellent. It is, perhaps, not quite as excellent as A Princess of Mars. But it is excellent nonetheless. The same grand storytelling effortlessly mixes alien races, traditions, technologies and religions with John Carter's impeccable swordsmanship, sense of duty and honor.
As with its predecessor, one must read this book with an understanding of the prevailing prejudices at the time in which it was written. Some sentiments are fairly out of step with modern sensitivities.
However, the story is fast paced and well written. The adventure is enormous in scope as armies of nearly unfathomable size clash in a bloody schism between the old and new. John Carter finds himself not only a participant in but an architect of revolution on a planetary scale. All the while, the reader is left wondering whether Carter's personal struggles will result in victory.
Burroughs took some liberty with the passage of time in some portions of the story. These quantum shifts were noticeable but not jarring. And despite them this was a thoroughly enjoyable book which I devoured rapaciously. It was certainly a worthy successor to A Princess of Mars and I will certainly read it again.
The Barsoom series was a favorite of Carl Sagan who, in his landmark television series, Cosmos mentioned his youthful desire to visit Mars as had John Carter. After reading the excellent adventure, A Princess of Mars, I understand the strange pull of Barsoom.
The story is in the best tradition of "swords and stars" pulp in which a fighting man of Earth finds adventure, danger, battle, honor and romance against the harsh Martian landscape. It is fast paced and well written. I was scarcely able to put this book down until I had finished it. And I felt the pull of Barsoom drawing me to The Gods Of Mars almost immediately afterwards.
There are some stereotypes and prejudices that must be taken in context of the era in which the work was written. Otherwise, one finds oneself turning pages at a ferocious rate.
A Princess of Mars is an excellent start to a series that should appeal to fans of adventure and science fiction alike. There is a reason it has remained on bookshelves for so many years.
This book starts promisingly enough as a relatively decent lost civilization story. It starts quickly and grabs the reader with an interesting, larger than life adventurer. Until the halfway point, I found it rather enjoyable.
But at the meridian this decent lost civilization story somehow descends into a plodding, lackluster detective story. Some connection with the interesting first half is hinted at but much more than is necessary is left to the imagination of the reader.
This might not be a problem if the first half of the book were not painted so vividly. The effect is almost as if the author had penned a good short story and then attempted to extend it into a novel. In this respect, the attempt was a failure.
Nevertheless, though the first half eclipses the second, loose ends abound in this story. Interesting story lines are picked up; half explored, and then dropped in favor of the main plot. It also suffers some fairly jarring quantum shifts. At several points, I found myself with furrowed brow attempting to find some continuity and regain my understanding of what was going on.
Perhaps this is the author's style. But portions of the story are detailed so painstakingly and written so well in comparison that I find it difficult to attribute these anomalies to anything less than lack of skill.
There was a moment of anxiety towards the end that I must concede raised the hairs on the back of even my jaded neck. But unfortunately it was short lived and tangled in an obtuse mess of half realized imagery and broken consciousness.
Citadel of Fear is certainly not the worst book I have ever read. But from the halfway point until the end I did find it an absolute chore to read. It's a shame. It started out well and held much promise. I really wanted to like it.