The following is a list of books that I have read thus far in 2004:

1) The Aeneid by Vergil
2) All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque
3) All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
4) Animal Farm by George Orwell
5) As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
6) As You Like It by William Shakespeare

These books are the beginning of a list of 100 'great books' compiled by an editor for Barnes and Noble. I plan to read all 100 of them. Next on the list is The Awakening, by Kate Chopin.

The following is a synopsis of As You Like It, my most recently completed book:

As You Like It is a romantic comedy play written by William Shakespeare. A large part of the play is set in the Forest of Arden, seemingly in France. Rosalind, the protagonist, disguises herself as a boy, Ganymede, in the forest, and she talks Orlando, whom she has fallen in love with, to court her as if she were Rosalind. Confusion soon reigns, because Ganymede is in fact Rosalind, but Orlando does not know this. Orlando is on the run from the court because his brother Oliver has plotted to kill him. Oliver seems to be jealous of Orlando's natural charm. Being the older brother, Oliver is entitled to the full inheritance left by their late father, Sir Rowland de Boys. Oliver does not provide for Orlando's education or betterment, thus causing Orlando to become bitter with his brother. At the beginning of the play, the two brothers quite obviously hate each other.

Two other brothers, Duke Senior and Duke Frederick mirror the hatred between Orlando and Oliver. In their case, Duke Frederick has forced his older brother Duke Senior into exile. Duke Senior flees to the Forest of Arden, along with some of his loyal followers. Word reaches the court that Duke Senior and his followers are content in the Forest of Arden.

Duke Senior's daughter is Rosalind, and her cousin Celia is Duke Frederick's daughter. These two young women have been raised together since birth, and are best friends of the closest degree. When Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind from his dukedom, Celia vows to go with her into exile. Accompanied by the court jester, Touchstone, the two women go into disguise, Rosalind as Ganymede (a young man) and Celia as Aliena (a young woman, Ganymede's sister).

Now, Orlando, Adam (Oliver's servant loyal to Orlando), Rosalind, Celia, Touchstone, Duke Senior and his followers are all in the Forest of Arden. Several subplots begin to emerge as various couples court each other, the vanguard of which is Orlando courting Rosalind, ostensibly through Ganymede. Eventually, Oliver is banished to the forest also by Duke Frederick. Oliver is saved from a lioness by his brother Orlando, and is reconciled with him. Oliver joins the lovefest by courting Celia.

At the end of the play, several couples get married in the forest, and Duke Frederick is reformed. He goes to a monastery, and Duke Senior and his followers are allowed to return to the court in peace.

I will follow up this brief synopsis with analysis in later posts.

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