Thursday, May 10, 2007

Isle of Wight

Classes started and I got busy, as shown by my sparse (ok, nonexistent) posts the last couple days.

For English this week we have read:
  • Genesis 1 and 2 from three different translations of the Bible
  • a few short pieces by Virginia Woolfe and Katherine Mansfield
  • the first 50 pages of Jane Austen's Persuasion
For humanities we have studied dozens of paintings, listened to a few pieces of music, and read Shakespeare's Macbeth. I visited the National Gallery a couple of days ago to look at paintings that I have to write papers on. I have about twelve pages of papers due each week for the two classes combined. Yuck.

I'm also sitting in on lectures for the English history class. They're very interesting. This week we have covered from Roman times just up to the invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066. We've covered an amazing amount of history in a really short time.

On Tuesday morning we went to the British Library to see an exhibit called Sacred, which displayed an immense collection of sacred writings from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It was one of the most awe-inspiring exhibits I have ever seen. They had documents from the fourth century. They had a 1611 King James Bible. They had beautiful "illuminated" (illustrated and embellished) manuscripts that were centuries or millenia old.

The preservation of several of the documents in the exhibit cost many people their lives. It was humbling to think about Tyndale, who was burned at the stake for his translation and publication of the English New Testament that was on exhibit.

Yesterday we took a coach (bus) from London to Portsmouth, the headquarters of the Royal Navy. From there we took a ferry out to the Isle of Wight, where Queen Victoria built a summer home. We went on a six-mile bike ride across the countryside from Ryde to the Osborne House. It was beautiful, with rolling green hills, country cottages, and a cool misty breeze.

The Osborne House was beautiful. The gardens especially were amazing. The inside seemed a bit self-absorbed--with Victoria's self, that is. There were huge paintings everywhere of the royal family, and large charts of royal lineage. It seemed to be a monument to the queen, which is guess is what you build when you're a queen.

The ceilings in the house are amazing. Check them out if you're ever there.

Half of our group rode bikes from Ryde out to the Osborne House, and the other half rode them back--except for me. Dr. Jacoby had me lead the second group back. I was glad, because it was nice to get some exercise, and it was a lot more fun to be on a bike in the beautiful countryside than cooped up in a stuffy bus.

Today we I had classes all morning. After lunch I went to the park and played Frisbee with Kendall, the Jacobys' youngest daughter. She's here kind of by herself, since she doesn't go to school and she doesn't have any friends here who are her age. I think she was glad to have someone to play with her.

Up tomorrow: Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament.

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