- Author: Dermot Healy (1947-2014)
- Title: The Goat’s Song
- Published: 1994
- List of Challenges 2019
- Monthly plan
- Part 1: Alcoholic playwright
- Part 2: Sergeant (father of actress) in RUC during The Troubles in No. Ireland
- Part 3: Aspiring actress in a toxic relationship with playwright
- ..and still sleeping her way to the top in the theatre world.
- These are the basic components.
- Part 1 and Part 3 were filled with the shenanigans of
- Jack (stereotype alcoholic Irishman) and Catherine.
- These lovers will never be compatible.
- They do nothing, go nowhere and do it slowly.
- It was like watching somebody kill themselves with a butter-knife.
- Part 2 was the BEST.
- Dermot Healy should have written the entire book about
- the complex character Jonathan Adams (No. Irish policeman).
- You sensed the fear Adams experienced
- of being assassinated by the IRA.
- Strong point: the book…it is intense, part 2 is riveting.
- Weak point: the writing is not entrancing and beautiful throughout.
- Author: Terry Pratchett
- Title: Snuff (Watch City #8; Discworld #39/41)
- Genre: Fantasy
- Published: 2011
- List Reading Challenges
- Monthly planning
- Trivia: Snuff won the
- 2012 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize
- and was nominated for the
- 2012 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel
- as well as the Prometheus Award
- Commander Vimes is persuaded by his wife, Lady Sybil
- and Lord Vetinari (boss) to take a family holiday.
- They go back to Sybil’s roots in the countryside.
- Comic relief: Wilikins, Vimes’s thug-turned-butler, accompanies them.
- As Vimes arrives in the countryside he senses crime.
- “Where there are little crimes, large crimes are not far behind”
- Commander Vimes, pg 169)
- Pratchett, though diagnosed in 2007 with dementia,
- penned a number of sizable pieces while living with the disease.
- He said only his spelling and typing were affected
- …..he still had the
- words to write 5 more Discworld novels.
- Snuff was great fun to read.
- I haven’t laughed out loud while reading…in a long time.
- I’d love to visit “the therapeutic baths at Ham-on-Rye” (pg 25)!
- I would recommend using an audio book.
- Through the voices the story and the
- quirky characters come alive!
- Author: J. Conrad (1857-1924)
- Title: The Heart of Darkness
- Published: 1902
- Audio book: 3 hr 49 min
- Narrator: Kenneth Branagh
- Plot: Wikipedia
- List of Challenges
- Monthly plan
- Classic Club Master list
- Despite my restraint (book embargo) I still bought
- 5 classic books in January.
- I was disappointed….not having enough self-control.
- The plan for February is to read as many classics as
- I can….on my IPOD!
- There are 20 audio classics just waiting for me.
- The Heart of Darkness has been on TBR since 2017.
- Love triangles: none
- Women: Kurtz’ fiancée in Brussels and native mistress in Congo
- Major characters: Marlow and Kurtz
- Minor character: “The Russian” (…very irritating Russian accent on audio book)
- Genre: Gothic horror novella
- Plot twists: no twists or turns only the the idea of
- ‘what is going to happen’ kept me reading
- POV: unnamed narrator (1st pers) tells the reader about
- Marlow telling his story also as 1st person narrator (frame POV)
- Title: The Heart of Darkness: interiour workings of the mind
- Symbol: journey up Congo River = sin
- Symbol: journey down Congo River = redemption
- Structure: 3 parts
- present day London/Belgium
- journey from Congo Central station –> to Kurtz up the Congo River
- return to Europe and a meeting with Kurtz’ fiancée
- Message: obsession that drives its victim (Kurtz) beyond the limits of humanity
- Message: the darkness of the human heart…man’s capacity for evil.
- Setting: London –> Belgium –> Congo –> Belgium
- Major theme: madness, moral corruption
- Minor themes: racism, violence
- Body count: 2 (Kurtz and helmsman)
- Conrad’s statement: cynical, critical take on European Imperialism
- This was NOT my favorite Conrad novel/novella.
- I had to force myself to sit down an listen to this audio book.
- Part 1 started with lyrical descriptions of moon, sea, mist, light
- that initially hooked me to keep reading.
- Unfortunately these were the only beautiful descriptions in the book IMO.
- Part 2: chaotic description of a steamship struggling to creep up river.
- Part 3: climax: Marlow and Krutz finally meet.
- Conrad did me a favor and described his book for me
- with his comments about Kurtz’ pamphlet:
- “vibrating with eloquence…but too high strung”.
- This book is Conrad’s way of asking ourselves
- …if we would have the courage like Kurtz to peer over
- …the edge of the abyss: “The horror, the horror”.
- Conrad captured something about the way power
- operated across continents and race.
- I would highly recommend the award winning
- book Congo by David Reybourck. (2014)
- It is a gripping epic imperialistic policy of the Belgians in Congo.
- . . . more exciting than the novel The Heart of Darkness!
“Watching the coast…is like thinking about an enigma
There it is before you smiling, frowning, inviting,
grand, mean, insipid or savage and always mute with an air of whisper
‘Come and find out.’
- Author: Jenny Erpenbeck
- Title: Go, Went, Gone
- Published: 2015
- Trivia: Literary Awards
- Reading does not stop when you lay down the book.
- It leaves a weight upon our waking thoughts.
- I read this book in one day….
- …it felt like breathing pure oxygen.
- I don’t care for fiction unless the
- emotional payoff is worth the time it takes
- to draw out some sort of meaning.
- This was a perfect example of fiction with a
- …social conscience.
- The book drained me….in a good way.
- I haven’t read a fiction book that swept me into the story as this one did.
- Erpenbeck touches on a ‘heikel punt’ (dutch) sensitive issue
- …migrants…in Germany.
- You can’t turn on the news without being confronted with it.
- This is exactly what happens to the main character Richard.
- Skillful writing….is a gift.
- I do not have the mental energy to write a review.
- I am empty.
- Please have a look at an excellent
- …review by Reese @Typings
- She summed it up perfectly.
- Jenny Erpenbeck is truly a very gifted writer.
- This book was runner-up for
- …Man Booker 2018 (international)
- ...but is worthy of winning the prize!
- The best book I’ve read this year
- …a stunning achievement.
- Absolutely #MustRead
- Author: A. Miller
- Title: The Death of a Salesman
- Opening: February 10 1949
- Genre: tragedy of a common man
- Trivia: 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and 1949 Tony Award for Best Play
- 50 Best Plays of the Past 100 years.
- List of Challenges 2018
- Monthly plan
- List of Plays
- Classic Club Master list
- Before we begin the book….we know how it will end!
- The story revolves around
- …Willy Loman, (…notice name “low man”).
- He is a 63 yr salesman, who cannot understand
- …how he failed and cannot live the American Dream.
- Central: the hardships that come with trying
- …to meet social expectations in America.
- Irony: We never learn in the play what Willy sells!
- Willy Loman – insecure, self-deluded traveling salesman.
- He mirrors an everyday “character” of Post WWII American society
- inflexible to advice he just shuts people out and refuses to listen
- Tragic flaw: ridiculous idea of being “well-liked” as a way to succeed.
- Linda Loman – quintessential 50s housewife, devoted doormat
- blinded by loyality.
- Biff is telling her the truth but she is not listening.
- Hap Loman: son who represents Willy’s sense of importance,
- ambition, servitude to expectations.
- He lived in Biff’s shadow all of his life, ignored.
- Biff Loman: son who represents Willy’s vulnerable, poetic, tragic side.
- He has had twenty to thirty jobs,
- all of them fail to improve his station in life.
- But Biff is the only character in the play
- who changes from ignorance to knowledge.
- Generations of Loman men betray their family.
- They place their desires above their families well-being.
- Grandfather: suddenly leaves when Willy was 4 yr.
- Father: suddenly leaves to find success in Alaska.
- Willy: betrays family (wife) with s sordid affair.
- Sons: Biff and Hap, abandon father
- in restaurant to trail after 2 women.
Theme: suicide as a means
- Willy is determined to eliminate himself in
- what has turned out to be an unfulfilling life.
- The payment of his insurance policy will help family survive.
- Suicide is a method for something else.
- Irony: Willy Loman is worth more dead
- ….than alive.
- Structure: 2 acts + Requiem (118 pg)
- Reading time: 2,5 hours
- The acts are divided into conversations
- about the past and present.
- Timeline: an evening and the following day.
- The he action is interrupted by
- flashbacks or memories of a
- period approximately 17 years earlier.
- late 1920s – early 1930s (The Depression)
Staging the past and present:
- Shakespeare never tried to show the past as the present.
- His characters describe a past event in dialogue.
- Miller uses the forestage to illustrate
- Willy’s imaginings the of past.
- Flashbacks track Willy’s mental decline.
- Miller was modern because of his staging (forestage)
- and he believed a tragic downfall can happen
- to a common man, as Willy Loman.
- Aristotle stated a tragic hero is always
- a very important person.
- This is one performance I wish I had seen March 2012
- Death of a Salesman (link play review NYT, 2012)
- with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
- It is a novel in a nutshell…so powerful!
- I’ve watched the movie (1985) starring Dustin Hoffman.
- To my delight I found the complete audio recording
- of the Broadway play (2012) click here
- and listen to Hoffman’s stunning performance!
- The voices mesmerized me.
- You could hear Willy hallucinatory….delusional.
- Death of a Salesman is considered the best play
- …written by an American playwright.
Feedback: comment Cleo @ClassicalCarousel (new blog!)
This play was just a complex as a novel…and only 2,5 hrs reading time!
I did not even go into the symbols in the play (rubber hose, silk stockings and a flute)…but you can discover them your self. I did notice after reading the play that Arthur Miller used music as a symbol. If I had not listened to the 2012 version on You Tube…I’d never known! You miss this symbol if you are not aware that the play begins and ends with flute music…and at other times in the play. It is a reminder to Willy that he could have chosen a free and wild life in the country like his father did. Lost opportunity…poor Willy
Last thought: my favorite quote:
- “Willy was a salesman.
- He’s a man way out there in the blue
- …riding on a smile and a shoeshine,”
- Author: V. Woolf
- Title: Mrs Dalloway
- Published: 1925
- Genre: novel (224 pg)
- Themes: mental illness, feminism, bisexuality
- Writing style: free indirect discourse
- List Reading Challenges 2018
- Monthly planning
- Classic Club Master list
- Oxford World Classic is an excellent choice to read.
- ISBN 9780199536009
- There is a trove of extra information available
- …even a map of Mrs. Dalloway’s London!
- I also listened to the audio book ( 7 hours 5 minutes)
- I like to know what I’m getting myself into before I read a classic.
- This book is best read after doing some research.
Scrope Purvis is name of arms dealer who made a huge amount of money for Nobel Explosives Company that provided arms for WW I (WW I)
Lady Bexborough : is the woman Clarissa most admired Lady Bexborough refers to Kathrine Mansfield who died in 1923. (good friend of V. Woolf)
Structure: There are no chapter headings. Big Ben: The chiming of Big Ben is a structure technique. “First a warning, musical; then the hour irrevocable.” Also the storyline is an overlapping of observations. We read of moments of ‘near misses’. People whose paths cross but are never meeting. This feels like pathos that appeals to our emotions…the “what if'”-situations.
Images: Many images take you into WW I. Septimus experiences many hallucinations. He sees Evans coming out of the trees. “But the branches parted. A man in grey was actually walking towards them. It was Evans!” Shortly after WWI there was a project to plant young trees as a memorial to the war dead.
Favorite quote: description of friends Septimus and Evans
“It was a case of two dogs playing on the hearth-rug; one worrying a paper screw, snarling, snapping, giving a pinch, now and then at the old dog’s ear, the other lying somnolent, blinking at the fire, raising a paw, turning and growling good temperedly.” Amazing!
Favorite quote: description of Elizabeth (Clarissa’s daughter)
“..like a hyacinth sheathed in glossy green, with buds tinted a hyacinth which has had no sun.”
Sexuality: We think with a title like Mrs. Dalloway the book wil be all about marital bliss….but Clarissa was in love with Sally Seton “a kiss that turned the world upside down.” Sally has a radiance as she enters the party unexpectedly! We read the Clarissa’s erotic desires. Woolf also creates a critique up the social system that restrains people. Virginia Woolf creates fluid characters and a fluid sexuality is included in them.
Marriage: Clarissa and Richard…”They went in and out of each other’s lives without any effort” There is a need for space and freedom within a relationship.
- I knew one day I would read Virginia Woolf.
- It has taken me decades to get to this point.
- Mrs. Dalloway is a day in the life novel.
- Mrs.Dalloway reflects on her choices made 30 years earlier.
- …marriage proposal by Peter Walsh
- …decides to marry Richard and ends up in a ‘chilly’ relationship.
- It is centers around four intersecting lives in Edwardian England.
- Woolf shows the interaction between
- ….proper British people who speak politely to one another.
- The reader senses that there are
- …fierce and passionate undercurrents and
- ..thoughts that seems to be unspoken.
- Read: the E-book…as I listened to the audio book.
- Juliet Stevenson is an excellent narrator!
- Movie: watched Vanessa Redgrave as Mrs. Dalloway
- Movie: watched The Hours (N. Kidman, M. Streep and J. Moore)
- The book was better than any film!
Strong point: something new for the 1920’s
- It’s a novel that takes place in a single day in June.
- This was new and certainly different in 1925.
- James Joyce did it in 1922. (Ulysses )
- Mrs. Dalloway is considered Woolf’s masterpiece.
- She deals with mental illness (shell-shock WW I, Septimus).
- How the mental ill are handled and especially
- …how difficult is was
- …to care (Rezia) for a person suffering mental issues.
- Woolf also able to encode lesbian-erotic into the text (Sally Seton)
- …that passed the censors in 1925!
- #MustRead…at least once in your life!
- Author: C. Dickens
- Title: Great Expectations
- Published: 1861
- List Reading Challenges 2018
- Monthly planning
- Classic Club Master list
- Trivia: Victorian Reading (1861); Reading England (Kent)
Genre: novel ( 461 pg)
- This book starts out fatigued and colorless.
- Joe the smithy and Mrs, Joe (Pip’s acerbic sister) flat characters.
- Limping convict Magwitch midst the muskets in the marsh
- …we know he will be a pivotal person in Pip’s life.
- Waiting for the Gothic parts of the book and Miss Havisham.
- But unfortunately cobwebs, a faded wedding dress and
- …clocks all stopped at 8:40 am do not a classic make.
- This book just missed something
- …it felt incomplete like:
- burger without a shake
- coffee without cake
- pie without the filling.
- I know Dickens can do better!
- The book got off to to a rough start.
- The audio book I was using was awful.
- I just could not read with
- …voices that kept screeching! (Mrs. Joe)
- Luckily Audible.com accepts book exchanges.
- I would NOT recommend Great Expectations
- (narrator Matt Lucas) 2018.
- The best narrator is
- ….Simon Prebble’s version date 2011.
- Great Expectations
- Length: 18 hrs and 32 mins
My Dickens template.…
- Deaths : Mrs Joe Gargery (Pip’s sister) – Drummle (dies in an accident)- Miss Havershim – Magwitch (in hospital)- Compeyson (drowns in Thames)
- Nicknames: Philip is called “Pip”, old chap, Handel and Wolf; Dummmle is called ‘Spider’. Whopsle takes a stagename as actor Waldengarver – Orlick called himself Dolge – Magwitch (Provis or Mr Campbell) Mr. Barley (Clara’s father) nicknamed “GrufAndGrim”.
- Star crossed lovers: Estella and Pip
- Little person (dwarf): None
- Little baby dies: None
- Prop: (secret) letters sent from Pip to Wemmick; Miss Havisham to Pip – Wemmick to Pip (burn after reading!) – sent by Orlick to lure Pip into an ambush – letter from Joe for Pip
- Eccentric but loving: None (no great caricature like Mr. Micawber in DC)
- Lawyer: Mr Jaggers – confidential agent for others, all with secrets to be kept!
- Unrequited love: Miss Havershim….jilted by the altar by her fiancé
- Profesional money lender: None
- Villian: Dolge Orlick (murderer)
- Trusting and naive girl: None
- Young lower class girl…reached a good position: Estella, ( adopted by Miss H.)
- Marriage: Biddy and Joe Gargery – Wemmick and Miss Stiffens – Clara and Herbert
- Simpleton….but very loving: Mr. Joe Gargery
- Schoolmaster: Mr Matthew Pocket, Pip’s tutor (education always in Dickens’s novels)
- Fairy godmother: Miss Havisham…but in a Gothic way
- ….unlike the lovable Aunt Betsey in DC.
- Dickens likes to toss shoes for luck: …as Pip leaves for London;
- …old shoe tossed …for Barkis and Peggoty when they get married! (DC)
- What is a ‘toady neighbor? Mrs. Coiler (flatterer; sycophant)
- Quirky names:
- Flopson: nurse for the Pocket’s family… described as a non-commissioned officer
- Pumblechook…Dickens creates a new adjective
- ….”Pumblechookian parlour” (beautifully decorated)
- Bentley Drummle: who was so sulky a fellow that he even took up a book
- …as if its writer had done him an injury.
- Georgiana: indigestive single woman, who
- …called her rigidity religion, and her liver love.
- Son caring for father: Wemmick cares for his father (hard of hearing) “The Aged”
- Daughter caring for father: Clara Barley and her father ‘GrufAndGrim’ Barley.
- Theater: description of the hystrical amateur performance of Hamlet (ch 31)
- Friends for life: Herbert Pocket and Pip (…in DC it was Tommy Traddles and Davy)
- Pub: The Three Jolly Bargemen ….in DC it was The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters
- Strangest quote:
- “Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better.” (ch 18)
- What does this mean?
- …it’s alright to talk big (brag) but it is better to act on
- …what you say and keep your word (holdfast).
- This is one of the few covers NOT showing a small orphaned boy...David Copperfield
- ….but the rook nests that surrounded his first home The Rookery.
- Author: C. Dickens
- Title: David Copperfield
- Published: 1849
- David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures
- …on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood
- to his vocation as a successful novelist.
- David Copperfield—the novel he described as his “favorite child”.
- Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create
- …one of his most popular works.
- It is filled with tragedy and comedy. (Mr. and Mrs Micawber!)
Literary device: foreshadowing
- David is blind to the love that has been in front of him
- …since childhood, Agnes Wickfield.
Ch 35: blindness – foreshadowing
- David Copperfield:
- “If I thought Dora could ever love me.
- …or ever love somebody else…I don’t know what I’d do
- — go out of my mind , I think.”
- Aunt Betsey:
- Shaking her head and smiling gravely: “Blind, blind, blind.
- “Oh, Trot…blind, blind”
- David Copperfield: “…and without knowing why I felt a
- vague unhappy loss or
- ….want of something overshadow me like a cloud.
Ch 58: blindness – foreshadowing
- David Copperfield:
- “For many months I travelled with this ever-darkening cloud upon my mind.
- Some blind reasons that I had for NOT returning home…”
Ch 60: blindness – foreshadowing
- David Copperfield…about to see Agnes after 3 years abroad
- “…for I could not be here once more and so near Agnes
- …without the revival of those regrets...”
- “Oh, Trot, I seemed to hear my aunt say once more;
- …and I understood her better now
- — Blind, blind, blind.“
- I want to read all of Charles Dickens’s novels the next 12 months.
- Having read Our Mutual Friend and David Copperfield in the last 8 weeks
- …I looked for the similarities between the two novels.
- I seems Dickens has a ‘layout’ in his mind that he repeats!
- Deaths : Clara Copperfield (mother DC) – DC’s baby brother – Aunt Betsey’s estranged husband – Steerforth – Dora DC’s wife – Ham ( ex-love, devoted to Emily) – Mr. Barks (married to DC’s nurse Peggoty) – Mr Spenlow (Dora’s father)
- Star crossed lovers: Agnes Wickfield and David Copperfield
- Little person (dwarf) : Miss Mowsher (Steerforth’s hairdresser)
- Little baby dies – DC’s baby brother
- Eccentric but loving: DC’s great-aunt Aunt Betsey Trotwood
- Daughter caring for father: Miss Agnes and her father Mr Wickfield
- Lawyer: Tommy Traddels
- Unrequited love: Miss Rosa Dartle for Steerforth
- Money lending – greedy – corrupt: Uriah Heep
- Villian: Mr. Murdstone, Uriah Heep
- Trusting and naive girl: Emily
- Young lower class girl…lives happily ever after: Martha Endell (married)
- Aunt Betsey (divorced)
- Annie Strong ( married to much older man)
- Dora (thinks she made a mistake marrying David Copperfield)
- Tommy Traddles nd Sophy (ultimate match)
- Mr. and Mr. Micawber (supports each other to the bitter end.)
- Simpleton….but very loving: Mr Dick
- Schoolmaster: Mr Creakle (education included in Dickens’s novels)
Our Mutual Friend:
- Deaths: Betty Higden – baby Johnny (her great-grandson) – Jesse ‘Gaffer Hexam’ – “Mr Dolls” – Bradley Headstone – Rogue Riderhood – John Harmon (….presumed dead but is resurrected!)
- Star crossed lovers: Bella Wilfer and John Harmon (aka J. Rokesmith, J. Hanford)
- Little person (dwarf): Miss Jenny Wren the doll clothes maker
- Little baby dies – Johnny (was to be adopted by Mrs Boffin)
- Eccentric but loving: – Mr. and Mrs Boffin
- Daughter caring for father: Miss Wren and her alcoholic father “Mr. Dolls” – Lizzie Hexam and her poor ‘Gaffer’ Hexam (father) – Bella Wilfer always caring for her doting father Reginald ‘Rumpty’ Wilfer – Pleasant Riderhood and her abusive father Rogue Riderhood
- Lawyers: Mortimer Lightwood and Eugene Wrayburn
- Unrequited love: Miss Peecher for Bradley Headstone
- Money lending – greedy – corrupt: – Mr. ‘Fascination’ Fledgby
- Villian – Bradley Headstone, Rogue Riderhood, Silas Wegg
- Trusting and naive girl: Georgiana Podsnap
- Young lower class girl…lives happily ever after: Lizzie Hexam (married)
- ‘Rumpty’ Wilfer (henpecked husband) –
- Lizzie Hexam (woman desired in marriage by two men—>Headstone and Wrayburn) –
- Alfred and Sophronia Lammle (ultimate miss-match )
- Mr. and Mr. Boffin (support each other to the bitter end)
- Simpleton….but very loving: Sloppy
- Schoolmaster: Bradley Headstone (education included in Dickens’s novels)
My notes on David Copperfield:
Ch 8/64: Oh, what a sad start in life…..but David Copperfield is loved
by his mother and nurse Peggotty. This book does not have the ‘comical’ tone as did Our Mutual Friend…but I’m sure there will be a few eccentric characters!
Ch 18/64: Call it insanity or intoxication…but three cheers for Aunt Betsy Trotwood as she call a spade a spade! “Mr Murdstone you are a tyrant…not get out of my house!” (…and take your sister with you!)
Ch 27/64: David Copperfield has many nicknames:
my pet Davy (Peggoty) – Brooks of Sheffield (stepfather Mr. Murdstone) – Mr Copperfull (landlady) – Daisy (Steerforth) – Trot(wood) (Aunt Betsey) – Doady (wife, Dora)
Ch 37/64: Aunt Betsey has lost patience with Uriah Heep as he jerks about intolerably after receiving a compliment. Aunt Betsey wins the prize for quote of the day:
“Deuce take the man….what’s he about? Don’t be so galvanic , sir!
The ‘child-wife’ Dora …housekeeping books, servants and meals are all
In chaos..but David Copperfield is deeply in love. Aunt Betsey tells Copperfield….be patient, marriage takes time….and remember Rome was not built in a day.
Ch 57/64: Micawber is hysterical. “…I am tossed in all directions by the elephants — I beg your pardon; I should have said the elements!”
- I loved it!
- I must advise the reader to listen to
- …the audio book narrated by R. Armitage
- produced by Audible.com (2016)
- I read the book while listening to
- …the most wonderful voices:
- feisty Scottish accent of Aunt Betsey Trotwood
- swarthy seaman’s sound of Mr. Peggoty
- asthmatic wheezing of Mr Omer the undertaker and coffin maker
- snidely, supercilious sneers of Uriah Heep
- and last but not least the grandiloquent Mr. Micawber!
Author: Mary Shelley
Shelley uses the classic ‘ 3 act’ structure.
introduction characters and location — conflict — resolution of problem.
Weak point: the re-birth of the ‘fiend’ and
…his discovery of nature, his senses and language.
33 sentences recording the creature’s every movement and or thought. (part 2, pg107).
I just lost interest.
The constant use of “the first person” narrative was numbing.
Deja-vu: death scene page 180 is exactly the same as
…episode #1.1 UK detective series “Broadchurch”.
I read the book while listening to the audio version.
I wanted the full experience.
Narrator: Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) is excellent as Victor Frankenstein.
Unfortunately the voice of ‘the creature, the fiend’ sounded
….like he was constantly on the verge of tears.
…not threatening enough.
Gothic: Frankenstein is an example of this genre.
The Gothic tradition rejected reason, clarity and rational thinking.
It focused heavily on imagination, emotion and extreme passion.
Themes: death (10 people die in the book!), decay, terror, confinement, entrapment.
Main character: (Victor) feels trapped in his own guilt….while shouting for relief and help.
Antagonist (grotesque creature) is confused and isolated.
Literary device: epistolary technique
Letters reveal back round and gives Shelley means to logically end the story.
Letters are a portrait of the soul, confession, mask.
Letters connotate privacy and intimacy.
Letters are used as a ‘frame story‘ (mise-en-abyme) – story within a story.
Shelley is not as skillful in this area. The book is filled with generic descriptions (snow capped mountains, dashing waterfalls,) and she fails to use color to paint a picture of the sun (mentioned 45x), moon (21x) and stars (12x). Shelley’s favorite colors promote the gothic mood of darkness (black 17x) and light (white 11x)
I could only find one symbol.
Ice (mentioned 41x) – represents Victor’s fate.
The creature leaves him a message:
“Follow me; I seek the everlasting ices of the north,
…where you will feel the misery of cold and frost…”
I was not impressed with this novel.
It does have its lyrical moments…..but lacked gravitas.
Weak point: too much dull, stolid repetition of same words
…instead of lively, fleet narration.
repetitive: fiend (33x), guilt/guilty/guilt-ridden (27x), abhor (17x) and I/he/she/it found (89x)
Shelley describes nature, moon, stars, sun (sun,sunshine,sunset 60x)
…mist, storms, Mont Blanc, glaciers, sea, waves
…lakes, rocks, wind, Alps, Valley Chamounix… etc ad nausem.
Pages and pages with descriptions of wanderings
… of Victor and the creature.
It feels like ‘book-stuffing.
It just gets to be a bit too much. (Pages 94 – 103 are examples)
Strong point: This book is an amazing achievement
…for a young 19 year old woman, non-writer, failed poet in 19th C literary scene.
If you want a great gothic….read Dracula and leave this one on the shelf.
- This was absolutely a magnificent reading experience.
- Realism: Descriptions of place (NYC, Paris) and human contradiction are pinpoint.
- Character: Each character struggles with a sense that life is elsewhere.
- Conclusion: the book brought a smile to my face
- …that felt like a splash of fresh water
- …after having read a few very boring books on Giller Prize longlist.
- French Exit gets my vote to win Giller Prize 2018!
- #Bravio, Patrick deWitt!