Sanitizing “The Giver”

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On August 11, 2014, thousands of teens and their parents eagerly purchased tickets for the long-awaited film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s 1994 Newbery Award-winning novel The Giver.  My teenaged son read it in junior high and loved it. I loved it too. Like Madelyn L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Lowry’s The Giver has a subterranean angst that readers can feel bubbling under their fingertips as pages are turned, a sense that no matter how calm this world is on the outside, something is irreparably wrong.

Everyone complains when a beloved novel is turned into a film. This may be especially true of science fiction works, as  entirely new worlds depend on an individual’s imagination formed from an author’s words. When one person, a director, substitutes his own vision for that of countless personal interpretations, tempers flare. While most moviegoers understand the necessity of divergences from the original text, other alterations are harder to accept.

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You Don’t Know Dickens

7 lesser-known facts that may make you see the beloved author and philanthropist of the Victorian era in a new light…

by Michelle Ossa

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1. He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his time at Warren’s Shoeblacking Factory and Warehouse

At the age of 12 Charles Dickens suffers a life-changing event that forever marks his life. His father, John Dickens, was arrested for debt, and sent to Marshalsea Debtor’s Prison in London. The able-bodied, older male Charles was considered old enough to work and earn some wages. For this reason he is forced out of school and sent to Warren’s Shoeblacking;  a place fully-described in the semi-biographical novel Oliver Twist. Similarly, Charles works under grueling and cruel conditions that predate any workers’ rights movement.

Moved by these sad events Dickens used his talent to publish in mass and expose these realities. Through literature, he gave a voice to orphans, destitute children and mistreated workers using them as motifs that recur in his body of work.  According to Dickens’s most reliable biographer, John Forster, the author had “an attraction of repulsion” that rendered him more effective when dealing with topics that directly describe images of his sad childhood.  Therefore, this repetition of misery and pain during childhood as a central theme denote a need to continuously cope with the traumas of childhood.

Illustration Depicting Oliver Twist Asking for More Food by J. Mahoney

2. He was likely manic depressive

According to his own letters, Dickens suffered consistent bouts of “depression” that would start when beginning to write a new work, and would then developing into a “mania” that powered him to complete them.  It was a “balance” between deep, debilitating sadness followed by periods of acute impulsivity.  According to Hershman and Lieb in the book Manic Depression and Creativity  (1998), Dickens’s explosive creativity was a result of the maniac state that makes sufferers of bipolar disorder feel indestructible (p. 106).  An example of Dickens’s mania is what is known as the “Dickens Summers”. According to Manic Depression and Creativity Dickens would rent a spacious summer home and have sumptuous parties for large quantities of people on a daily basis. Dedicated to the very last detail both at home and work, Dickens would also spend hours insisting on completing massive amounts of work until the last word was written.

The book explains how bipolar disorder renders those who suffer from it extremely oblivious of the wants and needs of others. The need to be the center of all attention, and the extreme shift in mood certainly profile Dickens as bipolar.

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Happy Bloomsday! How Will You Celebrate?

Love it or hate it, Bloomsday is the annual day of celebration for James Joyce’s polarizing novel Ulysses. It takes place on June 16th each year, to mark the first day of the protagonist Leopold Bloom’s journey across Dublin.

To mark the occasion some Joyce fans follow the tradition of reading the novel in Edwardian garb—though Marilyn Monroe did it back in 1955 in decidedly modern attire… her bathing suit.

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Nowadays, though, celebrations can consist of two weeks of lectures, film screenings and readings surrounding the novel that the majority of people (at least all the sane ones) find impossible to read. And while to these readers, including yours truly, suffering through lectures on Ulysses is a punishment only slightly worse than actually reading a chapter of Ulysses (and very marginally better than suffering the fate of Prince Oberyn vs The Mountain), in Vanity Fair’s opinion, Bloomsday has become a “travesty” for another reason: Read the rest of this entry »


A Writer’s Haven: 5 Authors’ Writing Spaces Reimagined

As bibliophiles can attest, we are all intrigued by the private lives of our favorite authors, often wondering about the ways that they worked creatively, and especially where they chose to write. For many, the choice was obvious, their office or bedroom – a personal space for reflection and inspiration.

At eNotes, we are really interested in embracing creativity and developing tips for success in school and work spaces. Time and time again we encounter articles noting the importance of having an organized, inspiring space to get to work. As we meditate on how to improve our own spaces, we’ve found ourselves wondering how our favorite authors might decorate their offices today. With this in mind, we created today’s blog post: A Writer’s Haven.

We’ve gone through and selected five famous authors from various time periods and have translated their individual preferences into modern takes on their offices. We had a lot of fun putting these together, and we hope you enjoy checking them out and finding inspiration for your own space. Check ‘em out below!

Jane Austen:

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For Jane’s office we imagined a light and airy space with lots of natural light and creature comforts. We acknowledged her English roots and incorporate a tea pot, because we think that if any of our favorite authors would have had a tea pot in their office, it would have been her. We like to imagine that if Jane were here today, she would be a bit of an introvert, anxious to re-read the great number of books in her built-in bookcase.

Want to learn more about Jane Austen and her writing? Check out this link: http://www.enotes.com/topics/jane-austen

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Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Today is the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth. Check out ways to commemorate the day below, complete with cakes, quizzes, quotes and more.

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Bake a Shakespeare-inspired birthday cake

Introducing Cakespeare! To celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London invited bakers to design cakes inspired by the Bard’s prose. See a few below, or check out the full gallery here.

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Happy Earth Day!

This Earth Day we’re taking inspiration from literature’s greatest nature-lovers, the transcendentalists:

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Today we celebrate Earth Day, an annual event dedicated to environmental protection. Surprisingly, some of the earliest conservationists in history can be found in American literature. The transcendentalists, whose movement developed during the 1820’s and 30’s, displayed a deep appreciation for the natural world and wrote avidly about their own experiences in nature. So frequently we approach climate change as a monolithic issue, impossible to tackle and incomprehensible in terms of personal philosophy. But perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman had it right; their steadfast appreciation and attempts at understanding the value of the natural world led them to be ever mindful of their surroundings. If we were to put these ideals into conversation with today’s problems, we may find some distinct similarities, as well as some helpful insight into the philosophical value of nature for mankind.

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Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez Dead at 87

Celebrated Colombian author Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez died today at the age of 87 after a recent hospitalization for multiple infections. His death comes two years after it was reported he was suffering from dementia.

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“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

In his extroadinary lifetime Márquez received widespread acclaim for his novels and short stories, including One Hundred Years of SolitudeLove in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death ForetoldOne Hundred Years in particular became incredibly popular, selling more than 50 million copies worldwide in over 25 languages. With his works Márquez stood as an ambassador for Latin American literature, and the father of magical realism.

When he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, he dedicated his lecture to the spirit of Latin America, and revealed to the world its inextricable ties to his particular writing style:

We have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.

Márquez is survived by his wife Mercedes and his two sons. He died at home in Mexico City. His memoirs remain unfinished.

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez Biography at eNotestumblr_lvccd2mtNf1qa2sen
Works of Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez:

Love in the Time of Cholera

One Hundred Years of Solitude

The Autumn of the Patriarch

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

The General in His Labyrinth

and more found here.

 


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