Nine Movies You Didn’t Know Had Literary Origins

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1. The Lion King (and its sequels)

Don’t be fooled by the fur—Disney only superficially disguised Shakespeare’s Hamlet with adorable lion cubs. Scar, a.k.a. Claudius, murders his brother on the sly and takes his throne, leaving young Hamlet—er, Simba—to travel the circle of life alone and conflicted. Fortunately for Simba, Walt apparently didn’t make it to the end of Shakespeare’s masterpiece.

The tensions lingering on Pride Rock in The Lion King 2 make an excellent stage for a furry version of Romeo and Juliet. And in the oddly delightful Lion King 1½, Timon and Pumbaa star in something a lot like Tom Stoppard’s absurd existentialist play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (minus the dead part). Continue Reading ›

7 Wintery Novels To Cozy Up To

eNoters! We are so close to springtime!

Birds, bees, apple trees, and sunscreen. It’s almost in our reach. But when the sun comes back, we lose our (completely viable) excuse to stay in after school/work… with our fuzzy slippers & snowflake jammies, bingeing on Netflix or absorbed in a book all night.

Let’s be clear: coming from an introvert, I never condemn these practices any time of year. But the other people of the world expect, yah know, some sort of human contact every now and then. *sigh*

So, let’s take advantage of the coming months’ gift of socially acceptable pajama-donning YOU time. Here’s some great winter-themed reads to keep you cozied up inside:

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Food for Thought: 10 Symbolic Dishes from Classic Novels

Food makes everything better. Using it as a motif, or repetitive symbol, in literature makes reading all the more delicious. Who would not wish to take a bite out of  Madame Bovary’s ultra-chav wedding’s Savoy cake, or know for themselves exactly how bad that gruel was in Oliver Twist. Check these ten famous literature munchies and see why they make great food…for thought!

by Michelle Ossa

10. Cucumber Sandwiches- The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s 1895 play The Importance of Being Earnest opens in a glamorous West London bachelor’s pad belonging to the dandy Algernon Moncrieff.  “Algy” asks his butler to prepare cucumber sandwiches for his aristocratic aunt, Lady Bracknell. Algy’s best friend Ernest asks, “Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young?” The issue concludes with Algy’s mindless eating of all of his aunt’s sandwiches prior to her arrival, only to claim to her later that there were no cucumbers in the market “even for ready money.”

So why are cucumber sandwiches considered extravagant? Although cucumbers originated in India over 4,000 years ago it was not until Queen Victoria’s appointment as Empress of India in 1877 that the influence of the national products, such as the cucumber, fully entered the British culture. Once the sandwiches hit the royal table for the first time, the upper and middle classes caught wind of it and made them their signature afternoon tea snack. Following the very Victorian tradition of imitating everything that the Queen did, these once-dubbed “beautiful” people solidified the connection between the cucumber sandwich and “poshness.”

9. Eggs- Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

In Frank McCourt’s 1987 Nobel prize-winning memoir Angela’s Ashes, the egg symbolizes hope, wishes, and indulgence. This guileless motif is juxtaposed to the dire living conditions of the Irish Catholic McCourt family. Young Frank tells us in chapter IX that he has plans for “that egg” that he would get the Sunday after his father gets the first paycheck from his new job.  The plan: To “tap it around the top, gently crack the shell, lift with a spoon, a dab of butter down into the yolk, salt, take my time, a dip of the spoon, scoop, more salt, more butter, [and] into the mouth”. Yummo! Eggs are described with particular candor, as they represent a luxury that the McCourts, with their never-ending financial woes, could hardly afford.

Sadly, no one gets any eggs. Malachy, Frank’s father, ends up squandering all of his paychecks, leaving his family to fall deeper into their cavernous money hole. But lady luck helps Frank once he leaves Ireland and reaches America: he gets to work at a restaurant, and hunger is no longer an issue for him! After hunger is satiated in the novel, food becomes a motif for American excesses, complete with dreams of a jumbo shrimp chasing Mrs. Angela McCourt down the street. The novel is not about food, but you get the idea.

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10 Bookish Costume Ideas for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner! If you’re looking for a costume idea, we’ve collected our top 10 literature-inspired outfits here by level of difficulty, so you can look bookishly awesome no matter how much time you have on your hands.

1. Ishmael, from Moby Dick

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You’re just one name tag away from “Call me Ishmael.”

2. Fifty Shades of Grey

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Witty and racy. Head to your local hardware store for some free color sheets and you’re done!  Continue Reading ›

And the Nobel Goes To…

PATRICK MODIANO : "ECRIRE, C'EST COMME CONDUIRE DANS LE BROUILLARD".

The Nobel Committee has announced its pick for the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature, and the winner is Patrick Modiano. Not familiar with the French novelist? You’re not alone; Modiano’s celebrity is far more modest than that of fellow candidate Haruki Murakami, as well as last year’s winner, Alice Munro. Yet he is referred to by the Swedish Academy as “the Marcel Proust of our time.”

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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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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: Continue Reading ›