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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Still here, still reading


As said, I’m still here. This is not going to be one of those blogs that start and die within 2 months. I’m still reading books and informing myself about them. But I am also moving houses. To anyone who has ever done it, you know the work/time/money involved in it, plus, I’m doing it while my husband’s doing 9 hours per day at work and I’m 8 months pregnant.

 

Later this week should come the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde review., and I am now reading The Clan of the Cave Bear whenever the baby decides I’ve done too much for the day. So watch out for those too coming!

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in About

 

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Resources for Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Loius Stevenson


A bit delayed due to house moving, but here it is, reading guides and questions for Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:

 

It’s very hard to find book club oriented questions. Apparently this books is not a hit with book clubs, maybe because the story is so well-known that everyone thinks there’s no point in reading it.

 

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Friday Firsts: Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


Today’s Friday First:

Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable.

  • Book: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Genre: Gothic, Mystery, Classics
  • ISBN: to many printings to post just one ISBN
  • Publication date: 1886
  • Summary (from Amazon): The young Robert Louis Stevenson suffered from repeated nightmares of living a double life, in which by day he worked as a respectable doctor and by night he roamed the back alleys of old-town Edinburgh. In three days of furious writing, he produced a story about his dream existence. His wife found it too gruesome, so he promptly burned the manuscript. In another three days, he wrote it again. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published as a “shilling shocker” in 1886, and became an instant classic. In the first six months, 40,000 copies were sold. Queen Victoria read it. Sermons and editorials were written about it. When Stevenson and his family visited America a year later, they were mobbed by reporters at the dock in New York City. Compulsively readable from its opening pages, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is still one of the best tales ever written about the divided self.
  • Average review (from Amazon) 4/5

Not the most exciting first sentence, but keep reading it gets better.

Don’t forget to visit the Friday Firsts page to see all the other posts.

 

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Brave New World: book review


Reading Brave New World feels like starting a trip at the top of a mountain and going down to finish in the valley underneath.

The first chapters show some of the most captivating reading I’ve come across in a long while and make the promise of a great story coming ahead. Sadly that story never really materializes. We meet the characters too far into the book, and then at about halfway the main character appears all of a sudden. None of the characters is, in my opinion, very likable.

In a sense it seems as if Huxley created a world down to the last detail and as he was writing the book realized he needed characters and a story to make a novel.

 

Even if the story itself is not amazing, as I have said, the writing is. You could quote almost every sentence in the book and analyze it, find the deeper meaning, and subject it to discussion. I guess that’s why this book is one of the compulsory school-reads so many teens dread.

If we take the novel as more than that and consider it an elaborate political and social critique that’s where Huxley excels. Almost every single thing he was criticising about the society of the early 30’s has become worse as we start the 21st century. More and more we want to be individualistic and stand out, but in doing so become part of a nameless mass.

Name Britney Spears and everyone knows who she is (even my 87-year-old grandmother), she is an icon,, but at the end of the day, I could have named her or any other good-looking American pop star, they all come from the same mold (and this is coming from someone who actually owns every single CD by Britney Spears and whose ringtone is Till the World Ends).

 

I was quite surprised to always see Brave New World compared to 1984. I wouldn’t put them together at all. They are part of the early sci-fi and they both showcase dystopias, but that’s where the similarities end.

1984 is very character driven, whether you like them or not, you can’t help feeling interested in them and the story they become part of is quite complex. The whole world system is a background for the story. In Brave New World the story is simply an excuse to showcase the world system presented. That said the physiological insight we get about the characters is brilliant. We see them doing things, and we get to understand why they do them, we get to know them.

 

I wouldn’t put Brave New World between my favourite books, those I grab whenever I don’t know what else to read. But I wouldn’t say I hate it either. It’s simply a one time book. I’ve read it, now I’m done with it.

 
 

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Book pick: Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson


Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Image via Wikipedia

After finishing Brave New World and going through the list of 1000 novels to read, I decided that my next book would be Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I can’t believe I’ve never read this book. I haven’t even read excerpt while in school, which talks very badly of my teachers.

In any case, I am going to read it now. Or rather, listen to it. As in tomorrow we (husband and me) move houses and I’ll be busy trying to tidy things up while he is busy trying to make money, so an audiobook will keep me entertain while I unpack boxes and try to make clothes fit in the new wardrobes.

As with Brave New World, I’ll post resources for Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde later today.

 

I just noticed that the audiobook is less than 3 hours long, so this will be a very quick listen.

 

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Brave New World: Chapter 16 and 17


When you come to the point of comparing Brave New World (the classic cult sci-fi book) to Kim Possible (the Disney cartoon about a teenage superhero) you know things are going downhill.

 

First of all, let me give you some background on Kim Possible (just in case you happen to be older than 12 and have never heard of the show). Kim is a popular cheerleader who divides her free-time between baby-sitting and saving the world. Ron Stoppable is Kim’s best friend and sidekick, he might seem to be useless but they work together. Dr. Drakken is Kim’s nemesis, the main bad guy of the cartoon.

Before I go on to my deep meaningful comparison, let me tell you that as a 25-year-old I think that Kim Possible is brilliant, especially the film A Sitch in Time. It is a cartoon but one that children and adults can enjoy in different ways (a bit like The Simpsons).

In one episode, I don’t remember which one, Dr. Drakken manages to get hold of Kim and Ron and then decides to kill them both, but before he does it Ron stops him saying that he is breaking the old-age tradition of evil villains of explaining their plans to the hero before killing them.

 

That is exactly what happens in Brave New World in chapters 15 and 16, Mustapha Mond decides that it might be interesting to go on an elongated two-chapter explanation on how the ethics of the World State work, how he was a rebel once and how he is planning to send each of them their own way to be punished.

The whole thing seems far-fetched, from the fact that Mond was given the option of being exiles or becoming a world leader to discussing world literature with John, or that he would even understand it (remember that he has been conditioned too).

 

In the end Bernard and Helmholtz go to the Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas, take your pick) by Helmholtz choice and John is to be kept in London to carry on with the experiment.

These chapters pretty much go on and on about the same topics we’ve been seing all throughout the novel so far, only that now rather than being implicitly shown they are explicitly discussed.

 

Opinion so far

Bernard keeps annoying me, there’s absolutely nothing to save his character for me. I still think that Helmholtz is the nicest character in the book (or at least the only one that I don’t feel like running over with my car).

These two chapters, like I said, are just not believable at all, and they disappointed me. Good thing: one more chapter to go and I’m done.

 

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Brave New World: Chapter 13, 14 and 15


If anyone thinks I am doing another three chapters at once because I’m lazy, they are right. If they happen to think I’m doing it because I’m awfully tired with the book, they are right as well. And if they think it is because I can’t be bothered to write about Brave New World anymore, they are right as well. With that forewarning, here we go.

 

In chapter 13 Lenina tries to get John in bed, but John refuses and then suddenly rushes out to…

…hospital in Chapter 14 because his mum, Linda, is about to die due to all the soma she’s been getting. He remembers their life together until she dies, and then…

…he completely loses it in Chapter 15, and starts getting rid of soma tablets starting a riot. Bernard and Helmholtz both come. Helmholtz starts helping John, whereas Bernard keeps showing his true colours by trying to look as if he is actively doing something but really just standing on the side being useless.

 

These three chapters are all about contradictions and contrasts. John’s and Lenina’s sexual desire and response to it. Attitude towards death. Reactions when someone does something to upset social stability.

Lenina is becoming quite a deep character, within the context of the society: she keeps being attracted to (and becoming obsessed with) men who stand out from the crowd, first Bernard and the John.

When in comes to John, these chapters show a different side to his personality that we haven’t seen before. He can be a nice, polite, educated man with strong moral values but he can also be violent and lose his temper quite fast.

 

Opinion so far

The story is quite interesting, but writing the summary I realized that the chapters could have been a lot shorter that they were, or indeed fused into one (just like I did 🙂 ).

All the civilized/savage contrast is getting a bit old. We get. We got it by chapter 7, were then reminded in chapter 8, and again and again all the way to chapter 15.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Aldous Huxley, Brave new world, Classics, Sci-fi

 

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