Normally my bookish blog postings occur on my book blog. There’s an element of logic in that. But occasionally I feel like confusing everyone so today here’s a ramble about books.
Have you ever read a book that scared you? I’ve read two, both when I was about fourteen. One was a school text – William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. An ‘adventure tale’ about a group of British schoolboys marooned on a tropical island. It is horrible. It repugnantly exposes the duality of human nature itself - the dark, eternal divide between order and chaos, intellect and instinct, structure and savagery. The unkindness of man (or boy) to man is shown in all its abomination. I didn’t only dislike the book but it scared me because I realised children could act like that.
The other one was The Island of Doctor Moreau by H G Wells. Written in 1896, it was an instant sensation. It was meant as a commentary on Darwin's theory of evolution, which H. G. Wells stoutly believed. The story centres on the depraved Dr. Moreau, who conducts unspeakable animal experiments on a remote tropical island, with hideous, humanlike results. Edward Prendick, an Englishman whose misfortunes bring him to the island, is witness to the Beast Folk's strange civilization and their eventual terrifying regression. While gene-splicing and bio-engineering are common practices today you have to remember Wells's haunting vision and the ethical questions he raised were over a hundred years ago. Because I was inspired by the idea of Well’s being so ahead of his time (as was Jules Verne) I started the book again when I was in my thirties or forties and this time I didn’t even finish it – it was so revolting.
The film of the book - 1932's Island of Lost Souls, starred Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. Originally rejected and unclassified by the British Board of Film Censors in 1933 - and again in 1957 - the film was eventually classified with an X certificate with cuts in 1958. In 1996 these cuts were restored and the film gained a 12 certificate. In 2011, it was resubmitted for a new DVD/Blu-ray release and was passed as a PG - making it viewable by children, though it carries the warning: "Contains mild violence and scary scenes". "When we had to classify it again last year, we went for PG on the basis of the comparison with the Doctor Whos and the Harry Potters," explained BBFC director David Cooke. Obviously folk are not scared as easily nowadays as in my youth!
Changing the specific topic but keeping with books - Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme and a different question is posted every week.
This week there were two questions - Are there any fictional characters whom you have emulated (or tried to)? Who and why? And, secondly, what literary character do you feel is most like you personality-wise (explain)?
As a youngster I always tried to emulate the latest hero I was reading about and it didn't matter if they were elf, dragon rider or human. Nowadays I am satisfied being me but once I'm back in a book there's usually someone I'm identifying with.
I can't say I've ever felt there was someone I was really like. Pity - there are plenty I wish I was like! Perhaps the nearest is Professor John Keating in "Dead Poet's Society" by Nancy Kleinbaum (1989) - as played by Robin Williams in the film. I was unconventional; I tried very hard to inspire those I worked with; sometimes succeeded and equally frequently fell foul of bureaucracy. But none of my staff ever shot themselves!.
I don’t read many book review blogs on a regular basis but I sometimes wander around a number of them and take a quick peek. This week I came across Edwards Granddaughter who reviewed Absolutely Organize Your Family by Debbie Lillard. It sounds interesting and I liked this summary of Lillard’s philosophy –
“In all areas we should:
Only keep what you use
Subtract before you add
Finish one project before you start another one
Daily routines are a must
Oh how I need to remember those four rules! It would make me so much more organised. I console myself by thinking it may make me rather boring…. That's my excuse.
And now I’m off back to my book – I’m currently reading ‘The Somnambulist’ by Essie Fox published last year. When seventeen-year old Phoebe Turner visits Wilton's Music Hall to watch her Aunt Cissy performing on stage, she risks the wrath of her mother Maud who marches with the Hallelujah Army, campaigning for theatres to close. While there, Phoebe is drawn to a stranger, the enigmatic Nathaniel Samuels who heralds dramatic changes in the lives of all three women. But some secrets are better left buried…. It's a rattling good yarn, as they say.
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