Film and Writing (M.A)
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Book Review: "The Betrothed" by Alessandro Manzoni
I was told that this is one of the seminal books from Italy and though I have not actually read the book before this, I have actually heard of the book. The book was written in 1827 and was a part of the bibliography of the man who was once the senator of Italy. However, it is set in Lombardy during the Spanish Rule in the 1620s and 1630s. The one thing that I think was probably the most notable thing about the book was the fact that this narrative was about people who are not rich, politically powerful or wealthy in any way, shape or form. The two main characters are incredibly unremarkable and thus, represent a sort of everyman through their ability to relate to the masses of the time at which they lived and the time at which the book was written.
Book Review: "Darkness at Noon" by Arthur Koestler
When it comes to political novels involving communism, there are a few that I like which start with The Gulag Archipelago at the very top, working down through to Animal Farm and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. But with Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon - new things have been learnt, especially links to The Gulag Archipelago. It is a brilliant novel which is about your own government turning its back on you. It has brilliant extended metaphor, symbols of violence through pistols and holsters, scenes of pain, anguish and sorrow and communications that are implied to be dangerous and concerning to the overarching brutal hand of the government.
Book Review: "The Little Demon" by Fyodor Sologub
I have read a lot of Russian Literature and among my personal favourites are The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (which I am currently analysing for a lengthy article and re-reading for the third or fourth time) which appears on my favourite books of all time list along with Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy following shortly after and then, shortly after that there is Tolstoy's War and Peace. Apart from my 'favourite books' list, I have read other Russian Literary Classics and enjoyed them, such as: The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov, Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev, The Gulag Archipelago by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol and obviously, the beautiful Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
Mental Health Services: A Disillusionment
Mental health has been at the forefront of media in the UK for a long while now with thousands of charities offering mental health help. Personally, in my time, I have spent the last fourteen years accessing various mental health services on and off, I have been put on various medications and I have been taken off others. Without saying too much about my own mental health issues, there is one thing that I noticed above anything else. The thing I noticed was that if you go to access your local mental health services in the UK, you will be met with leaflets and the ‘don’t be sad’ or ‘don’t worry’ speeches. These not only don’t help, but with some it can turn them off even contacting mental health services since it seems like reductive practice that is mainly meant to get you, the patient, to go away. The people within these jobs do not understand mental health problems and how each differs from the other, they do not understand the depth of feeling and the various symptoms both physical and mental that come along with it. They are simply there, on the phone or face-to-face, to tell you that there is a leaflet you should read. It is a reductive and damaging approach which makes me really question what the true outcome of this is. Do they actually want to make us feel better, or do they want to keep people in jobs and therefore, keep you coming back to the service over and over again, dissatisfied?
Book Review: "Don't Look Now and Other Stories" by Daphne Du Maurier
I think I must have watched the film Don't Look Now for the first time when I was around fifteen years' old. It was a brilliant film and I thought the themes were very cleverly used, the symbolism was incredibly intelligent (especially the subtle use of the colour red) and the amazing acting was yet another plus to that. Don't Look Now as a story is a sophisticated psychological thriller filled with mind-turning descriptions in which we cannot make out that there is truly something going on here, or maybe it is happening in the character's subconscious. One thing is for sure though, if the film freaked you out - maybe you shouldn't read this book. It is absolutely psychologically disturbing when you really sit down and think about it.
Book Review: "Warlock" by Oakley Hill
When I read something about crime and history, I like there to be a good amount of story and backstory to flesh out. Books such as The Devil in the White City and The Killers of the Flower Moon are great for doing this, but if we go even further back in history, there is a lot of concentration on the actual crimes in almost a visual way. This is primarily because the crimes cannot be as easily accessed since they are so far in the past. I would like to hail this book entitled Warlock by Oakley Hill for its ability to not only provide the reader with a great visual crime story, but also backstory and atmosphere in which we can vividly image what is happening. The story is long, and often at times it can get a bit confusing - but making it through this book has been a great experience because normally, this is not a book I would pick up at all.
Book Review: "Aesthetics" by Michel Foucault
In my time, I have had to read Michel Foucault in order to complete various assignments. His work on literature, the prison system, the oppression and injustice of language and his philosophies on the way in which we live our day to day lives has opened eyes across the globe and, in a way as a reaction to his father's 'bullying' of him, has seemingly rejected the social-conservative position of which he grew up. His analysis of literature and language has to be my favourite aspects of his work because even though they are challenging to read, I must have read these parts a couple of times in order to understand in my best abilities, as to which direction he was heading.
Book Review: "The Poems: 1962-2020" by Louise Glück
I have read many, many 'best of' poetry anthologies by many poets as I love reading poetry in between reading novels - it allows me to clear my mind. My favourites have commonly been poets from the older days, but late 20th century poets have come scarce. When it comes to Louise Glück, I had heard of her and read one or two of her poems, but I hadn't cared for her poetry all that much because it felt meaningless to me. It didn't allow me to get lost in it and it was definitely not beautifully written. However, I have had a small change of heart, even if it is not complete as it should be. I still feel like Glück's poetry seriously lacks and I question her win of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020 among other women writers such as: Svetlana Alexeivich and Olga Tokarczuk who, in my opinion, are much more versatile writers who have achieved far more in more genres.