Film and Writing (M.A)
Focus in Film: Adaptation from Literature, Horror Filmmaking Styles and Auteur Cinema
10 Great Scenes from "War and Peace"
"War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy has constantly been referred to as one of the greatest novels ever written in the history of literature. Upon its first publication, it comes in at about 1'220 pages and yet, ever since it has been read far and wide proving that the size really does not put anyone off (and if it puts you off let me tell you, it is well worth the read). From 1865 to 1867, it was serialised in "The Russian Messenger" and then it was published in book format two years' later. It was meant to be followed by Leo Tolstoy's take on "The Decembrists" (sharing the title with the group) and yet, the novel was abandoned. Ever since, "War and Peace" has become a symbol of just how good literature can be.
Book Review: "Diaries" by George Orwell
George Orwell’s Diaries are absolutely fascinating. Split between international travels and domestic travels, it shows how the Orwells moved all over the world during the time they were alive. It also shows the various payments and commissions, royalties and expenses of George Orwell in his great lifetime. Journeys across Morocco and stops off in Spain, adventures in Casablanca and the history of the fall of France to Spain in the early to mid-20th century. It is not actually as much about the states and affairs of Britain as you would like and neither is it the obsession with the destruction of the iron curtain that you though Orwell was heavily involved in. But instead, there is a great viewing of a man who had keen observation of everything around him. There is everything from political observation to the way in which people were dressed. There were observations on market places, money, stalls and women. There are government observations and reads from the snippets of newspapers. Orwell had a keen eye for everything and it does not stop at the start of his diaries. It is perhaps more ardent in pursuit of meaning than any of his novels. He never glosses over a detail but stands to admire it long after the detail in question has possibly already passed him by.
Book Review: "The Maidens" by Alex Michaelides
Books with twists that you never expect are some of the most exciting books to read. For example: we have the novels of Agatha Christie, the books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and down the line we get this resurgence of thrillers that we are witnessing in our own day. In the last few years I have read my fair share of great thriller novels and most of them have been absolutely amazing. Recently, I did finish the new and best-selling “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides which is about a woman in a mental facility who will not talk. A doctor takes his chances to get her to open up but written in the first person from the doctor’s perspective, this book is nothing like you would expect. The twist is something far more horrific than you think it is. After reading this, I thought it would be a great idea to wait for the next thing from this author to float my way and thus, here we have “The Maidens”. I was super-excited to read this and then I opened the book and made my way inside its dark and blood-splattered pages. Flashlight in hand, it was not what I expected at all.
10 Great Scenes from Shakespeare Plays
I am a person who adores Shakespeare. I have posters of him in my bedroom, I have his plays in beautiful editions and, oh yeah, I teach Shakespeare Plays too. The way I became interested in Shakespeare was fairly strange. I remember watching Ian McKellan's Macbeth and then Ben Whishaw's Hamlet then basically thinking to myself 'what?' and 'how?' I was shocked at the sheer amount of energy given into these performances, and as the curious nine-year-old I was, I wanted to find out more. Over the years, I became more and more enamoured by Shakespearean Verse, going on to read all of the plays attributed to him (yes, and 'The Arden of Faversham' even though it is not technically canon). And as someone who is now in their mid-20s, I can honestly say that I have spent a good portion of my life researching, studying, re-reading and critiquing the work of the bard.
Book Review: "The Cement Garden" by Ian McEwan
Domestic Thrillers are a point of interest in my reading life, I have read many from the strange tragedy “The Arden of Faversham” all the way down to the novels of Lisa Jewell and company. There are huge differences throughout history when it comes to the domestic thriller, but I have never quite been able to put my finger on what has been missing until now. Children. Children are not left out, if you ask me. But in the realm of domestic thriller, the ‘thrilling’ nature of the book normally takes place between the mother and father rather than the children and the parents. Be that as it may, I think I have finally found a domestic thriller that does not only the latter one, but seems to do both in quite a stomach churning manner. When I say I have read a lot of Ian McEwan, I even have a signed copy of that book he wrote about Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But, I had constantly overlooked this one for some reason and to be honest, it has thoroughly disgusted and surprised me. But mostly, it disgusted me.
Book Review: "Water Shall Refuse Them" by Louise McKnight Hardy
I adore the realm of folk horror which tends to include some far-away atmosphere of a forest, wooded area or even something like a ‘Wicker Man’ like surrounding. Only a few books can do that successfully without making it look cliché, forced or even too ‘fairy-tale’ in design. One of the books that does this folklorish atmosphere very well is Daniel Kehlmann’s “Tyll” and another one I will say that is honestly one of the best atmospheres of a novel I have read this year is Louise McKnight Hardy’s “Water Shall Refuse Them”. Now, at first when you start reading the novel, you will never guess what the title means, the penny only really drops at the end and the reason is that you have to read the whole novel to find out why the title is actually very important to make everything fall into place and to help us understand the character of Jennifer. As we delve further into the book, we realise as well that something is seriously wrong with the way that Jennifer presents herself to the reader. The way in which she behaves with her family may seem like the average arrogance of a teenager but, in fact, it is something far more disturbing and to be honest - by the end of the book you will have to make up your own mind about her character.
"The Picture of Dorian Gray" and Dark Orientalism
Orientalism is a colonial/postcolonial theory that intersperses aestheticism and exoticism within its midst. Written in his book of the same name, Edward Said made a case for why colonial Britain and its imperialist culture used exotic items as a fetishisation and flirtation of wealth. In a decadent culture which was admittedly richly disgusting, the pinnacle of wealth is represented by items from India, Persia and other countries of the Eastern World that were under imperialist rule or were thought to have looser morals than the upper class of the British folk. Another more sinister and yet believable idea of Orientalism is that to own parts of cultures that were either under British rule or, by most, were not but should have been because of the ‘loose morals’ argument was an act of ownership which the British upper class of the late Victorian Era often felt entitled to. Since the empire was theirs, so was the authority and therefore, so were the goods - including the famed diamond which is still in England today. Edward Said states a message about the ideas surrounding this kind of authority and what they mean:
Book Review: "Dear Reader" by Cathy Rentzenbrink
When it comes to writing, I would personally love to write an autobiography like this one when I’m a little older. Writing a book about how much you appreciate books and the authors behind them is a special kind of personal autobiography in which you can really get close to the narrator and where their lives are leading them. It is also a great chance to share some really great book recommendations with the reader. For me, I have read quite a few (but not all!) of the books within this autobiography. I was more or less stunned by the fact that the novel “The Reader” by Bernard Schlink was included. I was told to read that in sixth form and I really did not get over the emotional scarring it left on me. The books are not all good though, some of them are ones that I did not wholeheartedly agree with but then again, it is not my autobiography. You should all take one lesson from this book if any: read what you feel like and do not let anyone else tell you that what you are reading is not ‘worthy’ or that it doesn’t make you ‘academic’ in reading.