Book Club. Frankenstein, el final.

El Book Club dedicado a la novela más famosa de Mary Shelley, Frankenstein llega hoy a su fin después de dos meses de interesantes conversaciones sobre diferentes temas derivados de la obra. Temas que influyen directamente en nuestra manera de percibir y entendernos tanto a nosotros mismos y nuestra realidad inmediata, aún sin que nos demos cuenta.

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A Clockwork Orange: The End

“Alex presents us with the raw picture of life in a broken down society, in which being “good” can sometimes even turn into a defence mechanism against the gross injustices committed by the government authorities supposed to be supporting their population, and being “bad”, into the only way of expressing individuality and acquiring a status amidst the mechanization of human interactions, all within a thought-provoking debate on free will.”Hillary. Book Club. 27th April 2013

Although it’s true what they say about all great things coming to an end,  we are sure that ‘A Clockwork Orange’ will stay with us for a very long time.

To say goodbye to this Book Club we spent some time playing our own version of the old game Pictionary, using words from the novel. Our book clubbers jumped at the task with their best Nadsat and showed how proficient they have become at using the made-up language of Alex and his droogs. (If you want to become as good as them here’s a full Nadsat glosary).

El pase de diapositivas requiere JavaScript.

We also re-imagined our favourite scenes from the point of view of other characters involved and shared our points of view on the final chapter of the book.

When the book was to be published in the United States, Burgess’ editor in New York decided that the chapter #21 was too bland and left it out of the US version. Since Kubrik’s film was based on the edited version of the book, most people are unfamiliar with the original ending, which has led to some degree of controversy on whether the story is better with or without it.

To finish this Book Club, here’s a 30-minute documentray that follows Kubrik as he brings to life his version of Burgess‘ story. Viddy later!

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A Clockwork Orange: A timeline in doodles

“I always wanted to know the meaning of ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Through the book I’ve realised what those words mean… Do you want to be good because you have been taught to do so or because you really feel like being good? This book lets us approach ourselves through the mind of a boy who sees the world differently and  in a way we’re not used to.”

Carolina. Book Club. 13 April 2013

If you’ve also started your journey through ‘A Clockwork Orange’ you’ll enjoy re-living it in your head. Take a look at the first part of this presentation showing the most memorable moments of the book chosen by our dear Book Clubbers. (Navigate with the left and right arrows)

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A Clockwork Orange

To begin this book club we spent some time today drawing connections between ‘A Clockwork Orange‘ and other works of dystopian fiction such as 1984, Farenheit 451 and Brave New World, the latter being the subject of one of the most interesting iterations of this book club.

After exploring common themes and motifs of the genre including represive states/societies and the protagonist’s struggle to regain his individuality, we moved on to discuss the main topic of  ‘A Clockwork Orange’: the presence of moral choice as a decisive element that distinguishes human beings from machines or animals.

During the next few weeks we will explore a work of literature that refuses to be forgotten and that makes us look at one of the most fundamental aspects of human life, our perception of good and evil. Come and join us every Saturday from 1 to 3 pm!

Meanwhile, how would you answer the question in this picture?

Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy – Week 1

Take a few seconds and try to recall as many science-fiction-related clichés as you can…

W. Shatner
Please don’t let Captain Kirk’s gaze distract you.

The science-fiction genre has commonly been associated with a parade of recurring themes, plots and characters. It isn’t rare to find robots, alien races (usually the green kind), the mandatory human hero and the occasional appearanace of a higher intelligence. These and many more ‘ingredients’ have been constantly re-worked and updated through the years and according to the ever-evolving nature of our technological context.

Quite often, however, lack of imagination and overuse of those elements can lead even the most patient reader/watcher on the planet to wish they weren’t wasting their time on with the story (or that they were wasting it in a more useful way at least).

So, how about throwing a good bit of humour into the mix and making fun of all those old clichés? That’s exactly what the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy does.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Picture yourself in this scenario: you wake up, mildly hungover, and discover that your entire race has got less than 15 minutes before being completely wiped out by a troop of interstellar civil servants. What would you do?

Option A
a)
Option B
b)
Beer!
c)

Although option B would seem the most sensible one, for Ford Prefect, an alien living undercover (or more precisely: stranded) on Earth, option C is unquestonably the wisest one as he prepares to ‘hitch’ a ride aboard a spaceship full of poetry-loving bureaucrats from outer space. His best friend, a human called Arthur Dent, unaware of the planet’s fate, prefers to spend his time complaining about an equally unaware troop of human civil servants trying to destroy his house.

The destruction of the planet sets in motion the plot of the story, sending them into a series of crises across time and space; one of which is the impossibility of finding a decent cup of tea anywhere else in the universe.

Don’t Panic!

These two words are printed in large letters on the cover of another of the protagonists of this story. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an electronic book, published in Ursa Minor, which in spite of being largely inaccurate and outdated, is the most popular source of information for those “impoverished hitchhikers trying to see the marvels of the Universe for less than thirty Altairan Dollars a day”.

I went to lie in a field, along with my Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Europe, and when the stars came out it occured to me that if only someone would write a Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy as well, then I for one would be off like a shot. Having had this thought I promptly fell asleep and forgot about it for six years.”

This is how Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy first came up with the idea for the story while lying drunk in a field in Innsbruck, Austria in 1971. His idea was finally materialised as a comedy radio series broadcasted by BBC Radio 4 in the United Kingdom in 1978. During the production of the radio show, Adams and his team were passionate about making sound effects that would stand out as innovative and original.

The radio show was soon followed by the first of five novels in the books series, a TV adaptation by BBC 2, LP recordings, a computer game, a second radio series, stage shows and more recently, three more radio series and a movie from 2005.

During the course of our 3rd Book Club, we’ll jump from adventure to adventure with Arthur and Ford while trying to discover the answer to the greatest questions in life. We’ll go on a journey across the universe at the same time that we laugh about those silly bits of our very earthly reality. Perhaps you’ll be surprised by the answer!

Watch the first episode of the TV series:

More Reading:

The 42 Things You Should Know About ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 30 years on: why we should still be reading it – The Guradian

Original Radio Scripts

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Week 1

Is this scene familiar to you?

Alice and the Rabbit
Illustration by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)

 

Most likely, you’re now thinking about a white rabbit who’s running late, a mad hatter, a queen of hearts and a peculiar little girl. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! is the story of a little girl who falls into a world of fantasy where everything constantly gets “curiouser and curiouser. For more than a century and a half this story has been a favourite of new and older generations. It has been the inspiration for for several films, dating from the early stages of cinema to the latest Tim Burton version, showing no sign of loosing its charm. In March 2011, The Royal Ballet opened their adaptation of the story at the Royal Opera House in London.

In the original story, written by Lewis Carroll in 1865, Alice falls into a rabbit’s hole that takes her to a place where nothing stays the same too long, not even herself (specially not herself) and where she’s faced by the ever enduring question “Who are you?” posed by a rather ambivalent caterpillar.

Today we hold Alice’s hand and jump with her into the rabbit’s hole to discover a world of contradictions and symbols as seen through the eyes of a child from victorian England.

Join us at the bookclub every Friday at 5pm and find your way across Wonderland!

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”
 Lewis Carroll,Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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Brave New World – Week 3

After all, everyone belongs to everyone else.

Sex is closely tied to violence in Brave New World as the two extremes of passion. In this futuristic, controlled environment, promiscuity is the law and emotional attachment is illegal. Sex is no longer used for procreation but rather for distraction and pacification. The act has been dehumanized and made devoid of passion, treated casually and publicly rather than as a personal matter. Because of this norm, no space of time ever passes between a desire and the consummation of that desire.” Source

Read a chapter-by-chapter summary of the treatment of sexuality in Brave New World. 

What do you think?

Would this kind of ‘free loving’ improve our social environment?
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Brave New World – Week 2

The principle of mass production at last applied to biology. Chapter 1

“Throughout Brave New World, the citizens of the World State substitute the name of Henry Ford, the early twentieth-century industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, wherever people in our own world would say Lord” (i.e., Christ). This demonstrates that even at the level of casual conversation and habit, religion has been replaced by reverence for technology—specifically the efficient, mechanized factory production of goods that Henry Ford pioneered.” Source

What do you think?

Should the cloning of humans be allowed?

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