17 May – “The Hobbit”

We began this book club by looking at the life and times of J.R.R. Tolkien and cultural influences that inspired his work. We looked at his background as a professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at Oxford, and heard the epic  poem Beowulf  recited in the original Anglo-Saxon language (together with a translation into modern English!)

We talked about works by other artists which may have had an influence on Tolkien, in particular the huge operatic cycle “The Ring of the Nibelungs” by the German composer Richard Wagner, and listened to  Siegfried’s Death and Funeral Music from the opera Gotterdammerung, the final of the four operas which make up the “Ring” cycle.

We also looked at Runes and the Runic alphabet ;  runes were an ancient Germanic writing system with which Tolkien was familiar, and incorporated into his works. Students read chapters 1, 2 and 3 for homework……An unexpected journey begins!

"Wotan visits Mime and offers him his help." Illustration to Richard Wagner's Siegfried by Arthur Rackham. 1911
“Wotan visits Mime and offers him his help.”
Illustration to Richard Wagner’s Siegfried by Arthur Rackham. 1911
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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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