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.
Our book clubbers have had an amazing journey since Bilbo and the party left Bag End. They went through the Ruhdaur and beneath the Misty Mountains before being taken by mythical beasts all the way to the Carrock. Then they crossed the darkest forest of the Rhovanion and reached Esgaroth, which lies just a few miles from Dale and dreaded Erebor itself.
If you’re wondering the same thing (as many people will most likely do), taking a look at this interactive map and timeline of Middle-earth by the LOTRProject.com will help you catch up with Bilbo and his associates. Hover your mouse over the events on the right side and get the location of our heroes’ adventures as they make their way to the Lonely Mountain. Go and have fun exploring Tolkien’s Middle-earth!
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!
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).
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.
Take a few seconds and try to recall as many science-fiction-related clichés as you can…
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?
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.
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:
Is this scene familiar to you?
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
How many of these characters can you name?
The chances are you’ve seen most of them many a time in a wide variety of media. Some of us even grew up watching Adam West fighting a myriad of baddies while holding a cat or Lynda Carter’s proneness to spin until her clothes exploded into new ones. These and many more characters have survived through decades of ups and downs in their popularity, mostly because of the talent shown by the people behind their stories, particularly when reinvention and innovation are called for.
One of these people is Alan Moore, an English comics writer who during the 80s and 90s helped redefine the way stories are told and the treatment the characters in the medium get. He focused on giving those stories a depth that was mostly lacking in the comic book industry by filling his narrative with multiple layers of meaning and imagery. Although his works partially spawned the term ‘graphic novel’, he himself isn’t too keen on it.
Just to give you an example of the extent of his influence in modern media, here’s someone I think many of you will recognise:
Heath Ledger’s Joker is unanimously acclaimed as the best characterisation of the madman to this day. The inspiration?
Largely, ‘The Killing Joke‘, Alan Moore’s recap of the Joker’s origins. But what about Mr. Moore’s own origins? Here’s what the internet has to say about it:
“Alan Moore was born November 18, 1953 in Northampton, England, an industrial town between London and Birmingham. The oldest son of brewery worker Ernest Moore and printer Sylvia Doreen, Moore’s childhood and youth were influenced by the poverty of his family and their environment (as well as the eccentricities of his highly religious and superstitious grandmother). He was expelled from a conservative secondary school and was not accepted at any other school. In 1971, Moore was unemployed, with no job qualifications whatsoever.”
He then worked for several magazines as a writer and cartoonist, finally deciding to concentrate on his writing. During the late seventies and early eighties, Moore successfully contributed to several publications, prominently Warrior magazine. It was at this time that he started working on a story about a masked crusader fighting for freedom and the right to self-dermination in a fascist version of Britain. Such story would become a milestone in the comics industry for it’s complexity and variety of storylines as well as its detailed narrative and stylistic merit.
More than 20 years later, a film adaptation of V for Vendetta would swipe the box office and the Guy Fawkes mask would become a symbol of the people’s voice in several contexts, sometimes not completely free of irony.
Or check out the previous ones