Hello, Fellow Hypocrites! Tartuffe (1664), by Molière

tartuffeThis book is #31 on my Classics Club list. There’s also some spoilers below.

Molière was a French actor and playwright who was popular with the French aristocracy. At the time he was considered a comedic genius, presumably because he had impeccable timing. You can tell because he died after collapsing onstage during a performance of a play entitled The Imaginary Invalid, in which he played a hypochondriac. You can’t make this kind of stuff up, people.

Tartuffe is one of Molière’s best-known plays. It’s basically about a brilliant and witty housemaid called Dorine who works for a family of absolute nitwits. Or at least it would be, if I had my way. In actual fact, Dorine, while being the only character in the play I didn’t actively fantasise about drowning, is not the main character in this particular story. Instead, that honour perhaps goes to Tartuffe, although the man doesn’t actually make all that many appearances onstage. Continue reading

“Put Up Thy Sword!”: Why I Love the 1996 Romeo + Juliet


This week’s Classic Remarks prompt was a difficult one to write. The theme was adaptations of classic books, and of course I spent most of this week cycling through my favourite films, desperately trying to figure out which one I love the most. Of course one of the first things that leapt to mind was Jane Austen, but since I’ve spent a lot of time banging on about Austen adaptations already, I thought I’d branch out and discuss something different (I know, I’m also surprised I managed to supress my natural love of obsessing over Austen). Naturally, my mind leapt to a director who’s had a controversial relationship with the few classic novels he’s adapted. Continue reading

Top Ten Recommended Reads

Reading preferences are an extremely personal thing. And while a lot of us are pretty sure we know what we like, sometimes a book recommendation can take you utterly by surprise. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about books that you never would have read if someone (or even something) hadn’t recommended them to you. I’m going to count not just personal recommendations from family and friends here, but also recommendations from other authors, TV, and of course the good old internet (because I spend way too much of my time browsing through Goodreads these days).  Continue reading

Top Ten Memorable Villains


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is brought to you courtesy of BiffCo, International Genetics Incorporated, and SPECTRE. We also tried to get Virtucon Industries to give us a mention in their next ransom demand, but their fee was a little pricey: ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

Top Ten Memorable Villains


1. Rebecca and Mrs Danvers, from Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – In Du Maurier’s creepy Gothic novel, Rebecca is the faceless deceased wife of the hero, Max de Winter. Although she never appears in the novel (or the film) she’s creepy because she feels so present, despite having died years before. Continue reading

Adapting Austen: A Roundup of My Favourite Austen Adaptations


I’m a sucker for a good Jane Austen adaptation. In fact, I think I’ve seen just about every one in existence, apart from those awkward 1970s BBC ones that are about as exciting as cohabitation with Mr Collins. So, naturally, this week’s Classic Remarks topic is right down my alley. But since I’ve been watching Austen adaptations since I was about thirteen, it’s kind of tough to pick my favourite. So, instead, I’ve decided to group my selections to cover all the bases you might use for evaluating an Austen adaptation. Continue reading

The One With the Big Hooter: Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), by Edmond Rostand

cyrano-de-bergeracThis book is #18 on my Classics Club list.

‘Tis well known, a big nose is indicative
Of a soul affable, and kind, and courteous,
Liberal, brave, just like myself, and such
As you can never dare to dream yourself,
Rascal contemptible!*

(Scene I: Act 4)

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a French musketeer with an enormous nose.

And no, I’m not making this up. The hero of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, is a brilliant fighter, poet, and wit.

Oh – and he is also well-known for having an absolutely enormous nose. Continue reading

Top Ten Texts Every Lit Major Should Read

I’ve been a lit major for nigh on six years now, and so I thought it only fair that I use this week’s Top Ten Tuesday ‘Back to School’ theme to share some of the wisdom I’ve managed to gain. So I’ve decided to share ten texts I think every new lit major should try and read at some point in their university careers. Don’t be alarmed if these texts at first seem unnecessarily confusing, pointless, and/or completely and utterly useless. That’s more or less precisely how they’re supposed to be. Continue reading

The Taming of the Shrew: Misogynistic or Just ‘Of Its Time’?

Taming of the Shrew

This post is a response to Pages Unbound’s Classic Remarks meme.

The Taming of the Shrew is Shakespeare’s family-friendly romp about a tough, street-wise hero who falls in love with and marries a fast-talking heroine. They decide to play an elaborate prank on their friends and family, so the pair pretend to hate each other and the hero torments the heroine, in order to highlight the atrociously misogynistic attitudes of early modern England.

Hmm. Maybe not so much. Although there’s been some debate about the extent to which Taming of the Shrew is in fact a misogynistic play (some people even argue that it’s just the opposite) I think it’s fair to say that it’s pretty problematic. It includes a great many jokes about women needing to be ‘tamed’, not to mention scenes of abuse: Katharina, the ‘Shrew’, is abducted and starved by her new husband Petruchio. Continue reading

Top Ten Unread Books That Have Been On My TBR Shelf Since Before I Began Blogging

Not my catchiest title, I’ll admit. But this week’s Top Ten Tuesday forces me to admit which books I’ve been putting off reading for far too long. As you’ll see, mostly my excuse is just plain, good old-fashioned laziness….

Top Ten Unread Books That Have Been On My TBR Shelf Since Before I Began Blogging

1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot – Eliot seems like the natural choice for readers making their way through the most famous English female writers, from Austen to the Brontës to Gaskell. I’ve done all three of those authors, but I’ve yet to build up the enthusiasm to face Eliot’s grimmer style of writing. Plus I’m sad to say that The Mill on the Floss kind of bored me to tears.

Continue reading

How to Write an English Literature Dissertation, in 21 Easy Steps

I feel myself to be a bit of a self-taught expert when it comes to English Literature dissertations. I’m now into the last few days of my Masters dissertation, and having spent the last few months navigating a veritable emotional rollercoaster, I thought it only right that I share some of the things I’ve learnt over the past few months (if only because drafting blog posts is an entirely welcome relief from reading literary theory for five straight hours at a time). So, with that in mind, I present you with:

How to Write an English Literature Dissertation, in 21 Easy Steps

Step 1: Pick a book or an author you like a lot. After all, you’re going to be reading it over and over! For an extra challenge, choose something particularly obscure and complicated so that you can look progressive and experimental. Also there’s less chance that the markers have read the book and can therefore contradict your ideas.

Continue reading