Two Days in Manchester: Plus, Mr Darcy Fangirling

Manchester Night

Welcome back to Lit Major Abroad, everybody, the segment where I post stories from my literature-inspired travels, usually about seven to thirteen months after said travels actually took place! Up next: an extremely belated description of a trip through Northern England. Warning: I will not divulge exactly when this trip took place. Suffice it to say that several seasons (as in, leaves falling to the ground, turning brown, and then growing on the trees all over again like those sped-up montages from the movies) have passed since this trip took place.

Like many readers of North and South, I had an idea of what Manchester would be like. Dirty and smoky, full of cramped streets and ugly factories that attested to a cruel age of economic power and social irresponsibility. I was influenced by things like the TV adaptation of Gaskell’s novel, and the experiences of family members who had been to the north of England (admittedly, several decades ago, when the English were considerably less on top of things as far as the aesthetic appeal of their cities goes). So when I decided to take a Gaskell-inspired detour through the north of England last year, I was sure I was heading towards a dirty, depressing industrial city. Continue reading

William Shakespeare’s STAR WARS: Verily, A New Hope (2013), by Ian Doescher

william-shakespeares-star-warsWilliam Shakespeare’s STAR WARS seems to be written with a very specific audience in mind: one that both loves and knows the Star Wars movies (sci-fi nerds, myself included), as well as the works of Shakespeare (history and lit nerds). Which would seem to be a weirdly specific demographic, but in actual fact just goes to show how both Star Wars and Shakespeare can cross boundaries of genre and appeal to readers/viewers with all kinds of different tastes. Let’s face it, a lot of time it just isn’t helpful to make assumptions about what preferences for certain genres say about a person, because it’s almost always a lot more complicated than we’d like to think.

A mashup of Shakespeare, traditionally seen as the epitome of olde-worlde England (despite how often his plays are re-imagined in various contexts), and Star Wars, a seemingly futuristic story nevertheless set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” (or, as Doescher has it, “In time so long ago […] / In star-crossed galaxy far, far away” [Prologue]) would seem to be a weird combination. Continue reading

All the Things I Remember About The Moonstone (1868), by Wilkie Collins

the-moonstoneMystery fans beware! SPOILERS ahead!

This book is #63 on my Classics Club list.

I’m not exactly known for being the most up-to-date when it comes to posting my book reviews. This is usually because I’ll finish a book, write a review, and then let it sit on my hard drive for months, until I finally remember to post it up, usually about two years after I wrote it (and that’s not even an exaggeration). In the case of The Moonstone, however, I made the crucial mistake of reading it in November last year and avoiding the writing of the review itself (and only about ninety-five per cent of the reason is because I didn’t have anything particularly interesting to say about it. The other five per cent is, predictably, that I’m just lazy).

So when I finally came to write this review, I couldn’t remember a darned thing about the plot, characters, or themes. Which is especially concerning considering I also watched the 2016 BBC adaptation of the novel, and still can’t remember anything beyond the fact that the guy who plays Godfrey Ablewhite has fantastic cheekbones, and that Sarah Hadland can still make me laugh. So if you’re hoping for an in-depth postcolonial reading of Collins’ novel, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint. But if, like me, you are a newcomer to The Moonstone, you may find the following facts, dredged only by dint of great effort from the quagmire of my brain, to be quite useful. Continue reading

Despite All Evidence to the Contrary, I am Not Dead

I wish I could give some extraordinarily compelling excuse for my extended absence over the past few months: alien abduction, Freaky Friday-esque body-switching, or an improbable scenario in which I somehow discover that Jules Verne was right all along and the earth is indeed hollow and inhabited by dinosaurs, and I end up shacking up with Brendan Fraser and making it all the way to China through the Earth’s crust. But sadly the excuse is, as ever, an extraordinary banal one: a new job, the kind of cold that’s so persistent that after a few weeks it brings along a few of its friends and turns your sinuses into its own personal party bus, all combined with the usual leg-dragging laziness. Continue reading

My Top Ten Favourite Movies Based on Books

lord-of-the-rings

I contemplated using this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme about movies to just talk about movies that weren’t book-related, but then I realised that a sizeable chunk of my favourite movies consists of book adaptations anyway. These aren’t necessarily the best book-to-film adaptations I’ve ever seen, but they’re the ones I love re-watching. Continue reading

Top Ten Books Recently Added To My TBR List

My TBR lists are sometimes the places where good books go to die. I add books to my lists full of hope and excitement, and inevitably find that three years later, they’re still sitting in the same place, gathering metaphorical dust, having magically lost their appeal. Maybe this week’s Top Ten Tuesday will shame me into finally attacking that looming TBR pile. But somehow I doubt it. Continue reading

School’s Out Forever: On The Feeling of Finishing Your Last-Ever University Class

I didn’t actually realise what a momentous day it was. It was a dreary Friday, there was rain on the way, and I’d gotten up at six am to do a few hours of reading for those increasingly worrying essays whose deadlines had begun to loom with disturbing menace.

Red-eyed, yawning, and shivering from the cold, I’d made my way to campus and dragged my sleep-deprived body up countless flights of stairs to reach a small, stuffy little classroom in a back building. I pulled out pen and notepad, as I always do (I’m endearingly old-fashioned in this respect, until essay-writing season comes round, and I begin spewing out incredibly unladylike volleys of swear words as I search desperately for a three-word summary of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theories that I scribbled in an almost-illegible hand ten weeks before). Continue reading

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

romeo-juliet-beach

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