Victorian Superheroes (Minus the Tights): Dracula (1897), by Bram Stoker

DraculaI vant to suck your blood… and varn you about ze spoilers ahead! (And also tell you zis book is #56 on my Classics Club list, bleh bleh).

On a dark and stormy night, in a castle in Transylvania, an English clerk named Jonathan Harker discovers a terrible secret about his host. It leads to an epic chase across the whole of Europe, from East to West, and back again. It’s the plot of Dracula, one of the most recognisable literary villains in history. Decades of literary criticism have shown us just how much there is to uncover in a book like Dracula. There’s no way I can possibly cover everything there is to find in a book like this, so I thought I’d start with some of the things which really caught my attention while I was reading.

Men Writing About Women Writing About Men (And Why It Always Makes Me Laugh)

In Dracula, women are everywhere. The plot revolves around two women in particular: Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker, the wife of Jonathan. In his characterisation of them, Stoker articulates anxieties about a range of issues, from Victorian sexuality to the fear of foreign invasion.* Continue reading

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A Lit Major At The Movies: Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein1931Creature1“It’s alive! It’s aliiiiive!”

Literary critics from all walks of life blanch whenever someone is careless enough to dub Frankenstein’s monster a ‘Frankenstein’. Honestly, it pains our little hearts whenever Mary Shelley’s complicated character is mistakenly called by its creator’s name. “What are you going as for Halloween, Timmy?” “I’m going to be a scary Frankenstein!”

NO. NO. NO. No, you are not, Timmy. Follow me, on a little journey to the early days of Hollywood, and I will show you why you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Okay, so perhaps I was a little hard on little Timmy and his oh-so-adorable green face paint and thick-soled boots. So while he’s off crying in a corner and his mother’s throwing me dirty looks, I’ll carry on with my story. Continue reading

Top Ten Authors Whose Books I Own

ShelvesIt’s no secret that I own a lot of books. My tiny Ikea bookshelf is crammed, and on most shelves the books are stacked in two rows, one in front of the other. And since this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish asks which author’s books appear on our shelves the most, I thought I’d do a little bit of a bookshelf review. One bookshelf-clutter-related accident later, I gave up on trying to catalogue every book I own, and set out with bandaged finger to find the authors who stood out to me the most.

Top Ten Authors Whose Books I Own

(This episode of Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by the Society For The Prevention Of Bookshelf-Related Accidents. Remember, kids: clutter can kill. Always rearrange your bookshelves with a buddy.) Continue reading

My Favourite Classics (Top Ten Tuesday)

favouriteclassicsEvery week the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish prompt bloggers to compose a Top Ten list based on a weekly theme. This week’s theme is ‘Top Ten Favourite Classic Books’. Since I don’t think I’ve actually shared a list of my favourite books yet, I thought today would be as good a chance as any to share some of them with my lovely readers. :)

So here they are, just for you… Continue reading

Classics Club April: Thoughts on Science, Ageing, Modern Technology, and Frankenstein (In No Particular Order)

classicsclub1This month The Classics Club asked: “Contemplate your favorite classic to date. When was this book written? Why would you say it has been preserved by the ages? Do you think it will still be respected/treasured 100 years from now? If it had been written in our own era, would it be as well received?”

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1818. This was, as you’ve probably realised already, a very long time ago. Just shy of two hundred years ago, in fact. And, like any good two-hundred-year-old, it often gets asked the same question many grandparents get asked (though not the two-hundred-year-old ones, for obvious practical reasons):

Are you even still relevant any more?

Luckily, in the case of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, I’d argue that Frankenstein is one of those rare books that is even more relevant now than it was when it was first written. A very ambitious claim, I hear you say. I hope you have some proof to back it up. And I do. Allow me to elaborate…. Continue reading

Classics Club Meme: Favourite Literary Period

classicsclub1This month The Classics Club asked a very interesting question: what is your favourite “classic” literary period and why?

Now, for someone who has devoted their life to studying literature, that sort of question is a little like asking a marine biologist what their favourite kind of fish is. Or asking a music lover what their favourite Beatles song is. Or asking just about anybody what their favourite episode of Friends is. (Because who doesn’t like Friends?) Continue reading