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on 8 July 2004
It is nice to see that the most significant novel in the history of Science Fiction is receiving the same sort of treatment from Spark Notes that are given to the plays of Shakespeare. Frank Herbert's "Dune" is a complex novel that brings a breadth and depth of the field of Science Fiction that J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy brought to the genre of fantasy. This is a novel that combines a look at the relationship between religion and power (represented by both variants on Islam and Roman Catholicism) with the issue of human control of ecology. Both of these key themes are treated by this Spark Notes edition, along with the motifs of inheritance/nepotism and precognition, as well as the symbols of melange and water.
This Spark Notes provides detailed analysis of the characters of Paul Atreides, Jessica, and Baron Harkonnen. The Summary & Analysis section divides each of the novel's three books into multiple sections. Overall the emphasis is more on the analysis that the summary, which is as it should be in a study guide. Then there are important quotations that are explained, a list of key facts, study questions and essay topics, and a review & resources section, which includes quiz questions, a glossary of terms used in "Dune," and suggestions for further reading (i.e., all the "Dune" sequels). Consequently, this little blue book is of value to instructors as well as students.
The strength of the Spark Notes is that they indicate lines of analysis and insight into "Dune" without providing the complete arguments. In other words, students are going to be able to get some good ideas for papers but not the complete arguments. In other words, using Spark Notes can jump start their papers but will not given them anything they can turn in as a completed paper. The summary is rather bare boned given the complexity of the novel, so it will not serve as a substitute for reading it but will serve to set up the specific analysis sections. The approach to this books is formulaic (I think that this is a novel that has more than four quotations worth exploring), but the idea is to offer something that will benefit those who have read "Dune" without providing a lot of extra reading.
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