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The Time Machine (Penguin Classics)
The Time Machine (Penguin Classics)
by H.G. Wells
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what a novel should be..., 14 Dec. 2005
Being a fan of dystopian novels I decided to take a look at this, having seen the film (the one with Samantha Mumba) a number of years before. Suffice it to say that the book and the film differ in many ways and that the book trumps the film tenfold.
The book is a real page turner, and is really short at 90 pages long. The plot has it all, both science and fantasy, intrigue, characters that are likeable and even prophetic undertones. One thing that greatly surprised me was the ingenuity of this novel and how many of things described by Wells were actually incredibly accurate even for our age. It is hard to remember that this book was actually written in the Victorian, and not the present, age.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2010 8:56 PM GMT

Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts
Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts
by Samuel Beckett
Edition: Paperback

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't wait for Godot to read this play...., 21 Nov. 2005
As a huge fan of Ibsen's 'A Doll's House', I thought no play could ever surpass it. 'Engame' was alright but rather dull and at times pointlessly depressing but 'Waiting for Godot', in a word; amazing!
I won't explain the plot, it serves no purpose as other reviewers have kindly done that. The central character of the play is Godot, which is ironic seeing as he is totally absent from the action (oh another point, there is no action). Yet, it is this absence, this sepulchre which haunts the minimalist discourse of the characters which is so appealing.
Beckett is a master of audience bewilderment. What exactly is the context of this play? Like Endgame, the context, or setting, is undoubtedly of a dystopian variety. I get a very chilling sense that there is also a warning to the hazards of war etc in the claustrophobic and sparsely populated setting of this play. Like Engame, there is a sense of the 'aftermath' of some fatal catastrophe (think 'Oryx and Crake without the Crakers).
We know that Beckett is hailed as a great figure within the 'absurdist theatre' - that is to say that many of his works explore the futility of existence and the fragile and desperate nature of humanity and as such many of the interpretations which we impose on the play will stem from this. Obviously, 'Godot' is a play on 'God'. The characters lives resolve around waiting for this character to appear. They don't know what he does, where he comes from, what he looks like or even who he is yet they wait. They squander their lives in waiting for this enigmatic figure they have no proof even exists. Sounds funny, but then one wonders, is Beckett satirising religion?
The two main characters are appeased by the pledges of a boy who promises Godot will come, but who subsequently never shows. As such, they accept their degradation in return for deferred gratification. Blake, in Songs, uses this analogy for the church, arguing that the church manage to dominate and emasculate the people through vacuous promises of greatness at later dates.
Vladimir and Estragon discourse about 'Godot' as it gives their ultimately futile lives meaning. Is Beckett implying that theism is merely 'naive indulgence' aimed at distracting us from the truth of our own futility? Yes, an extremely existentialist question but when one looks at the context of his writings it appears that much more poignant.
Enjoy !
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2016 9:18 AM GMT

Penguin Great Ideas : A Room of One's Own
Penguin Great Ideas : A Room of One's Own
by Virginia Woolf
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.99

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modernist essay of immense worth...., 16 Nov. 2005
I admit that as a younger student I found Woolf rather dull and distasteful. There was something so inaccessible and over-done about her writing. However, I came to understand my own ignorance and come to a love of Woolf by seeing her as a poet, as a thinker, and not as a novelist. It is true that her writing is complex, erudite and ambiguous but that is its charm, its enigmatic charm - and A Room of One's Own is no exception.
This is not a novel but rather a set of essays given to an audience of young cambridge girl students. The book opens with the wonderful premise 'A Woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction'. Thus, we are made to understand immediately the crux of the book; that intellectual freedom depends upon material things and that for women to create works comparable to Shakespeare's tragedies she must have a sense of autonomy.
Woolf proceeds to take us on a witty journey through the history of women and literature to explain why the female sex has always been limited. She concots, for sake of argument, the figure of Shakespeare's sister, who like her elder brother had a talent for theatre and creation of art. Due to her sex she is limited and ends up leading a frustrated life and ultimately killing herself. Woolf ends the book by calling her audience to write, to write widely and by doing so to emancipate Shakespeare's sister and show the men that women aren't their social, physical and mental inferiors.
One could say this is the start of feminist criticism, indeed with the book being published in the year of the acquisition of female suffrage the context would seem awfully auspicious. The book follows Woolf's ideoysncratic modernist style, pursuing the 'stream of thought' format. For any aspiring writer, for any historian, for any student, for anyone, i implore you to read this book. In this day of comparable equality of sex this divine rumination could be applied to writers of ethnic minorities and even writers of different sexual orientation. In order to create art one must have intellectual freedom; 'a room of one's own and money in one's pocket'.

Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Popular Classics)
Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Jane Austen
Edition: Paperback

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not her best, 23 Oct. 2005
Being a big fan of Austen, I was expecting this to be a masterpiece, after all many had proclaimed it as such. However, I was to be greatly dissapointed.
Don't misunderstand, this is by no extremes a bad novel it just pales in comparison to her other words. The prose reminds me a lot of Lawrence for some reason, perhaps this was precipitated by the likeness of Elinor and Marianne to Ursula and Gudrun. The narrative, at times, appeared somewhat confusing and it was difficult to keep track of who was supposedly in love with who and why it wouldn't work out.
Marianne by far is one of the most insipid characters created in literature. Her constant need to cry gets tedious and irritating. Elinor, although supposedly stoical and diffident, is far too reserved to be realistic.
The presentation of Colonel Brandon is fantastic however. He comes across as the best character in the book - so lifelike and amiable.
All in all, this book is not bad but pales in comparison to Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion (and even Northanger Abbey). It deserves to be read by any Austen fan, but if one expects the greatness of the novels mentioned before then prepare yourself for deflation.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Popular Classics)
by Oscar Wilde
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps I may disagree..., 3 Oct. 2005
Whilst I do not wish to say this is a bad book, because of course it is not, I do believe that the praise which has been lavished upon it is undeserved. Yes this is a gem of a book, but the best piece of literature ever? Well, interpretation is subjective!
The story recounts the tale of a narcissistic youth who, so in love with his portait and himself, falls into a life of folly and hedonism under the influence of his dear friend Lord Henry. However, there is a price to pay for his reckless hedonism. For every sin he commits a wrinkle or other such defect appears upon the visage of his portrait, a masterpiece painted by his painting acquaintaince Basal Hallward. Although this originally engenders horror in poor Dorian's pretty ayran face he overcomes this and comes to revel in the fact that although he may act the devil his true beauty is not tainted, only that of the picture. So he runs around breaking hearts, provoking suicides, dealing in opium dens and doing all kinds of immoral follies. Eventually, fate catches up with him and he is shunned by society. Finally, when a friend reveals to him the horror of his reputation he kills and regresses to somewhat of a savage with a polite facade for daylight company. His attempts to destroy the picture which has 'marred' his life lead to his own death conveying the poignant notion that no one can escape their conscience.
A great book no doubt but pales in comparison to Stevenson's greater novel. This could be a moral fable had the protagonist not sort to reform for the virtue of his own vanity and had the protagonist not died preaching how those who he had murdered, forced to suicide or had shunned, were the victim's of their own flaws. Deliciously despicable and decadent, and let's be honest we all love a bit of character duality, this book is a must for anyone interested in gothic literature. However, if one is expected to read and experience somewhat of a moral epiphany then perhaps consider something else.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2009 7:40 PM BST

The Edible Woman
The Edible Woman
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not as good as her others but still worth a read, 27 Aug. 2005
This review is from: The Edible Woman (Paperback)
I am an Atwood fanatic, so for my birthday I received this book. I really wanted to read it, being one of her earliest books. The book I must say is rather good, even if it does lack the intrigue of her other, later and some would argue (I being one of them) better books.
As usual, Atwood is engaging in her witty narrative. There is humour, irony, sarcasm and pathos which is hard to find in other writers. Marian, I found to be an extremely interesting character as did I find Ainsley, although I couldn't help compare her to Moira in the first few chapters.
Some reviewers have pined that there is little action in this novel, and whilst this is an understandable objection to the book, what would they think if they ever read Woolf? Like Woolf (and even Lawrence for that matter), the object is not so much plot but rather character development. We come to know the characters intimately, with Atwood employing both 1st person narrative then 2nd person narrative, and come to an understanding of the protaganist's, Marian, sentiments and actions. This book is not meant to be a thriller (for that read Da Vinci COde) but rather an exploration into the female mind in the context of marriage, relationships, guilt, fornification and feminism.
So, in short, not as good as say Alias Grace or the sublime Handmaid's Tale, but definitely worth a read.

Lake of Sorrows
Lake of Sorrows
by Erin Hart
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its weaknesses outweigh its strengths, I guess, 1 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Lake of Sorrows (Paperback)
I picked this novel up in a souvenir shop in Cyprus whilst on holiday. I admit from the outset I picked it up simply because I'd wanted something to read having just finished Atwood's superb Alias Grace a few days before.
Don't get me wrong, in no way is this a bad novel, although at times it is an awkward novel. There is something about Hart's prose which appears awkward in as much as the number of times she starts a sentence with 'Nora says' or 'Nora thinks' which although functional, does at times become slightly tedious. Hart is such a pervasive author in as much as she tells us what her characters think all the time (which isn't necessarily a negativity) that the reader is denied the chance to infer certain feelings and sentiments which is a shame.
The obligatory love story is a little dry I thought, but then again that is probably just a product of being so enthralled by the murderous rendez vous of Alias Grace. I cannot, however, praise Hart enough for the factual detail and accuracy of her narrative regarding the bogs in Ireland. You get the impression that the novel has been researched meticulously and that is where it shines.
In general, not a bad novel. At times yet the prose does seem to go amiss and is not half as engaging as other novels about paganism and such like, but nevertheless Hart pulls off a great tale and for that she must definitely be congratulated.

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