I am sure that you have seen the movies that have been made from this book, there are quite a few and most of them are very entertaining. Unfortunatel...moreI am sure that you have seen the movies that have been made from this book, there are quite a few and most of them are very entertaining. Unfortunately none of the movies that I have seen have captured the social meaning behind this book. Certainly they have the adventure part down pat, but the rest of it is changed, for the times I’m sure. I would advise those of you who love Sci-fi to read this book, and to those of you, like myself who have a hard time getting into that genera, look at this as a classic and read it anyway.
The unnamed inventor of a time machine, known only as the traveler, leaves his home to travel forward through time. Seeing drastic changes in the world he finally settles on a distant future to get out and explore. He quickly meets tiny humans which he refers to as the Eloi. They are fair to look at, complete ADD cases with little to no true knowledge or skills. The Traveler attempts to communicate with them and has some difficulty. He spends a great deal of time in this futuristic world and discovers that the Eloi are not alone in this new world, and that their counterparts are far more sinister.
One of the biggest changes made in the movies is the cause of the split between the Eloi and the Morlocks. It is very interesting to read Well’s actual reasoning, which is the separation and elitism between the social classes. This becomes more defined and is the actual basis of the entire novel. Rather than being a true Sci-Fi book, this really is about Victorian Society and what it would look like if left unchanged for 800,000 years. Because this book only vaguely touches on the science involved, it is likely to never be outdated. Though this is not a fast read by any means, it is a fun and meaningful one. I don’t know that I would hand it to a 10 year old because odds are they would be bored before he even leaves for the trip. However if you can take a deep breath and leave our societies mindset behind (the theory that everything needs to be exploding and that we all need instantaneous gratification at all times) this is a brilliant piece of fiction that spans several genres and is in fact as timeless as the Traveler. (less)
Back in high school I read this book and absolutely hated every page of it. The other day I decided that it was time for a re-read so I pulled it back...moreBack in high school I read this book and absolutely hated every page of it. The other day I decided that it was time for a re-read so I pulled it back out and started reading.
Short Summary: Jurgis and his extended family migrate to America from Lithuania in search of the American Dream. When they arrive they discover that the American dream may not be available to them, what is available to them is scam after scam, starvation, freezing winters, and slave labor for pitiful wages.
The first chapter of the book is generally enough to make all but the most dedicated readers consider turning back. It is an extended wedding scene with little to know explanation as to who these people are that we are reading about. Though we do meet up with many of the characters later in the book, it's really not the most desirable place for us to leap into the story. The wedding between Jurgis and Ona is a happy affair that nearly breaks their pitiful bank. After this chapter we leap back to the family coming over to America, fumbling about to find a place to stay, trying to learn enough English to get by, and attempting to find jobs.
The family does not have an easy time of it... there are thousands of people in the Chicago area starving for lack of work, the slaughterhouses have their pick of employees, can pay them almost nothing, and can turn them out to the streets with no notice. Women and children are forced to work as well, trying desperately to make ends meet, keep food on the table, and keep coal in the stove for heat.
The bulk of this novel focuses on the horrors of life in that time, particularly the atrocities committed by the slaughterhouses and the meat packing industry. I assure you that after reading this book you will think before you take your next bit of beef or pork (especially sausage). The horrors that this novel brings to light are almost unbelievable in this day and age, but they were true. One cannot even imagine going through the days and nights as this family does. Every time they begin to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is extinguished again. This book follows the tragic breaking down of the human spirit, the death of the soul, and the degradation of humanity on such a scale as to be almost unbelievable. Sinclair takes us to the brink of despair, we want this family to make it, we want their spirits to soar! We want to see hope glimmering in their eyes and food in their bellies. Such vivid characters and such terrible scenes will stick with the reader long after the book has been closed.
But that is just the first 3/4 of the book... of all of the classics that I have read, both modern and ancient... so far this one has the least satisfying ending. In the last 5 or so chapters of the book, Jurgis is swept up by the socialist movement, and from that point on the reader simply reads speech after speech of socialist propaganda so thick that Sinclair almost leaps out of the book and bashes you over the skull with it. Page after page of brand new, came out of nowhere characters - people we know nothing about theorizing and pontificating over the joys and hopes that the socialist movement is bringing to the people. Page after page of how material wealth should be government run and intellectual wealth should be free, and how the whole concept of Socialism will solve everyone's problems and we can all live happily ever after should we vote socialist.
Now I have nothing against socialism, heck the good old US of A is a socialist country, even though they'll fight you rather than admit it. But I don't like anyone's theories jammed down my throat... especially after they have just drug me through the gutter and have me all emotional about the horrible lives the poor characters are living. I almost took offense to the ending - Jurgis and his family deserved a better ending to their story than than!
I am giving this book 3 stars, the first 3/4 of it is 5 star material, the last couple of chapters was 1-2 star material the appeared out of nowhere, so I'm splitting the difference. I remember now that my hatred of this book back in high school was for the same reason, and I recall arguing with my teacher that this book could have been great if he had let me rip the last 3 chapters off of it... or if Sinclair had woven his socialist theory throughout the book rather than slapping it on at the end. Still I highly recommend reading this book, even if you don't bother reading all of the speeches at the end.(less)
Wilde created a wonderful haunted house, and a ghost who has through the last 300 years terrorized the Canterville family. Wilde has always been brill...moreWilde created a wonderful haunted house, and a ghost who has through the last 300 years terrorized the Canterville family. Wilde has always been brilliant in his simplicity, in his wit, and in how quickly you become charmed by his characters.
Sir Simon (the ghost) is doomed to haunt the Canterville estate for the wrongs he comitted in life... these include the murder of his wife. His legend has grown through the years and he has terrified everyone who has lived in the house. All is going well for Sir Simon until the house is sold to an American family who absolutely refuses to be frightened by him. Their children torment him and set up booby-traps, The husband and wife offer the ghost grease for his chains and medicine for the sounds of his laughter, which they mistake as a cough of some sort.
Finally Sir Simon is driven to near madness and hides or creeps quietly about the house for fear that the Americans will notice him. Their young daughter Virginia, is the one who truely makes contact with him. I agree with the other reviewers that I wish this relationship had been more fully developed, but Wilde's conciseness prevents this. Virginia helps the old Ghost and everyone lives or dies happily ever after. A very short and sweet story that I sadly finished in less than a half an hour.
Even though it was short, the simple fact that every reader is left wanting more without needing it shows why this is a 5 star story. (less)
Unfortunately I made it through both high school and college without ever having been assigned this book. Over the years I have read plenty of Wilde'...more Unfortunately I made it through both high school and college without ever having been assigned this book. Over the years I have read plenty of Wilde's works, but for some reason or another, missed this one over and over. I recently sat down, and decided that it was time to give this a read. To be honest, I knew very little about this actual book prior to reading it, other than it involved a picture that aged rather than he in the painting.
I expected to have difficulty reading this book, since it had been such a long time since I had read anything from the Victorian era, however the language was surprisingly simple, and Wilde's wit is as sharp as ever. Almost sharp enough to harm the reader should they not be forewarned or guided through the readings. Should someone of a weaker mind read this book, it would be easy to fall into the trap of Dorian, who himself was poisoned by a book and the words of his friend.
Summary without giving too much away: Dorian Gray is an Adonis-like beauty, young and full of life and innocence at the beginning of our story. His beauty has attracted the obsession of a painter who paints picture after picture of him. Basil (the painter) tries to keep young Dorian pure and in love with life. Henry, a friend of Basil's comes to the studio as Basil paints his master work - a portrait of Doran. Henry fascinates young Dorian in his vile manner of speaking and sarcastic wit. His talk instills in Dorian both a fear of losing his beauty and a lust for all that is selfish and vile in life. Dorian's notable debauchery follows in exquisite detail with Henry always along for the ride to prod young Dorian down the wrong road. Several suicides and a murder or two later, complete madness begins to make its appearance.
Wilde was brilliant in his writing of this book, he captures the time perfectly... the lust of it, the sexuality of it, the debauchery of it... all in the name of truth. In their words they say things that their hearts dare not to believe and their smiles are masks hiding the truth. And what if someone believed in these lies? What if they lived their life according to what they had been told? Then they would be Dorian Gray... and we will see what happens to him. This is a brilliant read, and for those of you who will have to write papers on it... the story is not long, but it is thick with meaning. There are very few stories that I would give 5 stars to, this is one of them. (less)