Gifted to me for Christmas 1994 by the Sunday School I temporarily attended - according to the bookplate - af...more*Cross-posted on BookLikes and Wordpress.
Gifted to me for Christmas 1994 by the Sunday School I temporarily attended - according to the bookplate - after I'd watched the 80s film adaptation at school, I remember the ungrateful disdain I felt for the novel; feeling I'd already read the book having watched the film. How ignorant I was. Granted, I only 8 years old, but we all know that adaptions are usually inferior to the original.
Unsure if I'd ever read this in my childhood during a desperately bored moment, I decided to seize upon the opportunity when this C.S. Lewis classic was selected for The Dead Writers Society's 2014 Series Project.
Immediately I was struck by the quaint simplicity of the language used 60 years ago and the innate kindness and naïveté expressed by the children of that era. Tedium and disjointed fantasist logic, though, soon irritated like mosquito bites; every few pages something caused an eye-twitch.
But in general, take my advice, when you meet anything that's going to be human and isn't yet, or used to be human once and isn't now, or ought to be human and isn't, you keep your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet. - Mr. Beaver
Anyone spot the irony? That's right, Mr. Beaver isn't human. There are no humans in Narnia, that's the reason for the children's importance. He's just warned them that every creature they encounter in his world is a physical danger to them, including himself. Ugh.
Edmund's betrayal abruptly dismissed and forgiven was one of the worst irritants as his implicit pride, arrogance and greed left him open to the White Witch's charms, and although it's hinted he punishes himself, no one berates him for betraying his siblings for the archetypal stranger offering chocolate in the windowless van.
Sheldon: Hold on. Just because the nice man is offering you candy, doesn’t mean you should jump into his windowless van. What’s the occasion? Seibert: Just a little fund-raiser for the university. Sheldon: Aha! The tear-stained air mattress in the back of the van. ~ The Big Bang Theory
While it's true that shame and self-punishment can sting more than anything anyone else could say, it still grates. Edmund's apparent hurried redemption off-stage - rewarded with a battlefield knighthood - and later becoming a 'graver and quieter man' earning the name 'Edmund the Just' feels like a cop out. However, he's the only character to be generally cautious, skeptical and untrusting as we witness him pointing out the unwise act of instantly trusting the word of a stranger, which is contradictory to his earlier aforementioned behaviour evident before he eats the tainted Turkish Delight. I suppose his complexity makes him the most interesting and well-developed character of the novel.
Edmund and the White Witch in her sleigh a.k.a. her windowless van
Crowning these sons of Adam and daughters of Eve for just showing up one day, also appalls me. Hardly meritocratic, and yet the 2005 movie changes this aspect. All four children earn their crowns by bravely fighting the good fight using the weapons bestowed upon them. Due to the time period in which this was written, Lewis only allows the Sons to wage war as Father Christmas claims "...battles are ugly when women fight" when gifting the girls with a bow and arrows (for Susan) and a dagger (for Lucy). Despite this, the boys do very little in the way of violence or strategy. Again, I can put this down to the age-appropriate and historical tolerance for violence in the media during the late 1940s.
Susan actually uses her bow
And now I'm reminded why I shouldn't read pre-teen fiction; it's never quite realistic enough for me to enjoy. However, I do wonder if this classic would make it past editors in this condition in the present day. Instinct tells me the manuscript's syntax would be tinkered with and more contractions added for a smoother reading experience, at the very least. Its current form left me eager to abandon it to the never-to-be-read-again shelves, if it hadn't been for the DWS Series Project, I would have, although I won't be reading the rest of the series.(less)
Dickens bores us readers to death by describing everything down to the smallest detail, leading me to DNF amid the third chapter at which point distur...moreDickens bores us readers to death by describing everything down to the smallest detail, leading me to DNF amid the third chapter at which point disturbingly little had had taken place.(less)
Before reading this, my first reading of the Arthur Conan Doyle originals, my first encounter with Sherlock Holmes was CSI's Who Shot Sherlock episode...moreBefore reading this, my first reading of the Arthur Conan Doyle originals, my first encounter with Sherlock Holmes was CSI's Who Shot Sherlock episode. Since then I've enjoyed the likes of Mr. Patrick Jane of The Mentalist, Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock (BBC) and Johnny Lee Miller's Elementary. I'd also argue there's a bit of Holmes in Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory as well. Those adaptations far surpassed the original. Sherlock in particular, provides the closest modern interpretation of the original text and was far more enjoyable.
There's no question: Holmes is an arrogant ass, but where current interpretations have differed and improved is by providing other sympathetic characters and a sense of adventure and fun to balance out the insufferable Holmes' ego. Without those here, I was tempted to reach into the book and throttle Mr. I'm Better Than Everyone Else.
Part I managed to hold my attention, the beginning of which was very intriguing, but Part II saw me confused by the change of scenery and characters, and felt overly long for the information it was conveying. The portrayal of Mormonism left me uncomfortable. Since I'm not very familiar with their way of life I'm unable to comment on it's veracity here, though my gut says it's an unfavourable, extremist and sensational portrayal you might come across in the media when detailing a crime(s) in those communities, similar to those described in The Chosen One.
Another complaint I have applies to the plot itself. I've become accustomed to playing along in solving the mystery alongside the investigators while reading or watching crime and I was unable to do this here. Sherlock alone spots clues and keeps them all to himself until his big reveal -that's the one major downside to reading Watson's POV.
Despite finding A Study in Scarlet a disappointing venture, I think I'll continue to read more of the originals hoping Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's supposed talent developed into providing a more engaging read.
THERE ARE VITAMINS IN CHOCOLATE! According to Mrs Gloop. I wish. It's a shame the real Wonka Bars aren't infused with the A-Z vitamins mentioned in th...moreTHERE ARE VITAMINS IN CHOCOLATE! According to Mrs Gloop. I wish. It's a shame the real Wonka Bars aren't infused with the A-Z vitamins mentioned in the book. Mmm, those bars were nice.
Far more entertaining than I expected it to be and I enjoyed the little details not covered in the movie adaptations.
Loved the social commentary in the Oompa Loompa songs.
On spoiled children [p127]:
For though she's spoiled, and dreadfully so, A girl can't spoil herself, you know. Who spoiled her, then? Ah, who indeed? Who pandered to her every need? Who turned her into such a brat? Who are the culprits? Who did that? Alas! You needn't look so far To find out who these sinners are. They are (and this is very sad) Her loving parents, MUM and DAD.
And the commentary on TV [p146-7]:
IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD! IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD! IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND! IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND! HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE! HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE! HE CANNOT THINK - HE ONLY SEES! "All right!" you'll cry. "All right!" you'll say, "But if we take the set away, What shall we do to entertain Our darling children! Please explain!" We'll answer this by asking you, "What used they keep themselves contented Before this monster was invented?" Have you forgotten don't you know? We'll say it very loud and slow: THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ, AND READ and READ, and then proceed TO READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks! One half their lives was reading books! The nursery shelved held books galore! Books cluttered up the nursery floor! And in the bedroom, by the bed, More books were waiting to be read!
It took me by surprise how much I loved this classic and how eerily relevant and applicable it is considering today's politics, Britain's in particula...moreIt took me by surprise how much I loved this classic and how eerily relevant and applicable it is considering today's politics, Britain's in particular. The Arab Spring is also a good example of a modern day Animal Farm.
I highlighted this one to death. In pencil, of course. I'm not a barbarian.(less)
"Pride is a very common failing I believe... human nature is particularly prone to it, and there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of se...more"Pride is a very common failing I believe... human nature is particularly prone to it, and there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us." [p36]
I was spurred on to find out how many times certain words were used in the text:
297 Sister 213 Good 179 Dear 152 Family 122 Love 74 Happiness 71 Character 67 Marriage 53 Fortune / Misfortune 49 Pride 46 Handsome 36 Amiable 36 Sensible 30 Kindness 21 Dancing 19 Superior 18 Vanity 8 Prejudice
The Prospective Husbands 418 Darcy 311 Bingley 194 Wickham(less)