"Hey, where were you last night?" "Huh?" "It was the wedding last night. Remember? Hello, you were supposed to be the best man! The bride was really ups"Hey, where were you last night?" "Huh?" "It was the wedding last night. Remember? Hello, you were supposed to be the best man! The bride was really upset when you didn't show up! Everybody kept asking me, 'Where is he, where is he?' And I was like, 'I don't know!' I was kind of getting worried about you, dude." "Oh. Sorry." "So why didn't you come? You sick or something?" "No, not sick, exactly." "So you just blew us off?" "Well–I got distracted, I guess. It was the weirdest thing. I mean, I was on my way to the reception, when all of a sudden this creepy old guy comes up to me, right? And he just looked all greasy and skinny and unshaven. And he was all, 'There was a ship.' " "He just walks up to you, and says that? Dude. That's really weird." "I know, right? So I was like, 'Piss off, you crazy old guy with a beard.' But he wouldn't, so finally I just listened. And he told this story, and actually my mind was kind of blown." "Your mind was blown? What does that mean? What kind of story?" "Well, so this guy, he was travelling around on this ship, right? And then this great big bird–an albatross, I think he said– started following him around, and, like, helping him out and stuff. So then he shot it." "Well, that was kind of a douche move. Anyway, aren't you not allowed to shoot birds without a licence? Did this guy have a licence? What kind of gun was he using?" "Not a gun. A crossbow." "A crossb....WTF? Okay. So you met some old crazy guy, who's probably also dangerous. Did he, like, kidnap you or something?" "No, no. Like I say–he just kind of blew my mind." "Ohhhh, man. He got you high, am I right? And now you're tripping." "No, no, nothing like that. It was just...I'll finish the story, kay? Then you’ll get it.” “Um, okay.” “So then they started having all this bad luck, right? After they shot the albatross. And they were all really thirsty–” “Thirsty?” “Well, yeah, cause they were on a boat, and they were out of water. I mean, like, there was water all over the place, but they couldn’t drink any of it. You know? Anyway, then they made him wear the dead bird around his neck–” “Wasn’t that super uncomfortable?” “I think that was sort of the point. I dunno. Finally they saw this other boat. And there were these two people on it, this chick, and this other guy. And they were playing dice...” “What, you mean like Yahtzee?” “Could’ve been Yahtzee. He didn’t say what the game was. Maybe it was Monopoly. Anyway, the chick was like, “I win, I win!” And then she started whistling.” “What song was she whistling? Was she, like, Jiminy Cricket, or something?” “Might’ve been the intro to Moves Like Jagger, for all I know. Then everybody died.” “Huh?” “They died. The whole crew.” “Just like that?” “I guess so.” “Uh–” “So then a bit later, the old guy started praying. And then the necklace fell off, and he was all like, 'yes!' ” “Why didn’t he just take it off earlier?” “Maybe he couldn’t.” “But when he raised his hands to pray, that jostled it, or something?” “Could be. So then–this is the really crazy part–all the crew turned into zombies.” “Zombies?” “Zombies.” “Okay. I’m gonna stop you right there.” “Why?” “This still doesn’t explain why you didn’t come to the wedding!” “I dunno man. After he finished the story, I was just, like, stunned. And I just went home.” “Okay. Dude. You’re definitely tripping.” “No, I swear I’m not. I’m just sadder, I guess. And wiser.” “Sadder and...? Screw it. Call me when it wears off.” “Wait–!” *click*
Don't get me wrong. I love this poem. Just couldn't resist having a bit of fun... ...more
Up until I read this, I didn't totally understand the people who go on about having their lives changed and their souls elevated and their spiritWow.
Up until I read this, I didn't totally understand the people who go on about having their lives changed and their souls elevated and their spirit moved when they read a poem. Now I do. I just loved Prometheus Unbound–the language was so beautiful...
Interesting aside: a lot of the themes in this poem have a vaguely Communist-ish feel to them; a feel as though Shelley would have been a supporter of the Russian revolution (I mean, right up until everything went sideways, obviously). I wonder if their were any places that banned this poem during the Cold war? It seems like the kind of thing a zealot might have tried to do. ...more
Of course this poem was good (I mean, it's Byron, he can do no wrong in my girlish eyes), but I don't know, I didn't like it as much as a lot of his lOf course this poem was good (I mean, it's Byron, he can do no wrong in my girlish eyes), but I don't know, I didn't like it as much as a lot of his later stuff. In Don Juan things HAPPEN, if you know what I mean. Childe Harold just kind of wanders around and sighs and looks at things and sighs a bit more. Which is all very well and good, but gets a bit wearing after a while. ...more
Virtuous maidens! Gothic mansions! Dark secrets! Mysterious noises in the night, wicked and lustful gentlemen, gossipy servant girls, grottos and cloiVirtuous maidens! Gothic mansions! Dark secrets! Mysterious noises in the night, wicked and lustful gentlemen, gossipy servant girls, grottos and cloisters and handsome young men who wander around the alps playing the oboe! How could anyone dislike this book?
One thing: Madeline, sweetheart.... Contrary to what you might think, women are allowed to ask questions. You are allowed to learn stuff. Sometimes it's useful, yeah? Just a thought. Also, contemplating the possibility of eavesdropping, then not actually doing it, is not even the tiniest bit wicked. It's really not. And don't you think it's a bit rich of your father to tell you off when you confess the next morning, considering that he....well, anyway. I'm just saying. Also, isn't (view spoiler)[De Sevignie your cousin (hide spoiler)]? I mean, all those relationships are really complex, so it's possible I missed something, but the two of you are related, right? I guess (view spoiler)[Paul Clifford (hide spoiler)] did the same thing, but that doesn't make it any more advisable. ["br"]>["br"]>...more
This was one of the first gothics I tried to read, one or two years ago. I couldn't get through it. I returned to it, expecting a terrific slog, but nThis was one of the first gothics I tried to read, one or two years ago. I couldn't get through it. I returned to it, expecting a terrific slog, but now that I've done Udolpho and others of its ilk, Otranto was practically like Sophie Kinsella. To my surprise I had polished it off in a matter of days.
Notes: Poor Conrad. Poor, poor Conrad. What was your offence, again? Were you a murderer? Did you chase after young virgins? No. You were just inclined to be sickly. So you had to be (view spoiler)[disposed of (hide spoiler)]. And incidentally: double standard alert. Evidence would suggest that women in the Gothic Industry are sickly as h--- (seriously, ladies, get your blood pressure checked), but that's fine. In fact, that's apparently kind of sexy. But if you're a man, you have to run around stabbing people in the gut with a broadsword just because you CAN. Which brings me to...
Theodore, o Theodore. I have encountered many exasperating gothic heroes in my time, but you are by far--by FAR--the most exasperating. Rule of thumb: Think before you stab, hmm? (UPDATED TO ADD: Just read Clermont. Never mind.
Hippolita! Why are you such a pushover? Why don't you ever just punch your husband and tell him to stuff it? It's a little bit ironic, considering your namesake...
Frederic! The kid tried to STAB you, okay? He tried to kill you without even asking who you were. That is not a good thing. That is not proof of his manliness, or whatever. That is NOT a good reason to let him marry your daughter!
Matilda, dearest Matilda, how tiresome you are. You might think that being good, in the end, benefits you. Don't you know that (view spoiler)[the most virtuous maiden must be sacrificed at the end? (hide spoiler)] Haven't you read The Monk?
Bianca. Ah, Bianca. You have more sense in your left elbow than all the rest of the characters put together. Don't change a thing, okay? Incidentally, do you know Annette from Udolpho? Because I think you guys would really hit it off. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Only part way through this one. Oh, how I love gothic romance.
P.S. Wondering what exactly the most common cover picture has to do with the plot. I loOnly part way through this one. Oh, how I love gothic romance.
P.S. Wondering what exactly the most common cover picture has to do with the plot. I looked it up and it turns out it's a picture of Julia after she was banished to the island (you know, after Augustus found out she was sleeping around with just about every other man in Rome, and went all, "Family values, my dear!" on her, even though he was part of one of the most dysfunctional, sex-crazy families in history. The moment was immortalized two thousand years later by Brian Blessed ("IS THERE ANYONE IN ROME WHO HAS NOT SLEPT WITH MY DAUGHTER?!?" etc.), by the way.) ANYWAY, I suppose it's a 'romantic' picture and all, but so far there are no grottoes and no roman ships. There is a character called Julia, but her primary concern in the novel is avoiding "sullying the purity of that reputation, which was dearer to her than existence" so if she were going to be banished for anything I'm inclined to doubt it would be for sleeping around. Maybe some well-meaning publisher at Oxford University Press just punched in some keywords from the novel, like "Julia" and "Italy" and "Romance" and got this. Or maybe it will all be explained later in the novel. And the best way to find out would probably be to stop this inane ramble and go read it.
UPDATE: Done! Much more satisfying ending than Udolpho, and much, much easier a slog. Recommend you start with this one if new to Radcliffe.
The grotto thing still makes no sense. Well, I guess, a little; there are caves, but they aren't full of water. And that other cover, with the two naked people making out hardly makes more sense. There is no nakedness in Radcliffe. There is no making out in Radcliffe. There is barely even holding of hands. I know, I really need to stop letting these covers bug me. ...more
I got interested in George Grossmith after seeing the 1999 film Topsy-Turvy--he created the comic baritone roles in almost all of Gilbert and SullivanI got interested in George Grossmith after seeing the 1999 film Topsy-Turvy--he created the comic baritone roles in almost all of Gilbert and Sullivan's celebrated operettas. I picked this book up from the library because a) it looked amusing and b) I recognized the author's name. It did not disappoint.
Diary of a Nobody tells the story of utterly ordinary, lower-middle-class clerk Charles Pooter. His adventures follow no particular story arc, but are episodic (due to its origin as a serial in Punch). Pooter is foolish, self-centred and often irritating, but very endearing nonetheless. This story is a fascinating portrayal of Victorian life and packs quite a few good laughs--I highly recommend it. ...more
This book is SO SO GOOD, and in my opinion it has never gotten its due. It's cleverly constructed, the voice is beautifully done, the characters are vThis book is SO SO GOOD, and in my opinion it has never gotten its due. It's cleverly constructed, the voice is beautifully done, the characters are vibrant, the plot is gripping. The main characters range from twelve to fourteen, but it's tremendous fun for all ages. WHY IS IT NOT A BESTSELLER? Go out, buy a copy, and then recommend it to all your friends. ...more
**spoiler alert** I really wasn't sure what to give this book. Because I was enjoying it. I really was. It is incredibly gripping. I was halfway throu**spoiler alert** I really wasn't sure what to give this book. Because I was enjoying it. I really was. It is incredibly gripping. I was halfway through the book when I sat down and two in the afternoon to read another chapter or maybe two, and then suddenly I looked up and realized it was five o' clock and I was three pages from the end.
Which brings me to why I knocked off those two stars.
Oh, Mrs. Radcliffe. You really had us going there, didn't you? You mistress of suspense, you made us believe that if we powered through all eight hundred freaking pages of purple prose, there would be a monstrous pay-off at the end! How could you lead us on so?
Three main problems: 1) Montoni isn't even properly gotten rid of. Emily and co leave Udolpho, and then a few chapters later it's mentioned in passing, "Oh, by the way, he's dead." Um. Ann. We want to see this guy die, ok? You made us hate him, and now suddenly Emily doesn't even care anymore? Hello? 2) Ok, we were hoping for scandal. We were hoping for something nice and juicy. But you led us on there, too! Because God forbid anything even moderately sinful should taint the St. Aubert family tree. You made us believe there was adultery. When, actually, there was just brother-sister love! How English of you, Mrs. Radcliffe. And how like a woman. From now on I'm getting my gothic fix from Hugo. He isn't squeamish like you are. 3) The black veil. This is the real cruncher. Ok, we thought, as we neared the end. So Montoni and Emily's father were busts. But we know there's something dreadful behind with the black veil. Because Emily SAW it. What was it? I'll tell you, Mrs. Radcliffe answered, it's a rotting corpse. "YES!" we cried out. "Whose? Whose?!" Nobody's, she replied. It was a waxwork. It was just there cause some guy who I never mentioned before wanted to make a waxwork of a dead guy. And Emily didn't get a good look.
Other than that I loved the book. If you just crossed out the line about the stupid waxwork it would have been fine. Pretend that the rotting corpse belonged to the old Marchioness, and that Laurentina took it there as a pleasurable reminder of what she had done, but it stared at her and drove her crazy so she became a nun. There. Yeah. Now the book is good. ...more
Not sure if this really belongs on the 'nonsense' shelf, but it felt redundant to make a different-other shelf for 'really-strange-and-existantial". INot sure if this really belongs on the 'nonsense' shelf, but it felt redundant to make a different-other shelf for 'really-strange-and-existantial". I enjoyed reading this--kinda depressing, but in a good way. I think I'll wait a bit before I start dissecting it though. ...more
This may very well be THE BEST BOOK I have EVER EVER READ EVER. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is everything I look for in a book: MagicOh.
This may very well be THE BEST BOOK I have EVER EVER READ EVER. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is everything I look for in a book: Magic, fairies, gothic-ness, the nineteenth century, mad royalty, magic mirrors, socially awkward recluses, revenge, true love, London, Venice, Lord Byron, Ann Radcliffe, footnotes....the list goes on.
The characters were fully developed and amazing (I particularly fell in love with the gentleman with thistle-down hair) the settings well-described, the language beautiful. It's really extremely difficult to find fault with this book. Well--that's not true. There was one thing that left me feeling a little unhappy after finishing it: (MINOR SPOILER ALERT AHEAD) The ending was one of those slightly-unresolved ambiguous endings. (Think Inception or The Princess Bride.) It was a well-executed ending, but it did make me want to throw the book across the room a little bit. However, with the possible exception of one person, everyone got exactly what they deserved as characters, which was nice. (Comeuppances were well-done for the people we didn't like.)
Overall, this book was AWESOME. I kept seeing it described in reviews and chat sites as "a difficult read" "a sizeable commitment" "slow-paced" "don't worry if you don't get through it; not everyone will." etc. This kind of makes me despair for humanity. Everyone wants their fantasy Stephen King-ified, Meyer-ified, dumbed down. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell IS long, but it really isn't that difficult or slow paced; I read it in a little less than a week. Everyone is a bit over-dramatic about the length and the reading level.
The final thing I loved was the footnotes in this book. I'm such a sucker for footnotes. They make my life, especially when they mock themselves. (See Jasper Fforde and William Goldman for exemplary use of footnotes.)
This book is a must-read for fans of Jane Austen, Dickens, Rowling, Holly Black--actually--everyone must read this book. Go out and get a copy right now. ...more
Ah, Carroll. My life would be nothing without thee. (It's possible to hate someone's guts, but can you love someone's guts? (Something of a bizarre exAh, Carroll. My life would be nothing without thee. (It's possible to hate someone's guts, but can you love someone's guts? (Something of a bizarre expression at the best of times. I mean, guts? What is hateable or loveable about anyone's guts? I mean, they're guts. I suppose it means, the centre of you; guts=your very core. But it's still bizarre.) If it IS possible, I love Lewis Carroll's guts.)
AAAAANYWAY, weirdo parenthesis aside...
So normally I hate math. Loooooathe it. But this book is math math math--really difficult math too--and it's one heck of a lot of fun. Probably in large part because it's presented in stories, rich with Carroll flair. The math problems are presented by an eccentric cast of characters: The teenage Clara and her aunt, Mad Mathesis; Hugh and Lambert, two young boys who say "Rather" and "I say!" an awful lot, and their tutor Balbus; and a pair of medieval knights--an old, long-suffering one and a young excitable one.
The math is pretty hard, I grant you, but I would recommend this book to the non math-orientated, (ahem) if you love Carroll, just for the pleasure of the stories. That said, I'd also recommend it to people who didn't particularly like Alice but love math, because the problems are engaging and well-done. ...more
Seriously--who wrote the summary up there, and when was it written? It makes this book sound like some deep, profound, existential, bore-the-pants-offSeriously--who wrote the summary up there, and when was it written? It makes this book sound like some deep, profound, existential, bore-the-pants-off-all-and-sundry analysis of Victorian society and crime. Um, no. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Or at the top of your web browser.
Paul Clifford is a melodramatic and fast-moving romp about a young fellow (named, ahem, Paul Clifford) who leads a double life: man-about-town by day, masked highwayman called Captain Lovett by night. He and his colourful gang of miscreants ride about the country, holding up carriages and having a grand old time, until one day he falls madly in love with a typical gothic heroine--beautiful, virtuous, etc--and begins to question his life as an outlaw.
This was by no means a GOOD book. I mean--cheesy--poorly written--one-dimensional characters--you know. The works. But it was an awful lot of fun. Kind of a guilty pleasure book, only you can use it to pass yourself off as an intellectual because it was written almost two hundred years ago. And it's by no means a difficult read. Dickens is technically the better writer, but reading this is one heck of a lot easier than trawling through most of his works. And it's unintentionally hilarious in many places--one line that killed me was, if I recall correctly, "In his hand he grasped the mock trident known to many gastronomers by the monosyllable 'fork' ". And no, I don't think he was trying to be ironic.
Paul Clifford was hugely popular in it's heyday. It's author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, was just as popular with Victorians as Dickens was. So why hasn't he survived the years? Well, partially because, as I've said, he isn't quite as good. (But more enjoyable.) The other reason is that there is, I will admit, a fair amount of political chitchat which makes no sense to us today. One character's always going on about how he's a confirmed Whig, and yay for whigs, and boo on tories, blah blah blah. But, even if you have no idea of nineteenth-century politics--which most people don't--it by no means gets in the way of plot.
This book is funny. It's romantic. It's filled with drama. It contains the original line, "It was a dark and stormy night."
And it needs to be made into a movie starring Johnny Depp as soon as possible.
*UPDATE: Ok, They changed the summary up at the top. Now it kind of makes sense. But I'm too lazy to alter the first paragraph of my review.*...more
Don't mistake me here. I'm not sure I thought that this was a GOOD book. But I really enjoyed it. (The same way I'm enjoying The Castle of Otranto, whDon't mistake me here. I'm not sure I thought that this was a GOOD book. But I really enjoyed it. (The same way I'm enjoying The Castle of Otranto, which I'm reading right now.) I'm not really majorly into gothic novels from the twenty-first century. But I seem to have a weakness for eighteenth-century and Victorian gothics. Give me a superhuman hot guy with a dark secret at a high school and I sneer, give me a mad wife in the attic or a sexually depraved king chasing a young girl around a medieval castle at night or a deformed genius living on an underground lake beneath an opera house and I'm happy as a clam.
This book--especially Erik himself--reminded me a lot of Frankenstein. That is, you've got your really scary-looking genius who just needs somebody to love, but the world is mean to them, so they are mean to the world. (Also, though this doesn't really have anything to do with anything, both speak French. I'd sort of like to think that within the BookWorld, the Creature, Erik, and Quasimodo all meet for bridge and croissants with coffee on saturdays.) In the case of both, if just one person were nice to them for ten seconds it would solve a lot of problems. Why don't any of the characters in monster books see that? Somebody gives the Phantom one peck on the forehead and bam--he's a saint. If his mother had just grit her teeth every night and given her son some love from the start, she could have nipped the whole thing in the bud, and today nobody would care tuppence about Andrew Lloyd Webber. (Excuse me, that would be a blessing.)
So a lot of what Erik does is creepy and perverted, yes. I concede that. But, as Mr. Leroux points out in the epilogue, a lot of what he does would feel much less creepy if he were normal-looking. And let's face it: is the Christine thing really that much more creepy than what happens in Jane Eyre? Mr. Rochester does, after all, have a fairly sizeable freak-out when Jane announces she's dropping him like a hot potato, and her grounds for leaving are much more reasonable. (Sorry if you've never read the book and that sounded like a tangent.)
(Come to that, this whole review has pretty much been a tangent, but that's how I write reviews. Get used to it.)
Anyway. To conclude. I really enjoyed this book. And now I really want to go to the Paris opera house and sit in box five. ...more