Our Classical Journey discussion

23 views
Books Read in 2017-2018 > The Hitchhikers Guide - Spoilers

Comments Showing 1-28 of 28 (28 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss the book freely!


message 2: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments I think that one of the main themes of this book is to point out the notion of the absurd in context to the vastness of time and space.

This is in line with what Carl Sagan pointed out bellow (note: this is a fragment of the quote, full quote here about "Pale Blue Dot" > https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes... ):

_____________________________________________________________________

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves."


message 3: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 429 comments MJD wrote: "I think that one of the main themes of this book is to point out the notion of the absurd in context to the vastness of time and space.

This is in line with what Carl Sagan pointed out bellow (not..."


I agree. Obviously this is a humorous book, and sometimes you just read for the fun of it, but what you say is very true, and the quote exemplifies this perfectly.


message 4: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Marina wrote: "MJD wrote: "I think that one of the main themes of this book is to point out the notion of the absurd in context to the vastness of time and space.

This is in line with what Carl Sagan pointed out..."


Speaking of humor, what aspect of the book did you find to the be the most humorous?

For me I found Marvin to be one of the better parts, in this and in the other books.


message 5: by Loretta, Moderator (last edited Jun 02, 2018 06:48AM) (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Sorry. I thought this book was just plain silly. Humorous to a degree but overall, not to my liking.


message 6: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 429 comments Loretta, don't feel sorry. I know many people who had the same reaction as you, so I would say that's a pretty normal reaction. Someone said once that you have to enjoy British humor in order to like this book, and I think that's quite true. British humor isn't something everyone likes.

MJD, it's a long time since I read the book(s), about six or seven years I believe. However, I do remember liking Marvin best, too. Also, I think there are many funny conversations between Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect.

One of my favorite quotes, which is actually from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, is the following:

‘[…] The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.’
‘Odd,’ said Arthur, ‘I thought you said it was a democracy.’
‘I did,’ said Ford. ‘It is.’
‘So,’ said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, ‘why don’t people get rid of the lizards?’
‘It honestly doesn’t occur to them,’ said Ford. ‘They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.’
‘You mean they actually vote for the lizards?’
‘Oh, yes,’ said Ford with a shrug, ‘of course.’
‘But,’ said Arthur, going for the big one again, ‘why?’
‘Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,’ said Ford, ‘The wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?’


From book #4, but you get the gist of it.


message 7: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Marina wrote: "Loretta, don't feel sorry. I know many people who had the same reaction as you, so I would say that's a pretty normal reaction. Someone said once that you have to enjoy British humor in order to li..."

I did enjoy that part of book #4.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... This is not a book I will even finish. I hated what I read and am putting up a DNF. Sorry.


message 9: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Kelly wrote: "This is not a book I will even finish. I hated what I read and am putting up a DNF. Sorry."

Sorry Kelly! Onto the next then? ☺️


message 10: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Marina wrote: "Loretta, don't feel sorry. I know many people who had the same reaction as you, so I would say that's a pretty normal reaction. Someone said once that you have to enjoy British humor in order to li..."

Marina (and others in the group that have read the series),

I do not want to write specific spoilers about the other books in the series in this thread, but in a general sense I want to say that I felt that book 4 is a better conclusion to the series than book 5.

I know that there is some disagreement between people that like the series whether book 4 or 5 was a better finale (some go so far to tell people to not read book 5, which is an opinion that I don't share), and I want to see which side of the divide you are on.


message 11: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 429 comments MJD, as I said, it's a long time since I read the books, but I seem to remember I didn't much enjoy book 5, so I guess I agree with you. I think all 5 books should be read, though, just as you do.


message 12: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Kelly wrote: "This is not a book I will even finish. I hated what I read and am putting up a DNF. Sorry."

I respect that we all have different tastes and bring different interpretations to books via our different worldviews and such.

I am sincerely curious as to what aspect of the book you did not like though (note: to be clear I do not want to get into a debate or even try to point out aspects that you may like, I am just sincerely wondering what your take is).


message 13: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
MJD wrote: "Kelly wrote: "This is not a book I will even finish. I hated what I read and am putting up a DNF. Sorry."

I respect that we all have different tastes and bring different interpretations to books v..."


For me, MJD, while I was reading the book, it reminded me of the movie Spaceballs, which I thought was inane to the point of absurdity. 😜


message 14: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Currently reading Poetics by Aristotle (online text can be found here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1974 ), I found the following quote interesting in context of this book:


"Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower type, not, however, in the full sense of the word bad, the Ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive. To take an obvious example, the comic mask is ugly and distorted, but does not imply pain."


Given that the book deals with pain in the sense that there is genocide, murder, suicide and other unpleasant things happening to characters throughout the book, I was wondering if it could be described as a "comedy" in the Aristotelian sense of the word. For my part, I think that the tone of the book with all its "zaniness" in describing events helps tone done the focus on the "pain" and highlights the "ugly" and the "distorted" in a way that Aristotle may approve of.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... MJD wrote: "Kelly wrote: "This is not a book I will even finish. I hated what I read and am putting up a DNF. Sorry."

I respect that we all have different tastes and bring different interpretations to books v..."


Yes, I think I don't like absurdism. And with movies I loathe slapstick. For me it felt like that.


message 16: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 429 comments MJD wrote: "For my part, I think that the tone of the book with all its "zaniness" in describing events helps tone done the focus on the "pain" and highlights the "ugly" and the "distorted" in a way that Aristotle may approve of. "

I must admit I don't really know much about Aristotle's Poetics since I don't have a classical education (my education is linguistic/literary, but I didn't study classical languages/literature/philosophy). That said, I agree with you when you say that the tone of the book highlights the ugly and distorted, while toning down the pain.


message 17: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) the first three chapters, the absurdity of Dent's house being knocked down and what happens... and then replayed with how Earth will be blown up - that's funny, not LOL, more gentle, quiet kind of laugh.

I'm also finding this read interesting in how it covers an array of subjects from religion to science, and from what I can tell, mocks them equally

and as I keep reading, I wonder if some of the humor in here is now dated?


message 18: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Inkspill wrote: "the first three chapters, the absurdity of Dent's house being knocked down and what happens... and then replayed with how Earth will be blown up - that's funny, not LOL, more gentle, quiet kind of ..."

In what way does it seemed dated to you?


message 19: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) MJD wrote: "In what way does it seemed dated to you? "

Chapter 12 - radio - turning dials Vs touch sensitive - I'm guessing less people have non-digital readios - so they may not pick up on the narrator's irony

tea (motif) mentioned at least 8 times - when it's mentioned it's funny but I think it's funnier for people who understand the subtleties of having tea

bowl of petunias - in iteself absurd - but sounds like the kind of flowers that had meaning and relevancy to a past generation

Perfect's copy of Hitchhoker's Guide - and how it's funny it's in electronic format - little did the writer realise he was ahead of his time

So, I don't get all the subtleties in the humour - but I'm still finding this book entertaining and funny


message 20: by Loretta, Moderator (last edited Jul 25, 2018 06:14AM) (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Inkspill wrote: "the first three chapters, the absurdity of Dent's house being knocked down and what happens... and then replayed with how Earth will be blown up - that's funny, not LOL, more gentle, quiet kind of ..."

Found this article. It does have some spoilers so members who haven't read the book should be aware:

http://www.editoreric.com/greatlit/bo...


message 21: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Inkspill wrote: "MJD wrote: "In what way does it seemed dated to you? "

Chapter 12 - radio - turning dials Vs touch sensitive - I'm guessing less people have non-digital readios - so they may not pick up on the na..."


Thinking back, it was interesting to read the Guide being described as an advance piece of sci-fi tech when it seemed to basically be an ebook or a tablet.

As for the bowl of petunias, I think that its reference has a good payoff in the third book of the series.

On a side note, I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed it. I read it all in one sitting and loved it enough to read the whole series and nearly everything else the Douglas Adams wrote.


message 22: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 429 comments Thanks, Loretta, great article!


message 23: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
Marina (Sonnenbarke) wrote: "Thanks, Loretta, great article!"

Thank you Marina! 😊


message 24: by MJD (last edited Jul 25, 2018 07:33AM) (new)

MJD | 331 comments Loretta wrote: "Inkspill wrote: "the first three chapters, the absurdity of Dent's house being knocked down and what happens... and then replayed with how Earth will be blown up - that's funny, not LOL, more gentl..."

I think that the article sums up the 5 books well. I do want to point out that the seintence ""Young Zaphod Plays It Safe" (1986), the only short story Adams ever wrote in the Hitchhiker's world" is not entirely true since The Salmon of Doubt has another short story about Genghis Khan that takes place in that literary universe.

I am also of the belief that Adams' two Dirk Gently books take place in the same literary universe, and thus should be read alongside the 5 official books of the series (along with the unfinished Dirk Gently book that Adams was writing - and claimed to have been turning into a sequel to book 5 - found in The Salmon of Doubt).


message 25: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3979 comments Mod
MJD wrote: "Loretta wrote: "Inkspill wrote: "the first three chapters, the absurdity of Dent's house being knocked down and what happens... and then replayed with how Earth will be blown up - that's funny, not..."

Was trying to find something that explained Inkspill's comment about the humor being dated which I think it did to a degree but thanks for more insight MJD.


message 26: by Inkspill (new)

Inkspill (runinkspill) I have finished HG - brilliant ending - I like have Adams flips from one moment to the next without missing a beat - nice

Loretta wrote: "Found this article. ,,,."

That's an interesting article - thanks Loretta

MJD wrote: "... As for the bowl of petunias, I think that its reference has a good payoff in the third book of the series."

Oh, ok, I'll keep the petuninas in mind when I get round to reading that book - not sure if I can squeeze the other 4 in beween the books I plan to read, so it might be next year now

I'm pleased I read this - what a surprise - brilliant!!!


message 27: by MJD (new)

MJD | 331 comments Inkspill wrote: "I have finished HG - brilliant ending - I like have Adams flips from one moment to the next without missing a beat - nice

Loretta wrote: "Found this article. ,,,."

That's an interesting article -..."


Happy to see you liked it. Brilliant indeed. (Also fyi, if you want a satisfying happy ending you should stop at book 4, if you are okay with a tragic ending you should go ahead and read book 5. I think that both 4 and 5 give satisfying wrap up to things, better than just stopping at 1, 2, or 3.).


message 28: by Marina (new)

Marina (sonnenbarke) | 429 comments I'm very glad you liked it, Inkspill :)


back to top