30 Days of Book Talk discussion

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Day 6: Favorite and Least Favorite Assigned Reading

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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Of the books you've been assigned to read, which ones did you like most? Which ones did you hate?

My favorite assigned book in school was probably All the King's Men, which was a bit of a reach for 17-year-olds, but I was just old enough to appreciate it. I also really enjoyed Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

Assigned reading in general kind of sucks, so there were lots of books I didn't like despite being a book nerd. Some that stand out:
- Heart of Darkness - the longest really short book ever
- The Great Gatsby - possibly the runner-up. I know a lot of people love this, but I couldn't stand it and don't remember it as a novella even though it is.
- The Scarlet Letter - why this is ever assigned in school I can't imagine. The two things kids are least likely to appreciate (after symbolism): long nature descriptions and characters who refuse to solve their own problems.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God - when an attempt to diversify the curriculum results in assigning teenagers a book that glorifies domestic violence, and then you refuse to acknowledge the problem, that's going to wind up being the only thing I remember.


message 2: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments Oh this is kind of easy, of the assigned readings in school I was shocked to like S’aadi, and to find him so entertaining. Which goes to show what a big difference a good teacher can make.

Of the assigned readings by my English tutor, I too, loathed The Scarlet Letter with the strength of seven seas, I think that book marked me forever. Ever since reading that book I hold people who hold the upper hand, but who don’t take responsibility for their actions in strong contempt. I was assigned Pride and Prejudice as well, which I loooooved. But who doesn’t love P&P? I also hated, hated Absalom Absalom, I don’t even know why I was told to read it. And at that age? I was given a list for the summer and was supposed to read as many books on that list as I could find. It so happened that this one was in our library. I haven’t looked at another William Faulkner ever since.

In French, I hated Marguerite Duras’s The lover, I fell in love with Molière, and Voltaire, I hated the Stranger, but loved Albert Camus himself, I hated, hated and still hate Nausea by Sartre, and the Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and I hated their relationship. I thought the dynamics of their relationship were very telling of the truth of their convictions as opposed to what they claimed. And that’s when I felt feminism as defined by her was impaired. I still do. I know it is not PC to say so. But I live in a country where it is women who rear extremely chauvinist sons, so I think any human evolution and movement that leans heavily on one side is doomed and is dangerously lacking. Sorry I digress.


message 3: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship wrote: "Of the books you've been assigned to read, which ones did you like most? Which ones did you hate?

My favorite assigned book in school was probably All the King's Men, which was a bit o..."


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship wrote: "Of the books you've been assigned to read, which ones did you like most? Which ones did you hate?

My favorite assigned book in school was probably All the King's Men, which was a bit o..."


I loved what you said about the last book on your list “their eyes were watching God”, I completely agree.


message 4: by Mahoghani 23 (new)

Mahoghani 23 (mahoghani23) I have so many to choose from for both answers.


message 5: by Melindam (last edited May 25, 2020 01:55AM) (new)

Melindam | 162 comments Assigned books I loved/liked:

- The Fate of a Man and Early Stories by Mikhail Sholokhov
It was just at the turn of the political tides in Hungary (1989-90), when reading Russian or rather "Soviet" authors were treated with open enmity, but I found this book deeply touching and humane.

- Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - it was interesting and fun to read.

- The Red and the Black by Stendhal

- Dramas by Molière, Friedrich Schiller & Henry Ibsen.

Books I disliked:

- Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo
Some of my classmates were like: isn't it a pity that Phoebus and Esmeralda could not get a happy ending?
Me: You mean THAT JERK Phoebus? You MUST be kidding me.

- The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe: I found it melodramatic and self-indulgent, a combination I still dislike.

- Great Expectations by Dickens
I found it rather tiresome and ridiculous in my teens. Now I have favourite books by Dickens (Our Mutual Friend, Bleak House ) so probably I shall revisit G.E. :)


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Mark (kilimaro) | 20 comments Jealous of Emma for getting to read All the King's Men as an assigned school reading, though I suspect I would not have enjoyed it myself if it was assigned for US literature in 11th grade. When I read and loved that book it was probably a decade after that.

Some favorites from school:

All Quiet on the Western Front - one of the few books I ever read in high school where I felt like I "got it," which was probably because I was marginally more interested by virtue of it being a war story.

Night - labeling this a "favorite" due to the subject matter feels kind of strange, but still, it's probably the most powerfully affecting book I've ever read. I read this in 10th grade and I think it punctured a large portion of my youthful naivete.

There must have been others that I read in school that I liked, but I can't think of any right now. My view of how literature was presented to us in high school grows more dim with passing time.

Least favorites:

Their Eyes Were Watching God - like Emma, I had a bad experience with this one, though it was more a matter of the way the spoken dialect for the black characters was rendered in the text and that being extremely impenetrable to me at that time. I've re-read this one since and found it not nearly so bad.

Pride and Prejudice - early 19th century British-ness was not any less impenetrable, though I was in 12th grade by the time this one came along so I should have had more of a chance. I have also re-read this one as an adult who does not have to take a quiz on things like "match the quote to the character" and I really enjoyed that re-read.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Mark, you had some good assigned reading too! All Quiet on the Western Front and Night are two books I feel like I should read but have never gotten around to. Plus they seem like good school reading choices because they actually deal with momentous and dangerous events, which is far more interesting to kids than societal analysis.

Melindam, for what it's worth, I read Great Expectations voluntarily while people I knew were reading it for class (I'd managed to escape it) and liked it much better than they did. I think the alchemy of reading it in school transforms it into something kind of awful when otherwise it's.... all right. Still not my favorite Dickens (that would be Bleak House, though granted I'm a long way from having read them all).

Mahoghani, don't be shy! We have room for long lists. :)


message 8: by Maria (last edited May 25, 2020 10:14AM) (new)

Maria (mariajennings) | 4 comments In tenth grade, my teacher assigned The Poisonwood Bible, which I think was a favorite of almost everyone in the class. It was so much more accessible that other classics we read that year (The Iliad, etc) and there was still a lot of material to unpack with regards to colonialism, biblical allegories, patriarchy, etc.

I really didn't get on well with The Grapes of Wrath. I think the size intimidated me and I remember it just feeling like a slog. I've read and liked other Steinbeck since then, so I might feel differently now, but I can't quite will myself to try again :P


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Maria wrote: "In tenth grade, my teacher assigned The Poisonwood Bible, which I think was a favorite of almost everyone in the class. It was so much more accessible that other classics we read that y..."

That’s a daring choice! I liked it a lot as a teen but I don’t feel like it pulls any punches as far as being anti-Christianity or at least anti-missionary. At my school parents would have been up in arms. You’re right that there are lots of social justice issues to unpack in Kingsolver’s work though.


message 10: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited May 25, 2020 11:05AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 43 comments Favorite: To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, The Canterbury Tales, and The Odyssey.

Least favorite: The Old Man and the Sea, The Pearl, The Heart of Darkness, Samuel Beckett in general. (I hated Waiting for Godot more each time I was assigned it, which was four times and in two languages. I also hate Endgame and Krapp's Last Tape.) I like other works by Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Conrad, though.

Special mention: Silas Marner. I am still afraid of George Eliot, after a traumatic first exposure at 15. (They made us diagram sentences from it.)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 43 comments Some of those books I was exposed to at the wrong time (probably The Heart of Darkness in particular), in the wrong way (Silas Marner), and others - yeah, I really truly can't stand Beckett.

Part of this comes from teachers assigning works they appreciate as adults to adolescents, and part of it from teaching "you should be exposed to this important writer" combined with "what's their shortest book?" (Again, Silas Marner.)


message 12: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Some of those books I was exposed to at the wrong time (probably The Heart of Darkness in particular), in the wrong way (Silas Marner), and others - yeah, I really truly can't stand Beckett.

Part..."


I definitely agree that there should be a right time to read certain works, but I think the biggest issue is how one is led into the reading of and understanding the book, and also if the teacher is capable of making the work of literature come alive. Some teachers have that gift. Most don’t.


message 13: by Mark (new)

Mark (kilimaro) | 20 comments Maria wrote: "In tenth grade, my teacher assigned The Poisonwood Bible, which I think was a favorite of almost everyone in the class. It was so much more accessible that other classics we read that y..."

I have a 14 week wait on the hold list for the e-book copy of this one right now. It sounded interesting. I'm glad you had a good experience with it in school. For me, the formulaic way we were required to approach reading/writing about literature was just so stifling, it was hard for any book assigned in high school to shine.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Part of this comes from teachers assigning works they appreciate as adults to adolescents, and part of it from teaching "you should be exposed to this important writer" combined with "what's their shortest book?" (Again, Silas Marner.)"

Definitely agree with this. I enjoyed Silas Marner as an adult, but I don't think I'd have liked it as a kid.

Exposing kids to famous works, and trying to get kids into reading, seem to me to be contrary goals, and I really think the latter is more important. If you want books that appeal to kids, you're looking for books that are plot-driven, without spending a lot of time on description or flights of fancy language or literary devices or characters agonizing about things, none of which kids typically care about. You also want stakes that kids understand: physical danger, villains who need to be stopped, avoiding getting into trouble, or defending something or someone you love. Societal pressure, relationship dynamics and moral dramas, not so much.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Lady Delacour wrote: "Only book I can recall from my high school years
that was assigned reading, was The Grapes of Wrath.
For some reason I chose to read the ending first.
Being so grossed out by it...............
I ne..."


That is a super weird scene. The rest of the book isn't as bad, and I think Steinbeck's message was legit, but the gross-out factor doesn't help!


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Nathan (skynjay) | 5 comments My favorite assigned reading, high school and college:
- All Quiet on the Western Front. I am a huge fan of WW1 history.
-Madam Bovery- Not sure I would have ever read this if it wasn't on the list, but I love this book.
-All the Pretty Horses - I had some cool college teachers.
-Fools Crow - On the other hand I can count the number of non white male authors I was told to read on one hand, this was probably the best of that small group.

Least Favorites:
-Nature (Emerson)- Did nothing for me.
-Our Town - Maybe it is better on stage?

I didn't include the non-fiction, but if I did Bitter Fruit was an amazing look at the US intervention in Guatemala.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Wow, Nathan, you did have some pretty cool teachers, especially if that was grade school otherwise.

That’s also the first I’ve heard of Native American lit being taught at all, which is pretty sad.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments Least favourite in highschool was hands down A Separate Peace. In the mid 70s there was no way a bunch of lower middle class eighth graders could relate to the problems of a bunch of prep school boys from the war years--eons away, to us. None of us got it, none of us liked it. That was when I began to think that the books we got assigned were the books our teachers had done papers on in college!

Least favourite in college, since I studied Spanish, was Pedro Páramo. I had no problem with magic realism per se (I love Maria Luisa Bombal) but that one was just over the top. It was a great help when someone mentioned in class that all the characters are already dead. Ah. I see.

Favourite assigned reading in highschool was Inherit the Wind. I could just imagine Tony Randall in the role of the newspaperman, and that was before I found out he actually played it in the theatre!
In college, I fell in love with Benito Perez Galdós Misericordia and El árbol by M. L. Bombal. Her use of language reminds me of Mozart but then I have mild synasthesia.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments Nathan, I have to agree--plays are meant to be seen done, not read. Not even read aloud! I include Shakespeare etc. The BBC's production of Shakespeare's royalty plays (under the series name The Hollow Crown) made it all make much more sense.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship wrote: "Maria wrote: "In tenth grade, my teacher assigned The Poisonwood Bible, which I think was a favorite of almost everyone in the class. It was so much more accessible that other classics ..."

Living in Spain, I have met so many self-constituted missionaries of the type, though. I very unkindly offered to lend my copy to a Christian missionary/counsellor/psychologist years ago. "Strangely" she didn't take me up on it.


message 21: by Jennifer (last edited May 27, 2020 06:23AM) (new)

Jennifer (sailorjak) | 5 comments My favorite books in high school and university:

Antigone by Sophocles - made me realize that the Ancient Greeks were really the first people to do tragic theatre and Shakespeare was just standing on their shoulders.
Edgar Allan Poe (never read his stuff again, but I still remember vividly The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell tale Heart and the Fall of the House of Usher). Brilliant stuff. And I am an utter wuss when it comes to reading or watching horror or suspense.
MacBeth. Loved it!
A 1000 and one Tales by Scheherazade. Again, a bit of an awakening of other cultures having a rich story telling tales.

Least liked
Hamlet - Shakespeare is a hit or a miss for me. This one was a miss.
To Kill a Mockingbird - I know I am going against the crowd here, but I just couldn’t get into it.
A Doll’s House - maybe it better on stage?


message 22: by Gogol (last edited May 27, 2020 06:51AM) (new)

Gogol | 113 comments Jennifer wrote: "My favorite books in high school and university:

Antigone by Sophocles - made me realize that the Ancient Greeks were really the first people to do tragic theatre and Shakespeare was just standing..."


In every single list of which books one should read in one’s life time, I see “to kill a mockingbird” included, and yet I have never felt inclined to even open the cover.


message 23: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) wrote: "Least favourite in highschool was hands down A Separate Peace. In the mid 70s there was no way a bunch of lower middle class eighth graders could relate to the problems of a bunch of pr..."

“Her use of language reminds me of Mozart” Wow! I have never been more encouraged to read a book than by this description.

As for plays, I think reading them aloud, IS playing them. Looool a grown up version of make believe, perhaps? I am one of those people who love to read plays out loud. And when you do this, you become immersed in the play and sometimes instinctively understand what the writer wished or meant for the actors to convey. Sometimes one needs more context, but personally I rather read a play first, and then set about studying it.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Gogol wrote: "In every single list of which books one should read in one’s life time, I see “to kill a mockingbird” included, and yet I have never felt inclined to even open the cover."

It's really quite good. As a kid it was just another book we had to read, but when I re-read it as an adult, I was really impressed with Lee's storytelling skills and the way she speaks to subtle issues that are still very much alive today. Admittedly, it's likely most meaningful to Americans - it's hard for me to say how much the aspects about racial issues would speak to other folks.

An interesting, if depressing, companion book is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, which is an excellent memoir/nonfiction about the U.S. justice system, and ironically features a black man unjustly convicted of a crime against a white woman in Harper Lee's own hometown. The folks working in the justice system evidently saw nothing unusual in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the book at the same time as refusing for ages to review the evidence in this case.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 43 comments Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) wrote: "Nathan, I have to agree--plays are meant to be seen done, not read. Not even read aloud! I include Shakespeare etc. The BBC's production of Shakespeare's royalty plays (under the series name The Ho..."

That is exactly what the Shakespeare professors I have known (my parents were English professors) have said about his plays. Both recommend reading them out loud, if you can't see them performed.


message 26: by Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) (last edited May 27, 2020 11:29PM) (new)

Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments Exactly, Susanna. There may indeed be authors out there who write with one eye on the future, expecting to be studied in university level literature classes as they work in the symbolism and the "deep references", but Shakespeare was a working actor who had to come up with a new play every x-number of weeks, so he was writing under pressure a lot of the time. Which explains why some of his plays are nvg, and are seldom produced.

I have read a lot of Shakespeare aloud in my day, from the time I discovered the plays at age 8 to literary discussion groups in college, to tutoring my Spanish students and doing a running translation/commentary during a session. But--it's theatre. It's meant to be acted! In those days they had very few forms of mass entertainment, and the audience wanted just that: to be entertained. Laugh, cry, get angry, whatever.


message 27: by Melindam (new)

Melindam | 162 comments When I was a kid, my mother -a Librarian- gave me to read Tales of Shakespeare. I loved reading the stories in these format: obviously some caught my attention more than the others and needless to say I preferred his comedies. And based upon my favourites, I started to pick them in the original when I grew a little older and also to seek out dramatisations on TV, that's how good old Shakespeare grew on me. :)


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments I first fell in love with The Tempest, thanks to Roller Skates. I loved Caliban's insults! Then somewhere in the late 60s or early 70s PBS started running some of Shakespeare's plays. Much Ado About Nothing was a beautiful production (set in the Belle Epoque, to go by the costumes) and the music they used for the funeral song has haunted me to this day.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 43 comments The best Shakespeare professor I ever had acted out the plays, or had us do so. (He had a great deal of ham in him, and was a fine teacher.)


message 30: by Melindam (new)

Melindam | 162 comments "Much ado about nothing" has always been my favourite comedy, but it turned into adoration with the Emma Thompson - Kenneth Branagh adaptation. It was a feast for eyes, ears, soul. :)


Two Envelopes And A Phone I don't think I hated any reading I was assigned - seemed to miss out on the really wretched "must-reads" of some teachers and professors - but my least appreciated assigned reading in a university course was At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror by H. P. Lovecraft. Just not my thing - though in my free time, later Lovecraft picks were better for me.

Meanwhile, back in high school, I did enjoy reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments Just spent the afternoon watching Al Pacino's The Merchant of Venice. I love how he, the "villain", puts the audience in his pocket and walks off with it.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 43 comments Pacino also makes an excellent Richard III - he plays him as a mob boss.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Pacino also makes an excellent Richard III - he plays him as a mob boss."

Oh yes, Looking for Richard. The film about how they didn't make a film of it! I also enjoyed watching him go from talking pleasantly to some passers by who recognised him, to sliding into character with one change of posture. Jeans, t-shirt, baseball cap on backwards--he WAS Richard.


message 35: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments I’ve only ever seen the taming of the shrew, The merchant of Venice (re which I completely agree that Pacino took the audience with him and) and a Russian production of Hamlet that I saw with subtitles, either the quality was awful or the movie was really in black and white. I also saw a couple of the episodes in hallow crown. Now that I think about it I would love, love, love to see benedict cumberbatch play hamlet, or Judy Dench as lady Macbeth, and .....
But I think the enjoyment would be twofolds after having read the plays aloud to oneself.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments I highly recommend the BBC production of Hamlet starring David Tennant. Branagh's was real pretty to look at, but Tennant shows us a man in the process of losing his grip on reality, becoming what he pretends to be at the outset.


message 37: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) wrote: "I highly recommend the BBC production of Hamlet starring David Tennant. Branagh's was real pretty to look at, but Tennant shows us a man in the process of losing his grip on reality, becoming what ..."

Thank you! I will.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 43 comments Olivier and Branagh are both great as Henry V, though in very different interpretations of the role.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Olivier and Branagh are both great as Henry V, though in very different interpretations of the role."

I'm going to commit theatrical blasphemy and say that Olivier has always left me stone cold. There, I said it.


message 40: by Jen (new)

Jen  (jennsps) | 10 comments Hated- Heart of Darkness, Romeo and Juliet (horrible teacher killed it), Great Expectations and Frankenstein (same horrible teacher.) Crime and Punishment.

Loved- To Kill a Mockingbird

Unassigned books- only two black authors on our AP English list, only two books to be cut due to lack of time, so I grabbed copies and read them on my own, Things Fall Apart and Their Eyes Were Watching God. Loved both books. Would have preferred them to any of the other books we “had” to read. I don’t even remember the other books, other than Heart of Darkness and only because I hated it so much.


message 41: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) wrote: "Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Olivier and Branagh are both great as Henry V, though in very different interpretations of the role."

I'm going to commit theatrical blasphemy and say that ..."


By Olivier, I take it you guys mean Laurence? Has anyone here seen Benedict Cumberbatch perform Hamlet? What do you guys think about Tom Hiddleston?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 43 comments I have not seen Cumberbach (though I suspect he is excellent in the role) or Hiddleston.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments Yes, I mean Sir Larry. He does exactly nothing for me.
Now, Cumberbatch as Hamlet sounds very interesting! I saw him as Richard III and he was great. Though in my head I always see him as Ford Prefect--did he ever play the part or am I just mental? that slightly alien thing he does when he tilts his head and looks quizzically at whoever...


message 44: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) wrote: "Yes, I mean Sir Larry. He does exactly nothing for me.
Now, Cumberbatch as Hamlet sounds very interesting! I saw him as Richard III and he was great. Though in my head I always see him as Ford Pref..."


I had to google the name Ford Prefect. I never read the book and only saw the movie, which I remember very vaguely. But yes, I agree. Benedict Cumberbatch would have been great in his role. I haven’t seen Richard III, now I’m adding it to my list. I saw a snippet of him in Hamlet and it was Magnificent. At least I think so. And I don’t know half as much as you guys do. Tom hiddleston is good, but he’s very aware of his skill, whereas, from the little I saw of Benedict cumberbatch, the latter just dissolves in his roles and then brings them to life. I think it would be an experience of a lifetime to see him live on stage.


Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments I agree. The best actors are chameleons; the worst are those who, no matter what the role is, can actually only play themselves, so you see "Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars" instead of believing it's Edward F.


message 46: by Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (last edited Jun 03, 2020 08:50AM) (new)

Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) wrote: "I agree. The best actors are chameleons; the worst are those who, no matter what the role is, can actually only play themselves, so you see "Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars" instead of believing it's ..."

My problem is that I now envision Edward Ferrars as Hugh Grant! I'm reading Sense and Sensibility right now and that movie is messing with my head. Especially the lead actresses who are so much older than their characters. Kate Winslet just comes across kind of.... affected as Marianne.

Edit: Okay, based on a quick Wikipedia check, Emma Thompson was the real offender here (mid-30s playing Elinor who is 19 or 20). Winslet was 20 playing Marianne who is 17. But I still thought she was affected.


message 47: by Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) (last edited Jun 03, 2020 08:53AM) (new)

Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) | 76 comments For me, Winslett was not the problem, as she was reasonably close to Marianne's age at the time of shooting. My problem was Emma Thompson, who was far too old for the part of Eleanor. Marianne was supposed to be 16-17 and Winslett was 20, while Eleanor was meant to be 19, compared to Thompson's 36. And it showed! Even she admits that the director had to keep asking her "be younger" in her movements. Of course Thompson also wrote the script--and gave herself all the best lines.

I've seen Grant in three or four other films, and it's always him...no matter what character he may be supposedly playing.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (emmadeploresgoodreadscensorship) | 103 comments Mod
Oh, it's true. Hugh Grant is adorable but he always plays himself.

And Thompson does come across as a little bit... defeated in the film, as if she were actually a 36-year-old spinster in Austen's era who felt she had little in life to look forward to. I can see why a director might want to cast Elinor that way, since she's kind of a pill, but it definitely creates a different image of the character than if the actress were really 19.

I think Elinor's a pretty difficult character from a modern perspective in general, though. She's the epitome of feminine virtues in Austen's era - sensible, well-mannered, restrained, thoughtful - but she lacks the kind of spark that I think we want in a modern heroine: she doesn't seem to have any dreams, any sense of adventure, any joie de vivre. (Marianne has aged much better.) I find myself pretty indifferent to Elinor even though I can relate to her oft-touted emotional restraint. It's interesting and telling that in Austen's version, it's Marianne who needed to change, but in the 1995 film, it's Elinor.


message 49: by Gogol (new)

Gogol | 113 comments To be honest in that film, I think Kate winslet, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman were all miscast. The other secondary characters were all spot on! The script was written perfectly well, the set design, the costume design the music, every last detail was excellent even. Except for these four actors. Emma Thompson, looked and acted like a battered, defeated woman, and what you describe as restrained, I saw as ground down and squashed instead of a young girl shouldering the responsibility for her rather silly family. Kate winslet as well as Hugh Grant are both actors who always play themselves as you put it, except that in several scenes she was just trying too hard. And for Colonel Brandon, one expected someone charming. Not handsome but charming to make up for Willoughby cutting such a dashing and romantic figure. Alan Rickman was likeable but he looked like a great uncle of Marianne’s! I don’t remember his age in the book and I expect the age difference must have been a lot, but on screen it felt distasteful and forced.


message 50: by Ange H (new)

Ange H | 47 comments Gogol wrote: "To be honest in that film, I think Kate winslet, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman were all miscast. ..."

I had always felt the exact same way about this movie...but just
watched it again last year after my latest Jane Austen read-a-thon, and my feelings changed a little bit. I wrote in my review:

It always bothered me that Emma Thomson is too old for the role of Elinor but for some reason it didn't jump out at me this time. (And in another discussion on the topic, TadianaNightOwl schooled me to the fact that even though Hugh Grant is a few years younger than Emma Thomson, in real life she is married to the even younger and hotter dude who plays Willoughby. So there!) I was more struck this time by the age of Alan Rickman vs Kate Winslet. I adore Alan Rickman but he was almost 30 years older than she was; in the novel he was only meant to be 16 years older. So, yuck.



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