In theory, 1984 should be super up to date in terms of surveillance and controll, but I cannot help the feeling, that it is so outdated.
I really want to like it, but Orwell is making this hard.
It must have been more than ten years since I first read A Clockwork Orange and I still remember what a struggle I had with this one! Thanks to all the nadsat expressions I didn’t pony cul as our little droog Alex would say. I have to admit that now, after having learned Russian (at least to a certain degree) this was a walk in the park, although at the same time some of the magic of the unusual and futuristic language definitely got lost.
Also, reading A Clockwork Orange at the age of fifteen or sixteen (being practically the same age as the protagonist) and now at the age of 27 makes a huge difference. I had planned on re-reading this one for three years now, but I never found the time – also, because I remembered it being much longer than it actually is and I was afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I did. Because unfortunately this happens a lot to books I really loved when I was younger – but not this time!
A Clockwork Orange is one of the few books that really stuck with me since the moment I first read it and now I can rest assured, that it will keep doing that in the future. Bolshy great yarblockos to our droogie Burgess!
I am buckled up and at this point I am mostly determined to find out, what this creepy concrete snowman with one missing arm is all about.
While I see so many of you engaging in more eerie, uncanny and potentially frightful Halloween-themed reading now in October (right now Agatha Christie and gothic ghost/vampire stories are all over the place in my timeline), I have nonetheless settled for dystopian fiction, which is scary enough.
After finishing Brave New World, I took a look at what Russian literature has to say on that topic and came across Evgenij Zamjatin’s novel We (which was an enormous inspiration for George Orwell, btw, so you can imagine, 1984 will be next).
We (which, mind you, was first published in 1924) is not only a very well written novel in itself, but gets even more interesting when compared to the point of view of authors like Huxley. Both, We and Brave New World, work with a similar basic concept, but focus on completely different aspects. While Huxley is all about breading and conditioning, thus the biological control of life, Zamjatin is interested in exploring the mental and technological possibilities and consequences in his dystopian future world.
Overall, Zamjatin’s novel We is way more complex and in no way less realistic than Brave New World. And if that doesn’t scare you for Halloween, no ghost ever will.
I have heard so much about Brave New World and after One Hand Clapping in which Burgess shows us, that the world has been going to shit for quite some time, I decided to finally dive into it and read some dystopian fiction. And I liked it.
All of this must have seemed pretty crazy in 1932, but from today’s perspective, I think Brave New World is not that far fetched and THAT is actually a pretty scary fact. If you think about it, technology is not what’s holding us back from engaging in such a future – if we wanted, we could breed, clone and condition humans according to Huxleys vision in no time. Our last two straws in preventing it are probably ethics and moral and I do not want to know what this novel would have looked like, if Huxley had written it after WW II.
One Hand Clapping is a book about many things – love, money, convictions, the world going to shit, marriage, luck, family, the search for happiness and much more. To be honest, I am a bit baffled after finishing it.
First of all, Burgess amazes me. This book is written out of the perspective of Janet, a young British every-day girl from a small town, she’s quite beautiful, although not the sharpest tool in the shed, but hey, who needs to know that Cuba is not a part of Africa, eh? Anyway, Burgess nails this perspective in every way through syntax, lexis, emotions and even perception if that makes any sense.
Secondly, I loved Burgess’ take on wealthiness and the life of the filthy rich, as Hemingway would surely call them. Howard (Janets husband) and Janet win the big money and from this point on, everything changes, because he is desperately trying to give his wife the kind of life he thinks that she wants. At one point, Howard (Janets husband) even sends her out to get her milk or mink, because he forgot what it was they were talking about and money doesn’t matter anyway. I especially love Burgess for making Janet realise fairly soon that money isn’t everything and spending a ton of it won’t make you happy.
Besides that point, there is also the very apparent theme of the ongoing Americanisation of Britain and I don’t want to know what Burgess would think of our world today in this regard. But I think this quote pretty much sums it up:
„I’ve nothing against Americans, and we‘ve seen them at first-hand for ourselves, but I don’t want to to see English people turned into second-hand Americans. But it’s not just that. It’s this spitting in the eye of everything we used to stand for.“
So, apparently, the world is not only going to shit right at this moment, but has been in a downward spiral ever since.
I have to admit, that some parts of One Hand Clapping were a bit tedious and empty, especially all this rambling about horse races, but overall it’s an enjoyable read, which can be appreciated on many different levels.
"But what really can you do with money after you’ve got a certain amount? There’s a limit to the amount you can eat and drink, and on one occation that week I was really sick."
Just beautiful so far.
Flappers and Philosophers is a collection of 8 short stories written by Fitzgerald (as a matter of fact, it is the first collection of short stories written by him). For some reason I am much more drawn to shorter, more compact writings at the moment – maybe that’s what I got from spending every day for over a month working on Čechov. I don’t know.
Although Flappers and Philosophers has it’s many flaws, Fitzgeralds writing is – for the most part – immensely beautiful. I was originally thinking about making a collection instead of a review, giving you the most beautiful sentence of each story, but then – who am I to decide.
My problem with many of the stories was that there was hardly a character to relate to. All of the selfish, superficial and snobbish girls and boys (excuse me, I meant ladies and gentlemen) acted like spoiled and bored kids and most of them felt the same, especially the female characters – and the fact that almost every single one of them has grey eyes did not help either (at the same time I am aware of the fact that Fitzgerald was obviously trying to portrait exactly THIS kind of person, so I cannot blame him for that).
Now, overall, there are certain elements that will definitely stick with me, but somehow Flappers and Philosophers left me unsatisfied. I guess, I was expecting something less superficial and more elaborate, if that makes any sense at all regarding short stories.
Well, well, well.
A lot was happening for me in the past weeks, so reading for fun was taking the back seat, but I think I am getting back on track now.
Italo Calvino is always worth reading in my opinion and so is Invisible Cities. The minimalistic story which forms the framework consists of dialogues between Marco Polo and the Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan during which Marco Polo describes the various cities within the Khan’s kingdom. But by doing so, he is actually creating them, only to tear them down again soon afterwards.
Every city (there are 55 of them) is an allegorical image of a certain aspect of our own way of life and their consequences. The further the story goes, the darker and more cheerless the cities become. Elegance, gracefulness, symmetry and even sublimity make way for endless mountains of garbage, violence and ruthlessness, up to the point when people are unable to determine whether they are still living or already dead, because the dead seem to be more alive than the living.
Oddly enough, Inivisible Cities is also about the impossibility of describing any city, because no description can ever be like the actual city, maybe in the end all the cities are just like Venice and basically the same anyway.
Invisible Cities was definitely an unexpected, experimental read, even quite confusing at the beginning, but it got better and better. Even though you get descriptions of 55 different cities in 200 pages and it is impossible to distinguish them all, there are a lot of beautiful metaphorical images which I think will stick with me for a long time.
"Lie to me by the moonlight. Do a fabulous story."
…and what a fabulous story The Offshore Pirate is!
…and this time we are talking revolution!
The Buffalo – or Zeta as he now calls himself – continues on his journey to figure out, who he is and what he is destined to do when he discovers his inner Cockroach.
Cutting back on drugs (pot doesn’t count) at least temporarily, he somehow stumbles right into the middle of the Chicano civil rights movement and soon becomes the spokesman and lawyer for everyone else involved. Although he is absolutely overwhelmed as well as overextended and hates the law like no lawyer before of after him, he holds his head up high and viciously goes right for the establishment’s throat.
The best parts of the book are in fact the many scenes at court. You get to experience the Buffalo in all his glory and in full action as the incredible lawyer he was, trampling down judges and jury alike, which results in him, the attorney, getting thrown into jail on a regular basis. He must have been a pain in the arse indeed! A disrespectful lawyer by day and a Molotov cocktail throwing, pipe bomb preparing radical beast by night – no wonder, he had so many enemies…
If this man didn’t go down in law history books, I don’t know what we write them for.
No other lawyer has ever cross-examined a hundred judges. There is no precedent, nobody to show me how to do the job. So, as is my custom, I decide to go right for the throat of those dirty old men who sit over us in judgement. If they won’t give us back our lands, at least we’ll have a drop of their blood for our trouble.
I’m billed as the only revolutionary lawyer this side of the Florida Gulf. And it’s true: I’m the only one who actually hates the law. The rest are just jiving. I’d rather spit in a judge’s eye than stick a pig in the heart.