Wednesday, May 16, 2018

WE'VE MOVED: New Website

After all this time I'm back and ready to roll! Please visit my new website, Lit Lovers & Corset Laces, where I'll be writing new posts, revisiting old ones, and serving all your Brit lit and period drama fandom needs!

Years ago, I started this blog as a high schooler looking to share my love for British literature (and Jane Eyre in particular) with other avid readers and likeminded fellows. Lit Lovers & Corset Laces had a successful but relatively short run. Life and the complicated business of "growing up," going to college, and embarking on a never-ending course of self-discovery got in the way. In 2014, my email got hacked and the blog unofficially closed its doors.

Four years later, I'm back again, no longer a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed high schooler but a seasoned and equally British literature-obsessed graduate student. During these years away, my love for British literature, Jane Eyre adaptations, and period films has stayed with me, fostered in the quiet of my room on Friday and Saturday nights. But recently I have begun to miss this community of lit lovers with whom I could share my nerdy fanaticism. I don't know if it's still a community anymore, or if people even read or use blogger like they used to. In many ways, the new website is starting from scratch. But I didn't want to begin without giving the people who were there from the beginning the opportunity to follow along as I resume this journey again.

I hope to see you around.

Ari C.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Far From the Madding Crowd and Suite Francaise Trailers

Greetings from your long lost fellow blogger!

      It has truly been a long time, but I'm too inspired by upcoming films to keep myself from sharing. I've become an avid film lover/analyst of every genre, but literary adaptations and period dramas remain closest to my heart. I'm always scouring the internet for news of them. You can imagine, then, how excited I was when I discovered that Far From the Madding Crowd and Suite Francaise would both be released in 2015 in association with BBC films. 
     I can't quite decide which one I look forward to most! Of course, Thomas Hardy has wormed his way into my heart and nearly become my favorite author these past few years, and Far From the Madding Crowd grows on me more each time I read it. This newest version--directed by Thomas Vinterberg, starring Carey Mulligan, and featuring Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge, and Juno Temple--is the first in sixteen years. As many of you may know, the story is that of the strong-willed but vain Bathsheba Everdene whose beauty and pride trap her in a sort of love square (?) complete with a playboy soldier, obsessed old bachelor, and ruined shepherd. If I can find the time and the resolve, I hope to review the novel soon for those who aren't familiar with it.
      It's dangerous to make assumptions based on a two-minute trailer, but so far one things really stands out to me about this adaptation. It appears as though Vinterberg has worked hard to capture the pastoral elements of Hardy's novel, first by emphasizing the natural scenery surrounding the characters and secondly by setting the trailer against the country tune sung by Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan does indeed sing this herself, and the song is called "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme"). If my analysis is correct, then this might prove to be a very good adaptation. Far From the Madding Crowd is defined just as much by the settings as the characters themselves. Hardy's description of weather, topography, and the sky serves as a means through which the reader gains more insight into the inner turmoil of the characters as well as events to come.
    Suite Francaise, on the other hand, is being adapted to the screen for the first time in history. Written by a holocaust victim during the Nazi occupation of France, the novel captures the relationship of French civilians to the German officers boarding in their homes. At the heart of the plot is the complex romance that develops between Lucile Angellier and "her" officer, Bruno von Falk. Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts (yes, he's also in Far From the Madding Crowd) will take on those lead roles in the film directed by Saul Dibb, whose last movie was The Duchess.
This too looks like a visual treat, but the jury's still out as to whether Dibb will be able to capture the emotional complexity of the characters. The novel captured more thoughts than words, which is always hard to translate into a film. If Williams and Schoenaerts can deliver and the script succeeds in making their characters multidimensional, Suite Francaise has the potential to be a powerful movie. That's a tall order though. I'm also interested to see if other story lines are fully developed and whether Kristen Scott Thomas taps into the full depth of her role.

Other films coming soon or in the works include Madame Bovary starring Mia Wasikowska and an adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' WWI masterpiece, Birdsong. Nicholas Hoult is supposedly set to star in that, reportedly beating out Eddie Redmayne who starred in the Masterpiece Classic adaptation of the same novel. Development of the film has been rather quiet, however. Faulks seems reluctant to give his full support, so this one might take a while. Fall 2015 will also bring a new adaptation of Frankenstein starring James Mcavoy.

Glad to be back! Hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov Review

"She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita."

       Alone, heartbroken, and at death's door, Monsieur Humbert Humbert opens his confessions with a passionate reflection on his lost love, Lolita. She is the "light of my life, fire of my loins," he says. With just one sentence, the reader already feels poor Humbert's longing. Romantic, right? 

       It turns out that Humbert Humbert is a pedophile. Psychologically scarred by the unconsummated love of his youth, he travels through adulthood repressing a dark desire for pubescent "nymphets". Middle-aged Humbert resolves to leave Europe and its memories of young prostitutes and a failed marriage behind in order to forge a new life in the New England area. There are psychological breakdowns and other minute misadventures, but he eventually finds himself in the 1960s suburban home of Charlotte Haze and there falls instantly in love/lust with her daughter, Dolores (a.k.a. Dolly, a.k.a. Lo, a.k.a. Lolita). 

       Humbert is oppressed by an attraction unlike which he has ever experienced. Furthermore, this illicit and hopeless love is threatened by Charlotte Haze's affection for him and her apparent disdain for Lolita. What is he to do? Luckily, Humbert doesn't have to think too much. A strange twist of events puts Lolita in his custody and sends them on a long journey. However, both Humbert and Lolita realize that they will never be able to outrun the shadows of the past or the shame within themselves. 

       Despite what some might consider too controversial, uncomfortable, or morally questionable a subject, Lolita is quite simply a masterpiece. Many analyses have condemned Vladimir Nabokov for what might appear to be the romanticization of pedophilia, but I would politely disagree. In fact, what is so incredible about Lolita is that despite the overwhelming poetic prose and biased narrative style of Humbert Humbert, the reader can still hear Nabokov's voice through the novel's subtleties. (Yes, there is something subtle to be found in a pedophile's last confessions. One just has to be perceptive enough to realize it.) I believe that hidden voice does offer some words of disapproval concealed within the abundant use of figurative language; words that the reader is charged with revealing for his or herself. If not denunciation (which I'll admit is quite arguable), Nabokov does make very clear the consequences of Humbert and Lolita's relationship and the effect it has on them and the world through which they travel. 

       Regardless of how one interprets the verbose, enigmatic, and sensuous language of Lolita, the beauty of Nabokov's delivery and his way with words is beyond dispute. The novel is worth a read for that alone, if not for anything else. I would not, however, recommend it to anyone unable to dig beneath the surface of the text. Even though the language is gorgeous, what's underneath is what Nabokov really wants the audience to appreciate. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Which Book Should I Review Next?

Should I even waste words (if there is such an act) apologizing for another prolonged absence?

I spent almost the entire summer reading. Mostly in my room. There were parks and long car rides, and an amazing trip to Barbados, but reading was the common denominator. I revisited Tess of the D'urbervilles for the third time and tried out The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. Those were the only remnants from the genre of classic literature. The rest were scattered across the board. I read what looked good. I read what was suggested to me. I read anything. I read everything. 

Even now with the adjustment to the college workload and routine, I haven't stopped. It's escalated, really. The overwhelming thirst for knowledge started burning this summer. My college experience thus far has only served to fuel the fire. The only satisfaction I receive (though transitory) is the feeling of having finished a book. Then it ends, and I have to pick up another one. 

Why am I saying this? Just to let you know that I haven't stopped reading. Just writing. Or writing here, at least. But I'm beginning to feel that urge again. The question is, where to begin? 

I've decided to leave it up to you guys. Hopefully you'll give me some feedback. If not, I won't despair. I know I've been gone for too long and my desolate blog views tell me that many of you have stopped looking for me. I'm just flirting with the possibility of revitalization. I just might stick to it this time. 

Ok, so the books: 

  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer 
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Innocent by Ian McEwan 
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told by Alex Haley by Malcolm X, Alex Haley
  • The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
  • Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut 
  • The History of God by Karen Armstrong 
  • 1984 by George Orwell 
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee William
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran 
  • Zealot by Reza Aslan
  • Portrait of a Lady by Henry James 
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence 
  • The Color of Water by James Mcbride 

Which one am I reviewing for you guys?