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About Carly

  • Birthday 22/01/1982

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  1. I've just been reading excerpts of Contingencies of Value by Barbara Herrnstein Smith. She has some quite interesting ideas about art and the literary canon. I was thinking about her work in terms of James Joyce's Ulysses - Herrnstein Smith suggests that there are some texts which, because they are so frequently referred to and included in literary canons, they create their own value to some extent. I was wondering how true this is of texts like Ulysses - does it really have a value today, or is it just that people are too scared to challenge it as it is so engrained in our culture that Ulysses is an important novel? I don't know the answer, but I think it's an interesting question. To most of us Ulysses is just a big inaccessible book that we all attempt to read but few of us succeed. We know it's an important novel because we've been TOLD it's important, but if we can't access it does it really have a true value for us? We've all been told it's something we SHOULD read, but why? Herrnstein Smith puts it better than I do (obviously, since she wrote it ):- 'the repeated inclusion of a particular work in literary anthologies not only promotes the value of that work but goes some distance toward creating its value, as does also its repeated appearance on reading lists or its frequent citation or quotation by professors, scholars and academic critics........The canonical work begins increasingly not merely to survive within, but to shape and create the culture in which its value is produced and transmitted and, for that very reason, to perpetuate the conditions of its own flourishing. Nothing endures like endurance.' What do other people think of this theory (not nec in terms of Ulysses)? I think it's interesting, although I'm not totally sure she's right. Even if she is right, does it matter? Does it make any difference to the text on the whole? (Can you tell I'm missing my uni debates?! ) I'm just trying to pick your brains for my next essay...!
  2. I never really liked the Narnia books....I remember reading one about a snow queen (i THINK it was a Narnia book) and being so scared I had to sleep with the lights on for weeks! Maybe I tried them too young or something. Enid Blyton was my fave, I've read nearly all of them over the years, and she wrote a LOT! I think my favourites were the Adventure Series (the ones with kiki the bird-i want to say parrot, but i'm not totally sure it was one).....I read The Mountain of Adventure a few years ago and I still really liked it! I also loved Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield (?) although I wasn't that keen on her other novels. I'm embarrassed to admit it now but I also read practically every Sweet Valley Kids/Twins/High book written up til I was about 15.....but god, looking back weren't they AWFUL?!?!?
  3. I agree that they are definitely not just for children. I think Pullman has been quite clever, because although they would appear to be for children (and undoubtedly are so on one level), the content is actually quite adult. Lyra and Will may only be children, but their actions are undeniably mature at times. Kids will love them justfor the story, but there aremany messages lying behind the text for the more mature reader. I think it's quite easy to dismiss them as kids books on first appearances, but I don't think anyone who's actually read them could continue to think this. Oh, and thanks for the thoughts on the golden monkey.....I was thinking along similar lines myself.....it's a shame they gave it a name in the radio adaptation though! I didn't listen to it, was it any good?
  4. Ok, ok, Deinonychus, truce! You've kinda backed me into a corner and I can no longer defend myself without saying stuff I don't actually mean! I was being purposely hyperbolic about James Joyce/art etc, I wasn't expecting anyone to care! Serves me right for being argumentative... No, seriously although I don't agree with everything you write about art, I'm not as stuck in my little conservative rut as I may have come across, I don't always consider the effects of my words before I use them and often end up in this situation arguing a corner I don't wholeheartedly believe in...it's led to many an argument between me and my boyfriend! I admit I'd kind of forgotten to consider the idea that art is also a form of expression as I was too caught up in the other part of my rant! Art (including literature) does indeed have merit in expression of the artist's feelings, I guess what makes me mad is when people who obviously don't get it but just pretend to in order to make themselves look clever. It means the medium can be abused, and as art gets more and more obscure it's often hard to tell the difference between what is genuine expression and who's just trying to make a fast buck by being obscure. I'm actually glad you argued with me cos it's made me think more clearly about it, and I guess it's the commercialisation of obscure art that I don't like. It's easier to see why mainstream stuff is popular, and there's a standard to judge yourself against, whereas with alternative stuff there isn't necessarily a scale on which to judge achievement or skill, which leads to impostors cashing in on what should really be a small market. you don't have to prove anything, you just have to be obscure enough to be noticed, and sometimes it's really hard to tell who's doing what, and that's not the fault of the artist, it's the fault of the impostors who have weakened the area by trying to commercialise it. I wasn't really meaning to demerit art as a mode of expression, although I admit my words may have suggested that. Sorry if this is a bit garbled, i'm tired! Does no one have any words of support for James Joyce?! I'm waiting to be convinced of the merits of Ulysses...! There's actually an interesting theory i've read about literary canons and why certain novels are always included, but i'll save that for another day! (ie once i've done my research!)
  5. Fanny Price in Mansfield Park is pretty bad too..! However the thing about her is, Jane Austen is AWARE that Fanny's a prissy little madam and she quite likes taking the piss out of her for it! A soppy character saved by the acid tongue of the creator! Maybe Austen was taking the piss out of the soppy woman trend!
  6. It's by Denis Diderot, translations are available in Penguin. He began writing it as a practical joke which got out of hand, it's a pretty interesting back story. If you read it I hope you like it.....
  7. You're wrong there Deinonychus....women like reading Austen because she's got a wicked tongue and her bitchy comments strike right to the heart of most women! Austen's men may have been flawed, but so were her women! Even the seemingly perfect (and boring) Fanny Price feels the rough side of Austen's tongue every now and then! Come on...! Now I think of it aren't Austen's women WORSE than her men? ....Mrs Bennet anyone?! Lady Bertram?!
  8. Hmm..feel the need to stick up for myself here...firstly, please don't suggest I read Joyce with 'preconceptions'...at no point in my post did I say that I thought this BEFORE I read it. In actual fact I initially approached Ulysses with enthusiasm. These 'preconceptions' as you call them are actually conclusions I have come to after reading a great deal of literature and theory. They are my opinions, and just because you don't agree with them Deinonychus doesn't automatically mean they are unfounded, as your use of the term 'preconception' would suggest. Yeah, writing needs to challenge, I didn't dispute that fact. But what's Joyce challenging in Ulysses? I am genuinely interested in what people think. Don't just slag off what I say without substantiating it, if you think Ulysses is such a great read, tell me why and maybe you'll inspire me to give it another go. All I'm saying is that there is a fine line between art and the ridiculous. What makes something art? What makes Ulysses a classic? What's good about it apart from the fact it's unique? Or is being unique enough? Isn't the primary role of art entertainment? Something to be enjoyed? Do people only like Joyce because most other people don't? Is it to set themselves apart, to be superior to the common denominator? These are questions I think are interesting to discuss, and that, Deinonychus, was the point of my post. Sorry you missed it, quite frankly....
  9. I really like this trilogy as well, I've just finished reading it for the 2nd time....I've just been thinking about it and realised we never get to know the name of Mrs Coulter's daemon, it's always just 'the golden monkey', whereas the others have names, Stelmaria, Pantalaimon, Kirjava etc - we know the names of the daemons of all the other main characters, but not Mrs Coulters. Do you think this is significant? I'm undecided, still thinking about it, but just thought would see if any other readers had noticed this or had any thoughts about it.
  10. Has anyone else read this novel? Is Suzanne telling the truth or is she a big fat self obsessed liar? Thoughts...? I'm more inclined towards the latter myself, I did NOT like her! All the way through the novel I could just imagine her sitting at a mirror preening, thinking 'oh I'm so pretty, everyone else must just be soooo jealous of me, aren't you girls? why does no one like me?' hmmm...well try getting a personality and being a little less self obsessed, that might help! And I bet she doesn't really get raped, she's just saying that to get your pity, I think she's a dirty wee ho and she was probably doing it with everyone! Thats not to say I didn't enjoy the book! I'd recommend it, even if the heroine is an irritating little cow. It's interesting as well because the book itself started out as a joke, making this guy think there really was a nun called suzanne in trouble when it was actually just his mates winding him up! This kind of backs up the idea that suzanne's troubles are meant to be taken with a pinch of salt. I think its an interesting novel to discuss so if anyone has any thoughts, get posting!
  11. I have to agree with all those people who have listed Ulysses as something they never want to read! I HATE it! I have started it a few times, having been supposed to have read it twice at uni, but I've never got very far. This is because it was twaddle. Yeah innovation sure whatever, but what does innovation really MEAN? Something new? What if I wrote 'This is not a novel' over and over again to fill a few hundred pages and published it under the title 'Novel'......surely that would be innovation? And I bet if someone actually did that there would be some idiots who would worship as a post modernist masterpiece. And it would make a better read than Stephen Dedalus and his cronies! What's so good about it other than being innovative? In my opinion ANYTHING can be innovative (see above) but in order for it to be held in any respect it should be approachable and enjoyable. If you write (or paint or create in any way) something only pretentious creeps pretend to like just because it's different what is the point? It's just their way of trying to feel elite and better than everyone else. If you actually read a lot of post modern theory you'll find it is practically unintelligible! It's just people trying to be clever - how often have you read something and thought 'that must be REALLY clever because I don't understand it' - chances are it it's actually just twaddle that just doesn't make any sense to a rational brain, so don't worry about it. They obscure understanding because they have nothing of substance to say, and by doing so they make a name for t hemselves as being innovative and clever. On closer study their work just doesn't wash. To arty pretentious types yeah maybe, but those of us with our feet on the ground? no thanks! Anyway, sorry, kind of off on a rant there, needless to say James Joyce falls into the category I've just described! I'm sure my lecturer told me an anecdote that James Joyce's daughter was a bit mad in the head, but Joyce couldn't have her committed as, under the same criteria, he would be admitting he himself was mad!.....pretty telling, huh? If anyone can convince me on the merits of James Joyce....well, Ulysses at least (I'm embarrassed to admit a soft spot for Dubliners) I'll give you a kitten.
  12. This is my favourite of Dickens' novels, it's so complex. It's long but if you're thinking of reading Dickens for the first time I don't think you can really go wrong with this novel. The story is complex and intriguing. It's maybe a bit predictable to the modern reader, but at the time readers would have been on tenterhooks, especially as it was published episodically! I do think the main narrator, Esther is a bit of an old priss, but it doesn't affect my enjoyment of the book. What do other people think? Do you think Esther is a bit two faced or just a wet rag?!
  13. This is a really great book. Although written nearly 75 years ago, Brave New World is perhaps more relevant today than ever. Huxley’s futuristic vision is one of mass produced designer babies, controlled a-sexual reproduction within a strict caste system, drug controlled happiness, and governmental brainwashing from babyhood. There is no literature, no culture, no family and certainly no individual thought. Scientific and political development over the last century has led his vision to take on an eerie ring of truth, and although obviously hyperbolic, the novel poses interesting questions as to what may happen in the future if such developments are not kept in check. The character of John the Savage emphasizes the horrific nature of this New World. Raised on a primitive ‘Savage Reservation’ where people live and breed naturally, John is the human conscience of the novel. He is brought to the New World and falls in love with the beautiful Lenina Crowne, a relationship doomed from the start. His emotional response to events is in sharp contrast with Lenina’s almost robotic reactions, and means the two can never relate to one another, showing how far removed from humanity this new society is. John can think for himself and is a danger to the neat structure of the New World. He highlights the reasons why the population must be kept sedated by drugs, and why their environment is so strictly controlled. Such a highly controlled caste system can only exist if those within it are conditioned to it as real human nature would not support such a system. Brave New World is an excellent book. It poses many challenging questions about what it means to be human and whether is it worth sacrificing this for a society with no suffering. Whether you agree with Huxley or disagree, you’re sure to have an opinion! Has anyone else read it and if so what did you think?
  14. This sums up exactly what I think of the book. I couldn't empathise with Susie either cos I just couldn't take the whole concept seriously. At the same time I couldn't put the damn thing down, as once you open up all these fears to yourself you need to get 'closure' on them. The book is a page turner for the simple reason you are so horrified by the content....car crash mentality,as lizzie says! Don't get me wrong, Sebold can write, but yeah I totally agree (without meaning to trivialise her experiences in any way)that her story was glossed up for the buyers market. It's NOT an amazing book, it keeps you gripped cos it exploits your emotions with abandon. I'm so glad to have found some people who don't think its the best book ever! oh, and by the way I did start to read it again and I got bored, whereas the first time I was bawling my eyes out after the first few pages......proof that when it isn't playing on your fears, it just doesn't grip! Oh yeah and the out of body heaven/sex thing near the end was totally ridiculous, wasn't it?!
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