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Author Topic: Mission Possible: Re-educate Us
Heston Bee
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Following on from some of the comments in Ooh-Aah's thread regarding the books which have split opinion between unreadable v invaluable.

I begin here by nominating a classic or generally popular book which I don't get or simply don't like, the next poster has to provide a short paragraph (6-7 lines max.) in defence or promotion of the book I've named, an encouragement to reconsider my view, perhaps. After which he can name his own book.

To start:
The Great Gatsby

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Wyatt Earp
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The Great Gatsby is one of those novels that is infinity bounded in a nutshell. Fitzgerald tells us a simple story about some unlikeable people, yet in placing his central character, the immigrant-descended parvenu, in the dark heart of a cynical and hypcritical East Coast high society, he ends up telling us, through the agonies and contortions to which that circumstance subjects him, the story of America itself.

Slaughterhouse Fucking Five

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Felicity, I guess so
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I think one of the reasons Gatsby is so highly (over?) praised is that it appeals to the literary critics/experts in that you can imagine the same novel written as a whopping rags-to-riches 19th century-style Bildungsroman about Gatsby, but Fitzgerald chooses to come at it from a more knowing, ironic, 20th century angle.

D.H. Lawrence

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Heston Bee
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Erm, figs, WE has already made a convincing case for me to re-assess my reading of The Great Gatsby. Your mission is to convince him to reassess Slaughterhouse Five.

Me excusas si no explicarlo bien.

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Felicity, I guess so
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I wasn't playing by those rules though, having reread Gatsby recently, but not opened a Vonnegut for 20 years.
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Felicity, I guess so
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Oh, and if you want me to correct your Spanish we'll need another 'educate' thread!
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Wyatt Earp
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Is no-one doing this? I thought it was a fun idea. And God knows Vonnegut has enough fans on here.
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lyra
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I'd love to defend Kurt but it's been years since I read any.
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ursus arctos
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Slaughter-house Five introduced the broader American public to the atrocities committed at Dresden, which (like other Allied atrocities) had been conveniently expunged from the "uniquely noble crusade" view of WWII that is still widely held, and in part responsible for "our" currently bellicose ways. For that alone (and for the fact that it is one of the books most often targetted by wingnuts seeking to purge American libraries of "obscene" literature), it deserves a spot in 20th c. American canon, but it can make one think and laugh in equal measure, often by presenting familiar issues through the distorting prism of "science fiction". And the film allowed American adolescents of the early 70s to see Valerie Perrine's breasts.

Paradise Lost

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Antonio Gramsci
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How old were you in the early 1970's, Urs?

OK, Milton: sure, it's a little on the long side and admittedly nearly all the good bits are in the first two books - but what a pair of books! It's the first major instance in "devil literature" in the west. In many ways paved the way for future masterpieces like Faust and The Master and Margarita, both of which - like Milton - used their devil figures reflected the world-views of the middle-classes (or the nomenklatura in Bulgakov's cas) of their time and place. But Milton is subtle: his Satan rages in good protestant fashion about tyranny, but what Milton is really doing is reminding us all that the act of opposing tyranny itself throws up tyrants. A lesson too few people in history have learned.

Also, it makes for some excellent dialogue between William Shatner and Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek.

Madame Bovary

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ursus arctos
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Gramsci, I turned 13 the year the film came out.
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lyra
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Madame Bovary is a wonderful novel about the power of imagination and about the relationship stories and storytelling have with real life. Emma's fantasies mirror classic patterns of story, archetypes, even, and this contrast with the random uncertainty and disappointments of her own life tells us such a lot about our need for structure to make sense of the world. I think the life of the imagination, that can be so much more vivid for so many people than their ordinary 'real' lives, is a dangerous place to live, but it's too seductive not to, often, and that's why the tragedy of Madame Bovary is so powerful.

It's also surprising and beautiful and compelling to read. And it *understands romance*. It understands the way we fool ourselves about 'love' and the delusions we knowingly throw ourselves into and the need we have to desire and be desired and in this respect it's one of the novels that's I've found the most resonant. Yes, I identify with Emma. But it's much more universal that that for me, too.

Oh I need to pick one too. Since Gatsby has been done, erm...

The oeuvre of DH Lawrence

I hope that's OK. Maybe if someone wants to defend just one book then that's OK too.

edit again: And I see Felicity chose old DHL too so, yeah.

[ 20.03.2008, 15:14: Message edited by: lyra ]

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Felicity, I guess so
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Yeah and I couldn't narrow it down to one piece of over-rated turgidity over any other, either!

(tho' Ms. felicity, whle hating 'The Rainbow' as much as I did when it was on ENG101 at Wolves Poly, still defends his short stories...)

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Raskolnikov
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A lawyer writes: Lady's Chatterley's Lover is worth reading because of its legal significance. This was the book that destroyed Roy Jenkins' Obscene Publications Act, starting the long final stage of ending censorship in England. If the jury hadn't been persuaded that this was a book of literary merit, the verdict could have gone the other way - with the inevitable consequences for artistic freedom in England. LCL had a similar impact in Australia, where publication of smuggled copies began the process of breaking down harsh censorship laws.

Emma

[ 21.03.2008, 00:27: Message edited by: Raskolnikov ]

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Amor de Cosmos
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Crumbs, they'll be lining up for this one!
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