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Posts Tagged ‘novels

“I got a little bored after a time. I mean, the road seemed to be awfully long.”*…

 

Explore– and enjoy: “14 classic works of literature hated by famous authors.”

* Aldous Huxley on On the Road

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As we devour the dish, we might send prolific birthday greetings to E. Phillips Oppenheim; he was born on this date in 1866.  

After leaving school at age 17 to help in his father’s leather business, Oppenheim wrote in his spare time. His first novel, Expiation (1886), and subsequent thrillers caught the fancy of a wealthy New York businessman who bought out the leather business at the turn of the century and made Oppenheim a high-salaried director. He was thus freed to devote the major part of his time to writing. The novels, volumes of short stories, and plays that followed, totaling more than 150, were peopled with sophisticated heroes, adventurous spies, and dashing noblemen. Among his well-known works are The Long Arm of Mannister (1910), The Moving Finger (1911), and The Great Impersonation (1920). [source]

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Written by LW

October 22, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I use a whole lot of half-assed semicolons; there was one of them just now; that was a semicolon after ‘semicolons,’ and another one after ‘now'”*…

 

What’s a novel without its words? Just punctuation. But when you take those lines of commas, periods, exclamation points, and quotes, then arrange them in a big spiral, you can still tell something of the character of the original work: the endlessly curious and expository quality of Ishmael’s narrative in Moby Dick, for example, or the titular wonder of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Between the Words by Chicago-based designer Nicholas Rougeux is a series of posters that takes the text of classic novels like Pride and Prejudice, Huckleberry Finn, The Christmas Carol, Peter Pan, The Time Machine, and more, then strips them of all their words until they are mere swirling vortices of punctuation. The project was inspired by Stefanie Posavec’s Writing without Words data visualizations, which colorfully chart the structure—but not the actual prose—of many classic novels…

See the charted novels in larger, zoomable form at “Between the Words“; more background at “8 Classic Novels Reduced To Their Punctuation.”

* Ursula K. Le Guin

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As we eat shoots and leaves, we might send insightful birthday greetings to Barbara Wertheim Tuchman; she was born on this date in 1912.  A historian, Tuchman wrote two books (The Guns of August and Stilwell and the American Experience in China) that won Pulitzer Prizes, and several others that could/probably should have: e.g., The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890–1914, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, and The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam.)

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“We are all fools in love”*…

 

The most common assumption about romance novels, buoyed by the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, is that they are anti-feminist. And though the so-called bodice rippers of the 1970s (in which men who look like Fabio ravish passive sweethearts) are still quite popular, the genre has also expanded rapidly in recent years to include fiction of the paranormal, gay, evangelical, steampunk, time travel and Gothic variety (and many more). Its female leads, in many contexts, have evolved with the times, rendering the notion that romance novels are full of oppressed, unthinking women, profoundly ignorant. Not only is the industry itself rife with female entrepreneurs; its heroines always get what they want. In fact, the only formula that rings true across all romance novels is the HEA: the Happily Ever After. It is unanimously believed to be the defining principle of the genre. “The women always win,” says [filmmaker Laurie] Kahn. “And that doesn’t happen in most places.”…

Find out “Why romance novelists are the rock stars of the literary world.”

* Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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As we still our pounding hearts, we might recall that it was on this date in 1776 that the Illuminati was founded.  While the name has been given to a number of organizations– real and imagined– over the years, this first incarnation was real enough.  It was started by Adam Weishaupt, the only non-clerical professor at the Jesuit University of Ingolstadt– an experience that turned him into a rabid anti-cleric.  He first tried to become a Freemason, but couldn’t afford the initiation fees and dues; so he created his own organization– the Iluminatenorden, or Order of Illuminati.  In some ways a typical Enlightenment secret society, the Illuminati’s goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power.  And like other secret societies with similar goals, it was pretty promptly outlawed by the State at the urging of the Church.  Still, rumors persisted– and persist still– that the Illuminati built a world-wide conspiracy of powerful folks who pull the world’s strings from behind the curtain.

The cover of an Illuminati pamphlet, featuring their “logo”: the owl of Minerva – symbolising wisdom – on top of an opened book

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Written by LW

May 1, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I hate the word ‘gothic’ but I would like to try doing something like that”*…

 

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OK, it makes one’s heart beat faster–  but is it a gothic novel?  The Guardian is here to help:

When Horace Walpole published his ‘gothic story’ The Castle of Otranto, he launched a literary movement which has sired monsters, unleashed lightning and put damsels in distress for 250 years. A horde of sub-genres has followed, from southern gothic to gothic SF, but are some novels more gothic than others? We return to the genre’s roots in the 18th century for this definitive guide…

More (and larger) helpful pictograms at “How to tell if you’re reading a gothic novel.”

* Kelly Osbourne

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As we struggle with spinal shivers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910, in an attempt to “conquer time,” that Quentin Compson committed suicide.  While Compson was “only” a character created by William Faulkner (Quentin featured in the novels The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! and in the short stories “That Evening Sun” and “A Justice”), his death is commemorated by a plaque affixed to the Anderson Memorial Bridge, over the Charles River, near Harvard, where Quentin was enrolled when he took his life.

“QUENTIN COMPSON Drowned in the odour of honeysuckle. 1891-1910”

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“The lunatics have taken over the asylum”*…

What if front pages were selected by newspapers’ readers instead of their editors?  At NewsWhip, we’re always interested in the news stories people are choosing to share – and how those stories differ from the normal news stories editors put on the front pages of big newspapers. So we ran a little experiment.

On Wednesday morning, we gathered the front pages of leading newspapers in several countries. Then we used Spike to check the most shared stories from each one.

A little work at our end, and we used those most shared stories to make new “people powered” front pages for each newspaper – giving the most shared story the most prominence, the second most shared the second most prominence, etc.

We replaced headlines and pictures, though did not get into replacing story text and bylines. The results are pretty neat – maybe even thought provoking.

For each paper we have the original front page on the left, and the “people powered” one on the right. Scroll through and take a look at the contrast.

See a larger version of the comparison above, plus similar side-by-sides of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Post, and many more at “Here’s what happens when the readers choose the front page story.”

* Richard Rowland, the head of Metro Pictures, on learning that Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffiths had formed United Artists (1919)

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As we practice preference, we might spare a thought for Robert Ludlum; he dies on this date in 2001.  Ludlum used the lessons he learned asa theatrical actor and producer to write 27 novels, all thrillers, that have sold, estimates suggest, between 300-500 million copies in 33 languages around the world.  Seven of his works have been made into movies or mini-series (e.g., The Osterman Weekend and the Bourne Trilogy). Indeed, his franchise was so strong at his death that his estate has been able to continue the flow of novels, contracting other thriller writers to compose under the Robert LudlumTM  banner.

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Written by LW

March 12, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first”*…

 

A bringing together of beloved belles lettres, this chart diagrams 25 famous opening lines from revered works of fiction according to the dictates of the classic Reed-Kellogg system. From Cervantes to Faulkner to Pynchon, each sentence has been painstakingly curated and diagrammed by PCL’s research team, parsing classical prose by parts of speech and offering a partitioned, color-coded picto-grammatical representation of some of the most famous first words in literary history. Whether you’re a book buff, an English teacher, or a hard-line grammarian, this diagrammatical dissertation has something for the aesthete in all of us…

Explore “A Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels” at Pop Chart Lab.

* Blaise Pascal

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As we analyze our way to an appreciation of the classics, we might recall that it was on this date in 1952 that Ernest Hemingway completed his short novel The Old Man and the Sea. He believed it to be the best writing he had ever done. The critics agreed: the book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and became one of his bestselling works.

 

Written by LW

March 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause”*…

 

via @ShortList

The Monks of Cool, whose tiny and exclusive monastery is hidden in a really cool and laid-back valley in the lower Ramtops, have a passing-out test for a novice. He is taken into a room full of all types of clothing and asked: Yo, my son, which of these is the most stylish thing to wear? And the correct answer is: Hey, whatever I select. 

― Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

Rather be dead than cool

– Kurt Cobain/Nirvana, “Stay Away”

* Mark Twain

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As we bask in the boss, we might send tubular birthday greetings to John Anthony Burgess Wilson; he was born on this date in 1917.  A composer, translator, and author better known by his pen name, “Anthony Burgess,” he put his linguistic facility to use in his most famous novel, A Clockwork Orange, creating a “Nadsat” slang for Alex and his gang that included a word that surely belongs on the list above– “horrorshow.”

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Written by LW

February 25, 2014 at 1:01 am

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