Category: Classics

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Happy Birthday, Hans Christian Andersen!

Today is the birthday of Hans Cristian Andersen, the famous Danish writer who is best remembered for his fairytales. Happy birthday, Andersen! If Andersen were alive, he would be turning 215 years old! Through the years, he has remained known as a prolific writer of plays, novels, poems, and more. Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark and was an only child. His father considered himself related to nobility, but these speculations have since been questioned. His father was the one who introduced him to literature, but he died during Andersen’s childhood. He was left with his mother, an illiterate washerwoman, and her new husband. Andersen went on to receive a rudimentary education but soon moved into a working apprenticeship to support himself. He moved to Copenhagen where he became an actor until his voice’s pitch lowered, and he was no longer wanted. When a fellow actor told him he considered him a poet, Andersen took it seriously and began to pursue writing.

The Complete Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen - Complete Collection (Illustrated and Annotated) (Literary Classics Collection Book 18) by [Andersen, Hans Christian]
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Soon, Andersen was beginning his journey in writing that would grant him long-lasting success. This success, of course, wasn’t immediate. His first stories were met with some recognition, but it wasn’t until 1833 that he received a grant to travel across Europe. Yet, even then, the quality of his fairytales was not recognized. His first attempts were re-tellings of tales that he had heard as a child. His original works were first released in 1835, but they were met with poor sales. He persisted throughout the next ten years and experienced a breakthrough in 1845 when his work, “The Little Mermaid,” was translated. Andersen’s work after this was eagerly received. He would continue to publish fairytales until his death.

 

Hans Christian Andersen is one of the reasons our literary world is able to be filled with such wonder. Without his persistence throughout his career, many of our childhood tales would evaporate; true magic, more real than that of any fairytale, would have never been able to shine its light on readers for centuries.

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Celebrate National Theater Day With 7 Amazing Plays

As you may have seen all over your Instagram feed, today is National Theater Day! To celebrate all things theatrical, we’ve got seven great plays that definitely deserve a spot on your TBR (cast)list.

1. A street Car named desire 

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This play is the instant classic written by Tennessee Williams. It’s the story of how Blanche DuBois, the once beautiful, southern belle, is pushed over the edge by her brother-in law Stanley Kowalski. It’s not a story for the faint of heart, but it is very important in the canon of American theater.

2. Who’s Afraid of VIRGINIA Woolf? 

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Another play important in the American canon is Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The play takes you into the dysfunctional lives of George and Martha. They are hosting a party for a new history professor and his wife. George and Martha use their new “play things” to stir up drama and expose the horrors of not only their own lives, but of the couple who just wanted to have a nice evening.

 

3. A raisin in the sun 

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Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun is another book that all who love both great writing and great theater should read. The story is a bit of a tragic one, following an African-American working class family hoping to get out of the South-Side of Chicago. It gives a look into the aspirations and hopes, but also what can hold back a black family in the mid-20th century.

4. Medea 

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Medea is a Greek myth by Euripides, who’s english translations are done by Gilbert Murray. The myth is about a proud Amazonian women who’s left by her husband Jason. Jason leaves her to marry the kings daughter, so he himself can one day hold the throne. The short play is about Medea’s revenge, and execution of said revenge on her ex-husband.

5. Angels in America 

angels in america

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Tony Kushner’s Angels in America shows an insight into the horrors of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It follows the stories of three groups; a proud gay man with AIDS and the impact it has on him and his lover, the closeted Roy Cohen who has “liver cancer” (or so he says), based on the real-life figure, and a man in an unhappy marriage who’s slowly coming to terms with his sexuality.

6. The curious incident of the Dog in the night-Time 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time book cover

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This modern play by Mark Haddon is on its way to becoming a classic for theater lovers. It tells the story of 15-year old Christopher Boone has Asperger’s Syndrome. Although living a very sheltered life, the boy is a whiz with numbers and mysteries. He observes his neighbor’s dog being killed one night, and that starts his journey to not only finding who killed the dog, but finding himself along the way.

 

7. Our town 

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Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is a glimpse into what living in a small town in America was like during the early 20th-century. The play, set in Grover’s Conner, New Hampshire, is split into three acts with the first act focusing on the daily happenings of the town, the second on love and marriage, and the third is the most grim, discussing death.

feature image via commentary magazine

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Patrick Stewart Reads Shakespeare A Day

To help us all get through our quarantine, actor Patrick Stewart is making it a little more entertaining by reading a different Shakespeare sonnet every day. It only makes sense since Stewart is well known for performing Shakespeare’s plays himself.

Stewart has been posting videos of himself on Twitter for the past couple of days reading Shakespeare as he self isolates from everyone else.

Here are some videos of Patrick Stewart reading Shakespeare!

Video via gma

VIDEO VIA TWITTER

If that doesn’t get you through quarantine – we don’t know what will. A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away, or so they say.

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Killer Book Recommendations from Joe Goldberg

Warning: Spoilers for You are up ahead!

Netflix’s You has truly taken the world by storm. With a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes for season 1 and an overall score of 90%, it is not hard to see that the show is a good watch. And with a show centered around a book-loving serial killer, it only makes sense that we get a glimpse into the books Joe Goldberg enjoys enough to recommend them to other people – before he kills them.

 

 

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In the first episode of the series, Joe recommends this book to Beck, his primary target. The novel itself follows a couple, Otto and Sophie. After Sophie gets bitten by a stray she had been trying to feed, trouble begins to follow the couple. A series of small disasters magnify the issues in Sophie and Otto’s marriage as well as society.

 

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Joe, as a means to educate his young next-door neighbor, constantly lends Paco books. The classic story of Don Quixote is one of four recommendations Joe lends to the boy. Joe explains to Paco that the story is “about a guy who believes in chivalry so he decides to be an old school knight.” Joe also lends Paco The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Frankenstein.

 

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As part of an equal exchange, movie recommendations for book recommendations, Joe recommends a list of books to Ellie, the younger sister of his newest target in season 2. A book from Joe’s list is Bulgavok’s The Master and Margarita. The dark but comedic story takes place in the atheist Soviet Union and centers around a visit from the devil himself. Alongside a talking cat who likes vodka, a fanged hitman, a female vampire, and a valet, Satan wreaks havoc on Moscow’s elite.

 

 

The show also plays homage to some Honorable Mentions. These are books that Joe doesn’t actually recommend, but are referenced/seen in the show by him or other characters.

 

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As he questions Beck’s kind-of-boyfriend, Benji, Joe casually references Kerouac’s On the Road. This 1957 novel, based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends, follows two friends (narrator Sal Paradise and his friend Dean Moriarty) as they road trip across the United States. The story is broken up into 5 parts, three of which detail Sal’s road trip escapades with Dean.

 

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Throughout season 2, Joe can be seen reading the Michael R. Kats translation for Crime and Punishment. Dostoyevsky’s novel tells the story of a thief who wallows in the depths of his guilt after he plans to, and subsequently kills a shop owner. It can be assumed that Joe’s reading of this story reflects his guilt for killing Beck in season 1.

 

 

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After meeting Love, the woman recommends Joan Didion’s work to Joe. She describes the book as “a little dark,” and should make Joe feel “right at home.” Love’s sharing of this novel alludes to her own involvement with murder and mayhem. So, it comes to no surprise when Love shows her murderous side as season 2 comes to an end.

 

 

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While being trapped in the basement of Mr. Mooney’s bookstore as a child, Joe had ample time to read. So, when he sees an original edition of Ozma of Oz at Peach Salinger’s party, he quickly steals the book, as it reminds him of his time in the basement. The story, the third of Baum’s Oz series, details Dorothy’s second trip to Oz.

 

Feature Image via Elle.

 

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‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ Quiz

As we celebrate 189 years of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, let’s see who you relate with the most!

 

 

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