Do you like second-hand books? I love those used copies not only because of the book value but for some unexpected surprises hidden in the book. Literally.
A mysterious manuscript was recently found in a used copy of Alice in Wonderland in a second-hand bookshop in Warrnambool, Australia. Lorraine Smith, the owner of the bookshop, recalled that the customer came to her saying that she found this “surprise” while browsing Alice in Wonderland.
Just like going down a rabbit hole, you never know what you’re going to find! The manuscript was indeed mysterious. It’s a parchment-like material with a zig-zag top and recognizable numbers “1583” on the bottom. What else is written on it? No one knows.
Image via Lorraine Smith
“I could tell that it was very old…But I didn’t know what to do with it.”
To find out what’s on it, her daughter Karyn sent this manuscript to a professor of early modern history at the University of Queensland and got the result: the document could be traced back to the 16th century, more than 200 years before the British arrived in Australia. According to Sarah Laskow, a staff writer at Atlas Obscura, “In 16th-century Britain, a contract would have been drafted twice on the same piece of parchment and cut into a zig-zag; in the future, each party could authenticate the other’s copy by matching up the unique cut pattern.”
Okay, one thing is confirmed: it’s a contract. But what else is waiting on the other side of the rabbit hole? See Laskow’s article for more information about the mysterious manuscript.
Easter’s coming up, and whether or not you get a protected holiday – looking at you Ireland with your two week vacation – there’s something worth celebrating, whether it’s 50% off Easter chocolates come Monday, or famous rabbits in literature. Though at Bookstr, we’re going to celebrate with both!
Rabbit gets the first slot on our list because of all the rabbits in literature, Rabbit seems the most lazily named. Sure, three other bunnies on this list have Rabbit, or a not-so-subtle reference to rabbits, in their name, but at least they have surnames? Rabbit is just Rabbit. But then again, Piglet is also not so original..
Peter Rabbit is a fan favorite in this office, but the Hollywood treatment has really put a downer on our love for this bundle of fluff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of James Cordon, but forty-seven seconds of the trailer was enough for me.
Another rabbit named Peter, but this one’s surname is Cottontail! How original! I joke, I kid, these are childhood classics that I love and love dearly. This might be the Mandela Effect in action, but I’m convinced that Peter Rabbit and Peter Cottontail are two separate entities in literature, but apparently Peter Cottontail is just a rhyme, and Peter Cottontail doesn’t have any beautiful old-timey illustrations, which is upsetting.
I think it’s safe to say that Watership Down is the most famous piece of literature about rabbits. And by that I mean, only about rabbits. If you haven’t read this American classic, you should put it on your list of books to read before you die, because despite the main characters being rabbits, they’re a fully formed culture with their own language including proverbs, poetry, and mythology.
Some may say Bunnicula is more Halloween than Easter, but hey, we’re listing famous rabbits in literature, and what list would be complete without my favorite Dracula spin off. The Monroe family finds a bunny at the theatre after their screening of Dracula, and name him Bunnicula. Chester the cat is convinced Bunnicula is actually a vampire, despite his vegan vegetable-juice diet, and attempts to get Harold the dog’s help to save the family from this potential threat. Told from Harold’s perspective, Bunnicula is a wild ride that I absolutely loved as a kid.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is textbook whimsy. As far as whimsy goes, you can’t do much better. Lewis Carroll’s the king of whimsy. When he began a sentence, I bet, he didn’t have a plan for how it would end. Following that, when he began a book, such as the Wonderland books, he probably didn’t know what they would be about.
Here are ten quotes of Carroll’s that begin to uncover his completely askew worldview.
1. “‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.”
2. “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
3. “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”
4. “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
5. “She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it).”
6. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
7. “‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?….Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: ‘What’s the answer?’
‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.”
8. “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’”
9. “Speak in French when you can’t think of the English for a thing.”
10. “As you have invited me, I cannot come, for I have made a rule to decline all invitations; but I will come the next day.”
It may come as a surprise to some readers that the 2005 Academy Award-winning film Brokeback Mountain starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal was inspired by a short story of the same name written by Annie Proulx. First appearing in The New Yorker in 1997, Proulx’s groundbreaking story offered an honest and touching portrayal of same-sex love during a time in which acceptance was at a low point in America.
Though Proulx’s work was groundbreaking for it’s open representation of LGBT romance, she has animosity towards the fan fiction the story and adaptation have invited. According to Proulx, fans have re-written the ending of the story, which ultimately undermines the entire point of the tragic tale.
“I wish I’d never written the story. It’s just been the cause of hassle and problems and irritation since the film came out. Before the film it was all right,” she said in a 2009 interview with The Paris Review.
“[People] can’t bear the way it ends—they just can’t stand it…They can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis. It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it.”
If you’ve ever seen 1975 Steven Spielberg film Jaws, then I’m guessing your childhood was spent avoiding ocean water. The iconic film was inspired by a 1974 novel of the same name written by Peter Benchley. Both the novel and the film portrayed a killer shark hunting down innocent swimmers.
The shark is eventually conquered by man, yet his death didn’t seem to soothe audiences. Both representations led to intense fear and hatred of Great White Sharks, making them into the ocean’s #1 villain. Benchley later expressed regret for his menacing depiction of killer sharks after witnessing the change in perception of the creature.
“What I now know, which wasn’t known when I wrote Jaws, is that there is no such thing as a rogue shark which develops a taste for human flesh,” he told the Animal Attack Files in 2000.
“Knowing what I know now,” Benchley reportedly wrote in 2006, shortly before his death. “I could never write that book today. Sharks don’t target human beings, and they certainly don’t hold grudges.”
A widely controversial book, The Anarchist Cookbook is a “How To” guide for making explosives and illegal drugs. It was originally written as a way of protesting the Vietnam War. Powell’s book has been linked to various shootings, including a recent school shooting in Colorado in 2013. Powell has since regretted the book after witnessing its effects and has tried to get it pulled from shelves, ultimately unsuccessfully.
Powell wrote the story when he was only nineteen-years-old, using military manuals that were made public and kept at the New York Public Library. Though the premise of the book may seem extreme to many, it came during a time in which American males were being drafted into the Vietnam War, a war which many Americans didn’t agree with.
“My motivation at the time was simple; I was being actively pursued by the US military, who seemed single-mindedly determined to send me to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam. I wanted to publish something that would express my anger. It seems that I succeeded in ways that far exceeded what I imagined possible at the time,” he wrote in The Guardian in 2013.
“Over the years, I have come to understand that the basic premise behind the Cookbook is profoundly flawed.The central idea to the book was that violence is an acceptable means to bring about political change. I no longer agree with this.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, also known as Alice in Wonderland, is undoubtedly a childhood favorite for millions of readers. Written by Lewis Carroll, born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and published in 1865, Alice in Wonderland initially received negative reviews from critics, but gained popularity later on in the end of the 19th century.
The fantasy novel is perhaps Carroll’s most famous work, though it isn’t his only. While fans have grown to love the story, Carroll grew to despise it. As the story became more popular, Carroll found himself in the public sphere, which, it turns out, he wasn’t a fan of.
“All of that sort of publicity leads to strangers hearing of my real name in connection with the books and to my being pointed out to and stared at by strangers and being treated as a ‘lion,’” Carroll wrote in an 1891 letter to a friend.
“And I hate all of that so intensely that sometimes I almost wish I had never written any books at all.”
A Clockwork Orange is a classic novel which can be found on many lists of the best novels of all time…it’s also often banned. Nevertheless, the novel is widely-known for its portrayal of sex, violence, and young rebels. As with any subject, readers interpreted the novel in varying ways, leading to some regret on Burgess’ end. These interpretations appeared to stem at least partially from Stanley Kubrick’s Academy Award-nominated adaptation.
“The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate,” Burgess wrote in a 1985 biography about D. H. Lawrence. “It became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence.”
“The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about,” he said, “and the misunderstanding will pursue me till I die. I should not have written the book because of this danger of misinterpretation, and the same may be said of Lawrence and Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”
Last week I compiled a comprehensive list of the children’s adaptations that irked me the most. After I had finished, I realized I had, in my frenzy, left several abominations off the list, and that I would have to pen a sequel. So here it is, the difficult second album.
Slatenotes that Netflix’s ‘dark reimagining’ of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s practically perfect children’s book ‘has proudly aligned itself with the 2010s trend of the gritty reboot.’ This is as much as I need to reject the notion entirely. The magic of Montgomery’s book and the titular heroine lies not in any passed trauma or admirable resilience but in the hilarity and relatability of Anne as a character and in the genuine delight she takes in the world around her. It’s infectious. Though she is an orphan, the book doesn’t hint at anything like the traumatic past that is overtly referenced in Anne with an E.
The seven episodes of the first season (it has, miserably, been renewed for a second season) were, bizarrely, written by Breaking Bad’s Moira Walley-Beckett. Why Moira. Why bring your darkness here. “I wanted to dramatize it and I wanted it to feel visceral,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I wanted you to know exactly what her origin story was so that we could really understand her original wounding and the stakes that were at play for her.” Missing the point doesn’t even begin to cover it.
With The BFG, Roald Dahl penned arguably one of the best children’s books of all time, and Steven Spielberg ruined it. I already wanted to have a conversation with Mr. Spielberg regarding how guilty he should feel given the suffering of the world’s shark population in the wake of Jaws, but now I have an additional bone to pick with him.
Why, Steven, did you inflict this film upon us. I won’t lie, I wept at the trailer. I thought it looked beautiful. It felt like he might actually have hit the nail on the head. But alas, no. While Mark Rylance is wonderful in the titular role, and his cave and dreamland are beautifully rendered, the problem lies outside of his living quarters.
Let’s start with London, where Sophie lives in an orphanage which she claims is awful and run by a cruel matron, but appears to be, like, pretty nice. Never do we see Matron, the other children, or feel that Sophie is anything but fairly content as she sits in her colorful, cosy dormitory, reading nice books. Unlike Anne with an E, this would be an appropriate time to depict a sad and suffering orphan, but for some reason, the film totally skips that part.
The England where she lives appears to be positively Dickensian, however the drunk stumbling passed the orphanage is wearing modern clothing. The setting is just all over the place and it’s really distracting. I could overlook all this if Giant Country had been accurately rendered, but alas. The giants in Dahl’s book are some of the most genuinely frightening and evil characters I’ve ever read. They have names like Bloodbottler and Flesh Lump Eater. They couldn’t be more terrifying. In the film, they are inexplicably modeled on Celtic warriors in appearance, but are lumbering, comical morons, who stumble around bumping into one another. One of the first lines spoken by any giant in the film is an announcement of a sore finger: “I has a booboo.” What. Ever. While there are some moving scenes, such as tea with the Queen, and a lovely soundtrack, this film just totally messed it up. Call me, Steven. We gots business to discuss.
Me, rejecting incorrect casting decisions / Via Replygif
Okay, there is really only one problem I have with this adaptation of one of my all time favorite books, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and it is this: when I look at Andy Serkis, all I see is Gollum. Any role he has since played is tainted by the fact that he is Gollum, and the same problem occurs in Inkheart. He plays brilliantly evil and frightening villain Capricorn and it just doesn’t work for me. He’s also sort of lighthearted and comical and this irks me.The dumbing down of villains is so often a problem with adaptations of children’s books and I find it condescending to children and irritating for grown-ups. Let the bad guys be scary, otherwise there’s no real sense of threat or of victory when they’re vanquished.
Apart from Andy Serkis, though, the film is a pretty reasonable adaptation but the book is something special and you should all seek it out.
The main appeal of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland chronicles to today’s audience is its weirdness. The clothes it inspires look just, omg, sooo random in the window of Hot Topic. So it was only a matter of time before self-appointed King of Being Weird Tim Burton got his hands on it. Just as the Playing Cards paint the roses red, Burton paints Carroll’s work in his own trademark high contrast creepy crap. Johnny Depp being Johnny Depp. I’m not into it. It was unnecessary. The subsequent Alice in Wonderland make-up palettes by Urban Decay were the only good thing to come of the whole affair.
Featured Image Via Idealiizar, Previouslytv and YouTube