Tag: classic

Watch Out! The Witches Are Back!

The Witches have made a comeback! It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 30 years since Roald Dahl’s masterpiece book was first adapted into a movie back in 1990, starring the fabulous Anjelica Huston!

 

gif via pop horror

You’d think we’d be safe this time around, but the clan of evil women have joined forces with the fabulous Anne Hathaway as the The Grand High Witch and Octavia Spencer as additional cast! Spooky, we know!

 

 

image via hollywood reporter

 

Director Nicolas Roeg did a spectacular job with the movie in 1990, because it still has a cult following to this day. But rumor has it, Roald Dahl did not approve of the film, as the ending was changed from the book, so lets see how things turn out this time around.

 

image via imdb

Even though the book came out in 1983, I remember reading it as a kid much later and being downright terrified. And the movie was perhaps one of the single most horrifying and equally thrilling children’s movies to have ever been released, in my opinion!

 

 

image via amazon

So, safe to say, we are quite excited and thrilled for the upcoming adaptation, and hope it does justice to the previous fantastic 1990 movie, as well as the timeless book. And maybe this time around, Roald Dahl would finally be content!

 

featured image via heart radio


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The Bell Jar’s Influence: Anniversary Edition

The first line in The Bell Jar is a hook: “It was a… sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” The person speaking is Esther Greenwood, a smart, straight-A, dark-humored and, as the story goes on, depressed protagonist.

The book was published in London on January 14th, 1963 under a pseudonym Victoria Lucas, one month before the actual author, Sylvia Plath, committed suicide. People had to wait almost a decade for its publication in The United States. It is the only novel Plath ever wrote.

image via vintag.es

The story itself is a coming of age tale about a college girl who is figuring out what she wants and who she wants to be. She wins a contest to write for a “girl’s” magazine called Ladies’ Day in New York. She takes the opportunity and moves to New York for the summer along with a group of other young women, and they all live in a hotel/dormitory called the Amazon. This is where the book begins. The experience is less than Esther expected it to be. Her editors give her uninspiring pep talks, and her friends lead her into dangerous situations where she is almost, at one point, raped. She feels lonely most of the time. Upon getting stuck in a room where one of her friends, Doreen, is getting close with Lenny Shepherd, a man they met by happenstance one night on the town, Esther says:

“There’s something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. It’s like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction – every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it’s really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and that excitement at about a million miles an hour.”

It is with similes like this one where we get a deep look into Esther’s intelligence and ability to discern the truth about what it means to be young and still forging your identity.

 

A lot of the novel is about forging identity, but Esther’s identity is so tied up with her depression that she has trouble separating the one from the other. After New York, she heads back home to Boston and spirals downward until she finds a crawlspace to hide in, and tries to commit suicide. This lands her in a sanitarium. She is eventually sent to a private hospital in the countryside paid for by the woman who sponsored her scholarship, Philomena Guinea. It is there where Esther is really attended to for her illness. She is given insulin, analysis, freedom to go into town with improvement in mood, and is treated with electric shock therapy; all of it leads her back to wellness. How do we know she’s well? She says, just before her dismissal, “There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice – patched, retreaded and approved for the road.”

This novel also gave Sylvia Plath a way to confront sexism and convention. Throughout the pages, Esther mentions how many times her mother has at one point told her to learn shorthand. “The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters.” Esther doesn’t know how to cook, either. She doesn’t know how to dance. She can’t sing a note. “The one thing I was good at was winning scholarships and prizes…” In other words, Esther succeeds at competing with men.

image via sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.com

Plath’s writing style can be interpreted as dark, but also as darkly comic, elegiac, honest, and nostalgic. “When I was nineteen, pureness was the great issue.” This is both a joke and an admittance. After Esther finds out Buddy Willard, her boyfriend, has already had sex, she is filled with resentment over the hypocrisy he embodies but also feels a competitive edge. She rejects his proposal. He is a fraud in her eyes now, and it brings her a step closer to knowing something about herself: she cannot succumb to promises of chastity until marriage. Esther ends up losing her virginity to some guy named Irwin she meets on the steps of the Harvard Library. It leads to a slight hemorrhaging mishap that lands her in the Emergency room; what she loses in blood she gains in experience and independence. She is even fitted for a diaphragm with the encouragement of her female doctor. “I was my own woman.”

 

Esther also ponders a life of wifely duties with children and husband as her primary purpose in life and she grows deeply afraid. “I knew that in spite of all the roses and kisses and restaurant dinners a man showered a woman before he married her, what he secretly wanted when the wedding service ended was for her to flatten out underneath his feet like Mrs. Willard’s kitchen mat.”  While this characterization of family life may be exaggerated, Plath is pointing out the inherent gender inequality and unfair expectations society has for women.

Image via Lagan Online

The bell jar itself symbolizes Esther’s mental illness in all its stifling, alienating inescapability: ”…wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” The bell jar warps reality, but there isn’t much difference, at times, between the distortion and the truth, as Esther discovers. On the day she is due to leave the hospital, Belsize, where she lived during her hospital stay, she wonders “what was there about us, in Belsize, so different from the girls playing bridge and gossiping and studying in the college to which I would return? Those girls, too, sat under bell jars of a sort.”n

If you’re curious as to how closely this novel relates back to Sylvia Plath, she did indeed have a guest editorship at a magazine called Mademoiselle. Philomena Guinea is based on a real woman, her literary patron named Olivia Higgins Prout, and Plath did try to commit suicide, and was sent to a hospital as a result. She even had Electroconvulsive Therapy just like Esther.

 

In 1979, there was a film adaptation starring Marilyn Hassett and Julie Harris. It did not do well with audiences or critics. There is a Showtime tv series (originally slated to be a film) starring Dakota Fanning based on the book supposedly in the works.

image via storenvy

The response to the book was positive, but Sylvia’s mother didn’t want it to be published in the United States because of the comparisons people made between Esther’s family and her own. It finally made it here in 1971, and fans did hyper-focus on the autobiographical similarities, though the NY Times gave it a positive review. The New Yorker’s review was mixed. In the end, it became one of the most influential novels of the 20th century.

Featured image via Deskgram


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The Mulan Trailer Is Here!

The full trailer for the March 2020 live action remake of Disney’s Mulan has finally dropped, and I think I might still be willing to check out the movie when it hits theaters. When it was first announced that Mulan was being remade, everyone was thinking, “Here we go.” Then we heard that Shang wouldn’t be in it, or Mushu and that it wouldn’t be a musical, I, personally, was floored.

 

 

Mulan is one of my favorite Disney movies for the music and singing. Mushu is undoubtedly one of the funniest characters in the movie and has his own journey to go on. He and Mulan’s relationship works because they have to realize that who they are is enough and that they can do great things as themselves.  So a lot of people were not too keen on ever seeing this movie.

 

Image via Evening Standard 

 

But when the teaser trailer came out it, honestly piqued my interest. The teaser looked gorgeous and I had a spark of hope even though I was still wary. The full trailer is out and it looks interesting. There’s a shapeshifting witch so…that’s a little weird. Instead of fighting Shan Yu there is another evil army leader, named Bori Khan that will be the main antagonist. Not a bad change so okay. Again, it looks beautifully done but that’s all I can really say about it.

It could be a hallow remake where they try to do things exactly from the cartoon-like The Lion King (2019) or they could add new concepts and ideas but some of which are unneeded or flop for me entirely, i.e Aladdin (2019) and Beauty and The Beast (2017).

 

All we can do is what until March I guess or until it eventually comes on Disney +.

 

Image via Vanity Fair

Watch the Mulan (2020) trailer here

 

 

Featured Image Via South China Morning Post


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#Bookstagrammer of the Week: @braveliteraryworld

Want to see your favorite Bookstagrammer featured next? Message @bookstrofficial here.

 

This Week’s Featured creator: @braveliteraryworld

 

Each week Bookstr is going to be highlighting your favorite Bookstagrammers. A Bookstagrammer is someone who shares all of their literary interests, ranging from book reviews and aesthetically pleasing book pictures to outfit pictures featuring their current reads. Anything that evokes bibliophile feels is on their Instagram pages. Make sure to give these Bookstagrammers the love they deserve! This week we are getting to know a teacher who is a lover of classic lit and diversity: Esther, or as you would know her on Instagram, @braveliteraryworld.

Here is her story:

 

 

image via @braveliteraryworld

 

 

Chapter 1: The Birth of a Bookstagram Account

 

Esther saw the Bookstagram community as a way to showcase her passions for both books and photography.

I made my first post on May 23, 2016. I had seen a lot of Bookstagram photos on Tumblr. Before then, I had no idea Bookstagram was a thing. When I saw the photos, I was excited by how people have combined two of my interests– books and photography– to create such beautiful works. In the beginning, my photos were absolute garbage. But I kept at it, focusing on my love of classic literature, and I haven’t stopped since.

 

Since Esther’s favorite genre is classic literature, some of her favorite authors include Isabel Allende, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Jacquline Woodson. But what is her favorite book of all time?

My favorite book is Wide Sargasso Sea, and everyone who follows me has heard me talk about it.

 

View this post on Instagram

How’s the weather where you are? . Fall is settling down here, and its arrival always make me want to pick up stories set in English countrysides, with farmhouses in the horizon and an open sky above. On that note, here are my top favorite English pastoral novels. . • Tess of the D’Urbervilles – a young, naive woman sets out into the world to save her family from poverty, but those who promise hope only bring disaster and heartbreak. . • I Capture the Castle – told through the diary entries of Catherine Mortmain, a teenager ready to take on the world, and set in a crumbling castle in Suffolk. Hilarious and heartwarming. . • Sense and Sensibility – not my favorite Austen, but S&S deserves its place on here for the loving descriptions of trees, hills, skies, and fields. The Dashwood sisters may have fallen down in the world, but they have no shortage of suitors as the girls form and test their own perspectives on love. . • The Small House at Allington – Lily Dale is in love with Mr. Crosbie, whom she calls Apollo. However, while Crosbie is fond of her, he is unsure if he’ll be happy with a poor wife. The most pastoral novel on this list, get ready for flower metaphors, images of rivers and shepherds, and gorgeous descriptions of setting. . • The Fall of the House of Usher – didn’t think that gothic horrors can be pastoral reads too? The narrator shows up at his friend’s dilapidated home, and is informed that his host’s sister has just died. I won’t give away the rest, but this is my favorite Poe story. . . . #classicliterature #penguinclassics #fallreads #fallvibes #janeausten #edgarallanpoe #thomashardy #readmorebooks #readinggoals #october

A post shared by 𝑬𝒔𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 (@lifebyesther) on

 

image via @braveliteraryworld

 

Esther’s fun fact is that she was born in Taiwan.

 

Chapter 2: To The Bookstagramming

Esther’s preference for classic literature leaves her shelves with a classically clean look that is perfect for Bookstagram. 

 

 

 

 

image via @braveliteraryworld

 

When it comes to her posting schedule, Esther notes that it’s important for her to post in a way that prioritizes her life.

I used to post around what Instagram has deemed my “optimal” times, but with the algorithm, who really knows? Now, I post when it’s convenient for me. I love Bookstagram, but in this matter, I am putting myself– and the students I teach– first. 

 

 

What are Esther’s favorite Bookstagram accounts, and what advice would she give to those Bookstagrammers who are just starting out?

I will never be able to name all the Bookstagrammers that I love. But I do want to mention that I really appreciate @bluestockingbookshelf and @ab_read‘s honest reviews, that I am always encouraged by @bookplaits, that I am inspired by @beingabookwyrm and @sachi_reads, and that I am happier because of @bookbookchick.

My advice is to do what it takes to make Bookstagram a fun place for you. If that means posting and engaging regularly, do it! If that means posting and engaging when you can, do that. Sometimes, Bookstagrammers— including me— feel guilty for not spending more time on here. But you have to do what works for you. 

 

 

If Esther got the opportunity to take a selfie with an author, there are some classic authors that she’d love to meet.

I once met Rushdie, and I was so excited I dropped my phone! I would like to meet Amy Tan, and I would’ve loved to meet Toni Morrison.

 

Chapter 3: TBR

Esther’s TBR list is full of reads by diverse authors, including:

 

Her publisher of choice to supply her with a lifetime of books is Penguin Random House.

I have been really lucky to work with Penguin Random House a few times in the past, and I would love to work with them again. I especially love how they have been celebrating authors of color in their classics line. 

 

 

 

image via @braveliteraryworld

 

 

Chapter 4: What does bookstagram mean to you?

Besides sharing her love of reading with the world, what are Esther’s personal hopes for her Bookstagram?

 

I love classic literature, and I love talking about them with other people. However, lately, I have also enjoyed using my account to showcase diverse voices, especially monumental works likeThe Woman Warrior orPalace of the Peacock that are less well-known. In addition, as of the past few months, my job as a 6th grade English teacher has led me to discover many amazing middle grade texts that I am excited to share with Bookstagram.

I tell my students to just read. Graphic novels, magazine articles, comic strips, audiobooks, whatever. Read, read, read. And don’t let anyone make you feel bad about what you like to read.

 

Well, what did you think about @braveliteraryworld? We love answering her book trivia highlight! Do you have a favorite Bookstagrammer in mind? Contact us through any of our social media platforms and maybe you will see them here next week! 

 

Want to see your favorite Bookstagrammer featured next? Message @bookstrofficial here.

 

Featured image via @braveliteraryworld

 

 

4 Books to Read By This Underrated Fantasy Writer

If you’re a fan of fantasy, you’ve probably read J.K. Rowling, Leigh Bardugo, and all the other must-read authors that swoop you up into a world of dreams and magic. But you may or may not have read Italo Calvino, an Italian journalist known for his short stories and whimsical fiction. Born in 1923, Calvino seems almost ahead of his time in fantasy and immersive settings. These magical twists always come when least expected because, in a Calvino book, anything is possible. If you want to take a dive into Calvino’s world (and come out feeling like someone unplugged your connection to reality), here are four books to try.

 

1. Invisible cities

 

Image result for italo calvino invisible cities"

image via atisuto17 on newgrounds.com

 

If you love urban fantasy, or you feel whispers of magic in the night lights of the city, Invisible Cities will feel absolutely unreal in the most beautiful way. In this collection of short stories, each chapter features the description of a whimsical city narrated by Venetian traveler Marco Polo who relays his travels through cities of memory, desire, design, the dead, and the sky.

There’s a spider-web city suspended above nothing but air on a series of nets, and inhabitants must climb around to get from place to place. There’s a city of waste where residents only use everything one time before throwing it away- one bar of soap per hand wash, one set of sheets and pillow per night’s sleep. There is a city that is forever under construction to prevent its destruction and a city of wells and buckets built over a massive lake.

Invisible Cities combines fantasy, metaphor, and social commentary in an absolutely breathtaking read.

 

2. IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER

 

Image result for book with cut up pages"

image via archzine.com

 

The first time you open If On A Winter’s Night A Travelerit’ll feel something like trying to read this. This book is about you, the reader, trying to read If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino, but you keep receiving incomplete copies missing parts of the plot, or completely different books altogether. As a result, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler (and we never find out what that traveler does on a winter’s night) ends up combining about eight different plots for novels in total, each one more intriguing than the next. We never find out the endings. It’s just as frustrating as it is fascinating and addictive. In fact, this meta novel is more about the experience of the reader. Calvino uses the opportunity to make fun of books, readers, writers, publishers, translators, booksellers, and anti-readers in a way that’s strangely relatable.

If you love reading and meta stuff, this is definitely a book for you.

 

 

3. THE BARON IN THE TREES

 

Image result for baron in the trees"

image via dribble

 

When you were a kid, did you ever dream about running away from home and living in the forest, maybe building a treehouse where you can sulk in peace? The Baron in the Trees is the story of Cosimo di Rondó, a young Italian boy who had similar feelings after a fight with his family. He ran away into the trees and proceeded to live there for the rest of his life. Cosimo creates a whole world for himself in the trees, making friends, helping others, and solving worldly problems.

This book is for any fantasy lover who has elaborate dreams of escape into a world of their own making.

 

4. MARCOVALDO: The SEASONS IN THE CITY

 

Image result for seasons in the city calvino"

Image via ioannagalanomati.blogspot.com

 

I like to think of Marcovaldo as cartoons come to life. Marcovaldo is an unskilled worker living in an Italian industrial city. He’s just trying to live a normal life and care for his family, but more often than not his imagination gets the best of him. Imagine the scene in cartoons where a person gets covered in a pile of snow and becomes a snowman. This happens to Marcovaldo. Imagine the scene where a person falls asleep on a raft in the middle of a lake and drifts over a waterfall, still sleeping. This also happens to Marcovaldo. Anything and everything happens to Marcovaldo, and fantasy just keeps intruding on the boring monotony of his working life.

If you’re a daydreamer who would rather chase fantasy than stay grounded in reality, you’ll probably relate to Marcovaldo as much as I did.

 

Basically, if you’ve never read Calvino and you’re in the mood for some fantasy that is also self-aware and unique, you HAVE to try one of these.

 

 

 

Featured image via telegraph.co.uk