Tuesday, 5 April 2011

A Farewell to Arms: Ernest Hemingway

Keeping on the theme of war literature, this novel touches on the issues of war, mortality and love. What makes it stand out from other war literature is the way in which it is written. It is vacant and bare yet emotive and spells out the picture clearly.

The chaotic nature of war and how it drives nations and individuals is delicately explored. The well known way in which an idealistic, patriotic attitude disintegrates through time is highlighted in the main character. Other characters are also crippled emotionally. The war has changed them.

The underlying theme evoked in the novel is that moral progress in humanity can only be achieved through suffering.

One Day by David Nicholls

A novel about life, love, friendship and relationships that would appeal to both men and women. Not soppy romantic novelesque in the way the theme of love is treated, nor does it have lengthy descriptive passages; yet it manages to be utterly compelling. Situations, feelings and experiences felt in real life are those we have all felt in our own lives and can relate to.

Several narration techniques are used in the novel. It is told through the viewpoints of both main characters, Emma and Dexter, with authorial intrusion in parts throughout. The chapters switch from Emma and Dexter's life and from past to present, giving it the effect of living through memories and present day as the characters do themselves.  This also helps retain the readers' interest and raise many questions which we read on avidly in hope to have answers for. Even though the reader has the advantage of seeing the events unfold through both characters, Nicholls skillfully writes so that the reader is divided equally in sympathies and loyalties to Dex and Em.

What I most loved about One Day was how realistic it is and easy to relate to, whilst taking over your everyday life as you read it. The characters and their situations find themselves in your thoughts when you are not reading the book. It is also laugh out loud funny and full of literary goodness. Easy to read and great for those who love taking a trip down memory lane, it is nostalgic and warm. Highly recommended. 

Memorable quotations:

"Live each day as if it's your last', that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn't practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at ... something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance." - p.433 of the paperback version.

"You're gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this. Confidence. It would be the gift of confidence. Either that or a scented candle" 

"Sometimes, when it's going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationary. The true writer, the born writer, will scribble words on scraps of litter, the back of a bus tickets, on the wall of a cell. Emma is lost on anything less than 120gsm."

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - directed by Michel Gondry

A wonderful art film. I would say it is somewhat overlooked for the classic cinema techniques used. The storylines coils back on itself which means that events are redefined in several layers. This is a creative way of keeping the viewer's interest. 

For those who are able to relate to the feelings explored, from giving and receiving love and lost love, will appreciate the film for its subtelties. Very beautifully made so that the underlying messages are evoked without being spoken out too obviously. Finally, a feel good film for all, albeit in a complex way.

Praiseworthy performances by Kate Winslet and Jim Carey, showcasing their versatility as actors. 

Favourite quotations from the film: 

"Random thoughts for Valentine's day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap" - Joel (voice over)

"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."- Mary, while reading to Dr. Mierzwiak out of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, the lines are from Alexander Pope's poem Eloisa to Abelard.

"Sand is overrated. It's just tiny, little rocks."- Joel