Tristessa by Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac  (1922-1969) is an American writter and poet. Today he is considered as one of the most important writter of the 20th century. During his life, he travelled across the United-Sate, Mexico and in Europe too. He was against armed conflicts and he stood for love (more sexual passion which he said it’s « the door of Paradie »). He seek for liberty (espacially of social conventions) and a meaning of life through drugs and alcohol but too through religon and spirituality (Buddhism). His writting style is rythmic, dynamic and spontaneous. It was very criticized at his time still thus he found the Beat Generation. The Beats hence their criticism of materialism, and want freedom through a personal achievement. Their style of writting wants to convey the immediacy of experience with a no academic-way: put down their thoughts and their feelings whitout any organization. Finally Kerouac influenced many artists like Bob Dylan and kinds like the Road Movie and movements like the Hippies.

Tristessa is a novel published in 1960 but written in 1955/1956. During a trip in Mexico, Kerouac met a prostitude called Esperanza but nicknamed Tristessa. In this book Kerouac has a reflexion on love because he loved the woman but if he makes it physicall, he denatures it; on the death: Tristessa is a junkie who suffered of her life, the drug must kill her, it gnaws her ; on the time: toxicomen forget their remenbrances, they loose notion of time and there is a link with death: more the time is spent more we are close to death; on  loneliness: Kerouac is with many people but he feels alone. This novel is quiet short but so poetic… The style of Kerouac can appear strange with his long sentences, his digressions, his sense of detail,… I don’t know how to describe my impressions but it’s a very good novel, we are immersed in a special world nevertheless a real world, wretched. May be it’s like a lesson of life for us… I think we learn on life with this work.

Pre-Raphaelite and Fading away by Henry Peach Robinson

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of poets, painters and critics founded in 1848. This artistic movement was created in United Kingdom and his members had a moral goal through their work. Thus they wanted to influence the morals of their society particularly in the XIXth century with the industrial revolution. The characteristics of the Pre-Raphaelite works is the realism with many details and for paintings the bright colours. The Pre-Raphaelites are inspired by the Italian work of the XVth century and their favourite subjects are the Middle Age, the biblical themes, the nature, literature and poetry.

Henry Peach Robinson (1830-1901) was an English photographer. He used combination printing (a kind of photomontage) and his work is pictorialist. He debated about the legitimacy of art photography and was a member of the Royal Photographic Society. Robinson had a strong relation with the painting: many times he employed painted background in front of which he placed his models. « Fading Away » is one of his most popular picture, created in 1858 during his Pre-Raphaelite phase. This work was linked to an other work « She never told her love » which hint at Shakespeare; and because it’s represented the same young died woman, we can supposed that she dying of tuberculosis or of a broken heart. The technique used for « fading away » by Robinson  is the combination of five negatives. The image is built and represented the reality of death. The composition is simple but it permitted to mark better the spectator. This work is a family tragedy, we are into the intimate of this family and we are focused on the died body so it has a morbid aspect too. It’s why when Robinson published this photography, he scandalized the press.

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein (19918-1990) is an american composer, conductor, pianist and pedagogue. One of his most famous master was Aaron Copland and he studied in Harvard University. He began as an assistant for Serge Koussevitzky and then for the Philharmornic Orchestra of New York. He was known in 1954 thanks to the TV when he conducted the Symphony of the Air Orchestra. After this event he presented the Young’s People Concert, a TV program, where he taught playfully for children classical music.

He got an international recognition for his work with the Philharmonic Orchestra of New York where he worked as conductor from 1958 to 1969. He was and is always very famous for his composition of West Side Story, a musical comedy. He conducted most famous formations of the world like the Philharmonic Orchestra of Vienna, the Philharmonic Orchestra of London, the National Orchestra of France,… He was very talented because of his ease in all repertory, even if he had a predilection for Gustav Mahler (he said: « Mahler, it’s me »).

He wrote three ballets (Fancy Free, Facsimile, Dybbuk), three opera (Trouble in Tahiti, Candide, A Quiet Place), three simphony,… many other things like musical comedy or music for films and for choral or chamber music. I really advice you to listen to Bernstein’s work. It is amazing how he can change of repertory jazz or classical a kind of thing wich is very difivult for musicians, moreover for a conductor! But if you don’t like classical music, at least you must see West Side Story by Robert Wise (1961) with Jerome Robbins as choreographer for our culture!

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and his works The Hobbit and the Lord of The Rings.

To begin, I would like to speak about Tolkien. I know that we had a biography in class but I want to remind you the life of this man. He was born in South Africa in 1892 but he spent his childhood in England (where were his roots) after his father’s death. In 1904, he became orphan with her brother because of his mother’s death. So with this event they were under the responsability of a priest: Father Francis Morgan. Tolkien knew the out-break of the First World War and after to be graduated at Exeter College, he must have gone in France as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. After his come back in England, he worked as a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. He was too a philologist who was and is always admired in all the world. In his life he wrote some novels and poems. He was too an essayist and died in 1973.

To continue, I would like to present you his first novel published in 1937: The Hobbit. I think that you know that this book is to introduce The Lord of The Rings. Moreover now with the new films which were realised recently by Pete Jackson, you might know the story of Bilbo… But if you are like me and have seen just an extract (which I found very long, a little bit borring) or may be nothing, I will sum up his adventures. Bilbo lived quietly when a man comed to take him as a thief. But what this passific creature must steal? A precious stone to give it to dwarves. However this stone is kept by a dragon… During his travel to go to the cave of the dragon in a mountain (in fact an old town of dwarves), he found a ring which have a beautiful power: it permits to disappear! And this object is very important in the Lord of the Rings.

If you are again like me and never seen the films, I will resume this second work. Frodon (a member of Bilbo’s family) must destroy the ring because Sauron needs it to can have the power on the world. Still to destroy it, Frodon must go on the country of his ennemy: in Mordor. Parallelly you follow during the story others characters and some wars.

I think that in fact Tolkien is a genius or may be a crazy man to create this universe. He created a new language for Elves, a new system of calendar,… At the end of his books you have family trees of the Sacquet, The Touques, the Brandebouc and the Master Samsagace. There is too the chronology of the old Earth and this is like our history class! Tolkien must have been in an other wolrd to create this fantasy world!

Many people say that it’s difficult to read him but I don’t think.Yes it can be a little be slow sometimes but it’s real pleasant to read this beautiful work! Nevertheless if you find it too long you can listen the CD of the songs which are wrote in Tolkien’s work and created by himself.  You have too a short story about a character that we met in this work: The adventures of Tom Bombadil (1967). And now with tolkienian you have too many many many by-products to can find the atmosphere of this fantasy world. But in fact if you want really this atmosphere, read the books!!!!

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976) is a british writter born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller. She wrote many detective stories and created famous characters like Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.  She wrote too many short stories, poems, autobiographies, and dramas. She had a privilaged education than her sister and her brother. First she wanted to become a lyrical artist with piano and vocals but she was too shy. It was during three months in Caire for her sick mother that she began to write. In 1914 so just at the beginning of the war, she got married with Archibald Christie (wich she kept his name to write) and she gave birth to her only child, Rosalind in 1919. Then in 1926, you have her mysterious disappearance : some newspaper thought that she commmited a suicide because her car was found near a lake and because her mother died and her husband wanted to divorce. After this period , she worked in archeology. She met in 1930 Max Mallowan who became her husband the same year. During the Second World War, she worked for Torquay hospital and sought to join her husband who was engaged. After the war, she created Agatha Christie Limited for his author rights. She had too three dramas played in London at the same time and in 1974, she assisted at the first adaptation of Murder on the orient Express by Sidney Lumet.

I read Ten little Niggers; One, two, Buckle my shoe; the thirteen problems; Paker Pyne invastigates by Agatha Chritie. I liked very much his novels. It’s pleasant to read, and she know really how to create an atmosphere. You find many suspense in her work. I advise really you to read it!

How sleeps the beast by Don Tracy

Don Tracy was born Donald Fiske Tracy in 1905 and died in 1976. He is an american writter and a scriptwritter. He is really famous for his hardboileds. He has many pseudonym like Tom Tricker, Tracy Mason, Marion Small,… He did many very different jobs (bodyguard, journalist, estate agent, model in advertisings,…) and during the Second World War he belonged to a detachment of Military Police.

How sleeps the beast is one of first novel which deals with racism at the time of the author. It’s too about violence, alcoholism and the search of identity. For Don Tracy racism generates violence. This idear is really showed in this book with a lynching on a black man. Some times is very hard to read this novel because you really realize that our world can be just horrible with wild, brutal behavior. You can be digusted with sadism employed by people on a weakness person. You remark too a collective cowardice and you can’t think that it has already been but it’s true! In America lynchings were common from 1880 to 1950.

I can’t summarize the novel but I can say to you that even if it can be hard to read  because of horror, it is a very interesting novel and personally I can’t stop reading when I began it.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Daniel Keyes (1927-2014) is an american writer. He was a researcher in psychology and too an essayist.

Flowers for Algernon is a science fiction novel published in 1966. The story is about a young man, Charlie Gordon, who is a mentally retarded. He wants to be more intelligent and follow Miss Kinina lesson (who stay with him and help him during all the book). Dr. Strauss and Pr. Nemur are scientific who did an experience on a mouse called Algernon and the operation is a success: the mouse become very intelligent. So scientifics offer to Charlie the same operation. Then we follow his evolution trough his diary.

I will not tell you all the story but I can tell to you that it’s a very goog novel. The system of diary is very good. You can have fun (for exemple with error spilling at the beginning) but this novel can be very hard when charlie discover really his situation. We are helpless like him when he see Algernon become mad and die and so anderstand that it’s his destiny,.. In this book friendship are very important: Charlie discovers that he needs the same things (like love or attention) intelligent  or not; and the fact that he had more friends when he was « stupid ». And so and so….

If you want to know more, read it! really! I can say to you that you will not be disappointed!

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

Herbert Geoges Wells ist a british writer who was born in 1866 and died in 1946. He is famous for his science-fiction novels but he wrote too popularized books about history and biology. He had also a politic and social reflexion.

The Island of Dr. Moreau is published in 1896 and is one of his science fiction novel. The story is about a man, Edward Prendick, who after lived a shipwreck, is saved by Montgomery a man who work on an Island with Dr. Moreau. Dr. Moreau is scientific who is absessed by vivisection and make experiencies on animals with the goal that they look like human  (for exemple they can speak). However animals kill Dr. Moreau then Montgomery. So Edward Prendick must survive alone in this wild island with dangerous mutated animals.

This book give a reflexion about the relationship between human and animals, and the question of identity. I liked very much to read this book. And you?

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

First the author:

Aldous Leonard Huxley is a british writter who was born in 1894 in United Kingdom and died  in 1963 in the United State. He is too a philosopher and an essayist. He worked on spiritual questions, tried many drugs for experience and studies. He has a critical point of view on ordinary uses, the social norms and on ideals of his time. To denouce the problems of the society, he uses in his work science-fiction and anticipation genre. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group which rather british artists and intellectuals (like Duncan Grant or John Maynard Keynes) from the beginning of the XX century to the beginning of the second world war.

For the little story, He losthis mother when he was very youg and he had to cover his needs by himself very young too. He lost early too his brother and his sister. After a disease he became nearly blind. He had two wife (the second after the death of the first) and one child. He died after an injection of LSD gived by his wife but wanted by him because he was very ill and he was suffering. We can think that this fact is odd because one of his character in Island (1962) die like that.

then the novel:

Brave New World is one of the most famous novel by Aldous Huxley, published in 1932.  In this story, the world is divided in different castes with a hierarchy. The reprodiction is just artificial so the sexualities are just recreational activities with the goal to not have loving passion (which are sources of tension like jealousy). All the population are conditioned for his hobbies, his favorite activities, his job,… When you are sad, you have a drug called soma, gived by the government. It’s a « perfect world », all citizens are happy. But you have a « wild world » where you have people who give really birth to child, who can be ill, who can read many books and writte; in fact who can think by themself and who are not standardized. The novel is about the confrontation of this two world when a man of the « wild world » discover the « perfect world ».

I love this novel because it is very interesting. It’s an anticipation book and I find that the society discribe by Huxley very began to look like our society. For exemple he imagined that we can do child without parents: in his time it’s not exist at all but now we can do that. And now if you are « sad », doctors give you some medicament and it looks like soma…

I really advice all of you to read this book!

William Turner: Snow Storm

William turner was born in 1775 in London. He studied in the Royal Academy from year 1789 and began to have a painting up in 1796 so he was recognized  during his lifetime. During a travel in 1802 in France, he discovered Le Lorrain and looked up to him. After a travel in 1819 in Venice, he changed this paintwork for a paintwork where colors and light have a suggestive power. His representation and how he did an atmosphere in his work, make him like a precursor of impressionism. Moreover he was a member of romantic movement and wanted to follow tradition. He died in 1851.

I am sorry: I didn’t find how to put a picture here. So if you want to see the painting: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-snow-storm-steam-boat-off-a-harbours-mouth-n00530

First you can observe a boat in a storm and their fight but the painting seems to be anarchist. You have a feeling of chaos. You can remark a contrast between the dark colors and the light in the painting. Moreover you don’t have lines, just a movement of colors and this movement is omnipresent. You feel yourself into the core of the storm and it gives life to the painting. This painting is a symbol of the futile efforts to struggle the forces of nature.

You have with this painting an annecdot: William Turner may have been on a boat during a snow storm and asked to be attached to the mast of the ship. But this story must be not true.

Stevenson’travels

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850. He was a scottisch poetist, essayist and novelist. After his birth in a wealthy family in Edinburgh, he chose to become a writer during his youth. But his father was against this choice because he wanted that his son become an ingeneer to follow him. So at 17 years old, Stevenson undertook ingeneer study but he left his University. Then he studied law and obtained a diploma.

He travelled in 1876 across France and Belgium, and met Fanny Osbourn. They fall in love but she was married and had two children. Moreover she lived in America and came back to this country to divorce. However Stevenson’s father said that if Stevenson go to join her, he cut his victuales. So in the goal to forget this impossible love, Stevenson went travelling in the Cévennes.

Finally, Stevenson and Fanny ex-Osbourn get married in 1880. After the Stevenson’s father death in 1887, Stevenson travelled to find a right climate for his health problems and died in 1874 in Vailama (Samoa).

 

I read travels with a donkey in the Cévennes and The amateur emigrant. This two books tell Stevenson’s travels in 1879 and 1879. The first travel is to froget and accept his love with Fanny Osbourn. At the end, he takes a decision: desobeys to his father in order to join Fanny Osbourn in America. This decision his take because during his travel, Stevenson meets many people, and walks. This facts  permit to him to change his opinion.The second novel: The amateur emigrant is Stevenson’s travel to America and the beginning in this new country. It permits to Stevenson to prepare him to his commitment with Fanny Osbourn.

You can remark that Stevenson is often considered like an author of fantastic and adventure novel for teenager with particulary his book Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or Treasure Island.  But we can notices with all this works that he exploited all the aspects of narration and practiced a real work on his writing.

Sherlock Holmes

The films Sherlock holmes and A Game of Shadows by Guy Ritchie, with Robert Downey Jr (Sherlock Holmes) and Jude Law (Dr Watson) are the last films today with the character of Arthur Conan Doyle.

The first release tell how Sherlock Holmes and his friend, Dr Watson succeed in the arrest of Lord Blackwood after a serie of muders. But Lord Blackwood say that he will come back to life, after his hanging, to revenge him. So after his resurrection unexplained, the city of London panic.

In the second release, Sherlock holmes faces professor Moriarty. This man want death and destruction. Across France, Swiss and Germany Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson unlock the mysteries of Pr Moriarty.

I find the facias expressions of Robert Downey Jr present an excentric Sherlock holmes with his fads. It make humours with his behaviour. I prefer the first than the second release but this last is very interesting for his set and his costumes.

And you what do you think about this two films?

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was (1809-1849) was an american poet, novelist, and literacy critic. He was a major figure of the american romanticism. He was a inventor of the thriller. Moreover some of this novels prefigure the science fiction and the fantastic genre. We don’t know really how he is dead: alcoholism? drug? Cholera? Rage?… But his works stay alive and have many influence on the music, the cinema (like Tim Burton with The Raven), or another artistic sector.

I read some of his novel and find it very mysterious: You can’t imagine what it is going to happen or guess the end. The Gold Bug, one of famous novel’s Poe, is very facsinating with his numerous adventures. In this novel the obsession is approached and I find it’s a reccurent theme with Poe.

I appreciated really to read his novels with his character called Auguste Dupin. The Murders in the Rue Morgue, or The Purloined Letter or The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, are very pleasant to read. Dupin is like a detective, and he find the murderer or the thief fast with many details: it’s just deductions.

However I find some other novels by Poe so boring like the ball’s duck ( sorry I don’t find the original title, if you want to find it: in french it’s le canard au ballon). And you? what do you think about Poe?

Danny Elfman and films’musique

Danny Elfman is an american composer who was born in 1953 in Texas. He was a leader of a group of rock and  new wave called Oingo Boingo. He is more famous for  his composition of musique of film like for films by Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow,…) or by Sam Raimi (Darkman, Oz: The great and powerful,…). He wrote also the musical themes of famous TV serial’s credit like the credits of The Simpson or Desperate Housewives. He participe too to creat the musique of a videogame, Fable.

I find his musique very interesting. It permits really to create an atmosphere in films. I remember when I listen the soundtrack of Sleepy Hollow I was scared! In Alice Wonderland, It complate the wonder of the story and his non-sence with sound who we don’t understand, mysterious sound. In this film we aren’t scared but intrigued.

For me, the musique by Danny Elfma completes really films. We are absorbed by an universe. If we don’t have it, films will become very boring. Don’t you think?

Pleasantville

Pleasantville (1998) is a fantastic american film and a dramatic comedy by Gary Ross.

The story is about David and Jeninfers who are twins and totally opposed. To escape to his stressing family of the 90’s, David loves to watching TV and more « Pleasantville », a TV serial in black and white dated of the 50’s. Contrary to him, his sister is one with the modern world. Still, a day, they « come in » « Pleasantville » so they integrate the story and upset the characters in this one.

I find very interesting the game with the black and white or colours pictures in this film. And it questions about the changement: may be we don’t see that we do daily something bad, but we continue because it normal for you ; or we don’t do some things because it says that we mustn’t do that. To change, we must be very brave and question you. To achieve a good world it’s necessary. Moreover it permit to build you too.

You can remark in the tittle the french word « ville » so I think it’s refered to (of course) the french word of town but too that in France you find many city that their name finish with « ville » (like Tocqueville, Valcanville,…). Moreover « pleasant », it’s  to represent that in the world of the TV serial, all is perfect. It’s an utopian world. And may be, like Aldous Huxley said, when you achieve an utopian world you want to leave it because all it’s so perfect that it become boring.

So just live!