John Keats, a talented English poet

 

Keats’s portrait

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    I would like to talk about John Keats an English poet that I like. I don’t know if you know him. John Keats was an English Romantic poet. He was born near to London in 1795 and died in 1821 in Roma. He is considered as one of the main figure of the second generation of Romantic poets in England whose takes part also Lord Byron Percy Bysshe Shelley who became his friend. However, during his life, his works were not well perceived by critics, even despised. Indeed, his works were published only four years before his death. He is perceived as a cursed poet because he died too early, suffering of tuberculosis, knowing the glory really only after his death. Tom Keats, his brother also died of tuberculosis. It’s at that time that he started to have symptoms. At that time, he met Fanny Brawne, a 18 years-old girl with which he fall deeply in love. In 1819, they get engaged but they couldn’t get married: the poet died before. In order to have an idea of his talent, I can quote one of his poems :

The Human Seasons

Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;

     There are four seasons in the mind of man:

He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear

     Takes in all beauty with an easy span:

He has his Summer, when luxuriously

     Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought he loves

To ruminate, and by such dreaming high

     Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves

His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings

     He furleth close; contented so to look

On mists in idleness—to let fair things

    Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,

Or else he would forego his mortal nature.

 

                                                               John Keats, 13th March 1918.

Jane Campion, film director, directed Bright Star in 2009 which pays tribute to Keats’s lives and his relationship with Fanny Brawne. Jane Campion is above all known for her film The Piano, released in 1993 which won the Golden Palm during the Cannes Film Festival. I really advice you to see Bright Star. I think it’s really good tribute to the poet. It’s really moving and gripping. It’s a really poetic film. What I really like, it’s that Jane Campion choose to quote some of Keats’s poems during the generic. The film title refers to a sonnet written by Keats when he was with Brawne:

Bright Star 

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art—

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—

 No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

 Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever–or else swoon to death

Keats

Well, I really advice you to read some of Keats’s poems and to see the film of Jane Campion. If you like Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright, you may like this film. 

Bright Stars’s trailer : 

Lord of the flies an allegory of natural condition of mankind imagined by Hobbes?

   

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   Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher of the 17th century. Nowadays, he is especially known for his works on political philosophy. Indeed, he thought about a state of nature which shows the natural condition of mankind to understand human nature. I don’t know if it’s also your case, but, when I read Lord of the flies, written by Golding, I thought that it is a great illustration of the Hobbes’s idea, developed in the Leviathan, published in 1651. In this work, Hobbes asserts that humans are naturally equal but they wants to assert their power on the other humans. Thus, in this state, there is “a war of all against all.” For Hobbes, this state is unlivable: there is an permanent insecurity.  Well, when it became too much to bear, humans accede to a social contract. They give their powers to one person in exchange for their security. For Hobbes, it’s the way chose civil society was established.

 

   In Lord of the flies, written by Golding and published in 1954, some children were obliged to live in a deserted island where they must pull through by themselves and return to the “natural condition of mankind”.  At the beginning, they managed to stay civilized. Then, the things go wrong and they have a war, which result in two deaths. In this story, the author wanted to show the true face of human and the primitive signs that can come back at any time. Even they had enough education to know how they must have acted, they didn’t act as civilized children. As we have seen in the extract we have studied, they are rescued by the arrival of the officer which symbolizes authority and civilized world. I think, but it’s my personal interpretation, that William Golding should have read the Leviathan by Hobbes and wanted to show that the dreadful human nature must be avoided only by the presence of authority. However, it can come back at any time, above all when there are not political authorities or a civilized structure. Well, I think that Lord of the flies is a good illustration of the Hobbes’s idea concerning human nature. However, the existence of a state of nature has interested a lot of philosophers of the 17th century such as Rousseau or Locke who had not the same idea of human nature and were not really agree with Hobbes. Aristotle said that “man is a political animal.” Well, are men obliged to live in society? If they are left alone in a deserted island, are they capable of pulling through?

Mere Anarchy – Woody Allen

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Woody Allen is more famous as film director. Indeed, he directed a lot of films such as Annie Hall, Manhattan and more recently Magic in the Moonlight. He won 4 Oscars.

However, he is also a writer. He is famous for his particular humour which made his renown and his negative vision of the life and our society. I was curious to see how Woody Allen could express himself in a book. Last week, I rode a few short stories extracted from Mere Anarchy, a collection of 18 short stories, written by Woody Allen in 2008. If you permit me this word, I would say that these shorts stories are rather surrealistic. People evolve in a nonsense atmosphere.

He imagines that famous philosophers wrote essays whose aim is to learn to lose weight. Thus, he imagines that Nietzsche has written an essay entitled my slimming secret. After, he describes how the world would be if people speak only with scientific terms in order to explain common acts. This could result in :“I woke up Friday but as the universe is in expansion it took me longer than usual to find my robe.” He also tells the story of a dentist who kills his patient because he tells his life when he is treating them. He describes also a trial during which Mickey testifies. I won’t describe you all these crazy stories. I let you discover them. This book is s a satire of our society, described with the particular humour of Woody Allen.

I advice you to read it because it’s easy and quickly to read. These short stories are gripping and really funny.

 

 

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The importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde

    

      I would like to talk about a book I read during the holidays: The importance of Being Earnest. It’s a play written by Oscar Wilde. The first was performed in 1895. The plot is rather complicated. It’s the story of two young men: Jack, known in the city as Ernest Moncrieff, and Algy. Jack, normally lives in the country where he must take care of his ward Cecily but he has invented a sick brother whose name is Ernest to escape his social obligations and in order to go in the city as often as he wants. In the first act, he discovers that his friend, Algy has invented also an ill brother Bunbury in order to go to the country as often as he wants because contrary to Jack, he lives in the city. He also proposes to Algy’ cousin: Gwendolen Fairfax. However, her mother refuses this engagement. In the second act, Algy goes to the country, to Jack’s home in order to meet Cecily. He introduces himself as being the brother of Jack. He decides to propose to Cecily, when Jack arrives and discover his friend. This situation provokes a lot of misunderstandings. It is a sort of satire of the wedding. The title is built on a pun with the words Earnest and Ernest. Gwendolen refuses to get married with Jack if his name is not Ernest.

     I advice you to read this comedy. It’s really gripping because of the complicated plot and the misunderstandings. It’s also really funny. Moreover, I think that it’s rather easy to read it in English and I find it could be an illustration for the thematic: Meeting people, love and friendship.

 

      The play has a lot of film adaptation such as: the films of the same name as the play by Anthony Asquith in 1852 and that of Oliver Parker in 2002. I have never seen them. Well, I don’t know if they are good. And you have you already read or seen the play ? Did you enjoy it ?

Trailer of The importance of being Earnest by Oliver Parker, released in 2002 :

Atonement – Ian McEwan

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Atonement is a novel written by McEwan and published in 2001.

The book was adapted into a film, directed by Joe Wright and released in 2007. He also directed Pride and Prejudices and Anna Karenine. I think that it’s a really good film director.

I really advise you to read this book or to see the film adaptation.The book was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2001. The Times said that it was the best novel of the year and it was included in the list of the 100 best novels. The film is starring Keira Knightley as Cecilia, James McAvoy as Robbie and Saoirse Ronan as Briony. The film adaptation won one Oscar for the best film score, created by Dario Marianelli and two Golden Globes for the best film score too and the best dramatic film. It had also 29 nominations.

The story takes place in 1935. It talks about a young girl, Briony Tallis, whose family is rather wealthy, who doesn’t understand the love of her old sister Cecilia for Robbie Turner, the housekeeper and an old friend of the family. While his cousins came to visit the family, she assists in his cousin’s rape. But instead of telling the truth and saying who the real culprit is, she said that it’s Robbie who did the rape. Well, he was arrested and he was obliged to fight during the World War II in France. Cecilia and Robbie are separated. It’s a really gripping story and really moving. Moreover, there is a really unexpected overthrow.

The film adaptation is a really good. I really liked the way of filming. I tell you this story because I think that it can be a good illustration for the thematic : Meeting people, love and friendship because this love story has never could existed because of the lie of her sister. And you have you already seen this film or read the novel ? Did you enjoy it ?

The film adaptation by Joe Wright : 

 

Differences between two dystopias : O brave new world and 1984

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      I was really astonished by the end of the film version of 1984, written by Orwell which we saw in class. I found it really hopeless and really upsetting with the fact that people could do anything to survive in a totalitarian system, until denouncing person they love. It’s really dreadful that people could torture their fellow being until having a real power on them, changing their mind in order to make them thinking what they want them to think, doing what they want them to do.  And I think that the more dreadful thing it’s that this is not really a fiction because we saw these things in our history during the World War II. It makes me thinking. After seeing this end, we wonder if we were in his place what we would have done. This dystopia is really upsetting. Contrary to this, O brave new world, written by Huxley which is also a dystopia which aims at denouncing totalitarian system, has a end more hopeful. I don’t know if you read the book, but people who think by themselves and find the society unacceptable, by rebelling, have access to the happiness. Indeed, at the end, they meet the administrator, the chief of the totalitarian system who explain them how works their society, why they conditione people and they learn that it’s for their happiness. They are conditioned into not fearing death, being pleased in their classes and if they are upset, they can take drug and stop thinking. By rebelling, people are not punished but have access to a paradise island where they could meet other interesting people. Moreover, the three main character choose really where they want to go. This end appears more optimist than the end of 1984. Nevertheless, O brave new world denounces also the totalitarian systems, this conditioning in order to have a semblance of happiness, to have more money by conditioning people into buying useless things, things more expensive.

      A lot of people have opposed 1984 to O brave new world. 1984 shows the totalitarian systems and their inhumanity during the war whereas O brave new world denounces a totalitarian system whose some aspects could make us thinking of our condition like the consumer society.

     And you what do you think about these ends ? Do you prefer O brave new world or 1984 ?

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Annie Hall – Woody Allen

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Annie Hall is the story of Alvy Singer, an American comedian, played by Woody Allen who looks back on his relationship with Annie Hall, as Diane Keaton. He got married with two women before meeting her. But she is different. He doesn’t understand why they are separated. Well, he describes his relationship with her. We can see their moments of happiness and crisis.

This comedy directed by Woody Allen was released in 1977. This film received the Oscar of the best director, the best movie, and the best actress for Diane Keaton.

I think that it’s one of the best film directed by Woody Allen if it is not the best. Woody Allen is my favourite film director. It’s a funny film and it’s really gripping. Woody Allen is really great as film director as actor.

It’s also interesting because I think that this film could be a good illustration for the thematic: Meeting people, love and friendship because the 2 mains characters are going to love each other, separate each other and become friends. I really advice you to see it.

If you want, we can see the movie trailer : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBzHphcc2Jw

The writer in his century

 

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The writer was always inspired of the condition of his century. It’s visible for instance with the case of a lot of writers during the racial segregation in the United States. Thus we have a lot of different account of this period.

Chester Himes, an Afro- American writer denounces his condition in his works such as in If he hollers let him go or in the third generation. With a harsh language, he told the black’s condition. In the third generation he speaks about an Afro-American family and their attempt to assert themselves in the society where as they live in the South of America which is known to be really radical and really racist during this segregation. If he hollers let him go, it’s a story of a rebellious Afro-American who doesn’t accept his condition and the fact that the Whites believe that they are above the Blacks. During the story, his mentality evolve and he try to find the best mean to assert himself in the society by rebelling or by being obedient to the orders and opinions of Whites. However, this segregation doesn’t just inspire the Blacks but also the Whites.

Indeed, don’t kill a mocking bird, written by Harper Lee, a white American woman is a good example. It’s the story of a little girl who tells his childhood. His father was a lawyer and he accepted to defend a black who was accused of having raping wrongfully a woman. This book is really amazing because the author even if she was white defends more the Blacks than the Whites.

Well, we can see with these examples that racial segregation inspires different people in order to write books.

However, American people were not the only writer to be inspired by this plague. Romain Gary, a French writer who was Consul general of Los Angeles, saw the evolution of racial segregation. In white dog, the author shows an overview of this period. He denounces the society and racism.  His point of view is really interesting because he doesn’t really take part, he emphasizes the fact that everybody need having a scapegoat. I really advice you to read it. I really liked this book. Romain Gary is one of my favourite authors.

Well, to conclude, we can see that a lot of writers were inspired of his century. Nevertheless, the case of the racial segregation still inspire different writer such as Kathryn Stockett who wrote The Help in 2009.

I would like to give Mathilde and Juan a wink for the time we have passed to realise our « TPE » (Cross-curricular subject), last year. By writing this article, I think about you and about all the time we have worked to make our presentation.

Brave new world – Aldous Huxley

 

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Brave New World is a science fiction novel, written by Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. I think he was an important british author of his era.

In Brave New World, Huxley imagines a world where humans are mass produced, artificially created and conditioned to be what the Authorities want they want to be. It’s a futuristic world which takes place 700 years after Ford. Ford is a sort of god in this world. In this strange but ideal society, family, feelings and monogamy doesn’t exist. People must be happy and free. Their lives are already made. They are not fear by death, they are not access to books and they can’t think. A few characters are emphasized. Bernard who has suffered a problem in his conception is rather different from others. He loves a woman which it’s forbidden. He thinks about his condition and would like to change it. I won’t tell you the entire story but I advice you to read it.

 

I think that it was interesting to speak about this novel because I think it could a good illustration for the thematic:  Imaginary because the story evolves in a completely imaginary world. However, it’s a satirical novel. We can recognize our condition in their strange condition. It’s just that they are pushed to the extreme. For example, the conditioning of humans could be interpreted as our publicity. They listen always the same prejudices and they finish by believing them. It’s a really interesting book. And even if you don’t like as me the science fiction we could like this novel because it’s really philosophic and it could question yourself and our society. However, I advice you to read it in French because I think that it’s rather complicated  in English but it’s my opinion. And you, have you already read this novel ? Did you like it ? Maybe you have already seen the film adaptation.

One day – David Nicholls

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A wonderful, wonderful book : wise, funny, perceptive, compassionate and often unbearably sad…” THE TIMES

“ It’s rare to find a novel which ranges over the recent past with such authority, a nd even rarer to find one in which the two leading characters are drawn with such solidity, such painful fidelity, to real life.” Jonathan Coe, Guardian book of the year 2009.

If you like love stories, you will really enjoy One day, written by David Nicholls and published in 2009. Personally, I found it really gripping, wonderful, and absorbing. You passed from laughter to tears.

All the stories begin by a meeting. One day is the story of the meeting of Dexter and Emma who are almost opposite person. We can observe along the years, their stories: the two people are going to love, lose, hate and meet each other again.

I advice you to read it. In addition to this gripping story, I think it’s also interesting because I think that this book could be a good illustration for the thematic: Meeting people, love and friendship because because the 2 mains characters are going to love each other, separate each other and become friends.

And you, have you read this book ? Did you like it ? Maybe you have seen the film adaptation because David Nicholls is not a simply writer, he also wrote for film and TV. Then he adapted One Day into a screenplay. The film was released in 2011. Personally, I didn’t want to see this film because I think that it couldn’t be as good as the book.

“You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.” David Nicholls, One day. 

A lesson before dying – Ernest J. Gaines

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« A myth is an old lie that people believe in. White people believe that they’re better than anyone else on earth – and that’s a myth. The last thing they ever want is to see a black man stand, and think and show that common humanity that is in us all. It would destroy their myth. » quotation of Grant, the teacher.

I would like to introduce you the book A lesson before dying written by Ernest J. Gaines in 1993 because I really enjoyed to read it. Moreover, I think it could be intersting for you because I found that it’s easy-reading even if you don’t have the habit of reading in english and so gripping.

The story takes place at the time of the racial segregation, in the US. It’s the story of a black man who has been sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. This man is completely dehumanized. However, a teacher is going to try to restore his esteem and teach him that he is not a « hog » as people want him to believe but a human.

It’s a really good lesson of life. And it’s really philosophical because we can see the reaction of a man who is obbligated to cope with the death. It’s an interesting book, beacause in addition to this gripping story we can discover the condition at this time. It makes us question ourselves.

And you have you already read this book ? If you have not, I hope I make you feel like reading it.

 

« This is a fine and decent book that lives in memory for its elegance and sadness… like the best country songs, straight and true, unafraid of sentiment and written for people it depicts, not simply about them. » The Independent.

Jabberwocky – Lewis Carroll

Jabberwocky- Lewis Carroll from Through the Looking Glass

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

« Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch! »

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought–
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

« And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! »
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

 

The last lesson, we watched the Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland and I understood something that I didn’t perceived when I saw the film for the first time. I understood that, as you can see, Tim Burton was also inspired by this poem in order to make his film. It’s Alice who killed the Jabberwocky.

I perceived that there are not an only referenced but the film is composed of a mix of different references to the works of Lewis Carroll.

I found interesting to show you this poem because even in the film the Mad Hatter recites it for Alice. I find it’s a great homage to Lewis Carroll. I think it’s for that I really liked this adaptation. And you ? What did you think about this film? Did you enjoy watching it?

Frankenstein’s versions

   Personally, I don’t really like the Frankenstein’s play. I found it not really faithful. For example, the creature didn’t kill the same characters as in the book and the end was really strange. I found this adaptation too babyish. It’s strange for me that they wanted to show a funny version of the book whereas it is rather dramatic but I understand because it is represented for teenagers. However, I think that I would have been more interested if it was more faithful and more dramatic. Nevertheless, even if I didn’t really appreciate the play I think that the players were really qualified because they arrived to play few characters whereas they are just 4.

 I didn’t appreciate also the film of Coppola. I found it was far-fetched and really strange.

 A new adaptation of Frankenstein was released last week. I found it, even if I didn’t watch it, really exaggerated. The fact that the creature is still alive and there are vampires is strange. It is not faithful at all. And you, did you enjoy this different version of Frankenstein? Do you know a version more faithful that I can watch?

Lewis Carroll’s fancy

I found a poem written by Lewis Carroll and I find it is really interesting. This poem illustrates the fact that in first, Lewis Carroll told the story of Alice in Wonderland to Alice Pleasance Liddell, the daughter of Henry George Liddell and the fact that he liked telling tales to children.

Acrostic poem :

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July–

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear–

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream–
Lingering in the golden gleam–
Life, what is it but a dream?

Lewis Carroll,  Through the Looking Glass.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173163

 

Moreover, I find the latest verse of this poem really interesting because I think that it can show the parallel between life and dream, which we can perceived in Alice in Wonderland. In the Tim Burton’s version, it’s really emphasized. We don’t know if Alice is dreaming or not. It’s strange but she doesn’t seem to be tired before going to Wonderland. The story is impossible but it seems to be true. Moreover, we still can see the caterpillar after Alice returns to reality.