Monday, June 15, 2009

Becoming a book to memorializing the hallmarks of great literature

I am compiling a list of my own books I want to become.

This blog I have been following for quite a while and has an interesting section called 451 Fridays from the Bradbury novel. His group of "book people" memorialize literature by becoming or internalizing books of choice. Her 5 titles of choice are the Following:

  • Macbeth by Shakespeare due to its universal themes I think that it is quite easy for our "humanness" to succumb to unbridled ambition, and this is something of which we should all be mindful. I also enjoy the discussions that arise from the theme of fate vs. free will. The element of the supernatural with the witches and Banquo's ghost, as well as the presence of a dominant female character, are all worthwhile reasons to save this particular play. (These are Molly's commentss)

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  • A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens See the below comments by Molly Great literature should have the embedded temes that have been timelessly discussed in philosophy what Karl Jung describes as archetypes and embeds in his concept of synchronicity

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. What is prejudice? Before I live with other folks, I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. (QUOTE FROM THE NOVEL)

  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak Death's point of view and an excellent holocaust and YA novel.

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his
novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep
the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book
People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down
to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?This week, I am so happy to welcome Molly to 451 Fridays. Molly blogs at My Cozy Book Nook, and is always reading something new and interesting. She is also currently hosting her very first book challenge, the Summer Vacation Reading Challenge, which I am seriously tempted to join. Welcome, Molly!

Pondering my answer to this question, I tried to think in terms of historical as well as literary significance. I also wanted to ensure that the books I chose to save would span the centuries and give adequate representation to the development of literature, and not just focus on the present day. Finally, I wanted to save books that I would enjoy reading over and over again. To that end, here is my list for today (which I am sure will change again tomorrow - and next month....)

It is said that the literature of Charles Dickens did more for social reform in London than any legislation passed by Parliament. Dickens came from the poor - was a product of the Debtor's Prisons - and despised the social conditions of the time. But Charles Dickens was not only writing for social change, he also wrote for entertainment - and his novels are some of the best novels ever written: full of well-developed characters (some with very interesting and descriptive names), suspenseful plots and subplots that somehow all converge at the very end; beautiful prose and exacting descriptions that cause the reader to sit back and enjoy the beauty of the words; and of course, the varied themes that give the reader cause to stop, ponder, and take notice of our human condition. Again, I would have a difficult time choosing just the "right" novel to save, but I would have to select the novel that I know best because I teach it: A Tale of Two Cities. The Theme of Resurrection and Redemption is absolutely beautiful, and the way in which Dickens subtly foreshadows nearly every event in the book is astounding.

Racial tensions and inequalities have been a large part of the 20th century, especially in our American history. I think at least one example of this thematic literature should be saved, and I absolutely LOVE this particular novel. Harper Lee chose to narrate the story from the point of view of a young girl living in southern Alabama. While Scout is white, she is the daughter of a widowed lawyer who defends an African American in court. Scout is essentially colorblind -she does not see the color of a person's skin as defining who they are, but rather she chooses to look at what is on the inside. This "radical" way of thinking would not be tolerated by adults in this time period ( the story takes place in the mid 1930s, but Harper Lee published it in 1960 -- pre-civil rights days) but is somehow accepted from a "naive" young girl. Harper Lee's beautiful eloquence is reminiscent of a southern drawl, as spoken by a well-educated child who has always been treated as an adult, and the symbolism of the Mockingbird as it pertains to two characters in the story cause the reader to realize that prejudice extends beyond racial boundaries.

I simply couldn't ignore the importance of World War II and the atrocity of the holocost in my small 5-volume library. There have been numerous books written on this subject, and I almost considered The Diary of Anne Frank, or Schindler's List, or Sophie's Choice, but in keeping with my one book from each century theme, and because this book is written from such a unique point of view - that of Death - I decided to "save" this one. If you have not had the chance to read this book you - you must make the time. I will warn you, I had to read the first two chapters at least three times before it made made any sense. This is not because of Zusak's writing - that is because of my pre-determined image of Death's point of view. I thought death should be evil, but in reality, death is neutral. Death is just a part of life. It is the manner in which death can be caused that is often evil. This beautiful YA novel should not be limited to the YA market. It is poignant, descriptive, unique, sad, and hopeful. It will help us to never forget this time in our history - so that we may never run the risk of repeating it in the future.

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