My literature journal Chiara Paro

What is literature?

To be honest, I am not very fond of reading, thus answering this question is pretty challenging: I do not believe it is something that must be studied in order to be cultured but for a personal pleasure.

In my lifetime, it has happened to me only once to be fully involved by a book: it is 1984 by George Orwell, and it my favourite for many reasons: in first place, it made me open my eyes and realise that what Orwell describes perfectly suits our world. Secondly, day by day I find out that 1984 has a strong impact on today's society: it has influenced many films (such as The Truman Show), TV programmes (The Big Brother) and songs (it is the name of some albums).

As regards the importance of studying literature, I think it is the tool to fully get to know the culture of a country: knowing the grammar allows you to be able to communicate, but with the power of literature, you can grasp other aspects.

Geoffrey Chaucer (London, 1343 – London, 1400)

From the 11th of January for aabout a month time, we focused on Chaucer and his masterpiece "The Canterbury Tales".

Although he can be deemed a "copycat" and so not fully original, I found his descriptions very captivating for the reason that Chaucer had been able to create a bound between the story narrated by a pilgrim, and his background.

In addition, he used his feather to mock his society, mainly focusing on the clergy. To me, his descriptions and his irony make him worth studying.

Among the pictures I found about Chaucer's masterpiece, the one I believed is the best is this one:

It is a detail of a mural by Ezra Winter. (Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington D.C.)
William Shakespeare (Stratford-upon-Avon, 1564 - Stratford-upon-Avon, 1616)

On the 28th of January, we started dealing with Shakespeare: for the first period, what we did was analysing his sonnets. One in particular fascinated me: "My mistress' eyes".

In this sonnet, Shakespeare distorts the idea of how a woman is seen through the eyes of her lover. There is an obvious link to Petrarch, who compares his woman to an angelic figure.

I guess Shakespeare found this ridiculous since, at the end of the poem, he restates that love goes beyond this stereotype and it is real even if the woman is not a goddess (as she is not in the sonnet).

If I were asked to represent the passing of time with an image, as Shakespeare does in "Like as the waves", I would choose a picture of the Colosseum, as it symbolises how time can change, and perhaps ruin, things.

Hamlet

The first tragedy we have studied, and the only one at the moment, is Hamlet.

At the very beginning, it did not very intrigued me without any specific reason. Now I know I was mistaken.

The key point is Hamlet's monologue "To be or not to be", in which he claims that committing suicide is not a gesture that a coward would do, but it makes us reflect upon the meaning of life. I still have not found the answer to the question "does killing yourself make you a coward?", but I certainly do not convey with Hamlet: he states that, committing suicide, we can end up in a place that is worse that Earth. I strongly believe that people believe in Heaven and Hell because they cannot accept the fact that their lives would end at the very moment their hearts halt. So how can we end up in another place?

Nevertheless, to me everyone should be able to decide what to do during their life, but before doing that, they must reflect upon it and be sure it is not a harm to anyone. Killing yourself is acceptable as long as you do not involve other people. This does not make you a coward, but a "cleverless" person.

I truly loved this play because of its insights into the human psyche, Hamlet's thoughts upon life and the theme of ambiguity, which, among the others, rules.

Romeo and Juliet

After having analysed Hamlet, we started dealing with Shakespeare's most famous tragedy, namely the love story par excellence.

I own a copy of this tragedy (an Italian translation) since my parents bought me one many years ago, but now than I have deepen it, I would love to read it again, in the English version.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky

They say a book is much deeper than the film based on it , but honestly I had never had the chance to prove it.

"The perks of being a wallflower" (book) has struck me because of its way of depicting Charlie's coming of age and the its way of telling a story, full of violence, hate, hope and friendship, as something ordinary, that is normal the way it is.

On the other hand, I reckon the film is shallower, since many details haven't been depicted by the director (probably to make it more appealing to the audience), such as Charlie's sister abortion, his addiction to chain-smoking and his relationship with Sam is accentuated, as in the final part of book Charlie states she is nothing but his best friend, whereas in the film he gets to kiss her.

Despite the huge amount of differences (mostly just irrelevant details, such as the name of some people), the setting is overall faithful and the fact that Charlie addresses his letters to an anonymous and stranger person has a major role in both book and film; I think this highlights the character's sensitivity and his loneliness: despite his encounter and friendship with Sam and Patrick, a feeling the author has passed me down is that Charlie still needs to be listened to and to overcome his naivety, such as the incapability of recognising his friend's suicide.

Both music and literature play a major role in the main character's life : music makes the tunnel scene even more memorable and they both are something Charlie leans on to get through every day.

Although the book is way more intriguing, the eerie relationship with the aunt isn't clear but disguised, so that it took me a while to fully understand what had occured.

Overall, both the book and the adaptation are worth reading/watching but the first mentioned is better because of its development of themes and characters.They say a book is much deeper than the film based on it , but honestly I had never had the chance to prove it.

"The perks of being a wallflower" (book) has struck me because of its way of depicting Charlie's coming of age and the its way of telling a story, full of violence, hate, hope and friendship, as something ordinary, that is normal the way it is.

On the other hand, I reckon the film is shallower, since many details haven't been depicted by the director (probably to make it more appealing to the audience), such as Charlie's sister abortion, his addiction to chain-smoking and his relationship with Sam is accentuated, as in the final part of book Charlie states she is nothing but his best friend, whereas in the film he gets to kiss her.

Despite the huge amount of differences (mostly just irrelevant details, such as the name of some people), the setting is overall faithful and the fact that Charlie addresses his letters to an anonymous and stranger person has a major role in both book and film; I think this highlights the character's sensitivity and his loneliness: despite his encounter and friendship with Sam and Patrick, a feeling the author has passed me down is that Charlie still needs to be listened to and to overcome his naivety, such as the incapability of recognising his friend's suicide.

Both music and literature play a major role in the main character's life : music makes the tunnel scene even more memorable and they both are something Charlie leans on to get through every day.

Although the book is way more intriguing, the eerie relationship with the aunt isn't clear but disguised, so that it took me a while to fully understand what had occured.

Overall, both the book and the adaptation are worth reading/watching but the first mentioned is better because of its development of themes and characters.

"Frankenstein" by Mary ShellEY

What has struck me about this masterpiece is how yearnings and ambitions lead mankind towards their chosen achievement, and, even though they might know how harmful this may be (to themselves, to other people and to the environment), they keep on trying to achieve it, proving how self-centred and greed of power mankind is.

Written in 1817 and published the year after, this novel never gets old because of how relatable it is to our contemporary era: what Victor Frankenstein has done, which is bringing a mingling of parts of dead human body to life, might be something technology will let us accomplish in (many) years to come.

Regardless of the fact it is something I do not approve (reanimation dead bodies, not technological progress), we cannot deny technology is growing by leaps and bounds day by day. In my view, the chances the future generations will be able to bring something to life are pretty high. Thinking that nowadays we are able "create" own child by selecting the sex, hair colour and so on and so forth , which I deem extremely sorrowful, might make us realise how what seems out of reach, can actually be accomplished.

The adaptation I have decided to compare the novel to is the parody "Young Frankenstein" by Mel Brooks, released in 1974.

The amount of striking differences is increased by the fact it is a parody, which makes it nothing but hilarious.

First of all, the main character is Fredrick Frankenstein, the doctor's grandson, and what he aims to do is changing his surname, but quits doing it when he inherits the grandfather's castle.

In both movie and novel, the monster is loved by his owner and creator, but in the adaptation, the main character tells everyone about what he has done, whereas in the book dr. Frankenstein keeps his mouth shut.

In both cases the creatures face many problems with the interaction with people and therefore with society, that reject them; in the novel, the monster faces society by himself, whereas in the book it is left alone and lives his life on his own.

Despite the differences, there are some similarities between the two versions, but there are not many: in both cases, the doctor brings something back to life and the monster feels rejected and realises how his life is going to be, since he is not a human and society does not accept him for what he is. This is briefly what has not been changed by Mel Brooks, the directior of the 1974 version.

The soundtrack is spooky, creepy and gloomy, as it is meant to be before of the covered topics.

The story is set in Transylvania, whereas in the book we can read Frankenstein has travelled all around Europe, from Scotland to Russia, passing through London, The Netherlands, Italy, where he was born, Germany, where he had studied and Paris.

Overall, the adaptation is not faithful to the original version, but I reckon that it is what the director wanted, otherwise he would not have opted for a comedy, but a tragedy, as the novel is.

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