December 23, 2012

Costumes in Twelfth Night

Costumes play a very important role in Twelfth Night, so this month's play meme fits perfectly! As I remember watching only one adaptation of the play (but many times!), I'll take illustrations from it. And the adaptation I'm speaking about is Russian 1955 film "Twelfth Night". I like it a lot, because the cast is perfect, and they are all very good actors. Costumes are also very well chosen, you'll see!

Viola & her twin brother Sebastian

Viola is pretending to be a man, and so she dresses accordingly:

No wonder breasts are completely invisible under such a thick velvet! And men's haircuts are just perfect for a woman to imitate!

She also behaves like a proper guy:

But when she looks at her love, Orsino, her disguise is completely useless! Look at those eyes!

And that's she in a dress, in the very end:


By Maria's trick poor Malvolio is made to believe that his mistress, Olivia, is in love with him. And he thinks that to show her that he shares her feelings, he has to wear yellow stockings and cross garters:

 Cute, eh? =)


The clown usually looks like this:

but for the practical joke they played with Malvolio he had to dress as a monk:


For other characters costumes are not so important, so here are just a few pictures:

Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Olivia's suitor

And that's the whole merry company together.

Antonio, a captain and friend to Sebastian.

Preparing for a duel =)

Olivia in mourning. I love her dress!
So that's pretty much everything about the costumes in this wonderful adaptation of Twelfth Night. I hope I made you wish to watch it, but even if not - just enjoy the nice costumes! =)

Twelfth Night, or What You Will by William Shakespeare

Twelfth Night was the first of Shakespeare's comedies I've actually read, though of course I've seen a lot of adaptations of them. The experience was very different than that of reading a tragedy. There are a lot if puns and practical jokes in it and the focus is really not on the love story. Actually, I felt a bit deprived of the romantic details. I also found it a bit difficult to follow the half-drunken jokes in some of the dialogues. Maybe it's my English, maybe they are really old, or maybe I should have tried better? But it's a light book, and you don't want to linger on passages at all, so I must confess I might have missed something.

A plot is very classical and potent - a girl, Viola, is dressed as a boy for safety in an unknown country and has to help her master, Orsino, with his unfortunate love to another woman, Olivia. Needless to say, Olivia falls in love with Viola, thinking she's a man, and thus there are some funny situations. Should I mention that Viola has a twin brother, who she thinks has drowned in a ship wreck that she herself survived, but who hasn't? =) Or that everything ends well?

Besides the main plot line there is a lot of action for the servants. They are responsible for the most comical situations in the play, which involve fake love letter, dressing the clown as a monk and a lot of drinking on the part of Toby Belch. Among the servants Maria is my favourite. She is a very prototypical "cunning maid", but she is not spiteful, she rather tries to amuse her fellow servants with her pranks.

Overall, it's a very fast-moving and pleasant read, but I must say I'd rather watch it on stage - I think it would be more lively with the addition of proper acting. I have a suspicion that a play was written for specific actors, which is quite probable, if we remember a bit of Shakespeare's history. I'll leave you with the picture from my favourite adaptation of the play - Russian 1955 film "Twelfth Night":

And that's happy end, of course! =)

December 22, 2012

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Today Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat is hosting a readalong of A Christmas Carol, and everybody is asked to answer the following questions:

Is this the first time you are reading the story?
Yes. I've seen some adaptation many years ago, but I remembered only the main idea.

Did you like it?
It is well written (it's Dickens!), so I quite enjoyed the language. I also liked the descriptions of the Christmas mood in the city. However, there is too much moral there to my taste.

Which was your favorite scene?
I'd say that the one I liked most was when all the Scrooge's favorite book characters appeared. For me too books were very real in my childhood, so I quite understand why these characters are an important part of his memories.

Which was your least favorite scene?
The scene with the charity collectors. They ask Scrooge for money for the poor, and he tells them it's none of his business. To tell you the truth, that's exactly my position in this question. I pay taxes, so why should I give even more money to the poor? But in the book it was put as a very mean point of view, and I felt a bit uncomfortable about it. Although it didn't make me change my mind, of course. Everybody in the modern world should mind his own business - government takes care of the poor, and we give government money for it. I wish it worked!

Which spirit and his stories did you find the most interesting?
The spirit of the Christmas Past, of course! His light and its extinguishing make a good metaphor.

Was there a character you wish you knew more about?
I wish I knew more about Scrooge's ex-love. She seems an interesting and strong woman and would make a good heroine!

How did you like the end?
It's Christmasy and nice.

Did you think it was believable?
I find it hard to believe Scrooge changed so fast. Even when travelling with the second ghost he understood it was for his own good. Not very stubbornly, eh?

Do you know anyone like Scrooge?
Well, not really. Of course there are people who share a trait or two with him, but I can't say I know them well. But... he is not supposed to be real, it's a fairy tale anyway.

Did he deserve to be saved?
Everybody deserves a chance to be saved. And he was really eager to change after the "three-ghost show", so he is a good choice for being saved =)

Merry Christmas to everybody!

December 20, 2012

Brief news and plans

I haven't been here for some time, and there were reasons for it. First, it was the end of the semester, and you know what that means =) Then, my notebook got broken, the keyboard didn't work, and it felt very stupid to write on a separate keyboard. And finally, I came home for Christmas (it is not celebrated here, but I do not choose time for holidays) and I've been spending a lot of time with my family and my boyfriend.

This doesn't mean I haven't been reading, however. I've finished 3 books during this crazy period, and as I'm in no mood to write proper reviews, I'll just make a short summary here.

1. Hotel by Arthur Hailey
This I didn't like at all. I started it as a light reading to help me relax during the end of the semester, but I was disappointed. I remember how gripping was Hailey's Airport, I just couldn't put it down, but in Hotel the focus is too much on the descriptions of how it all works in a hotel, characters' stories all seem too tragic to be real and the love line is uncertain and unconvincing. So I dragged through the book for more than a week and didn't really enjoy it. What surprised me in the book is the segregation. Were African Americans really refused rooms in certain hotels even in 1965? Terrible.

2. The Stranger by Max Frei
My second attempt to relax was far more successful, which was quite predictable, as this book was a re-read, and not the first one. I'm not sure if this book is known outside Russia, but if it's not, it should be. Seriously, it's the coziest book ever! It is a mystery/fantasy/detective novel set in a small dream-town, where the hero comes from our world to work as a Night Face of the Chief Detective of the Secret Police (in my own poor translation). All the characters are cute and funny, and everything ends well after a lot of curious magic, and everybody chew something all the time =) This book has a bit of philosophy in it, and the detective part is very interesting too. This book always brings me in an optimistic mood, so I return to it from time to time, and I highly recommend it to everybody!

3. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
I'll write a proper review later, as it is in my Let's read Plays and The Classics Club lists. But briefly - quite an enjoyable comedy!

About some events I am participating (or am supposed to participate =) ) now:

1. Dickens in December is in full swing now, but I'm only 1/4 through my first (and I guess the only) novel, The Old Curiosity Shop. Too many distractions around! Tomorrow will be A Christmas Carol read-along, and I hope I'll be able to participate!

2. Moby Dick Big Read is not going quite as planned, I'm now ~25 chapters behind, as I was concentrating on other books. But I'm planning to update myself before New Year, and I will!

3. The The Hobbit  Read-along is the only thing I'm keeping on with. Maybe it's the book, and maybe it's lively discussions.... Anyway, it just perfectly slow for my suddenly-so-crazy life!

So that's pretty much everything, and I hope you'll see more of me soon =)

December 7, 2012

Team 1001 Introductory Post

Beginning from 17.09.14 all the challenge updates are moved to a SEPARATE PAGE

Great news! Rachel at Resistance is futile is gathering a team for a long-lasting project of reading books from  the 1001 list! She plans to link all the members' reviews to the list and make quarterly update memes. You can read the rules and join here.

Now, I've been interested in the list for quite some time, and I'm keeping my own list here. So I think that to create a group for this is a great idea!

I'll use this post as a master and link my reviews (or something) here, bit I'll still keep the list at Google Drive, as it is very convenient.

The books I've read so far:
  1. Aesop's Fables - Aesop (c.4th BC)
  2. The Golden Ass - Apuleius (c.260)
  3. The Thousand And One Nights - Anonymous (c.850)
  4. The Tale Of The Bamboo Cutter - Anonymous (c.900)
  5. The Tale Of Genji - Murasaki Shikibu (c.1000)
  6. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe (1719)
  7. Candide - Voltaire (1759)
  8. The Castle Of Otranto - Horace Walpole (1765)
  9. The Sorrows Of Young Werther - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1774)
  10. Dangerous Liaisons - Pierre Choderlos De Laclos (1782)
  11. The Mysteries Of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe (1794)
  12. Sense And Sensibility - Jane Austen (1811)
  13. Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen (1813)
  14. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen (1814)
  15. Persuasion - Jane Austen (1818)
  16. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen (1818)
  17. Frankenstein - Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1818)
  18. The Life And Opinions Of The Tomcat Murr - E T A Hoffmann (1820)
  19. Ivanhoe - Sir Walter Scott (1820)
  20. The Red And The Black - Stendhal (1831)
  21. The Hunchback Of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo (1831)
  22. Eugene Onegin - Alexander Pushkin (1833)
  23. Eugenie Grandet - Honore De Balzac (1834)
  24. Le Pere Goriot - Honore De Balzac (1834-5)
  25. The Nose - Nikolay Gogol (1836)
  26. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (1838)
  27. The Fall Of The House of Usher - Edgar Allan Poe (1839)
  28. The Charterhouse Of Parma - Stendhal (1839)
  29. A Hero Of Our Time - Mikhail Lermontov (1840)
  30. Dead Souls - Nikolay Gogol (1842)
  31. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (1843)
  32. The Pit And The Pendulum - Edgar Allan Poe (1843)
  33. The Purloined Letter - Edgar Allan Poe (1844)
  34. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (1844)
  35. The Count Of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (1845-6)
  36. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (1847)
  37. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (1847)
  38. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (1847)
  39. Moby Dick - Herman Melville (1851)
  40. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
  41. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (1857)
  42. Oblomovka - Ivan Goncharov (1859)
  43. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (1859)
  44. The Woman In White - Wilkie Collins (1860)
  45. On The Eve - Ivan Turgenev (1860)
  46. Fathers And Sons - Ivan Turgenev (1862)
  47. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (1865)
  48. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott (1868)
  49. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins (1868)
  50. The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky (1868-9)
  51. War And Peace - Leo Tolstoy (1869)
  52. Through The Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll (1871)
  53. Spring Torrents - Ivan Turgenev (1872)
  54. The Enchanted Wanderer - Nicolai Leskov (1873)
  55. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (1877)
  56. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)
  57. Bel-Ami - Guy De Maupassant (1885)
  58. The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain (1885)
  59. Germinal - Emile Zola (1885)
  60. Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
  61. The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
  62. The Master Of Ballantrae - Robert Louis Stevenson (1889)
  63. The Picture Of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde (1891)
  64. The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892)
  65. The Time Machine - H G Wells (1895)
  66. The Island Of Dr Moreau - H G Wells (1896)
  67. Dracula - Bram Stoker (1897)
  68. The Invisible Man - H G Wells (1897)
  69. The War Of The Worlds - H G Wells (1898)
  70. The Hound Of The Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  71. Call Of The Wild - Jack London (1903)
  72. The Forsythe Saga - John Galsworthy (1906)
  73. Death In Venice - Thomas Mann (1912)
  74. Crome Yellow - Aldous Huxley (1921)
  75. We - Yevgeny Zamiatin (1924)
  76. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
  77. Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf (1925)
  78. The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie (1926)
  79. To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (1927)
  80. Decline And Fall - Evelyn Waugh (1928)
  81. Lady Chatterley's Lover - D H Lawrence (1928)
  82. All Quiet On The Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque (1929)
  83. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (1932)
  84. Tender Is The Night - F Scott Fitzgerald (1934)
  85. Tropic Of Cancer - Henry Miller (1934)
  86. At The Mountains Of Madness - H P Lovecraft (1936)
  87. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (1936)
  88. The Hobbit - J R R Tolkein (1937)
  89. Chess Story (The Royal Game) - Stefan Zweig (1942)
  90. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1943)
  91. Ficciones - Jorge Luis Borges (1944)
  92. Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren (1944)
  93. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (1945)
  94. Titus Groan - Mervyn Peake (1946)
  95. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell (1949)
  96. I, Robot - Isaac Asimov (1950)
  97. The Catcher In The Rye - J D Salinger (1951)
  98. Foundation - Isaac Asimov (1951)
  99. The Old Man And The Sea - Ernest Hemingway (1952)
  100. Lord Of The Flies - William Golding (1954)
  101. The Lord Of The Rings - J R R Tolkein (1954-56)
  102. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
  103. Justine - Lawrence Durrell (1957)
  104. Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak (1957)
  105. On The Road - Jack Kerouac (1957)
  106. Homo Faber - Max Frisch (1957)
  107. The Once And Future King - T H White (1958)
  108. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee (1960)
  109. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess (1962)
  110. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest - Ken Kesey (1962)
  111. One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzheitsyn (1963)
  112. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut (1963)
  113. The Master And Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov (1967)
  114. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? - Philip K Dick (1968)
  115. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke (1968)
  116. Cancer Ward - Aleksandr Solzheitsyn (1968)
  117. The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles (1969)
  118. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr (1969)
  119. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams (1979)
  120. If On A Winter's Night A Traveller - Italo Calvino (1979)
  121. The Name Of The Rose - Umberto Eco (1980)
  122. Perfume - Patrick Suskind (1985)
  123. Beloved - Toni Morrison (1987)
  124. Disgrace - J M Coetzee (1999)
  125. Choke - Chuck Palahniuk (2001)

The books I tried but did not finish for various reasons:
  1. Romance Of The Three Kingdoms - Luo Guanzhong (c.1300)
  2. The Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan (1678-84)
  3. The 120 Days Of Sodom - Marquis de Sade (1785)
  4. Last Of The Mohicans - James Fenimore Cooper (1826)
  5. Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)

December 6, 2012

The Life And Opinions Of the Tomcat Murr by E. T. A. Hoffmann

Mystical German Romantism mixed with sharp social satire - that's what The Life And Opinions Of the Tomcat Murr is! The book consists of the memoirs of Murr himself, who used pages from another book (which happens to be about the life of his once-master, a musician and a kapellmeister) as a blotter and put them between the lists of his work. By the mistake of the publisher (from whom we get a lot of apologies about this in the beginning) the book was printed to include both the cat's memoirs and the blotter pages. That's why we really have two very differently written books in one here - romantic and satiric.

The satirical parts are written by Murr, a self-educated intelligent cat, who wants to preserve the story of his life as an admonition for the next generations. He describes his childhood, his growing passion for books and poetry, then his first love, family problems, his attempts to find his place in the higher society and his friendship with a poodle. He reasons about everything he experiences and pretty often puts himself as an example for everybody. He is very cute and human-like, and his parts are usually very funny.

The romantic parts are written by a biographist of Johann Kreisler, once a kapellmeister at court, a very sophisticated and talented musician. The action takes place in a small fictional German province, which formally doesn't have an king any more, but which citizens pretend that their king is still a real king, so they have a real court and real court intrigues. There is everything in this story - love, madness, an old crazy alchemist/scientist/magician/organ master, murders, refined feelings - everything. And the further you read the more you knew about all the complicated characters of this story and the better you see what is really happening there at the court.

The book is a patchwork of the two stories, each bit with no logical beginning or anding. So when you begin to read the book, it takes quite a while to understand who is who and what is happening, but when you are well into it, you can't put it down. The book is just fascinating ans it's definitely a masterpiece.

The Life And Opinions Of the Tomcat Murr is a book from my Classics Club list
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