The turn of the screw-Henry James

I vaguely remember a quote from a movie according to which (the quote, not the movie), “everything is Shakespeare,” meaning, presumably, that all life and all over the world are collected in the work of Shakespeare. Well, I do not know if “everything is The Turn of the Screw” because it contains all in itself and also the potential to lead to all, because, apparently, all kinds of interpretations, allegories, symbolism and exegesis can and do have place in this classic novel by Henry James. A plunge into the network gives an idea of the amount of theories, theses, and entire books that have been written trying to explain what James meant when he wrote his book, a book with the capacity to obsess anyone, it’s enough with having a mind slightly analytical and insatiable quest for answers.

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In effect, according to Google, The turn of the screw  is or can be, without the order affects the importance, a ghost story, a story about madness and hysteria, an allegory against sexual repression, an allegory about latent homosexuality of Henry James, a precursor of the exorcist, a reinterpretation and re-narration of the biblical story of Genesis and the garden of Eden … and I stop here because continue enumerating similarities would occupy the best part of this review.

Now then, it’s time to go to the novel synopsis.

The narration of this classic starts in a conventional manner: a group of friends share ghost stories around the fire on Christmas night. One of them will tell the story of a young and inexperienced governess who agreed to take over two children, Miles and Flora, in a remote mansion in the English countryside. When arriving at the house, the young woman will feel overcome with a feeling of uneasiness and the disquieting feeling that an evil presence lurks the children to corrupt them. The protagonist will feel increasingly anxious, trapped in a struggle that seems unreal.

 

The turn of the screw is unanimously regarded as a masterpiece of Gothic literature; It is one of the most famous ghost stories of world literature and one of the most chillingly ambiguous. A subtle exploration of the very fertile  Victorian topic: the Haunted House, in which also resonate social and sexual malaise of the era.

The Turn of the Screw is a work whose ambiguity -magistral achievement of James, not only in this work-  gives room to misunderstanding and uncertainty-and to the inability of the reader to unravel that lack of definition- on the moral quality of our characters, all characters. It is stated in such-and-such that is noble, angelic, full of goodness, but none of the dialogues allows us to see it clearly; it is possible that we intuit another personality, more contemporary, grayer, but, again, we have no evidence to underpin it. Another character seems harmless typical bit player, “Sancho-Panzesque”, but may actually be crafty and hypocritical. Lucidity and courage may be such, or perhaps gallantry is the mask they want to show us of a crazy with hints of sanity face, that runs the worst atrocities.

It has been written a lot about what Henry James meant with his novel too, but it would be better to write about what the text really means; leaving aside the possible implications, possible unprovable parables, and focus more on the richness of language, in the length of sentences, in the infinite expressive resources in the fineness of characterization, which is perhaps a non- characterization that puts the reader in front of the master portrait: a blank sheet only slightly smudged with an equivocal figure.

Doesn’t it seem to be a bit of a mess?  If so…  it’s time to challenge your mind and interpretation method by reading it.

 

 

 

Journey to the center of the earth-Jules Verne

 

In Königstrasse, a small town in Germany, lives Professor Otto Lidenbrock, a great scientific, specialist in mineralogy and in all sciences in general. He and his nephew Axel share adventures and teachings among many things and maintain a very good relationship.

 

One day, the teacher, came very unsettled from a library. The reason for such nervousness was the museum piece he found in it. It was a work of incalculable value, from which a very old parchment written with strange letters and unknown to Lidenbrock slid.

 

Uncle and nephew joined their minds to discover their meaning. After a few days they felt a great joy; that piece of paper described the steps to be followed to reach the center of the Earth.

 

Since then they planned the march. After having it all prepared, they paid a guide named Hans who accompanied them throughout the journey and began their great adventure.

It took several days until they reached the crater of Sneffels volcano, which should lead them to the biggest satisfaction.

 

The trip seemed to pass without any problems until they found that the water reserves that were available were insufficient, but eventually found a stream.

 

Axel was tired of the trip, he felt weak and insecure, wanted to go home. Between thoughts and dreams, he did not realize he had separated from the group. He didn’t find them, he had lost under tons of rock and earth. When desperation was insuperable his uncle and Hans found him. They felt very happy, but, despite what happened, the teacher decided to continue the journey.

After spending days and days immersed in the deepest routine and monotony of the landscape, they reached a large vault formed by large clouds and shifting vapors. It rose above a lake. They watched the wonder around them. They discovered ancient animals, some of supernatural size and strange appearance.

 

When they realized they did not advance by walking along the coast, they built a raft and decided to go through the dark lake, where they were involved in a big storm. Unaware and due to the lightnings and rain  they had returned to the starting point. The teacher was very discouraged, but continued to investigate.

 

In a high, lush and thick trees they found bones of antediluvian animals, strange giants and some human skulls, which obviously represented a unique discovery of incalculable importance.

During the walk they saw a closed gallery. They decided to blew it up from the raft with dynamite to try to get through. After the subsequent explosion, they began to rise and rise pushed by a hot water source which came with the  volcanic eruption they caused.

 

When they awoke they were in the Stromboli volcano. They had traveled underground half the world.

 

Upon reaching his town and telling  the experience, his name echoed throughout the world. They did not know exactly how far they had got, but they felt very proud.

 

In spite of it all, Otto Lidenbrock was not satisfied because he didn’t still know what had made them get back to the starting point at the crossing of the lake. And he didn’t fully enjoyed his success until Axel told him that the compass bartered during the storm.

 

The teacher was considered a wise man and got various positions of honor, although his true happiness laid on the Journey to the Center of the Earth.

 

Before this book, I hadn’t had a chance to read something of Jules Verne. So I decided to buy one of his books, and why not to start with something light like this one?.

 

A book with an extraordinary adventure, an interesting  story that can catch from children to old people, no matter who you are, once you have this book in your hands and have read its first page, you won’t want to close it till the end.

 

Five week sina balloon-Jules Verne

The ambition to fly, the old dream of man was made a reality. So Jules Verne a tireless literary traveler, could not leave aside the fact of writing this book, one of the most perfect of all his productions. Along the Journey to the Moon, the Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the Journey to the Center of the Earth, Verne performs here the “journey on earth” in a bird’s eye view. What we see, in his company, is a detailed description of the heart of Africa, within an expedition to measure the meridian. Verne continues here with his personal formula, combining scientific disclosure and his passion for adventure fiction.

Published in 1863, Five Weeks in a Balloon was the first successful novel written by the French Jules Verne, master of anticipation and father of a popular modern literary genre: science fiction.

The plot of this story begins in the mid-nineteenth century when a wise eccentric English explorer named Samuel Fergusson decides to cross the African continent accompanied by his faithful servant Joe and his friend Dick Kennedy.

Although the mere fact of crossing the continent can be considered as a great adventure, because by then the African territory was known only fractionally, the most striking part of the expedition is that will be done by traveling on board the “Victoria”, a hot air balloon that Samuel modified with a device of his own invention that allows you to raise and lower the balloon without dropping or losing ballast gas.

Starting with the team from the UK and after a quiet sea voyage aboard the ship “Resolute”, the protagonists of this story begin their air travel from the island of Zanzibar (Tanzania) with the intention of crossing Africa from east to west.

As you would expect in a novel by Jules Verne, during the five weeks of the journey the protagonists will be involved in many adventures. Even before starting the flight itself suffer an attack of the natives, which is finally driven away by the ship’s crew.

Likewise they also traverse a vast territory towed by an elephant which unintentionally entangles the anchor cable, they rescue from martyrdom a missionary and suffer more attacks from natives that eventually cause serious damages to the balloon, but they happily achieved to fix it together again, though they made so considerable modifications that they decide to call it “New Victory”.

Nevertheless, after several days of not knowing the whereabouts of the expeditionaries, several British ships begin their quest, finding only remains of the balloon, which seems to have suffered a new and fatal accident. Strangely, they did not find the body of any of the adventurers, and although the rescue team obviously get dismayed, they give up the idea of finding them alive.

Finally, on May 1st, 1862 the three protagonists manage to achieve a fort of the French Legion where they are greeted as heroes.

The book is partly inspired by the bold African explorations conducted at the time by British, French, German and Italian people with the same intention pursued by the protagonist, Dr. Fergusson. However, we must not separate from such motivating reason, the Jules Verne enthusiasm for the conquest of the sky by balloons; A few years before he had met the adventurer and photographer Nadar, who from 1856 took aerial photos aboard the balloon Geant. Verne found the possibility of exploratory trips with this medium, anticipating, for example, the bold and miserable trip explorer and Swedish engineer  Salomon August Andrée, who died in 1897 in an attempt to reach the North Pole in a hot air balloon.

A book full of a piece of the fantastic reality that we can find in our world.

Alehop by Jose Antonio Fortuny

I’ve decided to write about a novel of which I’ve not still seen an english edition yet. I had the fortune of reading it in spanish and must confess that I fell in love with it.

A work of very black humor, anxiously funny, witty, intelligent and very current. For me, an original tragicomedy. Yes.  And, the thing is that in this novel, Fortuny tells a story with a sad undercurrent even if it is told with humor.

In Alehop the author tells us, with a worldly language but very, very, carefully, two stories that, at the beginning, have nothing to do with each other: on the one hand, the “casual” arrival of a  circus at a town of which we know nothing ( name or location); and on the other hand, the domestic situation in which an elderly couple who belong to the same place are: the woman can not get out of bed and her husband can not help her do it due to health reasons. However, although these  seem to be completely opposed and different events, run in parallel throughout the entire novel… but how? if I say that the mayor of this town makes the nexus between them,  does it serve as a clue?

With a smile on your face you read (if not devour) a tender, heartwarming story, and also a great social criticism, in which neither advertising nor politicians nor the media (inert protagonists along with health, money and love) get out of it unscathed, why? because it shows us the dark side, the dark side of each of them.

For example, did you noticed how politicians give us jellybeans for we are content and we forget the real important happenings? didn’t you? I do not think so! hehe… or have you seen how some journalists (without thinking of anyone or generalize, not all of them are the same) take advantage of the misfortune of others to benefit themselves? No?, or how brands or entrepreneurs create in you needs for products or services you could perfectly manage without before? Well… this all is what Alehop is about.

After having said that, I guess and hope you’ll have aroused a little curiosity and you might be wondering who their characters are, right? (Or at least I hope so …). Well, it is a choral novel in which we find foremost five characters: the old couple, the town mayor, the circus manager and the journalist, highlighting among these husband and wife. Among these characters a struggle (directly or indirectly) of power,  conveniences and survival is started, the main one, being established between the elderly couple and circus manager to obtain the care of the mayor. Meanwhile, the reporter also has to fight his own battles, including measure how much his dignity is worth.

As you see, maybe it’s not a story that we ignore or find new, but  is certainly a good slap for, even occasionally, open our eyes and stop with the purpose of thinking beyond our day to day, the rush and pending tasks, and also to make us forget the sedative * and think for ourselves.

And I must really tell that it was one of  my favorite reads of 2015.

I assure you it is not easy to make a social criticism so fierce at the same time that you manage to get a smile from the reader, and in this story Fortuny gets it, chapter by chapter he achieves everything fits, he makes believable the unbelievable. As usual , literature in the service of life and life surpassing reality. Today that we live in hard times economically, where we see how this XXI Century  is slowly getting transformed into XIX one,  we must consider readings as Alehop! In order not to live so apart from reality…

A hundred years of solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

After murdering his child’s godfather, Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iguaran  leave their village with several of their neighbors to found what would later be called Macondo. It consisted of 20 houses built  with reed and mud built on the banks of clear water. The Buendia family feared the appearance of  pigtailed child in one of their generations, product of incestuous relationships.

 

At the founding of the town, many things were unknown, even the most basic ones. Every year in the month of March a family of gypsies set up their tents near the village, and with great uproar of whistles and kettledrums they displayed the new inventions. First they brought the magnet. The boss was a heavy gypsy with an untamed beard and sparrow hands, who introduced himself with the name of Melquiades.

 

The union between José Arcadio and Ursula brought  4 children to the family: José Arcadio, Amaranta, Aureliano and Rebecca (who was adopted).

Rebeca and Amaranta were in love with the same man: Pietro Crespo, but he prefered to Rebecca, this makes Amaranta wish her sister’s death until she finally dies and then Rebeca feels guilty. Some time later  Rebecca realizes that Pietro was not her true love, so she falls in love with Jose Arcadio, her step brother. They married and moved to a small house next to the cemetery. Later, José Arcadio dies mysteriously and so does Rebecca soon after.

 

Aureliano had 17 children with 17 different women, but all his kids died mysteriously in their baptism as soon as the cross was drawn in the forehead of each of them. Then he married a woman named Remedios, with which he had 2 brown children who are José Arcadio and Aurelio. These two brothers had very similar characteristics as they exchanged their clothes and had the ability to do the same with their personalities and that made them able to fool many people including their parents, but the only woman who could recognize them was Ursula, their grandmother.

 

In March the following year the gypsies came back, this time they brought a telescope and a magnifying glass of the size of a drum. José Arcadio had not yet finished consoling himself for the failure of the magnets, so he decided to change them for the new objects,  giving the gypsies the magnets with gold coins that Ursula had and that she was saving for a special occasion. José Arcadio thought he could use the magnifying glass as a weapon but did a trial with his arm and he got burns and ulcers that took long to heal.

 

Melquiades dies and returns from the dead to show the Buendia family some scrolls with the history of macondo written 100 years ago by Melquiades himself. Then, he advertises the family about  a  birth of a child with pigtail and Macondo dissolved in a cloud of dust that will make him disappear.

 

During the novel is observed with special attention the so-called “false progress stage”, where a banana industry is created to attract foreigners to Macondo to implement several projects, including the development of a railway. At the end of many stumbles and negotiations all it fails and then begins a rain that lasts 4 years, 11 months and 2 days. Then another stage appears where people kept into their homes without getting out of them and started to forget all around them, even the name of the objects that they usually pointed at.

 

Finally Aureliano Buendia and Amaranta Ursula Buendia beget a pigtailed child that at being eaten by ants ends with the lineage of the Buendia family.

 

This is, by far, one of the best book that will never ever be easy to compete with. A deserved Nobel award was given to García Márquez, its author, a Colombian man who, with this masterpiece, taught a lot of us how to correctly use our imagination beyond than usual.

 

I can even tell that, for sure, I didn’t mention even an eighth of the happenings that this awesome story involves, well… I really want you to take your own time to fly while reading the original text as I did.

 

Stephen King 22/11/63

Stephen King

On November 22, 1963 three shots were heard in Dallas. President  John F. Kennedy died, and the world changed. What would you do if you could avoid it ?.

 

In this brilliant novel, Stephen King accompanies the reader on a wonderful trip to the past in an attempt to change what happened. For almost 900 pages he offers us an impeccable social, political and cultural portrait of the end of the 50s and early 60s; a world marked by huge cars, Elvis Presley and cigarette smoke floating everywhere …

 

Everything starts with Jake Epping, a teacher of english at the Institute of Lisbon Falls, Maine, which earns an extra salary with evening classes for adults.

 

One day, he asked his students to write about an event that had changed their lives, and one of those essays got to impact him deeply: the bloody story relates the way how one night, fifty years ago, the father of Harry Dunning returned home drunk to kill his mother, brother and sister with a hammer, Harry managed to save.

 

At reading this writing, something immediately changes in Jake; his life, just like that day in Dallas in 1963, changed completely in just a moment. Shortly after his friend Al, who owned a dinner in his neighborhood, revealed a big secret to him: in the warehouse there is a door leading to the past, to a particular day of the year 1958.

 

Al asks Jake to help him with a mission that obsesses him: to prevent the Kennedy assassination. Jake get moved to 1958 to start a new life with a new identity (George Amberson) and to wait for the year of the murder, in a very different world.

 

He returns to the era of Elvis Presley and Cadillacs, unavoidably falls in love with the beautiful librarian Sadie Dunhill, seeks to Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged murderer of Kennedy, and the family of his student Harry Dunning to avoid such  tragediy.

 

Jake knows that when he returns to the real actual time only two minutes will have passed in their world, but a big wonder invades your and his mind: what other changes have caused his actions in the actual future? And how  will he leave behind in the past to the woman he now loves?

 

In my personal opinion, this is one of those books that have it all, it is King in the purest expression, because although many people do not believe, Stephen King is not only the author of horror novels (amazing these too), but much more. A sublime recreation of the era of the late 50s – early 60s is carried out with rigorous subtlety and detail. A well-documented text, which has a very interesting historical part around one of the events with perhaps more historical significance: the Kennedy assassination and the life of Harvey Oswald. A plot and characters that engage you in the story and that make grow fond of them in you  from the very first minute. A story that grabs you with time travels, love, signs of his other novels (that Derry decaying absolutely teleports us to “it”) … Finally it has everything a good reader may ask a good book, and the thing is that with this work, King has the great ability to catch the reader from the first page and achieve not to make you want to release it until page 900 (yes, 900 pages but should not this be a factor that frightens or discourage anyone, as they fly by and from experience, I can assure you that you still keep wanting more). Even the end, it being bittersweet, is a beautiful one. For me, a book of grade 10, for the only fault of not being able to give it an 11.