Horror! Horror! Shudder! Shudder! And More!

I don’t know why I get involved in all this sort of things and again I have Stefanie to thank for this! But now that I have decided that I will do, do it I will….

What am I talking about? I am talking about RIP 2013

The idea is to read any of 4 books belonging to any of the following genre between September –October 2013

  • Mystery
  • Suspense
  • Thriller
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Gothic
  • Horror
  • Supernatural

And though, Fall does seem really far away in this sweltering heat and humidity (remember I am a winter person!) one cannot deny the fun factor of the whole thing – a gothic tale when its dark and stormy and something eerie hangs in the air – here goes my list (like always I wanted to read it all and had incredible trouble in confining myself to 4!)

  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe – My favorite author (Jane Austen naturally!!! Northanger Abbey draws its inspiration from this book!) was a devotee of Ms Radcliffe and it’s only fitting that when I attempt something Gothic, Udolpho should take the center stage. I have always meant to read this book and what better time than now to start the journey!
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – What can I say about this book that has not already been said/written. While I never could relate to all the fury and madness of Heathcliff, I have not read this book in a decade and in a decade I have grown (besides horizontally and vertically!) tolerant and wiser (hopefully!). So this is a good time as any to revisit the book.
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – Another book which I read as a teen and for a change liked and wanted to revisit again as an adult. I have a sneaking suspicion, that behind all the dark mystery and scare, there is at the very heart of the book a simple morality tale. But this is from remeberances and I could be completely off; so time to re-read again!
  • The Hound of Baskervilles by Author Conan Doyle – There is no way on earth; I would have participated in a reading event of this genre and not read at least one work by the great master of Crime and mystery himself. I love ALL Sherlock Holmes and this one is an all-time best! I know it’s a cliché but how can one attempt without the most successful l fiction detectives by one’s side!

So that’s my reading plan – it’s not all creepy and crawly; can’t do much creepy and crawly especially since my flatmate will be travelling for two weeks starting September 07 and I have to come back to huge rambling apartment in the middle of relatively secluded valley! Anyway, I don’t think I will read any of these works until she is back!

Yes! I know I am faint hearted and no it does not win anybody Prince Charming (Don’t need one…got Mr Soulmate who can be very charming if he wants though its subject to “wants” and is no Prince!) But I will not read any of this until my roomie is back! So there and do not hold your breath until like the 4th week of September!

P.S. Somewhere among all of this I have to read Middlemarch as part of September October Classic Club Spin!

Satire be my song….List of 10 best satires from all times

In the words of Lord Byron, I believe and am strongly of the opinion that satires are perhaps the best social commentary of any time besides being from a literary perspective, one the best reads. I know Anthony Trollope had argued that a satirist should write only little otherwise people will believe that his/her words are a reflection of his own caustic nature, but I do not think satirists are inhuman. True, the do derive a lot pleasure from the various follies of mankind, which they pass on to others through their writing. But they never laugh at what is wise or good; if certain actions of mankind were not contemptible, well, we would need satirists.

In this post I would like to list my all-time favourite satires, some of which I believe had brought significant change in their own times. They are listed per the year of publication and are in no way reflective of any order of preference –

  1. The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes (1605 and 1615): The adventures of Alonso Quijano and Sancho Panza as they set off for knightly adventures and castles and beautiful ladies exposes the fallacy of chivalric romance and knightly virtues.
  2. Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, by Jonathan Swift (1726): The immortal classic, often handed down in illustrated and abridged version to  children is perhaps one of the best takes on the machinations of the “democratic Westphalia governments” and the corruption within mankind.
  3. An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews by Henry Fielding (1741): Hitting out at the moralizing Pamela by Samuel Richardson, Fielding unveils a heroine who has no morals and will do anything to entrap her master into marriage.
  4. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (1759) :Tristram Shandy’s so called narration of his life where he does anything but narrate about his life. Sterne made several digs at the then popular “sermon writings” which were actually considered by many as only gentle and acceptable reading material; especially Robert Burton’s “The Anatomy of Melancholy” from which Sterne even satirized his chapter titles!
  5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin (1803): Gothic romances will never be the same again! At a time when every girl including Austin herself swore by the writings of Ann Radcliffe, Catherine Morland’s adventures within the Abbey expose the very ludicrousness of such genre of writing.
  6. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh (1928): Waugh takes on the “roaring twenties “ and splits it wide open in this social satire as his protagonist is expelled from Oxford and takes up a teaching job , gets engaged and imprisoned, only to come back from where he started at Oxford
  7. Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (1938): Fleet Street and dramatic journalism gets a whole new twist in Waugh’s novel as we follow William Boot through his travels and travails in Ishmaelia and the underlying theme that when media descends on a place, even if nothing is new worthy, something has to happen!
  8. Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945): Communism and Stalin’s government is satirised in an Animal Farm run by a committee of Pigs with Napoleon their leader resembling the Soviet Dictator.
  9. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (1961): What can one say about this classic ……its lines are immortal “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to.” World War II and the questions of heroism are unremittingly taken apart and re –examined in this masterpiece.
  10. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966): Though written in 1940, the complete unedited version was only published in 1973, more than 33 years after Bulgakov’s death. The book is unremitting take on the bureaucratic and red taped system of Soviet society under the Communist regime. In parallel it also works through an allegorical allusion of sensuality without feeling through the character of Nikolai Ivanovich

Please feel free to add any work that I have left out or you feel has far more impact than the ones listed.