Archive for the ‘literature’ Category

Adaptation & Appropriation

May 4, 2008

Gerard Gennette once said everyone who truly loves books must hope at sometime to love two at once, or something like that [actual quote pending – where is that book?]. This love for two texts is a love I hope to instill in the hearts of my extension English class as we study adaptation and appropriation this term. So far I have a short list of possible texts for study, however, I know there are so many more out there and I know you know of them. So I’m making a list and am asking you to help me add to it. So far I have the following:


The Taming of the Shrew – Shakespeare

& 10 Things I Hate About You


The Odyssey – Homer

&  O Brother, Where Art Thou? 


Lady Windermere’s Fan – Oscar Wilde

& A Good Woman


Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

& Bride & Prejudice

or Bridget Jones’ Diary (Which I hate and thus want to ban from my list. Blah!)


Twelfth Night – Shakespeare

& She’s the Man


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne

& Tristram Shandy


Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson

& Bridge to Terabithia 

My list contains mostly appropriations because that is what I like best, however, it would be good to have some adaptations on the list as well like, well anything Jane Austen that has then been done by the bbc. Adaptations are interesting because often tiny changes are made to the text to make it relevant for contemporary audiences even though a fairly ‘true to text’ approach is taken. For example, did anyone notice how the teacher in Bridge to Terabithia makes reference to the internet even though the movie is set in the 1970s and this reference, as well as being anachronistic didn’t appear in the original text?
I plan on teaching adaptation and appropriation as a continuum and proposing a range of texts along this continuum for the students to choose from. We will then focus our studies on how changes have been made from the original text and what these changes say about context, audience, worldviews and values.
SO, I’m wondering if you can help me add to this list? What are your favourite adaptations and appropriations of texts? What do you like about them?

An Artful Disorder: Symmetry is for Faces not Vases!

April 18, 2008

As I was arranging a bunch of flowers tonight, the following passage came to mind:

There was really no point trying to arrange wild flowers. They had tumbled into their own symmetry, and it was certainly true that too even a distribution between the irises and the rose-bay willow-herb ruined the effect. She made some minutes making adjustments in order to achieve a natural chaotic look. While she did so she wondered about going out to Robbie.

These are the thoughts of Cecilia in Atonement, a beautifully written novel – which has also been adapted into a gorgeous film, as you probably know – by Ian McEwan. A novel overflowing with evocative description and vivid characterisation.

As I arranged my flowers I thought of symmetry, life past and future, that which is determined and a man I long to see. I thought of my life. My day. My tomorrow.

Like Cecilia, I have never liked symmetry – except for in a face. It’s far too ordered, predictable and balanced. It’s so balanced it makes me feel…well, unbalanced. If I see something symmetrical I have to fight the strongest urge not to rearrange it. Unless it is a bunch of flowers, then nothing can hold me back!

The flowers fell into a unsettling symmetry before me tonight and as I swiftly rearranged them I wondered at my abhorrence of that which is uniform because, you know, it extends to more than just floral arrangements. I have a terrible feeling that the way I like my flowers indicates some deeper darker truth about who I am, what I think and how I want to live: I think I’m pretty much inherently rebellious. But for now all I want to say is, Cecilia is right: symmetry is for faces not vases. What do you think?

Btw, have you read Atonement?! Every word is soooo very delicious!

Oh! How I could fly on the viewless wings of Poesy!!!

November 20, 2007

I have just been allocated an Extension English class for next year! Wooo!!!
I get to teach solid texts from the canon and I’m very excited about it.

My first task is to choose a theme or a character that has been represented in literature throughout the centuries. I have a few ideas. For example we could study ‘Heroes’ and look at Beowulf, The Odyssey, Ulysses as represented by Joyce in Ulysses and then I would need some contemporary texts including poetry and film. Or a closely related theme we could study could be ideas of ‘Saviours’ in literature throughout history. Or we could study the theme of ‘Redemption’ and look at Cry, the Beloved Country

Ooooh! There are so many good options my mind is all a flutter! What theme would you study – either one of mine or of your own invention – and which film, poetry and fiction texts would you choose?

A Thousand Splendid Books

November 4, 2007

Well, that’s how many I hope to be reading anyway.

I have joined a book club! Hoooray!!! I’m very excited about this because the club that I have joined freely acknowledges, nay, embraces the fact that many of its members have children who love to read and be read to as well and has freely included them in the literary leisure. Usually the members of the club will choose two books to read over a two month period and will then meet to discuss them on a Saturday night at some appointed time. This time the book club has decided to choose a book that will interest parents and children as well as a grown-up option. The books they have chosen are Dragonkeeper and A Thousand Splendid Suns. At our next meeting – which will be my first – we plan to discuss Dragonkeeper with our children – who have read it with us- and then send them off to watch the movie version of the book while we discuss A Thousand Splendid Suns. How fantastic is that?!! Discussing books with children and grown-ups!!! I love it!!!

I bought A Thousand Splendid Suns yesterday and am already half way through. It is not becoming one of my favourite books, however, I am drawn to the pathos that pervades the lives of these Afghani women and the beautiful language with which this is communicated. Their pain, although more pronounced because of their terrible circumstances, is tragically universal though not overstated and my heart cries for the characters. Here are a sample of quotes that have left me sighing in woeful recognition:

On losing her best friend and barely acknowledged love Laila feels that one day “she would not miss him as she did now, when the ache of his absence was her unremitting companion.” I love how Hosseini masterfully describes the absence of someone as an “unremitting companion.” Sigh.

And on hearing of yet another death, after having already lost so much, we are told Laila:

could hardly move. She could hardly move a muscle.

She sat on the chair instead, hands limp in her lap, eyes staring at nothing, and let her mind fly on. She let it fly on until it found the place, the good and safe place, where the barley fields were green, where the water ran clear and the cottonwood seeds danced by the thousands in the air; where Babi was reading a book beneath an acacia and Tariq was napping with his hands laced across his chest, and where she could dip her feet in the stream and dream good dreams.


The novel is not this beautiful all the way through. There are snippets of wonderfully crafted sentences where imagery assaults the reader in powerful ways. It’s enough to draw me in. Gotta go read…

A Lesson from Lawn Bowls

July 19, 2007

If you know how to use it a little bias may serve you well.

Searching for the Truth in a World of Crime

July 19, 2007

I’m currently trying to develop a Biblical Perspective of Detective Fiction. Here are my thoughts so far: (sketchy so bear with)

  • The genre/text reflects the creativity of God because He made us in His image as creative beings and gave us all gifts to use. Even non-Christians are given gifts by God. Their use of these still brings glory to Him because they are a reflection of His goodness and self.
  • Crime is part of the result of the sinfulness and fallen nature of humanity. It is a distortion of God’s creation and damages our relationship to God and others.
  • The detective genre gives us insight into our need for salvation. We need someone to intervene and save us.
  • The detective figure represents a saviour intervening in the world to bring justice and eradicate evil.
  • The detective is a reflection of a person who uses God’s gift of reason for the good of others. S/he shows a Biblical care/love for the wellbeing of others and glorifies God in his/her use of reason and love.
  • The detective genre is in some ways a response to the dualism with which we see the world as being separated into material and spiritual realms. We now, in our humanistic society, hold a much more deistic view of the world – the spiritual realm is removed from us or irrelevant, or, if we are Christians we may think God is outside His creation (He isn’t by the way! it’s just we often think He is) – and feel the need to control evil. The detective genre is a response to this and acts as an expression of our need to contain evil and feel safe. The detective genre makes readers feel safe knowing a rational being can solve and contain crime/evil.

And this is about as far as I have gotten.

Any more ideas?
Here are more questions I am thinking of:

What should the Christian response be to crime?

Considering the Bible says, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things,” (Phil 4.8) should we, as Christians, read literature which takes for its subject crime?

In what other ways does Detective Fiction communicate Biblical truths or grand narratives?

If you have the answers to any of these questions, have more of your own or think my points [above] are dodgy and off track, please let me know. This is a real work in progress and I’d love to hear your ideas, especially from a Reformed Theological perspective. If you can support your ideas with the Bible, even better.

Also, let me know if you have any great Detective Fiction texts you love. What do you love about them and what do you learn from them?

Don’t you love how literature helps you think about the BIGGER things!


July 10, 2007

Last term I was creating posters on figurative language to go on the walls of my classroom. In the middle of composing said posters at school I had to abandon my desk, probably to make an essential cup of tea or something. While I was away someone made a few alterations to one of my posters:







Repeated consonant



“Peter Piper liked to

peck and tickle lepers.”



On Characters I Would Like to See, Be or Flee x Three.

May 4, 2007

The beautiful Islandsparrow tagged me for this meme some time ago so finally I have some answers for her. Now I couldn’t find anywhere that said these characters had to be out of novels so some of mine are out of epic poems because I love and hate the characters in those poems! And one of my characters is out of a short story. See what you think…

1. Three characters you wish were real so you could meet them.

Tom Bombadil from The Lord of the Rings.

Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Selfish Giant when he is not selfish anymore from Oscar Wilde’s short story by the same title.

Oh! Why must I only choose three? I also want to meet Selima, the cat, in the poem Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes by Gray, but it was a real cat so I’m not sure that counts…?

2. Three characters you would like to be.

Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prarie. I soooo wanted to be her when I was little!

Emma from Jane Austen’s novel because I love matchmaking!

Abdeil in Paradise Lost because he stands alone against Satan and his rebellious horde fiercely and remains loyal to God in a mighty battle. He is awesome!

“…the Seraph Abdiel faithful found,

Among the faithless, faithful only he;

Among innumerable false, unmoved,

Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,

His loyalty kept, his love, his zeal;

Nor number, nor example with him wrought

To swerve him from the truth, or change his constant mind

Though single.”

3. Three characters who scare you.

Grendel in Beowulf

Poseidon in The Odyssey

(Actually any characters in Beowulf or The Odyssey. Even the good guys are scary!)

The Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons dangeruses. Sinister!

Now I need to tag three more people so, Radagast, Beck and Paul – if you haven’t done this you’re up. I would tag John and Andrew but you two still owe me some interview questions! Bah! If anyone else wants to play, join in. Let me know in the comments.


I’m going to the jungle – well, on a camp with Year 10 anyway

March 26, 2007

SO I’m leaving my little boys tomorrow for four long, long, long days. I have never been apart from my boys for this long before and I have never wanted to be. We have been having days filled with “you know I’ll miss you SOOOOO much! Just give me ONE more cuddle!” kind-of-moments and each time we have left each other – to go to school or sleep – we have given a thousand big squeezes sent via air mail to cover the distance our steps placed between us.

I love my little men. They are the best of their kind in the world! Just to prove it to you, here is a story the boys have ‘published’ for me. It is just one of the gifts they have made for me to take away so that I will always have something of theirs close by. In the interests of cuteness I have not tampered with their text in anyway. Sadly, as I am technologically illiterate at this point of tiredness and my scanner is attached to a computer in another room and is also quite temperamental, I have not included the pictures. Just know that they are gorgeous and of the type that melt a mama’s heart.

Cover: White pencil on black paper

The Monkey and the Elephant

witien by [little man]

pictures by [smaller little man]

First title page: black texta on white paper

The Monkey and the Elephant

witien by [little man]

pictures by [smaller little man]

Second title page:

To Mama xxxooo (heart heart heart)

The Monkey and the Elephant

witten by [little man]

& pictures by [smaller little man]

Page 1:Once there was a monkey who lived with a elephant. One day monkey said “let’s go on a adventure.” Into the Jungle.

[picture: Elephant and monkey look at each other. Both stand on green grass and have a trunk and tail respectively that appear to quiver with excitement. Monkey says “Let go on a trip.” Elephant says “okay.”]

Page 2:They packed their bag’s. Monkey packed bannanas and elephant packed penuts penuts peanuts.

[picture: monkey swings from a vine next to a banana. Monkey has a green backpack.]

Page 3:The next day they set of to the jungle. On the way they met a lizard it was 9cm tall and 10cm long.

[picture: Monkey is smiling and swinging down his vine with his green backpack on. Elephant is walking underneath with a red backpack on. Elephant is looking at an orange lizard on a grey rock.]

page 4:The lizard said “where are you going?”

“We are exploring the Jungle”! “By” he said.

Just then they where in the Jungle.

Monkey had his dinner and fell asleep. So did Elephant.

[picture: Monkey swings from his vine. His bag swings from another vine. Elephant lies down. Elephant’s red bag is on the ground.]

page 5:The next morning he ate sum mashed bannanas and elephant ate sum peanuts. Monkey new he had to find sum food for on his way Home.

[picture: monkey stands near a tree smiling and holding a round yellow ball.]

page 6:He seached hight and low. But he could not find sum food. Just then he saw a big bunch of bannanas. quick turn the page!

[picture: monkey points to a bunch of bananas hanging from a rope above him in a tall tree.]

page 7:He put his hand on the rope and he flew up and up in the sky. Just then lizard climed up on a tree and bit the rope off.

[picture: close up of the tree. Just under a fork in the branches, Monkey is hanging from the rope with a sad face as lizard who has climbed up the tree is very close to the rope.]

page 8:Monkey fleww fell down on elephants. back. Huray “Hurrah” “Hurrah” They Shouted. from that day on they became

[picture: monkey, elephant and lizard hold balloons. Monkey’s is green. Elephant’s is red and Lizard’s is orange. Elephant holds his balloon with his trunk.]

page 9:

best friends.

The End.

[picture: All walk off into the beautifully glowing sunset together.]

Last page:

published 2007

24 March

AND so I could never love them too much.

Now that I have a good book to read while I am away, I better go and pack some clothes.

Till anon, dear friends, fare thee well!

because it’s beautiful

March 20, 2007

One of my favourite Yeats poems.

He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939). The Wind Among the Reeds. 1899.

It’s Irish month @ Rebecca Writes. Play along. Post something Irish and let Rebecca know.

elusive but not extinct: i think i’ve been stuck in a hole

March 18, 2007



1 a warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate animal distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, a beak, and typically by being able to fly.

Unless they fall down a hole that is.

We found a bird last week. It had fallen down a construction hole and had not been able to get out. Poor little bird looked rather ruffled and was unable to walk properly or fly after being stuck in the hole for a couple of days. My dad, being the great man that he is, rescued the bird and took it home. After having stuffed worms, weetbix and caterpillars down his throat, the magpie looked a little happier and then went off to stay with a vet until he fully recovers.

Lately, I have felt a little like a bird stuck down a hole. Work is busy. So busy and so tiring. I feel like only get little glimpses of the sun every now and then, but am too stuck in my busy hole to get out and fully enjoy the sun. Despite the work, I have found some ways to escape the monotony a little. One of these is through reading.

Strangely enough, the story I’m reading is about a bird. Well, kind of anyway.

the_conjurors_bird_jkt.jpg It’s called The Conjuror’s Bird, a story that wonderfully weaves the story of Joseph Banks and the woman he loves in the Eighteenth Century with a modern detective plot about a professor and his student assistant who go in search of the “Mysterious Bird of Ulieta”: a bird that is now extinct. It may seem like a silly premise to go in search of an extinct bird but really, it is quite compelling. A single specimen of the bird was once known to exist and was briefly in the possession of Joseph Banks – a botanist and naturalist who accompanied Captain James Cook on his expeditions to the Southern Hemisphere – until it disappeared without a trace.

The book is beautifully written as you will discover upon reading this excerpt:

“He never told her of the night in Otaheite when she came so strongly into his thoughts. There had been a feast and dancing and he had been at the centre of both, laughing and shouting and clapping hands with every person there. Then, as he paused for breath, he caught a glimpse through the palms of moonlight on the sea and without a thought he slipped away to the water’s edge. There he stood for a while, strangely detached from the noise behind him, suddenly aware of the night sounds: the wind in the trees, insect song, waves very far away breaking on rocks or a reef. And as he stood and absorbed the beauty of the place, he found himself all at once filled with an overwhelming sadness, an aching melancholy that flooded out of him until it seemed to fill the night.

At first he didn’t understand. But as he waited in the shadow of the trees, he began to realise it was the moment itself he was grieving for, that whispering moonlit night that could never be his to keep. No matter how many birds and plants he gathered together in the hold of the Endeavour, he could never take back with him the perfection of that moment. And it was when he thought of her and her drawing, and he knew that if she had been there, then this was the place he would have found her: curled by the shore, quietly storing away every nuance of the night.”

Can you see how it gives me wings? It’s a beautiful and compelling book.

who loves books? me[!]me[!]

March 10, 2007

For the Bookworms among us:

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?

Never a hardback unless it is all there is available, or it is a quaint old antique. Since I don’t even know what a trade paperback is, I’m guessing I don’t choose them. It’s the mass market paperback with a very pretty cover for me. Cover designs are important to me. I know it’s superficial but I am always tempted to judge, and even choose, a book by its cover.

Online purchase or brick and mortar?

Brick and mortar, or old shack by the side of the road, or plush store with shiny wooden floorboards with leather lounges, or the internet, or even the discarded books in a university corridor piled up under the FREE sign. Who asks where a good book comes from? Really!

Barnes & Noble or Borders?

Who are Barnes & Noble? I don’t think they’ve made their way downunder. Borders! Borders! It’s all there: books, coffee, lounges, books, cds, books, movies, books, coffee. Do you want to know how long I spent in Borders today? When I go there I wonder why I should ever leave.

Bookmark or dog-ear?

Gasp! Neither actually – unless I have a special bookmark made by a special person, which I do. Oh, and I just happen to know where you can find some. Otherwise, I just remember the page number.

Mark or not mark?

Depends on the reason for reading. I mark the books I study. Those I read to relax and enjoy can only be read without a pencil in my hand. I love a well marked book, as long as it is not highlighted!

Alphabetise by author or alphabetize by title or random?

Arranged by subject, alphabetised according to author, then by title for books by the same author. Is there another way?

Keep, throw away, or sell?

Keep. Unless I didn’t like it then sell on ebay to buy more books.

Keep dustjacket or toss it?

Can you read comfortably with a jacket on? I think not. I do not subject my books to anything I would not put up with myself, therefore, books may remove their jackets when being read. On the shelf they will wear them so as to keep from getting cold. I would never throw another’s jacket away.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?

Oh, I rushed ahead. See above.

Short story or novel?

Novel. Though I do appreciate a good short story. The only thing I don’t like about short stories is that they are inevitably too short.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?


Lord of the Rings or Narnia.


Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?

Just one more chapter, just one more chapter, just one more chapter until I f a l l a s l e e p.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?

Do I have to choose? Both usually at the same time depending on my mood or fancy and the weather.

Buy or Borrow?

Buy…and borrow though I am hopeless at returning. It is best for me to buy books, it prevents me from inadvertently stealing them from the library.

New or used?

Depends on the book. Both.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?

Browse. That’s half the fun.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?

Neither. I like realistic sad-but-good kind of endings. Tidy endings annoy me. Cliffhangers also annoy me.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or night time reading?

Huh? How about every waking moment. I read as I walk, as I eat, as I brush teeth, as I wait for a page on the net to load, as I drive – although I probably shouldn’t confess that.

Standalone or series?


Favorite series?

Mmmmm. None at the moment. I am reading more poetry right now.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?

The Last September, Elizabeth Bowen. Though it would be arrogant of me to think that nobody else had heard of it! I have read a few great books written by little ones, I’m sure you would not have heard of those so it is quite difficult to mention them. What a strange question!

Favorite books read last year?

Finders Keepers, Seamus Heaney

The poetry of Pablo Neruda

A Sentimental Journey, Sterne

Clarissa, Samuel Richardson (read but not finished – yet)

The Complete Short Fiction of Oscar Wilde

Charlie and Lola books, Lauren Child

Ohhh! there are so many more… I also liked reading medieval plays, 18th century poetry and many books I began and never finished. Sometimes I just like to dip in.

also, see below.

Favorite book of all time?

Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton

The Bible, the only living breathing book I have read over and over again for more years than I care to count written by the Creator of the Universe. The only book that gave me life.

Play along…I’d love to read your answers. And don’t forget to buy a beautiful custom made bookmark.