Give a little love, and it all comes back to you…

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

My book

You have to read this. You don’t necessarily have to buy the Collins Classics edition – even its summary of Mary Shelley’s life is stilted – but you really, sometime before you die, have to read Frankenstein. I’d call it an average length for a novel, at 202 pages, and the gap between its language and how books are written today isn’t that large, especially considering its publication in 1818. You really must read this though.

Like most people out there, I already knew the basics of Frankenstein before I even picked it up (such as the fact that Frankenstein is the name of the creator, not the ‘monster’). I even knew that, opposing what the movies tell us, the creature isn’t green, but yellow. However, don’t assume that you know all that goes on within just because you know of Frankenstein‘s legacy. The plot still holds the power to surprise you, I can surely guarantee.

Though the word ‘horror’, considering that this book is meant to be the world’s greatest gothic horror, might be pushing it, you don’t get much more classic than this. This here is a novel ingrained the national consciousness. However, I feel the need to point out that Frankenstein never stands in his laboratory as lightning crashes down shouting, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”

The story

Do I need to give a synopsis? The blurb gives us the ultimate in stereotyping:

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Pretty, pretty little book. Do you wish to take a look?

Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake

My book

This poetry book is 155 pages long and was first published in 1789, but, most of all, it is very, very pretty. I say this with no hint of sarcasm. I don’t own a prettier book in all of my house (discounting wildlife books). The image to the right should give you a clue: each page comes with a similar illustration, painted by Blake himself.

I was actually told not to buy it. Studying Blake in school, we were told we’d only go over a few poems; that it wasn’t worth getting the whole volume. However, my teacher just happened to have this pretty little thing. I spotted it. I wanted it. Now I have it.

There are also notes at the back for each poem giving a brief… Hm, I would have written ‘explanation’, but these little passages often reveal nothing other than that critics disagree over what each poem ‘meant’.

The story

If you haven’t heard of William Blake, you’re a newbie to the world of poetry. Welcome.

The interesting thing about Songs of Innocence and of Experience is that, while they are more poems than songs, you can put almost all of them to the tune of Greensleeves. I apologise – that’s a small obsession of mine. The poems themselves are based on a very simple concept: the songs of innocence are nice and fluffy and warm; the songs of experience are bitter and naughty and cold. Well, that’s the idea. However, Blake himself kept moving some poems between each section, so to describe a lot of poems merely as innocent or experienced is rather lacking.

To summarise, the back-cover synopsis reads:

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Once upon a time in rural France…

The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes) by Alain-Fournier

My book

This review may get a bit confusing, as I mix up the two versions of the book that I’ve read. The truth is that the version I’m going to be writing about isn’t the version that I read first.  I can proudly brag that I first read it in the original French and then read the English… um, just to check that I was… reading it right? If I’m ambitious enough, or if I have the time and patience, I may rewrite this review in French. It depends on how geeky I want to be.

Anyway, what we see here is a book first published (in French) in 1913, and it certainly reflects the era, but I’ll write more on that below. In English, it’s 223 pages long.

Since I am going to assume that not everyone out there is bilingual, I realise that you may not have heard of Le Grand Meaulnes (pronounced ‘mulns’, or ‘moans’ if that’s easier), as this novel is better known. In fact, in France, you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who hadn’t at least heard the title of this tale, but you might also have some difficulty finding someone who had bothered to read it, if not forced to at school. I therefore defend its appearance on a blog critiquing classic books – it’s not classic all over the world, but it’s certainly in France’s canon.

The story

The plot, surprisingly, is not as basic as it first appears. We join the story, told by François, as our heroes are teenagers and we only leave them when they are adults. You can be sure that, with so much time elapsing, we have an eventful few years to read about. The blurb tells us:

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