Question---(Silly really, but somewhat interesting!)
Bliv bruger af LibraryThing, hvis du vil skrive et indlæg
Dette emne er markeret som "i hvile"—det seneste indlæg er mere end 90 dage gammel. Du kan vække emnet til live ved at poste et indlæg.
I would be interested to hear what you have discovered. s4sando
(a) four leaf clover
(b) carefully pressed leaf of a European tree
(c) homemade bookmark
(d) dry cleaning receipt
(e) beetle carapace (maybe this was inadvertent)
I have to say, however, that the most unusual thing I have ever found in a book was a neatly folded page from a pornographic magazine showing a lady, somewhat scantily dressed I must say, exploring the secrets of her body. Of course I laughed my head off. The funniest thing was that at the time - many years ago - I wasn't yet 18; one cannot but appreciate the irony of the situation. And the book was not something by D. H. Lawrence indeed, but one of the novels of Karl May, a very popular writer among the juvenile public. I used to read him quite a bit at the time but haven't done so since. How on earth could that lady find her way inside that book I have not even the faintest idea.
But what I usually find are pencil marks and bookplates; the former I rather dislike and always try to avoid, yet even they have a kind of romantic air that makes me wonder what kind of person was the one who made them. Once I found a restaurant bill, once a ticket from a concert (a female singer I have never heard of), things like that.
As regards to Maugham, by far the most amazing thing I have ever found is his signature. Now, I am not a collector and have no ambitions for first or signed editions, but this signature looked oddly thrilling, suggesting a kind of personal bond with the author (now that is silly). I bought the Jubilee Edition of Liza of Lambeth for the preface which turned out to be short and insignificant, but then I saw Maugham's signature and was rather surprised. As it turned out this edition, issued 50 years after the first one, was limited to 1000 copies signed by Maugham. My copy is No. 494 and the signature is rather neat considering the number. I am afraid the bookseller who sold me that book did a very bad deal: he could easily have sold it so somebody else for (at least) several times higher price.
The last thing I found in a used book was a piece of yellow notebook paper with a few rather dull notes on it. :( I can confiscate better notes at school any day.
There is a good web-site dedicated to just this:
1. Objects: a pressed iris in a hundred year old copy of MYSTERIOUS ISLAND;
newspaper clipping announcing the death of Carson McCullers in a paperback of
HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER.
2. Creative expression: some fair romantic poetry written on the inside covers of an old book of Swinburne's poems.
3. Books, the international language: student notes all over the margins of Faulkner's LIGHT IN AUGUST--all in Japanese!
But I found it most difficult to get through... repetitious, long winded, and at times downright annoying. Finding I was getting little out of it (after it had dragged on for months), I was resolved to give it a chance to work its magic. And so, I (a) started it again, (b) read a Monarch Notes on the book at the same time, and (c) listened to the unabridged book on tape during travel time, all of which I found to help. I was resolved that if this book was a masterpiece of fiction, I would not let a lack of fortitude stand in the way of my understanding and appreciation.
Nevertheless: most likely it speaks to my inadequacy or impatience as a reader that I am less than appreciative of the book, and thought it would have been much better as a short story or novella. It offered the best argument I've seen for Maugham's advice to "skim". I'm reminded of WSM's own comment about Conrad, that he was a great short story writer but who would let such potential stories grow beyond all bounds. (And for the record: Lord Jim was criticized on the grounds that Cptn Marlow could not possibly have told the story he narrates during a single evening. Conrad responded at the time by asserting his tale could have been narrated in a mere three hours. On the contrary, the audio version, most of which is the Marlow narration, comes to 11 hours).
Such words may be wounding to other Conrad admirers here, in which case I apologize . I share them in hopes of finding where I've gone wrong. I can't say I've had this reaction to classic fiction before.
Anyway, all this is just to explain my own reaction to the book (for which I had the benefit of a graduate level Conrad seminar complete with excellent professor and enthusiastic classmates for my first reading), not to try to affect yours.
As I said, I understand why readers might have a spot of trouble with Lord Jim. I recommend the novella Typhoon and the novels Nigger of the Narcissus and The Secret Agent. Heart of Darkness to me is the real masterpiece, but not everybody likes that one, either, much to my continued amazement. Oh, well. As my grandmother used to say, "That's why they make vanilla and chocolate."
I should have mentioned that I quite liked The Secret Agent (which I experienced as an audio book), and saw the merits of Heart of Darkness. I shall read Typhoon and N of N on your recommendation.
and your grandmother was a wise woman!
Ah yes, this is just another variation of the vanilla and chocolate wisdom.
I find that Lord Jim is staying with me, and my thoughts turn to it at odd moments, like an unresolved conundrum. Maybe I underestimated its powers!
If the plot in Lord Jim seems overdressed, that might be because, really, Lord Jim (and quite a lot of Conrad) is not about plot but about character and human nature. It is also about narrative style, as Lord Jim is, with the exception of the opening chapter, a story being told by another character, Marlow, not by an omniscient third person narrator or even a direct first person storyteller. So we get Marlow's digressions and observations in addition to a straight delivery of the tale. We have to dive down into Jim's story through the sometimes shifting currents of Marlow's. That doesn't mean you have to like it, obviously, but I think within the context of your comments, it's relevant to point out some of the things that Conrad was up to with his prose.
Conrad absolutely grew as a writer and as a novelist. If your only other experience of his writing is An Outcast of the Islands, then certainly, if you've an interest, you might want to try some of the other novels of Conrad's peak period, including Heart of Darkness, Victory and The Secret Agent. Those are my favorites, along with some very rewarding shorter works like Typhoon and Youth.
This year (2010), my first read of the year was a re-read of Heart of Darkness. I think I'll make a Conrad re-read for a first-of-the-year read an annual tradition, since he is, in fact, my single favorite author, and start 2011 with a re-read of Lord Jim, as it's been somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years since I read it last.*
* That's not the longest sentence I wrote this year, but it's probably in the top 20.
rocketjk> Can we truly award a #1 plot mangling award to any one movie??? I remember seeing Cousin Bette, the movie, and reading the book Cousin Bette afterwards. The woman who dies in the first scene of the movie never dies in the book. Wuthering Heights? I couldn't even watch the movie, but the ten minutes I saw, that wasn't *really* Kathy and Heathcliff.
Perhaps, after we have a few more Maugham group reads under our belt, we could tackle some group reads of his peers. Just a thought.
I can't resist: The worst plot mangling done in movie form for me was the Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter. Memorable scene: Hester Prynne in her hot tub!
#24 I do have to say, Jerry, that I find your strenuous objection to the cinematic LORD JIM rather puzzling--certainly small elements in the story were changed, but the major plotpoints and character conflicts remained the same IMHO. I think it faired much better than literature usually does going through the Hollywood meat-grinder. You bring up an interesting point also about the merits of a film vis-a-vis its source: it is possible, though less likely, for good films to be made that totally betray their origins. Some examples are GUNGA DIN, the great Cary Grant adventure film which had almost nothing to do with the Kipling poem and the Paul Newman starring LONG HOT SUMMER--and here we're talking about my own favorite author, so things are sensitive--a "distillation" of William Faulkner's THE HAMLET which might have had the taste of Faulkner, but only homeopathically; still, both were entertaining films. BTW may I suggest that with your love of Conrad you start a Conrad group similar to our Maugham group? I for one would love to participate in Conrad group reads annotated with your comments, and from what I've heard here, I sense Cammy, s4sando, danielx and many others share my interest. It would help me as I consider my lack of experience with Conrad a definite hole in my education.
The burden falls to O'Toole, whose best lines are in his clean-cut profile and whose mannerisms parody his flashy style in Lawrence of Arabia and Becket. Each time his manhood is tested, O'Toole's eyes fill with tears and a hand drifts to his throat as if to ward off a fainting spell. Everything he does looks intensely talented. But it hardly ever looks like Lord Jim.
I would say there must be some reason that the film has disappeared into the mists. We're talking about a Peter O'Toole/James Mason movie that is never shown on TV here in the U.S., not on any of the many classic movie channels or anywhere else. Few people even know of its existence. I think it has been dismissed as a not very good rendering of Lord Jim.
However, I will withdraw my claim that it's the worst ever film adaptation of a classic and just say it the is the one that disappointed me the most.
But here is the opening to the NY Times review of the movie:
If you are looking for Joseph Conrad's murky story of a man's involved attempt to redeem his blemished honor, as told in the novel "Lord Jim," look not to the film based upon it that came to Loew's State last night. And look not for Jim, the poignant hero, in the dank performance of Peter O'Toole.
What's more—and what's paramount to the interest of the average moviegoer, I am sure—look not for a powerful experience from this big, gaudy, clanging color film. For something bewildering has happened in Richard Brooks's making of it, and it misses at being either Conrad or sheer entertainment cinema.
The full review, which both refreshes and compliments my own memories of the movie, is here: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9506E4D6143CE733A25755C2A9649C946491D...
This proves nothing, of course. I've read many a scathing review of movies I've admired. I'm just saying, I agree with this guy.
I wonder if this is available anywhere? If we're to believe this reviewer, this earlier version was much more successful.
OK, I'll stand corrected on that score. Maybe I'll keep an eye out for it and see if I can watch it a second time. Don't know if you've read through the review I posted from the Times, but the reviewer there does make note of several plot changes, including, as I noted, almost the entire second half.
and for anyone amused by anachronisms and mistakes, see here
These are certainly not mistakes I'd ever notice. Having read the book 3x, I was bothered by the departure from what Cooper wrote...
At any rate, like I said, my appetite has been whetted to see the film, and you know you'll get my full report. In the meantime, check out Silent Sundays on TCM at 9:00 p.m. (p.s.t.) when they screen silent features--I checked and they have the 1925 LORD JIM in their archives; hopefully they'll screen it sometime.
"Jim's introduction into the jungle is achieved in a curious episode that has his confused imagination making kegs of gunpowder out of kegs of beer. And this episode (which is really the fade-out for Conrad in the film) leads on to a splurge of wild adventures involving bad Malays, good Malays and guns."
Emphasis added by me, of course. The "fade out for Conrad," to me, means that the movie stops being Conrad's book, in terms of the characterizations and the plot. And I thought the implication was clear that the "wild adventures" portrayed in the movie are not in the book--part and parcel of that "fade-out for Conrad."
"Conrad's inferior Sherif Ali, on whom Jim leads a knockout assault, turns into a slave-driving tyrant who is known as The General here."
From this we see that a key character has been changed and enlarged out of proportion to the book's intent. To me a character change like this is tantamount to a plot change.
"But long before this dramatic climax is reached, the psychology of Jim has been lost, atomized and forgotten in the surrounding confusion and din. His trouble with his imagination is barely hinted at now and again with close-ups of his face showing anguish and heavy applications of walnut stain. So thorough is the slivering and misplacement of the psychological theme that the point of Jim's romantic nature is completely lost in the long key scene with Brown."
Since "the psychology of Jim" is essentially what the novel, Lord Jim, is about at its heart, any movie that atomizes and forgets this psychology is mangling the book it has set out to portray.
Really, my comments here can all be traced back to my very first statement regarding the movie, in Post 22: "If you remember Lord Jim via the movie, I'm afraid you're not remembering the book very much at all." I stand by that, for the book is exploration of human nature, an exploration that is, according to our reviewer, wholly abandoned in the second half of the movie. You might as well let Captain Ahab calm down and fall in love in the second half of the movie version of Moby Dick and throw in a pirate attack while you're at it! :)
You've said, "It is for that reason I can watch and be entertained by an action adventure made more interesting because of its connection to LORD JIM." Well, sure! There's no reason you shouldn't be able to do that. You're of course absolutely correct that my reaction to the movies shortcomings are strongly informed by my love of the book.
Our reviewer felt differently about the action elements than you:
"Lost, too, in the course of all the fighting and the rushing hither and yon are the guidelines of the conflict and the urgency of what is going on. While the scenery and the crowds are impressive—Cambodian villages, rivers, atmosphere, youths flying kites, formal processions and a few scenes of Ankor Wat—the characteristics of all the people seem to merge in one big sweating mob. It's hard to tell who Jim is fighting or even who the good guys are.
Thus the pull of a sheer adventure drama, which is what this eventually becomes, is rendered sporadic and feeble by the indistinctness of the plot."
But so what? He didn't like the action elements and you did, and you're actually better off, since you had a happy movie-watching experience and he didn't. All I'm saying is that my memory of the film is closer to his reflections than to yours. But perhaps he and I are being overly harsh. C'est la vie!
Like you, I'm now anxious to give the movie a second viewing.
I am not saying I'd recommend L of the M more than once. But I have enjoyed other JF Cooper works, Mark Twain's understandable comments notwithstanding.
I must say, however, that you are remarkably prescient in your description of true plot changes vis-a-vis MOBY DICK. You are also a hundred percent correct--those are plot changes, and with the possible exception of the pirates, all of them happened. Woe to any lover of MOBY DICK who happened to be watching TCM the night they screened the 1930 version so-called MOBY DICK starring John Barrymore. This is a film, first of all, that rarely leaves the local village where a certain Captain Ahab Ceely is the local dandy, with women hanging from his arms, nose, legs, and any other permissable 1930 appendage. He reserves his affections for the lovely Faith, however, whom his brother also loves. When, finally, they head out on a whaling expedition and they confront old Moby, brother Derek pushes Ahab overboard and Moby takes Ahab's leg. Seeing him crippled, Faith now rejects Ahab--instead of blaming his brother, though, Ahab blames Moby Dick and the fierce hatred is born that finally, briefly, puts this film within hailing distance of a novel called MOBY DICK. Regrettably, this resemblance doesn't last long. Ahab goes out again after Moby, kills him, becomes the local hero, regains the love of Faith, and lives happily ever after. And the crew of the PEQUOT? Everyone survives except some guy named Ishmael. Those, my friend, are plot changes.
This is somewhat of an after-thought, Jerry, but I think our differing perceptions may also lie in how we look at movies. In addition to being a book-lover, I've also always been a movie buff. After seeing so much crap like the above coming out of Hollywood, I suppose--like some of our more frustrated high school instructors--I've come to grade films more on the curve. Compared, therefore, to the criminal butchery suffered by Melville in 1930, how can one help but give LORD JIM more than a passing grade, a film that actually bucks the Hollywood trend and has Jim die as he does in the book, willingly from the village elder's bullet, rather than having him run off with the native girl and live happily ever after in a grass hut? You'll probably call that my weakest argument yet--and you may be right, but it also may be at the crux of the problem.
You've got to rent this movie! Another memorable scene: Hester hides in the bushes and watches the "skinny-dipping" Rev. Dimmesdale!
As to your comment . . .
"My search was to try to find major plot changes alluded to in his review and your comments. Perhaps in this small area we are talking semantics--because in Hollywood terms, merely changing a character's name or raising or diminishing his/her importance is not a major plot change--it's par for the course. Nor do I consider a failure to be coherent or to adequately portray a character's turmoil to be alterations in plot--they are simply failures in movie-making. Plot to my mind involves action--it is the sum of the events that move a story from episode to episode;"
You don't feel that plot includes why these actions occur? Why the characters do what they do? My own view on this question falls more in line with these oft-quoted words of E.M. Forster:
"The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then queen died of grief is a plot."
At any rate, as I've said, when the reviewer comments, "And this episode (which is really the fade-out for Conrad in the film) leads on to a splurge of wild adventures involving bad Malays, good Malays and guns," I believe his clear implication is that the "splurge of wild adventures . . . " are incidents that do not occur in the book, or at least are so distorted as to be unrecognizable.
Certainly, we're agreed that such changes in plot, story, character and form are par for the course in Hollywood renderings of novels, classic or otherwise. Sometimes I find these changes objectionable, and sometimes I don't, depending upon how skillfully they're done.
But we're also agreed, if I understand your comment I've quoted above correctly, that the movie version of Lord Jim is rife with "failures in movie making." (Apologies, sincerely, if I've misunderstood your point in making that comment. I do hate having my words misquoted back to me and don't like to perpetrate such on others.)
One may still, of course, heartily enjoy such a movie, if it contains enough pleasing elements to overcome such failures. I, too, am a movie buff, by the way. But for me a movie must have not just a plot, but a plot with intelligence. In the movie version of Lord Jim, according to our reviewer (and my own memory), such intelligence is swapped out for explosions, lots of shouting and protracted battle scenes.
For me, the joys of movie watching come at least as much from the portrayal and exploration of character as from the "what happens next?" aspect. I still love well-done action movies, whodunnits, and other plot-driven storylines. But when action is emphasized in place of interesting character development, in a story I originally loved for its character portrayals, I will be disappointed, especially once the action becomes incoherent or suffers from, as our reviewer put it, "indistinctness of plot."
In my view, to use our current example, if you take a relatively minor character in a book, elevate his importance more than a little and make him, newly, a slave trader, you are deviating rather significantly from the book in question. Whether that represents a "plot change" I guess is open to the semantic debate we're so enjoyably having here. But to me it represents the sort of deviation that informed my original comment, which I take the liberty of reproducing here once more: "If you remember Lord Jim via the movie, I'm afraid you're not remembering the book very much at all."
It is of interest, at least to me, that I find the movie, "Apocalypse Now," despite a change from the Belgian Congo of King Leopold's time to the Viet Nam war of the 1960s, to be much more faithful to the essence of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" than the movie version of Lord Jim is to Conrad's "Lord Jim."
For me, the fact that the final action of the book and the movie versions of Lord Jim are the same doesn't make up for all the blurring of character and plot along the way, given that I found those revisions to be poorly done. I know you feel differently on that score, and that's fine, of course!
I would speculate thusly: If you were a college student taking a literature course, assigned to read and then write a paper of, say, 2,000 words on Lord Jim, but decided to watch the movie instead of reading the book and write your report on that, you would be very hard pressed indeed to get a passing grade on that paper. The book and the movie are too different.
I have already noted my intention to make a re-read of Lord Jim my first reading priority for 2011. If you wish to join me in this, and then agree to both watch the movie, and then have this conversation again, I think that would be fun.
As a parting word (not a shot, just a word) I would suggest that perhaps the lack of coherence and/or explanation in the second half of LORD JIM was less bothersome to me than it was to the reviewer because I had read the book and could fill in whatever blanks the film-makers were negligent in covering themselves. It is for this reason that, whenever possible, I try to read the book that a film is based on first, to more fully decipher what is often on the screen only in shorthand. In fact, this is the reason I wound up reading OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS a few years back--I happened to have the English version of the film on tape with the great Trevor Howard and wanted the background the book would give. Well, Howard was good, as usual, but I felt the film totally failed in presenting the book's atmosphere (be interested in your opinion if you've seen it). Thanks for your views on APOCALYPSE NOW; I was going to mention it in our discussion but refrained from doing so because of my unfamilarity with HEART OF DARKNESS; I concede your point, though, about the Coppola film plumbing the psychological depths in a manner LORD JIM failed to.
I think your idea of a re-read of LORD JIM and then a re-view of the film is an excellent one. As I noted earlier, I sensed some interest in the CAKES AND ALE group in such a Conrad project. With your knowledge and love of Conrad, you would, like Waldstein, make an excellent moderator. I will refrain from ordering the film till that time. By the first or second week of January I will have finished CAKES AND ALE and can start.
"As a parting word (not a shot, just a word) I would suggest that perhaps the lack of coherence and/or explanation in the second half of LORD JIM was less bothersome to me than it was to the reviewer because I had read the book and could fill in whatever blanks the film-makers were negligent in covering themselves."
It's funny you would say that. I thought the reviewer was indeed familiar with the book (as his comment about the keg episode being the "fade-out for Conrad in the film," among others, attests). If anything, I thought maybe his (and my) insistence on comparing the movie to the book was his flaw as a reviewer, in that he (and I) came to the movie too insistent on its antecedents rather than letting it stand on its own as a movie.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to my re-read of Jim, and will wait until you're ready to watch the movie so that we may both approach our conversation having seen the movie freshly.
As to moderating a group discussion, that's a flattering notion, and thanks, but as you may have read in some other threads here on LT, I am soon to be taking over the ownership and management of a used bookstore. That will taking up way too much of my time to allow for any constructive discussion moderation, I'm afraid. I'll have to contain my Jim commentary to whatever you and I manage (plus whoever wants to join in on that, of course), rather than committing to anything more formal.
In other words, if a movie just shows me the king dying and then the queen dying, but doesn't make clear that the queen has died of grief, then the problems remain the same, regardless of the techniques, similar or divergent, that a writer and a movie maker use to convey those elements. The crucial point remains unchanged.
Yes, both movie and book include Jim's crisis of courage as a motivating factor. But, in the case of the movie, so what, if that motivation ceases to retain its relevance to the action? Your memory and mine of how much (or whether) the second half of the Lord Jim movie butchers the plot of the novel clearly differ. But my the real point is that one does not need rigorous "plot manipulation" to significantly alter a story.
The movie, Das Boot, is a good case in point. This is a great WW2 combat movie that takes place on a German submarine. The movie is German, so the first time I saw it, in a theater, there was German language with English subtitles. One of the most important elements of the movie was how calm and business-like all the sailors remained, even under the most unendurable stress. Because this was so well done, the single incident where a sailor loses his nerve becomes shocking and important. But then I saw the movie on TV it had been dubbed into English, and done very poorly, in that much of the dialogue was rendered in an emotional, almost hysterical manner. Without a single change in plot or even dialogue, the entire movie was altered for the worse, because that sub now had an entirely different crew! No "plot manipulation" whatsoever, but a radically different story being told.
The point is that a viewer remembering the movie with its original voice track would have a strongly different memory of the story than one who has only seen the dubbed version. Just as, as I've said, someone remembering Lord Jim via the movie version is not really remembering the novel very much at all.
I can sympathize with your calling the movie version of Lord Jim "mediocre movie making." I go further in my displeasure, but no matter.
I'd also say that there are plenty of movies where the filmmaker does have "the luxury of words at (his/her) command." Those are the movies that revolve upon the brilliance, cleverness or humor of dialogue. Jim Jarmusch, for example, is a favorite director of mine whose movies revolve around character and dialogue rather than plot, with Down by Law being my favorite.
When you view the movie The Scarlet Letter staring Demi Moore, just keep in mind, it's not on the same planet as Hawthorne.
& OMG. I bopped over to netflix. It has less than two stars!!! Abysmal! & even the cover art is hysterically bad.
Well, we disagree about whether the basic plot structure of Lord Jim was altered.
"Lost, too, in the course of all the fighting and the rushing hither and yon are the guidelines of the conflict and the urgency of what is going on," says our critic. This does not occur in the book.
In fact, I believe the second half of the movie has all sorts of events that don't occur in the book. But no matter. Our mutual re-read/re-view pact will bring these to light, I'm confident. We're agreed, maybe, that the novel Lord Jim was "destroyed" in the making of the movie.
Your idea is, I guess, that "stress and tone" and "plot" are somehow distinct elements in a movie, that one can remove the plot from a movie, like delicately removing the skeleton from a broiled trout and examining it to decide whether you like the trout or not.
But the plot, tone and stress of a movie are all intertwined into a single work of art. When a book about character becomes a book about running around with spears and burning down villages, with the character's motivation and inner travails becoming essentially ignored and forgotten amid the furor, then we can fairly say that ""If you remember Lord Jim via the movie, I'm afraid you're not remembering the book very much at all."
Regarding Forster again, I think you're still talking about difference in technique, only, and not the basic tenet of storytelling that Forster is describing. Yes, novel writers can use the technique of extended inner dialogue to show character and conflict. Movie makers have to use other techniques to accomplish that. That does not excuse movie makers from failing to do so.
As for the Forster quote, we may be getting into an area too abstract for discussion. My fault, not yours.
Well, if your only criteria is the matter of what happens in the final scene, then we were certainly doomed not to find common ground on this question.
All of the elements cited by our reviewer and quoted by me several times are important elements of the movie that do not occur in the book, especially, from your plot-based criteria, the "splurge of wild adventures involving bad Malays, good Malays and guns" that introduces the "fade-out for Conrad in the film."
If those things are not enough for you to feel that the film diverges radically from the book at this point, then, certainly, we have different criteria along these lines. C'est la vie.
But whether or not we use the terms "betrayal" or "destroyed," what we clearly have is an absence of a rendering of the spirit, heart, skeleton or brains of the novel, Lord Jim. What we have, as you've put it, is an adventure movie that is "connected" to Lord Jim.
I'm happy that you found the movie entertaining. Certainly, that should be your most important criteria regarding any movie. But if you're remembering the novel, Lord Jim, via the movie, I'm afraid you're not remembering the book very much at all. Because if you only watch that movie, you will not have an understanding of the novel in any relevant sense.