Various Book, Theater and Film Reviews
Nick Hornby, Charles Dickens, Peter Shaffer, Tolkien, Phil Penningroth
Literature Review 2004 13 Pages
Table of Contents
I. Book Reviews
(1) Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity
(2) Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol
II. Theater Reviews
(1) Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus
III. Film Review:
(1) Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring
(2) Phil Penningroth’s "Silence of the heart"
I. Book Reviews
(1) Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity
In Nick Hornby’s first novel High Fidelity the main character, Rob Fleming, recounts in flashbacks his “most memorable split-ups”1, and so the reader is taken into some troublesome periods of the protagonist’s childhood and adolescence. Rob reflects on his various relationships and tries to find reasons why they have failed. Then the action shifts into the present and the central character can be accompanied during the most recent months of his life, just after his girlfriend, Laura, has left him and moved in with Ian - the man who lived upstairs. Although at first Rob is not sure whether to be distraught or relieved, he is later convinced that he wants Laura back again and can’t stop calling her.
In the meantime he dates the singer Marie LaSalle, who makes him cry with her cover version of “Baby, I Love Your Way”, but it’s probably only because he thinks it is great to sleep “with someone who had a recording contract”2. At this time Rob also tries to meet up with his previous girlfriends again.
A short time after Laura has moved her stuff out of Rob’s flat, her father dies. The reunion with his girlfriend takes place at the funeral of Laura’s father, after which Laura asks Rob to sleep with her. But Rob is worried that she has had unprotected sex with Ian and that’s why they only go to a pub to talk. He feels that he doesn’t “need to offer to become a different person: it has happened already.”3
The plot of the novel is set in the 1990s and refers to the political atmosphere of the early 1990s in Britain which is “one of quiet deflation after the exuberant economic and consumer attitudes of the 1980s”4.
In High Fidelity the main protagonist of the novel tells about his life in a way that the reader could assume that it is a confession by this 35-year-old man. As the novel is written from the perspective of Rob Fleming, it is told in the first person.
Rob’s whole life has revolved around music and classifying it into top five lists. (The top five Elvis Costello hits, the top five episodes of Cheers, the five best side one tracks of all time. He is unable to rank music according to more important criteria. It is significant for Rob’s character that, just after Laura’s abandoning him, he reorganizes his record collection. He often does this during periods of emotional stress and he likes “the feeling of security” he gets from his “new filing system”5.
Nevertheless, after Laura has left Rob, he wakes in the night, reflecting on his life:” I’m here, in this stupid little flat, on my own, and I’m 35 years old, and I own a tiny failing business, and my friends don’t seem to be friends…” and he is “ in danger of falling off the edge.”6 Depressed, he reminisces about his life with Laura, the last woman he was living with, who had even got pregnant and lost her child when he had a brief affair with another woman.
The author shows how Rob tries to find a meaning to his life and how he undergoes a process of moral and spiritual maturing.
Rob is not a hero; on the contrary, he represents an everyman character who characterizes himself as “average”7, who needs someone “who can stop “him “from falling down into the pit where the permanently single live with their mums and dads” because “lonely people are the bitterest of …all”8. Laura decides to bring out Rob’s “potential as a human being.”9
In my opinion, it is very uncertain that the relationship will be satisfying and successful because Laura realizes that Rob is not a soulmate and I suppose she can only put up with this because at that moment she is too tired to banish him out of her life.
I think what makes the book so fascinating is that it describes real life. People and situations the narration is dealing with are down to earth and could correspond to true life and it discusses matters that everybody experiences. Nick Hornby’s style is fascinating, full of wit and charm.
(2) Charles Dickens’Christmas Carol
One foggy Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge returns from his office to his cold empty house. There his long-dead business partner Jacob Marley appears before him, moaning about the miserable state he is in because of his meanness when he was still alive. He tries to warn his old partner that having neglected his fellow men he will also end up the same way. He is told that three spirits will offer him a salvating chance.
First, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes him back into his childhood. When his boyhood and youth appear before him his heart of stone melts. He realises that his master had great sympathy with the less wealthy and that he was treated very humanely by him.
Afterwards the Ghost of Christmas Present shows him the misery of his relatives and the difficult life of his assistant, Bob Crachit.
Lastly the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come explains that if he does not change his way of life he will die lonely and he will be mourned by no one. From this time onwards the wealthy businessman lives a better life. He begins giving generously to charity and celebrates Christmas contentedly.
Ebenezer Scrooge, the tight-fisted old man, is the epitome of avarice.
The wealthy businessman is entirely without pity for the poor and without any friends. His only aim in life is making money and he gives absolutely nothing away to the less fortunate. He pays his poor assistant a very low wage and treats him very strictly and without any mercy.
His former business partner, Jacob Marley, had the same greedy and grasping character. That's why his ghost has been forced to wander the world, wearing a heavy chain. Seven years after his death he returns to haunt Scrooge in order to prevent him from similar tornaments.
For Bob Crachit and his family life is difficult. Nevertheless they are cheerful and happy, because they have always been satisfied with what they have. Even the youngest son, who is sick and lame remains merry and pleasant. The boy's life can only be saved if he is helped by Scrooge. Bob is very subservient and although he is aware of the injustice of his boss he is not rebellious in anyway. He even comes to Scrooge’s defence when his wife complains about the way he is treated.
This book strikes the reader as a fairy tale, it portrays the British bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century when industrialization was growing rapidly.
The author, Charles Dickens, paints a realistic picture of the poverty of the working class and the ignorance of the political system at that time. He manages to capture the mood and atmosphere of his time perfectly by describing the daily routine of working class people, their housing and their habits. He mentions the poorhouses of the poorest people as well as the excessive eating and general merriment of the wealthier. This way Dickens succeeds in contrasting those two worlds and he manages to stress the miserable living conditions of the working class.
A passage that is really touching or even shocking is when Scrooge says of the poor, “If they would rather die...they had better to do so, and decrease the surplus population.”.
Such radical views typify the unfeeling attitude and behaviour of many people who had grown rich and who were obsessed with money during the boom of Britain's economy in this period of industrialization. Many of them were as selfish as Scrooge and did not want to share their wealth with the poor and homeless.
By describing the horrendous living conditions of those poor people the author tried to put the government under pressure to undertake social reforms and he wanted to tell the rich to keep their preoccupation with money in check.
The reader finds it particularly easy to believe in the picture Dickens gives of life in Britain and therefore he had already in his time succeeded in maintaining liberal opinions.
Dickens knows perfectly how to keep his readers in suspense. The terrifying vision of the moment when Scrooge sees the face of his dead partner staring straight at him is certainly impressing. With the help of his vivid and variable but purposeful descriptive style the writer really makes his characters appear in the mind’s eye of the readers.”...the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, ”I know him!...” ...His body was transparent: so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on the back of his coat ...” The reader really sees the deathly-cold glazed eyes staring at him.
1 Hornby, Nich: High Fidelity. Penguin Books, London, 1995, p.1
2 ibid, p. 103
3 ibid, p. 184
4 Knowles, Joanne: Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc, New York, 2002, p. 32
5 Hornby, Nick: High Fidelity, p. 44
6 ibid, p. 36
7 ibid, p. 27
8 ibid, p. 117
9 ibid, p. 202
- ISBN (eBook)
- ISBN (Book)
- File size
- 424 KB
- Catalog Number
- Institution / College
- University of Innsbruck – Translationswissenschaften
- sehr gut
- book review; Nick Hornby; High Fidelity; Charles Dickens; Christmas Carol; Theater Review; Peter Shaffer; Amadeus; Film Review; Tolkien; The fellowship of the ring; Phil Penningroth; Silence of the heart;