Authors We Love: William Faulkner

William Faulkner - Wikipedia

(William Faulkner William Faulkner on September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962), one of the most influential writers in the history of American literature is the representative figure of a stream of consciousness literature in the United States, and the 1949 Nobel Prize winner, won the prize for “because he has made a strong and art to contemporary American novel unparalleled contribution”.

In his lifetime, he wrote 19 novels and more than 120 short stories, among which 15 novels and the vast majority of short stories took place in Yoknapatawpha County, known as “Yoknapatawpha lineage”. The main thread is the story of generations of several families of different social classes in the county town of Jefferson and its suburbs, from 1800 until after World War II. More than 600 characters with family names are interspersed in novels and short stories. The most representative work is “The Sound and the Fury.”

Faulkner reflected the reality of southern society facing the invasion of industrial civilization through subjective refraction. The Civil War ended with the defeat of the south. After the war, the traditional values of the south collapsed. Raised in the southern tradition, Faulkner grew up with tales of courage, honor, compassion, pride, justice, and freedom from his ancestors His pride in his family and love of his native land were sown in his heart. However, the rapid collapse of the south, the impact of the first world war, and the postwar American society led him to make a reflection on the traditions. He learned to face the reality to make new thinking, peel off the beauty of the southern spiritual heritage, and see the evil of the southern slavery and plantation owners of corruption, slavery, and inhumanity. This realization was painful for Faulkner, who was deeply attached to his home. He did not shy away from the pain, but with the artist’s keen eye to see the facts, willing to become a spiritual vagabond. And he could not find sustenance in the industrial civilization brought by the north. What he saw was the suffering of the people of the south in the development of capitalism. In the new south, simple human relations were replaced by money, and peaceful life was destroyed by a chaotic and noisy urban life. Everyone loses his or her individuality and becomes a machine that is manipulated or abused. So they involuntarily turn to the old ways of life, but immediately recall the guilt of history and fear. It was with such a complex feeling that Faulkner depicted the southern society and conceived his own art world.

-Coreen C. 

The works of William Faulkner are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow (Author of Herzog)

Saul Bellow (1915 — 2005) was an American writer, known as the spokesman of American contemporary literature. Born in 1915 in Racine, a suburb of Montreal, Canada, to Jewish immigrants from st. Petersburg, Russia. In 1924, the family moved to Chicago, USA. He attended the University of Chicago in 1933, and two years later transferred to Northwestern University, where he graduated in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology. In addition to the occupation as an editor, journalist, and merchant navy, Bellow spent most of his time as a college professor. He received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, and Northwestern universities. Bellow wrote and published 11 novels, 3 novellas, 4 short stories, and a play. In addition, he also published three non-fiction works, such as travel notes, essays, and speech collections.

The protagonists in Bellow’s works all desire to pursue a better life and the meaning of life. Even Maggie, who is in a wandering situation, dreams of starting an orphanage. The pursuit of the perfect self and social life translates into the ideal of Bellow’s heroes. However, life not only rewards them with incentives but more often stabs them in the back without them noticing. Hence, most of the characters exemplify escapism from the harsh reality that is imposed upon them. There is an inescapable paradox between their search for freedom and their flight. Just as they dream of playing the noble role of helping the world and saving the common, they are also victims of the cruel world.

-Coreen C. 

The works of Saul Bellow are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter (Signet Classics): Hawthorne, Nathaniel ...

The Scarlet Letter is a novel by American romantic writer Hawthorne. It was published in 1850. The Scarlet Letter is about the tragedy of love in colonial North America. The heroine, Hester Prynne, was married to a physician, Chillingworth, but there was no love between them. In her loneliness, Prynne fell in love with the reverend Dimmesdale and gave birth to her daughter Pearl. Prynne was publicly punished and was paraded to the public with the symbol of adultery. But Hester Prynne remained steadfast and refused to name the child’s father. Symbolism is often used in the novel. Characters, plots, and language are highly subjective, and psychological activities and intuition are often given priority in the description. Therefore, it is not only a representative work of American romantic novels but also known as the pioneer of American psychoanalytic novels.

The love between Hester and Dimmesdale is full of the sacrificing spirit of a moth to the flame, which has a strong tragic color. They are not only the unashamed martyrs who sacrifice themselves for the higher truth but also the victims who are offered to God on the altar of Puritan. The symbolism of the letter “A”, at the heart of the book, is more colorful than red. Its connotation changes with the development of the plot and characters, and varies with the standpoint of the observer, showing the characteristics of wandering and drifting. “A” is the first letter of the alphabet, signifying beginning, and in Christian doctrine, the beginning in the fall, the original sin from which no one is spared. The beginning of the world was the fall; Adam and Eve, the ancestors of human beings, were expelled from the Garden of Eden because they sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. The beginning of life is also the fall, Adam and Eve’s children and grandchildren inherit original sin which means that people are born to sin.

-Coreen C.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Authors We Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in st. Paul, Minnesota, to a family of small businessmen. His ancestors, who had once been rich and powerful, have faded down to his parents’ generation. In 1913, supported by relatives, he attended Princeton University, an aristocratic institution of higher learning in the eastern United States. But he had no interest in his studies, often missed classes and failed exams, and focused almost entirely on social activities. He managed to get into the school’s literary group, was invited to the most famous clubs, shook off his country accent, and developed a standard “advanced” English, trying to subtly erase differences of birth. In 1915, when Princeton’s theater troupe toured the United States with his comedy “The Evil Eye,” he was barred from performing with the group because of his grades.

In the spring of 1917, the United States entered World War I, and Fitzgerald joined the army. In late 1918, Fitzgerald left the army and headed to New York, where he found only a job writing the words for a little-known advertising agency. In June 1919, his lover Zelda lost patience and called off the engagement. Early experiences led to Fitzgerald’s lifelong sensitivity to money. In 1919, Fitzgerald returned home with nothing. Published in February 1920, the novel “This Side of Paradise” became an instant hit for its vivid sense of The Times, and the first edition sold out in a few days. Magazines began to scramble for him.

On December 21, 1940, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack caused by alcoholism at the age of 44, leaving behind an unfinished work, “The Last Tycoon”.

He is a legendary author with a flourishing life, but his outstanding literary understanding and writing abilities did not leave him with a glorious ending.

-Coreen C. 

The works of F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Million Pound Note by Mark Twain

Man with a Million (1954) - IMDb

The Million Pound Note is a novella written by American writer Mark Twain and published in 1893. It tells the adventures of Henry Adams, an American boy who is an impoverished clerk in London. Two rich brothers in London made a bet to lend Henry an uncashable million-dollar note to see how he would wind up in a month. Instead of starving or being arrested, Henry became rich and won the heart of a beautiful lady. This article reproduces the satire and humor in the master’s novels with slightly exaggerated artistic techniques and exposes the money-worship ideology in the early 20th century.

At the beginning of the novel, Henry floats too far out to sea in his small sailboat. When he arrived in London, Henry had no one with him. After using up his last dollar, he was left without food and clothing. While Henry loitered hungrily in Portland Square, a child threw a pear with a bite thrown into the gutter. Henry stared hungrily at the muddy treasure, drooling. Just as the reader was nervous that Henry was about to grab the “treasure”, “Please come in” — just five short words, like a bolt from the blue, released the reader’s nerves. Henry’s life changed.

The young man in the novel is a true portrayal of Mark Twain. In Nevada, Mark Twain was a journalist in Virginia City, Nevada’s gold and silver region. Mark Twain was not immune to the gold rush, and he was sensitive to rumors and new opportunities. At that time, many miners who had discovered gold and silver mines were selling their shares in New York City to raise money, and Mark Twain invested all his savings, and even all his royalties, in buying silver mines.

-Coreen C.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita: Nabokov, Vladimir: Amazon.com: Books

Most of the book is the confession of Humbert, a death-row prisoner, recounting the love story between a middle-aged man and an underage girl. The novel was initially rejected for publication in the United States and was first published in 1955 by Olympia in Paris. Finally published in the US in 1958, the book rocketed to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Lolita has been adapted into a film.

In the novel, Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged French immigrant to the United States, had a first love affair with a 14-year-old girl Annabel when he was a teenager. In The end, Annabel died early from typhoid fever, which led to Humbert’s transformation to a pedophile. He defined “goblin” as “nine to fourteen years old”. First abandoned by a wealthy widow, Humbert later falls for Lolita, the 12-year-old daughter of landlady Charlotte Haze, calling her a goblin. Unable to break away from Lolita due to the shadow of his childhood, Humbert marries his landlady and becomes Lolita’s stepfather in order to get close to the precocious and passionate little girl. The girl in the novel is Dolores Haze, or Lolita or Lo, as the Spanish-sounding nickname for the book’s title.

The landlady in her husband’s diary later found out his secret and was very angry that he cheated on her. Humbert later picks Lolita up from camp and travels with her, thinking that by drugging her in her drink he can unknowingly molest her. The drug had no effect on Lolita (because it wasn’t really a powerful sleeping pill), and instead, the next morning, Lolita flirted with Humbert and had an incestuous relationship. Humbert then informs Lolita that her mother is dead, and with no choice, Lolita accepts that she must live with her stepfather. Humbert takes Lolita on a father and daughter tour of The United States, using pocket money, beautiful clothes, and delicious food to control Lolita and continues to satisfy his desire for her. As Lolita grows up, she begins to dislike her stepfather and starts dating boys of her own age. She takes the opportunity of a trip to break away from her stepfather. Humbert searched frantically at first, but eventually gave up.

Three years later, Humbert receives a letter from Lolita. It says that she is married, pregnant, and needs financial help from her stepfather. Humbert gave her $400 in cash, a check for $3,600, and a $10,000 deed to the house that he had sold. He asked Lolita who is the man who took her away from, and Lolita told him that the man is Quilty who is a professor of performance at her school. She told him that she ran away from Quilty because she rejected Quilty’s request to her and the other boys for making pornographic films. Humbert begged Lolita to leave her husband and go with him, but she refused, and Humbert was heartbroken. He tracked down and shot Quilty. Humbert died in prison of a blood clot, and Lolita died in childbirth on Christmas Day 1950 at the age of 17.

-Coreen C.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive.

Film Review: The Mule

Earl Stone is a senescent horticulturist and veteran from the Korean War. For all of his life, he has dedicated his time to nurturing his plants and prioritizing work before anything. Due to this reason, he is greatly estranged from his daughter and his wife Mary. At the beginning of the movie, Earl is still earning popularity and money by selling plants to people. However, as the years passed, the internet is the new way of how people sell stuff. Due to this reason, Earl’s business has greatly fallen behind and he was facing a financial crisis. After a heated argument with his wife on how he missed his daughter’s graduation and even the wedding, Earl was headed out of the house. Nevertheless, one strange man approached him and told him to transport some cargoes which can earn him plenty of money. Earl easily agreed and that’s how he came to be the courier of illegal drugs.

There are two reasons why I believe this movie deserves some attention and views. First, it has a central theme of racism that is not outright spoken but can be clearly felt. Due to Earl’s identity as a white man, police officers didn’t bother to check his truck even after the dog has barked after the smell of the drugs. He easily believed Earl when he claims that the dog barks because of the liniment he applies to his hands for medication purposes. The second time the police officers arrested the two Hispanic bodyguards along with him but didn’t arrest Earl due to his race. The third time the police officers directly skipped Earl’s hotel room and only interrogated people of color.

The second reason is that although this movie mainly focuses on crime, its central theme is family. Earl never knows how important family is to him until he attended the performance of his granddaughter. The money he paid for her tuition is illegally earned, but it made him feel special and purposeful about being appreciated by his family members. When his wife Mary died, he deeply regrets the limited amount of time and attention he spent on her until she’s no longer with him.

Therefore, it is important that we recognize and cherish the people and things around us before they are gone.

-Coreen C.

The Mule is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Amazon.com: War and Peace (Vintage Classics) (9781400079988 ...

This book centers on the Great Patriotic War of 1812 and reflects major historical events from 1805 to 1820. Taking the experience of Bezuhov, Rostov, and Kuragin as the mainline, it connects many events and characters in the alternating description of war and peace. The author cross-described the two lives and two threads of “war” and “peace”, forming an encyclopedic magnificent epic. The basic theme of “War and Peace” is to recognize the just resistance actions of the Russian people during the war, and to praise the patriotic enthusiasm and heroism of the Russian people during the war. But the tone of his work is one of religious benevolence and humanitarianism. He opposes war and sympathizes deeply with the suffering of all sides.

Andrei, Pierre, and others have experienced a tortuous and dialectical development process in their pursuit of ideals and truth. The different mental manifestations of the Russian troops in different battles, such as panic, calmness, and passion, combined with the distinctive individual psychological motivations of each bearing in the specific war, melted and formed the spiritual atmosphere in every corner of the battlefield. Morale is the key to win or lose in a war. The novel War and Peace has both the magnificent color of epic novels and the depth of expression in its insight into the psychology of characters and even the entire nation. The work focuses on a panoramic overview of social life, realizing the epic aesthetic ideal of the creative subject and transcending the work itself. War and Peace powerfully exposes and criticizes the decadence of the upper-class society. In the critical autumn of their motherland, they are still fighting for power and wealth, leading a life of luxury and dissipation and shamelessness.

-Coreen C.

Authors We Love: Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau - Wikipedia

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 — May 6, 1862) was an American writer, philosopher, and representative of transcendentalism.

A graduate of Harvard University, he helped edit Emerson’s quarterly review of the Sundial. He was a lifelong supporter of the abolitionist movement. He preached abolitionism everywhere and attacked fugitive slave laws. Deeply influenced by Emerson, he advocated returning to the heart and getting close to nature. In 1845, he lived by Walden Pond, two miles away from Concord, as a recluse for two years, farming and eating by himself, experiencing a life of simplicity. Walden, a long essay on this subject, became a classic work of transcendentalism.

Thoreau was brilliant and wrote more than twenty first-class essays in his lifetime. Known as the founder of nature essays, Thoreau’s prose was concise and powerful, simple and natural, and full of thoughts, which was unique among the American prose in the 19th century. Walden is considered the most popular nonfiction in American literature. His other works include political treatise on Civil Disobedience, Life without Principle, Cape Cod, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack river, The Maine Woods, etc. Walden records his reclusive life in Walden, while Civil Disobedience discusses the injustices of government and power and justifies citizens’ voluntary refusal to obey certain laws.

Thoreau was not tall but very firm with pale skin and strong, serious blue eyes, and a solemn manner.Thoreau later in his life, had a beard that suited him. His features were sharp, his build strong, and his hands were strong and swift in the use of tools. He said that he used his feet better than his eyes to find his way through the woods at night, and that he could estimate the height of two trees with his eyes very accurately; he could estimate the weight of an ox or a pig as well as a cattle dealer. He was good at swimming, racing, skating and rowing, and could probably beat any countryman in the long walk from morning to night. The relationship between his body and his mind is even more subtle than we think. He said that every step of his leg was his. As usual, the longer he traveled, the longer he wrote. If you shut him in at home, he won’t write at all.

-Coreen C.

The works of Henry David Thoreau are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Caesar is one of William Shakespeare’s best plays. It not only portrays the friendship of two major characters but also describes how democracy, instead of tyranny, is the best way to govern a nation and protect the rights of its citizens.

In this post, I would like to explain why, Brutus, in my opinion, is a patriot instead of a traitor. First, he killed Caesar because he thinks that it is the only way to save Rome from a dictatorship. Signs of corruption and power in Caesar warns Brutus that a tyrant is in sight. Therefore, he killed Caesar for the common good and to ensure democracy.

Another reason why killing Caesar can be justified as a way of patriotism is because the benefit equal representation in Senate brings outweighs the loss of Caesar. The plebeians do not know how the government operates, and therefore, they don’t know Caesar’s selfish plans and his personality. Hence, it is Brutus’ responsibility to assure that the Roman citizens’ rights are not taken away. If Brutus is already aware of others will accuse him of murdering his best friend and be entitled to that of a traitor, yet he still chooses to do it, this proves that he is a person who values his country above his personal relations.

-Coreen C. 

Julius Caesar is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive