Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

In the vast city of Golvahar resides a princess named Soraya, forced to be hidden away from the public eye. Cursed, she was born with the ability to kill any living being with a mere touch. Her yearning to be a part of her family and society flourishes with the years she stayed concealed in the gardens, watching everyone’s lives from a far distance. But all changes when a demon creature (div) who holds the knowledge to break her curse is captured and being held in the palace dungeon. A beau who perceives her past the poison running through her veins vows to help her but to what extent will she go to get what she desires? And will the choices she makes conform her into the monster she always tried not to become?

This enthralling tale of self-discovery and will power kept me hooked from the very beginning. Melissa Bashardoust takes stories from Persian mythology and makes a fascinating queer fairytale with many elements from Sleeping Beauty. The secrets told in the most unexpected times compels the readers to think deeper into the true meaning of “monster” and what it takes to be a hero. Told in the perspective of Soraya herself, we see the loneliness she had been through firsthand, allowing us to relate to and perhaps find ourselves in her story.

-Saanvi V.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Film Review: The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin, a film adaptation of Herge’s comic series, is an underrated masterpiece. Here’s why!

To start, a brief synopsis of the movie should be given. It begins with Tintin, a young reporter who shops at an outdoor market in Brussels, Belgium. Attended by his dog, Snowy, he buys The Unicorn, a replica of an old ship. As mysterious characters attempt to obtain the model from him, Tintin discovers that it contains clues that lead to a hidden treasure, but before he can act on it, he is taken by the notorious Sakharine. 

Now with a little context, I can move on with my explanation! 

#1: Visuals! Tintin is considered a “Noir Film,” since it applies shadows and dark radiance in order to capture audiences. It allows for the atmosphere to feel mysterious, harsh, and prepared for action. 

#2: Scene transitions! It’s somewhat hard to elaborate upon, but shifts between events of a movie can be quite difficult to smoothen out, but Steven Spielberg (the director of this film) was able to capture these moments easily while remaining true to the spirit of Tintin. If you decide to watch the movie, consider this!

#3: Characters! Tintin is portrayed as an energetic, curious reporter, exactly as depicted in the comic series. However, the added element of obsession that stems from his search to uncover the “secret of the unicorn” makes him more fun to watch. 

In 2019, there was some debate on plans for a sequel, as the original idea was to have two more movies after the release of the first. However, there have been some delays, due to redrafts of the script, the recast of certain actors, and slow production. As a major Herge fan, I hope there’s a chance of a second film in sight …

Before I conclude, I’d like to recommend that you check out Herge’s original comics. They’re a terrific, sweet read, and quick to grasp! Plus, it might also assist in the film’s general enjoyment. Therefore, look for “The Secret of the Unicorn” and “The Crab with the Golden Claws,” as these had the largest impact on the motion picture. 

Side Note: Top 3 Favorite Tintin Comics 

#1: The Castafiore Emerald – it reminds me of Seinfeld; as much as its conclusion might frustrate you, the elements of suspicion, doubt, and wonder hold your attention

#2: Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon – written almost two decades prior to the Apollo 11 mission, Herge’s imagination gives significance to space exploration

#3: The Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun – not only is it filled with action, but it gives insight on old civilizations and customs thought forgotten

Final Result: a firm score of ★★★★★ 

Authors We Love: Jean Craighead George

Jean Craighead George is a naturalist, illustrator, and author.  Born in 1919 in Washington DC, George developed her love of nature from her family.  All being naturalists, together they’d hike mountains, climb trees to study owls, and make their own fish hooks out of twigs.  

This love of nature carried over to her writing as George eventually graduated from Pennsylvania State University with degrees in Science and English.  She is known for uniquely combining her careers into engaging fictional stories that take place in real, vividly described ecosystems. 

One of her most famous books, My Side of the Mountain, takes place in the Catskill mountains and involves a boy, named Sam, who attempts to make a home for himself in the wild.  The novel details the day to day life of Sam and features illustrations of some of his creations, including shelters, traps, and whistles.  While the book is an amazing read for nature lovers due to its setting, the trials of surviving in the snow, finding food, and the mystery of an unstable environment makes it a tale of suspense that is perfect for adventure-lovers too.  

Other novels by Jean Craighead George include:

  • Julie of the Wolves (Newberry Prize Winning) 
  • The Fire Bug Connection
  • There’s an Owl in the Shower
  • Water Sky
  • Charlie’s Raven 
  • Shark Beneath the Reef 
  • On the Far Side of the Mountain (Sequel to My Side of the Mountain)

-Giselle F. 

The works of Jean Craighead George are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Thunderball by Ian Fleming

Thunderball (novel) - Wikipedia

There’s no rest for Agent James Bond, code-name 007, especially after taking down the Russian counter-intelligence agency SMERSH. It has only created a new power vacuum, one that an even more dangerous organization seeks to fill in Thunderball by Ian Fleming.

The Prime Minister of the UK and the President of the US both receive a secret message from SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), detailing their latest plot. The agency, led by criminal mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld, has successfully hijacked a plane carrying two nuclear bombs, which it will use to destroy two major cities in the West unless an exorbitant ransom is paid.

To avoid this, the Americans and the British launch Operation Thunderball to retrieve the two weapons of mass destruction. M, however, decides to act on a hunch of his, and, believing that the SPECTRE operative is working from the Caribbean area, and thus sends his best operative, James Bond, to eliminate the threat.

Once at the Bahamas, Bond wastes no time integrating himself with the suspected SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo by seducing the beautiful Domino Vitali, Largo’s current mistress. However, alone in the Bahamas with a lone man for backup, Bond may find himself in over his head, with Largo proving to be a more powerful nemesis than any before him…

In Ian Fleming’s Thunderball, the reader is introduced to the newest set of Bond villains, as well as one of the best action sequences in the Bond storyline. Fans of Agent 007 should not miss the ninth installment in the tale of one of the most celebrated series in history.

-Mahak M.

Thunderball by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway

The narrative perspective of limited omniscience in the third person is adopted in this work. Through succinct dialogue, implicit narration, exquisite psychological description, ellipsis and repetition and other artistic means, the image of Wilson as a tough guy who is calm, sophisticated, assertive and confident has been successfully shaped. It expresses the theme that the meaning of life lies in the courage to defy death and fight bravely. The novel revolves around two hunting trips in Africa by American couple Francis Macomber and his wife Margaret with professional hunter Wilson. On the first day of hunting, the timid Macomber was scared out of his wits by the injured lion. For this, he was viciously mocked by his wife and despised by Wilson. That night, his wife went into Wilson’s tent. Macomber was devastated and in extreme pain. The next day, out of his usual way, he suddenly broke free from his long-held fear and charged at a wounded bison. At that very moment, Margaret shot Macomber in the back, ending his young life.

It can be said that only those brave people who face the tragedy of fate are the real tough men; those who face the pressure of fate and maintain human dignity, courage, and elegant demeanor are the real heroes in modern life. On the contrary, people who are trapped in the modern net of material pleasures and desires often lose the courage to face life and become the miserable wretches that everyone is ashamed of. “The Short And Happy Life of Francis Macomber” is clearly a profound and rich account of this transformation. In Hemingway’s case, the color of modern life is clearly not what human life needs, and people who indulge in it are trapped in it. On the contrary, only with human dignity, facing the tragedy and death of life, can one gain some kind of freedom and feel real happiness. Macomber has endured death, pain, and absurdity throughout his life, but his defiance and his courage in trying to escape the grip of nihilistic forces are enough to make him a hero.

Death is the greatest nothingness and the power to get rid of nothingness. Macomber’s death in nothingness and his rebirth in death are spiritual triumphs. The significance and value of Hemingway’s creation lies in that people living in such a nihilistic life should seriously consider their own living environment through death, pain, and absurdity and establish a new way of existence to challenge and overcome nihilism. “The Short And Happy Life of Francis Macomber” is a third-person narrative. Therefore, the narrator can travel flexibly and freely among the narrated objects, and has a relatively broad narrative space. He can stay outside the characters for external observation, or sneak into the characters’ interior for psychological perspective. In the novel, Macomber, his wife Margaret, and professional hunter Wilson, these three main characters’ image creation and story suspense setting are realized by the different functions of the third person narration.

It is worth mentioning that the novel also occasionally inserts the second person, which refers to the narrative receiver, namely the reader, as “you”, showing a strong emotional tendency, which greatly reduces the distance between the narrative receiver and the narrator and enables the reader to participate in the story. “The Short And Happy Life of Francis Macomber” is a masterpiece of skill. The author’s own subjective intentions are completely submerged in the plot. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t lash out, the novel is exactly like a caricature with a touch of humor in it. Hemingway portrays the characters without any generalization or ambiguity. His implicit and concise style is usually simple on the surface, but with careful consideration, the profound meaning can be understood.

-Coreen C.

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming

Diamonds Are Forever | Bookogs Database

He’s risked his life in an “innocent” casino. He’s fought toe-to-toe with the dastardly Soviet spy agency SMERSH. He’s even prevented nuclear annihilation of the world by the destructive Project Moonraker.

But when Agent 007, James Bond, is called in to halt a threatening diamond smuggling crime ring with expansive influence, he may finally find himself in over his head.

Posing as a captured courier, Bond teams up with Tiffany Case, a beautiful woman with ties to the very center of the operation. Following the trail of sparkling blood from Africa through England and finally to  America, Bond must infiltrate and remove every stop between the source and his destination.

Facing dangerous assassins and secrets upon secrets, Bond will somehow need to remain undercover long enough to unveil the last link in the long and deadly chain: the mysterious syndicate leader known only as “ABC.” One false move, however, and 007 may find himself on the wrong end of the wrath of the American underworld. 

Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever is the fourth book of the 007 series, and is definitely not to be missed by any James Bond fans. Jam-packed with action, adventure, danger, and hints of romance, both diamonds, and the book will last forever in the hearts and minds of the beholder.

-Mahak M. 

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Book Review: The Moonstone by William Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone eBook by Wilkie Collins - 1230001902938 | Rakuten Kobo United  States

As a writer of the British Empire at the peak of the colonial era, Collins is immersed in the influence of colonialism and orientalism thinking mode. His image of the Eastern people inevitably shows the superiority of the subjects of the metropolitan country and the obvious racist attitude towards the colonial people. However, many factors in The Moonstone, such as the selection of time setting, plot arrangement, characterization and so on, can also be interpreted completely in the opposite way: Collins raises certain doubts and challenges to the colonial mentality. Collins’s choice of India as the setting is closely related to the Indian mercenary riots of 1857. The rioting started when the British authorities used butter and lard as lubricants for bullet clips that needed to be chewed through the mouth, and the mercenaries were mostly Hindus or Muslims. To them, touching the oil on these clips meant blasphemy against religion. Angry soldiers rioted, killing not only the British boss but also the innocent. Most of the reports in the British media distorted the facts of the case, and for a time, the name “bloodthirsty Indian” was constantly heard. Collins and Dickens collaborated on an article called “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners,” which exposed the insidious, cunning, and hypocrisy of colored people and praised the qualities of British soldiers. The Moonstone was written on the tenth anniversary of the riots, and newspapers and magazines are full of memories, memorials or reflections on the events. By this time, many British people had come to understand the truth and felt that the British authorities had been wrong to disregard the Indian soldiers’ religious beliefs, and Collins’s views had changed subtly. In the novel, his view of the relationship between Britain and India is no longer a simple tribute to the British empire, but an indirect expression of his deep reflection. The plot arrangement and characterization of the novel also reveal Collins’ questioning and criticism of the so-called noble morality of the colonists.

Several of the Englishmen involved in the jewel were from the upper middle class, but the cruelty and greed of Colonel Herncastle, who first grabbed the jewel, goes without saying, and the image of Abel White, the real black hand in the jewel theft, is ironic. The final collapse of the case exposed Abel White as a hypocritical English gentleman. He is the suitor of Rachel, the heroine. He is of noble birth, well-educated and has a noble career as a lawyer. He attends church regularly and is enthusiastic in organizing and participating in various charitable activities. He was a fine young man of uncommon appearance. He had a round, bright face, a ruddy complexion, and lovely blond hair. However, when the mystery is solved, his double identity is revealed: the bright surface conceals the dark inner heart, he not only leads a dissolved life, but also embezzles the client’s funds. After the financial crisis, in order to avoid ruin, he took the risk of stealing precious stones. It is intriguing that Collins has named such a sanctimonious figure Abel White. The image of an Indian was in stark contrast to Abel White’s imposing appearance. In the eyes of several narrators, the Indians are dark skinned, obtuse, and have a manner reminiscent of snakes. However, they had a clear goal and a firm belief. In order to retrieve the stolen holy moonstone, they broke the religious rules and sacrificed their lives to trace all the way to England, and finally returned the gem to its owner by tenacious perseverance, superhuman patience and shrewd calculation. The explorer concludes the novel by describing a grand Hindu religious ceremony celebrating the return of the jewel. His reverence rose to the page as he spoke of the three men going their separate ways, with the congregation around them making way for them in silence. The moonstone becomes a yardstick to measure the good and evil of human nature and a mirror to reflect the character’s morality.

Reflected in this mirror, the “barbarian” in the eyes of the Europeans became the guardian of virtue, while the English gentleman had forgotten what was virtuous. So when Abel White, the “capable white man”, is murdered by an Indian, the mood conveyed by the novel is not one of indignation, but of sympathy, admiration and relief that justice has been done. The moonstone is a sacred object of Hinduism. This gem is no longer just a physical indicator, but a spiritual and cultural sustenance. The twists and turns of its fate revealed that the economy of the English country estate was closely related to the colony. Events in the colony would eventually spread to the British mainland and cause social unrest in Britain. The moonstone exposes the brutality and greed of the colonists, reflecting their moral corruption and hypocrisy under the guise of religion and civilization. Moreover, through the influence of the gem on the family of the British gentry, the author implies that colonial affairs destroy the traditional social and family hierarchy order: only when the colonial gems leave the British mainland, the British family can restore normal order. Another theme of the novel is to celebrate Rachel’s pursuit of love, even though her pursuit is full of difficulties. She falls in love with Franklin before her birthday party, but on the night of the party, after witnessing him steal the moonstone, she begins to doubt their love. But no matter how sad she was, she chose to sacrifice her reputation for secrecy to protect Franklin. In the novel, there are three Indians who follow in the footsteps of the moonstone, and their task is to keep searching for the moonstone, without fear of sacrifice, even through generations of efforts, until the stone is returned to its original place. Rachel’s sacrifice was in the name of love, and the sacrifice of the three Indians was in the name of faith. The two kinds of sacrifice echoed and supported each other.

The horror and mystery reflected in The Moonstone is one of the important features of Gothic literature. Readers are always in the process of guessing the murderer, guessing wrong, continuing to guess and guessing wrong. Only by reading the ending did we discover who the real killer was. In The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins has a remarkably precise command of time and space, one of the basic abilities that most mystery novels have. In terms of narrative structure, the novel is just like drama and film shooting, which is divided into prologue, first part, second part and epilogue. In the second part, there are six stories to tell. The time of the narrative remains the same, and the gems are stolen one by one — the truth comes out, but after the jewel is stolen, the events in the second part are told separately by the six men, as if the police were looking for clues and inquiring about relevant personnel, and the parts of the six men’s separate stories seem to be independent. The overlap of time and the intersection of space weave an impenetrable web. Narration, flashbacks and interludes in space and time make the plot messy and complex, close and scattered, and the readers’ mood is controlled by the author. There are traps in Wilkie Collins’s narrative that draw the reader’s mind in mysterious and conspiring directions, yet he is so grounded in the goodness of human nature that, just when you want to believe in it, another well-reasoned accident pulls back a plot that has gone far. Finally, you seem to know how the gem came back to India, and you seem not to know. This kind of looming narrative is extraordinarily precise in its transformation of narrative vision. In the dialogue of the characters, the defects of the previous character are written back or made up, and the whole picture is reflected afterwards where random incident causes an uncontrollable scene.

-Coreen C.

The Moon and Sixpence by William Somerset Maugham

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham: 9780143039341 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

In his novels, Maugham deeply discusses the contradiction and interaction between life and art. The escapist theme revealed by the novel coincided with the pursuit of many people in the West and became a popular novel in the 20th century. Maugham’s novel The Moon and Sixpence, inspired by Gauguin, was undoubtedly more fiction than fact. For the next decade, Gauguin thought he would finally be able to enjoy the fruits of his success and reunite the family. By comparing novels with reality, we can find that Gauguin’s pursuit of painting has its causal relationship and process development. But Strickland’s departure is very abrupt and too intense. In addition to the author’s use of fictional plots and narrative techniques, he has created a so-called pure sense of the artist who is unworldly. Compared with Gauguin’s departure, Strickland’s departure is completely out of line with the logic of reality and is even more incomprehensible to the reader. There is a deeper reason why Maugham is writing this way: the virtual satisfaction of Maugham’s ego. Sixpence was the smallest unit of silver in England at that time. People often forget the sixpence at their feet when they look at the moon. The moon is the ideal high above, the sixpence is the reality. The modernity of The Moon and Sixpence is first manifested in its conceptuality. In the The Moon and Sixpence, Maugham ostensibly describes the fate and encounter of the protagonist, but in fact reflects his own thinking on the relationship between art and life.

The questions that haunt the protagonist Strickland are what is the nature of art, how to deal with the relationship between art and experience, whether traditional means of expression are reliable, and the exploration of new forms of modern thinking. After experiencing constant twists and turns, Charles Strickland finally realized that art was a thing with great autonomy and independence, and different narrative perspectives would lead to different endings. Real life is real, ugly, cruel and heartless. Therefore, the beautiful and elegant art on the surface is only the whitewash of reality, while the essence of art is false. In the novel, Strickland also showed his extreme distrust of traditional artistic means. This kind of feeling made him have many difficulties in painting performance, and he fell into the dilemma of silence and inaction, and had to find a new way of expression suitable for himself. Maugham added his thoughts on artistic issues into his novel, which gave the novel a strong conceptual nature. This conceptual nature endowed the novel with rich and complex meanings. Through the surface layer and the deep layer, the confrontation between narration and ideas, the novel has broad tension and connotation, showing the strong characteristics of modern novels. The modernity of the The Moon and Sixpence is also reflected in the fictions of the characters.

Its characters do not pay attention to the distinctive personality characteristics, nor is it the representative of a certain type of characters, but often is a symbol of passion and a spirit. The image of the character is vague and unsentimental, like the background of a distant mountain in ink painting, which is lightly blurred. The reader needs to guess and infer from the suspense, hints, details, inspirations, and general atmosphere that the author places, and then gradually discover the symbolic meaning behind the characters. This is evident in the case of Strickland. There was always an unconventionality of mystery in his conduct, a preventive abruptness, and a succession of extraordinary acts. He is taciturn in speech who always speaks with half-utterance and is short and fragmented, concise as a telegram, or simply avoids direct contact with the reader and gives indirect hints through other witnesses. This often gives people a vague impression of looking at flowers in the fog. This behavior of Strickland showed his distrust of established language. In his view, the connection between language and what it refers to has been broken by the erosion of ugly reality. Language has become a web of consciousness permeated with the bourgeois concept of utility, a withered material, unable to express their inner exploration of the true meaning of things, so he cannot speak without searching for the right words and hesitation. His behavior also shows his fear and anxiety about revealing his true self.

Every time when it came to the subject of the ego, he either hedged and dithered to conceal his true heart, or he pretended to be deaf and dumb and remained silent for a long time in deep meditation. Even forced responses were questions and answers, extremely brief, devoid of any passion for conversation or desire for expression. At the end of the novel, he tries to hide his true self by simply escaping from European civilization and fleeing to uninhabited islands. Both of these situations, whether the extreme distrust of words or the fear of revealing one’s true self, have strong modern meanings. The modernity of The Moon and Sixpence is also reflected in the exploration of the role of human irrational consciousness, especially the primitive wild force in civilized society. Throughout the 19th century it was believed that a healthy life could not be lived without a reverence for form, order, organization, and pattern. It became a fashion for writers at that time to seek for order and a certain mode of time in order to transcend the random events. Strickland in The Moon and Sixpence began to live for many years in the rational rhythm of rigid rules. But he soon discovers that in this quiet order of life he gradually drains himself of his talents, his spirit, his vitality, and his creativity. Therefore, he went to the other extreme of life, allowing irrational consciousness to overflow and attack the rational order on the surface of life with savage, primitive and merciless forces.

He had become a dark and haughty monster of unfeeling power, a voice from the threshold of eternal darkness. His whole life was encompassed with sin and wickedness. In the end of the article after constant exploration, he finally came to realize that extreme rationality and irrationality are not healthy life. A healthy life is a rhythmic oscillation and inertia, a transient equilibrium point in a constantly changing life. One should have sincere courage and a faithful attitude towards life to resist the dark, pitiless, vast and gloomy primitive forces of nature. Maugham’s application of the narrator “I” also makes his novels unique. The narrator, on the one hand, has the function of connecting several plates experienced by the protagonist in structure, connecting them, either explicitly or implicitly, intentionally or unintentionally, into a whole in structure. “I”, as the witness of the event, has a direct relationship with the characters in the book and plays a role in promoting the development of the plot. On the other hand, “I”, the narrator, also has a complex and subtle relationship with the author and the reader, which can be said to be a medium for the connection between them. The narrative examination may be either a prop for the author to convey his thoughts to the reader, or it may be a smokescreen that Maugham deliberately creates in order to bring the reader closer to his thoughts. In The Moon and Sixpence, Strickland’s wife is stricken with grief when she learns that her husband has left home.

Combined with the vitriolic, vicious and merciless abuse that the wife later hurled at her husband, Charles Strickland, it is natural that the reader would discern in the attitude of the observer, “I,” that her grief was a mask. The narrator’s manner, however, was so vague that no one dared to judge whether it concealed a deeper meaning, or whether observing the movements of the furniture might be an attempt to conceal his genuine sympathy. Because in fact the narrator, “I,” develops itself into a veritable outsider, a true observer. He has also become a victim of the vagueness and ambiguity of his own making, and has lost the power of interpretation of the life presented to him as the reader. This is the attitude of the narrator, both true and false, both believable and unbelievable, reflecting the essence of complex life. Then, suddenly confused and ignorant again, the narrator, “I,” is charged with persuading Charles Strickland to return to his family. Filled with shallow curiosity, he questioned Charles Strickland, seeking out more anecdotes, and using the exhortation as a kind of charity, trying to bring Charles Strickland back to a life he despised. The more stupid and ignorant the narrator is, the more ridiculous he seems. When the reader finally decipher the author’s trap and decipher the word “freedom” from the plot, he finds that the mad-looking narrator is only a tool for the author to urge the reader to think. In this way, Maugham flexibly adjusts the relationship between readers, author and characters by means of narrators, making readers unconsciously accept their guidance without damaging their independence and confidence, adjusting their ideas, understanding and finally getting in line with the author, and finally accepting the author’s thoughts.

-Coreen C.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles - Kindle edition by Conan Doyle, Arthur .  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

As in Doyle’s previous work, the narrator of The Hound of the Baskervilles is Watson, who, as Holmes’s close companion, becomes an important participant in the case. Most of the novel is presented in the form of Watson’s memoirs, which also means that Watson belongs to the narrator outside the story, that is, has a higher level of authority over the story he narrates. It’s not the equivalent of an omniscient narrative, but when he tells a story, he knows the ins and outs of events. The narrator knows everything, but in telling the story he deliberately hides some of the facts until the end. Watson, for example, knew that the hound’s legend had been deliberately distorted by Stapleton, but he did not reveal this until the climax of the novel.

By setting up suspense, this design delays the satisfaction that readers get from knowing the truth and encourages them to continue reading. Watson was involved in the investigation of the whole affair. The first-person narration can increase the reader’s sense of identity and feel the development of the story from the perspective of the narrator. As the previous narration has laid the foundation for this inexplicable fear, it is easier for the reader to identify with the narrator and feel the great pressure from unknown dangers. Although the reader believes that the novel will follow the usual formula of the detective and that the danger will be relieved at the last moment, the tension caused by the text will not be lessened due to the strong emotional identity between the narrator and the reader.

On the one hand, it is convenient for the author to hide important information so as to attract readers. At the same time, it makes readers identify with emotions, and then reaches the purpose of attracting readers by setting suspense. Rather than telling the story chronologically, Doyle reshuffles the events to give the text a variety of features. For example, when Watson and his party are about to leave for Dartmoor, Holmes compares the moor to a stage where a tragedy is about to take place. He was clearly referring to something that had not yet happened, a statement that could be called a flashback. In this way, Doyle tells the reader that a play is about to begin.

Prenarration is rarely seen in western narrative texts, but Doyle is adept at it and draws the reader’s attention to the upcoming story. In addition to a few previews, the novel also contains long flashback. One function of flashbacks is to provide context for current events, such as when Dr. Mortimer talks to Dr. Watson about a woman whose initials are L. L., and Mortimer tells him the woman’s identity and recounts her harrowing experience. This background can give the reader a clue to the truth. However, due to the disordered timing of narration, it is also a challenge for the reader to piece together the information scattered throughout the text. But it is this non-linear narrative that makes the story confusing and adds to the sense of suspense.

Flashbacks also delay the revelation of the truth, allowing the reader to keep curiosity to the last minute. In this case, although the criminal has been punished, the motive of the crime remains unknown. It is not until the last chapter that Holmes reveals Stapleton’s plot in his Baker Street flat. Such flashbacks fill in the information gap in the previous text and maintain the tension of the text to the maximum extent. It can be said that the use of foretelling and flashbacks makes the novel more attractive.

-Coreen C.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Amazon.com: The Age of Innocence: Romance Novel eBook: Wharton, Edith:  Kindle Store

Edith Wharton gives an accurate picture of the society and customs of New York. The dullness of the characters in their absolute captivity, the artificial and false standards, the drudgery of routine, the gradual rigidity of passion, the numbness of feeling, the loss of life — these are all perfectly relevant. She calls it a kind of symbolic universe, where real things are never said, never done, never even thought about, but simply represented by symbols that are always at will. Wharton’s contradiction of her upper-class society is fully explained in The Age of Innocence, which is both negative and positive. The themes of The Age of Innocence are intriguing. Wharton mercilessly mocks the high society and its conservative and ludicrous moralism with which she grew up, but she also affirms some of the values in such a society. These values include decency, honesty, responsibility, and so on.

Wharton’s affirmation of the real society is actually a kind of submission to the huge pressure of the society, a kind of helplessness, inability to solve, and nowhere to breakthrough. Thus, in such a contradictory society, the fate of the individual is doomed to tragedy. In a sense, Wharton extends from the helpless real world to the ideal spiritual world. The real world is full of limits and contradictions, but the spiritual world she created has infinite possibilities. But in her spiritual world, The Age of Innocence, everything returns to vanity. The fortunes of the Beauforts in the novel epitomize the alternation of old and new In New York. He had no noble blood, and at first, he rose to the upper classes by the strength of his fortune. But his position was untenable, and he was mercilessly exterminated when he violated the established business principles of New York society. The ebb and flow of Beaufort’s personal fortunes represented the constraint of social morality and family values on commerce. At the end of the novel, Beaufort’s daughter Fanny returns to the group and is welcomed and loved. The marriage between Dallas Archer and Fanny at the end of the novel represents the way of life of the new generation at the turn of the century, and also shows the inexorable advance of society, with the former firmly gaining the upper hand in the battle between business and family. The enormous influence of commerce permeates into every aspect of society, promotes and speeds up the development and fission of society, and also reformulates social ethics.

-Coreen C.