argurotoxos: fanart of Lady Loki amused (Lady Loki - snerk | by etrangere)
Today I:

-Got up around 9 AM and drove over to have breakfast, go on a morning walk, and talk with one of my closest friends. (A few days ago, we went on an 11-mile bike ride together.)

-Stopped at the doctor's office to pick up a script for my mom and make my annual physical appointment. One of the receptionists actually gave me a printed copy of my immunization record at no cost. (The last time I'd tried to get it, I was told they would have to print my whole medical record and charge me almost $40. It's still crazy to me that I can't get my whole medical record without paying for it, or even read it myself at the office, but having the immunization list is a start.)

-Went to my bank's ATM for more cash.

-Bought a second watering can (for the back porch plants), another bottle of sunscreen, and some cheap, scented bubble bath at Walmart.

-Returned some of my and my mom's books at the library. I normally never eat while reading physical books, especially library books, but did one day at work when no one else was on to have lunch with and, sure enough, I spilled some food on it. It doesn't look that bad, but it's an interlibrary loan book, so it's up to the original library to decide if they just want to note the condition or if they want me to pay for a new copy. I also checked out a number of audio CDs and a few new books for Maine and the car drive. (CDs -- The Music Rough Guides to the Himalayas, Japan, Turkish Cafe, and Scandinavia; The Art of Seduction: Gypsy Nights - Belly Dance Music of the Balkans; books -- Belly Dancing Basics by Laura A. Cooper, Funny Misshapen Body by Jeffrey Brown, The Heart of Buddhist Meditation by Nyanaponika Thera, The Zen Path through Depression by Philip Martin. I'm still reading The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo.)

-Picked up my mom's prescriptions at CVS.

-Had a quick lunch (thai curry TV dinner) while reading the newest chapter of one of my current favourite fanfics (A Week is a Long Time in Vanaheim by Hermaline75, Loki/Thor, pre-MCU, explicit, WIP).

-Put on some sunscreen and worked outside. Watered the flowers. Planted some creeping thyme in my small front garden. Moved one of my marigolds that was started to wilt from a clay pot into the soil near the thyme. Swept off the front steps. My plants: two marigolds in clay pots and one amaryllis in my bedroom; cactus and regular zinnia, thyme, and one marigold up front; one marigold, one amaryllis, and two pots of three morning glories each on the back porch.

-Helped my dad check the fluid levels and air conditioning system in my car. He checked the other two cars while I had a short dinner and changed.

-Went to the first class of a new belly dance session half an hour away. The drive wasn't as bad as I'd expected, and the place was easy to find. There were almost 30 people there, some who had taken prior classes with the instructor and some who were completely new, ranging from late teens to 60s! Most people did have their own hip scarfs, though. The studio was an actual dance studio with wooden floors, a barre, and full-length mirrors across one wall. Oh, what a beautiful sight! The mirrors really do help, and I found myself automatically going into ballet warm-ups. It was quite a difference from my experience with the nearby belly dance class, where I was the only one there and the studio was designed primarily as a yoga studio, with no mirrors or barre and just painted concrete. Even though I enjoyed having more people in the class, I also found myself feeling very self-conscious and had a hard time relaxing. The instructor seemed much more knowledgeable, gregarious, and willing to give constructive criticism than the local one, although also a bit absent-minded. I'll be in Maine next week, but signed up for the rest of the session, which will be every Thursday night at 6 PM through 17 July. To my surprise, the instructor said she might even cover veil and zill (finger cymbal) use even though it's a beginner class.

-Came home and ate some fried rice with my parents.

-I might burn some music CDs for Maine after finishing this.

I work tomorrow 7:30 AM - 4:15 PM, Saturday 8 AM - noon (in theory; it might change). If we don't leave for Maine on Sunday, I might go to my close friend's house; he's off that day and their pool might be open.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Midnighter - balloons)
Two posts in one days after a long time of not updating, I know, but I had this drafted before the events of the other post occurred.

Fandom Update in One Minute

-I've put S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl on hiatus and am currently playing Deus Ex: Invisible War, which has many issues, but not enough for me to stop.

-I'm almost through watching FenPhoenix's Thief 2X and Thief: Deadly Shadows Let's Plays.

-My most recent library books have been about T. E. Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia'), Norse mythology, Egyptian mythology, and science fiction in literature and film.

-I'm still reading Thor-based fan ficion and am looking forward to Thor: The Dark World.

-I've been learning belly dance.

-My dad and I finished watching Netflix's streaming episodes of Columbo and have moved on to Through the Wormhole (a science/philosophy show narrated by Morgan Freeman) and various BBC episodes, the most recent being a series on Ancient Greek theatre.
argurotoxos: Cillian Murphy as Kitty from Breakfast on Pluto (Breakfast on Pluto)
I recently finished After School Nightmare, a 10-volume manga by Mizushiro Setona. I originally thought this recommendation came from Kun, but it must have been from browsing TVTropes. After School Nightmare is a very psychological series; all of the main characters are junior high students who must deal with internal struggles ranging from gender identity, rape, depression, domineering parents, and mental disorders. In order to graduate, the students have weekly shared dreams (or, more properly, nightmares) and cannot keep from exposing their true forms to each other. In each nightmare, a key that can be used to graduate is hidden inside one of the student's bodies.

One sequence from the nightmares that really stayed with me featured a high-achieving girl who felt she gave so much of herself she was only a shell and didn't have her own identity. Her appearance in the nightmare world was her regular self, but with a gaping hole where her face should be. After much despair, she throws herself off a roof in the nightmare. Instead of dying, however, she lands on the earth and feels the wind, and the grass, and breathes. She realises in that quiet moment that she is alive. Her face appears where the gaping hole used to be. The moment is beautifully understated and powerful, portrayed more through the art than words. She graduates shortly after, apparently at peace for the first time in many months.

Mizushiro's art is appealing, and she is adept at telling one experience from different characters' points of view, with all viewpoints feeling understandable. Her characters are multifaceted and their interpersonal relationships are complex.

Ichijo Mashiro, the main character and our guide to this world, is intersex -- he presents himself* as male and has a flat chest, but female genitals. Most of the series focuses on his initial shame over not being 'fully male' and his struggle over whether he is, or wants to identify as, male or female. 'I'd always thought I wanted to be a guy. I looked up to them. Watched them from afar. I thought the world guys lived in was far more beautiful. More expansive. Stronger. I thought it was full of opportunities. I was dreaming. But dreams have no substance . . . So, it felt beautiful to me. I never wanted to be a girl. There was nothing to admire about it. I saw nothing but problems and hurt. I didn't want to have that dream. Maybe because, somewhere in my heart . . . I knew I was a girl. I blamed everything I didn't like about myself . . . on that.' [from volume 8, chapter 29] Ichijo's perspective changes several times over the series** as he grows in self-knowledge and confidence.

There are a few things about the ways gender is treated that make me cringe, but are completely believable. 'You do X, and only girls do X, so you must really be a girl.' Ichijo has two romantic interests over the course of the series, one male and one female; both have many nuances and are complicated on both sides, but Ichijo tends to identify more male with his female partner and more female with his male partner. It's not that I don't find that plausible, but there's no discussion of homosexuality or bisexuality. (His female partner makes the claim that Ichijo's using her to feel male.) Overall, though, I was pleased with the characters and thought their reactions and struggles rang true.

I was going to give After School Nightmare a glowing recommendation, but the last two volumes - particularly the twist ending - curtailed my enthusiasm somewhat. It's still an enjoyable series and so refreshing to see these types of characters in manga (or any medium, for that matter -- there can always be more transgender, intersex, or psychologically complex characters), but I didn't feel the story paid off quite as much, or in the ways, that I'd hoped. Still, this is the first manga I've read to the end and really liked in several years.

Kudos to my local library and the interlibrary loan system for having all the volumes available.

*I'm using male pronouns as that's what the manga - or at least the English translation - uses.

Spoilers under the cut. )


2 June 2013 16:05
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Emilie - side)
My mom and I are leaving for Maine tomorrow. We're taking a rental car as my mom's is still at the repair shop after being caught in a parking lot flood and mine isn't sturdy enough for long-distance road trips. There's a large ball of anxiety and excitement in the pit of my stomach. This is my second time off this year, the first being for my paternal grandmother's funeral. (It's so hard to think that was almost six months ago, and yet I still feel like I haven't processed it.)

I have missed people dearly, and sometimes feel guilty for getting caught up in my own things and not spending enough time as I would like, or reaching out as much as I think I should, with family and friends. Also hard to believe that it's been a year since I temporarily lived with my maternal grandmother.

My schedule is a bit full. My aunt's only free Wednesday and Friday, I'll be seeing Shampoo [for the first time in two years!] Tuesday or Thursday (likely Thursday), and Kun - also for the first time in a year - on Saturday on our way back to New York. I go back to work Sunday.

My library books are eclectic, and I don't anticipate having much time to read besides when I'm not driving or before bed, which is when I normally read. I've three books I'm two-thirds through and hope to finish soon: No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith by Fawn Brodie (which is fantastic and hard to put down while being straightforward on not believing the divine origins of Joseph's mission), The Tarot : History, Symbolism, and Divination by Robert Place (which started off interesting but I'm rather bored with it now due to lots of repetition), and S.E.X.: the all-you-need-to-know progressive sexuality guide to get you through high school and college by Heather Corinna (useful knowledge and a good refresher, especially as my sexual education was largely abstinence or scare tactic, or - okay - terribly inaccurate fanfic, oriented).

My three new books are After School Nightmare volume 2 by Mizushiro Setona (a manga that talks about gender identity and psychological trauma), Agnosticism: a very short introduction by Robin Le Poidevin, and The computer: a very short introduction by Darrel Ince. The Very Short Introduction series is published by Oxford University Press and is a series of short (usually 100-150 page) books written by scholars or other experts for a general audience. There are a number of topics covered in the series, from specific religions and philosophers, to modern science and health, to literature and cultural movements. Just looking at the list of titles, the series seems very Western-centric, which I suppose isn't unexpected but still a bit of a shame.

One book I don't have yet, but look forward to reading soon, is A Prince of Our Disorder: the Life of T. E. Lawrence by John Mack.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Thor - front)
. . . it's been a while, hasn't it? I'm mostly fine. I hope you are fine as well.

A couple photos under the cut.

Photos. )

Unrelated, I recently read Thor's Wedding Day by Bruce Coville, an adaptation of Þrymskviða [Thrymskvitha), the poem in which Thor must dress up as the goddess Freyja (with Loki as his handmaiden) and reclaim his stolen hammer from the Jǫtunn [giant] Thrym. Coville expands what is only a four or so page poem into about 130 pages and changes the narrator to Thialfi, Thor's human goat boy who entered his service during another adventure (Útgarða-Loki [Utgarda]), but the story remains fun and fast-paced. Despite being aimed at a younger audience, Coville retains a number of Norse names and terms and includes some of the more unusual aspects of Norse mythology, as well as making references to other Norse myths. If there's a downside, both Thor and the Jötnar [Giants] are portrayed as not very bright and the Jötnar aren't as multi-dimensional as in Neil Gaiman's Odd and the Frost Giants.

This is by far my favourite paragraph: "They were dressing Loki at the same time, but being decked out as a woman didn't bother him at all. If anything, he seemed to enjoy it. But then, according to Gat-Tooth [one of Thor's goats], Loki had once turned himself into a pretty little mare and was the mother of Odin's horse, Sleipnir. So I suppose dressing up as a bridesmaid wasn't such a stretch for him." [p. 51-2]
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Sherlock - stand | by stand_plaids)
Last time I took out took many books for the trip, so this time I went fewer and with smaller page counts. I know I haven't written reviews in years; just posting out of habit and if anyone else has read similar things.

-Strangers in Paradise volume 3 by Terry Moore
-All-Star Superman volume 2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

-Tanpenshu volume 1 by Endo Hiroki

-The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [the only book here that isn't the library's]
-Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
-Ransom by David Malouf
-Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
argurotoxos: a scene from System Shock 2 with a ghost crewmember (System Shock 2 | by plant_boy)
After some ambiguity over whether I'd be able to take the time off work, I'll be going with my parents to visit my paternal grandmother in Ohio next week. We're leaving after my shift Sunday. Time off requests are verboten from the second half of November through the first week of January, so I won't be going anywhere again until at least the second week of January.

As usual, I stocked up with books from the library. I imagine I'll do most of my reading in the car or early in the morning. (I thought I'd finished adjusting to my early morning schedule, but have been tired this week and going to bed closer to 5 PM; on my days off, I wake up anywhere between 3 and 8 AM.)

[books - fiction]

-call me by your name by André Aciman

-The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

-If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Sappho [trans. Anne Carson]

[comics and manga]

-Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen

-John Constantine, Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano, John Ridgway, and Alfredo Alcala

-Essential Thor volume 1 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, et al.

-Strangers in Paradise volume 1 by Terry Moore

-Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

-20th Century Boys volume 1 by Urasawa Naoki

-The Surrogates by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Emilie - violin | by betterthanlegos)
Like last year, I'm making Christmas dinner. My theme, inspired by Thief, is medieval European food.

Some images, detailed menu, and musings. )
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
Thoughts/reviews of the books I took with me to Maine and Ohio. They are listed alphabetically by title and divided into two categories: graphic novels and regular fiction/non-fiction.

The graphic novels: DMZ volume 3, Ex Machina volume 2, and Sleeper (all). )

The novels: A Canticle for Leibowitz, Diaspora, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and Stealing Fire. )
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
My mom and I are leaving this Thursday for a one-week visit with my maternal grandparents and aunt in Maine; I'm planning on driving.

Yesterday, I drove to the main library to check out some books for the trip. I ended up having to weed some out as I didn't think I'd finish more than four novels, even with the one free renewal option. Here are my selections:

-A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. I don't remember where I heard about this book (part of me thinks it was through Thief or Deus Ex), but it's been on my recommendation list for a while. My understanding is that it's post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel with religious aspects.

-Diaspora by Greg Egan. Greg Egan is a hard science-fiction writer, 'hard' being a subgenre of sci-fi that, in general, strives to be more accurate to modern scientific knowledge. I've never read him before, but have been recommended a number of his novels and picked this up as my first.

-Stealing Fire by Jo Graham. This recommendation comes from the BPAL forums, specifically the thread discussing LGBTQ characters in fiction. Stealing Fire is set after Alexander the Great's death and I have rather high expectations for this book as I love Mary Renault's Alexander series.

-Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph by T. E. Lawrence. This is Lawrence's personal account of Arab Revolt during the first World War. I've been fascinated with T. E. Lawrence, perhaps better known as 'Lawrence of Arabia', even since I saw the film A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia. [That's Lawrence from A Dangerous Man in my icon.] The 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O'Toole was on TV a few weeks ago and revived my interest. I've already read some of Lawrence's writing and his narration is vivid and intriguing.

I only checked out four trades: DMZ volume 3 (Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, published by Vertigo), Ex Machina volume 2 (Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris, and Tom Feister, published by Wildstorm), and both seasons of Sleeper (Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, also Wildstorm). The library has a number of other comics on my rec list, but I wanted to focus on Wildstorm titles and finishing series I had already started.

Sandman, 100 Bullets, and Unknown Solider, all from Vertigo, are also on my to-finish list. Technically, so are Fables and Runaways, but I have no interest in doing so. My top comics-to-finish are actually Transmetropolitan, Stormwatch, and Global Frequency, but the library doesn't own any of those. (For some reason, it's hard to find anything by Warren Ellis locally.)

Unrelated, last Friday's Batman: The Brave and the Bold was AMAZING. I love BatB's Joker and can't believe this will be the show's last season; I'm highly biased since Batman is my favourite main DC universe character, but I like BatB much more than Young Justice.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
Stalker is a loose adaptation Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's science-fiction novella Roadside Picnic (which you can read here) filmed in 1974 by Andrei Tarkovsky. Both stories, along with the similarly loosely inspired S.T.A.L.K.E.R. computer game series, share a few basic elements: There is a mysterious area called the Zone, inside which is rumoured to exist an object that can grant wishes; however, the Zone is a very dangerous place and only a few, called Stalkers, know how to navigate through it and survive. From there, the three mediums break off into vastly different entities.

I didn't know what to expect going into Stalker, but it was not what I got, for better or for worse. Even though the Strugatsky brothers have screenplay credit, the departure from the novel is apparent from the very first scene. Roughly the first third of Roadside Picnic focuses on the scientific exploration of the Zone and recovery of strange alien artifacts with the main character, a Stalker nicknamed Red, working as a lab assistant. None of this appears in the film, nor do any of the musings on the extraterrestrial life thought to have created the Zones. One of the ideas that fascinates me in Roadside Picnic is that the aliens are almost beyond human comprehension -- no humans interact with them at any point and all we have are the items they left behind, perhaps just as a family on a picnic might leave wrappers, apple cores, and so on behind without thought, hence the novella's title. In contrast, the only hint of alien life or the origin of the Zone in the film is a brief conversation along the lines of, "They say it was a meteorite." Period. Very disappointing.

The Zone itself is also markedly altered. My impression from the novella is of a wide, abandoned landscape that may be superficially peaceful but never looks quite right. There are strange webs in dark corners, discoloured skies, invisible gravity wells that can crush you and much, much worse. It's a place where you should always be on edge, unnerved, and terrified of making one wrong move. The film shows the abandoned cars, telephone lines, and a few of the bodies, but overall it look like a beautiful - if too quiet - countryside. It's said in dialogue that there are traps throughout the Zone and the Stalker gives warnings to his two traveling companions, but very little happens and no one is ever killed or injured to the point that I'm not sure I'd have thought the Zone remotely ominous if I hadn't had the novel version constantly in the back of my mind.

Finally, the structure. Roadside Picnic is told in four sections with a pretty even balance between dialogue and narration. This might be the English translation and less true of the Russian, but the Strugatskies' writing style is simultaneously direct and highly evocative; the descriptions are effective through an economy of words. Stalker, on the other hand, is drawn out, with many shots of the characters' faces sometimes lasting for minutes on end. The dialogue is sparse, until one of the characters begins to philosophize and will speak about themselves for several minutes, bringing up points that are neither addressed by nor resolved by anyone else before settling back into mostly silence.

There are a number of other points that were lost or altered in the transition from novella to film, but the above paragraphs cover the major ones. Would I recommend Stalker? No, but I suppose it is interesting for comparison purposes if you're already interested in either Roadside Picnic (which I do highly recommend) or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (a.k.a. T.O.O.M.A.N.Y.D.O.T.S [thank you, TTLG]).

[I haven't said much about the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. computer games, largely because I haven't played any of them yet. Besides being a non-linear first person shooter/RPG/horror game, the major storyline departure from the rest of the Strugatsky-inspired media comes in making a second disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant responsible for the creation of the Zone.

Also, I have no idea why the Russian is displaying correctly from my journal page and editing mode, but not in single entry view. The Russian title should be: Сталкер.]
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
Mary Renault's The Praise Singer is told through the eyes of the historical poet Simonides, who is perhaps most famous for his epitaph for the Spartans who died at the Battle of Thermopylae: 'Tell them in Lakedaimon, passer-by, that here, obedient to their word, we lie.'

Two things made this novel stand out from the rest of Renault's Greek-based books. First, it is surprisingly short -- less than 200 pages in the format I read. And second, rather than narrate continuously, Renault focuses on specific points in Simonides' life. Surprisingly, I did not find this technique jarring, even though I had not expected to spend so many pages on an event that perhaps lasted two days in real time while entire years were mentioned only in passing; I credit Renault's prose and her ability to create scenes that draw you in and feel real for holding the novel together.

My favourite part of the novel was the last half, which was set in Athens and featured several brief yet unforgettable appearances by Harmodius and Aristogeiton. At the same time, my least favourite part was also the last half, mainly because the ending felt too abrupt while there was so much potential for further expansion.

Despite this, I enjoyed The Praise Singer almost as much as The Mask of Apollo. Simonides is quite astute, which makes for much more introspective reading than Theseus' point of view allows in The King Must Die.

Below are some quotes from The Praise Singer that I found memorable enough to write down while reading.

Praise Singer quotes. )
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
This is the last of the Maurice posts I have planned, but it's a topic I wanted to comment on as soon as I saw the reference by name in Maurice. It's also a topic that has become very personal to me through The Charioteer. Plato's Phaedrus can be read online here; Maurice is by E. M. Forster and The Charioteer is by Mary Renault.

Plato's Phaedrus, similar to the Symposium, is a dialogue about love, particularly of the homoerotic sort. It begins with Phaedrus recounting a speech made by Lysias on how the non-lover is better than the lover for lovers spoil their beloveds by flattering them with undeserved praise, try to control the life of the beloved out of jealousy, and so on. Socrates follows suit and makes his own speech on the detriments of love. Then, coming upon a realization, Socrates chastises Phaedrus ("That was a dreadful speech which you brought with you, and you made me utter one as bad.") and makes a second speech praising love, which is the apex of the dialogue.

It is in this second speech that Socrates introduces the idea of a three-part soul symbolized by a charioteer and two horses -- one horse is clean and white and loves virtue, the other horse is mangy and black and loves anything that satisfies his desires, and the charioteer is the leader who must control the horses and preserve balance between all three. If it sounds similar to Freud, it is, with the charioteer as the ego, the white horse as the superego, and the black horse as the id. Socrates then describes how the charioteer and horses of both lover and beloved act when near each other.

Since this is Plato, self-control and a refrain from sexual acts are strongly encouraged for both the lover and his beloved. However, Plato says that even those who have been active sexually "are dear, but not so dear to one another as the others" and "when the time comes at which they receive their wings" both chaste and unchaste couples "have the same plumage because of their love."

In short, the Phaedrus presents a beautifully written (and highly idealistic) view of love spoken of in terms of a couple (a lover and a beloved) formed by two males.

The impact of Plato's Phaedrus can be seen in both Forster and Renault, who mention the Phaedrus by name in Maurice and The Charioteer, respectively. However, while Forster mainly introduces the Phaedrus for Clive, who is presented as a Hellenist, the Phaedrus is one of the central, continuous themes of The Charioteer, which derives its very title from the dialogue.

The Phaedrus in Maurice. )

The Phaedrus in The Charioteer. )

I've been considering it a lot lately and, if it's true that everyone has that one special book that they identify with, I think The Charioteer is mine. It wasn't always. Even after I started reading Renault, Fire From Heaven was my immediate favourite. But the things that Laurie goes through, his gradual and sometimes painful quest to discover who his is and his place in the world . . . Sometimes I think it's all there, only in an altered form, shaped by the time period in which we each live.

"At some stage of a broken midnight conversation, he had said, 'I've often had a feeling that there's nowhere I really belong.' He had hardly known himself what he wanted; but Ralph had said, without a moment's hesitation, 'You belong with me. As long as we're both alive, this will always be your place before anyone else's. That's a promise.'"

The fulfillment of the Phaedrus, only not so optimistic, but so much more real.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
Maurice had two dreams at school: they will interpret him.

In the first dream he felt very cross. He was playing football against a nondescript whose existence he resented. [...]

The second dream is more difficult to convey. Nothing happened. He scarcely saw a face, scarcely heard a voice say, "That is your friend," and then it was over, having filled him with beauty and taught him tenderness. He could die for such a friend, he would allow such a friend to die for him; they would make any sacrifice for each other, and count the world nothing, neither death nor distance nor crossness could part them, because "this is my friend." [...]

Maurice's secret life can be understood now; it was part brutal, part ideal, like his dreams.

--From the 2006 paperback edition of Maurice

I bought Maurice this past Thursday evening and had it read by Friday night. It wasn't planned that way; I usually live in books, savouring each one by reading it over a period of weeks or even months so that by time I reach the end, I've become so immersed in the novel that it takes a few weeks before I'm ready to start the next one.

Maurice was different in large part because of the writing style used. Forster's writing is very straight forward and the narration moves along at a moderately quick pace. It's quite different from Renault's, which demands careful reading (and re-reading) if one is to catch the sheer amount of subtleties and layers involved. Another departure from Renault is that Forster writes from third person omniscient while Renault's third person is still mostly through her main character's eyes. The overall result is that Forster's writing feels more like narration while Renault's has an intimate quality based on personal introspection.

So as not to seem like I'm trying to undermine Forster here, his narration is very good narration and he also has a way of using nature and the weather to reflect the current atmosphere and Maurice's state of mind, particularly near the end of the novel. There is something to be said for not having to wade through subtlety and which writing style you prefer strikes me as a matter of personal preference.

Seeing the film beforehand was the other factor that made Maurice a quick read. Most of the scenes from the movie (including the deleted scene) are lifted right from the book, dialogue and all. Moreover, I found that I actually preferred the film to the book, which is relatively rare for me.

Comparison of the novel and the movie, including spoilers, behind cut. )

The novel also features an interesting commentary written by Forster in 1960 at the back.


argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)

March 2016



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