I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction

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I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction

Postby Raxivace » Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:37 am

So normally when I'm reading something its some kind of academic film book or whatever, but I feel like I've been slacking on actual fiction lately. With so many audiobooks and PDF's of classic fiction and such online (And also inspired by what a huge hodgepodge of classical cultural references that these Fate anime/games I've been into lately are), I'm trying to correct that through listening (Sorry purists) and actual reading.

So with that said, I guess I'll start listing them out. Ones I hear as audiobooks I'll go out of my way to mark.

1. The Statement of Randolph Carter (1920, H.P. Lovecraft) - There stereotype I've heard of Lovecraft's fiction I've often heard is some formula akin to "There's just some scary thing, so scary I can't describe it lolololol. Also I've been driven insane. The End." and that seems to be all this is (Well without the being driven to insanity part). I dunno, maybe I'm inundated by things influenced by Lovecraft at this point but I guess I just don't find the unknown to be inherently scary like that (Especially when common criticisms of Lovecraft seem to indicate that the "unknown" thing he was so afraid of was women, black people, foreigners in general etc. Thankfully there doesn't seem to be much of that here). I'd still like to try some of his more famous stories, but right now Lovecraft just kind of seems like a worse version of Poe to me.

2. The Bell of St. Sépulcre (1928, M. P. Shiel, Audiobook) - Kind of interesting short story about a bell that possibly causes you to die if you hear it ringing? It's left ambiguous whether there's anything actually supernatural about the bell or not, but the focus is on a woman who "kills" her husband by getting him to hear the bell ringing, only to get a kind of cosmic comeuppance years later when she finds her precious son to have hung himself with the rope of the bell. This of course drivers her insane. Pretty solid stuff.
"[Cinema] is a labyrinth with a treacherous resemblance to reality." - Andrew Sarris

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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #1

Postby Raxivace » Fri Feb 21, 2020 2:26 pm

3. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886, Audiobook) – This one was not what I expected. I was guessing the story would be told from Jekyll’s point of view and be more about his becoming Hyde, but really it’s more structured as a detective novel. Here the lawyer protagonist Gabriel "Mr. Seek" Utterson is concerned that his good friend Jekyll is perhaps being blackmailed by this mysterious Hyde fella that's started to go around town murdering people seemingly at random, only to find out through investigation that Jekyll and Hyde are in fact one in the same at the very end (Spoiler alert). Only then do the various mysteries throughout the novel about a locked room that would have been impossible to escape, a letter that couldn't have been delivered between two people etc. start to make sense.

Really, its only in the final chapter where we get an posthumous letter from Jekyll where he reflects upon how he first became Hyde, his struggles with transforming, their mutual use of each other despite an equally mutual hatred (Hilariously Hyde would troll Jekyll by writing blasphemous things on religious texts or destroying his precious family heirlooms like a painting of his father, family letters etc.), that the story becomes what I was expecting more of. The novel ends on athis high note, and perhaps its not a surprise that these aspects about moral descent, repressed urges etc. are what seem to dominate interest in the characters today, and not really the detective mystery part since the twist ending has been such a given for well over a century at this point (That a little novel called A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came out one year after Jekyll and Hyde might have something to do with this too. Sorry Utterson but you've got nothing on Holmes and Watson).

Its still an enjoyable read/listen (For the last chapters I tried reading alongside the audiobook version I was listening to using an online Project Gutenberg text, which was quite enjoyable even though reading books in an internet browser is usually [gonemad] for me), but you kind of have to put yourself in the mindset of what it could possibly be like to learn of this story without knowing one of the most famous twist endings in history.
"[Cinema] is a labyrinth with a treacherous resemblance to reality." - Andrew Sarris

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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #2

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Feb 22, 2020 7:19 am

I have nothing to say to any of this except that for the first twenty or so years of my life I thought Sherlock Holmes was a real historical person.

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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #3

Postby Raxivace » Sat Feb 22, 2020 7:37 am

Bro... XD

Well to be fair even in Victorian times there were people that thought that Holmes was real too. It got to the point that people would write to Doyle, thinking he was actually Holmes, with some mystery or whatever to solve. Being an English gentleman Doyle would try and solve some of these mysteries anyways and apparently was actually successful a few times.
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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #4

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Feb 22, 2020 7:53 am

Oh yeah I was kind of disappointed when I find out. Although his author was the next best thing, it seems.

I also thought Jeffrey Dahmer was a fictional person for a long time. Like an 80s slasher movie killer. I mean, he sounds like he would be, doesn't he? Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, Jeffrey Dahmer. Was kind of surprised when I found out he was real. I can be pretty isolated sometimes.

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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #5

Postby BruceSmith78 » Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:26 pm

You know what’s funny, I read the name “Jeffrey Dahmer” and my brain processed it as “Hannibal Lecter”, and I fully expected the rest of that sentence to read “was a real person”. I had to go back and read it again to understand why the sentence didn’t end that way.

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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #6

Postby Raxivace » Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:21 pm

I can sort of see that with Dahmer. Like it does seem like his name fits the pattern of those slasher villains having the "innocuous first name + two syllable, but somewhat uncommon last name" combo.
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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #7

Postby Gendo » Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:51 pm

“There’s no such thing as hell; it’s just something grownups made up to scare kids; like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson.” -Bart Simpson

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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #8

Postby Raxivace » Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:22 pm

4. The Snow Queen (1844, Hans Christian Anderson, Audiobook) – I didn’t think I was familiar with any of Anderson’s writing before listening to this, but good lord looking him up will only show you just what a foothold this guy has had on culture to this day with the fairy tales he wrote. The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Thumbelina etc. I mean Christ, this guy might have well as been the second coming of Aesop. Even if you’re not familiar with the original stories this guy wrote directly, you’ve probably heard or read or seen an adaptation of something of his at some point in your life.

So anyways, The Snow Queen. Gerda and Kai are friends, however Kai unfortunately gets shards of a magic mirror in his body one day that causes him to see life negatively. If leaves his home, his friend Gerda, and then while running off meets the Snow Queen. They run off to her castle together.

Gerda misses her friend, so she journeys out to find and save him. She meets colorful characters, talking flowers, a crow, a prince and princess etc., and then eventually comes across the Snow Queen’s castle where Kai. Her love for Kai heals him, and they return home.

It’s a fun children’s story. The one thing about it is that uh, Jesus is all over this thing (Like Gerda’s “love” really does seem like love in the Christian sense of love for all mankind and such more than anything to me) which sometimes surprised me a bit with how direct it was for a fantasy story, though I guess this story is from the 1840’s. Like Jesus is all over The Chronicle of Narnia also but never quite as explicitly as this from what I can remember from reading those as a child.

Still, Snow Queen was an enjoyable listen. I always figured these “girl journeys out to save a boy” reversals on knight/princess stories were a more modern phenomenon but it seems to have not been the case.

Also, this was originally the inspiration for Disney’s Frozen, but in developing that movie the story changed so much that it seems the connections were mostly dropped.

5. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Late 14th Century, Author Unknown) – Imagine you’re one of King Arthur’s knights, specifically Gawain. One fine Christmas you’re chilling with your fellow homies of the Round Table when suddenly this green mofo clad in green armor and also carrying an axe barges on in. He demands to play what is now called “the Beheading Game”. You chop his head off, and then one year and one day later he’ll chop of yours.

The Green Knight challenges King Arthur specifically, but Gawain leaps to the opportunity first and beheads the guy. The Green Knight’s head comes clean off, but he picks it back up, and says he expects to see Gawain in a year and a day. Eventually Gawain goes adventuring off to face the Green Knight at the appointed time, but has trouble finding him and eventually takes refuge in a manor. The lord of the manor, a guy named Bertilak, is planning on going on hunts over the next few days, and promises to give Gawain anything he finds- in return, he asks Gawain to give anything he finds in the manor to him.

While Bertilak is off hunting, his wife Lady Bertilak decides she wants to fuck Gawain and keeps trying (And failing) to seduce him. Gawain, trapped between the contradictions of the code of chivalry- loyalty to the lord who gave him shelter, but also to be courteous to women who ask him for help, is unsure how to proceed. Also he still needs to find that damn Green Knight.

This is a weird little adventure poem because it spends very little time on actual adventuring or battles and such, while spending most of its time on the almost sitcom-esque portion of Gawain unsure how to handle the Bertilak and his wife. It ends up actually being pretty central to the whole story, questioning the contradictions of moral codes and such, and its ultimately revealed anyways that Bertilak is the Green Knight in another form. He and the wife were in a plot (Alongside Morgan Le Fay) to tempt Gawain and to see how moral he (And by extension I guess the Knights of the Round Table) really is/are, though I'm not sure if we're meant to see the Green Knight as any kind of ultimate moral authority or not and scholars seem pretty split on it too. Like he chastises Gawain for accepting the magical belt from Lady Bertilak that would protect him from wounds, and yet its like, motherfucker, magical power let you put your head back on when its chopped off, who are you criticize someone else for wanting similar powers? Also because of your deal with Gawain, she kissed him a bunch which in turn made Gawain kiss you in exchange for the game you hunted. Were you trying to hook up with him yourself in some fashion?

Like if Gawain had actually slept with Lady Bertilak, what would Bertilak have done? Demanded he sleep with him too? And if he hadn't, would he have killed Gawain for that? "For the crime of not giving me head, thou shalt lose thy own head! O irony!"

Like the whole setup here with the Green Knight's test is really weird the more you think about it, but that's also what makes the story interesting.


This is a pretty enjoyable and weird poem overall, even if (Or perhaps because) it was pretty different than what I was expecting.

6. The Dunwich Horror (1929, H. P. Lovecraft, Audiobook) – This is definitely a stepup from Statement of Randolph Carter, even if it follows the same basic formula to some extent. Still, between the history of Dunwich as a location, the Whatley family etc. there’s just a muuuuuuuucccch better sense of place and people here.

7. The Music of Erich Zahn (1922, H. P. Lovecraft, Audiobook) – This one didn’t really land for me though. I dunno, the whole crazed musician thing with spooky secret just didn’t do it for me.

8. The Body Snatcher (1884, Robert Louis Stevenson, Audiobook) – The short story that inspired the movie from Val Lewton/Robert Wise/Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi.

This was a pretty quick and enjoyable listen, and did make me a bit nostalgic for the film. Seems like this version had similar themes to Jekyll/Hyde in regards to private horrors beneath public faces, though I found this one a bit more mysterious. I’m namely thinking of the ending here- I have no idea what to make of Gray’s body reappearing. Just, what? Commentary I’ve seen online say its meant to suggest thematically more than anything how guilt or the truth or such can’t be repressed forever, but it’s just such an odd ending to have a previously destroyed body just pop up again.

9. Xélucha (1896, M. P. Shiel, Audiobook) - Guy goes to pick up a prostitute, who may or may not be somebody he knew before and did something very bad to. Gotta be honest though, this one didn't do much for me though it may just be because I was pretty tired when I listened to it.
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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #9

Postby Raxivace » Fri Mar 20, 2020 4:43 am

Still trucking through The Count of Monte Cristo (About 18 hours left in the audiobook version), but in the meantime I finished some shorter things.

10. Serial Experiments Lain: The Nightmare of Fabrication (1999, Yoshitoshi ABe) - A weird little oneshot manga where Lain breaks one of her toys, meets "God", and gets a second toy that she is lead to believe is a fixed version of the first one. Odd like story that I don't really know what to do with.

11. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) - The first collection of Holmes short stories. I skipped the stories that I had read before over the years (Namely "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Red-Headed League", "The Five Orange Pips", "The Speckled Band", and "The Copper Beeches") and just read the ones I hadn't before ("A Case of Identity", "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", "The Man with the Twisted Lip", "The Blue Carbuncle" (Actually it turns out I had read this one before but had forgotten about it), "The Engineer's Thumb", "The Noble Bachelor", and "The Beryl Coronet").

They're all good fun. I think the the thing that surprised me most about the bunch I happened to read this time is that only two of them were even murder cases ("The Boscombe Valley Mystery" and "The Man with the Twisted Lip". And the latter even ends with it being discovered that the murder never even actually happened, and that it was just a guy trying to hide a double life he was leading from his family). The rest of these cases involve missing people and missing jewels and were perfectly enjoyable, which makes me think S.S. Van Dine was off his fucking rocker for thinking detective stories only must revolve around murder, among many other stupid opinions included in his "rules".

"The Engineer's Thumb" was probably the weirdest one here because its basically about a guy that is nearly killed by a proto-Saw death trap but narrowly escapes (Which I guess makes it attempted murder), asks Holmes to do something about it, and Holmes and Watson can't even do much about because the culprits are long gone by time they're contacted. Almost feels like a different genre altogether.

12. Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (1985-1986, Alan Moore, Curt Swan, Dave Gibbons et al.) - A collection of Superman comics all written by Moore, though with different artists. The first two issues form the "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" story that provides the title to this compilation, and acts as an ending the original run of Superman comics, where Superman has a final confrontation with his rogue's gallery and is ultimately allowed to finally retire.

The second story is called "The Jungle Line" and involves Superman going on a weird drug induced hallucination in the jungle until he's saved by Swamp Thing. It felt kind of random to me tbh.

The last story is "For the Man Who Has Everything..." and involves Superman getting trapped in a dream world by a parasite thing where hallucinates a version of his life where the planet Krypton never blew up, until ultimately he's saved from the parasite and the random asshole who sent it by Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman. This was my favorite of the bunch, and I seem to remember it being adapted into an episode of the Justice League cartoon when I was kid.

I gotta say it was odd to read something from Alan Moore that wasn't as dark as Watchmen or V for Vendetta (Though "For the Man Who Has Everything..." is kind of melancholic. Also, yes, characters die in "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" but the tone of that is more "epic final battle" than dreary like Watchmen). I think his talents are definitely more suited to stories like those then stuff like this (Same with Gibbons really, who also did the art for that last comic), though its not bad or anything.
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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #10

Postby Raxivace » Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:41 am

13. The Count of Monte Cristo (Audiobook, 1844-1846, Alexandre Dumas) – If Hamlet is the perfect antithesis of revenge dramas, then this is perhaps the perfect initial thesis of those stories despite coming some 200 odd years after Shakespeare’s tale.

This novel is in two parts. The first part is the story of Edmond Dantès, a merchant sailor who is first mate on board the ship Pharaon who has just returned home to Marseilles in 1815. While at sea, Dantès' captain uses his dying breath to order him to deliver a package to General Bertrand (Who is exiled on the Island of Elba alongside Napoleon), and then to deliver a letter from Bertrand to a man in Paris. Dantès doesn't think much of this being a young man, he simply fulfills his captain's last request and then proceeds to return home so he can marry his fiance Mercédès.

With the captain of the Pharaon dead though, Dantès is next in line to become captain despite being young. This causes fellow shipmate Danglars to become insanely jealous of Dantès. While chatting with Fernand Mondego (Cousin of Mercédès, and he is very much in love with her (Eww)) and Caderousse (Dantes' neighbor that just kind of doesn't like him), Danglars sets the idea of falsely accusing Dantes of being a Bonapartist traitor, who seeks to return Napoleon to France and overthrow King Louis XVIII (Its worth noting here that the initial captain of the Pharaon was in fact a Bonapartist, which gives the accusation some heavy circumstantial weight). Danglars writes the letter, Fernand is the one who actually sends it, and Caderousse chooses to say nothing about the plot to the authorities.

Officials believe this accusation, and during his wedding ceremony Dantès is arrested. Dantes is then interviewed by prosecutor Gérard de Villefort, who actually realizes that Dantès is innocent, it the was the captain of the Pharaon who was the Bonapartist, and initially moves to have Dantès freed...until he sees the letter Dantes was to deliver to Paris, which was addressed to Villefort's father Noitier of all people in the world. Now Gérard is a staunch Royalist, but Noitier being revealed as a Bonapartist would of course hurt his own reputation and to protect his family name Gérard knowingly sends to Dantès to the hellish prison Château d'If to rot away, forgotten.

Dantès spends several isolating years suffering in the Château d'If, not even knowing how or exactly why he was sent there. He tries to tunnel out at one point, but it ultimately fails- however it does lead him to the cell of another inmate, the Abbé Faria, who has also been trying to escape. Faria, despite being dismissed as a lunatic by the prison guards, is an intelligent and learned man, and after befriending Dantes is even able to deduce that there was a plot against him. He educates Dantes over further years, teaching him foreign languages, sciences etc., but perhaps most important he tells him of a treasure that is buried on the island of Monte Cristo.

Unfortunately Faria dies is prison before the two can escape together, though Dantes uses the opportunity to switch places with Faria's corpse in a body bag, thinking he'll be thrown out somewhere he can escape from safely. Unfortunately the "corpse" is thrown into the ocean, though being a sailor gives Dantes just enough of an edge to survive the ocean long enough to be picked up by sailors.

Dantès finds that it has been fourteen long years since he thrown into the Château d'If. He eventually works up enough funds to journey to the island of Monte Cristo, finds the buried to not only be real but vast beyond anyone's imagination. He uses this treasure to buy the island itself, the title of "Count", and then returns home to Marseille to get up to date on what has happened since his imprisonment.

Napoleon's One Hundred Days have come and are now long gone (Side note: Dumas had very good reason to want to tarnish the name of "The Usurper", considering what he did to Dumas' own father.). Dantès learns that his father has died alone and penniless. Caderousse remains in poverty as well, while the rest have risen to the heights of Parisian society. Danglars has become the "Baron" Danglars and a wealthy banker. Fernand Mondego has become a war hero, reinventing himself as the "Count de Morcerf", and married Mercédès. Villefort meanwhile has become the Crown prosecutor of France. Dantès own reputation is basically ruined now of course, as he is now remembered as a traitor to France, though it is thought he died in the Château d'If. This is somewhat to his benefit though, as that belief as well the considerable passage of time (In addition to his imprisonment has distorted his face enough to be beyond recognition to most) allows him to mostly walk freely again without much fear of being recongized.

Dantès decides to secretly assist those that actually tried to help him in prison (Namely the Morrel family, who pleaded that he was innocent and a good man), and then later even meets up with Caderrouse, though in disguise as Abbe Busoni, "Busoni" basically tricks Caderrouse into admitting his part in the plot against Dantès, though Caderrouse seems to regret and feel guilt over his actions/lack of action however, and so "Busoni" rewards him with a diamond that he says Dantès had intended for his friends.

Afterwards, Dantès announces that his doing of good deeds is now finished, and then sets out for revenge against the rest.

That's just part 1 of the novel, and by my estimate covers roughly 15 of the 53 hours of the audiobook version. Part 2 picks up about a decade later, once Dantès, having now reinvented himself primarily as "The Count of Monte Cristo" and leaving his old name behind, begins to actually enact his revenge now that the preparations are mostly complete. The next 25 or so hours involves Dantes straight up trolling and manipulating his way across Europe and into Paris (Including even more goofy disguises such as the banker "Lord Wilmore" and "Sinbad the Sailor"), so he can begin dismantling the reputations, bank accounts, and lives of Danglars, Morcef, and Villefort. This is where the meat of the novel takes place, this slow burn as the Count inches his way into the lives of these three families so he destroy them from within without them realizing what's going on until its already too late. This is also where I think a lot of the social critique of the novel of comes in as well, as with the implicit argument that most of high society is built on similar crimes.

Anyways while the adventure novel that is part 1 is fun, I still quite enjoyed all of the subtle manipulations and such of part 2 as well, watching the dominoes slowly knocked down one right after the other until bodies have even started to pile up by the end.

Part 2 does seems like it handles things differently than Part 1 though. One way that immediately comes to mind is how it handles Point of View and dramatic irony- in Part 1, while Dantès is clearly the protagonist we the readers actually have much more information than him about what's going on with the plot against him until the chapters that focus on his time in Chateau d'If, where Faria explaining what the fuck is going on finally aligns (Well mostly aligns) Dantès' information with our own as readers. In Part 2 this shifts somewhat- we know that the Count is seeking revenge and who he's seeking revenge against, but the specifics of his plan aren't ever clearly laid out to us and we're left to infer it for the most part. The kidnapping of Albert de Morcef in the Italy chapters is a great example- its never specifically said that the Count had this arranged so he can be the one to save him and have Albert "reward" the Count by introducing him to Parisian society and the Morcef family, but that this is the Count's plan from the beginning and not a series of random coincidences is something were meant to puzzle out (And stands in contrast to, say, how even after years I still don't get what the fuck the Man in Black was doing in Lost). Where we were ahead of Dantès, now the Count is ahead of us and we're playing catch up throughout Part 2- especially because all of the different families and their interlocking drama is much more complicated than anything in Part 1, and the Count already has most of that figured out (Though that he only has "most of it" and not "all of it" figured out is something that comes back to haunt him in the novel's end).

I think this shift in Part 2's POV is also what adds to the kind of mythological bent to the Count as a character, beyond basically every other character just finding him generally mysterious, rather than the mere sailor of Part 1. The Count himself views himself as some kind of avenging angel doing God's work (Until the end, anyways), though this is perhaps paralleled by others suspecting him of being some kind of vampire.

While they're around in Part 1, this is also the part of the novel where the references to One Thousand and One Nights starts becoming more significant- there are some in Part 1 (Dantes' saying "Open Sesame" when looking for the treasure and such), though this really kicks into high gear with Part 2. The most notable example is probably how one of the Count's many disguises includes "Sinbad the Sailor", throughout the story we do sometimes see Dumas even replicate the nested structure of One Thousand and One Nights as well. Chapter 33 is a good example- the chapter where Franz and Albert get told the story of Luigi Vampa. It seems like a really random aside, especially once the story about Vampa himself is interrupted by the story of another particularly brutal bandit Cucumetto. The Cucumetto story eventually moves up a "layer of relevance" within the fiction when Cucumetto is eventually meets Vampa, who agrees to let him hide out for a time. The story starts seeming more relevant once Vampa meets and befriends a man calling himself "Sinbad the Sailor", and later on Vampa just fucking murders Cucumetto and takes over his brutal gang for himself. We later on see Vampa and "Sinbad" working together on friendly terms, and this seemingly random chapter gains new significance as it shows how in some ways Dantes has morally degraded a bit to work with such shady characters as Vampa (Who will be the one to actually kidnap Albert for the Count). Vampa's name even recalls the rumors about the Count of Monte Cristo being some kind of a vampire that I mentioned earlier.

If I had a complaint about the novel its that for as long as it is, a lot of the characters are fairly straightforward though that's arguably part of the point for at least some of them (Danglars being almost comically one-dimensional immediately comes to mind, particularly the bit from the end of the novel where he reveals he's read precisely one book in his entire life and ironically enough for someone who lives such an unexamined life its Don Quixote), and a lot of the cast is at least still pretty memorable which is saying something considering how large it gets and complicated the plot becomes in Part 2.

So in a lot of a ways The Count of Monte Cristo may be "just" a straightforward revenge novel but at the same time its hard to imagine one being done much better than this. More than anything, its just so damn fun.

14. Markheim (Audiobook, 1885, Robert Louis Stevenson) – Markheim is a guy who kills a shopowner is a dispute, and then while wandering around in a daze meets a strange a guy who Markheim believes might be the Devil. They debate the nature of mankind and sin and such, whether good intentions can justify awful crimes etc., with the stranger primarily arguing that as he’s followed Markheim his whole life he knows him to be an evil man who will always commit sin and do crimes (Like robbery, more murder etc.) and whatnot. The devil/stranger then tries to get Markheim to commit even more crimes.

Markheim gets so fed up with this that he basically tells the first other person he meets to contact the police so he can admit to the crime, almost to spite the stranger more than anything.

It’s a neat little short story. I’m not entirely sure whether the devil/stranger actually even exists or just isn’t some psychological projection of Markheim’s guilt or not. Either way, I’m also not sure whether he was trying to manipulate Markheim into giving himself up to the police or was sincerely just trying to corral him into doing bad deeds together. Interesting how there’s a few ways to look at it.

15. Lobo, the King of Currumpaw (1898, Ernest Thompson Seton) - A "fact-based short story" about the author hunting Lobo, the leader of a pack of wolves that's going around eating cattle and stuff. Not a whole lot to really say about from my end, though the whole thing is more sad than any kind of triumphant adventure, particularly with regards to how Lobo is actually killed.
"[Cinema] is a labyrinth with a treacherous resemblance to reality." - Andrew Sarris

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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #11

Postby Raxivace » Tue May 26, 2020 5:46 am

16. The Legend of St. George (Mid 1200’s, Jacobus de Varagine)
17. The Life of St. Martha (Mid 1200’s, Jacobus de Varagine) - I’m grouping both of these together because they’re both excerpts of something called The Golden Legend. From what I can tell, it’s a collection of stories about various Catholic saints and their exploits.

These two I picked follow a similar formula, a saint slays a dragon, converts people to Jesus, and then dies venerated. The St. George one particular feels like an action story more than anything, since after he kills the dragon he gets captured and then basically calls upon God to rain death upon the non-Christians that captured him.

I guess you could call both of these chivalric romances in a ways (St. George is even described as being a knight), though that makes them an interesting contrast with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight- both in style (From what I can tell the stories in The Golden Legend are meant as history, whereas Sir Gawain is a poem), but also attitude toward knightly ideals and such. Both Golden Legend excerpts are about the glory of following God and such (Giving the stories a kind of a propaganda-ish feel), while Sir Gawain is far more morally ambiguous in its attitude toward codes of honor and such and how teneable they are.

Still, for what it is these two tales were interesting enough. It does kind of make me want to go through the entirety of The Golden Legend at some point. I’ve read other stories about saints in college and some of them are pretty whacky.

18. Batman: The Killing Joke (1988, Alan Moore, Brian Holland, John Higgins et al.) – A kind of curious comic that Moore seemed to disown even before his more harsher stance of superhero stories in recent years.

Moore’s criticism seems to be that the comic seems to be more about Batman and the Joker as characters than anything that relates to the world in any real way (The way that Watchmen is about power, V for Vendetta is about fascism etc.), and I can sort of see where he’s coming from. The thing is, I do think there’s a seed of an idea in the whole premise of the story being that Batman wanting to honestly end the feud between him and Joker through non-violent means and get him sincere help, though that does seem to be at odds with the actual “Killing Joke” plot being pulled on Gordon and Barbara.

19. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (Audiobook, 1818/1831*, Mary Shelley) – More like Frankenstein’s Monster: The Modern Incel. I’m not the first person to make this observation, but seriously that’s what a lot of the Monster’s character is. “Waaahhh why don’t I have a wife? I DESERVE a wife and you are a horrible person for not making me my own woman! I’m going to murder tons of people to prove what a dick you are Frankenstein!”

This is a good book in the sense that Shelley has some created some very, very strong archetypes in her core characters here (And at only 20 years old too!), but man. For all that people say “The doctor was the real monster!” it really doesn’t come across in the original book because most of this is just Victor regretting he created what is little more than a completely unsympathetic serial killer and also the Monster whining that nobody likes him even though he's going around serial killing.

Like I honestly think James Whale did more than anyone to really mine out the most interesting parts of this story with his famous 1931 film adaptation, even if he had to completely change the Doctor and the Monster's respective personalities in the process.

*I think the audiobook version I listened to was based on Shelley’s second edition published in 1831, but I’d have to really research this to know for sure.
"[Cinema] is a labyrinth with a treacherous resemblance to reality." - Andrew Sarris

Faustus5
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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #12

Postby Faustus5 » Tue May 26, 2020 10:18 am

Raxivace wrote:16. 19. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (Audiobook, 1818/1831*, Mary Shelley) – More like Frankenstein’s Monster: The Modern Incel. [url=https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=frankenstein+mary+shelley+incel]I’m not the first person to make this observation, but seriously that’s what a lot of the Monster’s character is. “Waaahhh why don’t I have a wife? I DESERVE a wife and you are a horrible person for not making me my own woman! I’m going to murder tons of people to prove what a dick you are Frankenstein!”

This is a good book in the sense that Shelley has some created some very, very strong archetypes in her core characters here (And at only 20 years old too!), but man. For all that people say “The doctor was the real monster!” it really doesn’t come across in the original book because most of this is just Victor regretting he created what is little more than a completely unsympathetic serial killer and also the Monster whining that nobody likes him even though he's going around serial killing.

Like I honestly think James Whale did more than anyone to really mine out the most interesting parts of this story with his famous 1931 film adaptation, even if he had to completely change the Doctor and the Monster's respective personalities in the process.

*I think the audiobook version I listened to was based on Shelley’s second edition published in 1831, but I’d have to really research this to know for sure.
Fun synchronicity: yesterday I just watched "Mary Shelley", the movie based on the influences that lead her to writing her famous novel. And the week before that, I started playing the solo version of the Universal monsters board game, "Horrified".

The movie suggested that her ill treatment by the men in her life was the basis of the monster's bitterness.

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Re: I'm Trying to Get Back into Fiction   Reply #13

Postby Raxivace » Tue May 26, 2020 10:42 am

I didn't dig too deeply into it, but I read some similar claims online. Some went as far as saying that whole novel was an allegory for Mary's marriage with Percy Shelley, with the Monster being a stand-in for Mary and Victor being a stand-in for Percy.

I'm not sure the novel is meant to be that personal of a story though I don't doubt there's at least some influence from Mary's personal life.

There's also this bizarre-ass take I just found online: https://augusta.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10675.2/620919/Urizar_D_2016.pdf?sequence=5&isAllowed=y.

Someone who is clearly a genius wrote:The story of Frankenstein is typically seen as a battle between Victor Frankenstein and the “monster” of the story. However I argue that that the real “monster” of the story is infact Victor Frankenstein who is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and that the “monster” is really just a delusions that Victor uses to cope with the idea that he in fact is the killer of the story. This concept is evident in the fact that no one in the story has ever seen both Victor Frankenstein and the “monster” alive in the same place. The characteristics of the “monster’ also point towards the idea that the “monster” could not possibly exist. Even the way that Victor acts throughout the book pointto the idea that he does not really care for the safety of his loved ones. Overall the actions that play out in the story point towards the idea that VictorFrankenstein is the real “monster” of the story.


[laugh]
"[Cinema] is a labyrinth with a treacherous resemblance to reality." - Andrew Sarris


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