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“I was just thinking: Frankenstein!”

10 Feb

Last week I attended a wonderful talk/ book discussion, “Reading like a Writer: Frankenstein,” which conjured Mary Shelley et al telling spooky stories around a fireplace on a rainy night in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1816. It must be the most famous party in literary history. (Conveniently, during our discussion, it was raining heavily, and we met at a haunted Victorian mansion.)

I just watched the latest episode of Doctor Who, at the end of which the Doctor said, “I was just thinking: Frankenstein!” My first thought: “Are they going to Geneva in 1816?!” After the credits, there was a brief preview, and it indeed looks like the Doctor and her friends are going to visit Lord Byron’s villa in Geneva on the night that Mary Shelley first started writing Frankenstein! If I had a TARDIS, that would be high on my list of times/places to visit.

Also, next month I’m going to see Manuel Cinema’s mixed media production of Frankenstein; it involves puppets and video and whatnot. It’s going to be amazing.

Maybe this year I’ll read some more books by and about Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft. I’m feeling so inclined….

Thoughts on the New Anne of Green Gables Adaptation

17 May

The article below pretty much describes my impression of the new Anne tv series. I was impressed with the scenery and houses and costumes, and Marilla and Matthew were as I imagined them. However, I remember the book as quirky and hilarious, not dark and dismal. I tried to be open-minded, but urgh.

We live in dark, dystopic times, and so much of literature, film, and television nowadays reflects that. Dystopia is extremely popular, as is the darker sides of the supernatural. So are dark adaptations, such as Emerald City (based on Oz). But taking something as charming, delightful, and whimsical–and a children’s book, at that–and turning it into such a dark story, even giving Anne Shirley PTSD, strikes me as practically sacrilegious.

This tv series took situations that in the book were humorous and transformed them into the most melodramatic potential extreme. For instance, when Marilla can’t find her heirloom brooch, she threatens to send Anne back to the orphanage…and actually sends her off before she finds the brooch. When she does find the brooch, Anne is already on her way to the orphanage, and Matthew goes on a frantic search for Anne, who can’t bear returning to the orphanage and runs away. It takes days for Matthew to find her.

In reaction to this disappointing remake, I just started reading Anne of Green Gables (though I read it many times decade ago), and it’s as humorous and quirky as I remember.
L. M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon is darker than Anne, but it’s not a gothic nightmare, either.

The new adaptation of “Anne of Green Gables” falls prey to the war on whimsy, the tired modern tactic of reworking the classics in order to make them “realistic.”
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