Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stranded on an Island: Robinson Crusoe

Our world has changed a lot since 1719 when Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe. This book definitely reflects some of the attitudes of the times. For example (Spoilers Ahead), when Crusoe sees a native fleeing some of the cannibals, his first thought is that he could do with a servant. Crusoe feels it necessary to convert Friday to the Christian religion. He convinces Friday that his people's beliefs are incorrect. This isn't quite the tolerance that is so important today
The book doesn't cover just Crusoe's time on the island, but explains his previous adventures before he is stranded on a lonely island. Once he gets off the island, the novel continues to explain the settling of Crusoe's affairs and so on.
Robinson Crusoe also has strong religious themes. Crusoe flip-flops between blaming his misfortunes on God and thanking God for his salvation throughout the novel. He also teaches Friday, a native, about the Christian religion.
This page has more information on Crusoe and Defoe. You can buy the book here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

George Orwell

      Today's post is a double feature on George Orwell. Two of George Orwell's most well-known books are Animal Farm and 1984. Warning: spoilers below.
      Animal Farm is about the Manor Farm, where the tyrannical Jones forces the animals to work for his own profit. When the animals rise up and throw off their shackles of slavery, they rename the farm Animal Farm and establish Seven Commandments for all to live by. As the pigs rise to the top, the Seven Commandments are attenuated to serve the interests of those in power. In the end, the animals have succumbed to a new tyranny.
      1984 is set in an Orwellian vision of the year 1984, with a world suppressed by totalitarian regime. Winston Smith, the protagonist, works at Minitrue, the Ministry of Truth. His job is to alter the past to fit the circumstances of the present. He is a party member, constantly under the surveillance of Big Brother and the Thought Police. Winston begins a forbidden romantic relationship with Julia, and begins to spend time among the proles, or commoners, to avoid the ever-present telescreens. When Winston is betrayed by Inner Party member O'Brien, he is taken to Miniluv, the Ministry of Love, from which he will emerge a different man.
If you're interested, you can buy the books here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Prydain Chronicles

Happy Easter to everyone!
Today I'm blogging about a series of children's books, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. I know I enjoyed these books immensely when I was younger, and can still enjoy them now. They would probably be appropriate for anybody capable of reading them. There are five books in the series, which begins with The Book of Three. The main character, Taran, is an Assistant Pig-Keeper who yearns for adventure. Along the way he makes new friends and faces great challenges. Taran isn't the perfect hero - he is young and makes mistakes. However, he always tries to learn from these mistakes. The Black Cauldron, the second book of the series, won a Newberry Honor in 1966. The final book of the series, The High King, won a Newberry Medal in 1969. The books are available on Amazon. Lloyd Alexander has also written other books, including the Westmark trilogy and the Vesper Holly series. The Prydain Chronicles can be bought here.
Enjoy the Easter holiday!