[Work: Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005]
Til’ Death Soon Us Part:

Love as an Intrinsic Good in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

 

Kazuo Ishiguro Sketch by M.R.P. - Never Let Me Go - love, memoir

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Introduction:

Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the foremost living novelists of memory and regret. Although this was clear when Ishiguro wrote the masterpiece of reflection that is The Remains of the Day, which won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 1989, it was his 2005 science fiction novel, Never Let Me Go, which cemented his talent in my mind. It may strike you as odd to hear that this writer of poignant literary fiction produced a work of sci-fi, but the work is handled with no less sensitivity than his other subjects, and perhaps—given the stigma against ‘genre fiction’ in literary communities—even more courage.

The nature of this article is such that it requires spoiling basic plot details of Never Let Me Go, so you should only continue reading after this paragraph if you either do not mind spoilers or have already read the book (or seen its 2010 film adaptation).

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[Work: Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005]
Til’ Death Soon Us Part:

Love as an Intrinsic Good in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

was last modified: December 27th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Work: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1899]
A Controversy Worth Teaching:

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Ethics of Stature

 

Introduction:

Chinua Achebe Sketch - Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness - An Image of Africa - racism, writing

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By far the most enduringly famous of Joseph Conrad’s literary works (with the possible exception of Lord Jim) is Heart of Darkness, a novella that has encountered boundless acclaim and boundless disdain in the century since its release. Its proponents highlight its contemporary progressivism; its impressionistic prose style; and its thematic depth. Its opponents highlight its confusing, vague, and slow-moving plot; its backgrounding of Africa and Africans behind a story about Europeans; and its intermittent direct characterizations of late 19th century Africa and Africans as primitive and uncivilized.

In my estimation, both camps are correct. Conrad was an English prose master as well as a confusingly vague writer. Conrad was a progressive as well as a racist. Heart of Darkness is a deeply troubled book. So, was professor and novelist Chinua Achebe correct when he wrote that, in light of its flaws, Heart of Darkness should not be so widely taught nor so highly lauded?

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[Work: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, 1899]
A Controversy Worth Teaching:

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Ethics of Stature

was last modified: December 21st, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Work: The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, 1844]
The Electronic Serial:

5 Lessons for Internet Writers from Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo

 

Alexandre Dumas Sketch by M.R.P. - writing advice - The Count of Monte Cristo

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Introduction:

It would not be too much of a stretch to say that the serialized format for creative writing has made a comeback in the internet age. Blog writers, video essayists, fanfic writers, youtube educators, web comic artists, online journalists, and many other content creators operating in various formats are working on and releasing smaller pieces of content at frequent intervals.

Novelists, especially from 100 years or more back, are no strangers to serialization. One of the all-time masters of the serialized format was Alexandre Dumas, whose international success as a writer has continued into modern day with the enduring popularity of such tales as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Paying attention to one of his works (for our purposes, the epic tale of the Count) provides an internet writer (or artist or videographer) with plenty of good advice. Five pieces of that advice are listed below.

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[Work: The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, 1844]
The Electronic Serial:

5 Lessons for Internet Writers from Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo

was last modified: February 22nd, 2018 by Daniel Podgorski

[Work: The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, 1985]
The Once and Future America:

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Consequences of (American) Society Yielding to Fear

 

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Introduction:

One unfamiliar with the novel, or unfamiliar with Margaret Atwood, might be understandably mistaken about what sort of book lies behind the unassuming title The Handmaid’s Tale. The name conjures up images of Victorian romance and understated drama which could not be further from the reality: a brutal piece of mid-1980s dystopian fiction about life in a theocratic America.

A decade and a half before Atwood won the Booker prize for The Blind Assassin, the Canadian author was nominated for the award (and a host of others) for this mid-80s work of considerable power and brilliance. Anyone who prizes the introduction of more traditional ideals into a country’s governance ought to equip an open mind and give this chilling tale a read.

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[Work: The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, 1985]
The Once and Future America:

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Consequences of (American) Society Yielding to Fear

was last modified: October 18th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Work: The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells, 1896]
Coping with Scientific Understanding:

Discoveries that can Forever Alter Worldviews in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau

 

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Introduction:

Unlike the other most prominent early writer of science fiction, Jules Verne, who focused his fiction primarily on courageous adventure, scientific discovery, and multifaceted characters like Captain Nemo, H.G. Wells’ fiction often focused on dark themes, political allegory, and social commentary. For this reason, the most widely read of Wells’ fiction among modern audiences are those which allegorize situations or possibilities that seem most relevant today, such as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Invisible Man.

But my favorite work by the man, and one of my favorite books overall, is one which is more often regarded for its potential in the horror genre than for its literary content: The Island of Dr. Moreau. A number of films have presented The Island of Dr. Moreau as horror or action, and it even had a segment in the The Simpsons‘ thirteenth “Treehouse of Horrors” episode. The film adaptations (all quite loose) are almost universally regarded as terrible, or else are enjoyable primarily for their B-movie charm and missteps. But the book is a truly remarkable one, and tugs at anxieties that many of us will understand far too well.

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[Work: The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells, 1896]
Coping with Scientific Understanding:

Discoveries that can Forever Alter Worldviews in H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau

was last modified: December 23rd, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski