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English Book Club: ‘Leaves of grass’ by Walt Whitman

9780451419170In 1855, Whitman, finally finding the style and voice he’d been searching for, self-published a slim collection of 12 unnamed poems with a preface titled Leaves of Grass.

Leaves of Grass marked a radical departure from established poetic norms. Tradition was discarded in favor of a voice that came at the reader directly, in the first person, in lines that didn’t rely on rigid meter and instead exhibited an openness to playing with form while approaching prose. On the book’s cover was an iconic image of the bearded poet himself.

Leaves of Grass received little attention at first. The following year, Whitman published a revised edition of Leaves of Grass that featured 32 poems, including a new piece, “Sun-Down Poem”.

Like its earlier edition, this second version of Leaves of Grass failed to gain much commercial traction. In 1860, a Boston publisher issued a third edition of Leaves of Grass. The revised book held some promise, and also was noted for a sensual grouping of poems—the “Children of Adam” series, which explored female-male eroticism, and the “Calamus” series, which explored intimacy between men.

The book is now a landmark in American literatura.

Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, New York. He grew up in a family of modest means. At 11, Walt Whitman was taken out of school by his father to help out with household income.

He started to work as an office boy for a Brooklyn-based attorney team and eventually found employment in the printing business. When he was 17, Whitman turned to teaching, working as an educator for five years. In 1838 he had started a weekly called the Long Islander and in 1846 he became editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Whitman proved to be a volatile journalist, with a sharp pen and a set of opinions that didn’t always align with his bosses or his readers. He backed what some considered radical positions on women’s property rights, immigration and labor issues.

In 1848 Whitman left New York for New Orleans, where he became editor of the Crescent. It was a relatively short stay for Whitman—just three months—but it was where he saw for the first time the wickedness of slavery. He often worried about the impact of slavery on the future of the country and its democracy.

On March 26, 1892, Walt Whitman passed away in Camden. Right up until the end, he’d continued to work with Leaves of Grass, which during his lifetime had gone through many editions and expanded to some 300 poems.

The English Book Club will meet again to coment this book on saturday December 15th.

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English Book Club: Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus. By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The book: Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus
frankensteinFrankenstein is a novel that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque, sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818. Her name first appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823.
Shelley travelled through Europe in 1814, journeying along the river Rhine in Germany with a stop in Gernsheim, near of Frankenstein Castle, where, two centuries before, an alchemist was engaged in experiments. She also visited Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland. The weather was consistently too cold and dreary that summer caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, so the group retired indoors until dawn. The company amused themselves by reading German ghost stories from the book Fantasmagoriana, then Byron proposed the famous bet. It was after midnight before they retired, and unable to sleep, she became possessed by her imagination as she beheld the grim terrors of her “waking dream”
She began writing what she assumed would be a short story. With Percy Shelley’s encouragement, she expanded the tale into a full-fledged novel. Shelley wrote the first four chapters in the weeks following the suicide of her half-sister Fanny.This was one of many personal tragedies that impacted Shelley’s work.
Frankenstein has been both well received and disregarded since its anonymous publication. Some papers said about the novel: “very bold fiction” or “a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity”.
The British Critic knowing who the author was wrote:”The writer of it is a female; this is an aggravation of that which is the prevailing fault of the novel; but if our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should; and we shall therefore dismiss the novel without further comment”.

The author: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

mary sheley

Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in Somers Town, London, in 1797. She was the second child of the feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft, and the first child of the philosopher William Godwin. She was raised by Godwin, who was able to provide his daughter with a rich, informal education. Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont, a well-educated woman with two young children of her own. Mary came to detest her stepmother.
In 1814, Mary began a romance with Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was already married. Together with Mary’s stepsister, left for France and travelled through Europe for a time. They struggled financially and faced the loss of their first child in 1815. The following summer, the Shelleys were in Switzerland with Jane Clairmont, Lord Byron and John Polidori. The group entertained themselves one rainy day by reading a book of ghost stories. Lord Byron suggested that they all should try their hand at writing their own horror story. It was at this time that Mary Shelley began work on what would become her most famous novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. The book debuted in 1818 as a new novel from an anonymous author. Many thought that Percy had written it since he penned its introduction. The book proved to be a huge success.
Upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy’s child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816, after the suicide of Percy Shelley’s first wife. Mary’s life was rocked by another tragedy in 1822 when her husband drowned. Made a widow at age 24, Mary Shelley worked hard to support herself and her son. She wrote several more novels, including Valperga and the science fiction tale The Last Man (1826).
Mary Shelley died of brain cancer on February 1, 1851, at age 53, in London, England. She was buried at St. Peter’s Church in Bournemouth.

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English Book Club: ‘The long good-bye’ by Raymond Chandler

imgThe long goodbye is a novel by Raymond Chandler, published in 1953, his sixth novel featuring the private investigator Philip Marlowe. Some critics consider it inferior to The big sleep or Farewell, my lovely, but others rank it as the best of his work. Chandler, in a letter to a friend, called the novel “my best book”

Down-and-out drunk Terry Lennox has a problem: his millionaire wife is dead and he needs to get out of LA fast. So he turns to the only friend he can trust: private investigator Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is willing to help a man down on his luck, but later Lennox commits suicide in Mexico and things start to turn nasty. Marlowe is drawn into a sordid crowd of adulterers and alcoholics in LA’s Idle Valley, where the rich are suffering one big suntanned hangover. Marlowe is sure Lennox didn’t kill his wife, but how many stiffs will turn up before he gets to the truth?

This novel was dramatised for television in 1954 for the anthology series Climax!, with Dick Powell playing Marlowe, as he had a decade earlier in the film Murder, my sweet. This live telecast is memorable for an incident in which the actor Tris Coffin, whose character had just died, thinking he was out of camera range, stood up and walked away while in view of the TV audience.

In 1973, Robert Altman filmed an adaptation set in contemporary Los Angeles, with Elliott Gould as Marlowe.

raymond-chandler_43ee3d22_220x290Raymond Chandler was born on July 23, 1888, in Chicago, Illinois. Upon his parents’ divorce, he relocated with his mother to South London, England. He returned to the United States in 1912, settling in Southern California.

After serving in the first World War, Chandler took on a bookkeeping job with an oil company, working his way up to a top position but lost his job in the early 1930s, and hence returned to his earlier love of writing, crafting stories that would find a home in pulp fiction magazines.

In 1939, he debuted his popular first novel The big sleep. His books featured the detective Philip Marlowe, who became an iconic figure of the fictional private investigator genre, with Chandler becoming renowned for his distinctive language, ideas and vision of Los Angeles. He is considered to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction.

With his wife’s death in 1954, Chandler became deeply depressed. Chandler suffered from a variety of health issues and his physical decline was exacerbated by alcohol abuse. He died from bronchial pneumonia on March 26, 1959 in La Jolla, California.

The English Book Club will meet again to coment this book on saturday October 20th.

Here you can see the movie trailer of the Robert Altman’s movie.

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English Book Club: Cathedral

The novel: Cathedral

portada“Cathedral” is the title of a collection of short stories published in 1983. It was the first story written after finishing What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and it is considered as one of the most relevant exemples of the “dirty realism”.
Dirty realism stories are about middle-class characters and the disappointments, heartbreaks, and harsh realities of their ordinary lives. Many of Carver’s short stories, including “Cathedral,” are prime examples of the dirty-realist style.
Carver finishes “Cathedral” with a “zero ending”. A zero ending is an ending that doesn’t neatly tie up the strands of a story. It may not even seem like an ending—in some cases, the writer may seem to have left off in the middle of a thought or idea. Instead of tacking on a florid conclusion that leaves everyone satisfied, Carver often stops his stories abruptly, at the moment when his characters are faced with a stark realization, glimmer of hope, or wall of confusion.
However, controversy arose over the nature of Carver’s writing—and even his lasting literary reputation—in the early 21st century. It was revealed that his long-time editor, Gordon Lish, had drastically changed many of Carver’s early stories. While Lish’s significant involvement in Carver’s writing had long been suspected, the extent of his editing became public knowledge when, in 2007, Carver’s widow, the poet Tess Gallagher, announced that she was seeking to publish the original versions of the stories in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (which appeared as Beginners in the U.K. and also as part of the Library of America’s Raymond Carver: Collected Stories [both 2009]). Lish was shown to have changed characters’ names, cut the length of many stories (over 75 percent of the text in two cases), and altered the endings of some stories. However, most of Carver’s famously terse sentences were his own, as was the hallmark bleak working-class milieu of the short stories.

The author: Raymond Carver

Raymond Clevie Carver (May 25, 1938, Clatskanie, Oregon — August 2, 1988, Port Angeles, Washington)raymond-carver was an American short-story writer and poet whose realistic writings about the working poor mirrored his own life.
He married a year after finishing high school and supported his wife and two children by working in several jobs. He became seriously interested in a writing career after taking a creative-writing course at Chico State College in 1958. His short stories began to appear in magazines while he studied at Humboldt State College (B.A., 1963). Carver’s first success as a writer came in 1967 with the story “Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?,” and he began writing full-time after losing his job as a textbook editor in 1970. The highly successful short-story collection Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (1976) established his reputation.
Carver began drinking heavily in 1967 and was repeatedly hospitalized for alcoholism in the 1970s, while continuing to turn out short stories. After conquering his drinking problem in the late 1970s, he taught for several years at the University of Texas and at Syracuse University, and in 1983 he won a literary award whose generous annual stipend freed him to again concentrate on his writing full-time.
In his short stories Carver chronicled the everyday lives and problems of the working poor in the Pacific Northwest. His blue-collar characters are crushed by broken marriages, financial problems, and failed careers, but they are often unable to understand or even articulate their own anguish. Carver’s stripped-down, minimalist prose style is remarkable for its honesty and power. He is credited with helping revitalize the genre of the English-language short story in the late 20th century.
He died of lung cancer at age 50.

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English Book Club: The grapes of wrath

The novel: The grapes of wrath

portadaThe Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel, publishd in 1939.The book won several prizes, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.
The narrative begins just after Tom Joad is paroled from McAlester prison, where he had been imprisoned after being convicted of homicide. On his return to his home near Sallisaw, Oklahoma, Tom meets former preacher Jim Casy, whom he remembers from his childhood, and the two travel together. When they arrive at Tom’s childhood farm home, they find it deserted. The next morning, Tom finds his family loading their remaining possessions into a sedan converted to a truck; the family has defaulted on their bank loans, and their farm has been repossessed. Consequently, the Joads see no option but to seek work in California. Although leaving Oklahoma would violate his parole, Tom decides it is worth the risk, and invites Casy to join him and his family.
Steinbeck was known to have borrowed from field notes taken during 1938 by Farm Security Administration worker and author Sanora Babb. While Babb collected personal stories about the lives of the displaced migrants for a novel she was developing, her supervisor shared her reports with Steinbeck. Babb’s own novel, Whose Names Are Unknown, was eclipsed by the success of The Grapes of Wrath and was shelved until it was finally published in 2004, a year before Babb’s death.
While writing the novel at his home, Steinbeck had unusual difficulty devising a title. The Grapes of Wrath, suggested by his wife was deemed more suitable than anything by the author. The title is a reference to lyrics from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, by Julia Ward Howe. These lyrics refer, in turn, to the biblical passage Revelation 14:19–20. This and other biblical passages had inspired a long tradition of imagery of Christ in the winepress, in various media.
When preparing to write the novel, Steinbeck wrote: “I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects].” He famously said, “I’ve done my damnedest to rip a reader’s nerves to rags.” This work won a large following among the working class due to Steinbeck’s sympathy for the migrants and workers’ movement, and his accessible prose style.

The author: John Steinbeck

John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. Born in Salinas, California, Steincame from a family of moderate means. He worked his way through college at Stanford University but never graduated. In 1925 he went to New York, where he tried for a few years to establish himself as a free-lance writer, but he failed and returned to California. After publishing some novels and short stories, Steinbeck first became widely known with Tortilla Flat (1935), a series of humorous stories about Monterey paisanos.
Steinbeck’s novels can all be classified as social novels dealing with the economic problems of rural labour, but there is also a streak of worship of the soil in his books, which does not always agree with his matter-of-fact sociological approach. After the rough and earthy humour of Tortilla Flat, he moved on to more serious fiction, often aggressive in its social criticism, to In Dubious Battle (1936), which deals with the strikes of the migratory fruit pickers on California plantations. This was followed by Of Mice and Men (1937), the story of the imbecile giant Lennie, and a series of admirable short stories collected in the volume The Long Valley (1938). In 1939 he published what is considered his best work, The Grapes of Wrath, the story of Oklahoma tenant farmers who, unable to earn a living from the land, moved to California where they became migratory workers.
Among his later works should be mentioned East of Eden (1952), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), and Travels with Charley (1962), a travelogue in which Steinbeck wrote about his impressions during a three-month tour in a truck that led him through forty American states. He died in New York City in 1968.

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English Book Club: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?

The novel: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?

portadaFirst published in 1968, the novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where Earth’s life has been greatly damaged by nuclear global war. The book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner, and many elements and themes from it were used in its 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.

The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is tasked with “retiring” six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, that violently went rogue after their creation by the Rosen Association, and fled Mars for Earth; while a secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids the fugitive androids. In connection with Deckard’s mission, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human. Unlike humans, the androids are said to possess no sense of empathy.

Bounty-hunter Rick Deckard signs on to a new police mission in order to earn enough money to buy a live animal to replace his electric sheep, seeking greater existential fulfillment for himself and his depressed wife, Iran. Deckard visits the Rosen headquarters in Seattle to confirm the validity of a question-and-answer empathy test. Deckard is greeted by Rachael Rosen, who quickly fails his test. Rachael attempts to bribe Deckard into silence, but he verifies that she is indeed a Nexus-6 model used by Rosen to attempt to discredit the test.

Deckard soon meets a Soviet police contact who turns out to be one of the disguised Nexus-6 renegades. Deckard retires the android, then flies off to retire his next target. This android, however, has him arrested and detained at a police department he has never heard of by a police officer whom he is surprised never to have met. At this strange station, Deckard’s worldview is shaken when an official named Garland accuses Deckard himself of being an android. After a series of mysterious revelations at the station, Deckard ponders the ethical and philosophical questions his line of work raises regarding android intelligence, empathy, and what it means to be human.

The author: Philip K. Dick

Philip Kindred Dick.- (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American science fiction writer.

The 50’s and the early 60’s were very creative periods for Dick. He won the highest award in the science fiction world in 1962 for The Man In The High Castle. The 1970’s produced some of Dick’s best work and he continued to become well known in the science fiction community.

Philip K. Dick has been given many labels over the years and as his work has become more known since his death. The genre of science fiction was used as an outlet to break unfamiliar ground. His work is very experimental and questions the basis of our own existence. His own emotional and psychological states play a major role in the tone of his work throughout the years. Noticing the change in Dick’s writing style from the 50’s to the 80’s is a look at the struggles of a creative genius. His attempts to demonstrate the ever-expanding potential of the universe are personal journeys into his own realities.Philip K Dick writerHarperCollins Publishers

On February 20, 1974, while recovering from the effects of sodium pentothal administered for the extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth, Dick received a home delivery. When he opened the door, he was struck by the beauty of a dark-haired girl and was especially drawn to her golden necklace. After the woman’s departure, Dick began experiencing strange hallucinations. Although initially attributing them to side effects from medication, he considered this explanation implausible after weeks of continued hallucinations. Throughout February and March 1974, Dick experienced a series of hallucinations, which he referred to as “2-3-74″
On February 17, 1982, after completing an interview, Dick contacted his therapist, complaining of failing eyesight, and was advised to go to a hospital immediately, but did not. The next day, he was found unconscious on the floor. Five days later, on March 2, 1982, he was disconnected from life support and died.

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English Book Club: ‘The Firm’ by John Grisham

The novel: The firm
The firmThe Firm is a 1991 legal thriller. It was the first widely recognized book written by John Grisham; in 1993, after selling 1.5 million copies, it was made into a film starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, came into recognition afterwards due to this novel’s success.
Mitchell Y. “Mitch” McDeere is a graduate from Western Kentucky University with a degree in accounting, who has passed his Certified Public Accountant exam on the first attempt and graduated third in his class at Harvard Law School.
Mitch spurns offers from law firms in New York and Chicago in favor of signing with Bendini, Lambert and Locke, a small tax law firm based in Memphis. He finds the firm’s offer too generous to resist.
When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage and hired him a decorator. Mitch McDeere should have remembered what his brother Ray — doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail — already knew. You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch’s firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice — if he wants to live.

The author: John Grisham
John Ray Grisham Jr. was born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro,john-grisham-photo-credit-bob-krasner- Arkansas. As a child, he dreamed of being a professional baseball player but he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.
One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants. Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared.
Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year and all of them have become international bestsellers.
Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books’ protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients’ case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.
When he’s not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes.The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

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English Book Club: ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker

dracula-cover-2Dracula is a gothic horror novel. It introduced Count Dracula character and established many conventions of subseqüent vampire fantasy.

The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and a woman led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.

The story is told in epistolary format, as a series of letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, and ships’ log entries, whose narrators are the novel’s protagonists, and occasionally supplemented with newspaper clippings relating events not directly witnessed.

The events portrayed in the novel take place chronologically and largely in England and Transylvania during the 1890s and all transpire within the same year between 3 May and 6 November. A short note is located at the end of the final chapter written 7 years after the events outlined in the novel.

Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, authors such as H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H. G. Wells wrote many tales in which fantastic creatures threatened the British Empire.

Victorian readers enjoyed Dracula as a good adventure story like many others, but it did not reach its legendary status until later in the 20th century when film versions began to appear.

Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent seven years researching European folklore and stories of vampires, being most influenced by Emily Gerard’s 1885 essay “Transylvania Superstitions” which includes content about a vampire myth.[10][11] Some historians are convinced that a historic figure, Vlad III Dracula, often called Vlad the Impaler, was the model for Stoker’s Count although there is no supporting evidence.

bramstockerAbraham “Bram” Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) was an Irish author, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula. During his lifetime, he was better known as the personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

Stoker was the third of seven children and was bedridden with an unknown illness until he started school at the age of seven. He was educated in a private school and then graduated with honours as a B.A. in Mathematics.

Stoker worked during 27 years as acting and business manager of Herny Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London. Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man.

Stoker visited the English coastal town of Whitby in 1890, and that visit is said to be part of the inspiration for Dracula. He began writing novels while manager for Henry Irving and secretary and director of London’s Lyceum Theatre, beginning with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897.

After suffering a number of strokes, Stoker died in London on 20 April 1912. Some biographers attribute the cause of death to tertiary syphilis, others to overwork. He was cremated, and his ashes were placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium in north London.

The story of Dracula has been the basis for numerous films. You can know more about cinema adaptations in an article published at the Prestatge Virtual de Cinema of Xarxa de Biblioteques Municipals de la Diputació de Barcelona.

The English Book Club will meet again to coment this book on saturday November 11th.

Here you can see the movie tràiler of Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola.

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English Book Club: ‘1984’ by George Orwell

georgeorwellxobeygiantprintset-1984coverbyshepardfairey1984, is a dystopian novel published in 1949 by English author George Orwell. The novel is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the superstate Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation.

The superstate and its residents are dictated to by a political regime euphemistically named English Socialism, shortened to “Ingsoc” in Newspeak, the government’s invented language.

The superstate is under the control of the privileged elite of the Inner Party, a party and government that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrime”, which is enforced by the “Thought Police”.

1984 is a classic novel in content, plot and style. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5, and memory hole, have entered into common use since its publication in 1949.

Nineteen Eighty-Four popularised the adjective Orwellian, which describes official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state.

George Orwell “encapsulate” the thesis at the heart of his unforgiving novel” in 1944, the implications of dividing the world up into Zones of influence that had been conjured by the Tehran Conference and three years later he wrote most of it on the Scottish island of Jura, from 1947 to 1948, despite being seriously ill with tuberculosis.

The Last Man in Europe was an early title for the novel but in a letter dated 22 October 1948 to his publisher, eight months before publication, Orwell wrote about hesitating between The Last Man in Europe and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Warburg suggested changing the main title to a more commercial one.

Throughout its publication history, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been either banned or legally challenged, as subversive or ideologically corrupting

george-orwellGeorge Orwell was the the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950 in British India) was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.

When Eric was one year old, his mother took him and his sister to England. His mother’s diary from 1905 describes a lively round of social activity and artistic interests. Blair’s academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies, but during his time at Eton he worked to produce a College magazine, The Election Times.

The family decided that Blair should join the Imperial Police, and send him to India. Working as an imperial policeman gave him considerable responsibility while most of his contemporaries were still at university in England. But Blair, spent much of his time alone, reading or pursuing non-pukka activities, such as attending the churches of the Karen ethnic group.

Back in England, he settled in the family home. In imitation of Jack London, whose writing he admired Blair started to explore the poorer parts of London and recorded his experiences of the low life for use in The Spike, his first published essay in English, and in the second half of his first book, Down and out in Paris and London (1933).

Orwell set out for Spain on about 23 December 1936, dining with Henry Miller in Paris on the way. The American writer told Orwell that going to fight in the Civil War out of some sense of obligation or guilt was ‘sheer stupidity,’ and that the Englishman’s ideas ‘about combating Fascism, defending democracy, etc., etc., were all baloney.


Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed.

Nineteen Eighty-Four has been adapted for the cinema, radio, television and theatre at least twice each, as well as for other art media, such as ballet and opera.

The English Book Club will meet again to coment this book on saturday October 14nth.

Here you can see the movie trailer of the version released in 1984.

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Speak Up. La teoria del todo


revistaSpeak Up és una revista en anglès pensada i dissenyada per aprendre l’idioma, però és molt més que això: es tracta d’un magazine amb opinions, informacions, crítica i totes les novetats imaginables sobre el món del cinema i l’espectacle. La revista porta entrevistes i articles, uns d’un nivell més avançat que d’altres, de caràcter variat, però que normalment giren al voltant de algun aspecte de la cultura britànica o nord-americà. Sempre vénen acompanyats d’un glossari on es tradueixen les paraules més complicades, a més d’algunes explicacions més extenses pel que fa a algun terme o expressió.

La revista inclou un CD multimèdia per escoltar els àudios que reprodueixen alguns dels articles i entrevistes (i fins i tot per poder descarregar-los com a arxiu mp3 per dur-amb tu còmodament), la qual cosa sol ser molt útil a causa de les diferències que es fan pel que fa als diversos accents. A més, al CD vénen alguns exercicis de listening.

Però a més a més inclou una pel·lícula d’actualitat en versió original en anglès que inclou subtítols en anglès amb la reproducció exacta dels diàlegs, subtítols en castellà, versió original sense subtítols i la versió doblada al castellà.

Totes les pel·lícules incorporen un llibret on es detalla la fitxa tècnica de la pel·lícula, així com informació sobre la trama i els actors. A més, presenta una sèrie de glossaris amb una gran quantitat de vocabulari, molt útils tota vegada que estan organitzats segons la part de la pel·lícula en la qual apareixen, per la qual cosa podràs guiar-te segons el numeret que aparegui en una cantonada de la pantalla.

A la Xarxa de Biblioteques Municipals de Vilanova i la Geltrú trobareu més de 160 referències de pel·lícules de la col·lecció Speak Up en aquest format.

Avui us presentem com a novetat l’última fotogramaincorporació d’aquesta col·lecció, La teoria del todo, dirigida per James Marsh i interpretada per Eddie Redmayne, Emily Watson i Felicity Jones. El guió és de Anthony McCarten a partir del llibre de memòries de Jane Hawking.

La pel·lícula La teoria del todo narra la relació entre el cèlebre astrofísic Stephen Hawking i la seva primera dona, Jane, des que tots dos es van conèixer sent estudiants a la Universitat de Cambridge a principis dels 60 i al llarg de 25 anys, especialment en la seva lluita junts contra la malaltia degenerativa que va postrar al famós científic en una cadira de rodes.

El punt de vista de la pel·lícula ve marcat per la mirada de Jane, al capdavall són les seves memòries les adaptades. Això explica que determinats aspectes en la vida de Stephen, sobretot en el pla professional, quedin una mica desdibuixats: el que importa als responsables de la pel·lícula és aquesta transformació de Jane, la dona que hi ha darrera del geni, part indissociable dels èxits teòrics del seu marit, qui sense la seva ajuda potser no hauria aconseguit ni sobreviure a la malaltia.

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