World War Two: silence is deadly.

Watching the final episode of Andrew Marr’s* History of the World on Sunday, I was shocked by his manipulation of the events leading up to World War Two. After describing Nazi persecution of the Jews, there was a mere pause before he moved on to discuss the ensuing war. This pause should have wielded tales of pacts, appeasement and expansionism. Instead, it assumed the form of a knot, tying the two ideas together, persecution and war; a bond of causation.  The persecution of the Jews + war = Allied intervention on humanitarian grounds. On reflection, I realised that this implication has been perpetuated within Britain for decades. It has taken me until now to recognise this simply because, until now, I was under the same illusion as many others. Although nobody has ever explicitly said to me ‘Britain waged war on Hitler with the aim of ending the Holocaust’, their silence on matters of appeasement and protectionism have, just as Andrew Marr succeeded in doing, implied exactly that.

Andrew Marr’s History of the World. Credit: theguardian.co.uk

The fact is that the Jews had absolutely nothing to do with Allied action against Hitler. Otherwise, there would have been war in 1935 when Hitler laid out his Nuremberg Laws which removed, among other rights, German citizenship from the Jewish population. But at this time, Britain and France were far too busy appeasing Mussolini’s use of mustard gas against civilians in Abyssinia to give a thought to the civilians of Germany. Although this was done in order to retain a key ally against Hitler (it was feared that resistance would drive Mussolini towards the Nazis), Allied motivation lay in self-interest, rather than humanitarian concern. Neither country could afford another war and Mussolini’s friendship made war less likely. Sorted.

And it wasn’t only Mussolini that was subjected to the desperate caresses of Allied politicians. Hitler too, in spite of his anti-Semitic campaign, was essentially receiving encouragement from Britain in his every endeavour, namely his dismemberment of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler wants to rearm? Good on you, old boy! An Anschluss with Austria? You deserve it, my friend! Concentration camps? It’s nothing to do with us.

Admittedly, Hitler’s peaceful portrayal of Germany at the 1936 Berlin Olympics may have misled Britain as to the extent of Jewish persecution. Yet it can’t have been too difficult to see beyond the facade of a single part-Jewish fencer, generously permitted to represent Germany at the games, at a time when human rights were being violated so blatantly. Essentially, German domestic affairs held no interest for Britain and, whilst Chamberlain did relax immigration controls in order to accept the Jews fleeing the Nazis, this was proactivity at its least active. The predominant concern of the Allies was for foreign policy and the effects that Hitler’s extreme ideology might have on them.

Even in 1942, when evidence of genocide within Germany had become so overwhelming that it could no longer be ignored, Allied governments merely issued a declaration of condemnation. There was a hint of promise at the resultant Bermuda Conference, where Britain and America toyed with the idea of evacuating the persecuted to safe havens. However the US Foreign Office feared that Germany “may change over from the policy of extermination to one of extrusion, and aim as they did before the war at embarrassing other countries by flooding them with alien immigrants.” Best not then- what’s a few Jews, gassed and burned, against the embarrassment of saving them?

It is true that the Bermuda Conference came during a time of uncertainty, a time when any diversion of resources could have cost the war and all hope of salvation for those fenced inside concentration camps across Europe. However, when in 1944, Jewish leaders implored Churchill to bomb the gas chambers and railways leading up to Auschwitz Birkenau, Germany was on the defensive and the Allies, certain of coming success. Yet still they refused help.

This evidence exposes Andrew Marr’s assertion that ‘Nothing was worse than what the Nazis did, but their job here [the extermination of Ukranian Jews] had been made easier by what the Russian communists had already done’ as limited. Rather, the Nazi’s job was made easier by what Western Allies did. Or didn’t do.

Silence can be as implicating as words yet somehow escapes the reproach levelled at verbal wrongs. It is difficult to accuse that which is unsaid, so something as small as a pause  has the power to corrupt history, unchecked.

* Preempting his readership of this blog, may I point out that I generally boast clear skin, an adequate social life and a womb.
 “bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting**.” Andrew Marr, 2010
** I’ll give you ranting.

‘Unfilmable’: On the Road

Picture credit: Wikipedia

Walter Salles’ version of On the Road was never going to reflect the Beat classic with the exactness demanded of most adaptations. It would have been futile to attempt a precise translation of Kerouac’s enthused rush of words- ‘Wild form’ as he named it- onto the silver screen; the end product would have been unrecognisable. In the book, Sal Paradise is absorbed in madness and in learning of madness, his every word punched with such immediacy as to defy the laws of past tense narration. The result is a novel of nuances, of suggested emotion buried beneath exhilaration; fleeting feeling flashing over the faces of its characters. Subtleties like this cannot be replicated in film. The characters would become cold and superficial, a concept inconsistent with their roles as ‘New York intellectuals’, thinkers and writers. So, by augmenting the implied emotions of On the Road, by allowing Carlo Marx to grieve and Marylou to cry, and by treating these moments with such tender poignancy, Salles’ adaptation is as loyal to the novel as possible for a successful film.

‘Wild form’s the only form holds what I have to say- my mind is exploding to say something about every image and every memory… I have an irrational lust to set down everything I know.’ Jack Kerouac

In saying this, I am disappointed that the novel’s most affecting portrayal of Dean’s vulnerability, whereby he comes under attack from Camille’s friends for lacking responsibility, wasn’t included in the screenplay. To see him standing with his bandaged thumb aloft, taking the torrent of abuse in pathetic silence, could have generated  pathos far beyond that which Salles actually achieved. Although we felt sorry for Dean throughout the film, we weren’t witness to his gradual degeneration. In the book, his confused lust for life culminated at this point, the point of his ‘final development.’ And the effect was harrowing.

‘where once Dean would have talked his way out, he now fell silent himself, but standing in front of everybody, ragged and broken and idiotic…’ On the Road

Not only does the film expand upon characters’ emotions, it also contains many scenes which I cannot recall having read. Seemingly, it takes some of its content from Kerouac’s original draft of On the Road: Carlo Marx’s romantic love for Dean comprises a large theme within the film yet, unless aware  of Ginsberg’s influence on the former, it is not clear within the finished novel. The inclusion of Marx’s unrequited affection allows the audience to greater appreciate Dean’s immense appeal. As Sal says, he is ‘Beatific.’ And Kerouac would be sure to approve: when his agent demanded this omission, he retorted that she wanted ‘a road with all the curves out.’

On the Road Manuscript, #1

On the Road Manuscript, #1 (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

‘Allen was queer in those days… Neal saw this and… wanting dearly to learn how to write petry like Allen, the first thing you know he was attacking Allen with a great amorous soul… I was in the same room. I heard them across the darkness…’ On the Road, original draft

The cast cannot be faulted. Most notable, was Garrett Hedlund’s performance: he captures not only the brilliant insanity for which Dean is renowned, but also the character’s battle to suppress the insecurities created by his father’s absence. Moreover, he succeeds in crafting an ineptness so innocent that the audience is enamoured, rather than exasperated.

Picture credit: The Week

Sam Riley, as Sal Paradise, is insignificant. Yet this is not to diminish his his skill as an actor- it merely reflects the function of his character. As the narrator, Sal Paradise is both nowhere and everywhere. He is the medium through which understand Dean; his mind is a filter which taints all. Yet he is not the protagonist. Thus the film cannot help but reduce his role to one of little interest for the audience; he is on the sidelines, watching, like us.

Yet from the moment the cast was announced, the attention has been weighted heavily on Kristen Stewart; On the Road is her big departure from the squealing, adolescent audience of Twilight. And, though her association with Bella Swan will never dissipate- like the cast of Harry Potter, she is tarnished for life- her portrayal of Marylou is so convincing that for two hours, she experiences brief release from the clutches of eternal damnation.

It is nearly 60 years since On the Road was first published. Nevertheless, Salles’ adaptation works. Being alive and wanting to enjoy it is a timeless concept, yet it is one which is rarely championed in today’s society. Which is why everyone should see this film. 

Nine- Shadow Syndicate

This month, Buxton’s Festival Fringe (4th-22nd July) has taken hold of the town and I went along to review a show.

Shadow Syndicate’s ‘Nine’ couldn’t feel fresher, with its exploration of the current Syrian conflict lending a streak of individualism to the recent news reports on the region. Also refreshing is its unfamiliar focus: the play avoids the exhaustively-covered cities of Homs and Damascus, instead taking us down into uncharted cellars, where British journalists lie captive.

As I entered the Orchestra Pit, I felt immediately uncomfortable. A dark stage, void of any decoration, loomed with all the reassurance of a lone magpie, perched on a wedding cake. Acting to heighten the ominous atmosphere, Laura Turner and Jessica Millott held (for an extraordinarily long time) frozen postures of resignation as we became seated.

And the tension only mounted. Both actresses displayed remarkable characterisation in their raw presentation of the effects that torture can have. Their depiction of the psychological and physical traumas suffered by captives in Syria was performed to such a convincing degree that I was left recoiling in horror.

Fuelled by the human instinct of self-preservation, each battled with the internal dichotomy of friendship versus independence, as demonstrated by the deceptively-harsh, rehearsed words of concern used by each to assess the physical harm suffered by the other: ‘Show me your hand…wriggle…bend.’ Yet in spite of this need for companionship, it was disturbingly easy to empathise with the concept of sacrificing another to save oneself; it is testament to the ability of both actresses that they were able to draw such repulsive and suppressed notions from their audience, such that would only truly manifest under the strain of torture.

The theatre was utilised to its greatest potential, juxtaposing a clamouring claustrophobia (induced by the dim lighting and tight performance space) with the concept of sanctuary (created by the horrific sound effects which came from the outside world.) Not only were the characters desperate to get out, they were also desperate to remain in their chains, with the alternative being torture. Thus, the audience was kept in an impossible state of fraught discomfort; an astounding feat, considering the entire play rested on only two actresses. And so, for several minutes after ‘Nine’ had drawn to a close, the audience remained silently stationary, contemplating what they had just witnessed.

Although it is needless to highlight the ages of Turner and Millott, I shall do so for precisely that reason. Reviewers of youth productions habitually comment on how remarkable young performers are… ‘for their age’ (just so you know, we find that very patronising.) In this case, both actresses (aged 17) performed to such a high level that they were simply remarkable, full stop.

Eddie Carbone: a tragic hero?

‘The tragic mode is archaic, fit only for the very highly placed, the Kings or the Kingly.’

Traditional tragic heroes are characterised by several components, one of which is their noble status. Aristotle emphasised this in Poetics, specifying the tragic hero as ‘one of those who stand in great repute and prosperity.’ This defining quality is a vein which runs through the works of original Greek playwrights such as Sophocles and Aeschylus to Shakespeare to the Neo-classical Racine. Yet by the eighteenth century, a Bourgeois uprising was beginning to taint the tragic hero’s nobility of blood, with George Lillo’s The London Merchant defying convention and creating a protagonist as mundane as its title. Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge also boasts a tragic hero of modest background: longshoreman Eddie Carbone. Whether such ordinary characters should be permitted a title so long associated with nobility is subject to debate. However, with Carbone conforming to every other characteristic of the tragic hero, this discrepancy may be forgivable, or perhaps even welcome in our modern times.

In the first scene, Miller’s protagonist is ‘highlighted’ amongst his friends through a symbolic utilisation of lighting. We go on to witness the reverence with which Carbone is regarded in his own home, as niece Catherine greets him excitedly before seeking his opinion on her new skirt. In light of his disapproval, Catherine is ‘almost in tears’, revealing the importance of his judgement. Not only is Carbone loved by his family, he is also a respected figure within the Red Hook community, for his adherence to its Italian values. We see this in friend Louis’ admiration of his willingness to conceal immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho: ‘you got a lotta credit comin’ to you.’ Thus it is clear that, as with all other tragic heroes, Eddie is a highly-regarded character. Admittedly, Carbone is less powerful than the monarchs of Macbeth and Antigone, but we must bear in mind that the capacity to influence is relative to one’s society; within the tight-knit, isolated Red Hook community, Carbone is of the highest esteem possible, making him just as suitable for the role of the tragic hero as any Greek King.

Carbone’s importance is underpinned by lawyer Alfieri, who acts as the Greek Chorus of A View from the Bridge. His narration rarely strays from Carbone and only incorporates other characters on the basis of their relationship with him. A cardinal function of the Greek Chorus is to bridge a connection between the audience and the protagonist; the tragic hero must be one with whom we can relate, as Aristotle said. This is certainly true of Carbone, who Alfieri eulogises as having ‘allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think I will love him.’ In this respect, Carbone could be at an advantage over the likes of Oedipus and King Lear: the very fact of his ordinariness enables greater scope for audience empathy. After all, our ability to relate to prestigious tragic heroes is limited by their rank and situation; only their inescapable humanity enables us to identify with their plight.

Vital to the tragic hero is their fall. And one cannot deny the thoroughness with which A View from the Bridge skins Carbone of his glory. By the end of Act Two, having informed on Beatrice’s cousins, he is despised by both Marco and Rodolpho; Catherine has finally shaken her dependency on him; Beatrice, although still faithful, has lost all respect for him. He is pathetic- a fact enhanced by the symbolic stage directions, whereby his former sponsors gradually abandon him: ‘LIPARI and wife exit…EDDIE calls after LOUIS and MIKE.’ Even by his own standards, he is repulsive (earlier in the play, he condemned a similar betrayal by young Vinny Bolanzo who ‘snitched to the Immigration.’) And then comes the ultimate downfall: the hero’s demise. Carbone’s death leaves no doubt as to whether Miller has fulfilled this particular criterion of the tragic hero. Yet there is still a point of contention: how far can an ordinary person really fall? Arguably, the degradation of nobility, as witnessed in traditional tragedies, exposes Carbone’s descent as a mere trip off the curb; he has much less to lose than, for example, Oedipus. Nevertheless, in any fall from grace, it is those closest to the subject of defamation that are most important: although Oedipus may feel shame before his kingdom, it is the reactions of his family and friends which cause the audience to cringe on his behalf. Thus, whilst traditional heroes may experience dishonour on a grander scale, the likes of Carbone provoke just as great an audience reaction.

Hamatria is also intrinsic to the tragic hero: translated as ‘the tragic flaw’, it is what causes the great man’s fall. Carbone’s hamatria lies in his incestuous feelings for Catherine and, perhaps more importantly, his denial of them. Having suppressed these unnatural urges, Carbone feels justified in his struggle against Rodolpho; it is possible that he has convinced even himself that his objections to his niece’s engagement are innocent. Were he to acknowledge his perverse desires, it is possible that Carbone could prevent his downfall: he is not a bad man so, if enlightened, may coax himself out of any feelings of jealously. As it is, Carbone succumbs to the ‘battle to secure his rightful place in the world’ (what Miller deems the generic hamatria), thus signing his own death certificate. This concept is captured in the symbolism of Carbone dying, literally by his own hand: ‘MARCO grabs [EDDIE’S] arm, turning the blade inward and pressing it home.’ To presume that only a figure of nobility can have such fatal flaws is clearly mistaken: ‘in no way is the common man debarred from such thoughts and such actions’ (Arthur Miller.) In this respect, therefore, Carbone is just as fitted to the role of the tragic hero as any Shakespearean conception.

From the play’s first utterance, Carbone is fated to fall. Alfieri’s opening narration predestines a ‘bloody course’ and this ominous atmosphere is later reinforced with the assertion that he could have ‘finished the whole story that afternoon.’ Meanwhile, Carbone’s discussion of the aforementioned traitor, Vinny Bolonzo (in which we learn that ‘they spit on him in the street, his own father and his brothers’ before he was never seen again) overtly foreshadows his own humiliation. Of course, this is essential to the tragic hero, for there is no tragedy in chance misfortune: it must be inevitable.

It is plain, therefore, that Eddie Carbone epitomises the tragic hero in all but rank. Yet this seems to matter little: the concept of nobility representing ‘the people’ is of dubious relevance today. When aiming to create a microcosm of society, contemporary writers are now inclined to use ordinary characters, as opposed to royalty. Thus it seems that, whilst Oedipus may have thrived in Ancient Greece, Carbone is of far greater relevance today: he is the modern tragic hero. If theatre is to retain a high level of significance within our world, the rules of tragedy must be regarded as flexible. And Miller seems to agree, slipping Alfieri the ambiguous line: ‘the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten.’

‘Don’t need money, don’t need fame, I just want to make a change’

Taken from Marina and the Diamonds’ early single Oh No!, these lyrics now ring hollow as the band finishes its Electra Heart UK tour. Having frankly admitted her frustration with the response to her debut album The Family Jewels,  Marina last year declared ‘I want everyone to love me.’  To what sacrifice, though? Marina and the Diamonds’ second album has certainly succeeded in gaining her a larger audience, reaching Number 1 in the UK official chart, whilst her first peaked at a disappointing Number 5. And yet, Electra Heart is all that her debut scorned, simmering with Hollywood-infected lyrics and pulsating with abused house beats. Were it not for the deep cynical quirk still present in her vocals, Marina’s latest album would lounge unobtrusively amongst the swathes of production-line music currently dominating the charts.
Admittedly, the theme perpetuated by both albums is fairly consistent: each deals with a thirst for success. However, their approaches are markedly different. The Family Jewels explores Marina’s craving for the extraordinary in an almost therapeutic way, acknowledging, and sometimes mocking, the neuroticism which accompanies any pursuit of greatness. It retains a refreshing uniqueness, not only in its honesty, but in its nonconforming sound, making it one of my most-played albums. For Electra Heart, though, Marina seems to have dissected what it is to sell big, rearranged the components and created a disc which fits snugly into the Top 40 conveyor belt.
And so it seems that Marina has achieved both money and fame. However, with repetitive, meaningless lyrics about radioactive humans (although it is possible that she is prophesying a nuclear disaster due to Tory idiocy, in which case, I take my hat off to the lass), she shan’t be changing much anytime soon.
 

The Story of Burnt Njál

My first journey down the Rangriver of the Icelandic Saga hasn’t been easy. Chapter One of The Story of Burnt Njál greeted me with…

Thorgerda was the daughter of Thorstein the Red who was Olaf the White’s son, Ingialld’s son, Helgi’s son. Ingalld’s mother was Thora, daughter of Sigurd Snake-i’-the-eye, who was Ragnar Hairybreek’s son. And the Deeply-wealthy was Thorstein the Red’s mother; she was the daughter of Kettle Flatnose , who was Bjorn Boun’s son, Grims’s son, Lord of Sogn in Norway.

I literally gasped aloud. And then began a family tree which, two chapters in, had run off the page, onto my duvet.

Íslenska : Möðruvallabók (AM 132 fol.13r) Bren...

At this point, I reached a dilemma: panic and reason began an internal battle, the former telling me to slam closed the hideously-confusing book, riddled with aeons of genealogy, and never return; the latter gently ordering me to get a grip. Which I did.

Twenty ‘Sigurds’ later (this bloke is the ‘John’ of the tenth century), my initial reservations have quieted. I have come to the realisation that, unless you are studying Icelandic lineage, the footnotes can be overlooked; the plot remains unharmed. And the plot is fantastic.

Again, I was initially worried that the sparseness of the prose would be uncomfortable but, to the contrary, the pages turn as fluidly as those of an elaborately-crafted thriller.

Perhaps it is the idea that this actually happened that spurs me on, into the night, pursuing Hrut’s travels, Hallgerda’s marriages and Gunnar’s feuds. Not only is Njál’s Saga a piece of prose, it is a piece of history, ‘handed down by word of mouth, told from Althing to Althing, at Spring Thing and Autumn Leet, at all great gatherings of people, and over many a fireside, on sea strand or riverbank.’ (George Webbe Dasent)

Read it!

Young Colossus- Sleeper

 With side-project, Young Colossus, Maccabees’ vocalist Orlando Weeks has created a beautifully-eerie soundtrack to accompany his limited-edition illustrated book (featuring Alessi Laurent-Marke.)

Sleeper‘ rushes out of my speakers, a heavy wave.. in and out. Or, less romantically, a sofa being dragged across a vast room. A flittering, electronic pulse ensues, reminiscent of dewy bike rides, wooded tracks and greenery. Girlish vocals, superimposed over a jangling guitar, warble from the centre of the mouth, lisping airily over parted lips. These floating notes are then drawn underground as Weeks’ sonorous tones pour the seductive bass line. Otherworldly, layered voices trip lightly over a pattering guitar, conjuring images of demonic, multicoloured mice, equipped with whirring chainsaws- the kind only found in Tim Burton films: ‘What you running from?’

‘Sleeper’ then morphs into a marginally less-sinister, silence-inducing bass line which throbs with climactic suspense: ‘Think it’s gonna start.’ Followed by the repeated call of a horn, which expands to evoke an almost-medeival ambience, Laurent-Marke’s vocals peter out.

That World

The sun looks the same.  Its red glare condemns a redder land, pours blood over the bloodless dead, stretches light amongst the shadows.

Yet all has changed.  We have won.

Distorted bodies coat the ground with alien limbs.  The guttering rattle of death has been subsumed by an euphoric silence.

I want to scream, or laugh, but my throat chokes, overcome with the beauty of it:  their warped contours draped awkwardly, still.  No longer grappling.  Free.

Bending to study one close by, I suppress the instinctual flinch, the urge to reach for my holster; I am safe.  Watery eyes, liberated from the malign stare which they once perpetuated, are all that confront me now.  Oddly innocent in their blankness.

As if testing myself, I slide one arm under the stiffened body and pull it into me.  Cradled so, the tiny form betrays nothing of its former self.

My mind wanders lightly over the landscape, littered with lost lives.

Back home.

I remember watching these bodies gratuitously slaughter one another.  I remember the holes into which they stuffed their mutilated peers.  Crunching bones and compressed flesh, more and more…

and more and more.

I remember my bewilderment as I watched them rip gashes in the ground and stretch, with those odd, elongated limbs, holes in the sky.

I remember that particular alien.  It looked just like the rest but we knew it was different.  It had houses everywhere, where it was visited by all the others.  It told them to kill each other.  It told them to throw the bodies in the ground.  It told the bodies to do the same.

Suddenly, the hard creature in my arms is too cold.  I make as if to look at it but find I can’t.  Instead, I imagine it thanking me, thanking us for saving them from themselves.  Can these humankinds feel gratitude?  I never really thought about it before.

‘Fire is Catching’

Is The Hunger Games the new Harry Potter?

Last week I jumped firmly onto The Hunger Games chariot, with its imminent film release prompting me to pick up a copy. As the date, 23rd March 2012, nears, more and more people are doing the same and it seems that another literary phenomenon is on the way, threatening to topple Harry Potter from his broom.

But this is no mean feat. Harry Potter has been amongst us for nearing fifteen years and its hold has yet to slacken. Having grown up in sync with Harry, Hermione and Ron, my life has been so poignantly affected by the series that, even now, I catch myself whispering a hasty Alohomora when I lose my front door key.

All authors dream of becoming the next J.K.Rowling (ignore any claims to the contrary- it’s bare jealousy.) And a few have come close: there was a period of bated breath only recently as Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga was taken from book to big screen. But the hype surrounding Edward’s torso paled in comparison with that produced by the final Harry Potter film alone; in the days which followed, the twisted corpses of stray girls, bedecked in ‘Team Jacob’ merchandise, could be found in any Cineworld car park, having being caught in a stampede of bespectacled adults and children. Tragic.

Nonetheless, there is a real possibility that The Hunger Games could do it. Unlike the Twilight Saga, its appeal reaches far beyond the boundaries of lustful teenage imaginings, with themes of power, revenge, identity and survival creating a layered and complex read. Moreover, instead of coaxing heartbroken adolescent girls to the Bella-esque brink of insanity, Suzanne Collin’s heroine, Katniss, is an object of admiration in her independence- I’m confident that she wouldn’t hop onto a motorbike (with a potential rapist) to get a glimpse of her ex’s sparkly abs.

But how does she compare to Harry? In my opinion, Katniss is a character with whom we can better relate: she’s more real *GASP*.  Before you condemn me, hear me out: with all Harry’s been through, surely he would want to take at least a minute to curl up under the duvet with a packet of Hobnobs and a purely platonic Kleenex? But no- on he battles. And in the end, ‘All was well.’ Not so much as a trip to a psychologist.

Katniss’ breakdown in Mockingjay is, therefore, quite reassuring. When my cat died- the only grief I have ever experienced- I cried for weeks, so felt slightly put out as, in the epilogue of The Deathly Hallows, Harry waltzed onto Platform 9 3/4, a perfect picture of marital bliss, with his childhood sweetheart. Where are the needle marks? The haunted, sleepless eyes?

Admittedly, he does have the occasional blip, as demonstrated by his grief for Sirius in The Order of the Phoenix: ‘I-DON’T-WANT-TO-BE-HUMAN!’ But, having just stubbed my toe on the way to this computer (‘F*!”&^G  B%?^$!D  S*&T’), I remain unconvinced.

The epilogue of Mockingjay is less of a disappointment. We are able to see the long term effects of the Games on Katniss as she admits: ‘on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away.’ An advantage of first person narration? Maybe, but I still think we could have been given more of an insight into Harry’s post-Voldermort journey.

Nevertheless, it will take a lot to top Harry Potter. Hogwarts is The Dream: I know I’m not the only one for whom the recollection of their first day at a normal school hurts. Perhaps, then, it is the concept of being special which draws us to Rowling’s fantasy; this could explain the current hysteria over Meyer’s glamorized vamps.

So where does that leave The Hunger Games? With not a vampire or wizard in sight, there is no supernatural appeal and it is difficult to covet Katniss’ dystopian world. Yet there is still huge allure.

Perhaps, perversely, we do desire a life brimming with adventure and peril- a common feature of all three novels. Could it be that in today’s comfortable society we require escapism not into the realm of the serene, but into the realm of grime and death? That we yearn for a Voldermort, or a Volturi, or a President Snow: a removal from monotony?

Maybe that’s just me…

Image: thehungergames.wikia.com

Related Posts:

– The Embarrassing Side Effects of Having Recently Read “The Hunger Games” http://holleymaher.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/the-embarrassing-side-effects-of-having-recently-read-the-hunger-games/

– Not Another Blog About the Hunger Games? http://wantoncreation.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/not-another-blog-post-about-the-hunger-games-a-k-a-the-inevitable-blog-post/#respond