Alice in Wonderland.

Hello everyone. I am sharing discussions that I have written a while ago now, but I have not been publishing discussions regularly in a while. Things have been extremely busy, and I am attempting to find a new schedule that works for me, as for a while now the things that I love have been put on the back burner.

February’s Book Of The Month was Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and I have had this discussion written in part for a while, but I am finally publishing it now. This discussion will be followed by a discussion about Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass as that was March’s Book Of The Month.

I will be back on track for April, and my next book discussion will be published at the end of the month as usual.

Let’s dive into Wonderland.

In this novel, readers go on a journey with Alice down the rabbit hole to a strange world where logic and wonder seems quite absurd, and all of the characters we meet seem quite peculiar. Alice must navigate her way through this strange place, in order to find her way home again.

I think that it goes without saying that one of the most obvious themes in this book is the theme of growing up. Alice experiences many changes in Wonderland, she shrinks, she grows, she must identify herself, and at times she struggles to identify herself for she has changed so much. I think this idea of identifying oneself is very universal, because everyone must grow up and leave childhood behind, and discovering who we are, and what we want to do, and the kind of person we want to be is very challenging.

This novel was written in a time when there was a new importance placed upon the significance and innocence of childhood. Childhood was starting to be viewed as unique and important, because once you lose that childhood innocence, it is almost impossible to recapture it, and in fact many children’s texts focus on this idea of trying to recapture the unadulterated magic of childhood.

Carroll celebrates curiosity and wonder. Alice is a very open and innocent child. She follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole simply because she wants to know about him, he has grasped her attention. Alice questions everything in Wonderland, because the rules and logic confuse her, and at times, things seem unjust. I think that Alice in Wonderland can be talked about in many different ways. I think that Alice’s curiosity can be said to represent the natural curiosity that most, if not all, children possess. Alice’s questioning can reflect how children will question the rules that adults live by, as when you are a child, the rules of adults can be confusing, sometimes they don’t make sense at all, and in fact, sometimes the rules that adults live by can be arbitrary and even pointless. It is important to have rules, but it also important that the rules in place make sense and that they serve a purpose, rather than having rules just to have rules.

Alice’s journey down the rabbit hole could also be interpreted as a metaphor for the quest for knowledge. Alice goes on a physical journey and she learns so much, but sometimes one must go on a mental journey, and undertake a lot of research, and metaphorically take a trip down the rabbit hole in order to expand one’s knowledge.

Sometimes I think the only way to learn is to question, and if you are passionate about something then you will naturally ask more questions. More questions lead to more answers, which then lead to more questions. The more you understand, the more you want to know, which is why I will always strive to be a curious person.

Carroll’s writing style is whimsical and engaging. Carroll’s work showcases the importance of literary nonsense and his work can be very funny. His work is also very interesting to read as it is full of riddles. Carroll has written Alice in Wonderland in the third-person, and I find that most of his sentences are direct and straight to the point. The opening line brings readers directly into the story. The novel opens and Alice is fed up of sitting beside her reading sister, and as she is deciding how to cure her boredom, the White Rabbit runs by her and grabs her attention. The book takes us to Wonderland, a place full of twists and turns, but the writing itself is direct and easy to follow.

I love Alice in Wonderland. I always have. I think I love it because to this day I still love to ask why? I love the fantasy nonsense. I love books that take readers somewhere else. I love the richness and curiousness of Wonderland. I love each strange and eccentric character we meet. I love that Alice’s curious mind is celebrated and I love the sense of wonder that this story inspires.

This is a classic for a reason and I would highly recommend it.

Kate xo.

February’s Book Of The Month.

Hello everyone. I hope you are all having a lovely weekend. Apologies because I’ve been a bit missing in action lately here on Katelovesliterature.com. February has been an extremely busy month, but I am back now and there is so much to come.

It took me some time to decide which book I wanted to focus on this month and because I’ve had so much going on I hadn’t had the chance to properly sit down and read anything, but I have finally decided that this month I am going to discuss Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Feel free to read along with me.

Have you read Alice in Wonderland? Do you consider it a children’s classic? I consider it a classic in general, not just a children’s classic, but I will touch on this in my discussion at the end of the month.

Have a lovely Sunday everyone and I hope that you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day tomorrow if you choose to celebrate it.

Kate xo.

A snap of my beautiful edition of Alice in Wonderland. I just love how gorgeous this book looks on my shelf.

The Oscar Wilde Collection: A Selection Of His Greatest Works.

Hello everyone. Happy February. If you’ve been following all of my updates here on Katelovesliterature.com, then you’ll already know that I decided to read The Oscar Wilde Collection: A Selection Of His Greatest Works and discuss this collection as January’s Book Of The Month. 

I chose to read a selection of short stories because I wanted to explore more of Oscar Wilde’s work, but I also felt that a collection of short stories would be a good choice to read through in January as it can be a long, busy month after Christmas. 

Firstly, I will say that I really enjoyed reading the collection and if you are a fan of Oscar Wilde then I think a collection like this is a really lovely collector’s item. I’m very glad that I bought it as it is a welcome addition to my classics collection. 

As this is a collection of stories rather than just one text, I’ve decided that I’m going to take a moment to talk about Oscar Wilde’s writing style in general, before I move on to focus on one story from the collection that stood out as I was reading. 

Wilde is often described as a very memorable person, someone who was expressive and very witty and I think that his wit and clever use of word play can be easily pointed out in The Importance of Being Earnest, which is my favourite Wilde play. Wilde is a very imaginative writer, he describes things very vividly and very beautifully, I think that his language is often poetic at times. Wilde also uses paradox very often, and I think that some of his writing can be read through an almost sarcastic lens as he was very often making comments about the society that he lived in, this social commentary can be found again if one looks to The Importance of Being Earnest. I plan to discuss this play in more detail at a later date. 

I really enjoyed reading through this collection because some of the descriptions he has written are extremely beautiful, even if they are morbid. I think that I actually enjoyed the saddest paragraphs the most because I was so moved by his words. I think that Wilde was a real master of the English language, he was able to use words in such a precise way that they really paint a very vivid picture in one’s mind. 

The story that stood out to me when I was reading this collection is entitled The Nightingale and The Rose

This story stood out to me because in my opinion, I think that this story highlights the clash between English Literature and more so-called “serious” subjects. When I was in secondary school, there was this idea that English class was “only English”. I think it is a subject that people don’t take seriously unless they enjoy it. I think that this can happen quite a lot where people who do not study or do not enjoy the arts have this idea that it’s “only” music, and I can only speak from my own experience but I always felt that maths, science, and business were given more respect than English, music, and art. I think there’s still an idea that exists where if you like the arts, you can often be told to choose a more serious or more realistic topic. I would like to clarify that I respect all subjects and all professions. I think it is amazing that we have so many options about what to study. If someone loves working with numbers and chooses to pursue maths or science then I say good for them, but I think that you will hear someone say “it’s only English” more often than you would hear someone say “it’s only science” or “it’s only business”. 

The Nightingale and The Rose is about a student who wishes to woo his love interest with a red rose. Only a red rose will do. A little nightingale loves the student, she loves his wish for love, she wishes to help him woo his love so she gives her life so that he may have the reddest rose of all, because the rose was formed from her music and stained with her heart. The nightingale gave herself in song, she created something utterly beautiful, she gave her all, but the student didn’t appreciate it. The student dismissed her singing because singing “does no practical good”. 

The rose is formed and the student is overjoyed as he will finally win over his love, but the girl does not care for the rose, another boy has given her jewels so the beauty of the rose no longer impresses her. The student is hurt by her ungratefulness and he throws the rose to the ground, and then he returns to his books. He returns to studying mathematics and philosophy, newly determined in his belief that love is a silly thing for there is no logic in it, and logic rules all. 

The student knows nothing of the nightingale’s sacrifice. He does not know that she gave her life for him, he still believes her to be a selfish creature that only cares about her song. The nightingale’s sacrifice was for nothing because the student, nor his love, appreciated it. 

I found this story to be extremely poignant. Art is such an important medium of self expression, as is poetry, as is music, and when one is an artistic person, so much of oneself goes into our art. It is our passion, it is so important, and when we sing or paint or write, we give something of ourselves. So when one dismisses the arts, they are also dismissing the artist because it can be a deeply personal thing. 

I interpreted this to be a story about how much artists give to creativity and how disappointing it is when someone does not see the value in one’s work. I was so frustrated by the student. I wish he knew that the nightingale had given her all for him so he could at least appreciate her, but I know the point is that he didn’t. 

Obviously there are many ways that one could interpret this story. One could think about the dangers of giving up one’s entire being for love, and this is a valid point. This short story serves as a reminder that while it is okay to love someone and be in love, you should never give up your own self worth or individuality for that person. You can be in love while retaining your own sense of self and individuality. 

I think that this story can prompt thoughts about love and how we show love. This student was determined to win over his love by presenting her with the most beautiful red rose. He thought if he could give her this rose then she would dance with him at the ball and all would be well, but she didn’t appreciate his gift. She wanted more, she was far more impressed by jewels, and perhaps it is a message about how one shouldn’t be so obsessed with physical things. Love should be about kindness and respect and the connection one has with another person, not about trinkets but I think Wilde could have been making an observation about society. To this day, many people are preoccupied with physical things and wealth rather than genuine connections. 

Overall, I think this is a really poignant short story that can be discussed from many different angles and it can be interpreted in many different ways. It is beautifully written by Wilde as it is so descriptive and imaginative that even the saddest of moments are still beautiful to read. It felt almost lyrical and I really enjoyed it. 

If you have not read much of Oscar Wilde’s work then I would highly recommend starting with The Nightingale and The Rose. 

This has been January’s Book Of The Month. I hope you enjoyed this discussion. 

Have you read much of Oscar Wilde’s work? Let me know. 

Kate xo.

January’s Book Of The Month.

Hello everyone. Happy January. It is a new year. I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2022.

I am looking forward to moving onwards and upwards this year.

I’ve just shared on my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), that January’s #bookofthemonth is The Oscar Wilde Collection: A Selection Of His Greatest Works.

This is book is a beautiful collector’s item that I bought myself before Christmas because when I saw it I fell in love with it. It is a collection of some of Wilde’s greatest works including poems and children’s works and it also contains beautiful illustrations.

I thought that this would be a lovely book to make my way through during the month of January even though it is a collection of different works rather than just one novel. The fact is that January will be a very busy month for me, as I am sure it will be for lots of people, and I have mentioned before how the appeal of shorter stories is that you can still enjoy reading beautiful pieces even if you don’t have loads of spare time. I also am a fan of Oscar Wilde and so I am looking forward to reading some classic literature as some of these works I have read already, but some are new to me.

Are you a fan of Oscar Wilde? If so, what is your favourite of his works? I’d love to know.

Do you like longer novels or are you a fan of a short story?

Kate xo.

A snap of this beautiful book.

A Christmas Carol.

Hello everyone. Happy New Year’s Eve.

I wanted to make sure that I published my #bookofthemonth discussion before we entered the month of January so let’s dive in because I am talking about A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

I want to take a moment, just like I did when I was discussing The Great Gatsby, to acknowledge the cultural significance of A Christmas Carol. I think that this is a story that has become automatically associated with Christmas time, and Charles Dickens does take some credit for highlighting the importance of generosity and kindness at Christmas time in this novel. This is a story that has been adapted so many times, there is a musical version, there is the amazing Muppets version, there are parodies of this story, there are episodes of many tv shows where a selfish character goes on a journey much like Scrooge does, so this text is really very important. It teaches such a valuable lesson and I think it is a text that everyone should read at least once. I say that about a lot of texts, because I think so many are brilliant, but if I had to pick just one to say this about then I would say that everyone should have to read A Christmas Carol because of what is in this text.

I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge that Charles Dickens was not just a writer, he was a social critic. He used his novels, fiction and journalism to critique the society that he lived in. He highlighted some of the worst aspects of human nature. He spoke about poverty, workhouses, hypocrisy, domestic violence, child abuse, he did not shy away from the dark realties of society and he held a mirror up to society and said we must fix these problems, people cannot and should not live like this, and he does this again in A Christmas Carol.

I am going to take a moment to talk about the style of Dickens. Dickens is a detailed writer. His books are dense, he is very descriptive, in fact I would say that his use of description is so detailed that it allows for very vivid images to be created, and some of them are hard to read but that is the point. He does not shy away from the gritty details. Dickens describes them fully and he makes readers face those issues. Dickens is also what I would call a character writer. I think he is one of the best authors when it comes to creating vivid, well-rounded, different characters who jump off the page. The three characters that immediately spring to mind when I think of Dickens are Fagin and Bill Sikes from Oliver Twist and Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. There are of course other characters that I love but these three are the first three that always pop into my mind and I think it is because these three are so iconic. Bill Sikes is arguably one of Dickens’ darkest characters and I would argue that Scrooge is famous because of his character arc.

So let’s talk about that arc. Scrooge goes through major emotional development in this novel and he is a changed man by the end of the novel and this is crucial because if Scrooge stayed the same, then the events of the entire novel would have been for nothing.

When we meet Scrooge he is a coldhearted man. The only thing Scrooge cares about is money. He does not care that he has no relationship with his only family members, his nephew and his wife, he does not care that he has no friends, he does not care about his employees and he certainly does not care about the poor. He begrudgingly gives Bob Cratchit the day off for Christmas. He outright refuses to donate any money to the poor. He coldly declares that the poor belong in workhouses and if they would rather die than go to a workhouse then they better hurry up and die.

Scrooge is haunted that night by the ghost of his dead partner Marley. Marley is a striking character because he is a tormented ghost who is bound by locks and chains. He warns Scrooge that he wears the chains in death that he forged in life and that unless Scrooge starts to change his selfish ways, he too will wear chains in death as he is forging them in life.

There is an image that I love in this book and it is a moment when Scrooge looks out his window and he sees that the street is full of tormented ghosts, all of them are bound in chains. All of the ghosts are trying to help a homeless woman who is shivering on the street with her baby but it is too late. They sneered at her and refused to help her in life, and now they cannot help her in death because the chains have already been forged. They have seen the error of their ways too late and now Scrooge is going to be haunted by three ghosts. The ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmases yet to come because unless he changes his ways, he too will be a tormented ghost, chained and bound by every cruel decision he’s ever made.

The main themes in A Christmas Carol are poverty, the importance of compassion, and the idea of examining one’s moral compass. Dickens always writes about working-class people in a good light. He reminded wealthy people in his time that poor people were people too and they deserved to be treated with dignity and respect. Scrooge does not view the poor as people until he goes on this journey with the three ghosts, he sees all the things he has lost because of his own greed and he is filled with regret.

The most striking image in the novel is in the ghost of Christmas present section when the ghost shows Scrooge two starving, ragged, sickly looking children. Scrooge is appalled by the sight of them. He asks who do the children belong to and the ghost responds by telling him that they are man’s children. This means that they are children of society. Dickens never shied away from discussing the fact that adults were not the only people to suffer, innocent children suffered too, children who could not help the families that they were born into, children who did nothing to deserve such hard lives and such disdain and the key thing to remember is that every poor adult was once a poor child and Scrooge is horrified when the ghost throws his own words back at him and asks are there no workhouses for these children? He throws back Scrooge’s words about how if they are going to die then they should hurry up and do it, and Scrooge cannot bear to hear or see anymore. He becomes even more appalled when he sees that Bob’s son, Tiny Tim is likely to die and for the first time ever, Scrooge cares about the people around him and he cares about something more than money.

It is at times quite a scathing text. The aim of it was to prick the conscience of upper-class readers, because many of them likely shared Scrooge’s original attitude. It is easy to look the other way and scoff at those who you deem beneath you, but when you are confronted with the image of children who are dying, children whom you could have helped, it is not so easy to look away and Scrooge learns that if he continues to look the other way then chains await him in death so the novel ends with his change of heart.

The change of heart is key to the success of Scrooge’s character. If he did not learn a lesson then his journey through the past, present and future would have been for nothing. It is a heartwarming tale despite the harsh realities of the poor that are highlighted. It is at times hard to read, but that is what makes it so important in my opinion because poverty is not a Dickens era problem, it still exists, as does homelessness, as does greed, and it is so important to remember that we must be compassionate, we must treat others how we would wish to be treated ourselves, we must understand that when we are ruled by greed, we lose so much, it is important to be thankful for how fortunate we are, and we must always remember that those who are less fortunate than ourselves are people who are still worthy of kindness, decency, and respect. No matter what our job or role in life, everyone is entitled to kindness and respect and everyone’s basic needs should be met.

If you have read or watched A Christmas Carol, tell me what your favourite version is, what is your favourite scene etc, I’d love to know.

This has been December’s Book Of The Month.

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone.

Kate xo.

December’s Book Of The Month.

Hello everyone. I hope that you are all keeping well. I am a little late announcing this month’s #bookofthemonth and that is because it has been an extremely busy few days and I was still deciding which novel I wanted to sit down with in December.

I have made my choice and if you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you’ll have just seen my latest grid post, revealing that December’s #bookofthemonth is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

I have chosen this classic text because I love the works of Charles Dickens. I have studied the work of Dickens in great detail, I have written a dissertation about his works and A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite texts. I think it is a very important text. I think it is a text that everyone should read at least once. The text has become somewhat synonymous with Christmas time, this is something that I will discuss in my review, along with all of the other reasons why I love this text at the end of the month.

So please feel free to read along with me and enjoy the work of Dickens this December.

Have you read A Christmas Carol? Are you a fan of Dickens? Let me know.

Kate xo.

My beautiful Christmas edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

The Secret Garden.

Hello everyone. Welcome to November’s Book Of The Month discussion. 

As you know, November’s #bookofthemonth is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 

I have really enjoyed being nostalgic in November and going forward I will be reading more childhood classic novels because I think it is really interesting to reread these books again with adult eyes. 

Be sure to keep an eye out because I will be announcing December’s #bookofthemonth very soon, and seeing as it is coming up to Christmas, I have chosen a Christmas classic. Can you guess what it could be? Stay tuned to find out. 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was first published as a book in 1911. 

The plot follows the young Mary Lennox who must adjust to living in Yorkshire after she loses her parents to cholera. Mary is a sullen child, and she finds the move from India to Yorkshire very difficult. Mary is very lonely and very unimpressed with her new home until one day a little robin in the garden leads her to a door that does not have a key. Mary becomes determined to find a way in, and when she does, the secret garden becomes a place of solace for Mary and her newfound friends. As the novel goes on, Mary begins to become a happier child, one who is finding love, happiness, and a sense of belonging in her new home. The house is filled with secrets, and Mary learns a lot as the story plays out – however I will not be spilling the secrets here, if you wish to know what happens then I would highly recommend picking up this classic. 

I am going to talk about the writing style in The Secret Garden. Keeping in mind that this text is a piece of children’s literature, I think that one of the reasons that this book is such a classic work of children’s literature is because Frances Hodgson Burnett writes in a way that I think is very appealing to readers, especially to younger readers. Burnett has written this novel in the third-person, and the narrator of the story is privy to all the details of what is going on in the house, and this is very important as it is a layered story with many characters so having a narrator who acts as an authoritative figure who is explaining in a clear way what is going on, keeps the plot easy to follow. Burnett also uses quite short, direct sentences but there is still lots of descriptive language in the book as Mary is taking in her new surroundings and analysing what she thinks of them. I really like this writing style because Burnett’s use of descriptive language creates beautiful imagery, but the shorter, direct sentences keep it from being too heavy and too dense, and again, I think this is great for younger readers because they can take in all of the wonderful descriptions without facing paragraphs and paragraphs of writing that can feel like too much.

 I think that I would call The Secret Garden a romantic novel as the book paints the garden and nature, and the outdoors as places of extreme beauty and healing. Mary’s development from a sullen, sour child to a rosy-cheeked, happier one is linked to her spending time in the fresh air and in the earth. Mary becomes happier as she tends to the garden, she makes new friends, she becomes more and more settled in her new home, and this is very much tied to her spending so much time out in nature. Romantic novels place a great emphasis on the importance of nature, and on the beauty that can be found in nature, and I think that The Secret Garden does this too. I also think that Mary Lennox is an example of someone experiencing a romantic version of childhood due to her status in life. Mary is a privileged child who is experiencing a life in which money is not a concern. 

I would suggest that the book’s main theme is the idea of healing. In Yorkshire, Mary flourishes and she helps others heal from their grief too. As I said, I won’t be spoiling the plot so you should go and read it, but those of you who have read it will know that Mary is not the only character who benefits and heals from the garden being restored. There is a lot of love in this novel, and I think it has a very cosy, nostalgic tone. 

I really enjoyed reading this novel again as the last time I read it I must have been only nine years old. I absolutely loved this novel when I was little so it was really nice to sit down with it again in my twenties. There were certain parts that I remembered like the back of my hand, while others I had almost completely forgotten about. Dickon is still my favourite character. He is kind, he is fun, he is a complete nature lover. He is always outdoors, and he is always with animals. I have always thought that there was something really lovely about his character as he is such a good friend to Mary. I think that he captures a really lovely childhood spirit because he does find wonder in the smallest things, and he is even happy on the rainiest of days. 

The novel is full of very different, very well-rounded characters and I think it is the richness of the characters that makes the novel so fantastic because I would suggest that the plot itself is rather straightforward. It is easy to follow yet it is intriguing and compelling. 

I think that this novel captures a sense of wonder, and it encourages curiosity, because as I was reading, just like Mary, I found myself wanting to know what was behind each locked door so there is a sense of mystery throughout the novel too which I think is really interesting. It keeps you engaged as a reader. 

This has been my Book Of The Month discussion. I hope you enjoyed it. Overall I really love The Secret Garden. Reading the book again reminded me why I loved it so much when I was younger, and I still enjoy it now. I think it is a lovely, compelling story with many different, interesting characters who keep the reader engaged. I think that the writing style is imaginative without being overly complicated, and I think that the healing arcs that are explored in this novel are very touching. 

Have you read The Secret Garden? If so, I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know, and be sure to stay tuned because I will be revealing  December’s Book Of The Month very soon. 

Kate xo. 

.

Frankenstein.

Hello everyone. Happy Halloween. I can’t believe that it is the end of October. The month has flown by, and I hope that you have all enjoyed #spookyseason. 

I hope that you all have a fantastic Halloween, have fun, stay safe, and always beware of the headless horseman. 

Let’s dive into October’s #bookofthemonth discussion all about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 

I am going to start this discussion by elaborating some more on why I chose Frankenstein as October’s Book Of The Month. Over the past few weeks, I have been embracing the Halloween spirit here on Katelovesliterature.com and I have spoken a lot about gothic literature, subversive literature, and the horror genre. 

Now, I think that it can be argued that it is easy to assume that Frankenstein fits into the horror genre, and in many ways it does because of course there have been many horror movies based on, and about Frankenstein. I think it would also be fair to say that many people would associate the name Frankenstein with the image of a monster, but I think that Shelley’s text is far more complex than being just simply a horror story. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a gothic, romantic novel that presents a very layered plot that depicts some very complex and nuanced themes, which is why I decided that I wanted this text to be October’s Book Of The Month. 

In many ways, Frankenstein is a very romantic text, because Romanticism (always with a capital R), is very interested in the idea of wonder and curiosity, and in this idea of embracing the unknown and the unexplainable. In Frankenstein, it is wonder and a scientific curiosity that drives Victor Frankenstein to experiment and attempt to do what has not been done before. 

Let’s talk about form. Frankenstein is an epistolary novel. When a novel is written in epistolary form, it means that the novel is written in a series of documents. This is an interesting form to use because somewhat similar to the third-person perspective, epistolary form allows the novel to present different points of view, but because letters and diary entries and newspapers etc., can make a story feel more grounded, it could be said that using epistolary form makes the story feel more realistic. 

Another interesting thing to note is that in Frankenstein, there is a cautionary tale within the story as the writer Robert Walton is exploring in the hopes of expanding his knowledge. He reaches the North Pole where he sees a sled being pulled by a huge creature. Walton wants to find the huge creature and discover who or what it is, but instead he finds the scientist Victor Frankenstein who has nearly frozen to death in his pursuit for that same huge creature. Victor sees some of himself in Robert, and so he tells Robert his tale, which is in fact, the creature’s tale, and thus, the true plot of the novel begins. 

From a very young age, Victor was obsessed with science and experiments but his ideas were considered extremely outdated. His mother’s death caused him to bury himself in his work in order to deal with his grief. Victor explains how he excelled at chemistry and through his very intense studies of science, he discovered a way to give life to non-living matters. Victor becomes obsessed with the idea that he can give life back to a nonliving thing, and so he decides to perform an experiment, and he begins to create a humanoid. Victor selects the pieces for his creation, but he does not properly think about proportions, and even though he selected things with the intention that his creation would be beautiful, instead he creates a tall, hideous, terrifying looking creature. This creature is appropriately called the Creature, and it is important to remember to capitalise the name if one is speaking of the Creature from this point forward, for that is the character’s name. Victor is repulsed by his creation and so he abandons it in the lab. When he returns later, the Creature is gone. Now even though this is a #bookofthemonth discussion, I am not going to discuss the plot in much greater detail because I don’t want to spell out the story for those who have not yet read the book but may decide to later on. 

Let’s now talk about themes because Frankenstein presents many thought provoking themes, and the layered, nuanced themes are the primary reason why I love this text. 

The first theme is of course the notion of wonder. Without wonder, Walton would not be exploring, and without wonder, Victor would have never experimented. Both characters had an insuppressible desire to discover, to expand knowledge, to learn the unknown, and this theme is one that I love because I think it further complicates the tension between romantic writing and enlightenment writing, because romantic writing is about wonder, nature, curiosity, and the unknown. It is about the idea that not everything can and should be measured because not all things can be, like feelings for example. Feelings are very often not rational, but that does not mean they are not real. Enlightenment writing is about the idea that all questions can be answered with logic, reason, facts and figures, and if one was to think about the Gradgrind approach in Hard Times by Charles Dickens, if it cannot be measured then it cannot be real, so there is a tension between romantic writing and science, but the notion of wonder depicted in Frankenstein complicates this tension even further because I would put forward the question, can someone experiment if they have not had an idea? Would this desire to do something that has not been done before not be considered original? Does this then mean that all ideas have to be sparked from some form of creativity, highlighting the importance of creativity? 

I said at the start of this discussion that Frankenstein is a very thought provoking text and I meant it. 

An extremely prominent theme in this text is the idea of nature vs nurture. This text presents that famous question, is one born evil or made evil? A point that I would like to make before I expand on this theme, is that when I discussed The Great Gatsby, I spoke about how this text had a prominent place in popular culture because when one hears The Great Gatsby, images of grandeur, decadence, champagne and flapper dresses spring to mind, and I think it is important to mention that Frankenstein has a similar place in popular culture. Many people hear the title Frankenstein, and they think they know the story, but they do not actually know the story. Frankenstein has been adapted many times, and some versions stray away from the original text completely. Some people even call the Creature by the name of Frankenstein. I think it is fair to say that the thing that many people associate the word Frankenstein with is the image of the green, monstrous looking zombie, with bolts in the side of its neck, and it is a monster that can hardly speak, the work of a mad scientist who wanted to create such a monster. This is not the case. The Creature looks human, but it is grotesque because of how huge, hulking, and disproportionate he is, and because the parts were stolen from the dead. Another extremely important thing to note is that the Creature is very intelligent. Victor Frankenstein is not a mad scientist, but he is a misguided one. 

With that being said, let’s now return to the idea of nature vs nurture. I cannot remember the exact quote, and I don’t know who originally said this, so please forgive my paraphrasing, but I remember laughing when I saw a quote that said something along the lines of ‘knowledge is knowing that there are two monsters in Frankenstein.’ I like this quote a lot, because after reading this text many times, and even studying it in great detail in college, an idea that could be put forward is the idea that the Creature is not the monster but Victor Frankenstein is in fact the monster, because he created this being and then abandoned it, and therefore it is because of circumstances beyond its control that the Creature had to become a monster in order to protect itself from those who wished to kill it, because people were terrified of this figure. Victor gave the Creature life, but nothing else. He abandoned his creation when it was not what he expected it to be, he gave it no guidance, no love, nothing. He abandoned his creation, and so one could argue that the way things played out is Victor’s fault. I think this is really interesting because the novel demonstrates how evil can be made. If something is called evil often enough, if something or someone is an outcast, if they are shunned, if they have no friends, if they are feared, and threatened, then in order to survive, they must protect themselves. The Creature does so, and then becomes the monster that everyone feared he was in the first place and so it becomes a vicious cycle where society creates no other choice for the Creature other than to become monstrous, but then when it does, those people who called him evil all along feel justified and vindicated, and so they continue to do so, and this means that the Creature cannot ever escape this cycle because he is never given the chance to. It is a very complex idea, and I think that it will always be a very relevant idea. 

Following the idea of nature vs nurture, mob mentality is another theme in this novel. There is a point in the novel where the Creature finds refuge in a structure that is connected to the cottage of a poor family. The Creature taught itself to speak by listening to them, the Creature discreetly collected firewood for them, and did other kind things such as clear the snow from the path for them. This demonstrates that the Creature was capable of kindness, and that the Creature was thoughtful. This point is really significant because when the Creature sees its reflection in a pool of water, the Creature too is horrified by the reflection. The Creature knows that humans will not ever be accepting because of the way the Creature looks. The only person to ever give the Creature a chance is the father of the poor family in the cottage. The Creature snuck in one day while everyone else was away, and the Creature and the father chatted. It was very pleasant, and this conversation shows that when given a chance, the Creature can be perfectly civil. The catch is that the father of the family in the cottage was blind. He could not see the terrifying looks of the Creature, so he was not afraid of him, when his family returned, they were terrified of the Creature and feared their father was in danger so this novel presents very nuanced ideas about judging a book by its cover, and also it can lead one to think about how appearance based the world can be. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast even touches on this idea of mob mentality and nature vs nurture, because the enchantress curses the prince to look like a beast until he can love and be loved in return, but the cruel catch to her curse was that she asked who would ever learn to love a beast? Everyone was terrified of the beast because of his appearance, and so they never gave him a chance to love or be loved, and when the mob storms the castle led by Gaston, the beast has no other choice but to fight them off, which only further solidifies his terrifying and dangerous status in the villager’s minds, and so again we can see this cycle that I mentioned earlier. People act out of fear, and when the beast fights back they only fear him more, and he was never able to break that cycle until he met Belle. 

There is also a tension that exists in Frankenstein between the scientific world and the natural world. This text puts forward an idea about the ethics of science. Victor Frankenstein wanted to experiment but he seemingly put no thought into what would happen after he created the Creature, and when the Creature was not what he expected it to be, Victor abandoned his creation. This decision led to a lot of hurt and danger. The Creature lived a wretched, isolated existence, feared by everyone, and so the Creature became so mistreated by society that it had to protect itself. It reacted when it felt threatened, and the Creature did commit violence and murders. One could ask though, would the Creature have been entirely different if it had not been so shunned and abandoned? We will never know. Some argue that because the Creature was not a ‘natural creation’, it did not matter how he was treated, he still would have been monstrous, but that idea is usually put forward by scholars such as Rousseau. Rousseau believed that everything created by God is good, and then society is what corrupts us, but because the creature was not created by God, if one follows Rousseau’s thinking, then they may also argue that how the Creature was treated did not matter. 

There is a moment when the Creature initially comes to life, that it reaches out for Victor, and Victor flees the lab because he is terrified. Now, this moment can be left open to interpretation. One could ask if the Creature was reaching out to embrace Victor? Or was the Creature reaching out to harm Victor? We don’t know, because Victor tells us his account of this moment, so we don’t actually know what the Creature intended to do. We also don’t know how this moment actually occurred. Victor describes it as an ‘escape’ because he was so afraid, but did he just leave immediately without giving his creation a chance? We don’t know, and I love that this moment is so open to interpretation. Personally I would ask the question: what would have happened if Victor had stayed for even five more minutes? 

I really enjoyed reading this text again, and if you read it during the month too then I hope you enjoyed it. If you have not read it then I would definitely recommend it. It is one of those texts that I always find something new in. I always think about something different. With each read, something new stands out, and I really enjoy how thought provoking this text is because as I have discussed above, it is a text that is full of layered, nuanced, complex themes. 

This has been October’s Book Of The Month discussion. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any thoughts on the novel then please let me know because I would love to hear what you think. Keep an eye out because I will be announcing November’s #bookofthemonth very soon. Happy Halloween!

Kate xo. 

October’s Book Of The Month.

Hello everyone. Here’s to the first of October. I am very excited about this month because I feel like there are so many amazing texts that can be enjoyed especially as we lead up to Halloween. I think October is a really fun month because we can explore horrors, thrillers, cult classics, eerie stories, and more. 

I will not just be discussing horror in October as I know that not everyone enjoys horror, and I am aware that not everyone enjoys Halloween so as always I am going to attempt to keep the content varied while also leaning into the Halloween spirit however with that being said, this month’s Book Of The Month is a gothic novel. 

If you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you will already know that October’s #bookofthemonth is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 

This is another classic, and it is a novel that I have read many times and studied in great detail, and I am looking forward to reading it again because it has been a while. 

So please feel free to read along with me and enjoy October’s Book Of The Month.

Let me know in the comments below if you have read Shelley’s text, and/or let me know your opinion on gothic literature in general. Do you love it? Hate it? Unfamiliar with it? Let me know, I love hearing from you. 

Happy reading. 

Kate xo. 

The Great Gatsby.

Hello everyone and welcome to September’s #bookofthemonth discussion. 

If you’ve been following the blog and my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you’ll already know that today I am discussing F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. 

Let’s dive into September’s Book Of The Month. 

The Great Gatsby has often been referred to as the Great American Novel. Our narrator Nick Carraway tells his tale, recounting the events of the summer he spent in West Egg Long Island. While Nick is our narrator, I think it is fair to say that this book is about the millionaire Jay Gatsby, as Nick is telling us about his interactions with the mysterious man. 

This novel is set in the Jazz Age, so it is understandably filled with money, glitz, and glamour, but I think that ultimately, this book tells a poignant tale and at the end of the day, the moral of this story is that the Great American Dream is unattainable. I also think that while this statement is extremely simplistic, and doesn’t do justice to Fitzgerald’s nuanced tale, simply put, this story is an example of how money cannot buy happiness because while Jay Gatsby is a very wealthy man who has attained great wealth and status, his dream is to be with his one true love. 

Before I talk about Fitzgerald’s writing style, I am going to touch on how symbolic I feel that this novel has become as I feel the name Gatsby has become ingrained in pop culture. I think that when one thinks of The Great Gatsby, they automatically associate the novel with glitz, glamour, flapper dresses, and decedent parties filled with champagne. How many Gatsby themed parties have you heard of? I have heard of many, even if people have never read the book, they have an image of what The Great Gatsby is, and I think this is one of reasons why this novel has become a canonical classic. 

I think it is interesting to note that the name Gatsby has become associated with opulence, because I think that this novel is one that is often misunderstood. While Gatsby is wealthy and he is an opulent showman, this is not all he is, this is simply a part of his very complex persona. Fitzgerald often commented that people who reviewed the book hadn’t the slightest clue what it is about. Many people first experience this text when they are in secondary school (high school), and I personally think that this is a text that needs to be read in college, because there is not enough time on the secondary school curriculum to allow students to really engage with this text and understand it. It is not something you can read quickly at fifteen or sixteen and appreciate, it will fly over your head. You need to sit down and enjoy this book, it needs to be taken in. I’ve read this book many times now and it is only now that I am in my twenties that I feel I am really appreciating it for the classic that it is. 

A key aspect to this novel is Fitzgerald’s choice to write it in the first-person. This story is narrated by Nick, which means we are experiencing all events through Nick’s point of view. Now last Thursday I started to break down the different types of narrative. I started with the third-person and this Theory Thursday I am going to be talking about the first-person narrative and why it is important. While I personally prefer stories that are told in the third-person, I would say that it is crucial that The Great Gatsby is told from Nick’s perspective. Nick is the meeting point between Gatsby and the readers, we are seeing Gatsby through Nick’s eyes. Nick had mixed feelings about Gatsby, he admires Gatsby, he praises Gatsby, and at times he despises Gatsby. A major theme in this novel is the idea of the unattainable Great American Dream. In my opinion, there is an inescapable feeling of melancholy throughout this novel, because this novel showcases how so many people hope for that dream, they work towards it, they reach for it, they make sacrifices for it, but that dream remains unreachable and unattainable for most and this harsh fact leaves people feeling aimless and disappointed. 

Fitzgerald uses a lot of motifs in this novel. What is a motif? A motif is a recurring idea in a work that lends itself to the overall theme of the work. I would argue that the novel’s key theme is the idea that great dreams are in fact unattainable and this fact leads Nick Carraway to end up very angry and very disillusioned. The motifs that can be recognised in this novel are those of judgement, extreme wealth, infidelity, and facades. 

We make all of our decisions about what we think of Jay Gatsby based on what Nick thinks of him, because we are seeing him through Nick’s eyes. Gatsby does many things that one might consider immoral however Nick could also be called an unreliable narrator because at times he is biased and hypocritical, for example he judges other characters and their immoral actions differently to how he judges Gatsby and his actions because while at times he does criticise Gatsby, he also does sympathise with him and so in turn, readers sympathise with him too. This point is something I will elaborate further on in this week’s Theory Thursday because the idea of the unreliable narrator is one that is unavoidable when you’re dealing with a first-person narrative, because when someone is telling us how they saw something, that view will always be biased in some way because it is impossible to be impartial when you’re directly involved. 

I would say that Fitzgerald is quite a vivid writer and he has captured the Jazz Age in a very stark, tangible way. I think my above point about how much the name Gatsby has become associated with opulence proves this because Fitzgerald did paint a very clear picture of extreme wealth. Fitzgerald doesn’t only describe extravagant wealth, he also paints a bleak picture of the realities that the average person must deal with. I think a perfect example of this is the valley of ashes. The place is dusty, smog filled, and dim. The dull, ashy place is described as “crumbling”, the “powdery air” makes the place feel truly depressing. This “grotesque garden…where ashes take forms of houses.”, is a stark contrast from Gatsby’s warm, exciting house, and readers can easily see the class divide that existed, and still exists today in America. 

In my opinion it is Fitzgerald’s writing style, specifically his use of vivid imagery that has made The Great Gatsby so memorable. Fitzgerald created a vivid world that invited readers in. We become enthralled by the decadence of Gatsby’s wealth but appalled by the conditions that other people have to live in. Gatsby is a complex man. He has created an intricate facade. Behind his wealth, he has cheated, and lied, and bootlegged his way to the life he has now, but despite all his wealth, and status, there are lines he cannot cross, battles he cannot win, and his doomed romantic plight is what makes The Great Gatsby a tragic romantic tale all about the loss of dreams, a novel that leaves us feeling melancholy and yearning for something, even if we don’t know what. 

There are some uncomfortable aspects to this novel, particularly some of the beliefs held by the character Tom Buchanan. He has beliefs and uses language that many readers will find offensive today – that is the point. We are not supposed to like Tom. He is the least sympathetic character in the book. He is aggressive, and he is unkind, and he is a very intimidating, hulking figure. His wife Daisy, whom Jay loves, is beautiful, and elegant. She is a true golden girl however many would call her a very manipulative and selfish character. I don’t think that anyone is particularly likeable in this novel. Nick Carraway states that Tom, Daisy, and Jay are “careless people” who “toss others aside”. This is true however Nick isn’t perfect either. Ultimately I would say that this is a novel about flawed people and their hopes and dreams. They have achieved great riches but there is still something missing, something unattainable, and it is a novel that sticks with you. It is a novel that I know I will read again, and again because each time I will find a new aspect to focus on, a new idea to discuss, and something new will resonate with me in a way it didn’t before. 

There is a reason why this novel is considered The Great American novel, and I think it is a novel that everyone should read at least once – and then again, and again, so that eventually it is a novel that we understand. 

It is a great coincidence that this Book Of The Month discussion occurred during #bannedbooksweek. It didn’t occur to me when I was selecting September’s #bookofthemonth.

I simply wanted to read a classic novel in September as it is the month where everyone heads back to school and off to college, however I am glad that I just happened to choose this novel, and that this month’s Book Of The Month discussion arrived during #bannedbooksweek. I don’t believe that this novel was ever outrightly banned, but attempts were made to censor the book due to some of the language, profanity, etc. 

Every year during Banned Books Week, we celebrate our right to read. I touched on this over on my Instagram. I have a degree in English Literature, and I cannot tell you how many books I studied that were banned at one point in time. Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Ulysses, The Call of the Wild, Lady Chatterley’s Lover – to name only a few. These are beautiful, layered, complex, nuanced, and educational texts. They are important. Do they cover uncomfortable topics? Do they make us uncomfortable? Yes. That is the point. Literature reflects our society, all of society. The good, the bad, and the things we’d rather pretend never happened. We cannot rewrite history, we cannot ignore history, we must listen, we must learn, and we must read. So here’s to our right to reading. It is so important. 

This has been my discussion of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. This has been September’s Book Of The Month. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you read The Great Gatsby? Let me know what you think of the novel because I love hearing your thoughts.

Make sure to keep an eye on my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), because I will be announcing October’s #bookofthemonth very soon. 

Kate xo.