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Freyda

Faulks on Fiction

There is to be a BBC TV series called "Faulks on Fiction" starting this week. Accompanied by a book, of course!

I was interested to  hear Mariella Frostrup give Faulks quite a tight interview on the Radio 4 'Book Programme' this afternoon, taking him to task for his very masculine take on British fiction, or the fictional characters he has chosen to look at. He seems to be "doing" English fiction by looking at key character types rather than key novels (or both, perhaps) ...I missed the beginning of the programme. I will be interested to see what he covers and how he presents. I do find him rather too "English public schoolboy" of a certain era in his outlook for my taste but anything about books on TV has to be a plus.
TheRejectAmidHair

Thanks for that, Freyda - I'll give that a look.

I don't know what this series will belike, or, indeed, what Mariella Fostrup was quizzing him on, but I di find it hard to see how one can cast even the most cursory glance on classic English fiction and neglect women writers. Even if we were to focus on key character types, strong characters such as Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price, Jane Eyre and Dorothea Brooke  - all female characters created by female writers - suggest themselves rather obviously. But let's not pre-judge: I look forward to seeing these programmes.
Ann

Yes I saw it was on on Saturday and hope to be able to view it. As you say, Freda, it is positive to have a book programme that is being given quite a high profile.
Green Jay

Will try and catch this, probably have to get it on iPlayer.

I saw a review of the book a couple of weeks back. I think there was again some reference to the slight blokiness of Faulks' world view. The reviewer was a woman. Sometimes - even in this day and age - I read an article which is talking from the POV of "we" (which I assume is all the newspaper's or magazine's likely readers) when suddenly the author says something that makes me realise the "we" clearly refers in his mind to "we males" which always hits me with a bit of a shock. Like being back in the 1970s!  Smile Perhaps that is how Faulks sets out his argument. Perhaps female columnists and article writers do the same in reverse to male readers, I wouldn't pick this up so readily.
Evie

I enjoyed this - it has its faults (not least the intrusive music, a common fault in any TV programme these days, and the overuse of televised adaptations and, even worse, gimmicky things like Faulks walking barefoot on a tropical beach to illustrate Robinson Crusoe), but there is lots that was good.  Not least giving a reasonable amount of time to some classic novels and showing a sense of development from Defoe to Amis, via the other books discussed.  Some of the comment was facile (one starry-eyed female commentator springs to mind, don't know who she was), and sometimes things needed to be sharper - eg seeing Robinson Crusoe as a metaphor for evolution, without making clear the historical context and chronology of such ideas.

But overall an enjoyable hour, inevitably begging more questions than it answered (but any good programme should do that), and it's great to have a serious book programme on a Saturday night for four weeks.  As I say, it isn't perfect, but I will definitely be watching again.
Green Jay

Thanks for the comments, Evie.  I haven't caught up with the programme yet, but in print Faulks has raised the topic of fiction becoming much more autobiographical in the last 30 years or so, and finding himself asked about his First World War experiences when he is talking to book groups about Birdsong! The assumption being that no one can write fiction that they have simply researched and/or made up. He's also concerned about the effects of the rise and rise of autobiography, especially misery memoirs. I must say I agree on both counts. I'm all for 'making it up', where an author looks into a situation or dilemma that fascinates them but hasn't necessarily happened to them, and I am rather reluctant to read novels where the author's own real-life, usually troubled, experience is the main theme.
TheRejectAmidHair

Green Jay wrote:
I'm all for 'making it up', where an author looks into a situation or dilemma that fascinates them but hasn't necessarily happened to them, and I am rather reluctant to read novels where the author's own real-life, usually troubled, experience is the main theme.


I agree fully. Surely one of the main reasons why we enjoy good fiction is that the author is good at making things up! Why deny what is possibly the most important attribute that an author of fiction can have?
county_lady

We watched this last night and I enjoyed it, especially the chronology idea, following the developement of heroes from the 18C to now.
I'm also pleased that Faulkes' dicussions were with other authors but I do think the progamme will prompt more DVD sales than books.
Castorboy

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Surely one of the main reasons why we enjoy good fiction is that the author is good at making things up! Why deny what is possibly the most important attribute that an author of fiction can have?

The crime writer Peter Robinson agrees. In his latest book he says he likes to avoid the obvious and prefers to put an unusual twist on something. He believes writers thrive much better on doubt and uncertainty than on facts and self-evident truths.
MikeAlx

Hmmm, I think most of my favourite novels - and probably most of the 'great' novels of the 20th century - have a very strong autobiographical element. I think it's the degree to which this is transformed beyond 'mere' autobiography that really matters.
Evie

I think it's a problem if people are essentially writing about themselves.  Great novels need a more universal quality.  It is a fine line, though, and I think the real problem is those ghastly misery memoirs - ugh.  

The important thing with novels, for me, is that the element of autobiography must not matter - you shouldn't need to know it's autobiographical, nor use autobiographical knowledge to explain or excuse a novel - otherwise it's just self-indulgent.  

I don't think it's a bad thing to use your own life as the basis for elements of a novel, but the reader should not have to rely on knowing that for the novel to work.  The novel must make its own impact, and go beyond the autobiographical.
TheRejectAmidHair

Yes, I'd certainly go along with that. In Mike's words, it is "the degree to which [it] is transformed 'beyond' mere autobiography that really matters". And the art is in the transformation.

That it is the autobiographical element rather than the transformation that seems so often nowadays to be more valued is merely indicative of not merely an indifference, but, rather, of a certain hostility to the concept of art itself.
Apple

I watched it tonight after having Sky+'d it I really enjoyed it, I like the way he is dissecting each element of a story and looking at the what makes it.  Tonight it was the hero and I liked the way the hero has changed and developed through the years and how the traits of "heros" of a story can be really not what you expect, and the way it discussed how the way society and attitudes have changed which inevitably plays a part in how a hero is portrayed.

The books discussed were

HERO
• Robinson Crusoe, 1719, Daniel Defoe
• Tom Jones, 1749, Henry Fielding
• Vanity Fair (Becky Sharp), 1847, William Makepeace Thackeray
• Sherlock Holmes, 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
• 1984 (Winston Smith), 1948, George Orwell
• Lucky Jim (Jim Dixon), 1954, Kingsley Amis
• Money (John Self), 1984, Martin Amis

I was also quite surprised by the fact the books I had read, (namely Tom Jones, Vanity Fair and 1984)  the views  and opinions offered about the Hero character mirrored my own that I formed when reading them.

I also liked the fact they used TV adaptations of the books they were discussing as I think it made it more accessible to people who probably haven't read the books but watched the film so to speak as well as the people who have.
MikeAlx

Evie wrote:
I think it's a problem if people are essentially writing about themselves.  Great novels need a more universal quality.

Yes, I tend to agree. The greatest novels often draw on an author's own experiences (as with James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene, F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway - and going back further, Dickens, Tolstoy etc.) - but they aren't autobiographies as such. Nonetheless, the characters and storylines are often borrowed from real life (remember how W. Somerset Maugham claimed to have no imagination!). The art, as Himadri suggests, is in the transformation from raw experience into novel.
Rebecca

Apple wrote:
I also liked the fact they used TV adaptations of the books they were discussing as I think it made it more accessible to people who probably haven't read the books but watched the film so to speak as well as the people who have.


This was what I liked least about the programme...I found it distracting and that it reinforced the film/TV maker's interpretation of each "hero".

...but I always smile when I see consecutive, conflicting reviews.

I did enjoy The Beauty of Books and The Birth of the British Novel
Green Jay

[quote="Yasmin:23331"]
Apple wrote:

I did enjoy The Beauty of Books and The Birth of the British Novel


I'm afraid I found the first episode of The Beauty of Books very boring - I found myself reading the papers at the same time. I hope that future ones will be a bit more inventive.

But the programme that followed was great, The Birth of the British Novel. I kept trying to nip off for my bath but had to stay to see which author would come next, and I didn't always predict it correctly.  Good to see Fanny Burney included. It was visually perfectly interesting enough, which books programmes find hard. (I didn't much like the film clips in the Faulks programme, though I have only seen the first bit of that and have yet to find time to catch up with it all.)  I was glad to find both M Drabble and M Amis being rude about Samuel Richardson, as I struggled to get anywhere with Clarissa, which I was supposed to read at university. Amis's comment that it was both "pious and lecherous", a queasy mix, hit the mark. It made me realise why I was so uneasy about those classic plots where it's all about a raid on a young woman's virtue, - whereas now it would be assidouous planning for a raid on a bank vault or a key computer system.  Wink  I've just realised saying "I struggled to get anywhere with Clarissa" just about sums it up.
TheRejectAmidHair

Green Jay wrote:
I was glad to find both M Drabble and M Amis being rude about Samuel Richardson, as I struggled to get anywhere with Clarissa, which I was supposed to read at university. Amis's comment that it was both "pious and lecherous", a queasy mix, hit the mark. It made me realise why I was so uneasy about those classic plots where it's all about a raid on a young woman's virtue, - whereas now it would be assidouous planning for a raid on a bank vault or a key computer system.  Wink  I've just realised saying "I struggled to get anywhere with Clarissa" just about sums it up.


I didn't see the programme, but Amis is talking rubbish if he is criticising it for being "pious and lecherous" at the same time. It's merely a throwaway comment, and a novel as complex as Clarissa deserves more than a throwaway comment.

Richardson, writing, of course, in an epistolary form, depicts a number of different perspectives. And in the perspectivs of the principal characters, he finds complexity. Thus, Clarissa, despite being a victim of circumstances she cannot control, has nonetheless about her a moral determination that she is not prepared to compromise. And Lovelace paradoxically respects and admires Clarissa: however, he is mentally unstable, and the very fact that he respects her drives him to torment her. It is a frightening depiction of a certain kind of mental instability.

Clarissa is a difficult and complex novel, and deserves our attention. If the purpose of this programme is to encourage people to read serious literature, and to make the effort with what is difficult, then I do not really see the point in such throwaway criticism that Amis & Drabble seem to offer.
Green Jay

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
Green Jay wrote:
I was glad to find both M Drabble and M Amis being rude about Samuel Richardson, as I struggled to get anywhere with Clarissa, which I was supposed to read at university. Amis's comment that it was both "pious and lecherous", a queasy mix, hit the mark. It made me realise why I was so uneasy about those classic plots where it's all about a raid on a young woman's virtue, - whereas now it would be assidouous planning for a raid on a bank vault or a key computer system.  Wink  I've just realised saying "I struggled to get anywhere with Clarissa" just about sums it up.


I didn't see the programme, but Amis is alking rubbish if he is criticising it for being "pious and lecherous" at he same time. It's merely a throwaway comment, and a novel as complex as Clarissa deserves more than a throwaway comment.

Richardson, writing, of course, in an epistolary form, depicts a number of different perspectives. And in the perspectivs of the principal characters, he finds complexity. Thus, Clarissa, despite being a victim of circumstances she cannot control, has nonetheless about her a moral determination that she is not prepared to compromise. And Lovelace paradoxically respects and admires Clarissa: however, he is mentally unstable, and the very fact that he respects her drives him to torment her. It is a frightening depiction of a certain kind of mental instability.

Clarissa is a difficult and complex novel, and deserves our attention. If the purpose of this programme is to encourage people to read serious literature, and to make the effort with what is difficult, then I do not really see the point in such throwaway criticism tha Amis & Drabble seem to offer.


I don't think it was throwaway criticsm - both of them found its themes  distasteful, and Drabble said she found it much more so now that she was older than she had done when she had first studied it. They both seemed perfectly familiar with the book. Far more so than I am.
TheRejectAmidHair

I am reasonably familiar with the book myself, but to say the theme of a book is "distasteful" is hardly a criticism of the book. There are many things in life that are "distasteful", but surely the novelist isn't expected to avoid those themes for this reason? Mass-murder is pretty "distasteful": does that rule out Macbeth?

I frankly find it dismaying that a programme that sets out to encourage the reading of literature should discourage viewers from tackling a novel that is a strong contender for the finest in the English language.
Green Jay

Perhaps I have misreprestented what they said - perhaps it was not the themes but just the book they found distasteful, which, given the way Faulks summed up the plot, is not entirely surprising. You'll have to take a look at the programme, as I feel I'm being a very poor go-between here.

Oops, not Faulks - other programme! - Henry somebody I'd never heard of.
Evie

Himadri, how do you know either Amis or Drabble was making a 'throwaway' comment?
TheRejectAmidHair

Well, I am only going by what I am reading here, and if the criticism is merely that it was "pious and queasy" at the same time, then that really does seem to me a throwaway criticism. Of course, if they offered an analysis of the novel, that would have be different.

If they did offer a valid critique of this novel, then I really would like to know what it was.
TheRejectAmidHair

Green Jay wrote:
Perhaps I have misreprestented what they said - perhaps it was not the themes but just the book they found distasteful, which, given the way Faulks summed up the plot, is not entirely surprising. You'll have to take a look at the programme, as I feel I'm being a very poor go-between here.

Oops, not Faulks - other programme! - Henry somebody I'd never heard of.


It's The Birth of the Novel, isn't it? I've found it on BBC4 i-Player, and will try to find some time this weekend to see it.

And I'll try to find some time as well to write about Clarissa here - it has been quite som etime since I wrote about a book here. I do feel Clarissa is a magnificent novel, which provides, amongst other things, one of the most perceptive depictions of the psychology of power (of those who exercise the power, those who go along with it, and those who attempt to resist it); and also, I think, the most terrifying depiction I've come across of a dangerously unbalanced mind (Lovelace). As I say, I'll try to find some time to write a few words about it.
Rebecca

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
It's The Birth of the Novel, isn't it? I've found it on BBC4 i-Player, and will try to find some time this weekend to see it.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/epis...ydj1p/Birth_of_the_British_Novel/
TheRejectAmidHair

Yasmin wrote:
TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
It's The Birth of the Novel, isn't it? I've found it on BBC4 i-Player, and will try to find some time this weekend to see it.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/epis...ydj1p/Birth_of_the_British_Novel/


Thanks for that - I'll try to catch up with it this weekend some time.
Caro

I haven't read Clarissa and despite your championship of it, Himadri, I won't. I did read Pamela (twice plus) and even if Richardson had honed his skills more nevertheless Clarissa is a very long book indeed and seems to mine the same themes as Pamela.  Pamela (and no doubt Clarissa) is not the style of book to appeal to me, as it is (from memory) very much focussed on a single story, with just the two main characters providing all the interest.  

But even if it were, the characters of these young women (and Richardson's evident acceptance of them) are not likely to appeal to me, or to many with any feminist persuasions.  The 'queasiness' of Richardson's books come from the portrayal of women prepared to forgive and forget all for the sake of marriage to someone who has been more than happy to rape them. Or at least take no notice at all of their protestations against sex.  And also young women who appear to do nothing to ameliorate their situation, beyond teasing and refusing.

If Clarissa has the qualities and themes you say, there is still a lot of problematic ideas to get through to get to those, if Pamela is anything to go by.

Martin Amis and Margaret Drabble are not alone in having concerns with Richardson's books, and these concerns are not solely modern, as you well know. The prurience of his writing has bothered people from the start.

Cheers, Caro.
TheRejectAmidHair

It is not necessarily the purpose of literature to provide a cosy, comforting read. Literature can, and often does, challenge whatever preconception we may have.

You speak of the “prurience” of Richardson’s writing as if that were a given. It isn’t. I didn’t find any evidence of prurience in Clarissa, and if – if – Amis & Drabble speak of Richardson’s “prurience”, they’d better have some closely reasoned arguments to justify their use of this word in this context.

Neither did I find anything in Clarissa at odds with my understanding of feminism. The women here are most certainly not “prepared to forgive and forget all for the sake of marriage to someone who has been more than happy to rape them”. Neither did I find “young women who appear to do nothing to ameliorate their situation, beyond teasing and refusing”. These are easy stereotypes, and Clarissa is far too subtle and far too complex a work for such easy stereotypes to be at all appropriate. I spent some 4 or 5 quite intensive months reading Clarissa – I’m sure I’d have noticed things like that.

But even if everything you were to say were true, it is not, I repeat, the purpose of literature to give us a cosy, comforting read merely by confirming our existing views. Literature is, and should be, “problematic”.

I will not pass comment on Drabble & Amis since I haven’t seen the programme, and it may well be that they provide reasoned analysis to back up their statements. But I am increasingly dismayed by the easy dismissal of works that require a great deal of thought and analysis. This is a trivialisation of literature, and literature is not something that should be trivialised.
Evie

I agree with that, H - that literature should shake us out of our expecations and is not there to confirm our beliefs and worldview - serious literature is a powerful tool in challenging and shaping, not just reflecting, the way we think, the way society thinks.

I see that Sebastian Faulks will be covering Clarissa in his series too, in the programme on villains.
Apple

Green Jay Wrote:
Quote:
Yasmin wrote:
Apple wrote:

Idid enjoy The Beauty of Books and The Birth of the British Novel


I'm afraid I found the first episode of The Beauty of Books very boring - I found myself reading the papers at the same time. I hope that future ones will be a bit more inventive.

But the programme that followed was great, The Birth of the British Novel. I kept trying to nip off for my bath but had to stay to see which author would come next, and I didn't always predict it correctly.  Good to see Fanny Burney included. It was visually perfectly interesting enough, which books programmes find hard. (I didn't much like the film clips in the Faulks programme, though I have only seen the first bit of that and haveyet to find time to catch up with it all.)  I was glad to find both M Drabble and M Amis being rude about Samuel Richardson, as I struggled to get anywhere with Clarissa, which I was supposed to read at university. Amis's comment that it was both "pious and lecherous", a queasy mix, hit the mark. It made me realise why I was so uneasy about those classic plots where it's all about a raid on a young woman's virtue, - whereas now it would be assidouous planning for a raid on a bank vault or a key computer system.  Wink  I've just realised saying "I struggled to get anywhere with Clarissa" just about sums it up.

I just want to make it clear that I didn't actually say that as I haven't seen it and am not sure why I'm up there as being quoted as saying that, I think it was Yasmin who liked it and Green Jay who was replying so why I'm up there I don't know! - something must have gone wrong with the quoting thingy on the site!  Smile
Rebecca

As it has, again. I didn't say that...I loved them both!
Hector

I am a little disappointed by this programme to be honest. It seems to comrprise a selection of loosely linked novels with a rather arbitrary theme leaving little room for analysis other than to summarise the story of each novel accompanied by clips from beeb's period drama back catalogue. The odd interview adds something of note, but often that goes little further than a re-cap of the story.

Oh well. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. Faulks is a good presenter and it makes a nice change to see something book related on the box. I'm glad Faulks didn't feel the need to talk about how love was portrayed in 'Birdsong' - that was pretty dreadful!

Regards

Hector
county_lady

Hector wrote:
I am a little disappointed by this programme to be honest. It seems to comrprise a selection of loosely linked novels with a rather arbitrary theme leaving little room for analysis other than to summarise the story of each novel accompanied by clips from beeb's period drama back catalogue. The odd interview adds something of note, but often that goes little further than a re-cap of the story.

Oh well. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. Faulks is a good presenter and it makes a nice change to see something book related on the box. I'm glad Faulks didn't feel the need to talk about how love was portrayed in 'Birdsong' - that was pretty dreadful!

Regards

Hector


Hector I feel much the same but I was plesed to hear Faulks' comment that we learn more of love through novels.
Next week he is featuring 'The Snob' a character that can be great fun.
Caro

I saw this last night for the first time and it held my attention for the hour (not that easy for a television programme to do), but I did feel it rather skimmed the books.  Having said that, I learnt far more about The Golden Notebook than I had ever known before and it made me feel that I should read The End of the Affair.  I felt he rather diminished Pride and Prejudice though; it is about a lot more than people trying to find the right partner.  

I liked all of Birdsong including the love scenes, though I realise I am peculiar in this.

Cheers, Caro.
Apple

Yasmin Wrote:
Quote:
As it has, again. I didn't say that...I loved them both!
I think that one was my fault I just copied it as it stood from Green Jays post and it came out like that! - But I have looked at the post and altered the quoting on mine to make it look right (I hope!)

Anyway I watched the second part tonight - the theme was the lover and needless to say Mr Darcy was used as an example, (and the bonus was we got to see the lovely Colin Firth in the role!) I was also very interested to hear the comments and evaluation of Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff and I feel that my continued lobbying for this book in BR Cup rounds of the past was not in vain as in general they seemed to share my opinion of this great classic story. Smile
TheRejectAmidHair

I've now seen The Birth of the Novel up to the Martin Amis interview. That was about as much as I could take.

The programme was superficial, as expected. For instance, the presenter said that, in the last part of Gulliver's Travels, both the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnmns are presented as flawed; it might have been interesting at this point to have expanded on the nature of these flaws, and thus give us a deeper reading of this complex masterpiece. But no. Instead, we cut to a fairly vapid interview with Will Self, who told us at considerable length that Swift was a great satirist. Of course, you need a literary celeb to deliver insights of such quality, don't you? Who needs analysis!

The documentary didn't always seem very accurate either: Newgate Prison, for instance, is described as a "debtors' prison". It wasn't. And some of its interpretations seemed a bit simple-minded. The presenter takes it for granted that Moll Flanders regenerates spiritually. But in Defoe's novels, we should look beyond what the narrator tells us: Moll, after her alleged spiritual regeneration, is happy to live off the immoral earnings she had accumulated through her life. This might, one would have thought, be seen to cast some doubt on the true nature of her repentance. But hey! - let's not get into moral complexities! We don't want to put anyone off by suggesting that these works are - gasp! - difficult!

But even at this very basic level of presentation, there were moments that had me shaking my head in disbelief. Defoe, we’re told, didn’t subscribe to the Rousseau-esque idea that humans are born innocent, and only become corrupt as they become older. Leaving aside the fact that Defoe would have found it difficult to subscribe to Rousseau’s ideas  as Rousseau was still only a child himself when Defoe was writing his novels, the evidence presented for this assertion was merely that Moll Flanders was born in Newgate Prison. It is frankly beyond me how one can deduce from this that Defoe believed children are born in a state of sin.

Most disgraceful was its treatment of Richardson. Drabble is entitled not to like Richardson personally - we all have our personal likes and dislikes. She does, at least, make it clear that she is speaking subjectively. Nothing like that from Amis, who, frankly, talks a lot of crap. It was an object lesson on how to dismiss a great masterpiece in a few throwaway comments. Fielding, he said, was "unquestionably" the central literary figure of the time. I like Fielding myself, but to claim that he was "unquestionably" above Sterne or Richardson is just plain and utter nonsense. (And Smollett isn't even mentioned!)

The presenter says at one point that Richardson's morality was very "black and white" (or something like that) and bore little resemblance to the complexities of real life. And there I was thinking that Clarissa was a novel of great moral complexity. I guess I must be pretty stupid to think that.

It's hard enough to get people nowadays to take serious literature seriously, but when even programmes that set out to encourage  literature sees fit to dismiss one of the greatest of novels with a few throwaway comments - none of them, needless to say, argued - then one really does wonder what the point is of making a programme such as this. I really am thinking of disconnecting my television aerial.

My gripe is not that Amis & co don't like Clarissa: my gripe is that the programme-makers thought it reasonable merely to present these opinions without providing an argument to support them. This is not the way to approach serious literature. There should be far, far more to literary discourse than mere exhange of opinions: this is merely trivialisation.
Sandraseahorse

Never mind.  Still to come on BBC2 is "My Life in Books" - a sort of "Desert Island Discs" in book form.  It is hosted by Anne Robinson, who declares in today's "Telegraph" "Fiction is a waste of time", and stars such literary luminaries as Alastair Campbell.
Apple

Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
The documentary didn't always seem very accurate either: Newgate Prison, for instance, is described as a "debtors' prison". It wasn't.
Actually it was a debtors prison, although not entirely, if you want to be totally accurate about it  - The original prison at Newgate was built in 1188, but was rebuilt in 1770. After being badly damaged during the Gordon Riots in 1780, George Dance was commissioned to design a new prison at Newgate. Completed in 1782 Newgate Prison was divided into two sections. There was a Common area for poor prisoners and a State area for those who could afford more comfortable accommodation. These sections of the prison were then further divided between debtors and other criminals.

I didn't see this programme so cannot comment on any of the other issues you had with it but the one thing I do know about, namely Newgate Prison your comment wasn't very accurate either.

Sandraseahorse Wrote:
Quote:
Still to come on BBC2 is "My Life in Books" - a sort of "Desert Island Discs" in book form.  It is hosted by Anne Robinson, who declares in today's "Telegraph" "Fiction is a waste of time", and stars such literary luminaries as Alastair Campbell.
Well if the host of the programme has no time for fiction it could prove to be unbiased objective!  Wink

On a related subject I have now watched the programme - The Beauty of Books which was been mentioned in this thread and I found it very interesting and enjoyable.

Also...

Hector Wrote:
Quote:
Oh well. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. Faulks is a good presenter and it makes a nice change to see something book related on the box. I'm glad Faulks didn't feel the need to talk about how love was portrayed in 'Birdsong' - that was pretty dreadful!
and ...Caro Wrote:
Quote:
I liked all of Birdsong including the love scenes, though I realise I am peculiar in this.
So did I, I thought it was a fabulous book, what was wrong with them?
TheRejectAmidHair

Apple wrote:
Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
The documentary didn't always seem very accurate either: Newgate Prison, for instance, is described as a "debtors' prison". It wasn't.
Actually it was a debtors prison, although not entirely, if you want to be totally accurate about it  - The original prison at Newgate was built in 1188, but was rebuilt in 1770. After being badly damaged during the Gordon Riots in 1780, George Dance was commissioned to design a new prison at Newgate. Completed in 1782 Newgate Prison was divided into two sections. There was a Common area for poor prisoners and a State area for those who could afford more comfortable accommodation. These sections of the prison were then further divided between debtors and other criminals.


That some of the prisoners in Newgate were imprisoned for debt does not make Newgate a "debtors' prison". Some of the patients in our local hospital are children: that does not make it a "children's hospital".

In the context of Moll Flanders, describing Newgate as a "debtors' prison" is particularly misleading, since none of the characters in Moll Flanders who are in Newgate are in there for debt.
Chibiabos83

The Birth of the Novel is the only programme in this season I've watched so far, and I suspect the only one I'll bother with. I found the Will Self bit particularly unenlightening, but for someone who has almost no knowledge of this period in British fiction I suppose it semi-piqued/reawakened my interest. I share Himadri's reservations about the casual dismissal of Richardson. Why not get someone who has studied Richardson in depth to comment on Clarissa, rather than an arse like Martin Amis? (I quite like Amis in small doses, in fact, and enjoy hearing/seeing him interviewed, but didn't think he belonged here.) I started feeling early on, and never quite dispelled the thought from my mind, that the time I was spending watching the programme would surely be better spent reading one of the books they were talking about. At any rate I should do what I have been meaning to do for ages, which is actually to read some Defoe or Swift or Richardson - or someone. I've read Sterne, but that's about it. I have promised myself that I will give Fielding a go this year.
Hector

Quote:
So did I, I thought it was a fabulous book, what was wrong with them?


Been a while since I've read it but the article mentions a couple of choice passages.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/223065.stm
Apple

Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
That some of the prisoners in Newgate were imprisoned for debt does not make Newgate a "debtors' prison". Some of the patients in our local hospital are children: that does not make it a "children's hospital".
Some of the prisoners in Newgate were imprisoned for debt - in a section specifically set aside for debtors within the prison so a section of the prison was set aside for debtors, so therefore that part of the prison was a debtors prison, you said it was not a debtors prison full stop but the part of the prison set aside for debtors obviously was, (just like the section of our hospital set aside for children is called funnily enough "The LRI Children's Hospital"!) - you were commenting on the lack of accuracy of the programme and using that as an example I was pointing out that you were not totally accurate either in your response.  Smile

Also...

Thank you Hector for that link, it was very entertaining and amusing to read but I still cannot see anything wrong with the sex scene passages when they are read in context with the book, and all my memories and recollections that book were completely positive.
MikeAlx

Is anyone that surprised that Martin Amis should toss out a few controversial comments and then disappear without backing them up? It's his primary media profile-building strategy, as far as I can see. Sadly, it seems to be pretty effective.

I haven't watched any of this yet, and not sure I'll bother. I don't think TV generally does this sort of thing well - probably better off reading a decent book on the subject, such as Ian Watt's seminal work, "The Rise of the Novel".
Hector

No probs Apple. I can't add you the context as it's been years since I read it. My recollections are hazy but remember at the time thinking that Faulks was much better writing about the trenches than the romance.

I think sex in books is even more difficult to portray successfully than, say, romance and often a good book can come acropper when sex and love combine.
TheRejectAmidHair

Apple wrote:
Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
That some of the prisoners in Newgate were imprisoned for debt does not make Newgate a "debtors' prison". Some of the patients in our local hospital are children: that does not make it a "children's hospital".
Some of the prisoners in Newgate were imprisoned for debt - in a section specifically set aside for debtors within the prison so a section of the prison was set aside for debtors, so therefore that part of the prison was a debtors prison, you said it was not a debtors prison full stop but the part of the prison set aside for debtors obviously was, (just like the section of our hospital set aside for children is called funnily enough "The Children's Hospital"!) - you were commenting on the lack of accuracy of the programme and using that as an example I was pointing out that you were not totally accurate either in your response.  Smile


I think you'll find that the part of a hospital that is set aside for children is called a children's ward rather than a children's hospital.

I think you'll also find that the term children's hospital is only used for those hospitals that admit only children.

However, this is only a minor point in my argument, and I don't think it would serve any purpose to continue to discuss it, so let's stop it here.
Apple

Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
I think you'll find that the part of a hospital that is set aside for children is called a children's ward rather than a children's hospital.


and I think you will find that I know what it is called!

Also

Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
However, this is only a minor point in my argument, and I don't think it would serve any purpose for me to continue to discuss it, so let's stop it here.
Yes lets, Smile I was only pointing out that you were making a big point of accuracy and used that as the example and I pointed out that if you wanted to be accurate, what you were saying wasn't entirely accurate either.

(I would also like to make it clear that it was you who carried it on when you could have accepted that your throwaway comment was not accurate either, but instead you made the rather sarcastic comment about hospitals which out of courtesy to you I answered despite it not being relevant in any way shape or form, and you then went on to question that I knew what a hospital I have actually been in is called, which is you have to admit is very insulting).
TheRejectAmidHair

Apple, the part of the hospital that caters for children they have designated a "children's hospital". But the whole hospital itself isn't a "children's hospital". I am happy that what I wrote was entirely accurate, and I am not aware of having insulted you.

But as I suggested above, can we please stop this here? Thanks.
Apple

Himadri Wrote:
Quote:
Apple, the part of the hospital that caters for children is called a "children's hospital": the whole hospital isn't.  I am happy that what I wrote was entirely accurate, and I am not aware of having insulted you.
But as I suggested above, can we please stop it here? Thanks.


As I said above, yes lets! and I am big enough to accept that you wrongly thought I meant a ward rather than hospital and am prepared to let go the fact you were unaware it was insulting that you questioned that I possibly know the name of place you have probably never been to and I have spent time in better than you would, but one final thing, It is actually a hospital within a hospital, which is not a ward as you previously said, and going back to the main argument which sparked this, the debtors prison was within the main prison so for you to say Newgate prison was not a debtors prison full stop  is wrong as, as I rightly pointed out a part of it within the main prison was. Thats all, Thanks!  Smile
Chibiabos83

That's all settled then  Very Happy
TheRejectAmidHair

MikeAlx wrote:
Is anyone that surprised that Martin Amis should toss out a few controversial comments and then disappear without backing them up? It's his primary media profile-building strategy, as far as I can see. Sadly, it seems to be pretty effective.


Not surprising at all, sadly. And, even more sadly, neither is it surprising for the BBC to use this interview in their programme. Afer all, Amis is a lit-sleb!

MikeAlx wrote:
I haven't watched any of this yet, and not sure I'll bother. I don't think TV generally does this sort of thing well - probably better off reading a decent book on the subject, such as Ian Watt's seminal work, "The Rise of the Novel".


Yes, that's an excellent book.

I still need to catch up on some of the mid 18th century novels. In particular, Pamela is a big omission in my reading. Clarissa, as I said, is simply magnificent.

I also need to read more Fielding: all I have read so far is Tom Jones. I still need to read Joseph Andrews, Jonathan Wild and his late novel Amelia.

I think I've read all the major defoe novels now. I was very much taken last year by Journal of the Plague Year, but if I had to pick a pbest, I'd pick Roxana. Just imagine -  Defoe was possibly the first major English novelist (except perhaps for Bunyan), but already, he ws using the technique we know nowadays as the "unreliable narrator". This is apparent both in Moll Flanders, and, I think, in Robinson Crusoe, but in Roxana he takes it to the limit. As we read, we become increasingly aware that Roxana is mentally unbalanced. She doesn't realise this herself, of course. The climactic point comes when Roxana is convinced that something terrible has happened. We, the readers, never get to find out whether or not this actually did happen, or whether it's all in her mind. I can't think of any other novel I have read in the climactic point of the work is left in so uncertain a state.

As for Tristram Shandy, it has more or less pre-empted the avant garde. For what can any avant garde writer think of that is more outrageous than what Sterne achieved? But what makes it such a great work is not that it's a bag of tricks - there is real substance to it as well.

But Sterne was not influential until much later. Most of 19th century fiction seems to me to derive either from Fielding and Smollett (Thackeray, Dickens), or from Richardson (Austen, Henry James).

The 18th century was a really exciting time for novels. What i woiuld rate as their Top 5 - Roxana, Gulliver's Travels, Clarissa, Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy - have not yet been surpassed.
Apple

Hector Wrote:
Quote:
No probs Apple. I can't add you the context as it's been years since I read it. My recollections are hazy but remember at the time thinking that Faulks was much better writing about the trenches than the romance.
Oh definitely! I agree with that as the story progressed to the trenches it was stronger - but then again that was a subject matter and time which I personally find interesting anyway.
Chibiabos83

TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
The 18th century was a really exciting time for novels. What i woiuld rate as their Top 5 - Roxana, Gulliver's Travels, Clarissa, Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy - have not yet been surpassed.

Even by Dickens? Maybe not by a single Dickens novel... Though it's impossible to be absolute about this. I'll get on with Gulliver's Travels and Tom Jones soon.
Evie

I really must read some of those early novels.  The Faulks programme was the first thing that made me want to read Robinson Crusoe (though Jane Gardam's novel Crusoe's Daughter also had an impact in that respect), though I still struggle a bit to be inspired about Fielding, Smollett, etc, despite Himadri's sterling efforts on their behalf, though I am prepared to believe I would be converted if I tried!  I am generally such a fan of 20C novels, but have spent too much time there lately.  Am about to read Scott, though, so I may be scurrying back to the marvellous economy of DeLillo and Auster after that!
Freyda

I have finally got around to watching this. I found Sebastian Faulks perfectly acceptable - even his voice sounds different from on radio where I know him from The Write Stuff, a programme I very much dislike, probably due more to its presenter than its resident captain, I now conclude.  But the content was so thin, and I can think of many other heroes, or lovers, which could as easily have been selected. I must say I am very tired of Mr Darcy - his ideal as a lover seems to come more from his many turns on TV and film, and the ubiquitous Colin Firth, than the character in Jane Austen's book, who is difficult and most unloverlike but in the end honourable.

But if this programme was light and thin, I also tuned into the Channel 4 - or was it ITV ? - Book Club hosted by Jo Brand. This was awful, really daytime-TV lite, with various famous or not famous people gushing about a book ('I loved it!') like the least rigorous, untelevised, book group you might find. The only person who put in a slight criticism  - he found the many characters confusing - was actor Bill Paterson, who sounded most apologetic for saying so. The book was Catherine O'Flynn's 'The News From Where You Are', which sounded vaguely interesting or at least unusual: it is about ageing, both in people and the architecture of cities. Nobody commented that the book had a terribly unappealing cover design, like a rather dim children's story.
TheRejectAmidHair

Chibiabos83 wrote:
TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
The 18th century was a really exciting time for novels. What i woiuld rate as their Top 5 - Roxana, Gulliver's Travels, Clarissa, Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy - have not yet been surpassed.

Even by Dickens?


Well, we all have our personal preferences, but those 5 I cited above seem to me to be about as good as it gets, and while the likes of Dickens & Eliot may have equalled their achievements, I don't think they've surpassed them.

Evie - Smollett is, I admit, a trifle rumbustious, but Humphrey Clinker, his last novel, is considerably mellower than his other work. Fielding's Tom Jones really is a delight. I have both Jonathan Wild and Amelia on my shelves: the latter is a rarity as neither Penguin Classics nor Oxford World Classics, nor even the Everyman Library, seem to publish it. It is meant to be a very dark, tragic novel, and very distant from the high spirits of Tom Jones.

Freyda wrote:
 I must say I am very tired of Mr Darcy - his ideal as a lover seems to come more from his many turns on TV and film, and the ubiquitous Colin Firth, than the character in Jane Austen's book, who is difficult and most unloverlike but in the end honourable.


Hello Freyda, it has been some time since I read Pride and Prejudice, but this is my impression also. Surely the point of the title is that D'Arcy has to overcome his pride as Elizabeth has to overcome her prejudice? D'Arcy the proud aristocrat, as presented by Austen, does not frankly strike me as too attractive a character. Lizzie felt snubbed by him at their first meeting, and surely she had every right to feel snubbed.
Evie

I don't think the content of the Faulks programme is *that* thin - he does spend a long time on each book, and is encouraging a relatively serious level of analysis for the average reader.  I know some of us still crave some more in-depth discussion of books on TV, but for Saturday night TV, I think this is pretty good.

For example, his discussion of Mr Darcy did bring out much of the subtlety of the way Jane Austen presents him - the way she laughs at society initially for only caring about him being handsome and rich, but through Elizabeth shows that there is more to him, and that through this we see the transformative power of love.  He also showed the skill of Austen's writing in showing the spark and then passion that exists between them which they both fight - that fabulous first proposal where he admits he is proposing against his better judgement is both hilarious and painful, and, as John Carey pointed out, highly sexually charged.  Darcy ultimately becomes someone worthy of Elizabeth because through his love for her - and hers for him - he acts out his true but hidden character, and becomes truly heroic in what he does - not just what he does for Lydia, but in trying to conceal his part in it.  Even at the end, Austen admits he still has a lot to learn, but she is confident that life with Elizabeth will continue to transform him.

The theme of the programme was about lovers, and the way novels teach us about love, and I think P&P is a fine example of this.  (Colin Firth may be ubiquitous at the moment, but only because he is winning so many awards for one performance...and I do think his performance as Mr Darcy was as perfect as it's possible to be in that role.)

Overall, I think the Faulks is offering a level of analysis that is very rarely seen on television, and his way of showing the development of a theme from the early novels to contemporary ones works well.  It is flawed in certain ways (and some of those offering comments are one of the biggest flaws - what on earth was Alain de Botton on about with regard to male authors having erections while writing about their heroines?), but I am enjoying it as something that is opening up these books a bit, and certainly making me want to read some of the ones I haven't read, and re-read some of those I have - including Tess, which I have read so many times.

It's certainly a step in the right direction for those of us who want some discussion of books on TV.
Ann

I agree Evie, and it is lovely to have so many book related progammes on at the moment. My problem is that no programme is as good as reading a book. Very Happy
Rebecca

Alain de Botton was on Radio 5 last week, (not sure why he was talking about love), but he said novels tell nothing of love just "boy meets girl, catches girl, loses girl, gets girl again."
Chibiabos83

I like Alain de Botton, but maybe he's not been reading the right books...
Green Jay

Chibiabos83 wrote:
I like Alain de Botton, but maybe he's not been reading the right books...


Very Happy

He's not even reading the ones where girl meets boy, loses boy or is thwarted, gets boy in the end.

Let alone Sarah Waters...  Wink
Green Jay

Ann wrote:
My problem is that no programme is as good as reading a book. Very Happy


Yes, me too. Or reading a book about books.

But Faulks is making a more favourable impression on me than I had expected.
Chibiabos83

Green Jay wrote:
He's not even reading the ones where girl meets boy, loses boy or is thwarted, gets boy in the end.

Or the ones where girl meets girl or boy meets boy. Or the ones where nobody meets anyone (...Walden?).
Evie

Yes, at least Sebastian Faulks included a boy meets boy novel!

Must admit the ones where no one meets anyone appeal more as I get older...  :0)
MikeAlx

Mention of boy-meets-girl always reminds me of Douglas Adams' description of plutonium rock group Disaster Area:-
Quote:
Their songs are on the whole very simple and mostly follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath a silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason.
John Q

I once borrowed that huge penguin edition of Clarissa out of the library, not sure it is in print now. Not the best format to read it in but the only available way really that presented itself.  I wonder what the chances are of that in the coming times?  Anyway,  the book finally wore me out around page 1000, it actually was around 1200 pages long.  It is an incredibly skilled book I think, Richardson’s sustained mastery of the widely different voices is amazing.  I think that was my chief feeling as I read the book, admiration for the technical accomplishment, rather  than being particularly moved by Clarissa’s plight. Nobody I think can ever match this  example of  the epistolary novel .  But, the book struck me, and this is the reason I made remained untouched emotionally by it,  as ever so slightly pantomimic, especially in the character of Lovelace.  I mean where did Richardson dig him up? The age of Casanova?  The reader gives a mental hiss, or this reader did, as one of his letters appears  on the page.   There is nice light relief in the epistles of  the sharp witted Miss Howe, Clarissa’s friend, who is always mocking her faithful admirer Mr Hickman. But Mr Hickman is well off, so Miss  Howe’s mother makes sure that he is always welcome at the Howe’s home.  Jane Austen as we all know was a great admirer of Richardson, I wonder if the  idea for some of her independent minded females came from Miss Howe.
Why didn’t I finish the book?  I think like trying to read Remembrance of Things Past there is just too much of it, and the hot house atmosphere of the novel becomes rather unbearable eventually.  I intend trying   his Sir Charles Grandison though, , which hopefully  has a  calmer less torrid plot. It was his last work and again I think in epistolary form
And yes, I agree, for Amis to say that Fielding was unquestionable the novelist of that century is far too dogmatic.  Amis should be careful or he will start sounding like his father, which would be  sad, very sad.
TheRejectAmidHair

There is cetainly something about the - as you aptly put it - "hothouse atmosphere" of the novel that makes teh experience of reading it somewhat oppressive. I think this is partly due to the tremendous cumulative weight of it all: the screw turns almost infinitely slowly - one can barely see it turning: and yet, it turns remorselessly, the tension tightening over incredibly long stretches to almost unbearable levels of intensity.

Lovelace seems at first a conventional villain, but, after some one third of the novel - after Clarissa ecapes from one prison to find herself in another - Lovelace emerges, for me at least, no as a pantomime villain as I had for some reason expected, but as a character of frightening intensity. I think it becomes clear that he is mentally unbalanced. He actually admires and respecst Clarissa, but th every fact that he does so impels him to torture and to torment her. He needs to exert his power over what he recognises as pure and noble - indeed, especially over what he recognises as pure and noble. There are some moments where teh epithet "Dostoyevskian" is not misapplied.

The exertion of power is a central theme of the novel. Richardson depicts what Thucydides had depicted in a different context: where power exists, it will be exercised - if for no better reason than the fact that it is there. The psychology of power is delineated in great detail: there are those who exercise power simply because they can; and there are those who go along with this - who aid and abet the exercise of power, because they are too weak to object. They won't admit this to themselves of course: they convince themselves that this exercise of power is actually for the greater good. And then, there is Clarissa, the victim of the various abuses of power, but for whom it becomes a point of honour not to submit, even if the refusal to submit leads to the destruction of one's self: but she is aware that her will is all she has left, and if she lets go of that, she is left with nothing.

As for Martin Amis, I've long stopped taking seriously what he has to say about anything. He was trendy for a while back in the 80s and 90s, but is now reduced to saying silly things in public just to get himself noticed.
chris-l

I had hoped to watch this series, but my social life, although pretty limited, intervened. It sounds as if it might have beeen worthwhile. Maybe it will be repeated before too long? I suppose I could have watched it on the computer, but somehow, that never feels quite the same...
Evie

I agree, Chris, I don't like watching things on the computer either.  I have a BT Vision box, and they are planning to make iPlayer available through that at some point, which would be great.

I enjoyed the third episode - on snobs - a bit less than the other two, but that probably reflects my own personal views more than anything.  I felt his discussion of Emma, for example, was unsatisfactory, though his look at Jeeves was fun, and the choice of Brick Lane as the modern novel was excellent - and interesting to tie it together at the end with Emma, the book with which he had started.

I do like the range of his choice of novels, and on the whole I enjoy Faulks's analysis of them, though could do without the gimmicky bits (we don't need to see him having his eyes tested, for example, to illustrate the idea that snobs are people who can't see themselves and others clearly), and some of the talking heads are a bit of a waste of time.

Villains in the last part next week.  I wonder if more are planned - I would like to see more.  As someone else said (sorry, I forget who!), he is a better host than I was expecting, and to have this followed by The Tudors means that Saturday TV is actually worth watching for a few short weeks!
Evie

I enjoyed the final part of Faulks on Fiction - a programme devoted to villains.  Again, an excellent choice of novels, I thought (Clarissa, Oliver Twist, Woman in White, Gormenghast, Lord of the Flies, Raj Quartet, Notes on a Scandal),and the talking heads were generally quite good this week.

I haven't read Gormenghast, but saw the wonderful TV series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Steerpike so knew a little about him, and found the discussion of his character very interesting; similarly with the Raj Quartet, I haven't read the books, but The Jewel in the Crown ranks for me as one of the very best TV dramas ever, and Tim Piggott-Smith's portrayal of the complex but vile Col Merrick was spellbinding, and the discussion of that character was good too.  

I will really miss this series - hope we might have more in future - it's encouraged me to visit and revisit a lot of books, and despite not liking Faulks's own fiction, I found him an excellent presenter for this.
Green Jay

Found my husband watching this episode - I came downstairs in the last minutes - and he hardly ever reads fiction! Will have to catch up on i-player.

Evie, you must read the Raj Quartet novels. They are brilliant, of course much more complex than a telly series could ever be, although that particular series I did find stunning. And much longer than it would be if made today. And you must read the Cazalet novels ...this is a thought from another thread. I just know you will have some fabulous reading stacked up before you if you do.
Evie

I know, I have been meaning to read both for so many years!  Things just get in the way - who knows why my reading is so disorganised!!  At least it means, as you say, that I have big treats in store.  I still need to read Olivia Manning's Levant trilogy too, having only read the Balkan ones, which are utterly superb.

Sadly my library doesn't have The Light Years anywhere in the county, so I might just have to buy it...

Might have to try to emulate Margaret Thatcher and survive on four hours sleep a night, in order to get all my reading done!  (Don't worry, not planning emulate her in any other way...)
Green Jay

Evie wrote:
I know, I have been meaning to read both for so many years!  Things just get in the way - who knows why my reading is so disorganised!!  At least it means, as you say, that I have big treats in store.  I still need to read Olivia Manning's Levant trilogy too, having only read the Balkan ones, which are utterly superb.



Yes, I thought I had both books but I think I must have borrowed the Levant Trilogy as I couldn't find it at all when I wanted to reread it. I'm sure I can remember its cover...Greg Hicks in khaki uniform, which may just be a dream... Rolling Eyes
Mikeharvey

What a pity the series wasn't extended to include Heroines and Children.
I wonder what memorable literary children would make the list.  Maybe Masie from Henry James' 'What Masie Knew'?  Any more suggestions?
Green Jay

I think we should make a thread suggesting our own favourite fictional heroes, lovers, villains and snobs - plus Mike's sections, too. Snobs and Villains are of more interest to me than Faulks' first two categories. Not having seen the whole series I can't furnish us with the suggestions Faulks has already made, but under Villains it was:

Lovelace (Clarissa)
Fagin (Oliver Twist)
Count Fosco (The Woman In White)
Steerpike (Gormenghast)
Jack  (Lord of the Flies)
Ronald Merrick (Raj Quartet)
Barbara (Notes on a Scandal)

Snobs included:

Emma
Miss Jean Brodie
the husband in Brick Lane
oh, who else...?

He could have had Hortense in Small Island for that matter, she was a terrific snob. And Steerforth as a villain.

I thought Faulks was pretty OK as a presenter, I am definitely warming to him. And actually the clips made me want to go and get some of those DVDs (sorry). I have never seen The Woman In White version with Simon Callow as Fosco before.
Green Jay

Mikeharvey wrote:
What a pity the series wasn't extended to include Heroines and Children.


Faulks defended himself to Mariella Frostrup by saying that Heroes included heroines.  Erm, we've heard that excuse long ago - man includes woman etc. Didn't convince then, either. I think he had Becky Sharp in as a hero. You could do a whole programme looking at heroes and heroines and whether there was a difference of expectations. And he never got on to anti-hero, did he? Although he talked about Winston in 1984 being a new kind of hero.

I heard someone discussing South Riding on radio today (currently on Sunday night TV) and saying that the new headmistress Sarah Burton comes with no history, no defining relationships and asks for what she wants; that this was really unusual for a heroine, as so much literature was concerned with looking at how the female characters were restricted by society in one way or another and whether or not they could overcome those bonds. I suppose in that way she is more of a hero in Faulks's terms. Interesting...
Evie

The other snobs were Pip in Great Expectations, Charles Pooter, Jeeves and James Bond.  It was interesting because he looked at different kinds of snobbery.

There is certainly more scope for further programmes - really hope he is commissioned to do some more.
Green Jay

I struggled a bit with Pip as a true snob. He suffers the same fate as anyone who is raised up and educated above the situation of his original family - being able to see them with new eyes, and never truly fitting in again, which is rather tragic. Whereas, say, Mrs Elton, in Emma is a real snob - or Mrs Snell in the Archers who I am sure is based on her ! - they relish looking down on people and drawing everyone's attention to the failings of others and the superiority of themselves. She hasn't  undergone a class transplant which leaves her neither fish nor fowl, but floundering a little between both. And possibly full of guilt at looking down on their own 'umble origins. But I can't remember enough of Pip to know if this last was true. And I joined the Faulks programme in the middle, so he may have said some of this.
Apple

Green Jay Wrote:
Quote:
actually the clips made me want to go and get some of those DVDs (sorry).
I thought the clips were a good idea, although you never know, it could have been a subversive way of getting us all to go out and buy BBC adaptions on DVD!  Wink

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