Guess the Classic (6)

Classic (5) was from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.

One of my favorite bands ever was, has been and still is (even if I don’t listen much any more) Alan Parson’s Project. Their first album was the musical transformation of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s ballads and stories. Absolutely brilliant. You can listen to them online on YouTube.

The Raven, e.g., is a very intense, atmospheric and quite long ballad about a man mourning his lost love – a woman named Lenore – and who is being haunted by a raven that symbolizes the hopelessness and despair of his situation. You can read the original here; the lyrics of Alan Parson’s version are below. Though much shorter than the original, the lyrics in combination with the music capture the mood and atmosphere of the original brilliantly. Continue reading

Guess the Classic (5)

Classic (4) was H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds, first published in 1898; the latest (loose) film adaptation produced by Steven Spielberg starring Tom Cruise and Tim Burton.

An army of fighting Martian machines destroying England

Most remarkable was the 1938 radio broadcast directed and narrated by Orson Welles.  You can download it from or listen to it on Legend has it that listeners who had missed the introductory part of the play mistook it for reality, panicked and fled from their homes, clogging streets and highways in the Northeastern United States and Canada.

The next classic is from a well-known American author who was one of the earliest American writers of short stories, and one of the first in the US who tried to make a living through writing. He is largely considered the inventor of the detective story, but is probably better known for his gothic fantasies. Continue reading

Guess the Classic (4)

Classic (3) was from 1984 by George Orwell, published in 1949.

The novel has enjoyed a recent increase in sales following the discussions around the US government’s surveillance practices.

CNN Money reports that sales have risen by 10,000 %.

Another few lines from a well-known story; its film version(s) probably more widely known than the original novel, which was published in 1898 and broadcast  as a quite dramatic and consequential radio play in 1938. Continue reading

Guess the Classic (3)

Did you recognize Classic (2)? Most readers remember the whitewash scene. There have been quite a few film adaptations and I must admit that one of my favorites actually is the German TV series made in the 70ies.

The next one is a little more recent than the first two; a novel from the first half of the 20th century of which there are two film adaptations as far as I know.

The Ministry of Truth — Minitrue, in Newspeak* — was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party: Continue reading

How to Choose a Novel: Read Page 69

The Marshall McLuhan Test

Marshall McLuhan, (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory. His work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.[1][2] McLuhan is known for coining the expressions the medium is the message and the global village, and for predicting the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. (from wikipedia).

I came across the so-called Marshall McLuhan test while reading and browsing through the Guardian web page. Charlotte Stretch mentions it in her post on the Guardian’s books blog. Since there are so many novels, new ones being published every day, how do we choose which ones to read? Our time is limited. Even if we spent all of it reading… I once calculated how many books I could manage to read in the rest of my remaining days if I, say, for example, read two 300 pagers a week. Continue reading

Guess the Classic (2)

Classic (1) was the beginning of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1897. The Irish author created the character of the noble vampire in the 19th century and until today it has inspired many works of fiction, the latest (I think) being the Twilight series. My personal favorite film adaptation is Roman Polanski’s by now classic Dance of the Vampires (or: The Fearless Vampire Killers) from 1967, a more humourous uptake of the theme.

Now the next: Continue reading

Guess the Classic (1)

Research has shown that the vast majority of words are learned in and from context. So the more you expose yourself to the language, the more your vocabulary will grow. Besides listening, reading is one of the keys to vocabulary growth. So read, read, read – especially things that interest you, that you enjoy, or that are in any way meaningful to you.

I personally enjoy fiction. Though I know not everybody does, I do like to integrate fictional literature into my classes every once in a while. One of my favorite ‘exercises’ is ‘Guess the novel’: I copy pages from well-known classics and have the group read and guess what novels or stories the pages are from. Interestingly, even if they haven’t read the book, in most cases they are able to come up with the correct answer as those I pick seem to have their place in something like a collective consciousness.

Below is one such exerpt. One word in the text proved to be a total give-away, so I shortened it to two initial letters. Continue reading