Commentary on Slaughterhouse-Five Hypertext Adaptation

The first chapter of Kurt Vonnegut’s “famous book about Dresden”[1] is an author’s preface, in which Vonnegut describes his reasons for writing the book and his connection to the firebombing of Dresden that killed 135,000 civilians before lamenting that “There is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre.”[2] Vonnegut’s narrative is not an anti-war account, nor is it particularly visceral description of that terrible, deliberate massacre: it is the story of how a man copes with witnessing such horrors, “the interior trauma loop of a damaged man trying to recount his experience in the age of acceptable civilian losses.”[3]

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Every Dead Thing, a Charlie Parker Digital Diary Commentary.

 

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Every Dead Thing is the first book in the Charlie Parker thriller series by the Irish born author John Connolly. The thriller series follows the former police detective Charlie Parker as he attempts to solve some of the grizzliest and quite often supernatural murders. The first book is based around the murder of Parker’s wife and daughter which leads him to some terrifyingly dark places. Connolly has been described by the Independent as ‘A passionate advocate of crime fiction, he nevertheless kicks constantly against the limitations of his genre: his hard-boiled detective stories are regularly cut with supernatural narratives and literary prose.’[1]

It is Connolly’s influential writing that drew me to his stories, Every Dead Thing is a book that has many twists and turns with unexpected results which make it such a pleasure to read. While his characters don’t conform to what is generally expected of crime books, their profiles are unique and captivating, drawing you further into his writing. This led me to the decision of creating an online diary for Parker that allows me to write new unknown information to coincide with the first book. I found this idea attractive as, ‘Telling the same story from a different point of view, for instance, can create a manifestly different interpretation’ [2]. This project gave me the opportunity to create my own version of what happened behind the scenes of the book, getting into the head of Connolly and his writing style. As explained by Crime Fiction Lover ‘Charlie Parker books all offer solid and original mysteries. He is a PI, after all,’ [3] and this is what I will continue to portray.

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Digital Adaptation: Show Strands

Strands by Jean Sprackland first caught my attention in my Environmental Crisis module where the purity of her place writing transported me to the Ainsdale Sands between Blackpool and Liverpool where she shares a year of discoveries found on its shoreline. The impact of these discoveries drew out several conclusions from me, I found a sense of nostalgia and adventure along with a connectivity to the land and environment and a discoverability of the inhabitants of the ecosystem. When I thought of Strands and how much Sprackland’s discoveries proposed wider, more meaningful questions I realised a digital adaptation could give a reader experiencing Sprackland’s place writing so much more to engage with to enhance their experience.

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Mapping James Bond: Commentary

In his account of James Bond’s cultural impact, Jeremy black writes, “Like his wife’s friend Evelyn Waugh, the author of three travel books, and his own older brother Robert, [Ian] Fleming could have been a successful travel writer.”[1] Fleming drew on his background as a naval intelligence officer, then Foreign Manager for a newspaper group, to feature settings from across the world in his novels. Though Diamonds Are Forever received mixed reviews upon publication in 1956, chiefly for a “…loose-jointed and weakly resolved”[2] narrative, Fleming was praised for his “…fine eye for places”.[3]

Geography plays a key role in Diamonds­ Are Forever. A plot revolving around a diamond smuggling pipeline was the primary justification for a map-based adaptation of the text, though the fact that the text was the first of several of Fleming’s to be adapted as an internationally syndicated comic strip[4] and later a film starring Sean Connery in the lead role[5] initially drew my attention to the idea.

It was my intention when creating http://www.007maps.com to explore the contemporary geopolitics in Diamonds Are Forever through the physical geography Bond traverses. As Franco Moretti notes, ‘quantitative data are useful because they are independent of interpretation; then, that they are interesting because they demand an interpretation’.[6] Plotting the raw data from Bond’s travels – a rendezvous point ‘[in] French Guinea but only about ten miles north of the northernmost tip of Liberia and five miles east of the frontier of Sierra Leone’[7], for instance – on a map, consequently bringing raw data to life in a visual and interactive format, is designed to provide a companion to the text which enables readers to appreciate the context of declining British Imperial power by seeing the locations Bond travels to.

Fleming was born at a time when the British Empire was at the height of its powers, but, according to William Cook, ‘Bond was born just as its power began to wane’.[8] As readers jump from place to place –either by hyperlinks on a mapbox visualisation, or through a chapter-by-chapter analysis in the form of separate WordPress posts – I hope that my approach to adapting Diamonds Are Forever will create a mode of exploring the text which ‘entails changes both in the story and even in the importance of story itself’[9], empowering readers with a new frame of reference which will allow them to read Diamonds Are Forever not only as an entertaining thriller but also an important cultural artefact of Imperial Britain.

 

 

[1] Black, Jeremy The Politics of James Bond: From Fleming’s Novels to the Big Screen. Nebraska: Bison, 2005, p. 25.
[2] Boucher, Anthony ‘Report on Criminals at Large’. The New York Times Book Review, 28 October 1956, p. 263.
[3] Symons, Julian ‘Contemporary Pictures’. The Times Literary Supplement, 27 April 1956, p. 251.
[4] Gammidge, Henry and McLusky, John ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. Daily Express, 12 April 1956.
[5] Diamonds Are Forever. Film. Directed by Guy Hamilton. London: Eon Productions, 1971.
[6] Moretti, Franco Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. New York: Verso, 2007, p.91.
[7] Fleming, Ian Diamonds Are Forever. London: Jonathan Cape, 1956, p.3.
[8] Cook, William ‘Novel Man’. New Statesman, June 2004. [Online] Available from: http://www.newstatesman.com/node/148305 [Accessed 07/05/2015]
[9] Hutcheon, Linda A Theory of Adaptation [Online]. London: Routledge, 2006. Available from: https://www.dawsonera.com/readonline/9780203095010# [Accessed 08/05/2015]

The Book Thief: A Visual Adaption Commentary

The Book Thief is a fiction novel depicting the journey a young orphan, Liesel Meminger, during World War 2. Written by Australian author Markus Zusak the book has won numerous awards and was listed on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks.[1] Janet Maslin of New York Times wrote of The Book Thief ‘It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there’s no arguing with a sentiment like that.’ [2]

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World War II Literature: Holocaust Survivor Stories Commentary

The 27th January 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one of Hitler’s most infamous death camps. Survivors from all over the world joined to commemorate its liberation, with over 300 survivors returning to Auschwitz-Birkenau site for a memorial. Continue reading World War II Literature: Holocaust Survivor Stories Commentary

Walt Whitman & Popular Culture Commentary

‘O Captain! My Captain’ is one of Walt Whitman’s most famous poems. Written in 1865, it is an extended metaphor poem about the death of Abraham Lincoln. Originally published in a pamphlet regarding the American Civil War, it was then added to the fourth edition of Leaves of Grass, a comprehensive collection of Whitman’s poetry in 1867. It has referenced in Dead Poets Society, Family Guy, Doctor Who and the Avengers Assemble TV series among many others.

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Commentary on The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Social Media Adaptation

Carson McCullers is often thought of ‘as somehow frozen into youth’[1] having done most of her work before she was thirty and dying when was fifty. As Kasia Boddy says, ‘[McCullers] did not simply write about female adolescents but wrote with the sensibility of one; forever thirteen…’[2] With this in mind, I thought an adaptation of her first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, would be perfect for social media. Considering the themes of social isolation of the novel, I thought it also tapped in the modern debate of how much social media is affecting social interaction; and whether despite connecting us on a global level, are social media platforms actually socially isolating us more?[3] Having known of the success of last year’s social media adaptation of The Great Gatsby, I was keen to replicate their success.

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Being Prey Commentary

Being Prey is a short, nonfiction text written by Australian environmental activist, feminist, and later, philosophical animist, Val Plumwood. It details her account of canoeing through Kakadu National Park, Australia, in 1985, and being attacked by a saltwater crocodile. Plumwood is also the author of Feminism and the Mastery of Nature[1] and Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason[2]. Professor Deborah Bird Rose, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, wrote of Plumwood, ‘She was one of the great intellects of the late 20th century; she is included in the Routledge publication Fifty Key Thinkers on the Environment, along with Gandhi, Buddha, and others.’[3]

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