Monday, August 24, 2015

The African Queen by C. S. Forester (1935)

Well the movie has a substantially better ending than the book.
But Rose is a much stronger woman in the book, has lots of internal dialog, and the narrator adds much more too than in the movie, thus making her far more interesting.
Actually Kate could have played her just as written, she had played many strong and resourceful women, but I guess the producers wanted a more post war "wife"?  But you can always tell when you are in the middle of a John Houston movie; it just moves from scene to scene; not a minute wasted. Bogart is amazing; his facial expressions are brilliant!

I think we have to remember that writing in the 30's was beginning to experiment a little more on the racy side; and so the character became something that would have been unthinkable in the previous century.

When finally on her own out from under the men of her own family Rose comes into her own for the first time in her life. She however understands how men work and how to manipulate them too. Charlie is a man that needs a mission, direction, and a goal, that's all. He is a capable man that can make, fix, & repair anything. In the 30's he would be the equivalent of today's twenty something that can do anything with any media devise.

Got this cool 1st ed. from Abe.

This was my first Forester foray, and I have to say that it seems like he simply got tired at the end and threw the manuscript on the floor, "done." Without the brilliance of the movie ending it is a let-down. The reading is quick and easy and makes a great companion to the movie.

Passages I like:

Forester describes Rose' approach to the next rapid. "where the hand had to be steady and strong and subtle and the will resolute."

Rose' take on "men." "She could not conceive of a man finding anything impossible in his world, as long as he was not bothered, and given plenty to eat."

The naivete of Rose is described as such: "She did not yet know she could scold; she had never tasted the sweet delights of giving rein to ill temper."

 Here we get Forester's German jab: "Allnutt's contact with the German nation had been unfortunate; the Germnas were a race it was easy to hate if hatred came easily, as it did in those days."

Forester is writing while looking directly into the teeth of the Nazi raise to power.

Monday, August 10, 2015

An Outcast of the Islands by Joseph Conrad, (1896)

An Outcast of the Islands starts out slowly, I waited and waited for the story to pick up the pace and about a 3rd of the way thru it really started steaming along. At first I thought I was reading Victory or Lord Jim over again until it took on a life of it's own. I think that this, of the 4 Conards I've read is by far the most "Descriptive" in writing. He has whole pages devoted to a few seconds in real time, as well as pages devoted to a single human emotion, belief, or status. This book more so than the others dives deep into each character not once but several times; each time we get a look into the rational for the their latest actions.

I see Willams as an opportunistic thief with little forethought as to either the long or short term effects of his actions have on others. Like an addict he blames anyone else for his own misdeeds.
Many of Conrad's characters are familiar; a big tough guy afraid of no one, a clever opportunist looking to make a fast lot of money, and the subservient Women.

I am certainly getting the Conrad view of the world; a world that has the EuroWhites (those who are the type to go out "There" and Take) dominating the world. As I see it the type of person with this desire is the very person that posses the insatiable appetite for riches as Conrad describes them. This then is the singular type of person that "represented" EuroWhite to the rest of the world; the greedy, impatient, lawless type.

Passages that I like:

Comparing the Sea to a Women:
Like a beautiful and unscrupulous woman, the sea of the past was glorious in its smiles, irresistible in its anger, capricious, enticing, illogical, irresponsible; a thing to love, a thing to fear. It cast a spell, it gave joy, it lulled gently into boundless faith; then with quick and causeless anger it killed.

 An interesting take on fatalism:
  Fatalism is born of the fear of failure, for we all believe that we carry success in our own hands, and we suspect that our hands are weak.

Powerful men in a lawless world:
He had removed an enemy once or twice before, out of his path; he had paid off some very heavy scores a good many times. Captain Tom had been a good friend to many: but it was generally understood, from Honolulu round about to Diego Suarez, that Captain Tom's enmity was rather more than any man single-handed could easily manage. He would not, as he said often, hurt a fly as long as the fly left him alone; yet a man does not live for years beyond the pale of civilized laws without evolving for himself some queer notions of justice. Nobody of those he knew had ever cared to point out to him the errors of his conceptions. 

The fate of so many:
He would be dead. He would be stretched upon the warm moisture of the ground, feeling nothing, seeing nothing, knowing nothing; he would lie stiff, passive, rotting slowly; while over him, under him, through him—unopposed, busy, hurried—the endless and minute throngs of insects, little shining monsters of repulsive shapes, with horns, with claws, with pincers, would swarm in streams, in rushes, in eager struggle for his body; would swarm countless, persistent, ferocious and greedy—till there would remain nothing but the white gleam of bleaching bones in the long grass; in the long grass that would shoot its feathery heads between the bare and polished ribs. There would be that only left of him; nobody would miss him; no one would remember him.