Archive for the ‘victorian’ category

Hollywood vs. Lewis Carroll with “Alice in Wonderland”

March 12, 2010

Tim Burton’s extension of Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic, Alice in Wonderland, is sweeping across theatres and garnering rave reviews. It certainly did catch our attention too, and made me wonder about the link of influences upon artists.

Lewis Carroll has traditionally been a major influence within the English-speaking world, no doubt because in some way or another, we have all encountered his works from an early age. Even Queen Victoria was a fan! But by far, it was Alice in Wonderland that garnered the most attention across the board, ranging from Tolkien to Bette Middler.

Carroll wrote during the mid-1800s, but his work was so fantastical that even now in 2010, it remains timeless and accessible. His influence on Tim Burton is quite plain to see in Burton’s latest blockbuster, which casts Alice as a grown-up version of herself. Joining Tim Burton is music composer Danny Elfman, who he commonly collaborates with, as well as actors Johnny Depp (in which will now be his seventh film with Burton) and Helena Bonham-Carter (Burton’s romantic partner whom he now has a son with), who has also worked in a numer of Burton’s films. The influence on each other is constant, each artist feeding off the other’s works. Ultimately, it remains to be seen what future spark of inspiration this latest vision of Alice might create in someone else.

Want to know more? Visit the infloox site to see how many other inter-artist connections you can find.

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Charles Dickens, Christmas and the power of connectedness

December 23, 2009

I recently came across an article online that talked about our social networks and how incredibly influential the people around you are, even if you don’t realise it. Here at Infloox, this is exactly what we focus on,  bringing these connections to light. More so, we dissect the influence of books (and even music!) on people, since these works stay around long after the creator has passed on.

Since Christmas is right around the corner, let’s take a look at Charles Dickens and his beloved classic, A Christmas Carol. Originally published quickly in 1843 to cover the expenses of his wife’s fifth pregnancy, the book went on to become one of Dickens’ most well-known tales. So much so, that it is this work that made the common phrase “Merry Christmas” popular in modern culture, as well as the term “Scrooge” to mean a miser and the catchphrase, “Bah Humbug!”. One historian even claimed that, “the current state of the observance of Christmas is largely the result of a mid-Victorian revival of the holiday spearheaded by A Christmas Carol.”

But where did Dickens himself derive the inspiration and influences to come up with such a unique story? As with many authors, a large part of it can be attributed to the books and stories Dickens read as a child. Even something as far removed as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Robinson Crusoe made its way in, as he brought in that influence in the beginning of his story. We learn that in Victorian times, pantomimes were extremely popular, and Dickens refers directly to this in his Christmas story.

For aspiring writers, take a good look at the books on your bookshelf, because chances are those very ones will somehow work their way into your own writing. Perhaps it might be subconscious, or other times deliberate, but as we can see, it isn’t only our social networks that guide and shape the way we develop, but also works of literature, no matter how old or new.

This year’s publishing sensation – fairytales do happen

October 15, 2009

Although Audrey Niffenegger had originally published her first novel in 2003, she has found a whole new wave of fans this year following a movie adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Originally an artist and a professor, Niffenegger had an idea to create a graphic novel that portrayed the tale of a simple man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel, and his wife who has to deal with his frequent and sometimes dangerous disappearances. While thinking about it, Niffeneger realised that it was tough to convey time travel through images, and decided to write it as a novel instead. The inital release was relatively small, but once the book was mentioned and endorsed by a fellow author and family friend on The Today Show, Niffenegger’s name soared on the bestseller lists. It wasn’t long before the film production company owned by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston picked up the rights to adapt the novel for the big screen.

So where does an artist derives enough literary influence from in order to create such a massively bestselling first novel? It seems that the answer is actually quite varied. Amongst her favourites, Niffenegger names Tolkien, Poe and Anne Rice as a few that she constantly returns to over the years. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series is a delight for her “essentially atheist nature,” while authors like Richard Powers and Dorothy L. Sayers were crucial in influencing The Time Traveler’s Wife. More recently, Niffenegger has been working on a second novel, titled Her Fearful Symmetry. Set in the Victorian era, Niffenegger is grateful to the author Henry James, a key figure in 19th century literature.  Read more about Niffenegger’s writing style and influences on Infloox.

The Picture of Dorian Grey movie adaptation

September 27, 2009

The beloved literary classic, The Picture of Dorian Grey, is getting a facelift on the silverscreen! Oscar Wilde fans can expect a September ’09 UK release, with the North American date following shortly. A dark and moody gothic horror story, it stars Colin Firth, Ben Barnes and Macaulay Culkin.

The story tells the tale of a young man, the title character, who was the subject of a painting by the artist Basil Hallward. Hallward becomes more and more infatuted with Dorian Grey, believing that he is his muse. Through Hallward, Grey meets Lord Henry, who impresses him with a new lifestyle of hedonism and beauty. Realising that his good looks will someday fade, Grey is granted a wish that his looks will remain unspoiled, while only his image in Hallward’s painting will age. As his wish is fulfilled, Grey continues to become entrenched in debauched acts; each act is portrayed as a new disfigurement in the painting of Grey.

Although Oscar Wilde gained high recognition and popularity as an author, Dorian Grey was actually his only published novel. His other work was comprised of short stories, plays and poems. While he was one of the most successful playwrights of the Victorian era, he also created much controversy due to his mentions and convictions of homosexuality. His circle of influence was wide, as he befriended a number of poets, authors and playwrights such as Lord Alfred Douglas, Walt Whitman, Lionel Johnson and several others. In addition, plenty of musicians and composers have also claimed Wilde as an influence upon their music. Visit Infloox to read more about Oscar Wilde and watch the movie trailer below:

Today in Literature – Aug 4

August 4, 2009

Today is a big day for literature history!

The much-celebrated English romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley was born, in 1792. Later in life, Shelley married Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, (incidentally covered in our blog a few posts ago!), also known as the famed author, Mary Shelley. At the height of his career, Percy Shelley churned out a number of major poems, plays and even Gothic novels. He had such a massive impact upon the literary world that years later, even Ghandi proved this influence when he chose to read from Shelley’s political poem “The Masque of Anarchy” at demonstrations.  Head over to infloox for a more in-depth look.

Fast forward to 1944: Also on August 4th, on a much more sobering note, 15-year-old Anne Frank was captured by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp. However, her precious diaries became her legacy, giving the entire world an intimately personal peek into life as a Jew during the war.  Upon its publication by her father in 1947, The Diary of Anne Frank became an instant bestseller.

Today in Lit – July 28

July 28, 2009

Going back to 1814 today, the poet Percy Shelley eloped with a girl just 17 years old, named Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Why do we remember this? Well, it just so happened that they Shelleys were good friends with a certain Lord Byron. As it happens, one day they challenged each other to each write a fantastic ghost story. Mary was actually the only one in the group to complete her story, creating a fearsome character we have made infamous decades later: Frankenstein!

Now, if you’re wondering how a gentle woman like Shelley could come up with such a monster, we merely need to look at her

influences. The most obvious was a scientist, Johann Konrad Dippel. Before his death, Dippel had made plans to purchase an old castle in Germany named Castle Frankenstein. The work that

Dippel carried out included reviving still hearts, which to Mary might have seemed like bringing back the dead! Read more about it here.