6 Degrees of Separation – August 2017

Well, how could I resist when the link this month starts with Pride and Prejudice? This is a lovely bookish idea of free-associating books based upon one common initial link, as featured here by Kate. She even has board games based on Jane Austen characters – I am SO envious!

 

  1. I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, and in my 20s used to reread all of her novels every year. My favourite, however, is Persuasion, which I reread recently and which did not disappoint me
  2. Rupert Penry Jones played Captain Wentworth in the TV adaptation of Persuasion (which I haven’t watched), but I have watched him playing Richard Hannay in a new TV film version of The 39 Steps by John Buchan. This is the only book by Buchan that I have read, although apparently he was a very popular spy thriller writer back in the 1920s/30s, as well as a politician. So I can’t help wondering how much of his intimate knowledge of political manoeuvring found its way into his books!

 

 

 

 

  1. Another politician turned writer was Benjamin Disraeli. He was that unusual combination, a Conservative who actually cared about the poor, and in his most famous novel Sybil or The Two Nations, he shows the plight of the working classes being exploited by greedy industrialists.
  2. A little later, in the States, John Dos Passos also worried about the direction that US economy and politics were taking in the 1930s. In the last volume of his USA trilogy, The Big Money, he shows how both the American Dream and the Communist ideal are false, that only the unscrupulous succeed, while most are destroyed and crushed by wild capitalism.
  3. Boris Pasternak also initially believed in the Communist ideals, but soon grew disenchanted. Although his poetry and translations were initially very popular under the new regime, he became a persona non grata and only narrowly escaped the Stalinist purges. His best-known work Doctor Zhivago was not published in Russia until after his death and he was forced to turn down the Nobel Literature Prize. The novel is first and foremost a love story against the backdrop of the October revolution and the ensuing civil war, so it is surprising to me that it was banned at all. But the depiction of the civil war did not follow the official party line, I suppose.
  4. A big skip in time and geography for my last book, which was also initially banned in the author’s own country (not for political reasons, but for its explicit sexual content). It’s The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien, about two convent-educated girls learning to make their way in life in the repressive 1950s Irish society.

 

My journey has taken me throughout England in the early and mid 19th century, as well as the early 20th century, to the United States, Ireland and Russia. Apologies, but somehow the light-hearted Pride and Prejudice took me to some very dark places and associations. I will try to be more light-hearted next time I take part!

 

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30 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation – August 2017”

    1. There’s a lot of love for Persuasion in my Twitter timeline. I read The Country Girls a long time ago, and it probably is quite time by today’s standards, but it was revolutionary at the time!

    1. You can’t go wrong with a good bit of Austen. I had forgotten it was today, but when I started reading all those other clever posts, I could not resist…

  1. Really enjoying the diverse directions the coveted P&P is taking everyone today… do love your political & geographical route. Made a note to have a go in September🙂

  2. The Country Girls is indeed tame by today’s standards but in Ireland it was so incendiary O’Brien was forced to attend a meeting of the community to explain herself . They didn’t accept her stance so banned the book

  3. This one ranges far and wide. Delighted to see a mention of Dos Passos whose door-stopping USA is a superb piece of writing. I’m afraid Rupert Penry Jones will forever be Adam from Spooks for me…

    1. He looks very much like a former workmate of mine – at least before the latter lost his hair, so it is quite funny to see him in films. And I agree with you about Dos Passos – am tempted to reread him, if only I had the time!

      1. He also looks a tiny bit like my partner although a few years ago now! I know what you mean about time. I’ve thought about pulling it off the shelve but the size is a wee bit intimidating.

  4. I’m deeply jealous of Kate’s board game too! Did you enjoy the Disraeli? I’ve often been tempted to give his fiction a try but feared it might be awfully worthy…

    1. Enjoy is not quite the word to use with Disraeli – he is a bit worthy in Sybil – and his characters are rather flat, existing more as a means of making his political point. I haven’t read his earlier work, which apparently is more salacious and lively.

    1. Persuasion is also my favourite JA. I love the movie with Amanda Roots and Ciaran Hinds.
      And I LOOOOOOVE Dr Zhivago.

      The comment about Spooks intrigued me enough to google it. I was enthralled/appalled/frightened out of my wits by the first season of Spooks (& a little in love with Matthew Macfadyen I confess). But the shows habit of killing off main characters saw my interest dwindle by the end of season 2. But the good thing about my google was that it showed me that there was a Spooks movie – starring none less that Kit Harrington (you know nothing Jon Snow!)

      Was it any good?

      1. I haven’t watched the Spooks movie and gave up on the TV series round about the same time you did. And now I want to watch the Persuasion movie…

  5. Great chain. I love how 6 Degrees works. Every time I follow someone’s chain I make a link in my mind to where each link would take me. It rarely takes me in the same direction as the blogger and never to the same book.

  6. I continue to be surprised and delighted by the diversity of links! Who would have thought that Pride and Prejudice would lead to The Big Money and then back to Doctor Zhivago! Congrats!

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