Mr. Holmes, a film set decades into the retirement of renown sleuth Sherlock Holmes, and starring Ian McKellen in the lead role, is one I’ve been looking forward to for months. Well, not long to wait now.
For instance, Professor Moriarty only features in three of the sixty “Sherlock Holmes” titles written by Arthur Conan Doyle. It somehow seems like more, though Moriarty does appear quite frequently in Holmes novels penned by other authors.
And then there’s the well known line “Elementary, my dear Watson”, which didn’t actually feature in Doyle’s writings at all. A little like “Beam me up, Scotty”, though I’ve known that a long time.
So Lorna and I came up with a plan. I would, for a four-week period, ruthlessly clear my diary and go on what we somewhat mysteriously called a “Crash”. During the Crash, I would do nothing but write from 9am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday. I’d get one hour off for lunch and two for dinner. I’d not see, let alone answer, any mail, and would not go near the phone. No one would come to the house. Lorna, despite her own busy schedule, would for this period do my share of the cooking and housework. In this way, so we hoped, I’d not only complete more work quantitively, but reach a mental state in which my fictional world was more real to me than the actual one.
I’ve not yet read the book, but if the James Ivory, Ismail Merchant, film adaptation is anything to go by, the strategy more than paid off.
It is widely assumed that the work of many fiction writers is in some way autobiographical, or based, in part at least, on their personal experience. Why then go to sometimes elaborate lengths to disguise their writing as fiction?
Eager to find a form of expression for ideas or feelings that would upset a status quo we are all heavily invested in, writers have often invented stories quite different from their own biographies or from the political situation in which they find themselves, but that nevertheless reconstitute the play of forces, the dilemmas and conundrums behind their own preoccupations.
So there’s some actual doubt, I’d say. You never know how useful that might be one day.
Not only will you be treated to a gripping yarn when you read the “Harry Potter” books, you may also emerge a better person, says a study that found readers of the saga tended to become more empathic by the time they had read through the series:
For decades it’s been known that an effective means of improving negative attitudes and prejudices between differing groups of people is through intergroup contact – particularly through contact between “in-groups,” or a social group to which someone identifies, and “out-groups,” or a group they don’t identify with or perceive as threatening. Even reading short stories about friendship between in- and out-group characters is enough to improve attitudes toward stigmatized groups in children.
By applying a differing interpretation to the prophecy that either Harry Potter, or his nemesis Voldemort, must kill the other in order to survive, could mean that the only one way either can actually die, is to be killed by the other.
As we know one did in fact kill the other (I’ll refrain from giving away the ending away on the off chance you still don’t know what happened…), meaning the survivor is now immortal. Well, that’s one take on the wording of prophecy in any event.
I’m really out of touch with superheroes these days, and there’d be a dozen, maybe two dozen characters, that I could think of. Yet as this chart of superheroes, and their often diverse range of superpowers shows, there’s probably enough to populate a small town.
“Fahrenheit 451”, is a novel by late US author Ray Bradbury, written in 1953, and set at a point in the future were books have been outlawed, and burned if discovered by the authorities… what a bleak prospect.
James Bond is a pedant at the morning meal (“his favourite meal of the day”). His routine when stationed in London, as detailed in From Russia with Love, always comprises “very strong coffee from De Bry in New Oxford Street, brewed in an American Chemex, of which he drank two large cups, black and without sugar”. Foodwise it is a speckled brown egg from a French Marans hen, boiled for exactly three and a third minutes (“it amused him to think there was such a thing as a perfect boiled egg”). It is always served with wholewheat toast and a selection of preserves and a “pat of deep yellow Jersey butter”. Such fussiness conceals a deadlier truth. “I know all about you,” Miranda Frost warns him in the most memorable line of Die Another Day. “Sex for dinner, death for breakfast. Well, it’s not going to work with me.”