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Going to start posting some of my old literature essays on here…I actually loved writing them, I miss them, and who knows, they might even be useful to someone or another! :S 

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The Best Anecdotes Featuring Oscar Wilde

Interesting Literature

It’s Oscar Wilde’s birthday today – he was born on 16 October 1854 – so in honour of this, we’ve compiled some of our favourite anecdotes featuring the great author and wit. Wilde is probably known for his conversation as much as for his literary works. Here are some of the funniest and most thought-provoking stories featuring the man who, as well as being a great wit, was also often rather wise, too (and as the etymologies of the words suggest, the two are not unrelated).

The most famous anecdote involving Wilde concerns his arrival in the United States in the 1880s, when he was already a known figure in England – part of the reason for his trip to America was to promote the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Patience, which mocked the kind of dandy aesthete embodied by Wilde – but he was known for his flamboyant behaviour…

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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RATING: 4/5

BLURB: “Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more fun, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect in Lola’s world, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend. That is, until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt and anguish that Lola thought was long buried. When talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life , she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.”

REVIEW: I feel I should start by saying that I absolutely loved Perkins’ teen fiction debut, ‘Anna and the French Kiss’, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interweaving of the two novels, with Anna and Etienne also becoming part of Lola’s world and her story. I perhaps did not enjoy reading ‘Lola…’ quite as much, purely and simply because I found the character of Lola harder to relate to than Anna, due to the different personas she adopts through costume. Lola is a fun, witty and endearing character with a unique individuality that makes for fascinating reading. The novel also addresses some issues of gay rights with the introduction of Lola’s two fathers, a married couple, and her flaky and irresponsible mother, which added an enjoyable and relevant dimension to the novel. Although it is clear from the start that it is only a matter of time before Lola and Cricket realise their feelings for each other, the added complications of Max, Lola’s boyfriend, and the interference of Cricket’s ice-skating champion sister Calliope make for a gripping and exciting read. The ending left me with a massive smile on my face for some hours to come, and provided some real light relief from all my heavy uni texts! I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to romantics everywhere. 

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Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav

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RATING: 5/5

BLURB: (this book, as a collection of poetry, doesn’t really have a blurb, so I’ll choose one of my favourite poems from the collection instead)

“There is a love I reminisce,

like a seed

I’ve never sown.

 

Of lips that I am yet to kiss,

and eyes

Not met my own.

 

Hands that wrap around my wrists,

and arms

that feel like home.

 

I wonder how it is I miss,

these things

I’ve never known” – A Stranger

REVIEW: I cannot say enough wonderful things about this poet. I discovered Lang Leav through Tumblr and bought her book as I gradually discovered that many of her poems beautifully conveyed things I myself have felt or feared. Leav’s poetry is witty, memorable and cuts right to the core of the problems faced by many young women today, allowing the reader to feel an increasing sense that they are not alone. I love Leav’s poetry, and find it really helps on those down days when no words can express what we are feeling.

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Black Dogs by Ian McEwan

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RATING: 3/5

BLURB: “In 1946, a young couple set off on their honeymoon. Fired by their ideals and passion for one another, they plan an idyllic holiday, only to encounter an experience of darkness so terrifying it alters their lives forever”

REVIEW: I have read a number of McEwan’s books over the past few years after my love affair with his most famous work of fiction, ‘Atonement’ (which, by the way, I would still count as his best work and one of my favourite novels), but none of the previous have been anything like ‘Black Dogs’. As you can see, the blurb gives nothing away, and the title is mysterious, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the setting – the novel takes place in the final years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, with one of the key events being the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. As this is one of my favourite historical periods, I was intrigued to see how McEwan might work with such a deep and complex setting. As usual, his writing has a flow and preciseness that sharpens focus and allows the reader to become fully absorbed in the work. The story itself, however, is relatively simple, if a little unusual. Jeremy, the protagonist, decides to tell the story of his recently deceased mother-in-law, June, whose husband Bernard still has complicated feelings about her and, in particular, an event she claims to have experienced during their honeymoon involving two vicious black dogs. The book tells the story of Jeremy attempting to uncover the truth about the elusive June, with events such as a trip to Berlin to witness the newly reunited Germany forming an interesting and enlightening backdrop to the narrative. The main focus for the reader is to find out what happened with the ‘Black Dogs’; the story is hinted at but not discussed until very near to the close of what is, admittedly, a very short novel. Although shocking and disturbing, and even causing a shiver up the spine, the story could be explored so much further, and I feel that although reserving answers is an oft-used tactic of McEwan’s, in this case it has been taken to extremes and somewhat sours the ending of what is otherwise an excellently constructed, well-written and absorbing book.