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2015 Summer Reading

posted May 15, 2015, 8:38 AM by Mr Lundberg   [ updated May 31, 2016, 10:55 AM ]
Both of these works must be read in their entirety when you come back in August. Expect a Socratic Seminar or two (with the possibility of a more traditional reading-check test) to defend your reader-ly honor! 

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
V for Vendetta
by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
Good evening, Dallas. It's an unspecified time as you read, and this is The Voice of Fate (or just Mr. Lundberg)...

The letter 'V' has been appropriated for many things, most memorably "V for Victory" during World War II, but never quite as obsessively as in this graphic novel (one can't escape the omnipresent 'V' even in the chapter titles) and the movie based upon it. In addition to leaping across the border of motif and landing squarely in the land of all-out-obsession, V's introduction as he first emerges in the movie is also a suitable introduction to the novel: "Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V."

If you're thinking about watching the movie instead of reading: don't. Watch the movie and read the book: the book does most things better than the movie (including V's television address starting on page 112), and yet the Wachowski brothers' screenplay includes a fantastic supplement. Obviously the format of this novel is important in discussions of style and meaning. Expect to discuss ideas like justice vs. freedom, the formation of identity, the illusion of security, the roles and rights of citizens, and more. 

England Prevails.

Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley
[Invocation of the Muse, er, goddess, er, Saint] I, Mr. Lundberg, a teacher somewhat cultivated and somewhat faithful and despicable to many, appeal to Saint Brigit, goddess of this novel. I pray that the guardian of this book will give me truthful and bold words...

In the aftermath of Christendom's expansion, Christianity attempted to purge a series of heresies, and many pagans found themselves trying to follow a new and unfamiliar religion. In this confessional-style novel, one such nascent nun records her spiritual/emotional journey in sixth-century Ireland.

The events in the book are not fantastic, but they are beautifully written, and are bound to make you think about what is being gained and what is being lost during this time of change. Just as The Canterbury Tales was one of the first important texts to be written in native Middle English (at that time, it was primarily an oral language of the common people; French and Latin were the literary flavor of the moment), Confessions of a Pagan Nun was boldly "written" in Gaelic. The book's "Translator's Note" tells us that our narrator's "tone was greatly shaped by the Gaelic tendency toward poetic imagery and emotional revelation" (x). In other words: this book weaves the journey of its narrator-protagonist with intensely alluring language. It is short and hard to put down once you take the plunge.

Expect to discuss ideas like appearance vs. reality, the importance of language, subversion of authority, the effects of forced and dogmatic conversions, and more. 

The answer is always silence.