Hi nerdfighters. I just blogged on the homepage, defending Romeo and Juliet from a weird little movement trying to strip the play's status as a love story. Crazy nonsense that I did my best to beat up with my brain.
How about you? What book do want to defend from haters? Explain!
I agree with you, and not just because I'm married to you. What kind of characterization do the lovers get? Romeo, you're a teenager. You moon around, marry your worst enemy, put her cousin on ice, flee justice, and do yourself in. Juliet...you know what, except for killing someone and fleeing justice, you're basically a cookie-cutter of Romeo. Congratulations, you're perfect for each other. Seriously, though, neither of them have any character development and depth.
On the whole, though, its not one of the bard's best efforts. I wouldn't say any of the characters have much depth. They're kind of cookie cutters, stock characters you would trot out because you had nothing better.
I prefer Much Ado About Nothing. Give me a heroine with some spine.
Fist, let me just say that Much Ado is definitely my favorite of Shakespeare's comedies. That being said, I don't see what's wrong with the characterization of Romeo and Juliet as teenagers. They are teenagers. Just because their love is ill advised and potentially fleeting had they lived, it doesn't mean that it didn't FEEL any less real to them. There are many different kids of love stories, and the fact that this one is about impulsive, overly-dramatics teens doesn't make the quality of the story any worse. It's just a different story.
I also don't quite understand saying that it's "not a romance." There are other things going on in the story... that's what makes it multi-layered and interesting, but it's also about two people who fall in love. I would even argue that many of the best scenes in the play spout from that relationship. Their meeting at the party, their one morning together as man and wife...
Much Ado About Nothing is awesome.
Still, David, your response is a great example of well-versed but dismissive analysis. Listing everything a character does, separated from motivation and bad fortune, always makes a dramatic story seem ridiculous and arbitrary.
There's no accounting here for the story's artistry, the fact that the lovers' first conversation forms a perfect sonnet, ending in their first kiss. Nothing of the surprising sincerity of Romeo, who, just when Juliet thinks he's trying to get her in bed, asks only for her pledge of devotion.
Nothing of the tightly themed verse, illustrating and bemoaning the brevity of life, that sad hours seem long, and happy times too brief. Read Act III, scene v for a pitch-perfect poem in dialogue about how rotten morning is when it separates lovers.
I'm not arguing that this is anywhere near Shakespeare's best play, only that it is a love story, and one that holds together better than dismissive, counter-pop-culture generalities suggest.
Fair enough; I should reread the play. It's been a while.
When it comes to those who love them and are warning them: the nurse and friar are secret keepers in the romance. Juliet's parents want to marry her off to a much older stranger (are we advocating arranged, political marriages?), and neither Benvolio nor Romeo's parents have any idea that a romance is going on. I just think you might think differently about the play if you gave it another reading/watching. I recommend Zeffirelli's film.
Besides, let's not banish young and foolish lovers from good stories, or we'll lose many of the best.
Now, I'm not sure if the hating of this book is very common, but from browsing the interwebs quite a few times, I have found that many people have a dislike of the book The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. They think that Esther is annoying and whiny and that the quality of the writing is sub-par. I read this when I was 14 and I absolutely loved it. It may just be the fact that Esther is naive, but I found this trait relatable and almost, to a point, endearing. It also may be that these "haters" simply dislike Sylvia. It would be great if someone threw their two-cents in because I am very interested in what anyone has to say, whether you liked the book or not.
This is a hard one. I guess for me, the book I'd have to choose would be All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe. It's a police procedural from Japan, which means that western readers sometimes find it dry, boring, and culturally inaccessible. The entire premise of the story is based off Japanese culture, specifically the "family register" and credit in Japanese society. There's no fights or chases; the detective is on disability and uses a cane as he wanders through several cities, asking questions. That's all he does, ask questions and listen. The story is slow; you don't actually see the killer until the last page, though you've been told about her the whole time. Actually, there's no surprise about the killer; about halfway through, you know she's killed someone, but you don't know why. That's the whole point of the story, and despite the fact that this woman is a sociopath, you kind of start to feel sorry for her by the end. If you want a good police procedural, this is a great book.
I am defending Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. This sequel to Stargirl, in my opinion, shows more of who Stargirl is than the first book, but everyone I've talked to thinks it is too different from the first book and that nothing new or interesting is happening. I find Stargirl's life without Leo to be more raw. The focus on her out-of-school life is great because we see more of her adventures. I also like how she develops relationships with Dootsie, Betty Lou Fern, and Alvina, rather than only helping strangers. Love, Stargirl, in my opinion, is superior to Stargirl.
I'd quite like to defend Just in Case by Meg Rosoff. Most people I've talked to either love it completely or completely hate it. I'll give that it is kind of... trippy. Personally, I found the narration with its one foot set in unreality quite enchanting but I suppose it left many people confused. When something seems to derail into dream-land, I don't want to look at it in terms of what is really going on (figments of the imagination etc) and looking at Just in Case like that just doesn't work. I think it's better to just let the whole thing just occupy its own space and not be bothered by the outside world because it is the weird imaginings that make Justin such a lovable character and show his relationships with Agnes, Peter and Dorothea on a deeper level than just the dialogue and actions.
I'm not sure I phrased that quite right, but if anyone has read the book it'd be nice to hear what they think.