‘Slang is a subject that provokes strong emotions. If you use slang, you run the risk of being judged crass, uneducated, stupid, or hopelessly out of date, but the rewards are great: used correctly, slang will ease your entry into the social circles you want to mix in, increase your attractiveness to the opposite sex, and even save your life.’ – The Life of Slang
This survey has been created in conjunction with the upcoming publication of Julie Coleman’s new book, The Life of Slang (Oxford University Press, March 2012). We’d love to hear from you on how you use slang in your everyday lives, and we’ll be reporting back to you on the OxfordWords blog on our findings.By entering this survey you could also be in with a chance to win a signed copy of The Life of Slang and an Apple iPod Shuffle 1GB. You’ll find more details on the competition at the end of the survey.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Yes, I liked the story. Guy meets girl, fall in love, face some kind of adversity, fall in love all over again, live a fairytale life, twinge on the heartstrings at the end.
But - The Notebook is incredibly poorly written. I may be cynical, but considering many of Nicholas Sparks’ other books (which I haven’t read) have been turned into films, I imagine that Sparks’ goal when writing this was to get a film made of it - whilst picking up the profits of a novel along the way.
Each scene is described blandly; the prose is little more than shoddily-disguised stage directions. (‘The thunder boomed loudly. Her shirt was see-through. He looked at her damp skin. She saw him look. They sat in front of the fire. They touched. They had sex. They had sex again. And again. They went to bed.’)
The disappointing thing is that there was plenty of room for this novel to expand into something much more impressive. Did the war have any psychological impact on Noah? No, it seems; the war served the purpose of filling the blank years necessary before the lovers reunite against the odds. What was Allie’s relationship really like with Lon? How did she really deal with the internal conflict of loving two people simultaneously? Again, Lon is nothing more than a plot device. Ditto for Allie’s mother, with her walk-on walk-off role.
I’m not saying that The Notebook isn’t a good story - read it if you want to spend two hours reading something gooey instead of watching something gooey. Just be prepared that this doesn’t have any literary pretensions whatsoever, nor any real claim on being a novel. It’s a means to an end, and that end is a crowd-pleasing, chart-topping chick flick.
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Some very hastily written notes on Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier…
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
[If I don’t write in note form, I’ll probably never get round to writing anything, so sorry about that!]
Absolutely bloody amazing.
Everyone has a Rebecca in their lives at some point; a nearly-entirely self-constructed ideal with which we compare and berate ourselves.
‘Rebecca’ has a great plot, particularly as it picks up pace and becomes increasingly intricate towards the end, but the psychology of the second Mrs de Winter is what fascinates the most.
- Mirroring and juxtaposition between Rebecca and the unnamed narrator
- Narrator lacks the self-assertion to even reveal her name (I was partly expecting she might divulge her first name once she thinks she has triumphed over Rebecca, but then as the ending shows, perhaps she doesn’t after all…)
- The ‘madwoman in the attic’ trope (Jane Eyre…)
- I haven’t counted it up, but I would guess half or more of the narrator’s musings are daydreams, projections, or dreams themselves (i.e the first chapter) - she lives very much within the confines of her mind, and is restrained by the barriers this constructs.
- Her desperation for patriarchal validation leads her to forego any moral compass she may previously have acted by
- Her attitude towards Rebecca, and her lack of self-belief or autonomy, never actually changes - and therefore neither does her marriage or her life (her situation as foretold in the opening chapters is not so different to her situation with Mrs Van Hopper)
I must add this to a ‘to-reread’ list for a couple of years time; with the knowledge of how it ends, it will be fascinating to look at exactly how much of the narrator’s torment is self-inflicted.
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