Category Archives: Impact Of Literature

Discount Harry Potter Books: Audio, Online For Sale

Before the rise of Harry Potter books, there was not a whole lot of excitement in the world of children’s literature. Parents and teachers would beg children to read their daily amounts for school. Today children are begging to stay up all night and read the newest Harry Potter books. Parents wait in line for hours in order to be the first to get the newest release at midnight.

Book stores are having sleepovers to honor the book series. So, what happened? How did the world go from non-interesting, uninspiring children’s books to the billion-dollar machine of Harry Potter books?

J.K. Rowling began the story of Harry on a train years before she finished the first book in the coffee shops of London. Unemployed at the time, she wrote “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in between nap times, while single-handedly caring for her daughter. The first of the Harry Potter books was published in 1997, and the craze began.

The Harry Potter books are based on the life of a young boy wizard and his classmates as they attend a school for wizards. The series begins with Harry Potter living with his Aunt and Uncle in London. Harry Potter is not treated nicely in his home and longs for a way out. This way out comes in the form of a mysterious letter from a place called Hogwarts. Harry’s special powers, that he soon finds to be magical, get him introduced into a world of witchcraft and wizardry that he could have only imagined. He begins school at Hogwarts soon after his eleventh birthday, and the Harry Potter books tells of his trials through eight years of Hogwarts.

Since 1997, Rowling has published six of the seven Harry Potter books. The quick releases of the second, third, and fourth books kept Harry Potter books at the center of fans’ minds. Books from the series including “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” broke sales records – each selling at least 12 million copies, making J.K. Rowling the richest writer in literary history.

Harry Potter books are written in 63 languages.
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A person looking for Harry Potter books for sale would be hard pressed to not find one, as they are literally in nearly every country in the world. The popularity of the books can be attributed to word of mouth praise; however, the series seemed to catch a second wind of success when it was added to the list of banned books because of its witchcraft focus. The fifth book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” sold 14.3 million copies – nearly as many as the first book. In spite of the ban, Harry Potter books continue to be best selling books.

Harry Potter books online are at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Scholastic, and most book retailer websites worldwide. The soft cover Harry Potter books are around $10, while the hard cover is $20. The final book, which will be released in July 2007, will likely cost $27-29 for the first weeks, as all others have when newly released. Harry Potter books online can be pre-ordered at Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble.

Not long after the release of the sixth book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” Harry Potter audio books were made available through iTunes. The release of audio books was made in an effort to quell illegal audio and text downloads of the book series. Surprisingly, Stephen Fry voices all of the characters for the Harry Potter audio books, which are available in CD, cassette, and digital format for about $35 each. Harry Potter audio books made Stephen Fry a household name with the eight and under crowd, but the world knew him before Harry Potter as a prominent BBC writer, novelist, and movie actor.

The big question is what will take the place of Harry Potter books once his story is complete? Within such a short span of time, Harry Potter books have changed the culture of children and adults. Rather than begging for TV or video game time, children begging for reading time. Sometime in 2007, the seventh and final Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Death Hallows,” will be released. Millions of people will be waiting for the modern golden ticket into the final chapters of Cowling’s exceptional world.

Sources:
Harry Potter. Wikipedia. 23 Jan. 2007. 23: Jan. 2007 .
J.K Rowling Official Site. 2006. Warner Bros. Ent. 23 Jan. 2007 .

Censorship And Classic Banned Books

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. And even the recent popular culture phenomenon, the Harry Potter series.

All of these seemingly-unrelated books share a common thread; each has been banned or challenged by conservative literary activists and professional educators.

Each of these significant cultural works metaphorically transcends the written word on a page and respectively represents a different America: one faced with the ugly dehumanization of slavery, a post-bellum country continuing to brutalize their impoverished minorities and a wealthy country recently taking a liking to imaginative coming-of-age epics.

In fact, nearly half of the top ten most-challenged pieces of literature are tenants on the list of primary works of literary art. Including the aforementioned texts, the American Library Association’s Web site lists John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men as another text historically experiencing a barrage of worry and censorship attempts in certain schools and libraries.

Other works suffering separate, but similar, moral criticism includes James Joyce’s Ulysses, Walt Whitman’s collection of poetry Leaves of Grass and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

When advocates for book censorship deem a certain text inappropriate for younger audiences, the conflict becomes a fight against the right to free speech. Freedom of speech, some claim, is as purely and explicitly American as its flag. Others stand beside a strict, conservative moral code, which is implicitly American as well. Those in favor of banning certain books often find these written displays of immorality and promiscuity challenging to the traditional social mores and potentially compromising to their personal values.

The opponents of book banning and censorship contend the action is a direct and blatant violation against the freedom of speech. The result of these two sides is a muddled argument of personal rights versus collective social morality.

In 2005, according to the American Library Association, over half of the most-challenged books deal with sexual themes, including 20th century classics like The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings faced heated debates due to its use of incest within the narrative as well as its profane language. Recently, scholars and critics have argued J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series persuades children to sinfully indulge themselves in black magic and devil worshiping. Opponents of Twain’s still widely-read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are sensitive to Twain’s heavy use of the word nigger and Finn’s lack of moral development throughout this American picaresque novel.

Whether people are advocates for keeping certain books in an uncensored format or banning them, their inability to sit quietly in their corners rightfully exists in a country where intelligent and respectful disagreements are encouraged.

Many major texts have undergone some amount of disapproval and debate; even the Bible’s place in libraries and schools has been vehemently argued about. In a country with a countless number of varying belief and value systems, a book is bound to experience welcoming acceptances as well as bitter reproaches from the world of academia and the general reading population.

The American Library Association continues to fight against book banning and censorship by organizing and instituting Banned Book Week in the last week of September. During this weeklong celebration, the ALA urges people to read historically banned books, utilizing their own discretion and encouraging the right to free speech.

Books are a powerful medium. As we learn in his powerful autobiography, reading permitted the once-enslaved Frederick Douglass to become a free man. While banning books and censorship does compromise the right to the freedom of speech, its value becomes apparent in the American culture’s redefining of right and wrong, good and bad and artistic and unartistic.

Lost In Translation: Book To Film Adaptations

William Shakespeare, perhaps surprisingly, was a literary thief. So were novelists James Joyce and Mark Twain. With a rise in the popularity of movies during the 20th century, film directors and screenwriters also are borrowing examples from literature to create their movies’ plots and characters.

Though each artist uses different mediums to transport their ultimate goal, the two types of craftsmen utilize similar techniques.

Writers and film directors seem to quietly revert, both consciously and subconsciously, to a simple phrase when conjuring up enticing plots and subplots, emotionally and psychologically complex characters and symbolic settings: larceny is genius.

Movie directors may borrow certain elements from famous pieces of literature to strengthen their respective works. While many film plots seem completely unique or innovative, such as The Matrix trilogy, movie buffs may be surprised at how many films subtly steal significant literary or philosophical texts. One of the most successful film trilogies in history employs ideas from one of the most well-known philosophy books in history. The Matrix directors, the Wachowski brothers, created a seemingly innovative story about a man given a chance to view the authentic, yet sobering, reality humanity is kept from seeing. This story strikingly resembles one of ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s most memorable allegories.

In The Matrix, the protagonist Neo represents the epitome of the late 20th century generation man. He receives an opportunity to take a pill and become plugged into the true reality, rather than the dream-like world humans populate. From this moment on, Neo experiences a clear-cut dichotomy of light versus dark, perception versus reality and good verses bad. Similarly, in his famous dialogue The Republic, Plato uses a cave allegory to illustrate a similar point on the difference between the shadows of perception and the light of truth and reality. Like Neo in The Matrix, Plato’s metaphorical character must push through the initially blinding and confusing reality. The Matrix also contains a multitude of biblical plots and characters, such as the crucifixion of Neo as the Savior, the concepts of prophet and the John the Baptist recreation Morpheus.

Artistic thievery, however, is not solely for the films of the creativity-deprived late 1990s. One of the most popular and entertaining musicals of all time derives its plot from one of the most widely read and performed plays in English literature. In 1961, West Side Story took the movie industry by storm and claimed itself the most acclaimed motion picture of [its] time. The story of two star-crossed lovers from opposing New York City gangs won ten Oscars and its lives on in high school auditoriums and stereos across the country. The writers of West Side Story, however, had a plot framework from the late 16th century in mind, nearly guaranteeing the most acclaimed motion picture of their time.

In early years of his career, William Shakespeare wrote a drama people continue to romantically quote. The Westside Story creators used the dramatic demigod’s hit play Rome and Juliet as the blueprints for their modernized version. By changing the setting and the backgrounds of the character, screenwriters Jerome Robbins and Arthur Laurents created a modern day Romeo and Juliet in their characters Maria and Tony.

Ironically, though, even Shakespeare dabbled in the larceny is genius philosophy, for he twisted many of his plots from other authors’ works. Some scholars contend Shakespeare spun Romeo and Juliet from Tristan and Isolde, a romance from the Middle Ages. A Hollywood remake of this play recently was released in theatres. Other movies masking themselves as new ideas include the teen-marketed 10 Things I Hate About You (Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew ) and She’s All That (George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, which also inspired the adaptors of My Fair Lady ).

There are films deliberately and directly adapted from books. Movies such as Lord of the Rings, though abridged for time concerns, keep the same basic plotlines and major characters. Other popular adaptations include Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter series. Criticism can justifiably arrive when directors and screenwriters begin to change point of views or personal philosophies take shape in the film, as in Mel Gibson purportedly did in The Passion of the Christ.

The book-to-movie adaptations, whether subtle or explicit, flood the aisles of video stores and attract viewer’s attention with their advertisements in the entertainment sections. Before you visit your local movie theatre, dust off the classic pieces of literature sitting ornamentally on the bookshelf in your living room. You can play detective and investigate the infinite amount of literary crimes in Hollywood.

Across The Blackboard: Commonly Taught Literature

In the midst of sixteen years of schooling, including four years at college, many readers find themselves weary and unenthusiastic when it comes to reading for required literature courses. This exhausted reaction may be attributed to continual re-assignments of classic works of fiction throughout the years.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Scarlet Letter and Of Mice and Men are all commonly taught pieces of literature high school and college students can expect to see on one or more syllabi throughout their educational duration.

While each of these repetitious assignments is culturally relevant and artistically crafted, eagerness subsides and questions begin to develop regarding who authorizes which texts have enough merit to be taught. With an endless array of richly-engaging texts, high school teachers and college professors frequently manage to choose primarily the same novels to teach to their classrooms. Ironically, the word ‘novel’ literally means new, yet academia continues to use the old. Students young and old often have read the same novels as one another during their time in school.

Some of the most popular novels teachers monotonously include in their syllabi every year include Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Each of these famous American novels is centered on major moral American downfalls or notorious scandals in the United States.

For example, Twain’s regionally-guided text has gained academic popularity and canonized literary status because of the author’s use of derogatory slang and the memorably picaresque adventures of his adolescent, morally-ambiguous protagonist. Yet, the most intriguing element of Twain’s text lies beneath the mischievous actions and presence of blatant racial slurs during the 19th century. Huck’s older confidant Jim juxtaposes well with the young Huck, and their relationship is memorable, signifying why many teachers continue to utilize this exciting and morally-relevant journey down the Mississippi River.

Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, one of the most popular novels in all of literature, contains a high, but accessible level of symbolism and epitomizes the ubiquitous and unparalleled popular attraction to the American dream. Set during the recognizably money-hungry era of the Roaring Twenties, it dictates the eventual fall of the stock market, the legal implementation of Prohibition and the glitz and glamour of flappers and socialites.
Fitzgerald’s American classic pinpoints the life of a self-made man, Gatsby, and his eventually fatal downfall. Told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby attracts many teachers and professors because of its classic conflict between moral values and greedy capitalism, its purely American-driven themes and its ironic twists and turns.

Perhaps as popular as Fitzgerald’s tour de force, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has become a reliable staple of educational literature taught in classrooms across the country. First published in 1960 and winner of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize, To Kill a Mockingbird reminds its readers of the disgusting, inhumane nature of bigotry. The story provides a compassionate hero in one of the most memorable characters in literature, Atticus Finch. Lee’s unforgettable novel demands compassion while tragically narrating the violent rippling effects of racism. Its glowing theme reminds readers of the true meaning behind humanity.

Regardless of their merit, some students and tuition-paying parents may still wonder why the same highlighted, note-ridden pages of literature find their ways in thousands of backpacks every year. These novels include Toni Morrison’s The Song of Solomon, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage. It is an issue of power and authority, and the answer lies in the elusive, but omnipresent canon of literature in American academics.

While there are anthologies and lists of works arguing the merit of certain novels, there is not a specifically-designated, singular group collectively deciding which books are included and which are exiled. Who dictates whether students will read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or whether Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God contains enough literary value for academic instruction? This group of literary authorities is comprised of significant members of academia, publishers and occasionally parents.

A shared thread runs through many of the commonly taught pieces of literature. Like all pieces of art, literature is bound in history. This country’s biography is deeply rooted in strict, moral codes of religion, specifically Protestantism. It should be no surprise then that a majority of our famous works deal with major moral decadence and moments of ethical indifference. The protagonists lose their moral compass and must find their way back to the ethical avenue.

At the heart of each of these commonly taught novels lies the critical reason why teachers across the country choose to constantly assign these masterpiece novels: morality and the hope for an eventual ethical epiphany in the reader.

Evolution Of Feminism In Literature

The Life of Dead Paper

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, an interior decoration color symbolizes the revolt against gender oppression and sparks a wave of early literary feminism.

Gilman wrote the academically-popular short story to show her utter disappointment with a medically-prescribed lifestyle which she claims came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin.

Gilman was given the professional medical advice in 1887 to live as domestic life as possible and to have but two hours’ intellectual life a day…never to touch a pen, brush, or pencil again as she openly admits in a brief epilogue called Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.

Gilman’s literary approach to feminism became a proclamation against discriminating medical assessments and would become crucial in the subsequent feminism movements. Its undercurrents forcefully aimed to level the intellectual and creative playing field between men and women. Gilman’s seemingly unbearable and currently unthinkable lifestyle prescription is the silent antagonist at the heart of her plot.

Written in the form of seamless journal entries, the short story begins with Gilman’s narrator indicating it is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John [her husband] and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer. The reader eventually becomes aware of John’s typical 20th century oppressive behavior toward women. John, a physician and thus archetypically a man of only reason and scientific evidence, hardly lets [her] stir without special direction. Simply put, he deflates intellectual productivity and deters her from any individuality or self-reliance.

The narrator is sentenced to a torturing and repellant yellow-colored room constantly described as a grotesque. By the end of the story, Gilman’s intellectually numb protagonist has fallen stricken to the 19th century illness of hysteria, and began seeing an image of a woman inside the hideous wall’s binding pattern.
However, the repercussions of Gilman’s classic text go well-beyond bashing certain interior designs, into the traditional gender relations in the 19th century and sparking early literary feminism.

Gilman’s story was a defiantly honest manifesto representing the voice of many American women during this period, who were labeled as atypically emotional and deemed to be suffering from hysteria. The Yellow Wallpaper is an artistically-effective attempt to refute these sexually-biased, medical and cultural accusations of American women’s emotional and psychological conditions.

Gilman’s nameless protagonist calls her journal entries dead paper since they are not supposed to exist and because there is only one intended reader, the writer. Her prescription had the opposite effect of its intentions; it fostered critical thinking and creative intellectualism. A century later, The Yellow Wallpaper is far from flat-lining; its cultural relevance continues to breathe, keeping the importance of gender equality alive.

In effect, Gilman’s work is one of the first American texts on feminism, although the term ‘feminism’ had yet to be coined. Since The Yellow Wallpaper arrived, feminism has evolved within American society. Its fluctuating purpose continues to develop. Many American women during the mid-20th century continued to identify with Gilman’s secluded protagonist. Social commentaries like Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and the photography of Cindy Sherman continued to shed the light on the oppression of women and their domestic prisons, paving the way for feminism’s ideals.

In her famous sociological and historical text, Friedan discusses the intellectual and psychological confinement many American females suffered from during the 1950s and 1960s.

Using a plethora of phallic symbols representing the male’s undying presence in every aspect of the female’s life, Cindy Sherman’s photography artistically and, occasionally scarily, portrays the American woman subdued by the dull monotony of kitchen life in male-dominated America. Unafraid of the topic of sexuality, just like Friedan explicitly takes on and Gilman subtly exposes, Sherman paints a sexually-charged, but repressed reality via film exploring the power struggle between man and woman.

Social Changes In Literature

Art aims to move. It is thoughtfully constructed to pull emotions and ultimately inspire some kind of kinesis, whether physical, emotional or psychological. Simple artistic forms can yield complicated, historical social change.

Literature belongs in this artistic class since it often aims for social change. Race, gender and religion are three cultural powerhouses scrutinized by the writer’s pen and its investigative ink.

In American history, race may be the most addressed issue within the realm of literature, especially the institution of slavery, an issue Mark Twain feverishly undertook in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” With his memorable American wit, Twain’s novel forced readers to consider the brotherhood which could exist between two seemingly polarized races. Scholars and critics continue to analyze the relationship between Huck and Jim, who unite two cultures on an epic and symbolic adventure. While Twain displayed the social stratification of a black man and a white adolescent boy, the American satirist wove a heartfelt relationship between two Americans who society thought should never have shared a moment together outside the plantation fields. Twain made this friendship possible based purely on colorblind characters. Later literary works expanded on this topic, such as Martin Luther King’s historically rich epistle “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and John Howard Griffin’s non-fiction expose “Black Like Me,” where the journalist underwent skin treatments to darken his skin, living in the segregated South as a black man.

Race relations in the United States are not the only fight for equality urging American writers to action. In the early 20th century, the oppression of women raced to the cultural forefront, especially after World War II and its subsequent geographical introduction of the suburbs.
Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” chastised the domestic repression of American women, who were prisoners in their own suburban households.

Friedan was not the first female author in the U.S. to encourage social change. Kate Chopin’s classic short novel “The Awakening” awoke many female readers and stunned most of her male audience. Written in the late 19th century, Chopin explored the female sexuality of a southern belle. Her work still has relevance in the 21st century as it is marked with temptations of adultery, the attractions of individual freedom and the imprisoning social expectations women. Other pieces of literature tackling this issue for social change include Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Hurston’s work, which Oprah Winfrey adapted for a television movie starring Halle Berry, focuses on the sexual independence of a Southern black woman.

Uncivil behavior homosexuality marks the repression of the 21st century. It is not yet determined which literature will push for this social change. Writers such as E. Annie Proulx, author of “Brokeback Mountain,” and Z.Z. Packer, author of “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere,” have represented legitimate authors giving this issue momentum in American culture.

Not all socially-charged works require a controversial war or historical rift between two or more American subcultures. Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” has sparked movements in Catholicism. While Brown’s best-seller is far from a classic piece of literature, it undoubtedly questioned which cultural values and traditions will prevail.

A book’s physical simplicity may seem unremarkable, but within the seemingly-bland columns of words lies the possibility for social change. A single page of literature can ultimately change the dimensions of any society. These typed words have ignited revolutions, stormed over oppressive institutions and altered the constantly-shifting shape of the world.