Three classics of literature that a specialist recommends reading on these holidays
The new year begins and the start of the long-awaited holiday is approaching. Getting out of the routine implies rest, leisure time, reunion with family, new places and reading.
In such an instantaneous world, it is deeper to stop and read good and classic literature that also alludes to current phenomena. This is the invitation of Carolina Heiremans, director of the Baccalaureate in Humanities and Social Sciences and academic of the Literature Degree at U. San Sebastián.
The Odyssey, by Homer
Attributed to the Greek poet Homer, who would have created it in the 8th century BC, “The Odyssey” is an epic poem made up of XXIV cantos, which narrates Odysseus’s return trip to Ithaca, after participating in the fall of the city of Troy. Meanwhile, in his homeland, his son Telemachus and his wife Penelope await him, who have not heard of his whereabouts for 10 years. His delay is due to a series of misfortunes and misadventures that he will manage to overcome successfully, including an encounter with a cyclops who wants to devour him along with his crew, surviving storms and ravages of nature, resisting the temptation of young and beautiful women , like the nymph Calypso who promises him immortality, but, above all, it entails accepting a process of internal growth that will make the hero of the Trojan War, known for being a reckless and daring king, a wise and mature man, who learns of your mistakes.
Heiremans explains that “these challenges that Odysseus faces point to existential conflicts that every human being experiences throughout his life and although the story takes place in a world where the intervention of the Greek gods is not questioned, nor the existence of sorceresses and mermaids, reading it is an invitation to reflect on dilemmas that also affect man in the 21st century”.
Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley, 1818.
On a stormy night in 1816, on the shores of Lake Leman in Geneva, a group of friends accepted the challenge of their host, the English poet Lord Byron, who encouraged them to write a horror story. Among the guests at the Villa Diodati were Dr. John William Polidori and Mary Shelley, who between thunder and lightning gave life to two monsters: the so-called aristocratic vampire or “The Vampire”, by Polidori, published in 1819, and by the hand of Mary Shelley, the feared and disowned Frankenstein.
In “Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus”, the writer tells the story of Doctor Victor Frankenstein, who, through his studies of the classic alchemists and his fascination with chemistry, wants to find the source of eternal life. Finally, he will manage to give life to a creature of disproportionate size, which will wander through the land of men in search of its creator.
In this novel, we find questions about the value of life and death, in addition to questioning the limits of science, which can lead a person to fall into the most dangerous vices. It also refers us to today’s scientific discussions about the possibility of extending people’s lives or creating identical human beings through cloning, explains the director of the Baccalaureate in Humanities and Social Sciences.
Dracula, by Bram Stoker, 1897
The Irish writer Bram Stoker would take seven years to compile the background that would allow him to create “Dracula”, a creature that looked like a human being, but that would attract attention for its sharp teeth, pointed ears and extreme strength, in addition to feeding exclusively with human blood and have no pity or compassion for their victims. Historically, he is often associated with Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia and Romanian national hero, who used to impale his prisoners of war and watch them die.
But the story of the real “Dracula”, whose film adaptations assigned him characteristics that he did not have in Stoker’s work, such as his zero tolerance for the sun’s rays, begins with the trip to Transylvania of Jonathan Harker, a lawyer dedicated to real estate. roots, who must meet with Count Dracula to finalize the purchase of a property in Carfax, England. During his stay in these distant lands, he will realize who his host really is and will try to prevent him from spreading his evil on the European continent.
In this classic, written in epistolary format, there is the eternal struggle between folklore and the scientific mentality, which, based on beliefs or the use of reason, respectively, seek to explain the existence of this creature and supernatural phenomena. “He also reflects on evil, as what the human being has wanted and will continue to try to eradicate from himself because although he rejects it, he is also attracted to it. In addition, a change in the role of women in Victorian society is perceived through the actions of Mina Harker, who will have a relevant role in this novel. In short, all topics that are still valid and that literature constantly updates.