What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka
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Updated 29 February 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka’s novella “The Metamorphosis,” published in 1915, tells the story of Gregor Samsa, a salesman who wakes up one day and discovers that he has transformed into an insect.
His mother and sister are repulsed by his new form, while his father becomes hostile and abusive. Gregor is confined to his room, becoming increasingly isolated from the outside world.
As the days pass, Gregor’s family struggles to adjust to their new circumstances. They take on jobs to make ends meet because Gregor was the sole breadwinner before his transformation. Their lives become consumed by the practicalities of survival, and they begin to view Gregor as little more than a burden.
Kafka explores the absurdity and futility of human existence. Gregor’s transformation is used as a metaphor for the isolation and insignificance that many individuals experience in their lives.
The book also delves into the complexities of family relationships. Gregor’s family initially relies on him for support, but his transformation exposes their own weaknesses and flaws. The novella highlights the strain familial obligations can place on individuals and the potential for resentment and abandonment.
Similar to the majority of Kafka’s writings, “The Metamorphosis” can be read in a single sitting.
Kafka’s writing is renowned for its combination of realism and surrealism, lending his stories a distinct and captivating quality.
The novella, widely considered a literary masterpiece, leaves readers with many unanswered questions.
Kafka’s intentionally ambiguous conclusion leaves room for interpretation and reflection on the themes explored throughout the narrative.
Kafka is known for several other notable works including “The Trial,” “The Castle,” and “The Judgement.”


REVIEW: Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Fallout’ takes gaming adaptations to next level

REVIEW: Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Fallout’ takes gaming adaptations to next level
Updated 18 April 2024
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REVIEW: Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Fallout’ takes gaming adaptations to next level

REVIEW: Amazon Prime Video’s ‘Fallout’ takes gaming adaptations to next level

LONDON: Don’t say it too loud, but we might, finally, have reached the point when good TV adaptations of hit videogames become the norm, rather than the exception. Hot on the heels of “The Last of Us” and “The Witcher” comes “Fallout,” an eight-part series based on the post-apocalyptic world explored in the series of famed Bethesda games.

In an alternate future, with the world devastated by a global nuclear war, a community of wealthy individuals retreats to a series of underground vaults to ride out the fallout. Some 200 years later, wide-eyed vault dweller Lucy (Ella Purnell) is forced to leave the safety of her underground home when her father is kidnapped by raiders from the surface, kickstarting a journey that will not only make her confront the horrors of the unlawful society above, but also sees her meet a revolving door of eccentric (yet equally horrifying) characters along the way. Among these are Maximus (Aaron Moten), a squire in the militaristic Brotherhood of Steel, and The Ghoul (Walton Goggins), a terrifyingly mutated former actor now forging his way as a bounty hunter.

The key to the success of “Fallout” is that your enjoyment of the show is not dependent on whether or not the previous paragraph made any sense to you whatsoever. Rather, creators Graham Wagner and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, along with developers (and executive producers) Christopher Nolan and Lisa Joy have taken the wise decision to create a world wherein knowledge of the wider “Fallout” universe is a bonus, but not a prerequisite. So even if this is your first introduction to the world of Pip-Boys, gulpers and Vaulters, you won’t be penalized, and you certainly won’t feel like you’re missing out.

The world of “Fallout” is a gloriously gritty, bloody and savage one, but it’s also one of razor-sharp humor and fiendish satire — not least thanks to Goggins’ phenomenal turn as The Ghoul. Acerbic and frighteningly violent, The Ghoul is the very embodiment of the savage, unforgiving wasteland, and Goggins has a blast with perhaps the role of his career to date. Lucy is the polar opposite, and Purnell is equally as great as the naïve-yet-capable young woman entirely unprepared for the muck and murder she emerges into. Throw the two together with a razor-sharp, witty script and top-drawer production values and you have a show that’s about as much fun as you can have without a controller of your own.


What We Are Reading Today: Basic Equality

What We Are Reading Today: Basic Equality
Updated 17 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Basic Equality

What We Are Reading Today: Basic Equality

Author: Paul Sagar

What makes human beings one another’s equals? That we are “basic equals” has become a bedrock assumption in Western moral and political philosophy. 

And yet establishing why we ought to believe this claim has proved fiendishly difficult, floundering in the face of the many inequalities that characterise the human condition. 

In this provocative work, Paul Sagar offers a novel approach to explaining and justifying basic equality. Rather than attempting to find an independent foundation for basic equality, he argues, we should instead come to see our commitment to this idea as the result of the practice of treating others as equals. 

Moreover, he continues, it is not enough to grapple with the problem through philosophy alone — by just thinking very hard, in our armchairs; we must draw insights from history and psychology as well.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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Updated 16 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Lord of the Flies’

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  • The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals

Author: William Golding

“Lord of the Flies” is a coming of age novel by British novelist William Golding. First published in 1954, the title has since become a classic of modern literature.

It tells the story of a group of British boys who find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes during a wartime evacuation.

The novel explores themes of human nature, civilization, power and the inherent darkness within individuals. As the boys struggle to survive and establish order on the island, their society gradually descends into chaos and savagery.

The title refers to a severed pig’s head, symbolizing the evil and primitive instincts that take hold of the boys.

The main characters in the novel include Ralph, a charismatic and responsible boy who tries to maintain order and establish a signal fire to attract rescuers; Jack, a power-hungry and savage boy who becomes the leader of a group of hunters; Piggy, an intelligent but socially marginalized boy who serves as Ralph’s adviser; and Simon, a quiet and introspective boy who experiences a deep connection with nature.

As the story progresses, the boys’ civilization erodes, and they succumb to their primal instincts, engaging in violence and tribal warfare.

“Lord of the Flies” explores the destructive potential of unchecked power, the loss of innocence, and the conflict between civilization and savagery.

The novel has always been subject to various interpretations and perspectives by different readers and scholars. Much of it has been analyzed through the lens of allegorical human nature, political and social commentary, and even Freudian psychology.

“Lord of the Flies” has left a lasting impact on literature and popular culture through its exploration of universal themes, and its enduring relevance in contemporary society.

Its portrayal of the human condition and the fragility of civilization continues to resonate with readers, making it a classic that is worthy of being read again.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Provenance and Possession’ by K. J. P. Lowe

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Provenance and Possession’ by K. J. P. Lowe
Updated 15 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Provenance and Possession’ by K. J. P. Lowe

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Provenance and Possession’ by K. J. P. Lowe

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Renaissance Italy received a bounty of “goods” from Portuguese trading voyages—fruits of empire that included luxury goods, exotic animals and even enslaved people.

Many historians hold that this imperial “opening up” of the world transformed the way Europeans understood the global.

In this book, K.J.P. Lowe challenges such an assumption, showing that Italians of this era cared more about the possession than the provenance of their newly acquired global goods.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Particle Cosmology and Astrophysics’

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Updated 14 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Particle Cosmology and Astrophysics’

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Author: DAN HOOPER

This book explores the exciting interface between the fields of cosmology, high-energy astrophysics, and particle physics, at a level suitable for advanced undergraduate- to graduate-level students as well as active researchers.

Without assuming a strong background in particle physics or quantum field theory, the text is designed to be accessible to readers from a range of backgrounds and presents both fundamentals and modern topics in a modular style that allows for flexible use and easy reference.