Ivar the boneless: the impotent Viking?

I was having brunch with my sister when all of sudden she turns to me and says. “So, Anoukh, you’re the expert on Scandinavian shit. What do you think: was it Ivar the boneless or Ivar the boner-less?

After watching me silently blink in disbelief for a good five seconds,
my sister told me that she was watching the show ‘Vikings’. The character Ivar is always called “Ivar the boneless” and according to my sister, that means Ivar couldn’t get it up. Cue a sisterly talk about penises.

I assumed Ivar had the reputation of being a coward. You know, for his symbolic lack of a spine. Being a huge nerd, I decided to hit the books!

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Hiking therapy with Cheryl Strayed

This post has been sitting hiding in the outskirts of my desktop for a while now. Although this is one of my most significant pieces of writing, I haven’t gotten around to finishing it and putting it out there. Read on and you’ll learn exactly why that is.

Let me start at the beginning.

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H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau

To say H. G. Wells was the founder of science-fiction is a bit much. To say that The Island of Doctor Moreau contains all my literary interests is spot on. And here is why.

Pseudo-science

The reason H. G. Wells is often called the father of science-fiction is all too visible in this particular story. The infamous scientist Dr Moreau uses a number of unusual techniques to change animals into people. He uses blood transfusion, vivisection and an unusual brand of reconstructive surgery as ways to transfer human and animal characteristics into other species. Possible? No. Ludicrous. Yes. Anachronistic? Definitely not.

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There But For The: Prejudice or nah?

Before I start analyzing There But For The by Ali Smith and unavoidably go off at a tangent, there is something I need to say:

Read. This. Book.

You won’t regret it. Ali Smith is a wonderful writer and her wit will surprise you. So if you’re looking for a good read that is layered and captivating, and you don’t necessarily crave that epic story with reassuring catharsis, then this is your book. As for the story, the plot is set in motion by an unknown guest at a dinner party who locks himself up in the upstairs bedroom of a couple he only just met. When he refuses to come out, the stories of the other attendees and how they are linked begin to unravel.

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Identification & estrangement in ‘The Professor’

I remember one of my first class discussions in literature studies. We had to discuss reader perspectives and the dichotomy of reader expectations: identification or estrangement? To put things simply, readers who love science-fiction novels or reading about magical realms tend to seek estrangement. Readers who want realistic plots and flawed protagonists read for identification. In my literary life I found that escapism is common for both readers. You can just as easily get lost in an intensely realistic reading experience as you can in fantasy.

One of my latest reads was Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor, which became a strange series of identification. The Professor relates the story of a young man finding his way in the professional world after becoming financially independent from his guardians. After a failed attempt in trade, he has the opportunity to try teaching and that’s when I felt my felt moment of identification.

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My 10 favourite books

A while ago, numerous facebook tags persuaded me to make a list of my 10 most influential reads. Though it was clear that this shouldn’t be a top ten of your ‘favourite’ books, I found that a solitary list without any background gave me little insight into the reading patterns of my friends and acquaintances. No one seemed to ask Why? Today I’d like to elaborate a little on my own list and explain in what way these works influenced me.

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Madame Bovary: A Framework for Literary Boredom

I found myself strangely disappointed by Madame Bovary. Every literature class I ever took seemed to mention this novel at some point. This gave me the impression I had a serious case of “Bovarism”, without even having investigated the source of the term. While reading Flaubert’s famed novel, I was surprised that I couldn’t truly identify with the title character. Apart from one thing: I was bored. I read this book while recovering from the flu. Having only rest on the agenda, the cabin fever made me turn to my trusty E-reader for a copyright-less classic. Little did I know that boredom would be one of the main themes.

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