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Faulks on Fiction (BBC TV Series)

#1 · Posted: 6 Feb 2011 12:05 · Edited by: Moderator
There's a new series on the BBC, Faulks on Fiction.

It’s about how we know fictional characters better than our own family, and I bet Tintin is not mentioned once in this series. Probably the usual Jane Austin Drivel. However this may be interesting.
#2 · Posted: 6 Feb 2011 16:48
Well, given that the theme of the programme is "the brilliance of the British novel and its characters", I'm not sure anyone should be surprised that there's unlikely to be anything about Tintin. And there's more likely to be Elizabeth Bennet 'Drivel' than Jane Austin Drivel considering the focus on explicitly on characters rather than authors.

It was an interesting first episode but suffered from trying to cram too much in - the first programme considered the hero and went from Crusoe to the modern day, touching on a number of 'heroes' but never really getting to grips with what makes the hero-as-protagonist so timeless. Doubtless if the series covered Belgian literature our plus-foured friend would appear here.

Perhaps more relevant to this board is the listing Le Monde came up with at the start of the millennium: 100 Books of the Century. The Blue Lotus makes an impact, as does Asterix the Gaul, The Ballard of the Salt Sea (Corto Maltese), Blake and Mortimer (presumably as a whole?), and Gaston Lagaffe.

Alas, none make the best books of all time, though Jane Austin and her 'drivel' does...

#3 · Posted: 6 Feb 2011 17:46
Perhaps more relevant to this board is the listing Le Monde came up with at the start of the millennium: 100 Books of the Century.

Agatha Christie is included??? But no Alexandre Dumas???? Somebody please shoot me!!!!!
#4 · Posted: 6 Feb 2011 18:21 · Edited by: jock123
It was an interesting first episode but suffered from trying to cram too much in

Yes, I agree; but I wasn't convinced that Sebastian Faulks had anything especially insightful or original to say. I began to feel as it went on and on I was listening to him declaim a thesis he'd written as a student. I do wish he'd stopped and dealt with one or two characters, and focused on why he felt they stood out.

I also found it a bit tricksy - oh look, there's a clip of Robert Hoffman in the old Adventures of Robinson Crusoe TV serial, clambering round a tropical island - oh, and now Sebastian is clambering around in among some tropical plants...

Still, perhaps he'll give it more time to breathe as the series progresses...

Agatha Christie is included??? But no Alexandre Dumas????

Dumas is the wrong century, to be on the same list as Christie.

I'd also have to say that I can't say I've ever thought of Dumas as anything more than a writer of pot-boilers: highly entertaining stories, but not the best written, especially if you go through them in their entirety, rather than focusing in the selected episodes that tend to get filleted out when they are adapted for stage, screen or radio, or served up in young reader versions.
In that sense, Christie and Dumas are in some ways the same - journeymen writers, who deliver a solid product which diverts.
However, as she rarely has the excess padding of the Dumas novels, always played fair with the reader when setting a puzzle in a mystery, and invented many of the staples of modern whodunnits, I'd probably take Christie and Hercule Poirot over Dumas and d'Artangnan.

Dumas is okay, but he's no Victor Hugo...

Note: Sorry, I see I was editing this as mondrian pointed out the time-line issue of Christie and Dumas below...
#5 · Posted: 6 Feb 2011 18:26 · Edited by: mondrian
It's 100 books of 20th century, hence no A. Dumas. And Christie certainly has a place in any top 100 of the 20th century.

And anyways, they seem to be 100 most important books. Sort of books that have had a huge impact on our societies and way of thinking, so much that almost everyone knows them or at least the ideas in them, no matter if you have read them or even know of them (say Simone de Beauvoir or Sigmund Freud).

And quite often "most important" is the same as "best literature", but not always. For example, they've chosen The Gulag Archipelago from Solzhenitsyn. I sort of agree, it's a stunning reading experience, but you could make a good case that Cancer Ward or Ivan Denisovits are better books. However, it's the context of Gulag Archipelago that lifts it head and shoulders above the rest of his books. And in that context even the unfinished nature of Archipelago is a strength.

But I suppose whichever way you make them lists, they are obviously bound to be subjective. Usually useful to take with you to the library, and quite often good start for a discussion. And if you disagree, make your own. I'd certainly include Wittgenstein (twice, both young and old has a place there) in my list for 20th century, the French didn't...

edit: sorry for wandering off-topic, obviously I haven't seen the show but got carried away. Carry on...
#6 · Posted: 9 Feb 2011 17:38 · Edited by: Moderator
Alright, didn't catch the 20th century bit. Opticians for me first thing tomorrow. But Christie ahead of Tolkien? That's heresy!

I'd probably take Christie and Hercule Poirot over Dumas and d'Artangnan.

Well, to each his own. I've just finished my third Dumas and I'm just disappointed that a novel has to have an end. What I particularly enjoy is the many references he makes to real-life people and events, and us having to figure out the facts from the fiction. In a way, it is not dissimilar to Tintin with its well-researched background and political themes. Besides, they may be fellow Belgians, but Tintin is more of the D'Artagnan mould than Poirot.

Dumas is okay, but he's no Victor Hugo...

I've never read Hugo, but I might start on him before long.

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