Tag Archives: Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (review by Mr. Hurshman, Teacher)

Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The action of this lengthy bestseller takes place in the first twenty years of the 19th century, when the two titular characters attempt a revival of magic in the British Isles. After several hundred years of dormancy, “practical magic” is making a comeback—just in time to serve England’s interests in the Napoleonic Wars—but will the resurgence prove a blessing or a curse?

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is the only novel of its kind that I’ve ever encountered—a work at once of fantasy and of historical fiction that nevertheless seeks to replicate the realist style and comic sensibility of authors of the century in which it’s set (think Austen or Thackeray or Dickens). In combining these elements, Clarke carries out a daring experiment that doesn’t really seem as if it should work. But the result is an unexpected alchemical triumph.

I would recommend Clarke’s novel to lovers of fantasy and lovers of 19th-century literature alike, but its ideal audience consists of those who love both. Its greatest pleasures depend on an acquaintance with the historical context that forms its backdrop and with the literary tradition that Clarke mimics and gently parodies.

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2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke (review by Connie M. ’17)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #1)2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

2001: A Space Odyssey depicts the first encounters of humankind with alien intelligence. This story has become one of the most well known sci-fi tales and is written by one of the greats. The story begins as a series of seemingly unconnected accounts, but gathers speed by the time we reach the halfway point. The second half of the novel blazes by in a suspense-filled whirlwind. The last 30 pages of the book holds perhaps as much action as the rest of the book put together, culminating in a thought-provoking and poetic ending. Clarke writes without extravagant vocabulary yet manages to vividly depict the beauty of space. While 2001 has little humor and no romance and thus may not appeal to everyone, it is a must read for any true science fiction lover and contains much food for thought for any reader. – Connie M. ’17

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