In today’s modern world where selfies and self-help books are in abundance, this needull looks at the moral dimension of narcissism.
Ours is a self-obsessed age. Modern life is an obstacle course littered with people snapping selfies at every corner. Bookshop shelves heave with self-help books. And yet we publicly chastise the apparently vain and egotistical, outing them for their inability to conceal the self-concern of which we are all secretly guilty. We prize modesty, humility and self-effacement. But don’t those qualities also betray a certain discomfort with who we are, an instinct to downplay aspects of ourselves that we might otherwise cherish and seek to share? The more images we take, the harder it seems to see ourselves as we really are. And yet, isn’t there also something to be won in the endeavour to attend to ourselves more thoughtfully, making ourselves the subject of our probing enquiry?
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Shahida Bari — TLS
It is a general belief that books are better than their movie adaptations. Today’s needull discusses adaptations which are as good if not better than the books they were adapted from.
Perhaps these won’t be considered sufficiently major or demanding works to have suffered in translation from page to screen, from a verbal reality to a mainly visual one. But I can’t be the only one to have felt a kind of longing for something like that medieval moment; for an excuse not to discuss a film or a play in terms of what was missing or ways in which it was unfaithful to a literary original. Vladimir Nabokov likened the film of Lolita by Stanley Kubrick (1962) to “The swerves of a scenic drive as perceived by the horizontal passenger of an ambulance” – before he had actually seen it. (How would he have described the later, 1997 version by Adrian Lyne? Discuss.) It seems to be inevitable that the better we know a literary work, or the more we love it, the more an adaptation will be found wanting in the very things we value.
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Alan Jenkins — TLS