This year marks the 70th anniversary of George Orwell’s novel, 1984.

Numerous scholars, historians and journalists note that many of the literary components of 1984 (setting, plot, theme, characters, etc.) mirror life in 2019.

This is a novel that spotlights the evil of governments that allow their citizens no freedom of individual thought. It includes an intricate plot, unusual characters and a theme that guarantees its readers an understanding that fake news, double speak and the erosion of freedom of speech are not new phenomenons.

Check out the MVCC catalog for more information.

Fun Fact-Check out 1984 Apple Super Bowl commercial.

PBS’s Masterpiece Les Miserables Adaptation

Last Sunday (4/14) PBS’s Masterpiece premiered a new adaptation (non-musical) of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. It continues this Sunday for the next five weeks.




“Les Miserables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose.”–Signet Classics edition back cover.

This BBC adaptation is by Andrew Davies, directed by Tom Shankland, and stars Dominic West (The Affair) as Jean Valjean, David Oyelowo (best known for playing civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma) as police inspector Javert, Lily Collins as Fantine, and Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) as Madame Thénardier.

Check out PBS’s official site for Les Miserables, and check out our library catalog for Victor Hugo’s novel and other resources.

New to the Collection: To Kill a Mockingbird Graphic Novel

If you watched PBS’ “The Great American Read” last year, you will know that the #1 novel voted on by viewers as America’s best-loved novel was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If you didn’t watch the limited series, the premise was for viewer’s to vote for their favorite novels from a list of 100 “best-loved,” resulting in the #1 American pick.

Whether you’ve read Lee’s novel prior or not, new to our collection is a graphic novel adaptation by Fred Fordham. Fordham notes, “This adaptation…does not seek to reinvent Harper Lee’s story and characters. The text is, as far as has been possible, directly taken from the novel. Where I have made changes, they have been for the sole purpose of best representing the story and sentiment of Lee’s original work in this medium.” So if you’re looking for a refreshingly new take on the novel, check the graphic version out!

To Kill a Mockingbird in MVCC’s library collection:

And check out the full results of “The Great American Read” at PBS’ website:  https://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/results/

The New American Writers Museum

The American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, is a new entry in the local museum scene. A current exhibit celebrates the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Upcoming events include a discussion of the life and work of Lorraine Hansberry (Feb. 9) and Madeleine L’Engle (Feb. 11). Eve Ewing will discuss her book Electric Arches with poet José Olivarez on Feb. 13. See the website for more information about the museum and events.

We Don’t Like to Be Called Refugees

“In the first place, we don’t like to be called ‘refugees.’ We ourselves call each other ‘newcomers’ or ‘immigrants’…A refugee used to be a person driven to seek refuge because of some act committed or political opinion held. Well, it is true we have had to seek refuge; but we committed no acts and most of us never dreamt of having any radical opinion…”

These words, which are quite relevant to us today, were written in 1943 by political philosopher Hannah Arendt in her essay “We Refugees.”

Arendt is a leading 20th century philosopher who explored political thought in an era of authoritarianism and fascism before and after World War II. She has much to offer us today.

You can learn more through our library’s collection:

Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times by Anne C. Heller
Hannah Arendt (DVD)
Hannah Arendt: A Critical Introduction
Rightlessness in an Age of Rights: Hannah Arend and the Contemporary Struggles of Migrants by Ayten Gundogdu
The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
The Life of the Mind by Hannah Arendt
(And More)

You also may want to check out the BBC’s In our Time Podcast: Hannah Arendt.


Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven

If “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…” sounds very familiar to you, it should! It’s probably one of the most recognized lines from one of the most famous poems ever written by Edgar Allan Poe. The Raven was first published under his name on January 29, 1845, in the New York Evening Mirror. While it made Poe a household name, it didn’t bring him overwhelming financial success.

Our library has access to the free eBook provided by Project Gutenberg. This particular copy is illustrated by Gustave Doré. His illustrations were woodcuts, “A method of printing from an inked block of medium-soft wood (usually pear or cherry) from which an artist has excised all but an illustration…in a woodcut, the finished print is conceived as dark lines on a light ground.”[i]

While the poem is hauntingly beautiful and melodic in its own right, Doré’s illustrations are even more so. Check out The Raven in our catalog.

[i] (Reitz)

Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Poes-Biography. n.d. Website. 26 January 2017. <https://www.poemuseum.org/poes-biography>.

Reitz, Joan M. “Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.” 2004-2014. ABC-CLIO.com. Online Document. 26 January 2017. <http://www.abc-clio.com/ODLIS/odlis_w.aspx>.


New to Collection: Nutcracker(s)

nutcrackerIt’s that time of year again, when the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…and you might want to watch the Nutcracker ballet! Two new versions have been added to our library collection. The first is The Nutcracker featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov and the American Ballet Theatre. It premiered in 1976 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and was recorded for television in 1977. It remains one of the most popular televised productions even until today and earned Baryshnikov an Emmy nomination. Our copy is the Blu-ray version which was released in 2012.

The second version is the Nutcracker choreographed by Helgi Tomasson for the San Francisco Ballet. This was a new version of the ballet, which premiered in 2004 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. The story is set during the time of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, a 1915 world’s fair held in San Francisco celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal and the city’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake. Another difference from Baryshnikov’s version is that the main female character of Clara is played by a young girl instead of an adult female dancer. One of the extra features of our copy is a documentary on the 1915 World’s Fair.

Both versions of the Nutcracker can be located in the library’s main floor lounge for a limited time. In the meantime, here’s some fun Nutcracker facts!

An American Original: Walt Whitman

May 31, 1819 marked the arrival on this earth of a spectacular soul – a poet, a lover, a humanist, an American.   Walt Whitman may have been writing nearly a hundred years ago, but his life and his words are as truly radical now as they were then.

We have lots of Walt’s titles, poetry and verse, in our collection.   Find the list here.

Learn about his life in this DVD, which was an episode of American Experience on PBS.

Walt and his squad were “America’s First Bohemians.” Read all about them in Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians.

Finally, my favorite.  Hear Walt read one of his poems on the CD Poetry Speaks.




Retelling of Alex Haley’s “Roots”

Roots2Back in 1977, ABC-TV aired the Roots miniseries. “With 100 million viewers, the finale still ranks as the third-highest-rated U.S. entertainment program ever measured by Nielsen…” “…the series engendered a national conversation about the legacy of slavery. [Mark] Wolper, whose father, David, was Roots’ executive producer and owned the rights, thanks his teenage son for motivating him to reinvent [Alex] Haley’s story. ‘After he watched the miniseries, my son said, Dad, I understand it’s important, but like your music, it doesn’t speak to me’” (Rudolph 25-26).

Beginning on Memorial Day (Monday, May 30) and continuing over four consecutive nights, the History Channel, A&E, and Lifetime will be airing the retelling of Alex Haley’s television adaptation of Roots. One of the main characters, Kunta Kinte, (Haley claimed was one of his ancestors) was taken from Africa, transported to America, and sold into slavery. He is being played by an unknown actor (Malachi Kirby) as was done in the 1977 version when LeVar Burton was chosen. “History [Channel’s] remake has a similarly recognizable cast [as did the original]. Matthew Goode, Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Tudors) and James Purefoy play slave owners, and Forest Whitaker is Fiddler, the enslaved musician who helps Kinte survive (a role that earned Louis Gossett Jr. an Emmy in the original). Anna Paquin and Mekhi Phifer (ER) play new characters, a Southern belle and her coachman, who share a big secret. Laurence Fishburne shows up in the final episode as Haley” (Rudolph 26).

In our MVCC Library catalog, we have Alex Haley’s 30th anniversary edition of the Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots: the Saga of an American Family and the DVD movie adaptation Roots, both currently available for checkout.Roots

Continuing the Roots theme, we have another book by Haley titled Alex Haley’s Queen: the Story of an American Family. Haley was the grandson of Queen, and his book tells the story about the children of black slave women and their white masters. We also have the first biography on Haley, written by Robert J. Norrell, titled Alex Haley and the Books that Changed a Nation.

“The time [for the retelling of Roots] also seems right with a renewed interest in America’s difficult racial history because of films like 12 Years a Slave… ‘That focus doesn’t happen accidentally,’ Wolper believes. ‘It’s a result of the reaction we have to things that are happening in the world” (Rudolph 26).

12YrsaSlaveCome check out the original version of Roots (in both print and DVD), any other works by Alex Haley, and 12 Years a Slave (in both print and DVD) for the Memorial Day weekend in preparation for the new remake. Also, check out the trailer for the new Roots remake.





Works Cited

Rudolph, Ileane. “Roots Revisited.” TV Guide Magazine May 23 – June 5 2016: 25-27. Print.