5 Bookish Misconceptions: Part Three

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The Ringbearers Die/Gain Immortality at the End of The Lord of the Rings.

Ships that leave from the Grey Havens set sail for the Undying Lands, named so because the immortal Valar dwell there.  Frodo does not die at the end of the book, nor does he become immortal himself.  We can assume that he lives quietly in the Undying Lands for some time before dying a natural death.

Juliet Wakes to See Romeo One Last Time Before He Dies.

Garrick’s 1758 version of Romeo and Juliet modified Shakespeare’s text so that the lovers have a brief union before their deaths.  This may be one of the  most famous adaptations of the play.  However, students who believe that Juliet wakes before Romeo’s death are likely thinking about the 1996 film Romeo + Juliet directed by Baz Luhrmann.  In Shakespeare’s original play, Romeo dies before Juliet can see him again, thus denying audiences that brief moment of happiness.

Thoreau Lived in the Remote Wilderness When Writing Walden.

It’s an inside literary joke to remark on how Thoreau’s experience roughing it in nature actually consisted of his living in a cabin less than a half hour’s walk from his family’s home.  His mother also came by sometimes to help with the housekeeping.  Thoreau may have been observing nature, but he was hardly in a survival situation.

The Western Canon Has Remained Static Over the Years.

The Canon is supposed to be a list of “timeless” works that have influenced Western culture.  It is thus awkward sometimes to admit that the list of works in the Canon have changed over the years, with some titles being dropped and others added.  Consider, for instance, that literary scholars largely ignored Beowulf until 1936–when Tolkien made a case for its literary, and not just its historic, value.  Its “timeless” qualities simply were not obvious to most people for hundreds of years.  And, in the future, we could very well see Beowulf, or another work, removed from the list as literary tastes and values change.

Go Set a Watchman Is the Sequel to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Go Set a Watchman was the original story Lee presented for publication and she was asked to rewrite it.  The result was To Kill a Mockingbird.  Thus, we can consider Go Set a Watchman as a draft for To Kill a Mockingbird.  It is, however, difficult to know how Lee’s understanding of the story and the characters changed as she rewrote it, or if, after rewriting, she still saw the events of Go Set a Watchman as canonical.

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More Bookish Misconceptions

6 thoughts on “5 Bookish Misconceptions: Part Three

  1. PerfectlyTolerable says:

    The only one I have heard of was the Romeo and Juliet one! And I had it wrong. (I haven’t read or seen it, but just gathered what the story is about from hearing about it and whatnot) Good to know! And the rest were interesting to read. I love this series of posts 😀

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    • Krysta says:

      I can’t help but suspect the Romeo and Juliet misconception started to be spread by students who just watched the film. 😉 It is fascinating how much power one performance can have, though. I think audiences really WANT the lovers to be reunited. It’s a powerful moment and one easy to latch onto!

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