Review: Caleb Williams by William Godwin

Caleb Williams William Godwin

 
This review will look at the entirety of the books contents because it is a classical piece. I don’t, however, what to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read the book so if you wish to continue it is at your own risk with the knowledge that spoilers will occur.
Caleb Williams follows the protagonist through his discovery of a big secret his master, Falkland, has kept from the world. It also looks at how this affects Caleb’s life after this discovery and also focuses on the power of the mind, especially when he is imprisoned. Caleb is framed by Falkland because of his discovery (which I will avoid mentioning if at all possible so there is still an air of mystery to the novel) and taken to jail, where his character grows and learns how his curiosity lead him to this point.
One of the big parts of the book is that the main characters in the novel all have a different hubris. For Caleb it is his curiosity; for Falkland, his pride; and for Tyrrel, it is his anger. These dominant characteristics are what leads to the downfall of each character and they are all very human, very ‘sinful’ flaws. But the difference lies in Caleb’s self-reflection during his time in prison, where he maintains his homosocial affection for Falkland despite their disagreement.
One part of Caleb’s personality that I find oddly admirable is his loyalty towards Falkland. It isn’t until the very end of the book where he reveals the secret, which inevitably leads to Falkland’s death. He keeps this despite all of the torment he is being put through and this is something that I find both very stupid but very loyal.
The book is sectioned into three parts and the first details many circumstances that led up to the happening of the secret and in this time, I grew to favour the character of Emily. She is Tyrrel’s ward and her personality is very kind and likeable but also very passionate. She defies Tyrrel when he wants to marry her off, to the extent where she runs away. However, this ordeal leads her to fall ill and unable to recover. I sympathise with Emily because she stands up for her beliefs in a true feminist fashion but she is persecuted by Tyrrel for doing so. This could also be where my dislike of Tyrrel comes from.
Overall, this book illustrated to me the power of wealth and the mind but also that pride can be a melancholy attribute.
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NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I have only participated in National Novel Writing Month once (which was 2 years ago now) and I did
thoroughly enjoy taking the time to do so. There was a feeling of elation as I hit 50,000 words that
cannot be compared to any other achievement.

For those unaware, NaNoWriMo is a challenge set to people, who may or may not consider
themselves to be writers, to write a novel in 30 day. For the purpose of the challenge, a novel is
distinguished as 50,000 words, which works out at around 1667 words a day.

NaNoWriMo is a good way to break the barriers of writer’s block, not having time or not being
focused enough and I learnt from it that if I really focus on something that I could actually write a
novel if I wanted to. And I do want to.

On the other hand, I do find that NaNoWriMo can give people a sense of false hope, insofar as they
believe having written a novel in 30 days they are publishable. This is highly unlikely. I’ll be the first
to admit that even though NaNoWriMo was a milestone for me and I’m proud to have completed it,
I wouldn’t dare show anyone the novel that I’d written.

I chose to go over my novel a few months ago to see if it was something that I could pick back up,
because I loved the idea and did think that I could produce some good work with it, if I started from
scratch and really worked through the plot. What I didn’t realise was that I had walked into a 17
year old mind with a somewhat dubious grip of complex grammar and even the odd spelling mistake
(even though I’m an English student, I’m far from excellent and I’ll never be a grammarian). It was
quite an experience.

What I can say is that, looking back on my NaNoWriMo novel has helped me to realise how far I have
progressed as a writer in that period of time and that I now have the ability to go over my work and
edit it to a degree that makes me happy. I also wonder if 21 year old me will go back to the novel
again and wonder what on earth the present me was writing, but I’ll have to wait to find out.

I do advise that you try out NaNoWriMo, they run a ‘camp’ all year round if you can’t participate
in November. I think it is a useful for understanding yourself as a writer. It helps you find out what
makes you tick and motivates you to keep going, because having the motivation to write can be just
as important as the words themselves.

‘This post can also be read at Brit Writers

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Novel Notions: Reviewing my 17-year-old self.

Novel Progress


Word Count: 54,133
Chapters: 9
Pages: 99
Pages Edited: 15
Aim by 20th July: 25 pages edited and Prologue released.

It’s a bizarre experience to look back at your own work from years previous. I’m sure many writers would agree with the statements I’m about to make. In this case, I started writing a novel in 2010, as part of National Novel Writing Month, and have recently found the time to continue it. I’ve tried several times to continue writing, but I found that I had to concentrate on exams, essays and other deadlines and just didn’t have the time to really commit to working on it. So I decided that while I’m working and I don’t have any University work to do, I would set aside some time to work on it.

I quickly realised that after having such a limited amount of contact with the novel that some of the finer details had escaped my memory so I decided I would re-read what I’d currently written. This was when I realised that the current 19-year-old me and and the then 17-year-old me, had totally different writing styles. So I would have to edit the whole thing before I could even begin to write any further.

This is currently the stage where I’m at with regards to progress, as you can see at the top of this blog. My aim in relation to how my blog will relate to my writing is to update either once or twice a week on my progress and give you guys a bit of information about characters and some snippets of prose too, when I’m feeling generous.

One of the first things that I found that will need some severe hacking and re-wording was my love of run-on sentences and I will endeavour to fix them all within the first draft. It’s mostly odd because, even though I know no-one will read it until I let them, while reading certain parts, I’m almost embarrassed by my writing. I would still say in no way are my grammar and spelling perfect or near that, but I can say with confidence that my progression in the two aspects have improved since I was 17. So its almost like I don’t recognise my own writing at some points.

Another thing I discovered when reading through is that some parts didn’t make complete sense. What I mean to say is that I made sense when I wrote it, though looking back it doesn’t. Meaning that I’m either missing something as my current-self or my then-self just forgot that conveying meaning through writing is an essential skill for a writer. Here’s an example; I started a paragraph with,

“Now I had no idea what would happen,” 

then two lines later, referring to the same thing,  had written this;

trust me, I know what happens.”

The whole thing just confused me. So I deleted it. It wasn’t intrinsic, so I felt a slight cleansing feeling as my finger fixed itself to the backspace button.

So, I will update again with Novel Notions on the 20th if not before, it will depend on my progress. Keep you eye out though because I will be adding some Character Bios and hopefully the Prologue so you can get a sneaky preview of the Novel. Since I realise that I’ve not actually told you anything about it then it should be quite the opening to the world of my writing.

Take care!

Kyra x

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