Hunter S. Thompson’s Legacy

A few weeks ago marked the five year anniversary of Hunter S. Thompson’s death. Living in Aspen a majority of his later years, most Colorado college writing students are familiar with HST and his gonzo style writing. Hunter S. Thompson was very often tossed off by mainstream journalists as a dope fiend, lazy, and hazardous to the image of his professed career. Yet an in depth study of his writings shows a different HST: a conscientious writer who knew what he was attempting with his writing.

HST was an adolescent who was so focused on writing, he was willing to put himself through exercises that few English teachers (even the harshest) would suggest. He was an author who was willing to sacrifice comfort and safety in order to have complete understanding and factual basis before writing.

This does not add up to an author who was haphazardly a journalist because there was nothing else to keep him out of poverty, creating a form of writing along with a style and voice that occurred accidently due to drug use and laziness. Taking the best and learning from the worst reactions to beat poets and writers, barely a half generation older, Thompson created a form of social criticism and satire that would not only be publishable and taken seriously by those who agreed but could be thrown off as inconsequential by those who did not.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was not a book about drugs. Thompson’s books on political campaigns were not just feeding a personal addiction. All HST’s writings were attempting to make very serious points regarding the state of democracy in America and the idyllic American Dream.

A dope fiend, very likely, but Hunter S. Thompson was not a lackadaisical author. Even his procrastination is evidence of his genius, intentionally placing ideas, patterns, and style within his writing while appearing as if he could care less. Hunter S. Thompson was the perfect author for the first of many apathetic and disenfranchised generations.

Recommended HST writings include:

Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist. Simon & Schuster: New York, NY. 2000.

Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. Random House, Inc: New York, NY. 1971.

Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72. Warner Books: New York, NY. 1973.

Thompson, Hunter S. Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the 80’s. Simon & Schuster: New York, NY. 1988.

The Dilution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

March 5th, 2010 is a date to remember in the minds of Burton/Depp fans the world over. Tim Burton, the king of modern Gothic movies, has combined his unique visions with his favorite actor Johnny Depp to take on the well –recognized story of Alice in Wonderland. However, this newest rendition of Lewis Carroll’s story brings up certain questions regarding the understanding of a classical work created in 1860’s Victorian England.

Originally written for Alice Liddell, often Lewis Carroll’s tale is interpreted loosely as a drug induced nonsensically voyage of fantasy for children. In truth, Carroll’s tale is filled with heavy political satire. Throughout the book Carroll bitingly criticizes the school system of Victorian Britain, beginning with Alice’s self commentary that the only good use of knowledge is repetition for an audience, but “still it was good practice to say over,” (15).

Similar to Charles Dickens commentary in Bleak House, Carroll exposes Britain’s backwards judiciary system as a king requests the jury’s verdict prior to the trial (127). In fact, nothing is sacred in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as Carroll even ridicules England’s traditional institution of drinking tea with his characters of the Mad Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse.

All of these criticisms are artfully disguised in fantasy literature given to the daughter of the head of Christ Church, possibly another tongue in cheek mockery.

Yet these politically minded aspects are often absent from modern day renditions of the story. Burton’s brilliant auteur directorship will be enjoyed, but this newest rendition brings up one important question. Has the mainstream fascination with Alice in Wonderland brought about more interest in the genius classic political satire, or has the media blitz over the years diluted the true art of the novel?

Works Cited:

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Barnes & Nobles Classics; New York, New York: 2003.