Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a children's book series by Daniel Handler, writing under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by Brett Helquist. There are 11 books in the series as of 2004, but it is expected that the final series will consist of 13 books, excluding any companions Snicket decides to include, such as The Unauthorized Autobiography. The first book in the series, The Bad Beginning, was published in 1999 by HarperCollins Children's Books.
The series follows the lives of the three Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, after the sudden deaths of their parents in a fire at their family home. In The Bad Beginning they are sent to live with their distant cousin Count Olaf, a most unpleasant evil man. He has many colorful henchmen, including the Hook-Handed Man. In the following books, Olaf often disguises himself to get nearer to the orphans in hope of stealing their fortune someday. The orphans routinely try to get help from their parent's financial advisor Mr. Poe, but Poe is often oblivious to Olaf and the danger he represents. He assumes that Olaf is a very generous man for watching the Baudelaires, but soon realizes that Olaf is a villain and the horrors that are around him.
Much is made of the unhappy nature of the story. The books' back-cover blurbs warn the reader of the dreadful things described within each volume and respectfully suggest reading something else instead. Each volume begins with a dedication to the memory of Lemony Snicket's beloved Beatrice (from The Bad Beginning: "To Beatrice — darling, dearest, dead.").
While the books are marketed primarily to children, they are also written with adult readers in mind; the series features many references likely to make sense only to adults. Many of the characters' names allude to other fictional works or real people with macabre connections. For instance, the Baudelaire orphans are named for Charles Baudelaire, and Sunny and Klaus take their first names from Claus and Sunny von Bülow; Uncle Monty warns the children never to let the Virginian Wolfsnake near a typewriter, referencing both Monty Python and Virginia Woolf; and Snicket's dead former lover Beatrice may be a reference to Beatrice Portinari.
Although the books can be classed as 'steampunk', in that they involve young people struggling against great odds in an anachronistic setting, the addition in later books of the mysterious organization known as V.F.D. have begun to push the story into the new genre of post-steampunk(in the same way that later editions to the cyberpunk genre are now classed as postcyberpunk).
Most of the series of unabridged audio books are read by actor Tim Curry, though Books III-V are read by Handler as Lemony Snicket. All of the recordings include a loosely related song by The Gothic Archies, a novelty band featuring lyrics by Handler's Magnetic Fields bandmate Stephin Merritt.
The books released in this series to date are:
- The Bad Beginning
- The Reptile Room
- The Wide Window
- The Miserable Mill
- The Austere Academy
- The Ersatz Elevator
- The Vile Village
- The Hostile Hospital
- The Carnivorous Carnival
- The Slippery Slope
- The Grim Grotto
In addition, Handler has also written Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, a companion book to the series.
- The children are left in the care of eccentric and inadequate guardians.
- Lemony Snicket narrates with respectful subtle humor usually when explaining words, details and especially analogies.
- Count Olaf will usually show up in disguise that only the children would recognize him in.
- Violet's inventions, Klaus' knowledge and/or Sunny's sharp teeth save them from tragic events. (Though in books 9-11, Sunny has developed cooking skills.)
- There is the secret of Olaf's tattooed ankle and the organization V.F.D.
- Arson is a common feature in the series.
- There is usually a moral sometimes about appreciating those who you have and the good moments you have that make one determined to survive their misfortunes.
- Lemony Snicket often uses a deliberate spoiler for suspense.
- Count Olaf will always escape last minute.
- Count Olaf will often have one disguised assistant. (The Hook-Handed Man, the person of undetermined gender, the bald man with the big nose, or the two powder faced women.)
- Mr.Poe almost always coughs. He usually uses a handkerchief
- In the latter half of the series, new accomplices join Olaf and his troupe. They are usually people that the Baudelaires shared a bond with before they crossed over to the wickedness that is Olaf.
- In each book, more and more of the secrets of V.F.D. are discovered
A film version, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on the first three books, was released on December 17, 2004. It stars Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine, Emily Browning as Violet, Liam Aiken as Klaus, Kara & Shelby Hoffman as Sunny, and Jude Law as the voice of Lemony Snicket. The film tie-in editions of the novels feature a variation on the usual reverse-psychology blurb: the blurb takes the form of a message from Count Olaf, listing the good points of the story (such as "a dashing count") but suggesting that it would be much easier and less boring to watch the movie instead.
Considering the success of the movie, director and lead actors hinted that they are keen on making sequel, however they are a bit in "Catch 22", since script writers haven't written a script yet. According to director Brad Sibling, the second movie will evolve on next couple of books. Sibling also is quite unhappy that the filming process took 7 months instead of 7 weeks as he claims he could shoot the movie.
- Lemony Snicket official website
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events Movie-Official Website
- V.F.D. BECOME A MEMBER
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