Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What Daria Morgendorffer Read

I remember when Daria was on television. The animated series was on MTV from 1997 to 2002. During those years, when I was young adult who was just making her way in the world, I either didn't own a television or, if I did have a TV, I didn't have cable television. So, for the most part, I missed the show's five-season run.
Daria, seen in the bottom panel wearing glasses, had a sharp wit and was well read.
Image via Aerogramme Writers' Studio website

Since the series ended in January 2002, Daria has increasingly become viewed as one of the smartest animated shows ever to air in the history of television. And it remains loved (and much remarked upon) by many who came of age in the 1990s/early 2000s. Not too long ago, I finally committed to sitting down and watching the entire series on DVD, just to see what I missed out on. Although the animation style didn't appeal to me, I did see smartly written female characters. I appreciated the show's sharp satire, and I laughed out loud at the dry, deadpan delivery of the eponymous character, Daria Morgendorffer.

Daria as a character was fearless in that she was unapologetically herself in the cookie-cutter (fictional) suburb of Lawndale. Despite the continued admonishments of her parents, who wanted her to fit in for her own social benefit, and in the face of the ever-growing popularity of her vacuous, conventionally pretty kid sister, Quinn, Daria stood fast in remaining an original. 

In addition to her strong self-confidence and sense of self, Daria was also extremely smart. On many occasions, she cleverly and openly mocked her bland high school peers, and her comments often went straight over their heads. She was also very well read. (That Daria was so well read was a stark departure from the animated series that Daria the show was spun off from: Beavis and Butt-head, whose two central characters were dimwits who reveled in low-brow humor and were anti-academic in their approach to life.) 

Throughout the series' respectable run, Daria was often shown reading a book, or the show itself referenced books. Aerogramme Writers' Studio, a Melbourne, Australia-based publisher of "news and resources for emerging and established writers," compiled a list of all the books that Daria read or that were mentioned on the show. Fifty-seven books make up the list, and some of them are:

  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • The Life and Complete Work of Francisco Goya by Pierre Gassier
  • Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
  • Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

That's quite a scholarly selection of books. Even more impressive is that they were referenced on a cartoon show airing on MTV and that the central character, a high school girl, was shown reading. When you think about it, that's pretty amazing. 

To see all 57 books on "Daria Morgendorffer's Reading List," go to the Aerogramme Writers' Studio article at THIS LINK. What's great is that for the books on this reading list, Aerogramme Writers' Studio provided links to FREE e-book editions wherever possible. Thanks, Aerogramme Writers' Studio!

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