A Series of Unfortunate Events

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Overview
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of children's novels (or novellas) by Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket is the pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler . Snicket is the author of several children's books, serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events and appearing as a character within the series. Because of this, the name Lemony Snicket may refer to both a fictional...

 (the nom de plume
Pen name
A pen name, nom de plume, or literary double, is a pseudonym adopted by an author. A pen name may be used to make the author's name more distinctive, to disguise his or her gender, to distance an author from some or all of his or her works, to protect the author from retribution for his or her...

 of American author Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler is an American author, screenwriter and accordionist. He is best known for his work under the pen name Lemony Snicket.-Personal life:...

) which follows the turbulent lives of Violet
Violet Baudelaire
Violet Baudelaire is one of the main characters in the children's book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and appears in all thirteen books. She is the oldest of the Baudelaire orphans at 14 years old, and often helps her 12-year-old brother Klaus and her baby sister Sunny...

, Klaus
Klaus Baudelaire
Klaus Baudelaire is one of the main characters in the children's book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket who appears in all thirteen novels. Klaus is the middle child of the Baudelaire orphans; he has an older sister named Violet and a younger sister named Sunny...

, and Sunny Baudelaire
Sunny Baudelaire
Sunny Baudelaire is one of the protagonists of Lemony Snicket's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events. Sunny is the youngest of the three Baudelaire orphans, and is described as an infant through much of the series...

 after their parents' death in an arsonous house fire. The children are placed in the custody of their distant cousin Count Olaf
Count Olaf
Count Olaf is the primary antagonist of the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author Lemony Snicket. In the series, Olaf is an actor and is known to have committed many crimes as a member of the fire-starting side of V.F.D. prior to the events of the first book in...

, who begins to abuse them and openly plots to embezzle their inheritance. After the Baudelaires are removed from his care by their parents' estate executor, Arthur Poe
Arthur Poe
Arthur Poe is a fictional character in the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author Lemony Snicket. Poe is a banker in charge of the Baudelaire and Quagmire fortunes and the Baudelaire orphans' guardianship...

, Olaf begins to doggedly hunt the children down, bringing about the serial slaughter and demise of a multitude of characters.

The entire series is actively narrated by Snicket, who makes numerous references to his mysterious, deceased love interest, Beatrice.
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Encyclopedia
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of children's novels (or novellas) by Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket
Lemony Snicket is the pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler . Snicket is the author of several children's books, serving as the narrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events and appearing as a character within the series. Because of this, the name Lemony Snicket may refer to both a fictional...

 (the nom de plume
Pen name
A pen name, nom de plume, or literary double, is a pseudonym adopted by an author. A pen name may be used to make the author's name more distinctive, to disguise his or her gender, to distance an author from some or all of his or her works, to protect the author from retribution for his or her...

 of American author Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler is an American author, screenwriter and accordionist. He is best known for his work under the pen name Lemony Snicket.-Personal life:...

) which follows the turbulent lives of Violet
Violet Baudelaire
Violet Baudelaire is one of the main characters in the children's book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and appears in all thirteen books. She is the oldest of the Baudelaire orphans at 14 years old, and often helps her 12-year-old brother Klaus and her baby sister Sunny...

, Klaus
Klaus Baudelaire
Klaus Baudelaire is one of the main characters in the children's book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket who appears in all thirteen novels. Klaus is the middle child of the Baudelaire orphans; he has an older sister named Violet and a younger sister named Sunny...

, and Sunny Baudelaire
Sunny Baudelaire
Sunny Baudelaire is one of the protagonists of Lemony Snicket's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events. Sunny is the youngest of the three Baudelaire orphans, and is described as an infant through much of the series...

 after their parents' death in an arsonous house fire. The children are placed in the custody of their distant cousin Count Olaf
Count Olaf
Count Olaf is the primary antagonist of the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author Lemony Snicket. In the series, Olaf is an actor and is known to have committed many crimes as a member of the fire-starting side of V.F.D. prior to the events of the first book in...

, who begins to abuse them and openly plots to embezzle their inheritance. After the Baudelaires are removed from his care by their parents' estate executor, Arthur Poe
Arthur Poe
Arthur Poe is a fictional character in the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author Lemony Snicket. Poe is a banker in charge of the Baudelaire and Quagmire fortunes and the Baudelaire orphans' guardianship...

, Olaf begins to doggedly hunt the children down, bringing about the serial slaughter and demise of a multitude of characters.

The entire series is actively narrated by Snicket, who makes numerous references to his mysterious, deceased love interest, Beatrice. Both Snicket and Beatrice play roles in the story along with Snicket's family members, all of whom are part of an overarching conspiracy known to the children only as "V.F.D.
V.F.D.
V.F.D. is a secret organization within the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The purposes of the organization are never made clear, although the name of the organization is connected to various interpretations of the word "fire." V.F.D...

"

Since the release of the first novel, The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning is the first of thirteen novels in American author Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was later released in paperback under the name The Bad Beginning; or, Orphans! The novel tells the story of three children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are orphaned...

, in September 1999, the books have gained significant popularity, critical acclaim, and commercial success worldwide, spawning a film
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a 2004 black comedy film directed by Brad Silberling. It is an adaptation of the The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window, being the first three books in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket...

, video game
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (video game)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a game based on the Lemony Snicket book series and film. The game is based primarily on the movie, which in turn is based on the plots of the first three books of the series: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room and The Wide Window...

, and assorted merchandise. The thirteen books in the series (or "tridecalogy") have collectively sold more than 60 million copies and have been translated into 41 languages.

Origins


The author of the series, Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler is an American author, screenwriter and accordionist. He is best known for his work under the pen name Lemony Snicket.-Personal life:...

, has said in an interview with online entertainment-magazine The A.V. Club
The A.V. Club
The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion. Its features include reviews of new films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. Unlike its...

 that he decided to write a children's story when he was trying to find a publisher for his first novel, The Basic Eight
The Basic Eight
The Basic Eight is the debut novel by author Daniel Handler published in 1998. The book is full of sarcastic plot devices that poke fun at high school English classes, standardized testing, satanic panic and talk-show analysts. For example, Handler labels foreshadowing explicitly as such...

. One of the publishers, HarperCollins
HarperCollins
HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

, passed on The Basic Eight, but they were interested in his writing a story for children. Handler thought it was a terrible idea at first, but met with the publishers to discuss the book. They challenged him to write the book he wished he could have read when he was ten. He retooled a manuscript he had for a mock-Gothic book for adults, which became a "Gothic novel about children growing up through terrible things", a concept which the publishers liked, to Handler's surprise. The first book in the series was The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning is the first of thirteen novels in American author Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was later released in paperback under the name The Bad Beginning; or, Orphans! The novel tells the story of three children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are orphaned...

, released September 30, 1999. When asked in a Moment Magazine interview about the Baudelaire children and Handler's own Jewish heritage he replied "Oh yeah! Yes. The Baudelaires are Jewish! I guess we would not know for sure but we would strongly suspect it, not only from their manner but from the occasional mention of a rabbi or bar mitzvah or synagogue. The careful reader will find quite a few rabbis." Handler claimed that watching the local news
News
News is the communication of selected information on current events which is presented by print, broadcast, Internet, or word of mouth to a third party or mass audience.- Etymology :...

 frequently and seeing the depressing stories of crime, violence and hardship was part of the inspiration of the book series.

Plot summary


The series follows the adventures of three siblings: the Baudelaire orphans. Violet Baudelaire
Violet Baudelaire
Violet Baudelaire is one of the main characters in the children's book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and appears in all thirteen books. She is the oldest of the Baudelaire orphans at 14 years old, and often helps her 12-year-old brother Klaus and her baby sister Sunny...

, the eldest, is fourteen when the books begin; she is an incredible inventor. Klaus Baudelaire
Klaus Baudelaire
Klaus Baudelaire is one of the main characters in the children's book series, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket who appears in all thirteen novels. Klaus is the middle child of the Baudelaire orphans; he has an older sister named Violet and a younger sister named Sunny...

, the middle child, is twelve when the books begin; he loves books and is an extraordinary reader. Sunny Baudelaire
Sunny Baudelaire
Sunny Baudelaire is one of the protagonists of Lemony Snicket's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events. Sunny is the youngest of the three Baudelaire orphans, and is described as an infant through much of the series...

 is a baby in the beginning of the series; she also develops a love for cooking
Cooking
Cooking is the process of preparing food by use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training...

 later on in the series. She has four very sharp teeth and loves to bite things and speaks in random phrases, although her English improves as the series goes on. In The End, she finally learns to speak properly.

The children become orphans after their parents
Baudelaire family
The Baudelaire family is one of several prominent fictional families created by American author Lemony Snicket for his novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events...

 are killed in a fire at the family mansion. In The Bad Beginning, they are sent to live with a distant relative named Count Olaf
Count Olaf
Count Olaf is the primary antagonist of the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author Lemony Snicket. In the series, Olaf is an actor and is known to have committed many crimes as a member of the fire-starting side of V.F.D. prior to the events of the first book in...

 after briefly living with Mr. Poe, a banker in charge of the orphans' affairs. Count Olaf orders the siblings to cook and clean in his gloomy, dirty house. The siblings discover that he intends to get his hands on the enormous Baudelaire fortune, which awaits Violet when she turns eighteen. In the first book, he attempts to marry Violet, pretending it is the plot for his latest play, but the plan falls through when Klaus reads up on marriage law
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

.

In each of the first seven books, Olaf disguises himself, finds the children wherever they are and, with help from his many accomplices tries to steal their fortune, committing arson, murder, and other atrocities along the way. Their roles switch in the eighth through twelfth books, in which the orphans adopt disguises while on the run from the police after Count Olaf frames them for his own murder through use of a body double
Body double
A body double is a general term for someone who substitutes for the credited actor of a character in any recorded visual medium, in shots where the character's body is shown but the face is either not visible or shown indistinctly, or in shots where the image of the credited actor's face is joined,...

. The Baudelaires routinely try to get help from Mr. Poe, but he, like many of the adults in the series, is oblivious to the dangerous reality of the children's situation.

As the books continue, the three children uncover more and more of the mystery surrounding their parents' deaths and soon find that their parents were in a secret organization
Secret society
A secret society is a club or organization whose activities and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence. The term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla insurgencies, which hide their...

, V.F.D., along with several of their guardians.

The siblings are followed by misfortune wherever they go, but occasionally something good happens. In the fifth book, Violet, Klaus and Sunny make friends with the Quagmires, also orphans who lost their parents in a fire which is suspected not to be a mere coincidence. In The Slippery Slope
The Slippery Slope
The Slippery Slope is the tenth installment in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket.-Plot Summary:...

 Violet shares a tender moment with Quigley Quagmire (it is never detailed exactly what happened), who was originally believed to have died in the same fire that killed his parents. In The Grim Grotto
The Grim Grotto
The Grim Grotto is the eleventh novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.-Plot:The book begins where The Slippery Slope left off, with the Baudelaires traveling on a collapsing toboggan down the Stricken Stream of the Mortmain Mountains, leaving Quigley Quagmire...

, Klaus falls in love with Fiona, who later breaks his heart by leaving them to live with her brother, one of Count Olaf's accomplices. In The End, the Baudelaires must rely on their strengths and each other in order to uncover the mystery and finally find a place they can call home.

Each of the three siblings has a distinctive skill that often helps them in dire situations. Violet always invents things to help them, Klaus always finds out information from books, and Sunny has extremely sharp teeth that can bite almost anything into pieces. In The Ersatz Elevator
The Ersatz Elevator
The Ersatz Elevator is the sixth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket. The Baudelaires are sent to live with the wealthy Esmé and Jerome Squalor.-Plot summary:...

, Sunny actually manages to climb up an elevator shaft with her sharp teeth in order to save her siblings from a terrible fate. In later books, Sunny begins to grow normal size teeth and learns how to cook, and that becomes her primary skill.

In the early books, Sunny speaks in single word utterances which are often a variety of incomplete sentences or short word sentences. Their meaning is disguised by being spelled phonetically: 'surchmi' in The Slippery Slope; backwards: 'edasurc' [crusade] in The Carnivorous Carnival, and 'cigam' [magic] in The Miserable Mill; through cultural references: 'Matahari', followed by a definition of 'If I stay, I can spy on them and find out.'; phrases: 'Kikbucit?', the phonetic spelling
Pronunciation spelling
A pronunciation spelling of a word is a spelling different from the standard spelling, used to emphasize a particular pronunciation of the word. The spelling uses the regular spelling rules of the language. Most are nonce coinages, but some have become standardised, e.g...

 of "kick the bucket", i.e. dying, in The End thereby asking if Count Olaf is dead; references to people: "Busheney" to describe Count Olaf, followed by the definition of "you are a vile man who has no regard for anyone else", or being written in other languages: "Shalom" or "Sayonara." Eventually she begins to speak in more complete English sentences.

Setting


The books seem to be set in an alternate, "timeless" version of Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 with stylistic similarities to both the 19th century and the 1930s, though with contemporary, and seemingly anachronistic
Anachronism
An anachronism—from the Greek ανά and χρόνος — is an inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other...

 scientific knowledge
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

. One example of this "technological disconnect" is documented in The Hostile Hospital
The Hostile Hospital
The Hostile Hospital is the eighth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.-Plot and summary:The book begins where the previous one left off, with the three Baudelaire children escaping the Village of Fowl Devotees...

, where the Baudelaire children send a message via Morse code
Morse code
Morse code is a method of transmitting textual information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment...

 on a telegraph, yet in the Last Chance General Store
General store
A general store, general merchandise store, or village shop is a rural or small town store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a small space, where people from the town and surrounding rural areas come to purchase all their general...

, there is fiber-optic cable
Optical fiber
An optical fiber is a flexible, transparent fiber made of a pure glass not much wider than a human hair. It functions as a waveguide, or "light pipe", to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber. The field of applied science and engineering concerned with the design and application of...

 for sale. An "advanced computer" appears in The Austere Academy
The Austere Academy
The Austere Academy is the fifth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was released in paperback under the name The Austere Academy: or, Kidnapping! The Baudelaire orphans are sent to a boarding school, overseen by monstrous employees...

, which, while outdated by current standards, is nonetheless more advanced than the earliest computers; this computer's exact functions are never stated, as its only use in the book is to show a picture of Count Olaf (which both Mr. Poe and Vice Principal Nero believe will keep him away), but in the companion book The Unauthorised Autobiography, one of the letters describes the computer as capable of an advanced act of forgery. Also, in the Austere Academy, Mr. Remora mentions that he watched television at a telling of one of his classroom stories, suggesting television exists as well. One of the few clues to the exact date comes towards the end of the final book in the series, where Klaus mentions he plans to read a set of novels by PG Wodehouse, which would put the novel no earlier than the 20th century. The setting of the world has been compared to Edward Scissorhands
Edward Scissorhands
Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 romantic fantasy film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. The film shows the story of an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation, who has scissors for hands. Edward is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter...

 in that it is "suburban gothic
Gothic fiction
Gothic fiction, sometimes referred to as Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. Gothicism's origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story"...

". Although the film version sets the Baudelaires' mansion in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, real places rarely appear in the books, although many are mentioned. For example, in The Reptile Room, Uncle Monty and the Baudelaires plan a trip to Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

; there are also references to the fictional nobility of North American regions, specifically the Duchess of Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

 and the King of Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

. A book in Jerome and Esmé Squalor's library was titled Trout, In France They're Out.

Recurring themes and concepts


The majority of the books in A Series of Unfortunate Events pick up where the previous book ended, and the plots of the first seven books follow the same basic pattern: each book is thirteen chapters long (only exception for The End
The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
The End is the thirteenth and final novel in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was published on October 13, 2006.- Plot description :...

 where there are actually fourteen chapters making for 170 chapters in total), where the Baudelaires are in a new predicament in a new location with a new guardian who has a literary name
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

. The location of each book's critical events is usually identified in the book's title. Snicket works the siblings' respective skills into the story line. Violet always has something to invent, Klaus always finds a library to do research in, and in the early books, Sunny always finds something to chew on or, in later books, cook, as she begins to grow into her teeth and develops culinary skills (except in The Miserable Mill
The Miserable Mill
The Miserable Mill is the fourth of thirteen novels in American author Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It is to be released in paperback under the name The Miserable Mill; or, Hypnotism! The novel tells the story of the Baudelaire orphans continuing their adventure, but this time...

, where Violet and Klaus swap roles, Klaus being the inventor and Violet the researcher).

Lemony Snicket frequently explains words and analogies in incongruous detail. When describing a word the reader may not be aware of, he typically says "a word which here means...", sometimes with a humorous definition, or one which is only relevant to the events at hand (for example, he describes "adversity" as meaning "Count Olaf").

Despite the general absurdity of the books' storyline, Lemony Snicket continuously maintains that the story is true and that it is his "solemn duty" to record it. Snicket often goes off into humorous or satirical asides, discussing his opinions of various matters, or his personal life. The details of his supposed personal life are largely absurd, incomplete and not explained in detail. For example, Snicket claims to have been chased by an angry mob for sixteen miles. However, some details of his life are explained somewhat in his fictional autobiography, Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography was first released on May 1, 2002. The book's content relates to the author Lemony Snicket and his series of books, A Series of Unfortunate Events...

.

Lemony Snicket's narration and commentary is characteristically cynical and despondent. In the excerpt for each book, Snicket warns of the misery the reader may experience in reading about the Baudelaire orphans and suggests abandoning the books altogether. However, he also provides ample comic relief
Comic relief
Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character, scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension.-Definition:...

 with wry, dark humor. In the excerpt for The Grim Grotto, he writes: "[...] the horrors [the Baudelaire children] encounter are too numerous to list, and you wouldn't even want me to describe the worst of it, which includes mushrooms, a desperate search for something lost, a mechanical monster, a distressing message from a lost friend and tap-dancing". Snicket's narration has been described as "self-conscious" and "post-modern".

Snicket displays a great aversion to macabre elements, but also gives off a sense of squeamishness with passages like the above excerpt. When giving accounts of bravery or resilience on the part of the Baudelaires, Snicket often calls himself a coward either explicitly or otherwise. His tone portrays admiration for the children as well as his own severe insecurity. This contrast between the Baudelaires' actions and Lemony Snicket's bemused, reverent reactions underscores one of the themes of the books. By emphasizing the vitality of the Baudelaire orphans, Daniel Handler seems to urge the reader to find courage in him or herself and in his or her friends and if not to challenge despondence then at least to take it with a grain of salt. In this way he uses the persona of Lemony Snicket as a foil
Foil (literature)
In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character in order to highlight particular qualities of another character....

 for the Baudelaires.

Snicket translates for the youngest Baudelaire orphan, Sunny, who in the early books can say only words or phrases that make sense to her siblings. This becomes less common as Sunny begins to speak real words, one of her first longer sentences in the series being "I'm not a baby" to her sister Violet in The Slippery Slope. The words she uses are often from another language, such as "Arigato" ("thank you" in Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

) when thanking Quigley, or a cultural reference.

When describing a character whom the Baudelaires have met before, Snicket often describes the character first and does not reveal the name of the character until they have been thoroughly described. Lemony Snicket starts each book with a "post-modern dissection of the reading experience" before linking it back to how he presents the story of the Baudelaires and what their current situation is. Snicket often uses alliteration
Alliteration
In language, alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of Three or more words or phrases. Alliteration has historically developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to...

 (repeated starting sounds on consecutive words) to name locations throughout the story. He uses this writing technique for the titles of the books (the only exception being the final book, The End). Many of the books start with a theme being introduced which is continually referenced throughout the book - such as the repeated comparisons of the words 'nervous' and 'anxious' in The Ersatz Elevator, the consistent use of the phrase 'Where there's smoke, there's fire' in The Slippery Slope and the descriptions of the water cycle in The Grim Grotto.

A theme which becomes more prevalent as the series continues is the simultaneous importance and worthlessness of secrets. In the final book, The End, the concept is especially important, as demonstrated by a several page long discussion of the phrase In the dark. Ultimately, however, the mystery of the Baudelaire orphans is never solved. The vast secret consisting of the V.F.D., Count Olaf, the orphans' parents, and so forth remains a mystery. There are several possible interpretations of this—that secrets are unimportant, or that some things are best left unsolved, for example. Clues pointing towards the semi-de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 ending were in the introductions to the books by Lemony Snicket, as we are constantly told to put the books down, and that they will not end well.

Social commentary
Social commentary
Social commentary is the act of rebelling against an individual, or a group of people by rhetorical means, or commentary on social issues or society...

 is a major element in the books, which often comment on the seemingly inescapable follies of human nature
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....

. Although the books are melodrama
Melodrama
The term melodrama refers to a dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions. It may also refer to the genre which includes such works, or to language, behavior, or events which resemble them...

tic and escapist
Escapist fiction
Escapist fiction is fiction which provides a psychological escape from thoughts of everyday life by immersing the reader in exotic situations or activities.The term is not used favorably, though the condemnation contained in it may be slight...

, they also depict "the sinister menace of an all-too-real adult world". The books consistently present the Baudelaire children as free-thinking
Freethought
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas...

 and independent, while the adults around them obey authority and succumb to mob psychology, peer pressure
Peer pressure
Peer pressure refers to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms. Social groups affected include membership groups, when the individual is "formally" a member , or a social clique...

, ambition and other social ills. A high account is given to learning: those who are "well-read" are often sympathetic characters, while those who shun knowledge are villains.

The books have strong themes of moral relativism
Moral relativism
Moral relativism may be any of several descriptive, meta-ethical, or normative positions. Each of them is concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures:...

, as the Baudelaires become more confused during the course of the series about the difference between right and wrong
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, feeling they have done wicked things themselves and struggling with the question of whether the end justifies the means
Consequentialism
Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct...

. In the final book, in an allusion to the Book of Genesis, a snake
Serpent (Bible)
Serpent is the term used to translate a variety of words in the Hebrew bible, the most common being , , the generic word for "snake"....

 offers the children a life-giving apple
Apple (symbolism)
Apples appear in many religious traditions, often as a mystical or forbidden fruit. One of the problems identifying apples in religion, mythology and folktales is that as late as the 17th century, the word "apple" was used as a generic term for all fruit other than berries, but including nuts...

.

Evil characters are shown to have sympathetic characteristics and often have led difficult lives. Similarly, good characters' flaws become major problems. Almost every major character in the books has lived a life as difficult as that of the Baudelaires, especially the villains. The books highlight the inevitability of temptation and moral decision-making, regardless of external situation. This indicates that regardless of one's outside influences, one always has the final choice in whether they will be good or bad. Characters that make brave decisions to fight back and take charge are almost always "good" and characters that just go along end up as "bad". However, people are also described as being neither good nor bad, but a mix of both.

At the end of each book, there is a letter to the editor
Letter to the editor
A letter to the editor is a letter sent to a publication about issues of concern from its readers. Usually, letters are intended for publication...

, which explains to the editor how to get a manuscript of the next book. Snicket is writing from the location of the next book and reveals its title. Snicket notes that the editors will find various objects along with the manuscript, all of them having some impact in the story. For the first three books, the letters are on ordinary pieces of paper. However, starting with the fourth book (which previews the fifth book) each letter has a specific quality to do with the next book, such as torn edges, fancy stationery, sopping wet paper, or telegram form. The letters change dramatically starting with the letter previewing The Carnivorous Carnival. For this preview letter, the letter is ripped to shreds. Only a few scraps remain, one of them showing the title. The remaining letters are difficult to read, and some do not even show the title at all. At the end of The Carnivorous Carnival, there are only a few letters visible, one showing the title, which Lemony Snicket makes an excuse that his typewriter is occasionally freezing due to the cold air in the Mortmain Mountains. The Grim Grottos preview letter has sopping ink. At the end of The Grim Grotto, there are several letters and each of them is torn in half. The letter (which is written on a napkin) previewing the last book in the series simply reads: "To My Kind Editor: The End is near. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket." Without explicitly revealing it, Snicket shows the name of the final book: The End.

There is also a full page picture at the end, showing the state of the orphans, and a hint as to what the next book will be about. This is done usually by showing a flyer drifting by, though sometimes also by a significant object- e.g., a snake at the end of The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning is the first of thirteen novels in American author Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was later released in paperback under the name The Bad Beginning; or, Orphans! The novel tells the story of three children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are orphaned...

, referring to the 'incredibly deadly viper,' and at the end of The Penultimate Peril
The Penultimate Peril
The Penultimate Peril is the twelfth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.-Plot:The book starts off where The Grim Grotto left off...

 the helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium is shown.

Throughout the second half of the series the letters V.F.D dog the orphans, showing several different meanings.

Allusions



To see more examples of allusions to literature and the real world in A Series of Unfortunate Events, see the individual article for any book in the series.

While the books are marketed primarily to children, they are written with adult readers also in mind; the series features references more likely to make sense to adults.
Many of the characters' names allude to other fictional works or real people with macabre connections. More obscure literary references abound, perhaps in keeping with the common theme of being "well-read".

For example, the Baudelaire orphans are named after Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire was a French poet who produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the nineteenth century...

, and Sunny and Klaus take their first names from Claus
Claus von Bülow
Claus von Bülow is a British socialite of German and Danish ancestry. He was accused of the attempted murder of his wife Sunny von Bülow by administering an insulin overdose in 1980 but his conviction in the first trial was reversed and he was found not guilty in both his retrials.-Biography:Born...

 and Sunny von Bülow
Sunny von Bülow
Martha Sharp Crawford von Bülow , known as Sunny von Bülow, was an American heiress and socialite. Her husband, Claus von Bülow, was convicted of attempting her murder by insulin overdose, but the conviction was overturned on appeal...

, while Mr. Poe may be a reference to Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

. (One should also take note that Mr. Poe has two sons, Edgar and Albert, a reference to Edgar Albert Guest.) Strangely, Charles Baudelaire met Edgar Allan Poe, and many of Poe's loved ones had died from tuberculosis, a disease involving coughing up blood, and Mr. Poe often suffers from a terrible cough throughout the series. Also, in the seventh instalment, The Vile Village, Count Olaf's disguise, Detective Dupin, is an allusion to C. Auguste Dupin, a fictional detective created by Edgar Allan Poe.

In the second book, The Reptile Room, the Baudelaire orphans are taken in by Uncle Monty, the famed herpetologist. Monty's name is presumably a reference to the English absurdist comedy troupe Monty Python. In the fourth book, The Miserable Mill, Dr. Georgina Orwell is a reference to the British author George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

.
Another example would be, Isadora and Duncan Quagmire, who are named for the famous American pioneer of Modern dance, Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan was a dancer, considered by many to be the creator of modern dance. Born in the United States, she lived in Western Europe and the Soviet Union from the age of 22 until her death at age 50. In the United States she was popular only in New York, and only later in her life...

.

Jerome and Esmé Squalor's names reference Jerome David "J. D." Salinger and his short story "For Esmé – with Love and Squalor" In book nine, "The Carnivorous Carnival", the story takes place at Caligari Carnival; this is a nod to 1920 film, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari about the eponymous carnival hypnotist who works alongside a troupe of freaks.
Also, most or all of the inhabitants of the island in which the Baudelaires find themselves on in The End are characters from The Tempest
The Tempest
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place,...

, a play by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

. This links together using word play
Word play
Word play or wordplay is a literary technique in which the words that are used become the main subject of the work, primarily for the purpose of intended effect or amusement...

 when Kit Snicket tells the orphans about her story. Historical references are made in the fifth book where Nero, a violin playing head master
Head teacher
A head teacher or school principal is the most senior teacher, leader and manager of a school....

, is named after the Roman emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 who, as legend says, played the fiddle as Rome burned.

In "The End", the character named Ishmael often asks people to call him "Ish". This alludes to Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

's "Moby Dick".

The books are all dedicated to a woman named Beatrice, who is supposed to be Lemony Snicket's ex-fiancé. This may be an allusion to the legendary Italian poet Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 and his unrequited love, Beatrice, to whom he dedicated all of his work after her death. Beatrice is also the symbol of Divine Love who guides Dante to Paradiso in Dante's most famous work, The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

.

Beatrice may also be an allusion to the poem La Beatrice by Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire was a French poet who produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the nineteenth century...

 . The poem references an "actor without a job," much like the actor Count Olaf
Count Olaf
Count Olaf is the primary antagonist of the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author Lemony Snicket. In the series, Olaf is an actor and is known to have committed many crimes as a member of the fire-starting side of V.F.D. prior to the events of the first book in...

. The poem also begins with the line, "In a burnt, ash-grey land without vegetation," similar to the Baudelaire mansion burning down at the beginning of the series.

Genre


This series is most commonly classified as children's fiction, but it has also been classified in more specific genres such as gothic literature, or some variety thereof, whether it is mock-gothic, a satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 of gothic literature, neo-Victorian or "suburban gothic".

Other genres that the series have been described as are absurdist fiction
Absurdist fiction
Absurdist fiction is a genre of literature, most often employed in novels, plays or poems, that focuses on the experiences of characters in a situation where they cannot find any inherent purpose in life, most often represented by ultimately meaningless actions and events...

, because of its strange characters, quirky writing style and improbable storylines and black comedy
Black comedy
A black comedy, or dark comedy, is a comic work that employs black humor or gallows humor. The definition of black humor is problematic; it has been argued that it corresponds to the earlier concept of gallows humor; and that, as humor has been defined since Freud as a comedic act that anesthetizes...

, because of the mix of humorous and macabre
Macabre
In works of art, macabre is the quality of having a grim or ghastly atmosphere. Macabre works emphasize the details and symbols of death....

 elements. They have also been classified as 'steampunk
Steampunk
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United...

', in that they involve anachronistic settings and technology, but can also be classified as adventure.

Books


The series includes thirteen novels as follows:
  1. The Bad Beginning
    The Bad Beginning
    The Bad Beginning is the first of thirteen novels in American author Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was later released in paperback under the name The Bad Beginning; or, Orphans! The novel tells the story of three children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are orphaned...

     (1999)
  2. The Reptile Room
    The Reptile Room
    The Reptile Room is a children's novel and the second of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was later released in paperback under the title The Reptile Room; or, Murder! Having just escaped from the greedy and evil Count Olaf in the first book, the Baudelaire children are now...

     (1999)
  3. The Wide Window
    The Wide Window
    The Wide Window is a children's novel and the third novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was later released in paperback under the name The Wide Window; or, Disappearance! In The Wide Window, the Baudelaire orphans are sent to live with their third...

     (2000)
  4. The Miserable Mill
    The Miserable Mill
    The Miserable Mill is the fourth of thirteen novels in American author Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It is to be released in paperback under the name The Miserable Mill; or, Hypnotism! The novel tells the story of the Baudelaire orphans continuing their adventure, but this time...

     (2000)
  5. The Austere Academy
    The Austere Academy
    The Austere Academy is the fifth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It was released in paperback under the name The Austere Academy: or, Kidnapping! The Baudelaire orphans are sent to a boarding school, overseen by monstrous employees...

     (2000)
  6. The Ersatz Elevator
    The Ersatz Elevator
    The Ersatz Elevator is the sixth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket. The Baudelaires are sent to live with the wealthy Esmé and Jerome Squalor.-Plot summary:...

     (2001)
  7. The Vile Village
    The Vile Village
    The Vile Village is the seventh novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. After escaping Olaf once again, the Baudelaire orphans are taken into the care of a whole village, only to find lots of rules and chores, evil seniors, and Count Olaf and his evil girlfriend...

     (2001)
  8. The Hostile Hospital
    The Hostile Hospital
    The Hostile Hospital is the eighth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.-Plot and summary:The book begins where the previous one left off, with the three Baudelaire children escaping the Village of Fowl Devotees...

     (2001)
  9. The Carnivorous Carnival (2002)
  10. The Slippery Slope
    The Slippery Slope
    The Slippery Slope is the tenth installment in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket.-Plot Summary:...

     (2003)
  11. The Grim Grotto
    The Grim Grotto
    The Grim Grotto is the eleventh novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.-Plot:The book begins where The Slippery Slope left off, with the Baudelaires traveling on a collapsing toboggan down the Stricken Stream of the Mortmain Mountains, leaving Quigley Quagmire...

     (2004)
  12. The Penultimate Peril
    The Penultimate Peril
    The Penultimate Peril is the twelfth novel in the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.-Plot:The book starts off where The Grim Grotto left off...

     (2005)
  13. The End (2006)


There are books that accompany the series, such as The Beatrice Letters
The Beatrice Letters
The Beatrice Letters is a book by Lemony Snicket. It is tangential to the children's book series A Series of Unfortunate Events, and was published shortly before the thirteenth and final installment...

, Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography
Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography was first released on May 1, 2002. The book's content relates to the author Lemony Snicket and his series of books, A Series of Unfortunate Events...

, and The Puzzling Puzzles; journals The Blank Book and The Notorious Notations; and short materials such as The Dismal Dinner and 13 Shocking Secrets You'll Wish You Never Knew About Lemony Snicket. The books were at one point published at the rate of three or four books per year. The endpaper
Endpaper
The endpapers or end-papers of a book are the leaves of paper before the title page and after the text. Booksellers sometimes refer to the front end paper as FEP....

s were "designed in a suitably Victorian style", with cloth binding on the spines matching the colours of the cover.

A paperback release of the full series, featuring restyled covers, new illustrations and a serial supplement entitled The Cornucopian Cavalcade is in progress, with The Bad Beginning: or, Orphans!, The Reptile Room: or, Murder!, and The Wide Window: or, Disappearance! currently published.

Humorous quotes from the series were used in a book published under the Snicket name, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid
Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid
Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid is a 2007 book written by Lemony Snicket. It is a "wit and wisdom" quotation book partly drawn from Snicket's famous A Series of Unfortunate Events. -Contents:...

.

In an interview with the 667 Dark Avenue fansite, Daniel Handler alluded to more Lemony Snicket books focused on the world of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Every book's dedication is to a woman named Beatrice, who is supposedly the dead beloved of Lemony Snicket, who married another and died before the events of the books.

Every book in the main series has a clue in a form of a picture about the next book at the end of the book that can be seen before the letters to the editor. At the end of "Chapter Fourteen", however, a shape of a question mark is seen in the picture (possibly the Great Unknown from books 11 and 13).

Audio books


Most of the series of unabridged audio books are read by actor Tim Curry
Tim Curry
Timothy James "Tim" Curry is a British actor, singer, composer and voice actor, known for his work in a diverse range of theatre, film and television productions. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California....

, though Handler as Lemony Snicket reads books 3 to 5. Of narrating the audio books, Handler has said: "It was very, very hard. It was unbelievably arduous. It was the worst kind of arduous." As such, future narrating duties were handed back to Curry, of whom Handler states: "he does a splendid job". The “Dear Reader” blurb is usually read by Handler (as Snicket) at the beginning, although it is missing in The Hostile Hospital. Handler usually reads the 'To my Kind Editor' blurb about the next book at the end. Starting at 'The Carnivorous Carnival' there is another actor who replaces Handler in reading the two blurbs, although they are skipped entirely in The Grim Grotto. All of the recordings include a loosely related song by The Gothic Archies
The Gothic Archies
The Gothic Archies are a self-described goth-bubblegum band created and largely performed by Stephin Merritt, more famously of The Magnetic Fields. In 1997, Merritt released The New Despair. The EP featured the song "Your Long White Fingers", which appeared frequently in the cult Nickelodeon series...

, a novelty band of which Handler is a member, featuring lyrics by Handler's Magnetic Fields
The Magnetic Fields
The Magnetic Fields is the principal creative outlet of singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt...

 bandmate Stephin Merritt.

Album


In October 2006, The Tragic Treasury: Songs from A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Tragic Treasury: Songs from A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Tragic Treasury: Songs from A Series of Unfortunate Events is the second studio album by indie pop duo The Gothic Archies. It is a concept album whose songs are loosely based on the thirteen books of Daniel Handler's book series A Series of Unfortunate Events.The music, like the writing in the...

 by The Gothic Archies was released. The album is a collection of thirteen songs written and performed by Stephin Merritt
Stephin Merritt
Stephin Merritt is an American singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles , best known as the principal singer and songwriter in the band The Magnetic Fields...

 (of The Magnetic Fields
The Magnetic Fields
The Magnetic Fields is the principal creative outlet of singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt...

), each one originally appearing on one of the corresponding thirteen audiobooks of the series. Two bonus songs are included.

Film


Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a 2004 black comedy film directed by Brad Silberling. It is an adaptation of the The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window, being the first three books in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket...

 is a film adaptation of the first three titles in the series, mixing the various events and characters into one coherent story. It was released on December 17, 2004. Directed by Brad Silberling
Brad Silberling
Bradley Mitchell Silberling is an American television and film director. He is married to the actress Amy Brenneman, who he met on the set of NYPD Blue and with whom he has two children, Charlotte Tucker and Bodhi Russell...

, it stars Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey
James Eugene "Jim" Carrey is a Canadian-American actor and comedian. He has received two Golden Globe Awards and has also been nominated on four occasions. Carrey began comedy in 1979, performing at Yuk Yuk's in Toronto, Ontario...

 as Count Olaf, Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
Mary Louise "Meryl" Streep is an American actress who has worked in theatre, television and film.Streep made her professional stage debut in 1971's The Playboy of Seville, before her screen debut in the television movie The Deadliest Season in 1977. In that same year, she made her film debut with...

 as Aunt Josephine, Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly
William "Billy" Connolly, Jr., CBE is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin...

 as Uncle Monty, Emily Browning
Emily Browning
Emily Jane Browning is an Australian film actress and fashion model, known for her roles as Violet Baudelaire in Brad Silberling's 2004 film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, as Anna Ivers in the 2009 film The Uninvited, as Babydoll in Zack Snyder's 2011 action thriller Sucker...

 as Violet, Liam Aiken
Liam Aiken
Liam Padraic Aiken is an American actor who has starred in a number of films, such as Stepmom and Good Boy!. He starred as Klaus Baudelaire in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on the series of books....

 as Klaus, Timothy Spall
Timothy Spall
Timothy Leonard Spall, OBE is an English character actor and occasional presenter.-Early life:Spall, the third of four sons, was born in Battersea, London. His mother, Sylvia R. , was a hairdresser, and his father, Joseph L. Spall, was a postal worker...

 as Mr. Poe, and Jude Law
Jude Law
David Jude Heyworth Law , known professionally as Jude Law, is an English actor, film producer and director.He began acting with the National Youth Music Theatre in 1987, and had his first television role in 1989...

 as the voice of Lemony Snicket. The film was successful, but many viewers who had read the books were disappointed, as the movie only loosely related to the book. The movie was also criticized because the movie was comical, when the books were solemn and serious with occasional wry humor.

Considering the success of the movie, the director and some of the lead actors hinted that they are keen on making a sequel, but no one has written a script as of yet.

Browning has said that further films would have to be produced quickly, as the children do not age much throughout the book series. Violet and Klaus both have a birthday in the series (Klaus turns 13 in The Vile Village and Violet turns 15 in The Grim Grotto), Sunny becomes a toddler, and in Chapter Fourteen, the children have been castaways for exactly a year. All in all, the children can appear, at most, two years older than they were in The Bad Beginning.

Daniel Handler has stated in a Bookslut Interview that another film is in the works, but has been delayed by corporate shake-ups at Paramount
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

. In June 2009, Silberling confirmed he still talked about the project with Handler, and suggested the sequel be a stop motion
Stop motion
Stop motion is an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence...

 film because the lead actors have grown too old. "In an odd way, the best thing you could do is actually have Lemony Snicket say to the audience, 'Okay, we pawned the first film off as a mere dramatization with actors. Now I'm afraid I’m going to have to show you the real thing.'"

The film takes place in and around Boston, Massachusetts: The envelope at the end of the film is addressed to Boston, Mass.

The film's plot, because based upon only the first three novels in the series, hugely varied from the books, with a fast resolution, which also varies from the books.

Video game


A video game
Computer and video games
A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. The word video in video game traditionally referred to a raster display device, but following popularization of the term "video game", it now implies any type of...

 based on the books and film (more so the film, as the name and many plot elements seen in the movie but not the book are seen) was released in 2004 by Adrenium Games and Activision
Activision
Activision is an American publisher, majority owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA. Its current CEO is Robert Kotick. It was founded on October 1, 1979 and was the world's first independent developer and distributor of video games for gaming consoles...

 for the PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000, in Japan...

, GameCube, Xbox
Xbox
The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console...

, Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Advance
The is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured, and marketed by Nintendo. It is the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001; in North America on June 11, 2001; in Australia and Europe on June 22, 2001; and in the People's Republic of China...

, and the PC
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

 as
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (video game)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a game based on the Lemony Snicket book series and film. The game is based primarily on the movie, which in turn is based on the plots of the first three books of the series: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room and The Wide Window...

. The player plays as all three orphans at points in the game, and encounters characters such as Mr. Poe, Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine, along with villains such as Count Olaf
Count Olaf
Count Olaf is the primary antagonist of the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by American author Lemony Snicket. In the series, Olaf is an actor and is known to have committed many crimes as a member of the fire-starting side of V.F.D. prior to the events of the first book in...

, the hook-handed man
Hook-handed man
Fernald is a villain from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. He is known for having two large and sharp hooks where his hands should be...

, the white-faced women, and the bald-headed man. The game, like the movie, follows only the first three books in the series. Although never mentioned in the game there are some references to V.F.D.
V.F.D.
V.F.D. is a secret organization within the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The purposes of the organization are never made clear, although the name of the organization is connected to various interpretations of the word "fire." V.F.D...

 such as while in the first level a package is delivered from the "Very Fast Delivery Service." The note attached to the package also reads at the end "P.S. The world is quiet here," which is the motto of V.F.D.

Board game


A board game
Board game
A board game is a game which involves counters or pieces being moved on a pre-marked surface or "board", according to a set of rules. Games may be based on pure strategy, chance or a mixture of the two, and usually have a goal which a player aims to achieve...

 based on the books was distributed by Mattel in 2004, prior to the movie. "The Perilous Parlor Game" is for 2-4 players, ages 8 and up. One player assumes the role of Count Olaf, and the other players play the Baudelaire children. Count Olaf's objective in the game is to eliminate the guardian, while the children try to keep the guardian alive. The game employs Clever Cards, Tragedy Cards, Secret Passage
Secret passage
Secret passages, also commonly referred to as hidden passages or secret tunnels, are hidden routes used for stealthy travel. Such passageways are sometimes inside buildings leading to secret rooms. Others allow occupants to enter or exit buildings without being seen...

 Tiles, and Disguise Tiles in play.

Card game


"The Catastrophic Card Game" is the second game based on the books. In this card game
Card game
A card game is any game using playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played, be they traditional or game-specific. Countless card games exist, including families of related games...

, players are looking to complete sets of characters. There are 4 different sets: The Baudelaire Orphans, Count Olaf in Disguise, Olaf's Henchmen and the Orphans Confidants. Players take turns drawing a card from either the draw pile or the top card
Top Card
Top Card was a game show that aired on TNN and produced by Reid-Land Productions, replacing TNN's original game show Fandango. The show aired from April 3, 1989 to March 26, 1993 and was based on the card game Blackjack....

 from the discard pile in hopes of completing their sets. For 2-4 players, ages 14 and under.

Reviews


Reviews for A Series of Unfortunate Events have generally been positive, with reviewers saying that the series is enjoyable for children and adults alike, and that it brings fresh and adult themes to children's stories. The Times Online
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 refer to the books as "a literary phenomenon", and discuss how the plight of the Baudelaire orphans helps children cope with loss—citing the rise in sales post September 11, 2001
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

 as evidence. Although the series has often been compared to Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

 due to the young heroes and the sales of the two series, reviewer Bruce Butt feels that the series' tone is closer to Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

 and Philip Ardagh
Philip Ardagh
Philip Ardagh is an English children's author, primarily known for the Eddie Dickens series of books. He has written more than 70 books including adult fiction and children's non-fiction....

. Handler acknowledges Edward Gorey
Edward Gorey
Edward St. John Gorey was an American writer and artist noted for his macabre illustrated books.-Early life:...

 and Roald Dahl as influences. Mackey attributes the series' success to the "topsy-turvy moral universe".

Criticism


The series has come under criticism from some school district
School district
School districts are a form of special-purpose district which serves to operate the local public primary and secondary schools.-United States:...

s for its dark themes. Citing objections to the suggested incest
Incest
Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

 (referring to Olaf's attempt to marry his distant niece Violet in The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning
The Bad Beginning is the first of thirteen novels in American author Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was later released in paperback under the name The Bad Beginning; or, Orphans! The novel tells the story of three children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are orphaned...

, although his motivation was not sexual in nature, but rather an attempt to gain the Baudelaire fortune) and the word "damn" being said twice in The Reptile Room. Handler later commented that the word's use was "precipitated by a long discussion of how one should never say this word, since only a villain would do so vile a thing! This is exactly the lily-liveredness of children's books that I can't stand."
Access to the books was similarly restricted at Katy ISD Elementary School, Katy
Katy, Texas
Katy is a city located in Harris, Fort Bend and Waller Counties in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area...

, Fort Bend County, Texas
Fort Bend County, Texas
Fort Bend County is a county located along the Gulf Coast region in the U.S. state of Texas within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. In 2000 its population was 354,452, while the 2010 U.S...

.

The series has also been criticized for formulaic and repetitive storytelling.

Sales


A Series of Unfortunate Events has been printed in 41 different languages, selling at least fifty-five million copies as of May 2007.

Awards


In addition to its strong reviews, The Bad Beginning won multiple literary award
Literary award
A literary award is an award presented to an author who has written a particularly lauded piece or body of work. There are awards for forms of writing ranging from poetry to novels. Many awards are also dedicated to a certain genre of fiction or non-fiction writing . There are also awards...

s, including the Colorado Children's Book Award, the Nevada Young Readers Award and the Nene Award. It was also a finalist for the Book Sense
Book Sense
Book Sense was a marketing and branding program of the American Booksellers Association, in which many independent bookstores across North America participated in order to better compete with the large book chains. Bookstores participating in the Book Sense program were expected to display the Book...

 Book of the Year. Its sequels have continued this trend, garnering multiple awards and nominations. Among these are three IRA/CBC Children's Choice Awards, which it received for The Wide Window, The Vile Village, and The Hostile Hospital; a best book prize at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, and a 2006 Quill Book Award, both for the Penultimate Peril. While not technically awards, the Ersatz Elevator was named a Book Sense 76 Pick, and The Grim Grotto is an Amazon.com Customers' Favorite.

In popular culture

  • In Arthur
    Arthur (TV series)
    Arthur is an American/Canadian animated educational television series for children, created by Cookie Jar Group and WGBH for the Public Broadcasting Service...

    episode "Fern & Persimmony Glitchet", the series is parodied with Fern writing letters to Lemony's counterpart "Persimmony" about writing. Persimmony is portrayed as a real and very secretive writer involved in dangerous work (like the fictional writer of the series). At the end of the episode, the gang goes to the signing for a non-existent 14th book in the series. In the episode "I Owe You One", Arthur reads a book called the Belicose Bathroom and on the cover it says Persimmony Glitchet, this is a parody of the fact all the books have alliteration in their title.

External links



http://www.amazon.com/Xtoriez-G-L-Strytler/dp/1465363033/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1319971488&sr=8-2

Avenue interview