Basic guidance before reading the works of these literary giants (2)

The second part of this long post highlights my short analysis about the novels by the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens.
Anne Bronte
If you want to read novels by the Bronte sisters, you can begin with those by Anne Bronte. Luckily, I do start with her books. Reading her books make me feel like I get into her personal lives. Plus, she uses first-person narrations in ‘Tenant of the Wildfell Hall’ and ‘Agnes Grey’. As such, her tales can move you so deeply.
Anne voices feminism, too, like Charlotte Bronte, her elder sister. The difficult life of being a governess becomes her source topic. The harsh life of being a single mother who flees from her own husband because of domestic violence I think at that time is revolutionary, particularly the latter one. Anne tries to break all religious rules through Helen Huntingdon.

Alcoholic husband, infidelity issues mark Anne’s writing achievements. Don’t worry, my friends. Anne’s stories end in happy tones!
Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is a very powerful heroine. She is blunt, stubborn, strong and idealistic woman you can ever imagine. Her faith and how she holds her religious values indeed cause her to face difficult situations. I still imagine the moments she starves that she wants to sell her handkerchief but is denied by a potential buyer. Then she eats porridge that is already thrown by former eater to keep her alive.
Reading the book moves me so much. Not only because of Jane’s firmness holding her values, but also the way Charlotte puts her heroine in difficult tests ever since she is a little girl. I am also amazed how the book doesn’t bore me as it is very thick one. Charlotte’s storytelling brings so much joy despite the tribulations Jane has to bear.
Emily Bronte
First of all, I dislike Catherine Earnshaw given her indecisive attitude. Her unwillingness to take risks to fight for her love. Also to be honest, I can’t say what Heathcliff does is correct. Their love story stirs mixed feeling for me. I call it as a deep, wild and destructive romance you can ever imagine knowing.
I have never read this romance-based fantasy as that frustrating, depressing, furious yet very strong at the same time. And Emily’s writing style is beyond my thought. Beware of physical and emotional tortures in the book for if you really feel them so profoundly, you will be haunted by the sensations they leave in your heart.
Charles Dickens
I think Charles Dickens is the most serious and social novelists in the Victorian era. While others take limited range of topics, such as women lives or people’ attitude at that time, Dickens write many books on child labor, the Industry Revolution, crime, legal affairs and many more.
I find it interesting that reading books by Dickens give me another shade of the Britons’ lives in London, a big city that is rarely touched by previous writers since their settings are mostly in rural areas or villages.
So, Dickens adds knowledge to what really happens in the big city when the machine starts taking over the lives of the people and how it leaves many problems. There haven’t been any writers who are very sophisticated in portraying individuals’ conflicts as he is. As such, reading his works challenge me a lot in understanding little things between characters and how their relations develop into something bigger in the end of the story.
Those are my opinions that hopefully can guide you a little bit before diving into that thick pages, hehe.. I hope this helps you, my fellow readers!

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Basic guidance before reading the works of these literary giants (1)

When it comes to wanting reading books by Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens, surely we must bear in our minds that their works are so lengthy. About 300 pages, depending on the book edition that we have in our hands, are relatively short. Well, yeah. So, first and foremost, we must be very patient, especially those who are first-timers in enjoying their works.
Once we can slowly bury ourselves in the stories, I expect all of you can deeply delve into great literary adventures through their created characters in particular. For each and every author that I mention has the sort of memorable figures that are immersed in readers’ minds.
So here are my thoughts about each of them. I attempt to compose this post according to my experiences reading some of their works. This post may not be fair because of the different number of books that I read from each of the writers but I do hope my share is still worth reading.
Thomas Hardy
You will be wholly entertained by the way he appreciates beauty in daily life. Not only you will absorbed by his way of describing scenery, landscape, but also by his skill of crafting characters.
Hardy’s characters are very strong. His works are associated by characters you won’t forget not only because of their traits but also because of their fates. For instance, Bathseba Everdene who best portrays an independent woman whom, despite her wealthy and high social status, can still be willing to submit herself as a devoted wife.
Or who doesn’t remember Tess Durbeyfield, one of the most beloved literary heroines of all time? Reading her tale makes me learning the beauty of patience, endurance and faith. Her scenes when she walks very long, this happens a few times in the book, still stick in my mind. For me, they depict her struggles in life, the thing we can always look at it as a good example.
All in all, Hardy has special attention to woman issues, their positions in the society, their impacts to the lives of the men they love and their overall personal characteristics we can learn so much.
And by the way, if you dislike stories that end in gloomy, dark and bleak endings then I don’t think his works suit you best. Some of his stories are very depressing, but most of his end in, I call them as ‘realistic way of life that makes you viewing the plots as what human beings normally face in their life stories’.
George Eliot
Mary Ann Evans or popularly known as George Eliot will wow you with her complicated, brilliant way of putting her ideas into a book that hardly bores you. In her ‘Middlemarch’ you will be bedazzled with how she puts and weaves that many characters in the book so as they can relate to one another in such smooth ways.
Eliot’s works touch various subjects. While Hardy puts more focus on women, society and universal moral values, Eliot addresses issues, too, about corrupted religion, sibling relationship, family ties and even politic.
Her writing is very exquisite and deep. Unlike Hardy who prefers ending the fate of the characters in ‘realistic’ ways, Eliot still believes in happy ending, that those do good things completely deserve of enjoying joyful lives.
Jane Austen
Reading Jane Austen’s books is refreshing, silly yet are full of self-mockery. You will laugh at the characters’ behaviors in the novels but at the same time you will like look at yourself at the mirror.
Austen’s works are identified with match-making, dances and parties. You will seem associate them with trivial issues but actually those are the keys of her best works. Because from that social occasions, one can learn into another’s traits, overhears rumors and such. I call Austen’s works are amazing because she takes small things through which she actually voices her criticisms about people at the time the novels are produced.

How Reading Teaches Me A Lot About Self-Commitment

reading

Currently, I am reading ‘Thrawn Janet’, still by Robert Louis Stevenson. It has been taking me a few weeks for reading the short story which is just less than 20 pages. Worse, I don’t even really understand what I am reading about. It’s a triple embarrassment. I have never been this awful.

The hard thing about this short story is that the author, again and again, writes so many dialects in it. It also presents so many writing symbols, such as . Then, it writes the words exactly as they are uttered, like ‘likit’ for ‘like it’. I think they are all about the Scottish language. And you know what? I am so dizzy reading all about that. I really am.

As much as the author wishes to compose the story as original as it is, the method completely drives me insane. But I keep reading it despite the adversity. The experience has been torturing me in the past few weeks but I have kept doing it.

Why?

Because I want to be a damn responsible person. I have to complete what I start, no matter how miserable thing turns out to be. I never expected one of the author’s short stories would be this full of Scottish dialect, how would I know back then?

But deciding purchasing the collected short stories means I have to finish reading all works. I don’t want to put this book into the list of the unfinished novels in my book shelf. There have been some titles and I hope this book won’t be one of them. I am so sick with myself if I don’t keep my promise of reading books that I buy. I can get angry with myself because of that. I can feel so guilty to myself each time I don’t finish reading books.

After years reading books, I have learned how much I can value my self-commitment. In fact, you can measure the level of the self-commitment or train your own commitment through reading books, any kind of reading materials that you purchase then stick at it until the last page.

As a result, I can shamefully tell you that my self-commitment is fluctuating, but mostly I can keep my own words. There are amazing titles that I miss, including Middlemarch by George Eliot, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes and Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Really, I don’t know how I can resume reading the titles. I did try continue reading them but gave it all up, partly because I wasn’t into the writing styles.

If I can give comparison my reading commitment level is 80% to 20%, the lesser percentage is for those partial reading trips. Still pretty good score but I need to work on and reduce the 20% into a lower point.

What about you guys? Do you feel ugly if you don’t finish reading the books you decide buying?

Thank you so much for providing the thumbnail.

The hard life of a distinctive reader

Last Sunday, I and my best friend, who is also a bookworm, headed to my favorite bookstore. The bookstore was located in an upscale shopping mall in the heart of Jakarta. The mall is such a high class one that I go to the place because of the bookstore and its food court. Only the products at the two chains that are affordable for my pocket, LOL! Others are luxurious materials, too expensive for me.

My pal was coming back home bringing two novels, one of which was my recommendation; ‘Wuthering Heights’. I was happy she purchased the book. I told her the novel was by far the best novel that had ever been written. She trusted me.

She seemed joyful but I was not.

The bookstore is the only place in Jakarta where I usually find my treasures (best classics I have always been looking for). While I found it amazing the bookstore was still flocked by visitors since reading habit in Indonesia is saddening, particularly for imported books, I was disappointed that it didn’t provide various book titles from the Victorian Era that Sunday. It was displaying famous novels, the ones that had been reproduced into a lot of versions, such as Jane Austen’s popular books and those of Charles Dickens.

If not the popular titles, the bookstore sells overlooked short stories, which are not my thing. I prefer novels anyway.

I was sad because no more titles by Thomas Hardy other than those I had read; ‘Jude the Obscure’, ‘Far from The Madding Crowd’, and so on. I was hoping his lesser-known books were there, like ‘Two on A Tower’ or ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ yet they weren’t.

I have been longing for reading those unpopular novels by Hardy for quite so long. And I was not really surprised that I didn’t get what I wanted that day. The trouble being a classic reader like I in Indonesia is that I always feel like an anomaly.

Either my fellow bookworms are lovers of novels in Bahasa Indonesia or most of my pals are not avid readers, I always find it difficult whenever I want to read novels by my favorite authors. I can buy them online but for a conventional reader like I, coming to a good bookstore then looking for titles that I like is such a bliss. Looking at the many titles, admiring the books’ covers then feeling my eyes sparkle whenever I find books that I want to buy or new titles suddenly capture my eyes..

You can call overly dramatic but I always love going to a bookstore. It feels like I am about to have an adventure.

I almost bought ‘Sylvia’s Lovers’ by Elizabeth Gaskell that day but I cancelled it because it was too pricey. Sadly, there was only one book at the shelf, which made me even more sober. I also almost purchased ‘Jane Eyre’ but the faces of Mia Wasikowska and Micheal Fassbender really disrupted my intention. The thought they were on a screen for a movie adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ was not my favorite.

I went home empty-handed. I preferred not reading books that didn’t completely fit my interests to being forced enjoying novels that were so-so. If you guys living in countries where reading is very common you guys are so lucky because in Indonesia, reading habit is quite alarming.

Most youngsters here tend love reading popular books, the kind of stories that ‘sell’ romance or motivation. Canon literature is an alien, especially those in English Language. Reading books in public parks is very rare here. Book clubs are scarce, too. I am happy with my reading preference though despite the fact that I have to struggle finding my desired novels.

Savoring the comedy of manners in Jane Austen’s Emma

emma-and-george

Emma is my first experience reading Jane Austen’s books. In one word I’d like to sum it up: I love the novel. It is very entertaining, comical, light, fun. Compared to works by Thomas Hardy, George Eliot and Charles Dickens, reading Emma is such a joy. The kind of happily live ever after story that amuses me so much.

Reading the title is like watching a romantic comedy movie that though for movie-freaks this is ‘shallow’ film, still.. you need watching this kind of movie to loosen your nerves. And Austen has so many things to offer other than just the happy finale.

First and foremost, I’d like to say what I slightly dislike about the writing. As a huge fan of Hardy’s exquisite, sophisticated writing style, Austen’s does not quench me. It is too straight-forwarded, linear, simple. I don’t find many beautiful depictions about scenery, places, wise words and the like. That’s the minus part of the book.

The plus ones? Well.. a lot!

I really love the comedy of the manners in the book. A few instances that made me laugh are the scenes when Frank Churchill going all the way to London just to cut his hair! The most ridiculous one is when Emma rumbles about how Mrs. Elton trying to ‘fix’ Jane Fairfax. I remember I was at the train reading the part Emma wonders what if Mrs. Elton trying to Woodhouse-ing her! I was laughing for a moment. I didn’t care if other passengers were thinking I was nut or something.

The way Austen presents misconduct of the characters, most of whom are wealthy, is outstanding and witty. It seems like for some characters, such as Mrs. Elton, money can buy you house and carriages but it can’t guarantee you good behavior. Austen mocks, I think, each and every character in the book, even for Emma.

I like Emma, honestly. With all of her selfishness, all-knowing, prophecy, misjudgement, I think Emma is a very dear friend. She learns her mistake by comparing Harriet and Jane. I am happy reading on the part that it is Harriet who should be her best pal, not Jane. This, I can relate to myself on days when I tend to put more love to the one who ‘leaves’ me but disregard the friend who is always by my side. You can learn very precious lessons about friendship by looking at the relationship between Emma, Harriet and Jane.

How does Austen ridicule the heroine, then?

Austen makes fun of Emma’s presumption regarding the love life of Harriet. And if you read it carefully, all the lifelines seems going against her conjecture. The fact that Mr. Elton does like her in spite of her suspicion that he has a crush on Harriet is the first of all. Her judgement proves fruitless, too, when it comes to the traits of Frank.

Emma is made to laugh at her own falsehood. But thankfully, she accepts her flaws, mend them before it is too late. That’s how Austen creates one of the most lovable heroine who grows up and learns a lot from her own mistakes. So humanly and that what makes me so fond of her.

The bond between Mr. George Knightley and Emma is beautiful in unthinkable ways. What I like so much about this couple is how Austen opts to unite Emma and Mr. George Knightley, two people with big hearts. I prefer Frank, at first. He is handsome, talkative, sociable person. But as I learn how he is so messy about trivial things, such as getting furious after going out under the hot ray of the sun, I agree with Austen when she makes Emma’s romantic flame dies.

Don’t get trapped with people’ physical traits, that’s the conclusion.

While Mr. George Knightley is very gentleman. Although he speaks satirical, his judgement is correct like when he suspects something’s special is going on between Frank and Jane. Despite his firmness, Mr. George Knightley is an observant. If he is suspicious about something, he doesn’t act. He just knows, unlike Emma who chooses to believe her own suspicions. It is such a pity when he confesses that he is envious with Frank who still wins the acceptance of the people despite the fact of his secret engagement with Jane.

I call Emma as a girl with a big heart due to her relationship with Jane. She keeps on liking Jane, forgiving her in spite of the latter’s ignorance. Also, she forgives Frank although he mistreats her. When Mr. George Knightley and Emma does end up together, I think this is the best kind of love of all in the novel. Austen is very fair on this and the way their story unfolds is very beautiful.

Picture is from here. Thanks for that.

Taking a novel reading break

How are you my fellow bloggers? Oh, well, looking at the last post in this blog, I didn’t update it for about two months. Phew…

So, where did I go during the time? Hmm.. Let me recall the days.

I was concentrating my thoughts on this website www.Inspirasi.co with my co-workers. This website is our main product where you can write, post pictures, upload videos, share audios and collaborate. Mostly are in Bahasa Indonesia. Only a very few of the articles are in English language but just in case, you’d like to drop by..

I have been taking a break from reading Bleak House. The book captures very interesting stories about social condition in London when industry revolution strikes England. Although the core of the story lies on heritage but to a larger extent, the novel is so rich.

Somehow, Charles Dickens’ way of writing doesn’t attract me anymore. Too many ideas within a few pages. I can’t really get into the traits of the major characters. Probably, this is a subjective issue for I prefer reading books by Thomas Hardy.

I will probably resume reading the novel after July or I think I need an ice breaker, a short, lighter novel or may be a magazine to just rekindle the spirit within me to read classic books again. We’ll see…

 

Surprise! Surprise! ‘Bleak House’ isn’t bleak thus far

As the title suggests, I thought ‘Bleak House’ would be all about tears, sadness and disappointments. I was preparing myself to feel that way after I bought the novel. I had read bunch of sad stories so reading another one  wouldn’t be a great matter for me, said I.

I’m still 1/8 of the total pages of the book. I can’t help writing down here what I got so far from the book although my reading is very far from over.

While the book does contain a mournful story about Esther Summerson, one of the main characters in the book, about her childhood, what I instead remember most so far is the presence of two minor female characters who are very comical.

I can’t help smiling when reading parts regarding the two characters. The first one is Mrs. Jellyby, say, an activist about Africa. She aims at educating and improving the lives of the natives of Borrioboola-Gha, on the left bank of Niger. She spends a lot of time taking care of other people while her children, mostly are little, don’t get attention as they deserve. I laugh when coming to the part that one of Mrs. Jellyby’s sons falling down. The part when Mrs. Jellyby’s daughter ‘leaves off biting her pen and makes a return to Esther, Ada and Richard’s recognition’ thus making her looks ‘half bashful, half sulky’ is amusing, too. I can tell these parts signify Dickens’ critics to aristocrats ladies who put so much efforts helping people they may not know all but neglect their own children.

Best laugh, so far, comes when Dickens mentions Mrs. Pardiggle, one of Mr. Jarndyce’s correspondent. Mr. Jarndyce is Esther’s guardian, the owner of Bleak House. If I were not in the train by the time I come to the part regarding this lady, I would laugh out loud. So I chuckle while imagining the faces of Mrs. Pardiggle’s sons when she introduces them to Esther and Ada. The mother introduces Egbert (12), the eldest son, as the boy who sends some parts of his pocket-money to Tockapoopo Indians. She presents the remaining four boys with similar statements, except the youngest one, who swears won’t ever use tobacco and eat cakes.

What entertains me so much is when Esther says how the boys look so ferociously discontent and unhappy. When her mother mentions Tockapoopo Indians, Egbert gives Esther a savage frown. The youngest kid looks even more miserable. It turns out that the children are violent. They pinch Esther when she doesn’t give Egbert a shilling as his pocket-money is ‘taken’ from him. Felix (7), the fourth kid, stamps upon Esther kid and the youngest one terrifies her by turning his face into purple after passing through a pastry-cook shop, absorbed in grief and rage.

I can’t believe Dickens can be this funny after those sorrowful events in ‘The Old Curiosity Shop.’ Truly entertaining. Now, I can’t wait for more surprises and hopefully more foolish parts to come.