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.

Advertisements

YES! I completely enjoy reading ‘Middlemarch’ after some failed trials

This is one of the pleasantest posts I have ever shared here. Last night, I was so happy because I retook Middlemarch that has been standing in the bookshelf for as many months I can barely remember. I couldn’t believe myself that I have been immersed in the classic since then. I am so fascinated and grateful for myself because, hell, I bought the book in 2008, been tempted to read it for like, two or three times, but none of which leading me exceeding page 25, LOL!

I have survived until page 30 so far. What makes me joyful is that I have been enjoying reading it until now. This is a miracle! The recipe is forcing myself reading the words although I don’t exactly what all words mean to me (please underrstand that English language is not my mother tongue, hehe).

While the key is also applicable when I read ‘Sense and Sensibility’, how does ‘Middlemarch’ gets more exciting the more I take in words?

In ‘Sense and Sensibility’, I find it a little hard to thoroughly enjoy all of its contents somewhere in the middle of it. The first pages are easy to be understood. As the story progresses, I can’t help feeling a little bit puzzled.

On the contrary, ‘Middlemarch’ is not easy to read from the very first pages although they describe the beauty of Dorothea and Celia and how both siblings differ from each other. But once I pass through them all, everything becomes delicate to taste, hehe.. Can’t hardly wait to read more of it very soon. The novel is more than 600 pages, probably as thick as ‘Wives and Daughters’ whose fonts are much bigger than ‘Middlemarch”’s. It’s going to be a huge work for me given the very thick volume but I am sure I am going to have a very fascinating adventure as long as I enjoy reading it. And so far, it has been hell of a good one.

Very much thanks I would like to say to Joshua Becker, the founder of becomingminimalist.com, who reviews an article by Emily Esfahani Smith about what makes one’s life actually happy and meaningful. Not only her story is  very interesting to read, Emily cites a very fine example to support her view from ‘Middlemarch’.

If I already know what ‘Middlemarch’ is all about then why the hell must I read it again? You may ask me that question.

It’s because I have been long curious what makes the book is very widely-accepted as one of the best novels ever written of all time. Plus, George Eliot writes it. I love her writing style and her ideas though not all of her works end in happy notes. I still remember the joy I have reading ‘The Mill on the Floss’. Although ‘Adam Bede’ a little bit confuses me, I am enchanted by its happy ending. All in all, Eliot’s works never fail satisfying my curiosity. That what makes me idolizing hers.

The picture is taken from this 

 

After reading ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Revisions from previous post

I am so relieved that I complete reading ‘Sense and Sensibility’ because  I am freed from reading such hard novel despite simple stories in it. I write about why the novel is a difficult reading material in previous post.

I don’t actually completely understand the whole plots because of the language but somehow I manage finish reading it. So I’m happy that I fulfill my own promise. Because of the writing technique which is much harder than in ‘Emma’, I don’t really enjoy reading ‘Sense and Sensibility’. But I do salute that the title emphasizes much on sisterhood rather than romance itself.

I, too, appreciate Jane Austen who brings up social and marital conditions at the time the book is created so that readers can clearly comprehend why money and wealth play very important roles in marriage. The case of Willoughby proves this fact.

Anyway.. I would like to correct what I post previously because I don’t yet finish reading the novel.

First of all, Elinor Dashwood is married to Edward Ferrras, which surprises me somehow. It turns out Lucy has an affair with Edward’s brother, Robert. Then, Marianne Dashwood becomes the wife of Colonel Brandon though their wedding doesn’t take immediately after Elinor and Edward’s.

It’s a tale eventually ends happily for all protagonists, and almost all figures in it. Another relief for me after going through such a complicated writing style. Thank you, Jane Austen!

‘Sense and Sensibility’ such a reading challenge for me

Reading ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is like diving into a deep ocean without having sufficient diving or snorkeling tools. Honestly, I don’t really enjoy reading the book not because it tells a boring story or easy to predict. But it’s more because I find Jane Austen’s language is too heavy for me. Too polite, too abstract. The book’s language is much higher than Emma’s.

Emma is more cheerful with a lot of dialogues here and there. But Sense and Sensibility contains lesser number of conversations. Jane Austen applies difficult writing style here. My mind finds it hard to even describe what goes on in the scenes given Austen’s well-chosen words.

Sense and Sensibility is more decent than Mary Barton, the one which I used to think the softest novel I have ever read. Sense is so sensible that it sometimes sounds too dramatic but another time it makes the pain endured by Marianne and Elinor seems so devastating.

I have never come across a woman whose heart is so completely broken by a man who doesn’t even declare his love than Marianne. And I have never found a female leading protagonist whose fate is stagnant as she gets herself busy takes care of the affairs those surrounding her than Elinor Dashwood.

Sense and Sensibility offers more than love but the novel is extraordinary because it conveys messages about family relationship, social and marital conditions at that time. Of all Victorian classics that I have read so far, no books that highlight the importance of money, so essential that you have to mention the calculation of your property, than those by Jane Austen. In this novel, such calcuulations play very important roles that even Willoughby leaves Marianne in exchange of a high social status by marrying a rich woman.

On the contrary, Edward Ferrars opts to be expelled from home and loses his inheritance as a consequence of marrying Lucy, an ordinary woman with no wealth. Jane Austen portrays this fact in such polite ways that readers are left to take their own perceptions about that. It’s funny that the book stands out not only because of the romances of Marianne and Elinor but also because of people’ behaviors in the 19th century.

All of these themes are beautifully, courteously captured in the book.

I wish I were Austen’s Elinor Dashwood

I wish I were a mysterious being like Elinor Dashwood. I hope I have a lot of masks to put on whenever I need it the most just like her. Of all fictional heroines that I have enjoyed so far, Elinor is the one who makes me envious. She is the one of the kind who knows how to handle her heart with so much care. You can call her a hypocrite for frequently hiding her emotions. Once you realize letting them out in whatever moments you are in may cost you a lot, you understand Elinor behaves the way she does.

Elinor is a very interesting character because she is so reserved. She is the sort of person everyone loves being around with. She knows how to interact with the so-knowing-it-all-people affairs like Mrs. Jennings. She can, too, befriend with the woman who steals the heart of the man Elinor admires so much, Lucy. As much as she wants to cry it all out when she knows Lucy is engaged and later is married to Edward Ferrars, Elinor keeps her promises of not telling every one about the secret engagement.

When her heart is still broken because of Lucy and Edward, Elinor manages to console her sister, Marianne, as Willoughby leaves her for another woman. Elinor puts forward her brain and logic when it comes to love that results in the despises from her mother and Marianne. It turns out that Elinor’s suspicions about Willoughby are indeed true.

The way Elinor is so patient with everything happening to her life and those around her is amazing. She isn’t trapped in materialistic view of the people surrounding her. Elinor is very strong woman, so tough that she can withshield the sadness in her heart for months. Even so, her life is so full of patience. On the surface, Elinor’s life seems flat and boring as she has to wait and see for all things to come into her life. Not many active actions she actually does to pursue her dreams, unlike Marianne to Willoughby.

Yet in her circumstances, she has no other better options. She can’t force her feelings to Edward while Colonel Brandon, as I come to the page of 279 out of 367, remains attached to Marianne. So Elinor keeps trying being cool and patient while watching things turning out as they are. And that is the damn difficult thing one can ever have to do.

‘Sense and Sensibility’, my second escapade with Jane Austen

sense and sensibility

For how many times I can’t remember I made a vow to myself which I knew I was going to break it. Before the payday came this Tuesday, I promised to myself I wouldn’t buy a book because I have planned saving a sum of money for other things. Only a few days I kept this promise as yesterday I went to the Kinokuniya bookstore after my job was done. I couldn’t help fighting against the temptation of not reading a novel. So even if my money is so tight I kept going there. Even when I have known I can’t expect the bookstore offers more classic titles I went home bringing Jane Austen’s evergreen romance story, ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Although I once watched its movie version I kept purchasing it because I have known written version will always be much more joyful for a reader like me.

The best realistic thing about Victorian books is that they are sold in various editions that match with my pocket. I bought the book edition at just around US$7 (see picture), which is still very affordable for me. I can still enjoy a very lovely story under cheap price. I actually wanted to buy ‘The Vegetarian’ but the price is too high for me at the moment. So never mind with ‘Sense and Sensibility’, though.

I watched ‘Sense and Sensibility’ years ago. All I remember is Kate Winslet still looks so young at the movie.  I don’t even know the name of the actress who plays the oldest one as the central protagonist of the book. I was considering my experiences of having watched the movie version before I bought the canon. As the amazing experience of reading ‘Jane Eyre’ after watching its movie version proves my capability of enjoying the novel, I grabbed ‘Sense and Sensibility’ then headed home.

Unlike ‘Emma’, which was opened with rather cheerful tone, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, so its first pages suggest, invite me to probably read it in a serious mode. So far, I am at its first 13 pages so I can’t say many things yet other than the novel is quite solemn. Since I am accustomed of reading books by Thomas Hardy which are way stressful than Austen’s I bet ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is not that much depressing. At least let’s hope this classic isn’t as distressing as ‘Jane Eyre’.

 Thank you for providing the picture.

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.