‘The Moonstone’ Madness: the Disturbing Miss Clack

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A sense of horror struck me when I was reading the last sentences of the narration of Miss Drusilla Clack. The character that I firstly think as honest, modest and innocent starts becoming so aggressive when she was trying to persuade Rachel Verrinder staying with her after the teen’s mother passed away.
The scene was Rachel decided to go with her lawyer, Mr. Bruff, after she cancelled a planned wedding with Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite. Prior to the moment when she was about to leave with the lawyer, the father of Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite confronted her. He was absolutely disappointed with Rachel’s decision then recalled memories concerning him and Rachel’s aunt.
As the confrontation was becoming weary, Miss Clack was trying to calm the situation down by citing religious verses from the Bible. Instead of cooling this down, Mr. Abblewhite got angrier. I had felt something strange about Miss Clack and my assumption was affirmed when she was attempting to force Rachel staying with her. Miss Clack wished she could make Rachel ‘a Christian’. But her way of making Rachel closer to God was a little bit forceful and improper.
Her narration ended when Miss Clack was saying she forgave Rachel for insulting her while as a matter of fact it was actually Rachel who was afraid of Miss Clack’s method of approaching her.
Days before that, Miss Clack had actually been acting a bit too much in relation to Lady Verrinder. When the Lady was severely ill, Miss Clack, again, wished she could ‘escort’ her relative resting in peace. As such, she was attempting to put some amounts of religious books to her. I think her effort aimed at making Lady Verrinder closer to God and be purified from her sins.
Miss Clack put books in several spots in the Lady’s house in hope that she would find then read them but until the day she was dead the books remained unread. They were returned to Miss Clack instead.
Throughout The Moonstone, this particular person completely confuses me. First, it is quite strange that Wilkie Collins selects her as one of the narratives in the book since she wasn’t present in the birthday dinner of the Rachel Verrinder which later saw the Moonstone went missing.
Miss Clack is, by the way, the niece of Sir John Verrinder, Rachel’s father. Her narration becomes sort of ‘entrapment’ for me after I resume reading the book. I can feel her strong admiration to Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite. She was spying his conversation with Rachel Verrinder on the day he proposed her. Following Miss Clack’s narration of the tale makes me despise Rachel even more (since she is a stubborn girl since the beginning of the book) and put sympathy to Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite. I think the reason why Collins places Miss Clack is to ‘deceive’ readers, at least that happens to me, LOL. You know that I get my guess completely wrong for Mr. Godfrey Abblewhite is the villain of them all because of his huge debts.
Thank God Miss Clack emerges briefly in the book if not, I can’t imagine how ambiguous the novel would be.

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The Moonstone Madness: Collins’ sophisticated way of storytelling

Something new happens as I turn every leaf of The Moonstone. For 430 pages+ my mind has to be in a full concentration reading the book because the mystery surrounding the missing jewel presents me with new twists, evidences, opinions and ideas from characters in the book I mustn’t miss unless I don’t savor the core joy of the masterpiece.
I find it so fascinating that the book runs fast given how it presents readers with riddles, surprises, theories and assumptions along the way concerning who takes the jewel and where the hell it is. Wilkie Collins is indeed a rare Victorian novelist who does what he accomplishes in The Moonstone.
Though the story is all about the missing diamond, you mustn’t guess the plot is simple. In fact, it tells readers more complicated ideas representing Collins’ perspectives. What I once think as mere personal obsession concerning the diamond and history cum superstitions about the precious gem is a first layer on the surface. Because beneath it there lay problems about family conflicts, debts, inheritance issues, stories on estranged people, love and money, reputation, health, drugs and personal disguises. So many themes, right?
And Collins wraps them all so smoothly in the book so you can understand how the book runs so quick to speak them all to readers. I will divide my reviews and opinions and things that bother my mind after reading in several posts. The book is very interesting to be talked about and this is my first post that makes me wonder on how Collins weaves his story.
First and foremost, this is my first experience reading a book from several points of view. I think the story will be from Gabriel Betteredge only as the first person who knows from the start of the pricey gem from Colonel John Herncastle until it eventually be found.

The truth is, Gabriel voices about one third of the overall tale. He tells the readers the past story of the Moonstone until it arrives at the hand of Mr. Franklin Blake, how it goes missing on the night after the 18th birthday of Miss Rachel Verrinder then some attempts to find it by the brilliant Sergeant Cuff.
Just when I think I believe it is Rachel Verrinder is the one who steals it as believed by the Sergeant, the novel completely shatters my opinion. At that time, the novel is only 100 pages long so that means so many things left mysterious as it goes on. This what makes this book starts ‘deceiving’ my mind and triggers my curiosity even more.
As the book enters the one third part, there comes narrative from Miss Clark, one of the relatives of Miss Rachel. Again, Collins deceives me. What I once think Miss Clark as someone so modest, honest and highly spiritual but as her narration moves forward I find myself so irritated by her personality. I will later discuss about her in another post.
Then, another narration comes from Mr. Franklin Blake itself which really shocks me as the reader of the book as much as it rattles the gentleman’s logic. His narrative becomes the most important one throughout the tale as many proofs are eventually revealed to make things even stranger than they already are.
The following of the story are contributed by Ezra Jennings, the assistant of Mr. Candy, a doctor living nearby the residence of the Verrinder family. It is from the assistant that the riddles are slowly answered. From then, one big question on who takes the diamond is discovered. But there remains another big one, who the hell is it now?
To answer this, the narration comes back to Mr. Franklin Blake. Not only the readers will find the whereabouts of the Moonstone but also they will be shocked finding who the real antagonist in the story is.
As all are settled, the narration returns to Gabriel Betteredge who bids farewell to all who enjoy the story. The last part of the book is told by Mr. Murthwaite in a letter to Mr. Bruff, the Verrinder’s family lawyer, as what finally happens with the most-wanted jewel in the masterpiece.
So you can feel how complicated Collins’ way of telling by looking at a number of different people who narrate the story. Different story tellers mean readers are invited to look into their minds and feelings, which, of course, are various. This makes me really admire Collins’ writing technique. It isn’t easy to write from so many angles. His chosen method makes the story even more difficult to lose track of amid reading it.

 

 

 

‘Jane Eyre’ and I; a special literary comeback journey

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I have been immersed myself in reading ‘Jane Eyre’ since last Saturday evening. Oh my.. I have loved it so much. I can’t believe the novel has entertained me, heart and mind, after I watch its movie version then find myself hating it.

It takes me years to have finally given it a try. This is because the film after effect. I dislike it a lot because I despise watching Mia Wasikowska pairing with Micheal Fassbender in Jane Eyre (2011). I like Mia but not Micheal so yeah.. Plus, there’s nothing special for me about it. Just an orphan girl surviving as a governess then falling in love with a manly person performed by Micheal.

As flat as this film leaves a mark in my mind I ignore the book each time I go to Kinokuniya bookstore in Central Jakarta. I mean like, why should I? The novel is considered as world’s greatest literature treasure but its movie version proves there’s nothing fantastic about it so why should I follow people’ choice?

Years before I am deeply into ‘Jane Eyre’, I enjoy reading her sisters’ works; ‘Agnes Grey’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. I love all of their masterpieces. It is not surprising that I am eager to read books by Charlotte Bronte. I firstly want to read her lesser-known books; ‘The Professor’ and ‘Vilette’ but I turn my eyes on other titles at that time.

Shortly to say, I decide reading ‘Jane Eyre’ mostly because I don’t have many reading choices about Victorian Literature in the bookstore. I am a traditional reader who prefer buying books in stores to ordering them via websites because I look forward shopping books in bookstores! The kind of shopping that makes me feeling so much happy, refreshed and confident.

After a series of wonderful experiences reading books by the Bronte sisters I automatically have ‘Jane Eyre’ on the back of my mind. So you may say I read the novel after not many classic books left in the Kinokuniya bookstore. A kind of forceful reason coupled with nature conspiracy regarding the series of experience reading books by the Bronte sisters but hell yeah!!

Now, I am so happy that I buy ‘Jane Eyre’ that rainy Saturday afternoon. The weather was wet but my heart was so cheerful for the first words stole my heart away, as what Victorian writers always do. My reading relationship with ‘Jane Eyre’ is unique, anyway.. It’s like I meet a special man but do nothing to even admit the crush feeling. Just when my heart is sort of empty I meet this guy again, I try approaching him then voila! We click then enjoy our journey at the moment.

That is all I can write at the moment. I share this because I and ‘Jane Eyre’ has an extraordinary linkage. It’s called “I can’t deny my first literary love for wherever I go I will return to it. Always.”

The picture is taken from here

I wish I don’t know that Hardy is a sad married man

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I have long known some bad rumors regarding Thomas Hardy, one of my most favorite authors. He is said to have neglected his wife, Emma Gifford, as they aren’t blessed with any children. They grow apart, emotionally. Hardy is told to have visited other women, including Florence Dugdale, whom later becomes his wife after Gifford passes away.  Hardy regrets of making his wife unhappy then spends his remaining years living in remorse. This state of emotion is told as one of the factors that shade his second marriage with Gifford.

As much as they are true, I wish I don’t know about that. Now I know but I don’t want to make the fact lessens how much I adore Hardy’s writings. Thankfully, I know about all of this after I read his masterpieces. Fortunately. It is like knowing you were actually in danger after you escape from it.

Because I don’t know how would that be if read the books knowing Hardy is unhappy with his marriage. Probably I would discontinue reading his books.

It is still hard to believe that Hardy is a sad married man. That is probably reflected from his books’ tone, which is gloomy, realistic cum pessimistic. Looking at the ways he portrays his heroines, I disbelieve that he is responsible of making his wife unhappy. In my opinion, Hardy’s women are feminists who have super power. The women in his fictions are stubborn but with intelligence, rare ones when they are created in the 19th or early 20th century.

That is why I hardly digest Hardy’s real romance life is quite saddening. That his marriage doesn’t make him satisfied as well. One can barely tell personal lives, problems don’t influence their writings. But I find it difficult to grasp his unhappy marriage life in his novels have I not known about his real life via Wikipedia.

May be Hardy can skillfully separate between the two (his own life and his artificial worlds in his books). Or probably I just don’t get that enough. I am too absorbed into his words. All I know his stories are all very realistic. That’s why I love him so much.

And sometimes I wish I don’t know about his own doomed marriage. Sometimes all I know is his beautiful words, poetic phrases and such. And now, I try to not remember Hardy’s life each time I enjoy his words. I hope I can do this as long as I can.

The picture is taken from this.

When you read a lot but you’re not a writer

What a writer anyway?

Do you have to produce a book to be entitled as a writer? What about writing essays? So you are more as an essayist than a writer? Then, what if you write a lot of posts in your blog, like this blog. You’re a blogger, not a writer?

Sometimes I assume the name of a writer is exclusive, still. That you can only be called as one only after you get your books published. Other than that, you are a blogger, essayist, columnist, depending on what media you put your words on. At least, that what happens in Indonesia. I don’t know in other countries.

I read a lot. I edit every day. Commas, punctuation, periods. I correct writers’ words on a daily basis. That’s my job. Other than that, I curate. I even know the term just lately. Curator. I give critics to people short stories, but mostly I praise with lots of notes here and there. People praise my wide knowledge about literature, reading and book in general.

Sometimes they applaud my editing ability, the skill of clarifying contents. My job is carefully looking at words, finding faults (if any) then correcting them. I can’t tell I am a good editor but I practice this every day because I adore words. I believe words convey wisdom, power and ideas.

I love writing way above editing. I write to feel alive. But what I write is not books. Blog posts, loose articles, opinions or ideas. Lately I realize I prefer writing those because of random, various information that I get by reading, various kinds of topics. I get easily distracted because of my high curiosity level.

That’s why I prefer writing different topics. I know a lot and that is sometimes not good if I have to get committed to long-term projects, like the novel I wish will be published one day.

I sometimes compare myself with my best college friend. She doesn’t read as much as I do. She doesn’t know literature as much as I know. But hey! She is an author. She has one book about children tales. Though the book doesn’t sell well she makes it anyway! And I?

I get too much trapped on theories, best works I have read so far that I think too much before I actually put down my pen into papers. May be I just do what my friend do, write then forget about the rest!

 

I read an Indonesian novel again, at last!

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I have been reading ‘Batavia 1936’ for the past a few weeks. This is the first novel in Bahasa Indonesia, my second language (my first one is Javanese language) that I read after Ayu Utami’s Lalita back in 2012/2013, if I’m not mistaken.

As I write in this post, I have been struggling reading novels in Bahasa Indonesia because I spend much time reading books in English language. Reading books in Bahasa Indonesia feels awkward.  It really is.

I can’t remember how enjoyable reading novels in Bahasa Indonesia when I was a university student, which means some 10 years back. Pragmatically, since I want to write books in Bahasa Indonesia, I have to read novels in the language, whether or not I like the idea. Yes, I know. The motivation sounds money-oriented. Sometimes I feel guilty reading books in Bahasa Indonesia out of money. Genuine writers who happen reading this piece will hate me. I’m sorry.

Anyway, I want to regain the delight of reading local literature though, yes again, it’s more because of money. What you may think as incorrect motivation has guided me learning again how to read stories in Bahasa Indonesia. I kind of enjoying the process.

‘Batavia 1936’ is a romance story that takes social background in Menteng area, Jakarta’s elite neighborhood when Indonesia is still under the Dutch occupation. Batavia itself is the old name of Jakarta before Indonesia gains independence from the Japanese troops on August 17, 1945.

The novel, which sadly doesn’t sell well, is quite rare. The writer, Widya W. Harun, opts writing a novel that doesn’t match with Indonesia’s literary enthusiasts preference who mostly like reading books about modern love story.

I salute the author for sticking at what she believes in. I bet she does a hard job matching her idea with the historical and background at the time. I believe she works hard collecting information to support her book. This makes me liking her already.

‘Batavia 1936’, as I read so far, tells about Kirana and Kirani, two siblings who have their hearts set on one man, Hans van Deventer, a Dutch doctor whose mother is a Javanese. While the essence of the story is not something extraordinary,what makes the novel worthy of my time is because the author brings me back to what happens in Jakarta before it is freed from colonialism.

As I go through page by page, my mind attempts to visualize the houses where the major characters live. I let my imagination wanders through time and space when Jakarta, which is now so crowded, is once a peaceful city. No bus, no trains. But horses and carriages.

As I read the book I try to put myself at the era where women, although like Kirana and Kirani who come from wealthy family, are restricted. I mean the two figures aren’t described as having jobs to do.

Male figures take the helms of the families. They work to make ends meet. While women, for instance, the mother of Kirani and Kirana, is skilled at household; cooking and sewing. The life of the rich people in the book is so glamorous even when television doesn’t exist. They throw expensive parties. They are like celebrities.

So far, the novel is a pleasant one to read. Because I can wholly sense the restriction of culture in it. Though Kirani and Hans love each other they don’t touch or kiss. People at that time holds culture so much that they can respect each other before they tie the knot.

The language is so soft, much different from today’s novels. From it, I can draw the conclusion that the language itself has grown so much. Although I am still a little bit struggling putting all of my heart into the book, I’d love to know how the story unfolds. Will Hans be with Kirani or her sister, Kirana?

Guess my efforts of making a good comeback as a national literary lover has been proven fruitful so far. Yeah, I think myself so.

The picture is taken from this

Another shade of fantasy in fiction

I used to think fantasy is all about the future, something in far, far away land across time and space years ahead. On top of my mind, fantasy stories are one of the hardest genres one can create because it takes superb imagination to put whatever inside our heads into words. Our goals is to make people believe our fictions are worthy-to-read although they are purely out of visualization. You won’t find the background of fictions in any kinds of historical books.

As such, I think The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are genius works. Because J.K Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien create their stories in such detailed and complex ways that they look as if they were real. Each and every little thing is described so exact; the characters, the houses they live, the clothes, the strange creatures in the story… Entertaining, wild but are still meaningful. Their stories are sometimes out of my reach. My realistic nature and my brain can’t cope with their brilliancy.

During the past few weeks I’ve got a lesson about fantasy that broadens my knowledge and shows me another shade of imagination that almost slips away from this little brain. It’s called the fantasy of historical fiction.

Actually, fiction is about fantasy although what you may write happen in the now. Historical fictions challenge me more thinking about the past, hundreds of years before I come to this beautiful world. I can’t stop giving credits to all authors who can create the sort of stories because they don’t live in the actual times and places when the background of the stories take place. All they have are reliable manuscripts, data from newspapers, interviews or researches from scholars about specific time and condition where the stories occur.

But still, they don’t live at that time, in the situation. They make plots, adjust the stories with historical backgrounds. Not only that. They also have to know the kind of language that people use, say, in the 1940s. Since, you know, language also develops over time.

The places may change their names, too. The streets may no longer exist. Also, the social condition. Do the gap between the rich and the poor remain steep? Reading two books about history (one is real and the other is fictitious) informs me how fantasy is indeed sooo diverse. Though yes, you can track the names of the characters in the fiction in historical books or know exactly where this place is located, making stories that take place before you were even born is as much as hard as Lord of the Rings that don’t relate with certain historical timelines.

Although historical fictions are artificial you have to check and double check the years, the title of people with high social status, the names of the places that don’t exist anymore, and many more. Presenting interesting story is a difficult task.. Supporting it with correct facts is challenging, probably require you thinking harder than producing the story itself.