Friday, November 21, 2014

Jane Eyre: Logic and Rhetoric-Stage of Reading

What does Jane Eyre want? What is standing in her way? And what strategy does she pursue to overcome this block?

Jane wants to live happily with Mr. Rochester, but she also wants to be independent. Unfortunately, Mr. Rochester has been married, and living with him would degrade her, and in the end make her dependent. She sacrifices her happiness by eluding her master, thus gains honor and independence.

Who is telling you this story?

Jane tells her story from first point of view, and she often confused me while telling the readers what others were asking her, while using her point of view. And because Jane is a reserved and typical of Victorian women, this story becomes rather flat. I wished Charlotte Brontë wrote it in third POV and let us delving into Mr. Rochester’s mind and feelings more often. :D

Beginning and ending

The story begins with passivity and stagnation. “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” Although it does not sum up the whole story, there is an impression of dependency in that opening line. I don’t know whether Charlotte Brontë meant to do that (I believe she did not), but Jane Eyre’s early life is really hinder her from freedom.

The ending is the resolution. I believe whatever would happen in her marriage, Jane has reached her independence.

Do you sympathize with the characters? Which one, and why?

This might be strange, but I sympathized more with Mr. Rochester than with Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is a woman with strong character. I knew from the beginning, she would be able to take care of herself. Mr. Rochester is far more vulnerable. He seems to be so strong and powerful when Providence took him in her embrace, but when unfortunates and sorrows came one by one to his life, he became lifeless. Actually, it is Mr. Rochester who is dependent. He needs someone to support him to live; he needs his seemingly-fragile Jane Eyre more than Jane needs him. I kept thinking, what would become of Mr. Rochester if her lunatic wife didn’t die soon? He would be desolate and degraded to the lowest level!

Did the writer’s times affect her?

Yes, very. Had Charlotte Brontë written this in more modern times, Jane Eyre would have revealed her passion and vigor more often, and the reader could have related more with her.

Is there an argument in this book? Do you agree?

People consider Jane Eyre as a feminist novel. I am not a feminist, as I always believe that men and women are created differently. There is no such absolute equality, because they have their own strength and weakness. I think when Jane leaves Thornfield, it is because she wants to keep away from temptation which would then degrade her to sin. Had Mr. Rochester been flawless, she would have pleasantly accepted the marriage. It is not because Mr. Rochester is blind and crippled, and because she is now a rich woman, that Jane finally consents to marry him. The obstacle, in my opinion, has only been Mr. Rochester’s marriage status. I think it is more about morality than feminism.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Play On: Plays Challenge in 2015

As if my own Literary Movement Reading Challenge is not yet enough for next year, I am going to participate in Listra’s Play On challenge. I have been craving for reading plays since my 2012 plays challenge. And this one is only for four month, so I thought…why not? I think I’d be able to slip one play to each (already busy) month. Maybe, it would bring some fun in the middle of thorough analysis and study of the lit movement challenge!

Some of the plays I intended to read for this challenge (I might read more if I still have time):

January: Ancient Plays
Agamemnon by Aeschylus

February: Renaissance Plays
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

March: Post-Renaissance Plays
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

April: Freebie Plays
Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie

Here’s the post about this Play On event if you want to join in. One thing is disturbing, the button reads (the year) 2014, while it should be 2015. Hope Listra would be able to repair it soon…

Monday, November 17, 2014

Book Kaleidoscope 2014

Near the end of the year is the perfect time to highlight our reading lives for the whole year we are about to leave behind. That is the main purpose of this feature—now the third year—Book Kaleidoscope. It is my way of wrapping up and rewinding my yearly reading, at the end of it. Now I invite you all to participate in the Book Kaleidoscope 2014.

Same as last year, here are the details,

  • There will be five categories and five separate posts for each.
  • Each post will have its own linky; each will be opened until January 15th, 2014.
  • The linky will be opened below each of my posts.
  • I will post according to my own scheduled date, but you can choose your most convenient time to post it, as long as it’s not later than January 15th.
  • You can use any books to join (don’t have to be classics, but it must be fiction).
  • I’d be grateful if you put a link back to this master post in your Book Kaleidoscope posts, but it’s not obligatory.

Day 1 - Top Five Book Boy/Girl Friends

From all the books you have read throughout the year, rank five male characters (if you are female) or five female characters (if you are male) you loved most. Tell us the reason, and it would be great if you use images to describe them (if the book has been made into movie, you can share photo(s) of the best actors/actresses to perform them).
My post schedule: 26 December 2014

Day 2 – Top Five Most Memorable Quotes

Do you have any quotes that touched you deeply or reminded you of something special from what you have read this year? Pick five that were most memorable to you, rank them, and let us know why they’re special.
My post schedule: 27 December 2014

Day 3 – Top Five Best Book Covers

Rank five covers of books you have read in 2014. Pick the edition that you really read, but if you read ebook, at least pick one that you used for your post. Tell us why you think them gorgeous.
My post schedule: 29 December 2014

Day 4 – Top Five of Your Own Category

I dedicated day 4 as freebie day. Pick your own category (besides the existing four)—any aspects from books. Rank five of your most favorites, and tell us why you chose them. If you don’t have any (better) idea, you are welcomed to join mine: Top Five Underappreciated Secondary Characters.
My post schedule: 30 December 2014

Day 5 – Top Five Most Favorite Books

No explanation needed for this category, of course…; just rank and let us know books you find most awesome, and you have enjoyed the most! (and why…).
My post schedule: 31 December 2014

No subscription is needed; just post and submit your links. For any question, post in the comment box, or mention me on twitter: @Fanda_A using hashtag: #BookKaleidoscope2014.

Let’s rewind it and have fun! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Choices for Literary Movement Reading Challenge 2015

When I said in Literary Movement Reading Challenge 2015 announcement post that “I have a very ambitious plan”, I really meant it! The challenge is to read at least one book for each literary movement, but I have encouraged myself to read, not one, but TWO books, which means I would read TWENTY FOUR books for the challenge.

The reason is, I have been craving lately for filling my mind with classics. Maybe it’s because I have read a lot of non-classics books lately. Anyway, here is my ambitious list, right now I can’t wait to start this challenge; hopefully my craving lasts till the end of the challenge… ;)

Jan: Medieval (500 – 1500)
Confessions (St. Augustine Hyppo)
Le Morte d’Arthur (Thomas Malory)

Feb: Renaissance (1500 – 1670)
Doctor Faustus (Christopher Marlowe)
Macbeth (William Shakespeare)

Mar: Enlightenment (1700 – 1800)
Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
The Sorrows of Young Werther (Goethe)

Apr: Romanticism (1798 – 1870)
Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott)
La Reine Margot (Alexandre Dumas)

May: Transcendentalism (1830 – 1860)
The Walden (Henry David Thoreau)
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

Jun: Victorian (1837 – 1901)
Bleak House (Charles Dickens)
Far From A Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy)

Jul: Realism (1820 – 1920)
Pere Goriot (Honore de Balzac)
A Golden Bowl (Henry James)

Aug: Naturalism (1870 – 1920)
The Fortune of the Rougons (Emile Zola)
Ethan Frome/The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton)

Sep: Existentialism (1850 – Today)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
The Stranger (Albert Camus)

Oct: Modernism (1910 – 1965)
The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway)

Nov: The Beat Generation (1945 – 1965) or
The Bloomsbury Group (1903 – 1964)
Bloomsbury: Howard’s End (E.M. Forster)
Beat Generation: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kessey)

Dec: Post-Modernism (1965 – Today)
Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
The Blind Assassin (Margaret Atwood)

What about you? Are you tempted to join the challenge? And if you have, what books will you read?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Classics Club 50 Question Survey

The Classics Club never failed to bring fun to the clubbers. This time they adapted this 50-questions survey about our classics readings. Here are mine….

1. Share a link to your club list.

2. When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? (We are SO CHECKING UP ON YOU! Nah. We’re just asking.) :)
I joined the club in March 8th, 2012, and have since read 81 titles (of 165 I have intended to).

3. What are you currently reading?
Jane Eyre, for the Club’s November event: Victorian Lit! :)

4. What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it?
Greyfriars Bobby. Loved it! I have thought it would be childish, but it turned out to be much deeper than that.

5. What are you reading next? Why?
Little House on the Prairie; just because it’s the last classic on my reading schedule this year.

6. Best book you’ve read so far with the club, and why?
Oh…the most difficult question, as always… I think it’s Germinal. If there is a book I can call ‘perfect’, Germinal is.

7. Book you most anticipate (or, anticipated) on your club list?
Perhaps Crime and Punishment; it is the kind of book I know I would love very much.

8. Book on your club list you’ve been avoiding, if any? Why?
1984. I am no dystopian fans, but somehow I felt I should read at least this one.

9. First classic you ever read?
A book from Agatha Christie; I believe it’s After the Funeral; and ever since I have been her fans.

10. Toughest classic you ever read?
Notes from Underground; it’s a novella, but alas! It’s really hard to follow!

11. Classic that inspired you? or scared you? made you cry? made you angry?
Most of them have inspired me in one or another way, but maybe the first classic that inspired me is Agatha Christie’s books. They flicked my curiosity on human’s nature, especially to man’s capability of doing vile things.

12. Longest classic you’ve read? Longest classic left on your club list?
War and Peace is the longest I’ve read, and as I’ve also read Moby Dick, I think my next longest classic left has got to be one of Dickens’….. Bleak House, perhaps?

13. Oldest classic you’ve read? Oldest classic left on your club list?
Aesop’s Fables. And now I have Saint Augustine’s The Confessions left on my list.

14. Favorite biography about a classic author you’ve read — or, the biography on a classic author you most want to read, if any?
Right now I am very excited to read Zola’s biography: The Life and Times of Émile Zola by F. W. J. Hemmings

15. Which classic do you think EVERYONE should read? Why?
Germinal! Look up at question # 6… ;)

16. Favorite edition of a classic you own, if any?
Penguin Classics hardback edition, I own the Fitzgerald’s (only 2 right now, but I’m planning to collect them).

17. Favorite movie adaption of a classic?
I haven’t watched many; but from them, The Great Gatsby was my favorite so far.

18. Classic which hasn’t been adapted yet (that you know of) which you very much wish would be adapted to film.
I think most of famous classics have been adapted, so I don’t know whether there are any which haven’t. But I noticed that Zola’s are the rarest to be adapted, especially in English. I wish there would be a producer who’d like to work on Germinal soon…! :)

19. Least favorite classic? Why?
Dante’s Purgatorio; I did not understand most of it, as it was too theological.

20. Name five authors you haven’t read yet whom you cannot wait to read.
Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins, William Faulkner, Christopher Marlowe, Honoré de Balzac.

21. Which title by one of the five you’ve listed above most excites you and why?
Thomas Hardy. I have heard so many praises over him, and I’m so excited to read Far From a Madding Crowd. Plus, he’s a Victorian… ;)

22. Have you read a classic you disliked on first read that you tried again and respected, appreciated, or even ended up loving? (This could be with the club or before it.)
Yes, The Great Gatsby! My first read was a bit disappointment as I could not relate to it. During my second read, I was constantly consulting with Sparksnotes and other analyses sites, and that’s how I found many interesting things from Fitzgerald. It ended up being one of my favorites.

23. Which classic character can’t you get out of your head?
Maybe Lord Henry from The Picture of Dorian Gray. Everytime I meet someone (in reality or in fiction) who is cynical, a bit harsh, but witty, I always think him as “Lord Henry-ish”.

24. Which classic character most reminds you of yourself?

25. Which classic character do you most wish you could be like?
I don’t wish to be anybody than myself. :)

26. Which classic character reminds you of your best friend?

27. If a sudden announcement was made that 500 more pages had been discovered after the original “THE END” on a classic title you read and loved, which title would you most want to keep reading? Or, would you avoid the augmented manuscript in favor of the original? Why?
The Portrait of a Lady. I would love to know what Isabel would do after the “hanging” end.

28. Favorite children’s classic?
The Jungle Book; though only I read it just recently.

29. Who recommended your first classic?
My father; he’s a thorough reader as I am, and he said that  would certainly love Agatha Christie’s detective stories. And I did. A lot!

30. Whose advice do you always take when it comes to literature. (Recommends the right editions, suggests great titles, etc.)
You, my fellow clubbers! ;)

31. Favorite memory with a classic?
Reading Wuthering Heights along with my Indonesian blogger fellows in 2011; it’s my early acquaintance with classic works, and we were all troubled by the dark story. It’s good experience to read one work with others with whom we could share our mutual feelings.

32. Classic author you’ve read the most works by?
Charles Dickens (9), followed closely by Émile Zola (8). Next year they might get equal… ;)

33. Classic author who has the most works on your club list?
Dickens again; I have 13 titles of him.

34. Classic author you own the most books by?
Still Dickens! Here are the 14 books of Dickens in my collection. :)

35. Classic title(s) that didn’t make it to your club list that you wish you’d included? (Or, since many people edit their lists as they go, which titles have you added since initially posting your club list?)
Ha! I have edited my list numerous of times! Some titles that were not included in my earlier list: If on a Winter Night a Traveler, Little Women, Slaughterhouse-Five, Cicero’s Defend Speeches, The Walden.

36. If you could explore one author’s literary career from first publication to last — meaning you have never read this author and want to explore him or her by reading what s/he wrote in order of publication — who would you explore? Obviously this should be an author you haven’t yet read, since you can’t do this experiment on an author you’re already familiar with. :) Or, which author’s work you are familiar with might it have been fun to approach this way?
I tend to read an author’s masterpiece or at least his most famous works first. If I am interested in reading him/her other works, I would read them usually in random order. But Zola’s works might have been fun to be explored from first publication, especially his Rougon-Macquart series.

37. How many rereads are on your club list? If none, why? If some, which are you most looking forward to, or did you most enjoy?
Have only two rereads: The Great Gatsby (which is proved to be a huge success!), and Oliver Twist (still on the list).

38. Has there been a classic title you simply could not finish?
Yes, Gone with the Wind. I was so bored with it in the end (two last chapters) that I skipped many pages to read only the ending. I didn’t regret it, and actually felt quite relieved to put it down.

39. Has there been a classic title you expected to dislike and ended up loving?
The Jungle Book. I thought it would be childish and “Disneyland-ish”, but it turned out to be much deeper than I expected. And at the end I loved it!

40. Five things you’re looking forward to next year in classic literature?
  • To explore the literary movements through my Literary Movement Reading Challenge. This would be my biggest challenge ever!
  • To read more plays—I have joined Listra’s Plays On event next year, have you? 
  • To read my first biography of classics author (Zola’s biography—see question #16).
  • To read classic authors I haven’t read before (St. Augustine, Atwood, Thoreau, Marlowe, etc).
  • To read more non-fictions.

41. Classic you are DEFINITELY GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
St. Augustine’s The Confessions.

42. Classic you are NOT GOING TO MAKE HAPPEN next year?
Cicero’s works. I must delay his works yet another year; next year is going to be tough enough without him.

43. Favorite thing about being a member of the Classics Club?
This kind of things… Fun events like monthly meme, classics club spin, this survey, etc. And of course, to find so many readers who love classics, and with whom I could discuss about classics.

44. List five fellow clubbers whose blogs you frequent. What makes you love their blogs?

They share my tastes in classics; and with Ruth I am exploring The Well Educated-Mind.

45. Favorite post you’ve read by a fellow clubber?

46. If you’ve ever participated in a readalong on a classic, tell about the experience? If you’ve participated in more than one, what’s the very best experience? The best title you’ve completed? A fond memory? a good friend made?
I have only participated in one readalong: The Color Purple, and it’s rather quieter than I have expected.

47. If you could appeal for a readalong with others for any classic title, which title would you name? Why?
Something by Dickens. His books have many interesting aspects to be discussed. So, anyone want to read Bleak House along with me on June next year? ;)

48. How long have you been reading classic literature?
Not very long ago, maybe 3 or 4 years.

49. Share up to five posts you’ve written that tell a bit about your reading story. Reviews, journal entries, posts on novels you loved or didn’t love, lists, etc.
The best way to tell about my reading story is perhaps by sharing my Book Kaleidoscope posts of last year, and another interesting yearly meme. If you are interested, I am hosting another Book Kaleidoscope this year. The announcement will be up next week!

50. Question you wish was on this questionnaire? (Ask and answer it!)
Share your classics (or some of your classics) collection! :)


Monday, November 10, 2014

[Classic Movie] The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby

This is another proof that movie adaptation could hardly represent the true values of the book—especially classics. This movie is the 2005 adaptation of Eleanor Atkinson’s Greyfriars Bobby, a Scottish movie directed by John Henderson.


As this was a Scottish movie, I don’t recognize any of the casts. Their acting are not too good, especially the protagonist, a teenage boy called Ewan, his gestures and expression were unnatural. Another bigger problem is the language. I can hardly catch the Scottish dialogs, while it was poorly subtitled in Bahasa Indonesia. So, from most of the movie, I could follow only from the gestures of the casts, and the familiar story.

Story and Plot

The only aspect that followed the true story was Bobby’s and John Gray’s name. However, ‘Auld’ Jock was not at all old, poor, and lonely, as in the book. He was quite young, a policeman not a farmer, had wife, and I think, a child. He loved Bobby as any man loves his dog, not as Auld Jock loved Bobby as a soulmate. John Gray here let Ewan the teenage boy befriending Bobby, and after Gray’s death—which did not caused too much sadness over Bobby—Bobby became Ewan’s dog.

So, the powerful strength of Atkinson’s book, i.e. unconditional and faithful love, has been stripped from this movie. To me, Bobby here was sad as any other dogs would when their masters died. By watching this adaptation, you would not understand why, and how, a dog could endure eight years of mourning for its master; while by reading the book, it would be obvious. And then, by having a new master, Ewan, Bobby would not be too lonely as Atkinson’s Bobby.

More than that, the movie made Bobby involved in chasing villains—and humiliating them—just as Hollywood made Lassie or Airbud doing. In the end, Bobby became a cute, lovely, and clever dog, who steals everybody’s heart. That’s all. Too pity. Maybe it because the director aimed this movie for children.

Setting and Costumes

The setting was a little too cheerful; while Atkinson wrote it in darker and dimmer atmosphere. Maybe the only satisfying and interesting aspect of this movie is the costumes. It was something I could not imagine from the book, as I seldom notice Scottish costumes.

For all that, I granted six and a half stars for this movie. Of course, I would have liked it much more if I haven’t read the book!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Classics Club’s November Meme: Zola’s Argument in La Bête Humaine

Although I still have one movie review to write and must prepare posts for Book Kaleidoscope, this month’s meme gave me an itch—thanks to The Classics Club…. and Ruth. I always love challenge! And so, I put aside all my works for a while to work on this:

Which argument made by an author (what the author wants you to believe) do you most support or agree with (or disagree with)?  First give the argument, then state why you agree or disagree.

I picked Zola’s La Bête Humaine because it was one of the classics I have read lately which made me reflecting much. If you happened to read my review, I have put my personal analysis on Zola’s argument. However, ever since, I kept arguing with myself about it until now. Although I have not reached any satisfying conclusion, I would try reflecting it once again for this meme.

In La Bête Humaine Zola argued that human nature is molded hereditarily by the nature in which he lives. In this, Zola adopted Darwin’s evolution theory. The protagonist in this story (Jacques) is the descent of an alcoholic couple, whilst one of alcohol’s destructive effects is moral corruption. In Jacques’ case, it develops into beastly murder passion when sexually aroused. Interestingly, although comes from a poor family, Jacques is educated, hard working, and has a polite manner. At first, he can control his passion using his conscience and logical consideration. However, when things get worst, and he gets involved in a cruel event, his beastly passion overcomes him at last.

I keep arguing with myself after finishing this book, is human being really a product of his natural origin? If I was born from alcoholic parents, for instance, and my family live in poverty among working class society, will I grow up as corrupted as my surroundings too? Could I possibly resist this weakness? I think I can, but it would be very tough, and it needs a brave and persistent person to do that. I would have kept the same weakness or bad habit with me, but if I were brave enough, I would strive to be freed of its influence. I could choose to hang around with positive people, I could seek high education, I could do religious activities, and most importantly, if I were surrounded by love: to love and to be loved. Then, I believe I can suppress my weakness. It would still linger within me, but with persistency, I believe I would be able to conquer it.

So, does it mean, I disagree with Zola? No, on the contrary, I agree with him that human nature is inherited from our ancestors, and molded by the civilization in which we were brought up. However, God created us with conscience and free will. From the majority, there could be one or two who could be freed of the corruption.