Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mr. _____ on The Color Purple: Character Thursday (14)

Character Thursday is a weekly meme that requires you to post on every Thursday, your character choice from the book you are reading or you have finished with. It can be the protagonist or the antagonist, characters that you love the most or hate the most. You can pick any book of any genre as you like. Please feel free to grab the button below and paste it in your post. Last but not least, please add URL of your post in the linky at the bottom of this post.



Fanda Classiclit

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Mr. _____ (Albert)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker


You might be wondering, why I didn’t mention the actual name of my Character Thursday. Well, that is how Alice Walker wrote about this character from the perspective of Celie, the main female character of this book. From the first time Mr. _____ appeared, I have already disliked him. When he came to Celie’s house at the first time, it seemed that he was just looking for a woman for his household, not for his wife. He actually picked Nettie for his wife, however after Nettie run away, he must satisfied himself with Celie. So from the beginning, it’s neither love nor attraction.

Danny Glover as Albert (Mr. _____)

Being a husband, Mr. _____ was far from ideal. He often beats Celie even when Celie did nothing. He was harsh in bed, and never treated Celie as a wife nor a woman. And the worst of it, he was openly having an affair with his lover, Shug Avery, without hiding the fact from Celie. For Mr. _____ Celie was just someone to look after the children and do the household. That’s all. Why did he do that? I presumed that it was the habit or the culture among people at that time. Or perhaps, being a minority, Mr. ____ (and other African-American at that time) was used to be under oppression of white people, so that they need a kind of impingement from the feeling of their inferiority. They found a need to show someone (or themselves) that they still have the control over their life. So, Mr. _____ beat and did rude things to Celie, who (he thought) did not have the power to fight.

However, Mr. _____ has wrongly judged Celie. His wife turned out to be a brave and strong woman—thanks to the love she had and received. With the help of her best friend, Celie slowly built her own life. She moved from Mr. _____ house and started her sewing business. I think the fact that Celie had the courage to leave him, quite struck Mr. _____. And on this point, he changed for the better. He started to contemplate about his life, and here is his conclusion:

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accidents. But you never know nothing more about the big things that you start out with. The more I wonder, the morel love.

I know it’s quite confusing if you haven’t read the whole story, but what Mr. _____ (or we can call him ‘Albert’ now—the name which Celie had finally the courage to mention after her ‘rise’) wanted to say is, that after Celie left, he done a review of his own life, and finally decided to rebuilt it after he learned about love. After the transformation, Albert treated Celie as a friend, they could speak and even sew together for hours. Albert also offered Celie to renew their marriage.

So, Celie’s transformation actually brought another transformation in Albert too. What a wonderful character we have here, but what about you, who’s your Character Thursday for this week?



The Color Purple


How do you say that a book is a wonderful book? For me, it’s when everything from the book keeps ‘haunting’ me long after I finish it. It’s when I feel quite affected (in a good way of course) by the book, that it somehow changes a bit of me—what I think and what I feel. And that’s how I feel about this book: The Color Purple.

At the beginning, I thought this book is just going to be a story of pains and sorrows, racisms, and hard times for African-American women; a kind of story that you would perhaps put down halfway because it is too sad and frustrating to keep on reading. But I was wrong. On the contrary, The Color Purple—although it did tells stories about pains and sorrows—it tells more about love and friendship, faith and hope. And Alice Walker has written them all in a series of letters. Through that letters, we came to know about Celie and Nettie—the two sisters who love each other even though their lives have been separated, and all they must have gone through to keep their hopes on each other, in the middle of a turbulence era in America in 1910-1940s.

I love how Alice Walker emphasizes many remarkable things within the letters which were written by a non-educated African-American woman like Celie. I mean, those letters are not just ordinary letters, they contain deeper and stronger meanings, and a lot of life philosophies too sometimes. For example, the first sentence that opens the story: ‘You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy’. I detect terror or shame in it, as if the person who has written it has done something very wrong or shameful—a big secret—that she couldn’t tell anybody but God. What a great way to start a novel! It already speaks the overall theme of the story, because that’s how Celie must have felt nearly her entire life.

Unlike Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin—where Uncle Tom was portrayed almost like a saint, Celie is not that ideal, not perfect. However I love Celie better than Uncle Tom because she’s just an ordinary human being just like most of us, who can be bitter and weak upon the tortures of life. At first Celie seemed to be faithful to God, she poured her sorrows into her letters to Him. She didn’t run away like Nettie, she didn’t fight like Sofia. She just gone through every pains she got from her Pa and then from her husband, Mr. _______. However at certain point, that was when she knew that Mr. _____ has hidden Nettie’s letter from her, she stopped writing to God, and began to write to Nettie instead. It’s interesting to read how Celie felt about God at that time, from her conversation with Shug:

Celie: “What God do for me?”
Shug: “Celie! He gave you life, good health, and a good woman that love you to death.”
Celie: “Yeah, and he give me a lynched daddy, a crazy mama, a lowdown dog of a step pa and a sister I probably won’t ever see again. Anyhow, the God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgetful and lowdown.”
Shug: “Miss Celie, you better hush. God might hear you.”
Celie: “Let ‘im hear me. If he ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place, I can tell you.”

Well, there were times when we were in hard times, we might think the same way, that God has forgotten us and left us, so we also left God. It’s not strange, because—like Celie—we are all weak. At her hard times, Celie turned to the one she love the most, her sister Nettie and her best friend Shug. It’s them (especially Nettie) who have saved Celie from throwing God away for good. Because in people you love, and love you in return, you will find God’s presence. And at the end (to my joy!), Celie can finally repair her relationship with God in her last letter. We also experience the ups and downs of our faith, and now we know—thanks to Celie—that the only way to keep us from falling is to open our heart for love.

The same thing happened to Mr. ______. His philosophy is quite deep, and I think, very interesting:

“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things that you start out with. The more I wonder, the morel love.”  

There are several things that I don’t get quite well, though. For instance, why did the African reject all the missionaries, although they were also African (Samuel, Corrine and Nettie)? And why they dislike Africans that had been sold for slavery to America? Is that because of their being narrow minded?

And why do you think Celie kept calling his husband with Mr. ________? I think Alice Walker wants to emphasize how women’s status upon men’s at that time. Men have full authorities to women, that even after their marriage, Mr. _______ placed himself as a master, and Celie as a slave. Or, it might be that Celie hated his husband so much that she can’t spell his name, as if to say.. hey, he who used to beat me and treat me like a slave is not a friend, so I won’t call him as if he’s my friend. Because at the end when everything got better for Celie, she could finally call Mr. ________ with just ‘Albert’. What do you think?

I have also been wondering about the color purple itself. Has it a certain meaning that Alice Walker wanted to tell us? Or is it just Celie’s favorite color besides red? I remember that Celie asked for color purple or red when Shug brought her to a store to buy cloth for her first dress. The cover of the copy I read (borrowed from a friend) is also intriguing me, as it has purple flowers on the grayscale image of a black woman. I have discussed it here.

Last but not least, through The Color Purple we can see the danger of racism. I learned it from the scene of Sofia and Miss Eleanor Jane, when Eleanor Jane tried to make Sofia say something good about his baby. Eleanor Jane could not understand why Sofia can’t treat her just as a friend. Sofia knew that Eleanor Jane loves her despite of their different races, but there will always be an invisible curtain that separates them. And I think it would take a very long time too before that invisible curtain could vanish completely from our society.

Five stars for The Color Purple and Alice Walker!

Title: The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Publisher: A Harvest International Edition
Published: 2007
Pages: 294

A special thanks to Bettina from Liburuak blog, who has hosted this lovely read along. Without it, I might not have been found the greatness of Alice Walker's writing, as well as the great female character such as Celie...

*This is my 1st review for The Classic Bribe 2012*

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday (5): Poetry Vs. Prose


It’s the fifth Weigh in Wednesday weekly meme of Lauren that I have been joining so far, and I think this week’s topic offers the easiest choice for me. I never like poetry, so my choice is 100% on prose. Poetry is beautiful, but I just love to read the flowing of words that build the interpretation in prose, rather than enjoying the poetry rhymes before going back again to find the meaning J. Anyway, I’m a more logical person than romantic one, so I prefer literature with deep meanings than only a flowery words.



So, which side of you, poetry or prose? Let me know your thoughts…

And if you love memes, please check out my weekly meme : Character Thursday

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Color Purple, Between Post-Modernism and Contemporary: A Classics Challenge May


Although it is not clearly stated in the book, I believe that The Color Purple is first set around 1910 or 1920, and stretched to the beginning of civil rights movements, around 1950s. However, I prefer to put this work of Alice Walker by the values she brought at the time she wrote this novel, rather than the time setting. So, although the original time set is within the first half of 20th century, I think the best place to put this book is between the post-modernism and contemporary literary movement. Post-modernism is a historical period that began in the 1940s, a style of literature, philosophy, art, and architecture, or the situation of Western society in a late capitalist or post-capitalist age. Social issues as writers align with feminist & ethnic groups, are among this movement.

At the time Walker wrote The Color Purple, America has been struggling with both African-American racism and men-women discrimination and gender minority. The Color Purple is also the sign of African-American literature rising. Besides Alice Walker, Maya Angelou and Zora Neale Hurston were among the female authors that brought up the same values as The Color Purple. Their works shows the hardships of African-American women.

The story of Celie (female protagonist of this book), her hard times under the dominancy of his step father and husband, and the story of African people under the white people power truly reflect the focus of the post-modernism movement, especially the rising of African-American. As a woman, these issues are quite intriguing and emotional, so I might read other similar works, such as Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings in the future.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Celie on The Color Purple: Character Thursday (13)

Character Thursday is a weekly meme that requires you to post on every Thursday, your character choice from the book you are reading or you have finished with. It can be the protagonist or the antagonist, characters that you love the most or hate the most. You can pick any book of any genre as you like. Please feel free to grab the button below and paste it in your post. Last but not least, please add URL of your post in the linky at the bottom of this post.



Fanda Classiclit

This week I pick a wonderful female character:

Celie
The Color Purple by Alice Walker


Being a poor and uneducated African-American woman in 1910-1940s, Celie had been struggling in her life as a female in the domination of males. First abused and raped by her step father, and then abused and treated badly by her husband, a Mr. _______, yet Celie survived. At first she put her hopes on to God, through series of letters addressed to God, which became sort of her diary. After being separated from her younger sister Nettie, Celie did not have anyone to share her love. So, when a female singer with an independent mind named Shug Avery came into her life, she fell in love with her in no time, despite the fact that Shug is Mr. ______’s lover. From then on, it is Shug who became like a mother to Celie.

I think Celie loves Shug not only because Shug was a compassionate person to Celie, but because in Shug, Celie saw a person (or a woman) she’d like to become: assertive, independent, brave, sensual and attractive. One reason why Celie wasn’t quite jealous when Shug and Mr. _____ slept together under her nose, was because Celie never loved or even hated her husband.

Thanks to Shug, Celie learned not only passively accepted what men done to her, but to fight back. Her first attempt was by leaving Mr. _____ and moved to live with Shug in a new city. At the new place, Shug planted thr idea to build a business of producing pants to Celie. This was the first sign of her new life. When later on she came back, she was a different woman, stronger and braver. She was no more just a housemaid to Mr. ________, she was a companion. She can sit and talk equally to men. This only shows that friendships between females are very important, and often has a great impact on a woman’s life.

Besides Celie’s personal character swift, it is also interesting to see the change in her relationship with God. Although at first she has a strong devotion and can talk to God in her letters, in a certain point of her great disappointment, she run away from Him. This was when she began to address her letters to Nettie. However, when things finally got better for Celie, she returned to God in her final letter. It’s so typically us, human. We looked for Him in our difficult times to look for hopes, but we weren’t patience enough to wait till the hope come, and just runaway from Him.

I love Celie, the main character of The Color Purple. She is not a heroine who’s done heroic acts, she is just like most of us with all her weaknesses. Yet, she can survived through hard times, thank to God (yes, even when she runaway from God, God still took care of her through her dear friends: Shug, Sofia and Nettie).

Whoopi Goldberg, I think, is a perfect choice to perform Celie
So, who’s your Character Thursday of this week?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday (4): Novellas vs Anthologies


Before weighing, this is the definition of both stuffs we are discussing today for Lauren’s weekly meme:


A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel.

An anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts. In genre fiction anthology is used to categorize collections of shorter works such as short stories and short novels, usually collected into a single volume for publication.
[source: Wikipedia]

Actually both novella and anthology are not my first choices of fiction, I love novel for a long reading and offering complex stories or deeper meaning. However, if I must choose one, then I’ll pick novella. At least novella consists of one single story, and sometimes being short does not mean it is going to be light. Two novellas that I have read so far are both classics works: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I don’t quite like John Steinbeck, but A Christmas Carol is certainly a good book and worth reading despite its shortness (only 100 something pages). With novellas, I think, I just eager to read more. It’s like when you just found a beautiful places, but you know that you only have ten minutes to stay. Only that? But I want more…! That’s what I feel with short novel or novella.

And how about anthology? Well, stories in anthology are certainly much shorter than novella. But again, sometimes you’d find a gripping short story despite of its shortness. For example, short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. He is so genius, that in that very short a story, he could send chill to your bone! For this kind of short stories, I certainly don’t want more! LOL… However, I kinda like anthology IF ONLY it’s a compilation of works from ONE author. I dislike anthology from several or many different authors, even though they have one same theme. Authors, especially great ones, have their own specific style, and when you try to combine several authors like that, the uniqueness will fade away.

So, in short, I prefer novella than anthology. And I won’t ever read an anthology of more than one author. What about you? Are you with novella or anthology side?...

And if you love memes, please check out my weekly meme : Character Thursday

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes


[conclusion in English is in the bottom of this post] Buku ini berisi kumpulan cerita pendek kasus-kasus kecil yang ditangani Sherlock Holmes, yang dicatat dan dituliskan oleh rekannya, Dr. Watson. Ke 12 kisah ini dipilih Watson karena keunikannya, dan sebagian besar merupakan kasus yang nampaknya rumit, padahal pemecahannya sedeana saja. Kasus-kasusnya bervariasi, dari saat Watson masih berbagi apartemen dengan Holmes di Baker Street hingga saat Watson sudah menikah dan menempati rumah sendiri namun masih sering menemani Holmes dalam penyelidikannya.

Yang paling menarik mungkin adalah kasus pertama, A Scandal in Bohemia. Klien Holmes adalah seorang Pangeran penerus tahta kerajaan Bohemia yang pernah menjalin hubungan asmara dengan artis opera cantik bernama Irene Adler. Sekarang ia ingin mendapatkan kembali foto mereka berdua yang kini disembunyikan Irene, yang dikhawatirkan akan menjadi skandal bila terungkap. Kasus ini menjadi sangat menarik karena di sini Holmes berhadapan dengan musuh yang seimbang, yakni Irene Adler. Irene bukan hanya cantik namun juga cerdik, dan menurut Watson hanya Irene-lah wanita yang pernah memberikan pengaruh dalam hidup Holmes, meski mungkin bukan dalam hal romansa namun lebih kepada kecerdikannya yang dikagumi Holmes. Selanjutnya Holmes beberapa kali menyinggung tentang Irene dengan menyebutnya sebagai 'wanita itu'.

Sedangkan kasus yang akan membuat anda paling jantungan mungkin adalah The Adventure of The Specled Band, yang mengisahkan sebuah keluarga dengan ayah dan dua anak perempuan tirinya. Si ayah pernah berkelana ke Asia, dan kini hidup terisolir. Saat anak gadis sulungnya akan menikah, terjadi sebuah tragedi. Si gadis meninggal padahal tak mungkin ada orang lain masuk ke kamarnya. Yang lebih aneh lagi adalah dua kata yang diteriakkannya sebelum menghembuskan napas yang terakhir: speckled band! Apa maksudnya? Sebuah teka-teki yang membutuhkan keahlian analisis dan deduksi setaraf seorang Sherlock Holmes untuk memecahkannya. Yang jelas ketegangan pada detik-detik menunggu 'speckled band' itu benar-benar memacu adrenalin!

Selain itu ada kasus yang melibatkan pembalasan dendam Ku Klux Klan yang lumayan mengerikan. Kasus ini menonjol karena Holmes harus berpacu dengan waktu untuk menghindarkan kematian calon korban berikutnya. Kengerian tiap kali kita mendengar atau membaca tentang sepak terjang KKK ini lumayan terasa di sini.

Meski keahlian Holmes sangat mengagumkan, namun kurasa Conan Doyle kurang menunjukkan sisi manusiawi Holmes di buku ini. Seperti yang ditulis Watson tentang Holmes, yang ia ibaratkan sebagai sebuah mesin,

“He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position.”

Conclusion:

Being the only short stories collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which was included in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, of course The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes has been quite intriguing for me.

Overall, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is varied from boring cases, to an exotic case (A Scandal in Bohemia), and suspenseful ones. I can get to know better about Holmes (by personal character and by his methods) from this book, however I still feel the lack of emotional tight in it. Perhaps it’s because this book is a collection of short stories, or perhaps Conan Doyle has written (through Watson) the stories in a formal and descriptive style, that it feels like I'm reading a report, instead of stories.

After reading this book, I can’t but compare Holmes with the works of Agatha Christie. Christie was more focus on characters who are involved in the cases. It is how the conflicts were built, as if we were involved emotionally inside the scene. Then from there, the detectives build their analysis. In Doyle’s works, he often uses narratives (most of them were narrated by Watson, although there are several which were narrated by Holmes himself, and the rest by third persons). I guess that's what makes Holmes stories seems dry and emotionless, despite the greatness of the deduction made ​​by the master of reasoner and 'father' of the next generations of detective stories, Sherlock Holmes. Good, but emotionless.

Three pipes for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, are the special gift I’d like to give to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for his 153rd  birthday which is today, May 22nd, 2012. Happy birthday Sir, we are thanking you for bringing such a famous detective and great cases to our literary world for over a century!

Title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Fomat: e-book
Publisher: Project Gutenberg

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Color Purple’s Cover


Discussing covers of books with a strong value is always interesting. The copy I read belongs to my friend, however I love this cover more than any other covers of The Color Purple.


From the time I started reading this book, I have been curious why Alice Parker picked ‘purple’ as her book title. What does the color represent? What does it symbolize? This is my little research has resulted:

In the meaning of colors, purple and violet represent the future, the imagination and dreams, while spiritually calming the emotions. They inspire and enhance psychic ability and spiritual enlightenment, while, at the same time, keeping us grounded. [source: Empower Yourself With Color Psychology]

It makes sense, considering the value that Alice Walker brought in this novel. I myself prefer to think that the color purple speaks about two main themes: spiritual connection between Celie and God, and the spirit of freedom.

So, from the above thoughts, I think this certain cover speaks a lot about the book. First, there is a portrait of a black woman’s bare legs, standing at the porch. The lack of shoes and the body language of the woman already brought the sense of poverty and powerless. The grayish color of the portrait only added a sense of hopeless to the scene. However, there are also three purple flowers, as if from the helpless ground the flowers had grown to bring a new brighter and more colorful scene to the world. The purple flowers represent the new hope of happiness that awaits Celie at the end of her long waiting.

What do you think?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Weekend Quote (2): The Color Purple


For this weekend, I am sharing a quote from a wonderful and inspiring book: The Color Purple by Alice Walker. It contains letters written by Celie, a poor African-American woman who were struggling in male’s and whites’ dominant world in America of the 1930’s. In one of the letters, Celie—with her limited skill of language—wrote this simple but deeply touching sentence:


“Never mine, never mine, long as I can spell G-O-D I got somebody along” ~Cellie

That is what Celie told her little sister Nettie, who worried about how Celie would do after she left. Although she is not well educated, Celie has a strong faith to God, why with the impossible situation like what she faced at that time, she wouldn’t make it without her faith. With his father abused her, her mother died, her husband didn’t love her, and her babies were separated from her, who will love her? It’s only to God she can address all her sorrows. It is to God either that Celie addressed most of her letters. And that quote showed us that in the loneliness of life, we will never walk alone, God will walk with us, we will ‘get somebody along’ just as Celie felt.

So, what’s your favorite quote of this weekend? Share with us in Weekend Quote meme:


The idea is to pick a quote from a book or author you read, like, or hate, and write your comment about it. You can post the “Weekend Quote” article every weekend (Saturday or Sunday), or at any weekend suits you best.

Here are the rules:
  • You have to pick one quote and comment about it. It may be the reason why you agree or don't agree with it, or why it is interesting for you. I can also be your experience that reminds you of that quote. Feel free to use your imagination. :D
  • Please put the picture of “Weekend Quote” on either your blog sidebar or everytime you post the quote. (It helps people to know what we are doing).
  • Please give a link back to Listra’s blog at your post.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sherlock Holmes on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Character Thursday (12)

Character Thursday is a weekly meme that requires you to post on every Thursday, your character choice from the book you are reading or you have finished with. It can be the protagonist or the antagonist, characters that you love the most or hate the most. You can pick any book of any genre as you like. Please  feel free to grab the button below and paste it in your post. Last but not least, please add URL of your post in the linky at the bottom of this post.



Fanda Classiclit

So, this is my Character Thursday of this week:

Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Sherlock Holmes is one of detective figures who became the forerunner of other detective figures in the next era. He is a chemist (besides criminalist) with high analysis and deduction skills which helped him in settling many unsolved cases. Realizing his high expertise, Holmes became a man with high self-esteem and excessively high ego. In one of his records, Watson has written about Holmes:

"I was repelled by the egotism which I had more than once observed to be a strong factor in my friend's singular character."

When examining Watson’s writing about their cases, Holmes criticized Watson for writing a few cases with more emphasis on the sensationality of the case rather than the sharpness of deduction of Holmes himself. It showed very much of his high ego.

Holmes has a very 'Victorian' personage, with a high appreciation on nobility. He preferred to deal with cases of the nobles and respectable people, or dealing with an opponent who has the elegance in their actions. He has a little regret when he was more often dealt with cases of ordinary people.

"The days of the great cases are past. Man, or at least criminal man, has lost all enterprise and originality. As to my own little practice, it seems to be degenerating into an agency for recovering lost lead pencils and giving advice to young ladies from boarding-schools. I think that I have touched bottom at last. "

I think Holmes is someone with more logic than passionate feeling. When he helped a client, it is mostly for the challenge in the case Itself that he did it, rather than for offering a help. When he failed to prevent his client from a murder, Holmes was sad not for failing to save the life of a human being, but for his own failure in the first place.

"That hurts my pride, Watson. It is a petty feeling, no doubt, but it hurts my pride. "


The only woman Holmes has ever give a certain attention is Irene Adler, the female protagonist who  ever paralleled Holmes. Read what Watson has written about Holmes and his connection to women:

“He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position.” 

Sherlock Holmes is famous mostly for his intelligence and also his uniqueness in conducting his jobs. Other than that, his unique marks of personality (using magnifying glass, lighting his pipe every time he does his thinking, his skill of undercover), are the aspects that have set his fortune throughout the world. Other than that, I think, he is not such interesting as a person.

So…who is your Character Thursday this week?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Classics Club Project: Progress #1


It’s been two months since I started The Classics Club Project, hosted by Jillian, of which I’m proudly announce that I have read six of 100 books from the list, and right now am in the middle of the seventh. Yayyy!!

On March, 8th I posted my original list of 100 classics for five years reading. However on the progress, I can’t help to—somehow—add more and more books to the original list. The expanded list has now reached thirteen. At this moment I won’t change the original list yet, and will just add any books I find interesting to the expanded list time to time. When the expanded list should reach 50, then I will update the original list. So far, this is my progress report:

March
The first book I read after joining the project was L’Assommoir (The Drunkard) by Emile Zola. I spent two whole weeks to finish it, and that’s why I only read one book that month. L’Assommoir has been shockingly affected me, that I could not turn into any other classics for sometime. I only grabbed some light readings until April came…

April
The second book for the project was The Great Gatsby. Although it’s only 200 something pages, I really enjoyed it that it took me a week or so to finish it. I often re-read a paragraph that I didn’t quite get the meaning or I just loved the scene. Overall, The Great Gatsby has been the most enjoyable reading for the project so far.

After that I read A Midsummer Night’s Dream of Shakespeare, which—I must confess—I didn’t quite enjoy. It’s been the first Shakespeare I read, and I have mistakenly picked the comedy one while I know I never quite fond of comedy or satire.

End of April I went into Alexandre Dumas’ The Man In The Iron Mask. Despite so many obstacles to read it, I found the book quite enjoyable.

May
This month I managed to finish two more books: Nobody’s Boy by Hector Malot and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Actually I have expected quite much from Nobody’s Boy, I thought it would be quite emotionally, however I’m quite disappointed that Malot seemed to write it for children or pre-teen. The story is good, but I cannot deeply moved by it.

I have a personal habit of posting my classics book review on the birthday of the author. It’s like my personal gift for those great authors. For May, I read TheAdventures of Sherlock Holmes for an event I have hosted together with Melisa for Indonesian classics reading community (Baca Klasik). And as Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday is on 22 May, I will post my review only on that date, although I have finished the book last week.

Right now I am in the middle of The Color Purple, participating in the readalong hosted by Bettina. As the readalong will end on May 31st, I will surely finish this book by this month. So far I like it, not as shockingly as L’Assommoir perhaps, but very touching.

Well, that’s it. Six books for two months, and if I can keep up the pace, I’ll finish my 100 books list by three years! That’s why an expanded list seems reasonable, no?

Weigh in Wednesday (3): Love Triangles vs Insta-Love


It’s Wednesday again, and for the third times I am joining the Weigh in Wednesday meme hosted by Lauren



This week’s topic is quite interesting:

Love Triangles Vs. Insta-love

As I never believe on such instant love or love at first sight, I vote for love triangles. At least love triangles in books provide more complex conflicts, you know…first A is attracted to B, but B turns up to be the antagonist, while C who at first neglected by A becomes the hero…or things like that. Love triangles also involve deeper personal characters and emotion. When A must choose between B and C, then the author must dig each B’s and C’s personality to give a background for the conflict.

So, what is yours? love triangles or insta-love?


And don’t forget, every Thursday, I host another meme: Character Thursday. Feel free to join if you like.. :)

Top Ten Tuesday (4): Top Ten Books I'm Curious To Read


I’m so glad that The Broke and The Bookish has decided to give this week Top Ten Tuesday topic to each participant to decide. Yes, it’s a freebie week! As I am in the middle of The Classics Club Project (and am very excited right now), there are several books I’ve been curious to read from my list. I know, there are always so many books I want to read, yet so little reading time I have! So, even listing ten books of them which I’m curious of the most is quite difficult for me. Hey, I’d like to read them all!! Anyway, ten is the game, so here are those ten books I'm curious to read,

Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas
After finishing The Man In The Iron Mask, I’m hungry to read more of d’Artagnan and the three musketeers adventures (yes, I know, I should have read Twenty Years After before The Man In The Iron Mask, and I have posted about that here). I have ordered this book, and it’s on the way right now.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
I have just won a giveaway, and I got this book as the gift, yayyy! (sorry…I’m still exciting!). Being the most biographical novel of Charles Dickens has made me very curious of this book. I am reading Dickens biography now, and I find him as an interesting personage. I’d like to learn more about him through David Copperfield.

Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
After reading The Great Gatsby, I’m longing to read Fitzi's other books. One of it that is also very biographical is Tender Is The Night. I have read several promising reviews about this book, and can’t wait to read it.

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
This book has been intriguing me since I read the review in a blog. Then last weekend I happened to read an interview of Mary Higgins Clark, where she was asked about the best suspense novel she has ever read. And guess what her answer was? Wilkie Collins’ The Woman In White. That’s enough for me to look forward to read this book. Suspense is one of my favorite genre anyway.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I always love books with strong psychological aspects such as Agatha Christie and Emile Zola. The Picture of Dorian Gray seems to be the most tempting psychological novel to me right now. Actually I plan to read it next month for the Victorian Celebration.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kessey
Same reason with Dorian Gray, this book has made curious for months. I just have to find time to read it!

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Many book lovers had suggested me to read this book. I have the copy already, and right now I am preparing to host a readalong for this ‘bulk’ book. I plan to read it near Mrs. Mitchell birthday on November.

Germinal by Emile Zola
No need to say again, that I am already in love with Emile Zola. He is one of my all time favorite authors. Germinal is one of his best works, so I’m already impatient to wait for my copy to arrive!

Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors too. Although Sketches by Boz is not his best work, I am curious to read it because it’s his first-published-work, and because it contains everyday life sketches. It seems very interesting, not to mention that this is a rare book which I have bought in a very fair price.

A short stories collection by Guy de Maupassant
It’s a translation edition of Guy de Maupassant short stories collection. The title in Bahasa Indonesia is ‘Cinta Sejati’ which means True Love (I don’t know whether it is one of the short stories title). I’ve been longing to read Guy de Maupassant, and also several pieces of short stories. I’m not a fan of short stories, but I think there are a lot of good short stories out there that I may appreciate.

So, that’s it. Hopefully I can manage my time to read all those ten great books very soon. What’s your Top Ten Tuesday of this week?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nobody’s Boy


[conclusion in English is at the bottom of this post]

Aku seorang anak pungut”. Itulah empat kata ungkapan pembuka kisah ini yang—bagiku—menyimpan makna yang sangat mendalam. Pada usia delapan tahun Remi baru mengetahui bahwa ia bukanlah anak Mrs. Barberin—istri petani miskin—yang selama ini menghujaninya dengan curahan kasih sayang. Mr. Barberin memungut Remi saat masih bayi karena mengharap orang tua aslinya—yang diperkirakan kaya raya dari pakaian si bayi Remi—akan mengambilnya kelak, dan keluarga Baberin akan mendapat uang. Sayang si orang tua asli tak kunjung datang, maka Mr. Barberin menjual Remi kepada seorang musisi jalanan bernama Signor Vitalis, di luar ijin Mrs. Barberin.

Maka dimulailah perjalanan sulit Remi di jalanan kota Paris. Signor Vitalis adalah seorang tua yang berkelana bersama tiga ekor anjing dan seekor monyet. Mereka bepergian antar kota dan desa, dan mengadakan pertunjukan mirip sandiwara keliling untuk memperoleh uang demi makanan dan (kadang-kadang) tempat berteduh. Remi pun mulai belajar bersandiwara, serta bermain musik menggunakan harpanya. Ia juga belajar membaca dan menulis dari Signor Vitalis, yang lama kelamaan menjadi figur seorang ayah baginya. Di saat gerompolan mereka sudah saling menyayangi hingga mirip seperti keluarga—yang sangat didambakan Remi—keadaan pun memburuk.

Setelah itu Remi mengalami jatuh bangun berkali-kali, namun dari pengalaman-pengalaman itu Remi sedikit demi sedikit belajar tentang kehidupan. Bila awalnya ia mendambakan hidup dalam keluarga kaya dengan rumah bagus seperti milik Arthur dan Mrs. Milligan, lambat laun ia menyadari bahwa kasih sayang dan persahabatan adalah ‘home’ yang sesungguhnya ia rindukan.

Beberapa quotes yang aku sukai:
“Aku sayang anak itu, dan dia sayang padaku. Pelajaran hidup yang kuberikan padanya akan baik untuknya, jauh lebih baik dari yang akan dia peroleh bersama Anda. Anda akan memberinya pendidikan, itu benar; Anda akan membentuk pikirannya, tetapi bukan karakternya. Hanya dengan belajar menghadapi kesulitan-kesulitan hidup karakter orang akan terbentuk.” [Signor Vitalis] ~hlm. 134.

“Sapi yang kauberikan padaku sewaktu masih miskin akan jauh lebih berharga bagiku disbanding apa pun yang bisa kauberikan padaku setelah kau kaya, Remi.” [Mrs. Barberin] ~hlm. 135.

Tiga bintang untuk Nobody’s Boy.

Judul: Nobody’s Boy (Sebatang Kara)
Penulis: Hector Malot
Penerjemah: Tanti Lesmana
Penerbit: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
Terbit: April 2010
Tebal: 384 hlm

Conclusion:

Nobody's Boy plot is actually quite ordinary, and I think it’d fit better into young adult or pre-teen books. It uses mild language, easy-to understand sentences (at least the one which is presented in the translated version I read), and the story flows without a certain emphasis to the characters. Hector Malot’s message was quite clear, which is about friendship, loyalty and affection. The essence of this story is Remi’s search for love and family, and life lessons he got from wandering along with Signor Vitalis and the gang. Nobody’s Boy became one of all time stories, perhaps, because of the unique figure of Signor Vitalis and his travelling artist group, his mysterious background, as well as the tour and adventures with which we experience together with Remi throughout the story, between France and Italy.

Three stars for Nobody’s Boy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

My First Impression Of The Color Purple


The Color Purple by Alice Walker has been known to be one of the most influencing works of the 20th century. It tells stories of the struggle of African-American women in America. I have put this book in my wishlist in Goodreads as well as in myClassics Club list. However, I still don't have the 'courage' to read it, realizing that reading books about pain and suffer always require my deep passionate and emotional involvement.

So, I was glad when one of the participants of The Classics Club was hosting a readalongof this book. It's encouraging to know that there others who are reading the same book as what you're reading at the same time. I also thank Annisa who lent this book to me. And here I am on page 63 (of 294), but has already been struck by the story...

The story is written as a series of letters addressed to God, by an African-American young woman named Cellie. She was fourteen years old when she was forced to have sex with his father. Becoming a wife didn't make things better either for Cellie. It seemed normal for men at that time to beat their wives just to make them see who the boss of the family is. Some of them just struggled to survive, just as Cellie:

"I don't know how to fight. All I know how to do is stay alive."

But some of them would fight, like Sofia:

"All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my brothers. I had to fight my cousins and my uncles. A girl child ain't safe in a family of men."

It struck me how men could be so cruel to their wives and children. Men, who were supposed to be family protector, have become the enemy in their own household. However, considering what had happened at the time which this story used as a setting, everything seems reasonable.

1930’s has been noted in history as a hard time for African-American in America, especially in the Southern. Racism was still strong at that time, although some organizations such as Ku Klux Klan had had declined. It’s also hard for African-American women with exceedingly low position in American social culture at that time. Those circumstances are the background of The Color Purple. I think the inferiority of African-American to white people made the situation worsen for African-American women. When the men were intimidated by white people, they found the need to compensate it by intimidating their women (and children) to prove to themselves and to the world that they still have power. The Great Depression also occurred at the same time, which only worsen the situation.

So far, I’m enjoying this book, although I was confused a little bit at first with the language used by African-American, but I got used to it after several pages. Next week I will publish a character analysis from this book in Character Thursday meme, and will post my review at the end of the readalong, on 31 May 2012.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Weekend Quote (1): From The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes


This time I join a weekly meme created by my new blogger friend, who has the same passion of classics readings as I do: Listra from Half-Filled Attic. It’s called Weekend Quote, which from the title you can guess that it is all about favorite quote you’ve found from books you are reading.



The idea is to pick a quote from a book or author you read, like, or hate, and write your comment about it. You can post the “Weekend Quote” article every weekend (Saturday or Sunday), or at any weekend suits you best.

Here are the rules:
  • You have to pick one quote and comment about it. It may be the reason why you agree or don't agree with it, or why it is interesting for you. I can also be your experience that reminds you of that quote. Feel free to use your imagination. :D
  • Please put the picture of “Weekend Quote” on either your blog sidebar or everytime you post the quote. (It helps people to know what we are doing).
  • Please give a link back to Listra’s blog at your post.

I know it is Friday, and normally the weekend has not been started yet, but as I seldom have time to post on weekend, I will post Weekend Quote every Friday. Anyway, for me, Friday is my first and best day of the weekend!

As this week I am reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I pick up one quote that I found interesting:


“A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.”

Of course, that is the way Sherlock Holmes manages his brain as a reasoner who works mostly with his deduction skill. Although we are not a detective, I think we also need to apply Sherlock Holmes’s way to manage our own “little brain”. With so many news, data, gossips etc. which is floating in our mind everyday, we need to pick only the important ones to be kept in our ‘little brain attic’—as Holmes took it, and leave the rest of them in the lumber room. Very interesting and very useful indeed! Thank you Sir Conan Doyle for this quote!

What is your favorite quote of this weekend?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Remi on Nobody’s Boy: Character Thursday (11)

Character Thursday is a weekly meme that requires you to post on every Thursday, your character choice from the book you are reading or you have finished with. It can be the protagonist or the antagonist, characters that you love the most or hate the most. You can pick any book of any genre as you like. Please  feel free to grab the button below and paste it in your post. Last but not least, please add URL of your post in the linky at the bottom of this post.


Fanda Classiclit

And my Character Thursday of this week belongs to:

Remi
Nobody’s Boy by Hector Malot


"I was a foundling", that is how this story is opened by Remi, a boy of eight years old who just learned that he is a nobody's boy. Raised with love and care by Mrs. Barberin, Remi's heart filled with love and affection. Despite living in a modest family—where eating pancakes once a year on pancake day is their only luxury—Remi was happy with his poor condition because he was having a home, and living with people he loved and loved him (Mrs. Barberin).

But then, just like other human beings who have always lived in the sense of security, Remi felt his world turned upside down when he was sold to Signor Vitalis, and must leave his comfortable life. However, in sadness and solitude at his first night of separation with Mrs. Barberin, Remi remained strong thanks to the first hint of friendship which Capi—the clever spaniel dog—has shown him by licking Remi’s face when he was crying.

"Touched by a sweep of its tongue, I sat up in my straw bed, I held its neck and kissed its cold nose. It whined a little, then it put one foot in front of my hand and not moving anymore. I immediately forgot my fatigue and sadness. I’m no longer alone. I have friends. "

Living as a street entertainer, suffered the rigors of life - freezing cold and starving – has built little Remi’s character. When he had to live alone without Signor Vitalis and separated from her new friends, Remi grew stronger. It seemed that, when he later traveled with Mattia, Remi had been far more confident than before, which made him automatically the leader of their small 'enterprise'. I think combination of love (for he knew that Mrs. Barberin, Arthur & Mrs. Milligan, Lise and her family—all of them loved him) and sorrowful life affected much to Remi’s character.

However, Remi is a kind hearted and innocent boy, whose obsession of having a family was so big, that he became less alert to …family’s bad attitude towards him. I can’t blame him as he was so longed for being a member of a secured family and having a home to live. All in all, Remi isn’t a very special character (for I 'm not quite fond of a character which is described to be too perfect), but through him, we (especially youngster) can learn about love and friendship.



So…who is your Character Thursday this week? You can add your URL in the linky below:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday (2): Contemporary vs Fantasy



Contemporary vs Fantasy

This week’s Weigh in Wednesday topic is : Contemporary vs Fantasy. I’m never a fantasy fan, so my answer is obviously contemporary! I love contemporary because it talks about real life, what is going on on the real world, what real people face in real life, and what they do about it. By reading contemporary I got so much valuable lessons about the world, life and people. Still, I sometimes read fantasy, but only for a refreshing, usually after reading some ‘tough’ classics…

How about you? Are you a contemporary or a fantasy?

This weekly meme is hosted by Lauren, please visit her blog to join.

Every Thursday, I host another meme: Character Thursday. Feel free to join if you like.. :)

Top Ten Tuesday (3): Top Ten Favorite Quotes From Books

These are my top ten favorite quotes from books, in random order. Three of them in Bahasa Indonesia because I read the translation, and cannot find the same quotes in English.


"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning-- So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." ~F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." ~Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities

“Until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words,—‘Wait and hope.’” ~Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo

“Pagi ini saat aku duduk di depan jendela dan sangat lama disana, menatap betapa dalamnya Tuhan dan alam, aku bahagia. Kekayaan, kehormatan, segala sesuatu dapat hilang. Tapi kebahagiaan di dalam hatimu hanya dapat berkurang, ia akan selalu di sana, selama kamu masih hidup untuk membuat dirimu kembali bahagia. Bila kamu merasa sedih, cobalah naik ke loteng pada hari yang indah dan menatap ke luar. Bukan pada rumah-rumah dan atapnya, namun pada langit. Selama kamu dapat menatap langit tanpa rasa takut; kamu akan tahu bahwa kamu suci di dalamnya dan akan menemukan kebahagiaan sekali lagi.” ~Anne Frank – Diary of Anne Frank

"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." ~Anne Frank – Diary of Anne Frank

“They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the “blaze of passion” often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did.” ~Boris Pasternak – Doctor Zhivago

“Peter: ‘ke mana Engkau hendak pergi, Tuhan?’
Jesus: ‘Karena kini kau meninggalkan umatKu, Aku akan pergi ke Roma, untuk disalibkan yang kedua kalinya’.” ~ Henryk Sienkiewicz - Quo Vadis?

"Semua orang ingin agar hidupnya indah dan mudah. Hidup memang indah, Nak, sangat indah, namun tidak mudah. Hidup akan menjatuhkan seseorang dan begitu orang itu bangkit, dia akan dijatuhkan lagi. (…). Aku ingin agar hidupmu mudah. Lebih mudah daripada yang kualami. Hati seorang ayah sakit saat melihat anak-anaknya menghadapi dunia. Tahu bahwa mereka akan terluka, sama sepertinya... Lalu apa yang harus ia lakukan? Apa yang harus ia lakukan ketika jatuh? Tentu saja ia harus menerima hal itu dan melanjutkan hidup." ~Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – The Yearling

“If there's just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other?” ~Harper Lee – To Kill A Mockingbird


"Please, sir, I want some more." ~Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Man In The Iron Mask


(conclusion in English is at the bottom of this post)

Bagaikan matahari, ada saatnya terbit, ada saatnya tenggelam, begitu pula kehidupan manusia, ada saat ia mengalami kejayaan masa muda, namun akan tiba saatnya kejayaan itu menyusut tiba-tiba. Empat sahabat pengawal ekslusif Raja Prancis yang dulu mengalami kejayaan, kini—tiga puluh tahun kemudian—mau tak mau menyaksikan tenggelamnya masa-masa indah itu. Mereka adalah the three musketeers: Athos, Porthos, Aramis, ditambah sahabat setia mereka D’Artagnan, para pengawal raja yang termashyur dengan semboyan: ‘one for all and all for one’. Kisah karya Alexandre Dumas yang berdasarkan sejarah pemerintahan Louis XIII hingga Louis XIV ini dirangkai ke dalam tiga sekuel. Dimulai dari The Three Musketeers, disusul Twenty Years After, dan ditutup dengan The Vicomte de Bragelonne. Sekuel ketiga ini—karena begitu panjangnya (sekitar 2000 halaman)—dibagi ke dalam 3 bagian. The Man in The Iron Mask ini adalah bagian terakhir dari sekuel ketiga itu (jadi ia sebenarnya bukan novel yang berdiri sendiri), di mana para musketeers telah memasuki usia 50-60 tahunan.

Seperti yang telah kuduga, Alexandre Dumas merangkai kisah ini dengan plot yang rumit, terbagi atas beberapa konflik yang melibatkan tokoh yang berbeda-beda. Mungkin ini adalah akibat cara penulisan kisah ini yang asalnya berupa serial (bukan novel). Karena itu, aku akan mengulas sedikit kisah dari 5 tokoh utama, beserta bumbu-bumbu konflik yang mengelilinginya.

Aramis
Adalah Aramis (sudah menjadi uskup) yang merancang kudeta terhadap Louis XIV dengan menukarnya dengan saudara kembar Louis yang sejak kecil diasingkan kemudian dipenjara agar tidak mengganggu takhta Louis. Phillipe, si saudara kembar malang inilah yang kemudian menjadi the man in the iron mask. Sedang Aramis sendiri kemudian dikejar-kejar pasukan Raja yang dipimpin D’Artagnan, karena pemberontakannya.

Athos
Setelah pensiun dari musketeers, Athos—kini Comte de la Verre—hidup tenang bersama putra tunggalnya yang kini meneruskan pelayanannya kepada Raja: Vicomte Raoul de Bragelonne. Sayangnya Raoul terlibat cinta segitiga dengan Louis XIV, yang dimenangkan—tentu saja—oleh sang Raja. Raoul bukan saja patah hati, namun juga patah semangat hidup. Hal yang membuat Athos marah dan menyalahkan Raja dengan kata-kata kasar. Raoul lalu berangkat perang ke Arab, meninggalkan Athos kesepian. Kisah ayah-anak ini yang paling tak aku sukai, penuh kegalauan!

D’Artagnan
Adalah satu-satunya yang masih mengabdi kepada monarki, dengan menjadi Kapten Musketeers. Karakter D’Artagnan sudah kuulas di sini. D’Artagnan tersinggung karena Louis XIV tak sepenuhnya memberinya kepercayaan saat ia bertugas memburu Aramis dan Porthos, lalu mengundurkan diri dari jabatannya (dan bukan sekali ini saja ia ‘ngambek’ dan mengancam mengundurkan diri).

Porthos
Digambarkan sebagai yang paling baik hati dari keempat sahabat ini, memiliki tubuh raksasa, namun tak terlalu cerdik. Diperalat Aramis untuk mengkudeta Louis XIV, namun toh tak membenci sahabatnya meski ia lalu menjadi buronan padahal tak bersalah. Dumas menuliskan epitaph yang sangat menyentuh emosi bagi musketeer yang satu ini!

Louis XIV
Kukira bolehlah disimpulkan bahwa sang Raja, Louis XIV, merupakan inti dari semua konflik yang ada di kisah ini, sekaligus yang memiliki karakter paling kompleks. Aku telah sedikit mengulasnya di sini. Selain berkonflik dengan jagoan-jagoan kita di atas, ia juga mencopot Menteri Keuangannya: M. Foquet setelah Foquet mengadakan pesta super mewah yang membuat pamor Louis XIV sebagai raja seolah ‘tenggelam’. Dipicu oleh kecemburuan, Colbert yang mengincar posisi Foquet pun ikut ‘mengipasi’ amarah Louis.

Dari konfliknya dengan semua tokoh, aku melihat bahwa Louis XIV bukanlah tokoh antagonis yang diktator, dan malah menurutku tindakannya wajar bagi seorang raja. Mari kita lihat dari kasus Aramis, ia jelas-jelas adalah pemberontak, musuh kerajaan, dan hukuman mati memang masuk akal baginya meski ia adalah sahabat D’Artagnan. Ketika ‘menukar’ Louis dengan Phillipe, jelas-jelas Porthoslah yang membantu Aramis, maka tak heran bila Louis menganggapnya juga sebagai pemberontak.

Tindakannya terhadap Foquet memang keterlaluan karena dipicu ego pribadi. Namun bagiku Foquet memang terlalu berlebihan saat mengadakan pesta mewah padahal kondisi keuangannya sedang carut-marut. Ia memang bangsawan yang terhormat dalam sikap dan kepribadian, namun ia terlalu membanggakan kehormatan yang dimilikinya, tanpa memperhatikan ego rajanya. Lagipula tampaknya ia memang bukan menteri keuangan yang kompeten, karena dari apa yang kutangkap dari buku, pembukuannya kacau sehingga kas kerajaan bercampur dengan kas rumah tangganya.

Takdir memang tak bersahabat bagi Raoul, namun kupikir juga kurang pada tempatnya bagi Athos untuk melampiaskan amarah pada Raja, apalagi karena La Valliere sendirilah yang memutuskan Raoul demi mengejar cinta Louis. Sedang dalam kasus D’Artagnan, aku justru mengangkat dua jempol bagi Louis XIV yang benar-benar memahami watak bawahan yang paling ia percayai itu. D’Artagnan sangat setia, namun kelemahannya terletak pada kebanggaannya yang agak berlebihan pada kehormatan. Louis jelas tak dapat mempercayai D’Artagnan untuk benar-benar menangkap kedua sahabatnya. Di bagian akhir kisah ini, Louis XIV menunjukkan bahwa dirinya bukanlah anak muda manja yang dijadikan raja. Ialah sang pemimpin mutlak negara. Inilah cuplikkan dialog yang menunjukkan kematangan Louis XIV sebagai raja.

Conclusion:

I see The Man In The Iron Mask as a symbol of changing times. What applies in the old days may not be able to impose on us in the present days. We should uphold the principles that we think is right, however we must also be flexible with the present situation. Honor could be maintained in a different way, not by violence, coercion, let alone the rebellion!

Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d'Artagnan is a symbol of past glory, and they will always be admired and respected at all times. But times have changed, the values ​​which they used to stand then, may not mean anything anymore now. Whose fault is that? The past, or the present? The answer is none. Life will continue, and we inevitably must adapt to it.

Thirty years after the golden age for the four musketeers, they were (through d'Artagnan in his conversation with Louis XIV) reminded that their time has gone. The new horizon has come, and what left for them are these choices: to get out of it with honor, or try to live with it. Still, their honorable manner is something that should be inspiring the future generations.

As usual, Alexandre Dumas has presented a complex story with a complex plot, involving many characters with their own problems, which at first seem unrelated, but in the end interlocked each other. Unfortunately, there are things still unrevealed until the end of the novel—for example: what exactly is Madam de Chevreuse’s motive in her intrigue to topple Foquet? It seems she wanted to revenge against Aramis, but why? Maybe I'll get the answer from the two previous novels. Nevertheless, The Man In The Iron Mask is an unforgettable story, part of a wonderful epic, about honor, loyalty, love and friendship.

Four swords for The Man In The Iron Mask and Alexandre Dumas!

Title: The Man In The Iron Mask
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Introduction & Notes: Keith Wren
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Published: 2002
Pages: 632