Friday, June 29, 2012

Gone With The Wind Read Along 2012

Gone With The Wind is one of the “scariest” novels for me. No, of course it’s not a scary novel, but the total pages did make me think twice before buying it. Will I make it all the 1448 pages of it? However, being the Pulitzer winning price, Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone With The Wind is certainly a must-read book. Thanks to The Classics Club Project by Jillian, I found that Bzee (book blogger fellow from Indonesia—like me) also put Gone With The Wind in her list. So, I asked her whether we could read this book together. Then…I have a better idea. Why not hosting a read-along? I think there are many of you who haven’t had chance (or courage J) to read Gone With The Wind, yet so eager or curious to read it, or you have read it but want to re-read it. To read it together is going to be fun!

So, this is it..The Gone With The Wind Read-along 2012 , which will take place from September 1st to November 7th 2012. I will host it, with Bzee as a co-host. These are the details:

The book
The following data is taken from Pocket Books, June 2008 edition, which I will read, but you are free to choose any edition (paperback or e-book):
Total pages: 1448
Total chapters: 63
Total parts: 5
- Part 1: page 3 - 191
- Part 2: page 195 - 397
- Part 3: page 401 - 717
- Part 4: page 722 - 1180
- Part 5: page 1184 - 1448

The participants

This read-along is opened internationally, anyone is welcomed to join. Participant must sign up via comment box in the participant list page. If you want to post about this read-along in your blog, you can add your post URL in comment box of the participants list page. I will update the list periodically, you may join the read-along anytime (even in the middle of read-along schedule), as long as you can catch up to finish the book by November 7th 2012.

It’s not a must, but I would appreciate if you’d grab and put the Gone With The Wind Read-along button in your post. Or if you don’t write any post, you can put it in your sidebar, linking here, to let your followers know about this read-along.

Oh… and for my dear Indonesian fellow bloggers—before you ask the question—yes, you may post in Bahasa Indonesia, but personally I recommend you to post in English, to make it easier for other participants to read your thoughts and have discussions.

The update posts
To read along together with friends is my main purpose of having this event, so I prefer to have some discussion after finishing each part. Therefore I plan to open an update posts page during the read-along where you can share URL of your own update posts. These posts are not mandatory, you can skip it if you don’t have anything to say.

If you only want to say something brief about certain part but do not feel like writing a post, or else you don’t have a blog, you can just make a comment on the “update posts”. With the “reply” button we can have a discussion there as well.

There will be four update posts, for part one to part four, while nearly at the end of read-along I will publish a “reviews page” (there won’t be update post for part 5, we can directly write a review for the whole book).

The giveaway
This is the best part! For you who post your updates in your blog or in comment box, will be able to join my giveaway! Each update post/comment would be counted as one entry, and at the end of read-along, I will pick one (or—hopefully—more) winner. To anyone who would like to host his/her giveaway during this read-along, please feel free to contact me, so I can post about your giveaway in this blog.

Reading schedule?
There won’t be any strict schedule to read certain pages in certain days, everyone can have their own pace. Just feel free to add your link after you finish certain part, anytime. This way participants can check how others are going, or have discussion about certain parts.

The reviews
Please add the URL of your review in the “reviews page” after finishing the novel. The review post is mandatory, but if you don’t have a blog, you can use comment box to write your opinion.

Starting end of last year, I have a habit to post my classics book reviews on the birthday of the authors. It will work also for Mrs. Mitchell, whose birthday is on November 8th. That means we can finish our reading and write the review anytime, but we will publish it only on November 8th as a ‘special gift’ for Mrs. Mitchell.

So…that’s it..let’s conquer those 1448 pages beginning on September 1st 2012! The Participant List is already opened now, you can sign up from today. Welcome aboard Scarlett O’Hara...  J

Literary Classics Challenge - Friday Progress (4)

I had spent the whole last week together with the witty and flamboyant Oscar Wilde in his ‘ThePicture of Dorian Gray’. Sipping the 256 pages and publishing chapter posts every day was quite a hard task, but I really enjoyed every moment ‘till the end.

Actually the next book on my schedule is The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens, and I have started the first few chapters, however now I don’t feel very excited to continue on. I don’t know, perhaps it’s because I have spent my energy and emotion to finish Dorian Gray. So, now I’m still not sure what to read next. I have Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Dumas’ Twenty Years After on my TBR, but Dr. Jekyll is too gothic (not after Dorian Gray definitely!), and Twenty Years After…’s 600s pages..! On the other hand, I have in my Kindle several classics short stories, maybe I’ll pick few of them to cool my brain off J. Besides, several of them are Victorian authors too, so I can still read something for AVictorian Celebration anyway.

 I have here: Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Henry James, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Edgar Allan Poe. Which one do you think I should grab first? J. Should I go to America? Or should I stay at the city of the following image for a little while….. Can you guess where it is?

The north end of Drury Lane runs into High Holborn-Louise Rayner source

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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

“Like the painting of a sorrow, a face without a heart.”

Meminjam sebaris kalimat dari Hamlet karya Shakespeare yang juga dikutip oleh Oscar Wilde di buku ini, kupikir seperti itulah keseluruhan kisah The Picture of Dorian Gray ini. Dorian Gray adalah seorang pemuda 20 tahun yang ketampanannya menyiratkan kemudaan yang menyegarkan dan tanpa dosa, seperti jiwanya saat itu—saat sebelum dunia mulai meracuninya. Dorian bersahabat dengan seorang pelukis terkenal bernama Basil Hallward yang segera terpesona dan memuja Dorian. Basil melukis potret diri Dorian sambil mencurahkan kecintaannya pada pemuda itu ke dalam lukisannya, yang kemudian menjadi sebuah mahakarya.

Sahabat Basil yang lain, Lord Henry, adalah seorang pria yang memuja kenikmatan, dan memandang dunia dan kehidupan lewat cara pandang yang sinis dan skeptis. Lord Henry inilah yang kemudian—setelah berkenalan dengan Dorian—menyuntikkan ide-ide yang meracuni pikiran Dorian sehingga si pemuda menjadi pemuja kemudaan. Ia lalu ‘berdoa’ agar lukisan dirinya lah yang akan menjadi tua dan lelah akibat beban hidup Dorian, sementara dirinya sendiri tetap muda dan tanpa garis-garis kehidupan di tubuhnya. Entah bagaimana, ‘doa’ itu terwujud, dan ketika jiwa Dorian—akibat pengaruh buruk sekitarnya—makin bobrok, ekspresi dirinya di dalam lukisan itu pun pelan-pelan berubah. Sementara itu Dorian berubah menjadi makin jahat, dan jiwanya makin ‘gelap’. Dari luar ia tampak tanpa beban, padahal di dalam jiwanya keropos dan ia tak sanggup bangkit dari keterpurukan. Pertanyaannya, akankah Dorian Gray sanggup bangkit dari keterpurukannya? Ketika jiwa manusia sudah tergerogoti demikian dalam, manakah yang lebih gampang, berusaha ‘kembali ke jalan yang benar’ ataukah malah jatuh semakin dalam?

Dorian Gray adalah kisah gothic tentang gelapnya jiwa manusia, dan semua itu gara-gara racun pengaruh buruk dari lingkungan sekitarnya. Oscar Wilde telah merangkai kisah ini dengan cantiknya, memadukan sisi artistik dengan gaya menulis flamboyant khas dirinya, membuatku sangat menikmati kisah ini dari awal hingga akhir. 256 halaman itu bak secangkir kopi, bukannya kuminum dengan beberapa tegukan cepat, melainkan kuseruput sedikit demi sedikit sambil menikmati setiap sensasi yang bisa kureguk darinya. Benar-benar perkenalan yang memabukkan bersama Oscar Wilde. J Kalau anda ingin turut mencicipi kenikmatannya, percikannya ada di chapter posts ini (dari chapter I hingga XVII)

Lima bintang untuk Dorian Gray dan Oscar Wilde!


The Picture of Dorian Gray, I think, is Oscar Wilde’s allusion to the world for over-worshipping beauty and youthfulness. Through this book we are also invited to see the development of human spirit in general. I see the picture of Dorian Gray as a reflection of his soul. Dorian wanted to have barter with the devil to exchange his own soul with the physical youthfulness of the painting, and with that, he hoped he will forever be free and have fun without having to bear the brunt of his actions because the painting was the one who will bear it.

I see there are two factors which initiated the fall of Dorian Gray's soul. First, the excessive worshipping of Basil Hallward towards Dorian Gray, that is the starting point; then coupled with the influence which Lord Henry has injected into Dorian’s mind, led Dorian to worship his own beauty and made ​​a prayer to barter his soul with the youthfulness of his picture. It is also interesting that, as one slumped deeper into his sin, his conscience being increasingly unbearable to him. When his soul was beginning to corrupt, Dorian could encourage himself to make repentance, the picture could act as his soul barometer, but when he has drawn deeper in the mud of sin, he refused to see the picture and chose to cover and hide it, both from his own eyes and from other’s. However, it is not easy to run away from one’s conscience; Dorian tried to please himself in hedonism. He plunged himself deeper in sin, so that when the last effort of ‘the representative of his conscience’ tried to take him away from the darkness, he could not bear it and killed him. At the end…this is the question for us all:

“What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

Oscar Wilde has fascinated me with his paradoxes and artistic style in writing Dorian Gray. Just as Basil Hallward had left something of himself in the picture of Dorian Gray, I believe Wilde had also left his flamboyant personality and passion of aestheticism in his writing. As I already mentioned in one of my posts, if book was a drink, Dorian Gray were a cup of coffee; instead of drinking it in gulps, I took it sip by sip, while savouring the bitter-sweet taste, feeling the warmth liquid flowing through your throat and inhaling the sweet fragrance that come into my nostrils. There are many aspects in this particular ‘cup of coffee’ that I can enjoy, which, if I drink it in a hurry, I will certainly lose the sensation! That is how I have savoured The Picture of Dorian Gray in about ten days, having been busy with reading and posting chapter posts, but in the end it ‘s worth all the efforts J. I enjoyed Dorian Gray till the last drop.

Five whole stars for this book!

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Publisher: Penguin Popular Classics
Published: 1994
Pages: 256

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Revenge Is Approaching: Dorian Gray Chapter XVI-XVII

(p. 212-228)

What interested me...

"It was a marvellous spotted thing, as effective as the seven deadly sins."

It's a fine specimen of orchid called Robinsoniana. Lord Henry had cut it to be placed in his buttonhole.

What it's all about...

With a burdened soul, Dorian took a hansom to the slum area of London, where people like him found 'heaven' in opium dens. There a woman recognized him as the 'Prince Charming', the nickname Sibyl Vane used to call him. Unfortunately James Vane—who at the same time was somewhere near the den—heard it and tried to kill Dorian to take revenge for his sister. However Dorian used his immortal youthfulness as an alibi (as Sibyl’s death was already 18 years ago but Dorian’s appearance was seemed to be in the twenties), and escaped the murder attempt.

Dorian held a tea party and invited several dukes, duchess, including Lord Henry. Oscar Wilde offered smart and interesting debate here, especially between Lord Henry and his cousin Gladys. And at the end of this chapter Dorian fainted at his own conservatory, because to his horror, he had seen the pale face of James Vane behind the window...

My random thoughts...

Several interesting quotes from Lord Henry, that after thinking about it, there’s truth there…

"Like all good reputations, every effect that one produces gives one an enemy. To be popular one must be a mediocrity."

"Scepticism is the beginning of Faith."

"We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible."

This would be my last chapter post for The Picture of Dorian Gray, I would conclude all after finishing the third last chapters, and will post my review as a wrap-up post.

Basil Hallward on The Picture of Dorian Gray: Character Thursday (18)

Basil Hallward
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Basil is a young talented and well known artist who was fascinated by a rich beautiful young man called Dorian Gray. After they become friends, Basil painted a picture of Dorian. His passion towards Dorian reflected to the picture—which later become Basil’s masterpiece. After seeing his own picture, Dorian Gray wished to keep his youthfulness immortal, while the picture must bear all his corruption in flesh as well as in sins. The altered Dorian was now enthralled by the poisonous-mind Lord Henry, and neglected Basil. However, Basil kept taking good care of his friend. From the first time Dorian met Lord Henry, it was Basil who warned Lord Henry to not poisoning Dorian’s innocent mind.

I see Basil as a man with a strong morality. Every time Lord Henry or Dorian said of something cynical or immoral, Basil would say something like, ‘you know you don’t mean that!’, as if he trusted that his friends would not think such an awful idea. In many occasion Basil tried to prevent Dorian from moral degradation in the society, however he never forced his will to Dorian. No matter how Dorian has neglected him as a friend, Basil would always be patient to him. When Dorian did not let Basil see his own painting, Basil sadly accepted Dorian’s decision without arguing.

which one is Basil, do you think?...

When negative rumors about Dorian began to spread within the society, Basil always stood for Dorian. And after Basil knew that Dorian had changed completely and had done all the evils everyone had rumored about, Basil did not accused him nor said hard things in anger. Basil only asked Dorian to pray together with him, to ask for repentance from God. He did not mention about Dorian’s sins, but only wish him to be relieved from them. How lucky anyone who has a friend like Basil!

If there was any negative point in Basil’s character, it was perhaps his idolatry to Dorian. I mean, it’s normal to love and adore someone, but I think Basil had been over-worshipping Dorian, that had a bad influence to Dorian in the end. But overall, I like Basil Hallward, he is a friend who will always be there for us, no matter how bad we treated him sometime… Don’t you just love to have a friend like that?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Cold Blooded Dorian - Dorian Gray Chapter XIV-XV

(p. 186-211)

What I like…

A cup of hot chocolate! I like to sip thick and sweet hot chocolate; and a cup of chocolate had also opened chapter XIV, when Dorian sipped it calmly from the cup his valet gave him in the morning after he killed somebody in his house!

What it's all about...

After committing the murder the night before, Dorian would like to make the corpse vanished, to scrap all evidence. He asked a chemist help, one of his ex intimate friends. Allan--the chemist--rejected to help Dorian at first, but Dorian blackmailed him to do what he wanted, so that he was forced to do it.

Dorian did not feel anything towards the dead man who once his dear friend. And 24 hours after that tragedy, he appeared in a party as elegant and calm as usual. Inside he was in a terrible horror, but outside he was polite and charming. He hardly touched his dinner, and when Lord Henry occasionally asked him where he were last night, Dorian began to feel nervous. He went home and destroyed the coat and bag of the dead man--the last evidence left, then made a night travel by hansom to unknown destination...

My random thoughts...

It was always like that when a man's soul corrupted. At first he did a sin and struggled with it, wondered how can he had done it. After a while he could convince himself that he had not done something wrong by doing a sin. After that, he had a strong need to silence his conscience, and he would kill if it is necessary. After that he would live a double life, always worried that others might see his sin. Those were the stages, and let's just see where it will all end for Dorian Gray. A very interesting psychological study that have suddenly reminded me of Emile Zola's Therese Raquin...

What made me still curious...

What was Dorian found in the Florentine cabinet that made him shuddered?

What was Dorian’s threat on Allan that the victim got so scared and finally agreed to help the murderer vanishing the corpse? Had it been one of his secret?

Poor Basil… - Dorian Gray Chapter XII-XIII

(p. 169-185)

What I like…

The more I digest this story, the more I like the character of Basil Hallward, the talented painter. He is a kind-hearted man, it’s for sure. From chapter XII-XIII it became clearly how he dearly loved Dorian Gray. Although Dorian had avoided him, Basil still cared about his dear friend’s reputation and his soul. When Basil finally saw the truth, how his friend soul was corrupted, Basil did not leave him. He did not look at Dorian with disgust, he asked him to pray together with him, to try to ask God for repentance. That’s what I call a true friendship!

can you guess which one is Basil? :)

What it's all about...

At one foggy night Dorian walked passed Basil on the way home. The latter had wanted to see Dorian for a serious matter. Basil had heard lately from his friends about Dorian’s bad reputation; that many of his intimate friends ended up in bad scandals; that many noblemen avoided him at the club. To all of them Basil had always stood up for his dear friend, for how a man with such beautiful innocent face could possibly did all the evil things they had accused him for? Basil then said that he must see Dorian’s soul before able to provide any answer. Here Dorian challenged Basil to really look into the depth of his soul, which Basil—I think out of curiosity—accepted.

Upstairs they went, to the old study room where Dorian kept the painting. And for the first time other people looked at the corrupted-painting of Dorian Gray. In such a horror, Basil asked Dorian to pray with him, asking repentance from God, in a desperate try to release his dear friend’s soul from evil’s trap. Then what Dorian did? It was so terrible, that I won’t spoil it here…

My random thoughts...

It’s all started from idolatry
I kept thinking of what had started Dorian’s soul corrupting. Was that Lord Henry? Or was it Basil? At first I think it was Lord Henry, for it was he who had first influenced the innocent Dorian. But after reading this chapter, I have another thought. Was it not the painting that had begun all of it? It was the painting who intrigued Lord Henry to the soul of Dorian Gray (after seeing it in Basil’s studio – chapter 1). It was the same painting that at first planted the idea of immortal beauty and youth to Dorian’s mind. And that painting had been produced from a man’s idolatry to his model. I think it’s because Basil adored Dorian, that he could paint him in a perfect beauty. Idolatry is often dangerous because it persuades the idol to worship mortal things, and with that, he is very susceptible to negative influences and temptations.

Did Basil deserve the punishment?

I worshipped you too much. I am punished for it. You worshipped yourself too much. We are both punished.

I think so (although what Wilde did to him was rather too cruel…or not? At least Basil didn’t have to bear the pain any longer..). No living creature deserves worshipping besides God.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Victorian London from Sketches by Boz: The Transportation

Here we are again, in the Victorian London of 19th century, still in our leisure walk together with Boz. Before this, we have seen many interesting things in London, from the amusements to the streets andshops. Boz has also introduced us to some interesting people from severaloccupations, back in the Victorian era. Today, I will accompany you in an exciting Victorian London excursion, by four different means of transportation. Of course, there are more than the four modes of transports at that time, however I choose only them which were often mentioned in Charles Dickens’ Sketches by Boz, from which I got the idea. 

And ladies and gentlemen…let us know begin our excursion…

Hackney Coach

Hackney coach—hackney means horse for hire—is a four-wheeled carriage having six seats and drawn by two horses you can hire (cab) in the 19th century.  Hackney coaches were often the discarded and outdated coaches of the nobility, often still bearing their faded coats of arms. The hackney coaches were shabby with dirty interiors. They operated out of inn yards and from coach stands located near main streets [source].

And here is how a hackney coach stand looks like, just as Dickens illustrated in Sketches by Boz:

Cabriolet (Cab)

A two-wheeled, doorless, hooded, one-horse carriage; may come from the French cabriole, an indication of its light, bounding motion. A cabriolet can be driven by someone seated in the carriage. The design is intended to accommodate two comfortably. The collapsible leather hood allows passengers to enjoy sunny weather or shelter from rain. But the original cabriolets were for a single passenger beside the driver and were a kind of hooded chaise. Cabs were introduced into England in the 1820s from France, and they quickly replaced hackney coaches.

There is an interesting thing about cab that Dickens wrote in Sketches by Boz, something that only people at that era who experienced being in a cab, who can described it just as Dickens did in a funny style that made me laugh by just imagining it… J

Some people object to the exertion of getting into cabs, and others object to the difficulty of getting out of them. (…) The getting into a cab is a very pretty and graceful process, which, when well performed, is essentially melodramatic.

You single out a particular cab, and dart swiftly towards it. One bound, and you are on the first step; turn your body lightly round to the right, and you are on the second; bend gracefully beneath the reins, working round to the left at the same time, and you are in the cab.

The getting out of a cab is, perhaps, rather more complicated in its theory, and a shade more difficult n its execution. We have studied the subject a great deal, and we think the best way is, to throw yourself out, and trust to chance for alighting on your feet. If you make the driver alight first, and then throw yourself upon him, you will find that he breaks your fall materially…

Really, I think it’s only Dickens can do that! And I am just wondering, whether the cab he illustrated is perhaps something like this? Can you imagine yourself getting in and getting out of it? J


In 1829, drawing his inspiration from a new and successful system in Paris, George Shillibeer launched the first regular omnibus service in London, running from Paddington to Bank, via the Angel.  They ran fixed routes and were pulled by horses. From the beginning of 1832 the fiercely competitive omnibus companies were authorised to stop for passengers anywhere on their licensed routes. Clusters of people assembled on the routes waiting for buses at peak times; the clusters, in turn, collected pick pockets. The omnibuses were designed to carry 12 or 15 passengers, but since more travelers meant more fares, people were often squashed on board, again presenting opportunities for petty thieves. By the 1880s, a circular staircase leading to the roof added more seating on top.  They carried 12 passengers inside and 14 on top. 

the inside of an omnibus
‘Omnibus Life in London’ 1859 by William Maw Egley


A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels. Until the arrival of railways from 1838 onwards, steamers steadily took over the role of the many sail and rowed ferries, with at least 80 ferries by 1830 with routes from London to Gravesend and Margate, and upstream to Richmond. By 1835, the Diamond Steam Packet Company, one of several popular companies, reported that it had carried over 250,000 passengers in the year.

the Gravesend packet

In the early 19th century, Gravesend was a favorite tourist attraction for Londoners, with a very pleasant riverfront, which included a beach, onto the busy Thames and a number of pleasure gardens, including Windmill Hill, which offers unrivalled views of the estuary, and surrounding countryside.

The first steamboat plied its trade between Gravesend and London in the early 19th century, bringing with it a steadily increasing number of visitors to The Terrace Pier Gardens, Windmill Hill, Springhead Gardens and Rosherville Gardens. Gravesend soon became one of the first English resort towns and thrived from an early tourist trade.

From Skecthes by Boz, I learned that water excursion by steamer is one of Londoners favourites to do on Sundays. Sometimes they also have a water party in one of the steamers. There would be a band who played the music on the deck, a place for dancing, or some game for pleasures. The pastrycook’s men would be there earlier to prepare the dinner or lunch table in the cabin for all the guests. This is perhaps one of the water parties at Victorian era looks like…

And this is where our whole lovely excursion in 19th century London together with Boz must be ended L.
 I only hope you have enjoyed it, as well as the four others previously:

Of course, we must thank Boz for these amusements, for without him, we would never enjoy such fun in the Victorian Celebration event. If you are curious about Boz, you can find more about him in my review of Sketches by Boz.

What Were You Looking For, Dorian? - Dorian Gray Chapter XI

(p. 147-168)

Interesting fact…

I’m quite interested in a word Oscar Wilde used here: ‘Dandyism’ (I shouldn’t explain the meaning, should I? J). On searching in the internet about Victorian dandy style, I came across the photo of….Oscar Wilde himself! Don’t you think he is dandy too?

And the image caption said: “Oscar Wilde had the image of a dandy in Victorian times. He dressed to impress. Here he is wearing a carnation in his buttonhole.”

And these are what people called dandy in Victorian era… Seems that flower in button hole and brocade waistcoat were fashion items for dandy men at that era.

I’m also interested in his style in describing colors. I think, being a fashionable man, Oscar Wilde was familiar with unique colors, such as: copper-green, mauve, sulphur-yellow, vermillion and gold, olive-green, etc.

What it's all about...

Dorian got fascinated with the ‘yellow book’ Lord Henry had lent him. He found the story was similar to his life, and soon got poisoned by the book’s idea.

Meanwhile, for eighteen years the painting grew older and more evil, while Dorian’s beautiful and innocence appearance was remain the same, that many of his friends could not believe rumors of his evil behavior. During those years Dorian Gray tried to satisfy his Life with fascinating things, from fashion, perfumes, embroideries, music, to religion. He also became more obsessed to beauty, not only his own, but in others too, and even in his ancestor's pictures. You can say that his soul was corrupted more and more.

My random thoughts...

Dorian’s wandering mind
I was overwhelmed through this chapter. There are a lot of philosophies in long sentences, using ‘strange’ words that I can’t really follow. From what I gather—hopefully I’m not lost, because Dorian himself is kind of lost in the unreal worlds in search of the true meaning of life—at first he adored fashions (became one of London’s dandy trendsetter), then he was drawn to mysticism, before attracted to Roman Catholic communion, then Darwinismus doctrine, then perfumes. Perfumes? Yes, Dorian really studied about perfumes—about the relation between smells and soul. After that he had drawn himself in exotic music all over the world before getting crazy of jewels, embroideries and tapestries. I can’t really follow his mind...

The more he knew, the more he desired to know
Isn’t the biggest cause of sin comes from knowledge? Isn’t that why God forbade Adam and Eve to eat apples from the knowledge tree? Because the more man knows, the more he will desire to know, until he drawn himself to the sin.

What I didn’t quite get…

Page 153 on Hedonism, etc., what was Oscar Wilde tried to say? That hedonism was an unreal world where Dorian Gray had been hidden from his sins?

In was the creation of such worlds as these that seemed to Dorian Gray to be the true object, or amongst the true objects of life; and in his search for sensations that would be at once new and delightful and possess the element of strangeness that is so essential to romance…etc.etc..

I have no idea. I’m lost! L I think I can see the general idea, but I can’t follow Oscar Wilde’s mind.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hiding The Picture: Dorian Gray Chapter IX - X

 (p. 125-146)

What I like…

I’m still enjoying vivid images Oscar Wilde used to describe nature’s scenes, like this one…

“Cloudless, and pierced by one solitary star,…”

“….a copper-green sky gleamed through the windows...”


Honestly, I have never thought sky would be related with the color of green!

What it's all about...

Basil visited Dorian because he was worried about his friend's grieve on Sibyl's death. However he was startled by Dorian's ignorance by going to Opera with Lord Henry only one day after the tragedy, which Basil took as a negative change in his character. Meanwhile, Basil intended to exhibit his painting of Dorian Gray's picture in Paris, which frightened Dorian.

When Basil would like to see his own painting, Dorian—of course—rejected. This lead to Basil's confession on his feeling towards Dorian that was reflected in the painting, which was the reason he rejected to exhibit it. After the painting went to Dorian's residence, however, Basil decided to exhibit it anyway. Dorian strongly rejected the idea and Basil kindly accepted his decision. That conversation then encouraged Dorian to hide the painting for good in an old room where he used to be in his childhood and youth days. At the end of chapter X, Lord Henry lent a ‘mind poisoning’ novel to Dorian.

My random thoughts...

Hiding the dark side
Just as sinners like to hide their sins in the darkest ‘room’ of their souls, Dorian securely hide the continuously-corrupted-painting into a dark old-dusty room where he kept the key and ensured that not a single soul should ever see it.

Let the painting bear his sin
It’s interesting to observe how at first Dorian looked at the cruel expression in the painting still with amazement and observation. He had observed that the source of that cruel expression was his cruel treatment to Sibyl Vane. He knew and admitted that he had done something bad. He wished to apologize to Sibyl and marry her to repentant his wrongs, for who knows, his expression in the painting might return to its original state then? But Lord Henry didn’t let him swim in his regret, and soon influenced him to just forget it, that it was not his fault anyway. And now, after Lord Henry ‘lifted’ his moral obligation, Dorian felt burden with his conscience (the corrupting-painting), and finally decided to hide it forever and let it rotten, letting him freely committing more and more sins. Now that the conscience had been muted, nothing would prevent him from falling deeper down…

I'm curious to know...

How deep Dorian will fall?

Black Beauty

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

Sebuah buku yang menggedor pintu kesadaran kita semua akan perlakukan manusia terhadap sesama makhluk ciptaan Tuhan. Black Beauty adalah kisah tentang kehidupan seekor kuda, yang ia tuturkan sendiri dari sudut pandangnya. Kisah dimulai ketika Beauty masih seekor kuda muda (colt) yang masih menikmati indahnya menjadi kuda yang bebas merdeka di sebuah peternakan bersama ibunya. Beauty dididik dengan baik oleh sang ibu yang selalu menanamkan nilai-nilai kehidupan. Dari awal ibunya menekankan bahwa kehidupan kuda memang selalu tergantung pada manusia yang menjadi majikannya, kuda tak akan pernah merdeka. Mereka beruntung bila mendapatkan majikan yang memperhatikan kepentingan mereka dan memberikan kasih sayang kepada mereka, namun adakalanya nasib membawa mereka ke tangan pemilik yang kejam, dan memperlakukan kuda bak sebuah mesin. Kemanapun nasib membawa, sang ibu mengajarkan kepada Beauty, bahwa ia harus selalu berusaha sebaik mungkin.

Setelah itu Beauty berganti-ganti pemilik. Ada pemilik yang baik hati dan memahami kuda, ada pula majikan yang hanya suka memaksa kuda bekerja keras. Beauty pernah bekerja sebagai kuda penarik kereta bagi tuan/nyonya rumah, pernah pula menjadi kuda penarik cabs (kereta taxi). Kadang ia merasa bahagia, kadang pula sengsara. Semuanya ia lalui dengan selalu berusaha melakukan yang terbaik dan tak memberontak seperti ajaran ibunya.

Dan lewat penuturan Anna Sewell ini kita secara tak langsung diajak untuk lebih memahami tentang cara merawat dan menyayangi kuda, atau makhluk lain ciptaan Tuhan secara umum. Anda akan menemukan banyak pelajaran moral dari buku ini. Dan satu hal yang menarik, kuda—meski secara fisik nampak serupa satu sama lain—ternyata memiliki karakter yang berbeda karena masa lalunya pun berbeda. Sama seperti manusia!

Lima kereta untuk kisah yang menyentuh ini! J


We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.

I always thought Black Beauty is a children book. Well, it is—perhaps, but I am grateful to read it as an adult, as I got so many deep philosophies throughout the book, which I might not have appreciated as a child. The main theme is how we should treat animals as God’s creatures, that animals—just as human being—can feel and need affection. Sewell gave several examples in this story, of people who ill-treated their horses, as if they were machines. In fact, not only that it’s not good for the horses, in the long run it was not good for the owner too. Over-working would only shortening horse’s productivity, and at the end the owner must sell it and buy a new horse after every short interval of time.

Sewell also criticized how people at that time (the 19th century) used horses as fashion accessories. The use of bearing rein, for example; its purpose was merely to lift horses’ head to appear stouter when they were used on carriages. Victorian high class people liked to show off their stout horses, it’s the latest fashion. They never thought about the horses, how they must bear the tension and uncomfortable neck position for hours. If the horses could talk, here’s what they might say:

You, who never had a bearing rein on, don't know what it is; but I can tell you it is dreadful. (...) I like to toss my head about, and hold it as high as any horse; but you can fancy how it would feel if you tossed your head up high and were obliged to hold it there for hours together, not able to move it at all, except with a jerk still higher; and all this time your neck was aging till you did not know how to bear it." ~p. 46

There are a lot of other examples of ill-using of horses in this book that made me want to slap all those absurd people who only thought about their appearances. But on the other hand, Sewell also gives many examples on how you should treat horses (or animals in general). Being the same creation of God, they too need to be loved, like us. From Black Beauty and his friends, I learn that they didn’t mind to work hard, as long as the owner took care of their needs and stands for them when they were in danger or being treated badly.

In the end, man and horse (which represent all animals) were all habitant of this earth. We can’t live alone; we need each other, so why don’t we work everything together, hand in hand? When man and horse can trust each other, they would be a strong partner in a harmony of life. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Five stars for Black Beauty, it’s indeed one of those touching readings!

Title: Black Beauty
Author: Anna Sewell
Publisher: Wordsworth Edition Limited
Published: 1993
Pages: 201

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Tragedy..Or, Is It? - Dorian Gray Chapter VIII

(p. 109-125)

What I like...

"It was an exquisite day. The warm air seemed laden with spices. A bee flew in, and buzzed round the blue-dragon bowl that, filled with sulphur-yellow roses, stood before him."

What it's all about...

When Dorian woke up, he remembered about his cruelness to Sibyl after looking at the altered painting. He decided to write a letter to ask for her apology, and to propose that they should marry as they have planned. However, soon after the letter finished, Lord Henry came to bring dreadful news: Sibyl had been found dead last night after she committed suicide.

It should be a blow for Dorian, for he had caused a girl to end her own life; and that's what he felt at first, before--as usual--Lord Henry injected his ideas about forgetting his past with a woman and that Dorian should continue his life.

Once again Dorian struggled with his mind about how the painting could have altered, but in the end buried all his fears deep in his heart, and tried to follow Lord Henry's advice, to re-live his life, and went to the Opera with Lord Henry.

My random thoughts...

Painting = reflection of soul
I think the painting to Dorian Gray equal to our soul to us. Dorian Gray might pretended that Sibyl's death meant nothing to him, however every time he looked at the painting, he would be reminded to his sin. The painting became barometer of his life; the consequences of what he did would be reflected by the painting. No matter how hard he pretended, or how well he'd hidden his sin, the painting would always be there to disturb his consciousness. Man can never runaway from his conscience...

I don't know what I should feel about...

What Lord Henry said about Sibyl, what she was for Dorian:

"The girl never really lived, and so she has never really died. To you at least she was always a dream, a phantom that flitted through Shakespeare's plays and left them lovelier for its presence, a reed through which Shakespeare's music sounded richer and more full of joy."

That quote sounds beautiful, and perhaps that's what happened, but to me it's thrilling. It's as if we can ignore other people's life because they are 'only dream' to us; a mere fiction character of a play. Listen people!.. Sibyl was as real as we are. Being young and naïve doesn't mean to be 'empty'.

Just entered my mind...

Lord Henry had taken two souls
He had taken and altered Dorian's soul, and because of that, Dorian had caused Sibyl's death.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Cruel Reflection: Dorian Gray Chapter VII

(p. 95-108)

What I like…

It's the last scene from this chapter...

"The fresh morning air seemed to drive away all his sombre passions. He thought only of Sibyl. A faint echo of his love comes back to him. He repeated her name over and over again. The birds that were singing in the dew-drenched garden seemed to be telling the flowers about her."


Have I mentioned before that I LOVE nature scene like this? I love flowers and birds, and love Wilde's idea about the birds telling the flowers about the woman one loves. Oh, if only it were for a romantic love story...

What it's all about...

That night Sibyl would play Juliet, and Dorian had proudly invited Basil and Lord Henry to watch the genius actress who would become his wife. However, Sibyl's performance that night was surprisingly very bad. Dorian became very angry to her, although Sibyl had explained that it is because of her great love to Dorian, that she could no longer acted as somebody else. In Dorian had she found herself, her life, her happiness.

Dorian could not accept that, he coldly broke their engagement in a cruel manner, despite of Sibyl's cry and weep. Then that night, at his bedroom, Dorian found that his picture--painted by Basil--has changed! There was a cruelty on his expression. Could that be possible, that the picture reflected the soul of its subject? Dorian directly realised that the picture reflected what he had done to Sibyl! He would apologize to her the next day, and before that, he put a screen in front of the picture to hide it.

My random thoughts...

Her acting, not herself
To whom Dorian had fell in love? To Sibyl? NO. He fell in love to what she performed, to her acting. This is pathetic!

Fear, not love
I doubt that Dorian really felt sorry for what he had done to Sibyl. I mean, he was sorry, but not for Sibyl; Dorian felt sorry because he was scared that his soul would change just like the painting. Why? Read next...

Battle between good and evil
I think the painting alteration was representing the moment when the evil begin to creep into our soul. We are basically good, because God has made us good. When evil is penetrating our soul, it's just as when Lord Henry began poisoning Dorian. We know we had done sin, we know we shouldn't do that, we can see the dark evil that came in our way, and we are scared that evil will take us away from where we were supposed to belong from the beginning (God). At this point, we are struggling, just as Dorian was at that night. We can see it clearly from his mind wandering:

"Cruelty! Had he been cruel? It was the girl's fault, not his..."

"...And, yet, a feeling of infinite regret came over him... He remembered with what callousness he watched her. Why had he been made like that?.."

"...Lord Henry knew what women were. Why should he trouble about Sibyl Vane? She was nothing to him now..."

"...He would not see Lord Henry any more.. He would go back to Sibyl Vane, marry her, try to love her again... Poor child! He had been selfish and cruel to her..."

That's what happened when we committed a crime or sin, our soul are always struggling and weighing, we can never be at peace; and which part is gonna win? It depends on us; and in this story, it depends on where Oscar Wilde will take us next...

I'm curious to know...

...where Oscar Wilde will take us next... J

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dorian Fell In Love: Dorian Gray Chapter V & VI

(p. 72- 94)

What I like…

This is a scene on the road where Sibyl and her brother James took a seat during their walk.

“They took their seats amidst a crowd of watchers. The tulip-beds across the road flamed like throbbing rings of fire. A white dust, tremulous cloud of orris-root it seemed, hung in the panting air…”


“..The brightly-coloured parasols danced and dipped like monstrous butterflies.”


What it's all about...

Chapter V is belonged to the Vane family. Sibyl lived with her mother—an ex-theater actress, and her brother James who was going to Australia to find a better living. Both mother and brother reacted differently on Sibyl's engagement with Dorian. Mrs. Vane, although doubt the young couple's seriousness, put a hope on her son-in-law-to-be, who she believed to be a rich nobleman.

On the contrary, James—who quite racist to any gentlemen—detested the young man whom Sibyl hardly known (she hadn't even know his name, other than his nickname 'Prince Charming'). James sworn that if the young man wrongs her sister, he would kill him. Shortly before his departure, James forced his mother to reveal a secret, that his late father was actually a gentleman who never married his mother because of their backgrounds.

In chapter VI Dorian was very excited to announce his engagement to Basil and Lord Henry. The three of them had an interesting discussion on marriages and pleasures, before they made a departure to the important night; the night when Sibyl would perform Juliet in the play they were going to attend.

My random thoughts...

Slapped by Mr. Wilde J
Straight forward quotes that the trueness was sometimes frightened, and Oscar Wilde has written it very sharply:

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”

“When poverty creeps in at the door, love flies in through the window.”

Life is a theatre play
If life is an art for Lord Henry, then for Mrs. Vane, life is a theatre play…

Art is dangerous
Art is a medium into which people expresses their thoughts, idea, and sometimes their own soul (like Basil). In that case, art can bring a strong influence to others. The art of painting (by Basil) and the art of intelligent (by Lord Henry) had both altered Dorian Gray’s soul and his way of thinking. One of them might meant nothing, but both…we have saw the result. Lord Henry said to Basil in chapter V:

“Your portrait of him has quickened his appreciation of the personal appearance of other people”

But I think he was not 100% correct. Lord Henry himself had shared quite big part in what had happened to Dorian Gray.

Reactions upon Dorian's marriage
Lord Henry did not approve nor disapprove Dorian's marriage, he just under-estimate marriages, and thought marriage only make one lack individuality. Basil didn't say anything, he was too surprised of that new fact and think it was just merely passion.

A bitter goodbye
At the end of this chapter the gentlemen departed to the theatre in two vehicles. Lord Henry could only take another passenger in his brougham (a carriage which can only take 2 passengers), so he asked Basil to take a separate hansom. Lord Henry—of course—took Dorian with him. For other people it is only a transport arrangement, but somehow Basil felt that he would 'lose' Dorian after that night, their relationship would never be the same again.

The characters development

Dorian Gray—In the excitement of his passionate love, Dorian realized the bad influences Lord Henry had been pouring upon him all these time. At this particular moment, Dorian disagreed with Lord Henry about love, marriage and pleasure.

"When I am with her, I regret all that you have taught me. I become different from what you have known me to be. I am changed, and the mere touch of Sibyl Vane's hand makes me forget you and all your wrong, fascinating, poisonous, delightful theories." fragile soul was so easy to change!

Lord Henry—In chapter VI I saw clearly how Lord Henry was a hedonist. He praised a lot about Pleasure (Wilde purposely used capital letter), and he believed that one should only live for one's self.