Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Quote 8: Gone With The Wind

Since I’m still reading Gone With The Wind, I hope I’m not boring you with another post about this book :)… I found this piece of quote from Part four. The Civil War has been over, yet the worst would still come. In this Part four I begin to see what Mitchell wanted to speak through her book. It was about the changing era that was following the war. In the middle of the uncertainty of the future, Mitchell showed us through her characters and their dialogues, that one must be brave to move along. One must not regret over the ideal life he once had, and dreams for living the same ideal in the future. One must work hard—although it is far from his ideal—to survive and to face the future.

This particular quote showed that spirit,

“It’s a poor person and a poor nation that sits down and cries because life isn’t precisely what they expected it to be.”

I think it helps us too right here, right now. The world is changing rapidly, and we know that the ideal life has long gone, so we must go on living, never dream about the past, but do our best for the future.

This Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Gone With The Wind Read Along: GIVEAWAY!

It’s already the last week of September. How did you all get going with Gone With The Wind? You can check the Update Posts page to see how others have progressed. Meanwhile, I want to remind you that every update posts you entered in the Update Posts page will be regarded as entries for my giveaway.

This giveaway is eligible for everyone who joins Gone With The Wind Read Along. The winner would be picked from Update Posts entries that you have entered during the read along. I have picked five authors from early 20th century (just as Margaret Mitchell), whose books are offered for the prize:

Agatha Christie
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ernest Hemingway
Virginia Woolf
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  • One winner can choose 1 (one) title from one of those authors from Amazon (for US residents) or from The Book Depository (for non US residents) at max. $10.
  • Leave a comment mentioning how to contact you if you win (email/blog/twitter), and the book you’d like to have (you can change it later if you win; I’m just curious).
  • I will pick and announce the winner on November 8th 2012, so make sure you have added your update posts in the linky before that. Note: review post did not counted, as Bzee will host another giveaway for review posts at the end of this read along.
  • The winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will pick a new winner.

Good luck!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jack Merridew in Lord of The Flies

Jack Merrydew was the main antagonist in Lord of The Flies. He arrived at the isolated island as the head of a group of choir boys.

Inside the floating cloak he was tall, thin, and bony; and his hair was red beneath the black cap. His face was crumpled and freckled, and ugly without silliness. Out of this face stared two light blue eyes, frustrated now, and turning, or ready to turn, to anger.

From the beginning we could see that Jack was a leader. While all the other boys—in fear and without adult supervision—wandered confusedly around the island after the plane crash, Jack had managed to assemble his group orderly. All the boys listened to him, obeyed him. However, from the beginning also, I have sensed vaguely a kind of wicked passion in this boy. From above quote, Jack was pictured as being ‘frustrated and was going to be angry’, while it was still at the beginning, nothing had yet happened.

Without any reasonable reason, Jack already hated Piggy from the first time Piggy was involved in the conversation. In a harsh manner Jack howled Piggy to ‘shut up’ and called him Fatty. I could not understand, even now, why Jack hated Piggy so much from the beginning (and persisted till the end), while Piggy did nothing to him. Was it because Jack has a superior sense in him, that the shyness of Piggy was unbearable to him? I think so, and I think it is the same reason of most bullying cases everywhere.

[before] Jack - the head of choir boys

In his superiority, Jack never thought that there would be anyone else who was more capable than he to become the chief of the boys; there was there another sense of dominating, of controlling others, in spite of his leadership qualities. And when it turned out that the boys (except the choir boys) elected Ralph to be Chief, the rage was germinating in him.

I admit it that if you scrap his wicked qualities, Jack was actually a better leader than Ralph. Unlike Ralph who often confused and could not focus his mind, Jack was self-possessed, always knew what to do, and could make a quick decision when needed. Unfortunately, the rage that began to germinate in him, soon transformed him into a devil. I think, it’s all began when he failed to be chief. He needed to prove others that he was more capable than Ralph. He boasted that he could hunt and killed pigs easily, but when they really met a pig, Jack could not kill it.

“You cut a pig’s throat to let the blood out, otherwise you can’t eat the meat.” [Jack]
“Why didn’t you—?” [Ralph I guess...]
They knew very well why he hadn’t; because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood.
Next time there would be no mercy. He [Jack] looked around fiercely, daring them to contradict.

That scene reflected the point when ‘evil’ took over ‘kind’ in men’s soul. It was when Jack’s pride conquered him, that he dismissed his own conscience. Jack has surrendered to the evil’s hand… And after that Jack rapidly transformed into a barbarian. When you have let the evil overpower the kind in your soul, it is very difficult to have your conscience back. Things got worse because Jack had the leadership in him. Soon enough he gained other boys respect to join him by providing food and freedom, while Ralph kept prating about ‘keep the fire’ and ‘build a shelter’.

[After] Jack (right) - the head of a barbarian tribe
(left) is Ralph

In the end, it is not the skill of leadership that matters in a leader, but the conscience (and the persistency to keep it). Jack gained respect from others, obeyed by others, but to what point? He only led them to savagery. No, I would not proud of a chief like Jack.

That is my Character Thursday of this week, an analysis of book character of my choice, who is yours?... Just put your post URL in the linky below. Do you like to join us in discussing characters from books you read? See the details of Character Thursday first.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Part 3 of Gone With The Wind

Part 3 brought me to the worst of the war. Now the South suffered terrible lost from the Yankees. And when Scarlett has begun to enjoy her life once again, when she once again regained the life she have had enjoyed, Atlanta was suddenly in the big risk of being under siege by the Yankees. Most of the neighbours—so did Aunt Pitty—fled away to other cities, but what could Scarlett do with Melanie, whose laboring time was nearly approaching? Her first instinct was to leave everything and sought protection in her home, Tara. However, Ashley’s pleading at Christmas holiday kept haunting her, for she could not bear the thought that Ashley would be disappointed because Scarlett did not keep her promise. How selfish was this woman!

So, Scarlett stayed, alone with Prissy and the pregnant Melanie. And just when the situation was growing more frantically, when the doctor was busy with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and everybody took care of their own businesses, Melanie started to feel the laboring pain. There was only Scarlett and Prissy—the little slave—at home, and they just have to do everything they could to help delivering the baby. That was Scarlett’s turning point, I think, because from then on life would never become easy for her; and that event showed her real qualities: strong and brave.

Now Scarlett, in an urgent desire to flee to Tara, forced Rhett to find a carriage to bring her, Wade, Melanie and the baby, and Prissy. Rhett did it, brought the group out of the danger of Yankee’s capture, but abandoned them half way because he wanted to take part in the war. Scarlett hated Rhett for that, and with all her might she finally succeeded in bringing her group to Tara. Only to find everything was different from what she has looked forward to. Ellen was dead, and Gerald was ‘no longer himself’ after the shocks. And now…Scarlett did not have anyone else in this world to come to when she was in trouble. Now Tara belonged to her, and suddenly the burden had fallen on her shoulders.

Tara suffered terribly during those days, and every time, when Scarlett thought the worst was over, came another trial for Tara. Here both Scarlett’s and Melanie’s characters developed. The selfish Scarlett became harder; and her spoilt and childish manner was replaced with a firm business manner that she must hold to get respect from the blacks. On the other hand, Melanie showed her courage and strong determination despite her weaker physical health. I was a bit entertained to see the two women at Tara could now work hand in hand to protect and to provide life for all of them. Although, here and there Scarlett’s wicked thoughts often emerged towards Melanie, who she considered as just another mouth to feed. Oh Scarlett….what kind of heart did you possessed? I can tolerate selfishness, childishness, or other one’s bad habits, but not a cruelty. I can’t imagine how a well bred young woman (with Ellen always taught her to pray Rosary) could have such an iron heart? And I don’t understand either why Margaret Mitchell should create such an annoying character to be her main heroine! >,<

Anyway, Part 3 was topped with the arrival of two men from the war. The first one was Will Benteen, a wounded soldier who was rehabilitated at Tara (under the mercy of Melanie, but with a grudge from Scarlett—at least at first). However after having been recovered, Will was proved to be very valuable for Scarlett, for now she had someone (and a male too) to share the hardship of managing both the plantation and the house hold of Tara. The second one was…Ashley, who has been released from prison after the war—finally—came to an end. And this was where Part 3 was ended, left us with more curiosity of what will happen next in Part 4.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Let’s Read Plays Sign Up Post

Let’s Read Plays is a yearlong event of reading classics plays. From November 2012 to October 2013 we will read classics plays (as many as you wish) throughout the year, at least twelve plays for twelve month. Why plays? Well, for me, it’s to encourage myself to enjoy classics plays. I am an Indonesian reader, and here we never study literature either in school or in college. I read only one Shakespeare in my life (which I couldn’t really enjoy), and I think I should give him another try. So, when The Classics Club offered its members to host Shakespeare’s event, I volunteered to host—not only Shakespeare—but a yearlong classics plays event. Dessy, another blogger from Indonesia who share the same interest in plays [especially Oscar Wilde’s :) ], would be my co-host.

So….this would be our biggest challenge for a year! Two Indonesian readers whose first languages are not English, and who never studied English literature, would host the event for twelve month. But here we are…. :), we love challenge, we (try to) love plays, and most of all we love to read. So, here is the event…

Let’s Read Plays

We will read plays from Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, other authors and also Greek plays. As the host, Dessy and I have created a schedule with themes to read for every month (scroll down to the end of this post). For example, for the first month we will read Shakespeare’s tragedy, you can pick as many titles as you wish (at least 1) from Shakespeare’s tragedy collections, read and post the review(s). One or two of the months will be freebie month, when you can read any theme you want. Here is the complete list of the plays, we are gathering as many as possible titles for our reference, but you are free to add your own titles if it’s not included in the list, as long as it fits the theme.

There will be giveaway(s) along or at the end of the event, and there would also meme(s) related to plays or Shakespeare we will have during the event (might come with giveaways too!). If you are interested to participate in any ways (games, quizzes, giveaways, guest posts or anything) please let me know by filling this form. so that we can discuss it. We are looking forward to your active participation because this would be a yearlong event, and it will be good if we can have many different activities and hosts to bring more fun to the event!

You can sign up from today, just leave a comment with your name, blog name and URL! So come…let’s read plays!

List of Participants:
1. Bzee
2. Patty
3. Ao Bibliophile
4. Listra
5. Melissa (Avid Reader)
6. Melisa
7. Joon Ann
8. Risa
9. Arenel
10. Michelle
11. Rachel
12. A.S. Dewi
13. Helvry
14. severalfourmany
15. Katie
16. Sary
17. Hobby Buku

Signing Up after 15 Nov '12:
18. Althesia
19. Annette
20. Darjeeling
21. Ann
22. Cynthia

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ralph in Lord of The Flies

Ralph was the main protagonist of Lord of The Flies—an allegory about civilization vs barbarian written by William Golding. Ralph (12 or 13 years old) was one of the biguns (group of the bigger boys according to their ages) who was voted as Chief by the other boys when they found themselves trapped in an isolated island without any adult’s presence. Ralph was an ordinary boy with a fair hair before arriving at the island with a slight teenage indifference. He treated Piggy—a fat boy with asthma and thick glasses—like what boys usually treats a weak boy. Everytime Piggy said anything about his asthma, Ralph would answer spontaneously “sucks to your ass-mar”. He never wanted to know Piggy’s name, but when Piggy told him a secret about the humiliating nickname people often called him (Piggy), Ralph laughed hard at him. And despite of Piggy’s plead not to tell other boys about his nickname, Ralph cried that name out loud to everyone.

At first Ralph enjoyed the freedom he accidently found in an island where no grown-ups would tell him what to do. The adventurous spirit overwhelmed him, and he believed his father would come in no time to rescue him. Before that…it’s time to fun! But when you have reached the end of the story, you would find the very different person of Ralph. What have had changed him? And to what kind of character he would transform?

I think Piggy had a big influence in Ralph’s transformation. I imagined Ralph as an attractive boy, not only fair hair but I think he was rather handsome too. He has a self confident in him, that boys like Piggy would like to befriend him. No wonder the others voted him to be their Chief, partly because he seemed to know what he spoke of, but partly because he was the one who had found the big conch with which Ralph—following Piggy’s advice—called the others for an assembly. You can see that it’s actually Piggy who had the most common sense and intellectuality among them all, but Ralph had what we called charisma.

There was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out; there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully; there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was se apart.

After suddenly being made a Chief, Ralph seemed to adapt quite soon, he learned how to make a speech and gain attention from others. However, further along the story, you’d find out that he had not the natural leadership. He often confused and lacked of confidence when trouble comes. If it was not because of Piggy who always supported him, he wouldn’t be that strong. That is his weakness, the lack of focus.

This a slide show of Ralph in “Lord of The Flies” 1990 movie (Balthazar Getty played as Ralph)


But what I love most of Ralph is his kindness, bravery, and of course his strong persistence to keep his common sense and conscience. After Ralph felt that Jack has opposed him, he gradually turned to Piggy’s friendship. I think he saw the same way of thinking with Piggy, and at last he admitted that Piggy was the cleverest of them all. Later on Ralph was Piggy’s protector, both of them depended each others. When Jack and the ‘tribe’ stole Piggy’s spectacles—without which Piggy was almost blind—and Piggy wanted to come to Jack’s to ask for it to be returned—while at that time Jack & his gang has transformed to a frightening tribe of barbarians—Ralph decided to go with Piggy. He even stood alone to ask Jack to return Piggy’s spectacles. Ralph the indifferent has transformed to Ralph the kind-hearted. Sorrows often pull out the real qualities of men…or boys.. :)

**spoiler alert** The last chapter showed how Ralph struggled to keep his common sense. At one point, among his loneliness, pain and fear, Ralph was tempted to join the tribe. He was questioning himself about why he must stick to the ‘kind’ side when the evil side promises a more comfortable life. He answered it himself: “Cos I had some sense.” **spoiler ends**

That’s what I love Ralph most for, he had the persistence to keep his conscience, no matter what the consequences were.

That is my Character Thursday of this week, an analysis of book character of my choice, who is yours?... Just put your post URL in the linky below. Do you like to join us in discussing characters from books you read? See the details of Character Thursday first.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Robinson Crusoe

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

361 tahun lalu, tepat pada tanggal 1 September 1651 seorang pria Inggris bernama Robinson Crusoe memulai pelayarannya yang pertama. Crusoe adalah putra sebuah keluarga pedagang menengah di Inggris. Ia tak memiliki bakat berdagang, namun kepalanya selalu dipenuhi impian untuk bertualang ke laut. Mengabaikan nasihat ayahnya, ia pun memutuskan untuk ikut dalam sebuah pelayaran. Tak lama kemudian terbukti itu keputusan yang salah, namun bukannya belajar dari pengalaman, Crusoe malah terlibat dalam pelayaran-pelayaran berikutnya—yang kadang berhasil memberinya keuntungan dari berdagang, namun kadang memberinya kemalangan seperti menjadi budak orang Moor (orang kulit hitam).

Bahkan ketika ia akhirnya berhasil memiliki perkebunan yang cukup sukses di Brazil, hasratnya untuk melaut lagi-lagi mengalahkan akal sehatnya. Maka tepat delapan tahun setelah pelayaran pertamanya yang gagal, Crusoe kembali melaut pada 1 September 1659. Pelayaran kali ini benar-benar membawa celaka, karena kapal mereka karam dalam sebuah badai, dan hanya menyisakan Crusoe seorang diri terdampar di pulau terpencil dan tak berpenghuni. Sendirian. Di tengah ancaman kanibalisme di perairan Karibia di abad 17.

Itulah inti kisah ini, yakni pergulatan hidup Crusoe selama dua puluh delapan tahun tinggal di pulau itu. Bagaimana ia bertahan hidup dengan memanfaatkan segala sesuatu yang ia ambil dari kapalnya sebelum karam, bagaimana ia membuat dengan tangannya sendiri segala kebutuhannya, mulai dari rumah, meja kursi, kuali, keranjang anyaman hingga piring-cangkir, termasuk segala alat bertukang yang ia butuhkan, hingga kano atau perahu; dan bagaimana ia bergantung pada alam.

Namun yang jauh lebih penting adalah bagaimana Crusoe bergulat dengan jiwanya sendiri menghadapi segala ketakutan, keputus-asaan, serta kesepian di sepanjang hidupnya di pulau, tanpa siapapun yang dapat ia ajak berdiskusi. Di tengah pergulatan itu, ia pun akhirnya mampu melihat Tangan Tuhan yang bekerja dalam setiap langkah hidupnya. Betapa, jauh dari sengsara, Tuhan justru telah menyediakan segala kebutuhannya dan melindunginya, serta terlebih-lebih memberikan kesempatan pada Crusoe untuk tetap hidup—ketika semua temannya mati dalam badai yang tak memungkinkan manusia untuk selamat. Dan untuk tujuan apakah semuanya itu dilakukan Tuhan? Di titik inilah pertobatan Crusoe terjadi. Bukan pertobatan yang gampang, melainkan melalui serangkaian pergulatan yang keras dalam jiwanya.

Defoe membuat Robinson Crusoe ini dalam bentuk semacam jurnal yang ditulis oleh Crusoe sendiri. Dengan sendirinya, bahasa Inggris yang dipakai adalah bahasa sehari-hari yang bisa anda bayangkan dipakai seorang pelaut dalam menulis jurnalnya, yang jauh dari sempurna dalam sintaksisnya. Karena itu, kalau anda menemui kalimat-kalimat yang agak aneh, kesalahan mungkin bukan terletak pada penerjemahan, karena versi aslinya memang tidak tertulis dengan sempurna. Inilah letak kehebatan Defoe, yang membuat anda berpikir buku ini adalah jurnal sungguhan, bukannya kisah fiksi.

Yang paling menarik bagiku adalah bagaimana Defoe bermonolog dalam jurnalnya, terutama pada bagian apa yang ia rasakan dan pikirkan. Bagian ini terasa sungguh hidup sehingga membuat pembaca seolah bisa melihat pergolakan emosi Crusoe yang sungguh…benar-benar melelahkan untuk diikuti, namun membuat kita menyadari betapa sulitnya manusia untuk melalui proses pertobatan; betapa panjang, rumit dan sabar Tuhan menuntun Crusoe pada keselamatan.

Yang jelas Robinson Crusoe mengajarkan pada kita untuk dapat mensyukuri apapun yang terjadi pada kita, bahwa justru saat kita merasa kita sedang dibawa pada kehancuran, pada saat itulah Tuhan sebenarnya tengah mengarahkan kita pada keselamatan. Seperti yang terefleksikan dalam quote ini:

Begitu kecilnya kita melihat ke depan di dunia, dan begitu banyaknya alasan yang kita miliki untuk bergantung dengan gembira pada Sang Pencipta dunia. Dia tidak meninggalkan makhluknya sangat kekurangan, tapi dalam kondisi terburuk mereka selalu punya sesuatu untuk disyukuri dan kadang lebih dekat ke keselamatan dibanding apa yang mereka bayangkan, tidak, bahkan dibawa pada keselamatan dengan cara yang menurut mereka akan membawa kehancuran bagi mereka.

Empat bintang bagi Robinson Crusoe yang bukan saja menyediakan kisah petualangan menarik, seru, tegang, namun mampu membawa kita pada sebuah refleksi yang mendalam pula.

Judul: Robinson Crusoe
Penulis: Daniel Defoe
Penerjemah: Maria Renny
Penerbit: Bentang Pustaka
Terbit: April 2007
Tebal: 385 hlm.


How lucky I am that I saw o (delaisse)’s post about reading Robinson Crusoe on the 361st celebration of Crusoe’s adventure, on September 1st 2012. The book (Indonesian translation) has been on my TBR list for…perhaps a year, but I haven’t got the mood to read it. I was afraid because this book was not written in good English, so what if I could not get the meaning and couldn’t enjoy it? Reading with a friend gives me encouragement, and the moment is so perfect, so I began flipping the first pages of Robinson Crusoe, and…hey…I like it!

I think most of you already know what this book is about—or even have read it, so I won’t bother to write about the story. What impressed me is how Defoe wrote it as a sailor’s journal. He wrote in detail about how he built the cave, how he brought things from the wrecked ship, how he managed and prepared his foods, and all these stuffs—such, that if one day someone might fell in the same faith as Crusoe, he could have survived if he had learned this book before.

The best part of this book is Crusoe’s repentance process. It was a long, tedious and emotional—yet interesting—process through everything that had happened during his stay on the island. I was moved to read about how God brought Crusoe to realization that all of those happened to him were a Great Design of God; from the corn seed which cultivated on the particular soil, to the discovery of worn out Bible Crusoe had grabbed from the wrecked ship’s cabin. But more interestingly, was how Crusoe seemed to forget (too quickly) all these realizations when something bad happened (and this happened more than once). It seemed that Defoe took us to witness God’s tremendous patience towards stubborn sinners. All of these soul struggling monologs are worth to read!

I granted this book four stars, for I was a little disappointed with the ending. Actually I like Crusoe’s struggle on the island more than the adventures after he was saved. And after following Crusoe for twenty eight years, I was wondering how Crusoe seemed to be easily left the island just like that. I imagined that he should have been quite emotional when the time came to ‘say good bye’ to his home. Of course it was far from being called home, but the island could be assumed to be his island, he built the ‘houses’ himself, worked the corn plantation as well as the mini farm with his own hands; in short he has created a miniature of a country. And that had happened for twenty eight years, half of his life! But I did not see anything emotional from Crusoe when he left. Well… I was a little emotional at this part, just as how I got emotional every time I must move from an old house to a new one. I think a little hint of emotion would satisfy me more.

The adventures after he returned to civilization (fighting the wolves) seemed a bit anti-climax. The adventures were heart-pounding, but it washed away my previous emotional bond with the island and the divine experiences, which I think was the ‘heart’ of this story. More over, I wish Defoe closed the story at the ending, instead of hang it for a sequel to come. So now I’m just wondering, is Moll Flanders worth to read after this?...anyone?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Robinson Crusoe & Vanessa Mae - A Classic Challenge September: Music

When the September prompt for A Classic Challenge was published in Katherine’s November’s Autumn, I was skeptic that I would be able to post it this month, the prompt is…

…to select a piece of...


...that you feel reflects the book. Modern, classical, jazz, anything, it doesn't have to be from the period of the novel but share what it is about the piece that echoes the novel in someway.

Well, that was hard because I’m not a big fan of music, though I have quite a lot of CD collections. I can’t imagine what music would reflect Gone With The Wind or Robinson Crusoe—two classics that I’ve been reading this month. However, not long after I have finished Robinson Crusoe—and the rescue scene was still lingering in my mind—one of Vanessa-Mae’s songs suddenly echoed in my ears. It was Contradanza, one of my favorite of hers in my ‘The Violin Player’ album.

I knew instantly that that song would perfectly reflect the emotion of the rescue scene in Robinson Crusoe. It was when Friday first saw three canoes approaching the island, then told Crusoe about it, who instantly arranged an ambush (with only two of them!). The process, how he was agitated to see the strangers and wanted to fight and kill them, how he armed himself and Friday and marched together to the beach; but on the way he reflected that he did not have the right to act as judge by killing them; then after seeing that they were to kill the prisoner, decided to attack them. Then finally the battle scene began…and oh…how all of those made my heart pounding so hard!

This is the song, what do you think? Does it reflect the heroic battle scene? 

And this is how the energetic Vanessa-Mae played this song in one of her concerts. I love her performance!

Vanessa-Mae (Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson) was a British violinist who was born in Singapore, from a Thai father and a Chinese mother—a semi-professional concert pianist. Her music style is self-described as "violin techno-acoustic fusion", as several of her albums prominently feature the techno style. She began playing piano at the age of three and violin at five. At ten she joined the Philharmonia, and at twelve she joined the London Mozart Players in Mozart Bicentenary.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reading Beloved in October

I know that October would be a busy month for most of you, especially the Classics Club members. There are a lot of read-alongs: my Gone With The Wind Read Along will be stretched to 7th November, then there is o (delaisse)’s Gothic reading event, Jenna’s Harry Potter Read Along, Adam’s LGBT Reading Event, Tien’s Les Miserables Read Along (boy….how busy we are!). And yet, after posting my September’s meme which highlighted Nishita’s review for Beloved (Tony Morrison), Joon Ann and Listra commented on my post that they were also struck by the review and decided to add it in their Classics Club list. At the same time, I was looking for book to be read along with my few Indonesian Bloggers on October. The theme is authors who won Nobel Prizes, so it would be perfect time to read Beloved.

I then contacted Joon Ann and Listra, who were both happy to read Beloved together with me. So, this will be a kind of informal read along, no host, no event, no deadline, no pressure! (I’m still hosting GWTW Read Along, and preparing the yearlong plays reading event for November). If you are interested to read Beloved together with us, be pleased to join, it will be just a fun reading through the month. So…anyone? Just leave a comment here, so we know who will come along…:)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Classics Club Group Check-In #1: September 2012

It’s been six month that I have been joining The Classics Club, and so far it’s been enjoyable. Especially when this club has been grown to a bigger community (221 clubbers to date), and has been taken seriously by a number of moderators. Here we are not only organizing our classics reading for five years, it’s also a place where we can meet others who share the same interests in classics. There are plenty of events and features that make classics reading more fun.

My list has been growing, from 100 at the start to 120 at this moment. So far I have been reading 19 books, I love most of them, but the most memorable one was L’Assommoir by Émile Zola. It shocked me when I finished it, and the impression lasts till now. But the most enjoyable read was probably Germinal. Yep, both are from Zola, I’m crazy about him! :)

The latest book I’ve finished is Robinson Crusoe, it was a good experience to read it, the review will be published in a couple of days. I am now reading Gone With The Wind for my read along, I am quite struggling with this one, being not in my usual reading genre. However, the read along is so far fun, there’re several of us whose pace is similar to me, and we’ve been discussing how we hate Scarlett :) or whether we are on Rhett or Ashley’s team… *poking Bzee, Chinoiseries and Vannya*

There are a lot of classics books waiting for me for next months till the end of 2012. Besides continuing Gone With The Wind during October, I’m going to read Toni Morrison’s Beloved together with Joon Ann and Listra (it’s not an official event, though). Then there’s Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde I’ve been meaning to read for months.

In November, I will be hosting a yearlong plays reading event. The sign up post will be up in several days (I’m just waiting for my co-host to finish the—I hope—lovely button for this event. Hey, the button will be showed up in my blog the whole year, it’s got to be lovely, right?). Besides plays, The Scarlett Letter and Notes From Underground are waiting for me in the same month. As for December, I’m planning to read The Jungle Book and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and finally ended the year with Great Expectations. Sounds exciting, right? And busy… :)

While I’m not reading, I will be busy blogging! Lately I really enjoy writing character analysis for my Character Thursday weekly features. I’ve made myself to write at least two characters for each book. I’ve been waiting Saturday afternoons lately, for it’s a perfect time for me to concentrate on my writing; either reviews or one or two character analysis. Listra’s Weekend Quote is always a fun too; not mentioning other monthly meme from Classics Club and November’s Autumn A Classics Challenge. Far from burdening, these memes and features only add my excitement in classics reading, as I can explore more about them.

So, how have you been with your classics club, dear clubbers? :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekend Quote 6: Robinson Crusoe

This week I am reading Daniel Defoe’s masterpiece: Robinson Crusoe, the English man who lived alone on an isolated island after a ship wrecked for more than 20 years. Actually there are a lot of beautiful quotes here, but I picked one that touches me mostly. I read the Indonesian translation version, so I quote it in Bahasa Indonesia, and will explain the meaning in English (it’s hard to find the particular passage in the original book):

Begitu kecilnya kita melihat ke depan di dunia, dan begitu banyaknya alasan yang kita miliki untuk bergantung dengan gembira pada Sang Pencipta dunia. Dia tidak meninggalkan makhluknya sangat kekurangan, tapi dalam kondisi terburuk mereka selalu punya sesuatu untuk disyukuri dan kadang lebih dekat ke keselamatan dibanding apa yang mereka bayangkan, tidak, bahkan dibawa pada keselamatan dengan cara yang menurut mereka akan membawa kehancuran bagi mereka.

I know that Defoe did not write this book in good English, so I can understand that the translation process would not be easy. I often felt the sentences are weird, but it’s still understandable. I tried to translate the quote in English, although I’m sure you will not find this in the original version :)

If we look at our life, we always have many reasons to hold on to our Creator. He never left His creatures to be in a deep sorrow; even in their worst situation, they would always have something to be grateful of; and sometimes they are very close to salvation, nearer than what they think—no, they are even brought to salvation in a way that they thought it would have brought them to their ruin.

That was a very deep reflection from Crusoe after being isolated from civilization for almost three decades. A reflection that has brought him to a realization that God was not punishing him, but bringing him to salvation. I hope we don’t have to suffer like Crusoe to learn about this….

Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Part 2 of Gone With The Wind

After being (too young) a widow with one baby boy Wade, the distressed Scarlett headed to Atlanta to visit Charles Hamilton’s relative: Aunt Pittypat. There she stayed with Melanie (Ashley’s wife) who was staying there too during the war. At this part Mitchell took us to see the other side of the war. Atlanta was flooding with wounded men at hospitals, and women volunteered in hospital committees to take care of them. Here we can imagine how Scarlett’s life has been turned over so quickly. Just before the war she was a young innocent girl whose purpose in life is to appear as beautifully as she could and to attract as many young men as possible. Now, she was a widow—and being a widow at that time meant women should wear black dress without accessories, and must appeared always in mourning state, and stayed away from parties and other amusement events. If in Part 1 Scarlett tried to ignore the upcoming civil war, now she must face it; she even took part in it.

Rather annoyingly, Mitchell wrote quite much about how Scarlett hated war because she must knit, sew, and work hard at hospitals, while all she wanted was dancing at the parties; and how she felt her life was unfair because she was a widow, while other girls at her age—even who was much less attractive than her—could dance and flirt freely. I can hardly keep on reading this, and must skip several pages until the situation have changed. It happened at a fund-raising bazaar, held to get fund for financing the war, where Scarlett met Rhett Butler—a blockade runner who supplied luxuries supplies for Atlanta. Mitchell gave Rhett a bigger portion at this part, we got to know him by appearance (which reminded me to stereotypical Harlequin’s male protagonists) as well as his liberal way of thinking.

Then Rhett slowly reshape Scarlett’s mind, by starting to ask her to dance at the bazaar, which naturally shocked everybody. Here the rebellious character of Scarlett started to appear, she did not afraid of what people said about her, she just wanted to do what she liked. In the middle of Scarlett’s transformation (from a mourning widow to a radiant young woman), we could see the dreadful effect of the war which was beginning to creep in. The tension grew when the Confederate armies experienced some losses, and took many lives of people whom Scarlett knew well. Now she began to realize the terrible shape of the war.

Even though Ashley did not have large portion in this part, he is still my favorite character so far. My favorite passage of this part was what Ashley wrote in his letter to Melanie—which Scarlett secretly read but failed to understand the meaning because she focused only to search any signs that Ashley still loved her… oh poor-silly-Scarlet :(

I am not afraid of danger or capture or wounds or even death, if death must come, but I do fear that once this war is over, we will never get back to the old times. And I belong in those old times. I do not belong in this mad present of killing and I fear I will not fit into any future, try though I may. I do not know what the future will bring, but it cannot be as beautiful or as satisfying as the past.

When eventually the armies went home for Christmas, poor Scarlett (once again) began her longing for Ashley’s attention to make sure whether he still loved her. She could finally have a moment to speak privately, only to hear that Ashley begged her to look after Melanie during his absent. After that Confederate kept losing battle, and in one of it Ashley got captures by the Yankee while Melanie was getting pregnant. Life began to get harder for Scarlett… And meanwhile, prices began to rise, foods were rare, and Atlanta struggled from the war. This was what Rhett has tried to explain to Southern people who took war as a glorious way to prove that they were better than the other. Here Scarlett began to understand the meaning of Ashley’s letter, for he had the same idea as Rhett’s about the war. When Scarlett asked Rhett, why Ashley kept fighting at the war while he has already known the truth, Rhett simply said that it was because Ashley’s a gentleman. Well, I can’t say who’s right or wrong, for I always admire people who hold their principles, but if I had to choose between Rhett and Ashley, I would choose Ashley :) At least until this Part 2…

Part 2 is a slightly better reading than part 1, with the war coming. Scarlett still showed her selfish, indifferent character, but her life was not full of fun anymore, now she began to struggle from the war—although it was all still in her own mind frame. I was still often annoyed at her, but I really hope she would gradually learn her lessons and transform to a more reasonable woman in next parts!

What about you? How do you think about this Part 2? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the Update Posts page, and see what others thought about it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Maheude in Germinal

Among many female characters on Germinal, the most interesting one is Maheude. Maheude is a wife of a mine worker named Maheu. Actually Maheude was only in her beginning of forty years old, however poverty, child laboring and hard-working has made her body loose and looked like she was fifty. Maheude represented women on the lower social class in 19th century (in France in this case). Like other women, Maheude went to work at the pit since she was very young. Then after having seven children, her strength was decreasing and became not too productive for the Company so that she was forced to stay at home. Being the household manager was not an easy thing. Maheude should manage to feed ten mouths (the father, the mother, the grandfather and seven children) from whatever they earned from the mine, and it was sooo very little that they often must ask for credit from the groceries store.

In the early chapters, I have asked myself why the Maheus kept ‘producing’ children if they could hardly feed them all? I realized then that part of the purpose of having children was to bring home as much money as they can get by sending the children to pit when they grown up enough to do it. I know it sounds weird and unfair, but that’s how they survived against the extreme poverty at that time.

Maheude in 'Germinal' movie

Maheude was a woman with a strong character and a better moral compared to other women around the pit. Despite of her poverty, she still had a pride not to beg for anything, a principle that she persistently hold to; for Maheude, hoping for other’s generosity by telling them how hard your life was, was not begging. When Maheude received a bag of fine clothes from a rich family, while what she needed most was food, she could not ask for money to buy food, because it would be begging. The shopkeeper of a grocery store near the settlements was a playboy, he used the women’s poverty for his own benefit. When a woman asked for credit, he would grant it if she or her daughter agreed to sleep with him. When Maheude came with no money to have groceries, she was forced to give the man a false promise of sending for her daughter Catherine to him sometime, a promise that she never kept and resulted to no more credits from the store afterwards, even when the families left in hunger.

In short, it was Maheude that protected and supported the family in the whole story. Unfortunately, it was also Maheude who suffered the most from the miners’ strike. **spoiler alert** Maheude lost, one after another, her husband and three children, while another son got limped from an accident, which meant he brought home less money. Here you would see Maheude’s extremely strong personality; instead of breaking down, she managed to keep living her life. **spoiler ends** She knew how to put first things first. Although at first Maheude—in her rage towards the Company who put them all into extreme poverty—detested the idea of going back to work until the Company has fulfilled their requisition, in the end she obliged to act the opposite. Not only letting the children back to work, Maheude herself must get to work, even if it was the lightest job with the lowest wage in order to survive.

© Bridgeman Art Library / Bibliotheque
Nationale, Paris, France /
Archives Charmet [source]

What I like most of her was despite the great suffers she must endured because of the strike, Maheude never hated Étienne who had transplanted the idea of striking in the miners' minds at first place. She did not treat him badly after the event, like others did, she kept the friendship with him. Other than that, it’s only Maheude—a woman who suffered the most—who still hold a vague hope of a better future, who rejected to surrender just like that. It is Maheude who could see that it was just the beginning of something bigger than that, the germination!

I would always see Maheude as a very brave woman, who never lost hopes for the better, and hold to her principle to the last. She was poor in life but not poor in soul.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Courrier Sud / Southern Mail (Pesawat Pos Selatan)

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

Ini adalah buku kedua karya Antoine de Saint-Exupery yang kubaca setelah The Little Prince. Courrier Sud (judul aslinya) ini merupakan karya fiksi pertama Exupery, bertutur tentang pilot pesawat pos bernama Jacques Bernis. Seperti semua novel-novelnya, Courrier Sud ini juga mewakili pengalaman Exupery sendiri sebagai pilot pesawat pos yang tugasnya mengirimkan surat-surat antara Paris – Dakar agar cepat tiba di tujuan, lebih cepat daripada lewat kereta api yang lebih lazim saat itu. Pesawat terbang jaman itu belumlah secanggih sekarang, sehingga pilot harus lebih banyak menggunakan instingnya ketika cuaca buruk, apalagi ketika berada di sekitar gurun pasir Sahara yang sangat luas. Menjadi pilot pesawat saat itu adalah pekerjaan yang penuh bahaya, dan suka duka menjadi pilot ini dituangkan ke dalam novel ini beserta—kemungkinan besar—curahan hati Exupery sendiri tentang hidupnya dan kisah cintanya.

Courrier Sud ini dituturkan oleh sahabat Bernis. Aku melihat Bernis sebagai manusia yang tidak cocok berada di manapun (doesn’t belong anywhere). Semenjak kecil Bernis dan si sahabat merasa bahwa hidup mereka sangat membosankan, selalu dibatasi banyak aturan, selalu dapat diduga, tak menarik sama sekali. Hal ini berlanjut, khususnya bagi Bernis yang—di sepanjang buku ini, lewat ungkapan-ungkapan puitis—merasa orang-orang dan dunia di sekitarnya tak pernah bergerak atau berubah.

Ternyata, semuanya tetap sama….

 Sebaliknya, Bernis merasakan kebebasan ketika ia berada di udara, sendirian dalam kokpit pesawat yang dikendarainya. Rasa kebebasan ini terungkap lewat kilasan-kilasan alam sekitarnya yang ia saksikan dari ketinggian, yang banyak menghiasi buku ini.

Masing-masing (orang-orang yang dulu dikenalnya) terpenjara oleh diri sendiri, dibatasi oleh rem samar-samar, dan tidak seperti dia, si anak yang bebas, si anak malang, si penyihir.

Apakah itu berarti bahwa Bernis lantas bahagia karena menjadi pilot? Ternyata tidak, orang-orang saat itu memandang aktivitas ‘berkendara di udara’ adalah sesuatu yang aneh. Bahkan lewat kutipan di atas kita melihat bahwa Bernis disebut sebagai ‘si penyihir’ (yang bisa terbang, menyalahi kodrat manusia). Bernis yang malang, Bernis yang kesepian, yang ditolak, namun juga tak kerasan berada di dunianya. Ia mencintai seorang wanita yang adalah sahabatnya semenjak kecil: Geneviève. Setelah keduanya dewasa, Bernis mendapati jurang yang amat lebar yang memisahkan dirinya dengan Geneviève, karena si wanita adalah orang yang amat terikat pada kehidupannya, pada semua miliknya, sementara Bernis adalah orang yang bebas lepas dari segala keterikatan dunia.

Kebiasaan-kebiasaan, peraturan-peraturan, hukum-hukum, semua yang tidak kau (Bernis) rasakan kegunaannya, semua yang telah kau hindari… Hal itulah yang telah memberi-nya (Geneviève) sebuah bingkai. Untuk tetap ada, kita membutuhkan kenyataan-kenyataan yang mempunyai keberlangsungan di sekeliling kita. Meski dianggap tak masuk akal atau tak adil, semua itu hanyalah suatu bahasa. Dan Geneviève, jika dia kau bawa pergi, akan kehilangan dirinya.

Membaca ini aku agak tersentak. Bukankah nasihat sahabat Bernis ini seolah menampar kita semua yang terbiasa hidup nyaman dalam ‘bingkai-bingkai’ yang kita pasang disekeliling kita, sehingga kita lupa pada hakikat hidup ini yang sesungguhnya? Lagipula kutipan itu justru lebih relevan bagi kita yang hidup di jaman internet dan teknologi maju ini, yang begitu terikat pada gadget, teknologi dsb. hingga bila kita harus meninggalkan semua itu sebentar saja, kita merasa seolah lumpuh? Bukankah ini absurd?

Menurutku Bernis mengalami kesepian, bukan saat berada di pesawat sendirian, melainkan justru saat ada di dunia. Karena ia tak seperti manusia lainnya, mereka semua hanya melihat lingkup terbatas dunia mereka sendiri, sementara Bernis—dan seharusnya kita semua—memandang hidup ini jauh lebih luas, lebih agung daripada sekedar rutinitas dan benda-benda mati yang mampu kita indrai. Membaca kotbah seorang pastor saat Bernis berada di Gereja Notre-Dame ini mengingatkanku pada Jostein Gaarder, seorang penulis fiksi-filosofis yang lewat Dunia Sophie juga mengingatkan kita akan hakikat alam semesta dan kehidupan yang sesungguhnya:

Anda sekalian telah menyatukan perjalanan bintang, wahai generasi baru peneliti, dan Anda sekalian tidak mengenalinya lagi. Dia adalah sebuah tanda dalam buku Anda, tetapi bukan lagi cahaya; seorang anak kecil lebih tahu mengenai hal itu daripada Anda.

Anda sekalian telah menemukan semua hal sampai kaidah-kaidah yang mengatur cinta kasih manusia, tetapi cinta kasih itu sendiri terlepas dari tanda-tanda Anda; seorang gadis muda lebih mengetahuinya daripada Anda.

Di jaman modern ini kita semua sudah kehilangan makna banyak hal dalam hidup. ‘Terbanglah’ seperti Bernis, jangan menutup diri seperti Geneviève; **spoiler** yang karena tak mau kehilangan hal-hal yang nyata namun sebenarnya fana, malah kehilangan kesempatan merasakan keagungan cinta yang tak nampak namun sebenarnya nyata. **spoiler ends**

Ah ternyata….kisah yang awalnya hanya tampak sebagai curhat seorang pilot belaka, ternyata menyimpan filosofi yang mengagumkan. Tak heran bila sebuah label ‘novel agung dunia’ tersemat di sampul buku ini, yang tadinya kukira hanyalah akal-akalan promosi saja, namun kini kusadari, itulah yang telah kudapat dari buku ini.

Empat bintang untuk Courrier Sud, sebuah novel bermakna indah, dibalut kalimat-kalimat puitis yang seringkali tak mampu aku pahami, mungkin karena itu aku tak sanggup memberinya nilai mutlak (satu bintang kusimpan untukku sendiri, mungkin suatu hari nanti aku akan mampu menyibak seluruh artinya…atau…seperti halnya alam semesta, selalu akan ada hal-hal yang tak mampu kita pahami hingga kapanpun, dan itu yang membuat alam semesta atau buku ini begitu agung? Mungkin…)

Judul: Courrier Sud (terjemahan: Pesawat Pos Selatan)
Penulis: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Penerjemah: Prof. Dr. Apsanti Djokosujatno (guru besar sastra & kritikus)
Penerbit: Komodo books
Terbit: Februari 2012
Tebal: 190 hlm.


At first I thought Courrier Sud (or Southern Mail) was just a story about a pilot, maybe a kind of Exupéry’s autobiographical story, but I was completely wrong! Like The Little Prince, this is a philosophical thinking which Exupéry has wrapped in a simple story about the life and love of a pilot named Jacques Bernis. Bernis’s job is to carry express mail from Paris to Dakkar (this is a new innovation because at that time mail were delivered by train). Plane and navigation were new at that time, and it needed a big courage for a man to drive a plane. Ordinary people even mocked Bernis as ‘ghost’ or ‘wizard’. Travelling on air was beyond many people’s common sense.

On the other hand, Bernis felt that ordinary life was unbearable; life which was limited by orders and routines. Exupéry emphasized the different way of thinking by creating a love story of Bernis and a girl from his childhood named Geneviève. Unlike Bernis, Geneviève loved orders and formalities; that when Bernis asked her to runaway with him from her previous unhappy life, Geneviève found it too difficult because she has already bound to her home and everything she possessed, that she could not live freely as Bernis wanted.

I saw Bernis as a lonely person, he did belong to the world he supposed to live, and only when he was alone in his cockpit that he felt quiet and absorbed in the beauty of nature. I believe that in those occasions, Bernis actually felt the presence of God through His creation. Bernis also felt that everything in ordinary life was stagnant, never changed.

From Courrier Sud I learned—not only about the unreliability of the planes at that time, the dangers of being a pilot, and the beautiful scenes from above—but also a divine knowledge of living our life. Instead of limited ourselves with everything that modern life offers us, we should provide more time to contemplate the true meaning of it; to be more like Bernis than like Geneviève. And all of these were beautifully crafted by Exupéry in poetic sentences, makes me love this book more!

I give four stars for Courrier Sud, for although I know this is a remarkable work, there are still several parts of the story that I could not get into the exact meaning. Maybe that's why I love it, because I know I can go back to this book some day and maybe next time I’ll be able to extract new meanings from it. Maybe…

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Favorite Review: Classics Club September Meme

This month’s meme for The Classics Club is quite interesting. While we are all busy with our reads and reviews, we were encouraged by the moderators to “socialize” with other members (which, by the way, had reached 221! Wow..!!) by creating a meme which permit us to promote another member. This way we can get to know each other, as I think it’s impossible to read all the reviews or to visit the entire member’s blogs. So, here is the meme…

Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review and offer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?

Thanks to The Classics Club blog, I can finally find one review that has made me adding Toni Morrison’s book ‘Beloved’ to my list recently. Fortunately there is only one review for Beloved, it’s from Nishita’s blog.

I was instantly struck by Nishita's review opening:

What kind of mother cuts her child’s head off with a hacksaw? A mother who felt she had no alternative, that she was actually protecting her child from worse fates.”

While book bloggers cautiously write their review to not revealing any spoilers, this one just pointed it out in the beginning! But it worked for me, this book caught my interest at once. I have always thought Beloved is a kind of romance book (lesson: never judge a book from it’s title!), so reading that spoiler made me curious. What is this book really about? And after reading the entire review, I just knew that I must read this one, for I always love books that is rich of humanity aspects with a slight touch of psychology. This paragraph only strengthened my decision to pick up this book:

“It’s also hard to read how an entire race was kept so backward for so long. There is a section where a newly freed slave is so happy when he receives a coin for helping somebody load stuff in a van. He walks around with the coin, and is so amazed that he can go into a shop and buy something with it. It’s just written so beautifully, and so much from the heart.
And that’s why I love this book. The writing just feels like an outpouring from the heart. You can feel every emotion felt by Sethe, and the other characters in the story in their own voices.”              

I've just bought this 2nd hand copy online,
can't wait to receive & read it!

Thanks to Nishita, your spoiler really made me curious! :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Weekend Quote 5: Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind depicted the American civil war between the Southerner and the Yankees. Just like any other wars, people were so anxious to take part in it; young men joined the army in the hope to be heroes of the country. They were willingly to sacrifice their lives for they believed they’d done it sacredly for their beloved country. But was it really so? Margaret Mitchell—through this book—asked us to see the truth, that war was only inflicted by certain parties for their own sakes; war was not something sacred, it only brought poverty and misery to the people, and lives would have changed completely for them.

This weekend I will share a quote from Ashley Wilkes, one of the young men who have joined the troop, one of the many who have enough sense to realize the truth, and gloomily foreseen the worse future of their lives. He was saying these in his letter to his wife.

I am not afraid of danger or capture or wounds or even death, if death must come, but I do fear that once this war is over, we will never get back to the old times. And I belong in those old times. I do not belong in this mad present of killing and I fear I will not fit into any future, try though I may. I do not know what the future will bring, but it cannot be as beautiful or as satisfying as the past.

Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.