Thursday, April 30, 2020

Author Birthday [April]: Washington Irving

#AuthorBirthday is a monthly feature, in which I highlight one author each month, mostly the ones I have not yet read. Part of the aim is to get familiar with the author and (hopefully) encourage me to start reading his/her work.

For April, please welcome:


Born into an American merchant class family on April 3, 1783, Washington Irving was a short story writer, biographer, and diplomat. He was born on the same week of America's triumphant defeat over the British in the American War, that his mother named him after General George Washington. Later on when he was 6 y.o., George Washington, as the newly inaugurated President, blessed little Irving - an event which was commemorated in a painting hung in the family home.

From the age of 14, young Irving loved adventure stories and drama. However, the yellow fever outbreak in 1798 made his family sent him to stay in Tarrytown, nearby town of Sleepy Hollow, where he learned about Dutch customs and local ghost stories. In one of his numerous journeys, Irving passed through Catskill Mountains region, which later became the setting of one of his most notable short stories: Rip Van Winkle.

Irving's literary career began in 1802. He wrote commentaries on the city's social and theater scenes for Morning Chronicle under a pseudonym of Jonathan Oldstyle. This is only one of many pseudonyms he would use during his literary career. The famous one might have been Diedrich Knickerbocker. "What a funny way of using the baggy-kneed trousers for boys, as one's pseudonym", you would think? But the word 'knickerbocker' was actually acquired from Irving's first successful novel, published in 1809: A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of Dutch Dynasty by Diedrich Knickerbocker. Irving actually wrote the political satire himself, but to promote it, he created a hoax that "a well-known Dutch historian has been missing". He wrote announcement that if the historian did not return, he (Irving) would publish the manuscript which he had left behind. You could imagine how the readers' curiosity would have been at its highest level when the novel was finally published, that it was instantly a huge success for Irving (I can imagine how Irving would have said laughingly to his friends: Ha! They've bought my trick!" ). Knickerbocker would later be popular nickname for Manhattaners, as well as the piece of fashion as we all know now.

At the same year when he published his successful novel, Irving's seventeen-year-old fiance Mathilda Hoffman died of consumption. Her death deeply affected Irving, that he had never married for the rest of his life. He was known to have said later on: "For years I could not talk on the subject of this hopeless regret; I could not even me tion her name, but her image was continually before me, and I dreamt of her incessantly."

In 1815 Irving returned to Europe, to where earlier he has been sent by his brothers in an extended tour to improve his health. He published his notable works: The Legend in Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle in 1820, as part of the short stories collection titled The Sketch Book, under another pseudonym: Geoffrey Crayon. Washington Irving became one of the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe. Later on he also encouraged his contemporaries' career: Melville, Poe, Hawthorne.

In 1826 Irving moved to Madrid, and was appointed as Secretary of the US Legation to London, which he served from 1829 to 1832. Some of his notable works during his stay in Spain were A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828) and Tales of the Alhambra, (1832). He served as Ambassador to Spain from 1842 to 1846. In 1859, he still worked on copyright laws, and a biography: Life of George Washington, shortly before his death on November 28, 1859 at his estate.

Nowadays he is crowned as the Father of the American Short Story, which he truly deserved!

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Kill by Émile Zola [second read]

The original title of this second novel in The Rougon-Macquart cycle is La Curée, a hunting term which means the part of an animal thrown to the hounds who have run it down to the ground. Set directly after The Fortune of the Rougons, it tells the story of Aristide Rougon, the unsuccessful local journalist, greedy and money lover, who moves to Paris following his brother Eugène. In his work as a clerk, he learns much about huge reconstruction of Paris about to take place (the real Hausmannization in 1850-1860). He is impatient to take his dream and plans into action, but doesn't possess the capital. Madam Sidonie, the fourth children of Pierre Rougon and Félicité Puech, offers a solution: marrying a pregnant bourgeois girl named Renée, who is desperately seeking a "salvation" to avoid scandal. The "deal" takes place even when Aristide's wife: Angèl is dying. With the dowry from his wife, and support from the Minister - his brother Eugène, he shakes himself from his Plassans origin by assuming a new name: Aristide Saccard, and is now ready to emerge to high society.

We can see from ì, that Aristide possesses a good business instinct. Now he shows it its fullness in his capacity as real estate speculator. From his inside knowledge of the reconstruction, he knows which houses is going to be demolished to be replaced with new boulevards. He buys them cheap, then buys them back through numerous false transactions done by his agent, each time with higher price. When the city is ready to give compensation to the present owner (Saccard), the house values will be much higher than it should be, and 'gold will be pouring down' into Saccard's mansion.

Renée comes from an "old bourgeois" family, and has spent most of her life in a convent. She inherites a family home, over which Saccard knows would be build a boulevard. After marrying Saccard, Renée plunges into the society of nouveau riches of Second Empire of France with its immoral and corrupted way of life. And this is where the term la curée becomes relevant. Renée strongly rejects Saccard's proposal to part with the mansion . So in order to get it, Saccard spoils her with expensive mansion, dresses, and jewelry, and made her drunk with luxury. Every time Renée needs money, Saccard would give it her with pleasure, but asks her to sign promisory notes in return.

After having all the pleasure (including lovers) the society provide, Renée becomes bored, and longed for a new invented kind of pleasure. She finds it in Maxime, her stepson (Saccard and Angèl's only son), an androgynous young man who lives with his father and stepmother. The two soon begin an incestuous relationship, and thus Renée put herself deeper into sinful existence.

However, Saccard has another plan for his son: marrying him to Louise de Mareuil, to get into a huge dowry and higher place in society. Maxime, who gets bored to Renée's obsessive clutch of him, sees a way out by agreeing the marriage. In the attempt to run away with Maxime, Renée finally signed the deeds to her family home (planning to take the cash by herself to pay the journey), but Saccard caught the couple kissing, and took the signed deeds in triumph; stripping Renée, in the end, of happiness and luxury, amidst the pain realization of her sin. Thus Renée - symbolizes individual citizens of France - becomes the part of the animal which was won by the hounds (Saccard and Maxime, who symbolizes the nouveau riches society of the Second Empire).

I think The Kill is placed right after The Fortune not without reason. It presents the clearest and complete picture of the Second Empire's moral-corrupted society:
=Excessive luxury and pleasure
=Collapsing of family structure, changed into commercial ("The idea of a family was replaced for [the Saccards] by the notion of a sort of investment company where the profits are shared equally" ~ p.104)
=General crisis of identification and gender deviance (Maxime the man-woman whom Renée likes to dress as girl; Maxime "had taken [Renée] for a boy" before having sex in the hothouse).
=Massive speculation

All this is the result of modernization brought by Baron Hausmann. After this, Zola will break each "illness" and results down into the next eighteen novels.

On my first read, I've been focusing only to the plot (and its representation to the Second Empire); and so classified it as unimpressive. Now I've had the advantage of reading The Cambridge Companion to Émile Zola, edited by Brian Nelson, which explains a lot of Zola's numerous metaphors, which often seems unrelated when we are reading his books.

The first paragraph that describes the jammed traffic of carriages procession leaving Bois de Boulogne, for example, is not just an opening; it represents Second Empire as "a sticking pit of corruption with toxic impact on people within it". Then the people in the carriages with no name, represents "nothing human matters enough to desire motion"; they are all "standing still in a line that cannot move because it has nowhere to go". So, again, it correlates with the determinism Zola was adopting in his novels. The last chapter of The Kills shows how Renée, now returned to his father's home, wonders how she came to her downfall ("who has stripped her naked?) Renée doesn't realize of her downfall because the corruption exists inside the society - "the impact of a large group of beings has on every smaller group of beings within it". The determinism - the polluted environment in which you live will carry you to its ruin; you don't realize it when you are inside, but once out of it, you'll see it more clearly. Thus, Renée is perhaps the only one of the Rougon-Macquarts (excepting Doctor Pascal) who eventually comes to this revelation (albeit too late).

Reading The Kill during the Covid-19 pandemic brought a mixed emotion to me. I loved the picturesque prose of the first half (description of Bois de Boulogne always wakes up the artistic sense in me), then I struggled with disgust and depression during the second half, but Zola's final beautiful stroke in the last chapters left me breathless (as usual). Well, at least I understand a little more of Zola's genius after this second read.

So, final rating: 4/5

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Life of Émile Zola: An Oscars Winning Movie

You might not know that one of the movies about Émile Zola has won an Oscars in 1937. The Life of Émile Zola was also marked as Warner Bros' first Oscars for Best Picture.

The Life of Émile Zola is a biopic movie, mainly depicting Zola's involvement in the Dreyfus Affair. It was released on August 11, 1937, directed by William Dieterte. This movie also received ten nominations from the Oscars, including Best Actor for Paul Runi as Émile Zola (not won), and Best Supporting Actor for Joseph Schildkraut (which he won).

The movie opens with Zola's first arrival in Paris, staying in the drafty attic of an apartement which he shared with Paul Cezanne. Both were very poor, but luckily Alexandrine (Zola's fiancee at that time) got him a job at a newspaper. He was soon fired after publishing his novel: Claude's Confession, which the police regarded as provocative. When dining at a cafe with Cézanne, Zola helped a prostitute who was hiding in the cafe from police raid. He listened to her story, and noted her name as Nana. You must have guessed what happened next. Yes, this encounter with Nana inspired him later to write a novel titled Nana, which, according to the movie, brought him fame and success.

Zola has been living amidst luxury and comfort brought by his fame and success, when Captain Alfred Dreyfus was accused of treason. He was (according to the movie) unconcerned with this issue at first, even rejecting Madame Dreyfus who visited his house to plea for his husband's rescue. During this visit, Madame Dreyfus told him that Colonel George's Picquart had a solid proof that the culprit was actually a Major Esterhazy. It was this proof that finally intrigued Zola into action. The movie also shows Dreyfus' humiliation in a public procession and his deplorable state during the solitary prison in the Devil's Island. Schildkraut's acting here really deserved the Oscars!

But I think the climax would be the court scene, where Zola gave his speech in front of the jury. It was followed with Zola's accused of libel, his flight to London, and ended with his death of carbon monoxide poisoning from the clogged chimney.

As I don't watch much old movies, I won't discuss much about its qualities. Instead, I'm focusing much to the movie accuracy (or inaccuracy) with the book. But first of all, I must say that I don't really like Paul Runi's portrayal of Zola. He made Zola looks like a fat lazy pompous bourgeois - which might have been true, I don't exactly know - but I failed to see any trace of intelligence and vigor of a passionate writer in Runi's appearance, which you could feel from his writings. No, I think Runi has totally failed to portray Zola.

I have mentioned before how Nana was described as Zola's first successful novel. This is not accurate, though, because it's actually L'Assommoir which have first brought fame and money to Zola. That is not the only inaccuracy in this biopic. You know, I assume, that Zola died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the clogged chimney in his bedroom. Though he died in his sleep, not in his study, which this movie indicated.

I was not too familiar with the details of Dreyfus Affair, but I'm quite sure it was Zola's friends who had persuaded him to take action concerning Dreyfus, and not Madam Dreyfus, who talked and pleaded with Zola at his house to help his husband. I think Zola took action not because he took personal pity on Dreyfus, but because he was disgusted at how French army has falsely accused its member in their anti-semitic sentiment.

There were some other minor inaccuracies, like the way Cézanne broke his friendship with Zola because Zola depicted him as the mad painter in The Masterpiece. In the movie, Cézanne *only* felt weary of Zola's wealth and fame, and chose to return home. Zola's flight to London to avoid prison isn't as frantic as it should be in reality. It looks like Zola's just taking a holiday with Alexandrine. And Jeanne didn't even exist here. But of these minor inaccuracies, I realize that it will be quite complicated to include all this into a movie. So, I'm not complaining. The fact that Zola's legacies were at least honored by this biopic (and the Oscars), with a hope that more people would read his books and learn about his life, is more than enough for me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

To begin with, magical realism is one genre I can hardly relate. Years ago I've read Love in the Time of Cholera, and didn't like it. I blamed my dislike of romance to be one of the causes at that time; the other is the bad translation. But afterwards, Toni Morrison got my attention, and I ended up liking Beloved - which is also of the same genre. I have avoided One Hundred Years of Solitude for a long time because I doubted I would like to read the combination of Márquez AND magical realism. But then Ruth hosted the readalong, and I thought I'd brave myself to finally read One Hundred Years and get over with. And I did. I mean, I did read it through - though not without struggle. And I finally got over it. Meaning, that I officially declare here that Magical Realism AND Gabriel García Márquez will never again be in my reading list. Never.Again.

One Hundred Years is telling the lives of Buendía family over the century. Beginning with the first generation: José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula Iguarán, his cousin who became his wife. José founded Macondo, an isolated town in Colombia. For years he tried, but failed, to connect it with the outside world - except for the gypsies who often come to the town, led by the mysterious Melqúiades, and bring latest inventions from the outside world.

The first chapters was very engaging. I even took notes (summary) of every chapter, beginning chapter 1, but finally stopped after chapter 4. There were too many events, that they soon became rather insignificant. My real struggle began in chapter 7 or 8. I felt weary, and my head was full of strange incident after strange incident, that I have lost any emotion which hitherto still linked me with the characters. I just felt nothing, and the only reason I still continued reading, was my curiosity. Like, OK, where will these rotten people end up? Will they get better next generation? (They don't!) And reading the last chapters coincidentally with the beginning of Covid-19 outbreak, made it even harder.

From all the flawed members of Buendía dynasty, I think the one I could relate most was Colonel Aureliano Buendía, but before he became obsessed with the war. I liked his solitary existence, working hard at the laboratory, and I loved especially when he crafted his tiny golden fish. I think he's the most sensible - again, before the war-mania - of all (excepting Úrsula). With Úrsula, I felt mostly admiration. Admiration of her consistent efforts to protect and improve the family, which in the end proved useless.

One more thing that made me persevere with this book, is its similarity with Zola's Rougon-Macquart. The same hereditary corruption in a family, which, in Rougon-Macquart came from the matron, while in Buendía began with the patriarch. The same determinism, from which generations of the families could not overcome. The big difference, is that Zola instilled some hope in most of his characters.

Again, I usually don't have trouble with magical realism - why, I still read fantasy sometimes, and love Harry Potter; and I have certainly enjoyed a lot of realism books. But this magnum opus of Gabo's; it's just overwhelming. For instance, I'm still fine with the imprinted ashes on Aureliano Buendía's sons forehead, which later on marked them to be murdered. There's got to be some symbol there which I didn't even want to analyze (LOL). And when José Arcadio's blood flowing through the road and half of the town, well... it's weird but still acceptable for magical realism. But I couldn't hide my disgust any longer when Remedios the Beauty ascended to the.. sky?

So, in short, it has been a struggle for me to read this book - a winner of the Nobel Prize. I only have a vague idea that it's all about oppression and more or less political. But to me, the Buendía is just a bunch of rotten and flawed people with no hope.

I was so relieved when I have finished it, and I guess 3/5 is a very genereous rating for a book I haven't enjoyed too much!

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Classics Club Spin # 23

It's Classics Club Spin time again!

I have only eight titles left on my 2nd Classics Club List, so I must double (and triple) the titles to make a list of twenty. Here it comes:

01. Dubliners
02. Song of the Lark
03. The Man Who Was Thursday
04. The Deerslayer
05. The Moonstone
06. The Red Badge of Courage
07. The Vicar of Wakefield
08. Othello
09. Dubliners
10. Song of the Lark
11. The Man Who Was Thursday
12. The Deerslayer
13. The Moonstone
14. The Red Badge of Courage
15. The Vicar of Wakefield
16. Othello
17. Dubliners
18. Song of the Lark
19. The Man Who Was Thursday
20. The Deerslayer

I have planned to read Song of the Lark next month, so... I'm crossing my finger for no. 2, 10, and 18 right now, but, is there any other title which you think I should be excited about?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

6W1H Method of Effective Book Reviews Preparation

I wonder whether there are some methods or steps one could follow in writing book reviews, or whether book bloggers have their own routines. How about you, what is your method? Do you just open a blank page, and write anything your mind dictating you, letting the idea flows on its own?

I usually practice the later. However, lately I noticed that this idea actually has few disadvantages: 

1. One needs to be very focused for a stretch of time (which is difficult for me - I write only when time permit).

2. There are too many things to memorize: names, events, or even the plot - especially when one does not write the review right after finishing the book (in my case: always! :)) At times, I write a review months after reading; but mostly after 1-2 weeks).

So, lately I invented a certain method which enables me to write reviews without much difficulties, which I call: 6W1H. You might have been familiar with 5W1H; I borrowed that idea, but adding one more W. This 6W1H is only the preparation process; it helps me a lot while writing the actual reviews.

I divide the 6W1H process into two phases: Background and Analysis. And for the source, I usually use Wikipedia. Why not the book itself? Remember, I have finished the book some times before, and have been plunging into one or more books since, so at the time I'm ready to write the review, I only have limited memory of the book's contents. Hence, Wikipedia provides a good summary of the plot, list of characters, and stuffs. I still consult the book, though, when I need to pick some quotes (which I have dog-eared and marked before).

And so, here is the outline of my 6W1H preparation for review writing process:


- Complete name of main characters whom I would discuss in the review.
- Their relationships (son of A, B's best friend, etc).

No one like the idea of rummaging through the book again in the middle of writing review, just to make sure whether X is the eldest or second son of Lord Y, right?

- Title/rank/occupation (Duke of ..., a farmer, a mother, etc.)
- Age/appearances (30 y.o., a young man, pretty girl, etc.)
- Personality (reckless, prudish, cunning, etc.)
- Condition/weakness (wealthy, divorced, drunkard, etc.)

- Name of the country/village/city
- Name of the street/house/mansion, etc.

- Timeline of the story
- Real historical year/event
- Period of time (15 years after..., two days before...)

The events/incidents:
- Chronology
- Perpretator/person(s) involved


- The major conflict
- Why it happened? Why did he do that? What makes her do that?

- How did he solve the problem?
- How could she strive?
- What lesson we learn from it?

How it works

1. First I'd jot down on a notebook (journal), complete name of main characters involved in the story. Give some spaces between each character, about 4 or 5 rows (depend on your journal's size).

2. In the top right corner, add this list in small fonts:

- Then add in the blank spaces, some description about each character which you think the most important/related to the whole story (consult Wikipedia if you forget some details).

- Check whether the descriptions you have added for each character has covered all the 5W list. You may check or cross out the Ws when you're sure it's done. If there's a W you haven't included in the description, think if there's something you've missed. If not, just skip it, maybe it's not important. Or you can add later if it turns out to be so.

- Next, I'd work on the 6th W and the H. Do this under the character description section you've made before (the five Ws). Now, this is the harder part of 6W1H, and you need to think more critically (Wikipedia won't be able to help you on this :P).

To create a thorough review, I usually pick one topic which has struck me most or the most relevant for me, or most interested me during/after the reading. This topic can be varied for each reader, though you read the same book. But this is something that will make your review most stand out.

You might ask: What if I don't remember any strong point of the book? Well, there are 2 possibilities:
a). For some reasons you didn't relate to the book - maybe you don't like it?
b). You were distracted during the reading, to not noticing any strong point.

In either case, you might skip the WHY and HOW, and just write what you feel about the book (writing style, cover, characters, etc.) Or you might want to give the book another try, then apply the WHY and HOW properly to your second review.

But if you do find your topic, ask yourself, what is the root or cause of the conflict/problem/condition.

You find two equally important topics, and really want to discuss both? No problem, just work on two sets of WHY and HOW, then give them each subtitles. If you don't mind writing long reviews, that will be okay. I have practiced this on my review of The Sin of Abbé Mouret.

Have jotted down the root cause of your chosen topic? Let's move to the H:

Analyze some (or all) of these questions:
1. How does [the character] solve the conflict/problem?
2. How does [the character] strive from his/her condition?
3. What makes him/her triumphant in the end?
4. What should have he/she done (if failed)?
5. What did the writer try to convey?
6. Do I agree?
7. What lessons do I learn?
8. Does it happen to me? What have/will I do(ne) if I were in his/her place?

When you have worked all the 6W1H, your head will be full of ideas, you can't wait to write the review. And you will be surprised at how easy it is to write review now, as the words flow nicely. It's because you have boiled them with the 6W1H to shape your ideas, ready to be jotted down into a beautiful review!

See, writing review isn't that difficult, right? Or do you always find it easy? Do you have your own routines to write reviews? Do share! I am always excited to learn new things!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Classic Character: The Transformation of Godfrey Cass from Silas Marner

Godfrey is my favorite character from Silas Marner, and the most interesting one. Of course he isn't the ideal hero, but I loved following his transformation from a careless, egocentric young man to be a more mature, generous man.

Born into a rich family and having been spoiled by his father, Godfrey grew up as a reckless, irresponsible young man. All his needs was provided by the servants, no effort was required from little Godfrey. And whenever he wants something, all he need to do is asking his papa, and he will (happily) grant it. He grows up knowing that his part in this world is just wishing, and it's everyone else's job to fulfill. It's all about "me", and never "you"; least of all "he/she", because he has the privilege. It's not his original character - we will learn this later - but it's the way he was raised. Though he might have had moral education from his governess or private teacher, I think emphaty is not something he is familiar with. Why, taking feels much better than giving, anyway!

I imagined Molly is one of the pretties working girls in Raveloe, and young Godfrey is attracted to her. He marries her (clever of you, Molly, at least you've got him legally married you!), though he doesn't have plan to provide for her, least of all acknowledge her (I really wish Eliot wrote more about this!). Anyway, Godfrey doesn't even think it wrong to woo a middle class girl after abandoning Molly. He simply doesn't think his first marriage as marriage; for him it's just a pleasure, and now, an obstacle to his present wish: Nancy Lammeter, or just an annoying subject to get scolded by his dear papa. Godfrey's comfort and pleasure must come first!

Then, Molly's corpse is found, and Godfrey realizes for the first time, that his past reckless act DID have consequences: his own daughter Eppie. I think this revelation is his first turning point. How often is it that a man changes to the better after the birth of his child? So Godfrey, too, starts being responsible and a little more generous, by giving some money to Silas Marner (for Eppie's sake). Unfortunately he is still cowardly and indecisive enough to confess the truth to Nancy.

The revelation of Dunfrey's death shatters Godfrey's last door to self-denial. Without further doubt, he confesses everything to Nancy: first marriage, child, and all. Lastly, Eppie's rejection of living with him, shatters the last of the remnants of his ego. Godfrey is humbled by his daughter! After this last event, we do not know clearly how Godfrey's live has become, only that he contiunually provides for Eppie and Silas. He even pays for Eppie's wedding party, though he doesn't attend it. This is a big change in Godfrey's character. The selfish, egocentric young man has transformed into a selfless matured man, who still loves, cares, and provides for his daughter, despite of her rejection, despite of his realization that Eppie would never be his. We know that at the end of the story, Silas, Eppie, and her husband Aaron live a happy life. I wish Godfrey too, find love, solace, and happiness with Nancy. He deserves it, because after all, he was born as a good natured person.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Silas Marner is an old weaver in a rural village called Raveloe. He is a loner; isolated from the world, and eventually became a miser. He never goes to church, and dislike his neighbours, who also see him with suspicion. He loves only his craft, and the accumulated gold he earned by his loom.

Godfrey Cass is the eldest son of the landowner: Squire Cass. He is a good natured man, and lived respectably with his wife: the sweet Nancy Lammeter. The couple is childless, and Godfrey is tormented by guilt of his dark secret, that the couple isn't as happy as it should be.

Why did I open this post with two different stories? It's because Silas Marner - despite of its title - is a story of interwoven pasts of these two characters: Silas Marner and Godfrey Cass. They are both unhappy in the present situation, and both are caused by secret pasts. Let me tell them separately.

Silas was a religious, exemplary young man from Lantern Yard. He was framed by his brethren, and was accused of stealing church money. Nobody believed him, nor even Sarah, the girl he was engaged to marry, who finally married the man who has framed him! So, he left his hometown, bringing his loom, to be a weaver in Raveloe, where nobody knew him, and shut himself up from the world - and apparently from God (who is, so he feels, unfair to him).

Rich and spoiled by his father, Godfrey secretly married a working class opium-addicted girl, Molly, whom he then estranged. Dunfrey "Dunsey" Cass, his scoundrel second brother knew this, and blackmailed him. Using the Squire's money, Godfrey tried to shut his brother's mouth, lest he revealed his secret, and prevented him from marrying the sweet Nancy Lammeter.

One night Dunfrey robbed Silas' gold, taking away Silas' only consolation in life - without love and affection as he was. Then Molly - Godfrey's estranged wife - went to the Casses' with a two year old girl, in order to reveal herself and the child as Godfrey's. However, on that bitter cold winter night, she died on the way, leaving her child wandering through the snow to Silas' house. The aftermath of this incident: Godfrey could married Nancy without remorse, and Silas got a daughter to care for, replacing his beloved gold. Is this the happy ending they deserved? No, not yet. Eventhough life seems to be generous to Silas and Godfrey at this point, each has still an old grudge and dark secret, of which they have not yet make peace with.

George Eliot is one of the authors whom I have hitherto been expelled from my reading list. "What? Why??", I hear you ask. Well, I read The Mill on the Floss years ago, and didn't impressed by her writing, and disliked her characters. Years later, I feel I was being unfair to her. Victorian's has been my favorite reading, so why not try her other novels? And so, I picked Silas Marner - and I'm glad I did. Though Eliot is still not my favorite, I can now appreciate her more. I loved Silas Marner - it's a real comfort reading - though my favorite character is actually Godfrey Cass (I will discuss this more on the next post).

Silas Marner's main theme are about repentance, forgiveness, and making peace with one's past. Maybe you've been wondering why I've been writing Silas and Godfrey in parallel with each other? It's because I see their paths in life (in accordance to above themes) as very similar, albeit the huge difference in their social backgrounds. Let me break it down:

SILAS was wrongly accused
GODFREY had a scandalous marriage

Try to fix problem, but instead, getting deeper
SILAS relinquished God and humanity; worshiping gold --> lonely and meaningless life
GODFREY squandered his father's money to bribe Dunfrey, then having a marriage based on lie --> unhappy, burden.

Molly's death brings solution
SILAS finds early happiness in raising the orphaned Eppie.
GODFREY finds early happiness in marrying Nancy Lammeter.

But still not fully happy
SILAS still has a grudge against his fellow kinsman.
GODFREY still keeps a secret from Nancy

Revelation as turning point
Dunfrey's corpse and Silas' gold were found, and so:

True happiness after making peace with the past
SILAS realized that gold is meaningless; instead, love and forgiveness is more valuable. He returns to Lantern Yard, though found it vanished, and so closes the past, welcomes the happy future with Eppie and her husband.

GODFREY confesses to Nancy about Molly and Eppie, and so there's no more secret. Though perhaps not as happy as Silas, but I think they'll live contentedly after finding pure love for each other, and with their generosity to Silas and Eppie.

In the end, there is no intriguing plot in this book, but it is a sweet and comforting novel with warming allusions of love and repentance. After this, I think I'm excited to read all Eliot's remaining novels. Middlemarch will be my next!


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Zoladdiction 2020 Master Post

Welcome, April! Hi guys, how u doing today? Still healthy but bored already from self-quarrantine/self-isolaton/social distancing or whatever limitation you are having at present? Prepare to cheer up, guys, because TODAY.....

Zoladdiction 2020 begins!

(More info and sign up here)

Since my internet connection is rather bad at home, I decided to not using linky for submitting posts. Instead, you can share them by (pick one or all):

1. Leaving URL to your posts on the comment section below.
2. Tweeting with hashtag: #Zoladdiction2020
3. Posting on Instagram with hashtag: #Zoladdiction2020.

As I am using Twitter as my main platform, I will do my best to retweet all of your posts, so that we can see, read, and comment each others posts. I will still occasionally post on and check my Instagram too.

To add the fun, I have prepared two Zoladdiction Games during April, but only on Twitter. The first one will be on Zola's birthday tomorrow. Be sure you check on Twitter - let's celebrate Zola's birthday by making it as jolly as we can (I will open this game to non participant as well), while spreading the love of Zola (NOT the covid-19) to the world.

Happy reading (and playing), and have fun! :)