On to Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair is turning out to be promising (nothing less from a classic, of course), and I’m once again resisting the urge to pick up my orange highlighter and make horizontal marks on its wise passages.

Let me share one:

The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly, kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.

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I’m currently on the third chapter and I still couldn’t get over what Rebecca Sharp did in the first one. If you must know, while there seemed to be no friends fussing over her departure from Chiswick Mall, there was actually one who had the sincerest intents for her goodwill and that was Miss Jemima. You see, this kindhearted lady took the effort of sending her off with a dictionary and while Miss Jemima assumed Miss Sharp would accept it with heartfelt gratitude, the latter heartlessly threw it off as the carriage was leaving the gates of their school. I was so surprised about this, years of reading Austen did not prepare me for such conduct.

Early on, Rebecca Sharp is indeed the antithesis of all of Austen’s heroines.

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I’m sorry, Ms. Bronte

I’m proud to say I’ve finally read Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

I have to admit, it didn’t start off very interesting but because of my respect for the title, I read on and wow, I found myself incapable of stopping. Its unconventionality was rather surprising that it was fun to witness the characters’ distress. After all the drama, however, I found myself asking if I really did enjoy Wuthering Heights. Did I actually finish it because I was genuinely interested in it or was it because I have a great respect for classic titles? My friend had asked me that question a while back, too but I didn’t give her a solid answer. Maybe reading it again in a few years could help me admire it more.

I’m in a phase of my life where I’m trying to discover the vastness of the world and the people in it; I know seeking it through literature is not as convincing as it is in real life but I quite agree with Jo March that reality is unmanageable. Though it may be based on real life, literature in a way, tweaks it a bit to make it more appealing to readers … doesn’t it? (I would really appreciate an argument on this c:). Reality mixed with fictional drama is more bearable than reality itself — at least for me.  I’m convincing myself that if I’m exposed to various personalities and events in literature, I might not be completely surprised if I would ever encounter them in real life.

If only she wrote more

In the span of three long years, I was able to read Austen’s six completed novels and now that it’s over, I kind of regret shunning her once. I miss the eligible gentlemen, the lovely ladies, the lavish balls, the grandiose appearances, and the like. I miss Austen. Reading her again will only make me long for more of her social satires.

Sure there may be novels with ladies who are just as charming as Elizabeth or Emma and gentlemen who are as noble as Darcy or Knightley but let’s face it, no one does it better than Austen. I recently purchased William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair with high hopes that I might rekindle the joy of reading social satires but since there is no hero in this story, I sort of miss the romantic gratifications, as well.

How I wish Austen wrote more. That would have made some of us happy.

 

 

London Below

Is The Sound and the Fury more readable than As I Lay Dying? Would reading the former put William Faulkner in my most-honored-authors list? I hope so. I want to like Faulkner so bad but I feel like I won’t be able to finish his most profound work since I haven’t even resumed on As I Lay Dying in six months!

Anyway … on to the first novel I finished for the year 2014 — Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I’ve been a fan of Gaiman since reading American Gods (this I did about four years ago) and it was only on December last year that I got my hands on another one of his works. I won’t go on about its plot, I was never fond of giving summaries and all. I’m just here to dote on some of the characters. I initially thought Door (such a beautiful name, don’t you think? I want to nickname my child after her) was just another helpless soul cast about in the world but her ability and cunning intrigued me immensely. Her image in my head was never as distinct as Richard’s (I was honestly picturing James McAvoy all the while, more on that later), I imagined her looking like, with her short red hair and all, Leeloo from The Fifth Element wearing the animated Anya’s (Anastasia) tattered brown coat. I know it’s poorly imagined, I admit that but my imagination has not been functioning well lately.  

And Richard. Richard Mayhew. Dick. Yes, like I said, I was imagining McAvoy all the while and I was even more surprised to find that that gorgeous actor actually voiced him in the radio drama adaptation! Can’t wait to listen to that!   >.<

Croup and Vandemar were really good in sending chills down my spine, I couldn’t help but feel apprehensive every time I’m on their page. It seemed as though they couldn’t live a day without cutting off somebody’s fingers and that creeped me a lot. I imagined Croup with the Cheshire cat’s voice and Vandemar with Lurch’s (Addams Family).

The one that gripped me most was actually Islington, the way he was introduced was just so beautifully written that I didn’t assume anything evil about it. When he spoke, I heard Orlando Bloom’s voice all over but on checking out the cast of the radio drama, I died.

You can read a story to me anytime, Islington. :3

You can read a story to me anytime, Islington. :3

Okay, that wasn’t so insightful but then again, my posts were never insightful. Cheers to Neverwhere!

How Austen keeps coming back

Although I have mentioned I was reading As I Lay Dying, I have also said how Faulkner’s stream of consciousness technique was driving me mad and yes, it drove me to the point of putting it down for now. After all, readers have every right not to finish a book. I’ve done that, I’m still doing that, and I will definitely do it again. If I didn’t do it before, I would not have given the gratification Sense and Sensibility rightfully deserves (I was able to finish it five months after temporarily putting it down).

I don’t know if it’s just me but I don’t think it’s a good idea to read Austen in a row. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her well-painted characters and witty story lines very much — I really do — but starting on Sense and Sensibility after having just finished Emma made me so sick of balls, tea parties, gossips, four-thousand-pounds-a-years, and post-chaises that I actually shunned Austen for a while.

A few days ago, as I was looking for a good book to recommend to my father, I found Mansfield Park standing on the edge of the shelf. I remember buying that in the midst of my Pride and Prejudice amazement and abandoning it after realizing Fanny Price wasn’t as interesting as Elizabeth Bennet. This happened a few years ago and up until now, I completely forgot about it. Having not read any Austen for a few months, I resumed on Mansfield Park just as easily as giving up on it. Now that reality is drowning my literary heroes, I’m contemplating on Fanny Price as it should be. Who knows, she might revive the heroes this darn reality is sedating.

I’m not done with it yet, I’m really hoping I won’t give up on it anymore. Actually its characters are interesting enough to attach me so I don’t think I would. 

A message from Marmee

In line of the upcoming Mother’s Day, I would like to share an excerpt from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. It’s such a thoughtful conversation between Marmee and her two daughters, Meg and Jo, that I decided to share this. Please take time to read it (especially you, young ladies, out there) and indulge in its charming message.

I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good; to be admired, loved, and respected, to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman; and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. It is natural to think of it, Meg; right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it; so that, when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties, and worthy of the joy. My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, — marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes, because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing, — and, when well used, a noble thing, — but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.       — Marmee

Poor girls don’t stand any chance, Belle says, unless they put themselves forward. — Meg

Then we’ll be old maids. — Jo

Right, Jo; better be happy old maids than unhappy wives, or unmaidenly girls, running about to find husbands. Don’t be troubled, Meg; poverty seldom taunts a sincere lover. Some of the best and most honored women I know were poor girls, but so love-worthy that they were not allowed to be old maids. Leave these things to time; make this home happy, so that you may be fit for homes of your own, if they are offered you, and contented here if they are not. One thing remember, my girls, mother is always ready to be your confidant, father to be your friend; and both of us trust and hope that our daughters, whether married or single, will be the pride and comfort of our lives. — Marmee

I hope you enjoyed this and found it as insightful as I did. Happy Mother’s Day!

Three down, six to go

Wow. It’s been almost eight months since my last post and as much as I want to say that I read a good amount of classics, I can’t. For now I guess it’s safe to say that I’ve been busy (my current job has kept my hands full) but I’ve tried stealing some time to read a few from my heap.

I have a list of the books I hoarded and I crossed out those I’ve obviously read.

1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

2. What’s Your Name I’m Fine Thank You by Roger Beaumont

3. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

4. The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

5. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart

6. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

7. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

8. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

9. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

Oh yes. After years of searching, I finally found Faulkner! I remember feeling elated when I saw his name on the shelf. Funny story — because I was too excited to buy it, I didn’t give a care about its cover; it was only after two months did I realize how creepy it was! I tried looking at it in dim lighting but that wasn’t such a good idea, so I decided to cover it up with a drawing. Despite that, however, this is what I’m currently reading and Faulkner’s stream of consciousness technique is driving me nuts.

I might regret posting this picture.

I might regret posting this picture. -_-

The two Robinsons are back-to-back hard bounds which I found in my father’s old home; he said it was the first book his own father gave him… I know, how could I be in my twenties and still have not read these two? Back to my tagline, I’m still catching up. Speaking of which, that’s exactly what I would be doing.