Tag Archives: books

Romantic quote #2

I was going to save this for last but it melts my heart too much that I can’t hold it back any longer. This was written by Frederick Wentworth to Anne Elliot on Persuasion.

quote2

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.

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. 

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.

 

Castle in the air

I’ve read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women in three different stages of my life: first when I was as young and frivolous as twelve-year-old Amy, second when I was as restless as fifteen-year-old Jo, and third when I felt like I’ve outgrown my frivolity and restlessness. One thing, however, remains the same: I’m still frustrated that Jo and Laurie didn’t end up together.

It’s a pleasure to witness the friendship between Jo and Laurie so the romantic in me wanted nothing more than to see them together happily ever after, however it’s the same romantic who failed to understand the outcome which was Jo and Prof. Bhaer (I guess my romantic ego is still immature for that). I’m thankful for these Oxford World versions because they give readers insights on every bit of detail on the novel and author; so I was able to discover that Jo sought more warmth and intimacy in a partner, something which she saw Laurie lacked. For me, it was quite rash and unfair of her because she will never know if Laurie indeed possessed those qualities unless she gave him a chance to prove it as a lover, but I guess she knew him best and was able to augur she might never see a match in him except as her dearest friend.  In almost a decade that I’ve loved Little Women, I’m quite frustrated and I still hope Jo had a change of heart.

Tell me, are you also a Jo-Laurie supporter, or do you think Bhaer suited her more? What do you think?

This novel never fails to warm my heart.

On another note, I was rather interested in the friends’ confessions of their castles in the air, and there I’ve realized I never shared mine with my intimate friends. Sure, everybody dreams of being successful but it’s too general that most of the time, people don’t even know where to begin. I, for one, surpassing my wish to have a happy and fulfilling life, have been having one castle in the air, something that built itself up as I slowly learned: I dream to ride on a steam train that would take me to a breathtaking manor where inside lies a majestic library filled with all the books I could ever read.

What about you? What is your castle in the air? 🙂

Still on The Portait of a Lady

I wasn’t wrong when I referred to women as volatile creatures because aside from the fact that I am qualitatively speaking from personal experience, I  also guess The Portrait of the Lady is wholly accepted as a connotative portrait of ladies in general.

While reading her adventures, I wanted nothing more than to tell the feisty heroine, “Oh come on, Isabel! Make up your mind!”. Even with the presence of a narrator and the useful state of shifting from one character to another, I still cannot help but be perplexed at what Isabel’s thinking; it’s like she’s a complete enigma on her own! Her mind is a wonderful cornucopia of metaphors and riddles that you have to read between the lines most of the time; if the narrator focused on her thoughts alone, it would not be enough to do her justice. Even though it’s prose, there’s still that air of poetry where you have to figure out the arcane for yourself. I normally skip through the long pretexts of Oxford versions so I only got to appreciate it lately when I had to refer to it to shed me some light on some events, unfortunately though, it’s still not sufficing.

And in my previous post, I said I was not sure whether or not I like Isabel. I now know why. Call me prejudiced but my fondness for her faltered since she became acquainted with Gilbert Osmond; in the nascency of their dreadful relationship, her want of “seeing life” was greatly influenced by Osmond’s adamant view of it. It didn’t help that Madame Merle was there encouraging her all the while; by the way, I knew from the start that this woman was nefarious, her reaction to Isabel’s sudden rise in fortune was a dead give away. It was rather surprising how Isabel easily succumbed to Osmond (I was rooting for Lord Warburton) but you cannot blame her for doing so. According to St. Augustine, we love because we want to partake in another’s personhood and Isabel only thought of doing just that. Besides how could she have augured Osmond’s intentions when the only suffering she knew was literary? I have to admit, she redeemed herself in my eyes when their relationship started to waver and here I thought, Good, all the more for Lord Warburton. 🙂

Let me add this, I don’t know if it’s just me but I absolutely adore Ralph Touchett! I don’t find him selfish at all in amusing himself by putting a little wind in Isabel’s sail because I’m perfectly sure the people who were touched by Isabel’s charm would have wanted to see what this lady would do with her life. Ralph also had this homey aura which gave a sense of comfort to Isabel whenever she thought of him. So as expected, with Ralph’s moribund scene — that was, wow, that was just tear-jerking — I felt as though a part of Isabel died with him as well.

If I ever sensed patent regret on her part (Isabel was kinda proud to admit regret, I have to say), it was evident on her return to Gardencourt, at the part where she was reflecting on the painting of Bonington. She was thinking of the inevitability of circumstances that pervaded to its present outcome. If her aunt, Mrs. Touchett, would have found her somewhere else and not reading alone in her grandmother’s library, things would have turned out differently. If she ever gave a positive thought on Ralph’s and Mrs. Touchett’s warnings, she would not have suffered her fate with Osmond. That scene was incredibly human because we too find ourselves in that situation once in a while (if not most), that bitter sense of regret where our indiscreet choices lead to the rejection or the acceptance of our future.

On the Rhone Valais, Switzerland by Richard Parkes Bonington

Now I don’t really know what happened to Isabel in the end but I guess it’s one those great works of literature that leave to the reader’s imagination the fate of the characters. On my part, I think the “straight path” that Isabel was going to traverse was finishing what she started. She may be miserable but backing out would be an inconsistency with what she said about not wanting to turn away from the usual chances and dangers of life. She had Pansy (who immensely loved her) to take care of and she would not want to put the girl’s expectations in abeyance. It was truly a noble thing to do.

To conclude, I am much grateful for accidentally coming upon The Portrait of a Lady. 🙂

Some light on The Portrait of a Lady

No, I am not finished with The Portrait of a Lady yet but I feel as though I should write about the first twenty chapters I have read. A lot of things (sensible or not) have been going in and out of my mind while reading it and though not all may prove to be incisive, pouring them out is healthier than letting them rot in my capably forgetful mind.

One is always in danger of being too much of one thing thus we can say that one’s complacency is only transiently satisfied — this was what I was thinking while reading it. Isabel Archer’s unconstrained practice of liberty got me thinking if there ever was a brake to its profuseness; don’t get me wrong, I admire how she obliviously leaves a mark on people but sometimes I think there’s no harm in thinking (and acting) conventionally. Then again, if that were so, Isabel would not be the charming lady she was and the story would have taken a different turn which would have altered it drastically (haha!). The title itself constitutes ingenuity as well as deception because you can never verify the truthfulness of your opinion on a portrait unless you have gained first-class access to the painter’s whimsical basis for painting it. This may not be a universally-accepted fact but being a woman myself, we have the tendency to be fickle and this volatility addles the mind of one who perceives thereby heightening or decimating the initial perception. On the whole, I’m not really sure whether or not I like Isabel Archer. When I read her description on the back cover — a young American woman with looks, wit, and imagination — I instantly liked her and I even thought she could be comparable to Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice but alas, the portrait deceived me. 😉 Like I said, I am not done reading so my perception of her might lean on the brighter side along the way. Nevertheless, I agree with Isabel on some grounds — like this one, for example, a part of her discourse with one of her suitors, Lord Warburton:

“I’ve always been intensely determined to be happy, and I’ve often believed I should be. I’ve told people that; you can ask them. But it comes over me every now and then I can never be happy in an extraordinary way; not by turning away, by separating myself.”

“By separating yourself from what?”

“From life. From the usual chances and dangers, from what most people know and suffer.”

By the way, no value of casuistry could convince me to desecrate my copy of The Portrait of a Lady, tradition prevailed after all. And I have another reason to be happy, I finally found James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and since I did not want to leave my search in vain, I did not hesitate to pick it up. 🙂