The Beginning: 1801 – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shallAll sinners would be miserable in heaven.
The Beginning: 1801 – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.
I was forced to read this for my English literature class back in 2002. I remember detesting it. I found it gloomy, melancholic and utterly boring. It took me forever to finish it as my mind kept wandering whenever I opened it. Some chapters were read without truly understanding what had actually happened.
More than ten years have passed and several other Brontë novels devoured and adored, and I decided I’d matured enough to give this a second chance, only this time I would kick back and try the audio book. I found it had somewhat improved. I particularly enjoyed the parts where we follow the upbringing of Catherine and Heathcliff. I felt this should have been a much more dominant part as it’s so vital to the rest of the story. And much more interesting than the rest of the story. He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
But still, I think I got it right the first time around: this story just isn’t for me. It’s freakin boring! The characters are greedy, vindictive and downright stupid. It’s 13 hours/300 pages of people making bad decisions and punishing each other for the past. What a waste of life and love! I guess my instincts were spot on the first time around, and I’m going to stick with my 2-star rating. Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you–haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe–I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!
I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other. - Emma
You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet. - ChI always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other. - Emma
You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet. - Cher (from Clueless)
The Beginning: Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
Oh, how marvelous it is to revisit the world of Jane Austen. I’ve been meaning to reread Emma for ages. I read it 10 years ago for a Jane Austen class, where we went through all six novels in one semester. I love Jane Austen, but reading all the novels in one go is too much. Emma was one of the last novels we read in the class, and I’d had about enough at that point. I’ve always felt that I would have to reread Emma again at some point. As I’ve said many times before, I like variety in my books – that’s why I’ve challenged myself to read different genres in 2014: to ensure variety.
As bad as it makes me sound, part of me identifies with Emma. This is difficult for me to admit, as many – as well as myself – consider Emma Jane Austen’s least likable character. Rereading Emma felt like looking at my worst sides when I was in my twenties.
Better be without sense than misapply it as you do. - Emma
Do you prefer “fashion victim” or “ensembly challenged”? - Cher (from Clueless)
I’m not totally like Emma: I don’t try to match make and I don’t interfere with people’s life decisions (unless they’re clearly making a mistake.) But I do sometimes have a bit of a know-it-all attitude (I’m working on it!) even though I don’t have a clue (which I’m not working on, I might add). And I can be a bit manipulative (but only when it’s really important). And finally, throughout my teens and most of my twenties, I was certain that there was no man in this world I would ever want to live with. Boy, was I clueless!
My being charming…is not quite enough to induce me to marry. I must find other people charming – one other person at least. - Emma
Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie. - Cher
And speaking of Clueless: I love doing these comparisons between Jane Austen novels and popular books and movies. For instance, Bridget Jones is based on Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones the Edge of Reason is based on Persuasion, and Clueless is based on Emma.
Let’s try to list the similarities:
• In Emma, our heroine befriends the poor Harriet Smith and teaches her how to be more ladylike – in Clueless, Cher befriends outsider Tai and tries to make her popular.
• Emma manipulates Harriet into refusing a marriage proposal from the man she loves because he’s just “a simple farmer” – in Clueless, Cher tells Tai to not have anything to do with the skater boy she adores.
• Emma convinces Harriet that she should set her heart on Mr. Elton – in Clueless, Cher convinces Tai to go for Elton.
• Emma paints a portrait of Harriet, which Mr. Elton frames, not because he’s in love with Harriet, but because it’s painted by Emma – Cher takes a photo of Tai, which Elton puts in his locker because Cher took the picture (“I’m having a Twin Peaks experience“).
• Mr. Elton proposes to Emma in a carriage on their way home from a dance – Elton makes a pass at Cher in a car on their way home from a party.
• Emma thinks she’s in love with Frank Churchill, but he’s engaged to another and they become friends instead. In Clueless, Cher throws herself at Christian who turns out to be gay. They become friends.
• In Emma, Harriet Smith is attacked by gypsies and rescued by Frank Churchill – Tai is attacked by some boys at the mall and rescued by Christian.
• At a dance, Harriet is left with no one to dance with, when Mr. Knightly saves her by dancing with her. In Clueless, Tai is alone at a party when Josh rescues her by dancing with her.
• Emma discovers that she’s in love with Mr. Knightly when Harriet declares that she’s in love with him. Cher discovers that she’s in love with Josh when Tai declares she’s in love with him.
I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control. - Emma
I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our livesI hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.
Persuasion is perhaps Jane Austen’s most unadventurous novel. It’s a novel where most of the action / love story has taken part in the past. Anne Elliot has been persuaded by a manipulative relative to break off the engagement with the man she loves because he is not successful enough. Years have passed, Anne has lost the beauty of her youth, and the man is back in town – and now he has success and is sought after by the unmarried women of the town. That’s where our story starts.
You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I loved how different this book was from Jane Austen’s other novels. This book is about old love as opposed to new love, which is much more depicted in literature. She cleverly not only describes but also makes you feel the awkwardness when the two ex-lovers meet again. I could almost feel me own heartbeat rising in tact with Anne’s when she first enters a room knowing that HE will be there. And I cringed with embarrassment when she overheard him talking about her, saying how she’s changed to the unrecognizable over the years they’ve been apart.
How quick come the reasons for approving what we like.
I really liked this part of the story, even though I’ve always wondered why Jane Austen chose to tell the story this way. I guess we’re just used to love stories that start with the first meeting. And if not, at least it’s told in flashbacks. Jane Austen merely hints at their past, but never tells their full story. And I guess that’s one of the strengths of Persuasion.
I’ve always wanted to reread the Harry Potter series, and in December I finally did something about it.Voldemort and Hitler – rereading Harry Potter
I’ve always wanted to reread the Harry Potter series, and in December I finally did something about it. I decided on the audio version, read aloud by Stephen Fry. He did an amazing job and it was fun revisiting Hogwarts. Rereading the series and not having to wait for the next book to be published helped me see new dimensions in the story. One of the things that became really clear were the many similarities to historical fiction about Nazi Germany. Voldemort is in many ways like Hitler in his quest for race purity, his manipulation and murderous cruelty.
The depiction of the fear of Voldemort and his power feels very real, and can, in my opinion, hold its own when compared to the historical fiction I’ve read about Nazi Germany – like The Book Thief and, in particular, Stones from the River. One of the scariest elements is the horror of not knowing who to trust. Can you trust the woman at the grocery store, your neighbours and your own son?
This story can be told again and again. It needs to be told again and again – whether as historical fiction or a fairy tale. I believe that literature and storytelling are powerful elements that can change the way we view the world and ourselves, our ideals and sense of bravery. I’m thinking in particular of underground resistance movements, like Dumbledore’s Army, The Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter’s quest, the bravery and sacrifice they made for a future without hatred, murder and fear. Generations growing up with heroes like Harry Potter (or Frodo Baggins for that matter) may be more inclined to rebel and fight back against a new potential Hitler.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’m taking it too far, overestimating the power of literature. Reading about fear, heroism and bravery can never compare to the real deal. But maybe it could make a teeny-tiny difference. Retelling a story and learning from our history should never be underestimated....more