Once upon a time, there lived a reader. Her name was Matilda. No, Matilda wasn’t just a common reader. She began reading at the age of three, and at tOnce upon a time, there lived a reader. Her name was Matilda. No, Matilda wasn’t just a common reader. She began reading at the age of three, and at the age of four she devoured all newspapers and magazines she could find laying around her house, along with one cooking book that happened to be the only book in the household. Poor Matilda, being a child so bright in a dreadfully unsupportive family, she had to find her own way to the library, the place where she could find all the books she wanted to read. Voila, after devouring every children’s books in the library’s collection, this magical child managed to read these books before she even turned five years old:
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Tess of D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy Gone to Earth by Mary Webb Kim by Rudyard Kipling The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck The Good Companions by J.B. Priestley Brighton Rock by Graham Greene Animal Farm by George Orwell
Hard to believe, I know. But the story does not end there. We can say that it was Mr. and Mrs Wormwood’s fault that Matilda entered school quite late. They were Matilda’s parents, and they didn’t give a damn about their daughter’s education. So at age five and a half Matilda went to school for the first time. Crunchem Hall, the name of the school, was the place where you can find the biggest, most ridiculous contrast ever between two people. The headmistress of Crunchem Hall was called Miss Trunchbull, and there is only one word that could define her best: a nightmare. She was a gigantic monster, a terror, a menace. She enjoyed punishing children in such a horrifying and unexplainable way that the parents would not believe if their children told them about the headmistress. Meanwhile, the exact opposite of Miss Trunchbull took the form of a Miss Honey, Matilda’s teacher. She was a slim-figured young woman who was mild and quiet. Later on, Miss Honey would recognize the extraordinary talent that Matilda possessed. As their friendship grows, Matilda would learn that Miss Trunchbull was the one who is responsible for Miss Honey’s miserable life. Using her newly found “superpower”, Matilda arranged a plan to take revenge on Miss Trunchbull for what she has done to Miss Honey.
My Thoughts—Spoiler Alert!
For children, this book could be enjoyable since logic won’t spoil the fun. They won’t think about how on earth stupid people like Mr. and Mrs Wormwood could have a daughter as bright as Matilda. And maybe they won’t wonder why the antagonist has a horrible name like Trunchbull and the protagonist has a name so sweet and innocent like Honey. For most people, this book might be an innocent reading, a quick stroll into childhood. I like it that Matilda found comfort in books, when she was feeling depressed living with family who are so different from herself. But in the book I also found some things that I object, especially in the matter of family relationships. Maybe because, thankfully, I grew up in an encouraging and loving family, I never felt what Matilda felt. I just couldn’t get the idea of punishing your parents, no matter how irritating they are. And the ending as well, I just couldn’t get it. I mean okay, Matilda’s finally got her happily-ever-after, but why must the author broke the relationship between her and her family? Couldn’t he make them (Matilda’s family) change instead? Well, maybe I have taken the book a little bit too seriously, but this is what I think of it. On the other hand, this book could be a gentle reminder to ignorant parents. They should be able to see that a child is a human being who deserves their attention, and sometimes children are capable of things beyond older people’s comprehension.
In the end, MAYBE this is the message of Matilda:
Family is people whom you should always go home to if they are good people. If they are bad people, then you can go home to other people who are nicer to you, form a bond with them, not by blood, but by heart.
P.S.: MAYBE means even though I wrote these words, it doesn’t mean that I agree with it.
Gitanjali (Song Offerings) is a collection of poems Rabindranath Tagore wrote to express devotion to God. The word gitanjali is composed from “git”, wGitanjali (Song Offerings) is a collection of poems Rabindranath Tagore wrote to express devotion to God. The word gitanjali is composed from “git”, which means song, and “anjali” which means offering, and thus mean “an offering of songs”. I decided to read a work by Tagore to take part in Blogger Buku Indonesia (BBI)’s project for October which is to review any work by Nobel laureates, because of these reasons:
1. I have been a fan of Western poets such as Sir Walter Ralegh and Robert Frost, but I have never tried reading poems with flavors of the East. From that, I would like to pick a well-known poet from the East. 2. Tagore was the first non-European to be awarded Nobel Prize in Literature. 3. Gitanjali was originally written in Bengali and then translated into English by the author himself.
I believe you have read reason number #2 and #3. In today’s words, I would say that those two reasons are “DOUBLE AWESOMENESS!” And so I read all 103 songs of Gitanjali. From the very first song I felt like I was thrown up in the sky to behold the majesties of God, but in such a familiar way. Reading it felt heavenly, but still natural, as if seeing face to face with your own father.
The first song opens like this:
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life. This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new. At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable. Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.
In Gitanjali, the author distinguish The Creator and His creation; he presented the human character as a lowly being, dressed in rags, full of debts and failures, waiting for the Lord to pass by her house. He also praised highly the beauty of nature in his songs. However, I am puzzled that in some songs Tagore addresses God as my friend, my master, my king, and my Father. This resembles how Christians address God (especially “my Father”). I even found a similarity between some lines from Gitanjali and some lines from the Scripture. Here it is:
“In the night of weariness let me give myself up to sleep without struggle, resting my trust upon thee.” (Gitanjali: 25). Is this not similar with Psalms 4:8: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” ?
Don’t ask for my favorite part of Gitanjali, because there are so many. However, the songs that I love the most are Gitanjali 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 95, and 101. You can read Gitanjali 35 in this post.
On the whole, the feeling I had when reading Gitanjali was close to the feeling when reading Psalms. It is divine and comforting. It made my heart burst with freshened love to the Lord.
This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart. Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows. Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service. Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might. Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles. And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.
The play brought a great lesson and a great mystery to me. A great read to start 2013, though. Read my complete review (in English) here: http://surgaThe play brought a great lesson and a great mystery to me. A great read to start 2013, though. Read my complete review (in English) here: http://surgabukuku.wordpress.com/2013...
Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns…
In the time where Guy Montag lives, the job of a fireman is not to stop aFahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns…
In the time where Guy Montag lives, the job of a fireman is not to stop a building to be caught in fire, but to start the fire. It was Montag’s job, along with all firemen, to burn houses that kept books inside. Montag was a man who lived the official firemen slogan to the fullest: “Monday burn Millay, Wednesday burn Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn ‘em to ashes, then burn the ashes.” Well, Montag was a good fireman for ten years, until he met Clarisse McClellan, a weird seventeen-year-old girl whose family recently moved next door. An odd short rendezvous with Clarisse got Montag thinking, that a long time ago there was different time when books are not forbidden, people were not afraid and firemen had a different mission than what he does at present time. One simple question from Clarisse, “Are you happy?” led the reader to what kind of life Montag was having; empty, cold and dead. Love has withered. The human relationships have vanished. Nobody cares about each other anymore. “Family” was the television screens people installed in parlor walls of their houses. Human beings were merely empty heads and empty souls.
“Last night I thought about all the kerosene I’ve used in the past ten years. And I thought about books. And for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up. A man had to take a long time to put them down on paper. And I’d never even thought that thought before.” He got out of bed. “It took some man a lifetime maybe to put some of his thoughts down, looking around at the world and life, and then I come along in two minutes and boom! It’s all over.” – p. 51-52
Out of desperation, Montag decided to do something completely mad: steal a book from a fire and then search for an old acquaintance: a retired professor named Faber. Together they made up an impossible plan to relive the vanished books. Needless to say that Montag’s little game with fire made him caught the fire. Captain Beatty the chief fireman has been sniffing the strange conduct of Montag and arranged to burn Montag’s house and to chase him down. Montag ran away to the river and came to a dark land in the wilderness. There he met a few people who kept the books like Plato’s Republic and Gulliver’s Travels and books by Charles Darwin and Einstein and Schopenhauer and Albert Schweitzer and many others, not in print and papers but in their heads. It was in their hands the answer to the question: Is there any future for books?
I had one question before I start reading this book. It was: what is this book trying to tell the reader? And then after I finished reading it, that one question exploded to many; I was puzzled and confused. One great mystery for me is who Captain Beatty really was. I mean, his mind was obviously well-fed with books, and he talked like he loved books, but yet he burned them. And then what become of Clarisse? Her character was so much like a light in the dark that I longed to see her again throughout the book, but she never showed up. And then the ending. I felt like I want to shout, “Is that it?” In short, I cannot fully understand this book, with its lack of background details and such a weird style of writing (at least for me). But this book got some very good lines that we should never forget.
Faber sniffed the book. “Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land? I loved to smell them when I was a boy. Lord, there were a lot of lovely books once, before we let them go.” – p. 81
“Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.” – p. 82-83
“Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You’d find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more ‘literary’ you are. That’s my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” – p. 83
What to conclude from those passages? I can only take a personal conclusion. Someone said to me once, “Read good books.” Henry David Thoreau once said, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” Thanks, Mr. Bradbury, for reminding me about that.
Special thanks to Astrid for lending me this book. ;)
Ketika mendengar “Gulliver’s Travels”, yang terbayang di benak orang pastilah sesosok pria yang terjebak di Negeri Lilliput. Namun sesungguhnya, bukuKetika mendengar “Gulliver’s Travels”, yang terbayang di benak orang pastilah sesosok pria yang terjebak di Negeri Lilliput. Namun sesungguhnya, buku Gulliver’s Travels sendiri terdiri dari empat kisah perjalanan, sebagai berikut: 1. A Voyage to Lilliput 2. A Voyage to Brobdingnag 3. A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan 4. A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms
Dua diantaranya yaitu Perjalanan ke Negeri Lilliput (negeri orang berukuran mini) dan Negeri Brobdingnag (negeri raksasa) dihimpun dalam buku yang saya baca ini. Pada awal buku, dijelaskan mengenai latar belakang Lemuel Gulliver, pekerjaan dan bidang yang ia tekuni, serta bagaimana ia memulai perjalanannya. Dikisahkan bahwa Gulliver adalah seorang pria yang gemar melakukan perjalanan. Sisanya, adalah berbagai hal yang dialami Gulliver selama berada di Negeri Lilliput dan Negeri Brobdingnag, yang mana plotnya tidak akan banyak saya bocorkan disini, lebih seru membacanya sendiri! :)
Jonathan Swift menulis Gulliver’s Travels dengan mendetail dan terasa realistis. Dari POV Gulliver, kita seperti membaca buku harian sang tokoh, lengkap dengan tanggal-tanggal kejadian dan urutan peristiwa yang dialaminya. Swift juga menciptakan bahasa yang digunakan penduduk Lilliput maupun Brobdignag. Di negeri Lilliput, Gulliver dipanggil dengan sebutan Quinbus Flestrin yang berarti “Manusia Gunung Besar”. Walau pada awal kemunculannya Gulliver ditakuti rakyat Lilliput dan dianggap sebagai monster, lambat laun ia menjalin hubungan baik dengan Raja Lilliput dan beroleh kepercayaan dari Yang Mulia. Dengan sederetan syarat, termasuk bersedia membantu melawan musuh Lilliput yaitu Pulau Blefuscu, Gulliver dapat hidup di tengah-tengah rakyat Lilliput dan mendapatkan daging dan minuman sebanyak jatah 1.728 orang-orang Lilliput setiap harinya. Satu hal yang kocak adalah konflik berdarah selama bertahun-tahun antara Lilliput dan Blefuscu, yang ternyata didasari oleh persoalan remeh: masalah memecahkan telur! Dua kubu yang beroposisi adalah kubu yang memecahkan telur dari ujung yang lebih lebar (dikenal dengan kelompok Ujung-Lebar) dan kubu yang memecahkan telur dari ujung yang lebih lancip (dikenal dengan kelompok Ujung-Lancip). Menggelikan, bukan?
Pengalaman yang jauh berbeda dialami Gulliver ketika terdampar di Negeri Brobdingnag. Kali ini, Gulliver adalah manusia yang tak lebih besar daripada serangga diantara para raksasa yang menghuni Brobdingnag. Dengan ukuran sekecil itu, nyawa Gulliver terancam. Namun di tangan seorang gadis kecil anak petani yang merawat dan menjaganya dengan penuh kasih sayang, Gulliver dapat merasa aman. Gadis kecil yang dipanggil Glumdalclitch alias “perawat kecil” itu memberi nama Grildrig (yang artinya manekin) kepada Gulliver. Gulliver merasakan hari-hari yang melelahkan saat dipamerkan di kota, sampai suatu hari utusan dari istana datang dan membawa Gulliver beserta perawat kecilnya ke istana. Karena Gulliver terlalu kecil untuk memakai barang-barang yang ada di Brobdingnag, sebuah kotak kecil diciptakan sebagai “rumah” sekaligus alat untuk membawanya kemana-mana. Selama di Brobdingnag, Gulliver mengalami banyak hal termasuk kejatuhan embun yang berukuran hampir seribu delapan ratus kali ukuran embun Eropa, yang menyebabkan tubuhnya memar dan harus tinggal di tempat tidur selama sepuluh hari. Selama di Lilliput maupun Brobdingnag, Gulliver mempelajari bahasa, kebiasaan masyarakat setempat, sejarah, seni, dan juga sistem pendidikan yang berlaku di negara mereka. Apakah Gulliver bisa pulang kepada istri dan anak-anaknya setelah mengalami petualangan-petualangan tak terbayangkan di Lilliput dan Brobdingnag? Jawabannya adalah ya! Ia kemudian bepergian ke tempat-tempat aneh lain, yang sayangnya tidak ikut diterjemahkan dalam buku ini. Di balik empat perjalanan Gulliver, tersimpan satir tajam untuk pemerintahan Inggris dan Eropa pada masa itu. Terjemahan yang digarap Zuniriang Hendrato dalam buku ini tidak buruk, namun sayangnya editing dan proofreadingnya masih “longgar” dalam banyak bagian. Karena cerita Gulliver’s Travels sangat menarik dan mudah dibaca, maka empat bintang untuk buku ini.
“…aku dapat melihat bahwa mustahil seseorang dipertimbangkan secara serius bila ukuran tubuh mereka sangat berbeda. Aku sering memperhatikan hal ini juga terjadi di Inggris setelah kepulanganku. Bila seseorang berusaha untuk membuat dirinya sendiri penting, namun ia hanya berasal dari keluarga biasa dengan sedikit uang dan pendidikan, maka ia hanya akan dilihat sebagai orang tolol. Ia juga akan menjadi bahan tertawaan.”
This is a short review of the simplified version of Anna Karenina. Why the simplified version, you might ask? Well, I found it at a book fair the otheThis is a short review of the simplified version of Anna Karenina. Why the simplified version, you might ask? Well, I found it at a book fair the other day and I was just curious with the storyline of Anna Karenina, I thought that at least I should have read the simplified version before the recent adaptation is out next December. So I bought it and read it within 2 days only (it’s only 198 pages thick). And what I got was the tragic story of Anna, an attractive young woman living in the high society of 19th century Russia. Sick and tired of her cold and boring husband Karenin, Anna seek solace in the arms of a handsome young officer named Count Vronsky. As their affair was going on, Anna still was troubled by her love for her son and Karenin’s, Seriozha. Anna wanted Seriozha to live with her and Vronsky, but Karenin, still wasn’t divorcing Anna, wouldn’t let Seriozha go. In the meantime, Anna was secluded from society as a form of punishment for her act of adultery with Vronsky. But being a rather unusual heroine, Anna was determined to keep her place in society, even though her presence was unwanted and disdained.
Even though this was only a simplified version, there are a lot of moral values I can take from Anna Karenina. One, marriage without love is the source of trouble. Two, the characters of this novel were so human with their flaws. I was especially impressed in Anna’s determination to live her life in her own way, no matter how disgraced her life was, no matter what society said and think of her. The moment when Anna was dying and begging for forgiveness from Karenin drove me to tears and I wished that she loved her husband instead, so that any of the terrible things wouldn’t happen to her! But hey, there wouldn’t be the Anna Karenina we all know today if she did. Lastly, when you decided to spend your life with someone, love is not enough. You need to devote yourself to your partner and sacrifice your personal matters, so that one day if your partner is no longer pretty or nice, you will still be at his/her side and never leave no matter what happens. So, I gave three out of five stars for the simplified version of Anna Karenina. Will I read the unabridged version someday? Well, why not? I’m honestly tempted to do so.