Thursday, 28 February 2013

Robinson Crusoe Read-along: Master Post

It's not easy for me, and I fee very much inadequate to hold a read-along of a certain book which I have never read before. Let me tell you in advance that I know nothing whatsoever and have never watched any adaptation of this novel. Therefore I apologise for my ignorance, should it prove disturbing for those who join this read-along for a re-read.

We are going to read the novel during March, a rather long month with five weekends. It's fortunate, because some of us have so plenty to read during March. Another reason, the Classic Spin also needs to be done on March. But nothing can stop us now, haha.

So at the end of the month, each of us is expected to make a review, short or long, of the book. But because I'm not good at making review, I'd like to put some questions here to make it easier for me. You may or may not use them in your review, or you can just answer the one(s) you like.

  1. What do you think about the character?
  2. What is your favourite part of the book?
  3. How can you relate yourself with the book?
  4. What do you think of the book itself (the words, the author, or anything)?

Those are all I can think about. But feel free to add your own question and answer. Oh, and one more thing: don't forget to put the link of your review post below.

Have a nice reading.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Richard III: Fiction vs. Reality

So, to be able to say something about Richard III, that is, to be able to distinguish the real Richard III with Shakespeare's interpretation of the character, I've done a little research upon the matter. I believe that Shakepeare, although so great in his command of words, was not a historian. Therefore, his historical plays should not be entirely trusted as a guideline in any historical research.

Actually, prior to reading Richard III, some years ago, I read a few chapters of a book by Glenn Pierce, entitled King's Ransom in a library sort-of, but the book was gone when I came back some time later to continue my reading. In that book, Richard is described as a more modest and kind human being rather than a wicked ambitious demon. Thus these few last days I tried to find what other people say about Richard III.

Firstly, his looks. While Shakespeare described him as a hunchback, and practically a monster in appearance, such thing is not likely the case. In Richard's time, people who went to war needed to wear heavy armours and weapons. It is very unlikely that a man with hunchback could actually go to war, on a horse, and kill his opponents dexterously. The newly found remains believed to be the king shows that Richard III was not a hunchback, although he had scoliosis. It's in harmony with Rous and More's report that one of the king's shoulder is higher than the other. [1][2]

The newly-found Richard III remains

Now, about the murders that Richard III committed in Shakespeare's story. Scholars are still debating whether Richard really committed all of those murders. It's actually interesting to read what the Richard III Society has to say about it.[3] It's not so much to conclude that Shakespeare's description of the king's homicidal character is too much dramatisation with less historical accuracy.

On the contrary, many people in Richard's era described him as a brave soldier, a good member of the family and also a good king. Instead of being a tyrant, he encouraged justice in all his region.[4][5]

Why, then, did Shakespeare write such a play, and how could such a play labelled as 'historical'?

Shakespeare complied with the general belief of his era that deformity in flesh reflects the deformity in moral qualities as well. Moreover, Shakespeare lived under the reign of a Tudor sovereign, thus it would be easier for him to glorify the present dynasty rather than to give balanced view of the former one.

Another reason. There are writings available in Shakespeare's era which might be biased and not credible. Among those are writings by Polydore Vergil and Sir Thomas More. Shakespeare was also believed to have taken his history from the Chronicles, which quality is varied when it comes to accuracy. [1]

Whether Richard to some extent had really been a bad tyrant, or whether he had been most unjustly accused of committing terrible things he had never done, most of us would agree that Shakespeare's play Richard III remains a masterpiece – even those supporting Richard wouldn't deny that. But this play reminds us all that we have to carefully choose between fact and fiction and make sure of everything before believing it entirely.

That's all I think. I am no expert in this matter, I'm sorry, but it has been fun to dig deeper into history this time. I encourage you all to read these links below, in order to see Richard III from another point of view.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Richard III: Killing, Killing and Little Else

Don't be angry with me, Shakespeare lovers. (Do we have a word for Shakespeare's fans, you know, like Sherlockians for Sherlock Holmes?) This is the first Shakespearian History that I truly read from enter to exeunt. But I cannot say that it's as entertaining as As You Like It (and I doubt it's supposed to), or as intriguing as Hamlet, or even its kin, Julius Caesar.

Richard III focuses on the events leading to Richard III's enthronement, complete with the killing of Clarence, the king, and later on, the two princes. Then the story goes to the military campaign of Richmond which later succeeded the crown.

In the play, Richard is depicted as cruel, sly, ugly, and wicked. He has been very detestable even since the start of the play. The more annoying he is, the more I don't believe the story. I mean, nobody could be that cruel. I wonder if the play could be categorized as “historical fiction” instead of “historical play.” I think I need to do further research before I determine which story I should trust and which I should distrust.

Still, the play is a good thing. Well, of course it is, Shakespeare wrote it. (Perhaps I am a little bit biased when it comes to the Bard.) My favourite scene, is perhaps, the ghosts coming to Richard and Richmond's tent, threatening and cursing the one and blessing the other. Similar scene appears in Julius Caesar, but the ghost comes to Brutus only. In this play, however, the ghosts come to both parties and make the contrast between Richard and Richmond even stronger.

That's all I think. I can't wait to do some little research and post it as a part of the #LRP event. You shall hear more Richard from me. ;)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Bad Translation: Hamlet Act I Scene II (beberapa adegan)

(All written in Bahasa)

Sementara saya seharusnya mengerjakan sinopsis Hamlet untuk tugas kuliah psikologi (PR idaman banget ga sih?), saya malah bingung sendiri mau menulis apa, dna akhirnya membuat Bad Translation lagi.

Korban saya kali ini tentu saja Hamlet, salah satu favorit pribadi. Semua adegan di bawah diambil dari Act I Scene II. Tentu saja, saya belum sempat menerjemahkan seluruhnya. Salah satu alasannya adalah “susah” dan alasan lain “malas”. Jadi untuk sementara, silakan dinikmati.

Sekarang, ponakanku Hamlet, dan anakku..
Saudara dekat, tapi beda jauh
Kenapa wajahmu mendung banget?
Nggak Tuan, saya malah kesilauan.
Udah Hamlet jangan sedih terus gitu dong. Jangan mikirin ayahmu terus. 'Kan kamu tau semua yang hidup harus mati. Itu hal biasa.
Ya, Ma, itu biasa.
Terus kenapa kelihatannnya kamu sedih banget?
Kelihatannya?! Nggak, aku emang sedih banget. Nggak ada istilah 'kelihatannya'. Baju hitam, air mata, keluhan, wajah sedih, itu yang 'kelihatannya'. Orang bisa aja pura-pura, 'kelihatannya' sedih. Tapi semua yang 'kelihatan' itu bukan apa-apa, dibanding apa yang aku rasain di dalam sini.

Jadi ada urusan apa kalian ke Elsinore?
Tuan, saya datang untuk lihat pemakaman ayahmu.
Jangan ngejek aku, Horatio. Aku pikir kamu dateng buat pernikahan ibuku.
Emang cepat sekali pernikahannya, sih, Tuan.
Cepet banget, banget, Horatio. Daging sisa jamuan pemakaman bisa dipake buat jamuan pernikahan.
Mudah-mudahan mood nulis dan nerjemahinnya cepat datang supaya saya bisa melanjutkan adegan-adegan selanjutnya. And again, sorry Shakespeare.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Weekend Quote #33

“Despair and hope make thee ridiculous
The one doth flatter thee in thoughts unlikely,
In likely thoughts the other kills thee quickly”

Another quote this weekend, from dear grandpa William. I'm still in love with his Venus and Adonis, describing the goddess of love herself loving a man, a mortal man to the point of madness. She was looking for Adonis in the wood, afraid that he was dead already, when she ehard a voice of a hunter. Thinking that it might be Adonis, she uttered the words in our quote today.

As human beings, we experience despair and hope in our daily lives. We sometimes hope too high, thinking that there's hope still when it is very unlikely. At other times, we despair when the worst has not and maybe will not happen anyway. Sometimes after all is over, we look back and realise how ridiculous we are.

That's what I'd like to share with all of you this week. Have a nice weekend and don't forget to share anything if you want to.

A Modern March: A Classic Club Event

Allie from A Literary Odyssey is hosting the event in March. The idea is reading books written by the Modernist.

Some of the big writers of the Modernist period were:
    William Faulkner
    Virginia Woolf
    Ezra Pound
    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    Ernest Hemingway
    Samuel Beckett
    Gertrude Stein
    e e cummings
    James Joyce
There are more, of course, but those are the heavy hitters of the period and those most closely associated with the movement.

Fortunately, I have This Side of Paradise by Fitzgerald that I need to read as a part of the Classic Club Spin reading event. Therefore by signing up for this event I shall have double reason to finish the book. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Group Check-In #2: February 2013

Check-ins sometimes feel like a control management system of your reading progress. That's a good thing in a way, but feels like an inspection in other way. For a procrastinator like me, it's definitely a good thing to check my progress every now and then, and here it is:

I've read 16 (or 17) books from my list, most of them are parts of reading challenges. I need challenges for the same reason (apart from the thrill, of course): to get deadlines. Else I would read so slowly.

I keep changing and adding to my original list. It was first 50 books – no more, no less. But now, it increases into 55, and counting still. Reading Challenges and Reading Events make my list longer and longer, but I don't mind at all.

Right now I'm getting myself through Richard III by William Shakespeare while busying myself slowly with Adventures of Ellery Queen which seems to have a snail's progress. I also am trying my best to get through Spencer's Faerie Queene, with it's long long rhyming narrative and unusual spelling. Funny how easy it is with Shakespeare and how hard it is with Spencer.

One more thing, I get This Side of Paradise for my Classics' Spin. So, I'm reading it as well, trying to get it crossed from my list by March. I want to read Robinson Crusoe by then and I don't want to be distracted. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Classics' Clubs Spin Lucky Draw #1

14 means....This Side of Paradise by Fitzgerald. This is my first time reading Fitzgerald and I'm so nervous. Reading someone's book for the first time feels like meeting someone new and start to talk privately with him. Sounds quite scary, especially when he talks about strange things from another era, where I have never lived and rarely read about.

Some people suggest that it's a good change, though, after a bunch of Shakespeare and Spencer, also Hugo and Dumas last year, which I greatly enjoyed. This year, just after finishing LeBlanc's Eight Strokes of the Clock, I apparently will read another quite out-of-my-circle book. Can't wait to see what it has for me.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Eight Strokes of the Clock: Eight Adventures and a Woman

This is my first time reading Lupin. I tried the first novel, but I didn't finish it, as long as I remember, or if I did, it didn't impress me so much. But I give Lupin another chance. In fact, I plan to read several of his adventures this year.

Unfortunately, I don't find the stories as very exciting. Some of them are good, but I don't find them thrilling enough. As I turned the pages, most of the time I only wanted the story to finish quickly, instead of enjoying every word of it.

Nevertheless, Eight Strokes of the Clock is by no means bad. Out of ten short stories related in the book, I find at least two of them very interesting. They are the story about the Lady with the Hatchet and Footprints in the Snow. The rest are so-so, and the final story I find too unrealistic and very dull. But maybe it's just me.

The main plot is about Prince Renine, another alias of Arsene Lupin, having 8 adventures and solving 8 mysteries with his lady friend, Hortense. She is fond of mystery, and of Renine, of course, and the more she becomes involved in his adventures, the more she loves them. Renine, also, grows fondness towards this lady, and as the term of their arrangement is coming to an end, he tries once more to get her attention, and to close their adventure with a finale - and possible sequel.

Even though I deeply love detective stories, I like them only as long as they are reasonable. If they choose to be unrealistic, they have to be good in other ways. Therefore the stories featuring nonsense instructions or bodies being chopped to pieces just for the murderer's fun (except when he is crazy) or super-smart locked rooms cases with too much trouble on the murderer's part don't entertain me. Sorry.

I'm not saying that those kind of stories exist in the book. I'm just stating that I don't like them. Hopefully the detective stories I plan to read this year won't feature too much of such stories.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Classic Club Spin: Let's Have Some Fun

Here's my choices for the coming Classic Club Spin. I make it in a hurry, considering this is Saturday. I'm always busier on weekends, you know, procrastinators' problem.

5 I don't really feel like reading:

Conrad - Secret Agent
Leblanc - The Hollow Needle
Queen – The Chinese Orange Mystery
Spencer - Faerie Queen
Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

5 I really want to read:

James - Portrait of A Lady
Dickens - Tale of Two Cities
Sabatini - Scaramouche
Voltaire - Candide
Doyle - The White Company

5 I'm just neutral about

Pushkin - Eugine Onegin
Shakespeare – Lucrece
Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald - This Side of Paradise
Wilde - Importance of Being Earnest

5 re-reads

Dickens - Christmas Carol
Dumas Jr. - Camille
Sabatini - Captain Blood
Verne - 20000 Under the Sea
Shakespeare - Sonnets

Problem, of course, I don't want the list to be so orderly. So, let's shuffle it a bit.

  1. Eugine Onegin
  2. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  3. Faerie Queen
  4. The Chinese Orange Mystery
  5. Secret Agent
  6. Captain Blood
  7. Tale of Two Cities
  8. Scaramouche
  9. Lucrece
  10. The Great Gatsby
  11. 20000 Under the Sea
  12. Importance of Being Earnest
  13. Portrait of A Lady
  14. This Side of Paradise
  15. Christmas Carol
  16. Camille
  17. The Hollow Needle
  18. Shakespeare's Sonnets
  19. Candide
  20. The White Company
Let's have fun!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Weekend Quote #32

’Call it not, love, for Love to heaven is fled,
Since sweating Lust on earth usurp’d his name;
Under whose simple semblance he hath fed
Upon fresh beauty, blotting it with blame;
Which the hot tyrant stains and soon bereaves,
As caterpillars do the tender leaves. 
’Love comforteth like sunshine after rain,
But Lusts effect is tempest after sun;
Love’s gentle spring doth always fresh remain,
Lust’s winter comes ere summer half be done.
Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies;
Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies.

Taken from Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, those words above are the lines spoken by Adonis, a young boy who calls himself “green” and “too young” for love. But Venus clearly doesn't agree with him on that matter. She has great love for him – or, as Adonis says, Lust.

It's actually interesting to read how Adonis defines the difference between love and lust. He first says that people usually mistake 'lust' for 'love', as if lust “usurp'd his [Love's] name.” But in later lines he tells Venus some differences between love and lust. I personally love the last line: “Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies.”

Please share your quote with us for the weekend. Have a nice weekend.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Venus and Adonis: The Goddess of Love Not Loved

If I must describe the poem in three words, I will say, “So very beautiful.” It's actually really romantic and smart. Venus and Adonis is one of Shakespeare's narrative poems, along with Lucrece, which I hope to read pretty soon.

The plot is basely taken from an old Greek myth, about a young mortal man called Adonis, who drives Venus to intense dotage. She loves the boy very much, but unfortunately, the feeling is not mutual. Adonis thinks himself too young for love, and he doesn't even understand either the word or the feeling, leaving the goddess of love in great despair.

The story opens with Venus snatching Adonis away from his horse, then pins him down to earth, and showers him with kisses – against his will. She woos him, flatters him with words of love, while imprisons him with her arms so that he may not get away. Adonis is not moved. She then tells him that even Mars yields to her. The boy is still not interested.

And now Adonis with a lazy spright,
And with a heavy, dark, disliking eye,
His louring brows o’erwhelming his fair sight,
Like misty vapours when they blot the sky,
Souring his cheeks, cries, ’Fie! no more of love:
The sun doth burn my face; I must remove.’

He releases himself from Venus and walks towards his horse, which then runs away with his lover. Venus uses the chance to show him that love is something really strong that cannot and should not be resisted. The unlucky boy clearly doesn't agree. The goddess then faints, or pretends to faint, and Adonis tries his best to wake her up. There he kisses the goddess, giving her exactly what she wants of him. The goddess awakes and again kisses him. Hmm, so many kisses, too many perhaps, in this one poem.

Anyway, it doesn't mean that Adonis yields. He again states that he's going home and that he intends to go hunting with his friend the next day. Venus tries to stop him, knowing that he will be dead if he goes. But Adonis is adamant. He even tells Venus that all her sweet words are product of Lust instead of Love and the more she persuades the more he hates her.

’Call it not, love, for Love to heaven is fled,
Since sweating Lust on earth usurp’d his name;

The prophecy comes true. The next day, Venus tries to find Adonis and finds him dead, killed by a boar. She then prophesies the suffering that will come upon lovers, which is very, very sad, but beautiful at the same time.

’It shall suspect where is no cause of fear;
It shall not fear where it should most mistrust;
It shall be merciful, and too severe,
And most deceiving when it seems most just;
Perverse it shall be, where it shows most toward,
Put fear to velour, courage to the coward.
’It shall be cause of war and dire events,
And set dissension twixt the son and sire;
Subject and servile to all discontents,
As dry combustious matter is to fire:
Sith in his prime Death doth my love destroy,
They that love best their love shall not enjoy.

As I said before, the poem is all about love. And, seeing that the heroine is the Goddess of Love herself, you would expect a lot of Lustful Love in it. I may as well say that this poem is a beautiful description of desire and lust, done by the Bard himself – William Shakespeare. Ooh, I will never get tired of his work.  

Friday, 8 February 2013

Weekend Quote #31

“And later times things more vnknowne shall show.
Why then should witlesse man so much misweene
That nothing is, but that which he hath seene?
What if within the Moones faire shining spheare?
What if in euery other starre vnseene
Of other worldes he happily should heare?”

From Spencer's Faerie Queene. Another beautiful quote to share with people on weekends. Spencer is talking about Fairy Land, a magical, wondrous land with many amazing things inside it. Just a whole new, unknown world. And because it is wonderful, he knows that it must be hard for people to believe that such world exists. Honestly, the world is a fiction, built to satisfy Spencer's hope of England's Golden Age under the Queen – or so I heard.

Nevertheless, it's interesting to see how he describes the matter. “And later times things more vnknowne shall show.” We have seen so many new and amazing things in our time. Try talking to Shakespeare that his play is on TV, he would think witchcraft. Or try telling Titanic passengers that they should have used aeroplane instead of ship, well, I think they wouldn't even consider it. But we know better. And there is more to come. People talk about robots, clones, satellites, and many more. Who knows what the future will bring.

“Why then should witlesse man so much misweene/That nothing is, but that which he hath seene?” We have no reason to not believe in something just because we have never seen it happened in our lives. Many things happened in the past, more will happen in the future.

“What if within the Moones faire shining spheare?/What if in euery other starre vnseene/Of other worldes he happily should heare?” Somebody should tell Spencer how far human being has gone through the universe. Someone must show him the photographs of galaxies, the moon, even the earth. The universe is such a beautiful thing, isn't it. I'm never bored with pictures of the galaxies and constellations, with all their sparks and colours.

No, I'm not promoting Doctor Who.

That's the quote I want to share this week, reminding us all that there are still so many things we don't know yet, and we must never think that we know everything, because we don't. So, want to share yours?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

LRP February Meme: Fiction vs. Reality

“'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,
When not to be, receives reproach of being,
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed,
Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing.”
- Sonnet 121, William Shakespeare

Alright, time for February meme of the #LRP event. Sorry, I'm a bit late. The fact is I've been quite busy for a time, with my duties and “do”-ties. So, where are we?

This month's theme for the reading is Shakespeare's History, right? Not my favourites, because, I just don't really understand the Richards and Henries. Does Julius Caesar count? I'm afraid not. But there's an amazing thing involved in Shakespearian history plays: Fiction.

Admit it. Shakespeare was no historian. He would not be interested in recording the history and having it played over and over and over again on stage. So, there must be some differences between the real history and Shakespeare's historical fiction.

So here's the big question of the month: “What is the most crucial difference between the fiction and the reality in Shakespeare that you read this month?”

It could be anything. People's personality, series of events, locations, political ideas, anything that you think just different. Perhaps you think Shakespeare judged Richard III too harshly, or gave baby Elizabeth too much praise. Feel free to write of those.

Fine reading and happy month for you all. Don't forget to add your link before the end of the month.  

Monday, 4 February 2013

French February: A Classic Club Event

I know I might be a little late, but I want you to know that I'm joining. I've been very fond of French literatures, I don't even know why. I read more French thick books than English ones, I suppose, and I'm talking about the author, not the language. Sorry, I don't speak French. Not yet.

This is my plan for the month. I don't know whether I will be able to finish 4 French books, so I will try with 2 first. Both may or may not be Maurice LeBlanc, but I have so much of him to tackle down this year, so it'd be a good idea. Let's see.

Have a nice month..

Friday, 1 February 2013

Weekend Quote #30

For he, that once hath missed the right way,
The further he doth goe, the further he doth stray.

Again, from Spencer's Faerie Queene, an interesting quote. It was spoken by Despair to Redcrosse to persuade him to kill himself. Well, it worked.

I can't help imagine somebody who tries to walk a straight path but then he strayed a little, making a small angle between the straight line and his actual path. Then the words above apply so well. The more he walks the further he strays from the path he is supposed to take.

Despair uses that illustration to point out that the more we live, the more we make mistakes. Some of those mistakes can be deadly or terrible. So, why take the trouble of living?

But Despair forgets one thing. Although we make mistakes, we can always readjust out way to again use the straight path we want to tread. In fact, we need to try to do our best in life. We fail at times, but it doesn't mean we can't do anything to mend our way.

That's from me. Want to share yours?