Monday, 24 June 2013

Raleigh's Epitaph

Even such is time, which takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust,
Who in the dark and silent grave
When we have wandered all our ways
Shuts up the story of our days,
And from which earth, and grave, and dust
The Lord will raise me up, I trust.

Lines above are Sir Walter Raleigh's. Stories say that he wrote it the night before his execution. It was found in his Bible – a good place to write your last words. I have no idea what's wrong with me or what's so right with him that I feel very sorry for his death. I mean, I don't even know him or what kind of person he is. I only know that he was a soldier, a captain, a pirate (legal one), and a courtier. He's one of Elizabeth I's favourites, I heard.

The poem above is so beautiful. It starts rather sadly, for the writer knew that he must die. It's just the rule of nature. But the last two lines express his hope to raise again, to live again by God's Almighty power.

Apart from reading this poem, I also read his last speech right before his execution, and also some reports on his trial. He was a good, eloquent, persuasive speaker. I told you, I almost cried reading those.

Truly this makes me think what I would leave when I know it is the end. Perhaps I should start writing my own epitaph.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Importance of Being Earnest: Funny, but Absolutely not Important

I've just finished Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest, which is the first Wilde play I ever read. My experience with Wilde has only been his super-sarcastic-but-tragic short stories, which I hate and love at the same time. So this feels new.

The plot involves a guy named Jack who leads a double life. In London, he is known as Ernest Worthing, while in the country he is John 'Jack' Worthing who has a brother named Ernest. His friend, Algernon, also leads a double life, which Jack calls “Bunburying,” because he makes up an invalid person named Bunbury to get away from things. Jack is in love with Algy's cousin, Gwendolen, and she is too, in love with him – or to put it more plainly, his name. Algy, curious to know his friend's life in the country, goes there as Ernest – Jack's brother. There he meets Cecily, a young girl under Jack's guardianship. He likes her, and she likes him as well – as Ernest. To make things more complicated, Gwen goes there as well to meet his fiance, Ernest. The rest is for you to read.

The play is witty and funny, but if you're looking for serious stuff or moral lesson, the book is not to be recommended. It mostly contains Wilde's smart sarcastic remarks on life and society. The plot itself is not so different from normal Shakespearean comedy, and therefore, enjoyable. Better still, it contains nothing inappropriate. It's perfectly funny, and not at all serious.

Having praised it so much, I still don't understand why I don't give it a good score on Goodreads. I only give 3 stars for it. Maybe it's because the language is so so simple and straightforward, not at all romantic or beautiful. Even though I don't really like it, it's still a worthy book to read. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Weekend Quote #43

And is there care in heauen? and is there loue
In heauenly spirits to these creatures bace,
That may compassion of their euils moue?
There is: else much more wretched were the cace
Of men, then beasts....
And all for loue, and nothing for reward:
O why should heauenly God to man haue such regard?

Again this week's quote is from Spenser's Faerie Queene. No, I haven't finished it. It turns out that the book is much more difficult than what I thought before (and sometimes boring) because the spelling and grammar is so different from the English I usually know. Anyway...

The quote above reminds me of God's compassion towards his creatures. The last line truly resembles Psalm 8, that Milton once did into verse saying, “What is a man that you remember yet?”

That's my quote for this week. Care to share yours?

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Classic Club June Meme: Opening Line

I've been missing several months of this meme, due to the lack of time and idea. But strangely (or not), an idea just crossed my mind the moment I read the theme for this month.

Sorry, it's not PnP. I know the novel has been very popular, and its first line most conspicuous that it's very hard to miss. I've been re-reading some parts of it lately and watched the film as well, but..

It's Sherlock Holmes. The first short-story collection entitled The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes begins with "Scandal in Bohemia". The story itself begins with this line:

"To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman."

It's unforgettable because I read it 10 years ago, in my school library, imagining that Sherlock's heart is impenetrable - if he has a heart. Even with "the woman", Irene Adler, it is still debatable whether it is Sherlock's heart, or mind, or pride that puts her so high in his esteem.

There. That's my favourite opening sentence, or at least the one I remember the most.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

LRP June Meme: What Makes It So Wilde?

This month we're going to read this guy - Oscar Wilde. He has excellent reputation as a funny but sarcastic person, and a great writer too. No doubt such qualities don't escape our observation. So for this month's meme, we will dissect Wilde's play and try to find interesting characteristic of his hand. What makes it so Wilde?

As usual, a few questions to help. Please remember that you are not expected to answer these questions, these are just guidelines anyway. You are free to write anything you find relevant.

  • How is Wilde different from other playwright you've known?
  • What makes Wilde so important or interesting?
  • If you have read his novels/short stories, how are they compared to the plays?
Well, I'll be waiting for your posts, and meanwhile, enjoy the Wilde play for yourself~

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Othello: “One that loved not wisely but too well”

I know it's 2 days late for this review, and this month we'll have Wilde instead for LRP Event. But I've finished tha book and I have another to read for the next Tragedy Month, so I think it's better to do this now than later.

I love Othello. He's an amazing man, full with high spirits and lots of sufferings. I also love Desdemona. She's a fine, sweet lady, who, behind her calm and solemn manner hides courageous heart. I hate Iago. That's it.

Othello is one of the most well-known of Will Shakespeare's plays. It tells a story about Othello, a Moor who served as a military general in Venice. He married a noble and virtuous girl, Desdemona, much against her father's will. Nevertheless, Desdemona loved him so much and was very eager to marry him.

Then there was Iago, a subordinate of Othello, who, out of envy towards Cassio, and anger towards Othello, slandered Desdemona by telling Othello that she had an affair with Cassio, another Othello's subordinate – leading to disaster. Without him, the play would end like a fairytale.

I must confess that I read this play quite hastily in the middle, not because I didn't have much time, but rather because I couldn't stand the conflict. For me, Iago's slander is most wicked and unfair. I pity Othello, for as Lear, he was 'more sinned against than sinning' kind of hero.

Apart from all these personal ramblings, I need to underline also how Othello reflects people's view on non-Europeans in Shakespeare's era. Desdemona's father, for example, loathed to marry her to Othello, just because he was a Moor. Few, though, would share the same view as the Duke, who was so kind to Othello, treated him with respect and appreciation. Maybe that's why, in this world of prejudice and injustice, the play stays popular despite its age.