Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

GE PEL

Mind you—this will be a long review.

Young Pip was a poor orphan, to begin with. He lived in the marsh country with his old sister and her husband, Joe Gargery the blacksmith. One Christmas day, by the tombstone of his father and mother and brothers on the churchyard, he met an escaped convict from a prison-ship. This convict with a forceful threat ordered Pip to get him a file and wittles and some food. Pip was afraid to steal some food from his cruel old sister, but the more he was afraid of the threat of the rough fugitive, and so he granted his wishes. The convict was then captured by the soldiers. Then news came from Uncle Pumblechook that Miss Havisham of Satis House—she was described as an immensely rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house and led a life of seclusion—wanted a boy to go and play at her house. Shortly, Pip was sent to Satis House.

A young, very beautiful girl not very far of age from Pip received him with a scornful air. Pip saw Miss Havisham for the first time in her dressing room, as the strangest lady Pip has ever seen or shall ever see. Miss Havisham looked like a rotten bride, in a withered bridal dress and a long veil like a shroud. She ordered Pip to play cards with Estella, the scornful beautiful girl, and they played. Pip then paid a regular visit to Satis House until at some point Miss Havisham bestowed him with a kindness; she funded Pip’s apprenticeship to Joe. At first it really was Pip’s dream, to be a good blacksmith like Joe, a person he admired with all his heart. But his meeting with Estella changed everything. Pip didn’t want to be a blacksmith anymore; he didn’t want Estella to think that he is common anymore.

"Play!" Pip and Estella play cards. Image source

“Play!” Pip and Estella play cards. Image source

When Pip was older, a lawyer named Mr. Jaggers came to Joe’s house to announce that Pip has a benefactor who wishes Pip to be “immediately removed from his present sphere of life and from this place, and be brought up as a gentleman, in a word, as a young fellow of great expectations.” Before Pip could start living a life of great expectations, there are two requirements he must agreed on. First, that he will always bear the name Pip, and the second, the identity of his benefactor would remain a secret, until the person him or herself chooses to reveal it. Pip must not ask or try to find out who his benefactor was. Pip was sure that his secret benefactor was Miss Havisham, and his bringing up to be a gentleman was intended to match him with Estella. This would lead us to the second stage of Pip’s great expectations, where he would live in London, being brought up to be a gentleman, befriend a cheerful young man Herbert Pocket and a clerk with dual sentiments, Mr. Wemmick, meet the ever more elegant and beautiful Estella on many occasions, and at length fell into debts.

On the second stage the story gets funnier and not as grimly told as in the first stage. Pip would also learn the history of Miss Havisham. He would desperately fall in love with Estella, and would meet a rival of pursuing Estella in form of a Bentley Drummle, an ill-tempered fellow. Pip’s perseverance in loving Estella amazed me; she doesn’t deserve it, frankly saying, as she was heartless, and she was set to wreak Miss Havisham’s revenge on men. Pip came to acknowledge what Estella really was, and still he loved her.

Was this the effect of some sort of spell Miss Havisham uttered to him? “Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces—and as it gets older and stonger, it will tear deeper—love her, love her, love her!” I gathered a few quotes that could explain Pip’s love for Estella here, and I came to a conclusion that it was Pip’s decision to love Estella, no matter how cruel and heartless she was.

Moving onto the third and last stage of Pip’s great expectations, Pip would learn the true identity of his benefactor, and it was a dangerous truth. It is a stage when Pip’s great expectations turned into great disappointment, great struggle and great misery. There would come a time when Pip regretted meeting his convict and Miss Havisham, and there would be times when Pip makes mistakes. Through the full three stages we will see Pip’s growth, and how he copes with all things happened in his life.

***

From the very first time of my acquaintance to the story of Great Expectations, I have always thought it is some kind of a Cinderella story, with a rather unusual fairy godmother. I have watched and written a review of the 2011 BBC miniseries here (in Indonesian language). Well, this is the very first Dickens novel I have read in unabridged version and original language. Written as an autobiography of Pip, this work is a bildungsroman as well as a work of mystery, gothic fiction and social criticism in Victorian England. Dickens’s writing is amazing as usual, although I had a hard time understanding some dialogues of the characters, mostly parts of Joe and Magwitch. I think that you will need extra patience to read Dickens, as his works are mostly slowly narrated and could strike you to boredom if you cannot bear it. And still as usual, in Great Expectations Dickens made a wonderful story consists of colorful characters. From Pip we could learn perseverance, undying love, and the willingness to forgive, from Herbert optimism and cheerfulness, from Joe kindness and fatherly love, from Mr. Jaggers professionalism, from Miss Havisham the choice she made to avenge her ghastly fate. Can I say that human nature from its best to its worst can be found in Dickens’s works? If it’s true, then it will be my reason to love this book, along with its extraordinary story.

[A Little Thought About the Ending – Spoiler Alert!]

 

Not that I hate it, but it’s still hanging. I wouldn’t call it perfect like some Dickensians would. The re-marriage of Estella was mentioned, but with no further explanation. Has she been happy? Surely after eleven years, Estella has been through many things that could have shaped her into a more “humanly” figure. She said it herself on the final words of the novel (“I have been bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape.”) Could it be that there is an invisible happy ending for Pip and Estella? Call me mainstream for wanting happy endings, but I believe in second chances, and I believe even an Estella deserves a second chance. Or maybe it is my greatest desire to see a happy ending for Pip after all the trials and sufferings he has been through.

23rd review for The Classics Club Project | 3rd review for Books in English Reading Challenge 2013 | 1st review for Read Big! A Hefty Challenge for a Knight Reader

Book details:

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
592 pages, published April 2012 by Penguin Classics, a Penguin English Library edition (first published 1860)
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

[Conclusion in English at the bottom of the post]

Sang heroine dalam kisah ini adalah Catherine Morland, seorang gadis tujuh belas tahun yang naif dan tidak berpengalaman, serta hobi membaca terutama novel-novel gothic. Ia belum pernah mencicipi dunia di luar kampung halamannya di Fullerton. Sampai suatu ketika Mr. dan Mrs. Allen, teman dekat keluarga Morland; mengundang Catherine untuk menghabiskan waktu beberapa bulan bersama mereka di Bath, suatu kota peristirahatan bagi sebagian warga Inggris kalangan atas. Di Bath, Catherine berkenalan dengan beberapa orang, antara lain Isabella dan John Thorpe, anak-anak dari Mrs. Thorpe yang adalah kawan sekolah Mrs. Allen. Ia juga berkenalan dengan seorang pemuda karismatik bernama Henry Tilney, dan nantinya dengan Eleanor Tilney, adik dari Henry. Setelah menghabiskan beberapa bulan di Bath, Catherine diundang ke kediaman keluarga Tilney, yaitu Northanger Abbey yang dulunya adalah biara. Di biara yang besar dengan banyak ruangan misterius inilah pikiran Catherine bergolak dalam imajinasi yang mencekam, sebagaimana novel-novel gothic yang begitu dicintainya.

Kisah Northanger Abbey terbagi menjadi 2 tema utama, yaitu:

1. Pertumbuhan menuju kedewasaan yang dialami karakter utama, yaitu Catherine. Inilah mengapa Northanger Abbey dikategorikan dalam genre bildungsroman (a story about coming-of-age). Setelah berinteraksi dengan beberapa karakter di dalam buku, watak Catherine yang aslinya naif dan polos mulai berkembang. Perubahan dalam watak Catherine terutama disebabkan oleh interaksinya dengan kakak-beradik Thorpe, yang pada awalnya menempatkan diri sebagai kawan sejati Catherine, namun sebenarnya mereka tidak tulus dan manipulatif.

Catherine, dalam perjalanannya menuju kedewasaan, pelan-pelan mulai mengasah kemampuan membaca karakter orang lain, dan bukan hanya membaca buku.

2. Kegemaran membaca yang mempengaruhi pola pikir dan perilaku seseorang. Dalam kasus ini adalah Catherine yang hobi membaca novel-novel gothic. Peristiwa-peristiwa yang dibacanya di dalam novel-novel tersebut membekas begitu rupa di dalam pikirannya dan menghasilkan imajinasi yang overaktif. Batasan antara fantasi dan kenyataan menjadi kabur, dan akibatnya hubungannya dengan orang lain (dalam hal ini Henry Tilney yang dicintai Catherine) jadi rusak. Northanger Abbey merupakan gothic parody, yaitu parodi dari novel-novel gothic yang sedang booming pada masa Austen hidup. Secara spesifik Austen menyebut The Mysteries of Udolpho karya Ann Radcliffe, yang menjadi bacaan Catherine sepanjang buku ini dan yang membuat imajinasi Catherine melambung tinggi. Mungkin rumus yang ada di pikirannya adalah: an old building = history and mysteries to be unveiled = a hidden villain. Secara keseluruhan, adegan-adegan mencekam khas novel gothic hanya ada sedikit di dalam buku.

Tema-tema lain yang hendak disorot Austen antara lain norma-norma sosial pada masa itu, posisi seorang wanita di masyarakat, dan materialitas yang begitu mencolok, apalagi kalau menyangkut pernikahan.

Simak beberapa petikan dari buku sebagai berikut:

[Kritik Austen mengenai kaum perempuan pada masanya, yang cenderung fokus pada hal yang sia-sia, misalnya penampilan]

“It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire; how little it is biased by the texture of their muslin, and how unsusceptible of peculiar tenderness towards the spotted, the sprigged, the mull, or the jackonet. Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter.”

[Menyangkut keberadaan novel yang cenderung diremehkan, terutama oleh kalangan kelas atas. Masyarakat Inggris abad 18 cenderung mengganggap novel sebagai sarana hiburan semata dan bukannya sebuah karya seni yang serius]

“And what are you reading, Miss—?” “Oh! it is only a novel!” replies the young lady… in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.”

 Hal ini dijawab oleh Austen dengan dialog antara Catherine-Henry sebagai berikut:

“But you never read novels, I dare say?”

“Why not?”

“Because they are not clever enough for you—gentlemen read better books.”

“The person, be it a gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days—my hair standing on end the whole time.”

Perkembangan hubungan Catherine-Henry diceritakan dengan menarik. Karakter Catherine dipertemukan dengan Henry yang jauh lebih dewasa, cerdas, simpatik, dan boleh dibilang sabar dan instruktif pada Catherine yang masih kekanak-kanakan. Dialog mereka seringkali membuat tertawa, atau sedikitnya gemes. 🙂

“…it is a nice book, and why should not I call it so?”

“Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement—people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is compromised in that one word.”

***

It was no effect to Catherine to believe that Henry Tilney could never be wrong. His manner might sometimes surprise, but his meaning must always be just; and what she did not understand, she was almost as ready to admire, as what she did.

Wah, saya rasanya paham mengapa Catherine jatuh cinta kepada Henry. 😀

Kesimpulan yang saya ambil setelah membaca buku yang ditulis Austen pada awal karirnya (ditulis sekitar tahun 1798–1799, dan diterbitkan secara anumerta di tahun 1817), dan notabene merupakan novel Austen yang “dipandang sebelah mata” oleh kebanyakan orang:

Fokus dalam buku ini tidak jelas. Begitu banyak unsur dan tema yang dikemukakan Austen sehingga satu novel tidak menyampaikan satu tema yang utuh, namun beberapa tema. Mungkin “ketidakfokusan” ini bisa dimaklumi karena novel ini merupakan salah satu karya Austen yang pertama. Namun, membaca buku ini  tetap menyenangkan, karena banyak adegan yang lucu, ditambah beberapa adegan yang menegangkan; serta pembaca juga beroleh banyak wawasan mengenai praktik sosial yang terjadi pada masa tersebut. Saya juga sangat menyukai adaptasi Northanger Abbey oleh PBS Masterpiece versi tahun 2007. Di dalam miniseri yang dibintangi Felicity Jones, JJ Feild, dan Carey Mulligan ini lebih banyak adegan menegangkan yang merupakan visualisasi imajinasi Catherine.

#postingbersama BBI 29 Juni 2012 tema buku gothic

Baca juga:
Visual Tour on Northanger Abbey
Post mengenai karakter Isabella dan John Thorpe

Detail buku:
“Northanger Abbey”, oleh Jane Austen
256 halaman, diterbitkan Februari 2008 oleh Signet Classics (pertama kali diterbitkan tahun 1817)
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥


Conclusion:

Being at the same time a bildungsroman and a gothic parody, Northanger Abbey quite confused me for not having a single theme. To be honest I expect more of the gothic stuff, but then I realize that Austen meant this work to be a parody of gothic novels, specifically Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. I also learned a great deal about social norms, materiality and marriage, women’s position and the 18th century England’s underestimation of novels. But, I have to say, I enjoyed the witty book, finished it within a few days (and quite falling in love too with Henry Tilney, LOL! I gave the book 3 stars. Someday I might read The Mysteries of Udolpho. And I loved PBS Masterpiece’s 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey, a lot of action in it (visualizations of Catherine’s imagination).

7th review for The Classics Club Project, 3rd review for The Classic Bribe

Flipped – Siap-siap Jungkir Balik!

Cinta monyet tidak pandang bulu. Juli Baker yang masih berusia 7 tahun pun tidak luput dari panah si monyet (#eh) ketika tetangga baru datang untuk tinggal di seberang rumahnya dan membawa serta seorang anak laki-laki sebayanya yang bernama Bryce Loski.


[Juli] Pertama kali aku bertemu Bryce, aku jungkir balik. Pasti karena matanya. Ada sesuatu di matanya. Matanya yang biru dengan bulu mata hitam itu benar-benar memukau.

Dan begitulah keadaannya sampai mereka menginjak kelas sembilan. Juli membuntuti Bryce kemana-mana seperti bayangan kedua. Dan coba tebak apakah Bryce merasakan hal yang sama tentang Juli? Hell no! Selagi Juli kelihatannya tidak bisa jauh-jauh dari Bryce, sebaliknya Bryce malah ogah dekat-dekat dengan Juli. Cuma satu hal yang Bryce mau, yaitu supaya Juli lenyap dari hidupnya.

Kemudian, ketika Juli dan Bryce beranjak remaja, serangkaian insiden aneh nan membingungkan mulai terjadi. Bagi Juli, insiden-insiden ini melibatkan pohon sikamor, ayam-ayam dan telur-telur, pekarangan depan rumahnya, dan tentu saja Bryce. Dan Bryce, yang selama ini menganggap dirinya sedang ‘berperang’ melawan Juli, sebenarnya dia terus berperang melawan rasa takutnya sendiri.

Pengalaman duduk diatas pohon sikamor dan nasihat dari ayahnya untuk melihat sesuatu secara keseluruhan dan jangan hanya satu bagian saja, plus kejadian tak mengenakkan yang melibatkan Bryce, membuat Juli pelan-pelan merasa bahwa ia tidak begitu menyukai Bryce lagi.

Sedangkan Bryce yang awalnya menganggap Juli sebagai si Nona Menyebalkan yang betah menghabiskan waktu diatas pohon sikamor kesayangannya, dan merangkak masuk kandang ayam yang jorok dan kotor, akhirnya melihat sisi lain dalam diri Juli yang mulai membuatnya tertarik…

Tebak siapa sekarang yang jungkir balik… 😀

###

Novel ‘ringan namun berbobot’ yang diberondong pujian dari berbagai pihak (Chicago Tribune, BookPage, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, dan lain-lain) ini bukan hanya sekedar menyajikan kisah cinta-cintaan a la remaja, tapi juga pembelajaran karakter dan kisah keluarga yang menghangatkan hati. Karakter-karakter yang ada di dalamnya, mulai Juli yang keras kepala, Bryce yang diam-diam pengecut, Mr. Baker dan Chet yang bijak, sampai Mr. Loski yang doyan merendahkan orang lain; semuanya melambangkan orang-orang di sekitar kita atau bahkan diri kita sendiri. Cerita dalam novel ini tidak akan berlalu begitu saja setelah kita selesai membacanya, namun nilai-nilai yang ada di dalamnya, jika kita renungkan, akan membuka pintu gerbang untuk (istilah kerennya) aktualisasi diri. Novel ini seperti wake-up call yang ‘menyentil’ pola pikir kita secara halus namun tepat sasaran, dan masih mengena juga buat kita-kita yang umurnya sudah tidak belasan lagi….hehehe.

Empat bintang kupersembahkan untuk novel yang benar-benar sanggup bikin pembaca jungkir balik ini. Novel ini highly recommended terutama bagi para remaja! Ada yang tahu novel untuk remaja yang sekeren Flipped ini? Kasih tau saya dong!

Beberapa quote favorit saya dalam buku ini antara lain:

“Karakter seseorang terbentuk sejak kecil, Nak. Pilihan yang kau buat hari ini akan memengaruhi hidupmu sampai kapan pun.”

“Hanya wanita yang keras kepala saja yang bisa membuat hidup terasa lebih hidup.”

–> #tunjukdirisendiri #bloggerbukusedangnarsis #abaikan 😄 😄

“Walaupun berbagai macam emosi mengaduk perasaan kita setiap hari, tapi jika pada akhirnya kita merasa bahagia, alangkah indahnya.”

“Satu hal sudah kupelajari dari Juli Baker, bahwa jika aku ingin berhasil, aku harus fokus dan terus mencoba.”

Dari halaman Dialog dengan Wendelin Van Draanen :

“Cinta sejati berlabuh setelah kita mengenal dan menghormati orangnya.”

Dan berikut ini adalah kalimat yang merupakan inti dari buku ini:

“Keseluruhan lebih baik dibandingkan jumlah bagian-bagiannya. Begitu pula dengan manusia, hanya kalau manusia kadang kebalikannya, justru keseluruhan diri mereka itu bernilai kecil dibanding jumlah bagian-bagiannya.”

Dalam bahasa Inggris (ini saya ambil dari film, bukan buku berbahasa Inggrisnya) :

“The whole being is greater than the sum of its parts. It is the same with people, but sometimes with people, the whole could be less.”

A word of warning: terjemahan versi Orange Books ini remaja buangeeet *membuat berasa tua* =p. Saya jadi ingin baca versi bahasa Inggrisnya. And I love the movie as much as I love the book! Cuma satu hal yang kurang dari filmnya, yaitu tidak ada si Tukang Pipis Misterius! Siapa dia? Read the book and you’ll know…😀

Flipped movie poster

Detail buku:
“Flipped” oleh Wendelin Van Draanen
272 halaman, diterbitkan Agustus 2011 oleh Orange Books
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥