The Classics Club Project – 20% to go!

classicsclub

“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
― Italo Calvino

On March 24, 2012 I started joining the most ambitious reading project ever—The Classics Club Project. At the beginning, I challenged myself to read 100 classics in 5 years, which meant I needed to read 20 books every year. Well, on the first two years I only managed to read 18 and 16 books, respectively, and the number declined significantly in the following two years to only 5 and 6 books.

Being aware of my own limitations, I made a huge cut in my Classics Club list—now it only contains 60 books. As of today, I have 12 books left to read (that’s the last 20% of the list) before the end date of this project: March 24, 2017.

Here are the books I plan to read to finish off the 5-year-long Classics Club Project, in no particular order:

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  2. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  3. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
  4. The Diary of A Young Girl – Anne Frank
  5. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
  6. Villette – Charlotte Bronte
  7. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  8. Good Wives – Louisa May Alcott
  9. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
  10. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
  11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  12. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ – Lew Wallace

Alternatives, if I’m unable to finish any of the titles above:

  1. Book 3-7 from The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
  2. A play from Oscar Wilde (looks like it’s going to be An Ideal Husband)
  3. Mary Poppins – P.L. Travers

Of course the books on the above list are subject to change whenever I feel like it :D.

I will also read some Indonesian classics that I don’t include in the Classics Club list:

  1. Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang (Dutch: Door Duisternis tot Licht) – Raden Adjeng Kartini – currently reading
  2. Bumi Manusia – Pramoedya Ananta Toer
  3. Harimau! Harimau! – Mochtar Lubis

To see the books I have read and reviewed for The Classics Club Project, go to this post.

Now, I have a lot of books to read work to do! Wish me luck!

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

alice puffin chalkIt’s strange that even though I have been familiar with the character Alice since childhood (thanks to Disney), I have never actually read the book. While both of the Disney adaptations—the old-school animation and the latest one—are weird, I think the book was even weirder!

Curiouser and curiouser! Alice would say.

Alice, a curious child of seven, thought it was very strange indeed that on a hot day, she should see a White Rabbit that talks and wears a waistcoat and has a watch which he took out from his waistcoat-pocket. Piqued by her own great curiosity, she followed the frantic White Rabbit down a seemingly endless hole. Through the Rabbit-Hole, she was transported to Wonderland, a world in which everything is absurd, fantastical and even ridiculous, and nothing makes sense.

Why is this book so well-loved? I don’t have the answer to that question, but I know that I like this book because:

1. You can never guess what happens next. And Alice as the main character will keep you fascinated. When I decided to read this book I was in need of a sort of escapism, and little did I know that I was in for a treat. This book is a wild journey of imagination.

2. True, this book falls into the “literary nonsense” category, but you can’t help but admire Lewis Carroll’s wordplay. And some parts are just so funny.

Let’s take a look at a passage from The Mock Turtle’s Story:

“I couldn’t afford to learn it,” said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. “I only took the regular course.

“What was that?” inquired Alice.

“Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,” the Mock Turtle replied; “and then the different branches of Arithmetic – Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”

“…Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seography: then Drawling—the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.”

“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?” said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.

“Ten hours the first day,” said the Mock Turtle, “nine the next, and so on.”

“What a curious plan!” exclaimed Alice.

“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.”

3. The cover of the edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland I own (published by Puffin Books under the Puffin Chalk series). I mean, the cover alone would have been enough to rate this book 3 stars at least.

To wrap up this nonsense review, I only want to point out that even though I read this book for the first time as an adult, I read it with a mind of a child. I didn’t search for symbols and hidden meanings while reading, because the child in me didn’t need to understand to enjoy the journey.

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”


Book details:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
160 pages, published 2014 by Puffin Books (first published 1865)
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

The Princess Bride – William Goldman

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt comes to this: I was in need of a light read after spending one and a half month preparing for IELTS. I don’t know exactly why I chose this book—maybe because I suddenly remember my history with The Princess Bride. I first bought The Princess Bride on impulse. The truth is I don’t like fantasy books all that much, and I also didn’t really like the cover, so I sold it to Mbak Dewi (it was a copy with this cover, anyway). Some years later, while casually browsing a pile of used books in a bookshop, I found another copy of The Princess Bride. Having watched the film and seeing that the book has a vintage-looking cover, I decided to buy it. Ha! This time I didn’t regret buying it because in addition to the eyecatching cover, it also has a map. It would make a splendid addition to my collection!

Now, moving on to the story. I will list the characters first.

Buttercup, a Florinese village girl of unmatched beauty.

Westley, an orphaned farm boy who worked (or slaved) for Buttercup’s father.

Prince Humperdinck, a scheming and power-hungry prince who loved hunting above all else.

Count Rugen, Humperdinck’s sidekick and confidant who was obsessed with pain.

Vizzini the brainy Sicilian.

Inigo Montoya the sword-wielding Spaniard.

Fezzik the Turkish giant.

All the Farm Boy ever said to Buttercup was, “As you wish.” Of course what he meant was “I love you” but it took Buttercup some time before she realises this. Not until a visit from Count and Countess Rugen when she saw the Countess seemingly took a fancy of Westley. But just after them realising their true feelings for one another, Westley sailed off to America to seek his fortune, in order to become a man worthy of Buttercup. Buttercup waited and waited, but news came one day that Westley’s ship had been attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts and he never takes prisoners, which means Westley was dead. Heartbroken, Buttercup accepted marriage proposal from Prince Humperdinck (confused? Hang on a bit) with “I can never love him” in mind. Well, it means death if she said no. So began the preparations of the royal wedding, including months of making the village girl into a princess. One day while riding her horse, a weird trio consisted of Vizzini, Inigo, and Fezzik kidnapped her. But the trio’s plan (or more accurately, Vizzini’s plan, since he was the head of the trio) was threatened by the man in black, who followed them as they were sailing to the neighbouring country of Guilder, up the Cliffs of Insanity to the ravines that led to the Fire Swamp. (I’m going to leave it at this moment, there are so much adventures thereafter, but I don’t want to ruin your fun by spoiling them all.) 😉

Thoughts:

This book is the abriged version of S. Morgenstern’s The Princess Bride, the “good parts” version by William Goldman. (SEE UPDATE AT THE END OF THE POST) I don’t think that this book belongs to the fantasy genre, let alone a fairy tale, even though my copy says “a hot fairy tale”. I think it’s an adventure book with bits of fantastical elements. My copy of The Princess Bride starts with a 29-page introduction, rather too long for my taste. I was tempted to skip it altogether but later realized that it was somewhat necessary to read, that is if you want to know the background on the abridgement of S. Morgenstern’s work by William Goldman. Goldman’s “commentaries” are also scattered all over the book, but mostly they are short so it wouldn’t be a burden to read these additional paragraphs typed in fancy italic. As someone who’s seen the film first then read the book, I must say that I think both are equally entertaining. The film adapted the book very well, from Westley’s wittiness (performed gorgeously by Cary Elwes) to the memorable lines of Inigo (“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”)

inigoand of Vizzini (“Inconceivable!”).

inconceivableInigo and Fezzik making rhymes is also my favourite part of both the book and the film. Miracle Max and his wife Valerie were hilarious. The one character I like the least is the princess bride herself, in both the book and the film. However, the book can give you much more interesting scenes that didn’t make it to the film. For example Fezzik and Inigo’s adventure when they went through all five levels of Prince Humperdinck’s Zoo of Death to retrieve Westley was thoroughly explained in the book, while in the film it was reduced to short scenes in the Pit of Despair. The writing feels modern, so it easily falls into the “light reading” category. Of course you need to ignore some stuff if you want to enjoy the book, for example Buttercup accepting Humperdinck, the torture scenes, and how a lump of clay coated in chocolate could bring someone back from the dead. All in all, this is a delightful read. You should read it then watch the film. Or vice versa, I don’t really care. Just read it and watch it, in whatever order you’d like. 🙂

P.S. : I know this review is crap but it doesn’t make the book any less entertaining.

Here is the movie trailer:


Book details:

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
283 pages, published 1987 by Turtleback Books/Del Rey Books
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


UPDATE (15 Mar 2016):

I have just found out that S. Morgenstern is not a real author, thanks to Fingerprinttale and Chiipurai who kindly informed me of this. Explanation on Wikipedia: Simon Morgenstern is both a pseudonym and a narrative device invented by Goldman to add another layer to his novel The Princess Bride.[26] He presents his novel as an abridged version of a work by the fictional Morgenstern, an author from the equally fictional country of Florin. The name may be a reference to Johann Carl Simon Morgenstern, who coined the term Bildungsroman. (Read the rest on Wikipedia).

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

little women[Review in Bahasa Indonesia and English]

Adalah empat orang gadis sederhana keluarga March yang tinggal di Concord, Massachusetts: Meg, Jo, Beth, dan Amy. Mereka tinggal bersama ibu terkasih yang mereka panggil dengan panggilan sayang Marmee, sementara ayah mereka sedang pergi berjuang dalam perang. Buku ini pada umumnya bercerita tentang kehidupan sehari-hari para gadis March, tentang persahabatan, persaudaraan (sisterhood), pergumulan mereka tentang kemiskinan, sedikit petualangan, harapan, dan juga cinta. Dan yang tak kalah penting, di dalam buku ini diceritakan bagaimana Meg, Jo, Beth, dan Amy memetik pelajaran hidup tentang rasa syukur, pengampunan, jodoh dan masa depan, bekerja dengan rajin, kebahagiaan, meraih impian, dan banyak hal lain. Banyak sekali pelajaran yang bisa kamu ambil dari buku ini.

Karakter keempat tokoh utama sangat beragam: Meg cantik dan riang, namun kadang terlalu menginginkan hal-hal yang mahal dan indah; Jo seorang kutubuku tomboi yang doyan menulis dan bermain peran; Beth tulus dan lemah lembut, namun minder dan cenderung rapuh; dan juga ada Amy, si bungsu yang berbakat seni, namun kadang manja dan tinggi hati.

Salah satu hal favorit saya tentang buku ini adalah tentang persahabatan keempat gadis March dengan Laurie (nama aslinya Theodore Laurence), yang adalah cucu Pak Tua Laurence yang tinggal di sebelah rumah keluarga March. Laurie seorang pemuda yang moody, gampang bosan dan lumayan bengal, namun sejak bersahabat dengan keempat gadis March, dia tidak lagi mudah merasa bosan. Kehadiran Laurie juga memberi warna tersendiri dalam cerita, apalagi yang memerankannya di film adalah Christian Bale… (Oops. Maaf, salah fokus) 😛

Lalu ada karakter Marmee yang sepertinya menjadi sumber segala kebijakan dalam buku ini. Sampai-sampai saya merasa karakter ini agak terlalu sempurna, sampai diungkapkan bahwa Marmee sendiri mengakui salah satu kelemahannya, dan bagaimana caranya untuk mengatasi kelemahan itu. Salah satu kutipan favorit saya yang berasal dari Marmee:

“Aku ingin putri-putriku menjadi wanita-wanita yang cantik, berhasil, dan baik; dikagumi, dicintai, dan dihormati. Aku ingin mereka mendapat masa muda yang ceria, kemudian menikah dengan baik-baik dan bijaksana, menjalani hidup yang berguna dan menyenangkan, dengan sesedikit mungkin kekhawatiran dan kesedihan yang merupakan cobaan untuk mereka, cobaan yang dinilai pantas oleh Tuhan. Dicintai dan dipilih oleh seorang pria yang layak adalah hal terbaik dan terindah yang bisa didapat seorang wanita. Dengan sepenuh hati aku berdoa dan berharap putri-putriku akan mendapat pengalaman luar biasa itu.” – hal. 159

She is the best mother character ever. You rock, Marmee!

Baiklah, saya mengakui bahwa saya jatuh cinta dengan (hampir) semua karakter dalam buku ini. Semuanya terasa begitu hidup dan nyata, seperti seorang teman lama yang menyambut saya dengan hangat dan akrab.

Terlepas dari sedikit rasa tidak puas saya akan endingnya, secara keseluruhan membaca Little Women sangat menyenangkan. Feel yang saya dapat saat membacanya mirip seperti saat membaca A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; kedua buku ini tidak memiliki cerita yang “wah” namun ternyata enak dinikmati dalam segala kesederhanaannya. Rasanya seperti membaca buku harian yang ditulis selama setahun (dari Natal ke Natal selanjutnya), namun dengan POV orang ketiga. Semoga saja nanti saat membaca Good Wives (sekuel Little Women), saya bisa merasa puas dengan endingnya. Tapi saya tidak berharap banyak sih, karena konon Tante Louisa bukan tipe penulis yang suka menyenangkan hati pembacanya. Ia lebih memilih membengkokkan plot daripada menulis seturut keinginan pembaca. (Yes, she is that badass.)

Kesimpulan: Bacalah. Buku. Ini.

Banner_BacaBareng2015-300x187

Baca bareng BBI Januari 2015: Buku Secret Santa

28th review for The Classics Club Project | 1st review for Children’s Literature Reading Project | 1st review for Project Baca Buku Cetak | 1st review for New Authors Reading Challenge 2015 | 1st review for Lucky no. 15 Reading Challenge (Cover Lust)


Review in English:

Little Women tells us about the four March girls: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. They lived modestly in Concord, Massachusetts with their beloved mother (“Marmee”) while their father was away in war. This book is mainly about the March girls’ daily life, friendship, sisterhood, their struggle through poverty, and also about hope and love. It gets adventurous in some parts, and in many parts we witness the March girls learn life lessons: gratitude, forgiveness, marriage and future, hard work, happiness, and accomplishing dreams, among other many things. Yes, you could learn so much from this book.

Meet a parade of colorful characters: the beautiful and sometimes superficial Meg, the independent tomboy and bookworm Jo, the delicate pianist Beth, and the artistically talented but snobbish Amy. There is also Mrs. March or Marmee, who at first I thought too good to be true, until it was revealed that Marmee herself confessed about one of her own faults, along with her way to deal with it. Marmee is a picture of a perfect mother: loving, hard working and full of wisdom, not to mention a wonderful storyteller. Last but not least there is Laurie, the boy next door who was eventually bound in friendship with the March girls. Laurie is described like the typical teenage boy: moody, gets bored easily, sometimes naughty; yet his character brought more color to the story. Okay, I admit that I fell in love with (almost) all characters in this story. They all feel so alive and real, like an old friend who greets me with such warmth and intimacy.

Regardless feeling a little unsatisfied of its ending, reading Little Women is overall a pleasing experience. Little Women and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn gave me a similar feeling when reading them; both of these books do not give us an intricate story, but they are enjoyable in their simplicity. It felt like reading a diary for a full year (from one Christmas to the next), only in third POV. I can’t wait to read Good Wives!

Final words: Read. This. Book. Just. Read. It.

Book details:

Little Women (Gadis-gadis March), by Louisa May Alcott

376 pages, published 2014 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama (first published 1868)

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


A Note to My Secret Santa:

Dear Santa yang mengaku bernama Louisa M.A.,

Terima kasih sudah memberikan buku ini. Terima kasih sudah dikangenin. Dan ternyata, memang membaca buku yang kamu hadiahkan ini terasa seperti bertemu kawan lama. Kangen. Sama seperti rasa kangen saya dalam menulis review. Well, here I am, Santa. 🙂

Nah, sekarang saya mau mencoba menebak identitasmu ya.

Santa bilang kalau kita pernah bertemu saat Pangeran nan bahagia merayakan ulang tahun pertamanya, saat itu aku membawa hadiah sebuah jaring emas untuk pangeran.

Kemudian aku pernah bercerita kepada Santa tentang kisahku ketika berada di dua kota.

Santa pernah bercerita kepadaku tentang seorang ayah berkaki panjang. Aku bilang cerita itu sangat menarik dan aku ingin mengabadikannya.

*(Riddle lengkap bisa dilihat di post ini)

Baiklah, berarti Santa dan saya sudah membaca beberapa buku yang sama: Pangeran Bahagia, A Golden Web, Kisah Dua Kota, dan Daddy Long-Legs. Wah, Santa tahu benar buku-buku yang saya suka ya :). Karena 3 dari 4 judul buku diatas buku klasik, saya tinggal ngubek-ngubek Index Review Baca Klasik yang saya kumpulkan dengan susah payah (baru kali ini saya merasakan kegunaannya secara langsung :D). Hey, ada satu clue lagi yaitu kertas yang digunakan Santa untuk riddle! Setelah mencocokkan satu clue dengan yang lainnya, hasil deduksi saya meruncing pada….

Pauline Destinugrainy alias Mbak Desty

(https://destybacabuku.wordpress.com/)

Bener, kan?Ada jejak saya di empat review buku yang saya sebutkan diatas di blog Mbak Desty. Dan itu, gambar bunga di kertas riddle sama dengan gambar bunga di header blogmu! 🙂

Sekali lagi, terima kasih yaaa. :*

Matilda – Roald Dahl

matilda book coverOnce 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.

27th review for The Classics Club Project / 8th review for Books in English Reading Challenge 2013 / 11th review for  What’s in a Name Reading Challenge 2013 / 7th review for New Authors Reading Challenge 2013 / 3rd review for Fun Year with Children’s Literature event

Book details:

Matilda, by Roald Dahl
240 pages, published March 1992 by Heinemann (first published August 1988)
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥


Movie Review:

matilda darls chickens
If you enjoy Home Alone franchise, then you would probably like the 1996 adaptation of Matilda as well. Directed by Danny DeVito, the movie is quite faithful to the original story, and was successful in bringing into life the abominable Miss Trunchbull and also the delicate Miss Honey. Matilda was pictured older than she actually was in the book (and rather gloomier than in the book, I think). One major difference between the book and the movie is that in the movie Matilda still has her powers after the whole business with Miss Trunchbull was over. In the book, she lost her powers—and she was glad about it. I think I prefer the ending in the book than in the movie.

Matilda (1996) on IMDb

My Favorite Opening Line – The Classics Club’s June meme

To be honest, I had to think over and over again to decide which opening sentence from a classic novel that I should call my favorite. And just so you know, if only the question was “What is your favourite closing sentence from a classic novel (and why)?” I would answer it easily, without thinking too much! Hehe.

Well, because the question was “What is your favourite opening sentence from a classic novel (and why)?” then my answer is below:

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

From Nineteen-Eighty Four (1984) by George Orwell

1984cover

There is something weird and abnormal about this sentence, which I think fits the mood of a dystopian novel perfectly. April is usually bright alright, but cold? (I don’t live in a four-season country, so honestly I can’t really tell) And then  there was the suspicious clock.

When I was searching for what makes this opening sentence so special, I found this blog post on Shmoop News; titled The 25 Best Opening Lines in Western Literature. Not only the opening lines and its source, this blog post also provides a rather witty commentary or “creative thought process” for every opening line. Here’s what the post said about 1984’s opening line:

To properly set the mood for a futuristic dystopia, combine the elements of springtime, coldness, an unlucky number, and bells tolling. Then, watch people fight over the feasibility of a clock that can strike thirteen.

So that was my favorite opening sentence from a classic novel. I like it because it’s mysterious and curiously brilliant.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

great gatsby

The Great Gatsby portrays the life of thriving generation of 1920s America in high splendor and endless glittering parties. Nick Carraway, the narrator, was a bond man who recently moved to New York and resides in the West Egg district of Long Island, and was neighbor to one young rich man named Jay Gatsby. The story starts when Nick went to East Egg district one night to dine with his cousin, Daisy, and her husband Tom Buchanan. From another girl who was present at the dinner, Jordan Baker, Nick learned about the turbulent marriage of Tom and Daisy and that Tom has a mistress. Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s mistress, lived in the valley of ashes, a gray industrial dumping ground between West Egg and New York City. Nick’s curiosity and fascination about his mysterious neighbor was answered when Gatsby eventually invited Nick to one of his parties. There Nick would learn that Gatsby and Daisy were once sweethearts. A reunion was set between Gatsby and Daisy in Nick’s house, where the two young lovebirds rekindled their romantic relationship. Their affair would soon raise suspicion from Tom, who would not have his wife cheating on him while he was involved in an extramarital affair himself. The confrontation between Tom and Gatsby reached its peak when Tom let Gatsby drove his wife back home to East Egg in his luxurious car, and then an unwanted accident happened. In the aftermath, the corruption, moral decay, carelessness, hypocrisy, and superficiality of the people surrounding him; all came crystal clear before Nick’s eyes.

The Jazz Age party. Image source

The novel took place when the First World War had just ended and America has never been more prosperous, a time called “The Jazz Age”, which later ends in the Great Depression. The problem with these rich people in this time was; they became so consummated in their wealth that they grew careless, superficial and pleasure-seeking. Not one, I repeat, not one of the characters in this novel is likeable to me. Tom Buchanan was a bad-mannered libertine and his wife Daisy a shallow, foolish girl. The cynical Jordan Baker had enough nerve to drive carelessly and taking other people’s safety for granted. Meyer Wolfsheim, the Jewish man who wore human molars as cuff buttons, was cowardly and deceiving. Even Gatsby, he isn’t so “great” as in the title of the novel. Yes, he is “great” in his optimistic spirit to pursue his dream, which is winning Daisy back, but to be able to win Daisy he would have to climb to her social status, and to do that he need to make a fortune in dishonest, fraudulent ways. The only “clean” character was Nick Carraway, who stayed on Gatsby’s side to the very end, when not another soul would come into the marred picture.

This book is probably the most difficult book that I have read that only has less than 150 pages. The narrative was written beautifully—yet I felt the great need to read many passages more than twice, check dictionary and even consult the Internet to attempt to fully comprehend what Fitzgerald was trying to say. And even in the end, I can’t say that I can now fully comprehend The Great Gatsby.  But at least, thanks to Sparknotes and Fanda’s chapter posts, I came to understand some confusing passages and symbols depicted in the novel. In spite of entertaining, this novel would make you think hard. Finally, I think The Great Gatsby is great because it bravely shows the ugly truth of man, and in the end still encourages optimism in the powerful words of the last passage of the novel.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

 

For the finest novel by The Great Fitzgerald, I gave three stars.

***

* I read this book together with Fanda, Astrid, Dessy, Althesia, Listra, Vaan, Dani, Sulis, and Melissa (Avid Reader) *

26th review for The Classics Club Project / 7th review for Books in English Reading Challenge 2013 / 3rd review for 2013 TBR Pile Challenge / 3rd review for TBRR Pile Reading Challenge: Historical Fiction /6th review for New Authors Reading Challenge 2013

Book details:

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
122 pages, published December 1993 by Wordsworth Classics/Wordsworth Editions Ltd (first published 1925)
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

My List for The Classics Spin #2

classicsclub

The Classics Spin #2 is here! Just like the previous Classics Spin, the idea is to make a list of 20 unread books from our own lists for The Classics Club. Then by Monday May 20, The Classics Club will post a number from 1 to 20 and every participant should read a book that corresponds to the said number by July 1. Below is my list:

  1. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare ***
  2. The Divine Comedy #1: Inferno – Dante Alighieri ***
  3. Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka *
  4. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen **
  5. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde **
  6. An Ideal Husband – Oscar Wilde *
  7. The Canterville Ghost – Oscar Wilde *
  8. Swiss Family Robinson – Johann David Wyss *
  9. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe ***
  10. The Yearling – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings *
  11. The Painted Veil – W. Somerset Maugham *
  12. The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan ***
  13. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain *
  14. The Death of Ivan Ilych – Leo Tolstoy *
  15. Animal Farm – George Orwell **
  16. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne *
  17. Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ – Lew Wallace ***
  18. The Diary of A Young Girl – Anne Frank **
  19. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White **
  20. Matilda – Roald Dahl **

* on my reading list this year

** can’t wait to read

*** somehow intimidated to read it

UPDATE May 20, 2013:

The Classics Spin number is 6!!! I’m gonna read An Ideal Husband. Woo to the hoo!

The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde

earnestBunburying—a term that indicates a double life as an excuse for absence. (Source: Wikipedia)

Have you ever felt the need to escape some certain situations and create a fictitious character as your excuse? John (or “Jack”) Worthing, a landowner in Hertfordshire of twenty nine years of age, presents himself as Ernest Worthing in front of his love interest, Gwendolen Fairfax, her mother Lady Bracknell, and also to Gwendolen’s cousin who’s also Jack’s best friend, Algernon Moncrieff. On other occasions, in front of his ward Cecily Cardew and Miss Prism her guardian; Jack uses the character Ernest as his rebellious and irresponsible younger brother who always gets into trouble and requires Jack’s assistance all the time. Ernest was merely Jack’s tool to run away for a while from his responsibilities. Through one trivial accident, Jack was pushed to confess to Algernon that Ernest is just a product of his imagination. At the same time, Algy confesses to Jack that he also invented a character named Bunbury, who is said to be his invalid friend who has extraordinarily bad health. Algy called this activity of double life as “Bunburying” and that he and Jack were “Bunburyists”.

Jack’s problem continues when Gwendolen and Lady Bracknell came to visit Algy’s flat. Algy has agreed to give time to Jack to speak to Gwendolen by distracting Lady Bracknell’s attention. Jack then used the time to propose to Gwendolen, but then he got taken aback by Gwendolen’s speech that “her ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest.” The proposal was interrupted by Lady Bracknell, who then enquired Jack for the matters of his property and family background.

On the next act, Algernon decided to steal the identity of Ernest and came to the Manor House in Hertforshire and met Jack’s young and beautiful ward, Cecily. At the same time as Algy’s “debut” as Ernest, Jack decided to “kill” his fictitious brother and showed up at the Manor House dressed in mourning clothes. You can imagine the confusion that would soon take place. Cecily and Gwendolen got entangled in confusion too when they met and realized that they both have fallen in love with a man with the name of Ernest. Of course they fell in love with two different men; Gwendolen fell in love with Jack and Cecily with Algernon. The play concludes with the revealing of Jack’s true identity, surprisingly by Lady Bracknell.

Two words that can perfectly describe this play: Funny and Absurd.

What’s funny? The interaction between Jack and Algy, especially when they fought over muffins. Algy’s craving for cucumber sandwiches.

What’s absurd? Gwendolen’s (and also Cecily’s) personal obsession about the name Ernest, Lady Bracknell’s points of view and her interview (or rather interrogation) to Jack regarding his proposal to Gwendolen, Cecily with her imaginative mind and her diary, and also Gwendolen and Cecily’s suspiciously fast growing friendship. One last thing that is absurd is how Jack and Algernon take the act of christening so casually. Interesting how the absurdities in this play are at the same time funny.

I really enjoyed reading this play, because it’s witty and easy to read (unlike Shakespeare plays which need double reading the modern version on NFS). In fact, I only have to look for some unfamiliar words on the dictionary, and voila! I finished reading it in about 3 hours. This play mocks duplicity and hypocrisy as well as Victorian traditions, social customs, and marriage. To modern readers, we may as well admit that we also practice “Bunburying” in some ways—we need not create fictional characters, but we simply tell lies or excuses to keep away from our duties. So it is now our decision whether to continue living as a “Bunburyist” or we can realize the vital importance of being earnest. 😉

5th review for Let’s Read Plays event / 25th review for The Classics Club Project / 6th review for Books in English Reading Challenge 2013

Book details:

The Importance of Being Earnest (as part of The Plays of Oscar Wilde, page 361-418), by Oscar Wilde
58 pages, published April 2000 by Wordsworth Classics/Wordsworth Editions Ltd (first published August 1894)
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


This review is also counted for Books Into Movies Monthly Meme hosted by HobbyBuku’s Classic.

Books Into Movies Monthly Meme Button 1

Movie Review:

After reading the play I watched the movie adaptation of it, which was released in 2002 and directed by Oliver Parker with Colin Firth as Jack Worthing, Rupert Everett as Algernon Moncrieff, Frances O’Connor as Gwendolen, Reese Witherspoon as Cecily and Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell. Despite of some alterations on the set and timeline, it was quite faithful to the original play. I particularly liked how Judi Dench carried the role of Lady Bracknell perfectly. Well, she has always been amazing. Here are some differences between the play and the adaptation: (1)  Jack Worthing is thirty five in the adaptation, he should be only twenty nine. (2) In the adaptation, Jack is Algy’s younger brother while in the original play he is actually Algy’s older brother. (3) One interesting thing that Gwendolen tattooed the name Ernest on her body.  (4) And the ending is slightly different. Just slighty– if you have watched the movie, then you will get what I mean… Overall, both the play and the adaptation are essentially enjoyable and entertaining. See the trailer below.

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) on IMDb

Classic Books I’m Reading This Month – The Classics Club’s May meme

Hi, there!

You know, I just love this month’s The Classics Club’s meme question, because it’s really easy! All you have to do is share what classic books you will be reading this month. I have been busy these days and I didn’t read any classics at all on April (huhu!), but this month I want to get back on track.

classics may

This month some friends at the Indonesian Book Bloggers and I are reading The Great Gatsby together before the movie comes out in cinema. And then for Let’s Read Plays event, participants are supposed to read a Shakespeare tragedy, but I don’t feel like reading tragedy this month.  So I decided to switch the Shakespeare tragedy with Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (and Fanda the LRP host had personally approved too!) I heard that the play is hilarious, can’t wait to read it! And lastly, I really hope I can squeeze one more classics into my reading schedule this month, which is The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. What made this book won a Pulitzer Prize? I’m really curious.

So that was all the classics I intend to read this month, I would love to know yours too!