But nonetheless I am here so what the heck :))
school = busy :( but it’s my term break so I’m temporarily free ;) :))
Day 008: Vita Brevis by Jostein Gaarder
This is a self-discovered book. After reading the summary, I definitely know this book is something :>
This is one of Gaarder’s most remarkable books. It isn’t long - it only takes a couple of hours to read - but the subject matter is probably the most mature and thought-provoking of his books, with the possible exception of “Through a Glass Darkly”.
The backstory is that the author has discovered the manuscript of a letter, written from Floria Aemelia to Augustine, the Christian philosopher, and author of Confessions. Floria, it turns out, was the lover who bore Augustine a son, and who was abandoned by him as he immersed himself in his religious beliefs. The letter weaves together the story of their relationship, from their first to their last meeting, and also provides a response to Augustine’s approach to human love. Floria has learnt much in the years they have been apart, and she frames her letter as an echo of theConfessions, in addition to filling it with allusions to other classical literature and the Scriptures that Augustine himself loves.
Floria argues with Augustine that for him to deny their love was to reject something good that God has made. She also highlights the way in which Augustine had been unable to break away from his relationship with his mother - and that in actual fact his response to Floria has as much to do with this distorting effect as his religious convictions.
In a second-hand bookshop in Buenos Aires, Jostein Gaarder makes an exciting find: a transcript of a letter to St Augustine, author of the famousConfessions, from Floria Aemilia, the woman he renounced for chastity.
Vita Brevis is both a classic love story, beautifully told, and a fascinating insight into St Augustine’s life and that of his discarded concubine. It is up to the reader to determine its authenticity…
Author: Jostein Gaarder This is the story of Cecilia; a young girl who lies ill in bed as her family celebrate Christmas downstairs, in the knowledge that Cecilia will not live to see another Christmas. I don’t know how old Cecilia is, or what illness she has, but it didn’t seem important. That’s not the focus of the novel – it’s about the interactions between Cecilia and her angel; a ‘boy’ by the name of Ariel who likes to talk about life and death and the differences between Heaven and Earth, angels and humans. The conversations between Cecilia and her angel, and the interactions with her family subtly change as time passes, from feeling anger and denial, to hope and despair, as Cecilia finally reaches a calm acceptance of what will happen to her. This novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, it made me think about so many things, about our bodies and our health and our families and the things we take for granted. About the differences between Heaven and Earth and whether there really are such things as angels. (review by Clare Swindelhurst) Although this sounds like this book would be really depressing to read, it isn’t. It’s quite uplifting to read as you join Cecilia on her journey of sorting out her feelings of anger and despair to hope and grief to finally calmly accepting her situation and being thankful for her family, friends and her life.
Author: Jostein Gaarder
This is the story of Cecilia; a young girl who lies ill in bed as her family celebrate Christmas downstairs, in the knowledge that Cecilia will not live to see another Christmas. I don’t know how old Cecilia is, or what illness she has, but it didn’t seem important. That’s not the focus of the novel – it’s about the interactions between Cecilia and her angel; a ‘boy’ by the name of Ariel who likes to talk about life and death and the differences between Heaven and Earth, angels and humans.
The conversations between Cecilia and her angel, and the interactions with her family subtly change as time passes, from feeling anger and denial, to hope and despair, as Cecilia finally reaches a calm acceptance of what will happen to her.
This novel is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, it made me think about so many things, about our bodies and our health and our families and the things we take for granted. About the differences between Heaven and Earth and whether there really are such things as angels.
(review by Clare Swindelhurst)
Although this sounds like this book would be really depressing to read, it isn’t. It’s quite uplifting to read as you join Cecilia on her journey of sorting out her feelings of anger and despair to hope and grief to finally calmly accepting her situation and being thankful for her family, friends and her life.
The Scarlet Letter
author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne’s emotional, psychological drama revolves around Hester Prynne, who is convicted of adultery in colonial Boston by the civil and Puritan authorities. She is condemned to wear the scarlet letter “A” on her chest as a permanent sign of her sin. The narrative describes the effort to resolve the torment suffered by Hester and her co-adulterer, the minister Arthur Dimmesdale, in the years after their affair. In fact, the story excludes even the representation of the passionate moment which enables the entire novel. It begins at the close of Hester’s imprisonment many months after her affair and proceeds through many years to her final acceptance of her place in the community as the wearer of the scarlet letter.
I discovered this book through our SOCTEC1 class earlier. Well basically it’s all about a girl who had lost her virginity before marriage, unfortunately in their culture and society, this is usually frowned upon and is considered a sin. Now as her punishment, she gets to wear a big scarlet letter (‘A’) in front of her clothes to tell people that she’s an adulterer. On trial, she’s asked who the father of the kid she’s conceiving is but she won’t admit. Because the father is the person who is doing her trial (the ‘chief’ per se). But they love each other.
SORRY IT’S A RUSH :( SOOO BUSY with school :|
Day 006: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Virgin Suicides was made into a film in 1999, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, and Josh Hartnett
Also published in French as Les vierges suicidées
In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters—beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys—commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family’s fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, “The Virgin Suicides” is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.
On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide-it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese-the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope. They got out of the EMS truck, as usual moving much too slowly in our opinion, and the fat one said under his breath, “This ain’t TV, folks, this is how fast we go.” He was carrying the heavy respirator and cardiac unit past the bushes that had grown monstrous and over the erupting lawn, tame and immaculate thirteen months earlier when the trouble began.
Cecilia, the youngest, only thirteen, had gone first, slitting her wrists like a Stoic while taking a bath, and when they found her, afloat in her pink pool, with the yellow eyes of someone possessed and her small body giving off the odor of a mature woman, the paramedics had been so frightened by her tranquillity that they had stood mesmerized. But then Mrs. Lisbon lunged in, screaming, and the reality of the room reasserted itself: blood on the bath mat; Mr. Lisbon’s razor sunk in the toilet bowl, marbling the water. The paramedics fetched Cecilia out of the warm water because it quickened the bleeding, and put a tourniquet on her arm. Her wet hair hung down her back and already her extremities were blue. She didn’t say a word, but when they parted her hands they found the laminated picture of the Virgin Mary she held against her budding chest.
That was in June, fish-fly season, when each year our town is covered by the flotsam of those ephemeral insects.
Day 005: Under the Roofs of Paris by Henry Miller
In 1941, Henry Miller was commissioned by a Los Angeles bookseller to write an erotic novel for a dollar a page. Under the Roofs of Paris (originally published as Opus Pistorum) is that book. Here one finds Miller’s characteristic candor, wit, self-mockery, and celebration of the good life. From Marcelle to Tania, to Alexandra, to Anna, and from the Left Bank to Pigalle, Miller sweeps us up in his odyssey in search of the perfect job, the perfect woman, the perfect experience.
Sample Sex Scene from Under the Roofs of Paris:
“She has a bush as big as my hand and as soft as feathers. She lifts her dress in the front, takes my dong out and rubs John Thursday’s nose against her whiskers … will I pinch her breasts, she moans, and would I be offended if she asked me to kiss them, perhaps to bite? She’s catting for a fuck, that she’s been paid to come here has nothing to do with it now … she’d probably give the money back and something extra besides just to get a cock into that itch under her tail now … “
Day 004: My Life as Emperor by Su Tong
Known for his controversial writing style, Su is regarded as one of the pioneering novelists in China.
He is best known for his book Wives and Concubines in the West, published in 1990. The book was adapted into the film, Raise the Red Lantern by director Zhang Yimou. The book has since been published under the name given to the film.
In 2009, he was awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize for his work The Boat to Redemption, the second Chinese writer ever to win the prize.
Prince Duanbai suddenly finds himself, at age 14, thrust unexpectedly named Emperor. A shallow and pampered youth, he isn’t up to the task, and soon wields his power with brutal idiosyncrasy. A cynical grandmother who thwarts his attempt to find love and kindness is a girl of his choice doesn’t help.
Inevitably, his reign is a disaster, and he is dethroned by the Empire next door, but not before destroying his family. The second half of the story is of the erstwhile boy Emperor’s peregrinations as a commoner and circus performer, unable to escape his past and terrible destiny to bring ruin to all around him.
As a story, My Life as Emperor has a number of weaknesses: it is morbid to the point of depravity and is a Greek tragedy in its inevitability: Duanbai may be awful, but he does try to overcome his faults, yet there is never any real hope that he will succeed.
But My Life as Emperor isn’t really just a story, nor is it meant to be:
The world of women and the palace intrigues that you will encounter in this novel are but a scary dream on a rainy night; the suffering and slaughter reflect my worries and fears for all the people in all worlds, and nothing more.
My Life as Emperor is a fascinating concoction of cautionary or morality tale, an exploration of the darker side of the human psyche and a tapestry of Chinese cultural artifacts, beliefs and traditions, held together with irony and sarcasm worthy of Gogol.