Sunday, February 26, 2012

Part XVI: Hunchback of Notre Dame: novel vs Disney cartoon

Spoilers from: The novel by Victor Hugo and Disney cartoon

Today, the most familiar form of Hunchback of Notre Dame is the Disney cartoon instead of the novel by Victor Hugo. If I could say what the cartoon is like when comparing it to a novel, I'd describe it as a castrated version of the novel, as well as very infuriating. Before reading the book, I used to like cartoon, but not anymore. There are so many things wrong with the cartoon and the way it created the characters as well as the plot, which I will discuss in this article. I will briefly compare and contrast characters and discuss some plot points of cartoon vs the novel.

One of the things Disney had done is change the character of Phoebus being from someone you want to murder to a "good guy". In the book Phoebus is already engaged to Fleur De Lis, and is a crude soldier who has no finese or anything of that kind. He lusts after Esmeralda, not loving her or caring about her. (Spoiler: In the end when he might have learned that Esmeralda is alive, he could have assured the public he's alive and not dead, thus saving her instead of letting her die, but he doesn't do it.) He briefly works for Claude Frollo, especially when Claude Frollo desires to witness the coupling between the two of them. (Not kidding either...)

If changing Phoebus's character wasn't bad enough, then the changes in Claude Frollo take the cake. For one thing, Claude Frollo NEVER killed Quasimodo's mother. In fact he willingly adopted the boy and raised him as his own, naming him Quasimodo in honor of a certain week, so the name doesn't mean 'half formed.' Also Claude Frollo willingly raised his own brother and he wasn't a judge but a clergyman. (Disney possibly didn't want to deal with Catholics crying foul or whatnot so perhaps that's why they made Claude Frollo a judge in the cartoon.) In the book, I don't think Claude Frollo hates gypsies but he does dislike women and some similarities he has with his Disney version is consuming and destructive love towards Esmeralda.

Just like with Phoebus and Claude Frollo, Quasimodo also undergoes through a personality change. In the cartoon he's a gentle lovable man who is in full use of his senses. He also loves Esmeralda and does what he can for her.In the book, although he shares some common atributes with his Disney persona, he's also different. For one thing he's deaf so he's unable to hear anything, and he tends to be violent if I'm not mistaken and thanks to Claude Frollo knows some sign language.

Esmeralda as well had her personality altered. For those who watched Disney cartoon and are dying to read the original novel, don't expect for La Esmeralda to be spunky and independent character. Also Esmeralda was raised as a gypsy, but her heritage is French, and she meets her mother who was a former prostitute, and she is very dependent and not spunky, although she does have a female goat named Djali who could do clever tricks that Esmeralda teaches it. And, Esmeralda is married by law, (never the consumation) to a man named Pierre Gregoir. (Phoebus in the cartoon takes over Gregoir's role in rallying everyone to rescue Esmeralda before she is hanged.) Also, she is repulsed by Quasimodo and won't even allow him to kiss her hand!

The plot is also slightly different than in the book; unfortunately due to constant narrative jumps I had a hard time understanding some points of the novel; just like in book, the novel does start out with Festival of Fools, but Quasimodo isn't tied up because he's ugly (where Esmeralda rescues him in the Disney version,) but its because Quasimodo, on orders of Claude Frollo, tried to kidnap her and also due to both Quasimodo and the judge being deaf.

The only other things I can recall is that in the book Phoebus doesn't trap Esmeralda in the cathedral, but both continue with own lives. Claude Frollo does destroy Esmeralda in the book, first by accosting Phoebus and giving him money for a room so he could meet up with Esmeralda and then by witnessing and getting jealous of watching Phoebus try to consummate the lust he feels for her. Claude Frollo stabs Phoebus in the act of jealousy and of course she gets arrested. Fleur De Lys is jealous of Esmeralda thus when Phoebus becomes okay she never tells him of Esmeralda's plight, and somehow Phoebus is too stupid to put things together. Esmeralda does gain sanctuary in the tower (the scene where Quasimodo carries her off to the Notre Dame and shouts sanctuary actually does happen,)  Pierre Gregoir gets people to attempt to rescue her, but Quasimodo, thinking they are going to hurt her, fights with them. She escapes, finds out about her mother but in the same day both women die.

That was the novel version. I do wish that it would have been as exciting as I wrote it, but unfortunately I read the unabrdiged version which happens to have many unnecessary details. Since the novel version is reviewed, let's briefly go over the Disney version.

The story begins with Clopin (He died in the book by the way,) telling the story about the Hunchback of Notre Dame and goes back in time where gypsies were running away from Claude Frollo who found them and killed the mother. He wants to dump the baby in the well but a priest forbids him to do so. He raises Quasimodo in the bell tower and forbids him to go outside. On Feast of Fools Quasimodo disobeys, is crowned king of fools and gets taken up by a mob to be tied and pelted. While Frollo ignores him, Esmeralda rescues him and both get away. She also meets Phoebus who traps her in the cathedral but Quasimodo helps her escape. Claude Frollo falls in love with her and in process destroys everything to get her, but he isn't successful. Thanks to Phoebus and Quasimodo he discovers Court of Miracles and traps everyone. Then he tries to burn Esmeralda, but Quasimodo rescues her, there's a fight and Frollo falls to his death (in book as well he falls to his death from a gargoyle) and Esmeralda and Phoebus marry and live happily ever after, while Quasimodo becomes accepted by humans.

So, which is better? I do think that Disney cartoon is a bit dark, but the novel is far more interesting than the cartoon, and now, the book doesn't seem so childish, does it?

Cool songs:






Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review of #3 The Girl from Junchow by Kate Furnivall

Name of Book: The Girl from Junchow

Author: Kate Furnivall

ISBN: 978-0-425-22764-0

Publisher: Berkley

Part of a Series: Lydia Saga; The Jewel of St. Petersburg, The Russian Concubine prequels

Type of book: Russia, China, communism, 1929-1930, relationships, interracial relationship, Asian male/white female, protection

Year it was published: 2009

Summary:

China, 1929. For years Lydia Ivanova believed her father was killed by the Bolsheviks. But when she learns he is imprisoned in Stalin-controlled Russia, the fiery girl is willing ot leave everything behind-even her Chinese lover, Chang An Lo.

With her half brother, Alexei, Lydia sets out on a dangerous journey. Tension grows between the two as Alexei's search for his past threatens Lydia's quest to find her father and forge a new future for herself. But when Alexei abruptly disappears, Lydia is left alone, penniless in soviet Russia. As she continues her search for information, Lydia finds herself caught in a perilous entanglement with a Russian officer.

But Chang An Lo has not forgotten Lydia. He knows things about her father that she does not. And while he races to protect her, she is prepared to risk treacherous consequences to discover the truth...

Characters:

Again we meet a lot of memorable and interesting characters such as Edik and the puppy he's devoted to, Misty, as well as Antonina and her husband Dmitri and the former prostitute Elena. Besides Elena, the characters were well rounded and memorable and you get to see interesting faucets about them as well as discover interesting personalities and even the characters overcoming their shortcomings.

Theme:

I think Lydia yet again struggled to survive and achieve her goals. I am not sure what lesson I got out of this book though.

Plot:

I think it is necessary to read Russian Concubine before this book, and possibly Jewel of St. Petersburg, although the author wrote Jewel of St. Petersburg after this novel. This is written in third person narrative from multiple characters' points of view such as Alexei for one.

Author Information:

Author of 'The Russian Concubine' novel, about two White Russian refugees, a mother and daughter without money or papers in an International Settlement in China. (From Katefurnivall.blogspot.com)

Opinion:

The first time I read this few years ago, I was disappointed with the book because I had hoped to learn more things about Chang An Lo. The only things we learn are snippets but that's it. I am thinking that the back summary really didn't do the book justice and it tends to distort some events; one example being that Alexei was helping Lydia and Popkov search for his father instead of where he lived and grew up. Chang An Lo was sent to Moscow and only learns the truth after meeting with Lydia and whatnot, and not before. Like the previous books, this one is enjoyable and is crying out for a sequel in my view. (I guess I want to see the happily ever after with kids experienced by Lydia and Chang, and also I really want to learn more about him.) However I felt that this is the weaker novel when comparing it to Russian Concubine or Jewel of St. Petersburg. This book was published a year before Jewel of St. Petersburg though. It does leave a number of things to be answered, besides that of Lydia and Chang's relationship such as plots about Alexei for one.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #9 The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Name of Book: The First Four Years

Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder

ISBN: 0-06-440031-X

Publisher: Harper Trophy

Part of a Series: Little House Series

Type of book: 1885-1889, farming life, sickness, storms, tragedies, prairie, pioneer

Year it was published: 1971

Summary:

Laura and Almanzo Wilder begin married life on their small prairie homestead with high hopes. The beautiful prairie world seems like a paradise. There are wildflowers in the spring, wild geese in autumn, pony rides, and warm and happy times together. But each year brings unexpected disasters as well- storms destroy the crops; there is sickness, fire, and always, always, unpaid debts. The first four years often prove heartbreaking for the Wilders. Still, they have each other, and their little daughter Rose, and a fierce determination succeed.

Characters:

I didn't understand why Laura couldn't set Rose to working on things like Ma did on Laura and other sisters. I also am shocked that for someone who helped take care of Grace and Carrie, Laura confesses that she knows very little of babies! The characters seemed flat somehow and there wasn't much life to them unfortunately. Also, some beloved characters, like the Boasts have changed for the worse, and its difficult to imagine that Laura cares very little for her newborn son who passed away.

Theme:

If there is a theme, its this one: don't go into farming.

Plot:

There is a skeleton of a plot, but there aren't tendons or muscles or anything to give it good appearance. I also suspect there's some sort of desperation to finish the book and just get through this as soon as possible. (The four chapters, each standing for a year, always ends with these lines: "It was the twenty-fifth of August. And the winter and  the summer were the _ year.") I think I was relieved when it was all over. I recall reading it as a child and finding it incredibly boring and torturing to get through. Odd that this time I didn't suffer through torture trying to read it.

Author Information:

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American author who wrote the Little House series of books based on her childhood in a pioneer family.[1] Laura's daughter, Rose, inspired Laura to write her books. (from wikipedia)

Opinion:

From the last eight Little House books, despite the hardships, one felt community, spirit and strength, as well as warmth coming from the Ingalls family. This book is literally being doused with cold water and contains none of the warmth and humanity that the first eight books contained. Also, this is one book that should not have been published because Laura ends the eight book series beautifully with Laura realizing that despite her living with Almanzo, she will always have her family by her side and will never be lonely. In this book barely any of the beloved characters make appearances or even cameos. Laura also tells Almanzo, or Manly as she calls him, that she doesn't want to marry a farmer, something that has been suppressed in These Happy Golden Years. There's also a countdown of sorts and unimportant characters. There are also families we never met or were introduced to even. If you will read this book, then don't expect to get warm cozy feelings from it. Also another aspect I didn't like was the treatment of certain of Native Americans in the book. (In first chapter they come in and want to take things from Laura's family, one even wants to take her as a wife, but she refuses and slaps him.)

1 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book Review of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

Name of Book: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Author: Victor Hugo

ISBN: 9780451527882

Publisher: Signet Classic

Type of book: France, Cathedral, forbidden love, square love, secrets, 1482, Paris

Year it was published: 1831 (version I have 1965)

Summary:

The setting of this extraordinary historical novel is medieval Paris: a city of vividly intermingled beauty and grotesquerie, surging with violent life under the twin towers of its greatest structure and supreme symbol, the cathedral of Notre-Dame. Against this background Victor Hugo unfolds the haunting drama of Quasimodo, the monstrous hunchback; Esmeralda, the gypsy dancer; and Claude Frollo, the priest tortured by the specter of his own damnation. Shaped by a profound sense of tragic irony, it is a work which gives full plya to the author's brilliant historical imagination, his remarkable powers of description. Whether depicting the frenzy of a brutish mob or hte agony of a solitary soul, whether capturing the drunken blaze of of sunlight or dungeon darkness, Victor Hugo's art never fails in its quest for the immediacy of felt experience. Immensely popular from its original publication to the present day, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame stands as an unsurpassed and enduring literary triumph. As Andre Maurois writes: "Hugo's characters were to live...in hte minds of men of all countires and all races...They are unforgettable because they possess the elemental grandeur of myths and epics."

Characters:

These are not Disney characters; in the book Esmeralda is not a spunky young lady, Phoebus is not a loyal soldier who loves only Esmeralda, Claude Frollo isn't as evil as he appears to be, and there are no talking gargoyles, although the goat, Djali does exist. The characters are far more complex in other words.

Theme:

Mostly the book explores the theme of physical beauty vs beauty of the heart, as well as the feelings of forbidden love and living a cloistered life within the convent.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative, omniscient point of view. Unfortunately the writing tended to be uneven and there was a lot of extraneous information such as how it looked like as well as hyper focus on one specific day. It's a pity that many things he discusses in the book seemed unnecessary to me. And also unfortunate are the constant interruptions within the narrative.


Author Information:

Born in 1802, the son of a high officer in Napoleon's army, Victor Hugo spent his childhood against a background of military life in Elba, Corsica, Naples, and Madrid. After the Napoleonic defeat, the Hugo family in straitened circumstances in Paris, where, at the age of fifteen, Victor Hugo commenced his literay career with a poem submitted to a contest sponsored by the Academie Francaise. Twenty-four years later, Hugo was elected to the Academi, having helped revolutionize French literature with his poems, plays, and novels. Entering politics, he won a seat in the National Assembly in 1848; but in 1851, he was forced to flee the country because of his opposition to Louis Napoleon. In exile on the Isle of Guernsey, he became a symbol of French Resistance to tyranny; upon his return to Paris after the Revolution of 1870, he was greeted as a national hero. He continued to serve in public life and to write with unabated vigor until his death in 1885. He was buried in Pantheon with every honor the French nation could bestow.

Opinion:

I honestly thought and hoped it would be a five star book, but alas its a three star book. There are glimmers of five stars in terms of Claude Frollo and Esmeralda as well as Phoebus and Quasimodo, but the narrative was not very even and he tended to interrupt it to discuss architecture or how the Paris of 1480s looked like. There are many pages I found boring and pointless, wondering how does all of this fit in with the story he's telling? (I'm still not sure how...) I enjoyed reading about Claude Frollo's feelings towards Esmeralda. Also, I will warn that this is not a Disney version and that many readers who will go thinking like that will be extremely disappointed because certain people are not the way the cartoon portrayed them. (More on that later.)

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of Evelina by Fanny Burney

Name of Book: Evelina

Author: Fanny Burney

ISBN: 0-19-281596-2

Publisher: Oxford World's Classics

Type of book: society, 1777-1778, Britain, orphan, manners, country, diversions, company

Year it was published: 1778

Summary:

Evelina, the first of Burney's novels, was published anonymously and brough her immediate fame. It tells the story of a young girl, fresh from the provinces, whose initiation into the ways of hte world is frequently painful, though it leads to self-discovery, moral growth, and, finally, happiness. Hilarious comedy and moral gravity make the novel a fund of entertainment and wisdom. Out of the graceful shifts from the idyllic to the near-tragic and realistic, Evelina emerges as a fully realized character. And out of its treatment of contrasts- the peace of the countryside and the cultured and social excitement of London and Bristol, the crows od life-like vulgarians and the elegant gentry- the novel reveals superbly the life and temper of eighteenth-century England, as sen through the curiosity of its young heroine.

Characters:

The principal characters of Evelina and Lord Orville are incredibly boring and flat, despite Evelina's numerous misadventures in London in 1770s. Although in some parts I sympathized with her, I couldn't help but think of her and of everyone else as snobs and I felt very bad for Madame Duval. The speeches and situations are completely obsolete, at least I didn't grow up with them ,and its obvious that the novel is extremely dated. Evelina is "good" literally; she makes mistakes, but its out of goodness, there are no bad faults within her. It's not a casual read and it will be difficult to relate to a character that's literally dated. (This is also before the Regency times by the way... this in time of American Revolution.) Also, we dont' learn a lot about other characters and why they are the way they are.

Theme:

This is basically a book of manners, and if you are a good person and have righteous causes, then good things will happen to you.

Plot:

Right away the audience will understand and learn of Evelina's situation, that of an orphan living in a country with Mr. Villars who also used to look after Evelina's mother. There is something I wish that would be done; that would be the years written next to the dates because I could swear all this happened in one year, but they made it happen in two years. Also, its an epistolary novel from Evelina's point of view, and few other characters' as well, but Evelina is one telling the tale. It takes place in London and Bristol of late 1770s.

Author Information:

Author profile (from goodreads.com)

born
June 13, 1752 in King’s Lynn, The United Kingdom

died
January 06, 1840

gender
female

genre
Literature & Fiction


About this author

Also known as Frances Burney and, after her marriage, as Madame d’Arblay. Frances Burney was a novelist, diarist and playwright. In total, she wrote four novels, eight plays, one biography and twenty volumes of journals and letters.

Opinion:

Curious about how London and Bristol will be like in 1770s? Would you want to know the appropriate things to do in company of gentlemen? Then this is the right book for you! I never thought I'd see the day when I'll give this book three stars. When I first read this book, it was for a Jane Austen class in 2008. First of all, back then, classics and are good like oil and water, and I had to read this book within a week or two. Back then the book was incredibly mind numbing and bland and I couldn't understand anything that was going on. Evelina could defenitely be thought of as an unrealistic character who seems to have no bad traits about her. Same would go for Lord Orville. Reading it the second time, at a more leisurely pace and perhaps due to the fact its my second time so the novel is more familiar, there is a strange enjoyment in reading it. I'm not sure if its due to re-reading or to a more leisurely pace. It's a book of manners and what to do in certain situations, but it also mixes in the more "scandalous" elements such as Evelina being an orphan and being abandoned by her father. There are convenient plot twists though, and as I was reading it, I couldn't help but think of how much leisure time the wealthy have.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #8 These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Name of Book: These Happy Golden Years

Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder

ISBN:  0060264802

Publisher: Harper Trophy Book

Part of a Series: Little House Series

Type of book: Settled, courting, prairie, pioneer, working, schooling, growing up, marrying, 1883-1885

Year it was published: 1943

Summary:

Laura, not yet sixteen, takes a job teaching school in a drafty shanty twelve miles from home. It's a terrifying job. Most of her pupils are taller than she is- and she has to board with a hateful, crazed lady. Laura is miserable, but she must help to keep her blind sister Mary in school. And every Friday, when the school week is over, Almanzo arrives in his sleigh-come all twelve miles across the desolate icy slough to take her home to her family for the weekend. Could it be love?

Characters:

Just like Laura is growing up, so we are growing up with her and we see her start caring for the trends, getting jobs and staying busy, all to help the family. The family no longer seems to be isolated, and Laura turns into a serious grave young lady. I have a hard time picturing her liking Almanzo. (My thought is that she likes him for his horses.) I also feel kind of sorry for Nellie. Also a number of family members come over and we get updates on how they are doing.

Theme:

Basically its a memoir, but if lessons can be learned from there, I think one of them would be is to stay strong and not forget your own family and do what you can for them.

Plot:

I think there is necessity in reading other books to understand what's going on, at least starting with On The Banks of Plum Creek or By the Shores of silver lake. The book is in third person narrative and is told from Laura's point of view.

Author Information:

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American author who wrote the Little House series of books based on her childhood in a pioneer family.[1] Laura's daughter, Rose, inspired Laura to write her books. (from wikipedia)

Opinion:

What is most shocking to me is the different values we have today than in Laura's time. I'm not saying that things back then were better or wish to go back in the past. But its peculiar that in these books Laura never tackles the subjects of what its like becoming a woman with no pads or whatnot, or she never talks or fantasizes about guys or ever wonders about what her first kiss would be like. Also, can someone imagine courting a person and having their first kiss few years after the courting started?! Its sad that the stories are finished, and I liked how its supposed to end with Laura's marriage to Almanzo and their settling down and continuing on the next generation. (The First Four Years should not have been published in my view.)

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of Brothers by Da Chen

Name of Book: Brothers

Author: Da Chen

ISBN: 978-1-4000-9728-9

Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books

Type of book: China, 1960s-1980s, bastard brother, ridiculous coincidences, true love, money, power, wealth, ambition

Year it was published: 2006

Summary:

At the height of China’s Cultural Revolution a powerful general fathered two sons. Tan was born to the general’s wife and into a life of comfort and luxury. His half brother, Shento, was born to the general’s mistress, who threw herself off a cliff in the mountains of Balan only moments after delivering her child. Growing up, each remained ignorant of the other’s existence. In Beijing, Tan enjoyed the best schools, the finest clothes, and the prettiest girls. Shento was raised on the mountainside by an old healer and his wife until their deaths landed him in an orphanage, where he was always hungry, alone, and frightened. Though on divergent roads, each brother is driven by a passionate desire—one to glorify his father, the other to seek revenge against him.

Separated by distance and opportunity, Tan and Shento follow the paths that lie before them, while unknowingly falling in love with the same woman and moving toward the explosive moment when their fates finally merge.

Brothers, by bestselling memoirist Da Chen, is a sprawling, dynamic family saga, complete with assassinations, love affairs, narrowly missed opportunities, and the ineluctable fulfillment of destiny

Characters:

The characters lack proper emotions and seem hollow shells. I never liked Sumi and never really understood her motives or why she did what she did. I couldn't understand why neither Tan nor Shento found another woman to love and what is there to obsess about her? She's not likable and I couldn't understand her. Shento is a sympathetic character but from the summary, one could guess which brother would become evil and another good. Would be cool if the author made the good brother evil and vice versa. Tan is an interesting character as well, at least in description, but there was something lacking in the book that made both of them shells of themselves.

Theme:

I have no idea what I should have learned from the book, besides to check facts extra carefully and do extra research for writing.

Plot:

A lot of inconsistencies and too good to be true events. This is in multiple points of views primarily in first person narrative, although in some cases third person narrative was employed.  I do like that the author explained a lot and didn't leave threads untied, aside from the fact whether or not certain characters got together or where they are now.

Author Information:

(from the Dachen.org:) "Da Chen grew up in the deep south of China, running barefoot in muddy fields and riding the backs of water buffaloes. In his tiny Fujian village, water was fetched from an ancient well swimming with snakes, and the only lights that burned in most households were hissing kerosene lanterns. As the grandson of a disgraced landowner, he was a victim of communist political persecution and hollowing poverty during the Cultural Revolution. His family was beaten, his father thrown in reform camp, and young Chen, at the age of nine, was threatened with imprisonment.

Unfailing family love helped him survive in a dysfunctional society and he found unexpected love and friendship with four other hoodlum outcasts, but dreams made him soar above the poverty and persecution. His first encounter with a Christian woman, a Baptist professor, was life changing. She taught him English and opened the possibility of another world. He excelled in college at Beijing Languages and Culture University, and stayed on as a professor of English after graduating top in his class.

Da arrived in America at the age of 23 with $30 in his pocket, a bamboo flute, and a heart filled with hope. He attended Columbia University School of Law on a full scholarship, and upon graduating, worked for the Wall Street investment banking firm of Rothschilds, Inc."

Opinion:

For a dollar at a local bookstore I got Advanced Reader's Edition, so my views and opinions are based on that instead of the good version. In more ways than one this is an extremely dissatisfying story, although it had potential to be good. The characters lacked conviction and were unconvincing and confusing. Also, there are many wrong facts within the book; for one thing, the Tiannemen Square happened in 1989, not 1986, another is that Dream of Red Chamber is not an erotic novel but its a daily life of the wealthy family called Jia. Maybe in later chapters there's some erotica, but so far, from Chapters 1-60 no sign of any erotica whatsoever! (" Rather, I was vividly reminded of some of the arousing scenes from the literary masterpiece A Dream of Red Mansions, an erotica set in the Ch'ing dynasty." (121 chapter 16))  If the author got these small details wrong, I have to wonder what else he got wrong. Also, for a book that's supposed to be political and whatnot, why doesn't the author explore the politics of that era? Such as how the only child rule came about (If I'm not mistaken it started in late 1970's.) If those facts themselves are wrong, one should read about the women. (He doesn't write negatively about women, just incorrectly.) No woman would jump off the cliff while giving birth; also would any sane woman have sex immediately after she was raped?

1 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Planned Books

Books I'm Reading:

Mansfield Park- Jane Austen 128/372
Evelina-Fanny Burney 193/406
Brothers- Da Chen 291/419
Les Liaisons Dangereuses- Choderlos DeLaclos 106/396
The Count of Monte Cristo-Alexandre Dumas 174/531
The Hunchback of Notre Dame-Victor Hugo 368/501
Homeland- John Jakes 20/1174
Gone with the wind- Margaret Mitchell 40/1037
Bury Me Deep-Christopher Pike 56/211
Fall Into Darkness-Christopher Pike 72/213
The Eternal Enemy- Christopher Pike 43/180
Ivanhoe- Sir Walter Scott 22/405

Series
The Good Earth- Pearl Buck
2. Sons 92/313

The Story of the Stone- Xueqin Cao
3. The Warning Voice 184/613
Lydia Trilogy- Kate Furnivall
3. The Girl from Junchow 312/488
People Saga Quartet- W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
2. People of the fire 55/467
The Storyteller Trilogy-Sue Harrison
1. Song of the River 56/560
Tigress Series-Jade Lee
6. Tempted Tigress 147/346
As Long as we both shall live-Lurlene McDaniel
1. 'Till Death do us part 19/203
Little House Series-Laura Ingalls Wilder
8. These Happy Golden Years 185/289

Future Books:

Emma- Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen
Persuasion-Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
East Wind, West Wind- Pearl Buck
A Marriage in the making- Natalie Fox
Desert Prince, Bride of Innocence- Lynne Graham
Having the Billionaire's baby- Sandra Hyatt
Desert Prince, Defiant Virgin- Kim Lawrence
The Monk- Matthew Lewis
Tender Assault- Anne Mather
Ready-made family- Salomon Murphy
The Italian- Anne Radcliffe
The Age of Innocence-Edith Wharton

House of Earth- Pearl Buck
3. A House Divided

The Story of the Stone- Xueqin Cao
4. The Debt of Tears
5. The Dreamer Wakes
First Native Americans Quartet- W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear
3. People of the Earth
4. People of the River
The Storyteller Trilogy- Sue Harrison
2. Cry of the Wind
3. Call Down the Stars
Modern Tigress- Jade Lee
1. The Tao of Sex
2. Getting Physical
Sweet Valley Twins and High Books I have- Francine Pascal
1. Wakefields of Sweet Valley
2. The Wakefield Legacy, the untold story
3. The Fowlers of Sweet Valley
4. The Patmans of Sweet Valley
Lila's Secret Valentine
The Unicorns Go Hawaiian
Jessica's Secret
Elizabeth's First Kiss
Little House on the Prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder
9. The First Four Years

Book Review of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Name of Book: Wuthering Heights

Author: Emily Bronte

ISBN: 0-553-21141-2

Publisher:Bantam Classic

Type of book: British, 1700s-1802, interracial romance, curse, all in family, supernatural, soul-mates

Year it was published: 1847 (version I have 1983)

Summary:

"My great thought in living is Heathcliff. If all else perished, and HE remained, I should still continue to be...Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure...but as my own being."

WUTHERING HEIGHTS is the only novel of Emily Bronte, who died a year after its publication at teh age of thirty. A brooding Yorkshire tale of a love that is stronger than death, it is also a fierce vision of metaphysical passion, in which heaven and hell, nature and society, and dynamic and passive forces are powerfully juxtaposed. Unique, mystical, with a timeless appeal, it has become a classic of English literature.

Characters:

For me personally, all the characters are not likable. I felt sorry for Heathcliff, and couldn't really blame him for becoming the way he was. Nelly or Ellen Dean also frustrated me that she refuses to give more insight into Heathcliff's mind, and it also seems that they all written to be knocked down so to speak. I couldn't find anything to like about Catherine, and no matter how many times I have read the book, I can't understand her at all. I didn't understand the reason to continue this story onto the second generation of the daughter and the sons, although the second Catherine is a little more understanding and likable than her mother.

Theme:

True love never dies.

Plot:

It will be a confusing read and its not because it was written in 1840s, but in fact its the structure and the way it's set up: we first begin with Mr. Lockwood who comes over to Wuthering Heights and he talks in first person point of view. Later on he gets injured and Nelly begins to entertain him, who is also in first place narrative. Sometimes there's slight confusion between who's talking, especially when a few times without warning, Nelly makes a remark to Lockwood, and he to her. Despite the confusion, there is something about this book that will keep one coming back to read it, at least in my case. It's not the best novel I've read or touched, yet its not the worst. Its difficult to explain.

Author Information:

Emily Jane Bronte was the most solitary member of a unique, tightly knit, English provincial family. Born in 1818, she shared the parsonage of the town of Haworth, Yorkshire, with her older sister, Charlotte, her brother, Branwell, her younger sister, Anne and her father, the Rev. Patrick Bronte. All five were poets and writers; all but Branwell would publish at least one book.

Fantasy was the Bronte children's one relief from the rigors of religion and the bleakness of life in an impoverished region. They invented a whole series of imaginary kingdoms and constructed a whole library of journals, stories, poems, and plays around their inhabitants. Emily's special province was a kingdom she called Gondal, whose romantic heroes and exiles owed much to the poems of Byron.

Brief stays at several boarding schools were the sum of her experiences outside Haworth, until 1842, when she entered a school in Brussels with her sister Charlotte. After a year of study and teaching there, they felt qualified to announce the opening of a school in their own home, but could not atract a single pupil.

In 1845 Charlotte Bronte came across a manuscript volume of her sister's poems. She knew at once, she later wrote, htat they were "not at all like the poetry women generally write...they had a peculiar music-wild, melancholy, and elevating." At her sister's urging, Emily's poems, along with Anne's and CHarlotte's, were published psedonymously in 1846. An almost complete silence greeted this volume, but the three sisters, buoyed by the fact of publicaton, immediately began to write novels. Emily's effort was Wuthering Heights; appearing whose Jane Eyre had already been published to great acclaim. Emily Bronte's name did not emerge from behind her pseudonym of Ellis Bell until the second edition of her novel appeared in 1850.

In the meantime, tragedy had struck the Bronte family. In September of 1848 Branwell had succumbed to a life of dissipation. By December, after a brief illness, Emily too was dead; her sister Anne would die the next year. Wuthering Heights, Emily's only novel, was just beginning to be understood as the wild and singular work of genius that it is. "Stronger than a man," wrote Charlotte, "simpler than a child, her nature stood alone."

Opinion:

I am drawn to this novel and I frequently re-read, somehow trying to understand it, or else trying to get something from it that I'm unable to. It has a strange yet beautiful love story, and I think its also kind of a first interracial love story. (Heathcliff and Catherine.) In all honesty it was very difficult for me to understand their love, beside the fact that it both transcends time and death. I also see this as kind of awareness of strangers. Basically the families in the book, the Earnshaws and Lintons are incredibly sheltered and perhaps they represent England of old. When Catherine's father brings back Heathcliff, he basically introduces a foreigner into the family, and the reader watches as Heathcliff falls in love with Catherine, and despite the mutual consent by both, Catherine cruelly rejects him, thus causing him misery. In the end, the foreign aspect doesn't survive and instead becomes swallowed up by the majority culture. I also felt very sorry for Heathcliff, especially the characters' constant references to his devilish visage.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Simon and Zoe

Story Origin:

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause (Click here to read my review.)

Story Summary:

Zoe is a seventeen year old girl who enjoys writing dark poetry and unfortunately has a mother dying of cancer in a hospital, as well as her best friend Lorraine moving away. She and her father are not close and she seems to have a danger streak of sorts. One day while walking at a park at night, she comes upon Simon whom she finds beautiful.

Simon has a body of a teenager, but in fact he's a vampire who tries to avenge his mother by trying to kill his brother Christopher, another vampire who has a body of a child and does sick things to women.

The two as well meet a number of times; Simon follows her home a few times, (doesn't sneak up into her room though.) and somehow love blossoms between them. At some point Simon tells her about the vampire's curse, and of his family history. Zoe also shares her pains with him, the fact that her mother is dying of cancer, that she and her dad are isolated from one another by the pain, and that she's angry and feeling powerless over the situations.

At one time, the two visit Zoe's mother and she desires for her mother to become as Simon, but he shoots that hope down, and soon, Zoe agrees to help him stop his brother, Christopher.

Without spoilers, things begin to wrap up for Zoe; she makes up with Lorraine with whom she had a fight about her lack of understanding, and also makes up with her father and helps Simon make peace with the world.

In the end she becomes more understanding of life and has a coming of age thing going on.

Opinion:

In some parts the book is boring, but there's some kind of a charm about it that refuses to let me go. I think its a good story, and its not well, Twilight where it has weak characters. Simon and Zoe are a strong couple, Zoe is a strong young woman who makes the change she needs to do so.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

I don't think its the forbidden love aspect, but I think its the fact that the characters dont' end up being together, as well as trying to mature, (unlike Romeo and Juliet.) I only know that I enjoy this story a great deal and would recommend it to everyone if I could.

Song:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stephanie Ryder and Jen En Yong



Story Origin:

'Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin (Click here if you want to read my review.)

Story Summary:

Stephanie Ryder, a 21? year old young woman arrived to Chungking for a journalistic assignment and gets into a scuffle with a soldier named Towering Cloud Hsu who harmed a pregnant woman when they try to clear out the slums. When she transported the woman to a hospital, she meets Jen En Yong. (Jen Yong,) a Chinese doctor and its literally love at first sight. Jen secretly trains doctors and with some help sends them over to Yenan?

Stephanie and Jen date a few times before she gets sent to a special city that no one has been in. In there, during an attack, she captures pneumonia and along with others must live in a cave. Very soon, Jen joins her and through difficulties and hardships they get married. Worried about her health, Jen tells her to go back home where she can recuperate and must also deal with her father's ignorance or hatred of her marriage to Jen.

She recovers and goes back to China where she can start life with Jen, as well as teach at a university. Many years later, as Stephanie becomes secretly pregnant and very weary of China's constant revolutions, she goes back to America to recover but is no longer allowed to come back. Her father passes away and she soon takes over his empire, while Jen is left back in China trying to survive.

Years later, shortly before Stephanie comes back, Jen is killed by Towering Cloud Hsu and some gang members. His last thought is of Stephanie on the ranch, being free.

Opinion:

In a way its not a happy ending because the couple don't reunite at the end, but at the same time they married and built a life together for better or worse until death does them apart. The perception will depend on the reader though. That was just a sample of what the book is about. Its a very complex novel filled with multiple characters and how these plots emerged from many incidents.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Probably the idea that they were forbidden to be together at first from everyone. An American woman with a Chinese man! I think also the ending, that although Romeo and Juliet have died together, Jen passed away before his last glimpse of Stephanie.

Song:


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Young Girl and the Lover

Story Origin:

The Lover by Marguerite Duras and The North China Lover by Marguerite Duras. (I've only read The North China Lover, my apologies. (Click here for review of North China Lover.) 

Story Summary:

The young girl, who is never given a name, (most likely she's the author,) is a poor young girl of thirteen or fourteen years. She lives with her mother, her brothers, and the servant named Thanh who acts as a family's servant of some sorts. The older brother is always trouble, and the younger one is "special needs".

One day, while riding on a ferry, she meets a Chinese man (Manchurian) who's at least twenty-seven years old and is extremely wealthy. He offers her a ride to town on his car, which she accepts, and in a way their relationship begins. All the time they talk about various things and he lusts after her, while its unknown what she might have felt. After the ride, they part for a little while.

Apparently, the  lover has fallen hard for her, for he begins to show up at school and very soon the two become lovers. Difficulties arise for the couple; the lover has an arranged marriage with a Chinese girl although he desires to marry the young girl, while young girl's mother requested that the eldest son with an opium habit should leave back to France.

People find out about the couple and confront the girl's mother about it. The father finds out about the couple and refuses his son's requests to break off the marriage with the Chinese girl so he could marry the young girl. Also, the older brother wrote to the father who sent the girl's family money. The mother and the lover meet and discuss numerous things. Saddened by his fate, the Chinese lover agrees to marry, while on the same day the girl will sail back to France.

I read that in The Lover the girl's lover watches the ship sailing away, while in The North China Lover, the lover doesn't do that. So the couple become separated and until 1990s or maybe earlier when the book is written, he calls her, tells her that he never stopped loving her. The woman also cried, but alas they were never reunited.

Opinion:

I can imagine that many things will deter people from reading the novel; first is the enormous age difference between the couple; she thirteen or fourteen, while he is almost thirty, which is similar to pedophilia; then of course the erotic aspect of the story, and perhaps the writing is very different than what people are used to. Let me give an example:

"He said that to him it was strange how much their story had remained what it was before, how he still loved her, how he would never stop loving her for the rest of his life. How he would love her until he died." (Page 226)

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

There's disapproval of parents, the differences between the couple in terms of socio-economic class, as well as races.

Song: (I'm not sure which song is more suitable; My Phuong Nguyen's Huong Vietnam, or Alizee's Lolita.) 



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Newland Archer and Countess Ellen Olenska

Story Origin:

From The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. (Click here to read my review.) 

Story Summary:

(I've read this story only once so I slightly find it confusing.) Newland Archer is looking forward to getting married to May Welland, but very soon May Welland's cousin, Ellen Olenska returns to New York. At first, Newland Archer doesn't care for her, although because of his love for May he tries to help her out.

But when he starts visiting her and starts seeing how different she is than May and that she's liberated and a free-thinker, he starts to fall in love with her and no longer has the same emotions for May. (Newland wants for women to think for themselves instead of thinking by societal expectations.) He starts visiting often, even sending flowers towards her.

However, Ellen's husband, Count Olenski, wants her back, while she wants a divorce. The society of is of 1870s New York (the Old New York.) so if Ellen gets a divorce from her husband, then there will be scandal for the whole family, and they will no longer enjoy their position! Newland Archer wants for Ellen to be his mistress, but she doesn't want that.

He and May marry, but he's no longer in love with May and instead he visits Ellen, even after his marriage, trying to convince her to stay together with the Count. She agrees, but she doesn't want anything sexual however. Newland Archer, then, makes a choice of leaving May for Ellen, but they throw a party for Ellen in leaving for Europe and that very day May tells him she's pregnant.

In the end, Newland stays with May and Ellen leaves for Europe. Years pass, May dies and Newland Archer goes with a son to Europe, for he wants to visit Ellen Olenska. Newland Archer thinks of the past, and waits outside the hotel, but in the end doesn't visit her.

Opinion:

The ending makes me uncomfortable, and I think its one of the books that one has to read more than once to understand it. Like others, I do wish for a happy ending for Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska, but the ending will make it uncomfortable for many people.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Probably the fact that everyone will be against the pairing, and neither Newland nor Ellen can't exactly leave their spouses to be together. Also, in the end, neither of them ended up together.

Song:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler

Story Origin:

Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell. (Click here for a review.) 

Story Summary:

(The book itself a little over a thousand pages. I will skip over most of the things though. Very sorry.)

This book begins in 1861, when Scarlett O'Hara was sixteen years old and goes to a ball where she overhears a dreadful message that the man she loves, Ashley Wilkes, will be marrying Melanie Hamilton whom Scarlett holds in contempt.

At the same ball, as she's having a conversation in the library with Ashley in hopes of eloping with him, she grows angry with his words and actions and slaps him as well as throws the vase. This wakes up Rhett Butler who set the South against him by being truthful about how civil war will play out.

Scarlett, out of anger and spite, marries Melanie's brother Charles Hamilton who is supposed to be a fiancé for one of Ashley's sisters, either India or Honey Wilkes. He dies and leaves her with a child. Her mother, worried about her, moves her to Aunt Pittypat, Melanie's aunt. During that time, Rhett visits her constantly, courting her, bringing her gifts and even having her break Southern traditions of wearing black for the rest of your life and even having her dance with him. He even tries in his own way to help her escape the burning of Atlanta with Melanie who recently gave birth to a son.

After many tragedies and sufferings, Scarlett returns back to Atlanta in hopes of finding someone who will help her with saving Tara, and after making a debacle of herself in front of Rhett who was stuck in jail and useless, although he gave her good advice in entrapping a man, she seduces and marries her sister's beau. During that time she saves Tara, started a mill business and helped her husband have a successful store. Even when she became pregnant, she continues to break more and more Southern traditions of life. Rhett, meanwhile acts as her escort.

At one point somebody almost rapes her or something and her husband gets killed. Rhett comes over, makes a proposal and she accepts it.

One would think that since the couple match, perhaps they will have happiness, but such is not the case. Scarlett is afraid of being taken care of, thus she doesn't show any affection or love towards Rhett, although she's starting to finally love him. Rhett feels that Scarlett doesn't love him at all no matter what he does thus he starts going out for drinks and also going to whorehouses. They do have a child together, Bonnie, but sadly enough, the little girl dies.

Very soon, due to miscarriage, Melanie dies and asks Scarlett to take care of Ashley and also tells her to take care of Rhett because he loves her so. After doing some soul searching, Scarlett realizes that she loved Rhett all along and when she attempts to make confession to him, it doesn't work and Rhett leaves her. Scarlett then vows to try and get him again, and the book ends.

Opinion:

This book isn't purely romance, but instead it has adventure, history, philosophy, psychology, for any reader, male or female.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Unhappy ending, a love triangle of sorts, both were held in contempt by society, although at one time held powerful positions.

Song:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy

Story Origin:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. ( Review not created.)

Story Summary:

(I've read this few years back so I'm sorry that my memory is kind of faulty.) Elizabeth Bennet has four sisters and no brothers. The sisters aren't married at all, and their parents desire to play a matchmaker to the girls. One day Elizabeth and Jane go to a ball where they meet two men; Mr. Darcy for Elizabeth and Mr. Bingley for Jane.

At first sight of Elizabeth, at the ball, Mr. Darcy makes disparaging remarks towards Elizabeth, which causes her to judge him extremely harshly.However, later on, Mr. Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth and begins to pursue her.

During that time, the officers move in, in particular Wickham who falls in love with Elizabeth, and also a priest visits in hopes of marrying Elizabeth just for convenience, but Elizabeth rejects him and he marries Elizabeth's friend. Lydia, the third or forth youngest Bennet sister, ends up eloping with Wickham and scandalizing the whole family with her conduct. Wickham ends up being a poor soldier and whatnot. Also, Mr. Darcy ends up helping Elizabeth's family out and eventually the two lovers get together.

Opinion:

Its a complex book that's not only focused on Elizabeth and Jane getting married, but also focuses on life in Regency England such as different reasons for marriages (love, convenience, forceful,) I do think you need to re-read it to fully understand it though.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

I honestly think its a new type of Romeo and Juliet; you have lovers who dislike each other at first, but then get together, and fall in love.

Song:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Emily St Aubert and Valancourt

Story Origin:

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (Click here for review.) 

Story Summary:

(Due to the nature and scope of the novel, I will skip the sections that don't have anything to do with Valancourt, very sorry.)

In 1584 in Gascony, Emily St. Aubert lives happily with her parents who taught her to control her passions and to eschew the "world" and enjoy the natural landscapes surrounding their castles. For a while Emily lives in pleasure, until the fateful moment when her father becomes. Her father gets better, but then her mother becomes sick and dies. To recover from tragedy, both Emily and her father decide to go on a trip.

While making a trip, Emily and her father become acquainted with Valancourt who also has similar views to Emily's father. St. Aubert also enjoys his company and the three make good companions. At one point, when they become separated, without their knowledge, Valancourt pursues their carriage, and not knowing it was him, St Aubert shoots him by accident.

Very soon he recovers and the two begin to fall in love through watching landscape scenes. As a parting gift, Valancourt gifts Emily poetry books, with his favorite scenes underlined.

Unfortunately during the trip, Emily's father passes away, and Emily becomes an orphan. Her guardian is her father's sister. Valancourt begins to visit Emily at her house, but the father's sister, the future Mrs. Montoni, at first forbids the marriage but then she encourages the lovers to see one another. She is being courted by Senor Montoni who holds the castle of Udolpho. He thinks her rich, and she him so they marry. Montoni forbids Emily to see Valancourt and soon they travel to Italy. Valancourt leaves for Paris.

Through various adventures and whatnot, including the death of her aunt and of Montoni, Emily returns to live with a family. During that time, Valancourt acquires a negative reputation and is desperate to be reunited with Emily.

Eventually he proves his trustworthiness to Emily, they marry and live happily ever after.

Opinion:

I really enjoyed reading the book, and I wanted to include some happily ever after Romeo and Juliet type stories, which is why I've chosen this novel. The novel is more complicated than it appears, and is a pleasure to read, although you'll need a Thesaurus/ Dictionary and lots of patience to wade through it.


Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Probably the separated lovers idea, then the fact that it tended to be love at first sight so to speak, and for a while their love was disapproved by other people and society. Also, like Romeo, Valancourt is not the type that will rescue his lady from multiple distresses.

Song:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pygmalion and Galatea

Story Origin:

Originally Greek,but Ovid tells it too.

Story Summary:

The story has the same ending, but its told slightly differently. In Robert Graves' Mythology Vol I myth 65, basically Pygmalion fell in love with Aphrodite (Greek Goddess of love) but she wouldn't have him. So instead, he created a woman that looked exactly like Aphrodite and Aphrodite brought it to life as Galatea.

Together they married and had a son and a daughter; Paphus and Metharme. Paphus is the father of Cinyras who founded the Cyprian city of Paphos and built a temple dedicated to Aphrodite.

In Edith Hamilton's version, Pygmalion was a sculptor who abhorred all women and vowed never to marry anyone. However, despite his hatred, he created an exquisite statue of the "perfect" woman. He isn't satisfied and soon he fell in love with his own creation, pining and unhappy.

He bought gifts, clothes, trinkets for her, often dreaming of her thanking him. He took her to bed with him like a child, and often caressed the statue. Venus, the goddess of love, has heard of his plight and became amused by him.

Soon, one of her festivals came up and Pygmalion came up and asked her to help him meet a woman as beautiful as the one he created. Venus consensted and as soon as he came home, he started touching his creation and felt her come alive.

When they married, Venus graced their wedding with her presence. He named the maiden Galatea and very soon the two had a son named Paphos who gave his name to Venus's favorite city.

Opinion:

I thought it was a sweet myth, but this is perhaps a well known one when a man tries to make a woman the way he wants her to be, hence Pygmalion and Galatea.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Honestly speaking it doesn't have Romeo and Juliet type qualities in my opinion, except maybe love and the fact that a woman isn't her own person so to speak.

Song:



Pyramus and Thisbe

Story Origin:

Ovid. There appears to be no Greek version of the story.

Story Summary:

Pyramis and Thisbe grew up in the same city next to each other. I think in today's terms they lived in a duplex styled housing. Throughout the years they fell in love, but their parents forbade the marriage and the love.

There was a crack in the wall where they could communicate with one another and even barely kiss one another. However, they desired to be together.

One day they agreed to meet at a world famous tomb of someone, and Thisbe came first. She waited and waited but Pyramis didn't show up. She saw that a lioness appeared, and she ran away, dropping her cloak on the ground.

Pyramis came along, saw the lioness and saw that she carried Thisbe's cloak with her. Thinking that his lover is dead, Pyramis blamed himself for what happened, then took a dagger and plunged it into his heart, staining the mulberry bush.

Meanwhile, Thisbe came back, for she didn't want for her lover to think she failed him, and saw that he had killed himself. Vowing not to let death separate them, she kills herself too.

In symbol of their love, the mulberry tree carried red berries, as well as an urn holding both of their ashes.

Opinion:

I do wish that instead of only focusing on English literature, I would have been given more choices to enjoy different love stories such as Pyramis and Thisbe. Interesting tale, and most likely Shakespeare borrowed it and made it world famous in terms of Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

This is the original Romeo and Juliet story; parents forbidding lovers to meet, him thinking she died and killing himself, she the same, and eventually mercy from everyone.

Song:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Baucis and Philemon

Story Origin:

Ovid. (There's a somewhat similar in Greek Myths, but names and circumstances are completely different. Flood is only thing they have in common.)

Story Summary:

Whenever Jupiter tired of being on Mount Olympus, he grew curious about mortal lives, and with his companion Mercury, the two descended on earth for some adventures.

One day they descended to the town called Phrygia as poor travelers to see how the people would receive them. No matter where they went to, they were shunned and turned away until they went into a hovel where they were greeted by an old couple; Baucis and Philemon.

There they treated the gods like royalty by giving them delicious food to eat, and nice drinks as well. When they exhausted their efforts in catching a goose, however, Jupiter stopped them and told them who they were, and told them as well that he flooded the entire countryside with water.

He gave them a temple where they can worship him and asked them if they desired something. Philemon asked to be their priests, and for him and his wife to die at the same time since they lived together for too long. Pleased, Jupiter granted their wishes.

Years later, the two reminisced about the past, and very soon they noticed leaves and trunks growing from their bodies. They had only time to cry out "farewell" before they turned into tress; one an oak and another a linden tree growing from the same trunk.

For years people would come and admire the trees, wondering the mystery of it all.

Opinion:

I think the only lesson one could learn from the myth is not to be mean to anyone and to treat people with respect, for you never know who they really are.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Dying together would be the only one.

Song:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Daphne and Apollo

Story Origin:

Originally Greek. Ovid tells story.

Story Summary:

I remember in one version I read that Apollo got into a fight with Cupid and Cupid used his arrows to cause Apollo fall in love with Daphne, daughter of the River god Peneius, to prove that love is a very powerful emotion.

In Robert Graves' Mythology Vol I, the paragraph from 21st myth, Apollo had long been in love with her so it was no sudden impulse and even killed a rival of his, Leucippus. Later on, the book states that Mother Earth rescued Daphne and sent her to Crete under the name of Pasiphae and instead of her body, a laurel tree stood.

In Mythology by Edith Hamilton, Daphne is described as a woman who hates marriage and who desires to be like goddess Diana (a virgin goddess of hunting and forest.) Her father dislikes her decision and wants grandchildren.

One day, Apollo began to chase her, but she ran away from him. At first even he had a difficult time keeping up with her, but soon he overtook her and begged her to stop, for he was not an ordinary man. She didn't heed the words.

She came over to her father's river and begged him to help her escape the fate, and her father turned her into a laurel tree, thus escaping Apollo's love. Apollo told her how much he loved her and told her that all of the victors will wear the leaves from the leaves.

Opinion:

This is another one of my favorite myths; (I know, I like sad myths.) because often there are times when someone you love will not return your feelings, and in someways its good to remind people of that, that there are times when love is not reciprocated for one reason or another.


Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Probably the ending is like Romeo and Juliet; unhappy. Besides that, no idea.

Song:

Ceyx and Alcyone

Story Origin:

Greek. Ovid is the best source for the story.

Story Summary:

There's a Greek version of the myth and one for Ovid. Ceyx, is a King of Thessaly and son of Morningstar known as Lucifer (NOT THE CHRISTIAN LUCIFER!!!) Alcyone is the daughter of King of the Winds named Aeolus and Aegiale. Both were madly in love with one another, and according to Greek Myths Vol I by Robert Graves, Alcyone compared herself to Hera and Ceyx to Zeus which caused later problems, although Edith Hamilton's Mythology omits that fact.

What is known is that Ceyx was compelled to take a trip far away from his beloved Alcyone and on the way back home, a storm comes over (supposedly by angry Zeus,) and drowns him. His last thoughts were of Alcyone.

Alcyone counts off days until his return and busies herself a great deal. She prays to gods and goddesses, and Hera answers her, taking pity on her. She gives instructions to her messenger Iris to fly away into God of Slumber's cave and send Alcyone a dream that Ceyx has passed away.

Later in the night Alcyone has a dream of Ceyx speaking to her, telling her that he has died and that his thoughts were of her. Alcyone is convinced that it wasn't an ordinary dream, that in fact it was Ceyx who visited her and brought her news of his own passing.

After the dream, Alcyone woke up, ran outside and upon seeing Ceyx's body floating on water, ran into the water, but instead of drowning transformed into a bird, as did Ceyx. (Supposedly a kingfisher.) Now the two live together forever and for seven days, on which King Aeolus forbids the winds to blow, Alcyone and Ceyx hatch their children.

Opinion:

Like other stories, this is a beautiful one, and the lesson it might give is that don't let major changes destroy the love you have with your mate.

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

I don't think the forbidden love is the aspect, but in fact its death, that neither can bear living without one another, that's what will cause it to qualify as Romeo and Juliet type story.

Song:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Orpheus and Eurydice

Story Origin:

Orpheus with Argonauts told by Apollonius of Rhodes. Rest is by Virgil and Ovid according to Mythology by Edith Hamilton. Parts of it will be told from Robert Graves' The Greek Myths Vol. I myth 28 entitled "Orpheus".

Story Summary:

Orpheus is the well-known musician of the wold; such are his voice and playing that thousands and millions are charmed. He himself is the son of the Muse known as Calliope (the muse of epic poetry), and the King of Thrace called Oeagrus.

Before becoming married, he supposedly was with Jason and Argonauts and helped them bypass the Sirens as well as encouraging them. None know how he met up with Eurydice and how he wooed her into becoming his. All that is known is that shortly after the marriage, Eurydice walked through a meadow, stepped on a serpent and has died. ( In Vol. I of Greek Myths, it is speculated that Aristaeus tried to rape her and that is why she ran away.)

Orpheus, devastated by this outcome, made a choice to travel to the Underworld in the hopes of rescuing his beloved Eurydice. Somehow he traveled to the Underworld and begged the King and Queen of the dead, Pluto and Persephone to give him back Eurydice, for they only have just started their lives together. He played many songs that caused brief moments of relief to the punished, and he was granted his desire on only one condition; that while he and Eurydice were still in the cave, that he dared not look book.

They walked back to the outside, Orpheus playing music to guide his beloved back to the surface. Shafts of sunlight pierce the craggy walls. Soon they are outside and just as Eurydice is about to walk out, he makes a fatal mistake of looking back and of his beloved fading away. Before she does, she tells him farewell.

With his life after Eurydice, the accounts differ: In Mythology it is written that Orpheus becomes a loner and wanders around, playing music everywhere, that eventually Manaeds come upon him and rend him limb from limb. His singing  head ended up in Lesbos. The Muses collected his limbs and buried them in sanctuary in the island which causes nightingales sing sweetly than before.

Graves's The Greek Myths Vol I slightly differs: It is believed that Orpheus became a priest of Apollo and didn't pay proper attention to Dionysus. In anger, Dionysus sent Manaeds after him who first killed their husbands and then killed Orpheus, throwing his head into the river where it sailed to Lesbos, singing endlessly. The Muses collected his limbs and buried him at the foot of Mount Olympus. As for the head, after it was attacked by Lemnian serpent (Apollo turned it to a stone.) it was laid to rest in cave at Antissa. The head then began to prophecy, but Apollo put a stop to it. The Lyre that Orpheus played ended up as a constellation in heaven.

Opinion:

This is another one of my favorite myths that I enjoyed reading. Although its a sad story, but sometimes it shows that its fate that things may not work out. Although many think of him badly, I have to admire that he braved the underworld to try to rescue his beloved and begin a life with her. (If I remember right, the Greek philosophers detested him.)

Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Perhaps like Romeo and Juliet, the two didn't fully have a good beginning at their lives; Eurydice was struck down and there's idea that if Orpheus was patient enough, he could have Eurydice back in his arms and beginning a new start. In Romeo and Juliet, if only Romeo could have waited a little longer then the two would enjoy their lives together.

Song:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cupid and Psyche

Story Origin:

(According to Edith Hamilton's Mythology) told by Apuleius, Latin writer of 2nd century modern era. Latin names are used and told tale after manner of Ovid.

Story Summary:

Long time ago, a king had three daughters; of which Psyche was the most beautiful. Many people would travel to see her and often compared her to Venus, which caused the goddess to be extremely jealous and angry. She begged her son Cupid to use an arrow to make Psyche fall in love with the most hideous man in existence. When she showed him the girl, Cupid fell in love with her.

Psyche's admirers dwindled, and her parents, alarmed that no one wanted the girl, went to an oracle of Apollo who told them that Psyche is desired by a god and to put her in mourning and leave her on a hill. Reluctantly, it was done as directed.

The wind, Zephyr, meanwhile, took Psyche to a very beautiful and grand house, and at night her husband visited her, not allowing her to see him. It thus continued for a while until the husband told Psyche of her sisters' grief and warned her not to contact them unless she wanted destruction. Psyche really missed her family, so reluctantly the husband allowed her to see the sisters.

When she saw the sisters, they were happy but the sisters became extremely jealous of her, especially when she gave them gifts and they concocted a plan of Psyche's destruction. Next time they visited, they convinced Psyche that her husband is a monster who will use her and then dispose of her. They advised her to take a knife and kill him.

At night when Psyche had a knife and a lamp, she saw her husband for the first time, and instead of monster as her sisters warned her, she saw a beautiful god and fell in love with him. She dropped the knife and accidentally some wax on him, waking Cupid up. Cupid flew off, telling her who he is, and Psyche, at now deeply in love, trailed after him.

She tried and tried finding where he is, and tried to get gods to favor her, but no one wanted to make an enemy out of Venus. Venus, meanwhile, was outraged at what Psyche had done to her son and was searching for her. They finally find each other.

Venus gives her four tasks to complete; one is to sort out the grains with which the ants help her, another is to get fleece from the sheep with which the reed advises her, then another is to get water from the beginning of the river Styx, an eagle helps her with that, and last is Persepine's beauty. Psyche makes it out okay, except she's curious about what the beauty is and when she opens the box, she falls into a deep sleep.

Meanwhile Cupid has healed up and he begins to desire Psyche once more. The door was locked but he flies outside the window and finds his wife. He wakes her with a prick from his arrows, chides her for her curiosity and the two return.

Cupid makes an appeal to Jupiter to grant him Psyche in marriage, to which Jupiter consents to, and he turns Psyche into a goddess, which really pacifies Venus. The two then live happily ever after.

Opinion:

I've known of this myth as a child and I find it beatiful and well-told, and also the man barely does any seeking or rescuing; despite the odds, Psyche seeks her husband and overcomes obstacles in her way. An interesting fact that some may or may not know: Psyche's name literally means "breath" which could also mean "soul", while Cupid's name means "love." What it means is that the soul cannot live without love, and love cannot live without soul. (Even if Psyche was mortal, Cupid still desired her.)


Romeo and Juliet qualities:

Although the ending is a happy one, there is the fact that Cupid happens to be a god and Psyche a mortal such as Montagues and Capulets (One Protestant and another Catholic,) and the coupling was opposed to and involved monumental tasks to be together again.

Song:

Something special for the valentines day

The most powerful words in the English language are "Romeo and Juliet" and "star-crossed lovers." With these words images of forbidden love, tragedy, grand schemes are evoked, deeply appealing to the psyche we were raised with.  With all that said, what better way to celebrate February, until Valentines Day than with forbidden lovers? The endings will both be happy and sad, and the couples memorable.

For those who read my blog frequently, you guys know my feelings towards Shakespeare; for those who don't, I never liked him.The reasons are that his language is archaic and I was forced to read him. If you are forced to read somebody whose language is archaic and where you need lots of translation just to understand him, its not likely one thinks of him as genius. Despite my personal feelings, Shakespeare's plays are famous, or at least the phrases are. Since I'm not willing to subject myself to Shakespeare torture, I will not cover his plays or anything of the kind. Instead, for the February, I will use these terms to mention fourteen stories, seven happy and seven unhappy that might have elements of that famous play. I can't cover everything, so I hope that you will enjoy my choices.  To begin with, I will start with a Roman myth of Cupid and Psyche.
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