I fell to temptations. Went back to the book sale where I picked up more books:
- The Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield
Mansfield has often been compared with Chekhov. I read Rereadings recently, and Patricia Hampl wrote convincingly about Mansfield as an author to check out. Apparently Virginia Woolf considered Mansfield her “rival” – and is there a better compliment than that?
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
I’m a sucker for tales of justice and revenge as a child. Perhaps it’s my sense of fairplay that demands retribution. Or maybe it’s the culture I was brought up in. Growing up, TV was full of martial arts movies where young men (like Jackie Chan) had their family massacred. These wrathful young men would suffer great hardship to learn martial arts for revenge. What is wrong with the Chinese? Guess forgiveness is not a Chinese trait.
Then the question is: is it a French trait? I read an abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo when I was
youngyounger. There was even an abridged comic version back then. I’ve decided that it is time to attempt the actual Dumas epic. All 1,200 pages of it.
No problem at all.
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Istanbul
I’ve wanted to go to Istanbul, the land that was Constantinople, for the longest time. Until I actually get there, I’m reading whatever I can on the city that was the heart of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
The DK Eyewitness Guides are wonderfully illustrated reference that’s worth keeping just for itself. Too bad they are always so pricey. Thank goodness this one is on sale today.
- The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule by Joanna Kavenna
Legend tells of the land of Thule, a northerly dreamland. Joanna Kavenna set out on a journey to discover the story behind this icy Eden. Her search led her to Shetland, Iceland, Norway Estonia and even the Artic wilderness – in short, all the places I dare not go because I am a child of the Sun. Along the way Joanna Kavenna discovers some fascinating history about the Thule Society, which my friend the Hamster called, the “Icelandic Nazi cult.”
- The Avignon Quintet by Lawrence Durrell
- Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski
- God's Terrorists by Charles Allen
- Emma by Jane Austen
I remember Larry from Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals, who will later be Lawrence Durrell to the literary world. His books: grand epic tomes of searing passions against lush exotic cities. Seems dramatic enough to pick them up.
I've been visiting Jenny Diski's blog (see links at the side) and she's the kind of writer I enjoy - candid, a little cranky and irreverent but utterly fun and honest. I think I'll enjoy this one. It's about her journey to the Antarctica, but it's also about memories and her wry observation of the insane world.
About the Wahhabi sect of Islam that has gained prominence in the political world today. Like many people after 9/11, I realised that I do not know enough about Islam, and it is our duty to understand one of the most important religion in today. Wahhabism is just one of the more disturbing aspects of a mutli-faceted religion.
Ms F and I were talking about Jane Austen a while back. During the conversation, Emma was mentioned, as it was our 'A' Level text for English Literature. I mentioned that I liked Jane Fairfax more than Emma Woodhouse. Jane Fairfax was obviously the superior, a woman of intelligent, pride and grace. Then Ms F asks why would Jane fall in love with Frank? I assume what she's saying is this: an obviously intelligent woman is supposed to know better, and would choose someone more worthy of her affections than weak, floppy Frank Churchill.
I disagree. Frank was handsome, and charming and young. Jane Fairfax is human, and she was in love. We are never rational with whom we fall in love with; love is a state of grace that cannot be bargained or earned or denied. It comes to us when we are so undeserving of it, and that is the miracle and tragedy of it. I felt for perfect, elegant Jane Fairfax then, and the heartache when Frank and Emma taunted her.
That night after our discussion I went home hoping to re-read Emma. To my dismay, I found that I’ve misplaced my. Now I have another copy.