Monday, 30 July 2012

Victorian Celebration: Wrap Up

I am really sorry. What I did this past two months is so little it can hardle be called a wrap up. The work out of town, and the school stuff, and other silly activities, added to my procrastinating spirit and easily distracted mind made it difficult to read anything Victorian.

I will make a very honest confession. These are the Victorian things I managed to read:
I read short stories for the Shorty July too, and find it very fun and lighter to read them. I don't feel much obligated to read them because they actually for one-time reading, instead of weeks of marathon.

I still have much on my list for Classic Club's Project, so I guess there is a huge homework waiting for me. But I will try to do the readalongs with people from the Classic Club seriously in the future, as much as my schedule permits it.  

Shorty July: The Masque of the Red Death

Why did I read the story? It's not on my to-read list, and I'm not a fan of Poe's prose works. To be honest, Phantom brought me there. I heard that the story inspires Phantom's masquerade costume, so I read the story. But i have nothing to regret. It's a good story, and I'd like to share my thoughts about it.

In Bahasa:

Alkisah ada sebuah wabah bernama “Red Death”, yang telah menelan begitu banyak korban. Wabah ini tidak pandang bulu, dan dengan mudah merebak, membunuh siapapun yang terjangkit. Seorang bangsawan, bernama Prospero, tidak ingin terkena wabah mematikan ini. Ia dan beberapa temannya akhirnya mengungsi ke sebuah rumah yang mewah, lengkap dengan segala sarana yang nyaman, demi menghindari wabah tersebut.

Suatu hari, ia mengadakan pesta topeng, dan ke pesta itu datanglah seorang tamu tidak dikenal, mengenakan kostum yang sangat mirip dengan korban “Red Death”. Prospero marah besar, dan memerintahkan agar tamu bertopeng tersebut ditangkap. Namun akhirnya..

Kisah ini sebenarnya menandaskan bahwa tidak seorang pun di dunia ini dapat mencurangi kematian, atau bersembunyi darinya. Prospero seolah mencoba cara terakhir untuk menyembunyikan diri dari maut, namun ke situ pulalah maut menjemput. Penyajian cerita yang gelap dan kelam khas Poe juga menambah ketegangan ketika membaca kisah ini. Jelaslah, kisah ini bukan kisah pengantar tidur (pengantar begadang, mungkin?). Silakan dicoba.

In English:

Prospero was a rich nobleman who tried to escape the “Red Death” - a plague that impartially and effectively killed people in the area. This plague was terrible, marked with pain and blood. Terrified by the possibility of contracted by the disease, he and some of his friends retired to a house far from the plague. He entertained his guest in every means possible, and even held parties for them.

Once he held a masquerade, in 7 different rooms with 7 different colours. In that party, an uninvited guest came. He wore a mask resembling a victim of the Red Death, thus scaring Prospero so much that he ordered the guest to be immediately captured – with no success.

The story tells us how impossible it is to cheat death or run away or hide form it. No matter how you try, it will come and catch you one day. Poe's dark and gloomy writing style adds more thrill to the story, gives it gothic elements in it, which is fun, but not that fun for a bedtime story.  

Victorian Celebration: Treasure Island

It needed a full month (or more) to finish it because of loads and loads of things that distracted me from finishing it. But at last, voila! I did it.

My first contact with Treasure Island was actually a Disney animation called Treasure Planet, with more or less the same story, which actually really moved me to tears. I was thinking, “It's just a kid's movie, why do I cry?” But it happened.

So it has been a postponed desire of mine to read the novel, and I just did. The story is about a boy named Jim Hawkins who gets a map from an old sailor Billy Bones, that will bring him to Captain Flint's treasure: a treasure that many pirates are willing to find. So he sails to find the treasure, along with his friends Dr. Livesey, Captain Smollet, and Squire Trelawney to find the treasure.

Once they get to the island, Long John Silver, one of the crew and the ex-member of Flint's own crews, takes over the ship and wins over most of the crews on his side, planning to take the treasure for him and his people alone. Jim must find a way to get him and his friends out of the danger of the pirates, and if possible, bring the treasure home with him.

Jim and Silver in Treasure Planet
I have to say that I don't find the story as interesting as the Disney movie, which I like better. In the movie, Jim is portrayed as a more rebellious boy but a very talented one, and Silver as a cruel man who is actually soft and kind inside. I like it better that way. Needless to say, I also like the ending of the movie better than the novel.

Storywise, I also find it less thrilling than the other adventures stories I read, like Captain Blood, for example. But then those “more thrilling” stories are not for children, and I think Treasure Island is intended for less mature audience.

That's all from me. If you also read Treasure Island, I'd like to hear your opinion as well.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Shorty July: The Adventure of the Dying Detective by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Aha! It has been a while since I wrote anything about Sherlock Holmes, right? I mean, I love him so much, and yet I don't talk much about him. But today, for the Shorty July and Short Stories on Wednesday this week, I'd like to write about The Adventure of the Dying Detective, which is Sherlock Holmes, by Conan Doyle. As usual I will write in two languages, so here we go.

In Bahasa:

“Ia sekarat, Dr. Watson.”

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes
Hanya dengan kalimat sederhana itu Mrs. Hudson membuat panik para Sherlockian yang membaca cerita ini untuk pertama kalinya. Bagaimana bisa kita membayangkan Sherlock Holmes, terbaring pasrah di ranjangnya, sekarat, menit demi menit menanti ajal menjemput? Tidak terbayangkan. Namun itulah yang Watson dapati terjadi pagi itu.

Kisah ini diawali dengan deskripsi singkat mengenai Sherlock Holmes sebagai “anak kos terburuk” di seluruh Inggris. Bagaimana tidak? Holmes memiliki berbagai kebiasaan-kebiasaan aneh nan menyebalkan, seperti menembaki pintu dan dinding kamar, melakukan eksperimen-eksperimen aneh (yang seharusnya dilakukan di laboratorium) di dalam kamar, dan main biola subuh-subuh. Tapi, bukankah keanehannya ini yang membuat banyak orang menyukainya?

Kalau pembaca menganggap bahwa berurusan dengan Sherlock Holmes yang sehat sudah cukup menguji kesabaran, silakan coba berurusan dengan pria ini sewaktu sedang sakit. Dijamin, pengalaman itu akan menjadi uji kesabaran yang tidak terlupakan. Detektif sekarat itu, bukannya menerima kebaikan hati temannya, malah menolak semua nasihat medis yang Watson berikan, bahkan meragukan kecakapan sang dokter dalam bidangnya tersebut. Bukan itu saja, dia malah memberikan perintah ini itu pada sang dokter, sambil mengoceh tidak jelas tentang koin, kerang, dan hal-hal lain. Seolah belum cukup, dia juga sempat membentak Watson hanya gara-gara perkara sebuah kotak kecil.

Ya sudahlah. Cerita ini pada dasarnya menonjolkan kualitas-kualitas seorang teman yang sangat baik dalam diri Watson. Dia sabar, perhatian, dan rela melakukan apa yang diminta Sherlock tidak soal seberapa menjengkelkannya temannya itu. Dan soal penyakit Sherlock Holmes, dapatkah Watson menemukan “obat” yang cocok bagi temannya?

In English:

“He’s dying, Dr. Watson.”

Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke
as Holmes and Watson
Alright. Those words are enough to make any Sherlockian tremble in fear when he reads it for the first time. To think about Sherlock Holmes, lying on his bed, half-dead, counting his last minutes on earth would be terrifying. But that was exactly how Watson found Holmes that day.

I don't want to give any spoiler, because perhaps some of the readers have this story as a part of their to-read list, but let me tell you this: this is a beautiful story. In this story we can see how irritating Holmes could be, and how patient, kind and loyal Watson was to him.

Even at the beginning of the story, Sherlock is described as the “worst tenant in London” with his mad, annoying habits (note that I'm using plural) such as shooting the wall, playing the violin at dawn, and doing scientific experiments in his room, while such thing should be done in laboratory. And yet, that's exactly what we love about him.

The doctor, on the other hand, is perhaps the best and kindest man anyone could find in London. Sometimes I pity him being so close to Sherlock Holmes instead of some less eccentric being. But he loved the thrill of adventures that surrounded the sleuth, and had proven every now and then that he was a valuable partner and a loyal companion of him.

And in this short story, Watson proves himself to be a great, kind, and long-suffering friend. How so? Well, just imagine. If you think dealing with a healthy Holmes is trying enough, you should never consider getting near the house when he's ill. Being almost dead, Holmes became so absurd. He wouldn't let Watson touch him, and refused any kind of medication, even doubting Watson's medical capability. He talked about oysters, coins, and other crazy stuff, while giving Watson specific instruction about the man he wanted to come to cure him. And to add on more thing on the list of his oddity, he even got mad over just a little box.

Would he die? Or would Watson find the sole remedy for his illness?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Character Thursday: Zhuge Liang – The Sleeping Dragon

“Why?” you may ask, “Why him?”. He's one of the character I was obsessed with for a long time. The first time I knew this character existed was when I read a book about Chinese wisdom, containing Chinese legends. There he was described as a smart but cunning tactician, who outsmarted two people at the same time. (Honestly, I was between laughter and rage when I finished the story)

Then I saw him in the movie, Red Cliff, played by Takeshi Kaneshiro, who played it brilliantly. Then, needing more of him, I read it: San Guo Yan Yi or Romance of the Three Kingdoms, where he played the role of one of the most important characters.

If I were to describe him in one word, it would be genius. Being a state advisor and chief strategist at the age of 26, what other can I say about him. Earlier in his career, he was underestimated by his enemies, and later on, after his genius had become widely known, overestimated by the same party. He used everything around him, both friends and enemies, to his advantage, and did not hesitate from manipulating both side of the battlefield to gain victory.

In the movie he actually said:

“Knowing a little bit of many things gives life more colours.”

Takeshi Kaneshiro as Zhuge Liang
And that's so true about him. In the legend (I haven't read the official, more documantary and less legend version of San Guo Yan Yi), he was a great strategist, mathematician, engineer, expert in psychology, geography, weather forecast, and so many other things, except martial art. But hey, he didn't even have to use his physical strenght to deceive his enemies, did he?

He was credited for many things, from the flying lantern to the crossbow, the mechanical wooden ox to mantou (a kind of food). He was a very good battle planner, who would visit a potential pattle field years before any battle even fought and analysed the advantage and disadvantage of each side of the site. I am talking too much now.

So instead of spoiling the stories and writing them down here, I prefer to give a link where you can find the English translation to be downloaded or read online.


Character Thursday
Adalah book blog hop di mana setiap blog memposting tokoh pilihan dalam buku yang sedang atau telah dibaca selama seminggu terakhir (judul atau genre buku bebas).
- Kalian bisa menjelaskan mengapa kalian suka/benci tokoh itu, sekilas kepribadian si tokoh, atau peranannya dalam keseluruhan kisah.
- Jangan lupa mencantumkan juga cover buku yang tokohnya kalian ambil.
- Kalau buku itu sudah difilmkan, kalian juga bisa mencantumkan foto si tokoh dalam film, atau foto aktor/aktris yang kalian anggap cocok dengan kepribadian si tokoh.

Syarat Mengikuti :
1. Follow blog Fanda Classiclit sebagai host, bisa lewat Google Friend Connect (GFC) atau sign up via e-mail (ada di sidebar paling kanan). Dengan follow blog ini, kalian akan selalu tahu setiap kali blog ini mengadakan Character Thursday Blog Hop.
2. Letakkan button Character Thursday Blog Hop di posting kalian atau di sidebar blog, supaya follower kalian juga bisa menemukan blog hop ini. Kodenya bisa diambil di kotak di button.
3. Buat posting dengan menyertakan copy-paste “Character Thursday” dan “Syarat Mengikuti” ke dalam postingmu.
3. Isikan link (URL) posting kalian ke Linky di bawah ini. Cantumkan nama dengan format: Nama blogger @ nama blog, misalnya: Fanda @ Fanda Classiclit.
4. Jangan lupa kunjungi blog-blog peserta lain, dan temukan tokoh-tokoh pilihan mereka. Dengan begini, wawasan kita akan bertambah juga dengan buku-buku baru yang menarik

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Shorty July: Ali Cogia and the Merchant from Arabian Nights

Yes, I read Arabian Nights stories. I have always loved fairy tales, and Arabian Nights is just a perfect choice for one such as I. Most of the stories, as you perhaps know, are about Genies, and Princes, and ghosts, and witched so on, but some little of them tell about just our ordinary lives in this ordinary world. Ali Cogia is one of those stories.

As the other post, I will write billingually. Here I go.

In Bahasa:

Ali Cogia adalah seorang pedagang, yang berniat untuk pergi ke tanah suci. Dia menitipkan kepada temannya, sesama pedagang, sebuah kendi berisi emas yang ditutupi dengan zaitun. Kendi tersebut diletakkan di rumah sang pedagang dengan janji bahwa ia tidak akan menyentuh barang milik Ali. Ali pun pergi ke tanah suci, namun sambil berkelana dan berdagang juga, sehingga akhirnya seluruh perjalanannya memakan waktu 7 tahun.

Sementara itu, sang pedagang ingin memakan zaitun yang ada di kendi Ali, sehingga akhirnya ia membuka kendi itu. Namnu, yang ia temukan ternyata bukan sekadar zaitun, melainkan emas dalam jumlah banyak. Akhirnya ia mengambil emas itu, dan mengganti zaitun yang ada dengan zaitun yang baru.

Sewaktu Ali pulang dan mendapati emasnya dicuri, ia meminta penjelasan dari snag pedagang, yang mengaku tidak tahu menahu soal itu. Ali pun meminta Kalifah Harun Al-Rasyid menjadi hakim bagi perkaranya. Sang Kalifah pun setuju.

Sore itu, pada hari sebelum pengadilan, sang Khalifah berjalan-jalan di kota dengan pakaian rakyat biasa, seperti kebiasaannya (kebiasaan yang baik, tentu saja, sehingga ia bisa melihat kehidupan rakyat jelata dengan mata kepalanya sendiri). Ia melihat anak-anak bermain. Sebuah kelompok anak-anak ternyata memainkan perkara Ali Cogia dan pedagang itu. Seorang anak lelaki yang masih kecil berperan sebagai Khalifah dan mengadili dengan sangat bijak sehingga Khalifah pun terkagum-kagum. (Kalau mau tahu lengkapnya, silakan baca sendiri kisah ini, menarik lho)

Sang Khalifah akhirnya memanggil anak itu dan menyuruhnya mengadili Ali dan pedagang itu. Anak ini pun melakukannya, tanpa lupa menyerahkan keputusan terakhir ke tangan sang Khalifah.

Cerita ini mengajarkan kita bahwa janji adalah hal yang serius, kebohongan pada akhirnya akan diketahui, dan bahwa bahkan orang-orang besar pun kadang-kadang perlu mendengar dari kebijaksanaan anak-anak. Saya secara pribadi menyukai sang Khalifah, karena ia adalah sosok pemimpin yang baik bagi orang-orang yang berada di bawah kekuasaannya.

In English:

So it's a story about Ali Cogia, who wanted to go in pilgrimage to Holy Land. Before he went, he put a large vase filled with gold, but covered with olives on its top, into his friend's confidence, a merchant as well. He promised him that he wouldn't touch it or open it. His journey proved to be a long adventure, for he sold and buy along the way, and made money as he came home. At last, after spending seven years on journey, he went home.

Meanwhile, the merchant wanted to eat olives, so he opened the vase and look! He found a great sum of gold inside. His greed prevailed over his good intention, so he took out the gold and replaced it with new olives.

When Ali came back and found no gold in his vase, he asked his friend what he had done with it. But the friend said he knew nothing about any gold. So Ali went to the Caliph, Harun Al-Rasyid, and stated his case. The Caliph agreed to judge his case.

The afternoon before the appointed day for the trial, the Caliph went to the city disguised as commoner, and watched the children played. One of the group played tha case of Ali Cogia, and the one acting as Caliph jugded wisely. So the Caliph asked him to judge the case the next day. The child did so, and the wicked merchant got what he deserved.

This story teaches us that even great people sometimes need to listen to the wisdom of a child. I especially like the Caliph for being a good leader of his people.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Suddenly remember my Shakespeare experience

Just like I said in the title, this is just a short Shakespeare experience with me and my dad. No, it's not about reading or watching the play, but a bit more personal. No, not meeting the person as well, of course.

It was years ago, not long after I read my first Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. I was in love back then, with a certain person older than me. What I did was practically "sighing every minute and groaning every hour" because of thinking about him.

My father apparently observed this, so he asked me in my mother language (but thanks God he understands English and speaks it well too), "What's the matter?" I answered casually, "Nothing." He didn't give up. "Are you in love?"

Alright, so this is really crazy. Romeo's line popped into my head, and I answered, "Out." My father was confused and raised his eyebrow, so I explained, "Out of his favour where I'm in love."

My father, being unfamiliar with Shakespeare, didn't know where was the line from, but he understood, so he made that face of somebody who listens to something very cute but tries to control himself and not to laugh. And he just said, "Ewwh." I couldn't help laughing.

That's all. I always remember this because it was the first time I used Shakespeare line to communicate with others in real life.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Shorty July: Oscar Wilde's The Young King

I knew I had to write some Oscar Wilde the first time I joined this meme. I've been thinking of writing about something from The House of Pomegranates, but I have to leave out Fisherman and His Soul today, for I'm not emotionally strong enough to tell my thoughts decently. So I come to the less-heartbreaking story, which is the story of The Young King.

In Bahasa:

Cerita ini mirip dengan cerita-cerita dongeng pada umumnya, bercerita tentang seorang raja yang masih muda dan berasal dari kalangan biasa. Sang raja begitu menyenangi barang-barang yang indah dan terobsesi dengan hobinya itu. Sang raja akan dilantik, dan ia sudah memesan pakaian, mahkota, dan tongkat kerajaan yang begitu megah dan indah untuknya.

Pada malam sebelum ia dimahkotai, sang raja mendapat tiga mimpi. Ketiga mimpi ini memperlihatkan kepada sang raja harga yang harus dibayar orang lain untuk memuaskan keinginan egoisnya. Sang raja pun terbangun, shock dan merasa bersalah.

Ia akhirnya memilih untuk tidak mengenakan satu pun dari barang-barang yang telah ia pesan. Sang raja berangkat dengan mengenakan baju biasa yang ia pakai sebelum menjadi raja, dan mahkota dari jalinan daun dan tongkat kayu. Orang-orang menertawakannya, namun ia tidak peduli. Sang uskup menolak memulai upacara tersebut, dan beberapa kesatria ingin membunuh sang raja, yang mereka nilai menghina negara mereka dengan penampilannya. Namun, saat sang raja berbalik, ia terlihat begitu agung, karena Tuhan sendiri yang memahkotainya.

Cerita ini sebenarnya sangat sederhana, namun mengandung pelajaran yang berharga. Beberapa kalimat terus melekat dalam benakku, seperti:

“'Will they not know me for a king if I have not a king’s raiment?' 'They will not know thee, My Lord'”

Kalimat itu tampak begitu kontras dengan kutipan terkenal dari William Shakespeare, “My crown is in my heart, and not on my head.”

“‘Shall Joy wear what Grief has fashioned?’”

Cerita pendek ini begitu penuh dengan pertanyaan-pertanyaan yang menggelitik hati kita untuk melihat apa yang sebenarnya terjadi di dunia ini, tempat si kaya dan si miskin begitu jauh berbeda, dan masing-masing saling tidak peduli pada yang lainnya.

In English:

This is a story about a young king who loved beautiful and rich things, and for his coronation , he asked the best that he could get for his garments, his sceptre and his crown. But at the night before his coronation, he saw three dreams, each showing him what the others must pay for his luxury. He woke up in horror and guilt after seeing such a dreadful nightmare.

In the morning, he refused to wear the clothes, sceptre, and crown, beautiful as they were, but he chose to wear a simple raiment instead. His servants protested, as they thought it would not befit a king to be crowned in such appearance. Even the bishop that was to crown him refused him. But in the end, the Lord himself crowned the young king with great splendour.

The story is actually very simple, easy to understand, but contains so many precious lessons for us. I can't throw away some sentences from my mind, such as:

“Will they not know me for a king if I have not a king’s raiment?”
“Are not the rich and the poor brothers?”
“Shall Joy wear what Grief has fashioned?”

In this world where the rich and the poor live in different dimension, each neither think nor understand each other's problem and sufferings, those questions I found very touching.  

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Weekend Quote #6

"To overcome the intelligent by folly is contrary to the natural order of things; to overcome the foolish by intelligence is in accord with the natural order. To overcome the intelligent by intelligence, however, is a matter of opportunity. There are three avenues of opportunity: events, trends, and conditions. When opportunities occur through events but you are unable to respond, you are not smart. When opportunities become active through a trend and yet you cannot make plans, you are not wise. When opportunities emerge through conditions but you cannot act on them, you are not bold. Those skilled in generalship always achieve their victories by taking advantage of opportunities."

This quote is taken from an ancient book written by my favourite strategist in Chinese history: Zhuge Liang. His genius and virtues are sounded all over the world by the historical record Records of the Three Kingdoms and the less-historical book Romance of the Three Kingdoms. But the quote above is taken from neither of those two. Instead, it occurs in Zhuge Liang's book The Way of the General.

When somebody reads what Zhuge Liang did and how well he was in the art of war, he would highly appreciate what is written above. A general must always be aware of opportunities around them, since such opportunities don't come twice. But it is very interesting to read how Zhuge Liang categorises opportunities and what is needed to deal with each of them.

Events can open opportunities – that can be clearly seen. Thus it would be very stupid not to recognise such opportunity and to respond to it. It needs deeper understanding to see opportunities hiding behind a trend, or tendency of something to happen. The insight to understand and react to what lies in the future “if something keeps happening this way”, needs wisdom, or the ability to use knowledge in action. Condition means something that has been there at the first place and makes you have advantage over your rivals. According to Zhuge Liang, it needs boldness to use this kind of opportunity.

And when you're at war, you should not expect to defeat your enemy's intelligent by folly plus a bit of luck. As someone reads Zhuge Liang's history, one can only smile when he reads this statement, since Zhuge Liang was so true to what he said.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Lasting Impression: The Count of Monte Cristo

This prompt is hosted at November's Autumn, and I think it's a very brilliant prompt. I couldn't help joining. But once I decided to join I face a serious problem: Which Classic would I choose? As a young reader, I sometimes find myself lacking a sense of loyalty towards my favourites. I would spend a month or two deeply in love in one book, and intoxicated by the other book shortly after that period.

But talking about lasting impression, I have more limited choices. There are books that I won't forget in all my life such as Sherlock Holmes' series, Hamlet, Merchant of Venice, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Phantom of the Opera, and the book I am going to talk about.

If you look at my sidebar, here, on my blog, you would notice one author that has more posts than the others. It's Dumas, and that's because I love his novel The Count of Monte Cristo. I first read it when I was in high school, and this year I re-read it again for the Classic Club's Project.

The moment I find very touching is when Dantes as Monte Cristo revisited his jail at Chateau d'If. There he contemplated on his life, the misfortune that had befallen him, the path he had taken, the choices he had made, his friendship with the deceased Abbe, his lost love for Mercedes, and so many other things.

“Woe,” he cried, “to those who confined me in that wretched prison; and woe to those who forgot that I was there!” 

His horrible experience in dealing with human beings made him so disappointed that he lost all trust in humanity. One of the quotes I will never forget from the book is:

“But man — man, whom God created in his own image — man, upon whom God has laid his first, his sole commandment, to love his neighbour — man, to whom God has given a voice to express his thoughts — what is his first cry when he hears his fellow-man is saved? A blasphemy... Oh, man, man — race of crocodiles.”

I don't think I will ever forget such a bitter sentence, spoken by someone who has tasted so many bitter experiences in his life. Yes, I pity him, the Count who has been played by the world, and by human cruelty and greed.

As for the unforgettable character from the story, aside of the Count himself, is Haidee. The Greek princess has the Count's soul inside of her. Her indifference to things beyond her business, the hatred that burns within her heart, the passion for revenge that rages in her mind, all so much alike with the Count. But I'm so happy that the two poor creatures find happiness at last.

Through the story I realise that no matter what happens to you, revenge is not the answer. Even if you get what you want, and they get what they deserve, it wouldn't bring you satisfaction. On the contrary, it adds more pain to your past suffering.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Shorty July: Tolstoy's “Two Old Men”

So this prompt is held by BacaKlasik, and must be written in Bahasa. For my international readers, I will provide the English version of my writing as well, below the review in Bahasa. This month, we will read a lot of classic short stories from all around the world (hopefully) and blog about it.

In Bahasa

Cerita pendek karangan penulis dan filsuf Rusia kenamaan Leo Tolstoy yang akan saya bahas kali ini adalah “Two Old Men (Dua Pria Tua)”. Cerita ini mengisahkan perjalanan ziarah dua orang pria Rusia ke tanah suci di Timur Tengah. Kisah yang sederhana namun indah ini mengingatkan kita arti ibadat yang sesungguhnya.

Alkisah ada dua orang pria, Efim dan Elisha. Keduanya bersumpah untuk mengadakan ziarah ke tanah suci suatu hari nanti. Keduanya membuat persiapan yang matang, namun Elisha memiliki tekad yang kuat untuk pergi, bahkan siap membuat pengorbanan untuk itu, sementara Efim tampak agak menunda-nunda. Begitu banyak hal mengisi kepalanya.

Namun akhirnya, mereka pergi juga. Di jalan, Elisha secara tidak sengaja menemukan sebuah keluarga yang berada di ambang kematian akibat kemiskinan. Mereka kelaparan sampai tidak memiliki tenaga untuk bekerja. Karena kasihan, Elisha pun membelikan makanan untuk mereka, dan bahkan memastikan bahwa mereka akan punya pekerjaan dan sumber penghasilan sepeninggalnya ia. Tetapi, apa yang ia lakukan menghabiskan waktu serta uangnya, sehingga ia tidak bisa melanjutkan perjalanannya. Ia pun pulang, namun dengan hati yang tenang.

Di lain pihak, Efim meneruskan perjalanan dan akhirnya berziarah. Di tanah suci, ia tiga kali melihat Elisha, namun tidak benar-benar bertemu dengan temannya itu. Di perjalanan pulang, ia masuk ke gubuk tempat keluarga yang ditolong Elisha tinggal, dan mengetahui apa yang terjadi. Ia pun sadar bahwa ibadat yang sesungguhnya bukanlah sekadar mengunjungi tempat suci, namun mengamalkan perintah Tuhan.

Cerita ini sebenarnya sangat sederhana, bahkan bisa dikonsumsi anak-anak, namun mengandung pelajaran moral yang berharga. Ibadat ritual yang kita lakukan akan sia-sia tanpa praktek. Kebaikan yang kita tunjukkan kepada orang lain merupakan salah satu bentuk ibadat kita juga pada Allah.

In English:

It's a wonderful, wonderful short story, both simple and deep. It's about two men going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land: Efim and Elisha. One of them is rich, and has many things to worry about, while the other is not so rich, but has less to think about, and is more determined to go as soon as possible. The latter doesn't mind making sacrifices to fulfill his oath to God, and after convincing his friend to set out, they both start the journey.

On the journey Elisha meets a family so poor and miserable. They are starving and have nothing to eat. Moreover, they don't have any energy left. They are just waiting for death. Moved in heart, Elisha takes care of teh family, even gives them the means to have a life once more. Doing so, Elisha spends all his money and cancels his journey. He goes home instead, a bit disappointed, but with peace of mind.

Efim, on the other hand, continues his journey, and does what he wants to do. There he thinks he sees Elisha, three times, in the Holy Land, but he can't meet him. On the journey home, he stays the night at the house where the family that Elisha helped lives. He learns that his friend cancels his journey on an honourable ground, and realises that Elisha is the one that does the pilgrimage better.

The story highlights that the real worship to God isn't the visible rituals that we do every period of time, but the effect of our faith in our lives. Does it make us better persons? The kindness we show to people around us is also a form of our worship to God.

My Reading Habit

Found this on Fanda's blog, and since she invites anyone who wants to try this to do it, I did it. Yay!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack:
Yes, I do. Well, sometimes, when there's something to eat nearby. Else I can just read without eating, and that is okay as well. My favourite reading snack? Potato chips perhaps, or biscuits.

What is your favourite drink while reading?
Tea. It has to be tea or at least coffee. I have this unhealthy addiction to both. And I can drink more than 2 huge glasses of tea when I'm reading or doing something that needs extra concentration.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
It depends of what kind of book I read. I usually mark non-fictions – even my e-books – with notes scribbled all around the margin, but I usually just highlight fictions on the parts I love the most, like some notable quotes, for example.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Bookmarks. And I have plenty of them.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
Both. I like poems (it's counted as non-fiction, right?), and essays as well as the fiction. I also read people's thesis and dissertations on literatures, also references books that enrich my knowledge about the world in the past. I read history as well, and I love it. So, yup, it's both.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
If the book is good enough, I cannot stop until I reach the back cover. I remember reading books like Lord of the Rings and Da Vinci Code in one night (and waking up looking like a panda) because I simply couldn't stop. But I'm reasonable enough to stop somewhere pleasant, like at the end of a chapter, if the book is too thick to read in such a way. Of course you cannot read the Bible in one night, can you?

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
Sort of. I'd slam the book and ramble about the author – or rather the annoying character in that book. My Mom sometimes complain about that. For example, when I read how Raoul asked Christine whether she would have loved him still if Phantom had been handsome, I said aloud, “Of course she wouldn't, you silly blushing boy. She loves Phantom, can't you see it?” or something like that.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
Usually no. I'd save it somewhere in my mind and guess the meaning until clearer context makes me understand it fully later, or at least until I have spare time to google it.

What are you currently reading?
Treasure Island. Of, I should have finished it long ago, but this job absorbs my time.

What is the last book you bought?
The Count of Monte Cristo. I rarely buy books. First, because my room is small, and our house is full of books already, so my father doesn't like me adding more and more books to our little shelves. Second, my university has this huge library full of books, so I can simply borrow them.Third, because I love mostly classics, I can just download them free from Project Gutenberg.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
I usually finish one before continue to the other. But sometimes I just grab the nearest book when I have spare time and read it casually. Only one at a time for serious reading though.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?
My room on my bed, the university library, and a cafe library near my campus.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?
Stand alones, or series compiled in one. I don't like finishing a book without finishing the story. But Tolkien's LotR is an exception. Three huge books, and yet I love dearly. The details and the setting and the hard work put into it make the series worth reading.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
Oh yes! Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Dumas' Monte Cristo, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Shakespeare's writings, Phantom of the Opera of course. I won't list all of them, it needs a separate post to do that. Ha!

How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)
By size. Haha. Remember that I don't have many physical books? But I organise my ebooks by author's last name.

Voila! My reading habit. Please post yours so I can read it, my fellow bloggers.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Character Thursday: Erik – The Phantom

I have always restrained myself from writing about the things I'm crazy in love with, because I can only write about something clearly when my mind is clear enough to do so. I mean, it's difficult to pour down your feelings systematically in written words. At least the case is so with me.

But I make exception this time. (I can imagine Sherlock looking at me right now and say, “Your exception disproves the rule,” but never mind). I am deeply in love with Phantom, both the Phantom in the novel and the musical. I don't expect my writing to be so objective or orderly, but at least I can explain why I like him so, plus adding some pictures I find amusing.

Ramin Karimloo as Phantom in the
Red Death's Mask
From the beginning of the novel, Phantom is described as a Ghost, so he's of course mysterious and a bit scary. His various unique abilities make him able to give the impression of 'real ghost' to people in the opera. Being an architect, he can enter and leave any room unknown, therefore makes people believe that the ghost has the ability to walk right through the wall. Being a ventriloquist, he can make noises and lead people to believe that the sounds come from whichever side of the wall he wants, or even from the air above them. Amazing, just amazing. And being an artist, a musician, he's just breathtaking. He sings Nuit d'hymenee from Gounod's Romeo and Juliette and lead the stupefied Christine through the mirror into the darkness. (Knowing the piece I actually can hear the music in my head when it is mention in the novel).

But then, there, in the darkness, we see the feelings of Erik, his real character. He hates himself for being such a “living corpse”, and hates other people for not loving him. He doesn't want to be alone, he needs love, but he doesn't know the way of expressing it. He has this dream of living a normal life, with a normal wife, someone who loves him, but he knows he can't do it. How could he, with such a face?

“'Know,' he shouted, while his throat throbbed and panted like a furnace, 'know that I am built up of death from head to foot and that it is a corpse that loves you and adores you and will never, never leave you! ... Look, I am not laughing now, I am crying, crying for you, Christine, who have torn off my mask and who therefore can never leave me again! ... As long as you thought me handsome, you could have come back, I know you would have come back ... but, now that you know my hideousness, you would run away for good...”

He believes that no one would ever love him. But can anybody hates someone just because of his looks?

Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom unmasked.
But what makes me cry is when he recites how he let the young lovers go to the Persian. His reaction after Christine promised to stay with him, to become his living bride.

"Yes, she was waiting for me ... waiting for me erect and alive, a real, living bride ... as she hoped to be saved ... And, when I ... came forward, more timid than ... a little child, she did not run away ... no, no ... she stayed ... she waited for me ... I even believe ... daroga ... that she put out her forehead ... a little ... oh, not much ... just a little ... like a living bride ... And ... and ... I ... kissed her! ... I! ... I! ... I! ... And she did not die! ... Oh, how good it is, daroga, to kiss somebody on the forehead! ... You can't tell! ... But I! I! …

"Yes, daroga ... I felt her tears flow on my forehead ... on mine, mine! ... They were soft ... they were sweet! ... They trickled under my mask ... they mingled with my tears in my eyes ... yes ... they flowed between my lips ... Listen, daroga, listen to what I did ... I tore off my mask so as not to lose one of her tears ... and she did not run away! ... And she did not die! ... She remained alive, weeping over me, with me. We cried together! I have tasted all the happiness the world can offer!

“While I was at her feet ... I heard her say, 'Poor, unhappy Erik!' ... AND SHE TOOK MY HAND! ... I had become no more, you know, than a poor dog ready to die for her ... I mean it, daroga! …”

He's an angel and demon at the same time. He is mysterious, bold, and dangerous. No doubt about it. But there, deep inside, he's vulnerable. He's just a little child looking for love there in the vast heartless world of his. No matter how great the art that controls his body and mind, or the power he has in his hands, in the end, he's just a human being, like us, who needs another human being with him, who needs another to say that he is loved.

Poor, unhappy Erik.


Character Thursday
Adalah book blog hop di mana setiap blog memposting tokoh pilihan dalam buku yang sedang atau telah dibaca selama seminggu terakhir (judul atau genre buku bebas).
- Kalian bisa menjelaskan mengapa kalian suka/benci tokoh itu, sekilas kepribadian si tokoh, atau peranannya dalam keseluruhan kisah.
- Jangan lupa mencantumkan juga cover buku yang tokohnya kalian ambil.
- Kalau buku itu sudah difilmkan, kalian juga bisa mencantumkan foto si tokoh dalam film, atau foto aktor/aktris yang kalian anggap cocok dengan kepribadian si tokoh.

Syarat Mengikuti :
1. Follow blog Fanda Classiclit sebagai host, bisa lewat Google Friend Connect (GFC) atau sign up via e-mail (ada di sidebar paling kanan). Dengan follow blog ini, kalian akan selalu tahu setiap kali blog ini mengadakan Character Thursday Blog Hop.
2. Letakkan button Character Thursday Blog Hop di posting kalian atau di sidebar blog, supaya follower kalian juga bisa menemukan blog hop ini. Kodenya bisa diambil di kotak di button.
3. Buat posting dengan menyertakan copy-paste “Character Thursday” dan “Syarat Mengikuti” ke dalam postingmu.
3. Isikan link (URL) posting kalian ke Linky di bawah ini. Cantumkan nama dengan format: Nama blogger @ nama blog, misalnya: Fanda @ Fanda Classiclit.
4. Jangan lupa kunjungi blog-blog peserta lain, dan temukan tokoh-tokoh pilihan mereka. Dengan begini, wawasan kita akan bertambah juga dengan buku-buku baru yang menarik