Friday, 28 September 2012

Weekend Quote #13

“To make the poem of the human conscience, were it only with reference to a single man, were it only in connection with the basest of men, would be to blend all epics into one superior and definitive epic. Conscience is the chaos of chimeras, of lusts, and of temptations; the furnace of dreams; the lair of ideas of which we are ashamed; it is the pandemonium of sophisms; it is the battlefield of the passions. Penetrate, at certain hours, past the livid face of a human being who is engaged in reflection, and look behind, gaze into that soul, gaze into that obscurity. There, beneath that external silence, battles of giants, like those recorded in Homer, are in progress; skirmishes of dragons and hydras and swarms of phantoms, as in Milton; visionary circles, as in Dante. What a solemn thing is this infinity which every man bears within him, and which he measures with despair against the caprices of his brain and the actions of his life!”

This is the third paragraph to the opening of the chapter where we find the fierce battle in Jean Valjean's conscience. What else can I say? The struggle between right and wrong deep in the sea of thoughts is an epic story. The path of reasoning and the number of excuses offered in each decision we have to make sometimes escape our attention, and yet we do it all the time.

The work of a poet is to express those unutterable feelings inside people's hearts. It's not an easy job, trust me. It's hard even to find the right word to express different shade of darkness of light. As a painter has to choose between infinite number of colours, poets must choose between indefinite number of words – or even invent the word – to be able to transfer feelings through his pen to the blank page of paper.

One of the most interesting thing I get from Les Miserables is this chapter – a chapter that explains the process of making decision. The duel between two thoughts is not less fierce than the duel between two knights or warriors in other books.

That's my weekend Quote. What's yours?


Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Les Miserables, Vol I: The Power of Kindness

This is my first time reading Les Miserables. I read this huge thick book after a series of adventurous novels, such as D'Artagnan Romances, Robin Hood and Ivanhoe. Those books talk about great people, grand kings, big adventures, honourable deeds, God and country, loyalty and friendship, things that lift people's hearts to heaven, to another world, to sublime idealism in it. And then, I read Les Miserables.

The book contrasts itself from all majestic aura. Instead, it brings us low, low, to the centre of gravity where small insignificant people live, people we never remember, people we hardly really care about. Their voyage is seeking for today's food, and their ambition is to gain enough to sustain their existence. In heroic stories, our eyes glisten when we read how our hero destroys an army or plays a trick upon his enemy. In Les Miserable, even the life of an unknown man is precious, not just a number in statistical report.

Don't let me bother you too much on that subject. There are three things that steal into my heart and have lodged there since I read the first volume: the power of kindness, justice vs. mercy, and the battle inside our hearts. Let me write of kindness first.

What Kindness Can Do

In the first sentence of the book, we meet Mr. Bienvenu Myriel – a good man. His kindness is so immense that one can hardly believe it's true. He'd rather live in want than seeing another being in want, and he lives a simple life to be able to help those he can help. His acts of kindness blesses him with good reputation, and more importantly, love, from those he helps and those who respect and support his decision.

Later on, his kindness towards Jean Valjean changes the ex-convict's life. After lots of meditation Jean decides to live an honest life, as the Bishop asked him to do, “Be an honest man.” More than honest, Jean shows identical kindness towards the needy. His hands are open to many sorts of good works. He provides a job for people and he helps people out whenever the situation allows him. The kindness offered him becomes to him an example which he imitates most willingly.

Such simple kindness, though may sound extreme if exercised as mentioned in this novel, brings to people new hopes and at times, new chance of life. Such kindness motivates the recipient of kindness to do the same for others. Kindness brings joy to the one who gives and the one who receives. It presents us satisfaction, because we know we have done our neighbour good.

What Kindness Cannot Do

Sad as it is, we have to admit that no matter how much money you pour out for the poor, it will never be enough. It's like pouring rain upon a desert or throwing lives into death. Neither would be satisfied. I have a feeling that Hugo also wants to underline this in his novel. There's something wrong about this world somehow, and it's not the amount of money or wealth it has, not about the government, or the people. There's something that controls the things and it's just wrong – the system.

However I look at it, one cannot cure the misery of life simply by giving more or giving less. You help persons, but you don't change society that way. There are laws that care more about words than about the principles upon which the words are based. Judges care more about justice by laws written on paper than the laws engraved upon their hearts. The problem is so complicated that kindness alone cannot remove it.

I am still waiting for the next part of the novel. The dark effect it gives to me makes me reluctant to continue my reading, because somehow I feel that the more I read, the more disappointment I will have to bear within me. As I said, tragedy is not really my preference, and such stories fill my mind weeks after I finish reading them. But I'm really curious. What will Hugo do with Jean and Cosette? Please wait for the next check point, and in two weeks I will post my thoughts about the second volume.

Character Thursday: Mr. Bienvenu Myriel

Actually it's still hard for me to write about him. Remember what I said about writing about someone you really like? When I didn't avoid writing about Athos, the blog post consumed 2 normal LibreOffice pages. So, why Mr Bienvenu?

I read Les Miserables, if you remember, after a succession of adventure novels: The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, Ivanhoe, and Robin Hood. In all those books, ironically, bishops and cardinals are more men of gold than men of God. Their conducts are unworthy of the title and the honour people bestow upon them. They plunder people's wealth to fill their own purse, they oppress kings and nobles by the “word from God”, they plunge themselves into political intrigue and support one side or the other.

But Mr. Myriel is different. People call him Monsieur Welcome (Bienvenu) because he welcomes anyone to his house. He lives a poor life because he spends most of his time and money for the poor. He shows extraordinary courage and too, extraordinary humbleness, and shows the world that the two don't contradict each other.

The Bishop thinks a lot, meditates on a lot of things, the least is about himself. He thinks about the people, the country, the flowers, the animals, but not about his wealth, his ambitions, his position, or his prominence. The pure soul lives happily, content with what he has. He takes money from the merciful rich for the miserable poor. He consoles and reproves gently, motivate people to do good things in their lives. He teaches that it's our responsibility to do our best, imperfect as we are.

“To be a saint is the exception; to be an upright man is the rule. Err, fall, sin if you will, but be upright...The least possible sin is the law of man. No sin at all is the dream of the angel. All which is terrestrial is subject to sin. Sin is a gravitation.”

His worst fault is, perhaps, his political view. No, not that I am against royalist or pro-anything. It's just weird to see such a man having a political view at the first place. But the difference between his and other people's view doesn't hinder him from doing kindness to his neighbours. It's still counted as something good in his part.

I have to confess, it's all my mistake. I have so many things to share about this bishop, and I have plenty of quotations from the novel itself of the grandness of his soul. But I didn't highlight the novel when I perused it, something I have to change in the future. Still, there is something I want to share, a note Mr. Myriel writes about God on the margin of his book:

“Ecclesiastes calls you the All-powerful; the Maccabees call you the Creator; the Epistle to the Ephesians calls you liberty; Baruch calls you Immensity; the Psalms call you Wisdom and Truth; John calls you Light; the Books of Kings call you Lord; Exodus calls you Providence; Leviticus, Sanctity; Esdras, Justice; the creation calls you God; man calls you Father; but Solomon calls you Compassion, and that is the most beautiful of all your names.”

And as the God he believes in, he shows compassion lavishly towards people.  


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

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Coat of Arms: French Arms

Another coat-of-arms article. I make this article after a suggestion from Melissa, since the arms appears in both Dumas' Three Musketeers and Hugo's Les Miserables in subtle ways.

Ancient Arms of France
The fleur-de-lys has been a common charge in heraldry. But perhaps the most known use of it is in the French arms. The ancient French use the arms of azure, semy de lys or, while the modern (since 1376) only has three fleurs on it. It has been used in the Kingdom of France since the 12th century, and therefore the arms, or the term “golden fleurs-de-lys” sometimes represents the whole French monarchy, or French in general.

When someone renders a great service to the state, his arms may bear an allusion to the arms of France. For example, after defending the Royal Banner faithfully in battle, and soaked it red in his blood, Chateaubriant was given the arms Gules a semy of fleurs-de-lys or (red shield with golden fleurs-de-lys upon it). Thus we can imagine the honour bestowed upon the Inseparables in Dumas' Three Musketeers when Richelieu had three golden fleurs-de-lys embroidered on their napkin after their breakfast in Bastion Saint-Gervais.

Modern Arms of France
Another additional information. King Edward III of England quartered the Arms of England with Arms of France following his claim to the French throne. The fleurs-de-lys remained in British Monarch's arms until King George III dropped it and put the Arms of Scotland there.

During the French revolution, the royalist bore a white flag with three golden fleurs-de-lys on it, thus displaying their support for monarchy. The inseparablility between French monarchy and its arms in history is evident in Hugo's sentences in his novel Les Miserables, one of them being, “It is as august in rags as in fleurs de lys.” The term “rags” refers to the lowly people and the fleurs-de-lys, obviously, the monarchy.

For more information on heraldry, please visit Critics, additional information and questions are welcome.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Music for the Book

This prompt is hosted at November'sAutumn. This month we share the music we feel fit for a book that we read this month. This month I've been reading Robin Hood and Ivanhoe, but I didn't think of any music when I read them. (I have a habit of connecting things in my mind, so when a piece of music or a scene of history links to the subject that I read, I usually remember something.)

Then I read Les Miserables. I haven't finished it, naturally, but there's a piece of music that it brings to my mind. I love opera. When I read about the misery and suffering of the people in Les Miserables, I remember this aria from Giordano's opera, Andrea Chenier. I put a link of a video in Youtube of the aria, complete with subtitle, for those who don't understand Italian. Placido Domingo (my favourite singer) sings this piece.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Weekend Quote #12

“Go, soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best;
The Truth shall be thy warrant.”

This Weekend Quote is but a few lines from Sir Walter Raleigh's poem “The Lie.” It's a wonderful, beautiful, and at the same time, sad poem. Some say he wrote this poem in the Tower of London, where he was finally executed. I respect Sir Walter's frankness and courage shown in this poem, and in his other poems.

The poem's theme is political and social criticism. He condemns the church, the state, the court, the nobles – people he thinks responsible – in this poem. Dissatisfied with things in the society, he even states love and zeal to be false, and art to have no soundness. Just imagining him reading this in his cell makes my heart bleed. But for now I just want to focus on the first 4 lines of the poem.

He asks his “soul” to go and tell people their faults, since he cannot do so, being a soon-to-be-dead person. He states that the errand is “thankless,” that no one would praise him for doing such, and yet he still wants to say his thoughts. He knows that the subjects condemned in his poem are people of high position, therefore he urges his soul not to “fear to touch the best” people, because he knows well the truth of his saying, and that truth gives him the right to accuse the people of their guilt.

Well, that's mine. Now I'm ready for yours.


Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Why I'm not a good translator at all

I'll be honest. When I read classic, in language and vocabulary so distant from the one I usually speak with, sometimes I translate them in the most vulgar and barbaric means that even scenes where people are supposed to cry (and I do cry when I read it), may sound so comical that they incite people to laugh.

I have a habit of telling stories to people after I read them, and traslate them to Bahasa, my first language. So here's what happened when I told a friend about Faramir's word to Eowyn before he said that he loved her.

“You desired to have the love of the Lord Aragorn. Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have renown and glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admirable. For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is.”

My translation
“Eowyn, kamu sebenernya ga cinta sama Aragorn. Kamu cuma nge-fans aja.”

And the same thing happened when I related the scene where d'Artagnan tried to write a letter for Lord de Winter under Athos' censorship.

“Monsieur and dear friend —”
“Ah, yes! Dear friend to an Englishman,” interrupted Athos; “well commenced! Bravo, d’Artagnan! Only with that word you would be quartered instead of being broken on the wheel.”
“Well, perhaps. I will say, then, Monsieur, quite short.”
“You may even say, My Lord,” replied Athos, who stickled for propriety.
“Well, then, we will put simply, My Lord, do you remember a certain little enclosure where your life was spared?”
“My dear d’Artagnan, you will never make anything but a very bad secretary. Where your life was spared! For shame! that’s unworthy. A man of spirit is not to be reminded of such services. A benefit reproached is an offense committed.”
“The devil!” said d’Artagnan, “you are insupportable. If the letter must be written under your censure, my faith, I renounce the task.”

My translation (in Bahasa)
D'Artagnan: “Tuan dan kawanku”
Athos: “Bagus, ya! Temennya orang Inggris. Kamu mau cari mati ya?”
D'Artagnan: “Oke, kalo gitu, 'Pak,' cukup pendek.”
Athos: “Bilang kek setidaknya 'Tuan,' gitu.”
D'Artagnan: “Tuan, apa Anda ingat kejadian waktu nyawa Anda diampuni?”
Athos: “Kamu bener-bener ga bakat jadi sekretaris. 'Waktu nyawa Anda diampuni' itu apa maksudnya coba? Mau bikin dia malu? Mau bikin dia ngamuk?”
D'Artagnan: “Udah ah. Mending nyerah kalo disuruh nulis surat tapi kamu yang sensor.”

My greatest sin in translating is perhaps against Shakespeare, because I ruin his beautiful lines into horrible phrases.

Text from Hamlet
Guil. Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
Ham. Sir, a whole history.
Guil. The King, sir-
Ham. Ay, sir, what of him?
Guil. Is in his retirement, marvellous distemper'd.
Ham. With drink, sir?
Guil. No, my lord; rather with choler.
Ham. Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to
the doctor; for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps
plunge him into far more choler.
Guil. The Queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit
hath sent me to you.
Ham. You are welcome.
Guil. Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed.
If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do
your mother's commandment; if not, your pardon and my return
shall be the end of my business.
Ham. Sir, I cannot.
Guil. What, my lord?
Ham. Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseas'd. But, sir, such
answer is I can make, you shall command; or rather, as you say,
my mother. Therefore no more, but to the matter! My mother, you
Ros. Then thus she says: your behaviour hath struck her into
amazement and admiration.
Ham. O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother!....
O, the recorders!….I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?
Guil. My lord, I cannot.
Ham. I pray you.
Guil. Believe me, I cannot.
Ham. I do beseech you.
Guil. I know, no touch of it, my lord.
Ham. It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your
fingers and thumbs, give it breath with your mouth, and it will
discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
Guil. But these cannot I command to any utt'rance of harmony. I
have not the skill.
Ham. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You
would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would
pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my
lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is much music,
excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it
speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be play'd on than a

My translation
Gui: Tuan, kami mau bicara sama Anda
Ham: Boleh, boleh
Gui: Yang Mulia Raja..
Ham: Kenapa dia?
Gui: Gelisah di kamarnya.
Ham: Kebanyakan minum?
Gui: Nggak, kaya ketakutan gitu.
Ham: Ya bilang ama dokternya lah. Ngapain bilang ama gue?
Gui: Mamahmu ngirim saya ke sini.
Ham: Selamat datang.
Gui: Bukan gitu maksudnya, ni kamu ngomongnya mulai ga bener. Jawabnya yang bener lah.
Ham: Gue ga bisa.
Gui: Ga bisa apa?
Ham: Ga bisa bener lah, gue kan gila.
Ros: Kelakuanmu udah bikin ibumu geleng-geleng kepala.
Ham: Hebat dong gue, anak yang bisa bikin ibunya kagum. Oh, ada rekorder. Main dong.
Gui: Ga bisa, Tuan.
Ham: Plis.
Gui: Beneran, aku ga bisa.
Ham: Gampang kok, kaya orang boong aja. (nunjukin caranya)Gui: Aku ga bisa tekniknya.
Ham: Nah, jadi kamu anggep gue serendah itu? Kamu ga bisa main rekorder tapi berasa bisa mainin gue? Emang gue lebih gampang dimainin daripada rekorder?

You see, even Shakespeare sounds so crazily messy in my mouth, and yet I wanted to make a translation of classic from English into Bahasa. Really doubt my skill now.  

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Character Thursday: Rebecca

My reading hasn't progressed that much. And though I find a strong desire in my heart to discuss Mr. Myriel in Character Thursday, I won't, at least until I have finished the first volume of Les Miserables, and thus have more complete view on the person.

However, there are many still from the books I have finished that deserve attention for their roles in the story, or from their extraordinary characters. This week I choose a woman. I rarely choose a woman for my Character Thursday, because being a woman, men seem to be far more curious and interesting. I wrote about Haidee, because she was different from most women from the books I read. Eowyn and Arwen number among those I adore, and some Shakesperian females are also steadfast and strong that they little depict most women in their era.

Another woman worth attention is Rebecca from Ivanhoe. She is first introduced as a fair Jewess, a daughter of Isaac of York, to whom Ivanhoe owed a certain sum for his horse and other necessities as a knight. Being by nature generous, she gave the money back to Ivanhoe, as a token of her gratitude for saving her father.

Then came another deed of kindness. She attended to the wounded Ivanhoe, caring for every wound that would easily kill the man but for her medical skill. She did that even in a strange castle, when she and her travelling companions were kidnapped by the envious and greedy Normans.

As for love, she loved Ivanhoe. So, so dearly she loved him, but he couldn't love her back. How could he? So she didn't burden the young man with many pleadings or tears, but helped him without the slightest hope of reward. Her lover was far more persistent.  The Templar kidnapped her, and almost burnt her on stake, for his superiors thought the lady to be a witch. Even in this hour of desperation, Rebecca stood fast for what she believed in. She didn't give her body, nor her heart to the Templar. She didn't renounce her faith to stay alive. She trusted her soul to Providence.

“Be a man, be a Christian! If indeed thy faith recommends that mercy which rather your tongues than your actions pretend, save me from this dreadful death, without seeking a requital which would change thy magnanimity into base barter... Enough, that the power which thou mightest acquire, I will never share; nor hold I so light of country or religious faith, as to esteem him who is willing to barter these ties, and cast away the bonds of the Order of which he is a sworn member, in order to gratify an unruly passion for the daughter of another people. — Put not a price on my deliverance, Sir Knight — sell not a deed of generosity — protect the oppressed for the sake of charity, and not for a selfish advantage...I envy thee not thy faith, which is ever in thy mouth, but never in thy heart nor in thy practice.” 

Thus she reproached the Templar for loving her in words and not in deeds. The Templar was hardly a Christian, except by uniform, and the uniform itself brought disgrace to the religion, because many in the same uniform lived on the blood of others.

Rebecca ended her story by living as a woman of charity. She devoted her life to good and merciful deeds, as befits such a great and firm lady.

“Among our people, since the time of Abraham downwards, have been women who have devoted their thoughts to Heaven, and their actions to works of kindness to men, tending the sick, feeding the hungry, and relieving the distressed. Among these will Rebecca be numbered.”

She might be a Jewess, a race so hated by most people in her time. But she proved herself to be a better subject of God's law than those who publicly declared their faith in lips, but not in deeds.



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

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Classics Club Group Check-In #1: September

It has been several months since the project started. I've been enjoying the Club and things in it immensely. The readalongs, the memes, the people, the reviews, and many other things. As a new blogger, reading and enjoying others' review and joining readalongs has been such a great experience.

I've read 9 books from my list this far. For the last few months, Dumas has been dominating my choices, that among 9, 3 of them are actually Dumas'. Those are The Count of Monte Cristo, my favourite, The Three Musketeers, which title is actually misleading because it doesn't count D'Artagnan as one of them, and Twenty Years After, its sequel. Even now I still find it hard to move from those novels to others I've never touched.

The other six are John Milton's Areopagitica, Stevenson's Treasure Island, Solzhenitsyn's Ivan Denisovich (I know I must make a review, but later, please), Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, Pyle's compiled ballads of Robin Hood, and Leroux's Phantom of theOpera.

As for the other books, I'm reading the book of Nehemiah in the Bible now, in order to complete it soon. The last book I read from Aeneid was Book IV, but I think I'd rather read it in a readalong. Reading alone makes it harder to understand what it says. Starting this month, I will be reading Les Miserables through October and November. And for Historical Fiction Challenge byHobbyBuku, I will read Vicomte the Bragelonne from Dumas as well (for the sake of Athos). For the same event perhaps I will add Sabatini's Captain Blood to the list.

I've been enjoying also the Weekend Quotes. By doing that I remind myself what lesson I can learn from the books that I read. I also love participating in Fanda's Character Thursdays. My choice of characters may not vary a lot, but I still love to look deeper into the characters, protagonists as well as antagonists. I also love to exploring the use of coat-of-arms in literatures. Though I'm no expert in the matter, I like to learn the blazoning of each to understand better those mentioned in the novels I read. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Weekend Quote #11

“Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Éowyn!” - Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Faramir and Eowyn by LMT-Xisa on deviantArt
Lately a friend of mine has become really fond of Faramir, and his personality. One of her favourite quotes from the Prince of Ithilien is this week's Weekend Quote. For me, personally, the event happened in the House of Healing is one of my favourite part of the trilogy. Faramir's determination and persistence in his feelings towards Lady Eowyn is just so touching.

Many people don't like to be pitied. They think that if someone pities them they are somewhat weak. They think pity is a subtle form of mocking, that it is shameful to be pitied. They choose to look strong, and deny others' pity.

But in that sentence, Faramir asks Eowyn to appreciate people's pity. Pity is a form of love, a “gift of a gentle heart”. When we face disasters, calamities, or when we just feel down, pity is a kind gift from a friend, a way of expressing love. We are thankful for that manifestation of kindness from a caring heart.

That's my quote for this week. What's yours?

Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Merry Adventures of Robin Hood: Less-Romantic Version of the Legend?

One can safely assume that everybody in England knows this man, at least by name. Robin Hood is an old legend, a legend that has been told in various ballads, stories, and films for almost a thousand years. His name conveys the idea of merry life, kindness, and heroic actions. And yet, none can be sure how much is true from the countless tales that often contradict each another.

This book is not the first of Robin Hood's short stories collection that I read, but even by reading the first chapter, I could clearly see the differences between legends of the bold outlaw. Robin was a youth who hid in the forest after killing one of the king's archer, the story says. There he lived for a long time with a band of his merry men, all clad in Lincoln green, happily and joyfully, without fear or dread. As the time passed, Robin met and befriended many stout and brave people such as Little John, Will Scarlet, Allan a Dale, who willingly shared an outlaw's life with him.

People loved him for many good deeds that he had done, albeit the means were not so honest. He made sure that no want occur in the winter for the poor, by giving them what they needed from the spoils he took from any rich man or bishop who dared to pass Sherwood. He's bold and just in his own ways. He reign his men in such a way that they loved him dearly, that they would rather die than betray him.

I can't help but noticing one thing in this book: no love story between him and Maid Marian. It is mentioned that he loved her, but Marian never came to the forest, nor met Robin in all the stories compiled in the book. Honestly, I miss her. Maid Marian was said to be a good archer herself, and good with sword as well.

They say that there are hundreds of ballads and tales about him and his merry men. So I imagine the writer has done his best in choosing which to mention and which to leave. I must say that this version is not my favourite, but it contains stories that are new to me, so it complements my old knowledge of this archer. I will close this review with an excerpt from the book: a writing they put on brave Robin's grave:

(Here underneath this little stone

Lies Robert Earl of Huntingdon
No archer was as he so good
And people called him Robin Hood
Such outlaws as he and his men
Will England never see again
8 November 1247)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Classics Club September Meme: Favourite Review by Member

This is a meme held by The Classics Club, an awesome club dedicated to classic literature.

Pick a classic someone else in the club has read from our big review list. Link to their review andoffer a quote from their post describing their reaction to the book. What about their post makes you excited to read that classic in particular?

I choose for this meme a review of Silmarilion by Amanda, a very nice one, I must say. I personally like the book, and I agree to what she says about it:

When considering Tolkien’s achievement, I am stunned. Not only did he conceive of an invented mythology spanning thousands of years—I would consider The Silmarillion closer to mythology than fantasy—but he created several languages for this world, even to the point of working out how they would have evolved over time. All those “unpronounceable” names? Not just random strings of letters, but names with careful meaning and origin in his invented languages. An appendix at the back provides “elements” of the names, so that I can see that the alqua in Alqualondë is “swan” and derives from the root alak-. Not necessary for the casual reader, but all this background informs the larger works with a depth rarely encountered.

She makes me want to read Silmarilion again (but for the present I have plenty others to read).

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Weekend Quote #10

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear respose for limbs with travel tired,
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body's work's expired.
 - Sonnet 27

So I picked this quote because that's exactly what happened to me these last few days. I was very tired, distressed, and heavy-hearted due to endless tasks from the lecturers and my work as well, but whenever I went to bed, my mind worked again, thinking about all the things I hadn't done.

Actually, Shakespeare was talking about someone he loved. Whenever he wanted to sleep, the mind carried him to the one he loved dearly. If it's me, perhaps I'd prefer seeing my beloved in my dream, without meddling with my sleeping hours.

That's my quote for this weekend. What about yours?


Weekend Quote is hosted by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:

  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Coat of Arms: The Black Knight

The second coat-of-arms post in my blog. This time I'd like to draw Richard's coat-of-arms as the Black Knight mentioned in Sir Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe. The blazon is as following:

“Something resembling a bar of iron, and a padlock painted blue on the black shield.”

To be honest, I don't really understand how the shield looks like. The problem is that the author fails to mention the complete blazon of it. Ivanhoe later just describes it as “fetterlock and shacklebolt azure,” which is not a very clear description at all.

The problem is, the glossary in explains fetterlock and shacklebolt as the same thing, and as there is no indication as to the location of fetterlock and shacklebolt, I thus assume that it's only one thing: a fetterlock. Another reason for doing so is that Rebecca describes the thing as 'a bar of iron' and 'a padlock', both are elements of a fetterlock.

One more thing: the author admits in his note that the coat-of-arms violates the rule of tincture, which states that no metal should be placed upon metal, and no colour should be placed upon colour. So placing blue upon black (colour upon colour) is actually not allowed. Yet the author argues that at the time of King Richard such rule didn't apply.

Thus the arms of the Black Knight can be re-blazoned as:
“Sable, a fetterlock azure.”

That's the coat-of-arms of the Black Knight. I'd be happy to share other coat-of-arms from other books later on. And the good news is, you can request any coat-of-arms to be blazoned or drawn by me. (As I said, I'm not an expert, but I will do my best).

Monday, 3 September 2012

Historical Fiction Challenge

Late as I am, I still want to join this challenge, hosted by HobbyBuku. The idea is to read as many Historical Fiction as you can from August to December. So, here it goes:

Total = 1443 pages (Historian)

Cultural and political situation in Medieval England under the reign of Richard I.
Same as Ivanhoe, but stressed more to the life of legendary thief Robin Hood.
No doubt historical.
Total = 1291 pages (Historian)

Hugo– Les Miserables: Marius (281 pages)
Homer - Odyssey (560 pages)
Total = 1152 (Historian)


Hill, David Wesley - At Drake's Command (424 pages)
Dumas – Vicomte de Bragelonne (768 pages)
The 3rd book of D'Artagnan Romances.

I still leave a lot in blank, because I still don't know what I'm going to read in the months to come. And also, being capricious, my mood often changes and I cannot predict whether I would feel to read or not to read certain classics.

PS: When I don't own these books in printed copy I take the data of their pages from Goodreads.  

Ivanhoe: Racism in Medieval England

As I said in another post, this is not the first time I read Ivanhoe, although it is the first time I read the original version. The work is astounding.

The story is set in the reign of King Richard Plantagenet, more known as Richard I, or, as I prefer, Richard the Lionhearted. This king is famous for his campaign in the Crusade, and for me personally, as a friend and liege of the loyal Robin Hood.

Anyway, this period in the history in England is marked by dense air of prejudice among the Saxons and Normans, plus the partiality against the Jews. This fact is underlined in Ivanhoe, where people's racial background seems to be taken very seriously in any decision made.

For example, there's Cedric, Ivanhoe's father, who constantly expresses his hatred for the Normans, for being the oppressors of the “natives” of the land. And brave as he is, even in the presence of Norman nobles and Prince John himself he doesn't restrain himself from speaking out his feeling upon the matter.

“Whoever shall call thee Saxon, Sir Baron,” replied Cedric, offended at a mode of expression by which the Normans frequently expressed their habitual contempt of the English, “will do thee an honour as great as it is undeserved.”

The Normans are not less generous in paying insults to the Saxons. This hatred between them even comes to the point of war between landlords, and in Ivanhoe, attempt to kill each other, as shown by the scenes in Front-de-Boeuf's castle.

But the race that perhaps I pity most is the Jews. Because the Jews are without lands of their own, they end up becoming usurers, and thus become highly disliked by others. Not just that, the belief that Christianity is superior than any other religions makes life even more harder for them. In the novel, Isaac of York was almost killed by the Templar, and Rebecca was almost burnt to death, just like her predecessor, Miriam, who had been burnt earlier, after being accused as a witch.

Even our hero Ivanhoe isn't an exception. Influenced by the society in his era, he shares the same opinion towards the Jews. Although he acts with kindness towards them, but he cannot erase from his mind that these people are of lesser race.

“I know not whether the fair Rowena would have been altogether satisfied with the species of emotion with which her devoted knight had hitherto gazed on the beautiful features, and fair form, and lustrous eyes, of the lovely Rebecca; eyes whose brilliancy was shaded, and, as it were, mellowed, by the fringe of her long silken eyelashes, and which a minstrel would have compared to the evening star darting its rays through a bower of jessamine. But Ivanhoe was too good a Catholic to retain the same class of feelings towards a Jewess.”

The King and Robin Hood are less partial. The King corrected Cedric by saying that he is “Richard of England,” not just a Norman descendant who doesn't care about his English subjects. He also chooses to speak English (Old English, I fancy) when dealing with the Saxons. Robin Hood, being of Norman and Saxon descendant, shows more kindness towards the oppressed. He, like Ivanhoe, also exercises kindness towards the Jew, though in his own way.

Overall, the novel is a very good work. The author describes the Medieval era in a way that makes it real. I also appreciate the research that he has done, which is a lot, as shown by the amount of notes in his work. The meticulous details, although too much for my taste at times, give thorough readers one good reason to read and read it again, just to be more familiar with the custom of the era.