Monday, 7 January 2013

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Date of Reading: 31/05/2008
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Year: 1848

         They say pigs will fly when literary critics and common populace agree on one book. Well, the pigs at my home are still waiting for that chance, but 'Jane Eyre', like its enchanted heroine, has succeeded in opening up new literary interpretations to satisfy the so called academicians while providing enjoyment to anyone who can read.
         What is so special about this? For one, its bildungsroman (can be considered as kunstlerroman too as the growing up protagonist is an artist), which makes the heroine intimate to us as one in the family. Jane is brave and she has got some principles that she won't surrender even to the one she loves. In other terms, 'she has got character'. It has mystery, romance, friendship; too good a treat to miss.
         Story is close to my heart as this is the first e-book that I have read. A new reading experience that I will cherish always. Books will survive this digital age too; ways and forms might differ, but as long as man has the wish to communicate literature will never vanish.
          As an orphan girl Jane Eyre is brought up by her aunt. Her father, a poor clergy man has fallen in love with the wealthy Miss Reed and their consequent marriage disinherited her. When they die after two years of  marriage, little Jane is left in the hands of her maternal uncle Mr. Reed who in turn leaves her with his wife in an untimely death.
        Mrs. Reed cannot find any empathy to this plain child and her children too made life hard for Jane. At the age of ten she is sent to a charity school called Lowood where she lived for eight years, six as a student and two as a teacher. Freedom came at last when the job of a governess is offered in Thornfield Hall. Its master is Mr. Rochester.
           The pure, plain girl wins the master's heart and they get engaged. But on the day of the marriage, it is revealed that this Edward Fairfax Rochester is already wed to a lunatic wife, Bertha Mason. She is kept hidden in upstairs, so as not to harm anyone. Jane flees from there in the cover of darkness and takes refuge in the house of St. John Rivers, the clergy man. She identifies herself as Jane Elliot and soon makes friends with St. John's sisters Diana and Mary.
          Jane works for sometime as a village school teacher and then an unexpected inheritance changes the situation. Her uncle John Eyre has made her a heiress and she finds out that the Rivers are her cousins. She divides the wealth in equal among them. St. John expresses his wish to marry Jane as he needs a wife for his missionary work in India.
          But Jane's mind is still in Thornfield and to there she returns. Bertha has burnt the place and killed herself; Mr. Rochester has lost his eyesight and is turned into a cripple in the incident. Jane marries him.
         St. John remains unmarried but continues as a missionary in India; by the end of the novel he nears his death. Mr. Rochester has got the sight of his one eye back and a son is born to the couple.
--- movies based on the story are really good, especially the 2011 film directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Netherland - Joseph O'Neill

Date of Reading: 17/12/2012
Author: Joseph O'Neill
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Place: London
Year: 2008
          There are some times when our voice is not heard. Oh, this is not about family. Suppose I write a review of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' (never been able to read that), and declare it not worth the trouble, will that change anything? No, I will be considered a stupid lad with not much standard.
         This book is such a sad case; it has got good reviews, but I don't like it. Why? Eventually, as in 'Waiting for Godot', nothing happens, 'nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful'. Story (if you think there is one) concerns the situation of New York after the attack on World Trade Center. Novel fails to provide that feeling of loss to one that live far away from the issues connected with it. Like the narrator, Hans, author too seems confused or too  reluctant to make a daring statement which might cause some political controversy.
          Except for the protagonist, and perhaps Chuck too, all the characters are underdeveloped. No chronological order is followed which makes it really hard to keep with the times. All in all it looks like a verbal play with words we have to look continuously into the dictionary, to make some sense out of it.
          Hans van den Broek, a Dutch born London settler, moves to New York when his wife Rachel who works in a law firm, gets transferred to there. He is a family man with few friends outside, and when Jake, his son is born his life revolves around him. Then the 9/11 attacks happen and their life is turned upside down, fear and security sirens permeates the area. Rachel, fearing their son's safety, moves back to her ancestral home in England and Hans is left alone with the eccentric inmates of Chelsea Hotel while his wife requests time to think about their marriage.
           Now Hans' refuge in weekends is cricket, the game he played as a child in Holland while his mother keeps watch; the sense of order and justice is still retained by the game which reassures him that there is something that is unchanged.
         It is in one of these matches he meets Chuck Ramkissoon, the Trinidadian business entrepreneur. He is proud to be a citizen of America and cherishes a plan to civilize this new home country by teaching them cricket. His intention is to turn Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn to a cricket stadium (which he terms patriotically as 'Bald Eagle Field') and Hans too join in the work. 
         Once in every two weeks, he travels to London to be with Jake. Rachel soon finds a new boyfriend -- Martin; in order to win back his wife, Hans finally decides to leave this adopted country. Meanwhile he has found out that Chuck's gambling business has its dark side and was therefore not at all reluctant to leave that friendship.
Joseph O'Neill
          Everything goes according to plan, and with Rachel stability too comes back. Then in 2006, he gets informed that Chuck's remains are fished out from Gowanus Canal. This brings back old memories and this forms the novel.
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