(I read much less elegantly/yellow-ly)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Updates and Being Judgemental

First of all, what of Wuthering Heights?

 photo i-hate-everyone-o1_zpsa6febeeb.gif

Everyone. Except Heathcliff, who I sort of hate-pity. And Nelly, who seems to be the only well-adjusted person in the whole of Yorkshire, or Isolated Brooding Land, as I like to call it. That is not to say that I'm not enjoying the book, though, because I certainly am. It's crazy good! And also just kind of crazy.

The Eyre-athon is...happening. I'm almost done, actually, but I'm really losing steam because there have been soo many bad versions. How much senseless alteration and miscasting can one take?? I'll find out. BUT to end on a positive note, it's a smackdown of songs inspired by Wuthering Heights:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: a Review

Spoilers! Don't say I didn't warn you. 
 For the record, there's probably nothing I can say about this book that ten other people haven't already said much more eloquently, but I'm giving it my best shot.  Because I have a blog, and that's what you do! Jane Eyre is amazing. 
So I first read it an eon ago in sixth grade, and even back when I was as twerpy a little ragamuffin as ever thought the cafeteria chicken nuggets tasted like rubber, this book was very, very special to me.  I felt like there was a whole world of books opened up to me when I read it because it was so Old-Timey, but at the same time why would I need to read anything else, because how could anything else be as good? This is basically how it went down the first time I experienced Jane Eyre (Oh, it's not just a book, it's an experience):
  • I wanted to befriend awesome, spunky little Jane.
  • I wanted  to befriend awesome, spunky big (though technically still little) Jane.
  • I was totally horrified when she slept in her friend's deathbed. This was before I knew that Weird Death Scenes For Saintly Young Girls are a staple of Old-Timey books.
  • I was totally horrified when she almost married her cousin. This was before I knew that Cousinly Romantic Entanglements are a staple of Old-Timey books.
  • I savored Every. Single. Jane-Rochester exchange (The fire and the intense flirtation that inevitably ensues after life-saving! The guy who gets bitten! The banter! The gypsy who is actually Mr. Rochester in drag! The proposal closely followed by the lightning-struck tree that is symbolic and foreshadowy! The attic-lurking ghoul who is actually his wiiiiifeee)

 photo tumblr_static_tumblr_mbd530nmxl1qmary5o1_500_zps406d383f.gif
Jane is the wind beneath my wings. She is resilient, passionate, fiercely intelligent, independent and determined to be true to herself. She stands up for her beliefs and finds a happy ending on her own terms, to which a lot of Victorian readers said "Booo!Someone fetch my smelling salts, a woman just asserted her rights as a human being!" In fact, Charlotte Bronte first published the book under the gender-neutral pseudonym Currer Bell because she wanted it to be recieved without any bias based on the author's sex. This plan sort of backfired because the mysterious name only generated more controversy about and interest in a book that was already deemed pretty controversial and interesting, and it became an even bigger ordeal for poor Charlotte when she eventually came forward as the author and SHE WAS A SHE!! (Credit for the Knowledge of Happenings in this paragraph goes to The Bronte Myth by Lucasta Miller.)
Necessary beloved quote:

  "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! -I have as much soul as you- and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh; - it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal - as we are!...I am no bird, no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you."

 photo tumblr_m0sudr4KLk1rrdywqo1_500_zps2ef7a85f.gif

I have revisited many times to memorize by heart all the "good parts" with Jane and Mr. Rochester, skipping over all the "bad parts" (which mostly had to do with St. John, obviously).  But speaking of the devil (just kidding St. John, please don't long-windedly berate me or icily shun me for mentioning the devil in reference to youuuuuu) this time around I have a slightly different perspective: a good deal of the story's appeal definitely lies within the intrigue and romance, but equally compelling is the examination of the moral conflict between passion and principle. When I was younger I saw no point whatsoever to Jane's entanglement with the preachy, drippy, decidedly unsexy COUSIN St. John (I may also harbor a slight grudge against him because the pronunciation of his name is dumb) but now I think I get that it's the culmination of Jane's lifelong struggle between the two extremes. Becoming Rochester-the-sleazy-tormented-dreamboat-bigamist's mistress would result in unhappiness because it would be motivated by an excess of passion, and a loveless marriage with St. John would result in unhappiness because it would be motivated by an excess of adherence to principles and duty. The deal is that the two have to be reconciled for everything to really be hunky-dory. Cool, right?


It strikes this magical balance between the page-turning deliciousness of a brooding Gothic romance (Mr. Rochester, guys, OMG OMG) and Brontë's super-smart examination of what it really means to find your place in the world and be a good person. What more can you ask for? NOTHING, that's what! Man, it's just my favorite thing. Now time to have an Eyre-athon and watch every single movie version I can find. And start Wuthering Heights by Charlotte's reclusive sister, Emily.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jane Eyre Summary in 30 Rock GIFs

Here there be spoilers. They're sort of unintelligible, but they do exist.
Next time, I pinky promise you there will be an actual review with, you know, thoughtful consideration put into it and all of that. For now, enjoy my summary of Jane Eyre using 30 Rock GIFs:

Mrs. Reed

  photo tumblr_m9k2k0sw1I1r5c2fso1_250_zps9355a622.gif 
 photo 30-rock-b_zpscb671d36.gif
Skip Ahead
 photo tumblr_mm14upfWyN1qj7ll5o1_500_zps5b0095b6.gif
And a horse technically

(Only fire-related 30 Rock image  I could find)

 photo 900x900px-LL-360d3228_30Rock-Dammithotbitches_zpsc9b6b532.gif
Fucking Blanche
  photo 4FAJV1z_zpsb189de70.gif
   photo liz-lemon-30-rock-quote-meat-lovers-pizza-1_zpsd07fcbfe.gif  photo s1jennaseduction_zps019151a9.gif
 photo 59947_600_zps39317b31.gif


 photo tumblr_lthffdt41m1r1sica_zps7914aa52.gif

 photo tumblr_lzg8d6R7SW1r0lm5k_zps9dbd5043.gif
 photo tumblr_ludttxTQlv1qm7166o1_500_zps9ed8d77f.gif
Religon, studying, nice sisters yes okay
 photo tumblr_m59f8tdJIw1qfw2dno1_250_zps355be4b2.gif
And the impossible Victorian coincidences resulting in an inheritance!

 photo tumblr_lg57eozvSe1qzj01e_zps4e40cfaf.gif
Jenna's saying "ya burnt!" Get it. Like Rochester is deformed and crippled from the fire. Get it.
  photo tumblr_mkh25qJmVw1s00ervo1_250_zps6060ba9a.gif
 photo tumblr_lz6qsoq3Tv1r7g4vzo1_500_zps854798e4.gif
(St. John ending)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Blogger Hop

Greetings, book buddies! Welcome to my little corner of the Internet. I am quite new at this as you can see, and I'm very excited to have this opportunity to meet some bloggers! Annnnd the blog hop question is:

What is your favorite genre? (genre that you read the most) - Recommend a book!
I like to think that I am a fairly adventurous and open-minded reader - each genre has unique qualities that make it appealing, and of course there are good books in every genre. That being said, classic literature is my favorite right now,  particularly the Victorians. Out of the genre (Sub-genre? That's a thing, right?) of Victorian literature I would most reccomend Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Reading classics has gained this false stereotype of being a stuffy, slogging experience, but these two books are quite simply fantastic fun, besides also being the most emotionally resonant, compelling and strikingly beautiful things I've read.  Ahem. Anyways, what do you think of my suggestions? What kind of books do you like best? Thanks very much for stopping by!

Emotional Post About Jane Eyre the First

Just one of many amazing quotes from Jane Eyre  that I wanted to share:

"Who blames me? Many, no doubt, and I shall be called discontented. I could not help it; the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes. Then my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third story, backwards and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it - and, certainly, they were many and glowing; to let my heart be heaved by the exultant movement, which, while it swelled it in trouble, expanded it with life; and best of all, to open my inward ear to a tale that was never ended - a tale my imagination created, and narrated continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence."

(From Jane Eyre, Chapter 12)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Professor by Charlotte Brontë: a Review

Alrighty, The Professor. Not exactly the most promising start to the Brontë readthrough, but fortunately it was very, very short, and after we get through this review we'll be setting sail for calmer, more female-narrator-y and less oddly-bigoted waters. Slight spoilers ahead, and goodness knows you don't want a single delightful moment of this novel spoiled for you!
I jest.
Our hero (yeah..."hero"),William Crimsworth, is a speshull, sensitive snowflake decides to make his way in life by teaching English in Belgium. Hence, the title. So far so good. But, but:
 photo tumblr_m6fzbobiVn1qdok4ro1_500_zps8f77583e.gif

The thing about William is that he's a horrible person. His characterization either aged terribly or was just a failure to begin with, because he is a sexist, racist, overbearing, uptight ass. For one thing, I don't know why he would think in a million years that his career choice would make him anything other than miserable, as he feels and expresses strongly from the get-go that Belgium is a vulgar place populated by vulgar hordes of vulgar Belgians. (Who knew Charlotte Brontë was anti-Belgium?  I  thought she was pretty much about introspective proto-feminism and tiny heroines. How very, very wrong I was.)

When not complaining about a situation he created for himself and could easily have avoided altogether, he spends the vast majority of his time observing the "figures" and "physiognomies" of his students. Who are young teenage girls, mind you. Although they're "well-formed," our impressionable friend William is repulsed by their Flemish vulgarity - which is of course made apparent by their inferior physiognomies. (This word is used far, far too often.) William spends the entire novel talking either like this:

"Dancing began; I should have liked well enough to be introduced to some pleasing and intelligent girl, and to have freedom and opportunity to show that I could both feel and communicate the pleasure of social intercourse." 

or like this:

"[A student] is of middle size, stiffly made, body long, legs short, bust much developed but not compactly moulded (???)...her hair, so glossy with gum and grease, is not such as one feels tempted to pass the hand over, much less run the fingers through...age not above fifteen but as full-grown as a stout young Englishwoman of twenty... below her were seated a band of very vulgar, inferior-looking Flamandes, including two or three examples of that deformity of person and imbecility of intellect whose frequency in the Low Countries would seem to furnish proof that the climate is such as to induce degeneracy of the human mind and body."

 photo tumblr_mn8184HBvB1s47u83o1_500_zps3e2faad6.gif

But then! He meets a girl who he can actually tolerate because she is not a Debased Flemish Slattern, and they fall in love as he teaches her English. However, by that point I already hate him with the burning power of a thousand imploding stars and I don't CARE if his kindred spirit can write flowery poetry in English. Seriously.

 photo tumblr_mg4pwrycOy1rn4cvlo1_400_zpsc654a56f.gif

Plus the falling-in-love process is made totally inexplicable by William's maintenance of this mega-rude, standoffish demeanor which is also just plain stupid given that, as previously mentioned, until he meets this girl, his time not spent checking out his students is spent bemoaning the fact that he can find nobody to sympathize with his refined, delicate soul or whatever. So naturally once he finds someone he actually feels is fit to associate with him, he acts like a total nincompoop ARGH I CAN'T EVEN WITH THIS CHARACTER.
 photo tumblr_lcd16mm4DV1qdpjw9_zpsf82470fe.gif

All this nonsense somehow manages to be repulsive and boring at once. On the bright side, there is a bit of potential present - it is yet tiny and trembling and cowering in the shadows cast by the bloated, bigoted grossness of William's idiocy, but as we know it will soon flourish. And I really love this quote:

“Human beings -- human children especially -- seldom deny themselves the pleasure of exercising a power which they are conscious of possessing, even though that power consist only in a capacity to
make others wretched.”

Jane Eyre, here I come!

Brontë Readthrough!

I mentioned before that we were going to have a talk about the Victorians. Here's the deal. I majorly, majorly adore the Victorians. They wrote like nobody's business, exploring all these big, huge, compassionate ideas in an era of Radical and Tumultuous Change   Dickens, George Eliot, Thackeray, the Brontë sisters and the gang are basically the bee's knees, although that unfamiliar terminology would probably leave them bemused and then they would assume it had something improprietous to do with legs and they'd think I was a young hussy.
 photo Lucille-is-judging-you-gif-arrested-development-21743891-500-289_zpsc51a6e04.gif
 And I want to read MORE of them! I figured a good place to start  would be a comprehensive Brontë sister readthrough. I mean, I always say I love them but it's not really justified because I read Jane Eyre and hearted its face to death, like you do, obviously, and then I forced myself to finish Wuthering Heights and acknowledge its brilliance even though I was like "I'm going  to slap you Cathy you saucy wench WHY  AREN'T YOU LIKE MY LITERARY SOULMATE JANE?!"

 photo tumblr_mhk715CCbP1s29dslo1_250_zpsfb18371f.gif
Cathy really is the worst.
 But no more. I'm going to read through all the published novels of those wonderful sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.  In order of publication: The Professor (it was actually  published last after Charlotte’s death but it was the first thing she tried to publish and I just need to get it over with), Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey, The (David) Tenant of Wildfell Hall,  Shirley and Villette. I now embark on my reading quest! It shall be beautiful and edifying! Except for The Professor.

 photo tumblr_medcw7396b1qhn4woo1_500_zps970c8665.gif

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Post Jitters

Hello there!
So, friends, what we have here is my First Post. Yep. This First Post is rather like the awkward beginning of a conversation with a nice new person -you can't rely on inside jokes or inane banter yet and if they get a bad impression they will fleeeee.
 photo tumblr_mbo6kyreOf1ri1bqgo1_500_zpse5ae0895.gif
Nope, Gandalf, be quiet.

I've concluded that the best thing to do is to just barrel forward.  To at least try to preserve my Internet anonymity, I shall be alias-ing as Zeb. I'm a very enthusiastic and hopefully somewhat engaging (though only time will tell) bookworm. If you're reading this, you are probably similar, so here are some  safe-for-Internet-sharing- Zeb-specific factish tidbits:

  • I have an amazing twin sister. Though we are not telepathic.
  • I'm a flutist. Which is not as pretentious as being a flautist.
  • Some of my favorite things are hilariously terrible movies and heartfelt British bands.
That's all for now. (I was going to do the Porky the Pig stammering thing, but I decided to refrain, and  now I'm unnecessarily sharing the entire thought process with you. You're welcome.) Next time we'll have a talk about Victorian literature. Which is the best kind of talk to have!