The Classics Tag

I read this tag over at Jillian’s, who in turn had been tagged by Shannon of Reflections of a Reader. I liked it, so I’ve decided to post it here at Breadcrumbs.

Question #1: an overhyped classic you really didn’t like

Hands down, this ‘honour’ goes to Wuthering Heights. This is one book I haven’t been able to read completely. I have tried picking it up many times. I have puzzled over the fact that people love this book which is considered a great romance. And I still absolutely cannot stand it — not the writing, not the story, not the characters. ‘didn’t like’ is a bit too nice to describe how I feel about this book.

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Question #2: favourite time period to read about

The French Revolution!

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Storming of the Tuileries Palace by Jacques Bertaux-Prise

My interest in this period was piqued ever since I first read The Scarlet Pimpernel, and a few other books in the series. Whilst I cannot say I am passionate about the period (I don’t think I am passionate about anything really), it is a period that fascinates me. I have read a few essays on and from that period in France. And as I have the tendency to read books from the Georgian era in England, there is quite a bit of the French Revolution spilling over into these books as well.

Question #3: Favourite fairytale

The Goose Girl. I’m not sure why, but this was one Grimm’s fairy tale that I loved reading from my giant book of fairytales. I suppose the illustration had a lot to do with it. I also have to mention Donkey Skin. It creeped me out quite a bit, but still fascinated me.

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I still own this!

Question #4: What is the classic you are most embarrassed about not having read?

I don’t know that I am embarrassed about not having read a book. The way I see it, if I feel like it, I will pick it up and read it. If it doesn’t interest me I will keep it aside. Instead I shall mention a classic I would really like to read, but keep putting off for another day.

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Paradise Lost by John Milton

Question #5: Top 5 classics you would like to read soon.

I’m not particularly interested in reading anything soon, but the top 5 I would like to read are these:

Paradise Lost
The Robe
Beowulf
Mere Christianity
Three Men on the Bummel

Question #6: favourite modern book / series based on a classic

So it turns out I haven’t read any modern adaptations of classics. And to be honest, when I know a book is an adaptation I don’t touch it. Twice I let my guard down, and both times I was put off. No more! (If I can help it.)

Question #7: favourite movie / TV series based on a classic

I’m going to mention three.

1. Much Ado About Nothing (1993) — based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name — starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh.

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2. My Fair Lady (1964) — based on Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion — starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

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3. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982) — based on Baroness Orczy’s book of the same name –starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour.

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Question #8: worst classic-to-movie adaptation

Hmmm… I find this one hard as I don’t watch many movies. However, of all the classic-to-movie adaptations I have seen I probably liked the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice the least. Whilst Macfayden was likely the most handsome Darcy, the movie was too stylistic and none of the characters were at all likeable.

Question #9: favourite edition(s) you’d like to collect more classics from

This question isn’t relevant to me these days as I’ve stopped collecting printed books, for the most part. However, the classic editions I have the most of on my shelf currently are the Penguin Popular Classics. Simple really.

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The lot I own now.

I had more than these before the weaning. I love their covers!

 

Questions #10: An under hyped classic you would like to recommend to everyone

Shadow of the Moon by M. M. Kaye. If you loved Gone with the Wind, I believe you will love this one also. It is set during the time of the Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, and it is beautiful!

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This 1983 edition once belonged to mum, and is now mine. It’s as old as I am!

 

Universal truths and experiences from a 17th century traveller and poet: Matsuo Basho

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Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

From Tim Chilcott’s translation of Matsuo Basho’s Oku No Hosomichi: The Narrow Road into the Deep North.

In the town, there was a painter called Kaemon. I had heard he was a man of truly artistic taste, and I got to know him. He told me he had spent several years tracing places mentioned in poetry that had become hard to locate; and one day, he took us to see some of them(…)

I will bind iris
blossoms round about my feet —
straps for my sandals

The matter of place in Japanese poetry seems to be quite significant.

I also loved the following quotes for the timelessness of certain thoughts and experiences. This one…

Time passes and the world changes. But here, before my eyes, was a monument that had endured a thousand years. I felt that I could understand the feelings of the people of the past. ‘This,’ I thought, ‘is the traveller’s reward. This is the joy of having lived so long.’ I forgot the hardships of the road, and was moved to tears.

…and this one…

That night, I listened to a blind singer reciting a north-country ballad (…) He was performing close to my bed, and I found the rustic tones of his voice very noisy. But then I realised how admirable it was that such fine old customs were still preserved in this distant land.

…it truly amazes one, doesn’t it? This was written back in the seventeenth century, sometime between 1690 and 1694. And I could so relate to monuments that have ‘endured a thousand years’ as I recalled my experience at the Golconda Fort. I’m telling you, I could hear the distant echo of tinkling laughter and secrets shared, and see the glittering array of bejewelled women even before I realised I was in the women’s quarters of the fort.

The second quotation made me laugh because of the number of times I have thought the same when listening to our old music. Some things never change! And still we are enamoured of all things gone by. History has a mystic hold over us — antiquity! “When thou wert, thou wert not antiquity – then thou wert nothing, but hadst a remoter antiquity, as thou calledst it, to look back to with blind veneration; thou thyself being to thyself flat, jejune, modern!” Charles Lamb has it down pat.

Just one more…

Everywhere among the pine trees, graves were spread. They filled me with a great sadness, reminding me that all the vows to be ‘a single pair of wings or intertwining branches’ came in the end to this.

The quotation within the above quotation is from a celebrated poem called ‘Song of Everlasting Regret’ by Po Chu-i. I would like to read it. I sense a rich history and a journey of discovery.

Links to a few posts I enjoyed reading this week.

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A Moment’s Reflection (1880) by William Oliver

I would like to dedicate this entry to those few posts I have liked at other blogs this week past.

I don’t follow or read many poetry blogs, but the two I am about to mention, I came across through Vignette (my creative writing blog) this week, and enjoyed reading their poetry.

Philessaltry writes poems that reflect the sociological, philosophical, and political atmosphere of our times. His poetry reminds me of T.S. Eliot. It isn’t light reading at all. But I like having to ponder over the meaning of his words — they make a great deal of sense. Forceful Gales seems to be a bit out of his norm, but it was a little poem with a lovely rhythm and still profound. Moment after the moment is his most recent poem as I type this post. It has evoked quite a bit of discussion as readers have been trying to ponder over its meaning. It’s amazing, the number of interpretations that have come up and fit the poem so well! So, if you’re inclined towards modern and contemporary poetry with all the amalgamation of our times, do head on over to Philessaltry and have a look.

I also want to share Lost to the Sea by Kim M. Russel at Writing in North Norfolk. It was written to a prompt at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, and it is simply beautiful. It is vivid and atmospheric, with a story to tell of something so distant that echoes through the poem. I thought it very Victorian.

Celestine, over at Reading Pleasure, has just published her first book of haiku that centre around Africa, nature, love, the divine and death. She posted a review of her book by another blogger and haiku lover, and the glimpses we get into her work sound so enticing. I would like to mention my favourites in here, but without the cultural references that the reviewer provides, the essence of the haiku might not be completely present. So, I’ll direct you to Celestine’s blog to have a sneak peek at what her debut book is like.

Last of all, and most certainly not the least, I must mention Jillian’s posts at Oh My Words. I’ve known Jillian as a blogger for the past six years, and over those years we have had some interesting discussions on the classics. She is the reason why I read Gone with the Wind, and loved it! Mitchell had not been on my radar until I had read Jillian’s passionate posts on this epic novel. She is a very passionate blogger, with such a beautiful way with words. She can make the most boring topic a lovely read because of her metaphorical way of writing. The words flow from her so daintily and easily and it is sheer poetry in prose. She also has very interesting insights on the things she reads that spark off many a lively discussion. Only yesterday I read her take on Rilla of Ingleside which was rather unusual, but also an interpretation garnered from a lot of reading done on the author’s life and the times. I would also urge you to read her little poem The Birth of Scarlett O’Hara; it is precious.

Have you any little gems to share from the past week? I’m always looking for something good to read. 

Haiku + Travel Writing = Matsuo Basho: A Discovery

My very first introduction to haiku was in a creative writing class I attended about fifteen years ago. I was absolutely delighted with this form of poetry, because I loved the brevity of it and the vivid imagery that could be evoked in just seventeen syllables. I enjoyed writing them, but I never really delved into the form.

About four or five years ago I began Vignette that hosts the majority of my haiku (most of which have been written in response to prompts from various host sites). And still, it never occurred to me to read the history of this delightful Japanese poetic form.

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Basho (1644 – 1694) by Buson

Then today, as I was browsing through the Book Riot posts of the day, I found this — Poetry-Genre Pairings. In this post, Zoe Dickinson pairs up poets to read if we are fond of a particular genre. Under ‘travel writing’ she mentioned Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Basho:

This book, written in the 17th century C.E., is a mixture of prose and haiku poems recounting Basho’s journey through Edo Japan.

I decided to look it up, and first came across this. The haiku were so stark and vivid I just had to see if I could find a free domain translation of this Japanese poet (Amazon was a tad too expensive for my steadily diminishing purse). And then I came across The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a translation (of translations) by Tim Chilcott. I read through the introduction before deciding it didn’t matter that this was a translation of a translation for the essence of it needed to be captured. Besides, the fact that he got his translation proof-read by a native speaker and a bi-lingual one, convinced me to go ahead with it.

I have only just begun my journey into Basho’s haibun, but I know this is going to be one travel writing I’m going to enjoy reading piece-meal just for sheer beauty of the words and the imagery it evokes.

It was the twenty-seventh day of the Third Month [16 May]. There was a wan, thinning moon, and in the first pale light of dawn, the summit of Mount Fuji could be dimly seen. I wondered if I should ever see the cherry trees of Ueno and Yanaka again. My closest friends, who had gathered together the night before, got on the boat to see me off. We disembarked at Senju, and my heart was overwhelmed by the prospect of the vast journey ahead. Ephemeral though I know the world to be, when I stood at the crossroads of parting, I wept goodbye.

the spring is passing –
the birds all mourn and fishes’
eyes are wet with tears

I wrote this verse to begin my travel diary, and then we started off, though it was hard to proceed. Behind, my friends were standing in a row, as if to watch till we were lost to sight.

Basho had begun his journey to the North at the end of spring and is supposed to have reached his destination five months later at the start of fall.

I look forward to tracing his journey north.

 

I change; my blog changes.

Delicious Solitude (1909) by Frank Bramley

Delicious Solitude (1909) by Frank Bramley

At the time of writing this, Breadcrumbs is six-and-a-half years old. It began as a way to keep a pregnant mother’s mind occupied with reading and reviewing. Then it became a way to communicate with other book bloggers via memes and challenges. It quickly grew out of that state to become more discussion-oriented toward classical reads. It has been on breaks two or three times, and it has seen oh so many face-lifts. It has reflected my shifting moods at various stages of my life in the last six years, both in its looks and its content. And it will continue to do so. It contains within its many ‘pages’ something of me, the blogger, Risa.

Currently Breadcrumbs (formerly Breadcrumb Reads) is going through yet another change. Given our fast-paced lives, I find I haven’t much time to sit down with a solid book. Even if I do find time, I am too tired to pick up a heavy volume. Something quick and light is what I  pick up to read these days. They’re fun, but do not meet the need a part of me has to sink my teeth into something and ponder over it. So, I’ve decided to go for material that I can pick up and read quickly enough and that will still give me something to chew on — I’m thinking essays, poetry and short stories.

I don’t intend reviewing all this material, but look forward to perhaps sparking off some discussions inspired by this reading or just journalling my thoughts about what I read. I shall, of course, continue to read the light stuff as well because they fulfil my desire for escapism now and then. But those reviews are going down in goodreads.

Thus Breadcrumb Reads: lost in reams of imagination is now Breadcrumbs: reading and journalling.

8 books worth your time that have a gothic setting.

(c) National Trust, The Vyne; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

A Ruined Gothic Church beside a River by Moonlight (1841) by Sebastian Pether

 

I think it is rather ironic that I have chosen to recommend gothic books as I am not particularly fond of that genre. However, the following are novels I have, at the most loved, or at the least respected, and would recommend to any lover of gothic romances.

  1. Tregaron’s Daughter by Madeliene Brent — A fisherman’s daughter’s fortunes change when she rescues an elderly gentleman from a near boating accident.
  2.  The Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt — The story of a governess who marries the man of the house (much like Jane Eyre).
  3. The Malaspiga Exit by Evelyn Anthony — I can’t recall much of this, but it has to do with drug trafficking believe it or not.
  4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier — Whilst when I read this I wasn’t particularly blown away, I could tell it was a good piece of work.
  5. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer — Gothic setting aren’t my cup of tea, and this particular one made my skin crawl. I suspect it’s a good one.
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen — This one is a spoof on all gothic tropes. I absolutely enjoyed it!
  7. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier — Another one I read so many years ago. But I can never hear of it without recalling the poem of “The Highwayman”. I think it deals with smugglers. It definitely is very gothic, because it left that strong impression on my mind.
  8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte — A favourite for a long time.

 

Written for Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and Bookish.

5 Reasons why I’m so excited about my e-reader.

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My brand new kindle: arrived home earlier this evening.

When e-readers were first becoming a trend, I was quite skeptical of them. Whilst I was not against them, I didn’t think they could entirely take the place of a print book. However, of late, most of my reading has been done online. In fact, I got rid of most of my print books (classics included), and decided to switch wholly to e-reading. It wasn’t until over an hour ago, though, that I owned an actual e-reader, so I’m quite excited about it!

Here then are 5 reason I prefer using an e-reader these days.

1. It suits my varied moods at varied times. 
Whilst I do like to have some solid, meaty reading, often my mood does not allow me to handle something heavy. My work involves a lot of thinking and planning, so sometimes I am just looking for pure entertainment, be it an old-fashioned romance or sheer fantasy.

2. It is handy.
I can take it with me wherever I go, and not use much space. It’s easy to just whip out an e-reader wherever you may be. It’s light and not cumbersome. It hardly takes up any space in a bag.

3. It is easy for me to find out meanings of new words.
I’m the sort of reader who generally doesn’t bother looking up new words in a dictionary. I’ve always tried to glean the meaning of words right out of the context in which they are written. However, since e-reading, I have discovered the actual meaning of many words only because of this easy option to looking up what they mean.

4. I enjoy the highlighting and note features which do not mess up my e-book.
Another thing I would never do whilst reading a print book, is highlighting and making notes in them. I hate messing up my printed books. As a result I would keep a little notebook handy to jot down stuff. The e-reader makes all of this easier to deal with without the ‘pages’ getting untidy.

5. I can pick up most classics (and the odd gem) for free! 
I am happy that I can easily access thousands of classics online that are available for free. Most of my printed bookshelf consisted of classics (till I got rid of most of them recently), and I cannot imagine how much I must have spent on all those put together! Also, I enjoy browsing through Amazon’s list of indi-authors who offer their first books for free. I have discovered some real gems in these past few months, and have had no issues buying some more books belonging to these newly discovered (by me) authors.

And there we have it!

What’s your take on the e-reader? Would you agree with my reasons? Or do you have an entirely different perspective on this?