Mansfield Park

Posted by Divya at Wednesday, August 26, 2009 2 comments Links to this post

By Jane Austen

When I read Austen, I give in my full; I devour each sentence slow and steady, to not miss the hidden ironies and meanings. It was the same with Mansfield Park; though, this book depicted societal anxieties and graceful feminism more than the usual ironic humor her other novels are full of. To say that Mansfield Park may be Austen’s most solemn work may be right in every way.

The central character of this story is Fanny, the girl who comes to live with her rich cousins, as a symbol of goodwill shown by a wealthy sister to a poor one - with an enormous family. Though shy and timid in the beginning, Fanny transcends to make Mansfield her home, learns to love and find happiness, even though she is constantly reminded of her position and liberties in comparison to her cousins who share the same roof. And as the story progresses, Fanny returns to her own family many years after, only to realize that her heart resides at Mansfield, even though it has its painful moments.

There is a clear merit of countenance and attitude that is depicted in each character of the story. While Austen comments on the impact of a change in morals based on “London ideals” which interferes with the traditions of a country side, she is also adept in mentioning that mismanagement and undue austerity can result in rendering a house-hold in tumult. Such is the foundation of the novel; where she portrays Fanny to define scrupulousness in a society that is tending to be fluid.

Though quiet and demure by nature, Fanny is what one would define a mature feminist, as the story evolves. She is all calmness and propriety, yet never deters from her principles for anything or anybody. Sometimes the distinction is so blatant, one is to wonder if Austen deliberately, wanted to compare good and evil; love and compromise.

Then again, nothing is evil forever; even the most immoral character, shows remorse and has moments of reform. There are also philosophical endeavors and moments to welcome change, which is natural. And all of this is done in shades of black of white; while Edmund’s compassion and attachment is handled with patient disposition, Maria’s is all edginess and amoral; while Miss Crawford is blunt and impolite in her wants, Fanny is modest and all-enduring.

All in all, though I did not enjoy this novel the way I loved the other Austen books, it was indeed a pleasure to read. Take up this classic to draw in a complex, severe and compassionate world, so well rendered to burn the reading lamp.

The Septembers of Shiraz

Posted by Divya at Sunday, August 09, 2009 1 comments Links to this post

By Dalia Sofer

I must admit when I picked the book for my Orbis Terranum list, it was the memorable title that drew me more than the content, but when I turned the last page of the book today, it had transcended to be much more than an attractive label.

The novel in a nut shell is evocative and powerful; and like they say, a good book like this one leaves you a little exhausted in the end. ‘The Septembers of Shiraz’ is a story of a Jewish family in the wake of revolution in Iran in the early eighties. The tale is narrated in view points of the family members, at times divulging in prose and poetry that depict the culture of a nation that once was.

When Amin is arrested on reticent terms, which include being a rich Jew in a country that is undergoing an Islamic revolution, their perfect world is shattered in seconds. Sofer has woven this suspenseful tale, so real and poignant; you could be up all night reading till the end. The narration is fresh and soft; with the mention of many Iranian terms of agha, kahnoum, samovar and others which were indeed a pleasure to the read, read aloud and you can smell the minted tea or smoky kebabs in them!

Besides the romantics of ghazal like prose, I believe the story though simple had conveyed something deep; the author had wanted to insist that roots of a person belong to the land he comes from. Irrespective of the religion you follow, your love for your motherland is more pronounced. And when this allegiance to the nation is questioned it is only because of the religion tag one has inherited.

The book is an engaging one, presenting a peek into the life of Jews in Iran, which I had no knowledge of before. It is also about passion to ones land and of hope and faith. And above all Sofer’s writing is extremely beautiful, poetic and mellifluous. I would recommend this book very highly and look forward to more books from Sofer.

Japanese Literature Challenge 3

Posted by Divya at Tuesday, August 04, 2009 0 comments Links to this post

Having heard a lot about authors like Murakami and Mishima, I am but apprehensive about reading the books; not because, I'd judge the content, but, I am not sure I have the aptitude for them! And so when I came across this challenge, it suited me fine to get over my cynicism.

My entry for the Japanese Literature Challenge 3 is
The wind-up bird chronicles - Haruki Murakami.

And with this, I am hopefully "winding up" with challenges this year! :)

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