April Books

I finally have my act together enough to sit down and write this post.  It should have happened a couple of weeks ago, but you know how it goes.  Summer vacation suddenly hits, and all you want to do is absolutely nothing.  Plus, I recently discovered the newest season of BBC’s Sherlock, so of course that had to all be watched in a day.  But anyway, here we go.

23569715._UY200_The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott   (I spoke about this book already here.). I am inspired to read certain books based on conversations between my mom and my Nana.  Around Christmastime two years ago, my Nana was telling my Mom about this book, and I was listening to their conversation.  The way I heard my Nana describe this book was enough to interest me.  This story is about a young girl who has the ability to heal people, but every time she does, she dies a little bit.  This story examines individual responsibility versus societal duty.  It hurts to read, because of the conflict between the individual characters, and the people demanding things.  Plus, the story brings up the question of “What would you do in that situation?”.  The answer I had before I read this book is very different from my answer now.  I love books that make me think and re-evaluate my morals, beliefs, and my ideas about myself, books like The Color Purple, anything from Dan Brown, etc.  And I love books that stay with me, dancing around my heart and mind, for a long time after.  The other thing I really liked about this book, was the writing.  It was beautiful.  It reminded me a lot of my favorite book growing up, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.  Simply, this book was wonderful.

The Black Madonna by Muriel Spark  For my online class, I had to read a short story, black-madonnaand write a literary analysis on it.  I chose The Black Madonna, simply by flipping my textbook open to an author I hadn’t read before.  This story is an interesting one, for many reasons.  It analyses the power of religion, religious judgment, racism, cheating, mixed race genealogy, and probably the most powerful of all, the difference in the types of mothers, particularly in regards to socioeconomic status.  This story is named for a carving of the Madonna, done in a piece of black wood, that was gifted to the Parkers’ Catholic church.  Raymond and Lou were a white couple who had been married for quite some time, and were without children.  Eventually, it began to circle that praying to the Back Madonna for a child, would produce a child.  When Lou does have a child, the daughter is of another skin color.  This causes problems, as prior to getting pregnant, the couple had friends who were black.  They end up deciding to put the child up for adoption, believing it was the right thing to do.  The Parkers lived in a wealthier area, and had a bit of money.  This contrasted greatly with Lou’s sister, who was a widow with eight kids who lived off of welfare.  This was an interesting story to read because of the layers of meaning and themes.  I liked how plainly Sparks laid out the hypocrisy and judgment in religion, and how she contrasted the mothers, but I really didn’t like how the Parkers handled their daughter.  Their behavior makes sense in the story, but it just puts a sour taste in my mouth.  Instead of acknowledging the possibility of black in their ancestry, the Parkers would much rather put the child up for adoption, thinking it was a mistake.  Something about that just doesn’t sit right with me, especially after how Lou judged her sister for her choice of parenting.  The Black Madonna certainly gave me a lot to think about, but it’s not one I will probably read again for a long time.

What about you?  Have you read anything fun and interesting?

Ciao for now,

Julia

 

March Books

This month, the books I read were deep and thought provoking and even sometimes morally upsetting.  Truth be told, those are the types of books I like to read (for the most part). But this month, the subject material in these books was quite heavy.

51bEc+8GPxL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_The Awakening By Kate Chopin

For my online class this semester, I was required to read this book, then write a literary analysis on it.  As I’ve said before, I’m always a tad wary of reading feminist literature, especially turn of the century and after.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  The Awakening is about a young married woman’s sense of “awakening” to her desire for authenticity, self-identity, and passionate love and romance (not to be confused with a sexual awakening).   When this book was first published, many critics compared it to Madame Bovary and Lolita.  I was hesitant when I first started reading, because with comparisons to sexual books, I couldn’t help but wonder what was going to happen.  Anyway, I actually quite like this book.  I like the sense of “awakening” Edna (the main character) experiences, and how she fights against the things she feels are oppressing her.  Now, I don’t agree with all her methods or decisions, but I definitely like the way Chopin explains her thought process and internal, emotional awareness.  This book was really morally upsetting to me, because the end is rather ambiguous.  Without giving too much away, nothing feels really resolved or decided, and the reader is left trying to figure out what it all meant.  Besides the philosophical aspects of the story (such as obligation and duty vs. passion; self-identity; authenticity; “awakening”, etc.), I really liked Chopin’s writing.  This story is set in New Orleans during the turn of the century, in an aristocratic Creole environment, and Chopin writes in such an interesting eye for detail.  Though Edna occasionally got on my nerves, I liked many of the other characters.  Robert Lebrun, Edna’s “lover”, reminded me quite a lot of Angel Clare from Tess of the d’Ubervilles.  I also really liked Madame Ratignolle, who acted as the sensible voice of domestic and maternal goodness.  She encouraged Edna to live happily and love her children and her husband.  On the flip-side, I also quite liked Mademoiselle Reisz.  She was half-nutty, and didn’t care about what anybody thought.  She, in a sense, acted as the clear voice for Edna’s desires and awakenings, a perfect foil to Madame Ratignolle.  There was one line, in particular from this story that rather struck me: “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.”.  All in all, I really quite liked this book, and I like the moral conflict it caused.

 

Les Misérables By Victor Hugo51P01h3DZtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Where do I even begin?  I love this book.  I finished this book about two weeks ago, and am still processing it.  It’s the kind of book that leaves your mind and heart feeling all kinds of mushy and foggy for days.  I’m a little annoyed that it took me so long to finish it.  I wish I had read it passionately and hungrily.  Before I begin really explaining this book, I want to make this distinction: You are not reading Les Mis if you are not reading Hugo.  Victor Hugo’s writing in and of itself is what makes Les Mis so beautiful.  It is poignant and powerful, philosophical and detailed, gentle and profound.  Hugo examines the world through what I am calling a two-way looking-glass; at times, he writes in a worldly and grand perspective, and at other times, he writes in an intimate and individual perspective.  He knows the world, but he also understands the man.  There is a quote from Hugo that I hold very near to my heart: “A writer is a world trapped in a person”.  As a writer myself, I feel this statement on an intimate level, but as a reader of Hugo, I understand this in terms of his mind.  Hugo writes in the spectrum of the world, at times talking about France, and others talking about the forgotten, poor child.  In reading Les Mis, one is exposed to the depth of Hugo’s thoughts and feelings and love for his fellow-men.  Even when talking about Thérnardier, it is obvious Hugo feels deeply, and has compassion.  And the complexity of the this story is of epic proportions.  Hugo presents each character’s background, so that each present decision makes sense.  He opens the book with the Bishop of Dine, so that his actions make sense in regards to Valjean.  Valjean’s past is written out, so that it makes sense why he is angry when he is freed, and then why he changes.  Javert’s history is presented so his persistence and cold-hearted approach to justice is understood.  Fantine’s life is even presented, and the reader is introduced to otherwise unknown character of Cosette’s father.  For every character, Hugo paints a picture of their personality and history, so by the end, each character feels like a friend (or enemy of sorts).  And like most books, Les Mis presents facts about the characters that are otherwise brushed over or forgotten.  For example, Eponine has a sister and three younger brothers, one of which is a much beloved character.  Eponine dies angry and jealous, instead of happy.  (Actually, she purposely lulls Marius to the barricade in hopes he will die, and not be with Cosette …… I think I like her better in the movie …..).  Valjean takes the name Fauchlevent because he takes refuge in Paris with the man he saved from the cart (Mounsier Fauchlevent).  Cosette spent her tween years on a convent.  Marius and Cosette actually had(unchaperoned) “dates” in the garden in the Rue Plumet two months before the barriacades.  Valjean dies several weeks, if not months, after the wedding.  The thing is, this book is better than the musical and movie.  I love every extension of this story, and Hugo’s incredible epic, but I could just rave endlessly about the book.  My favorite chapter was probably the collection of thoughts Marius wrote for Cosette (A Heart Beneath a Stone) and the one(s) that made my heart the most happy were the final two (A Night Behind Which There is Day and The Grass Covers and the Rain Effaces).  This book simply just made my heart happy.

What were you reading this month?

Ciao for now,

Julia

The beauty of Victor Hugo (pt. 10)

In this final section of the book, the lovers are married, Marius discovered who saved his life, and a wonderful, good, gentle soul enters Heaven.

There are things we should not attempt to paint; the sun is among them. (p. 1343)

We are pitiless toward happy lovers; we stay there when they have the greatest desire to be alone. (p. 1343)

“Angel” is the only word in the language that cannot be worn out.  No other word would resist the pitiless use lovers make. (p. 1345)

“People would drive away the Graces for their low necklines.  Alas! They hide beauty as a deformity.” (p. 1354)

e9867c9527d5441959d467cb30fa0271“A marriage should be royal and fantastical; it ought to walk in procession from the cathedral of Rheims to the pagoda of Chanteloup.  I’m horrified at a cowardly wedding! Be in Olympus, at least for that day.  Be gods!” (p. 1355)

The head that does not turn toward past horizons contains neither thought nor love. (p. 1358)

Great fevers have great dreams. (p. 1358)

Then where were they all? Was it really true that all were dead? A fall into the darkness has carried off everything, except himself.  It all seemed to him to have disappeared as if behind a curtain at the theater.  There are such curtains that drop in life.  God is moving on to the next act. (p. 1358)

It rained that day, but there is always a little patch of blue in the sky of happiness, which lovers see, even though the rest of creation may be under an umbrella. (p. 1366)

To have suffered, how good it is! Their grief made a halo around their happiness. (p. 1375)

Happiness wishes everybody happy. (p. 1376)

Bright illumination is the necessary attendant of great joy.  Dusk and obscurity are not accepted by the happy.  They do not consent to be dark.  Night, yes; darkness, no.  If there is no sun, one must be made. (p. 1376)

“Be happy without quibbling.  Obey the sun blindly.  What is the sun?  It is love.  Who says love says woman.  Aha!  There is an omnipotence; it is woman.  Ask this demagogue of a Marius if he is not the slave of this little tyrant of a Cosette, and with his full consent, the coward.” (p. 1378)

“By Jove, to love, to be loved, the beautiful miracle when one is young!  Don’t imagine you have invented it.” (p. 1379)

“Love is a child six thousand years old.” (p. 1379)

“The devil, who is clever, took to hating man; man, who is more clever, took to loving woman.” (p. 1379)

“Good sense cannot lie.  Be a religion to each other.  Everyone has his own way of worshipping God.  The best way to worship God is to love your wife.” (p. 1380)

“If people did not love one another, I do not see what the use would be in having any spring; and, as for me, I would pray the good Lord to pack up all the pretty things he shows us, and take them away from us, and put the flowers, the birds, and the pretty girls, back into his box.” (p. 1380)

It is impossible that this sacred festival of destiny should not send a celestial radiation to the infinite. (P. 1381)

It was a good thing for Jean Valjean that he had been able to weep. (p. 1387)

The obedience of matter is limited by friction; is there no limit to the obedience of the soul?  If perpetual motion is impossible, can perpetual devotion be demanded? (p. 1387)

There is still a certain grace in a dead festival.  It had been happy. (p. 1390)

“It is not enough to be happy, we must be satisfied with ourselves.” (p. 1396)

“To keep silent is simple?  No, it is not simple.  There is a silence that lies.” (p. 1397)

“[A]nd when a man holds himself in check, he is well held.” (p. 1397)

“Monsieur Pontmercy, this is not common sense, but I am an honest man.  It is by degrading myself in your eyes that I raise myself in my own.” (p. 1397)

“Well, yes, to take a name, and to put yourself under it, is dishonest.  The letters of the alphabet can be stolen like a purse or a watch.” (p. 1398)

To condemned man a mask is not a mask, but a shelter. (p. 1407)

God has his instruments.  He uses what tools he pleases.  He is not responsible to man.  Do we know the ways of God? (p. 1410)

God performs His miracles as He sees fit.  He has constructed this enchanting Cosette, and he had employed Jean Valjean for the work.  It had pleased him to choose this strange collaborator.  What reckoning have we to ask of him? Is this the first time the dunghill has helped the spring make a rose? (p. 1410)

He had not yet come to distinguish between what is written by man and what is written byHugMis5_280 God, between law and right. (p. 1411)

Jean Valjean did not seem the man to shrink, and who knows whether Marius, after having urged him on, would not have  desired to restrain him?  At certain critical moments, have we not all, after asking a question, stopped our ears so as not to hear the response? (p. 1411)

“Grandfathers are made to scold fathers.” (p. 1415)

“So you don’t like it that I am happy?” Unconsciously, artlessness sometimes penetrates very deep.  This question, simple to Cosette, was profound to Jean Valjean.  Cosette wished to scratch; she tore. (p. 1418)

Probably she had one of those conversations with Marius, in which the beloved man says what he pleases, explains nothing, and satisfies the beloved woman.  The curiosity of lovers does not go very far beyond their love. (p. 1419)

Many men have a secret monster this way, a disease they fed, a dragon that gnaws at them, a despair that inhabits their night.  Such a man seems like others, quite normal. (p. 1420)

The limbs, without parting from the trunk, recede from it.  It is not their fault.  Youth goes where joy is, to festivals, to brilliant lights, to lives.  Old age goes to the end.  They do not lose sight of each other, but the ties are loosened.  The affection of the young is chilled by life; that of the old by the grave.  We must not blame these poor children. (p. 1430)

The cross is always good to look at. (p.1431)

“What is the matter with him?”  “Everything and nothing.  He is a man who, to all appearances, has lost some dear friend.  People die of that.” (p. 1432)

The touch of a wicked man is often enough to corrupt a good deed and to make an evil result spring from it.  With Marius’ money, Thénardier became a slave trader. (p. 1451)

“But we reckon without God.  God said: You think that you are going to be abandoned, idiot?  No.  No, it shall not come to pass like that.” (p. 1454)

“You save people’s lives, and you hide it from them!  You do more, under pretense of unmasking yourself, you slander yourself.” (p. 1455)

“You will live.  You are going to live.  I will have you live, do you hear!”. Jean Valjean raised his head toward hear with adoration.  “Oh, yes, forbid me to die.” (p. 1457)

“God knows better than we do what we need.” (p. 1457)

“Because things are unpleasant,” said Jean Valjean, “that is no reason for being unjust toward God.” (p.1458)

“It is nothing to die; it is horrible not to live.” (p. 1458)

The agony of death may be said to meander.  It comes and goes, moves on towards the grave, and turns back towards life.  There is a groping in the act of dying. (p. 1458)

When a being who is dear to us is about to die, we look at him with a look that clings to him, and which would like to hold him back. (p. 1459)

His breath died away, his gaze grew wider.  It was a corpse on which you could sense the wings. (p. 1460)

“My children, do not cry.  I am not going very far, I will see you from there.  You will only have to look at night, you will see me smile.” (p. 1461)

“Her name was Fantine.  Remember that name: Fantine.  Fall on your knees whenever you pronounce it.  She suffered a great deal.  And loved you very much.  Her measure of unhappiness was as full as yours of happiness.  Such as the distributions of God.  He is on high, He sees all, and He knows what He does in the midst of his great stars.” (p. 1461)

The night was starless and very dark.  Without any doubt, in the gloom, some mighty angel was standing with outstretched wings, waiting for the soul. (p. 1462)

He is asleep.  Though his mettle was sorely tried,/ He lived, and when he lost his angel, died./ It happened calmly, on its own,/ The way night comes when day is done. (p. 1463)

 

 

(P.S. For one of my classes this semester, I am required to conduct a research experiment/study.  My study is focused on the relationship between politics and religion.  I think it would be really cool to have you guys be a part of my research (but please do not feel obligated!).  If you are interested, the only stipulation is that you be an American citizen (sorry, but my topic is relevant to Americans).  So, if this is something you are interested in, you can find the survey here: Politics and Religion.  Thanks!! 🙂 )

 

The beauty of Victor Hugo (pt. 9)

In this part of the story, the Friends of the ABC Cafè are killed, Marius is saved, and Javert commits suicide.

Tumblr_mg1is1KWWr1qkk5w8o1_500.jpgIt sometimes happens that, even against principles, even against liberty, equality, and fraternity, even against universal suffrage, even against the government of all by all, from the depths of its anguish, of its discouragements, its privations, its fevers, its distress, its miasmas, its ignorance, and its darkness, that great madman, the rabble, protests, and the populace gives battle to the people. (p. 1169)

It had the woeful aspect of all the works of hatred: Ruin. (p. 1171)

“The light of a torch is like the wisdom of a coward; it’s not clear because it trembles.” (p. 1179)

The dawn awakens minds as well as birds. (p. 1179)

Our hearts are so fluctuating, and human life is such a mystery that, even in a civic murder, even in a liberating murder, if there is such a thing, the remorse of having struck a man surpasses the joy of having served the human race. (p. 1179)

“You want to die, I want that too, I who am speaking to you, but I don’t want to feel the ghosts of women wringing their hands around me.  Die, so be it, but don’t make others die.  Suicides like those that will be carried out here are sublime; but suicide is restricted, and can have no extension; and as soon as it touches those next to you, the name of suicide is murder.” (p. 1183)

“When a man supports his relatives with his labor, he has no right to sacrifice himself.” (p. 1183)

“Young girls have no bread, that’s terrible.  Man begs, woman sells. (p. 1183)

“There’s a market for human flesh; and it’s not with your ghostly hands, fluttering about them, that you can prevent them from entering it.” (p. 1184)

“I know well that it takes courage to leave, it’s difficult; but the more difficult it is, the more praiseworthy.” (p. 1184)

Despair too has its ecstasy. (p. 1185)

These great revolutionary barricades were rendezvous of heroisms. (p. 1187)

“The real governed by the true, such is the aim.” (p. 1189)

“Just as fires light up the whole city, revolutions light up the whole human race.” (p. 1190)

“Where would the shout of love begin, if not from the summit of sacrifice?” (p. 1191)

Speech being breath, the rustling of intellects is like the rustling of leaves. (p. 1192)

Peril produces order. (p. 1195)

Youth is the smile of the future, before an unknown being, which is itself.  It is natural for it to be happy.  It seems to breathe hope. (p. 1203)

In extreme cases, we may introduce the reader into a nuptial chamber, but not into a virgin’s bedroom.  Verse would hardly dare, prose should not. (p. 1204)

An Eastern tale says that the rose was made white by God, but since Adam looked while it was half opened, it was ashamed and blushed.  We are among those who feel speechless in the presence of young maidens and flowers, finding them almost sacred. (p. 1204)

This time he fell face down on the pavement and did not stir again.  This great little soul had taken flight. (p. 1217)

Poor children cannot enter the public gardens; still, one would think that, as children, they had a right to the flowers. (p. 1219)

Nothing is beautiful as greenery washed by the rain and washed by the sunbeam; it is warm freshness.  The gardens and the meadows, having water at their roots and sunshine in their The_Sewersflowers, become vases of incense, and exhale all their perfumes at once.  Everything laughs, sings, and proffers itself.  We feel sweet intoxication.  Spring is a provisional paradise; sunshine helps to make man patient. (p. 1219)

He who does not weep does not see. (p. 1220)

Who knows that the sun is not blind? (p. 1221)

What is on high, at the top, at the summit, in the zenith, what sends over the earth so much light, may see little, may see badly, may see nothing! Is that not disheartening? No. Then what is there above the sun? The God. (p. 1221)

The abundance of light was inexpressible comforting.  Life, sap, warmth, odor, overflowed; beneath creation you felt the enormity of its source; in all these breezes saturated with love, in this coming and going of reflections and reverberations, in this prodigious expenditure of rays, in this indefinite outlay of fluid gold, you felt the prodigality of the inexhaustible; and behind this splendor, as behind a curtain of flame, you caught a glimpse of God, millionaire of the stars. (p. 1222)

[T]hey tried to hide, an instinct of the poor and feeble before magnificence. (p. 1222)

The father said to the son, ” The sage lives content with little.  Look at me, my son.  I do not love pomp.  I am never seen in coats decked out with gold and gems; I leave that false splendor to badly organized minds.” (p. 1223)

“Perhaps God is dead,” said Gérard de Nerval one day, to the writer of these lines, confusing progress with God, and mistaking the interruption of the movement for the death of the Being. (p. 1236)

Men are unjust towards these great pioneers of the future when they fail. (p. 1238)

But the salvation of society depends on itself; to its own will, we appeal.  No violent remedy is necessary.  Study evil lovingly, verify it, then cure it.  That is what we urge. (p. 1238)

The quantity of civilization is measured by the quantity of imagination. (p. 1240)

The acceptance of death in full youth and in full health makes a frenzy of courage. (p. 1243)

[T]here is no man more fearful in action than a dreamer. (p. 1243)

“There are people who observe the rules of honor as we observe the stars, from far off.” (p. 1244)

The besieged, alas, make a weapon of everything.  Greek did not dishonor Archimedes, boilingpitch did not dishonor Bayard.  All war is appalling, and there is nothing to choose in it. (p. 1249)

The audacity to die well always moves men. (p. 1250)

Noise does not waken a drunkard; silence wakes him. (p. 1251)

The nutrition of plants makes the nourishment of men. (p. 1257)

Philosophy is the microscope of thought. (p. 1263)

Besides, we should leave the things of the grave in the place they choose. (p. 1268)

When a man clad by the state pursues a man in rags, it is in order to make also a man clad by the state.  Except that the color is the whole question.  To be clad in blue is glorious; to be clad in red is the opposite. (p. 1285)

Death sometimes redeems its atrocity by a certain terrible dignity.  At the stake, in the shipwreck, man may be great; in the flame as in the foam, grace is possible; you are transfigured while falling into that abyss.  (p. 1294)

Nothing is so like a dream as despair. (p. 1300)

Everybody has accepted things automatically. (p. 1302)

It was the exquisite hour that says neither yes nor no.  There was already night enough for one to be lost in it a short distance, and still day enough for one to be recognized near at hand. (p.1306)

That good quarter, startled by the revolution, takes refugee in slumber, as children, when they hear goblins coming, hides their heads very quickly under the covers. (p. 1309)

The doctor seems to reflect sadly.  From time to time he shook his head, as if in some interior monologue.  A bad sign for a patient, these mysterious dialogues of the physician with himself. (p. 1314)

“We don’t get angry with a dead man; that would be stupid.” (p. 1316)

Destiny has certain extremities overhanging the impossible, beyond which life is no more than abyss. (p. 1321)

Javert felt something terrible was penetrating his soul, admiration for a convict. (p. 1322)

Javert3[A] mysterious justice according to God going counter to justice according to men. (p. 1323)

But how manage to send in his resignation to God? (p. 1325)

God, always the interior to man, and unyielding – he the true conscious – to the false. (p. 1326)

If facts did their duty, they would be content to be the proofs of the law; it is God who sends facts. (p. 1327)

He believed in the straight line; a respectable optical illusion, but one that ruins many men. (p. 1334)

When grace is joined to wrinkles, it is adorable.  There is something of the dawn in happy old age. (p. 1337)

 

————- —————-

 

(P.S. For one of my classes this semester, I am required to conduct a research experiment/study.  My study is focused on the relationship between politics and religion.  I think it would be really cool to have you guys be a part of my research (but please do not feel obligated!).  If you are interested, the only stipulation is that you be an American citizen (sorry, but my topic is relevant to Americans).  So, if this is something you are interested in, you can find the survey here: Politics and Religion.  Thanks!! 🙂 )

The beauty of Victor Hugo (pt. 8)

In this section of the book, Valjean and Cosette move out of the Rue Plumet, the barricades are created and the fighting begins, and a young girl dies.

Rue_Plumet

The smile of the woman we love has a brilliance that shows by night. (p. 1024)

There are moments when woman accepts, like a somber and resigned goddess, the religion of love. (p.1025)

“I have little time for warriors in time of peace.” (p. 1029)

A child’s misery is of concern to a mother, a young man’s misery is of concern to a young woman, an old man’s misery is of concern to nobody.  Of all miseries this is the coldest. (p. 1044)

What constitutes an èmeute, a riot?  Nothing and everything.  An electricity gradually released, a flame suddenly leaping forth, a drifting force, a passing wind. (p. 1048)

Add, for we must tell it, the massacres that too often dishonored the victory of order grown ferocious over liberty gone mad. (p. 1050)

The nobility of a great heart, condensed into justice and truth, strikes like a thunderbolt. (p. 1053)

In the most usual cases rioting springs from a material fact; insurrection is always a moral phenomenon. (p. 1054)

Whatever today may be, peace is tomorrow. (p. 1054)

A revolution is not stopped dead.  It always has some necessary undulations before returning to the condition of peace like a mountain descending toward the plain. (p. 1055)

Little incidents, we believe we have said, are, so to speak, the foliage of great events and are lost in the great span of history. (p. 1055)

As we have said, the great city is like a place of artillery; when it is loaded the falling of one spark is enough, the shot goes off. (p. 1056)

“Economize your ammunition.  We don’t fire out of rank- not with the soul any more than the gun. (p. 1077)

A mob does not go precisely where it wants to.  We have explained that a gust of wind carries it along. (p. 1081)

Nothing is more natural to drinkers than an ellipsis.  The ellipsis is the zigzag of a phrase. (p. 1084)

“That makes us get along, my coat and I.  It has adopted all my wrinkles, it doesn’t bind me anywhere, it has adopted to all my deformities, it is complaisant to all my motions; I feel it only because it keeps me warm.  Old coats are the same thing as old friends.” (p. 926ebcf52f0e710102b3827ff38f5c5a1088)

“In fact, that confirms my conjectures about Jehovah’s fortune; and to see so much discomfort above and below, so much pettiness and meanness and stinginess and distress in the heavens and on earth, from the bird without a grain of millet to me who haven’t a hundred thousand livres of income, to see human destiny, much worn out, and even royal destiny, which is showing through to the warp, witness the Prince of Condé hung, to see winter, which is nothing but a rip in the zenith with the wind blowing through, to see so many tatters even in the brand-new purple of the morning on the tops of the hills, to see the dewdrops, those fake pearls, to see the frost, that paste, to see humanity ripped, and events patched, and so many spots on the sun, and so many holes in the moon, to see so much misery everywhere, I suspect that God is not rich.  He keeps up appearances, it is true, but I can sense the pinch.” (p. 1091)

Beneath the gilding of the sky I catch a glimpse of a poor universe.  Creation is bankrupt.” (p. 1091)

“It’s time to enlighten the human race.” (p. 1092)

“Oh! The frightful old world! They mutually strive, and plunder, and prostitute one another, they kill one another, and they get used to it all!” (p.1092)

[W]ith the exhausted patience of brutes that no more understand the ways of man than man understands the ways of Providence. (p. 1120)

A fearful, sacred voice, composed of the roaring brute and the speech of God, which terrifies the feeble and warns the wise, which comes at the same time from below like the voice of the lion and from above like the voice of thunder. (p. 1123)

There is an expansion of thought peculiar to the proximity of the grave; being near death makes us see the truth. (p. 1126)

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn’t every war fought between men, between brothers? War is modified only by aim.  There’s neither foreign war nor civil war; there’s only unjust war and just war. (p. 1126)

War becomes shame , the sword becomes a dagger, only when it assassinates right, progress, reason, civilization, truth. (p. 1126)

There comes an hour when protest no longer suffices; after philosophy there must be action; the strong hand finished what the idea has sketched. (p. 1127)

Marius had lived too little to as yet to know that nothing is more imminent than the impossible, and that what we must always foresee is the unforeseen. (p. 1139)

She died with that tragic joy of jealous hearts that drag the being they love into death with them, saying, “Nobody shall have him!” (p. 1146)

Dreamers like Marius have these extreme depressions, and decisions come out of them. (p. 1146)

What are the convulsions of a city compared to the èmeutes of the soul? Man is a depth still more profound than the people. (p. 1148)

Between servant and master, betrayal begins with curiosity. (p. 1149)

Human nature is so constituted that we are reassured almost as foolishly as we are alarmed. (p. 1149)

[T]hat coward, for it is cowardice to come and make eyes at girls who are beside their father who loves them. (p. 1155)

Great grief contain dejection.  They discourage existence. (p. 1155)

It was clear the hydra of anarchy had gotten out of its box, and was raging in the neighborhood. (p. 1164)

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(P.S. For one of my classes this semester, I am required to conduct a research experiment/study.  I am designing my study in the form of a survey.  I think it would be really cool to have you guys be a part of my research (but please do not feel obligated!).  If you are interested, the only stipulation is that you be an American citizen (sorry, but my topic is relevant to Americans).  So, if this is something you are interested in, please shoot me an email at fidelisdiem@gmail.com and I will send you the info. Thanks!! 🙂 )

The beauty of Victor Hugo (pt. 7)

In this portion of the story, Cosette falls in love, two lovers meet, and Thénardier escapes jail.

 

Besides, what is danger in the presence of duty? (p. 880)

Nothing is really small; anyone open to the deep penetration of nature knows this. (p. 886)

les_miserables___amanda_seyfried_as_cosette-t2[B]ut beyond this she was ignorant of everything, which is a charm and a peril.  The soul of a young girl should not be left in obscurity. (p. 888)

To form the mind of a young girl, all the nuns in the world are not equal to one mother. (p. 888)

Now, in this work of education, in this serious question of preparing a woman for life, what a quantity of knowledge is needed to struggle against that ignorance we call innocence. (p. 888)

[H]e had the secret wealth and eloquence of a humble, earnest intellect that has come into its own culture. (p. 889)

He had never known very clearly what the beauty of a woman was, but by instinct he understood that it was terrible. (p. 894)

Indeed, what is the use of having a pretty face and a delightful dress, if you do not show them? (p. 895)

The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories that it has come to be disbelieved.  Few people dare say nowadays that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other.  Yet that is the way love beings, and only that way.  (p. 896)

Nothing is more real than the great shocks that two souls give each other in exchanging this spark. (p. 896)

Women play with their beauty the way children do with their knives.  They wound themselves with it. (p. 897)

And then, oddly enough, the first symptoms of true love in a man is timidity, in a young woman, boldness. (p. 897)

Is one less sick for not knowing the name of the disease? (p. 898)Cosette-and-marius

They did not speak, they did not exchange greetings, they saw each other; and, like the stars in the sky separated by millions of miles, they lived by gazing at each other. (p. 899)

These two beings, who loved each other so exclusively, and with so touching a love, and who had lived so long for each other, were now suffering beside one another and through one another; without speaking of it, without harsh feelings, and smiling all the while. (p. 904)

[G]entleness and tenderness are born with love, and the young girl with a trembling, fragile idea in her heart feels pity for a butterfly’s wings. (p. 905)

It was not day, it was dawn; a wild and ravishing moment. (p. 905)

There are some mediations that can be called vertical; when one is at the bottom it takes time to return to the earth’s surface. (p. 906)

Cosette trembled all over; she asked, “Father, are they still men?” “Sometimes,” said the man of misery. (p. 911)

[W]inter always carries with it something of our sadness. (p. 915)

“Work is the law; whoever spurns it as tiresome will have it as a punishment.” (p. 920)

“To live idle on the substance of society! To be useless, that is to say, noxious! That leads straight to the lowest depth of misery.  Woe to anyone who desires to be a parasite.” (p. 922)

Actually, by her nature, Cosette was not easily startled.  There was in her veins the blood of the gypsy and the barefoot adventuress.  It must be remembered that she was more a lark than a dove.  She was wild and brave at heart. (p. 927)

What is fear by night turns to curiosity by day. (p. 931)

To love a human being is to make her transparent. (p. 932)

All of God’s works were made to serve love. (p. 932)

The infinite require the inexhaustible. (p. 932)

When love has dissolved and mingled two beings into an angelic sacred unity, the secret of life is found for them; they are then but the two terms of a single destiny; they are then but the two wings of a single spirit.  Love, soar! (p. 933)

Love is a celestial breathing of the air of paradise. (p. 934)

Try to love souls, you shall find them again. (p. 934)

If no one loved, the sun would go out. (p. 935)

The most terrible of motives and the most unanswerable of responses: Because. (p. 941)

The skirt becomes short at the moment that nudity becomes indecent. (p. 947)

This period will pass, it is already on its way out; we are beginning to understand that, if there can be force in a boiler, there can only be power in a brain; in other words, what leads and controls the world is not locomotives but ideas. (p. 955)

8663_392462074206124_1804947818_nThe emperor had had a dream of genius; in this titanic elephant, armed prodigious, brandishing his trunk, bearing his tower and making the joyous and vivacious waters gush out on all sides around him, he wanted to incarnate the people.  God had done a grander thing with it, he sheltered a child. (p. 957)

Since true history deals with everything, the true historian deals with everything. (p. 984)

What can be done in a sepulcher? They died.  What can be done in a hell? They sang.  For where there is no more hope, song remains. (p. 992)

Try as you will, you cannot annihilate that eternal relic of the human heart, love. (p. 993)

“I do not understand how God, the father of men, can torture his children and his grandchildren, and hear them cry without being tortured himself.” (p. 995)

Through fasting from knowledge and wisdom, reason becomes emaciated.  As with stomachs, we should pity minds that do not eat.  If there is anything more poignant than a body agonizing for want of bread, it is a soul dying of hunger for light. (p. 999)

“And then what an enchanting glow when I catch a glimpse of your thoughts.  You reason amazingly. (p. 1007)

With eyes closed is the best way to view the soul. (p. 1010)

“I’m not the daughter of a dog, I’m the daughter of a wolf.  There are six of you, what’s that to me?  You’re men.  Well, I’m a woman. (p. 1018)

 

 

 

February Books

In February, I read quite a lot.  However, very little of it was for leisure.  I am currently taking an online class through my college, titled Women Writers.  At first, I was rather wary about this class, because I thought it would have a very modern feminist undertone.  I have said it before and I will say it again; I am not a feminist, at least not of the modern definition.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  This class is more a study of how the literary voices of women changed and grew over time, and how women desired to be seen as men’s intellectual and spiritual equal.  In our first unit, we covered Julian of Norwich, Anne Askew, and Queen Elizabeth I.  Second, we covered Anne Bradstreet, Abigail Adams, Frances Burney, Phillis Wheatley, and Mary Wollstonecraft.  And for the vast majority of February, the unit was focused on women from the Nineteenth Century; Mary Shelley, Sojourner Truth, Mary Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, Charlotte Brontë (my personal favorite), Emily Brontë, and Emily Dickinson.

I love the writers from this past unit, although for some unearthly and completely shocking reason, we didn’t read Jane Austen.  I know, it’s pretty sacrilegious.  Nonetheless, I fell in love with this unit, and I couldn’t stop underlining things.  These women were so bold, yet so gentle, in their literary and political positions.

Sojourner Truth (who has become one of my favorites)sojourner-truth-ab

Ain’t I a Woman?

  • “Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter.  I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women of the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.”
  • “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere.  Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm!”
  • “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!”

Keeping the Thing Going while Things Are Stirring

  • “[S]o much to good luck to have slavery partly destroyed; not entirely.  I want it root and branch destroyed.  Then we will all be free indeed.”
  • “I want you to consider on that, chil’n.  I call you chil’n; you are somebody’s chil’n, and I am old enough to be mother of all that is here.  I want women to have their rights.”
  • “If it is not a fit place for women, it is unfit for men to be there.”
  • “You have been holding our rights so long, that you think like a slave holder, that you own us.  I know that it is hard for one who has held the reins for so long to give up; it cuts like a knife.”

220px-margaret_fuller_by_chappelMargaret Fuller

Women in the Nineteenth Century

  • “Those that think the physical circumstances of Women would make a part in the affairs of government unsuitable, are by no means those who think it impossible for negresses to endure field work, even during pregnancy, or for semptresses to go through their killing labors.”
  • “A house is no home unless it contain food and fire for the mind as well as for the body.”
  • “For human beings are not so constituted that they can live without expansion.  If they do not get it in one way, they must in another, or perish.”
  • “The lover, the poet, the artist, are likely to view her [woman] nobly.  The father and the philosopher have some chance of liberality; the man of the world, the legislator for expediency, none.”
  • “Yet, then and only then will mankind be ripe for this, when inward and outward freedom for Woman and mush as for Man shale be acknowledged as a right, not yielded as a concession.”
  • “As the friend of the Negro assumes that one man cannot by right hold another in bondage, so should the friend of Woman assume Man cannot by right lay even well-meant restrictions on Woman.”
  • “If the Negro be a soul, if the woman be a soul, apparelled in flesh, to one Master only they are accountable.  There is but one law for souls, and, if there is to be an interpreter of it, he must come not as man, nor son of man, but Son of God.”
  • “What Woman needs is not as a woman to act or rule, but as nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded, to unfold such powers as were given her when we left our common home.”
  • “From the time she could speak and go alone, he addressed her as not a plaything, but as a living mind.”
  • [T]hat the restraints upon the sex are insuperable only to those who think them so, or who noisily strive to break them.”
  • “[A]nd the many men who knew her mind and her life, showed to her the confidence as to a brother, gentleness as to a sister.”
  • “This self-dependence, which was honored in me, is deprecated as a fault in most women.  They are taught to learn their rule from without, not to unfold it from within.”
  • “No; because the position I early was enabled to take was one of self-reliance.  And were all women as sure of their wants as I was, the result would be the same.”
  • “The difficulty is to get them to the point from which they shall naturally develop self-respect, and learn self-help.”
  • “‘The soft arms of affection,’ said one of the most discerning spirits, ‘will not suffice for me, unless on them I see the steel bracelets of strength.'”
  • “When they [men] admired any woman, they were inclined to speak of her as ‘above her sex.'”
  • “Male and female represent two sides of the great radical dualism.  But, in fact, they are perpetually [assign into one another.”
  • “There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.”
  • “History jeers at the attempts of physiologists to bind great original laws by the forms which flow from them.  They make a rule; they say from observation what can and cannot be.  In vain! Nature provides exceptions to every rule.”
  • “Women must leave off asking [men] and being influenced by them, but retire within themselves, and explore the ground-work of life till they find their peculiar secret.”
  • “Man can never be perfectly happy or virtuous, till all men are so.”
  • “[B]y the law of their common being, he could never reach his true proportions while she remained in any wise shorn of hers.”
  • “In families I know, some little girls like to saw wood, others to use carpenters’ tools.  Where these tastes are indulged, cheerfulness and good-humor are promoted.  Where they are forbidden, because ‘such things are not proper for girls’, they grow sullen and mischievous.”
  • “[N]o need to clip the wings of any bird that wants to soar and sing, or finds in itself the strength of a pinion for a migratory flight unusual to its kind.  The difference would be that all need not be constrained to employment for which some are unfit.”
  • “I wish Woman to live, first for God’s sake.  Then she will not make an imperfect man her god, and thus sink into idolatry.  Then she will not take what is not fit for her from a sense of weakness and poverty.  Then, if she finds what she needs in Man embodied, she will know how to love, and be worthy of being loved.”
  • “By being more a soul, she will not be less Woman, for nature is perfected through spirit.”
  • “It is vulgar error that love, a love, to Woman is her whole existence; she is also born for Truth and Love in their universal energy.”
  • “Shall not her name be for her era Victoria, and her country and life Virginia?”

Harriet Beecher Stoweharriet_beecher_stowe_c1852

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

  • “But no, innocent friend; in these days men have learned the art of sinning expertly and genteel, so as not to shock the eyes and senses of respectable society.”
  • “And if you should ever be under the necessity, sir, of selecting, out of two hundred men, one who was to become your absolute owner and disposer, you would, perhaps, realize, just as Tom did, how few there are that you would feel at all comfortable in being made over to.”

The Minister’s Housekeeper

  • “[Y]e see, there ain’t nothin’ wakes folks up like somebody else’s wantin’ what you’ve got.”

portraitEmily Brontë

[I am the only being whose doom]

  • “‘Twas grief enough to think mankind/All hollow, servile, insincere;/ But worse to trust to my own mind/ And find the same corruption there.”

F. de Samara to A. G. A.

  • “Unconquered in my soul that Tyrant rules me still;/ Life bows to my control, but Love I cannot kill!”

[No coward soul is mine]

  • “No coward soul is mine/ No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere/ I see Heaven’s glories shine/ And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear”
  • “O God within my breast/ Almighty ever present Deity/ Life, that in me hast rest/ As I Undying Life, have power in Thee”

Emily Dickinson155_emilydickinsonsmall

*snippets from her poems*

  • “I’m Nobody! Who are you?/Are you – Nobody – too?/Then there’s a pair of us!/ Dont tell! they’d advertise – you know!    How dreary – to be – Somebody!/ How public – like a Frog -/ To tell one’s name – the livelong June – / To an admiring Bog!”
  • “A solemn thing – it was – I said – / A Woman – white – to be – / And wear – if God should count me fit – / Her blameless mystery -“
  • “Baptized, before, without the choice,/ But this time, consciously, Of Grace – / Unto supremest name – “
  • “The soul has moments of escape – / When bursting all the doors – “
  • “One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted – / One need not be a House – / The Brain has Corridors – surpassing/ Material Place”
  • “The Soul selects her own Society – “
  • “It was given to me by the Gods – / When I was a little Girl – / They give us Presents most – you know – / When we are new – and small.”
  • “Captivity is Consciousness – / So’s Liberty – “
  • “In the Parcel – Be the Merchant/ Of the Heavenly Grace – / But reduce no Human Spirit/ To Disgrace of Price – “
  • “In vain to punish Honey – / It only sweeter grows – “

Ciao for now,

Julia