Madame Bovary: the beautiful writing and some curiosities.

As with the majority of the greatest classics this one is not a happy story but it’s one of those I will never forget because of how it’s written. It is mainly the story of young Emma and the consequences she had to face thanks to her lack of control. I’ve posted a review some time ago, here are some curiosities: 📚 The inspiration behind Charles Bovary’s character came from Flaubert’s school friend who later became a doctor. 📚 Flaubert wasn’t really interested in writing an extraordinary story, instead he focused on the writing. 📚 Many praised ‘Madame Bovary’ for the realism but during an obscenity trial it was described as vulgar. 📚 Some said that Emma was in reality a reflection of Flaubert himself but he denied this. He, like Woolf, Joyce and other realists, despised the day-dreaming of romanticism, in fact in this novel he  makes fun of that of Emma’s. 📚 This book was highly acclaimed by James, Proust, Nabokov & Kundera describing it as perfect, grammatically pure & poetic. 📚 It was adapted into similar novels, more than one TV series with different titles, an opera (1951), a satirical graphic novel (Gemma Bovary), and films, latest in 2014…  Basically if you want to experience some real, honest, beautiful writing, this one is for you. Pictured here clockwise 2011, 1959, 1945.

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. “Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.”

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Books are beautiful but there is nothing more beautiful in this world than reaching out to others. In solidarity with Syria, Sudan and Italy, prayers for all the victims and the heroes working relentlessly to save lives. Everyone can help by visiting the Red Cross International websites & submitting a donation.

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Franny, Zooey and a front row seat.

​I devoured this great read in 3 sittings. I just couldn’t put it down, yet I didn’t want to finish it, and I am still suffering from its sweet hangover… Franny and Zooey, the youngest two out of seven highly intelligent siblings, not only weighed down by the oppression that comes with it but also scarred for life by the death of two of their brothers. Both are loners by nature & both get irritated very easily by everyone else, but the difference between them is that Franny turned her dislike into hateful judgement whilst Zooey stopped at disliking only. Franny now suffering a breakdown, was trying to find peace by praying the prayer she read about in a book found in Seymour’s bedroom (the brother who committed suicide). The book says you must say it continually, but it wasn’t helping. Zooey tries to make her understand why she had to change her ways. How could she expect to find peace by praying to God when whilst doing so she was also doing exactly what God forbids?… Oh Salinger! He spoke so much wisdom through Zooey, but this writer just didn’t know what the word boring meant, did he? There’s just no one cooler. I wished Zooey was my brother. Tactless yes, but boy did he know what to say! I laughed out loud at his continuous sarcastic wit, but I also couldn’t stop the tears.  When I reluctantly finished reading the last word, I could actually imagine this book effortlessly and silently climbing up the book tower, gently pushing down the other books whilst doing so, gliding straight to the front row and finally taking a seat right next to Jane Eyre. 

“Your heart, Bessie, is an autumn garage.”

July, Keats and some facts.

Last week I was wondering which poetry book to choose for July but then something happened which helped me decide. I received some lovely mail from one of the sweetest friends on instagram and it included this lovely postcard. It has some lines written  by the passionate Keats, with an illustration from Averil Burleigh; she is one of my top favourite illustrators of the Pre-Raphaelites era times along with Edmund Dulac. I love it, thank you. ❤

The lines on this postcard are from the 14 line sonnet called ‘To sleep’ which actually refers to death. Keats, who died at age 25, knew he was terminally ill (TB) and in this sonnet/prayer he was wondering whether God would take his soul whilst writing this or after he receives the priest’s blessings.

“O soft embalmer of the still midnight,

Shutting, with careful fingers and benign, 

Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,

Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:

O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close, 

In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,

Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws, 

Around my bed its lulling charities.

Then save me, or the passed day will shine

Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,

Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords

Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;

Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,

And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.”

📖 During the last days Keats’s doctor refused to give him opium to ease some of the excruciating pain because he thought Keats wanted to commit suicide so Keats was in constant agony. His nurse, Severn, later wrote that Keats used to wake up crying on finding himself still alive. He wanted a tomb with no name or date, only the words ‘Here lies One whose Name was writ in Water’.
📖 What they actually wrote: “This Grave contains all that was Mortal of a Young English Poet Who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart at the Malicious Power of his Enemies Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone: Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. 24 February 1821″….

I will write more about him during this month. Wishing you a lovely day 💞

The book, the feasts and I’m off to paint.

Today is a public holiday here, we have feasts celebrating St. Peter and St. Paul but also rural life.  I love it when a public holiday falls on Wednesdays, it gives you that perfect break during the draining week. Speaking of feasts, I am currently reading a book, I mean most probably THE book of the year for me, considering what it’s giving me. The Alexandria Quartet by Durrell. It is a feast. Like this picture. It uncovers once unknown places. It wakes once dormant truths. It takes you to dark places but also enlightens you. Shadows. Texture. Beauty. Air and food for the brain. Fireworks. Chopin and Rachmaninoff and Mozart. Inspiration…. Now, where’s the paintbrush.

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The Forgotten Garden, the 1900s and Cornwall.

Nell’s life changes on her 21st birthday when her supposed father reveals the truth. Found abandoned at an Australian quay with nothing but a small suitcase, he takes her home to be taken care of until her family comes for her, but no one does, and so he and his wife decide to raise 4 year-old Nell as their own. Shocked & now with a suitcase containing fragments of her past, Nell shuns everything and everyone & embarks on a journey to find out her real identity. But there was much more behind her story than she imagined, a dark mystery involving a woman named Eliza known as The Authoress, which was hindering Nell from finding out who her parents were. In the meantime she marries the wrong person, becomes a reluctant mother & a downright cynical. She spends years trying to solve the mystery, & just when she starts seeing some light, her estranged daughter comes & asks her to temporarily take care of Cassandra (Nell’s grandchild). Cassandra’s mother never returns & Nell puts solving the mystery aside & concentrates on raising her granddaughter. Through the years they become close, Nell being Cassandra’s rock during a tragic life-changing event, but not close enough for Nell to tell her about her past. That is, until she dies. Cassandra inherits the suitcase, a cottage in Cornwall and soon she finds out, the mystery. Can Cassandra solve it? She feels she owes it to her grandmother and so she travels to Cornwall. There was something strange about the cottage but what made it intriguing was the discovery of a hidden garden, locked and forgotten for many years… Most of the book was inspired by Morton’s personal life, her grandmother learned she was adopted on her 21st birthday and only told her three daughters about it when they grew up. I like Morton’s grown-up fairy tale style. Time-travelling, this one going back to the 1900s with their gothic vibes, & of course some garden magic similar to The Secret Garden. The plot, the great descriptions (which prove that she did some very good research, including medical) and reading about idyllic Cornwall made this book of 645 pages with small text still worthwhile.

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Some reds, Donne and a Black Beauty.

Some of my beloved reds. Had to include Donne, one of the favourite poets. A lot of depth in his poems,  you can tell he went through a lot…  I read the rest years ago apart from Quo Vadis and I think all of them are worth a re-read. Black Beauty was one of my childhood favourites. Pity it’s the only book published by Sewell. She came from a poor family and it took her six years to write this gem, but perseverance paid off, an instant success when published… Most probably this book is behind the reason why I love black horses the most. I love horse-riding, for me it’s one of those things that accentuates life.  When I crave it I cross the island and go to a family owned business in the north. The hour ride is like a dream, a path by the cliffs and before you scenery of nothing but wild, untouched landscape and the sea. I always end up speechless and can’t speak for some time afterwards… Hope you are having a lovely Saturday🌷

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The weather, the moods and the longing.

What I posted yesterday on instagram, feel free to follow if you like :)…

Today was a very strange day. We had a thunderstorm and it was raining heavily, something quite rare for us here in late June. We knew it was coming thanks to the forecast but still everyone was astounded. It is so rare, many still planned to attend outdoor events, despite the warning, you can imagine the disappointment. I think I was the only one at work who had a huge smile. I couldn’t think of anything but books! What is it with books and rain? It’s still raining but I am finally home ready to give in to the longing. I long to be surrounded by all of this constantly really but rain makes me long for it even more. I’m in the last part of The Forgotten Garden and this weather is just perfect for this book. It’s been a slow read but only because I had much to do and had to take breaks because of the small text… The garden mentioned in the book made me think of one of the most beautiful gardens in impressionism – The Garden At Bougival as painted by one of the best – Berthe Morisot. She was one of the ‘rejected impressionists’ who held their own exhibitions, along with Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Sisley, Cézanne & Renoir. This particular garden inspired her to paint 40 paintings (this one 1884).

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