The Writers I Met in November 2015

In my imaginary world in November, there I  met some famous writers whose  literary works shattered my illusions. I met a philosopher, an education reformist, a humored tomboy writer, and an Anglicized Filipino joker. They changed the way I look at the world.

First:  Albert Camus. I was into his suprising   novels such as :

  1. The Stranger. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It took me time before I drew my review of it. I didn’t want to admit something, that I saw myself in the character. His personality reflected in me. Something entangled deep inside of me was pulled out. The feeling was indescribable, ambiguous until I realized that the pain was trickling off. I could not hold myself any longer. I cried.
  2. The Fall. I did not give a hoot about giving it 5 stars. Who cares about someone ranting if it is as though Camus just scribbled it? Sometimes, in doing so makes sense. My experience was just like the one with whom the conversant struck up . I was all ears ,kept on nodding at his cathartic confession. Ok! Ah! Ok! I see!
  3. The Guest. I liked it , so I gave it 3 stars. I put myself in the main character in bind ,unknowing how to deal with the Guest. Besides, I did not focus on the trivial dilemma of the character much but on the panoramic and picturesque imagination described by Camus. I remembered then the beauty of the Alps described by Johanna Spryi in her novel Heidi.
  4. adulterousThe Adulterous Woman. Although I made a fuss over its title, I still gave it 3 stars. Camus was just so skilled in associating the mystical world with his story.

Second: Willa Cather. The first time I knew Cather was through her novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop. Through   this novel, she impressed me with her august writing skills- pure, original, something  which styles I cannot find fault with. As a matter of fact, her novel My Antonia, for the second time, has made me put her on the pedestal of the best writers I have encountered in my imaginary world. The latter  made me stand and hop in joy. Yahoo! I wish I were in a prairie where I could shout it out that I would give it more than 5 stars.

                 antonia        archbishop

Third, Malala Yousafzai. Malala is now one of the inspiring people I look up to. She has made a big difference to me, to everyone, to society. For me, she is the perfect epitome of a reformist in the modern world  where   conservative ideas still exist. In her autobiography, I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, she showed her  dauntless dignity being in the center of the distorted reality. Her book moved the heaven and earth.

malala

Finally, Elbert Or.I do not much about Or. It is my first time to have read one of  my fellow Filipino’s works. Obviously, his book , The More the Manyer and Other Words of Wisdumb, has something to do with Filipinism, the Filipino English. It deals with the common mistakes  in English among Filipinos. His examples are supposed to be for the heck of  fun with some somewhat funny illustrations. But I do not want to laugh at them, for I am a consummate stickler for correct English grammar and structure.  Look who’s talking?  ( blushing)

 

There the authors  are, in my imaginary world- my nook of comfort  where I read   8 books in November. Not bad. Better than 4 books  which might predispose me to throw into tantrum. I do not want to have this pang  of  guilty feelings again. (laughs)

My prediction last month that I might not be able to complete my 200 reading goals on Goodreads   came true. I really cannot do it. There are many things I have been busy with. But I promise that I will do it again next  year! Hooray!

Happy Reading, buddies! ^_^

 

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The Adulterous Woman by Albert Camus: A Book Review

adulterous“ She was waiting, but she didn’t know for what. She was aware only of her solitude, and of the penetrating cold, and of the greater weight in the region of her heart.”

Suddenly I was bothered by the title when I reached the climax of the story. I had expected that the story would center around the scenes that a woman would commit a “crime”, getting into an amorous affair, that she would rat out on her faithful  husband in an abject misery, that there would be a passion-of-crime scene. However, it turned out to be the other way around; the title itself could be understood  in different perspectives. What do you mean by the word “adulterous”? When can you say that a woman is adulterous?

All my dictionary references are in accord with the definition of  adultery  as a sexual affair between a married person with someone who is not his/ her spouse. The word is synonymous with infidelity,unfaithfulness,disloyalty,cuckoldry,extramarital sex-you name it. So,in law,a woman is said to commit adultery when she does so ; a man,concubinage.

On the other hand, when the word inflects into “adulterous”, the word can be  misleading. Since the suffix –ous means having a particular quality, therefore, you can describe someone adulterous that it is the character of that  person to engage in a sex  affair with someone who is not  his/ her spouse. Thus, I found out  that the title has no relevance to the story. I do not find any crime committed by the main character , Janine unless you may call it a prima facie manifestation.

Janine is married but childless to a man who is so preoccupied about his business. Taken along by her husband to an Arabian land on business, she was attracted to an Arabian soldier   who offered her some  lozenges on the bus.  She realized then that despite her mid-life-look age, she is still physically attractive. However, it occurred to her that the man was not interested in her after all  upon meeting him in the market; the man just ignored her. And there was an instance that she was even engulfed   by a group of men when she decided to air out in the middle of the night, leaving her husband asleep.

Therefore, Janine did not have sex with any men, but she had the idea of doing so. Rather, we can put it mildly  that she has committed mental adultery. Besides , could we opine  that Janine is an adulterous woman? The definition of adultery is too broad to conclude that someone like Janine is said to be so unless you define sex as an act, which is different from the idea. Nevertheless, Janine realized her guilt upon   her momentous reflection:

“After a moment…it seemed to her that the sky above her was moving in a sort of slow gyration. In the vast reaches of the dry, cold night, thousands of stars were constantly appearing, and their sparkling icicles, loosened at once, began to slip gradually toward the horizon. Janine could not tear herself away from contemplating those drifting flares. She was turning with them, and the apparently stationary progress little by little identified her with the core of her being, where cold and desire were now vying with each other. Before her the stars were falling one by one and being snuffed out among the stones of the desert, and each time Janine opened a little more to the night. Breathing deeply, she forgot the cold, the dead weight of others, the craziness or stuffiness of life, the long anguish of living and dying. After so many years of mad, aimless fleeing from fear, she had come to a stop at last. At the same time, she seemed to recover her roots and the sap again rose in her body, which had ceased trembling. Her whole belly pressed against the parapet as she strained toward the moving sky; she was merely waiting for her fluttering heart to calm down and establish silence within her. The last stars of the constellations dropped their clusters a little lower on the desert horizon and became still. Then, with unbearable gentleness, the water of night began to fill Janine, drowned the cold, rose gradually from the hidden core of her being and overflowed in wave after wave, rising up even to her mouth full of moans….”

Based on my psychological but hypothetical   observations from the general situation among couples, Janine is looking for the real meaning of happiness or connubial bliss as what a typical wife should be. Her husband is a busy businessman. She does not even have a child to bear. I do not have the slightest idea of what the reasons are since the story does not mention anything. As a matter of fact, it suggests that both do not love each other. May be they just need each other. May be Marcel, her husband, depends on her sexually or for the sake of social status while she , emotionally. However, it appears that Janine is not emotionally satisfied. Therefore, she tends to feel as dreary as the dry desert in an Arabian land. What an overacting moment!

As what I had expected, Albert Camus wanted to indicate his philosophy on Absurdism in the story.

Now, should I subjectively conclude that someone is likely to be adulterous when she is childless and not given much emotional attention by her husband? Well, you have the right to pooh-pooh me. ^^

This is now my third Camus book.  I am still impressed by his   ability   to put his philosophical ideas into a story with his exceptional   writing skills, particularly  by his way of associating them with the mystical world. Much more if I read it in French. I wonder.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

The Stranger by Albert Camus:A Book Review

albertThis novel  is subject to differently  literary  perspectives and interpretations.  One of the perspectives  that  made  my toes curl  is the interpretation that this story is on  the importance of believing in God as the  “one” who  gives  right direction in your life.  When I read  this opinion as in opinion with a  capital O , my hair stood on end as if those who claim so are holier -than –thou. Now , why do those people think so? What parts of the story that make them draw the conclusion?

Meursault is  an enigmatic character in the story. You may describe him weird or idiosyncratic because he tends to be apathetic   toward society.  Perhaps, the holier-than-thou understood him  based on their religious beliefs and teachings. For examples:  first, he showed no interest in the funeral. He did not cry over her mother’s death. Rather, he was found   insincere ; he was  found  impolite , for  he slept through the funeral  vigil. In fact, in the story, you might as well revolt at what he responded to his employer upon his  request for leave of absence, “Sorry, sir, but it’s not my fault, you know.”  Second, he does  not care much about the people around. For him, they are merely observers.  Fourth, he is not sure of his marriage or relationship. Fifth, he is content with his life.  Finally, he is an agnostic.

I hate to say this   but those arguments above, notably the last one, are arguments of stupidity. They have nothing to do with God. We can just conclude that  Meusault, the protagonist, is just a subject of scientific and philosophical studies. Scientifically, we  can jump to the conclusion that the  arguments from one to 5 are psychological. Turn to a behavioral psychologist and psychiatrist or more than a scientist  if you want to get at what I am driving  at here. On the other hand, philosophically, the concept of the story, particularly signifying  Meusault’s life crisis  is an example of absurdism. Review your philosophy.

To remonstrate  aginst the holier-than-thou’s opinion  that this story is on  the importance of believing in God as the  “one” who  gives right  direction in your life, atheists along with their other word  families have been living in the right direction without the teachings or  the ridiculously so-called “divine guidance or intervention” .  To confirm my point, I suggest that you read the anthropological life of  some countries in the world.  A library of information is accessible in the internet. If you are a Luddite, enter the   huge libraries  in your place and be a scholar in an Ivory Tower.  Besides, don’t dare that I have no any   ideas of what atheist life is like because I bear witness to that.

How about you, fellas? What are your perspectives on it?

My Review

Ideally, I wanted to give it 1 star for the inconsistencies of the story. I believe that convicting someone on the grounds  for the six arguments above  is misleading and jurisprudentially illogical  in order to make the story a hit among readers. Furthermore, among the people the main character, Meursault, got along with, only  his employee was not included  in standing as a witness  in the court. I wonder why?   Nevertheless,  there is no difference if I still gave it 4 or 5 stars  on the grounds  that Albert  Camus intended to write such a novel to apply  his philosophy on Absurdism  drawing from the criminal incident he may have known of. In other perspective, since writing is an art, the other significant parts such as when Meusault   was asked to ask forgiveness   from God for all the sins he had committed, particularly his unusual agnosticism , and when he was  prejudiced against his unconventional attitude  could have been how hegemonic the religious atmosphere  in his generation  to minor groups was .  In other words, as a result, Camus’s trick did the justice to this novel; it is a beautiful story. I felt what Camus must have intended to trickle  off- feeling of emptiness. Besides, I liked the fact that he used the first person since it signifies  the reader himself/herself.  Also, the prose and the structure of the sentences, I believe,  are well –translated. So , I would say that the translator is competent. I wish I could understand French so I could know the real feelings in Camus’ books.

I want to consider this novel as one of my  favorite books as well as Albert Camus as one of my favorite writers. I was moved. I was bothered until I was reduced to tears. I guess I have found someone who could possibly penetrate through my   uncharted   universe. And please, do not invoke God, for I am done with this theological business. So far, his other books are now on my list  like and I hope to read them some time. ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )