Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Brontes' Arab connection.

I found this really interesting article on the Bronteblog just now. It is so interesting it makes me so impatient to get a hold of this book and read it. It basically deals with feminism, the Arab world, and works by Charlotte Bronte. I've heard of Charlotte Bronte's works being compared to post-colonial literature, especially that of the Indian subcontinent, but I didn't think there would be much out there about an Arab connection. This book seems promising in that it is filled with this very topic!

One of the reasons Charlotte Bronte's works resonate so strongly with me is that the time in which she wrote her novels is very much like the society in which I grew up. In this society, women are considered inferior, a burden. A single woman wishing to be independent, is considered dangerous: not only to her self (for she is believed to have such a feeble mind, susceptible to temptation), but to her family (who despair of getting her married), and her husband (who delights in being her superior). And then of course, there are so many RULES (religious, societal, filial) that she ought to follow. There is so much emphasis on restraint, that it is stifling. A woman must always be "kept down".

This is why I find Jane to be such a source of strength and inspiration. She had her low moments, to be sure, but she tried to survive on her own at whatever cost.

"Angry words sofly spoken

Angry Words Softly Spoken
A Comparative Study of English and Arabic Women Writers by Alanoud Alsharekh. Published by Saffron Books

Angry Words Softly Spoken deals with the concept of feminism as a cross-cultural literary device that uncovers the social development of women’s emancipatory progress through the work of both English and Arab female novelists.The main premise of this study relies on many of the theories presented by the 1970’s feminist critical movement, especially that of Elaine Showalter’s tripartite structure.It also suggests a new tripartite structure for the evolution of feminist consciousness in works of fiction involving an inversion of scales in ‘softness’ and ‘anger’ explored through the work of such authors as Charlotte Brontë, Sarah Grand, Virginia Woolf, Layla al-'Uthman, Nawal al Saadawi and Hanan al Shaykh...


The works of Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre and Villette, are compared with the literature of the Kuwaiti writer Layla al-'Uthman in Chapter 2: Feminine. Table of Contents here.

More info here.


This is our latest desktop wallpaper :D Doesn't he look splendidly Neddy-licious? I love this picture heaps! He looks like such a teddy bear!

Monday, June 26, 2006

A fall and (uncommonplace) frenzy

Today was one of those days that were out of the ordinary.
My friends and I wished to walk around The Lake in the late afternoon and as we were walking toward it, I happened to spot one of my Professors. Overjoyed and unable to contain myself, I waved and screamed her name. She turned to face me, and motioned for me to come and converse with her. We were about 20 yards away, with a hill-like area dividing us, which I had to cross. We talked for a bit and she told me that she told another student of hers about my Bronte exhibit. I think she is quite taken with my Bronte-devotion :) But as soon as I finished talking to her, I started to run down the hill, forgetting that it had rained the day before and for part of the morning, creating large, hidden puddles of mud in the grass. So within a few seconds, SPLASH!!! I found myself in the middle of a large puddle of mud, having fallen on my back. I was drenched all over in mud , including my hair, my face just barely escaping the ordeal. My Professor turned back, caught a glimpse of my poor, soaked self and came to assist me. I tried to muster up some humor and told her that this fall added some spice to my otherwise usually dull existance. She chuckled and said that the fall seemed more like out of a Bronte novel, or better yet, a Jane Austen one. I told her perhaps I ought to hear Willoughby and his horse approaching ;) If it had rained that instant, I might have doubted my conjecture less ! Perhaps then I could have even seen a Gytrash in the distance instead :P

Trying to exert a somewhat cheerful aspect, I got up out of the puddle with much effort just when my friends, oblivious to all that happened, inquired after me. So the Lake trip was put off for now and I walked back to my room. But this was not the end, for just as I was getting cleaned up, the fire alarm rang and I had to run out of the my room, shivering and half-drenched once again.

Ah well, it is a little incident but one that created some excitement, even if it included just myself. The fall wasn't too bad, thankfully, in fact, it was a rather graceful glide ;)

In terms of other odds and ends, I feel like I ought to watch Jane Eyre (1973) again in order to probe further and ascertain whether my sentments on watching it for the first time still hold true. I probably will get to this task tomorrow.

I watched Oliver Twist (directed by Roman Polanski) and I thought it was very intriguing. Primarily because it contained NOTHING about his past or his identity. Ever since I read Oliver Twist when I was about 11, one thing I always remembered was his poor mother dying in the workhouse in the first chapter. I was surprised to find that this version did not mention his mother, or his family AT ALL. Instead, it focused on Fagin,and tried to explore the ethics involved in judging him. This was well done. I don't think I have taken too much of a fancy to Dickens--his characters are too one-dimensional,although the social commentary is significant. Oliver Twist is so angelic you wonder how the child could be so innocent. In a similar vein, Nicholas Nickelby vexes me for the same reason,as does his shallow passion (if it could be called that) for the woman who eventually becomes his wife (her name even escapes me). Anyways, I digress...

I ought to start studying for the GREs. I bought a GRE prep book for that purpose but still haven't found the time to open it and concentrate. Job search is so distracting. I feel like I ought to get paid to get a job (that pays). How ironic!But really, I feel like I don't have much time. I must get something soon..by the end of the summer at least. I hope I can still stay motivated enough to work on job search. If only i could immmerse myself in reading and if only I never had to find a job..ah well, that would be splendid, woudn't it? I am currently reading a book on Emily Bronte's Gondal stories and I find it so interesting! I want to keep reading this stuff all day! I do love her poetry so! I feel that I could relate to Emily on several levels. I could feel her frustrations when she yearned for the World of the Imagination, and I could understand her distate for the tedious kind of "work" in the Real World. It's such a shame she lived almost 250 years ago. I could have had a confidante in her..

Friday, June 23, 2006

Jane Eyre 1973: A review

*Warning: might contain spoilers*

I watched the 1973 Jane Eyre (starring Micheal Jayston and Sorcha Cusack) yesterday and I must say, it was quite an experience. Primarily because I expected a lot more from this adapation than from any other adaptation. However, I regret to say, I found it a trifle lacking.

The chief cause of this was Sorcha Cusack, who played Jane. I wasn't sure if there was a failure in her acting technique, or misconception on my part regarding her facial features, and expressions. I felt like she was so artificial. The only rare moments in which she was believable were the proposal scene, when she is at the Rivers' doorstep, and when she argues with St. John in the end of the film. At almost every other scene, it seemed to me as if she just read lines from the script (or more like sang them), instead of acting them. I hold the character of Jane in the novel in high esteem, and recognize her complexities, her inner struggles between duty and desire, freedom and entrapment. Bronte's Jane is not one who merely smiles all the time, but is rather thoughtful, introspective, and very intense. Very passionate. Sorcha did not convey any of this. Her acting was rather flat, and not at all intense. She did not make me feel for Jane as I watched her romance with Rochester evolve. Although her eyes seemed to laugh, I detected little fire in their depths. As I watched her, I could not fully comprehend what Jane's obstactles were. When Jayston's Rochester questions her about her past at Lowood, I could not guage from her expressions about her feelings towards Brocklehurst, and the shackles imposed on by the school administration as well as her past. Although I wasn't too fond of Zelah Clarke as Jane, I feel like she really shines in this regard compared to Sorcha. Zelah's expressions were more serious, but I was able to notice a change in them at the right time. When she talked about presents, I felt I could pity her. When she was happy after Rochester's proposal, we could see it written all over her face. When she wrung herself from Rochester, her face showed the torment, as did her tangled hair. In the after-the-fire scene, one of my favorites in the novel, Zelah Clarke, though submerged in the over-sized nightcap, still managed to convey a sense of the sexual intensity, the battle of desires seething in her, while Sorcha just stared at Rochester, placidly, without much tension or discomfort. For these reasons, I found Sorcha's gestures were not as moving. She seemed to remain the same throughout the novel, with the same chirpiness, the same mellow, dull expressions.

Jayston, on the other hand, is THE BEST ROCHESTER EVER! I liked Dalton's Rochester prior to watching this version, but now I'd have to say Jayston;s is much better than him. If it wasn't for Jayston, the film would have little to its credit and, in my opinion, would have failed. He made every scene he was in stand out and he really made up for the deficiency in Sorcha. His expressions were so well put, and I was suprised to see the right balance of humor and distress in him, the right balance of tenderness and tact. He wasn't overly melodramatic like Hurt, or overpowering like Dalton. I found it so endearing during the moments when he chuckled. And who the deuce can forget his favorite word? He was best at the scene right after the interrupted wedding, when he does not bring the house down with his screams but instead conveys the sense of his torment with more dignity. He made Rochester seem so real. And I forgot that he was merely an actor, acting his parts.

Young Jane was not remarkable, besides being considerably older than 10 years of age. She played her role quite well, though I think Sian Pattendon (of the 1983 version) did a better job in her expressions of fear and rage. I liked Helen in this version better, however, for she seemed much more friendly than any other Helen I've seen (and only competed with Sorcha for the rate of smiling). Adele too was unremarkable, as was the one in the 1983 version. My favorite Adele was the 1996 version's, where we got more of a sense of the child's personality through her reaction to Rochester's treatment of her. The other charcters were quite mellow, not very different from those in the other versions I've seen. I have never taken a fancy to St. John and the one in this version seemed just as cold, and exacting as could be expected. While the 1996 one was goofy and the 1983 one showed his struggle with feelings for Rosamund, I didn't quite catch his peculiarity in this version.

In all honesty, I did like this version. And I do do do like Jayston! It is just that I had such high expectations for this version. I wished for it to be more than significantly better than the 1983 one, or any other. Above all, I thought that once I watch this, no other version would ever measure up. However, this did not happen. I think the 1983 one was better overall compared to this version, though Jayston is the better Rochester. I found the ending of the 1983 version more satisfactory than the 1973 version. I was disturbed by the sight of Jane in a bright red dress in the 1973 version. Perhaps the director left it till the end, to take a powerful stance. Perhaps, other than Jayston, therin lies its triumph.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

IT'S HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *has a fainting spell*

OMGOMGOMG!!!!! Jane Eyre 1973 is here!!! And my supervisor just said (after realizing my fit of hysterics) that I could borrow it today!!!!!!!!

I am so happy I don't know what to do!!!

Monday, June 19, 2006

OMG!!! My supervisor just ordered a copy of the 1973 Jane Eyre!!! *squeels*
Apparently she seems more impatient to see it than I am!!

Today we spent a good few minutes (or hours) drooling over the screen caps posted on Thisbeciel's Jane Eyre website!

And we chose the following picture as the wallpaper on the main computer! *grins*

Friday, June 16, 2006

I've just got back after taking time off to interview for a few days. Before I left, I was considering how dull my life has become lately. There are no lessons on Keats and Coleridge to make me dwell enough on illusion and art. There no classes on the Brontes to enable me to reside in their world for a satisfactory length of time (but I suspect I'll never be satiated in this regard). I haven't had any stimulating conversations with my mentors, my Professors,that exhaust my brain in a rewarding manner. And if it wasn't for the Neddy-licious conversations and Jane Eyre discussions that I've had with my supervisor, and the posts and comments on my blog as well as on blogs I visit frequently (Thank you Frankengirl for the comments!), and the rare joys at work, I would have sunk under the weight of all that Dullness, in the pit of Boredom, with its days of "busy nothings."

So it came as a surprise that day before yesterday, the first of my interview days, was filled with drama!

My trip started off with a mishap in the train. The lights didn't work and since I had to take an early train, we ended up traveling in darkness. It was really hot outside and all this did not blend well with my agitated spirit. When I got to the bus station, the conductor gruffly and sneeringly told me, 2 minutes before boarding, that I had brought with me the wrong ticket. I simply needed to catch that bus in order to have enough time to get to my interview and no matter how I tried to convince him that it was indeed my name in the ticket, and that the details were correct, he would not budge an inch. He sent me off to get the correct print-out of the ticket, and I knew that I didn't know of any internet cafes or such places in the vicinity of the station. I didn't know what to do and I was going berserk. However, I called my friend S, and she was my life-line for hours afterward. She suggested I should take just take the next bus even if it doesn't take me to the location I had planned to go and she offered to tell me the directions if necessary. So I ended up doing that, and landed in a strange town, utterly unknown to me. If I had been less nervous, I don't know what I would have done. It is not merely that I was in a new place, but that I was running out of time for my interview. So once I was there, I scrambled to get myself into a cab, but try as I might, all the cabs seem to be occupied that day!!! So I walked and walked hoping I'll get closer to the address somehow, and walking with interview shoes is NOT pleasant in the least. Anyways, after what seemed like miles and miles of walking with blisters, I finally got into a cab that took me to where I wanted to go. So I walked into the upscale building, and immediately I was greeted with an annoyed look by the receptionist who graciously informed that I was expected 15 minutes ago. I apologized as well I could, but honestly, this was totally unexpected and I tried my best to get there. However, the secretary of the woman I was supposed to see came over to me and told me that her boss was "engaged at a meeting and that it was too late because (I) was 15 minutes late". I was dumbfounded at first but then gave a fake smile and told her to contact me if resheduling was necessary. We both apologized to each other. Then I ran out of there (if that was possible in those shoes) as fast I could. Once outside, I wondered, if the woman had seen me as planned surely the interview should have lasted for more than 15 minutes! Anyways, I suppose such busy people have no patience for others for whom things take an unexpected turn.
However, I was glad this was the interview for the law firm. I wasn't into this position anyway and I think I would have had little say during the interview even if it had taken place. I don't think I would have been as excited about it as the interviewer could have wished me to be. I suppose, in hindsight, things happen for the best then.

My interview at the publisher's was yesterday and no such drama happened. I was able to find the place on time and I think I told them everything that I feel. I didn't have anything to hide or pretend and I could be as excited as I wished. If they don't take me, then it will be because I might not be the best fit for them and vice versa.

I know that these are the early days of interviewing for jobs. I do hope I don't have to go through this for long. I hope I get a job I am pleased with, one which would allow me to be say anything I want to say, do anything I want to do, instead of forcing me to hold back or pretend things I don't feel.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

We finished watching Jane Eyre on Sunday and still continue to discuss it. My supervisor and I both love the "after-the-fire" scene. We could never get enough of it! I also watched Mansfield Park (starring Frances O'Connor) again, and I must say it has grown on me. Rozema (the director) has sought to make Fanny a more assertive, stronger character than what I gathered from reading the book, but I believe this step of hers works to its advantage. We need a Fanny like that! I could never finish the book although I tried reading it two times, primarily because I never could take to Fanny as she is described in the novel. The movie, however, throws a new light into her character. She is no longer meek, but uses the appearance of her meekness to her advantage. I took notes on this topic earlier but I will post them later in an entry dedicated to Fanny or Mansfield Park.

For the present I am trying to settle down in my present location. I need to unpack before my room is live-able. I always wonder which is worse, moving out or moving in. I guess they are equally hard.

Anyways, I have two interviews tomorrow that I am trying really hard to not feel nervous about. One is a paralegaling position (which I am really doubtful about since I don't know anything about law firms and this does not seem creative in the very least.) This means I have to research on the company tonight and at least familiarize myself with some key terms. If anything, I think going on this interview will give me some experience. I should think of this as a mock-interview perhaps.
The other is a position in a publishing firm, which is more in line with my major and at least allows for some creative exertions of the mind. I hope they go well, especially the second. Some luck would really come in handy.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I was at my supervisor's (she was so sweet and decided to take me under her wing for a few days)and I must say I am glad to be able to get acquainted with her. Yesterday we spent a considerable amount of time talking about the Brontes!! She said that she knew of a Bronte-enthusiast in the area who is writing a book on the Brontes. Apparently this fan claims to have conversations with the Brontes on a regular basis ;) I confess I've had my share of "talking" to intangible things but as for actually getting responses and being so sure of them...I'd want to discern more of the detatails of such a feat. For example, I'd like to know if she wrote of her experiences (it might make for an interesting piece of writing!), or did something or another with them. Anyways, my supervisor thinks that the lady is crazy. My question, however, is how could one draw the line between sanity and insanity. For example, is the woman crazy to claim to "hear" the Brontes, or are others not enlightened enough to "hear" them? In other words, who or what is "crazy"?

Besides discussing the Bronte-enthusiast, out attentions made a logical shift to discussing Jane Eyre. Although I had mentioned that my supervisor was fond of Rochester, I didn't know how much until yesterday. Initially she said she could find nothing wrong with him, to which I volunteered, "Oh but he has faults, to be sure." Her smile faded for a moment and she grew pensive, when I said "He is not without rather um..violent tendencies." I mentioned Rochester's act of shooting the lover of Celine Varens, as well as the way in which he almost threatens Jane just before she leaves Thornfield. I wanted to give an accurate portrait of Rochester so that anyone who wants to know him will be aware of all his faults and then decide whether they still prefer him. Once Ned is able to pass this test, our affection for him will be stronger than ever because we will know all aspects of his character. My supervisor quipped, "Oh but he could have had a duel with Celine's lover if he wanted to. Now that would have been more violent! Rochester didn't, so he has the potential to be forgiven."
What we both agreed on was that Rochester is a good man at heart. He wants to be rid of taints in his character and he seeks Jane to help him be a better person. He loves her based on a deeper, intellectual level.

I was pleased to find that my supervisor even remembered parts of the book (This is the only Bronte book she's read), as well as bits of the 1996 movie starring Hurt. To my delight, she suggested we rent the 1983 Jane Eyre and we watched the first 6 episodes yesternight! I can't wait to watch the rest of it soon!!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I think Ned has been found, for I've had some news today! *drum roll*

My supervisor and I had a jolly time talking about Jane Eyre today! She said that she loved this book very much and that she was fond of Ned! You can imagine my excitement! We spent a good few minutes discussing him and how beneficial such a man is to womenkind :P Although her heart belonged to a 17th century French nobleman, she held Ned in high regard. I showed LERO to her, as well as all the Bronte sites I love and, though not half as excited as I was to show her, she was nevertheless quite pleased with what she saw.
When we got to the topic of "favorite Neds", she mentioned hers was Dalton. When I showed her our newest Ned, she literally shrieked, and shockingly she remarked, "Why! He looks like a.......Neanderthal man!!!!"

So now his manliness is accused of being *really* primitive indeed!!

Friday, June 02, 2006

The last few days have been very hectic. We had our Commencement yesterday and I've offically gradauted. I am now a B.A, an English major. I feel like a lot had happened in the last few days and I've felt a rollercoaster of emotions passing through me. The ceremony right before Commencement was the most emotional one for me becuase the event brought back all sorts of memories from the last four years of college: from my apprehension about going away from home for the first time, making new friends, challenging myself in my classes, applying for internships, making summer plans, finishing up my degree requirements, and finally the days building up to senior week and graduation. So much has happend and I feel I have changed immensely. From being a quiet first year, I've learnt to speak up for what I believe in, to ask lots of questions, and to enjoy learning for learning's sake. I know I've also had some rough times in college. This place has torn me apart and built me up to be a different, stronger person in a lot of ways. For this learning, I am grateful. It doesn't mean everything is going to be smooth right now. Far from it. I still don't have a job, or a definite place to stay for that matter. And then, I miss school terribly. I miss the World of Dreams. Then there are doubts about how I am going to get to grad school, and then about getting a job after that. I think all these uncertainties would be easier to deal with if I didn't have pressure from home. Now even my dad keeps telling me that I must "think about 'settling' down", because I am "getting too old". My mother of course is terrified and bitter that my "time" is running out, that no one might marry me and she then can't bear telling the unfortunate news to the people in our social circle that her daughter is not only "still unmarried" but there doesn't seem to be any propect of her being a wife in the near future. I think finding a husband is the last in my list of priorities right now. A nice job which will allow me to have my own apartment, my own freedom, would be much more welcome.

Anyways, I have to move out in a few hours and my living arrangements will be uncertain for a few weeks. I hope to check my blog/read other blogs at least once a day but I can't be sure. I'll miss the Blogosphere so much! I'll miss all my blog friends and the great discussions. I'll especially miss Frankengirl, for she has been a kindred spirit, a kind visitor of my blog and I do value her comments and posts.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I am truly sorry to have to say goodbye to my dear Professors. They have been so inspiring to me. They've encouraged me and supported me in my creative endeavors. I believe I could talk to them all day (if it were ever possible) and never get bored or vexed.

Something one of Professors wrote me today literally made tears gush into my eyes. A while ago, when she had happened to mention going on a literary pilgrimage to the UK, I had insisted she must visit Haworth. In her note she added that she'd be sure to say hi to the ghosts of the Brontes" for me. She is a nice, kind soul and understands my views on the Imagination. I think the Brontes would welcome her :)