I don't know whether I read a satire written as a self-challenge to pack as much over-the-top drama in as few pages as possible, or an over-the-top dramatic tragedy on rocket fuel.
I feel a bit like when I watched Venezuelan TV novelas, only those tend to stretch, and barely come to the ankles of this... unholy (heheh) mess. So, pretty much the same reaction: either you unapologetically immerse in the guilty pleasure, or you laugh and mock with abandon. I might have canted for the first as a kid (hell, I was tempted for the beginning pages), but I confess that by Frederik's reveal and Theodore's story I just straight started giggling and could not take anything seriously any more.
And if it resembles history a bit too much at points, well, it comes to show that reality will always prove to be more ridiculous than any fiction, even this.
And double bingo for me! (not like I can really keep avoiding them at this point, lol)
I did not get this one at all. Well, more or less.
The setting and atmosphere is excellently done and chilling. The whole vibe of everyone being a bit skewed from right in the head persistent and disturbing. The content on colonization, "civilizing" other cultures, and the measure of human vs savage highly quotable. Actually, for such a short thing, the amount of bits I marked and saved is staggering.
And for such a short thing, the amount of time it took me to read is staggering. It's the way the book is written I think, with the chronicler speaking with little pauses and running the happenings together, till you have no paragraph breaks to help you organize what the hell is going on, what's important, how you go from this to that. You are mentally bombarded with chaos in a way, which, OK, might actually be the deliberate genius of the author, making you feel what the character is talking about. But hell.
It was an interesting experience that I more or less enjoyed till a third in, and then I just wanted to end. I'm absolutely baffled by Kurt, or the point the character's existence was making in the story, beyond being some mcguffin reason to have our teller go in and go back, because knowing that Conrad liked writing about the fragility of morals, sanity and civilized trappings under the cover of darkness, it seems to me Kurt was pretty well touched BEFORE going to rob African's of their ivory (his cousin says he would have made an excellent party leader, any party, because he was in essence an extremist, and god, how that reminded me of parts of Invisible Man), so it's not like he would be a great example?.
This review is a mess, but this book is messing with my head because I can't quite grasp it, or even rate it. I'm thinking of raisin the stars on the fact that it's making me wreak my brains alone, since it already got the "pass" 2 on quotes and atmosphere alone.
It is an usual obligatory read? My condolences.
Ok. Anne is my favourite Brontë now, hands down. Her social commentary was decades before the times opinions and all around relevant still (sadly for the most part).
There is nothing over the top or sensational here. There is a lot of spousal abuse and neglect going around, but the fact that it's not violently brutal is like the last cherry in a way. We have this mentality that abuse is really abuse only if it surpasses a certain level (good God, that sentence gives me the creeps), and this book spits in that (in a very lady like way) and calls it for what it is: unsustainable and inexcusable. There are several instances where different men try spout a variety of rationalizations, shifting of the blame or deferred promises of change. They are all classics and shudder inducing because... well, because they not only try to fool the women, but fool themselves. They actually believe they are not that bad.
"Not that bad" could actually be some kind of abusive anthem. One that this books seems to have taken arms to pulverize, and my kudos to it.
The other thing that is done marvelously is the depiction of how precarious the abused one's position is. Even beyond the context of the restrictions of the times. As the neglect started, and I could envision it getting worse, I had this terrible anxiety over how dependent these women are. It was nerve-wreaking, and it had a point: after accepting it is not right, that pride is not worth bearing it, that there are reasons to escape (oh, and there is another interesting bit: that she can not do it for herself, but raises the courage to protect her son), you need help. This is perfect. So well done, and again, so forward thinking. That one is something that still escapes many when judging an abused spouse.
Character wise, I had some issues with Helen's over-piety, but I get where that fits too: here is this paragon of virtue; she leaves her husband. In a time where that was terrible disgrace, maybe excused but not pardoned for the height of brutality, it threw in the face of everyone reading that a woman so estranged may very well be in the right. Besides, I imagine she might have the need to rely even more on religion and found solace there under her circumstances. I thought her judgmental and dismissive of others counsel too, but that works too, because not only brings her to her marriage, but carries her through it, with both proclivities magnified I imagine.
Gilbert sounded so painfully young to me the whole book. I don't quite feel the romance there, except to imagine that to her he is ultimately so harmless. Which... OK, I totally get.
Beyond the overarching theme, there a lot of things addressed to provoke thought, if all the bits I quoted as I progressed didn't make it obvious, so it's really a book to own, and savour, and take a pencil to (I'm such a savage).
Two encompassing themes to this collection: primarily, the evil of solitude, or how solitude equates with or drives one to madness; then boundaries, blurring and pushing them (of reality, knowledge, perception, life and death, even geography)
Celephaïs: Gorgeous in spite of the cold reality. From Kuranes dreams to mine... yeah, that's not disturbing at all.
From Beyond: The type of story one expects when one hears "Lovecraft". And it's freaking good.
Hypnos: *blink* Erh... OK. Like this wasn't disturbing, a final twist. I would have said it bore serious homo-erotic tones, but then... Begs for a second read. Or a tenth.
The Temple: That's what I call a bit of Karma for a stubborn nationalist.
Note: for some reason (and what I mean is lazy translation), it's titled as Santuario (sanctuary) in my Spanish copy instead of the closer Templo.
The Tree: Did not take the expected turn. And sent me on a wiki-walk that ended landing me on the seven wonders. Pretty imagery.
Actually, the whole collection, for all the horror elements, is powerful on beautiful and vivid imagery. The kind that plays as a magic-movie on your mind, fills you with wonder as you read and stays with you.