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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pride and Prejudice, Marriage and Our Time

In our time, marriage is losing its significant in western countries. Many people are living together out of marriage and even many children are born out of wedlock. This has become a natural part of western life and most probably, in Asian countries, the same thing will take place in the next two or three decades. Still, many people are fan of Jane Austin’s novel Pride and Prejudice. In Pride and Prejudice, the main theme is love and marriage. There is romantic relationship between Jane and Mr Bingley. Mr Darcy also fell in love with Elizabeth and Elizabeth at first rejected him and then fell in love with him. The main goal of these relationships is marriage. If there was no prospect of marriage then the love affair would not take place or continue. This is the reality. So, it is perhaps some odd for many of us to see that even in a country like England, when a survey is done about the best novels, Pride and Prejudice could make it into the second position.
So, it is really confusing to think about the popularity of Pride and Prejudice of Jane Austin when marriage itself is losing its significant. 

What are Top Novels in the world according to BBC?

While browsing internet, I accidentally came across top 100 novel list of BBC. BBC did a survey a few years ago and it listed 100 most popular novels. In the first place, it was The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. I think that the massive popularity of the movies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy has something to do about the popularity of this novel. In the second place it is Pride and Prejudice and it is a novel that is read by millions of students who study English literature around the world. In the fifty ten places, JK Rowling has a number of them and you can easily understand why she has four books in the top 50 positions. Harry Potter is a very popular character and Harry Potter’s novels are liked by almost everyone in England.
In the list, I could find that there are some classic novels like David Copperfield of Charles Dickens, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm of George Orwell. A Christmas Carol of Charles Dickens, and Great Expectations of Dickens. I was a bit unhappy to see that there was no novel of Sherlock Holmes in the top fifty. I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes but I think that many people are not fan of detective novels. Anyway here is the webpage containing the list and check out how many of them have been read by you.
Hoping that you will like my list too. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Two Useful blog entries about Bangla Literature

If you are an interested about Bangla literature then you must know the names of Rabindranath Tagore and Sharat Chandra Chatterji. In South Asia Blog, in the last few days, we have uploaded two entries that might be of some interest to you. The first entry was the translation of Bilashi. Bilashi is a famous short story written by Sharat Chandra Chatterji. We know that Sharat Chandra was not famous for his short story but for his novels. However, he wrote some memorable short stories that are still read and people like them. Bilashi and Mohesh are his most famous short stories.
The second entry is about the review of Tagore’s famous novel Gora. Gora is the longest and perhaps the best novel written by Rabindranath Tagore. It is like a semi-epic and it is a historical novel. Religious conflict is the main theme. To read this two entries visit the following link:

Enjoy them. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

How Literature Can Bring Peace in Your Mind?

I just finished writing an entry in this blog Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening of Robert Frost: Some Reflections. I felt a lot of peace and happiness after uploading it. This entry will not bring traffic or money and not many people would even read it but I felt very good because I felt that it was written in a good way. In simple words, I felt satisfaction after reading it. The poem made me think of my own life and condition.  Have been suffering from bad health for long time and recently, I realized that the stress of managing a small blog network is also putting a lot of stress on me.
Earlier today, I felt that writing anything was impossible for me because I had the burden of 14 blogs in my mind. I felt sad because writing is the thing that I enjoy most. I don’t need to go any party or celebrate any festival. If I can write then I feel a lot of satisfaction. When I was suffering from money worries then I always dreamt that someday I would be able to just write and write. Nearly 4 years ago, blogging brought this blessing for me. However, blogging also brought another problem- stress.
When you are a blogger then writing an entry is not enough. You have to arrange traffic (visitors) for your blogs and you also have to earn money. Poor health meant that I could not work for last 6 months and it decreased the traffic by almost half and economic recession resulted in decreasing my income. So, I have started to suffer from stress and writing became a very difficult work for me. Earlier today, my wife told me that I should not bother about managing a blog network, getting visitors and earning money. Instead, I should just do the only thing I enjoy in my life: write. I should leave the burden of the network and just focus on one blog.
Then I realized that she was right and I should focus on just one blog: South Asia Blog. I am deeply passionate about South Asia and I know a lot about this field. So, from tomorrow I am only going to write about this blog. Then, you may wonder that why, I wrote in this blog about Robert Frost’s poem! It is because writing in this poem is not work but like medicine. I felt a lot of peace while writing the entry about Robert Frost. It is literally my medicine to come back to normal life and escape the stress.
I always dreamt that I would translate many short stories and novels from Bangla (Bengali) Literature. I am going to just start it from tomorrow. I am also going to write about my favorite poems, short stories, dramas and novels of English literature in this blog from now.
We all seek peace but modern lifestyle is full of stress. Many of us perhaps do not understand that we have lost peace from our life. May be a new car or new ornament bring joy for us but surely they cannot bring peace. That is why, despite economic prosperity, many of us do not have peace. We are often restless and literature can be helpful in bringing back the peace.
I am not saying that just reading a novel or writing about a beautiful poem would solve all of your problems. No, they are not going and even I know this very well. However, at the same time, I know it very well to that a beautiful poem or a short story would make me think about my life. Writing about ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening of Robert Frost’ just did that. I could sense some meaning out of the poem and put in my own life. A good poem always contains some good message and some food for thought. 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening of Robert Frost: Some Reflections

‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ of Robert Frost is one of my most favorite poems and I often recite it. I know that many people like it and they also love to recite it just like me. The reason that I like it is that it is great to read it aloud when I am alone. The words are carefully selected and they create a musical feeling in my heart. Yes, this musical feeling alone is enough to like and admire this poem. There are other reasons too. Robert Frost is perhaps the most celebrated and famous American poet of the 20th century and ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ indicates his superb craftsmanship as a poet.
Here is the text:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I have already talked about the musical quality. So, I am not going to repeat about it now. Instead, I want to say something now about the natural setting of the poem. The first line talks about the woods. The second line clearly tells us that it is a rural setting. You have the owner of the house in the third line and then there is snow next. So, in the first stanza you can find four important things: woods, village, the owner of the house and snow. Of course, the poet does not see the owner of the house but mentions him.  
When I read this poem, it reminds me of William Wordsworth a lot. The description of nature by Robert Frost is not only excellent but also, nature signifies something. I wonder why Frost is not included as a part of Romantic poets of English Literature. When I studied about Romantic Literature, we studied about works of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Byron and Shelley. I know that Frost does not belong to that generation but his poems should be included in this course. Then, we can admire him even more. I am not an academician but I think that it is logical to include the poems of Robert Frost along with the Romantic poets in any literature course.
We know that in poems of Wordsworth, nature was not just nature but it was alive and had strong role in human life. Frost did the same thing in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’. The Woods is not just a collection of trees but it is an alive entity to the speaker. He talks of the Woods as if it was like a beautiful actress (attractive). Well, may be ‘beautiful actress’ is not the right idea here but the Woods is something that is more than trees.
I feel a sense of Buddhism in the poem. In Buddhism, there is a strong urge to abstain from luxury and maintain a very modest lifestyle. You are even advised not to consume meat or wine. I am not sure if Frost was influenced by Buddhism or not but the last stanza is very much similar to Buddhist principles of life. It is also similar to the ideas of Sufism.
In my personal life, I try to avoid all kind of luxuries and I strongly believe that we need to be happy with normal lifestyle. ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ was written in 1922. It was written after 4 years of the end of World War I. I am also not sure whether the destructions of World War I had anything to do with the writing of this poem but I find it to be a great answer. The poem talks of peace and tranquility which is just opposite of war. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

TV, Internet and Reading Novels and Short Stories

Just two decades ago, in my city, there was only one TV channel and was owned by the government. This TV channel used to broadcast program from 5pm to 11:30 pm. So, my TV viewing was mainly limited to three or four hours a day or sometimes did not watch any program at all. I still remember that those days, there were more time to read novels or short stories or even to read poems. Now, television occupies larger part of my life and lives of almost everyone I know.
When Internet came I became happy that at last I was doing much more reading than watching TV. However, soon I discovered that I was reading about sports, technology, business, politics or news but not that much of literature. Still, compared to average people, I read more novels and short stores. But at the same time, I understand that this internet has changed reading habit. Now, those people like me who are Bloggers are too much consumed with news of our own field. For example, I mainly write about South Asia and I try to read as much as possible about this field. On the other hand, those people who even just come to internet for fun and entertainment now read a lot about the field they like.
For example, if you are a fan of Hollywood celebrities then there are so many popular websites giving about their latest news and information that you really do not have any time for any other thing. When there is any scandal of any actress or actor and the video and pictures come out in internet then the popular websites give perhaps round the clock updates.
The best example is the recent scandal of Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods had relationships with many women and this matter came out and then many websites that jumped into the band wagon and tried to give extensive coverage to the scandal. They tried to do so because many people were interested in USA and when people are interested about something then that topic can bring more people and more money to blogs and websites.
The sad part is that there is no popular blog on literature in internet. You can find many popular blogs on any topic but not on a novel or short stories. Even there is no popular blog on William Shakespeare. The main reason for this absence of blogs on literature is that first of all, there is not a very big audience for it. It is natural that people are more interested about the scandals of Tiger Woods than the killing of King Scotland by Macbeth and his wife.
On the other hand, there are not too many products related to literature in internet that readers can sale. For example, almost all the great books of English literature have no copyright problem to put their texts in internet. So, you cannot sell them and when there are not a lot of products on something then there is not a lot of advertisers and there is not a lot of money.
The main reason that I do not or cannot give any time for this literature blog is this matter. If I give a lot of time for it then I can not earn money and I have to suffer in my daily life. So, it is a bad thing and I hope that this problem changes because no matter how much we are economically or technologically advanced, there is always a strong need for literature. A good novel or a good poem not only gives us a lot of entertainment but also helps us with improving our thinking ability. It makes us more humane and it gives us more peace. 

Monday, February 01, 2010

February is the Month of Language

Tomorrow is 1 February 2010. February is the month of language in my country Bangladesh. To know about its significance, read this entry of Wikipedia: International Mother Language Day
It is a coincidence that I am going to back to my full time blogging work from tomorrow and then March is birth month. I feel very fresh today and hopefully from tomorrow, I can go back to my work.  
In happiness, I would like to invite you to read two short stories:
Enjoy them and happy reading.