Monday, November 16, 2009


By George MacDonald

It is the story of Mr. Vane, an orphan and heir to a large house-a house in which he has a vision that leads him through a large mirror into another world. In chronicling the five trips Mr. Vane makes to this other world, MacDonald hauntingly explores the ultimate mystery of evil.

Lilith is a journey into another world, where nothing is as it seems and hardly anything is understood to Mr. Vane who travels there. The mysterious Mr. Raven, who guides him in his journey, talks in riddles that frustrate him because he does not understand. In his journey death is much talked of, and there is much evil met as he wanders a strange new land. But joys are wraught as well as Mr. Vane meets with the Little Ones, a group of loving little children who (like Peter Pan) grow so slowly that it seems they are always children. There is also Mara, who is known as the Cat Woman, by those who fear her. And then there is Lilith, for whom the story is named, and her sad tale of misery and endless life for her wickedness.

To be quite frank, I read this slowly so to understand it, but did not accomplish my goal. I am as confused as when I began on ending it. There is but little that seemed intelligable, but it left the traces of having something within its pages that was wise and true. I hope to be able to read it again soon that I may perhaps get more out of the second reading. For now, I cautiously say that it is a strange novel, and am not quite sure as to what it meant. I got a great feeling of life after death, and the messages to those who are alive. But as for anything else, all I could say would be wild guessing.

On a side note: this book was the book in which my grandmother got her name, and in turn my own name. I only wish that the character from which my grandmother got her name was a better one! (She named herself the queen of down where it is hot.) Ah well, my grandmother made the name mean great and good things! I'm proud to be named Lilith after her.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Silas Marner

By George Eliot

Embittered by a false accusation, disappointed in friendship and love, the weaver Silas Marner retreats into a long twilight life alone with his loom...and his gold. Silas hoards a treasure that kills his spirit until fate steals it from him and replaces it with a golden-haired foundling child. Where she came from, who her parents were, and who really stole the gold are the secrets that permeate this moving tale of guilt and innocence. A moral allegory of the redemptive power of love, it is also a finely drawn picture of early nineteenth-century England "in the days when spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses," and of a simple way of life that was soon to disappear.

Here's another novel I started ages ago and only just decided to finish. I've never read any of George Eliot's works, but I still remember reading the above description, which caught me as both timeless and beautiful. Reading the story of Silas Marner, and in turn the vilagers of Raveloe, was a slow process, but a savory one as well. The first half of the novel is introducing us to the characters and their past deeds and personalities. It is a very important thing to know, though can sometimes be dull and I found myself wondering why I needed to know this; but it was of essential purpose to the end of the story, which flew by in warmth and tender feelings. As with all classic works, it can be a chore to at first begin, but the merits of successfully finishing and digesting it are all too worth the effort.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


By Jane Austen

First published in 1818, Persuasion was Jane Austen's last work. Its mellow character and autumnal tone have long made it a favorite with Austen readers. Set in Somersetshire and Bath, the novel revolves around the lives and love affairs of Sir Walter Elliot, his daughters Elizabeth, Ann and Mary, and various in-laws, friends suitors and other characters. In Anne Elliot, the author created perhaps her sweetest, most appealing heroine.
At the center of the novel is Anne's thwarted romance with Captain Frederick Wentworth, a navy man Anne met and fell in love with when she was 19. At the time, Wentworth was deemed an unsuitable match and Anne was forced to break off the relationship. Eight years later, however, they meet again. By this time Captain Wentworth has made his fortune in the navy and is an attractive "catch." However, Anne is now uncertain about his feelings for her...

I, like so many other women, adore Jane Austen's works. Having never read Persuasion before, I was immediately struck with a deep attachment to this novel. Anne is all that is good and sweet, but often too passive in regards to her letting others persuade her into situations that she does not like. Captain Wentworth is a gentlemen and is greatly liked by all. In the characters of Anne's father and sisters, we find little to admire and much to find fault with, and therein lies the anguish for Anne; often overlooked and unloved. While very unlike the fiesty heroine Elizabeth Bennett, Anne Elliot is a tender figure and I found myself hoping that she would find happiness in the end, and knowing Jane Austen, I knew she would get it. I must say that I greatly enjoyed Persuasion and it went directly on my favorites shelf. This is only the third of Austen's novels I've read, and all three have been absolutely wonderful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quick Poll

Okay, this is just me wondering if people are still reading this blog, I think you are, but when I get no comment I just am not sure. Is there something I could do to make my blog better? I need suggestions. What do you all think? I feel like I'm stuck in a rut.

Some Fruits of Solitude

By William Penn

When William Penn wrote these words in 1693, he had served as a Quaker preacher, minister, and missionary for over 20 years. He had been imprisoned for his faith half a dozen times. He had written dozens of books and pamphlets defending his faith and arguing for religious tolerance. He had founded Pennsylvania as a refuge for those persecuted for their faith, and he had been a friend and advisor to the King of England. But after being falsely accused of treason, he was forced into hiding for three years until he could clear his name. During those years of imposed solitude, he had time to think, to reflect, to reevaluate. This book is the product of that solitude. In it, Penn distills the essence of his spiritual idealism, combining it with practicality and common sense. His topics range from our choice of clothing to our choice of a spouse, from the benefits of a country life to the nature of virtue. He presents a practical morality, while also addressing the conditions of the heart that lie behind it.
For all of us who have at times gotten caught up in the values of the society we live in, for all of us who have gotten caught up in the maddening rush over things that really have no deep value, Penn's reflections offer us a needed point of reference and call us back to a place of sane spirituality.

So this is the first book I've read on my Harvard Classics list, and it was very wonderful. I've quoted it multiple times already and have gained some insight into my own life and peace of mind from Penn's words. It reminded me a lot of when I read Thoreau's Walden and all the experiences he had while living alone. While there were many things I smiled at, condoned, and believed were very true, there were also things that I felt missed the mark, if marginally. It still is a beautiful work, though sometimes hard to understand the language, and I would recommend it to any just to have with them to read at odd moments. The layout is such that it reads in verses, much like scripture, with each topic as a heading. It's a quick read, with a lot of worth in it, from a man who was rich in experience and good character. my favorite excerpt:

"He that lives in love lives in God...And to be sure a Man can live no where better...Love is indeed Heaven upon Earth; since Heaven above would not be Heaven without it: For where there is not love; there is Fear: But perfect love casts out fear. And yet we naturally fear most to offend what we most love. What we love, we'll hear; what we love, we'll trust, and what we love, we'll serve, ay, and suffer for too."