A New Addition To The U.L.S., The Underground Library Society: Ashley Clayton and her book of choice, Jane Eyre

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I want to welcome Ashley Clayton as the newest member of the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society. This is an unofficial organization dedicated to the preservation of books, and it was created in one of my First Year College Composition Classes at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.  It is based on the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrentheit 451.  To join, a writer creates a post about a book he/she would become if they needed to in order to save it. They do not actually have to memorize it though.

When I first watched Jane Eyre[1] by Charlotte Brontë several years ago, I felt I had stumbled upon a pearl necklace left on a tree branch. I had never heard of the novel before, surprisingly—and I still wonder why it wasn’t included on my school reading lists, alongside The Scarlet Letter and Crime and Punishment. Jane is a protagonist I closely relate to, while still finding her differences complex and intriguing. We’re both introverts and artists, we tend to observe humans from afar and would prefer our own company over most people. Jane is also compassionate and does not let her circumstances overcome her fortitude—qualities I greatly admire in other people.

Jane is orphaned as an infant and grows up in an emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive home. Her Aunt Reed is jealous of the girl and tends to overlook her plights while doting on her three spoiled and vindictive children. After Jane is struck by her older cousin John and she defends herself, she is sent to the red-room in the mansion—a scene which introduces the supernatural theme found throughout the novel. This is the room reportedly haunted by Jane’s dead uncle, and she begs to be released. Abandoned and injured, she falls ill and faints from her panic.

An apothecary is called to the home to see to Jane. Actual physicians, you see, were reserved only for the immediate family—Jane and the servants only saw the apothecary. The man recommends Mrs. Reed to send Jane away to Lowood Institute—an act disguised as charity while tidily securing the girl’s education and ongoing care, and thus eventual livelihood. This is the turning point of Jane’s young life.

Lowood was a harsh and cold place, the food poor and scant, but here Jane is given a chance to learn and develop her talents and abilities. Jane would adapt well and excel in her studies, while learning to survive within the austere school. Jane was already a resilient child from living with her aunt and cousins, and this trait became sharper at Lowood. After her classmate (and only friend) Helen dies, Jane is left alone to navigate the rest of her years at the school.

After Jane finishes her education and teaches at Lowood, she advertises for outside employment and is accepted to work at Thornfield Hall as a governess— “a fine old hall, rather neglected of late years perhaps” as Jane is told. Here she meets the estate’s proprietor, her master—a Mr. Edward Rochester. His life parallels in some ways to Jane’s: he lost a parent (his mother) early in life, his now deceased father was distant and neglectful, and he only inherited the estate after his elder brother’s untimely death. He is also the ward of a Ms. Adèle, a young French child who becomes Jane’s pupil—the third central orphan of the story.[2]

Jane Eyre is a story of injustices, sorrows and resiliency—a story filled with complex moral decisions and vulnerabilities. It is a story of characters struggling along in unfortunate circumstances, trying to find an existence where some sliver of hope and light might be found. Mr. Rochester and Jane find this hope in each other, but only after fire, tragic death and mutual forgiveness. The ending of Jane Eyre is not perfect—the author does not allow for a perfect ending. But the reader is left with a glimpse of a hopeful future and a sense of redemption for mostly everyone involved. And Jane considers herself “supremely blest” at the close of her story.

Jane Eyre is often categorized as a romance novel. While romance is a central theme of the story, I do not believe that is all Jane Eyre should be considered as. And perhaps that is why the novel was not included on my school reading lists. No, Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece is, I believe, one story about what it means to be human and to find yourself in imprisoning circumstances, and ultimately how to live through continued suffering, albeit imperfectly. Charlotte knew these things well herself—her mother, too, died when she was a child and two of her elder sisters died from tuberculosis contracted at school, just as Helen did at Lowood. Jane Eyre is a story of one woman’s strength as she discovers what love, grace and forgiveness truly entail. It is a novel I want alongside me in my life, preserved always for future generations. It is, by no exaggeration, one of the greatest works of literature ever written, and greatly appreciated by myself.

Thank you for reading.

[1] Specifically, the 2006 BBC miniseries starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

[2] It is unclear who Adèle’s father is and whether he may still be alive. Her father may be Mr. Rochester, or more likely, another man who Adèle’s mother was involved with during (or shortly after) she was Mr. Rochester’s mistress. Either way, I still consider Adèle an orphan, if not legally, then spiritually.

Thank you to Ashley Clayton for joining the U. L. S.

Please be sure to visit her website A. R. Clayton.

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Quotations on Bigotry

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“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”

Albert Einstein

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“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

                                                                 Nelson Mandela

 

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“There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion.”

                                                                         Malala Yousafzai

 

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“Bigotry of all kinds is intolerable, unjustifiable, and immoral. We, as human beings, must always be willing to stand up against any kind of bigotry.”

                                                                       Charles F. French

 

A Ghost And His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle–A Review

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A Ghost And His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a brilliant, thoughtful, and deeply emotional novel. In this book, which is a historical paranormal novel, she weaves together the plots of a distant time period and shows how they connect to the present. Her historical research is impeccable, and her characters draw the reader completely into the story.

A Ghost And His Gold is a tale of love and hatred, the impact of the past on the present, greed and decency, war and peace, and sinning and redemption. Weaving such an intricacy of themes could easily be difficult, but Cheadle is extraordinary in her narration. She moves the reader seemingly without effort from one time period to another, and confusion is never a problem. Her plotting skills as are strong as are her character development.

This novel is set in South Africa, both in contemporary times and during the Boer Wars. The impact of this setting and history is interwoven beautifully with both the character of the ghosts and those of Michelle and Tom, and we see the tensions of these characters as they impact each other.

While Cheadle intertwines moments of great terror, both from the paranormal and from the consequences of war, ultimately this is a novel about committing terrible transgressions, forgiveness, and achievement of redemption. It is a book about the complexity and depths of the human spirit.

I recommend this novel completely. Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a truly talented writer, and this book is excellent! I give this book a five star review!

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Roberta Cheadle is an accomplished novelist and poet: please read her other work as well and visit her blogs:

Robbie Cheadle Books | Poems | Reviews  and Robbie’s inspiration

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Quotations On Friendship–In Memory of My Departed Friend and Brother, Neil A. Frederick

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This post is dedicated to the memory of my true friend and brother, Neil A. Frederick. May you rest in peace.

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“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”

                                                                          Helen Keller

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“Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.”

                                                                         Washington Irving

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“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

                                                                          Khalil Gibran

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“True friendship is one of the most valuable treasures of life, not in the way of worldly goods, but for our souls, our spirits, and our beings. True friendship brings its own kind of love and the ability to be oneself with that other person.”

                                                                        Charles F. French

Quotations On The Importance of Compassion

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

                                                                     Albert Einstein

 

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

                                                                    Dalai Lama

 

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“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

                                                                   Aesop

 

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“Compassion, and not brutality, is the true sign of strength.”

                                                                  Charles F. French

Oppose Racism

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No matter the political party to which you might belong, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, racism is completely unacceptable in the United States of America.

Donald Trump, who has a history of racist tweets and behavior recently attacked Congressman Elijah Cummings in a way that can only be racist. “As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place” (Donald Trump July 27, 2019).  Anyone who is familiar with racist terminology can see this for what it is, and this bigotry must be opposed. If you have any doubt, look at the support Trump receives from people like David Duke and the alt-right.

The Baltimore Sun, in its op-ed piece, wrote a blistering rebuttal of Trump. “It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The congressman has been a thorn in this president’s side, and Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream . . . Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one” (https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-0728-trump-baltimore-20190727-k6ac4yvnpvcczlaexdfglifada-story.html).

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Martin Luther King Jr. said “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.” This must be a time to speak out.

All writers must speak out. Racism is never acceptable, and it must not be allowed to be spoken in the name of the United States Of America.

Quotations on Compassion

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

                                                                     Albert Einstein

 

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

                                                                    Dalai Lama

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“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

                                                                   Aesop

More Reviews of Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 by Charles F. French

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“I cannot get enough of this book and never want to put it down. Charles French is a talented writer. This creeps me out but also keeps me wanting more!!! This is my new favorite book.”  

                                                                     Alison

 

“Author Charles French has created an adventure driven horror novel. This book presents loveable good and moral heroes and pits them against horrific evil. As a reader, I enjoyed the author’s detailed and polished writing style. The beautiful friendships between characters was my favorite part of this book. Looking forward to reading books 2 and eventually 3! Gallows Hill (part 2) is now available! I scooped it up and its next on my book list to read!

                                                                   Michael

 

Who Are Your Favorite Latin American Poets?

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As I continue this series on favorite writers, I am going to try to continue to hone in more specifically on regions as well as eras, although not always in the same post! For today’s question, I would like to learn who are some of your favorite Latin American poets. Unfortunately for me, I do not speak Spanish, so I can only address the writings of the following artists as their work appeared in translation. I am hoping, however, that the translations are accurate.

Here are a few of my most admired Latin American poets:

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Pablo Neruda

Neruda’s work might be among the best known poetry of any time or place in the world. I find his work to be astounding in its depth and breadth of subject. He was a well known political activist as well as a writer of some of the most beautiful love poetry. Neruda, from Chile, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971.

 

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Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela Mistral, of Chile, also won the Nobel Prize for Literature (1945), and has produced an enormous body of poetic work. Her work often encompasses a wide range of themes: among them: love, sorrow, bitterness, hope for the world, family, motherhood and the issue of Latin American identity.

 

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Octavio Paz

Octavio Paz completes this triumvirate of winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1990). Paz is one of the most well known Mexican poets, and his work was widely varied and dealt with many themes. A few are love, death, passion, natural beauty, as well as the Modern world and surrealism.

 

So I ask all of you–who are some of your favorite Latin American poets?

Quotations on Hope — Revisited

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“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”

                                                                  John Lennon

 

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“Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird,

That cannot fly.”

                                                                   Langston Hughes

 

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“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

                                                                    Anne Frank