Tag Archives: book

Nasha: From the land of Kamasutra, 2019

Title: Nasha: From the land of Kamasutra

Author: Maya Balsi

Genre: Erotica

Synopsis:

It’s common knowledge that Kamasutra originated from India – the “how-to” guide of how to pleasure each other. Many centuries ago they thought deeply into the subject of erotic love. Though in modern India sex is always a hushed subject, something happens behind the closed doors, something never almost never publicly spoken. What can you expect from a society where now also most marriages are arranged by family, where most people have their first sex after marriage, where so many people never even see the naked bodies of their partners?
There are a plethora of stories to be told from every nook and corner of this big country. Stories around love, lust, frustration, despair, loathing – stories around real man and woman and the complications of life.
Nasha is the first compilation of Maya Balsi`s stories. The stories include are :
Red Earth , Blue Sky, Green Sea
The light I see Through Darkness
Never Deny Me Your Laughter
Have A Nice Journey!
We walked in the woods

My review:

I received a review copy from the author in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The last time I read erotica was when I  tried reading Fifty Shades of Gray. Keyword : Tried. And I couldn’t do it. The details were sort of too explicit for me – it’s not that I am uncomfortable reading about sex, but rather the sex in the book made m so. So for quite some time, I stayed away from them. But then, I also came across books by Alexa Riley and Penny Wylder, and I was quite happy.

A few days ago, the author approached me and asked if I would be willing to review her book. Since I have not read any erotica by an Indian before, and since the synopses of the stories seemed quite good, I decided to say yes. I thought I would pick this book up for some leisurely weekend reading but when I read the acknowledgement, I knew I had to dive right in. Sex is surely a paradox in India because like the author says, and is corroborated by statistical data, there is a huge market revolving around it. And with a rapidly growing population, we know it is not cranes that drop off brand new babies into the arms of eager parents.

In the first story, Red earth, Blue Sky, Green Sea, there was a good buildup of the story and it was quite atmospheric. It is about the sexual awakening of two girls, a silent rebellion against society’s rules, norms and the taboos.  Although short, the characters in this story are well fleshed out.

The second story The Light I See Through Darkness, is one told through the point of view of a prostitute. Her helplessness in well shown here and in a few words, the author has described her mental agony. At 42, the protagonist says that she feels and looks like a grandmother, which in itself shows how difficult her life has been. As she scouts for potential customers, we understand that her main aim is to collect enough money for her daughter’s education. There was one remarkable line said here, and I quote, “Little do they know, we are keeping them safe from the clutches of rogues who would do anything to satisfy their lusts”.  This is more of a magical story with a very unexpected, yet nice, ending.

The third story, Never Deny Me Your laughter, aptly showed the restlessness of our modern lives. Apart from the obvious, there are a lot of human emotions and feelings contained in all of these stories.  Very dynamic in its entirety.

The fourth story is Have A Nice Journey. It featured infidelity so I am not sure how comfortable I am with that because cheating is a big NO for me. This was an okay story, and not one that I enjoyed much, unlike the others.

The last story was We Walked in the Woods. This story did focus a bit on mental health, I felt. It was apt in depicting the moral dilemmas we often face because of our own feelings. Pritha is one such person. There is such an underlying connection between sex and the multitude of emotions that come with it. the ending was open-ended and I was thought of various ways it could have ended.

Nasha was a good read overall. I do think that a bit more editing can be done regarding the typing errors, and some grammatical refining. I also did find certain discrepancies. Nonetheless, this is a book I can easily recommend to you all. If you want to explore the erotica genre more, then this is also a book you can pick up.

Verdict:

I rate this book  a 4/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Happily and Madly, by Alexis Bass

Title: Happily and Madly

Author: Alexis Bass

Publishing date: 21 May, 2019

Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge

Genre: Teens and YA

Format: Netgalley e-arc

Synopsis:

Alexis Bass’ Happily and Madly is a mature, twisty, compulsively readable YA suspense novel about a young girl who embraces a fate bound in love and mystery. 

Maris Brown has been told two things about her destiny:

1. She will fall happily and madly in love.
2. She could be dead before she turns eighteen.

The summer before that fateful birthday, Maris is in the wealthy beach town of Cross Cove with her estranged father and his new family–and the infamous Duvals. Since the youngest member of the Duval family, Edison, is back from college and back in the arms of Maris’s new stepsister, her summer looks to be a long string of lazy days on the Duval’s lush beach.

But Edison is hiding something. And the more Maris learns about him, the more she’s given signs that she should stay as far away from him as possible. As wrong as it is, Maris is drawn to him. Around Edison, she feels truly alive and she’s not willing to give that up. Even if it means a collision course with destiny.

My review:

I received a review copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I think that Happily and Madly was a great psychological novel. In one way it really reminded me of WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart. I found the protagonist – Maris a very sharp girl with lots of potential. Like Sepp (another character that I absolutely loved) said, she does not ever “miss a thing”. The characters in this book all have their own secrets and the way the author goes about them is manifested in some very fluid writing. Chelsea is also a person I liked – she is so unlike what one would expect a stepsister to be… the author has made some really great female representations, where not everyone is trying to one-up the other and it is refreshing. George, Trisha, Pheobe, Edison,Oswald, Warren, Sepp, Karen as well as Michael and Katherine Ellis, Richard and Linda Ellis, and also Gloria and Renee, form the background feel. The backdrop of the  novel is very relaxing and juxtaposed with this thrumming mystery. I was so glad I read it when I did – in the beginning of summer. The book deals with many themes such as putting oneself out there, with the chance of being completely rejected, and to turn the vulnerability out on oneself. It also shows what it is like – the unexpected closeness we sometimes feel for people we have just met – like Maris and Finn, or even Maris and Chelsea. When Maris is once thinking in retrospection, of when she was in the fortune teller’s bathroom when the women client was afraid she was dying, the fortune teller had told her to do whatever was necessary for her to feel alive. Maybe that is why Maris takes risks – not only because she does not want to have regret but also because she wants to feel alive.

Although it was a really enjoyable read, I felt as if the ending was a bit rushed.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 3.75/5 stars.

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

The Holy Sh!t Moment: How lasting change can happen in an instant, by James Fell, 2019

Title: The Holy Shit Moment: How lasting change can happen in an instant

Author:  James Fell

Publisher: Thorsons, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

Genre: Self-help

Format: Paperback

Language: English

No. of pages: 278

Synopsis:

From internationally syndicated fitness columnist and author, James Fell, comes a no-nonsense guide on how to get in shape, fix your finances, alleviate depression and change your life for good.

We’ve all been there. Wanting to change your life forever, but only doing it in fits and starts. Feeling inspired to be disciplined one day, then falling back into old habits on the next. Or changing for a few weeks or even months, but then slipping back into familiar behaviours. Bad habits are hard to break for a reason. But you still try because the goal is worth it: slowly and painfully forming new habits to the point where you are able to adhere to a new lifestyle, long-term.

Not only do we struggle with all of it but the failure rates of these models are staggering.

What if there was a different way? What if sudden moment, which happens to be a surprisingly common occurrence among those who succeed would allow you to skip the struggle of behaviour change and just become a different person in a moment? What if all the motivation they would ever need to change could arrive unbidden because of a life-altering flash of insight? It is the power of epiphany – a triggering event when drive and clarity of purpose for changing one’s life is instantly attained. James Fell’s THE HOLY SHIT MOMENT is about that who have sustained change. The stories outlined in this book examine an abrupt awakening, where a person’s purpose switches course in the space of a few seconds; their life is partitioned into the time before that moment occurred, and what comes after. In an instant, the gradual steps of behavior change are bypassed and life transformation takes hold for good. But is an epiphany something that can be generated?

Yes. THE HOLY SHIT MOMENT is a self-help book written in a brash, audacious and informal, your-good-friend-giving-you-the-scoop style, but with the knowledge, research, wisdom and personal anecdotes to back up James’ words in the vein of Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass.

My review:

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The book begins with a very interesting tone. I love how the author has made it an understandable and easy read for all. Beginning with a extensive explanation of epiphanies and the ‘Euphoria of the Life-Changing Moment’, the author goes on over a multitude of other topics. Bringing in an intimate and personal note is a great addition, as it totally made it easy to relate to for the reader. I love how the language is so very understandable despite the fact that there are some topics that are not essentially very easy to do so.

The author does not fail to add however, that this epiphany, this life changing moment is never really truly separate from whatever work we may have done – “But it is no such thing. It is simply that last piece of the puzzle… being put into place… conversely, it truly can  strike out of nowhere…”

After recognizing the epiphany it is also important to find some reason and purpose via it so that we can turn it into something productive. The author then also goes into the science behind it all. The parts that I ranked topmost myself were however, the use of these epiphanies to work over various issues that we may face everyday. For instance, battling addictions.

There is also something called religious epiphany and while I did know something about it, I honestly never knew it had a dedicated term for it. The power of love is another thing the author talks about – how it can be caused due to the passion for life and love. Moreover, using dreams to b more productive is great too.

Verdict:

I think this is absolutely one of the best self-help books I have ever read. I rate it 4.5/5 stars!

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson, 2018

Title: Skyward

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: Gollancz

Genre: Science fiction/ Young adult/ Fantasy

Format: Kindle edition

Language: English

No. of pages: 528

Recommended for:

Synopsis:

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.

My review:

I read this book as a part of the Underrated Book Club read for April 2019.

I really enjoyed this book and I think this might be a sort of very very informal write-up on it, unlike the reviews that I usually write. Okay.. disclaimer done, moving on.

The book totally gave me Top Gun vibes in the beginning, and I absolutely loved it. The world building is great but can probably do with a bit more of description as we read on. The social system is also unique and I quite enjoyed reading the book.

The character development of Spensa is great. In the beginning, we see her as a know-it-all, who is also very dramatic, mind you, almost too much at times, and also appears to be immature, unwilling to sometimes just accept things as they are. She also lacks control! Nonetheless, she is humourous and very optimistic, to be honest and it is refreshing.

The classroom bantering all is so amazing to read – because it is so very relatable. Despite the fact that they are in a completely different environment than we are, the back and forth replies are really cool. Jerkface, oh sorry, Jorgen is just as funny – I actually like reading about him. Cobb too is a pretty cool and understanding teacher and I am so thankful that he is willing to take on a chance when it came to Spensa’s admission.

The book also talks about a lot of other important issues that are very relatable to our world today – losing one’s life in the line of duty, understanding that life is not divided into only black and white and that there are so many grey areas in between. The toxic expectations of bravery is also shown and Cobb’s own speech about it says a lot – “The only reason we have this stupid culture of self-martyrdom is because somebody feels they have to justify our casualties. To make them seem honourable, righteous”. This is the reason Hurl does not eject and it is heartbreaking – that all pilots would rather do this than ne termed as a cadet.

On a humourous note, Doomslug is so funny and interrupts with her sounds! Also, should I say more about M-Bot ?

A couple of destructor blasts hit M-Bot’s shield. “Hey!” M-Bot said. “Just for that, I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell thm of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!”

How can a mere ship be this funny? Another instance of M-Bot’s humour goes –

“Humans have many holes in them. Would you like me to provide you with a list?” “Please don’t.” “Ha. Ha. That was humor”

I felt so bad for the richer kids actually – like FM, Arturo, Jorgen etc. and slowly, Spensa understands that she is perhaps more free than the rest of the her flight mates. The little moment between Jorgen and Spensa was so good though – I am still not sure if I would like to have a romance yet… how he inspires us is firstly beautiful and also nice for us readers to read about.

“When you fly, you are amazing. You’re so determined, so skillful, so passionate. You’re a fire, Spin. When everyone else is calm, you’re a burning bonfire. Beautiful, like a newly forged blade.”

However, at times, it felt a bit separate from the reader. Using such technical terms in the beginning was a bit difficult in the beginning. And as such, I think that if the reader just reads on despite this problem in the beginning, the story grips you and pulls you in.

Verdict:

I really enjoyed the book and look forward to the sequel. For now, I rate this one a 4.5/5 stars.

About the author:

Brandon’s major books for the second half of 2016 are The Dark Talent, the final volume in Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiographical account of his battle against the Evil Librarians who secretly rule our world, and Arcanum Unbounded, the collection of short fiction in the Cosmere universe that includes the Mistborn series and the Stormlight Archive, among others. This collection features The Emperor’s Soul, Mistborn: Secret History, and a brand-new Stormlight Archive novella, Edgedancer. Earlier this year he released Calamity, the finale of the #1 New York Times bestselling Reckoners trilogy that began with Steelheart . Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris,the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have been released in new editions by Starscape, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brought two young adult novels, The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte. The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of KingsThe Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot. Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. 

About the reviewer:

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .

Assamese Youth and Assamese Literature


As a person from Assam, a state in Northeast India, my mother-tongue is Assamese. I use it all the time to converse with my family, relatives, friends, and so on. The other languages I use verbally are just Hindi and English. That is it. But when it comes to reading and writing, I admit I am much more comfortable only in English. And that simply is because English was, after all, the first language I was taught to write while in school. I studied Assamese till class 10, and then continued to use it while reading and writing but only for my dance lessons. So that was until a couple years back.
Today, I am really trying to reverse that. I am going to make sure that I read more and more Assamese books this year- it is one of my New Year’s resolutions. I am going to make myself better versed in my mother-tongue. Because to call myself Assamese without knowing how to properly read the language is indeed shameful.

For this initiative, I have taken the help of this blog and my bookstagram account, and come up with the #readyourmothertongue reading challenge through which I will read at least one Assamese novel each month. And why only Assamese? Pick up books written in your language, if it is a different one!
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These books are ones I bought in December so I suppose this is your #decemberbookhaul2018 #part7 and the last too!
1. গল্প আৰু গল্প – দিলীপ বৰা দ্বাৰা সম্পাদিত
2. অসীমত যাৰ হেৰাল সীমা – কাঞ্চন বৰুৱা
3. বুঢ়ী আইৰ সাধু – লক্ষ্মীনাথ বেজবৰুৱা
4. মিৰি জীয়ৰী – ৰজনীকান্ত বৰদলৈ
5. জিগলো – ৰশ্মিৰেখা ভূঞা
6. মৰমৰ দেউতা – ভাবেন্দ্ৰনাথ শইকীয়া
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একেইখনৰ ভিতৰত কোনো এখন পঢ়িছে নেকি আপুন?
Have you read any among these?
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I will be picking up these books- one by one- in the #readyourmothertongue challenge!
Are you participating as well? Do join in! 😊

The Conqueror, Aditya Iyengar, 2018

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Publishers: Hachette publishers
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
Kingdoms are built by men. Legacies are built by emperors.
It is 1025 AD. The mighty Chola empire that controls much of southern Bharatvarsha is helmed by Emperor Rajendra Chola I – a man as enigmatic as his kingdom is renowned. Known for his might and vision, he has now set his sights upon the southern seas, governed by the powerful Srivijaya empire.
But his victories also bring forth stories of those affected by his ambition. Of an unnamed princess forced to fend for herself among enemies after everything she has ever known is destroyed by the ravaging Chola forces. Of Maharaja Sangrama, captive in an alien land, who is torn between his enmity tempered by an unusual friendship with the elusive Rajendra Chola and his fierce determination to return to his kingdom.
Told through the eyes of a prisoner of war and a princess without a kingdom, The Conqueror is a magnificent narrative – of war and conquest, of loss and death, of kingship and legacy.
My review:
The Conqueror is the second Indian historical book that I have read in August and I am not disappointed. The author has done well in mingling history with romance, friendship, war and the human spirit that rages on even in the face of hardships.
The beginning was quite exciting and reading historical accounts is a favourite pastime of mine and as such, it was a delight. Moreover, even though some bits have been fictionalized, the way the author has tried to bring to life the way of life of these people is commendable. We come to know so much about their daily activities, the parleys between the different ministers, war, and in general the workings of a kingdom.
The plot was well written- from the beginning to the end, the author weaves a lovely tale, the ends of which are comfortably wrapped up towards the end. Nonetheless, I hope for a sequel. The two different point of views provided in the first person are very contrasting, yet so very similar in the situation of both the people as they are displaced from their world. However, felt the story a bit dragging and slow paced towards the middle, but the author again commendably picks it up soon.
The characters are again very diverse and yet very inspiring. Inspiring because they had faced various hardships and had come out only stronger than ever before. It is really nice to read about the indomitable human spirit that refuses to break in the face of adversity. Their developments are also evident- they grow mentally and emotionally to reach the apex of their beings.
The themes of war, hardships, survival, friendship, love, family, and diplomacy abound in this book and provide bittersweet relief to the readers, with completely satisfaction as the story finally ends. This was a really nice read for sure.
Verdict:
The Conqueror was a really good read and fans of historical fiction should definitely give it a read. I rate it a 4/5 stars and truly recommend it to all.

The Mind Game: Master your emotions to achieve success, Devika Das, 2016

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Publishers: PepperScript
Synopsis:
Crests and troughs, ups and downs, joys and sorrows are a part of everyone’s lives. While many choose to simply succumb to bad times, the winner is the one who remains strong, successfully wades off negativity and rises, unbound.
All of us, at some point of time, have experienced situations involving emotional outbursts where we have, albeit unknowingly, hurt others or even our own self and have only ended up regretting our actions. Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow become mindful of our current emotional state and maintain equilibrium in our personal and professional lives? Moreover, mindfulness helps us realize what we really want from life. It helps us to first think, then act and not vice-versa.
The Mind Game is a self-improvement guide that talks about how to manage emotions wisely, and lead a powerful, but stress free life.
Reviews:
“As a Career & Life Coach, I’d rate the book 5 stars. It is a brilliant piece of work! Devika Das was able to take an everyday subject which is generally taken for granted by us and turn it into a compelling read. I definitely recommend ‘The Mind Game’ for all, and especially for the participants in my workshops.” -Aditya Sisodia (Co-founder- Recruit Wheels)
“Devika really writes things from a practical point of view. She is one of the most evolved woman I have met who thinks of life deeply. We all are following the heard, without questioning the reasons to what we do and why we do. She finds the right answers. Devika’s writings always give you a sense of freedom while reading. This is one amazing book I have read!” -Sahiba Sethi (Founder- Hello Meets)
My review:
I would like to begin by giving a spoiler: this is the best self-improvement book ever. The author, in a previous interview with yours truly, has spoken quite extensively on her project. Click here to see the author’s interview.
The Mind Game is a self-improvement book no doubt like so many others in its genre, but what it contains inside, is perhaps like no other. The first thing that really affects a self-help book is, I think, the mode of narration. This book has mastered that, but what’s more important is that it is not at all preachy. Using a very factual and matter-of-fact tone, tinged with empathy at times, this book will prove really very useful for those who wish to know their own selves as well as for the various counsellors all over the country. I may be even bold enough to say that this can also be used as a guide for basic classes such as Behavioural Science, Communicative English etc.
Separated and grouped into different segments, the author speaks about relevant issues of everyday life, right from those one faces at home- to the workplace, ranging across the feelings and issues one faces within oneself, and with others in a social environment as well. This book also covers anger and stress management, depression and how to recognize that one may be depressed and so on. I also truly advocate for parents to read this book as well. It has truly opened my eyes. A self-help book like no other, The Mind Game: Mastering your emotions to achieve success is a masterpiece and one that is very informative as well as interesting enough to keep the reader gripping till the end.
Verdict:
I personally rate this a 5/5 stars. Wonderful work!

April Book Haul, 2018

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April was a month when I was pretty broke, and that’s why I got only two books for myself. These are both books that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, and I was ecstatic when I ordered them!
Firstly, I’ve got An Enchantment of Roses by Margaret Rogerson, which I loved and rated a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a book set in the Fae realms and fantasy as such is a personal favourite of mine. Readers of S.J.Maas, such as yours truly, would definitely love this book. See the review I wrote for this book here! An Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret Rogerson, 2017
Next, I got Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyami, which also belongs to the fantasy genre and is a bestseller too. I have come across raving reviews for this book and that was what made me but it. However, I have not yet read it; it’s placed in my June TBR. I’ll definitely be writing a review for it as well, and so, keep an eye out for that!
# qotd: how many and what books did you haul for April?
 

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1890

 

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13th April
So I just started reading The Picture of Dorian Gray yesterday, and so far I’m loving it. The writer has introduced Basil Hallward- the guy who paints the infamous picture, later on, the man in question that is Mr Dorian Gray himself and their mutual friend Lord Henry Wotton (Harry).
I could realize that Lord Henry is an influencer kind of person because, in the beginning, itself, we see Basil hesitant to introduce him to Dorian because he was afraid that the young Lord would be a bad influence on his friend. And it is just as well, I think, because boy, does he have a way with words! I have been mesmerized by the way Lord Henry speaks; there is this paradoxical quality about him that I really like, and he is just a very good orator. Most of the lines that I have underlined in the book so far are from his speeches. I’ll put in a few examples here:

  1. Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such as they are,—my fame, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray’s good looks,—we will all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.
  2. I make a great difference between people. I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their characters, and my enemies for their brains. A man can’t be too careful in the choice of his enemies. I have not got one who is a fool. They are all men of some intellectual power, and consequently they all appreciate me. Is that very vain of me? I think it is rather vain.
  3. Days in summer, Basil, are apt to linger.
  4. I think you will tire first, all the same. Some day you will look at Gray, and he will seem to you to be a little out of drawing, or you won’t like his tone of color, or something. You will bitterly reproach him in your own heart, and seriously think that he has behaved very badly to you. The next time he calls, you will be perfectly cold and indifferent. It will be a great pity, for it will alter you. The worst of having a romance is that it leaves one so unromantic.
  5. There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral,—immoral from the scientific point of view.
  6. Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly,—that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self.
  7. ‘I believe that if one man were to live his life out fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream,—I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal,— to something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal, it may be…. You, Mr. Gray, you yourself, with your rose-red youth and your rose-white boyhood, you have had passions that have made you afraid, thoughts that have filled you with terror, day-dreams and sleeping dreams whose mere memory might stain your cheek with shame—
  8. You are a wonderful creature. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.
  9. Because you have now the most marvellous youth, and youth is the one thing worth having…Some day, when you are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought has seared your forehead with its lines, and passion branded your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel it terribly.
  10. And Beauty is a form of Genius,—is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation. It is one of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or spring-time, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned. It has its divine right of sovereignty. It makes princes of those who have it…To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible… ‘Yes, Mr. Gray, the gods have been good to you. But what the gods give they quickly take away. You have only a few years in which really to live. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you, or have to content yourself with those mean triumphs that the memory of your past will make more bitter than defeats. Every month as it wanes brings you nearer to something dreadful. Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and your roses. You will become sallow, and hollow-cheeked, and dull-eyed. You will suffer horribly. Realize your youth while you have it. Don’t squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar, which are the aims, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.
  11. Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever. It is a meaningless word, too. The only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.
  12. What a fuss people make about fidelity! … And, after all, it is purely a question for physiology. It has nothing to do with our own will. It is either an unfortunate accident, or an unpleasant result of temperament. Young men want to be faithful, and are not; old men want to be faithless, and cannot: that is all one can say.
  13. She behaves as if she was beautiful. Most American women do. It is the secret of their charm.
  14. Philanthropic people lose all sense of humanity. It is their distinguishing characteristic.
  15. I can sympathize with everything, except suffering. I cannot sympathize with that. It is too ugly, too horrible, too distressing. There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathize with the color, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life’s sores the better.
  16. Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the caveman had known how to laugh, history would have been different.
  17. To get back one’s youth, one has merely to repeat one’s follies.
  18. Nowadays, most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.
  19. Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
  20. My dear boy, no woman is a genius: women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. They represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as we men represent the triumph of mind over morals.
  21. But you should not say the greatest romance of your life. You should say the first romance of your life. You will always be loved, and you will always be in love with love. There are exquisite things in store for you. This is merely the beginning.
  22. ‘My dear boy, people who only love once in their lives are really shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or the lack of imagination. Faithlessness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the intellectual life,—simply a confession of failure.
  23. When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls romance.
  24. To have ruined oneself over poetry is an honour.
  25. There is always something infinitely mean about other people’s tragedies.
  26. People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves.
  27. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.
  28. Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.
  29. ‘I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices. I never take any notice of what common people say, and I never interfere with what charming people do. If a personality fascinates me, whatever the personality chooses to do is absolutely delightful to me… The real drawback to marriage is that it makes one unselfish. And unselfish people are colorless. They lack individuality.
  30. The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid for ourselves. The basis of optimism is sheer terror.
  31. Women are wonderfully practical, much more practical than we are. In situations of that kind we often forget to say anything about marriage, and they always remind us… I have a theory that it is always the women who propose to us, and not we who propose to the women, except, of course, in middle-class life. But then the middle classes are not modern.
  32. You will always like me, Dorian… I represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage to commit.
  33. I have known everything, but I am always ready for a new emotion. I am afraid that there is no such thing, for me at any rate.
  34. There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating,—people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing. Good heavens, my dear boy, don’t look so tragic! The secret of remaining young is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming. Come to the club with Basil and myself. We will smoke cigarettes and drink to the beauty of Sibyl Vane. She is beautiful. What more can you want?
  35. But she would have soon found out that you were absolutely indifferent to her. And when a woman finds that out about her husband, she either becomes dreadfully dowdy, or wears very smart bonnets that some other woman’s husband has to pay for. I say nothing about the social mistake, but I assure you that in any case the whole thing would have been an absolute failure.
  36. Good resolutions are simply a useless attempt to interfere with scientific laws. Their origin is pure vanity. Their result is absolutely nil. They give us, now and then, some of those luxurious sterile emotions that have a certain charm for us. That is all that can be said for them.
  37. I fancy that the explanation is this. It often happens that the real tragedies of life occur in such an inartistic manner that they hurt us by their crude violence, their absolute incoherence, their absurd want of meaning, their entire lack of style. They affect us just as vulgarity affects us. They give us an impression of sheer brute force, and we revolt against that. Sometimes, however, a tragedy that has artistic elements of beauty crosses our lives. If these elements of beauty are real, the whole thing simply appeals to our sense of dramatic effect. Suddenly we find that we are no longer the actors, but the spectators of the play. Or rather we are both. We watch ourselves, and the mere wonder of the spectacle enthralls us. In the present case, what is it that has really happened? Some one has killed herself for love of you. I wish I had ever had such an experience. It would have made me in love with love for the rest of my life. The people who have adored me—there have not been very many, but there have been some— have always insisted on living on, long after I had ceased to care for them, or they to care for me. They have become stout and tedious, and when I meet them they go in at once for reminiscences. That awful memory of woman! What a fearful thing it is! And what an utter intellectual stagnation it reveals! One should absorb the color of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar.
  38. I believe that women appreciate cruelty more than anything else. They have wonderfully primitive instincts. We have emancipated them, but they remain slaves looking for their masters, all the same. They love being dominated. I am sure you were splendid. I have never seen you angry, but I can fancy how delightful you looked. And, after all, you said something to me the day before yesterday that seemed to me at the time to be merely fanciful, but that I see now was absolutely true, and it explains everything.’
  39. We live in an age that reads too much to be wise, and that thinks too much to be beautiful.

Basil Hallward also has some amazing lines:

  1. When I like people immensely I never tell their names to any one. It seems like surrendering a part of them… It is the only thing that can make modern life wonderful or mysterious to us.
  2. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.
  3. I had a strange feeling that Fate had in store for me exquisite joys and exquisite sorrows.
  4. You might see nothing in him. I see everything in him.
  5. I will not bare my soul to their shallow, prying eyes. My heart shall never be put under their microscope. There is too much of myself in the thing, Harry,—too much of myself!
  6. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography.
  7. I have given away my whole soul to some one who treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat, a bit of decoration to charm his vanity, an ornament for a summer’s day.
  8. Don’t spoil him for me. Don’t try to influence him. Your influence would be bad. The world is wide, and has many marvellous people in it. Don’t take away from me the one person that makes life absolutely lovely to me, and that gives to my art whatever wonder or charm it possesses. Mind, Harry, I trust you.
  9. He won’t like you better for keeping your promises. He always breaks his own.

Was it just me or does Dorian Gray not feel like the central character of the novel at all? Am I prejudiced towards Lord Henry Wotton a.k.a Harry? Dorian too has a few lines, short and profound, but nothing compared to what I think Harry has:

  1. I know, now, that when one loses one’s good looks, whatever they may be, one loses everything. Your picture has taught me that. Lord Henry is perfectly right. Youth is the only thing worth having. When I find that I am growing old, I will kill myself.
  2. I am in love with it, Basil. It is part of myself, I feel that.
  3. I felt that this gray, monstrous London of ours, with its myriads of people, its splendid sinners, and its sordid sins, as you once said, must have something in store for me. I fancied a thousand things… To the present day I can’t make out why I did so; and yet if I hadn’t!—my dear Harry, if I hadn’t, I would have missed the greatest romance of my life.
  4. But Juliet! Harry, imagine a girl, hardly seventeen years of age, with a little flower-like face, a small Greek head with plaited coils of dark-brown hair, eyes that were violet wells of passion, lips that were like the petals of a rose. She was the loveliest thing I had ever seen in my life. You said to me once that pathos left you unmoved, but that beauty, mere beauty, could fill your eyes with tears. I tell you, Harry, I could hardly see this girl for the mist of tears that came across me… Your voice and the voice of Sibyl Vane are two things that I shall never forget. When I close my eyes, I hear them, and each of them says something different. I don’t know which to follow. Why should I not love her? Harry, I do love her. She is everything to me in life. Night after night I go to see her play. One evening she is Rosalind, and the next evening she is Imogen. I have seen her die in the gloom of an Italian tomb, sucking the poison from her lover’s lips. I have watched her wandering through the forest of Arden, disguised as a pretty boy in hose and doublet and dainty cap. She has been mad, and has come into the presence of a guilty king, and given him rue to wear, and bitter herbs to taste of. She has been innocent, and the black hands of jealousy have crushed her reed-like throat. I have seen her in every age and in every costume. Ordinary women never appeal to one’s imagination… But an actress! How different an actress is! Why didn’t you tell me that the only thing worth loving is an actress?’ ‘Because I have loved so many of them, Dorian.’
  5. She is all the great heroines of the world in one. She is more than an individual. You laugh, but I tell you she has genius. I love her, and I must make her love me. You, who know all the secrets of life, tell me how to charm Sibyl Vane to love me! I want to make Romeo jealous. I want the dead lovers of the world to hear our laughter, and grow sad. I want a breath of our passion to stir their dust into consciousness, to wake their ashes into pain. My God, Harry, how I worship her!’
  6. She has not merely art, consummate art instinct, in her, but she has personality also; and you have often told me that it is personalities, not principles, that move the age.
  7. As we were sitting together, suddenly there came a look into her eyes that I had never seen there before. My lips moved towards hers. We kissed each other. I can’t describe to you what I felt at that moment. It seemed to me that all my life had been narrowed to one perfect point of rose-colored joy… I have been right, Basil, haven’t I, to take my love out of poetry, and to find my wife in Shakespeare’s plays? Lips that Shakespeare taught to speak have whispered their secret in my ear. I have had the arms of Rosalind around me, and kissed Juliet on the mouth.
  8. You used to stir my imagination. Now you don’t even stir my curiosity. You simply produce no effect. I loved you because you were wonderful, because you had genius and intellect, because you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. You have thrown it all away. You are shallow and stupid. My God! how mad I was to love you! What a fool I have been! You are nothing to me now. I will never see you again. I will never think of you. I will never mention your name. You don’t know what you were to me, once. Why, once …. Oh, I can’t bear to think of it! I wish I had never laid eyes upon you! You have spoiled the romance of my life. How little you can know of love, if you say it mars your art! What are you without your art? Nothing. I would have made you famous, splendid, magnificent. The world would have worshipped you, and you would have belonged to me. What are you now? A third-rate actress with a pretty face.
  9. So I have murdered Sibyl Vane,’ said Dorian Gray, half to himself,— ‘murdered her as certainly as if I had cut her little throat with a knife. And the roses are not less lovely for all that. The birds sing just as happily in my garden. And to-night I am to dine with you, and then go on to the Opera, and sup somewhere, I suppose, afterwards. How extraordinarily dramatic life is! If I had read all this in a book, Harry, I think I would have wept over it. Somehow, now that it has happened actually, and to me, it seems far too wonderful for tears. Here is the first passionate love-letter I have ever written in my life. Strange, that my first passionate love letter should have been addressed to a dead girl.
  10. If one doesn’t talk about a thing, it has never happened. It is simply expression, as Harry says, that gives reality to things.

 
 
14th April
From whatever I’ve read so far, I can make out that the character of Lord Henry Wotton is quite shallow. He is a rake, very obviously. He seems to say a lot of things- wonderful things; he has a loud mouth. But it all seems like a façade to me. He must possibly be a lonely person trying to deny that, through all his antics. He is a person in denial of the fact that his life has no meaning so far. Nonetheless, I love his character. He has that whimsical quality about him that I like- he makes me think. He is a chauvinist when he gives his speech- “My dear boy, no woman is a genius: women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. They represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as we men represent the triumph of mind over morals.”
One line Sibyl Vane has said that has left me unsettled was- “To be in love is to surpass oneself… he has preached me as a dogma; tonight he will announce me as a revelation. I feel it. And it is all his, his only, Prince Charming, my wonderful over, my god of graces.”
Another poignant line of hers is “You came,—oh, my beautiful love!—and you freed my soul from prison. You taught me what reality really is. To-night, for the first time in my life, I saw through the hollowness, the sham, the silliness, of the empty pageant in which I had always played… You had brought me something higher, something of which all art is but a reflection. You have made me understand what love really is. My love! my love! I am sick of shadows. You are more to me than all art can ever be. What have I to do with the puppets of a play? When I came on to-night, I could not understand how it was that everything had gone from me. Suddenly it dawned on my soul what it all meant. The knowledge was exquisite to me. I heard them hissing, and I smiled. What should they know of love? Take me away, Dorian— take me away with you, where we can be quite alone. I hate the stage. I might mimic a passion that I do not feel, but I cannot mimic one that burns me like fire. Oh, Dorian, Dorian, you understand now what it all means? Even if I could do it, it would be profanation for me to play at being in love.”
 
I thought that I’d put in every line that I liked from beginning till end, but I’ve realized how highly impractical that is; since I’m reading from an actual copy of the book, rather than an eBook. (Fun fact: I hate eBooks, and avoid them like the plague unless it is absolutely necessary)
The chapter of Sibyl Vane’s death is very significant, I feel. We see Dorian finally morph into someone else- the change in his portrait is proof of that as his innate humanity has lessened, no doubt from Harry’s (Lord Henry Wotton) influence and his own choices as well. Then we see his realization regarding this change when he refuses to let Basil remove the screen he had placed in front of the portrait to prevent anyone else from seeing it. We see him growing suspicious of everyone around him- from his valet, the loyal Victor- to even the frame-maker Mr Hubbard.
I got the word I was searching for- for Harry. His words are charming and clever- but they are cynical. He sends over The Yellow Book to Dorian which is similar to the poisonous influence he has on the younger man. The book is almost like an experiment he performs on Dorian, which turns out exceedingly to his liking. It fascinates Dorian as he sees aspects of his own life in the protagonist in this “novel without a plot, and with only one character, being, indeed, simply a psychological study of a certain young Parisian”.
15th April
I watched the 2009 version of Dorian Gray, starring Ben Barnes (Oh, how I love him!). The guy who plays Basil in the movie very eloquently said to Dorian, about Harry- “You’ll never meet a more eloquent philosopher of pure folly”. And I totally agree.
Things have really turned for the worst when Dorian stoops to murder and blackmail (to hide the fact that he has murdered a man). He has finally become an image of Harry, but much more dangerous and immoral in nature. He almost does not have a heart! He is so dedicated to his pursuit of pleasure that he no longer knows what happiness is. The irony of it all is that he knows what happiness and pleasure are, in terms of their lexical meanings, and that there is a huge difference between them.
Another lines of Harry I came across towards the end are:

  1. The only horrible thing in the world is ennui, Dorian. That is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness.
  2. As for omens, there is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that.
  3. The basis of every scandal is an immoral certainty.
  4. Knowledge would be fatal. It is the uncertainty that charms me. A mist makes things wonderful.

 
Anyway, I finished this book today. It was most possibly one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is a wonderful novel, hence an obvious classic and I am so glad that I have read this masterpiece of the ages. Dorian as a character who repents too late towards the end, teaches us that the pursuit of pleasure is no doubt an aphrodisiac to the senses but this pursuit must be done only within the moral limits set by society and not be obsessed over. Likewise, the fact that youth and beauty are transient and will fade away one day is a fact that we all need to accept.
Lord Henry is a cynic of the purest waters. He is charming with his words, delightful in his speeches. He is a bad influence, but I love him more for it. Basil on the other hand, is a very good friend who ultimately dies due to the madness of the person he was trying to help.
The plot in itself was an awesome journey over the years in Victorian Era England and we see a bleak picture of London of the times, with its unbridgeable gap between the rich and the poor. It was this London of vices that unfortunately trapped the young and impressionable Dorian with Lord Henry’s help.
Oscar Wilde has created a sensational masterpiece in this philosophical novel and makes us explore the interrelationships between art, life and the consequences of our actions. It beautifully plays with elements of sin, desire and personal growth in a period when this was an outrage to the Victorian establishment.
I rate it a solid 5/5 stars.