EMMA – By Jane Austen

Book Review

Jane Austen (1775 – 1817): Jane Austen is one of the most well-known and widely-read English novelists.

Jane’s fascination with words and with world of stories began quite early, in the 1780s during her adolescence she started writing her own novels. Between 1811 to 1816, Jane started to anonymously publish her works; Emma was published during this time.

Her works started attracting scholarly attention in the 1920s and came to be recognized as brilliant masterpieces and revealing commentaries on social conditions of Austen’s time.

Emma: This novel is a very lengthy read, with 55 chapters, very intellectually phrased with complex grammatical construction of sentences, which has to be read in short passages for a proper understanding rather than choosing for a hasty read which may cease to lose the novel’s excellence in the reader’s opinion.

It is unadulterated literature that enriches the reader with exceptional knowledge of English literature and in quintessence articulates about the opulent cultural life of people belonging to the upper stratum of society in England during the end of 18th century and at the beginning of 19th century. The humour is polished sarcastic; the novel starts with theatrical appeal with very lengthy conversations and gradually eases to poised narrative.

Highly recommended read for avid literature readers, and once you have finished reading this novel—it will all the more intrigue you for another read.

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EMMA- By Jane Austen

Twenty-one years old Emma Woodhouse is handsome, clever, and rich; the daughter of Mr. Woodhouse — a nervous old man, beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper. The real evils of Emma’s situation is the disposition to think a little too well of herself, which leads her through a course of outright misperception in her impulsive ideas of match-making.

Hartfield, is Emma Woodhouse’s paradise; the residence of Mr. Woodhouse—the Woodhouses first in consequence in a town of Highbury.

There are many characters that exist to make this story about Highbury and Hartfield complete, a few important ones are:

Harriet Smith – A seventeen-year old, a parlour-boarder at Mrs. Goddard’s school, is a girl not certainly clever but with a sweet, docile, grateful disposition; totally free from conceit and only desiring to be guided by any one she looked up to.

Mr. Elton – A very respectable vicar of Highbury, is a handsome young man.

Mr. (Gerorge)Knightley – A sensible man with a cheerful manner, a very old and intimate friend of the family, but particularly connected with it as the elder brother of Isabella’s (Emma’s elder sister) husband. He lived about a mile away in the adjoining parish of Highbury, at Donwell Abbey.

Mr. Weston – A native of Highbury, had satisfied an active, cheerful mind and social temper by entering into militia of his country. Once his wife death, after a three years’ marriage, the widower-father, gave his child up to the care and wealth of the Churchill’s. When a complete change of life became desirable, he quitted the militia and engaged in trade. After eighteen or twenty years of his life, he had purchased a little estate adjoining Highbury, at Randalls; and obtained his second wife– a truly amiable woman, Miss Taylor.

Miss Taylor/ Mrs. Weston: Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse’s  family, less as a governess than a friend, particularly very fond of Emma, between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Matrimony as the origin of change, Miss Taylor was happily married to Mr. Weston.

Mr. Frank Churchill: Brought up as his uncle’s heir; Mr. Frank Churchill — a very good looking young man, had a great deal of the spirit and liveliness of his father’s.

Miss Jane Fairfax: The only child of Mrs. Bates’s youngest daughter; Mrs. Bates’s – the widow of a former vicar of Highbury, was a very old lady. Jane was an orphan, brought up by Colonel Campbell. Living constantly with right-minded and well-informed people, her heart and understanding had received every advantage of discipline and culture; and Colonel Campbell’s residence being in London, every lighter talent had been done full justice to, by the attendance of first-rate masters.   

Miss Bates: The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to every body, and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, full of trivial communications and harmless gossip.

The catalysts of this novel are the characters – Miss Jane Fairfax and Mr. Frank Churchill.

Pages 163, 189, 190 & 191 – Comprises very brilliant descriptive narrative of a shop called ‘Ford’, which is place of convenience to the citizens of Highbury.

Chapter 8: This chapter is a debate over the mind-set related to men and women on the subject of suitability of partner associated with social norms in the prospect of matrimony, these considerations do prevail in the present era in consequence to arranged marriages in some cultures.

A few passages from this novel:

“ A man,” sad he, “must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity —Actually snowing at this moment!—The folly of not allowing people to be comfortable at home—and the folly of people’s not staying comfortably at home when they can! If we were obliged to go out such an evening as this, by any call of duty or business, what a hardship we should deem it;—and here are we, probably with rather thinner clothing than usual, setting forward  voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of the voice of nature, which tells man, in every thing given to his view or his feeling, to stay at home himself, and keep all under shelter that he can;—here are we setting forward to spend five dull hours in another man’s house, with nothing to say or to hear that was not said and heard yesterday, and may not be said and heard again to-morrow. Going in dismal weather, to return probably in worse;—four horses and four servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shivering creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they might have had at home.” (p. 95)

 

“But your father is not going so far; he is only going to the Crown, quite on the other side of the street, and there are a great many houses; you might be very much at a loss, and it is very dirty walk, unless you keep on the footpath; but my coachman can tell you where you had best cross the street.”

 Mr. Frank Churchill still declined it, looking as serious as he could and his father gave his hearty support by calling out, “My good friend, this is quite unnecessary; Frank knows a puddle of water when he sees it, and as to Mrs. Bates’s, he may get there from the Crown in a hop, step, and jump.”(p. 159)

 

“If it would be good to her, I am sure it would be evil to himself; a very shameful and degrading connexion. How would he bear to have Miss Bates belonging to him?—To have her haunting the Abbey, and thanking him all day long for his great kindness in marrying Jane?—

“So  very kind and obliging!—But he always had been such a very kind neighbour!”And then fly off, through half a sentence, to her mother’s old petticoat. “Not that it was such a very old petticoat either—for still it would last a great while—and, indeed, she must thankfully say that their petticoats were all very strong.”(p. 183)

 

When the ladies returned to the drawing-room after dinner, Emma found it hardly possible to prevent their making two distinct parties;—with so much perseverance in judging and behaving ill did Mrs. Elton engross Jane Fairfax and slight herself. She and Mrs. Weston were obliged to be almost always either talking together or silent together. Mrs. Elton left them no choice. If Jane repressed her for a little time, she soon began again; and though much that passed between them was in a half-whisper, especially on Mrs. Elton’s side, there was no avoiding a knowledge of their principal subjects: The post-office—catching cold—fetching letters—and friendship, were long under discussion … (p. 243)

 

“I cannot make speeches, Emma:” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it. —Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.— But you understand me …. (p. 348)


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Azad Maidan

Azad Maidan is a triangular-shaped maidan (sports ground) in Mumbai …

Azad Maidan is a triangular-shaped maidan (sports ground) in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It is located on 25 acres of land near Churchgate railway station in South Mumbai. It is a regular venue for inter-school cricket matches. The name Azad means “liberty” in Persian.

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masalahealth.wordpress.com :A  blog of innovative and healthy food recipes written in an unorthodox format

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Rajabai Clock Tower

The Rajabai Clock Tower is a clock tower in South Mumbai India …

The Rajabai Clock Tower is a clock tower in South Mumbai, India. It is located in the confines of the Fort campus of the University of Mumbai, the tower stands at a height of 85 m.

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The University of Mumbai 

Capture Pratapgad – (Travel Tale)

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AT a gauging distant Pratapgad fort intimidates like a lion’s presence atop a hillock.  The fluttering of the flag, elevated over the fort, signifies the roar – of Swaraj (freedom). This historic fort is best remembered for the ‘Battle of Pratapgad’, which provided a revolutionary breakthrough for the Maratha Empire to flourish. The journey to Pratapgad deals for a glimpse in the incredible life of Shivaji Maharaj (King).

 

The drive to the fort is an awesome trek on wheels. The road leading is smooth but Mother Nature lends it a leaner and meaner look, twirled with blindfold curves and surrounded by breath-taking views – perilous slopes, soaring peaks and opulent trees carving caves upon the road.  It is a drive of 22 km from Mahabaleshwar – a hill station in Maharashtra, India.  

 

The purpose behind building this fort was its strategic location. Shivaji’s prime minster, Moropant Trimbak Pingle, was appointed…

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R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Schooldays

Book Review

Malgudi Schooldays is a slightly abridged version of R.K. Narayan’s classic novel Swami and Friends published in the year 1935; and includes two more stories featuring Swami.

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I had purchased this book from Amazon; you too can grab a copy for yourself through this direct Amazon link –  Malgudi Schooldays

This is a story of a boy who is in threshold to teen-age and sees absurdities and incongruities in the most trival and unnoticeable things; set in the background of the period when the British still ruled India and Gandhiji was fighting for India’s independence, and rooted in a fictional small town of Malgudi in South India.

Malgudi Schooldays is all about the antics of  Swaminathan aka Swami  —  his curious outlook at religion and  education;  his raw interactions with his  family  members – especially gossips with his  doting grandmother, and his bittersweet relationship with his strict but thoughtful  father; his lethargic  attitude  towards studies  and dislike for school; his nasty  involvement in an agitated  procession;  his boisterous friendship with Mani and Rajam; and his spontaneous interest in cricket —  is narrated  with subtle humour and  engrosses for a very entertaining read for both adults and teenagers.

A few excerpts:

‘What is Lisbon famous for?’ said the teacher.

            Swaminathan  hestitated and ventured, ‘For  being the capital of Spain.’    

            The teacher bit his moustache and fired a second question, ‘What do you know about Indian climate?’

            ‘It is hot in summer and cold in winter.’

‘Stand up on the bench!’ roared the teacher. And Swaminathan stood up without a protest. He was glad that he was given this supposedly degrading punishment instead of the cane. (pg. 18)

 ———

Swaminathan read at the top of his voice the poem about a woolly sheep. His father fussed about a little for his tiny silver snuff-box and the spotted handkerchief, which was the most unwashed thing in that house. He hooked his umbrella on his arm. This was really the last signal for starting.  Swaminathan  had almost closed the book and risen.  His father  had almost gone out of the room. But – Swaminathan stamped his foot under the table. Mother stopped Father and said: ‘By the way, I want some change. The tailor is coming today. He has been pestering me for the last four days.’ (pg. 28)

———

Samuel was reading the red text, the portion describing Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India. The boys listened in half-languor. Swaminathan suddenly asked at the top of his voice, ‘Why did not Columbus come to India, sir?’

            ‘He lost his way.’

            ‘I can’t believe it; it is unbelievable, sir.’

            ‘Why?’

            ‘Such a great man. Would he have not known the way?’

            ‘Don’t shout. I can hear you quite well.’

            ‘I am not shouting, sir; this is my ordinary voice, which God has given me. How can I help it?’

            ‘Shut up and sit down.’

            Swaminathan sat down, feeling slightly happy at his success. The teacher threw a puzzled , suspicious glance at him and resumed his lessons.

            His next chance occurred when Sankar of the first bench got up and asked, ‘Sir, was Vasco da Gama the very first person to come to India?’

            Before the teacher could answer, Swaminathan shouted from the back bench, ‘That’s what they say.’ (pg. 116-117)

———

‘You think you are wiser than the newspaper?’ Father sneered. ‘A man may have the strength of an elephant and yet be a coward: whereas another may have the strength of a straw, but if he has courage he can do anything. Courage is everything, strength and age are not important.’

Swami disputed the theory. ‘How can it be, Father? Suppose I have all the courage, what can I do if a tiger should attack me?’

            ‘Leave alone strength, can you prove you have courage? Let me see if you can sleep alone tonight in my office room.’

            A frightful proposition, Swaminathan thought. He had always slept beside his Granny, and any change in this arrangement kept him trembling and awake all night. He hoped at first that his father was only joking. He mumbled weakly, ‘Yes,’ and tried to change the subject; he said very loudly and with a great deal of enthusiasm, ‘We are going to admit even elders in our cricket club hereafter. We are buying brand-new bats and balls. Our captain has asked me to tell you …’ (pg. 164)

———

‘Sir, can’t you permit him to go home after four-thirty?’

            The Headmaster sank back in his chair and remained silent.

            Rajam asked again, ‘What do you say, sir, won’t you do it?’

            ‘Are you the Headmaster of this school or am I?’

            ‘Of course you are the Headmaster, sir. In Albert Mission they don’t keep us a minute longer than four-thirty. And we are exempted from Drill if we play games.’

            ‘Here, I am not prepared to listen to your rhapsodies on the pariah school. Get out.’

            Mani, who had been waiting outside, finding his friends gone too long, and having his own fears, now came into the Headmaster’s room. (pg.178)


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Houses of Dismay – (FICTION)

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THIS a slender lane up to a hummock – fussy and fresh, and deep down its throat is a crowd of pine trees, its horizontal stretch is conquered with vibrantly draped kiosks, the vendors hawking audibly in soulful decibels – garishly multi-coloured shawls with subtle patterns on them and boastful artifacts portraying the traditional sculpture and image of this rugged and cold region.

 

Yesterday, at dusk I had arrived at my uncle’s home. His home is a timeworn yet reminiscently salient single-storey bungalow with italic roof, oversize windows, its exterior off-white walls are adorned with creepers, its modest lawn shielded with wild grass and fenced with a corroded iron gate.

 

I had cautiously unbolted the gate and squealed, “Uncle, I am here!” An unexpected icy breeze sprinted towards me as I rambled down the concrete path in the direction of a large tatty wooden door. “Your old uncle died a week…

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