Somewhere I have never travelled

I was photographing my globe for Project 365 and it made me think of my favourite (okay one of my favourite) ee cummings poems. His words always feel, not like poetry, not like music but like magical spells to me. I have a beautiful two-part hard cover collection of his poems on my bookshelf – after my camera it is the first thing I would grab in a fire.

somewhere i have never travelled

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

I also went to the Exclusive Books sale this weekend and for less than R120 I picked up copies of Great Expectations (which I used to own but some borrowed it and never gave it back), Tess of D’Urbevilles and The Bell Jar. I do however have about 20 other books which I have bought or received waiting to be read – I have to start catching the Gautrain to work so I have enough time to read.

Some of my finds at the Exclusive Books sale this weekend - Tess of D'Urbevilles, Great Expectations and The Bell Jar.
Tess of D'Urbevilles is mentioned several times in the special note at the beginning of my copy of Madame Bovary, which is why it caught my eye.

From my bookshelf

I am now searching for an antique copy of Madame Bovary to add to my antique collection.

Those who know me know that there are three things which I can talk about incessantly: photography, travel and books. And since I believe books are magical, holy objects they deserve a regular spot on this blog. Those of you who read a lot will know that the name of this blog is derived from my best book of all time – The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. However since the concept of ‘lightness of being’ is very different in the book to what I would like to achieve in this little corner of cyberspace I will not dwell on it much…only urge you to read it.

 
So the first book to be featured is Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. For the past two years I have been trying to read as many classics as possible although they are not always easy. But after watching Little Children with Kate Winslet, in which the book is discussed, I was really intrigued and read it a few months ago. I was floored. It is beautifully written and I could not put it down even though I had been expecting to struggle through it. I will very shamefully admit that sometimes I find the classics a little, well, um boring. A little tedious. Especially when they describe some scandalous act in such a way that your 21st century mind sometimes struggles to work out what on earth they are talking about; needless to say the description of love affairs and all things bedroom related  in 18th and 19th century literature leaves, well, everything up to the imagination.
 
Emma Bovary is quite possibly one of my favourite literary characters even though she is vain, sees herself as superior to others, and loves material things. Towards the end of the book it becomes harder and harder to sympathise with her as she throws herself and her family deeper into trouble. But the entire time I read the book I could not help thinking how I would have fared in similar circumstances. It is easy to criticize Emma for the mistakes she makes when you are a woman living in today’s modern world, with all the freedom that the intelligent and frustrated Emma desperately longs for. She, growing up in the countryside in France in the 1850s, did not have the freedom to move to Paris on her own, to go to parties and to live a little (she is after all young), or to divorce the husband she did not love.
 
This feature is not intended as a book review, just a space for me to say a little about the books I love. I would be thrilled to hear other’s comments and thoughts too – sort of a comment-thread book club if you will.
 
To end of here is my favourite quote from the book; it is Emma describing her husband: “Charles’s conversation was commonplace as a street pavement, and everyone’s ideas trooped through it in their everyday garb, without exciting emotion, laughter or thought”.