Tag Archives: romance

Very ominous endings

Book Meme 2012

Question 4: Best love story

Oh ho ho! A wide-open field. There are many kinds of “love stories.” The Greek language has more than one word for the myriad of feelings we encompass with the word “love.” I already have a habit of cheating in this meme, and so far I feel justified in doing so. True to form, I will rank my choices for best love stories according to categories.

These categories are: Romantic Love, Platonic Love, Unconditional Love, and an Honorable Mention (see? I’m cheating again.)

Romantic Love:

This one is the easiest for me to choose. There are many love stories that I find compelling, but the ones that tend to touch me most without irritating my low-tolerance for “mush” are the stories of Jane Austen, nestled in her satire and human understanding.

Of these, Persuasion stands out from the rest.

If you do not like spoilers, skip to the next category now, though if you don’t know the overall theme of this book, I will be very much surprised.

The relationship between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth is one of suppressed passion. More than that, though, it is a story of enduring and mature love. Where most love stories begin with two characters meeting and growing to love, this story begins years later, when the love shared has been lost, seemingly beyond recovery.

Love is a beautiful thing, but it is faithfulness and endurance that make it a rare and precious beauty. To me, love without faithfulness is like a flower that quickly wilts, becoming ugly. Faithful love is like a tree, whose beauty lasts for as long as it has life. It awes, shelters, and delights even beyond the lives of men. It may have its bad moments, when it drops a limb, or covers your car in pollen, but then the course of true love never did run smooth.

Platonic Love:

There are many contenders for this award, but I have cheated enough for one post, so I will force myself to choose.

Curdie and Lina from The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald.

I cannot defend this choice against all others. I can only say that I return to it time and time again, and at last I find that it must be my choice. Some spoilers will follow.

Curdie is a miner, and Lina is a monster. This is the description MacDonald gives of Lina:

She had a very short body, and very long legs made like an elephant’s, so that in lying down she kneeled with both pairs. Her tail, which dragged on the floor behind her, was twice as long and quite as thick as her body. Her head was something between that of a polar bear and a snake. Her eyes were dark green, with a yellow light in them. Her under teeth came up like a fringe of icicles, only very white, outside of her upper lip. Her throat looked as if the hair had been plucked off. it showed a skin white and smooth.

It is obvious that this is not going to be a case of love at first sight. Curdie feels, for Lina, a mix of fear and pity, and Lina, it seems, feels mostly fear. Being a beast, she never speaks, but they learn to communicate without the need for words. Between the miner and the monster a strong bond of trust and friendship develops to the point where both put their lives in danger to protect the other.

I have always found this relationship compelling and beautiful. Among the friendships I have seen in my literary travels, it is the dearest to me.

Unconditional Love:

This is a tough choice as well. I have wrestled with myself over the question of what counts as “unconditional.” Sam and Frodo came to mind, but as deep as their love is, there is reason behind it. I find that unconditional love must exist against all likelyhood, and what is more, it must be one-sided, at least for a time.

With this consideration, I choose the love Psyche has for Orual, from Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis. The story is about many things, but the contrast between selfish and unconditional love is a strong theme throughout.

You should take spoilers as a given by now.

At first, the love between Orual and Psyche is not unconditional. It is quite natural and sisterly. In Orual, it quickly becomes obsessive and possessive, and once Psyche is taken by the god of the mountain, the underlying selfishness in Orual’s love overcomes her.

Unconditional love shows itself when Orual forces her sister to choose between Orual’s life and betraying Psyche’s divine lover. Psyche loves her sister even though the ugly aspects of Orual’s feelings are revealed. She loves Orual for Oural, knowing that she can expect no such love in return.

This story would shatter my heart if Orual never came to understand the difference between selfish and unconditional love. Thank you, Lewis, for revealing hope for Orual, for we are all need unconditional love.

Honorable Mention:

 Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad, from Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

These guys are quite a mix. There is some unconditional love involved because Toad is, quite frankly, a mess, but the others stick by him. There is a “bromance” between them all that mirrors many real-life friendships. It is a quiet (save in the case of Toad), unassuming love that ties them loosely, but strongly, together. In short, I feel that this story shows philos at its finest, and it is that friendship that gives me such enjoyment in reading the stories.


Motley Crew

Book Meme 2012

Question 1: Book Crush(es)

And so we begin with a very personal question.

Though there are many characters I find attractive, I do not develop crushes easily. There are no Byronic Heroes here, for I would rather hit Mr. Rochester with a brick. Also absent are the characters who attract me by their interaction with another character. You will not find Mr. Darcy below (Addibus, if you read this, don’t disown me!), because as much as I find him attractive, it is in his context with Elizabeth. On his own, I like him, but he is not crush-inducing. There is also a dearth of the traditional “hero” types below. While I have respect for chivalry, and the heroes of legend, I find that for me there is such a thing as too high and noble to induce a crush.

So my parameter is simple: Do I have a crush on this character, and why? I will do my best to deconstruct. When I consider these “men” all together, I find it difficult to pinpoint my literary “type.” They do have some traits in common, but on the surface they are very different.

So, who does Jubilare swoon over? Let’s begin with four honorable mentions, and then we will come to the king of my literary heart.

Faramir, son of Denethor
“We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor. We boast seldom, and then preform or die in the attempt. Not if I found it on the highway would I take it, I said.” -Faramir

There are few heroes that can match Faramir’s quality, and he is a secondary character! Dear authors, never neglect the folk who walk on the edges of your central story. Faramir’s role in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is small, and yet his personality fills every corner of it. Son of a maddened ruler, brother to an ambition-corrupted man, Faramir is in a most difficult position. He loves his family, but cannot be blind to their flaws. He must stand in the gap for his people, honor his father, and bear up under the weight of growing despair. Often these three duties conflict. Reserved on the surface, warm-hearted beneath, he is brave and fierce at need, but has no love for war. He is humble, but also a leader, grave but with a sense of humor. For me, he outstrips all the elves and Aragorn as well. Faramir is an “old soul” with a “young heart,” while the elves are often young souls with old hearts, and Aragorn is an old soul with a heart that, while perhaps not yet old, has lost its youth. Faramir is vitality with a steady mind, and he sticks to his honor while taking full advantage of his liberty. In short, he is an excellent balance.

Samuel Vimes
‘Now I know what you’re thinking,’ Vimes went on, softly. “You’re wondering, after all this excitement, has it got enough flame left? And y’know, I ain’t so sure myself…’ He leaned forward, sighting between the dragon’s ears and his voice buzzed like a knife blade: :What you’ve got to ask yourself is: Am I feeling lucky?” -Sam Vimes

Here’s a mess. Faramir is one I would marry if he existed and were interested (both equally unlikely), but Sam Vimes? I am not so self-destructive as to think of him in that way, and yet he is definitely a crush. Is he handsome? No. Is he admirable? …that depends. Whatever he may be, he is NOT balanced. When the reader first encounters Sam (assuming the reader begins with Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett) the good captain is drunk in a gutter. The relevant question is, “why is Sam drunk in a gutter?” The answer is that he is a good man trapped in an impotent job. He is Captain of the City Watch, which has been hobbled in order to allow for a self-regulating ecosystem of crime in his city. Over the course of the aforementioned book and its sequels, Vimes is pulled out of the gutter (and eventually off the bottle) through the efforts of friends, the love of a great-hearted woman, and the shreds of his own determination and nobility. Under the stony face and sharp layers of sarcasm lies the heart of the ideal copper. Vimes is the policeman I want on my case (assuming I am not the malefactor). He cares about people, he cares about justice, and despite the fact that he is often underestimated, he is a very intelligent chap. Despite his rough edges, or maybe partly because of them, he earns a strong place in my heart. Hear the fangirl squeals at his one-liners? That would be me.

Atticus Finch
“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” -Atticus Finch

A single father of two who is both firm and loving enough to bring them up well.  In To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Atticus tries to uphold justice against the tide of popular “feeling” with a quiet but indisputable strength. I would give a great deal to sit with him on his porch, watch the fireflies and talk. To me, the best mark of a man is that he has no need to prove his manliness. This rural lawyer follows his moral convictions and when he opposes them, a lynch-mob stands down, less out of fear than out of the knowledge that he is in the right, and they in the wrong. I am not sure what more I can say. If I cannot have such a man for a husband, then God give me such a man for my friend.

Blackberry
“‘Frith and Inle!’ said Dandelion. “They’re sitting on the water! Why don’t they sink?’
‘They’re sitting on the wood and the wood floats, can’t you see?’ said Blackberry.”

This is a weird one simply because Blackberry is a hare. I find Leporids cute, but I do not find them physically attractive, so please call off the men in white coats. I would not have mentioned him here if it were not for a funny conversation between my housemate and I. D mentioned that she had a crush on one of the rabbits from Richard Adams’s Watership Down, and I laughed and said that I had a crush on Blackberry. It turns out that he was her crush as well. To be fair, we were both children when we first encountered this story. So, what is it about this hare that makes me wish he A. was not fictional, B. was my species, and C. liked me? Blackberry is the brains of Hazel’s  operation. If there is planning to be done, Blackberry is at the heart of it, and Thlayli owes the clever bunny his life. While others panic, Blackberry has a clarity of mind and a will for action. For all this, he is not a cold, calculating braniac, nor a powerful mind attached to a frail body. He may not have Thayli’s or Captain Holly’s raw power, but he is no pushover, and he is brave when there is need for bravery. His ties of friendship are strong, and he often shows compassion. Loyalty is another of his distinguishing traits, and, lets face it, he just has style! Blackberry proves that Smart is Sexy, even if one is the wrong species.

^^^ All Hail King Samwise ^^^

“‘What am I to do, then?’ he cried again, and now he seemed plainly to know the hard answer: see it through. Another lonely journey, and the worst.” -Samwise Gamgee

Yep. My #1 book crush is Samwise Gamgee. If any character manages to usurp his throne, I will be shocked.

Every time I read Lord of the Rings, Samwise amazes me. At first glance he might seem simple, or even timid. As the story progresses, his hidden facets begin to shine. Early on it is clear that Sam has a poetic soul; a deep appreciation for beauty, peace and simplicity that echos my own feelings.

Courage and determination overcome his natural fears and launch him into action against some of the most terrifying creatures and situations to be found in the books. Who, among us, would take up a short blade, elven or not, and stand alone against a GIGANTIC SPIDER? What diminutive farmer’s son would storm an orc-filled tower in the faint hope of rescuing a friend? Who would carry said friend up the slope of a fire-mountain in order to finish a task that cannot save their lives?

Sam.

His greatest flaw is the humility that makes him doubt his own abilities, but even that serves a purpose. If he were aware of his a worth, he might be intolerable. Samwise considers himself stupid. Hah! He is unlearned compared to his traveling companions, but that is no measure of his intelligence. When there is no one to direct him, when he must take charge, he proves himself quick and capable. Tolkien lets us see into the noble halfling’s mind and there we find him hard at work navigating the rough terrain of the world, as we all must do.

Sam is often credited with loyalty and tenderness. These, he has in abundance. If I had to choose only one fictional character to have at my back through a conflict, it would be Sam. He will not betray his friends, he will not shrink from the task that must be done, and he manages to hope when others around him fall into despair.

Finally, his love of peace, and home, and Rosy touch me sharply. My heart aches with Sam’s longing. I weep when he is sad, and rejoice in tears and smiles when he is happy. Despite not being human, he is staunchly human in his abilities, thoughts and feelings, managing to represent the best that is in us while not denying our weakness.

Therefore, if I have to choose just one fictional crush, one who, if he were my species, not fictional, and happened to like me, I would marry in a heartbeat, I would soon be a Gamgee.

I have made some interesting conclusions about my own heart after seeing these “men” juxtaposed. I will, however, let you draw your own conclusions on the matter.


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