Nature’s silence; sweet music to my ears.
I took this photo quite a few years ago, in Siena, Italy. Italy is a great country to visit, and it’s culturally very similar to the coastal Croatia where I live, especially when it comes to great food. 😉 Anyway, when I go on a trip, I like to capture some simple little moments like this one, besides taking pictures of all the “important stuff”. This photo of a pigeon drinking from the fountain feels so lively to me, it’s cute and a little funny. So, I wanted to share it with you. I’ll follow it with a little poem inspired by birds.
Brave and free
Are strong in unity.
This tag was made by Hannah booksandbeauty on Youtube, and since October, my favourite month, is in its full bloom and Halloween’s approaching, I thought it was a perfect tag to do. You can watch the original video here. Now, let’s get started!
1. Morticia Addams, the mother and a witch. – What is your favourite witch book?
The witch books by Terry Pratchett, from his Discworld series, starting with Wyrd Sisters. Terry Pratchett was a genious.
2. Gomez Addams is a loving father. – Who is your favourite fictional dad?
Arthur Weasley, from the Harry Potter series. He’s an amazing dad and an amazing person in general. Weasleys are such a great family…
3. Uncle Fester Addams can generate electricity. – What book makes you light up so much that you can’t stop yourself talking about it?
There are several… It was Harry Potter for my entire childhood. Lately, it’s The Last Man by Mary Shelley. Even though Frankenstein is one of my favourite books of all time, I’ve read this book only recently. I loved it, and I just want everyone to love it as much as I did… And that’s why I wrote a post about it. And if you like Mary Shelley and nice illustrations, just click HERE. Do it. Trust me.
4. Wednesday Addams is obsessed with death. – If you could have killed off a character in any book who would it have been?
I’m actually looking through my shelves for this one… And I really don’t know. There are some characters I hate but I still wouldn’t kill them because you need those characters as well.
5. Pugsley Addams has a vicious nature and plays nasty pranks on everyone. – Who is your favourite villain?
I’d say the Frankenstein’s monster, but he’s not really a villain. And I don’t want to say Voldemort because I mention Harry Potter too much as well. So, I’ll say Patrick Bateman from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. He’s horrible, and the entire book is from his perspective so it makes you feel quite disgusted and disturbed… However, I think it’s a great book, even though being inside Patrick’s head cannot be described as a pleasant experience.
6. Lurch is based on Frankenstein and a zombie. – What is your favourite adaptation (book/film) of a story?
I usually get disappointed by adaptations. But a really great one would be Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I’m not sure if it could be described as an adaptation, but it deals with the characters from Jane Eyre, focusing of the story of Rochester’s “crazy” wife Bertha Mason (or Antoinette). It’s just great and deals with so many themes which were never addressed in Jane Eyre. And it will make you feel so many emotions…
7. Grandmama is an old classic witch. – What is your favourite old classic horror book?
OK, I think it would be stupid to mention Frankenstein again. 😄 So, my second favourite would be Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. Carmilla is amazing!
8. Show us some of your horror books.
Well, the tag was made for Youtube, but I decided to actually show them anyway. Some of these are not really horror, but they have some horror elements and are often classified as such.
9. What are you going as for Halloween this year?
We don’t actually celebrate Halloween in my country. For the last decade or so there are some Halloween parties organized in my town, but it’s not really a part of our tradition. I do like the idea of Halloween and my friends and I did dress up a couple of times. We were the Addams family once, actually 😄 We don’t have anything planned for this year yet.
10. Favourite Halloween films!
The Addams Family, of course. 😄 I also love The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie… Creepy and cute at the same time, it’s just my kind of thing. When it comes to horror films, I’d suggest a Korean one because I don’t think many people know about it – The Tale of Two Sisters. It’s really creepy, and it will leave you wondering what had actually happened.
So, hope this was fun for you. And happy Halloween! 🙂
Her days were blue
A colour not of sadness
But of naivety and calm.
His nature was red
The shade of passion
And hidden rage
Born from burning pain.
Together they were purple
A colour of magic
Illusion and trickery.
But blue can’t give to red
The peace of mind it needs
And red can never love blue.
Purple is inconsistent.
What they needed
Was a peaceful valley of green
Tranquil and warm.
But red kept the yellow to himself
All its golden glory
And the light it possessed
Because he had so little.
When red left
Her blue turned grey
Changed, colourless, but free.
Blue couldn’t find green
But grey did
And even with a touch of greyness
The green was green still.
*My little play on colour-mixing and colour symbolism.
I had just turned eight when they came for me. I knew what was going on, even though my parents tried to hide the truth from me – children always know much more than their parents realize.
Father told me that it’s a great honour. I was to be taken to the Emperor’s palace. Common people never went there.
“Only special children are chosen. You will get an education anyone would envy you on. It’s a great opportunity”, father kept talking. I suspect he was trying to make himself believe in his own lies.
The truth was, just as all the other families in our town, and probably all the other families in the Empire, my parents had a choice to make. One of their children had to be sent to the palace, to be trained to become a loyal member of the Emperor’s army. It could be any child, the only rule was that it had to be younger than ten. Among the four children in our home, it’s not hard to deduce why I was their choice. Father would never give away his firsborn, my older brother. He was too proud of him, of how similar they were and how quickly he learned all that father taught him. The twins, a boy and a girl, even though they were already six-year-olds, were still the babies of the family. Mother and father were very protective of them. All things considered, I was the logical choice. Were I in their place, maybe I would have done the same. But still, a cold feeling grew in me, a feeling which wasn’t disappointment, or anger, or sadness. It was neither of those familiar emotions but at the same time it was all of them.
When it came to this, I turned out to be the child my parents loved the least. Many children feel this way and grow jealous of their sibling. Those feelings are mostly obvious overreactions and secretly even those bratty youngsters know that parents love all their children the same. However, my case was different. I knew how my parents felt for a fact. They thought about it, and they decided it themselves.
I shouldn’t blame them. They had to do it. One of us had to be sacrificed so that the others could continue to live. There was no doubt the Emperor’s people would come and slaugher us all if my parents had disobeyed his orders. And everything might end well, after all. The Emperor said it himself, those who prove themselves (after they survive the harsh training and the destructive wars that would follow) might even return to their hometowns. The parents might be able to see their lost children again.
I decided I would be the one of those who would survive, but I don’t intend to go back home. In his lies, father said one thing that was true – this was a great opportunity. And even though they don’t think that, I am special. The Emperor wants to train young children because he wants them to become loyal to a flaw. He wants to be worshipped and that’s what he’s going to get. I know how to pretend, just as I pretended that I believed my father when he created the silly little story to comfort me.
My parents decided to give me up, and that’s how it’s going to be. They will never see me again. I will never live in a silly little town, I won’t be one of those weak people. I will surpass all of my peers, I will become a somebody, I will make the Emperor notice me. In the end, I might even surpass him. He will not be able to confuse me, to make me one of his minions. I have a mind of my own.
The only problem is – there may be other children like me, more people with similar ideas. They should not be a huge problem, though. I will know how to notice them, and once I detect who they are I will be able to deal with them. No one will be better than me.
And I know that, one day, I will not be the one who follows orders anymore. I’ll be the one giving them.
Sometimes in life, everything turns out exactly as it should. This morning, I accidentally found this little diary, untouched, as if waiting only for me. I put my name on its first page in a perfect cursive. The Diary of Dora Dominic. A claim of ownership.
I decided to write in the diary every evening, before going to bed, even though I knew I might get bored with it eventually. Not much happens in my life. But just as I made the decision, another interesting event followed.
He came for a visit! Yes, Henry Price visited us! I was sitting in the garden, looking at the greying sky. The summer had finally come to an end. It had been a warm, quiet summer, both pleasing and horribly uneventful. Most of the families went to their summer houses, but we stayed behind. My parents’ decision was final and I didn’t complain. I understood their reasons. Secretly, I hated them for it. I knew Henry would leave as well and I wouldn’t be able to see him. The entire summer without Henry! What if he forgets all about me and falls in love with another girl?
But today, he was here! I knew it was because of me, but at first I was a little reluctant to approach him. He noticed me and greeted me with a kind smile.
“Mr Price, I’m so happy to see you!” I tried not to sound too excited, and I kept my greeting formal.
“I’m happy to see you, too, Miss Dominic”, he replied. “Could you please tell me where your father is? I would like to have a word with him.”
“Oh, of course! Follow me.”
I turned to head for the house, but Henry didn’t follow me immediately. He looked around, as if searching for something. I was concerned by his quiet. We used to talk so much before and he wanted me to be his partner on every dance. Why did his attitude change? I couldn’t just stand there and do nothing. I approached him and reached for his hand. Henry withdrew quickly, and looked at me almost in shock. I didn’t understand why. Did I do something inappropriate?
I lead him to my father’s library without saying a word. He followed in silence.
“Father, Mr Price is here to see you!” I said, without looking at Henry.
My father called his guest in and Henry entered the library. He didn’t look at me either. I closed the door behind me to leave them to talk in peace, but because of my sorrow and disappointment, I decided to do another inappropriate thing. I leaned on the door and pressed my cheek on the cold wood. I could hear the voices from the other side.
“Mr Price, it’s a pleasure to see you!” my father greeted his visitor cordially. “What brings you here?”
“I actually wanted to talk to you about something… Quite serious”, Henry’s voice was faltering.
“Dear young man, it’s best to say it without delay. What’s on your mind?”
“Well, sir, you know that… Your daughter Dora and I had spent a lot of time together and we grew very fond of each other. I love her dearly. And I came here to ask for her hand in marriage.”
I thought I was going to faint from the sudden change of emotions. My entire body trembled. The disappointment I felt was erased by a flurry of joy. That was why he was acting so strange earlier! He was probably afraid my father might refuse him. But father would never do that! He loved Henry! Oh, such happiness!
“Well, if you didn’t change your mind the entire summer, then you never will!” my father laughed. “Don’t be so nervous, Henry, it’s great news.”
“So, you agree?”
“Of course! Dora will be so happy!”
“I can’t wait to tell her! But, sir, I have to tell you that I saw your other daughter today.”
“Francine? I hope she didn’t cause any trouble…”
“No, no… She just acted a little strange.”
“Oh, I’m afraid my younger daughter has completely lost her mind… Sometimes, she thinks she is Dora. I’m certain she even thinks she’s in love with you.”
“I suspect she is the reason you stayed here during the summer.”
“Yes. It would be cruel for us to enjoy our days and keep her locked up at home. I love my daughter, but I don’t know how to help her. Certainly, I would never take her to one of those horrible institutions…”
“No, of course not.”
“Anyway, enough of this sad conversation. We should celebrate! Let us go and see Dora!”
It was too late for me to run away and they saw me in front of the door. My father’s face changed once he saw me.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I was just…”
“Come on, Francine, go to the garden. These are the last days of summer”, my father tried to smile.
I started to scream. Why would he call me Francine? Is he insane?
“We have to celebrate! I’m going to get married!”
“Go find Dora. I’ll take care of this”, my father said to Henry.
“No! Don’t go!” I screamed after him. “You are my fiancé! We must celebrate!”
Father took me to his library, using all the force he had to drag me. I fought, and I hit. He hates me! I know he does! He acts all nice in front of Henry but he is a tyrant! He said that we are getting married! Why is he doing this now?!
I hit the door, hardest I could. My knuckles got bloody but I didn’t stop. I heard my father scream and cry. Everything was wrong. The story made no sense. I’m writing it down and it sounds illogical.
I’m in my bed now. I woke up here after I lost my consciousness. And now I realize – it didn’t happen. I fainted when I realized that Henry and I are going to get married! I dreamt it all! Oh, how silly I am, confusing dreams and reality! Tomorrow, I will be fine. We will have the celebration. Everything is going to be perfect!
But in truth, neither the lonely meditations of the hermit nor the turmulos raptures of the reveller, are capable of satisfying man’s heart. From the one we gather unquiet speculation, from the other satiety. The mind flags beneath the weight of thought, and droops in the heartless intercourse of those whose sole aim is amusement. There is no fruition in their vacant kindness, and sharp rocks lurk beneath the smiling ripples of these shallow waters.
Mary Shelley, The Last Man
Yes, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. But it wasn’t the only book she wrote. Frankenstein is actually one of my favourite books ever, which I mentioned in my My Top 7 Books post, but The Last Man should definitely not be overlooked.
The Last Man is great and largely underappreciated, and its Goodreads rating is horrible. Most people explain their dislike for this book in terms of “it’s not SciFi enough”. And that’s quite true. Yes, the topic is the end of humanity, but in a way it also isn’t. When Mary Shelley wrote it, she left like she was the last of her “kind”, the last Romantic who was still alive. She was the only one to witness the end of an era. She was the last man.
The main characters in The Last Man are fictional versions of Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. A large part of the book deals with their ideals and the different ways they perceived the world. If you are interested in Romanticism, it’s definitely a book you should read. Not to mention Mary Shelley’s wonderful, poetic language and vivid imagery. She was a truly great author. And a perceptive one.
Mary Shelley looked up to the idealism of Percy Shelley, which can be noticed in her novel. However, she herself seems to have been more of a realist, which is why I chose this particular quote to share with you. In this paragraph, Mary Shelley concludes that a person cannot live only on idealism and meditation, as she puts it. People need to experience things, live their lives to the fullest. But at the same time, those who only live for small pleasures remain shallow as well. People are complex, and they need both. Interestingly, this quote also seems to unite the worldviews of Percy Shelley and Lord Byron.
To be honest, no one can be certain what these authors truly thought of each other, but it’s interesting to speculate and this book offers an insight into Mary Shelley’s mind, even though it may be wrong to entirely accept fiction as fact. In any case, I felt I should defend this book from its negative reviews and at least briefly put in its rightful perspective. I just have a lot of love for the Romantics and I wish to spread it! 🙂