That Little Nook of Phil.Lit. in English

That Little Nook of Phil. Lit. in English.
You might want to visit this site, especially to those who are looking for works in Philippine Literature in English.

Book Review: Katharine of Aragon by Jean Plaidy

Since it is summer in my side of the world and at the same time it's the Holy Week, the climax I consider, of Lent, I decided to turn off the TV (not that I really watch anything but news), went offline and picked up a book. Or books actually and now I am sharing it with you. The series of entries which would follow are all my reflections on these books. I really cannot say that it is a book review, but you may treat it as such and it will also be referred as such. As for me, I just want to open discussion as to the topics that were raised in the books. All of the book reviews which would follow are reviews of some of the work of the noted Jean Plaidy, who was considered to be the "Godmother of Historical Fiction."

So, let's start of with "Katharine of Aragon: The Story of a Spanish Princess and an English Queen." This book is actually my brother's. He brought it I believe from a book sale in one of the malls near our house. And I should say that my hobby of book collecting has rubbed off on my younger brother, to the annoyance of our mother and the detriment of our house space. But anyway, since my brother is not much of a bargain book collector as I am, sale as the book when he bought it, the price was still an irritation to me. Not that he was spending my money, it's just that the book is originally priced at approximately $15 (converted from our currency) and he bought it for $4.65, but by God, if he told me he wants that book, I could have scoured the second hand bookstores in the same mall and could have bought the same title for $1.16. But he is new to book hunting, so whatevs, it's his money anyway, he'll have practice. But I got to admit that my brother has taste, or is it also because my love of history (I've only realized it as of now) has also rubbed off on my brother? Not another English major and history geek in the family, please. But that's another story.

So yeah, instead of him reading the book, it was me who first read it. And because of the annoyances at work, I wasn't able to read it as fast as I can. So I thought, I'm just gonna read it during summer. Which is now. No work.

So as to the book itself...

I cannot really judge the characters much as I want to because these are historical characters in a fictional universe. So, my comments are really not about the characters as the are understood historically, but as characters of the universe of the novel (this would be my same treatment in my following entries).

On to the characters, please.

Okay. So, I really admire Katharine of Aragon, really, as much as she seems really helpless, I think her piety has helped her storm the best and the worst in her relationship with Henry VIII. I should say, even without reading this novel, I would be rallying to her side. If I were to be put in England during her time, I would surely be one of the people who would say, "God bless Katharine, Our Queen!" What she lacks in gaiety, what she lacks in fascination, is overshadowed by her humility, piety and nobility. She is a woman scorned, but she bore her husband's philanderings with such grace and strength of character which is supposed to be present in a woman. I know I am not in the position to say such thing but just basing from my experience as a daughter, I think that it is the mother which truly bonds the family as one. And if the mother is weak, surely the family will fall. It is not the father who keeps the family, it is the mother. She is the thread that binds the entire family. Without her, there is no family. Sure, some groups might say that Katharine is weak and she didn't fight for her right. But I do not think so, she fought with all of the ways she could think of, in the end the Pope announced their marriage to be valid, so in a way, her efforts were not in vain. If she was a Queen by right, then I think it could have been easier for her to fight Henry, but seeing that she is only a Queen through marriage, I think that if there was a hesitation, I think it would be borne by the fact that Henry married her and elevated her from her desolate state after she was widowed by Prince Arthur. She might lack political cunning and ambition, but I'm telling you, twenty years of sacrifices for a lecherous king is not a small feat. If numbers are to be compared, she was married to Henry for the longest time. So that humility, though underrated, is her biggest asset of why she survived such state. But then I was thinking, if Henry could have been contented with Mary and let her rule as Queen by her own right, then I do not know what would happen in history as we know it. Would there be a Bloody Mary? Would there be the Elizabethan Age? Would England remain Catholic? Would England grow to be a naval force to be reckoned with towards the end of the sixteenth century? We would never know.

But then, to be frank, I sense in Katharine a weakness of which I could not quite pinpoint. I was thinking that maybe it is because I totally adore her strength of character and yet she was not able to defend herself against Henry and his concubine? It looked as if she just let herself to be discarded. I was thinking, she could have plotted, she came from the House of Trastamara for Christ's sake, she came from the most powerful kingdom in Europe during those times, so why didn't she enlist the help of those relatives? Why didn't she set up a network of spies, such that she would not be closed in upon the spies of her enemies? You might think, she will be sent to the Tower of London to be beheaded. I think not. Henry will not risk losing the love of the people by beheading who his people believed was the true Queen of England. Katharine could have used this little sliver, but absolutely significant, sliver of hope. But it goes back to her piety, that lack of ambition (for lack of a better term). She was, in retrospect, trained to be a Queen, and not to be a statesman. Which, for me, had tragic results for her.

But why am I fretting? I am in 21st century for Christ's sake.

But yeah, I love Katharine of Aragon.

I just wished though that she wasn't buried as a mere Dowager Princess of Wales. Which is sad. For me, she is the one true Queen of England.

So about the book itself? It was an engaging read, or else this entry wouldn't even be written, I wouldn't even rant. But the length, I think, is a little bit cumbersome for me. But I was thinking, the length is necessary mainly because it covered that period when Katharine first landed on England to become Prince Arthur's wife to her death. Plaidy's prose is accessible and most suitable for a work of historical fiction and I totally love that attention to detail. So much so that I have to stop reading often because I need to imagine a scene or imagine the clothes that the characters wear. In short, it is detail overload for every scene and I meant that as a compliment. It is that kind of novel that even if there aren't any battle scenes, it is full of Court intrigue and at the same time, you would just be drawn into the quietness (and perpetual uncertainty) of the life of Katharine and find yourself engaged in her sorrows and shaky happiness.

Read it, people, and you will love this beloved Queen, and unloved wife.

Two Papers In the Bag, Baby. :)

So yeah, remember me ranting about how I am going to do my two graduate school papers?
Yep. Both papers are already in the bag, baby. Though I still have to polish both papers tomorrow, still, I consider it done. So I'm celebrating now.
Thank God for that He has given me tenacity. My classmates opted to contact the professor for an "incomplete" but I don't know, I simply cannot afford doing that. It's just prolonging the agony for me. And I'm too deep into my papers already, especially the second one, to give up this late. So, with a YOLO and a prayer to God, I'm hoping that my paper, though already through, will pass in the eyes of my professors. I bled, we bled for this, so we might as well get something back for our tears and procrastination and sleepless nights.

But for now, I'm savoring the moment. :)

Cheers for a difficult but fulfilling semester. :)

Her Ganymede

http://ilseadelinde.tumblr.com/post/78758314531/her-ganymede

Globalization and Fanfiction: The Use of English

So yeah, the title of this post is just one of the many topics I'm thinking as of the moment for my paper.

I haven't updated this blog lately. Oh well, so as usual, I'm at the end of the term and everybody is just too stressed with research studies as of the moment.

I am doing a genre analysis of fanfictions on the one hand and I am going to use the same data set I've used last term.

I am also planning to use fanfiction in my other paper about globalization. Though I cannot in the world fathom how I am going to do it. Everything about this second paper is just so muddy. I am thinking of

1. discussing the politics of why English is the predominant language used in fanfiction

2. discuss English language teaching and globalization

I want to do the first one because I want my thesis to be centered around fanfiction, so I want to write my coursework papers around the same topic. However, it looks difficult since there's just a poverty of research data and papers published about the topic. And I am also mulling on the second one because that is the topic I've talked about in my report in the class.

I really have no idea how I'm going to do this.