LETTERS TO ALICE on first reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon

DSC_0003How to explain Jane Austen’s world to a young woman of eighteen? We spend our whole lives thinking that we know everything and that no one can teach us anything. This happens not only to teenagers but all of us. We realise, usually too late how little we did know about some subjects and how partial we were about some events.

I like Jane Austen, my Jane Austen, the one who wrote about ironic females who understood that they needed to get married (in the past, fortunately not nowadays). These females who tried until the last moment to look around and see how faulty the world is, with such injustices, social classes distinction, opportunities and geder differences.

Fay Weldon through some letters to her niece, explains to her what was around in Jane Austen’s world. Sickness, marriage market, fears, sex, and all of those things that affected their lives, that they lived as normal things, even if we can not understand now how they could be living like this.

After reading this book, Mrs Bennett is not so ridiculous, Charlotte is not a poor spinster wishing to change her situation, and Emma shows us at the end how her class thinks about her surrounding.

I liked a lot the example of people receivingd their letters faster than nowadays. Weldon once again shows us how different life was and how it was real to be poor in the 18th century.

“… letters could be posted in London one evening and be delivered in Hereford the next morning. Because people were so poor – most people – they would run, and toil, and sweat all day and all night to save themselves and their children from starvation.”

Or this other one that seems enlightening to me: ” ‘Instinct’ usually just means our conditioning to believe this or believe that, without thinking to investigate.”

Faydownload Weldon, Novelist, playwright and screenwriter Fay Weldon was born on 22 September 1931.

Fay Weldon has been for several decades one of Britain’s most popular novelists. Prolific and indefatigable in chronicling the turbulent lives and loves of her characters (especially women), her books are characterised by their wittily barbed dialogue, satirical scenarios and dystopian visions.

58 SECONDS: THINK LITTLE, CHANGE A LOT by Richard Wiseman

download (2) My reaction to the first pages was: My…, a Self-help book! But, What was I thinking about to take one of these books?

Finally, It was a good decision. It is not exactly a self-help book even if it has a lot of advice about happiness, motivation, creativity, and so on. It is more a “destruction book” of all those mind myths and cliches that make people think that there are magic formulas for a better life.

This is a book full of logic and useful ways to carry on with your prospect for the future: making an effort. All those things that don’t require to go inside people’s minds to try to discover what they are hiding from us.

Most people have problems with too much dreaming instead of acting, or what is called procrastination.

Also, there are a lot of too noticeable things. But again, it’s worth reading it because it remindss us how simple at the end our lives can be, and how much we understand, but for whatever reason we forget so easily.

“… those who do not feel in control of their lives are less successful, and less psychologically and physically healthy, than those who do feel in control”.

“… happiness doesn’t just flow from success, it actually causes it”.

“Thanks to our capacity to adapt to ever greater fame and fortune, yesterday’s luxuries can soon become today’s necessities and tomorrow’s relics.”

“As the old cliché goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

“… in the vast majority of the experiments, the participants working on their own produced a higher quantity and quality of ideas than those working in groups.” The reason: a phenomenon known as “social loafing”.

“Science evidence, if any were needed, that your dog is better for your health than your husband of wife.” I like specially this one.

“Being in a group exaggerates people’s opinions, causing them to make a more extreme decision that they would on their own.”

“Irrational thinking occurs when people try to reach decisions in groups, and this can lead to polarization of opinions and highly biased assessment of a situation” The danger of a mass “thinking” together.

Rdownload (3)ichard Wiseman holds Britain’s only professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology, at the University of Hertfordshire. His research into a range of topics – including luck, self-help, deception and persuasion – has been published in the world’s leading academic journals, while his psychology-based YouTube videos have been viewed over 150 million times. He is the author of several books that have been translated into over thirty languages, including The Luck Factor, Quirkology, Rip It Up and the international bestseller 59 seconds.

PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi

 

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How difficult it is to understand fully the life in countries where I have never been. It is not easy to comprehend clearly those who have different traditions, religions and ways of life. This could be the reason behind my selection of reading; it does not matter if it is fiction or another kind of literature.

Iran, as one of those Arab countries completely unknown to me. The news speaks of them all the time, but this knowledge is not direct and makes you have a distorted opinion about them. As usually happens to us, we put the whole country in the same “bag”. The bag for this country over the last 30 years has been as fanatics, uneducated, macho, retrograde. I think of Iran as a country without freedom. And for an Occidental, “Freedom” is a magic word that means everything, even if we are not as free as we think

It is curious this embrace of a stereotype. I, who always hated those stereotypes about countries and people. But, at the end we are all the same when speaking about preconceptions.

Persepolis I and II was a discovery for me. I do not usually read graphic novels, not because I do not like them, but because I usually do not remember to check what’s new in graphic novels.

First thing first, the main character is a woman, but at first just a child. She has socialist ideas about how the world has to be. She wanted to demonstrate just as her parents, asking for the deposition of the king. The revolution finally came, only that was not exactly as they expected it to be

From the first moment, Marjane’s world is turned upside down. Part of her family leave the country, others are murdered. She, herself is sent out for a while, when her parents think that the situation is worse. An Iranian teenager in Europe. Her life is not better even far away from home because the situation in her country follows her.

The amazing thing about this book is the opportunity to discover a different Iran, through the eyes of someone not indoctrinated by the revolutionary ideas of Iran. The important thing at the end is to discover that everyone wants the same things, no matter the culture, the religion, the country. The horrible thing is to understand how personal feelings change when you are in the middle of a war that never finishes.

downloadMarjane Satrapi, (born 1969, Rasht, Iran),Iranian artist and writer whose graphic novels explore the gaps and the junctures between East and West.

Satrapi was the only child of Westernized parents; her father was an engineer and her mother a clothing designer. She grew up in Tehrān, where she attended the Lycée Français. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, her family’s Western way of life drew the attention of Iranian authorities, and by 1984 her parents had decided to send her to Austria to attend school. A failed relationship there exacerbated her sense of alienation and contributed to a downward spiral that left her homeless and using drugs. She returned to Tehrān at age 19, studied art, and, after a short-lived marriage, moved back to Europe in 1993. In France she earned a degree in art, and by the mid-1990s she was living permanently in Paris.