Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Little Men

They say behind every hardened cynic is a disappointed idealist.

And I've come to believe that it is true.

Before my long-ago disillusionment with love, I believe that my annual subscription with Romantics Anonymous was quite alive and well - as was my subtly rose-tinted glasses. Don't know when it happened but it probably began with the discovery of that treasure trove in my mother's old library. No diamonds nor pearls but novels and essays well beyond price, tattered and worn with years of inattention.

Though the pages were creased with age - and riddled with silverfish, they seemed like newly minted friends. And so they have remained to this day cloistered in my own library now.

Started with the regular books boys are handed at a certain age - almost a rite of passage actually. Spent hours with David Balfour on the seas in Kidnapped, ran through the streets of revolutionary Paris with Sydney Carton in the Tale of Two Cities - and of course seeking cold revenge diabolically plotted with the Count of Monte Cristo.

Little Men
Did someone call?

But the books that have remained with me till now isn't regularly read by boys of all ages. Little Women. Even Little Men. What Katy Did. And of course our Anne of Green Gables.

Though suspense and intrigue, spies and kidnappers might interest me, I've always preferred books with family and friends, home and hearth at heart. Deep down, I've always been a homebody after all. So the tales of the March sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy - have remained close at heart. Can almost recite by heart every line from the first chapter right from their complaint about Christmas not being Christmas without presents.

Of course I've always thought that Jo should have ended up with Laurie - though a contrary M. Alcott determinedly switched her suitors halfway ( despite the expectations of her loyal readers ) to have her ending up with a hitherto unknown german professor.

But some characters are always meant to be together - finding personalities and words of their own - they rebel openly against the wishes of the author sometimes. Have to say fortunately not every author purposely prevents a happy ending for her star-crossed lovers. After all our red-headed orphan Anne Shirley managed to find her perfect match in childhood rival Gilbert Blythe forsaking sunbursts and marble halls for a love to last with the boy she once smashed her slate over.


Romantic ideals. In her childish fantasies, Anne once wished for a dark, dashing, thoroughly wicked suitor not realizing that her heart actually lay with the patient sweet man who sacrificed so much for her - and waited long enough for her to finally come to her senses. Reason enough that I just spent a day or two reading through my old copy of Green Gables.

And yes, don't tell anyone but I am a closet romantic still.

9 comments:

TJay said...

LORD! Were you and I on the same track when the train left the station this morning!?!

I go to read your latest post and I'm thinking did I write this? For me, it's been Gay Manga (see new post), that has helped me over the hump of late with the cynicism and disillusionment. Does it mean that I won't still be a bit cynical? Um, no!

Still, we 'Closet Romantics' need to unite, ;-)

Lewis said...

oh, there's definitely something to be said for romanticism. as much of a black and white sort of realist that i am, i have this side of me that longs for the past days of chivalry, white fences with no paint chips missing, heavy drapes, and powdered wigs. you go first. i'll follow...promise.

oscar said...

And who said that Romance is dead?
For me, it is slumbering. It's always near the surface and sometimes it rears its head, but mostly it just there. Just below the shimmering, light-breaking water, waiting to finally be unleashed.
Hasn't happened yet... Not really, I think.
I don't have the same passion as you, though. For me, it's movies. I have seen Casablanca a gazillion times...
Very nice to have discovered your blog.

Reyville of Simply Manila said...

I admire your romantic ideas and the fact that you read these kinds of books. I don't like reading long novels that's why I'm happy you always share bits and pieces of what you've been reading all this time. At least I've something to share in the event a friend would talk about it. LOL. Rommmantic...

lada-hitam said...

Mmmm... talking about strolling the memory lane. It feels like a loooong time ago when I read Little Woman, or The Secret Garden. But the romantic child in me love fairy tales more, though. Still have those fairy tales books on my bookshelves.

I think we all grow up with the romantic ideals of "dark, dashing, thoroughly wicked suitor". Although we know better now, deep down we're still a romantic. Just like you. And me, too :)

Bear said...

You just can't tell with some people, can you? I prefer my literary fiction a little more contemporary although am not adverse to a little Dickens. But I'm with Oscar... movies do it for me. Casablanca, certainly, but also Brief Encounter and even The African Queen. But still, after all these years, the end of Watership Down ALWAYS reduces me to tears!

Marco said...

great story!

savante said...

Probably were riding on the same rails, tjay! let's unite!

Wouldn't go as far as powdered wigs but I'm okay with the rest, lewis :)

I love Casablanca as well, oscar.

Thanks, reyville. I could say the same about your blog.

Always had those tales on my shelves. So I took a look again this weekend, lada hitam. Always nice to revisit after a while.

No worries, I depend on movies as well - especially for the duller books that never seem to end, bear :)

Thanks, marco.

Paul

CJ said...

Don't make me cry.