Desca's Library · Italian Literature · Italian Writer · Oriana Fallaci

Inciallah by Oriana Fallaci

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The book comes as a gift from G long while ago and I must admit that the book is not an easy reading. It is not easy for me to read Oriana Fallaci as the book is written in Italian and it carries its own complication which I am going to explain further in the next paragraphs. One of many highlights should be noted: the books itself is said as a real life based novel by Fallaci narrating the experiences of some fictional soldiers during their peace keeping mission in Beirut back in 1983. 

Fallaci’s Inciallah keeps switching from one character to another. This is my first obstacle. I sometimes would have to go back and fourth to keep in line because I need to follow the stories about those Italian soldiers in Beirut, the flashbacks of their lives before coming to the city, the Lebanese Christian and Shi’ite militants, a group of French nuns, and their Lebanese darlings. 

My protagonist of the story will be Angelo, a confused Italian soldier who abandons his studies in mathematics because he wants to see the war firsthand; therefore, he enrolls himself to the Italian army. I have google a little bit of Fallaci’s background before reading this book and this ideas about mathematician-sweetheart may be inspired from his Greek lover, Alexandros Panagoulis, who attempted to prove mathematical theorems in his own blood whilst in jail. Therefore, Fallaci writes in one part through her character:

“Quanto gli mancava la matematica, quanto la rimpiangeva! Massaggia le meningi come un allenatore massaggia i muscoli di un atleta, la matematica. Le irrora di pensiero puro, le lava dei sentimenti che corrompono l’intelligenza, le porta in serre dove crescono fiori stupendi. I fiori di un’astrazione composta di concretezza, d’una fantasia composta di realtà”

Angelo later finds out that the war is not as he expected. It leaves him with the great shock particularly when it is related to the barbarity, cruelty and irrationality of the civil war engulfing Beirut.

“La guerra non serve a nulla, diceva, non risolve nulla. Appena una guerra è finita ti accorgi che i motivi per cui era scoppiata non sono scomparsi, o che se ne sono aggiunti di nuovi in seguito ai quali ne scoppierà un’altra dove gli ex nemici saranno gli amici e gli ex amici i nemici”

His path later crossed with a path of a beautiful Christian Lebane woman named Ninette. They cannot communicate to each other as Ninette pretends not to speak French and Angelo does not know the reasons why. However, the sparks of attraction start flaming between them. The cupid shoots his arrows on them and they begin their relationship. Little that Angelo knows, he is later tormented by the fact that their relationship is primarily physical as he starts growing reliance on Ninette. 

One day, our darling Angelo is expecting a visit from his Ninette while the Hizbollah bombs the American marine barracks as well as the French paratroopers barracks. Angelo is ordered to photograph the rescue efforts to the Italian soldiers but he is too horrified to fulfil the task. On the way back, he purchases an anchor shaped cross with the Virgin Marry inscribed on it to apologise for missing their encounter and sweet rendez-vous. 

Fallaci’s subplots are developed between a group of Italian soldiers in a Catholic monastery and the French nuns. The negotiations between Italian officers and Shi’ite militia leaders follow the plot later. 

I am also amazed with the character of Angelo’s friend Gino, a gentle poet. He is so sweet. He also writes this poem;

” E così vivo in me, per me, giorno per giorno
ogni giorno aspettando un altro giorno : scontento disperato sempre solo
ritto sul baratro aperto da un giardino
che amavo e nel quale camminavo
per bere a una fontana sigillata.
Vorrei cascarci dentro con la sete.
Ma quando penso a quello che non ho,
che potrei avere, che mi manca tanto,
sfido quel baratro e torno a camminare
per scrivere lo stesso la mia fiaba
senza futuro, forse, e tuttavia
colma di sogni e di fontane come
se avessi un bellissimo domani.”

Such a sweet poem. Anyhow, Gino is severely wounded by Khalid Passepartout, a vicious child soldier in the service of the Shi’ite militia “the Sons of God.” Gino later loses his fingers and  he can no longer write poetry. Angelo then pledge and vows revenge; therefore, during his rendez-vous with Ninette, he leaves early to visit Gino in the hospital and tells her that he cannot spend Christmas with her due to Gino’s condition. I love when Angelo admits to Ninette that his friendship with Gino is more important than the love to him. His words hurt Ninette and she expresses her disappointment and she pours the pain in her heart in a letter written in perfect French that she can no longer see him. Angleo later also realises how much he loves Ninette and goes searching for her throughout the city. Ah Ninette…Ninette…it is not so easy to deal with a man, huh? I completely understand your feeling. Some men can be so idiot.

“Cara, per raccontare gli uomini, questi bizzarri animali che fanno ridere e piangere insieme, bastano due sentimenti che in fondo sono due ragionamenti: la pietà e l’ironia. In parole diverse, basta avere il sorriso sulle labbra e le lacrime agli occhi.”

The story later goes on the French paratroopers vacating a tower in the centre of Beirut. This causes fighting to break out between Amal, a Shi’ite militia and the Christian government forces. In the turmoil, Khalid sees Ninette in the street after she goes to the Italian post to see if Angelo is right and gives her his Kalashnikov because he wants to run away. Some incidents later happen following this, and our Ninette is buried in a mass grave. Up to this scene, as a reader, I will have to take my book down, wipe the tears that is about going out as I roll my eyeballs out and sighing. I cannot understand why such sweet and great love stories will likely have to end with death. I am just thinking whether in order to have a great love story, I have to die first or he will have to have his plane crashed?

Anyhow, Angelo later is shattered after his officer finds out and tells him the news. Angelo again pledge and vows a revenge, and whilst on guard duty he encounters Khalid Passepartout who is wearing Gino’s marksmen helmet. Angelo later forgives him for killing his friend as he is only a child. However, rather than running away, Khalid later tries to sell Angelo an anchor shaped cross with the Virgin Mary which Angelo later recognises as the gift he once gives to his beloved Ninette. In his fit of rage, Angelo realises that Khalid kills his friend and his lover and end up killing him.

Rashid, a paedophile finds out that an Italian killed his lover, Khaled and wants a vengeance. He plans a suicide bombing against the Italian’s boats as they plan to leave. Meanwhile, the Italian commanders struggle to strike a deal with the militia to avoid catastrophe. In this part, Angelo later discovers by a chance in a magazine that his Ninette is basically an elegant Lebanese woman named Natalia Narakat whom happened to marry an assassinated political leader. This politician resembles Angelo which attracts her to him at the first hand. In the interview as stated in that magazine, she states that the meaning of life is contained in the word “Inciallah” or “In sha Allah” — which means “as God wills” — there is no power nor logic and not even a way to predict the future. It is just a series of events that are all interlocking but completely incomprehensible when everything is viewed beyong human eyes. Angelo is deeply moved and abandons his quest to formulate life in mathematical terms. Up to this point, Fallaci again expresses her admiration to her Greek lover through the character of Angelo.

What is sad from the story is the part when the French nuns who quartered the Italian troops  being murdered and raped by the militiamen while they desecrate their church. Fallaci’s novel then ends with the Italians departing after striking a deal with a Shi’ite cleric for their safety in exchange for supplies. Those Shi’ite also promise to give the alcohol and pork to Christian Lebanese, but instead they destroy it. In the final part, our darling Angelo looks across the boats and sees Rashid’s motorboat speeding towards the Italian convoy.

My impression on this book is really mixed. Apart of its level of difficulty with the switching characters, the thickness of the book, and the language in which Fallaci writes, I found that this book is interesting and exhilarating. This book portrays a real aspect of human life and exploit also their emotion. In some parts, the emotion portrayed through its characters seems real and moving. As aforementioned in the previous paragraph, the tragical love story between Ninette and Angelo; the friendship between Gino and Angelo; and the portrayal of Beirut during that particular time are the examples. My main concern is the intros to the climax which seems like never ending story. Some readers may just put the books down as they start losing some interest on it. I read a little bit of this book also in English version but the English version misses some points and some emotions I cannot explain which is so unlike the Italian version I am reading. Anyhow, as a conclusion mark, I just want to say that this book is worth reading during one’s leisure time. 

Desca's Library · Luce Irigaray · Non-Fiction

Between East and West: From Singularity to Community

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Who does not know Luce Irigaray? The French philosopher who is well known by her ideas on women’s autoeroticism. In this book, Irigaray offers something different to her readers even it is still in the arena of sexuality. Through this book, Irigaray tries to offer new perspectives by stating that East and West should get together, such a promising idea, eh?

“The teaching of nature, in a sense, was more wise. Humanity is made up of two different human beings. In the cultivation of their relation can be found the key to the flourishing of the species. This cultivation, in fact, leads each person to individualise himself or herself in comparison to what is lived as primitive indifferentiation, especially on the part of man. In the respect for the two, the remedu for a relapse into the indifferentiation of the group, including the familial group, is also discovered. As for sexual difference in which attraction originates, it offers the basis for a specifically human behaviour. Instead of the male-female relation being determined by the immediacy of instinct, the transformation of instinct into desire could mark the passage to humanity as such. From then on the attraction between the sexes becomes a source of energy and creation that is not only natural but also cultural, resulting from the will and the freedom of two human being.”

What I do love in this book is Irigaray’s will to “drench” in the Western tradition which (to me) is interesting and exciting as she also explores the Eastern disciplines. Her experience in doing some meditation in order to learn how to breath and thus she makes a conclusion about the differences between women and men ways of breathing is exceptional but interesting. As one looks deeper int he content, the notion about male and female different way of breating can be a provocative implications which claim that sex differences exist and they cannot be neglected. Irigaray later claims that women have to be more empowered nowadays. She later invites women to re-examine their sexuality and to draw new conclusions. 

“The body is then no longer just a more or less fallen vehicle, but the very site where the spiritual to be cultivated resides. The spiritual corresponds to an evolved, transmuted, transfigured corporeal…(what is) also too neglected in our Western (ized) teaching, is that love come to pass between two freedoms. 

…Love is presented there as union, regressive in a way but ecstatically spiritual,… But the union of two lovers, man and woman, free with respect to genealogy, can realise something other in the incarnation of human love. Each lover, woman or man, can contribute to the rebirth of the other as both human and divine incarnation. In this case, the carnal union becomes a privileged place of individuation and not only of fusion, of regression, or of the abolition of polarities and differences. In love, women and men give back to one another their identity and the potential for life and creation that the difference of identity between them makes possible.”

To achieve the understanding women have to cultivate breath, because it is the only way to understand community and individual values. However, Irigaray’s idea of sexual humanity significantly differs from patriarch and thus it seems problematic. Irigaray says that sexual differences are natural between sexes in Western and Eastern country and they should receive both social and cultural expression. 

In my opinion, Irigaray in this book uses the perspectives of the nature as the main factor. As a conclusion remarks, it is necessary to underline the idea of different ways of breathing and consequently sexual differences which is presented in a new key as it offers alternative approach to judge sex differences between the East and the West. 

 

Desca's Library · Erotic Literature · Erotica · Ihara Saikaku · Japanese Literature

The Life of an Amorous Man by Ihara Saikaku

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Another erotic book written by Ihara Saikaku to read. Kōshoku Ichidai Otoko or is simply translated as The Life of an Amorous Man is an episodic account of the life of a seventeenth century Japanese adventurer who explores the pleasures of the flesh. The novel is divided into two parts and combines literary parody, absurdist comedy and minute, realistic descriptions of social practices and material culture, and many of its characters are identifiably based on actual persons, prostitute, kabuki actors and others. 

The novel circles around the life of a wealthy born voluptuary and one of the former prostitutes which later he takes as his concubine name Yonosuke. He spends his childhood and youth mostly in Kamigata region centred on Kyoto and Osaka. Yonosuke is also sexually active. By the age of seven, he proposes one of his family’s maidservants. At nine, he uses a telescope to spy on the maidservants of a neighbouring household as she bathes and masturbates. He then blackmails her into having sex with him. At eleven, he purchases the services of a female prostitutes. At fourteen, he assumes the penetrative, adult role in an encounter of a male prostitutes who is ten years older than Yonosuke himself. When Yonosuke is fifteen, he has an affair with a young widow, gets her pregnant and abandons their child. 

At nineteen, on his trip to Edo on behalf of his family business, Yonosuke neglects his duty and spends so much time and money on prostitutes. His parents later disowns him. He is later set up as a monk but his interest on sex soon causes him to leave the Buddhist path. For years he wanders the provinces and supporting himself as a salesman, a kabuki actor, soothsayer, and some other works. At the age of twenty-seven he takes up with an unlicensed prostitute and gets her pregnant. He also later abandons her and hits the road again. Yonosuke at the age of thirty later visits the man he seduce when he was ten. His sexual escapades does not stop on his thirties but still going on.

It seems to me that Saikaku wants to show his readers that sex is a basic needs in human life. There is nothing taboo on it; therefore, he exposes so many sides in the pleasure department. The Buddhist shrine, the brothel, and any pleasure quarters are not without exceptions. He wants the readers to know that and Yonosuke is his guide to do so. What impresses me is also the fact how Saikaku also portrays the female characters in such free spirit in deliberating their sexual needs. 

“Ah, Yonosuke-sama, but why shouldn’t women exercise their talents too? What men can do, so can women. We can do it just as well, even though tradition forbids it. You shall see!”

I really wonder that those portrayals in Saikaku’s character come as a resistance towards Japanese puritanism at that particular time or not. However, some people may find this fact disturbing and cannot accept the debauchery that these characters committed. My conclusion remark is only simple: give this book and another one The Life of an Amorous Woman a go, and ones may understand and possess some insight into Japanese culture from different points of view. 

Desca's Library · Erotic Literature · Erotica · Ihara Saikaku · Japanese Literature

Five Women Who Loved Love by Ihara Saikaku

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FIVE WOMEN WHO LOVED LOVE: Body which is limited but the passion of love that never ends.

I come across Ihara Saikaku when I would have to search some references on Asian Erotic Literature long time ago. His name and some other names popped up in my screen, so I decided to give his works a go. And yes, I have no regret in hunting his books down (Thanking K and  the Captain for bringing me some of his books). 

Kōshoku gonin onna or is simply translated as Five Women who Loved Love is a story collection written by Saikaku which is published in 1686 during the early Tokugawa Period. The novel itself is composed of five separate tales. Those tales consist of vignettes that reveal the sensual and sexual or any activities of members of leisure class, demimonde and merchant class. The novel itself is divided into these:

 

The History of Seijuro in Himeji

Seijuro is the son of a wealthy merchant. He was ignored by his father because of his dissolute lifestyle. He is later forced to work in order to survive. Seijuro later falls in love with his employer’s daughter and they decide to escape. Seijuro later is wrongly accused of theft and imprisoned. Onatsu, his lover simply sacrifices her long hair for the one for him who is abandon the world when she intends to follow him on the hundredth day. 

 

The Barrel maker Brimful of Love

“Life is short; love is long.”

In the story, with the help of an old kosan or an abortist, a cooper manages to marry the woman he falls in love with. Unfortunately, women are so fickle, they get excited at the sight of a handsome young man, and for this, they end up hating the man they married. That is how Osen feels the real desire which later leads her to betray the cooper. She is later caught in the flagrant by her husband. Her lover flees and she pierces her chest with the blade for her guilt. 

 

What the Season Brought the Almanac Maker

“It is written in the Tale of Genji: “There is no logic to love.”

The love story of Osan and her lover who helped her husband – blah so complicated. They decide to go for a pilgrimage and their passion starts to spark. The attraction urges them to the real passion. They were later caught by Osan’s husband and their passion turned into dust. 

“To sit alone in the lamplight with a good book spread out before you and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generation – such is a pleasure beyond compare.” – Yoshida no Kaneyoshi in Tsurezure – Gusa

 

The Greengrocer’s Daughter with a Bundle of Love

Love which was born in the monastery, the refuge after a fire. Later, Oshichi tries to set a fire in the house to meet the beloved again but ends up thinking that it may cause the beloved a great amount of shame. Meanwhile, on the hundredth days, he decides to end up his life and follow his beloved into death. 

“And so this tale is told, with all its love and sadness to show how unreal and uncertain life is, how much like a wild, fantastic dream.”

 

Gengobei, the Mountain of Love 

“When I first entered the religious life,” Gengobei was saying, “I promised Buddha that I would give up completely the love of women. But I knew it would be very hard to give up the love of young men, and I asked him to be lenient with me in this. Now there is no one who can censure me for it, because I made it all plain to the Buddha from the beginning. Since you loved me enough to come all the way in search of me, you must never forsake me later on.”

Here is the unfortunate love affairs of Gengobei. In this story homosexual love is tolerated as the gap between male and female are as thin as the veil. Gengobei after the death of his brothers decides to become a monk and pray for three years before following his beloved. From all of these four short stories, this is the only story that end up happily. 

 

“Men take their misfortunes to heart and keep them there. A gambler does not talk about his losses; the frequenter of brothels, who finds his favourite engaged by another, pretends to be just as well off without her; the professional street-brawler is quiet about the fights he has lost; and a merchant who speculates in goods will conceal the losses he may suffer. They are all like the “man who steps on dog dung in the dark.”

What I really love from Saikaku is his ability in portraying such scenes even sometimes he portrays them in such difficult ways. His example is the homosexual love which portrays lightly. His portrayal on Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines as favourite haunts for homosexuals, but all the male theatre are also interesting. Meanwhile what is most interesting is his portrayal of the women and heroines.

Women were barred from the acting profession for having combined it with another yet Saikaku’s women are portrayed with their boldness. It seems like to Saikaku: this boldness is what makes a woman great, more than her beauty. Nevertheless, his heroines are weak as well as string. He does not spare them the consequences of their weakness- which is dying in a shameful situation in some stories aforementioned.

As a reader, I think tat this ultimate retribution is not brought about merely to satisfy conventional morality at that time. Even though I also think that death may be too extreme a penalty to pay for such offences. However, it seems to Saikaku that the moral order is as hard and inescapable a fact as human passion. Thus are prolly what make this book Five Women who Loved Love  as interesting book to read.  

Antariksa · Desca's Library

Tuan Tanah Kawin Muda. Hubungan Seni Rupa-Lekra 1950-1965

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Anything about Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat or simply is called LEKRA is always a controversial topic to be discussed. However, when it comes to a matter of art, especially to its relation to other organisation Manifestasi Kebudayaan or is simply called MANIKEBU, these discussions become something spicy and a never-ending debate among the scholars.

Concerning this book, the book tells about the contribution of LEKRA in the arena of Indonesian literature and arts. Several prominent figures in LEKRA such as Joko Pekik and Pramoedya Ananta Toer have been written in the essays to highlight the explanation on the resistance of LEKRA towards the oppressive Indonesian government through literature and arts. Several artists showed their resistance through any form of arts like painting and theatrical shows. As I am not capable in giving any comments related to the painting and theatrical shows, I would like to highlight this issue from the written form of literature.

Bear in mind that Indonesian literature refers to written or literary works produced in Indonesia. The works, which are transmitted orally, can be seen in the article Oral tradition of Indonesia. During its early history, Indonesia was the centre of trade among sailors and traders from China, India, Europe and the middle east. Indonesia was then the colony of the Netherland and Japan. Therefore its literary tradition was influenced by these cultures. Chronologically Indonesian literature could be divided into several period of time and its period of time has its own characteristics which I am going to explain further in the next post. 

Concerning to that notion, the discussion around it mostly circles around the conflict between Lekra and Manikebu. Manikebu with its idea that art should be “enjoyed” as from its aesthetic side reminds us of Harold Bloom and his idea of Shakespeare’s Universalism.  For Harold Bloom to come up with these aesthetic ideas are quite easy. He is financially stable from working as a lecturer. Yet each of the literary work carry its own “mission.” Therefore, his idea later is challenged by his disciples Raymond Williams and Stephan Greenblatt with their Cultural Materialism and New Historicism. 

Returning to the book, this book gives a little bit enlightenment about LEKRA and some of the people involved. The discussion provided also covers several experience from those LEKRA activists and the relation between LEKRA and Indonesian communist. Well, it is not really what I expected because I wish to know more about LEKRA but they only provide a little bit information about it yet the book is still worth reading. 

 

Desca's Library · Harlequin · Harlequin Manga · Ihara Saikaku · NetGalley · Paula Roe · Yuko Ichiju

The Billionaire Baby Bombshell: a Harlequin Manga by Paula Roe

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I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from NetGalley and Harlequin/SB Creative as the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book title : The Billionaire Baby Bombshell : a Harlequin Manga

Author : Paola Roe ; Illustrator : Yuko Ichiju

Release Date : 8 April 2019

Yelena, our heroine is working at the PR firm. Her recent job is to handle a big client: billionaire Alex Rush, the one she had a crush with a super long time ago. Alex was also her sister ex’s boyfriend and now is facing a problem: people’s prejudice who think that he is the murderer of his own father. Yelena has nothing but to accept the job offered. Yet this is getting complicated because Yelena has to face the some problem with her family when she takes the job. Meanwhile, she also starts to be attracted by Alex’s charms. Will she survive? what to do?

I am not going to spoil everything here as I am sure that it is something you do have to read as a reader. The ending of the story and the whole plot make this story as an interesting manga to read. Yet still, the story is as a sweet romance  wrapped in manga style to read!

 

Desca's Library · Harlequin · Harlequin Manga · Jennifer Greene · Megumu Minami · NetGalley

The Unwiling Bride: Harlequin Manga by Jennifer Greene

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I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from NetGalley and Harlequin/SB Creative as the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book title : The Unwilling Bride : a Harlequin Manga

Author : Jennifer Greene ; Illustrator : Megumu Minami

Release Date : 17 May 2019

Paige, our heroine is working in her workshop when our hero, Stefan, the new Russian-hottie-neighbour is knocking her house saying that her house is on fire. They start to interact to each other and started to get attracted either physically or sexually to each other. 

I am not going to spoil everything here as I am sure that it is something you do have to read as a reader. Yet there are some highlights that I underlined here, including the convo which are sometimes too awkward and there is no real conflicts between the hero and heroine. The illustration in manga does look a little bit childish to me. Well, a minor point but a little bit lamentable because the story is supposed for the adult readers. Yet still, the story is as a sweet romance  wrapped in manga style to read!