Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Le Cirque des Reves

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern

by viveie @ dA
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
--- Oscar Wide, 1888 (7)

'The circus arrives without warning...' It is a surprise in every way imaginable. Le Cirque des Reves is everything we ever wanted a circus to be...perhaps it is how we saw the circus as a child. Watching the same shows is markedly different as an adult; the veil has been lifted from our eyes, the glamour has worn off. Unless, of course, we are following the swirling black and white paths of this particular circus, losing ourselves in the pathways and tents...

by beyondimpression @ dA
There is so much that glows in the circus, from flames to lanterns to stars. I have heard the expression "trick of the light" applied to sights within Le Cirque des Reves so frequently that I sometimes suspect the entirety of the circus is itself a complex illusion of illumination.
--- Friedrick Thiessen, 1894 (115)

by La-Chapeliere-Folle @ dA

There are tents containing such variety of curios and wonders that no one will be able to resist the temptation of pulling back a curtain and stepping inside. Perhaps it will be the ice garden, or maybe the mist-filled tent containing live paper animals. Will it be the cloud maze, or a tent of jars and bottles containing the scents of your fondest memories? You might visit the acrobats, the illusionist, or the fortune teller, and in between you might stand in the central courtyard and watch the cauldron of twisted wrought iron burn with a bright white flame. Don't forget to light a candle and hang it on the wishing tree. Your wish might just come true (if it hasn't already).

by Laizeck @ dA
I find I think of myself not as a writer so much as someone who provides a gateway, a tangential route for readers to reach the circus. To visit the circus again, if only in their minds, when they are unable to attend it physically. I relay it through printed words on crumpled newsprint, words that they can read again and again, returning to the circus whenever they wish, regardless of time of day or physical location. Transporting them at will.When put that way, it sounds rather like magic, doesn't it?
--- Friedrick Thiessen, 1898 (467)
by LexiARRIVING @ dA

What do you mean, 'what is the book about?'? Why does it matter? There is no good reason for me to relay the reasons this is a Romeo and Juliet story, or mention anticlimaxes or rapidly changing points of view. I am not helping if I talk in depth about the characters, the Victoriana, the magic and casual allusions to fairy tales. It is all, in the end, irrelevant. The book is not the point: it is all about the circus.

by BloodType0 @ dA

You have a particular book, I imagine; one where you like to escape to when you close your eyes after a tiring day, after it's all become too much. A world enclosed in pages that envelops you in a papery embrace and comforts you that there is still wonder in the world, beyond bills and bosses and screaming children. This is not one of those books. The Night Circus does one better. Le Cirque des Reves provides us with snippets of fantastical, mythological, magical worlds without rules and without reason (which our adult minds do so like to cling on to), tented worlds of ice, of memories, of fountains and stars and wishes. Little bubbles of wonder that allow our minds to see the circus like children again. It is what we need.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

--- Prospero, The Tempest, Act IV, Scene I (467)

*Numbers in brackets refer to page numbers in the Vintage 2012 edition of the book.

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Natural History of Unicorns

This year I have begun by ending, by finishing books I have been reading on and off over the last year. 4/5, just one more to complete! My most recent conquest definitely deserves a mention here: The Natural History of Unicorns, by Chris Lavers.

Any of you with a mythological bent will probably have seen this book pop up on your radar, and if you haven't yet checked it out I urge you to do so. Lavers takes you on a fascinating journey through thousands of years of history, mythology, misrepresentations and poor translations to demonstrate how the unicorn does and does not exist. 

He is objective with the information and at times writes with the flare of a novelist, by drawing the reader in with detailed accounts of expeditions or by adding twists and turns and bursts of new information that change the perspective of the last ten pages. As a reader this can at times make it tiring to read; the sudden changes of pace and density of information require a fair amount of effort to keep up with, and although this is the main reason it has taken me so long to finish the book, I promise you it is worth the effort. 

Lavers concludes the book by stating that it is unlikely we will ever find the original source of the unicorn myth, and I think that if we're searching for a written text, then he's probably right. He's already shown that the unicorn can end up in the Bible because translators didn't recognise a word, but made the logical assumption that a unicorn was meant based on the stories they had heard - this, to me, is a clear demonstration of the power of oral traditions and the lasting affect they can have on history, whether we're discussing the Bible or fairy stories. 

(And, on the subject of fairy tales, Lavers introduces some incredible sources of fairy tales and folklore form ancient civilisations that I personally cannot wait to look into further!)

I think the unicorn is the perfect subject for a story that begins with the age old and beloved phrase: Once there was and there was not...

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Art of Reading

How quickly time passes and seasons change. Yule, Christmas and New Year have flown by and I've let them pass without note. I apologise - I've never let that happen before. I've been in an introverted phase recently, feeling more comfortable in the acts of absorbing and accumulating rather than trying to express myself or attempting to create. This means I have been reading more than I allow myself to normally, which in turn makes me feel like I am coming home to myself, doing something familiar, safe, indulging and escapist.

Curious as to how others expressed the emotions and comforts of reading I had a look around deviantART, and came across this beautiful painting that I just couldn't take my eyes off:

 (click on the link above and view the enlarged version, you won't regret it!)

There is a feeling about this piece that I want to label 'eternity'. The reader doesn't seem old or young: she's as ageless as a story. The book has her full attention, and looks like it has been thumbed through many times as the pages aren't holding crisply together. She is a warm, colourful subject, and although there is light coming in from the left, there is a glow, an aura around her head like a halo as if something else is shining on her. Is it the book causing the light? Perhaps the act of reading is generating a physical force in the world...Looking at this painting is looking at an everlasting act, one that is timeless. Eternal.

I know I'm waxing lyrical and I know it's nonsense. I don't claim to know the first thing about art, but there's just something about this that makes me want to share it with you all~

I wish you all a peaceful, beautiful and blessed 2014 x