I haven’t been productive this month, I was mainly fighting the heat, sleeping badly because the temperature would hardly go down during the night. That’s okay, because I know I will be filled with new energy in September!
I haven’t done much apart from reading, studying Anki and making one type of exercise per day. I like my new schedule, it allows me to regularly write, listen, read the news, study grammar… without feeling overwhelmed.
This being said, I miss studying Japanese like I was doing last year to prepare for the JLPT. I long for a new textbook that I could follow blindly, but I am not ready to start preparing for N1 yet, and I don’t know any advanced textbook that is not JLPT oriented.
Stationery and Fountain pens
My passion for stationery has led me to the dangerous territory of the fountain pens. I say dangerous because it seems endless and each step can cost you much more than notebooks, colour pencils and stickers together. I didn’t know that the world of fountain pens is such a complex alchemy to get the right feeling. The same pen with different inks and on different paper will give different results. As a consequence, it makes you want to try all the pens available on the market, with all ink colours and brands on each type of paper, including some Japanese supplies hard to get outside of Japan, haha.
But this passion for stationery does go together with a renewed fascination for Japan. If you look at the major brands of stationery, a good part of it is Japanese, a fact that I was not aware of before. I think that I didn’t even know Pilot was a Japanese brand. When it comes to notebooks, I find with surprise that, here again, a good part of the best products is Japanese and I try to buy Japanese supplies if I can. Not that I think they are better than other brands, but it feeds my passion for Japanese and gives fuel to my motivation. I found a new and unexpected interest in what Japan has to offer!
And if anyone is interested, I got a Faber-Castell Loom EF, which is a fantastic pen and I love it! The EF nib is really thin and perfect to write kanji!
My journey into English Literature goes on
The revelation of this month is to me, Jane Austen. I must admit that I am a little ashamed to “discover” Jane Austen now while the whole world is acquainted with her work for two centuries… To my defence, I should say that I have spent my years of literary ambition reading French literature only, and this is the reason why I am now making this journey into English literature.
When I start a novel labelled “French classics”, I brace myself for interminable description (Balzac), endless introspection (Flaubert), historical, or rather political, references a contemporary reader can hardly understand (Hugo), and explicative footnotes longer than the text itself (Proust). Haha, so much that I have loved French 19th-century literature, I would not feel like reading it now.
My surprise was great to find none of these in Pride and Prejudice. I was amazed at its being so entertaining! To be honest, I started it with a sense of duty (I must have read Jane Austen if I have any pretention to say “I am reading English literature”) but I was not expecting much enjoyment out of it. Then I was delighted in Jane Austen’s writing, her English, the dialogues and even the sense of humour that is so present in this novel. I have not expected a novel by Jane Austen to actually be so full of humour; I had a smile hung on my face every time M. Collins said something. I had reached a point when I thought I was reading Pride and Prejudice for the sake of its style and language but believed the romantic plot could not really interest me. It was not long before I found myself holding my breath with expectations and doubts as the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy evolved! Haha.
Then my question was: what do you do when you have finished Pride and Prejudice? What do you read? Do you re-read immediately? What do you do with your life when you have turned the last page? This story fascinated me so much, I felt so entirely committed to it that I felt a little depressed when I finished it.
I then decided to go farther in the classics and read Robinson Crusoe. I know the story of course, through countless adaptations for children but I never read Daniel Defoe’s work. The closest I got to Robinson’s story is certainly through French author Michel Tournier’s Friday, or, the other island, but even that was a long time ago.
I thought Robinson Crusoe would be a story of surviving in a hostile and solitary environment, fighting against depression and madness, hardly finding ways to feed and so on. But I was surprised to read something completely different. Robinson is not as much adapting himself to the island as adapting the island to his needs. He imposes on his new environment the living standards of a European and reproduces the lifestyle he knew. He is not as much striving to survive as working to colonise the island and bring it as close as possible to his European ideals. It reads like a manual which title could be: “how to colonise a new land with limited tools”. I mean, he is producing bread, butter and cheese! Even I in Korea can’t eat good cheese every day!
I have reached the half of the book, and I will certainly take it back later, but for now, I would like to take a break and read something else. I think I will go back to contemporary literature with Ian McEwan’s Atonement.
I spent the first half of the month watching the World Cup and the second half on YouTube, watching videos on fountain pens and stationery supplies.
Summer is definitely too hot in Korea, I think I will continue doing nothing the next month and hope for a new start in September (even if I don’t live in France, I still feel the start of the school year and cultural season in September, somehow, it has become part of my body clock.)