Louisa May Alcott’s Blood And Thunder Tales

Written by Xuelin Yeong

Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, is famous for her ‘sentimental’ stories, or what she calls ‘moral pap’ for the younger readers. Most of her stories are preachy; that is, they talk about various virtues, the goodness of simplicity, modesty, frugality—well, you get the idea. “Rose in Bloom” features a rich and beautiful heiress, who is kind and generous despite her wealth; “Kitty’s Class Day” is about a young girl who insists in imitating other girls and dressing up in ridiculous fashions that was unsuitable for her. She comes to grief when a young gentleman accidentally stepped on her long dress, ruining it and humiliating her in front of public.

Initially I enjoyed reading such stories very much, for it gave me a glimpse into Victorian life, including the way they dressed and the moral ideals they upheld; but at one point all the ‘moral talk’ became too much to bear, and I started to wonder if Alcott only wrote such stories, and nothing else.

Louisa May Alcott

Then, scrolling through my book list in my e-book reader, I came across an interesting title –Behind the Mask/A Woman’s Power. I thought that it is a book about feminism—but no, it wasn’t. It turned out that I have stumbled upon one of Alcott’s ‘blood and thunder tales’, which, in other words, are sensational stories (by the standards of those days, of course). These stories feature deceit, twisted love and obsession, manipulation, and even murder.

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Rustam A. Sani dan Alur Zamannya

Ketemu di alur zaman Book Cover Ketemu di alur zaman
Rustam A. Sani
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Political and social views of Malaysian prominent figures.

Sesudah meninggalnya Rustam Abdullah Sani, atau dikenal sebagai pak Rustam, ada beberapa buku terbit mengumpulkan esei-esei eceran yang tersiar di akhbar. Salah satunya ialah Ketemu di Alur Zaman terbitan Media Icon. Mungkin kini tidak ramai mengenali sosok ini yang juga waris kepada Ahmad Boestamam.

Seperti yang dicatat pada pendahuluan penerbit, buku ini menfokuskan tulisan beliau mengenai sebelas orang tokoh yang beliau kenali — tidak semesti diketahui umum.

Walau bagaimanapun boleh dikatakan setiap tokoh punyai sumbangan tersendiri kepada masyarakat, dan secara tidak langsung mencerminkan lingkungan hidup dan pergaulan pak Rustam.

Tokoh-tokoh yang beliau ulas pula boleh kita amati daripada dua golongan, sama ada teman-teman intelektual atau pemain politik semasa. Cuma sedikit ralat apabila penerbit tidak menyertakan sumber asal dan tarikh tulisan-tulisan beliau ini, yang dapat memberi konteks kepada pembaca. Namun dapat ditebak bahawa tulisan ini berlegar sekitar awal 2000-an, sewaktu peralihan kepimpinan negara daripada Tun Dr. Mahathir kepada Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Lingkungan Intelektual dan Perjuangan

Daripada tulisan mengenai sebelas tokoh ini, hampir separuh daripadanya mewakili lingkungan perjuangan yang beliau geluti. H. M Dahlan mewakili zaman akademiknya di UKM; Usman Awang dan Kassim Ahmad — intelektual yang beliau hormati; Abdul Razak Ahmad dan Syed Husin Ali ialah teman seperjuangan dalam parti.

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When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit Book Cover When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Judith Kerr

Written by Xuelin Yeong

Following my previous book review ‘Last Night I Dreamed of Peace’, here’s a pre-war story, one more suitable for children—‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.’

The author of the book, Judith Kerr, wrote it based on her own childhood experiences. It’s considered a semi-autobiographical novel, although some parts are purely fictional.

Anna, a Jewish girl of nine, led a happy life with her parents and her elder brother Max. Her father was a famous writer who often wrote articles criticising the Nazis, while her mother is a well-to-do housewife, who never had to worry about housework as they could afford to hire people to help them. That gives an idea of how affluent their family were before the Nazis came into power.

Although Anna’s father was sometimes an impractical man, he had great foresight and knew that should the Nazis be elected, he and his family would be in great danger. Thus, he escaped to Switzerland, and arranged for his family to do so too, right before the elections. It was a wise move, as after they left their property were confiscated. In fact, the title of the book refers to Anna’s favourite toy that was taken away along with everything else.

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