This month, I have delved into the origin of children’s fantasy story, The Adventures of Pinocchio. The original story itself is very dark and includes hanging Pinocchio by his neck until he dies. The movies have removed some of the darker aspects. Thanks for hosting, Kaye Lynne Booth.
The Adventures of Pinocchio is a children’s fantasy novel by Italian author, Carlo Collodi.
The story was originally published as a serial called The Story of a Puppet in the Giornale per I bambini, one of the earliest Italian weekly magazines for children starting from 7 July 1881. Originally, the story stopped after 8 episodes (published over 4 months) at Chapter 15. Due to popular demand, the episodes were resumed on 16 February 1882 and the following year, the story was published as a single book.
In Tuscany, Italy, a carpenter named Master Antonio finds a block of wood which he immediately plans to carve into a table let. The log cries out when he cuts it. Master Antonio falls to the floor as a result of shock and just at that moment his extremely poor neighbour, Geppetto, knocks on the door. The piece of wood instigates an…
Mom, Michael and I flew to Cape Town on Thursday, 4 May. It is approximately a 2 hour flight and its the first time I’ve flow domestically since before Covid. I don’t dislike flying, I just prefer to make road trips and stop off in funny little downs and investigate them. The flight was fine and we arrived at 12pm as planned.
After settling into our hotel, we went to the V&A Waterfront which is the old Cape Town Harbour. It is still a working harbour but has been glamourized and has a large shopping mall, an aquarium, art galleries, the beautiful Victoria and Alfred Hotel, and lots of restaurants and watering holes.
These are a few of the pictures I took for Dan’s Thursday Doors:
We flew home on Sunday, after a lovely day at the South African Festival of Children’s Literature in Somerset West. On Wednesday, Michael had a check up with the ENT who wasn’t happy with the state of his sinuses (red and inflamed) and ordered a whole lot of blood tests. Michael had blood taken on Thursday, an awful experience because the nurse couldn’t find a vein. Michael ended up sweating and pale and about to faint. That evening his blood pressure went up and stayed up. On Wednesday this week he was admitted into hospital with hypertension. He’s had a bunch of tests but they haven’t revealed the root cause of any of his problems and the hypertension has been put down to an over-reaction by his body to salt and anxiety (medically induced – how ironic and appropriate). We now need to change his diet to reduce salt drastically – yay! At least his heart, kidneys and liver are fine so I should be happy, it would be nice to have a root cause though. More tests will be coming up.
The poor boy’s arm looks like a pin cushion and is covered in huge bruises from where more blood was taken the the drip for the CT scan was put up. The radiologist couldn’t find a working vein for the drip so he had to have an angiogram done to find a suitable vein. What a morning we had yesterday.
I wrote these poems in the hospital for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge which asked for a poem using a synonym of work and play.
Rebecca was recommended to me by my dear blogging friend, Rebecca Budd. Rebecca Budd is a wonderful appreciator of good literature and, together with her sister, Sarah, has a blog called The Book Dialogue where they discuss all sorts of interesting books. You can find The Book Dialogue here: https://thebookdialogue.com/
Introduction to Rebecca
Rebecca is the story of a lonely and unnamed orphan (the narrator) who is the paid companion to a wealthy American women, Mrs Van Hopper (Mrs VH), at the beginning of the story. Mrs VH is rather nosy and interfering, she continuously embarrasses her English companion with her crass and obvious attempts at social climbing.
The pair are staying in a luxurious hotel on the French Riviera and the companion meets the wealthy land owner, Mr de Winter, through Mrs VH’s pushy and overbearing behaviour. Mrs HV is fascinated by Mr de Winter (Maxim) because he is believed to be suffering from a broken heart following the death of his wife through accidental drowning. Mrs VH shares what she knows of the story with her companion.
Mrs VH becomes ill and is confined to bed under the care of a nurse. This leaves her companion free to seek her own entertainment and Mr de Winter invites her to have luncheon with him. His interest in the young companion, only 21 to his 42, increases and the pair start going about together in his car. Mr de Winter invites the young narrator to call him Maxim. He also gifts her a book of poetry which is inscribed with a message from his deceased wife, Rebecca. The narrator, who has fallen in love with Maxim, is instantly jealous of Rebecca and feels intimidated by her memory. The narrator rips the signed page out of the poetry book and burns it.
Mrs VH finally recovers and wants to leave Monte Carlo and return to New York in America. She will meet up with her daughter and grandchild there. The narrator is devastated and seeks out Maxim to tell him she is leaving. Unexpectedly, he asks her to marry him, which despite some reservations, the narrator agrees to do.
After a whirlwind wedding and honeymoon, the new Mrs de Winter finds herself mistress of Manderley, the ancestral home of Mr de Winter. The narrator soon realises that the spirit of the late Rebecca pervades throughout the house and is deliberately kept alive by the creepy housekeeper, Mrs Danvers. The second Mrs de Winter believes she is competing for attention from everyone, including her new husband, with the ghost of Rebecca. These intrusive thoughts heavily impact on her relationship with her husband and her ability to play her role as the mistress of the manor.
One of the interesting quotes that highlight the narrator’s feelings in this regard is as follows:
“I could fight with the living but I could not fight the dead. If there was some woman in London that Maxim loved, someone he wrote to, visited, dined with, slept with, I could fight her. We would stand on common ground. I should not be afraid. Anger and jealousy were things that could be conquered. One day the woman would grow old or tired or different, and Maxim would not love her anymore. But Rebecca would never grow old. Rebecca would always be the same. And she and I could not fight. She was too strong for me.”
The narrator feels that she is being haunted by the ghost of Rebecca:
“Rebecca, always Rebecca. Wherever I walked in Manderley, wherever I sat, even in my thoughts and in my dreams, I met Rebecca. I knew her figure now, the long slim legs, the small and narrow feet. Her shoulders, broader than mine, the capable clever hands. Hands that could steer a boat, could hold a horse. Hands that arranged flowers, made the models of ships, and wrote “Max from Rebecca” on the flyleaf of a book. I knew her face too, small and oval, the clear white skin, the cloud of dark hair. I knew the scent she wore, I could guess her laughter and her smile. If I heard it, even among a thousand others, I should recognize her voice. Rebecca, always Rebecca. I should never be rid of Rebecca. Perhaps”
The relationship between Mrs Danvers and the late Rebecca is rather mysterious as Mrs Danvers cared for Rebecca as a child and has an unhealthy obsession’s with her. Rebecca is not portrayed in a good light, even by Mrs Danvers, as she is described as being repeatedly unfaithful to her husband, in particular with her first cousin, Jack Favell. Mrs Danvers makes it clear she despises the new Mrs de Winter for attempting to take Rebecca’s place, but she does not condemn Rebecca for her infidelity or for her incestuous relationship with her first cousin.
Rebecca flouts the morality and patriarchal attitudes of the time with her sexual wantonness and as a result, she was despised by her husband and the manager of the estate, Frank Crawley. The narrator gets on well with Frank and confides in him to a certain extent. When she compares herself unfavourably to Rebecca, Frank says:
“You have qualities that are just as important, far more so, in fact. It’s perhaps cheeky of me to say so, I don’t know you very well. I’m a bachelor, I don’t know very much about women, I lead a quiet sort of life down here at Manderley, as you know, but I should say that kindliness, and sincerity, and if I may say so—modesty—are worth far more to a man, to a husband, than all the wit and beauty in the world.”
The setting of Rebecca, the beautiful but cold and creepy Manderley, gives the story a gothic and dark flavour. This is exacerbated by Mrs Danvers who is described as a tall and gaunt woman who dresses in deep black clothes. Her physical appearance is almost that of a corpse as she has a skull-like face, high cheekbones, hollow eyes, and a pale complexion. It almost seems as if she lost her own life when Rebecca lost hers. Mrs Danvers turns out to be the villain of the story and her peculiar and devoted behaviour made me wonder whether she wasn’t in love with Rebecca.
Jack Favell comes across as a drunken and selfish man who didn’t care for Rebecca at all, but just used her for his personal amusement and as a meal ticket. Rebecca’s relationship with such a small minded man, who is prepared to blackmail Mr de Winter, rather showed her up as being a foolish and self centred woman.
Themes of Rebecca
Love and Marriage –
The narrator and Mr de Winter have a short and intense courtship which culminates in marriage after a few weeks. The new Mrs de Winter is very young and insecure and doubts Maxim’s love for her after they return to Manderley and she discovers what a strong character the late Rebecca was. She doesn’t understand that Maxim hated his deceased wife and does love her for her very sweet childishness and innocence. She loves him passionately.
“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden too, whatever the poets may say. They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word.”
When Maxim confides in the narrator that her murdered his first wife, he believes she cannot love him.
“He had never loved her, never, never. They had never known one moment’s happiness together. Maxim was talking and I listened to him, but his words meant nothing to me. I did not really care. “I thought about Manderley too much,” he said. “I put Manderley first, before anything else. And it does not prosper, that sort of love. They don’t preach about it in the churches. Christ said nothing about stones, and bricks, and walls, the love that a man can bear for his plot of earth, his soil, his little kingdom. It does not come into the Christian creed.”
Rebecca and Maxim were married but their relationship was a deceitful and unhappy one which ended in Rebecca’s early death. Rebecca lied to Maxim at the end of her life, goading him into killing her. Maxim feels extreme guilt about murdering his first wife and finds it difficult to overcome these emotions, especially when the newly weds return to Manderley after their honeymoon.
There are other types of love in Rebecca. Mrs Danvers unshakable and desperate love for Rebecca and Rebecca and Jack Favell’s underhanded infidelity.
Death and Memory –
Death is a pervasive theme in Rebecca. Manderley lies in the shadow of the dead Rebecca and the entire mansion is infiltrated with her spirit and personality. Mrs Danvers is a slave to the ghost of Rebecca and maintains her rooms as shrines to the dead woman.
Maxim is haunted by the murder he committed even though, as we learn much later, Rebecca is dying of a terminal disease.
The narrator is obsessed with the ghost of Rebecca and sees herself as a poor replacement. This obsession quickly dies when the narrator learns that Maxim never loved Rebecca, and had, in fact, murdered her. Admittedly, it is a little hard to understand how such a young and innocent woman could so easily accept and forgive murder by her husband, especially murder of his first wife.
“She was dead. She had been dead now for a year. She lay buried in the crypt of the church with all the other dead de Winters.”
There is a strange justice in the story because although Maxim is exonerated from Rebecca’s death which is chalked up to suicide due to her terminal illness, Manderley, the home he loves is burned down by Mrs Danvers.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,
And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.”
It was a mixed up portrayal of justice though. Did Rebecca deserve to die given how cruel and evil she was? She wanted to die so wasn’t her death a form of suicide as she goaded Maxim into shooting her in a fit of rage? Did Maxim deserve to lose the home he loved? I am still not sure, but the ending was appropriate.
There are a lot of lies and misrepresentations presented in Rebecca. There is also a lot of manipulative behaviour.
Maxim lies about the circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death on numerous occasions.
Rebecca presents one persona to the world and another to Maxim and Mrs Danvers. Rebecca lies to Maxim about being pregnant by another man in order to goad him into killing her. Rebecca sees the doctor in London under an assumed identity.
Mrs Danvers tries to convince the narrator that Maxim loved Rebecca and that she is unwanted. She encourages the narrator to commit suicide. Mrs Danvers also influences the narrator into dressing up as the same character as Rebecca had at the fancy dress ball. She deliberately tries to cause discord between Maxim and his new wife.
“I won’t push you. I won’t stand by you. You can jump of your own accord. What’s the use of your staying here at Manderley? You’re not happy. Mr. de Winter doesn’t love you. There’s not much for you to live for, is there? Why don’t you jump now and have done with it? Then you won’t be unhappy any more.”
Rebecca is very sexual and has affairs with several men including her first cousin. She is sexually unrestrained and some of the Manderley staff know about her behaviour, including Frank.
Maxim is quite sexually restrained and the sex life between the narrator and him seems to die when they return to the haunted Manderley. It is reignited once Maxim confesses to Rebecca’s murder and the narrator is freed from her feelings of inferiority.
Mrs Danvers appears to love Rebecca and their relation could have been lesbian. It is not entirely clear but something Mrs Danvers says about Rebecca not caring about any men could be indicative.
I really enjoyed Rebecca. I loved the dark descriptions which seemed gloomy and creepy even when the subject was something beautiful and bright like flowers. I loved how the author portrayed Mrs Danvers and also the young innocence of the narrator.
Rebecca is a terrific novel with lots of action: murder, two boats sinking, blackmail, terminal illness and a fire. It is exciting and fast paced and is also a compelling psychological thriller.
My son, Michael, had to do a project on gender based violence (“GBV”) in South Africa for a project at school. I am sharing it here as I thought it was very insightful and well researched.
What is GBV?
GBV encompasses any type of violence that is caused by the exploitation of unequal power in relationships between genders.
GBV in South Africa includes instances of sexual, physical, mental and economic harm inflicted by one party, usually a man, on other parties, usually women and/or children in private or in public.
The perpetrator may or may not know the victim depending on the circumstances. Some examples of GBV in partner/marriage relationships include threats of violence, manipulation and coercion of the victim.
According to an article in the Sowetan Live entitled ‘Eastern Cape accounts for most GBV cases with twice national rate’, the Eastern Cape has emerged as the leading province for cases of GBV.
Abrahams said while cases of femicide had decreased since 2017, the caseload for the police was still very high.
Professor Naheema Abrahams from the South African Medical Research Council said the following about GBV in the Eastern Cape at the Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in Midrand in October 2022: “The Eastern Cape unfortunately is our province that has more than twice the national rate [of femicide]. About 22,000 women were killed in 2017 compared to 14,000 in KwaZulu-Natal. Limpopo doesn’t have as many cases, but the number is still higher than the global average,” she said.
Abrahams said there had also been anecdotal evidence, which showed the murder of women post 2017 had increased, similarly to that of children compared to 2021.
This finding is further supported by an article in the Daily Maverick dated 03 December 2019 entitled ‘Murder, rape and robbery: Eastern Cape women and children under siege’. The article introduces it’s topic as follows:
“Shocking statistics released by the MEC for Safety and Liaison in the Eastern Cape has shown an alarmingly high incidence of crimes against women and children in the province, coupled with a dismal conviction rate — but activists say that government should stop doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.”
The articles continues to say: “From April 2018 to March 2019 2,695 children were raped in the Eastern Cape and 375 were sexually assaulted, 4,082 women were raped and 432 sexually assaulted. The total number of crimes against women and children, including murder, attempted murder, assault and robbery was more than 29,000 — almost 1,000 more than the previous year.
Of cases opened with the police, MEC for Safety and Liaison in the Eastern Cape, Weziwe Tikana, said there were 399 convictions in cases where children were raped and only 40 convictions for the 153 children murdered during the same period.”
Reasons for GBV in South Africa and effect on society
The three main reasons for GBV in South Africa are as follows:
Gender inequality rooted in patriarchy.
Many cultures and religions in South Africa promote male superiority and treat it as the norm.
Patriarchal attitudes lead men to believe they are entitled to sex with women and that dominating a woman demonstrates their masculinity.
Women and girls living in poverty are more likely to be sexually exploited including trafficking and prostitution.
An inability for women to leave abusive relationships due to a lack of financial and other resources.
Lack of implementation of protective laws
The Daily Maverick article quotes various people about the situation of GBV in the Eastern Cape.
“Pastor Neville Goldman has been working with the police to fight crime in Nelson Mandela Bay’s gang-ridden areas.
“I will tell women that I can get them a job today, but they don’t want to take it because they want to be at school when the children come home — they fear their kids will be raped on their way home.”
Similarly, a counsellor, who asked not to be named, said:
“We hear the girls talk on a Monday morning. They will tell each other that they were raped, but they never report it. It is like they have given up hope that something will be done,” she said.”
The effects of GBV on society are as follows:
GBV is a human rights violation which undermines the victim’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. It effects both physical and mental health and can lead to self harm, isolation, depression, and suicidal attempts.
GBV destroys the victim’s physical and psychological integrity. Victim’s don’t feel safe and secure in their environments and are unable to function normally in their families, communities and societies as a result.
GBV is discriminatory and results in affected women and children being marginalized and feeling helpless and inferior. GBV undermines the natural and normal roles of for both men and women in society.
GBV is an obstacle to gender equality and serves to cultivate a heteronormative society. Gender equality allows both genders to play meaningful roles in society and to enjoy equal opportunities and equal visibility.
GBV is under-reported and there is often impunity for perpetrators. Societal suppression of exposing GBV from others makes it difficult to denounce and for the victims to seek help. The children of abused women are impacted psychologically and often form the impression that this behaviour is normal or justified. This becomes an enabler for a culture of violence and GBV.
GBV has a high economic cost. It costs society because medical, psychological, police, and justice services are required to deal with the fall out. In addition, victims of abuse usually underperform at school and work and are frequently unemployed.
Restorative intervention programme and collaborative action
The following steps and programmes will help to reduce GBV in the Eastern Cape and South Africa more generally:
Government must implement laws to address GBV. In January 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa implemented laws aimed at reducing GBV through a victim centred focus. The laws are there, but they need to be better enforced.
South African could follow the approach of the UK where there are law enforcement officers that deal only with domestic violence and who checkup regularly on the victims and perpetrators. This makes the perpetrators think twice before abusing their victims.
Protection orders need to be enforced better so that abusers can stalk their victims and continue to abuse them. Community members could assist with this be reporting stalking to the police and helping to protect victims.
Funding must be provided to support victims with shelter, medical, legal, and psychological resources.
There need to be more homes for victims of abuse where they can remain long term so they don’t have to return to the abuser due to having no-where to live. The Daily Maverick article stated the following: ““I think we only have four shelters in Port Elizabeth. But also, women can’t stay there for an extended period of time because shelters do not have money. If they have nowhere else to go, they are often forced to go back to their abusers.
“We are basically pushing women back to situations they have been in before — and got hurt,” Ziehl said.”
Victims need to be empowered through upliftment and education, so they are able to gain meaningful employment and support themselves and their children. Churches and other societies already try to provide some of these services, but they need more funding. Corporates and businesses can assist by providing pro bono training on how to use computers, how to type, and other useful skills.
Victims need to be provided with counselling and rehabilitation. Funding needs to be provided for this. Churches, schools and other social organisations need to educate people about the roles of men and women in society. Sexist attitudes need to be strongly discouraged and there needs to be continuous strong messaging that girls are as good as boys and deserve the same opportunities and treatment as men and boys. Children, in particular, need to be taught about respect and equality. Children need to understand that violence is never an acceptable solution to problems and issues.
There need to be crisis centres that provide immediate help to victims of rape and GBV. Police, judges, and counsellors must be trained to properly manage and deal with cases of sexual assault and GBV. Medical treatment must be provided to victims and a place in a shelter provided if necessary.
In January 2022, we went on a road trip from Johannesburg in Gauteng Province to Knysna in the Western Cape. These pictures are from our drive through the Eastern Cape to a village called Nieu-Bethesda.
Interestingly, it was very wet that particular summer and the Eastern Cape was exceptionally green. The copious rain following a drought caused a plague of locust which we drove through.
Thank you to author, Dan Antion, for including a review of Poetry Treasures 3: Passions in his 2ReviewTues post. I am delighted that this anthology is featured together with Grief Songs by poet and author, Elizabeth Gauffreau. Dan has recently published three books in the Dreamer’s Alliance series. I’ve read the first book and it is excellent so do take a look around while you are there.
April is poetry month, and between following poets who have been participating in NaPoWriMo, as well as the poets who show up in my normal blog feed, I’ve read a lot of poetry this month. In addition, I was thrilled to read two books of poetry this month. It’s great timing because I wanted to review two books of poetry for this monthly feature. I say monthly, now that I’ve managed to complete three months in a row. OK, enough about me, let’s get to the books.
Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance – Elizabeth Gauffreau
When I first saw the title of this wonderful book, I was hesitant. Grief is an individual thing. I wasn’t sure it was something I could read about without feeling like I was intruding. I also wasn’t sure if Liz’s grief was compatible with mine. Selfish? Indeed, grief is personal—isn’t it?
Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite childhood books. I love it so much, I have seven different copies, one of which is vintage.
The book, Alice in Wonderland, starts with a young girl, Alice, sitting on a bank and watching her sister read a boring book with no pictures or conversations. Seeing a white rabbit passing by, she follows it down a rabbit hole. The rabbit walks and talks and has a pocket watch. Alice falls down and down the rabbit hole, all the while having an interesting conversation with herself, and ends up in a large entrance hall. There is a small door beyond which is a beautiful world, but Alice is to big to pass through it. She experiments with eating and drinking various items until she is finally small enough to gain entry to Wonderland.
Wonderland is a strange and mysterious world filled with unusual…