Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Historian






The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova


To My dear and unfortunate successor:
It is with regret that I imagine you, whoever you are, reading the account I must put down here. The regret is partly for myself – because I will surely be at least in trouble, maybe dead, or perhaps worse, if this is in your hands. But my regret is also for you, my yet –unknown friend, because only by someone who needs such vile information will this letter someday be read. If you are not my successor in some other sense, you will soon be my heir –and I feel sorrow at bequeathing to another human being my own, perhaps unbelievable, experience of evil. Why I myself inherited it I don’t know, but I hope to discover that fact eventually –perhaps in the course of writing to you or perhaps in the course of further events…


Every words of it captivates me with the sudden urge to must-have-this-book moment, I foolishly used almost half my allowance to buy the damn book (it was rather cheap RM35.90 for a hardcover book, how can I resist). I furiously read the first half of the book but then I stopped –because…


The book is based on a famous European legend, I believe almost everybody heard of it… It was a legend where around the 1400, an evil King ruled the land Wallachia, he ruled it with an iron fist and was famous for his method of torturing his prisoners and his own people. It was rumored that he will live forever but died a sudden death in a battle, where his head is cut off from his body as proof for the Sultans that Vlad the Impaler is dead and from there the legend of Dracula begins. Through this book I learnt that Draculya or Dracula is a Romanian word for dragon (I am not sure whether that is true or not, I couldn’t find time to research about it).

Although the book is based on the legend, the storyline is fictional. Reading this book I felt as if I am travelling Europe, I know this might sound absurd especially for someone who ‘never even been on a plane’. The ‘journey’ started at Amsterdam at the 1960s from a teenager point of view. The writer created this character as an obedient, intellectual and quite attractive girl. She lived with her diplomat father as an only child, and was quite worldly for her age. She was raised motherless and often left with her nanny when her father was on a business trip. The father never revealed who her mother is, it was a subject he refused to answer and she being an obedient child never pestered him about it.

So it began out of curiosity, the girl in her father’s library stumble into some books she knew her father kept away from anyone. The book was empty none was written on it except on its cover the word draculya and a dragon on top of it. The dragon had a menacing look on its eyes with the book she found pieces of old letters. The letter began as with the paragraph that captivates me, it was sign by a Professor Rossi whom the girl never heard from her father. After reading the letter her curiosity grows and she began to asked questions about it to her father. Her father reluctantly told her the stories.

Her father (Paul) started his story in the 1940s when he is still a scholar at an American University (Her Father was American), the Professor Rossi is his mentor. The Draculya book found him in a library on a desk he usually study. He ignores it at first but was soon interested by it after seeing the dragon, the word drakulya urge him to do a research about it. The more information he discover the more fascinated he become. He refers to his mentor about the book but after referring to his mentor, Professor Rossi mysteriously disappear without a trace. His quest to find his mentor leads him more than a mystery, he soon find himself in life threatening situation though it leads him to share his quest with a beautiful foreign stranger whom a scholar and is the unknown child of Professor Rossi.

This novel is mainly based on a second person narrator; it is based on each letter read by the girl. Although she is one of the main characters I find that her role is less interesting than the other characters. Mainly all of the character is scholars from various places such as Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, London and France. The book successfully shows how exotic culture can be and naïve as I am; I felt that the writer has managed to explain each country very detailed.
So the reason I stopped reading is, I could already expect the end of the story so it is no surprise to me that foreign stranger is the girl’s mother and Dracula will finally rest in peace forever. The climax of the story failed to excite me. All the excitement of reading this novel ended when they found Professor Rossi is a captive prisoner by Dracula and begun the process of being the undead.

My personal conceited opinion would be this book managed to fool me thinking that learning History is veeeerrrrryyy cool although the ending sucks I still prefer Dracula because he is more human than the other character minus the undead thing though. Think about it anyone in the right mind wouldn’t pass a chance to live forever and plus you can still be owh so sexy even if you’re 200 years old. So I am shallow, I am selfish, I am ignorant but I’m just a girl trying to survive in a cruel hypocrite world so fuck you again.

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