Tag Archives | Literature

Young Goodman Brown

r reeve (CC BY-ND 2.0)

r reeve (CC BY-ND 2.0)

“Young Goodman Brown” By Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), 1835

YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.

“Dearest heart,” whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, “pr’y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she’s afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!”

“My love and my Faith,” replied young Goodman Brown, “of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee.… Read the rest

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“The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol

David Goehring (CC BY 2.0)

David Goehring (CC BY 2.0)

“The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol, translated by Claud Field.

I

On the 25th March, 18—, a very strange occurrence took place in St Petersburg. On the Ascension Avenue there lived a barber of the name of Ivan Jakovlevitch. He had lost his family name, and on his sign-board, on which was depicted the head of a gentleman with one cheek soaped, the only inscription to be read was, “Blood-letting done here.”

On this particular morning he awoke pretty early. Becoming aware of the smell of fresh-baked bread, he sat up a little in bed, and saw his wife, who had a special partiality for coffee, in the act of taking some fresh-baked bread out of the oven.

“To-day, Prasskovna Ossipovna,” he said, “I do not want any coffee; I should like a fresh loaf with onions.”

“The blockhead may eat bread only as far as I am concerned,” said his wife to herself; “then I shall have a chance of getting some coffee.” And she threw a loaf on the table.… Read the rest

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Kurt Vonnegut Graphed The World’s Most Popular Stories

Kurt-Vonnegut-US-Army-portrait

U.S. Army portrait of Pvt. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Clearly there was a lot of method in Kurt Vonnegut’s creative madness, as discovered by Wonkblog:

Kurt Vonnegut claimed that his prettiest contribution to culture wasn’t a popular novel like “Cat’s Cradle” or “Slaughterhouse-Five,” but a largely forgotten master’s thesis he wrote while studying anthropology at the University of Chicago. The thesis argued that a main character has ups and downs that can be graphed to reveal the taxonomy of a story, as well as something about the culture it comes from. “The fundamental idea is that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper, and that the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads,” Vonnegut said.

In addition to churning out novels, Vonnegut was deeply interested in the practice of writing. The tips he wrote for other writers – including “How to write with style” and “Eight rules for writing fiction” — are concise, funny, and still very useful.

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Nigeria’s Publishing Landscape: Telling Our Own Stories

Nigeria’s Publishing Landscape: Telling Our Own Stories

The only ever Nigerian Nobel Prize winner was Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian playwright and poet who was recognised for his contribution to literature in 1986. Clearly, Nigeria is not lacking in literary talent, yet books written by national authors and published by Nigerian publishing houses are shockingly scarce. The authors are far more likely to be picked up by Western publishing houses before they have a chance to become successful back home.

Such was the story with globally acclaimed authors such as Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Wole Soyinka himself. “The best writing is not about the writer, the best writing is absolutely not about the writer, it’s about us, it’s about the reader,” – Ben Okri, Nigerian poet and novelist. So why must the most relatable stories be road-tested on a western audience before being released for whom they were intended?… Read the rest

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Satire – The Definitive Guide to Satire: Etymology, History & Lore

Image taken from page 9 of 'The House that Jack built ... With twelve cuts. [A satire in verse on the sale of gin and beer.]'The British Library

Image taken from page 9 of ‘The House that Jack built … With twelve cuts. [A satire in verse on the sale of gin and beer.]’
The British Library via Flickr.

Via Sarcasm Society

Satire is an indirect form of critique, in that it mocks or attacks an individual or idea by proxy. Satirical speech and literature is generally used to observe and judge the “evils” or morally questionable ideals held by individuals, groups and sometimes entire cultures. The attack itself is derived from what is known as the satirist’s social motive–these critiques illustrate what the satirist, within the context of their own world view, believes is “right” based upon what they ridicule as “wrong”. Jean Weisgerber’s Satire and Irony a Means of Communication states, “Satire is manifestly directed to people. It involves the victim it attacks and the public it tries to persuade, it restores to language its full status as a means of communication, its end is rhetorical.” [1]

The purpose of satire is primarily to make the audience aware of the “truth”.

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“Darkness” — A Poem by Lord Byron

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Darkness

Lord Byron, 
July, 1816

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars

Did wander darkling in the eternal space,

Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth

Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;

Morn came and went — and came, and brought no day,

And men forgot their passions in the dread

Of this their desolation; and all hearts

Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:

And they did live by watchfires — and the thrones,

The palaces of crownded kings — the huts,

The habitations of all things which dwell,

Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,

And men were gather’d round their blazing homes

To look once more into each other’s face;

Happy were those who dwelt within the eye

Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:

A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;

Forests were set on fire — but hour by hour

They fell and faded — and the crackling trunks

Extinguish’d with a crash — and all was black.… Read the rest

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David Cronenberg on Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

David Cronenberg writes at The Paris Review:

I woke up one morning recently to discover that I was a seventy-year-old man. Is this different from what happens to Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis? He wakes up to find that he’s become a near-human-sized beetle (probably of the scarab family, if his household’s charwoman is to be believed), and not a particularly robust specimen at that. Our reactions, mine and Gregor’s, are very similar. We are confused and bemused, and think that it’s a momentary delusion that will soon dissipate, leaving our lives to continue as they were. What could the source of these twin transformations possibly be? Certainly, you can see a birthday coming from many miles away, and it should not be a shock or a surprise when it happens. And as any well-meaning friend will tell you, seventy is just a number.

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The Dream of a Ridiculous Man by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Vinoth Chandar (CC BY 2.0)

Vinoth Chandar (CC BY 2.0)

 

I am a ridiculous person. Now they call me a madman. That would be a promotion if it were not that I remain as ridiculous in their eyes as before. But now I do not resent it, they are all dear to me now, even when they laugh at me—and, indeed, it is just then that they are particularly dear to me. I could join in their laughter—not exactly at myself, but through affection for them, if I did not feel so sad as I look at them. Sad because they do not know the truth and I do know it. Oh, how hard it is to be the only one who knows the truth! But they won’t understand that. No, they won’t understand it.

In old days I used to be miserable at seeming ridiculous. Not seeming, but being. I have always been ridiculous, and I have known it, perhaps, from the hour I was born.… Read the rest

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“Nobody’s Story” by Charles Dickens

Hartwig HKD (CC by-nd 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC by-nd 2.0)

“Nobody’s Story”

by Charles Dickens

He lived on the bank of a mighty river, broad and deep, which was always silently rolling on to a vast undiscovered ocean. It had rolled on, ever since the world began. It had changed its course sometimes, and turned into new channels, leaving its old ways dry and barren; but it had ever been upon the flow, and ever was to flow until Time should be no more. Against its strong, unfathomable stream, nothing made head. No living creature, no flower, no leaf, no particle of animate or inanimate existence, ever strayed back from the undiscovered ocean. The tide of the river set resistlessly towards it; and the tide never stopped, any more than the earth stops in its circling round the sun.

He lived in a busy place, and he worked very hard to live. He had no hope of ever being rich enough to live a month without hard work, but he was quite content, GOD knows, to labour with a cheerful will.… Read the rest

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