Archives for posts with tag: Classics

Hi all:
As those of you who’ve been following me for a while will remember, recently I revisited my first post. I’ve also been thinking of some of the posts that I (and you, my readers) have enjoyed since I started blogging, and I’ve realised I really enjoyed the posts I created about authors that have become classics. I’m thinking of trying to feature one of those posts at regular intervals (if I can fit them in, once a month) and thought we could revisit some of the good oldies back first to kick it off.
This is the first classic I brought you almost two years ago, Herman Melville. (The original post follows)
I usually have a guest post on Fridays. Today isn’t going to be an exception. Only instead of bringing you one of the new writers I’ve met, I thought I’d bring you a dead author. He’s surely dead, but I didn’t think that should prevent me from having him as a guest. After all zombies and vampires are all the rage these days and they’re dead too so…
I’ve been corresponding with a friend and fellow author, Mary Meddlemore and talking about reading and classics. And as I love Melville, I thought, why not? There’s also the advantage that many of his works can be downloaded for free, so it’s a win-win situation.
I have a BA in American Literature and I must say that although I knew of Melville I became more familiar with him when I was studying for my degree. I read Moby Dick several times. I must admit it’s a bit of a peculiar read (and fairly long), but I fell truly in love with it. It is ambitious, wandering, deep, funny, moving, dramatic, elegiac, philosophical, adventurous, scholarly, and bigger than life. Good candidate to the ever sought after title of The Great American Novel. Its opening lines: ‘Call me Ishmael.’ are well known and as good first lines as I’ve ever read. Simple but…
I post you links to detailed biographies of Melville.

Link to Virginia Education biography on Herman Melville. Great page.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/bb/hm_bio.html

Another fabulous page on Herman Melville and his later recognition

http://www.poemhunter.com/poems/nature/

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A brief summary: He was born in New York in August 1, 1819 and died in September 28, 1891, forgotten by most, to the point where his obituary listed him as ‘Henry’ Melville. He travelled the South Seas, he became known for his adventure/exotic novels (Typee, Omoo) but later deviated onto more serious writing and never quite recovered the popularity of his youth. Moby Dick (or The Whale as it was initially published) is his best known work and masterpiece, although he carried on writing, with less and less success, to the point that he stopped publishing, worked as a customs inspector in New York, and some of his works, like Billy Budd were published posthumously.
Why do I like him so much? I feel he was ahead of his time. He reminds me of the modernists (if somebody can remind you of people who came after him) and works like ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ (that I can’t recommend enough) and ‘The Confidence Man’ are truly unique and out of keeping with the writing of his era. He didn’t shy away of asking the big questions, even when that meant loss of popularity. He pursued his poetry and his fiction beyond market and readers. Like his greatest character, Captain Ahab, he never gave up despite the hopelessness of his pursuit.
I thought I’d share one of the many passages I love in Moby Dick. This is from chapter 132 ‘The Symphony’ where Ahab is talking to his first mate, Starbuck (if you wondered about the name of the coffee chain…) about his life to that point. It’s a rare moment of self-disclosure that shows that indeed Ahab has his ‘humanities’.
“Oh, Starbuck! it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky. On such a day- very much such a sweetness as this- I struck my first whale- a boy-harpooneer of eighteen! Forty- forty- forty years ago!- ago! Forty years of continual whaling! forty years of privation, and peril, and storm-time! forty years on the pitiless sea! for forty years has Ahab forsaken the peaceful land, for forty years to make war on the horrors of the deep! Aye and yes, Starbuck, out of those forty years I have not spent three ashore. When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, walled-town of a Captain’s exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the green country without- oh, weariness! heaviness! Guinea-coast slavery of solitary command!- when I think of all this; only half-suspected, not so keenly known to me before- and how for forty years I have fed upon dry salted fare- fit emblem of the dry nourishment of my soul!- when the poorest landsman has had fresh fruit to his daily hand, and broken the world’s fresh bread to my mouldy crusts- away, whole oceans away, from that young girl-wife I wedded past fifty, and sailed for Cape Horn the next day, leaving but one dent in my marriage pillow- wife? wife?- rather a widow with her husband alive? Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling blood and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Ahab has furiously, foamingly chased his prey- more a demon than a man!- aye, aye! what a forty years’ fool- fool- old fool, has old Ahab been! Why this strife of the chase? why weary, and palsy the arm at the oar, and the iron, and the lance? how the richer or better is Ahab now? Behold. Oh, Starbuck! is it not hard, that with this weary load I bear, one poor leg should have been snatched from under me? Here, brush this old hair aside; it blinds me, that I seem to weep. Locks so grey did never grow but from out some ashes! But do I look very old, so very, very old, Starbuck? I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though I were Adam, staggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise. God! God! God!- crack my heart!- stave my brain!- mockery! mockery! bitter, biting mockery of grey hairs, have I lived enough joy to wear ye; and seem and feel thus intolerably old? Close! stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God. By the green land; by the bright hearthstone! this is the magic glass, man; I see my wife and my child in thine eye. No, no; stay on board, on board!- lower not when I do; when branded Ahab gives chase to Moby Dick. That hazard shall not be thine. No, no! not with the far away home I see in that eye!”

I hope you’ve enjoyed it and if you want to read more, here is the link to one of the free digital versions of the novel. There are more:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moby-Dick-White-Whale-ebook/dp/B004TRXX7C/

Check ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ on line. You won’t regret it:

http://www.bartleby.com/129/

And a link to Melville organisation, for all things Melville:

http://melville.org/

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to CLICK! (They’re all free!) And SHARE

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Of course, as I said then, thanks for reading, like, share, comment, and I’m interested in hearing suggestions as to classics (either authors or books) you’d be interested in seeing here. I try and go for the ones where there is a fair amount of material and links to free work but that’s not an exclusion criteria and I’m planning on some that might not quite fit there…Keep reading and clicking!

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Hi all:

Normally on Fridays I bring you new authors and books, but today, as we’re in the Christmas week, I though I’ve bring you some classics.

First, Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol:

Author Charles Dickens

Author Charles Dickens

There are many links to versions of ‘A Christmas Carol’, and many movie versions. I leave you a couple of the free ones:

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Carol-Charles-Dickens-ebook/dp/B0084BMUFA/

In Project Gutenberg (including audio downloads):

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/search/?query=A+christmas+carol

I dedicated a post to Charles Dickens a while back, so if you want more information and links, here it is:

https://wordpress.com/post/41615720/2249/

Author Oscar Wilde

Author Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde is one of my all times favourites, as I think I’ve told you more than once. I love his plays, I think Dorian Gray is a marvellous novel and a complex psychological study of the main character and the society of the time (and I don’t think matters have changed dramatically for the better, since), I enjoy his poetry, I find his essays witty and sharp, but I’ve always, since I was a child, adored his fairy tales, that were my introduction to his work. So I could not help but bring you The Selfish Giant. You’ll find many versions shared on line. I chose this one because I  particularly liked the illustrations. It seems it was first shared in a Reader’s Digest in the 1970s.

And without further ado:

The Selfish Giant, cover

The Selfish Giant, cover

The Selfish Giant:

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to play in the Giant’s garden. It was a large, lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there stood beautifut flowers llke stars, and there were 12 peach trees which in the spring-time burst into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them.

“How happy we are here!” they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back to his castle. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed for seven years. When he arrived home, he saw the children playing in the garden.

“What are you doing here?” he cried in a gruff voice. “My own garden is my own garden. Anyone can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself .”

So he built a high wall all round it and put up a sign: TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. He was a very selfish Giant.

The poor children had nowhere to play now. They tried to play on the road, but it was dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. “How happy we were there!” they said to each other.

Then spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. In the garden of the Selfish Giant, though, it was still winter. The birds did not care to sing in it, as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower raised its head from the grass, but when it saw the sign it felt so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again and went off to sleep.

The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. “Spring has forgotten this garden,” they cried, “so we will live here all year round!” The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then the invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He roared about the garden all day, and blew the chimney pots down. “This is a delightful spot,” he said. “We must ask the Hail on a visit.” So the Hail carne. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle until he broke most of the slates. Then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could, his breath like ice .

“I cannot understand why spring is so late in comming,” said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold, white garden. “I hope there will be a change in the weather.”

But spring never came, nor summer. Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant’s garden she gave nothing. “He is too selfish,” she said. So it was always winter there.

One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. lt sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought ¡t must be the King’s musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but so much time had passed since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that the sound seemed to him the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open window.

“I believe spring has come at last,” said the Giant, and he jumped out of bed and looked out.

He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall thechildren had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child.

And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children’s heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, but in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it stood a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still coyered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. “Climb up, little boy,” said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too, tiny. And the Giant’s heart melted as he looked out. “How selfish I have been!” he said. “Now I know why spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children’s playground forever and ever.”

The Selfish Giant

The Selfish Giant and the little boy

He was very sorry for what he had done. He crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. When the children saw him, however, they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds camee and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant’s neck and kissed him. And the other children, seeing what was happening, came running back, and with them came the spring. “It is your garden now children,” said the Giant, and he took a great ax and knocked down the wall. And when’ people passed by on their way to market, they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.

All day long the children played, and in the evening they bade the Giant good-by. “But where is your little companion-the boy I put into the tree?” he asked.

“We don’t know,” answered the children “He has gone away.”

¿”You must tell him to be sure and come tomorrow,” said the Giant. But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and that they had never seen him before. The Giant felt very sad.

Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend. “How I would like to see him!” he used to say.

Years passed, and the Giant grew old and feeble. He could not play about anymore, so he sat in a huge armchair and watched the children at their games and admired his garden. “I have many beautiful flowers,” he said “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.”

One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate winter now, for he knew that it was merely spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting. Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder and looked. He saw a marvelous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.

In joy, the Giant ran out into the garden and approached the child. When he came close, his face grew red with anger. “Who hath dared to wound thee?” he shouted. For on the palms of the child’s hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on his feet.

“Who hath dared to wound thee? ” cried the Giant again. “Tell me, so I may take my sword and slay him! ”

“Nay,” answered the child. “These are the wounds of Love.”

“Who art thou?” said the Giant. Then a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child. And the child smiled on the Giant and said to him, “You let me play once in your garden. Today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.”

Here I leave you the original link so you can check all the illustrations:

http://miajas.com/textos/Giant.htm

In case you want to know a bit more about Oscar Wilde, I wrote a post about him some time back:

https://wordpress.com/post/41615720/1525/

Thanks so much for reading. I hope the holiday season is joyful for all of you, remember all those around you, and have a great time. Ah, I have a friend coming to stay with me next week, so I think I’ll give you a week’s break. Happy New Year and hope to see you after!

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