Archives de Catégorie: Writing

Of Mice And Men – John Steinbeck

Its title declares derivation. We are both extremes if any of these creatures is less, and we are guilty by association.

This book is a literary device, and John Steinbeck is a technician. He doesn’t write, he creates. The images are soundly vivid prior to his installation of meaningful description. His writing is exact. His images, his story, are not be interpreted, but to be read. He is very clear in his vision. He uses a variety of explicit description which invites imagination to choose a venue, and see his enactment.

Light is his method, his mode which entices the reader’s acceptance within his story. The character personalities within this work he directs to accept his narration just as they would evade the depths of dark (to be without light, to be obscure or dim), and even more importantly, he challenges their negligence in avoidance of crude brilliance and the constancy of radiance. (Constancy may be a theme throughout his body of work.) He is the light, (p. 37), « Although there was evening brightness showing through the windows of the bunk house, inside it was dusk. » He is at the scene, though unseen, (p. 27), « The sun square was on the floor now…  » He is the burning rays of sun and always to be respected.

George, the lesser of two evils, should be the bigger man. Though George provides acceptability for the frailty of the weakness in Lennie’s self-assured vulnerabilities, George is apathetic to Lennie’s plight. Lennie is strong, Lennie is powerful, Lennie needs constant feedback, and George provides feedback without significant guidance. Lennie is the embodiment of hope. Lennie is admiration, and he seeks acceptance from the authority of brotherhood and the bonds created over time. Lennie has a depth of trust for friendship which eclipses common sense and leaves him weak. The writing of this story begs the observer to choose sides. George is prosperity, he’s pushy, he’s clever, he might, as well, feel burdened by authority. Lennie is admiration, he seeks a better life but needs resolute boundaries. George chides with utter knowledge of superiority. Lennie wants to gain acceptance, and George wants relief.

These characters, Lennie and George, encompass the plot. One would argue they are the primary characters. Slim is omnipresent. Slim is the hero (the protagonist if he teaches), he is the main character, (p. 31), « His ear heard more than was said to him… ». If this writer could be written into this story, Slim would be his disguise, (p. 31), « … he moved into the room, and he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. » Slim is evidence of God, and of God’s assistance, should reassurance trump need.

Steinbeck’s stories have a crux. This book says, « There is no moral, and you have no dilemma. » God can be found where He is needed. The lesson is in knowing to look.

It is remarkable to note that John Steinbeck had a personal symbol for his preoccupation, and that his passion was memorialized (see above link to description).

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Classé dans Books, Writing

A Christmas Carol by Dickens

High English. This is literature.

Written in five parts, these total five gongs or strikes of the departed. Each strike to be tallied by Stave (as chapters), and all will lead to the event. This book is the gift, time is the present, mankind in his progress is the reason.

Stave is ‘to gird’. To grit the teeth, and know thy enemy. To guard some virtue, or to cushion some tender necessity. Stave One represents friendship. Marley’s appearance is one borne of remembrance. Scrooge is dead, too. He draws his life from a cold, hard epitaph. He is not crotchety (as is sometimes portrayed), his features are frozen, icy, sharp. Nefarious, (p. 6), « the ice within him nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue… ». Scrooge is the hostility of economic compression.

Written as dank, not chilled. The re-enactment, at least as far as I’ve known, is merely cold and wretched. This is desperate, haunting, bleak.

In description of Marley’s former abode, now inhabited by Scrooge, (p. 15), « He lived in Chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out again… »

Scrooge was ill. He had a cold in his head, so sits « down by the fire to take his gruel. » Dickens becomes The Good Book here, where the tiles of scriptures on the fireplace surround might have had the power to tap the embers of joyful reassurance of memory, instead Scrooge is ignorant of capacity to notice. Marley’s ghost manifests, (p. 18), « The fireplace was an old one … and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the scriptures … (with) hundreds of figures to attract his thoughts, and yet the face of Marley … came like the ancient Prophet’s rod, and swallowed up the whole. » He pronounces his friend’s weaknesses, and foreshadows occurrences, (p. 25), « You will be haunted » (not visited) « by three Spirits. »

This was Stave One – Guard against regret.

Stave Two begins with Scrooge’s faith. There is no disbelief. There is only wonder. The dawning of this appearance speaks and pleads. She is Christmas nearly forgotten. She fades, (p. 31), « For as its belt sparkled and glittered, now in one part, now in another … so the figure itself fluctuated … being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body; of which dissolving parts no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away … I am the ghost of Christmas past … « , but she is unremarkable since being untended and ill-kept.

This was Stave Two – Guard against loss. Remember tradition anchors wishful remembrace and the kindred heart.

Stave Three – He (still) has life. We ARE our own time upon this Earth. ‘I am the life’ is this appearance. Life is confident, colorful, festive, buoyant, and I am urgency. This spirit is the one most easily recognized and represented. This time, remember, has reminder; to mourne the loss of waste is its weight, the first bite is for loss.

(P. 56), « … and for Christmas daws to peck at, » how can Shakespeare not involve himself if this author has had occasion to fall immersed?

This appearance is one of ‘selves’ (p. 63), « If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race … will find him here. » The Future being ability, Scrooge’s ability.

Bob Cratchit is first introduced by name, here, in Stave Three. He is just another infraction, until noticed.

Dickens’ perfunctory tribute to the liquid nature of earthly mass, (p. 67), « Not to sea? To sea. To Scrooge’s horror, looking back, he saw the last of the land … his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged … and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. » Water has literary recurrence; we are either an amount of fluid, or there isn’t life. Every book is a container.

Stave Three – In the present, and to good health. Guard against illness.

Stave Four is the guilt, (p. 78), « in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. » This is not the verdict, but this is where you’ve trodden. The heaviness of Scrooge’s climate, his thick fog of indifference is what spreads as the density of weather.

Scrooge is cured, and re-kindled, (p. 79), « … as I hope to live to be another man from what I was … ».

Stave Four is to keep vigil. Guard precious time.

Stave Five is emergence. He has come around and is well, overnight, but in time. He discovers caring.

Stave Five – To be living is to empathize.

Dickens and classic are synonymous. This book is a gift given to mankind.

Happy holidays.

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Classé dans Writing

SEUSS

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Many celebrations are commemorated through literature. American authorship instills opportunity for the free-willed to proliferate excitement for the jubilant feast of observance to ethnicity through tradition. I recently read two books with an eye to understanding such an icon. This American author praised for his worth through renderings of youthful exuberance for want of behavior betterment, which hopeful authority figures attend and deem suitable for a life lived in reverence to writing(imagination generally will peak an interest in the young). « How The Grinch Stole Christmas » by TS Geisel (mostly known by his pen-name, Dr Seuss), is just one of the 60-plus books this author produced, the first of my reads. The next was his professional biography, « Theodor SEUSS Geisel » by Donald E Pease, which I read since having an interest in the cause which gave rise to the professional use for such a skill devised of talent as these drawings, Dr Seuss’ breadth and wealth, exhibit.

The Grinch stole Christmas with relative ease. He also stole a community’s peaceful communion, though not their peace of mind. He took their feast, though not their means. He, with malice, snagged the sparkle from the occasion, leaving the gleam from purity of reason to ignite spiritual serenity throughout their lives. Fortunately, the dawning of this Who-ism value, that our light shines in observance whether we are blessed with the day’s advantages, and also should this live’s crotchety miscreant have an eye (though not the heart) to abscond with the day’s loot. He left them with their joy.

TS Geisel, Dr. Dr. Seuss, the artist, ‘draws’ his talent, he drew it from sketches. His talent was as a sketch artist, which he managed as a skill since growing his professional ability through networking and through collaboration. His drawings took on the burden of novelty, he then required a suitable professional outlet for this skill to provide livelihood. He was an ad man, a caricature artist, a writer of politics by way of cartooning. He worked in editorial management on subscription publications. He stayed well-connected through educational tracks; he was resourceful, and witty with words and rhymes which his art endorsed. His sketch art and his wordplay were natural guides which lead him into service, and then to social participation as an early development specialist. He was enabled with the talent to ignite curiosity for learning. Youthful curiosity could be rewarded with behavior controls. His creative artwork was different enough to be interesting to the youngest viewers. The naughty, deliberately non-human personalities, as heroes, provoked the worst outcome, which then would coax the imagination to provide honest solutions to his world of speculation. Strangers may be strange, the result may need correction, or maybe you’re just weird. Still, it’s interesting enough to want to read. His renderings withstand change insofar as the youthful are captivated first by the unusual and then by the sing-song, easily read and memorized, therefore learned, jargon.

SEUSS is an icon for American innovation, and patience.

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Classé dans Art, Biographies, Books

« Ike’s Bluff, President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World » – by Evan Thomas

« I haven’t worried about the weather since June 6, 1944. » The invasion of Normandy (I looked it up).

General Eisenhower is cagey.

He reads war. This presidency is a separate animal; it is not the progress of technological advances, nor media’s ability to interpret and deliver information which gives breath, not breadth, to mankind. It is neither that media offers the stage for curious reassurance, and rather that media deserves the reverent diversion. President Eisenhower is masterful. Games are inherent, to war, to security, to ably access intelligence. President Eisenhower commands reverential distance.

It is not that this President’s health suffered for the apparent strain of blame and responsibility, it is that suffering was internalized. He played his hand in stoic solitude. He was a presidential panacea for secrecy of military operations.

This book is about evolution. It is about the presidency, not the politics. This evolution is of advantage; all presidencies evolve, the position is explicit to its seat for the moment. As America’s conscience deems inexcusably ideal, so the world invites itself to collaborate, and with each presidency evolves this citizenship’s ability to access information. This evolution was not one of war, but destruction; it was the evolution of strength, the evolution of fortitude.

Evan Thomas pens words which spark interest to any politically-minded circulation for readers of independent political philosophy and intrigue. It is a tell-all with his know-how.

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Classé dans Biographies, Books, Reading

The Critical Tradition, Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends – Daniel H. Richter

I read excerpts. Two essays by Virginia Woolf and a third by Helene Cisoux, all were written to regard feminism in literature.

The two essays by Virginia Woolf involved female acceptance, as I see it. Though seclusion being a better characterization of her intent, since it seemed as if she felt female seclusion something which society hasn’t the will to inspire. The idea of seclusion as not simply a space (room), which offers a writer (in my case a reader) peace and quiet in order to achieve peace of mind (peace of thought for a writer, in this case, Virginia Woolf). These two essays from « A Room of One’s Own » were collaboratively, as collected in this work, a psychology of writers and writing with a very slim idea of feminity being different in that acceptance is moot, and that the reason points to masculinity as being impressed upon language within literature, and so what society accepts as influential, is masculine.

The first I read was on the romance of writing, on Austen-Bronte-Eliot, and she depreciates this style of writing and sometimes these their works, since, as she claims, it would have been and would still be better accepted by a larger community should they have been men and should the styles have been masculine. She points to sarcastic dismissal of some of this work. She suggests that where men write in tones which are naturally accepted, with « a natural prose, swift but slovenly, » and since these tones were « unsuited for a woman’s use » at that time, that the art must have suffered with the « inadequacy » of language acceptable for a woman’s use. She infers women’s values and interests are less-often conveyed with concern in literature and that doubtless women are suffering in life due to this fact of the era.

It seemed to me as though she sat down to write this with intention, and that the intention was to answer this problem of gender dissatisfaction in literature, for herself. She claims that this particular age discouraged worldliness, and that without vast experience, writers are stunted. « If Jane Austen suffered in any way from her circumstances it was in the narrowness of life that was imposed upon her, » (p. 603), and, « … women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties… they suffer from too rigid a restraint. »

One question she suggests is the question of poetic outlet, why do women write novels?

She is arrogant regarding prose, (p. 606), she regards poetry as a need, « For it is the poetry that is still denied outlet. » She proclaims poetry as suitable for the novel, the play, the written word in any length. Sentences are structural is her declaration, and any sentence, of itself, is unfinished. They (sentences) expound.

The second essay entitled « Shakespeare’s Sister » involved a tirade of expectation and non-equivalency. She impunes parental heir-oriented indulgence, as she embellishes with ingratitude the idea of Shakespearean genius as being gender-specific, unidentified, and common enough that the possibility exists for at least one female to have exhibited such quirks as should exist for genius to thrive. For, (p. 599), « if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had Shakespeare’s genius…, » she would have no chance for recognition, « … she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning … ». Then, she lists potential for such genius as possibly existing outside of a class of recognition and that surely some of these could have been women (p. 600), « Yet genius of a sort must have existed among women as it must have existed among the working classes. » She continues, « … any woman born with a great gift in the sixteenth century would certainly have gone crazed… For it needs little skill in psychology to be sure that a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered … that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty. » It is satire, but tired. Clearly not much would have changed since the sixteenth century, except that feminism now flourishes. Meanwhile, if conditions existed or could have existed in Shakespeare’s time for another of Shakespeare’s exception to thrive, it was then unacceptable (possibly unhealthy) to exhibit a drive or ambition outside of position. True enough. She rambles. This is not that day, there is only one Shakespeare, and he had gender. Virginia Woolf can be cynical. Virginia Woolf can be destructive.

I found that I enjoy philosophy (not as much as I enjoy Shakespeare), and it is good to have an opinion.

The third essay by Helene Cisoux is called « The Laugh of the Medusa. » It is written with passion, a passion of responsiblity.

In this essay, she separates the idea of gender and sex; and she further rants since not all are faltering should they be reduced to sex (not gender). She believes the body is being ignored in writing, and in speaking, and that women are not cognizant of their ‘selves’ enough to enable the speech and the literacy of their individual ‘selves’. She prefers to require that sex be a trap, (p. 1647), « … this job of analysis and illumination, this emancipation of the marvelous text of her self that she must urgently learn to speak. »

My concern is not with the feminine, my fear is with the ‘ism’. Is femininity an ‘ism’? Is writing a classification, or is gender an order? Since we’re speaking in the philosophical, scientific, bio-analytical (the anatomy of ability), gender then is responsibility for ownership of self, and writing is activity.

This seems both alarming, and mundane. Alarming in that feminity is questionably non-existent in feminism, as feminism is abrasive. And then to think that writing is mere, merely an act, of no more impetus than brushing one’s hair shatters this reader’s equilibrium.

Cisoux writes feminism (literary civil liberties as denoted by gender) as gender narcissum, (p. 1650/1651), « Women must write through their bodies…, women are body. More body, hence more writing. » She believes women should be present for themselves, and be active in their delivery of the language (verbal or written) which they use to introduce what other’s should see in them. She believes women need a voice, and it needs to be their own.

This is psychology of writers and writing. I wonder what philosophy has been written regarding the psychology of literacy. What do people understand when they read? Why do people understand the way they do?

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Agatha Christie ‘An Autobiography’

Memory is a mystery. Life seems to recollect in consistency. The high points of her life being stored with descriptions of places she’s loved, seasons, lessons learned and lessons valued. This isn’t a book, it is handiwork. Agatha Christie knows crewel. She has written a lifetime from a tapestry of relationship in this, her autobiography.

In this book, it’s not what she says, it’s what she doesn’t say. If you read her novels, you will know who she is, she writes-in her characters. In her familial cast, her brother Monty plays the villain, (p. 323/324), « I thought that Monty ill would be just as difficult as Monty well. People’s natures don’t change. » Other members of the cast: various nurses and nannies, a philosophy of doctors, the oftentimes overbearing stranger providing the occasional literary concept or phrase. She herself even provides the role of the dispensary nurse, protecting ill-advised patients from the arrogance of professional ineptitude.

She gives us glimpses of who she is in small doses. Her favorites:

mauve
archaeology (and a passion for understanding why people are drawn to visualize death)
cream
garden parties
books
stage plays

She is the product of an age. She is gentle, she is delicate, she is Victorian.

She teaches, and learns. She discovers a moral to discouragement, and reminisces upon her childhood. In acceptance of circumstances, (p. 172), she was brought up to discover a moral, « … you are never too old to learn… Be attentive, there may be a new point of view being shown you, unexpectedly. »

She discusses her feelings toward innocence (p. 440), liberally, as an ointment to society’s ignorance. She concludes that this genre of writing has a passion, that passion being to help save innocence, « because it is innocence that matters, not guilt. » She prays for the loss and the lost in hopes of societal repair.

This book spans 20 years of writing, the final chapter written in 1965 (after a twenty year intermission from the previous chapter). She writes beginning from her first memories as a precocious baby girl, through her Victorian-inspired education, two wars, more houses than she would describe, the unearthing of various discoveries and important historical artifacts on numerous archaeological sites, and global travel in an age of romantic expedition, (p. 221), flight is disillusionment, but « ships can still be romantic… and what can beat a train? To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches, and rivers – in fact, to see life. » She is expressive.

Her zest for life, her writer’s grace… she was the inspired ideal, the Lady Agatha, a queen of mystery.

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Classé dans Biographies, Books

A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man – James Joyce

There is a father. The son becomes the father. There is a game. The boys compete.

This book asks the reader, « Who are you watching? » While the son competes in his studies, others challenge, and God watches reassuringly, (p.6), « The little silk badge with the red rose on it looked very rich because he had a blue sailor top on. » This book is written as omnipresent. He is the boy, he is the artist, then he is the student, the writer, a poet… he is the omnipresent ‘one boy’. It is written as the boy speaks, as the boy thinks, as the One God watches, as the One God sees, « I don’t believe a son should be afraid of his father, » (p. 86).

He is deft.

God believes… beauty is beautiful as beauty is seen. The eye of the beholder beholds God’s warmth. It is that we perceive beauty at all that God discerns. He writes, and we are closer for his efforts.

The author writes regarding separation of church and state, (p. 26), in a dialog at the the boy’s dinner table. This is Ireland – the discussion is on God, not politics, on rights of the people, versus the people having rights, and doing right. I am reading as an American would read, I realize now that we are sometimes jaded in our conceptualization.

Chapter 1 is about order. The order of authority. It is also about emblems, signification, the idea of marks and attribution instead of symbols. You are part of a dedicated idea signified by a sign or emblem (a rose on a badge for instance), the idea is not, however, a symbol of yourself.

In Chapter 2, he sees the beauty the artist feels, (p. 61), « He did not want to play. He wanted to meet in the real world the unsubstantial image which his soul so constantly beheld. » The boy’s father is the monologue, still (p. 61). He then writes, as father, understanding the son through the father’s cynical account of the boy’s life circumstances.

The author/narrator writes, (p. 66), « The verses told only of the night… Some undefined sorrow was hidden in the hearts of the protagonists as they stood in silence beneath the leafless trees… » If I am to understand the writing of Irish writers from this one author, the Irish are not disposed to the use of metaphors as « crutches, » (p. 70), « His unrest issued from him like a wave of sound… » The message is fact-based; it’s not a metaphor if it is as it was written. The description is exactly as it is seen. Do we see ‘eye-to-eye’? The Irish believe in reciting from memory, they use repetition… ‘twice should do it’. The men don’t cook, they taste every detail of their wholesome spread, (p. 95), « He hoped there would be stew for dinner, turnips and carrots and braised potatoes and fat mutton pieces to be ladled out in thick peppered, flour-fattened sauce. »

He breaks every rule of writing, perfectly. His verse, his converse (the dialogue of one, then the other), is less a devotion to laws of grammar, less a definitive string of descriptive overly meaningful sentences, subject to verb to predicate. His writing is without end, it is understood in his art; with this writer, there isn’t need of punctuation.

On Christianity, (p. 137), after confession of his doubts and scruples, « he was bidden by his confessor to name some sin of his past life before absolution was given…  » The ‘awful’ power of priesthood, of this church, he gives earthly attention to the question of religious commitment. That to invest a life into a priesthood has commitment to a specific guidance; and where to merely give your attention to this religion is rather a socially-connected observance. Here, the writer’s flourish, he articulates the son’s flair and poetic capacity for his faith, (p. 145), « The snares of the world were its ways of sin. He would fall. He had not yet fallen but he would fall silently, in an instant. Not to fall was too hard, too hard; and he felt the silent lapse of his soul, as it would be at some instant to come, falling, falling, but not yet fallen, still unfallen, but about to fall. »

He speaks of the web of deceit, (p. 118) here, « a spiritual pain is the pain of extension… Man, in this earthly life, though he be capable of many evils, is not capable of them all at once, inasmuch as one evil corrects and counteracts another just as one person frequently corrects another. »

Father, son, then minister of devotion, he is the author of lives and lives lived-well toward God. He speaks of devoted guilt, (p. 133), « at times (the) sense of such immediate repercussion was so lively that he seemed to feel his soul in devotion pressing like fingers the keyboard of a cash register and to see the amount of his purchase start forth immediately in heaven, not as a number but as a frail column of incense or as a slender flower. »

He provides every heartstring from faith to be plucked; first God, he then provides the heart of a writer who writes, and one who speaks, thinks, adheres to God’s words, artfully. He gives a composition of phrasing, words as harmony, a wide and vast adoration for his language eloquently impressing his land’s variety of vivid sensations and this faith’s ‘monstrous’ appeal to the wicked and the weak, (p. 149), « Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue; sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves, the grey-fringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world through the prism of language many-coloured and richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose? » He claims his devotion, « The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful, » (p. 165).

In the son’s vision of human compassion, he resonates with inspiration at his own awareness, (p. 148), he reveals his epiphany that « the commandment of love (bids) us not to love our neighbor as ourselves with the same amount and intensity of love but to love him as ourselves with the same kind of love. » He promotes the ability and the desire to distinguish our needs from the next of needs, and in observance of learning from this ministry, I hope and desire to distinguish various descriptions, Love being a ‘thing’ and something which endures with respect.

He distinguishes beauty according to the apprehension of beauty. There are three forms is his educated distinction, (p. 195), « the lyrical form, the form wherein the artist presents his image in immediate relation to himself; the epical form, the form wherein he presents his image in mediate relation to himself and others; the dramatic form, the form wherein he presents his image in immediate relation to others. » He suggests that beauty (by definition I understand this to mean all language, all words within the language), beauty has a wider sense form or sense of understanding in the literary tradition. These three forms, then, he suggests are the space which understanding or judgment of beauty is influenced by a marketplace for the art.

My question: Is God’s perception of warmth immediate within a marketplace?

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Classé dans Art, Books

The Mysterious Affair at Styles – Agatha Christie

The first of her books to include the character of Hercule Poirot, this one is written according to a point of view removed from the investigator, and is reminiscent of ‘Dr. Watson’ from the beginning of the work. Poirot’s introduction is delayed slightly, and the first chapter is eerily constructed. She writes detached from this subject, (p. 43), with « … an emotional lack in the atmosphere. » This character, Hastings, is timid in his portrayal of the story. Hercule is no writer, apparently, ‘mon ami’ – his friend, the story’s author, writes an account of this tale at the request of all involved. Mrs. Christie invests these, her primary subjects, with everything they need to know.

Riddles, proverbial twists, macabre wordplay, this book invokes suspicious execution of words. I thus discovered my supposition: The game is a-foot; or, is the dis-membered in contest? Her will is the matter…

Mrs. Christie is the Queen of mental-lists. As such, I offer my kind acknowledgment to ‘bullets’ of insight. All of this mystery’s symbolic participants are present:

  • the embodiment of science (Dr. Bauerstein)
  • the reporter/journalist, keeping the paparazzi at bay (Hastings)
  • the appearance of mortal doom (Nibs), and the weapon of destruction (Cynthia, as dispensary steward)
  • due process, and affability in the face of crises (Poirot)
  • guilt in absentia (the absent widower)
  • accusation/accusal (Dr. Wilkins)
  • all of the herrings in various hues (Chapter 1, the laying out of involvement)
  • the kindred for want of livelihood (Dorcas, and to a lesser degree, Annie)
  • the prospect (Mrs. Cavendish)
  • the absence of family, the heirs apparent (John, and to a lesser extent, Lawrence)
  • the proceeding (Mr. Wells)
  • the love/friendship which has gone unnoticed, in short, the bereavement borne of neglect (Evie Howard)

Mrs. Christie is abundantly equipped to style her writing with grisly detail. In fact, at times she can be morbidly perverse, as on (p.35), in her depiction of the ‘body’s’ tumultuous ending, which leaves me too cold to re-visit this passage.

She teaches with each work. Each book containing elements of concern for life and lives lived. Always she provides a life lesson, she gives an offering of observance to time, she invests a point of view for dealing with some unfortunate incident, and always she gives answers which create the soul’s composure. Fear is not recognized, deference to the departed is an essential quality in her works.

She enlightens readership with context. Pay attention, in this story, everything you need to know is right here in these two characters. Poirot’s method, recognize what’s important; nothing else exists. There is nothing trivial; everything matters, but not everything is important. He is Belgian, he is cordial, he embellishes. Poirot speaks in proverbs, (p. 89), « Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely. » While Hastings, the writer, deals with questions through deduction, (p. 37), « … a flock of wild surmises in my mind. »

Her books captivate playful pretense. She has elements within each she writes. In all there is a lesson; in each there is a day, just one day to divine. And, she is the fair and precious purveyor of loss, that we should accept misfortune is her careful assumption. Style is her gift, it is the reader’s ability.

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Classé dans Books, Reading, Writing

Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

This is an undertaking. A book not for the weak-minded.

Vanity Fair touches on every virtue through the speculative eye of intention. Vanity being the question, and ‘proper’ being the answer, ‘wise’ is never suggested.

I picture the author a keen observer commentator writing feverishly, the words coming all too easily since reading what he’s written is like being pelted with accurately observed innuendo. To read his writing is like arguing your own position on cleverly dispensed vocabulary. He is utter sarcasm in absolute certainty, (p. 227), « upon my word, she’s playing her hand rather too openly, » [she] thought, but this observation is merely parenthetic, and was not heard through the crevice of the door at which the governess uttered it. » He hands out obvious answers, but questions the outcome, (p. 191) « Perhaps in Vanity Fair there are no better satires than letters, » making his case by involving legal expertise of words having been written in the hand of hypocrisy, « … vows, love, promises, confidences, gratitude, how queerly they read after a while. »

He doesn’t seem a writer, he delivers. His breadth overtakes the reader, imposing conflict. The reader is accountable, or the reader is lost. In this book, one is guided. This writer saves the intellectual disciple of his words with the benefit of recognition. He places literary tools, asking readers to choose a path – reading this book, as for myself, is simply comprehending more than you think yourself capable. Imposing is the word that best describes this book. Imposing and long.

One who writes is relieved of burden, a writer writes for relief. This novelist (as Thackeray is willing to admit throughout this work), may simply write because he can. Where a writer writes because he must, Thackeray writes because he should.

This work is a textbook of vagaries, accusing one to learn how to become a man, and convincing the impressionable female to take heed. It suggests that a man will rise to the occasion and aspire to prosper, and a lady shall become him. Thusly he teaches through interpersonal irony. You can be the hero/heroine, the absolved, if you notice the nuance and apply the inference. He infers genteel acquaintances would engender certain confidences which inspired social boundaries. Though we follow Miss Rebecca Sharp’s position with the family Crawley, Chapter XVII beseeches interested girl-hood to acknowledge the original Miss Amelia as interesting, or to ‘set aside’ this heroine. This chapter describes female condescension.

Themes which recur – gambling, war, aristocratic homage, money where money may or may not be (appearances being what they are). The satire is in tribute to aristocracy, or rather to those in compliance with it and those in position to displace it. The men gamble, the women position themselves freely, and sometimes poorly. Military regard is a theme, though war encompasses only three of the sixty-ish chapters in the book. Clearly, this is not a book about war, it’s a book including one. He writes that war is only another milestone, one that is concluded, then set aside and recounted, again and again.

The novelist doth project – he has more ‘serious’ episodes in which his writing is contemplative and a reader will worry as to why he is suddenly grave. Then, he has moments of absolute mirth, where the reader fears for his own sobriety. The writer is fairly giddy with indulgence and attitude.

The last chapters of the book include deadly sins – vanity being just one, surprisingly. Pride as opposed to privilege, indifference, these were noted. Family guidance, honor, disgrace, sanctity, gluttony, frailty (weaknesses of flesh and distress), are all left to question. This world never ventures to engender nobility or acts of profound Christian charity, if those acts are not warranted with expectation. This being the definition of vanity.

Vanity Fair is the stage which exists in guilt, « … where all the Vanity Fair booths were laid out with the most tempting liveliness and splendour… ».

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Classé dans Books, Reading, Writing

Balzac’s Omelette, a delicious tour of French food and culture with Honore de Balzac by Anka Muhlstein

I started this book, excitedly, from the idea that it would offer insight into styles of cooking. And, since the subtitle enticed literary purpose, I assumed I would find what I was looking for – an introduction to a culture by way of its food according to its most notable literary artists (at least one of them). Surprisingly, it was less about what we ingest throughout the course of a day in a life, in favor of what one requires of what we ingest. This book speaks to food. It speaks to an economy of virtue, but also to economic strengths of class participation… we consume what we divulge.

Her writing is attractive. She writes, prettily, and seems as a palate cleanser within this work for the ambitious reader. Do you love Proust? She serves Balzac, instead, as the progressive in a world of expressive flamboyance. She stresses the importance of culinary imagery, (p. 3), « If you want to imagine savoring an oyster as it melts on your tongue, read Maupassant; if you dream of jugs filled with yellow cream, try Flaubert; and if the thought of beef in aspic tickles you, turn to Proust. » She then offers Balzac as the escapist, realist with a passion for practicality in a big way, « But, if you are interested not so much in the taste of the oyster as in the way a young man orders it, less the cool sweetness of the cream than how much it costs, and less the melting quality of the aspic than what it reveals about how the household is run, then read Balzac. » And, I am captivated.

A biography of writing, Ms. Muhlstein gives the reader a work which begs assimilation. What if all authors/writers made complete their work through characterizations of cultural familiarity by the humble acknowledgment of idiosyncracies of nutrition? Better yet, what does food offer the plot? What does intensity of one’s appetite or distaste for food offer to civilization? She writes in generalities, but her knowledge requests a feast for the famine of literary conformity.

Her chapters are the work. She writes her vast understanding on cultures of cuisine, Balzac’s Europe, history, from ideas of literary impact; one feels she could use these chapter definitions (titles) to clarify or expound on any topic with profound french consistency. Her style has manner. Her manner is properly and comprehensively compact, as all french should be… exhaustive. (This french word means complete, and nothing more. Whereas, the English, exhaustive, while not only being less interesting in pronunciation, will drown its subject with lavish definition « spent, over, done » and possibly even « thorough, » which hesitates to refine. The idea being, french gives all of something, there’s nothing more, but there may be something less.)

I wondered where the book’s title originated. There is a secret to the omelette, a perfect french method, perhaps, (p. 166), « … an omelette is more delicate when the whites and yolks of the eggs are not beaten together with the brutality that cooks usually put into that operation… the white should be beaten until it resembles foam and the yolk introduced a little at a time, … « . This is the only recipe found in Balzac’s repertoire, apparently. Her thought may be that Balzac’s Omelette inspires gentility. This is a writer’s influence on consumption.

And, it is a reader’s repast.

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Classé dans Biographies, Reading, Writing