Archives de Tag: literature

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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The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

Complicated relationships are inevitable; they are involved. This book tells the story of entanglements. Hemingway has written this book with a complexity of relative friendship which disregards contented cooperation in deference to living a spontaneous lifestyle. We don’t discuss indiscretion, it festers and scars. Moral dilemma is non-participating, but it is a thematic undercurrent for Hemingway.

War, involved participation in positions of authority or class, destination, language, linguistics, a characterization of service through personification, all of these are his utilities for the capture of rapt attentive involvement with this author. This story involves all of it, it is a snarl of wounds without remedy of solution.

War is avoidable, (p. 24/25), « … the war… was in reality a calamity for civilization, and perhaps would’ve been better avoided. » He infers soldiering is an heroic effort that is best, and perhaps only, aptly endured (withstood, recovered from) with lucidity and foresight. He hands over his injuries with no reluctant antagonism. War is hell, and while it is a soldier’s hell-ish involvement and is avoidable, it is also unforeseen and best shed.

Chapter 5 – everything that happens in Paris, happens at night. It is good to at least know of your partner when you dance with the devil. Hemingway knows social graces and is a writer’s absolution.

He uses real-life names, celebrities of his day, as a way to keep his story grounded with all artistic temperament of this literary era, (p. 49), « Mencken hates Paris, I believe. So many young men get their likes and dislikes from Mencken. » His writing never veers from his direction and he always knows where he needs to go. He moves forward, disallowing descriptive imaginings to romanticize the effort, (p. 28), « Georgette was dancing with the tall blond youth, who danced big-hippily, carrying his head on one side, his eyes lifted as he danced. » This is Paris, it’s romantic already; this is Hemingway it’s romantic when you’re involved. He teases emotional preoccupation, (p. 71), she said « Good night, darling. I won’t see you again. We kissed standing at the door. She pushed me away. »

Hemingway speaks above the words, he is the literary purpose within these pages. His narrator is the primary subject in this story, Jake Barnes. He is American, a professional and a writer, living in Paris. He is not part of the social circle, the literary center of these times. He is the indignant mouthpiece as one who reads and is inspired by reading, then finds journalistic livelihood as a monetary leg-up into society. He discusses society as a consideration, it evolves. The Count, Lady Ashley’s flirtation with nobility, is the appearance of an economic evolution, where reigning noble entitlement meets a history destroyed by hostility, (p. 66), « I have been in seven wars and four revolutions, » the Count invites the shock of humilitude. For Hemingway there is always someone with perspective for stability, they never seem to grasp Jake’s direction.

His characterizations are a list of pitfalls:

  • Bill is a debt, the personification of baggage
  • Brett is the invitation into society
  • Mike is the unrestrained, the loose cannon without the screen of conversational inhibition
  • Lastly, the forgotten, Robert Cohn, is a regret. Robert Cohn (he requires both names to suggest familiarity) is the nagging alternative, the alter-perspective. This guy is the idea you can’t shake off or be rid of. He’s the advocate for distraction, and is typically dismissed, and only occassionally is he recognized, (p. 155), « We all felt good and we felt healthy, and I felt quite friendly to Cohn. You could not be upset about anything on a day like (this). »

This is a generation built to experience difference; to sight-see and to be there in the moment. To Jake, money is no object, (p. 96/97, and many others). He understands the power and authority of finance. His is the guideline for prosperous well-being while others of his circle are comparatively negligent. Jake is the big spender, not realizing that spending isn’t the easiest route. He gets where he’s going, though he is always disenchanted or disappointed, (p. 152), « I thought I had paid for everything… No idea of retribution or punishment. Just exchange of values. You gave up something and got something else. » Since this life is fleeting, they will have no cares, (p. 235), « Don’t worry about money, » Mike said, « You can pay for the car… I’ll send my share, » and we here, all of us, are good for our debts is his conviction.

Hemingway writes from experience, where he writes is where he’s been. He compares in order to suggest. To define ‘clean’ one needs a disadvantage of filth, (p.97), « I saw a cockroach on the parquet floor that must have been about 3 inches long… (it) must have come in from the garden. It really was an awfully clean hotel. » He has generous depth of understanding, what he sees is made anew through his wealth of exposure, (p. 96), « Bayonne is a nice town. It is like a very clean Spanish town… ».

His writing is a class unto itself, (p. 71), « She kissed the Count and put her hand on his shoulder to keep him from standing up. » Rather than ‘declarative’ as his literary constituents have suggested, this is not a sentence, this is class. He may have said, « She kissed the Count, leaving her hand on his shoulder… » and further, « suggesting (or to suggest) he needn’t stand. » Excluding the obvious familiarly feminine style my alternative evokes, the more important aspect is in his word distinction which is invested with his class or station in life. He dismisses necessary imagery as uninventive.

He sees distance; the horizon is forever, (p. 98), « You couldn’t see the sea. It was too far away. You could see only hills and more hills, and you knew where the sea was. » He depicts time as there and gone, « The next day Pedro Romero did not fight… The next day there was no bull-fight scheduled… all day and all night the fiesta kept on. » The next chapter begins the third day, (p. 174), « I walked out beyond the town to look at the weather… The flags on the square hung wet… and the streets wet and dark and deserted; yet the fiesta kept up without any pause. »

He describes the ‘clip’ of a conversation, « He asked me how many times I had seen him in the ring. I told him only three. It was really only two, but I did not want to explain after I had made the mistake. » He is a writer with the gift of social grace, he is a gentleman with relative objectivity.

His descriptions are simplicity. Beauty is subtle, (p. 234), « There was the green of the headlands, the white, red-roofed villas, patches of forest…, » he then creates a visual border for the senses, « … and the ocean… with… tide…and (the) water curling… along the beach. »

He writes that all language communicates necessarily, irrespective of a native authentic tongue. Hearing and speaking are separate skills. People are resourceful with language, and companionable people are expressive. He is genteel.

When he’s made it as far as he wished to go, « I can stay another week. I think I’ll go as far as San Sebastian, » (p. 232). His destination was intentional.

This is a book about complicated relationships, and this is just one story. All story’s conclude, and not all story’s are unexpected. The last page he acknowledges the frailty of species: Women need men in many more and different ways than men need women. He saves Lady Ashley as a courtesy; he is masculine and he keeps his position within society. Gentlemen are invested with rigor should formal chivalry be of necessity to a lady’s weaknesses, and « Isn’t it pretty to think so? »

A perfect title, he is the author, and this book has one. The only truth we have is that the sun will rise, and that each day beholds a fresh beginning.

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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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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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Mrs. Dalloway

There are no chapters in this book.

Virginia Woolf writes as if she could stand no interruption until she finished penning the words which had to have a place to fall.

Reading this, the first scenes seem like a dream. As if the author creates the stage through character identification in alternating glances as a waltz through the town, and in which the reader becomes a fly on the wall.

The story then moves to Clarissa Dalloway as the life-force, the living – not asleep, but engaged in the realization of some of her life’s interruptions, speculating upon choices proposed, and decisions she’s made. But, since wishing for better prospects won’t create healthier relationships, she’ll just throw a party and wear her favorite dress. Clarissa Dalloway does not mourne.

The story then flashes back to viewing the world as through a dream, seemingly through the eyes of Virginia, herself. Vague images, as if wandering unobservedly through the township until settling on independent thought through individual character. This particular character, Peter Walsh, Clarissa’s lost love, the other voice of concern and reason, offers insight, as he perceives townspeople, the war, his self-worth by way of class and duty. He begins to imagine his place in this society since returning from the war. He recalls Clarissa’s husband, Richard Dalloway, and Peter bestows confidence, allowing that Richard is a « thorough good sort » (wasted on politics, in Peter’s opinion), and Clarissa is absorbed by her husband’s sense of poetic injustice… Richard believes Shakespeare’s sonnets to be indecent, not worthy of noble discretion since they, in Richard’s opinion, degrade privacy, as if « listening through keyholes » (!)

(Interesting that she weaves attitudes with British class perspectives, makes one wonder what she, herself, thought of Shakespeare.)

Depth of character interest.

This book, Mrs. Dalloway, provides every possibility for a personality to exist.

She writes about suicide, « how does one set about killing oneself » … « uglily, » she decides.

Then, a tirade, she rambles over health and wellness through the vague storyline of Septimus and Lucrezia, with her idea seeming as a Shakespearean respite – the tie to the storyline being a literal bloom, with Lucrezia’s roses as an indication of Clarissa’s talent for decorating the lives she touches. Mrs. Dalloway loves flowers and playing mistress of the house.

« Prophetic Christs and Christesses, » Sir William Bradshaw denounces the weak.

She imagines sanity through the sentiments of Sir William, a notable professor of human nature by way of psychiatric remedy. He promotes well-being as « proportion » and imagines proportion as being a rare combination of « family affection; honour, courage, and a brilliant career. » In the absence of this « divine » proportion, his diagnosis is solitude.

« life with its irreticences… »

She writes with currents of ramifications and lives in these pages. Her storyline washes her point, so that the plot remains in its depths. She describes by aquatic metaphor, her position within this world of high society and observance to class propriety.

Her prose is vaguely reminiscent of insanity. Beautiful, yet disturbingly chaotic, and even more disturbing that it is so easily read and followed by the reader. The story meanders and captivates before capturing credible thought. I found it to be almost frightening in the sense that it feels so much as if you’ve ventured too deeply into a lunatic’s mind.

Reading this book sometimes feels as if you’re watching a train wreck.

That said, it’s a must-read.

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