katieday + literature   236

Francisco Sionil Jose
"Francisco Sionil Jose has been called a Philippine national treasure. Born on December 3, 1924 in Rosales, Philippines, he was introduced to literature in public school and later at the University of Santo Tomas. While working as a journalist in Manila, he moonlighted writing short stories and eventually novels. In the late fifties Jose founded the Philippine branch of PEN, an international organization of poets, playwrights, and novelists. In 1965 he started his own publishing house SOLIDARIDAD, and a year later he began publishing the remarkable Solidarity, a journal of current affairs, ideas, and arts, still going strong today.
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east_asian_lit  philippines  authors  literature  from delicious
january 2013 by katieday
Kurodahan Press
We're a Japanese publisher serving readers worldwide with top quality translations of new and classic texts focused regionally in Northeast Asia.
japan  publishers  literature  translations  booksellers  from delicious
november 2012 by katieday
Italo Calvino’s List of Reasons Why We Should Read the Classics
From Italo Calvino’s The Uses of Literature—

The classics are the books of which we usually hear people say, “I am rereading . . . ” and never “I am reading . . . “
We use the words “classics” for books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them
The classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory, camouflaging themselves as the collective or individual unconscious.
Every rereading of a classic is as much a voyage of discovery as the first reading.
Every reading of a classic is in fact a rereading.
A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.
The classics are the books that come down to us bearing the traces of readings previous to ours, and bringing in their wake the traces they themselves have left on the culture or cultures they have passed through (or, more simply, on language and customs).
A classic does not necessarily teach us anything we did not know before. In a classic we sometimes discover something we have always known (or thought we knew), but without knowing that this author said it first, or at least is associated with it in a special way. And this, too, is a surprise that gives much pleasure, such as we always gain from the discovery of an origin, a relationship, an affinity.
The classics are books which, upon reading, we find even fresher, more unexpected, and more marvelous than we had thought from hearing about them.
We use the word “classic” of a book that takes the form of an equivalent to the universe, on a level with the ancient talismans. With this definition we are approaching the idea of the “total book,” as Mallarmé conceived of it.
Your classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you to define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him.
A classic is a book that comes before other classics; but anyone who has read the others first, and then reads this one, instantly recognizes its place in the family tree.
A classic is something that tends to relegate the concerns of the moment to the status of background noise, but at the same time this background noise is something we cannot do without.
A classic is something that persists as a background noise even when the most incompatible momentary concerns are in control of the situation.

Tagged: Art, Background noise, Book, canonical literature, Classic book, Classics, Italo Calvino, Literature, Reading
Art  Books  Literature  Writers  Background_noise  Book  canonical_literature  Classic_book  Classics  Italo_Calvino  Reading  from google
july 2012 by katieday
Welcome | First World War Poetry Digital Archive
"The First World War Poetry Digital Archive is an online repository of over 7000 items of text, images, audio, and video for teaching, learning, and research.

The heart of the archive consists of collections of highly valued primary material from major poets of the period, including Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Robert Graves, Vera Brittain, and Edward Thomas. This is supplemented by a comprehensive range of multimedia artefacts from the Imperial War Museum, a separate archive of over 6,500 items contributed by the general public, and a set of specially developed educational resources. These educational resources include an exciting new exhibition in the three-dimensional virtual world Second Life.

Freely available to the public as well as the educational community, the First World War Poetry Digital Archive is a significant resource for studying the First World War and the literature it inspired."
poetry  WWI  History  literature  collections 
april 2012 by katieday
Reading Charles Dickens | A Dickens of a Year
Feb 7 is the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens - here's a site that is obsessed (in a good way) with him -
literature  blogs  charles_dickens  reading  from twitter
january 2012 by katieday
RIP Russell Hoban
Russell Hoban, author of Riddley Walker and other cult classics, died last night at the age of 86. The first “review” I ever wrote on this site was for Riddley Walker (the review is so bad that I won’t link to it out of shame); that was back when Biblioklept’s primary mission was to document stolen books. I stole the book from a dear friend and subsequently lent it to a student who never returned it. Oh, the circle of theft! Riddley Walker is the sort of book that begs to be stolen (or never returned, or passed on to another). It’s an apocalyptic Huckleberry Finn, a coming of age story set against the backdrop of a new dark age. Riddley Walker is deeply weird and strongly strange; I don’t know what a “cult” novel is, but I know of no better example.

Riddley Walker might be Hoban’s most famous work (aside from his children’s works, including the Frances the Badger series), but readers who stopped there would do well to pick up some of his earlier books. The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz is a fantasy piece about fathers, sons, and map-making; Kleinzheit, a baffling schizophrenic novel, explores death and illness in an animistic world; Pilgermann plumbs the medieval intersection of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, narrated through the eyes of the ghost of a castrated European Jew on a bizarre holy quest—it’s like Hieronymous Bosch on LSD.

The Guardian has a short but lucid biographical obit for Hoban, which ends with Hoban contemplating how death might affect his career:

Death, Hoban predicted in 2002, would “be a good career move”. “People will say, ‘yes, Hoban, he seems an interesting writer, let’s look at him again’,” he said.

The grim humor there was always part of Hoban’s program, and I hope that he’s right: I hope that folks who haven’t heard of Hoban will pick up Riddley Walker, and perhaps those who haven’t read beyond that book will make time to read another.

Tagged: cult literature, Cult Novels, Riddley Walker, RIP, Russell Hoban
Books  Literature  Writers  cult_literature  Cult_Novels  Riddley_Walker  RIP  Russell_Hoban  from google
december 2011 by katieday
Read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Short Story “The Christmas Banquet”
“The Christmas Banquet,” a tale from Nathaniel Hawthorne (from Mosses from an Old Manse; it might be, like, an allegory or something):

“I HAVE HERE attempted,” said Roderick, unfolding a few sheets of manuscript, as he sat with Rosina and the sculptor in the summer-house–”I have attempted to seize hold of a personage who glides past me, occasionally, in my walk through life. My former sad experience, as you know, has gifted me with some degree of insight into the gloomy mysteries of the human heart, through which I have wandered like one astray in a dark cavern, with his torch fast flickering to extinction. But this man–this class of men–is a hopeless puzzle.”

“Well, but propound him,” said the sculptor. “Let us have an idea of him, to begin with.”

“Why, indeed,” replied Roderick, “he is such a being as I could conceive you to carve out of marble, and some yet unrealized perfection of human science to endow with an exquisite mockery of intellect; but still there lacks the last inestimable touch of a divine Creator. He looks like a man, and, perchance, like a better specimen of man than you ordinarily meet. You might esteem him wise–he is capable of cultivation and refinement, and has at least an external conscience–but the demands that spirit makes upon spirit, are precisely those to which he cannot respond. When, at last, you come close to him, you find him chill and unsubstantial–a mere vapor.”

“I believe,” said Rosina, “I have a glimmering idea of what you mean.”

“Then be thankful,” answered her husband, smiling; “but do not anticipate any further illumination from what I am about to read. I have here imagined such a man to be–what, probably, he never is–conscious of the deficiency in his spiritual organization. Methinks the result would be a sense of cold unreality, wherewith he would go shivering through the world, longing to exchange his load of ice for any burthen of real grief that fate could fling upon a human being.”

Contenting himself with this preface, Roderick began to read.

In a certain old gentleman’s last will and testament, there appeared a bequest, which, as his final thought and deed, was singularly in keeping with a long life of melancholy eccentricity. He devised a considerable sum for establishing a fund, the interest of which was to be expended, annually forever, in preparing a Christmas Banquet for ten of the most miserable persons that could be found. It seemed not to be the testator’s purpose to make these half-a-score of sad hearts merry, but to provide that the stern or fierce expression of human discontent should not be drowned, even for that one holy and joyful day, amid the acclamations of festal gratitude which all Christendom sends up. And he desired, likewise, to perpetuate his own remonstrance against the earthly course of Providence, and his sad and sour dissent from those systems of religion or philosophy which either find sunshine in the world, or draw it down from heaven.

The task of inviting the guests, or of selecting among such as might advance their claims to partake of this dismal hospitality, was confided to the two trustees or stewards of the fund. These gentlemen, like their deceased friend, were sombre humorists, who made it their principal occupation to number the sable threads in the web of human life, and drop all the golden ones out of the reckoning. They performed their present office with integrity and judgment. The aspect of the assembled company, on the day of the first festival, might not, it is true, have satisfied every beholder that these were especially the individuals, chosen forth from all the world, whose griefs were worthy to stand as indicators of the mass of human suffering. Yet, after due consideration, it could not be disputed that here was a variety of hopeless discomfort, which, if it sometimes arose from causes apparently inadequate, was thereby only the shrewder imputation against the nature and mechanism of life.

The arrangements and decorations of the banquet were probably intended to signify that death-in-life which had been the testator’s definition of existence. The hall, illuminated by torches, was hung round with curtains of deep and dusky purple, and adorned with branches of cypress and wreaths of artificial flowers, imitative of such as used to be strewn over the dead. A sprig of parsley was laid by every plate. The main reservoir of wine was a sepulchral urn of silver, whence the liquor was distributed around the table in small vases, accurately copied from those that held the tears of ancient mourners. Neither had the stewards–if it were their taste that arranged these details–forgotten the fantasy of the old Egyptians, who seated a skeleton at every festive board, and mocked their own merriment with the imperturbable grin of a death’s-head. Such a fearful guest, shrouded in a black mantle, sat now at the head of the table. It was whispered, I know not with what truth, that the testator himself had once walked the visible world with the machinery of that same skeleton, and that it was one of the stipulations of his will, that he should thus be permitted to sit, from year to year, at the banquet which he had instituted. If so, it was perhaps covertly implied that he had cherished no hopes of bliss beyond the grave to compensate for the evils which he felt or imagined here. And if, in their bewildered conjectures as to the purpose of earthly existence, the banqueters should throw aside the veil, and cast an inquiring glance at this figure of death, as seeking thence the solution otherwise unattainable, the only reply would be a stare of the vacant eye-caverns, and a grin of the skeleton-jaws. Such was the response that the dead man had fancied himself to receive, when he asked of Death to solve the riddle of his life; and it was his desire to repeat it when the guests of his dismal hospitality should find themselves perplexed with the same question.

“What means that wreath?” asked several of the company, while viewing the decorations of the table.

They alluded to a wreath of cypress, which was held on high by a skeleton-arm, protruding from within the black mantle.

“It is a crown,” said one of the stewards, “not for the worthiest, but for the wofullest, when he shall prove his claim to it.”

The guest earliest bidden to the festival, vvas a man of soft and gentle character, who had not energy to struggle against the heavy despondency to which his temperament rendered him liable; and therefore, with nothing outwardly to excuse him from happiness, he had spent a life of quiet misery, that made his blood torpid, and weighed upon his breath, and sat like a ponderous night-fiend upon every throb of his unresisting heart. His wretchedness seemed as deep as his original nature, if not identical with it. It was the misfortune of a second guest to cherish within his bosom a diseased heart, which had become so wretchedly sore, that the continual and unavoidable rubs of the world, the blow of an enemy, the careless jostle of a stranger, and even the faithful and loving touch of a friend, alike made ulcers in it. As is the habit of people thus afflicted, he found his chief employment in exhibiting these miserable sores to any who would give themselves the pain of viewing them. A third guest was a hypochondriac, whose imagination wrought necromancy in his outward and inward world, and caused him to see monstrous faces in the household fire, and dragons in the clouds of sunset, and fiends in the guise of beautiful women, and something ugly or wicked beneath all the pleasant surfaces of nature. His neighbor at table was one who, in his early youth, had trusted mankind too much, and hoped too highly in their behalf, and, in meeting with many disappointments, had become desperately soured. For several years back, this misanthrope had employed himself in accumulating motives for hating and despising his race–such as murder, lust, treachery, ingratitude, faithlessness of trusted friends, instinctive vices of children, impurity of women, hidden guilt in men of saint-like aspect–and, in short, all manner of black realities that sought to decorate themselves with outward grace or glory. But, at every atrocious fact that was added to his catalogue–at every increase of the sad knowledge which he spent his life to collect–the native impulses of the poor man’s loving and confiding heart made him groan with anguish. Next, with his heavy brow bent downward, there stole into the hall a man naturally earnest and impassioned, who, from his immemorial infancy, had felt the consciousness of a high message to the world, but, essaying to deliver it, had found either no voice or form of speech, or else no ears to listen. Therefore his whole life was a bitter questioning of himself–”Why have not men acknowledged my mission? Am I not a self-deluding fool? What business have I on earth? Where is my grave?” Throughout the festival, he quaffed frequent draughts from the sepulchral urn of wine, hoping thus to quench the celestial fire that tortured his own breast, and could not benefit his race.

Then there entered–having flung away a ticket for a ball–a gay gallant of yesterday, who had found four or five wrinkles in his brow, and more grey hairs than he could well number, on his head. Endowed with sense and feeling, he had nevertheless spent his youth in folly, but had reached at last that dreary point in life, where Folly quits us of her own accord, leaving us to make friends with Wisdom if we can. Thus, cold and desolate, he had come to seek Wisdom at the banquet, and wondered if the skeleton were she. To eke out the company, the stewards had invited a distressed poet from his home in the alms-house, and a melancholy idiot from the street corner. The latter had just the glimmering of sense that was sufficient to make him conscious of a vacancy, which the poor fellow, all his life long, had mistily sought to fill up with intelligence, wandering up… [more]
Books  Literature  Writers  Christmas  Christmas_Banquet  mosses_from_an_old_manse  Nathaniel_Hawthorne  spiritual_organization  from google
december 2011 by katieday
“Letter from Santa Claus” — Mark Twain
Hey, didn’t we just accuse Mark Twain of dissing Santa? Dude had a heart, of course. Here’s a letter he ghost wrote for St. Nick to his beloved daughter Susie:

Palace of St. Nicholas
In the Moon
Christmas Morning

MY DEAR SUSIE CLEMENS:

I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands–for although you did not use any characters that are in grown peoples’ alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no character but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister’s jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters–I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself–and kissed both of you, too, because you are good children, well trained, nice mannered, and about the most obedient little people I ever saw. But in the letter which you dictated there were some words which I could not make out for certain, and one or two small orders which I could not fill because we ran out of stock. Our last lot of kitchen furniture for dolls has just gone to a very poor little child in the North Star away up, in the cold country above the Big Dipper. Your mama can show you that star and you will say: “Little Snow Flake,” (for that is the child’s name) “I’m glad you got that furniture, for you need it more than I.” That is, you must write that, with your own hand, and Snow Flake will write you an answer. If you only spoke it she wouldn’t hear you. Make your letter light and thin, for the distance is great and the postage very heavy.

There was a word or two in your mama’s letter which I couldn’t be certain of. I took it to be “a trunk full of doll’s clothes.” Is that it? I will call at your kitchen door about nine o’clock this morning to inquire. But I must not see anybody and I must not speak to anybody but you. When the kitchen doorbell rings, George must be blindfolded and sent to open the door. Then he must go back to the dining room or the china closet and take the cook with him. You must tell George he must walk on tiptoe and not speak–otherwise he will die someday. Then you must go up to the nursery and stand on a chair or the nurse’s bed and put your car to the speaking tube that leads down to the kitchen and when I whistle through it you must speak in the tube and say, “Welcome, Santa Claus!” Then I will ask whether it was a trunk you ordered or not. If you say it was, I shall ask you what color you want the trunk to be. Your mama will help you to name a nice color and then you must tell me every single thing in detail which you want the trunk to contain. Then when I say “Good-by and a merry Christmas to my little Susie Clemens,” you must say “Good-by, good old Santa Claus, I thank you very much and please tell that little Snow Flake I will look at her star tonight and she must look down here–I will be right in the west bay window; and every fine night I will look at her star and say, ‘I know somebody up there and like her, too.’ ” Then you must go down into the library and make George close all the doors that open into the main hall, and everybody must keep still for a little while. I will go to the moon and get those things and in a few minutes I will come down the chimney that belongs to the fireplace that is in the hall–if it is a trunk you want–because I couldn’t get such a thing as a trunk down the nursery chimney, you know.

People may talk if they want, until they hear my footsteps in the hall. Then you tell them to keep quiet a little while till I go back up the chimney. Maybe you will not hear my footsteps at all–so you may go now and then and peep through the dining-room doors, and by and by you will see that thing which you want, right under the piano in the drawing room-for I shall put it there. If I should leave any snow in the hall, you must tell George to sweep it into the fireplace, for I haven’t time to do such things. George must not use a broom, but a rag–else he will die someday. You must watch George and not let him run into danger. If my boot should leave a stain on the marble, George must not holystone it away. Leave it there always in memory of my visit; and whenever you look at it or show it to anybody you must let it remind you to be a good little girl. Whenever you are naughty and somebody points to that mark which your good old Santa Claus’s boot made on the marble, what will you say, little sweetheart?

Good-by for a few minutes, till I come down to the world and ring the kitchen doorbell.

Your loving SANTA CLAUS
Whom people sometimes call “The Man in the Moon”

Tagged: Mark Twain, Santa Claus, Susie Clemens
Books  Literature  Writers  Mark_Twain  Santa_Claus  Susie_Clemens  from google
december 2011 by katieday
“Winter-Time” — Robert Louis Stevenson
“Winter-Time,” a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake.

Tagged: Poems, Robert Louis Stevenson, Winter
Literature  Poetry  Writers  Poems  Robert_Louis_Stevenson  Winter  from google
december 2011 by katieday
Ayn Rand Being a Jerk to a High School Kid
Part of a great write-up at The Paris Review. Some context (from the article):

In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? he asked. Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind?

Tagged: Ayn Rand, Bruce McAllister, Paris Review, San Diego High School
Books  Literature  Writers  Ayn_Rand  Bruce_McAllister  Paris_Review  San_Diego_High_School  from google
december 2011 by katieday
Read “The Fir-Tree,” Hans Christian Andersen’s Depressing Story About the Existential Fate of a Christmas Tree
Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Fir-Tree,” a depressing story about a Christmas tree—

Far down in the forest, where the warm sun and the fresh air made a sweet resting-place, grew a pretty little fir-tree; and yet it was not happy, it wished so much to be tall like its companions— the pines and firs which grew around it. The sun shone, and the soft air fluttered its leaves, and the little peasant children passed by, prattling merrily, but the fir-tree heeded them not. Sometimes the children would bring a large basket of raspberries or strawberries, wreathed on a straw, and seat themselves near the fir-tree, and say, “Is it not a pretty little tree?” which made it feel more unhappy than before. And yet all this while the tree grew a notch or joint taller every year; for by the number of joints in the stem of a fir-tree we can discover its age. Still, as it grew, it complained, “Oh! how I wish I were as tall as the other trees, then I would spread out my branches on every side, and my top would over-look the wide world. I should have the birds building their nests on my boughs, and when the wind blew, I should bow with stately dignity like my tall companions.” The tree was so discontented, that it took no pleasure in the warm sunshine, the birds, or the rosy clouds that floated over it morning and evening. Sometimes, in winter, when the snow lay white and glittering on the ground, a hare would come springing along, and jump right over the little tree; and then how mortified it would feel! Two winters passed, and when the third arrived, the tree had grown so tall that the hare was obliged to run round it. Yet it remained unsatisfied, and would exclaim, “Oh, if I could but keep on growing tall and old! There is nothing else worth caring for in the world!” In the autumn, as usual, the wood-cutters came and cut down several of the tallest trees, and the young fir-tree, which was now grown to its full height, shuddered as the noble trees fell to the earth with a crash. After the branches were lopped off, the trunks looked so slender and bare, that they could scarcely be recognized. Then they were placed upon wagons, and drawn by horses out of the forest. “Where were they going? What would become of them?” The young fir-tree wished very much to know; so in the spring, when the swallows and the storks came, it asked, “Do you know where those trees were taken? Did you meet them?”

The swallows knew nothing, but the stork, after a little reflection, nodded his head, and said, “Yes, I think I do. I met several new ships when I flew from Egypt, and they had fine masts that smelt like fir. I think these must have been the trees; I assure you they were stately, very stately.”

“Oh, how I wish I were tall enough to go on the sea,” said the fir-tree. “What is the sea, and what does it look like?”

“It would take too much time to explain,” said the stork, flying quickly away.

“Rejoice in thy youth,” said the sunbeam; “rejoice in thy fresh growth, and the young life that is in thee.”

And the wind kissed the tree, and the dew watered it with tears; but the fir-tree regarded them not.

Christmas-time drew near, and many young trees were cut down, some even smaller and younger than the fir-tree who enjoyed neither rest nor peace with longing to leave its forest home. These young trees, which were chosen for their beauty, kept their branches, and were also laid on wagons and drawn by horses out of the forest.

“Where are they going?” asked the fir-tree. “They are not taller than I am: indeed, one is much less; and why are the branches not cut off? Where are they going?”

“We know, we know,” sang the sparrows; “we have looked in at the windows of the houses in the town, and we know what is done with them. They are dressed up in the most splendid manner. We have seen them standing in the middle of a warm room, and adorned with all sorts of beautiful things,—honey cakes, gilded apples, playthings, and many hundreds of wax tapers.”

“And then,” asked the fir-tree, trembling through all its branches, “and then what happens?”

“We did not see any more,” said the sparrows; “but this was enough for us.”

“I wonder whether anything so brilliant will ever happen to me,” thought the fir-tree. “It would be much better than crossing the sea. I long for it almost with pain. Oh! when will Christmas be here? I am now as tall and well grown as those which were taken away last year. Oh! that I were now laid on the wagon, or standing in the warm room, with all that brightness and splendor around me! Something better and more beautiful is to come after, or the trees would not be so decked out. Yes, what follows will be grander and more splendid. What can it be? I am weary with longing. I scarcely know how I feel.”

“Rejoice with us,” said the air and the sunlight. “Enjoy thine own bright life in the fresh air.”

But the tree would not rejoice, though it grew taller every day; and, winter and summer, its dark-green foliage might be seen in the forest, while passers by would say, “What a beautiful tree!”

A short time before Christmas, the discontented fir-tree was the first to fall. As the axe cut through the stem, and divided the pith, the tree fell with a groan to the earth, conscious of pain and faintness, and forgetting all its anticipations of happiness, in sorrow at leaving its home in the forest. It knew that it should never again see its dear old companions, the trees, nor the little bushes and many-colored flowers that had grown by its side; perhaps not even the birds. Neither was the journey at all pleasant. The tree first recovered itself while being unpacked in the courtyard of a house, with several other trees; and it heard a man say, “We only want one, and this is the prettiest.”

Then came two servants in grand livery, and carried the fir-tree into a large and beautiful apartment. On the walls hung pictures, and near the great stove stood great china vases, with lions on the lids. There were rocking chairs, silken sofas, large tables, covered with pictures, books, and playthings, worth a great deal of money,—at least, the children said so. Then the fir-tree was placed in a large tub, full of sand; but green baize hung all around it, so that no one could see it was a tub, and it stood on a very handsome carpet. How the fir-tree trembled! “What was going to happen to him now?” Some young ladies came, and the servants helped them to adorn the tree. On one branch they hung little bags cut out of colored paper, and each bag was filled with sweetmeats; from other branches hung gilded apples and walnuts, as if they had grown there; and above, and all round, were hundreds of red, blue, and white tapers, which were fastened on the branches. Dolls, exactly like real babies, were placed under the green leaves,—the tree had never seen such things before,—and at the very top was fastened a glittering star, made of tinsel. Oh, it was very beautiful!

“This evening,” they all exclaimed, “how bright it will be!” “Oh, that the evening were come,” thought the tree, “and the tapers lighted! then I shall know what else is going to happen. Will the trees of the forest come to see me? I wonder if the sparrows will peep in at the windows as they fly? shall I grow faster here, and keep on all these ornaments summer and winter?” But guessing was of very little use; it made his bark ache, and this pain is as bad for a slender fir-tree, as headache is for us. At last the tapers were lighted, and then what a glistening blaze of light the tree presented! It trembled so with joy in all its branches, that one of the candles fell among the green leaves and burnt some of them. “Help! help!” exclaimed the young ladies, but there was no danger, for they quickly extinguished the fire. After this, the tree tried not to tremble at all, though the fire frightened him; he was so anxious not to hurt any of the beautiful ornaments, even while their brilliancy dazzled him. And now the folding doors were thrown open, and a troop of children rushed in as if they intended to upset the tree; they were followed more silently by their elders. For a moment the little ones stood silent with astonishment, and then they shouted for joy, till the room rang, and they danced merrily round the tree, while one present after another was taken from it.

“What are they doing? What will happen next?” thought the fir. At last the candles burnt down to the branches and were put out. Then the children received permission to plunder the tree.

Oh, how they rushed upon it, till the branches cracked, and had it not been fastened with the glistening star to the ceiling, it must have been thrown down. The children then danced about with their pretty toys, and no one noticed the tree, except the children’s maid who came and peeped among the branches to see if an apple or a fig had been forgotten.

“A story, a story,” cried the children, pulling a little fat man towards the tree.

“Now we shall be in the green shade,” said the man, as he seated himself under it, “and the tree will have the pleasure of hearing also, but I shall only relate one story; what shall it be? Ivede-Avede, or Humpty Dumpty, who fell down stairs, but soon got up again, and at last married a princess.”

“Ivede-Avede,” cried some. “Humpty Dumpty,” cried others, and there was a fine shouting and crying out. But the fir-tree remained quite still, and thought to himself, “Shall I have anything to do with all this?” but he had already amused them as much as they wished. Then the old man told them the story of Humpty Dumpty, how he fell down stairs, and was raised up again, and married a princess. And the children clapped their hands and cried, “Tell another, tell another,” for they wanted to hear the story of “Ivede-Avede;” but they only had “Humpty Dumpty.” After this the fir-tree became quite silent and thoughtful; never had the birds in the forest told… [more]
Literature  Writers  Christmas  Christmas_stories  fairy_tales  Hans_Christian_Andersen  The_Fir-Tree  from google
december 2011 by katieday
The Obligatory Best of 2011 List(s)
Best Books I Read in 2011 That Were Published in 2011 (Or Close Enough to 2011)

MetaMaus, Art Spiegelman

The Avian Gospels, Adam Novy

Spurious, Lars Iyer

The Third Reich, Roberto Bolaño

Humiliation, Wayne Koestenbaum

The Pale King, David Foster Wallace

Between Parentheses, Roberto Bolaño

***

Best Books I Read in 2011 That Were Published Before 2011

The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq

Wittgenstein’s Mistress, David Markson

Expelled from Eden: A William Vollmann Reader

Ray, Barry Hannah

Trans-Atlantyk, Witold Gombrowicz

The Garden of Eden, Ernest Hemingway

Light in August, William Faulkner

Hadji Murad, Leo Tolstoy

First Love and Other Sorrows, Harold Brodkey

Airships, Barry Hannah

Speedboat, Renata Adler

Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry

Vertigo, W.G. Sebald

***

Best Rereading

Candide, Voltaire

***

Best Audiobook of 2011

The Collected Fictions of Gordon Lish, read by Gordon Lish

***

Best Film of 2011

The Tree of Life

***

Most Charming Film of 2011

Midnight in Paris

***

Most Overhyped Book of 2011

The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

***

Best Book Cover of 2011 

***

Best Book Series Design

Melville House’s Neversink Imprint

 

***

Best New TV Series of 2011

Game of Thrones

***

Best Individual TV Episode of 2011

“Gimcrack & Bunkum,” Boardwalk Empire (The Memorial Day one where Jimmy and Richard scalp that old bastard)

***

Best Musical Album of 2011

I don’t think I listened to much new music in 2011. Maybe that Battles record? I don’t know. I’m getting old.

***

Speaking of Getting Old: Video That Made Me Feel Really Old and Out of Touch and Convinced That Kids These Days Are Basically Cartoon Characters, Yet Nevertheless Fascinated Me (The Video, That Is)

***

Favorite (If Bewildering and Baffling) Music Video of 2011

***

Schadenfreude Award

Rebecca Black

***

Weirdest (Yet Nevertheless Moving) Novel of 2011

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, Chris Boucher

***

Book I Read in 2011 That Still Confounds and Haunts Me

The Kindly Ones, Jonathan Littell

***

Saddest Book I Read in 2011

Tie: Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry; The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, Breece D’J Pancake

***

Best Essay (Print)

“Some Notes on Translation and on Madame Bovary,” Lydia Davis (The Paris Review)

***

Best Essay (Online)

“Nude in Your Hot Tub, Facing the Abyss (A Literary Manifesto After the End of Literature and Manifestos),”  Lars Iyer (White Review)

***

Worst Literary Trend of 2011

Tie: Lame “literary fiction” novels; Articles that link everything to David Foster Wallace

***

Best Literary Trend of 2011

Plagiarism!

***

Most Obvious Disclaimer

I did not read or see or hear every book or essay or audiobook or film or TV show or record or video that came out in 2011. Also, there are some days left in the year. These are all, just like, opinions man.

Tagged: Best of 2011, Books, handwringing, lame lists, Lists, Writers, year end lists
Art  Books  Film  Literature  Movies  Music  Reviews  Writers  Best_of_2011  handwringing  lame_lists  Lists  year_end_lists  from google
december 2011 by katieday
Invitation to World Literature
"Love and longing, hope and fear – these threads run throughout all literature, whether we’re talking about the great ancient epics, or contemporary novels written in the East or the West. That’s the main premise of Invitation to World Literature, a multimedia program organized by David Damrosch (Harvard University), and made with the backing of WGBH and Annenberg Media.
The program features 13 half-hour videos, which move from The Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2500 BCE) through García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967). And, collectively, these videos highlight over 100+ writers, scholars, artists, and performers with a personal connection to world literature. Philip Glass, Francine Prose, Harold Ramis, Robert Thurman, Kwame Anthony Appiah - they all make an appearance.
online_courses  literature  world  videos  learning 
may 2011 by katieday
Salman Rushdie services New York hotel rooms with books | Books | guardian.co.uk
"The Booker prize-winning author has come up with a wide-ranging line-up for guests, from Walt Whitman's 1855 poetry collection Leaves of Grass to Philip Roth's 1969 tale of the sex-obsessed Alexander Portnoy, Portnoy's Complaint.

Other titles picked by Rushdie range from William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury to F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, while a more modern perspective is provided by Toni Morrison's Beloved, Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift, Thomas Pynchon's V, Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

Those wishing to dip into a book of short stories of an evening might be tempted by Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge, or collections by Eudora Welty and Bernard Malamud, while science fiction comes from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five.
booklists  literature 
april 2011 by katieday
Wondrous, detailed map of the history of science fiction
Artist Ward Shelley's brilliant map of the history of science fiction from 2009 is a kind of interestingness black hole whose event horizon captured me for several hours this morning as I pored over the diagram and the arguments it makes about the history and origins of science fiction. I don't agree with every conclusion illustrated here, but thinking about them made me reconsider a lot of cherished beliefs.

History of Science Fiction (JPEG)

 Institute for the Future: Map of the Robot Renaissance - Boing Boing
Fringe Characters Relation Map - Boing Boing
Christopher Nolan's hand-drawn Inception timeline - Boing Boing
Flowchart: How D&D is a gateway drug to every flavor of nerdiness ...
Art_and_Design  Culture  Wide  happymutants  history  literature  map  sciencefiction  from google
march 2011 by katieday
Rediscovering 'Jane Eyre'
as a new movie is being released.... discusses spin-offs on the book
jane_eyre  classics  literature  books  booklists 
march 2011 by katieday
Dead SULs
"Hackers in Siberia do a bustling trade in personal data. A Mary Kay saleswoman uses Facebook to push lipstick. Silicon Valley’s genius seer claims to have developed an “intelligence instrument” that can predict the future.

This is the world of Dead SULs, a contemporary reimagining of one of Russian literature’s masterpieces.

First published in 1842, Nikolai Gogol’s novel Dead Souls was a darkly comic look at Russia’s social structure during the time of serfdom. Translated to the present day, Gogol’s  “souls” have been replaced by  SULs – Suspended User Lists – from a certain social network. And one desperate entrepreneur, determined to make his way in the high-altitude scene of tech startups and paper millionaires, will do anything to collect as many of them as possible.

An exploration of identity in the Internet era, Dead SULs considers the meaning of our constantly logged-on lives."
russia  literature  gogol  ebooks 
march 2011 by katieday
Text Patterns: teaching e-books
Argues that there isn't enough choice in ebooks yet to get the texts you need for group teaching - "Look in the Kindle or Nook or Sony stores for these authors and you’ll find most of you want only in a few cases (Orwell, Rushdie, Beckett, Murdoch); in others you’ll find minimal choices (Waugh, Woolf, Stoppard — one play), poor, outdated, or non-standard editions (Joyce, Yeats), or nothing at all (Auden, Greene, Friel). You couldn't create a reasonable course in Modern British Literature with e-books. Not yet."
digitalgist  ebooks  teaching  literature 
february 2011 by katieday
Science fiction teaches governments—and citizens—how to understand the future of technology. - By Robert J. Sawyer - Slate Magazine
"At the core of science fiction is the notion of extrapolation, of asking, "If this goes on, where will it lead?" And, unlike most scientists who think in relatively short time frames—getting to the next funding deadline, or readying a product to bring to market—we think on much longer scales: not just months and years, but decades and centuries.That said, our job is not to predict the future. Rather, it's to suggest all the possible futures—so that society can make informed decisions about where we want to go. George Orwell's science-fiction classic Nineteen Eighty-Four wasn't a failure because the future it predicted failed to come to pass. Rather, it was a resounding success because it helped us prevent that future. Those wishing to get in on the ground floor of discussing where technology is leading us would do well to heed Alvin Toffler's advice by cracking open a good science-fiction book and joining the conversation."
science_fiction  literature 
february 2011 by katieday
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