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|Thomas Love Peacock (b. 1785) – U.K. novelist, satirist – Nightmare Abbey (1818)|
Excerpt from Nightmare Abbey
A NEW visitor arrived at the Abbey, in the person of Mr Asterias, the ichthyologist. This gentleman had passed his life in seeking the living wonders of the deep through the four quarters of the world; he had a cabinet of stuffed and dried fishes, of shells, sea-weeds, corals, and madrepores, that was the admiration and envy of the Royal Society.
* * *
Presently they saw him and Aquarius cautiously stealing along on the other side of the moat, but they saw nothing more; and Mr Asterias returning, told them, with accents of great disappointment, that he had had a glimpse of a mermaid, but she had eluded him in the darkness, and was gone, he presumed, to sup with some enamoured triton, in a submarine grotto.
‘But, seriously, Mr Asterias,’ said the Honourable Mr Listless, ‘do you positively believe there are such things as mermaids?’
Most assuredly; and tritons too.
THE HONOURABLE MR LISTLESS
What! things that are half human and half fish?
Precisely. They are the oran-outangs of the sea. But I am persuaded that there are also complete sea men, differing in no respect from us, but that they are stupid, and covered with scales; for, though our organisation seems to exclude us essentially from the class of amphibious animals, yet anatomists well know that the foramen ovale may remain open in an adult, and that respiration is, in that case, not necessary to life: and how can it be otherwise explained that the Indian divers, employed in the pearl fishery, pass whole hours under the water; and that the famous Swedish gardener of Troningholm lived a day nd a half under the ice without being drowned? A nereid, or mermaid, was taken in the year 1403 in a Dutch lake, and was in every respect like a French woman, except that she did not speak.
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, an English ship, a hundred and fifty leagues from land, in the Greenland seas, discovered a flotilla of sixty or seventy little skiffs, in each of which was a triton, or sea man: at the approach of the English vessel the whole of them, seized with simultaneous fear, disappeared, skiffs and all, under the water, as if they had been a human variety of the nautilus. The illustrious Don Feijoo has preserved an authentic and well attested story of a young Spaniard, named Francis de la Vega, who, bathing with some of his friends in June, 1674, suddenly dived under the sea and rose no more. His friends thought him drowned; they were plebeians and pious Catholics; but a philosopher might very legitimately have drawn the same conclusion.
Read Thomas Love Peacock online at the University of Pennsylvania
|Miguel Ángel Asturias (b. 1899) – Guatemalan novelist, poet, 1967 literature Nobel Prize winner – Hombres de Maiz (1949)|
Read the Spanish Wikipedia entry for Miguel Angel Asturias here
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Hombres de Maiz (Men of Maize)
by Miguel Angel Asturias
The brilliance of the night dripped copal resin between the canes of the rancho. His woman scarcely showed up on her petate. She was breathing face down as though she were blowing on the fire in her sleep.
Gaspar dragged himself off on his hands and knees, filled with empty ravines, in search of his bottle gourd, with no sound other than the joints of his bones, which ached as if by an effect of the moon; and in the darkness, striped like a poncho by the firefly of the night filtering in through the canes of the rancho, his face, like some thirsty idol, could be seen sucking away at the gourd, drinking down great gulps of cane liquor with the greed of a baby too long deprived of the breast.
A flash of maize-leaf flame caught his face as he emptied the gourd. The sun that beats down on the sugar plantations burned him inside: it burned his head till his hair no longer felt like hair, but like a pelt of ashes, and it burned the flittermouse of his tongue in the roof of his mouth, so he could not let the words of his dreams escape as he slept, his tongue that no longer felt like a tongue, but like a maguey rope, and it burned his teeth that no longer felt like teeth, but like freshly sharpened machetes.
Read the Authors Calendar biography of Asturias:
Read a contrasting viewpoint:
Remnants of Racism in Miguel Angel Asturias’ Hombres de Maíz
|Art Buchwald (b. 1925) – U.S. journalist, humorist|
Listen to an excerpt of Art Buchwald speaking at the
92nd St Y in New York, 1996
|Lepa Brena (Лепа Брена)(Fahreta Jahic) (b. 1960) – Bosnian pop singer|
Watch Lepa Brena sing “Just Come In” (Udji slobodno)
Lyrics to “Just Come In”
(translated by Maja / MayGoLoco on AllTheLyrics.com/forum)
Udji slobodno – COME IN FREELY (JUST COME IN)
O, kako uzimas mi dah
OH, HOW YOU TAME MY BREATH (AWAY)
kad korake ti cujem
WHEN I HEAR YOUR FOOTSTEPS
i ko da nije noc, san me ne hvata
AND LIKE IT ISN’T NIGHT, I CANNOT FALL ASLEEP
ma, dodji ovde sam, iza zatvorenih vrata
WELL, COME HERE, I AM BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
O, kako ulivas mi strah
OH, HOW YOU BROWBEAT ME
da gubim te polako
THAT I’M LOSING YOU SLOWLY
da s nase sudbine pada pozlata
THAT GILT IS FALLING FROM OUR FATE
ma, budi opet moj iza zatvorenih vrata
WELL, BE MINE AGAIN BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Udji slobodno, vidi da li disem
COME IN FREELY, SEE IF I’M BREATHING
hiljadu sam ti ja zivota dala
A THOUSAND LIVES I GAVE TO YOU
dodji, uzmi mi jos i ovaj jedan
COME, TAKE ALSO THIS ONE FROM ME
sto sam s tobom imala
THAT I HAVE HAD WITH YOU
Udji slobodno, to je samo ljubav
COME IN FREELY, IT’S JUST LOVE
kada vidim te, srce svoje cujem
WHEN I SEE YOU, I HEAR MY OWN HEART
znam da nikad mi nista nisi dao
I KNOW THAT YOU NEVER GAVE ME ANYTHING
a ipak sve ti dugujem
BUT STILL I OWE YOU EVERYTHING
Mozda je ovo samo san
MAYBE THIS IS JUST A DREAM
jos jedna nocna mora
al’ tvoja dusa je meni poznata
BUT YOUR SOUL IS FAMILIAR TO ME
i sama ostajem iza zatvorenih vrata
AND ALONE I REMAIN BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Samo je jedna zvezda nocas plava
TONIGHT ONLY ONE STAR IS BLUE
sa neba sisla je
IT CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN
sija tamo gde nasa ljubav spava
IT SHINES THERE, WHERE OUR LOVE SLEEPS
do mene vodi te, do mene vodi te
IT GUIDES YOU TOWARDS ME, IT GUIDES YOU TOWARDS ME
See also “Pazi Komi Zavidis” (Be Careful Who You Envy)
|Ursula Le Guin (b. 1929) – U.S. novelist, poet, essayist – The Lathe of Heaven (1971)|
Watch the One Minute Critic:
Read Le Guin’s 1987 letter to a publisher about male self-contentedness
Watch Ursula Le Guin reading from Lavinia:
|Leo Burnett (b. 1891) – U.S. advertising executive, brand creator|
Read these biographies of Leo Burnett:
Watch Leo Burnett’s speech:
|Doris Lessing (b. 1919 ) – British novelist – The Golden Notebook (1962)|
Read about Doris Lessing here:
Excerpt from Doris Lessing’s Nobel Prize speech:
We are in a fragmenting culture, where our certainties of even a few decades ago are questioned and where it is common for young men and women who have had years of education, to know nothing about the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some speciality or other, for instance, computers.
What has happened to us is an amazing invention, computers and the internet and TV, a revolution. This is not the first revolution we, the human race, has dealt with. The printing revolution, which did not take place in a matter of a few decades, but took much longer, changed our minds and ways of thinking. A foolhardy lot, we accepted it all, as we always do, never asked “What is going to happen to us now, with this invention of print?” And just as we never once stopped to ask, How are we, our minds, going to change with the new internet, which has seduced a whole generation into its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging and blugging etc.
Very recently, anyone even mildly educated would respect learning, education, and owe respect to our great store of literature. Of course we all know that when this happy state was with us, people would pretend to read, would pretend respect for learning, but it is on record that working men and women longed for books, and this is evidenced by the working men’s libraries, institutes, colleges of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Reading, books, used to be part of a general education.
…I was brought up in what was virtually a mud hut, thatched. This house has been built always, everywhere, where there are reeds or grass, suitable mud, poles for walls. Saxon England for example. The one I was brought up in had four rooms, one beside another, not one, and, the point is, it was full of books. Not only did my parents take books from England to Africa, but my mother ordered books from England for her children, books in great brown paper parcels which were the joy of my young life. A mud hut, but full of books.
And sometimes I get letters from people living in a village that might not have electricity or running water (just like our family in our elongated mud hut), “I shall be a writer too, because I’ve the same kind of house you were in.”
But here is the difficulty. No. Writing, writers, do not come out of houses without books.
There is the gap. There is the difficulty.
I have been looking at the speeches by some of your recent prizewinners. Take the magnificent Pamuk. He said his father had 1 500 books. His talent did not come out of the air, he was connected with the great tradition.
Take V.S. Naipaul. He mentions that the Indian Vedas were close behind the memory of his family. His father encouraged him to write. And when he got to England by right he used the British Library. So he was close to the great tradition.
Let us take John Coetzee. He was not only close to the great tradition, he was the tradition: he taught literature in Cape Town. And how sorry I am that I was never in one of his classes: taught by that wonderfully brave bold mind.
In order to write, in order to make literature, there must be a close connection with libraries, books, the Tradition.
|Deepak Chopra (b. 1946? or 1947) – Indian-American nonfiction writer, novelist – Creating Health (1987)|
Watch a Deepak Chopra interview:
|Michael Crichton (b. 1942) – U.S. novellist, screenwriter – The Andromeda Strain|
Read this blog post about Michael Crichton:
Watch Michael Crichton on the Charlie Rose show (1 hour):
|Alexandra David-Néel (b. 1868) – French explorer, Tibet scholar – Tibetan Journey (1936)|
Read about Alexandra David-Neel’s trip to Lhasa in 1923
Watch this video of Alexandra David-Neel, taken when she was in her 90’s (French language interview):
Watch an exccerpt of a Spanish documentary about her: