Literary Memories 22 November: Aldous Leonard Huxley

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Aldous Leonard Huxley

Aldous Leonard Huxley

 

Author: Aldous Leonard Huxley

Dates: 26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963

Nationality: English

Title of Book: Crome Yellow

“Do you propose,” asked Anne, “that the custom should be revived at Buckingham Palace?”

“I do not,” said Mr. Scogan. “I merely quoted the anecdote as an illustration of the customs, so genially frank, of the sixteenth century. I might have quoted other anecdotes to show that the customs of the seventeenth and eighteenth, of the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries, and indeed of every other century, from the time of Hammurabi onward, were equally genial and equally frank. The only century in which customs were not characterised by the same cheerful openness was the nineteenth, of blessed memory. It was the astonishing exception. And yet, with what one must suppose was a deliberate disregard of history, it looked upon its horribly pregnant silences as normal and natural and right; the frankness of the previous fifteen or twenty thousand years was considered abnormal and perverse. It was a curious phenomenon.”

“I entirely agree.” Mary panted with excitement in her effort to bring out what she had to say. “Havelock Ellis says…”

Mr. Scogan, like a policeman arresting the flow of traffic, held up his hand. “He does; I know. And that brings me to my next point: the nature of the reaction.”

Brief Biography: Huxley was a writer. He is best known for his novels Brave New World and The Doors of Perception. Huxley was also an editor for Oxford Poetry, a magazine for poetry and short stories.

Literary Memories 22 November: Jack London

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Jack London

Jack London

 

Author: Jack London

Dates: 12 January 1876 – 22 November 1916

Nationality: American

Title of Book: White Fang

The day began auspiciously. They had lost no dogs during the night, and they swung out upon the trail and into the silence, the darkness, and the cold with spirits that were fairly light. Bill seemed to have forgotten his forebodings of the previous night, and even waxed facetious with the dogs when, at midday, they overturned the sled on a bad piece of trail.

It was an awkward mix-up. The sled was upside down and jammed between a tree-trunk and a huge rock, and they were forced to unharness the dogs in order to straighten out the tangle. The two men were bent over the sled and trying to right it, when Henry observed One Ear sidling away.

“Here, you, One Ear!” he cried, straightening up and turning around on the dog.

But One Ear broke into a run across the snow, his traces trailing behind him. And there, out in the snow of their back track, was the she-wolf waiting for him. As he neared her, he became suddenly cautious. He slowed down to an alert and mincing walk and then stopped. He regarded her carefully and dubiously, yet desirefully. She seemed to smile at him, showing her teeth in an ingratiating rather than a menacing way. She moved toward him a few steps, playfully, and then halted. One Ear drew near to her, still alert and cautious, his tail and ears in the air, his head held high.

He tried to sniff noses with her, but she retreated playfully and coyly. Every advance on his part was accompanied by a corresponding retreat on her part. Step by step she was luring him away from the security of his human companionship. Once, as though a warning had in vague ways flitted through his intelligence, he turned his head and looked back at the overturned sled, at his team-mates, and at the two men who were calling to him.

But whatever idea was forming in his mind, was dissipated by the she-wolf, who advanced upon him, sniffed noses with him for a fleeting instant, and then resumed her coy retreat before his renewed advances.

Brief Biography: London was an author, journalist and social activist. His passion for unionization and workers’ rights was powerfully portrayed in several of his novels including the dystopian novel The Iron Heel. Born to a working class family London was self-educated and in 1893 was imprisoned for vagrancy. He died of uremic poisoning for which he was taking morphine and there are still academics who claim he committed suicide.

Literary Memories 22 November: George Eliot

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George Eliot

George Eliot

 

Author: George Eliot

Dates: 22 November 1819 by 22 December 1880

Nationality: English

Title of Book: The Mill on the Floss

The alterations of feeling in that first dialogue between Tom and Philip continued to make their intercourse even after many weeks of schoolboy intimacy. Tom never quite lost the feeling that Philip, being the son of a “rascal,” was his natural enemy; never thoroughly overcame his repulsion to Philip’s deformity. He was a boy who adhered tenaciously to impressions once received; as with all minds in which mere perception predominates over thought and emotion, the external remained to him rigidly what it was in the first instance. But then it was impossible not to like Philip’s company when he was in a good humor; he could help one so well in one’s Latin exercises, which Tom regarded as a kind of puzzle that could only be found out by a lucky chance; and he could tell such wonderful fighting stories about Hal of the Wynd, for example, and other heroes who were especial favourites with Tom, because they laid about them with heavy strokes. He had small opinion of Saladin, whose cimeter could cut a cushion in two in an instant; who wanted to cut cushions? That was a stupid story, and he didn’t care to hear it again. But when Robert Bruce, on the black pony, rose in his stirrups, and lifting his good battle-axe, cracked at once the helmet and the skull of the too hasty knight at Bannockburn, then Tom felt all the exaltation of sympathy, and if he had had a cocoanut at hand, he would have cracked it at once with the poker. Philip in his happier moods indulged Tom to the top of his bent, heightening the crash and bang and fury of every fight with all the artillery of epithets and similes at his command. But he was not always in a good humour or happy mood. The slight spurt of peevish susceptibility which had escaped him in their first interview was a symptom of a perpetually recurring mental ailment, half of it nervous irritability, half of it the heart-bitterness produced by the sense of his deformity. In these fits of susceptibility every glance seemed to him to be charged either with offensive pity or with ill-repressed disgust; at the very least it was an indifferent glance, and Philip

felt indifference as a child of the south feels the chill air of a northern spring. Poor Tom’s blundering patronage when they were out of doors together would sometimes make him turn upon the well-meaning lad quite savagely; and his eyes, usually sad and quiet, would flash with anything but playful lightning. No wonder Tom retained his suspicions of the humpback.

Brief Biography: Mary Anne Evans better known as George Eliot was a novelist, journalist and translator. She was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She used a male pen name to ensure her work would be taken seriously.

Classical Memories 21 November: Henry Purcell

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Henry Purcell

Henry Purcell

 

Composer: Henry Purcell

Dates: 10 September 1659 – 21 November 1695

Nationality: English

Title of Piece: Abdelazer Suite

Brief Biography: Purcell was a composer. His compositions incorporated Italian and French stylistics to give a unique form of English Baroque music.

Artistic Memories 21 November: René François Ghislain Magritte

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René François Ghislain Magritte

René François Ghislain Magritte

 

Artist: René François Ghislain Magritte

Dates: 21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967

Nationality: Belgian

Title of Piece: The False Mirror

The False Mirror by René François Ghislain Magritte

The False Mirror by René François Ghislain Magritte

Brief Biography: Magritte was an artist. He was a surrealist whose work is renowned for challenging the observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality.

Literary Memories 20 November: Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

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Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

 

Author: Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Dates: 9 September 1828 – 20 November 1910

Nationality: Russian

Title of Book: The Cossacks

Olenin, who had joined the Caucasian Army as a cadet three months before, was quartered in one of the best houses in the village, the house of the cornet, Elias Vasilich–that is to say at Granny Ulitka’s.

‘Goodness knows what it will be like, Dmitri Andreich,’ said the panting Vanyusha to Olenin, who, dressed in a Circassian coat and mounted on a Kabarda horse which he had bought in Groznoe, was after a five-hours’ march gaily entering the yard of the quarters assigned to him.

‘Why, what’s the matter?’ he asked, caressing his horse and looking merrily at the perspiring, dishevelled, and worried Vanyusha, who had arrived with the baggage wagons and was unpacking.

Olenin looked quite a different man. In place of his clean-shaven lips and chin he had a youthful moustache and a small beard. Instead of a sallow complexion, the result of nights turned into day, his cheeks, his forehead, and the skin behind his ears were now red with healthy sunburn. In place of a clean new black suit he wore a dirty white Circassian coat with a deeply pleated skirt, and he bore arms. Instead of a freshly starched collar, his neck was tightly clasped by the red band of his silk BESHMET. He wore Circassian dress but did not wear it well, and anyone would have known him for a Russian and not a Tartar brave. It was the thing– but not the real thing. But for all that, his whole person breathed health, joy, and satisfaction.

Brief Biography: Tolstoy was a writer, philosopher and political thinker. He was a master of realistic fiction.

Parnassian Moments 20 November: Faiz Ahmed Faiz

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Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

 

Poet: Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Dates: 13 February 1911 – 20 November 1984

Nationality: Pakistani

Title of Poem: When Autumn Came

This is the way that autumn came to the trees:
it stripped them down to the skin,
left their ebony bodies naked.
It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,
scattered them over the ground.
Anyone could trample them out of shape
undisturbed by a single moan of protest.

The birds that herald dreams
were exiled from their song,
each voice torn out of its throat.
They dropped into the dust
even before the hunter strung his bow.

Oh, God of May have mercy.
Bless these withered bodies
with the passion of your resurrection;
make their dead veins flow with blood again.

Give some tree the gift of green again.
Let one bird sing.

Translated by Naomii Lazard

Brief Biography: Faiz was a left-wing revolutionary poet. He founded the Communist Party of Pakistan with Sajjeed Zaheer and Jalaludin Abdur Rahim. Faiz’s poetry is considered the backbone of literature and art development in Pakistan and along with Allama Iqbal , he is referred to as the poet of the east.

Artistic Memories 19 November: Nicolas Poussin

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Nicolas Poussin

Nicolas Poussin

 

Artist: Nicolas Poussin

Dates: 15 June 1594 – 19 November 1665

Nationality: French

Title of Piece: Venus Weeping Over Adonis

Venus weeping Over Adonis by Nicolas Poussin

Venus weeping Over Adonis by Nicolas Poussin

Brief Biography: Poussin was a classical French baroque painter. His work is characterised by clarity, logic and order over colour.

Classical Memories 19 November: Franz Peter Schubert

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Franz Peter Schubert

Franz Peter Schubert

 

Composer: Franz Peter Schubert

Dates: 31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828

Nationality: Austrian

Title of Piece: Serenade

Brief Biography: Schubert was a prolific composer of more than 600 lieder, ten symphonies as well as operas and chamber music. His appetite for experimentation manifests itself again and again in his vast output of work in his unusual sense of modulation and choices of instrumentation. Schubert combined Classical form with Romantic melody to give his music a uniqueness of depth.

Literary Memories 18 November: Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust

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Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust

Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust

 

Author: Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust

Dates: 10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922

Nationality: French

Title of Book: Sodom and Gomorrah

As we know, well before going that day (the day when the Princesse de Guermantes’s soirée was taking place) to pay the call on the Duc and Duchesse that I have just recounted, I had been watching out for their return and had, in the course of my vigil, made a discovery, involving M. de Charles in particular, but so significant in itself that up until now, when I am able to give it the position and dimensions it requires, I have put off reporting it. I had, as I have said, abandoned the splendid vantage point, so comfortably installed at the top of the house, from where you can take in the uneven inclines by which assent is made to the de Bréquigny hotel, gaily ornamented in the Italian style by the pink campanile of the coach house belonging to the Marquis de Frécourt. I had found it more practical, once I thought that the Duc and Duchesse were on the point of returning, to station myself on the staircase. I a little regretted ending my sojourn on high. But at this hour of the day, which was that following lunch, I had less cause for regret, for I would not have seen, as in the morning, the footmen from the de Bréquigny and de Tresmes hotel, reduced by the distance to tiny figures in a painting making their slow ascent of the abrupt rise, feather duster in hand, between large sheets of transparent mica that stood out so pleasingly against the red foothills. Lacking the perspective of the geologist, I at least had that of the botanist, and gazed through the shutters on the stairs at the Duchesse’s small shrub and the precious plant, exhibited in the courtyard with that insistence with which marriageable young are thrust forward, and I wondered whether, by some providential chance, the improbable insect would come visit the tendered and forlorn pistil.

Brief Biography: Proust was a novelist and essayist. He is best known for his monumental novel, In Search of Lost Time, which was published in seven parts.

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