Wednesday, 31 October 2012



Tuesday, 30 October 2012


William Blake was an English poet, engraver, and painter. A boldly imaginative rebel in both his thought and his art, he combined poetic and pictorial genius to explore life.

He was born in London in 1757.  His father  soon recognized  his son’s artistic talents and sent him to study at a drawing school when he was ten years old. At the age of 14, he asked to be apprenticed to the engraver James Basire, under whose direction he further developed his  innate skills. As a young man Blake worked as an engraver, illustrator  and drawing teacher.
Blake wrote poems during this time as well, and his first printed collection, Poetical Sketches, appeared in 1783.  Songs of Innocence was published in 1789, followed by Songs of Experience in 1793 and a combined edition the next year bearing the title Songs of Innocence and Experience showing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul.
Blake’s political radicalism intensified during the years leading up to the French Revolution. He disapproved of Enlightenment rationalism, of institutionalized religion, and of the tradition of marriage in its conventional legal and social form (though he was married himself). His nonconformist religious thinking  is particularly evident in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In the 1790s and after, he shifted his poetic voice from the lyric to the prophetic mode, and wrote a series of long prophetic books, including  Milton and Jerusalem. Linked together by an intricate mythology and symbolism of Blake’s own creation, these books propose a revolutionary new social, intellectual, and ethical order.
Blake published almost all of his works himself, by an original process in which the poems were etched by hand, along with illustrations and decorative images, onto copper plates. These plates were inked to make prints, and the prints were then coloured in with paint. This production method was called “illuminated  printing”. Most students of Blake find it necessary to consider his graphic art and his writing together; he himself thought of them as inseparable.
Blake believed that his poetry could be read and understood by common people, but he was determined not to sacrifice his vision in order to become popular. When an exhibition of his works met with financial failure in 1809, Blake sank into depression and withdrew into obscurity; he remained alienated for the rest of his life.
During his lifetime Blake never made much money. His contemporaries saw him as something of an eccentric. It was only after his death that his genius was fully appreciated. His engravings and commissioned work drew enough money to survive, but at times he had to rely on the support of some of his close friends.
Blake left no debts at his death on August 12, 1827. Wordsworth's verdict after Blake's death reflected many opinions of the time: "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott."

Suspended between the Neoclassicism of the 18th century and the early phases of Romanticism, William Blake heavily influenced the Romantic poets with recurring themes of good and evil, heaven and hell, knowledge and innocence, and external reality versus inner. 
Only in the 20th century wide audiences began to acknowledge his profound originality and genius.
His works  have been used by people rebelling against a wide variety of issues, such as war, conformity, and almost every kind of repression.

Sunday, 28 October 2012



The period from the Declaration of American Independence  to about 1830  was marked  by great revolutions: the Industrial Revolution reshaped the social and political background of Britain;  the British colonies on the other side of the Atlantic became a new and free nation; the French Revolution brought  its ideas  of freedom and equality  all over Europe.  All this was  to influence  also the cultural and literary aspects  of life.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The myth of the Natural Man

In the 18th century the discovering of new populations in America, Polynesia, Africa, because of the explorers’ travels around the world, brought around a new vision of the human being. They found whole populations organized in a very different way than the Europeans, with no royal absolutism, without inequalities, without religious  intolerance, without excessive ambitions of profits.  The “myth of the Noble Savage” showed up in the scenario, as a pure being in contact with Nature, not contaminated by  modern society.
Then the whole structure of  European society, based on a system ruled by the Church and the Kingdom, was debated  and  all its rules and moral concepts, considered until  that time as absolutes, were seriously  discussed and criticised. 

Here  you can download a PDF Presentation to improve your knowledge of the "myth of  the Noble Savage".  

Friday, 19 October 2012


The novel originated in the early 18th century after the Italian word "novella", which was used for stories in the medieval period. Its identity has evolved and it is now considered to mean a work of prose fiction over 50,000 words. Novels focus on character development more than plot. In any genre, it is the study of the human psyche.
The ancestors of the novel were Elizabethan prose fiction and French heroic romances, which were long narratives about contemporary characters who behaved nobly.  The novel came into popular awareness due to a growing middle class with more leisure time to read and money to buy books. Public interest in the human character led to the popularity of autobiographies, biographies, journals, diaries and memoirs.  The early English novels concerned themselves with complex, middle-class characters struggling with their morality and circumstances.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


1714 - 1727
Queen Anne  was succeeded by George I of the House of Hanover, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, daughter of James I.

He was an unpopular king partly because of his attachment to Germany, he didn't speak English  and had no knowledge of British customs.
During George's reign, the powers of the monarchy diminished and Britain began a transition to the modern system of cabinet government led by a Prime Minister.  This laid the foundations for that form of Parliamentary monarchy which has been in existence  in England  ever since.
Towards the end of his reign, actual power was held by the Whigs’ leader,  Sir Robert Walpole,  Britain's first Prime Minister.

1727- 1760
George II  exercised little control over British domestic policy, which was largely controlled by Great Britain's parliament.

During the last years of  his reign, William Pitt the Elder of the Whigs, was appointed Prime Minister. He became famous  as the wartime political leader of Britain in the Seven Years' War, especially for his single-minded devotion to victory over France. Victory made Britain dominant in world affairs.  He was also known for his wide popular appeal, his opposition to corruption in government, his advocacy of British greatness, expansionism and colonialism, and his antagonism toward Britain's chief enemies and rivals for colonial power, Spain and France.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


The Stuart dynasty reigned in England and Scotland from 1603 to 1714, a period which saw a flourishing Court culture, but also  uproar  and instability,  plague, fire and war.
It was an age of intense religious debate and radical politics. Both contributed to a bloody Civil War in the mid-17th century between the Crown and Parliament, resulting in a parliamentary victory for Oliver Cromwell and the dramatic execution of King Charles I.
There was a short-term republic, the first time that the country had experienced such an event.
The Restoration of the Crown was soon followed by another 'Glorious' Revolution. William and Mary of Orange ascended the throne as joint monarchs and defenders of Protestantism, followed by Queen Anne, the second of James II's daughters.

Friday, 5 October 2012

World Teachers' Day 2012: "Take a stand for teachers!"

“Take a stand for teachers!” is the slogan of World Teachers’ Day, 5 October 2012 , which UNESCO is celebrating along with its partners, the International Labour Organization, UNDP, UNICEF and Education International (EI).  
Taking a stand for the teaching profession means providing adequate training, ongoing professional development, and protection for teachers’ rights.
All over the world, a quality education offers hope and the promise of a better standard of living. However, there can be no quality education without competent and motivated teachers.
Teachers are among the many factors that keep children in school and influence learning. They help students think critically, process information from several sources, work cooperatively, tackle problems and make informed choices.
Why take a stand for teachers? Because the profession is losing status in many parts of the world. World Teachers’ Day calls attention to the need to raise the status of the profession - not only for the benefit of teachers and students, but for society as a whole, to acknowledge the crucial role teachers play in building the future.

On this day, we call for teachers to receive supportive environments, adequate quality training as well as ‘safeguards’ for teachers’ rights and responsibilities ...  We expect a lot from teachers – they, in turn, are right to expect as much from us. This World Teachers’ Day is an opportunity for all to take a stand.
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General