Friday, 31 May 2013

AN IRISHMAN'S PHILOSOPHY

In life, there are only two things to worry about:
Either you are well or you are sick.
If you are well,  there is nothing to worry about.
But if you are sick,
there are only two things to worry about:
Either you will get well or you will die.
If you get well, there is nothing to worry about.
But if you die,
there are only two things to worry about:
Either you will go to heaven or hell.
If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.
But if you go to hell,
You'll be so busy shaking hands with friends
You won't have time to worry!
~ Author Unknown ~

GEORGE ORWELL

"Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship."
George Orwell


Here you can download an overview of George Orwell and his literary masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Fourthe definitive dystopian novel, a chilling prophecy about the future, set in a world beyond our imagining.  

Sunday, 26 May 2013

SHE LOVED LIFE, LONDON, THIS MOMENT OF JUNE


Here  is the  beginning of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, together with a text analysis activity.

The novel starts with one of Clarissa's monologues; nothing really happens  in this passage, but much is revealed about the central  character's thoughts and feelings.  In fact, it introduces the reader to the stream-of-consciousness technique,  characterized by a flow of thoughts and images, which may not always appear to have a coherent structure or cohesion. 
It is a style of writing evolved by authors at the beginning of the 20th  century to express in words the flow of a character's thoughts and feelings. The technique aims to give readers the impression of being inside the mind of the character - an internal view that illuminates plot and motivation in the novel. Thoughts spoken aloud are not always the same as those "on the floor of the mind", as Virginia Woolf put it.
"Stream of consciousness" has its origins in the late 19th  century with the birth of psychology. An American psychologist, William James (brother of novelist Henry), first used the phrase in his Principles of Psychology of 1890 to describe the flow of conscious experience in the brain.
The term was first used in a literary sense by May Sinclair in her 1918 review of a novel by Dorothy Richardson. Other authors well known for this style include Katherine Mansfield, William Faulkner and, most remarkably, James Joyce.



Saturday, 25 May 2013

MRS DALLOWAY


Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, published in 1925, was a bestseller both in Britain and the United States despite its rejection of  typical novelistic style. 
The action of Mrs. Dalloway takes place during a single day in June 1923 in London, England. This unusual organizational strategy creates a special problem for the novelist, that is to say how to create  characters deep enough to be realistic while treating only one day in their lives. Virginia Woolf solved this problem with what she called a “tunneling” technique, referring to the way her characters remember their pasts. In experiencing these characters’ recollections, readers derive for themselves a sense of background and history to characters that, otherwise, a narrator would have had to provide.
In a sense, Mrs. Dalloway is a novel without a plot. Instead of creating major situations between characters to push the story forward, Virginia Woolf moved her narrative by following the passing hours of a day. The book is composed of movements from one character to another, or of movements from the internal thoughts of one character to the internal thoughts of another.
Mrs. Dalloway depicts people walking about a city. The book  makes the city, its parks, and its streets as interesting as the characters who inhabit them.
Clarissa Dalloway’s party, which is the culminating event of the book, ties the narrative together by gathering the group of friends Clarissa thinks about throughout her day. It also concludes the secondary story of the book, the story of Septimus Warren Smith, by having Dr. Bradshaw arrive at the party and reveal that one of his patients committed suicide that day.
The book’s major themes are sanity and insanity, isolation and community, or the possibilities and limits of communicativeness, as evidenced by Clarissa’s permanent sense of being alone and by her social skills, which bring people together at her parties.


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A GAELIC PRAYER



Deep peace of running waves to you.
Deep peace of flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the smiling stars to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you.
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

VIRGINIA WOOLF


Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882, the daughter of the Victorian  literary critic  Leslie Stephen.  She lived and was educated  in a highly intellectual atmosphere at home, as her father was friendly with many of the  main literary figures of the period,  among them Henry James.  Her mother died when she was 13  and the loss influenced  her profoundly. It was soon after  her mother’s death  that she had  the first  of a series of nervous breakdowns  which  affected her all her life. When her father died in 1904, she moved to a new area of London,  Bloomsbury,  where she founded a close circle of intellectuals, who became known as the “Bloomsbury  Group”.  Among them there was Leonard Woolf, who later became her husband,  and the novelist E.M. Forster, besides painters and art critics. 
The Bloomsberries shared the desire to challenge the strict Victorian social norms, and demonstrated a sexual freedom that was ahead of their time. They were rather elitist and exclusive. They have been highly criticized for their snobbishness and selfishness. The group was also reproached with its pacifism during the First World War.



In 1913, after completing her first novel, The Voyage Out, she attempted suicide following another of her recurrent mental breakdowns. In 1917  she and her husband founded the Hogarth Press which published the best experimental works of the period besides her own works. Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), The Waves (1931) and Between the Acts (1941)  are her most famous novels. Her love affair with Vita Sackville-West inspired her to write a fantasy  Orlando (1928), the story of an attractive nobleman who lives through different centuries changing sex several times. Besides being a novelist, she was an essayist, journalist and art critic.  Her judgments  were both highly regarded and feared for their uncompromising frankness. The Common Reader (1925-32) contains the best critical work. She was also deeply interested in feminist themes. Discrimination against women is examined in  A Room of One’s Own (1929),  while the dominant role played by men in society is the theme of Three Guineas (1938). She eventually committed suicide by drowning in the River Ouse  in 1941.



The work of Virginia Woolf  marks an important step in the development of the novel, as she consciously rejected  some of the main  conventions of the realistic fiction of  the Victorian Age and developed a new way of expressing a different perception of reality. For her, events  were not important in themselves. What was important was the impression they made on the characters who experienced them. The great technical innovation she introduced in narrative technique was to shift the point of view inside her characters’ minds, thus revealing them through their own thoughts, sensations and impressions. This led to the abandonment of the chronological ordering of events. Her novels involve constant shifting backwards and forwards in time according to the sensations and recollections aroused in the characters by the events they are experiencing.  Virginia Woolf’s fiction is often characterized by two levels of narration, one of  external events arranged  in chronological order and one of the flux of thoughts  arranged  according  to the association of ideas.  Her novels rely on very flimsy plots. They focus on internal thoughts,  feelings and reactions  in a highly evocative and figurative language which follows the random associations.




Sunday, 5 May 2013

A ROOM WITH A VIEW



A Room with a View is a 1908 novel by English writer E. M. Forster, about a young woman in the repressed culture of Edwardian era England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century. 
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked A Room with a View 79th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.



A Room with a View is also a 1985 British drama film directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant. The film is a close adaptation of E. M. Forster's novel and even uses his chapter titles to divide the film into sections. It stars Maggie Smith as "Charlotte Bartlett", Helena Bonham Carter as "Lucy Honeychurch", Judi Dench as "Eleanor Lavish",  Julian Sands as "George Emerson," Daniel Day-Lewis as "Cecil Vyse" and Simon Callow as "The Reverend Mr. Beebe".


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

HAPPY MAY DAY!


May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures.
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe.
A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing "the maypole dance" and crowning of the May Queen.
Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets", small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours' doorsteps.
Here  you can read an interesting article about May Day as  "a cornucopia of holidays" ...