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Showing posts from May, 2015

To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough (or, Tae a Moose) by Robert Burns.

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To a Mouse is a particularly sad and poignant poem written by Robert Burns in 1785 and first published 1786 in Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, which is also known as the Kilmarnock Volume.
I'll begin with the poem itself:
Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An…

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell.

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Wives and Daughters: An Every-Day Story is Elizabeth Gaskell's final novel, which was published first in The Cornhill Magazine from August 1864 to January 1866, then in book form in 1866. It is unfinished: on the 12th November 1865 Elizabeth Gaskell sadly died of a heart attack, and so Wives and Daughters ends abruptly without conclusion. Volume XIII of the magazine (you can read that online here), which published the final instalment, has as a conclusion a piece by Frederick Greenwood, the then joint-editor of the magazine with George Henry Lewes (George Eliot's partner). In this he pays tribute to Elizabeth Gaskell and attempts to conclude the work, either from details that he knew and was told by Gaskell, or educated guess work.

However sudden the end of the novel may be, I still loved Wives and Daughters, and it is one of the best books I've read so far this year. It tells the story of Molly Gibson, the daughter of a widowed doctor. It's set in Hollingford, Cheshire…

Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge.

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I wrote in my last post that having finished the Penguin English Library I wanted to begin a new challenge, something heavy on the Ancient Greek and Romans. So, I've put this together: a list of 108 Ancient Greek or Roman works. As far as I could see, there are no existing lists, so I've used a variety of sources to make this up: 15 best classic books of all time from The Telegraph, 10 Ancient Greek Writers You Should Know from ListVerse, and the website Ancient Literature. I've also had a look at some other blogs and their Classics Club list (for example Fanda's Classic Club List and Cleo's Classics Club List as these two don't tend to shy away from the heavy stuff!), and the review list on The Classics Club. Of all these lists, I've read 17 of the works, but I do want to revisit and write about most of them. So, my big number is 3 so far - 3 read and reviewed. 
As I said, I do want to get this to 100 (that goal is now met!), and I'm also very much a be…

Completed Challenge: The Penguin English Library.

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On the 7th April 2013 I started my 'Penguin English Library Challenge'. The goal, of course, was to read all of the 100 titles, and I started having already read about 50 or so (I'm afraid I didn't write down exactly how many, which is unfortunate!). Yesterday, when I finished Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell I completed this challenge!

Here's the list of books I've read, which I've put into alphabetical order for ease: Emma by Jane Austen Mansfield Park by Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey by Jane AustenPersuasion by Jane AustenPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Sense and Sensibility by Jane AustenLady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne BrontëJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëShirley by Charlotte Brontë Villette by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë Evelina by Fanny BurneyThe Way of All Flesh by Samuel ButlerAlice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Man Wh…

Rentafoil by Émile Zola.

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Rentafoil (Les Repoussoirs, known also as The Contrasts) is a short story by Émile Zola published within Sketches of Paris (Esquisses Parisiennes) in 1866, which also contains The Boot-Polishing Virgin (La Vierge au cirage), The Old Woman with the Blue Eyes (Les vieilles aux yeux bleus), and Love Under the Roof (L’Amour sous les toits).

The story opens,
In Paris, everything's for sale: wise virgins, foolish virgins, truth and lies, tears and smiles. You must certainly be aware that in such a commercially-minded place, beauty is a commodity and the object of an obnoxious trade. People buy and sell big bright eyes and charming little mouths; noses and chins are all quoted at the exact valuation. A particular dimple or beauty spot can command a steady income. And since there's always fraud somewhere or other, at times you have to copy nature's handiwork, so that eyebrows drawn with burnt match ends, and false hairpieces fetch better prices than the real article.It is, as with t…

The Amateur Cracksman by E.W. Hornung.

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Here's a fun book - The Amateur Cracksman, or as it is also known, Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman. It's the first of the 'Raffles' series by Ernest William Horung (published in 1899) - others include The Black Mask (1901), A Thief in the Night (1905), and Mr. Justice Raffles (1909). With the exception of Mr. Justice Raffles, they are a collection of short stories, about twenty-one I believe. The first one has this dedication: To  A.C.D. THIS FORM OF FLATTERY A.C.D. - his brother-in-law Mr. Arthur Conan Doyle, who is, of course, the author of the Sherlock Holmes books. In those, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson solve crimes. In The Amateur Cracksman and subsequent books, Arthur J, Raffles and Harry "Bunny" Manders cause them; that is to say, they are the criminals who, no doubt, Holmes and Watson would be tracking.
There are nine stories in this first volume:  The Ides of MarchA Costume PieceGentlemen and PlayersLe Premier PasWilful MurderNine Points of the LawThe…

Pictures from Italy by Charles Dickens.

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In 1844, having already published some of his major works - The Pickwick Papers (1837), Oliver Twist(1839), Nicholas Nickleby (1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1841), Barnaby Rudge (1841), A Christmas Carol (1843), and Martin Chuzzlewit (1844), Charles Dickens took a break from novel writing and began a tour of France and Italy, which is chronicled in his 1846 travelogue Pictures from Italy.

He begins by writing that this work is not intended to be a serious work on the history, religion, or government of Italy, rather, as he writes,
This Book is a series of faint reflections - mere shadows in the water - of places to which the imaginations of most people are attracted in a greater or less degree, on which mine had dwelt for years, and which have some interest for all. The greater part of the descriptions were written on the spot, and sent home, from time to time, in private letters. I do not mention the circumstance as an excuse for any defects they may present, for it would be none; b…

Top Ten Pre-Raphaelite Paintings Inspired by Literature (with a John William Waterhouse bonus!).

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This week's Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie, so, as I do love all things Pre-Raphaelite I've chosen my Top Ten Pre-Raphaelite Paintings Inspired by Literature. But, as I love John William Waterhouse so much, yet still wanted to include the other paintings below, I've made a John William Waterhouse bonus list at the end!


1. The Lady of Shalott by William Maw Egley (1858). From The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1842). And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.
2. Isabella and the Pot of Basil by William Holman Hunt (1868). From The Decameron (Day IV, Story V) by Giovanni Boccaccio (1348 - 1353). Taking the head to her room, she locked herself in and cried bitterly, weeping so profusely that she saturated it…