Archive for the 'Literature' Category

19
May
08

Incredible Journey

Goethe.  Painting by Luise Seidler (Weimar 1811).Image via Wikipedia

Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther is often quoted in literary courses as an example of ‘Bildungsroman’. Bildungsroman’ refers to a novel which charts the education and development of its hero or heroine as she/he comes to maturity. An English example of this kind of novel would be Dickens’ David Copperfield. There is often no requirement to read The Sorrows of Young Werther you just need to know that it is a fine example of ‘bildungsroman’.

However, at my local flea market on Sunday I came across a paperback copy for 20p, I thought I would give it a go. When I got hope and inspected the paperback I found that it was from an American publisher called signet classics with a cover price of 60 cents. But this is not the interesting part of the story.

There was once a social experiment where books were left on trains and buses for people to read and they where encouraged that when they read the book they were to call a number which was written inside the cover, so the boffins could chart the journey of the books, then leave the book on a train again for somebody else to read and restart the cycle over and over again. This book reminded me of that experiment because written inside was an inscription – “Shiela Collins, April 11th 1964, Hempstead, New York.”

Well Shiela if your reading, I have your book on the East coast of England. New York to Lowestoft in 44 years. Now that’s some journey.

04
May
08

Scottish Writers Cut-off at the Knees

Red SquirrelImage by Donald Noble via Flickr

More on the Scottish writers funding from Brian Morton in the Observer. Brian calls this like “…telling the low paid that the hourly rate has been cut again”.

“Literary fiction in Scotland is in the same precarious position as the red squirrel. Time to support it against the encroaching greyness”.

02
May
08

The James Tait Black Memorial Prize

The Reluctant FundamentalistImage via Wikipedia

I tipped Mohsin Hamid, for the 2007 Man Booker Prize with his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, unfortunatley he didn’t win. However he has been shortlisted for the fiction category of the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes. The James Tait Black Memorial Prize although not as prestigious as the Booker, does have a good pedigree. Previous winners include: DH Lawrence, Graham Greene and Salman Rushdie. The winner will be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2008.

02
May
08

RSC Hamlet – David Tennant

Got my Ticket for The Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance of Hamlet. My daughter is a big Hamlet fan and a big fan of David Tennant, so she thinks all her birthdays have come at once. The performance is not until October but it will be worth the wait. I have not seen the RSC before, or been to the The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, so it should be a blast. Actually I got the tickets last November, an early Christmas present if you like. I am only posting this now as I have just got to grips with my web cam, and can’t think of anything else to do with it. So this is me showing off!

02
May
08

£100,000 cut from Scottish Literature Funding

The Scotsman ' s offices in EdinburghImage via Wikipedia

It’s not only actors who are complaining about cuts in Arts funding. Due to further changes made by the Arts Council England to its arts and literature budgets earlier this year, the funding body’s Scottish sister organisation has quietly axed £100,000 from its grants to Scottish publishers, reports the guardian.

Hugh Andrew, chief executive of the Berlinn/Polygonn group, one of the largest publishing houses in Scotland, earlier told the Scotsman that the block funding cuts would also harm the ability of larger publishers to invest in new Scottish writing.

(Ever wondered how the Scottish government were going to be able to afford personal care for the elderly when the English and Welsh can not).

Related articles
22
Oct
07

THE LEGEND OF THE LAMBTON WORM

I have just updated my about page, (Still needs some work), which got me thinking of the Lambton Worm. People may not have heard of the story so in a nutshell the story goes like this:

During the middle ages, the son and heir to the Lambton family skipped church one Sunday morning to go fishing.  Despite tales that it was unlucky to fish on a Sunday. The tales turned out to be true, he caught nothing but a worm. The worm was about three foot long and was the ugliest creature he had ever seen. In his disgust young Lambton through the worm down a well. Years later young Lambton turned of age and was dispatched to the crusades. Meanwhile, the worm he had thrown down the well became fully grown, into a ferocious beast which came from the well. To satisfy its great hunger, it ate cows, sheep and even some small children in the surrounding villages. On his return from the holy land, hearing the stories,  young Lambton set out to slay the worm. He sought advice from a local witch, who told him how to slay the dragon by wearing a suit of armour covered in spikes. So the worm could not wrap its coils around him, which being a constrictor, was the usual way the worm killed its victims. The witch gave a warning with her advice, that after he killed the worm he must kill the first living thing that he saw or a terrible curse would fall upon the Lambton household. Lambton told his family that after he had slayed the worm they are to release the hounds, in order that the first thing living thing he saw would be one of the family hounds. However, after Lambton slayed the worm, his father was so excited that he came running to congratulate his son. Lambton refused to kill his father and sacrificed one of the hounds as he had planned. This did not satisfy the curse and the Lambton family suffered untimely deaths for nine generations. A curse which wiped out the Lambton family line for ever.

The story comes from a time of the great oral tradition in the middle ages when stories were not written down. But were handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. People and places are real, however, as with all great legends how much has been changed over the years (ala chinese whispers) nobody knows. Still this is the story which captured my imagination as a child and has stayed with me throughout my adult life. A great story I can share with my own children, that teaches them to take their responsibilities seriously.

10
Oct
07

Quote of the Day

“Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand”
Kurt Vonnegut.

http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Kurt_Vonnegut