Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why Is Queen Victoria Missing From Literature?

The opening of the film "The Young Victoria" this week comes as a reminder that books in which the queen plays a leading role are few and far between.

This is all the more surprising when you consider that virtually every other British queen or princess has been celebrated in multiple historical novels and narrative histories. My neighborhood Barnes & Noble has an entire display table permanently devoted to such titles. The Tudors are, hands down, the great favorites of the genre; Phillipa Gregory has produced a string of bestselling novels about the wives, daughters and other assorted noblewomen surrounding Henry VIII, most notably the twice-filmed "The Other Boleyn Girl." Historians like Alison Weir have moved successfully between fiction and nonfiction in writing about female royals ranging from the ever-popular Ann Boleyn to the relatively obscure Isabella of France, who was married to the 13th-century King Edward II. And let's not even get started on Princess Di.

But Victoria? She can't get arrested in this section of the bookstore. Lady Jane Grey -- who wore the English crown for a mere nine days before her enemies ordered the head underneath it chopped off -- has had more novels based on her life than the woman who gave the Victorian era its name.

Read more....

Speed-Reading and Literature Just Don't Mix

Speed-reading might be useful for commercial documents, but when it comes to serious writing, it blurs out all the really interesting parts.

The celebrated academic Harold Bloom is a lightning fast reader; blink and he's probably turned the page – twice. In his prime he could churn through 1,000 pages an hour, which means he could have digested Jane Eyre during his lunch break and still had time to chew through half of Ulysses before returning to classes. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel like a slow, slack-jawed simian struggling in the frontal-lobe department.

The average reader snails through prose at a rate of about 250-300 words per minute, which roughly equates to about one page per minute. Bloom is surely cut from a rare cloth of reading comprehension because he whips through more than 16 pages per minute and still remembers almost everything he reads. For the rest of us, it's not so easy. In the World Championship Speed Reading Competition the top contestants typically read around 1,000 to 2,000 words per minute, but only manage about 50% comprehension.
That's just not good enough for literature.

Read more....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

American Exceptionalism in Literature:
A Genre Of Its Own?

What exactly is American exceptionalism?

American exceptionalism is the idea that American literature has a voice separate from that of other Anglophone and European literature, literature professor Ezra Tawil explained. Tawil, with help from his colleagues Andrew Delbanco, the director of Columbia’s American studies department, and Ross Posnock, a fellow English professor, delivered an engaging and intriguing discussion and explanation of the topic at hand. American literature is, as Tawil said, “not merely different, but unique.” It has a different tone, a different set of rules to follow, and a different goal.

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J.K Rowling Working on "Political Fairy Tale" For Children

J.K. Rowling is penning a new book — but this time it's not about wizards.

The author of the "Harry Potter" franchise says that she's writing "a political fairy tale" for "slightly younger children," reports the Kansas City Star, based on extras in the newly released DVD of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." She added that she's in no hurry to finish up quickly, and is learning to enjoy life without the crunch of deadlines.

Meanwhile, work is underway for a $200 million Harry Potter theme park. "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" will include two roller coasters, a Hogwarts Castle, and even shops that are straight from Diagon Alley, like Olivander's wand shop, Honeydukes sweet shop and Zonko's Joke Shop.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

What really killed Jane Austen?

London, England (CNN) -- It is a truth universally acknowledged -- or nearly so -- that Jane Austen, the author of "Pride and Prejudice," died of a rare illness called Addison's disease, which robs the body of the ability to make critical hormones.

Katherine White doesn't believe it.

White, herself a sufferer of Addison's disease, has studied Austen's own letters and those of her family and friends, and concluded that key symptoms just don't match what's known about the illness.

...Patients also tend to have difficulty remembering words, and suffer from slurred speech, sleepiness and confusion.

Austen, by contrast, dictated a 24-line comic poem to her sister less than 48 hours before she died.

White is not the first to dispute the theory that Addison's disease killed Austen. British biographer Claire Tomalin suggested in a 1997 book that lymphoma was the culprit.

White finds that, too, unlikely.

She suspects the answer is much simpler: tuberculosis.

Read more....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Newborns cry in their native tongue

The melodies of the cries newborn babies produce differ depending on their native language, a new study says. Apparently humans start to practice language skills right in the first days of their lives.

Babies learn about speech even earlier. Some three months before birth a fetus’ ear is developed enough to hear sounds, including mother’s voice, which probably explains why infants as young as one month seem to prefer being talked to in their native language.

However, developing speaking skills of their own takes some time outside of the womb. Some 4 months after birth, babies start babbling in their parents’ language or languages.

Read more....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Keep Shakespeare in Our Schools!

Last week, the UK government barred state schools from offering a new IGCSE qualification because it would allow students to opt out of studying Shakespeare.

I think that the very idea that an entire generation of students could leave school without being exposed to Shakespeare at all is terrifying. The study of Shakespeare forges a link with our culture, our history, our heritage and our language - factors that will give the adults of tomorrow a solid grounding in life.

Read more....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Modern children's literature has come a long way from fairy tale classics

Children and books have a long history together, from summer days spent with a stack of page-turners in a backyard hammock, to reading on school nights with a flashlight under the covers. However, in today's world, books face competition for children's attention with video games, the Internet, television and other pastimes.

Because of these distractions, children's book authors, parents, librarians and teachers are having to incorporate different methods to encourage children to read.

One of the steps authors are taking is changing the subject matter of children's literature.

Many adults recall growing up reading tales of princesses, knights in shining armor and evil witches. However, current children's books have taken a step away from fairy tales and are gravitating toward solving the trials of real life.

Read more....

Related Contrasting Article:

Anne Fine deplores 'gritty realism' of modern children's books

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bookless Libraries?

DENVER — When does a library cease to be a library?

What started as a debate over whether brick-and-mortar libraries would survive much further into the 21st century turned into an existential discussion on the definition of libraries, as a gathering of technologists here at the 2009 Educause Conference pondered the evolution of one of higher education’s oldest institutions.

“Let’s face it: the library, as a place, is dead,” said Suzanne E. Thorin, dean of libraries at Syracuse University. “Kaput. Finito. And we need to move on to a new concept of what the academic library is.”

her argument tapped into theories about the obsolescence of libraries — traditionally defined — that have grown along with the emergence of Web-based reference tools, e-books, digitized and born-digital content, and other technologies that some see as changing essential library functions.

Certain major research universities, she noted, have even begun moving their books to off-campus storage facilities due to space issues and a diminishing need for on-site hard copies. Libraries everywhere are eliminating pricey subscriptions to printed academic journals, often opting for less expensive digital versions.

Read more....

Emotional Bunny Says: "Last night's Google search was, unfortunately, "free online books", and even more unfortunately, I found some."

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Twitter's take on great works of literature

Two US students have condensed the plot lines of some of the world's greatest books in to 140-character Twitter messages.

Dante's Inferno is boiled down to: "I'm having a midlife crisis. Lost in the woods. Should a bought my iPhone."

Sophocles' Oedipus the King is shortened to: "PARTY IN THEBES!!! Nobody cares I killed that old dude, plus this woman is all over me."

The compendium of tweets will be published next month by Penguin. Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter, is written by Emmett Rensin, an English and philosophy student at the University of Chicago, and his university friend Alexander Aciman, who is studying comparative literature.

The books also covers Homer's The Odyssey, and the work of Milton, Kafka and Shakespeare.

"It's funny if you've read the books," said Rensin.

"There were some lines in the book where we're sitting on a couch and we're writing it, and we'd both laugh and say 'there's no way they're going to let us write that,'" Aciman said.

"I'm not going to say it's high art. There is some value to it, I feel, aside from the fact we're making available the idea behind great works of art."

Read more....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Plagiarism Software Finds a New Shakespeare Play

Plagiarism-detection software was created with lazy, sneaky college students in mind — not the likes of William Shakespeare. Yet the software may have settled a centuries-old mystery over the authorship of an unattributed play from the late 1500s called The Reign of Edward III. Literature scholars have long debated whether the play was written by Shakespeare — some bits are incredibly Bard-like, but others don't resemble his style at all. The verdict, according to one expert: the play is likely a collaboration between Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd, another popular playwright of his time.

Sir Brian Vickers, a literature professor at the University of London, came to his conclusion after using plagiarism-detection software — as well as his own expertise — to compare writing patterns between Edward III and Shakespeare's body of work.

Read more....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Charlotte Bronte's Rochester is literature's 'greatest romantic'

The Telegraph & Argus - He may be prone to moodiness and lacking in good looks but Mr Rochester, the Byronic hero of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, Jane Eyre, has been named the most romantic literary character in history.

Rochester, the novel’s lead male character, who employs the orphaned Jane as a governess for his young ward, came top in the Mills & Boon poll, followed by Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Rochester, whose appearance is described as being “more remarkable for character than beauty”, proposes to Jane despite her lower social rank but their relationship ends when she discovers he is already married at their wedding ceremony.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Haiku - What it is and how to write it

What is Haiku?

Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional Japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Since early days, there has been confusion between the three related terms Haiku, Hokku and Haikai. The term hokku literally means "starting verse", and was the first starting link of a much longer chain of verses known as haika. Because the hokku set the tone for the rest of the poetic chain, it enjoyed a privileged position in haikai poetry, and it was not uncommon for a poet to compose a hokku by itself without following up with the rest of the chain.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Chinese Literature

The history of ancient Chinese literature is comprised of eight periods, each of which has it's own predominant literature types. These are:

  • Ancient times: fables and legends
  • Early Qin Dynasty: prose on history or masters
  • Eastern and Western Dynasties: verses, ditties, Yuefu songs, and historical prose
  • Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties: poetry and others
  • Tang Dynasty: poetry
  • Song Dynasty: lyrics
  • Yuan Dynasty: poetic drama
  • Ming and Qing Dynasties: fiction

Read more....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bars on books jar Harvard students

For nearly a century, the ornate library with the chandelier, fireplace, and wood-paneled walls has drawn students to its prized collection of classics, thousands of dust-covered tomes from Cicero to Twain.

The students who have long cherished the small library inside Dunster House, Harvard’s oldest dormitory, discovered a new feature there this week: two brass bars stretching across nearly every shelf, making the books impossible to peruse.

...“It seemed very peculiar that anyone at the university would want to actively prevent students from handling books,’’ said Jacob Sider Jost, a fifth-year PhD student. “There’s a very negative response to how this was done. There was no warning and . . . worse than being locked, the books are actually permanently fixed on the shelves, from which they cannot be removed.’’

Dunster officials have since apologized to concerned students and have explained that the bars were needed as a temporary way to protect the books - some of them highly valuable volumes or irreplaceable first editions signed by authors - after it appeared that several works had been stolen.

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Performing Shakespeare Is performing Shakespeare difficult?

Ben Crystal: Well, yes ... and so it should be! These plays are over 400 years old. They contain cultural gags and references that are completely obscure to us. But they’re also hard to perform because Shakespeare was so darned good at tapping into the human heart – so, as an actor you can’t allow yourself to hold back. If you can’t go to the depths of your soul, explore the extremes of yourself, go to the bad place as Othello or Macbeth, then you shouldn’t be on the stage. How important is it to understand iambic pentameter before performing?

Ben Crystal: That depends on how much you respect the writer you’re working with. Most of Shakespeare’s plays are written in that particular rhythmical style, so to ignore it would be foolish. Iambic pentameter is the rhythm of our English language and of our bodies – a line of that poetry has the same rhythm as our heartbeat. A line of iambic pentameter fills the human lung perfectly, so it’s the rhythm of speech. One could say that it’s a very human sounding rhythm and Shakespeare used it to explore what it is to be human.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

The Future of Publishing: Publishing is not a dying business; it's a changing business

The Huffington Post - One year ago, I did what many New Yorkers only dream about. During the most historic presidential inauguration and election of my lifetime, in the throes of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, at the emotional precipice of my mid-twenties, from the mean streets of New York City -- a Greenwich Village apartment, a job in publishing, and mounting debt -- I left it all to become a farmer.

...On my way out of the building, the President of this agency (a nice guy) took me aside and told me, wagging his guacamole'd chip: "Get out of publishing, Makenna. It's a dying business."

But turns out, those folks were wrong about several things.

  1. 1. Publishing is not a dying business; it's a changing business. It's a business going through literary puberty, fiscal adolescence, and management hell. It's a business that needs to grow up, in other words.
Read more....

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'Mockingbird' faces chop at Toronto schools

TORONTO -- To Kill A Mockingbird could be on the curriculum chopping block for all Toronto public schools.

A parent of a Malvern Collegiate student has asked the Toronto District School Board to remove the classic American novel from Canada's largest school board, the Sun has learned.

In August, a Brampton principal scrapped the book from a Grade 10 English course after a parent complained. Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board officials said the parent had objected to the use of the N-word in the book.

Matlow said parents may object to some of the words used in Mockingbird or some of the experiences the book's characters endure, Matlow said.

"But I don't think we should dilute the severity of what people went through in our history just to be politically correct," he said.

Read more....

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Literature and censorship

There is a book in the library that, according to some, “glorifies Satan, suicide, cannibalism and encourages children to be disobedient.”

This particular book has probably been read to every elementary student at some point or another and its writings have been used in homework assignments, debate speeches and even as a basis for other books.

What is this terrible book? Shel Silverstein’s “A Light in the Attic,” the children’s book of silly poems.

This week, Sept. 28 through Oct. 3, marks Banned Books Week, an annual event where libraries, book stores and book lovers celebrate the books that have been banned over the years. At Lee’s Summit High School, media specialists Sandy Stuart-Bayer and Michael Russell, encouraged students to take a closer look at some of the banned books.

Read more....

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

World literature expands its horizons in Germany

Many Germans associate the term "world literature" with US-American and European literature. To help broaden that rather narrow view, the House of World Cultures in Berlin - Germany's national center for contemporary non-European art - and the Elementarteilchen Foundation in Hamburg, a non-profit organization that supports cultural projects, have introduced the International Literature Award. It is to be presented for the first time on September 30 in Berlin, distinguishing international works of prose fiction in German translation. The aim is to attract attention to Asian, African and Latin American writers and expand the common definition of world literature.

Read more....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More Fun Random Facts About Literature

-Emily Dickinson wrote more than nine hundred poems, only four of which were published during her lifetime.

-Gibbon spent twenty years writing The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Noah Webster spent thirty-six years writing his dictionary.

-There is no living descendant of William Shakespeare.

-Voltaire considered Shakespeare's works so deplorable that he referred to the Bard as “that drunken fool.”

-All the proceeds earned from James M. Barrie's book Peter Pan were bequeathed to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London.

Read more....

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Friday, September 25, 2009

How would Einstein use e-mail?

Before computers, letter writers had same correspondence patterns as e-mail users

A new Northwestern University study of human behavior has determined that those who wrote letters using pen and paper -- long before electronic mail existed -- did so in a pattern similar to the way people use e-mail today.

....The researchers examined extensive letter correspondence records of 16 famous writers, performers, politicians and scientists, including Einstein, Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and Ernest Hemingway, and found that the 16 individuals sent letters randomly but in cycles.

The same the Northwestern team used in a previous study to explain e-mail behavior now has been shown to apply to the letter writers. This refutes the rational model, which says that people are driven foremost by responding to others.

Read more....

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

A short history of long speeches

This is a Linked! article - relevant content for both HHZ-History and HHZ-English

For 96 long minutes, Colonel Gaddafi spoke to UN delegates about Somali pirates, the death of JFK, jet lag and his conspiracy theories about swine flu. Call that a long speech? It's but a tiddler.

After an hour and a half of Mr Gaddafi speaking in person, it is not known how many of those listening logged on for more.

Four hours and 29 minutes is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest speech in front of the General Assembly, given in September 1960 by Fidel Castro. The former Cuban leader is known for his interminable speeches - his longest on record in Cuba clocking up seven hours and 10 minutes at the 1986 Communist Party Congress.

Read more....

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Comics meet literature

At first glance you might think R. Sikoryak’s comics are simple gag strips poking fun at western literature, but you would be dead wrong.

Sikoryak combines iconic American comics with complimentary literary classics, creating a new identity for both works that is entertaining and thought-provoking. His comics are an example of how much the genre has grown up, and how far it's come as a serious form of art.

“Mastrepiece Comics” collects 20 years of parodies that originally appeared in a host of anthologies including Drawn & Quarterly, Raw, New York Press and Hotwire amongst others.

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The Literary Overview

Not news, but this is a really cool daily newsletter to sign up for; you'll receive little digestible bits of literature from around the world in your inbox every day!

Read more and sign up.....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What is a Banned Book?

A banned book is one that has been removed from the shelves of a library, bookstore, or classroom because of its controversial content. In some cases, banned books of the past have been burned and/or refused publication. Possession of banned books has at times been regarded as an act of treason or heresy, which was punishable by death, torture, prison time, or other acts of retribution.

A book may be challenged or banned on political, religious, sexual, or social grounds. We take the acts of banning or challenging a book as a serious matter, because these are forms of censorship--striking at the very core of our freedom to read.

The History of Banned Books

A book may be considered a banned book if the work has been banned in the past. We still discuss these books and the censorship surrounding them not only because it gives us insight into the time in which the book was banned, but it also gives us some perspective on books that are banned and challenged today.
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Norse Poetry

Not a news article, but interesting anyway!

— Doom of Odin,
from the Book of Heroes.

"I find no comfort in the shade
Under the branch of the Great Ash.
I remember the mist
of our ancient past.
As I speak to you in the present,
My ancient eyes
see the terrible future.

"Do you not see what I see?
Do you not hear
death approaching?

"The mournful cry of Giallr-horn
shall shatter the peace
And shake the foundation of heaven.

"Raise up your banner
And gather your noble company
from your great hall,
Father of the Slains.
For you shall go to your destiny.

"No knowledge can save you,
And no magic will save you.
For you will end up in Fenrir's belly,
While heaven and earth will burn
in Surt's unholy fire."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Old English

Old English (Englisc), also called Anglo-Saxon,[1] is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written in parts of what are now England and south-eastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century. What survives through writing represents primarily the literary register of Anglo-Saxon. It is a West Germanic language and is closely related to Old Frisian. It also experienced heavy influence from Old Norse, a member of the related North Germanic group of languages.

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Eald Englisc

Here is the Wikipedia page that's written entirely in Old English (also known as Eald Englisc). Now, mind you, this is very different from modern english, and to understand it you'd need to study it like another language.

Eald Enlisc Wicipaedia

Friday, September 18, 2009

What are Classics?

The definition of a "classic" can be a hotly debated topic. Depending on what you read, or the experience of the person you question on the topic, you may receive a wide range of answers. So, what is a "classic"--in the context of books and literature?
  • A classic usually expresses some artistic quality--an expression of life, truth, and beauty.
  • A classic stands the test of time. The work is usually considered to be a representation of the period in which it was written; and the work merits lasting recognition. In other words, if the book was published in the recent past, the work is not a classic.
  • A classic has a certain universal appeal. Great works of literature touch us to our very core beings--partly because they integrate themes that are understood by readers from a wide range of backgrounds and levels of experience. Themes of love, hate, death, life, and faith touch upon some of our most basic emotional responses.
Read more....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Remembering What You Read

Reading is important. But, the next step is making sure that you remember what you've read! Memory is sometimes a tricky thing. You may have just read the text, and the concepts and ideas of the poem or novel may not "catch" on... The images may just fly right out of your head. Here are are a few tricks for remembering what you read.

  1. What's your motivation?
    Do you want to read the poem or book, or are you only reading it because it's assigned. Even if your reading is required, you may discover something about the author or text that will interest you. What do you know about the text? If you have a choice between texts to read, perhaps another work of literature will offer more of an enticement, and will be of more interest to you.

Read more....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Literature Fun Facts

Authors are alphabetized by last name.

Jane Austen:

July 1814, when Sir Walter Scott’s first novel Waverly was published, Jane Austen was a bit jealous. She wrote the following in a letter to her niece:

“Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones.—It is not fair.—He has fame and profit enough as a poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths.—I do not like him, and do not mean to like Waverly if I can help it—but fear I must.”

Ironically, today Jane Austen is a much more popular author than her contemporary Sir Walter Scott.

Daniel Defoe (Foe):

The famous author of Robinson Crusoe changed his name in 1703 from Foe to Defoe. He believed that Defoe is “more socially and upward sounding” than Foe is.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Exploration of the English Renaissance in Literature

A massive transformation in literature took place during the Renaissance, especially in England. Here we will explore the changes of the 16th century and how these changes continue to influence works of literature today.

"....The 16th century also saw the beginnings of English journalism in the topical pamphlets of Robert Green and Thomas Nash. The first formal literary criticism in English appeared in the writings of Sir Philip Sidney ("The Defence of Poesie"), Ben Jonson, and others. The prose romances of Sidney, Nash, Greene, and John Lyly (whose Euphues started a new prose style) were the forerunners of the English novel."

Read more....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reviving another author's characters

Alison Flood follows up the authors joining the booming trend in sequels to other people's workAlison Flood follows up the authors joining the booming trend in sequels to other people's work

This autumn, eight years after Douglas Adams died, Arthur Dent and friends will be hitching across the galaxy once again, Bram Stoker's Dracula will be stalking the pages of a book for the first time in more than a century, and Winnie the Pooh will be returning to the Hundred Acre Wood in the first official sequel to AA Milne's much-loved children's books. Such continuations of the work of popular authors, who have inconveniently interrupted their output by dying, are big business for the literary world these days. Authors are being roped in left, right and centre to continue or complete legacies, whether it's Sebastian Faulks taking on James Bond in Devil May Care last year, or the bucketloads of Virginia Andrews novels she has "written" since her death more than 20 years ago.
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Canadian coastal community provides a sense of wonder for booklovers


SIDNEY, B.C. - Here, in this coastal B.C. town, it's all about the books - thousands of them scattered throughout 12 stores.

New books and rare books. Paperbacks and hardbacks. Children's books, classics and mysteries. Cookbooks, gardening books, even comic books.

For two days, I was in literature bliss, not knowing where to start, losing track of time, and eventually being asked to leave one store because it was closing time - almost like a bartender cutting me off.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Actress creates short one-minute movies about classic books

Kids, remember this name: Jenny Sawyer. She may soon be American education’s next “It” girl. Actually, make that its first and only “It” girl.

Only 24 and barely out of college, Sawyer has undertaken an audacious task: writing and shooting, with the help of a small band of filmmakers, more than 1,000 free, one-minute videos that help students understand and enjoy commonly assigned classic works of literature.

It’ll take two years, thousands of hours on a Boston soundstage and countless outfit changes for Sawyer, the only person appearing on camera.

Read more....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Interesting Facts - Literature

[- Fairy Tales -]
In downtown Lima, Peru, there is a large brass statue dedicated to Winnie the Pooh.
[- Fairy Tales -]
The brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm), collectors of the famous Grimm's Fairy Tales, were not storytellers, nor were they simple lovers of fairy tales. The Grimms were language scholars, the greatest of their time by most accounts, and the stories were collected and codified in the early nineteenth century as an exercise in comparative German philology and grammar.
[- Novels -]
For several decades the well-known Belgian mystery writer Georges Simenon wrote, on the average, one Novel every eleven days. Besides the more than 230 Novels he penned under his own name, Simenon wrote 300 other books under a pseudonym.

Read more facts....

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reading Underground

Published: September 3, 2009

Reading on the subway is a New York ritual, for the masters of the intricately folded newspaper like Ms. Kornhaber, who lives in Park Slope and works on the Upper East Side, as well as for teenage girls thumbing through magazines, aspiring actors memorizing lines, office workers devouring self-help inspiration, immigrants newly minted — or not — taking comfort in paragraphs in a familiar tongue. These days, among the tattered covers may be the occasional Kindle, but since most trains are still devoid of Internet access and cellphone reception, the subway ride remains a rare low-tech interlude in a city of inveterate multitasking workaholics. And so, we read.

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Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

Emotional Bunny would like to share a small confession, about her time spent living in NYC.

Once upon a time, there was a little Emotional Bunny who rode the subway often, and usually went to the great big libraries in Queens, Brooklyn, etc., with Little Sister Bunny.
Tuzki Bunny Emoticon Tuzki Bunny Emoticon
They would take along the big rolling carts that alot of people use their, since there's no parking anywhere and one has to walk far, but they didn't use them for groceries as is the norm. Oh no. They packed them full of as many books as possible...
Tuzki Bunny Emoticon
....until one day a kindly librarian reminded them of their limit of 30 books each, since they were still using children's cards. The Bunny sisters remedied this, however, and begged Mommy Bunny to let them borrow her card for the remaining books.
Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

Going home on the subway after each trip, they would pour over the descriptions of each book, listing the order in which to read them. They would then drag the carts over the doorway at their stop, tugging them through before the doors closed.
Tuzki Bunny EmoticonTuzki Bunny EmoticonTuzki Bunny Emoticon

These afternoon trips left lasting impressions on them, and from what I hear, they still read very often, but their reading of choice tends to be more digital, like news articles online.......


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Classic literature can take whatever we throw at it

Set Hamlet in space or turn Dorian Gray into a horror movie – it doesn't matter, because the classics are strong enough to bounce back.

I saw a bus, in front of the British Library, with an advert for the forthcoming Dorian Gray film plastered all over it. I'm not necessarily saying it will be bad, but the horror movie look of the poster, with Dorian Gray written in dramatic silver typeface, suggests this adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray will have the same hyperbolic qualities as the film adaptation of Beowulf.

".....The British Library, of course, holds the classics – but just what gives a work the gold-standard seal? Without getting too tangled up, let's look back at the bus on the street outside. Dorian Gray, the film it advertises, may be a monstrosity or a masterpiece. But the fact remains that a 19th century novel is being adapted into a 21st century film; even if it's terrible, the status of the original novel won't be harmed....."

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is Hamlet Really That Popular?

Wednesday September 2, 2009

I recently visited Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. Before you enter the house itself, you pass through an exhibition and get bombarded with information.

A little fact stood out about Shakespeare's popularity. "While you have been watching this presentation," said the presenter of the short film, "a production of Hamlet will be underway somewhere in the world."

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Monday, August 31, 2009

A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like

Published: August 29, 2009
JONESBORO, Ga. — For years Lorrie McNeill loved teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Harper Lee classic that many Americans regard as a literary rite of passage.

But last fall, for the first time in 15 years, Ms. McNeill, 42, did not assign “Mockingbird” — or any novel. Instead she turned over all the decisions about which books to read to the students in her seventh- and eighth-grade English classes at Jonesboro Middle School in this south Atlanta suburb.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Anne Fine deplores 'gritty realism' of modern children's books

Former Children's Laureate Anne Fine said that modern stories offered little hope for their protagonists

Once upon a time, in the spiffing 1950s, characters in children’s books enjoyed wonderful adventures after which they all lived happily ever after. By contrast, reality weighs heavily on today’s young readers, a former children’s laureate has warned.

Anne Fine said that cosy tales in which children’s characters looked forward to future adventures had been replaced by gritty stories that offered no hope for their weary protagonists.Contemporary literature is dauntingly bleak, with depressing endings that do little to inspire.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Short Biography of William Shakespear

The life and times of the world’s most famous playwright

Amazingly, we know very little about Shakespeare’s life. Even though he is the world’s most famous playwright, historians have had to fill in the gaps between the handful of surviving records from Elizabethan times.

Some interesting points:

  • Born April 23, 1564 - but this is just an educated guess, because the only record is of his baptism three days later.
  • Died April 23, 1616 - but this is also an educated guess, because the only record is of his burial two days later.
  • He had three children, the oldest conceived out of wedlock, and a set of twins, one of whom died at age 11.
  • His wife's name was Anne Hathaway (like the actress! She must have been named after his wife....)
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Introducing Iambic Pentameter

By Lee Jamieson,

Iambic pentameter is meter that Shakespeare nearly always used when writing in verse. Most of his plays were written in iambic pentameter, except for lower-class characters who speak in prose.

What is Iambic Pentameter?

Iambic Pentameter has:

  • Ten syllables in each line
  • Five pairs of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables
  • The rhythm in each line sounds like:
    ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Common Phrases Invented by Shakespeare

By Lee Jamieson,

Shakespeare has had a huge influence on the English language. Some people today reading Shakespeare for the first time complain that the language is difficult to read and understand, yet we are still using hundreds of words and phrases coined by him in our everyday conversation.

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Top 10 literary hoaxes

Bestselling author Tom Carew may have been somewhat economical with the truth in his colourful account of his adventures in Afghanistan - according to the Ministry of Defence, he never served in the SAS. However, Carew's stunt is just the latest in a long line of literary hoaxes, from Shakespearean 'discoveries' to flying saucer frauds.

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Poetry, Imagination, and Education

Perhaps there never was a time when education received so much general attention as it does today. The world is deluged with books, pamphlets, and reviews on the subject, new systems are continually jostling the old out of place, new methods are constantly being applied, the very end and aim of education itself seems to change from time to time.

That the object of education should be to fit the child for life is such a trite and well-worn saying that people smile at its commonplaceness even while they agree with its obvious common sense. But the many ways of fitting the child, and the very various and diverse lives that have to be fitted for, are so perplexing that it is small wonder that curriculums multiply and still, multiply their subjects in order to keep up with the complexity of modern existence.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Follow your obsessions (for books, that is!)

Is making a book recommendation slightly dangerous? If you're brash enough to distill all your advice about how to face life's stages, blows and transitions to four volumes of literature, should you be surprised if you're met with a few raised eyebrows, maybe some subtly averted glances?

Is it worth revealing all the classics you'd suggest throwing aside in favour of a couple Jon Krakauer books about climbing mountains? Worth admitting you were more moved by Salinger's neurotic Franny and Zooey than Shakespeare's elegant Romeo and Juliet?

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Europe Divided on Google Book Deal

Published: August 23, 2009

BERLIN — The proposed U.S. legal settlement giving Google the right to sell digital copies of millions of books is dividing publishers and authors in Europe, which has struggled to develop viable alternatives to Google’s ambitious book digitization project.

Some big European publishers, like Oxford University Press, and Bertelsmann and Holtzbrinck, which own Random House and Macmillan respectively, support the agreement, which remains subject to approval by a U.S. judge. They see the pact as greatly expanding the visibility of their archives for online purchase. But opposition to the deal, which would allow U.S. consumers to buy online access to millions of books by European authors whose works were scanned at U.S. libraries, is mounting.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Twitter Valued Around $500 Million

The San Francisco Business Journal reports that a research firm named has put on a value on Twitter between $441 million and $589 million.

Twitter has a value of $441 million to $589 million, according to a new report by an independent research firm co-founded by financial world celebrity Michael Moe.

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Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

Emotional Bunny says: "$500 million to cut out vowels from the English language to make it more digestible....."