May 20, 2018


11 best quotes by Alexander Pushkin: “Two fixed ideas can no more exist together in the moral world than two bodies can occupy one and the same place in the physical world.” ~ Alexander Pushkin, The Queen of Spades (1833)

“What grace could all your worldly power bring
To One whose crown of thorns has made him King,
The Christ who gave His body to the flails,
Who humbly bore the lance and piercing nails?
Or do you fear the rabble might disgrace The One.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, Secular Power

“The heavy hanging chains shall fall,
The walls shall crumble at the word,
And Freedom greet you with the light
And brothers give you back the sword.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, The Decembrists

“Come purge my soul, Thou Master of my days,
Of vain and empty words, of idle ways,
Of base ambition and the urge to rule;
That hidden serpent that corrupts a fool;
and grant me, Lord, to see my sins alone.
That I not call my brother to atone;
Make chaste my heart and lend me from above
Thy fortitude, humility, and love.”
 ~ Alexander Pushkin, A Prayer

“‘Tis time, my friend, ‘tis time!
For rest the heart is aching;
Days follow days in flight, and every day is taking
Fragments of being, while together you and I
Make plans to live. Look, all is dust, and we shall die.”
~ Alexander Pushkin,  'Tis Time, My Friend, l. 1-5 (1834)

“Unforced, as conversation passed,
he had the talent of saluting
felicitously every theme,
of listening like a judge-supreme
while serious topics were disputing,
or, with an epigram-surprise,
of kindling smiles in ladies' eyes.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (1823), Ch. 1, st. 5.

“A man who's active and incisive
can yet keep nail-care much in mind:
why fight what's known to be decisive?
custom is despot of mankind.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (1823), Ch. 1, st. 25.

“The illness with which he'd been smitten
should have been analysed when caught,
something like spleen, that scourge of Britain,
or Russia's chondria, for short.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (1823), Ch. 1, st. 38.

“Love passed, the Muse appeared, the weather
of mind got clarity new-found;
now free, I once more weave together
emotion, thought, and magic sound.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (1823), Ch. 1, st. 59.

“The less we show our love to a woman,
Or please her less, and neglect our duty,
The more we trap and ruin her surely
In the flattering toils of philandery.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (1823), Ch. 4, st. 1.

“Sad that our finest aspiration
Our freshest dreams and meditations,
In swift succession should decay,
Like Autumn leaves that rot away.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (1823), Ch. 8, st. 11.

“And thus He mused: "From here, indeed
Shall we strike terror in the Swede?
And here a city by our labor
Founded, shall gall our haughty neighbor;
"Here cut" - so Nature gives command -
Your window through on Europe; stand
Firm-footed by the sea, unchanging!”
~ Alexander Pushkin, The Bronze Horseman (1833).

“Two fixed ideas can no more exist together in the moral world than two bodies can occupy one and the same place in the physical world.”
~ Alexander Pushkin, The Queen of Spades (1833)

May 5, 2018


“Man has been endowed with reason, with the power to create, so that he can add to what he's been given. But up to now he hasn't been a creator, only a destroyer. Forests keep disappearing, rivers dry up, wild life's become extinct, the climate's ruined and the land grows poorer and uglier every day.” ~Anton Chekhov, Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya (1897) act 1

If I were asked to chose between execution and life in prison I would, of course, chose the latter. It’s better to live somehow than not at all.

~Anton Chekhov, The Bet (1889)

 “By poeticizing love, we imagine in those we love virtues that they often do not possess; this then becomes the source of constant mistakes and constant distress.”
~Anton Chekhov, Ariadne (1895)

 “Only during hard times do people come to understand how difficult it is to be master of their feelings and thoughts.”
~Anton Chekhov, Misfortune (1886)

“Death can only be profitable: there’s no need to eat, drink, pay taxes, offend people, and since a person lies in a grave for hundreds or thousands of years, if you count it up the profit turns out to be enormous.”
~Anton Chekhov, Rothschild’s Fiddle (1894)

 “When a person is born, he can embark on only one of three roads of life: if you go right, the wolves will eat you; if you go left, you’ll eat the wolves; if you go straight, you’ll eat yourself.”
~Anton Chekhov, Fatherlessness or Platonov, Act I, sc. xiv (1878)

“By nature servile, people attempt at first glance to find signs of good breeding in the appearance of those who occupy more exalted stations.”
~Anton Chekhov, A Futile Occurrence or A Trivial Incident (1886)

“In two or three hundred years life on earth will be unimaginably beautiful, astounding. Man needs such a life and if it hasn’t yet appeared, he should begin to anticipate it, wait for it, dream about it, prepare for it. To achieve this, he has to see and know more than did his grandfather and father.”
~Anton Chekhov, The Three Sisters (1901)

“Once you’ve married, be strict but just with your wife, don’t allow her to forget herself, and when a misunderstanding arises, say: “Don’t forget that I made you happy.”
~Anton Chekhov, Guide for Those Wishing to Marry (1885)

“Probably nature itself gave man the ability to lie so that in difficult and tense moments he could protect his nest, just as do the vixen and wild duck.”

~Anton Chekhov, Difficult People (1886)

“Watching a woman make Russian pancakes, you might think that she was calling on the spirits or extracting from the batter the philosopher’s stone.”
~Anton Chekhov, Russian Pancakes or Bliny (1886)

“Silence accompanies the most significant expressions of happiness and unhappiness: those in love understand one another best when silent, while the most heated and impassioned speech at a graveside touches only outsiders, but seems cold and inconsequential to the widow and children of the deceased.”
~Anton Chekhov, Enemies (1887)

“Not everyone knows when to be silent and when to go. It not infrequently happens that even diplomatic persons of good worldly breeding fail to observe that their presence is arousing a feeling akin to hatred in their exhausted or busy host, and that this feeling is being concealed with an effort and disguised with a lie.”
~Anton Chekhov, The Letter (1887)

“No matter how corrupt and unjust a convict may be, he loves fairness more than anything else. If the people placed over him are unfair, from year to year he lapses into an embittered state characterized by an extreme lack of faith.”
~Anton Chekhov, A Journey to Sakhalin

“All of life and human relations have become so incomprehensibly complex that, when you think about it, it becomes terrifying and your heart stands still.”
~Anton Chekhov, In the Cart or A Journey by Cart or The Schoolmistress (1897)

“Do you know when you may concede your insignificance? Before God or, perhaps, before the intellect, beauty, or nature, but not before people. Among people, one must be conscious of one’s dignity.”
~Anton Chekhov, Letter to his brother, M.P. Chekhov (April 1879)

“An artist must pass judgment only on what he understands; his range is limited as that of any other specialist—that's what I keep repeating and insisting upon. Anyone who says that the artist's field is all answers and no questions has never done any writing or had any dealings with imagery. An artist observes, selects, guesses and synthesizes.”
~Anton Chekhov, Letter to A.S. Suvorin (October 27, 1888)

“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees. Forests create climate, climate influences peoples’ character, and so on and so forth. There can be neither civilization nor happiness if forests crash down under the axe, if the climate is harsh and severe, if people are also harsh and severe.... What a terrible future!”
~Anton Chekhov, Letter to A.S. Suvorin (October 18, 1888)

“Although you may tell lies, people will believe you, if only you speak with authority.”
~Anton Chekhov, Note-Book of Anton Chekhov (1921)

Death is terrible, but still more terrible is the feeling that you might live for ever and never die.
~Anton Chekhov, Note-Book of Anton Chekhov (1921)

It is unfortunate that we try to solve the simplest questions cleverly, and therefore make them unusually complicated. We should seek a simple solution.
~Anton Chekhov, Note-Book of Anton Chekhov (1921)

“Man has been endowed with reason, with the power to create, so that he can add to what he's been given. But up to now he hasn't been a creator, only a destroyer. Forests keep disappearing, rivers dry up, wild life's become extinct, the climate's ruined and the land grows poorer and uglier every day.”
~Anton Chekhov, Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya (1897) act 1

May 1, 2018


“Quite often a man goes on for years imagining that the religious teaching that had been imparted to him since childhood is still intact, while all the time there is not a trace of it left in him.” ~ Leo Tolstoy, Confession (1882), Pt. I, ch. 1

 “Error is the force that welds men together; truth is communicated to men only by deeds of truth.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, My Religion (1884), Ch. 12

“The hero of my tale, whom I love with all the power of my soul, whom I have tried to portray in all his beauty, who has been, is, and will be beautiful, is Truth.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, Sevastopol in May (1855), Ch. 16

“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence (1886)

“All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do. “
~ Leo Tolstoy, The Law of Love and the Law of Violence (1908)

“We acknowledge God only when we are conscious of His manifestation in us. All conclusions and guidelines based on this consciousness should fully satisfy both our desire to know God as such as well as our desire to live a life based on this recognition.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, Entry in Tolstoy's Diary (1 November 1910)

“Men think it right to eat animals, because they are led to believe that God sanctions it. This is untrue. No matter in what books it may be written that it is not sinful to slay animals and to eat them, it is more clearly written in the heart of man than in any books that animals are to be pitied and should not be slain any more than human beings. We all know this if we do not choke the voice of our conscience.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, The Pathway of Life: Teaching Love and Wisdom (posthumous), Part I, International Book Publishing Company, New York, 1919, p. 68

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1865–1867; 1869), Book IV, ch. 11

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1865–1867; 1869), Bk. X, ch. 16

“War is not a courtesy but the most horrible thing in life; and we ought to understand that, and not play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be war and not a game. As it is now, war is the favourite pastime of the idle and frivolous.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1865–1867; 1869), Bk. X, ch. 25

“Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1865–1867; 1869),  Thoughts of Prince Andrew Bk XII, Ch. 16

“To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one's sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1865–1867; 1869), Bk. XIV, ch. 15

“History is the life of nations and of humanity. To seize and put into words, to describe directly the life of humanity or even of a single nation, appears impossible.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1865–1867; 1869),  Epilogue II, ch. 1

“The peculiar and amusing nature of those answers stems from the fact that modern history is like a deaf person who is in the habit of answering questions that no one has put to them.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1865–1867; 1869),  Vol 2, pt 5, p 236 — Selected Works, Moscow, 1869

“My reason will still not understand why I pray, but I shall still pray, and my life, my whole life, independently of anything that may happen to me, is every moment of it no longer meaningless as it was before, but has an unquestionable meaning of goodness with which I have the power to invest it.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1875–1877; 1878), Pt. VIII, ch. 19

“Go — take the mother's soul, and learn three truths: Learn What dwells in man, What is not given to man, and What men live by. When thou hast learnt these things, thou shalt return to heaven.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, What Men Live By (1881), Ch. IV

“Quite often a man goes on for years imagining that the religious teaching that had been imparted to him since childhood is still intact, while all the time there is not a trace of it left in him.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, Confession (1882), Pt. I, ch. 1

“Science has adapted itself entirely to the wealthy classes and accordingly has set itself to heal those who can afford everything, and it prescribes the same methods for those who have nothing to spare.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, What then must we do? (1886)

“The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God; and this can be done only by means of the acknowledgment and profession of the truth by each one of us.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894)

“Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, What is Art? (1897), Ch. 8

April 25, 2018


17 famous quotes by Oscar Wilde about art, life, death, politics and many more. “As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

One can survive everything nowadays except death.
 ~ Oscar Wilde, "Oscariana" (1907)

“People who count their chickens before they are hatched act very wisely because chickens run about so absurdly that it's impossible to count them accurately.”
~ Oscar Wilde, Letter from Paris (May 1900)

“It is always a silly thing to give advice, but to give good advice is absolutely fatal.”
~ Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Mr. W. H. (1889)

“The more we study Art, the less we care for Nature. What Art really reveals to us is Nature's lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition.”
~ Oscar Wilde, Intentions (1891)

“Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of herself. She is not to be judged by any external standard of resemblance. She is a veil, rather than a mirror.”
~ Oscar Wilde, Intentions (1891)

“He is really not so ugly after all, provided, of course, that one shuts one's eyes, and does not look at him.”
~ Oscar Wilde, "The Birthday of the Infanta", The House of Pomegranates (1892)

‘Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event.”
~ Oscar Wilde,"A New Calendar," The Pall Mall Gazette (February 17, 1887)

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”
~ Oscar Wilde, The Epigrams of Oscar Wilde, edited by Alvin Redman (1954)

“Starvation, and not sin, is the parent of modern crime.”
~ Oscar Wilde, The Epigrams of Oscar Wilde, edited by Alvin Redman (1954)

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist – the problem is so entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one's vinegar.”
~ Oscar Wilde, Vera; or, The Nihilists (1880)

“To drift with every passion till my soul
Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play,
Is it for this that I have given away
Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control?
Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday
With idle songs for pipe and virelay,
Which do but mar the secret of the whole.”
~ Oscar Wilde, "Hélas" (1881)

“No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”
~ Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying (1889)

“The final revelation is that Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art.”
~ Oscar Wilde,The Decay of Lying (1889)

“There is no mode of action, no form of emotion, that we do not share with the lower animals. It is only by language that we rise above them, or above each other—by language, which is the parent, and not the child, of thought.”
~ Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist (1891)

“I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously, and I live in terror of not being misunderstood.”
~ Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist (1891)

“As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.”
~ Oscar Wilde,The Critic as Artist (1891)

“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.”
~ Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost (1887)

April 22, 2018


Quotations by Mark Twain

“Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all — the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.”
~ Mark Twain, Mark Twain's Notebook (1935)

“Surely the test of a novel's characters is that you feel a strong interest in them and their affairs—the good to be successful, the bad to suffer failure. Well, in John Ward, you feel no divided interest, no discriminating interest—you want them all to land in hell together, and right away.”
~ Mark Twain, Mark Twain's Notebook (1935)

“I used to worship the mighty genius of Michael Angelo — that man who was great in poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture — great in every thing he undertook. But I do not want Michael Angelo for breakfast — for luncheon — for dinner — for tea — for supper — for between meals. I like a change, occasionally.”
~ Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

“I wish Europe would let Russia annihilate Turkey a little--not much, but enough to make it difficult to find the place again without a divining-rod or a diving-bell.”
~ Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

  “Virtue never has been as respectable as money.”
~ Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

“The people of those foreign countries are very, very ignorant. They looked curiously at the costumes we had brought from the wilds of America. They observed that we talked loudly at table sometimes. They noticed that we looked out for expenses and got what we conveniently could out of a franc, and wondered where in the mischief we came from. In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.”
~ Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
~ Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

 “All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the "elect" have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so "slow," so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle — keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously-engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone in an out-of-the-way locality, the work of translating was equally a miracle, for the same reason.”
~ Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)

“No California gentleman or lady ever abuses or oppresses a Chinaman, under any circumstances, an explanation that seems to be much needed in the east. Only the scum of the population do it; they and their children. They, and, naturally and consistently, the policemen and politicians, likewise, for these are the dust-licking pimps and slaves of the scum, there as well as elsewhere in America.”
~ Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)

“She makes me get up just at the same time every morning; she makes me wash, they comb me all to thunder; she won't let me sleep in the woodshed; I got to wear them blamed clothes that just smothers me, Tom; they don't seem to let any air git through 'em, somehow; and they're so rotten nice that I can't set down, nor lay down, nor roll around anywher's; I hain't slid on a cellar-door for — well, it 'pears to be years; I got to go to church and sweat and sweat — I hate them ornery sermons! I can't ketch a fly in there, I can't chaw. I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widder eats by a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up by a bell — everything's so awful reg'lar a body can't stand it.”
~ Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)

“There was no getting around the stubborn fact that taking sweetmeats was only "hooking," while taking bacon and hams and such valuables was plain simple stealing — and there was a command against that in the Bible. So they inwardly resolved that so long as they remained in the business, their piracies should not again be sullied with the crime of stealing.”
~ Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)

“You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.”
~ Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

“There warn't anybody at the church, except maybe a hog or two, for there warn't any lock on the door, and hogs likes a puncheon floor in summer-time because it's cool. If you notice, most folks don't go to church only when they've got to; but a hog is different.”
~ Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

So there ain't nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I'd a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't a tackled it and aint't agoing to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before.
~ Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

“The citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal, he is a traitor. That he may be the only one who thinks he sees this decay, does not excuse him: it is his duty to agitate anyway, and it is the duty of others to vote him down if they do not see the matter as he does.”
~ Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

“Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion — several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.”
~ Mark Twain,Man's Place in the Animal World" (1869)

April 10, 2018


“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” ~ Harold Pinter, Art, Truth & Politics, The Nobel Lecture

 “One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.”
~ Harold Pinter, Various Voices: Prose, Poetry, Politics

“There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.”
~ Harold Pinter, Old Times

“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.”
~ Harold Pinter, Art, Truth & Politics, The Nobel Lecture

“There are places in my heart...where no living soul...has...or can ever...trespass.”
~ Harold Pinter, No Man's Land

“When you lead a life of scholarship you can't be bothered with the humorous realities, you know, tits, that kind of thing.”
~ Harold Pinter, Ashes to Ashes

“Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.”
~ Harold Pinter, Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics, 1948-2008

“I think we communicate only too well, in our silence, in what is unsaid, and that what takes place is a continual evasion, desperate rearguard attempts to keep ourselves to ourselves. Communication is too alarming. To enter into someone else's life is too frightening. To disclose to others the poverty within us is too fearsome a possibility.”
~ Harold Pinter, Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics, 1948-2008

“You are in no man's land. Which never moves, which never changes, which never grows older, but remains forever, icy and silent.”
~ Harold Pinter, No Man's Land

“The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, and anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its true place. When true silence falls we are left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.”
~ Harold Pinter, Writing for the Theatre (1962)

“The majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lies. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”
~ Harold Pinter, Art, Truth & Politics: The Nobel Lecture

A writer's life is a highly vulnerable, almost naked activity. We don't have to weep about that. The writer makes his choice and is stuck with it. But it is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. You are out on your own, out on a limb. You find no shelter, no protection - unless you lie - in which case of course you have constructed your own protection and, it could be argued, become a politician.
~ Harold Pinter, Various Voices: Sixty Years of Prose, Poetry, Politics, 1948-2008

“EMMA It was never intended to be the same kind of home. Was it? Pause. You didn’t ever see it as a home, in any sense, did you? JERRY No, I saw it as a flat . . . you know. EMMA For fucking. JERRY No, for loving. EMMA Well, there’s not much of that left, is there? Silence. JERRY I don’t think we don’t love each other. Pause. EMMA”
~ Harold Pinter, Betrayal

"But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost."
~ Harold Pinter, Art, Truth & Politics (2005)

“Listen. You know what it's like when you're in a room with the light on and then suddenly the light goes out? I'll show you. It's like this."
He turns out the light.
~ Harold Pinter, No Man's Land

“But death permits you
To arrange your hours

While he sucks the honey
From your lovely flowers”
~ Harold Pinter, Death May Be Ageing

“The past is what you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend you remember.”
~ Harold Pinter

April 5, 2018

Kingsley Amis, an English Novelist, Poet, Critic, and Teacher.

Kingsley Amis Quick Facts


  • Birth Name: Kingsley William Amis
  • AKA: Sir Kingsley William Amis
  • Date of Birth: April 16, 1922
  • Place of Birth: Clapham, London, Middlesex, England, UK
  • Zodiac Sign: Aries
  • Date of Death: October 22, 1995
  • Died at Age: 73
  • Place of Death: St. Pancras Hospital, Camden, London, Middlesex, England, UK
  • Place of Burial: Cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, London, UK
  • Cause of Death: Stroke
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Nationality: British
  • Father: William Robert Amis (1888-1963)
  • Mother: Rosa Annie, née Lucas (1891-1957)
  • Sexual Orientation: Straight
  • Spouse(s):
  1. Hilary Ann Bardwell (m. 1948–1965, divorced) (b. 1928-d. 2010)
  2. Elizabeth Jane Howard (m. 1965–1983, divorced) (b. 1923-d. 2014)
  • Children:
  1. Son - Philip Amis (b. 1948)
  2. Son-Martin Louis Amis (b. 1949)
  3. Daughter- Sally Amis (1954-2000)


“I thought to myself how much more welcome a faculty the imagination would be if we could tell when it was at work and when not.” - Kingsley Amis, The Green Man

Major Themes

  • Society and Class
  • Art and Culture
  • Injustice
  • Women
  • Alcohol and Drugs

Memorable Characters

  • Jim Dixon
  • John Lewis
  • Patrick Standish
  • Jenny Bunn
  • Roger Micheldene
  • Sir Roy Vandervane
  • Rhiannon Weaver
  • Muriel

Major Works

  • The Russian Girl (1992)
  • The Folks That Live on the Hill (1990)
  • The Old Devils (1986)
  • Russian Hide-and-Seek (1980)
  • The Alteration (1976)
  • The Riverside Villas Murder (1973)
  • Girl, 20 (1971)
  • The Anti-Death League (1966)
  • One Fat Englishman (1963)
  • The Green Man (1969)
  • Take A Girl Like You (1960)
  • Lucky Jim (1954)

Did You Know?

  • Amis’ father, William Robert Amis was a mustard manufacturer’s clerk.
  • Amis received his primary education from the City of London School.
  • In the year 1941 he enrolled into St. John’s College, Oxford but his education was interrupted during World War II by his service as a lieutenant in the Royal Corps of Signals. After the end of the war in 1945, he returned to Oxford and resumed his studies and got a distinction in English.
  • In 1946, Kingsley Amis joined the Communist Party of Great Britain.
  • Amis was appointed as lecturer at the University of Wales Swansea in 1948.
  • He penned his first novel Lucky Jim while working as lecturer at the University of Wales Swansea.
  • Amis is labeled by many as a member of the Angry Young Men movement due to his mood and temperament reflected in Lucky Jim.
  • Although Lucky Jim was a best seller in the UK, the book was sold only two thousand copies in the US in its first two years.
  • He received the honorary title ‘Knight’ in 1990.
  • Amis was a non believer of God.
  • Amis had a close friendship with the poet Philip Larkin.
  • Kingsley had two marriages and was divorced twice.
  • He married his first wife Hilary Bardwell in 1948 and had three children with her.
  • Amis’ marriage tended towards divorce soon after Hilary discovered his love affair with Elizabeth Jane Howard in 1963.
  • After formal separation from Hilary in 1965, Amis married Jane in the same year. Again the marriage proved to be unsuccessful and they were divorced in 1983.
  • Amis had no children with Jane.
  • His eldest son Philip Amis is a collagist.
  • His other son, Martin Amis is a novelist.
  • Kingsley Amis suffered from a mild stroke in 1995 which worsened his already ill health.
  • In his last years Amis stayed in the same house where his first wife Hilary lived with her third husband so that he could be cared for until his death.
  • He won the Booker Prize in 1986 for The Old Devils.
  • After death his body was cremated and the ashes were given to family or friend.
  • Kingsley Amis was the key figure in postwar British culture as well as the greatest British comic novelist of his generation.

Media Gallery


Hilary Ann Bardwell and Kingsley Amis

Kinsley Amis with First Wife and Children

Kinsley Amis with First Wife and Children

Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard

Martin Amis and Kingsley Amis

Martin Amis

Sally Amis


March 1, 2018

The Dilemma

One of the most intricate theoretical issues in linguistics is how to make the distinction between language and dialect. Languages differ from each other in a myriad of ways, some only by a little, and others by a lot. As a result, the amount of variation needed between two languages to classify them as dialects of a single language versus different languages is difficult to establish. Numerous scholars tried to distinguish the terms, but their efforts culminated into utter dilemma. Thus the confusion has become a matter of ongoing debate among linguists, dialectologists, and policy makers.

The Origination of the Quandary

The confusion reverts back to antiquity. It stemmed from the Greek usage of the terms. In Ancient Greek language there were a number of clearly discrete local varieties, each associated with a different vicinity and used for a different form of literature: Ionic for history, Doric for choral and lyric, and Attic for tragedy. Besides, there was another spoken variety known as koinē or “common” language, which was used in the court and commerce throughout the Hellenistic empires. According to modern dialectology all these Greek varieties are distinct languages, not dialects. But with a sharp contrast to modern concepts, the Greeks referred them to as dialects. Thus, when the Greek terms were translated as “language” and “dialect”, their meanings appeared quite distinct and different than the meanings these words have in English. In short, the Greek situation has provided the model for all later usages of the terms and the ensuing ambiguity.

The French increased the confusion further by making a division between the terms un dialecte and un patois. Dialecte refers only to regional varieties which are written and have a literary tradition, patois, on the other hand, refers to regional varieties that are not written and lacks such literary tradition.  Hence patois is considered inferior and subordinate to dialecte since it lacks any written form and literary tradition. The French speaking word never considers standard French as a dialect of French language. On the contrary, in English speaking world such consideration is not uncommon. English never considered the term patois for describing language seriously, but it has used both language and dialect in numerous confusing senses.  Dialect is used both for local varieties of English, for instance, New England  dialect, and for various types of informal, lower class, or rural speech. Sometimes it is not even considered as a part of language since it lacks proper prestige to be the language of a polite society. That means in English the term dialect is often equivalent to nonstandard or even substandard variety of the standard language. And application of such terms is a clear indication of social distinction.

Dialects or Languages?

Linguists have a saying: "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy." What this means is that the language versus dialogue question is as much a political as a linguistic one. There is nothing inherently better, more systematic or more logical in a language than in a dialect, or vice versa. Both are linguistic systems with grammar and vocabulary and are or can be learnt natively by their speakers.  However, a close observation reveals that there is a clear notion of a difference between language and dialect. A dialect is a sub-ordinate variety of a language. That is, it refers to only one particular variety of a given language. In contrast, when it is a separate language, it can be a combination of a lot of varieties of that particular language.

The association of language with a "country" or "nation" and of "dialect" with an inferior or nonstandard variety of speech is very strong. This is what is meant by "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy." We can see from this that what are called languages are often standard languages, which are associated with nationhood, with centralised power, with statehood. Nonstandard varieties of language are often termed dialects, implying that they have less status and prestige. But historically, standard languages are just dialects which have acquired a special status, and nonstandard dialects were just language varieties which lay far from the centres of power. Looked at as linguistic systems, languages and dialects have the same characteristics; but looked at from a social point of view, we can say that a language has higher status than a dialect.

Criteria for Distinguishing the Terms

The definition of "language" as opposed to "dialect" presents some difficulties. So, to distinguish the terms we must first decide how to determine, when two similar forms of a language are merely dialects of the same language and when are they separate languages.  But in linguistics there are no systematic criteria for distinguishing languages from dialects. Even though a number of archetypes exist, they often contradict one another. The precise distinction is therefore a subjective one. It is essentially dependent on the user's frame of reference. A language variety is sometimes called a dialect instead of a language only because:
  • it is used only orally and not in literature or other written documents,
  • it is not an official version of a state or country,
  • it is insignificant in size, or
  • it lacks prestige.
Linguists usually cite mutual intelligibility as the major criterion to decide the question in scientific terms: if community A and community B speak two speech varieties that are not mutually intelligible, then the speech varieties are different languages; if they are mutually intelligible but differ systematically from one another, then they are dialects of the same language.

Mutual Intelligibility: adapted from Crystal (1987)

There are problems with this definition, however, because many levels of mutual intelligibility exist, and linguists must decide at what level speech varieties should no longer be considered mutually intelligible:
  • Sometimes speakers of form A claim to understand form B, but speakers of form B deny that they understand form A. Dialects of the same language aren't mutually intelligible, even though there is no linguistic basis for that. The two groups insist that they speak separate tongues, even though they don't.
  • Popular usage of the term "dialect" often suggests that the speakers of that language variety are "lower class" or lack sophistication, and that the variety lacks prestige, is "substandard", or even that it is "not a real language".
  • There is a speech continuum, and there may be a dialect continuum, that is, a chain of mutually intelligible varieties where there is never any clear break in mutual intelligibility, but speakers of dialects at one end don't understand speakers of varieties at the other end.
  • Body of literature may unify some speech communities who are educated to read those works but elsewhere lack of a body of literature may divide communities that can understand each other orally.
  • For various political, social, or historical reasons, people may loathe their neighbors and not wish to admit they have any connection with them, and don't wish to try to understand each other.
  • Use of a particular variety of a language for religious purposes gives it special status.
  • Socio-Political boundaries may allow closely-related dialects to become standardized, used for religion, schools, etcetera even though there is mutual intelligibility. In this case the phrase “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy” is largely true.
  • A particular language may lack a phonetic writing system, so many speakers of mutually unintelligible varieties may understand the written form of that language, and consider themselves to be speakers of that language, not just dialect speakers.
  • People may speak a language that is severely diglossic, that is, the written form is very different from the spoken. Many spoken dialects may be mutually unintelligible, but the literary dialect unites them, and they all learn it as the language of education.
Therefore, in practice, the idea of mutual intelligibility is not free from ambiguities. Whether or not two varieties are considered dialects of the same language or distinct languages is usually a socio-political issue. That is, sometimes the use of the terms "language" or "dialect" is motivated by geographic, social, political, or economic barriers between groups of people who speak the same language. Thus, the difference between dialect and language is partly a linguistic and partly a matter of opinion based on extra-linguistic considerations. Mutual intelligibility serves to distinguish language and dialect for some situations, such as: Hungarian, Romanian, and Basque. But there are many situations where it becomes absolutely insignificant.  Let us consider a number of case studies to justify this view:


Chinese: Mutually Unintelligible
Spoken Chinese comprises many regional varieties. Although they employ a common written form, they are mutually unintelligible, and for this reason controversy exists over whether they can legitimately be called dialects or whether they should be classified as separate languages. Generally, these variants are referred to as dialects rather than separate languages. And it is also supposed that Chinese is a single language with combination of different dialects. This traditional characterization of Chinese as a single language is largely motivated by socio-cultural factors in China. The Chinese believe that they a have a common writing system and tradition that unite their languages. Both Mandarin and Cantonese, for instance, are mutually unintelligible, but still the Chinese referred them to as dialects, not separate languages.

- SITUATION    2 -

Hindi-Urdu: Mutually intelligible
Although considered a distinct language from Hindi, Urdu is intelligible to speakers of Hindi. The key properties in distinguishing Urdu and Hindi are their vocabularies and orthographies. The Urdu vocabulary borrows heavily from Arabic and Persian, unlike Hindi, which borrows considerably from Sanskrit. Orthographically, Urdu is written in a modified Persian-Arabic script, while Hindi is written in the Devanagari script. Urdu and Hindi are considered different languages in a socio-cultural sense. Though linguists consider Urdu and Hindi two registers of a single language, speakers often disagree. The two registers are usually mutually intelligible, but a great deal of nationalism is involved in which register one speaks. Urdu and Hindi are not simply a register to its speakers, but a symbol of national, religious, and sometimes political identity. However, at a linguistic level, the two are virtually identical. Although there are major differences in orthography and loan vocabulary as previously mentioned, there are minor differences in usage and pronunciation of foreign words. As a result, the grammars of the two languages are virtually indistinguishable, such that apart from written forms of the language, it is not immediately obvious whether Hindi or Urdu is being used.


German-Dutch: Mutually Unintelligible
German forms together with Dutch, its closest relative, a coherent and well-defined language area that is separated from its neighbors by language borders. These neighbors are: in the north Frisian and Danish; in the east Polish, Sorbian, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian; in the south Slovenian, Italian, Friulian, Ladin, and Romansh; in the west French. Except for Frisian, none of these languages are West Germanic, and so they are clearly distinct from German and Dutch. While Frisian is closely related to German and Dutch, it is generally considered not to be mutually intelligible with them.

The situation is more complex with respect to the distinction between German and Dutch. Until recently, there has been a dialect continuum throughout the whole German-Dutch language area, with no language borders. In such a dialect continuum, dialects are always mutually intelligible with their neighbors, but dialects that are further apart from each other are often not. The German-Dutch continuum lent itself to a classification of dialects into Low German and High German based on their participation in the High German consonant shift; Dutch is part of the Low German group. However, because of the political separation between Germany and the Netherlands, Low German dialects in the Netherlands and Low German dialects in Germany have started to diverge during the 20th century. Additionally, both in northern Germany and in the Netherlands, many dialects are close to extinction and are being replaced by the German and Dutch standard languages. In this way, a language border between Dutch and German is currently forming.

While German is grammatically similar in many ways to Dutch, it is very different in speech. A speaker of one may require some practice to effectively understand a speaker of the other.

Dutch speakers are generally able to read German, and German speakers who can speak Low German or English are generally able to read Dutch, but have problems understanding the spoken language, although Germans who speak High German, or, even better, Low German, can cope with Dutch much better than people from Southern Germany, Switzerland and Austria who have grown up with the Alemannic dialects.


Bangla: Mutually intelligible
Dialectal differences in Bangla manifest themselves in three forms: standardized dialect vs. regional dialect, literary language vs. colloquial language and lexical variations. The name of the dialects generally originates from the district where the language is spoken. Sylheti, Chittagonian, Rongpurian, and Dhakaiya are some of the many varieties that are often considered dialects of Bangla.  All these varieties are mutually intelligible. However, like Mandarin and many other languages spoken over a wide geographical area, Bengali dialects span a dialect continuum. This means that though speakers of one dialect are likely to be able to understand their neighbours , and even their neighbours'  neighbours,  as the distance grows, it becomes likely that the speakers will be unable to understand anything but a few words of other dialects.

The Verdict

Strange as it may seem, there is no really good way to distinguish the terms "language" and "dialect." It is because they are neither objective nor scientific terms. People use the words "dialect" and "language" to mean different ideas. Sometimes the suggested meanings connote confusing and contradictory concepts. As a result, the distinction between language and dialect remains a great dilemma for the linguists still now.


Wardhaugh, Ronald . An Introduction Sociolinguistics Oxford: Blackwell, 1992

Hudson, Richard Anthony. Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: CUP, 1990

Yule, George. The Study of Language.  Cambridge: Cup, 1996

Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language Cambridge, Cambridge: CUP, 1987

“Dialect.” Wikipedia. 2008. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 September 2008


“Language.” Microsoft Encarta. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft, 2005.

“Dialect.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2 September 2008

NB: This article was originally written in the year 2008.

February 10, 2018

James Joyce, a 20th century influential Irish writer.


  • Birth Name: James Augustine Aloysius Joyce
  • Date of Birth: February 2, 1882
  • Place of Birth: 44 Brighton Square, Terenure, Dublin, Ireland
  • Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
  • Date of Death: January 13, 1941
  • Place of Death: Zurich, Zurich District, Canton of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Place of Burial: Fluntern Cemetery, Fluntern, Bezirk Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • Cause of Death: Perforated duodenal ulcer
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Height: 5 ft 10 in
  • Father: John Stanislaus Joyce (1849 -1931)
  • Mother: Mary Jane (Murray) Joyce (1859-1903)
  • Siblings:
  1. Sister- Katie Joyce (c. 1875-?)
  2. Sister-Elizabeth W Joyce (c. 1879-?)
  3. Brother-John Augustine Joyce (c. 1881 - c. 1883)
  4. Sister-Margaret Alice Joyce (c. 1884 - c. 1964)
  5. Brother- John Stanislaw Joyce (1884-1955)
  6. Sister- Mary Jane Joyce (c. 1886)
  7. Brother - Charles Patrick Joyce (1886-?)
  8. Brother- George Alfred Joyce (c. 1888 - 1902)
  9. Sister- Mabel Josephine Anne Joyce (1893-?)
  10. Sister -Eileen Isabella Joyce (1889-1963)
  11. Sister- Eva May Joyce (1891)
  • Sexual Orientation: Straight
  • Spouse: Nora Barnacle (m. 1931) (1884 -1951)
  • Children:
  1. Son - Giorgio Joyce (1905 -1976)
  2. Daughter- Lucia Anna Joyce (1907-1982)
  • Alma Mater: Clongowes Wood College; Belvedere College; University College Dublin
  • Known for: his experiments with language, symbolism, and perfecting the narrative techniques of interior monologue and stream of consciousness
  • James Joyce was criticized for: complicating his writings through vague references or dull descriptions of intimate matters, including sexual activity.
  • James Joyce was influenced by: William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, W. B. Yeats, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Ezra Pound, Friedrich Nietzsche, Homer, Gustave Flaubert, Dante Alighieri, Anton Chekhov, Jonathan Swift, Miguel de Cervantes, Aristotle, Henrik Ibsen, Stendhal, Lord Byron, John Milton, Laurence Sterne, François Rabelais, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Bertrand Russell, Carl Jung, Thomas Aquinas, George Moore, Edmund Spenser, Mikhail Lermontov, Robert Burns, Ben Jonson, Giordano Bruno, Giambattista Vico, Sheridan Le Fanu, John Henry Newman, Otto Weininger, and Jens Peter Jacobsen
  • Joyce's Works Inspired:  James Blish, Anthony Burgess, Philip Dick, William Faulkner, Anthony Burgess, and Leonard Cohen


“His heart danced upon her movements like a cork upon a tide. He heard what her eyes said to him from beneath their cowl and knew that in some dim past, whether in life or revery, he had heard their tale before.” - James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Major Works

  • Dubliners (1914)
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
  • Exiles (1918)
  • Ulysses (1922)
  • Pomes Penyeach (1927)
  • Finnegans Wake (1939)

Major Themes

  • Psychology
  • Exile
  • Myth
  • Catholicism

Did You Know?

  • James Joyce was the eldest of 12 children born to John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane (Murray) Joyce.
  • His father had an unsuccessful career with involvement in several jobs including a position as tax collector for the city of Dublin.
  • His mother was a gifted pianist.
  • Joyce was educated entirely in Catholic schools in Ireland.
  • James Joyce graduated in 1902 with a Pass degree in modern languages.
  • Soon after his graduation, Joyce left Ireland to pursue a medical education in Paris.
  • He returned to Ireland briefly in 1903 upon news of his mother's illness but left for Paris in 1904 after her death.
  • In Paris, Joyce lived in near poverty even after the successful publication of Ulysses in 1922.
  • Joyce's younger brother, Stanislaus Joyce provided him financial support throughout his life.
  • Although Joyce and Nora started living together since1904, the couple finally got married in 1931 and the wedlock continued until Joyce's death.
  • Joyce was plagued by severe eye problems for most of his adult life, which eventually led to near blindness. He underwent a multitude of surgeries for eye problems.
  • Joyce's first published book was Chamber Music (1907), a collection of 36 love poems.
  • His first prose work, Dubliners was published in 1914, which contained 15 short stories and sketches.
  • Joyce's works left a profound impact on the Irish cinema, especially towards the development of the avant-garde film style.
  • Joyce gained international recognition through the publication of Ulysses which many people consider one of the greatest and most original books ever written.
  • Ulysses was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920.
  • Ulysses was published as a complete book in Paris by Sylvia Beach, of the bookstore Shakespeare & Co. on 2 February 1922, Joyce's 40th birthday.
  • Ulysses was banned in the United States from 1922 until 1933.

Media Gallery

James Joyce

James Joyce with his daughter Lucia Anna Joyce, wife Nora Barnacle, and son Giorgio Joyce

James Joyce with his daughter Lucia Anna Joyce

February 1, 2018


“The dreamer in her Had fallen in love with me and she did not know it. That moment the dreamer in me Fell in love with her and I knew it”  ~ Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters

“You were overloaded. I said nothing.
I said nothing. The stone man made soup.
The burning woman drank it.”
~ Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters

 “Do as you like with me. I'm your parcel. I have only our address on me. Open me, or readdress me.”
~ Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters

“I shall also take you forth and carve our names together in a yew tree, haloed with stars...”
~ Ted Hughes, Letters of Ted Hughes 

 “The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where did he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows. Taller than a house the Iron Man stood at the top of the cliff, at the very brink, in the darkness.”
~ Ted Hughes, The Iron Man

“The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.”
~ Ted Hughes, Letters of Ted Hughes

“So we found the end of our journey.
So we stood, alive in the river of light,
Among the creatures of light, creatures of light.”
~ Ted Hughes, River

“Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business”
~ Ted Hughes, The Thought-Fox

“In the pit of red
You hid from the bone-clinic whiteness

But the jewel you lost was blue.”

~ Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters

“The brassy wood-pigeons
Bubble their colourful voices, and the sun
Rises upon a world well-tried and old.”
~ Ted Hughes, Stealing Trout on a May Morning

“You could become internationally famous - you're Gemini, and according to antique authority have a literary talent, which of course your letters prove.”
~ Ted Hughes, Letters of Ted Hughes

“The world’s decay where the wind’s hands have passed,
And my head, worn out with love, at rest
In my hands, and my hands full of dust,”
~ Ted Hughes, Song

“There is no better way to know us
Than as two wolves, come separately to a wood.”
~ Ted Hughes, A Modest Proposal

“He could not stand. It was not
That he could not thrive, he was born
With everything but the will –
That can be deformed, just like a limb.
Death was more interesting to him.
Life could not get his attention.”
~ Ted Hughes, Season Songs

“The Shell

The sea fills my ear
with sand and with fear.

You may wash out the sand,
but never the sound
of the ghost of the sea
that is haunting me.”

~ Ted HughesThe Mermaid's Purse

“where are the gods
the gods hate us
the gods have run away
the gods have hidden in holes
the gods are dead of the plague
they rot and stink too

there never were any gods
there’s only death”
~ Ted Hughes, Seneca's Oedipus

“The dreamer in her
Had fallen in love with me and she did not know it.
That moment the dreamer in me
Fell in love with her and I knew it”
~ Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters

January 21, 2018

George Bernard Shaw was an Anglo-Irish playwright, literary critic, and novelist.

George Bernard Shaw Quick Facts


  • Birth Name: George Bernard Shaw
  • AKA: Bernard Shaw
  • Date of Birth: July 26, 1856
  • Place of Birth: Portobello, Dublin, Ireland
  • Zodiac Sign: Leo
  • Death: November 2, 1950
  • Place of Death: Ayot St. Lawrence, United Kingdom
  • Cause of Death: Kidney dysfunction after falling from a ladder
  • Ethnicity: White
  • Nationality: Irish & British
  • Height: 6 ft 2 in
  • Place of Burial: Cremated (ashes scattered in different places)
  • Father: George Carr Shaw (1814–1885)
  • Mother: Lucinda Elizabeth Shaw (1830–1913)
  • Siblings:
  1. Sister- Lucinda Butterfield (1853–1920)
  2. Sister- Elinor Shaw (1855–1876)
  • Sexual Orientation: Straight
  • Spouse: Charlotte Payne-Townshend (m. 1898 –1943) (b. 1857– d.1943)
  • Children: None
  • Alma Mater: Wesley College
  • George Bernard Shaw was Known for: incorporating comic and complex elements to unveil social evils, and exploring philosophical ideas
  • George Bernard Shaw was criticized for: NA
  • George Bernard Shaw was influenced by: Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 –1860), Richard Wagner (1813 –1883), Henry David Thoreau (1817 –1862), Karl Marx (1818 –1883), Henrik Ibsen (1828 –1906), William Morris (1834 –1896), W. S. Gilbert (1836 –1911), Henry George (1839 –1897), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 –1900), Joseph Stalin (1878 –1953), and Agustus Montrose.
  • Shaw’s works inspired: T. S. Eliot (1888–1965), Noël Coward (1899–1973), Peter Nichols (b. 1927), Henry Livings (1929–1998), Tom Stoppard (1937), and Alan Ayckbourn (b. 1939)

Notable Awards

  • Nobel Prize in literature (1925) “for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty"
  • Academy Award (1938) for the film adaptation of Pygmalion.


“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Back to Methuselah

Did You Know?

  • Bernard Shaw was the youngest child and the only son of George Carr Shaw and Lucinda Elizabeth Shaw.
  • During his childhood Shaw went to numerous educational institutions, all of which he detested.
  • Shaw wanted to refuse the Nobel Prize in literature, but ultimately accepted it since his wife insisted that it was a tribute to Ireland.
  • Although Shaw accepted the 1925 Nobel Prize, he refused the prize money, arranging instead for the money to go toward funding the translation of Swedish literature into English.
  • During lifetime, Shaw produced more than fifty plays and three volumes of music and drama criticism.
  • Many critics consider Shaw as the greatest English dramatist since William Shakespeare.
  • In 1893 Shaw Published his first play, Widowers' Houses, which he described as an "unpleasant" play.
  • He used the pseudonyms "GBS" and "Corno di Bassetto" as a columnist.
  • Shaw was a vegetarian, and kept himself aloof from alcohol or coffee.
  • It is rumoured that he and his wife never consummated sexual relationship.
  • During his lifetime Shaw maintained relationship with many women which he continued even after marriage.

January 7, 2018

The Pseudo-classical poet Alexander Pope has been widely hailed as the unchallengeable master of the heroi-comical poetry. This very reputation stems heavily from his brilliant and playful implementation of mock-heroic traditions into his long narrative poem The Rape of the Lock. The poem, without a contest, is the most exquisite paradigm of mock-heroic poetry that can be found in English literature.

Heroic or epic poems, such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Milton’s Paradise Lost deal with the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures in elevated style and serious manner. Contrariwise, the mock-heroic poem is a poetic form based on the traditions and devices of a serious epic to deal with a trivial theme by placing it in a framework entirely inappropriate to its importance, thereby producing ingenious humorous effect.

The subject poem, The Rape of the Lock imitates almost all the traditions of the serious epic except the serious theme. In fact, the main incident of the poem is snipping off a lock of hair of a pretty young woman and an ensuing battle. However, Pope treats the incident as if it were comparable to events that instigated the Trojan War. In this way Pope elaborates a trivial episode into a playful and fanciful heroi-comical poem resembling an epic in miniature.

The poem begins with an invocation in epic tradition. However, instead of a divinity, Pope dedicates the poem to his and Arabella Fermor's friend John Caryll, who originally asked him to write it, and to Belinda that is, Arabella, the woman the poem is purportedly about:
“WHAT dire Offence from am'rous Causes springs,
What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things,
I sing—This Verse to Caryll, Muse! is due;
This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:
Slight is the Subject, but not so the Praise,
If She inspire, and He approve my Lays.”
To be contextual, the poem is based on an actual episode that provoked a quarrel between two families. Lord Petre had cut off a lock of hair from the head of Arabella Fermor, which caused much indignation on the part of the lady and her family.

Pope also uses supernatural machinery; but instead of gods and goddesses of the classical epics he uses petty spirits like Sylphs, Nymphs, Genomes and Salamanders. We see that the Sylphs are taking care of Belinda as the gods and goddesses in the classical epics would side the heroes when there is a fight:
“Propp’d on their bodkin spears, the sprites survey
The growing combat, or assist the fray.”      
The minuscule spirits play a significant role in the dramatic, thematic and structural development of the poem. Pope intentionally employs them to maintain the triviality of the theme. We laugh when we compare the activities of the tiny spirits with those of the gods and goddesses of epic poems.

Journey to the underworld is another common convention of an epic. Like supernatural beings in the classical epics, the gnome Umbriel descends to the Underworld on Belinda’s behalf and obtains a magical bag full of female screams and cries, and a vial of tears and sorrow from the Queen of Spleen. Umbriel’s intention is to relief Belinda from her mental distress by agonizing her opponents. However, Umbriel puts Belinda into more trouble by dumping the entire contents of the bag over her head instead. Here, it is obvious that Pope designed Umbriel’s journey to the Cave of the Spleen with a view to make fun of the visits of epic heroes to the underworld:
“Umbriel, a dusky melancholy Spright,
As ever sully'd the fair face of Light,
Down to the Central Earth, his proper Scene,
Repairs to search the gloomy Cave of Spleen.”
Dangerous journeys on water are a traditional trait of a serious epic. But here in the poem Belinda takes a relaxed journey on water without any danger. She travels up the Thames in a boat to join Hampton Court to play the game of Omber. Her voyage recalls the voyage of Aeneas on Tiber in Virgil’s epic poem Aeneid.

Like serious epics we have use of weapons and arming of the epic hero in The Rape of the Lock. However, the weapons do not consist of shinning swords and mighty shields but trivial objects like hairpins, cosmetics and amorous looks. Belinda’s dressing is compared to the arming of the epic hero like Achilles described in Homer’s The Iliad:
“Here files of pins extend their shining rows,
Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-dout.
Now awful Beauty puts on all its arms;”
An epic poem is incomplete without battle episodes. Therefore, to maintain such tradition Pope has introduced a number of battle scenes. For example, the game of Omber suggests a mighty battle. Again there is the battle between the lords and ladies fought with fans and snuff. Moreover, there are single fights between Belinda and the Baron and between Clarissa and Sir Plume.

Pope creates a serious mock-heroic effect by employing various similes and metaphors akin to Homer and Milton. For example, at one place he compares Belinda’s eyes with the bright sun. Again, at another place he ironically compares her with Queen Dido and Helen. However, the funniest comparison is made between Belinda's petticoat with the famous Shield of Ajax which was described in Book VII of The Iliad:
“We trust th' important charge, the petticoat:
Oft have we known that sev'n-fold fence to fail,
Though stiff with hoops, and arm'd with ribs of whale.
Form a strong line about the silver bound,
And guard the wide circumference around.”
Pope further reinforces the mock-heroic effect through his grand style. He uses nemerous poetic devices like periphrases, alliteration, and polished diction to achieve the desired mock-heroic effect. Moreover, he makes the style grander through the use of high sounding words, signs of exclamation and interrogation. He also uses lengthy speeches like the serious epic.

“The Rape of the Lock” as a Mock-heroic Poem

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