Thursday, September 29, 2011

Know Your English Literature Part. II

Frankenstein: Gothic novel by Mary Shelly, wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, published in 1818. The title character, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, makes a man like monster from parts of corpses, and brings it to life by electricity. Horrible to look at but capable of human emotion, the creature is eaten up by loneliness and begs for a mate. When Frankenstein refuses, it unleashes vengeance.

· The monster itself is often incorrectly referred to as Frankenstein.

Gulliver’s Travels: Satire on human folly by Jonathan Swift published in 1726. Lemuel Gulliver is shipwrecked on the island of Lilliput, where the inhabitants are just six inches tall but take themselves and their petty squabbles very seriously- a satire on contemporary English politics and self importance. Gulliver then travels to Brobdingnag, a land of giants, and to Laputa where the professors are so involved with projects such as extraction sunshine from cucumbers that practical matters are quiet forgotten. His last encounters are with noble, intelligent horses called Houyhnhnms and brutish, degraded men called Yahoos. Gulliver finally returns home and finds him unable to tolerate even his own family.

‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’: First line of one of William Wordsworth’s best known poems. Wordsworth did not give the poem a title, but it is often referred to as ‘Daffodils’. It begins:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high, o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils.

Know Your English Literature Part. I

‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever’: first line of Endymion, a long verse ALLEGORY by John Keats, dealing with the quest for beauty in art and in life.

The Beggar’s opera: Satirical low life opera in ballad form by the 18th century English playwright John Gay. It tells the story of the highway man Macheath who marries Polly Peachum, the daughter of one of his criminal clients. Mr. Peachum, furious at the bad match, informs on Macheath, who is arrested and taken to Newgate prison where he falls for the Warder’s daughter Lucy.

· In the 1920s the German playwright Bertold Brecht and composer Kurt Weill collaborated on a modern version called The Three penny Opera

‘Come live with me and be my love’: Opening line of The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, by the 16th century poet Christopher Marlowe. The shepherd paints a sensuous picture of rustic pleasures in order to woo his lady.

· The poet Jon Donne wrote a pastiche of Marlowe’s poem called The Bait, which exposes the snares that could lie in wait for an unwary maiden.

Great Expectations: Novel by Charles Dickens published in monthly installments from 1860 to 1861. The story concerns a young man, Pip, who develops grandiose ambitions when he starts to receive anonymous gifts of money. Pip is in love with the beautiful Estella but she has been brought up by her aunt Miss Havisham to break men’s hearts. Pip left his friends and embarked on a new life in London. However, when he discovers that the source of his money is the ex-convict Abel Magwitch Whom Pip helped many years before, Pip returns home mortified and repentant.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Exploring World Religions -4

Agnosticism: Agnosticism claims that it is impossible to know something, particularly whether or not God exists. The world was coined by the 19th century British philosopher Thomas Huxley from the Greek a ’not’ and gnosis ‘knowledge’. It is logically possible for an agnostic to believe in God, if he admits that his belief is a matter of faith and not of knowledge.

Determinism: Belief that the way events occur is fixed in advance, either by some supernatural plan of God or by the laws of nature. The concept appears to undermine ideas such as free will, morality, justice and responsibility. Many philosophers, however, have tried to find ways of reconciling human freedom with the belief that there are causes for our behavior. The problem is difficult for religious believers who maintain that God knows everything, including the future, since this implies that the future is fixed. On the other hand, they also want to say that people are responsible for their actions and are free to choose between good and evil. Modern physics ceased to be deterministic in the early 20th century, with the development of quantum mechanics, which suggests that, at the most fundamental level, the behavior of matter cannot be predicted with any certainty.

Epicureanism: Philosophy developed by the Greek thinker Epicurus and his followers. It was based on the belief that the greatest good is pleasure- in the sense of cultivated enjoyment of life, especially the joys of friendship, rather than sensual indulgence. Epicurus was an atheist, and taught that there is nothing to fear in death, which is merely a disappearance, a state of nothingness.
The word epicure now means one who enjoys good food and good living.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Straight Talk

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Know Your World Literature Part. I

Comedy: Type of literature which treats its subject matter humorously and which usually has a happy ending. The plot is often unbelievable and the characters are usually ordinary people rather than the kings and heroes of Tragedy. Western comedy grew out of ancient Greek Fertility rituals in which certain well known people were publicly ridiculed. Later is became unacceptable to mock individuals and instead stock characters or ‘types’ were used. In modern times, Satire, black comedy, Farce and Theatre of the Absurd have tended to dominate the comic form.

Black Comedy: Type of cynical humor developed in the 20th century, particularly in the Theatre of the Absurd. It represents a view of life in which human striving is futile, beliefs and values are arbitrary, and events are governed by chance. Samuel Beckett’s waiting for Godot and Joe, Orton’s Loot are black comedies.

Catharsis: Term used by Aristotle to describe the purifying effect of releasing the emotions of pity and terror which he believed was the purpose of Tragedy.

Classicism: In literature, any style of writing base on the principles and forms used by Classical Greek and Roman authors, such as those laid down by Aristotle in his Poetics. It is sometimes contrasted with Romanticism, which concentrates on imagination and feeling rather than form and style. Classicism flourished during the 17th and 18th centuries when writers such as Voltaire and Moliere in French, Swift and Dr. Johnson in English, and Goethe and Schiller in German all based their work on Classical models.