Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Books for Book Lovers: The Folio Society - Where Beautiful Books Live

I don't normally promote businesses on my blog but as it's Christmas I'm making an exception for the Folio Society (perhaps in the secret hope that one amongst my family or friends might treat me). If you are a true book-lover it's possible that like me you appreciate a book for it's aesthetic and tactile qualities almost as much as for content. In which case you may want to look at the beautifully bound offerings on the Folio Society website. These books are of enduring quality. Having said that, quality comes at a price. If you would like to give a very special edition of a book as a gift, or perhaps start of library of classics to pass on to the next generation,  this is the first place to look.  Some early editions have become collectors items.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Desiderata - Words for Life



Desiderata - Words for Life
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
By Max Ehrmann 1927.
Note - United States Court of Appeals judged that this work was in the public domain in 1976. See Wikipedia for more information

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Writer's Research Resource

Most people who enjoy writing and have ambitions to be published find that they need to research a topic at some point. Which can sometimes be problematic. I'm lucky at the moment because I'm studying with the Open University and have online access to a huge database of books. But my studies end in June and then the resource will no longer be available to me. That's when I may need to turn to an online resource where there are millions of books that you can preview or sometimes read for free. Researchers simply need to type their subject into the search box and a long list of books with appear.  If there isn't a digital copy of the book that you want the site tells you where one can be borrowed or bought. It even comes up with a list of libraries near to your postcode address. Magic.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Candide - an irrepressible optimist

If you would like to read an example, par excellence, of literary irony and parody try Candide by Voltaire, a delicious, fast-moving romp across 18th century Europe and South America.

First published secretly in 1759, the novella  was widely banned because it contained religious blasphemy, political sedition and intellectual hostility hidden under a thin veil of naïveté.

It’s still part of the curriculum in some universities and is said to be taught more often than any other work of French literature.

I find it an absolute delight to read and re-read  the adventures of Voltaire’s irrepressible optimist, Candide.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Le Mot Juste

Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, considered le mot juste as the key means to achieve quality in literary art. In a letter to George Sand he wrote that he spent his time "trying to write harmonious sentences, avoiding assonances." He sometimes spent a week in the completion of one page, never satisfied with what he had composed. He explained in his correspondence that correct prose did not flow out of him and that his style was achieved through work and revision. Flaubert published much less prolifically than was the norm for his time. His painstaking style of writing resulted in a much lower output over his lifetime than that of peers such as Balzac or Zola. He has famously been called the "martyr of style."

So, what do you aim for - Prolific output, or le mot juste

To find out more about Flaubert, see Wikipedia