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Thread: Literary Notes

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    Default "A Merry Christmas To Everybody"

    It's Christmas Eve, the setting for many works of fiction including O. Henry's (books by this author) "Gift of the Magi," a short story about Jim and Della, the impoverished young couple, in which each one is trying to find the perfect gift for the other. They have just two prized possessions. Jim has a very valuable gold watch and Della has luxurious brown hair and she decides to sell it so she can get Jim a platinum watch chain and Jim sells his watch so that he can get her the beautiful tortoise shell combs for her hair.



    Christmas Eve is also the setting for the beginning of Charles ++++++++++++++++++++ens' (books by this author) A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, a story credited with reviving Christmas in England, which begins:
    "Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail."
    Scrooge is the famous bitter old miser who holds Christmas in contempt but on Christmas Eve he gives Bob Cratchit Christmas day off. He dines alone in his usual tavern, and returns to his lodgings, where on the door knocker her encounters an image of the face of Marley, his old business partner. Marley warns him that he will be visited by three spirits and if he does as they tell him, then he can escape Marley's fate, which is to walk the earth bound in chains because he had no concern for mankind during his life. The ghosts come and Scrooge awakens "'I don't know what to do' he cried, 'laughing in the same breath...I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody!'" The boy stops under the window and he sends him down to the poulterer's shop to buy the enormous turkey to send to Bob Cratchit's family. Scrooge dressed himself all in his best and got out into the streets. The people were pouring forth and walking with his hands behind him Scrooge regarded everyone with a delighted smile. He looked so pleasant that three or four good humored fellows said, "Good morning, sir. A merry Christmas to you.' And Scrooge said afterwards that they were the most delightful sounds he had ever heard in all his years. He went to church and walked up and down and found that everything could yield him pleasure.

    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    In Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (books by this author) writes of the March family's hardships at Christmas time: the girls are too poor to buy presents for each other and their father is off at war. Their spirits are brightened, though, when they receive a letter from their father and read it together around the fireplace. The girls find more joyfulness when they give up their Christmas breakfast to share it with a nearby family of poor immigrant children whose mother had just given birth.




    In James Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, the novel's hero, Stephen Dedalus, has come home from boarding school for the winter holidays and he is excited because for the first time in his life, he is sitting at the adult table for the Christmas dinner. The joy of the occasion diminishes, however, when an argument erupts over the Irish Nationalist Leader Charles Parnell and the role of politics in the Catholic Church. Stephen's old nurse, Dante, proclaims that Parnell was a public sinner and not fit to lead a nation. Stephen's father and his friend defend Parnell and insist that it was the Catholic Church's betrayal of Parnell that caused Ireland's lost chance for independence. Stephens's mother pleads with exasperation, "For pity's sake let us have no political discussion on this day of all days in the year."




    Dylan Thomas (books by this author) in his "A Child's Christmas in Wales," writes about Christmas Day. It was always snowing, "white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats...We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows...that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden..."Fire!" cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong. And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row...Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, "A fine Christmas!" and smacking at the smoke with a slipper. "Call the fire brigade," cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong."

    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    After posting the literary notes for today I noticed Paul's entry under 'Our Favorites'.

    To read more of A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas go to:
    Our Favorites

    Well worth reading!!
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    Default For 12/26

    On this day in 1913, the author of The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce, (books by this author) disappeared into Mexico while traveling with the army of rebel Pancho Villa. In one of his final letters, the 71-year-old Bierce wrote to his niece, Lora, "Good-bye — if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life."

    ~


    It's the birthday of novelist Jean Toomer, (books by this author) born Nathan Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C. (1894). He is best known for his novel Cane, which sold less than 1,000 copies when it first came out in 1923, but it marked the beginning of the literary renaissance in Harlem and influenced other African-American writers like Nora Zeale Hurston, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor. The inspiration for Cane, a mixture of prose and poetry, came from Toomer's observations while living in the rural segregated South, watching the African-American laborers bring in the sugar cane harvest.

    ~


    It's the birthday of author Henry Miller (books by this author) born in New York City (1891), who wrote about poverty, sex, and squalor in his books Tropic of Cancer and Black Spring after living on the streets in Paris, where he stayed with friends and begged on the street just to get enough money for food. Miller wrote in Tropic of Cancer, "It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!"

    ~



    It's the birthday of poet Thomas Gray, (books by this author)born in London (1716). He wrote Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751), which is considered to be one of the greatest poems in the English language. The poem begins,
    The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
    The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
    The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
    And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
    ~

    It's the birthday of columnist Doris Lilly, (books by this author) born in South Pasadena, California (1926). She wrote society columns for the New York Post and the New York Daily Mirror, writing mostly about celebrities. Her first book was How to Marry a Millionaire (1951), which was made into a movie starring Marilyn Monroe. Lilly is believed to be the inspiration for Holly Golighty, the character in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's.

    ~


    It is the birthday of humorist David Sedaris, (books by this author) born near Binghamton, New York (1956). He is best known for his collections of personal essays, Naked (1997) and Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004). Of using a computer, he said, "I'll admit it does make things a lot easier. When I was working on a typewriter and I whited out a line, often I would choose a word to go in the space just because it fit. Now I don't have to do that."
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    It was on this day in 1831 that Charles Darwin (books by this author) set sail from England on the HMS Beagle. Darwin's biology professor had recommended that he go on the upcoming voyage touring the Galapagos Islands and South America, but his father was against the dangerous trip. Darwin went anyway, and he explored the rainforests and was amazed by the plants and animals that he found. He returned to England, and he thought about what he had seen and developed his theory of evolution. In his book On the Origin of Species (1859), he wrote, "Probably all organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed. There is grandeur in this view of life that... from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

    ~


    It's the birthday of child psychologist and author Lee Salk, (books by this author) born in New York City (1926), who is the brother of Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine. Lee Salk was visiting the Central Park Zoo one day when he noticed that the gorilla mothers carried their babies close their hearts, and he published research about the calming effect that sound of a mother's heartbeat can have on a newborn infant. He found that mothers, both left- and right-handed, instinctively cradle their children to the left side of their chests, bringing them closer to their hearts. Salk wrote How to Raise a Human Being (1969) and What Every Child Would Like His Parents to Know (1973).

    ~


    It's the birthday of author Louis Bromfield, (books by this author) born in Mansfield, Ohio (1896). When he was a senior in high school, he went to live on his grandfather's farm, and he studied agriculture in college. He eventually switched to journalism, but he kept writing about farming all his life. He served in World War I, and then wrote his first novel, The Green Bay Tree (1924), about a small farming town that's slowly becoming an industrial center. The next year, Bromfield and his family took a vacation to France, wound up staying there for 13 years, and made friends with fellow ex-patriots Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein. And he wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Early Autumn (1927) and The Farm (1933).

    ~


    It's the birthday of novelist Wilfrid Sheed, (books by this author) born in London, England (1930). Wilfrid Sheed wrote My Life As a Fan (1993), about his love of baseball, and In Love with Daylight: A Memoir of Recovery (1995). He once said, "The American male doesn't mature until he has exhausted all other possibilities."
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    Today in 1973, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's (books by this author) mammoth 260,000-word history of the Soviet prison camp system, The Gulag Archipelago, was published in Paris, France. The book is based on Solzhenitsyn's experiences in the camps for eight years, as well as 227 other inmates he interviewed. When the book was released in the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was arrested and exiled, but he was also finally able to go to Sweden and collect the Nobel Prize in literature he had been awarded in 1970.
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    Today in 1916, James Joyce (books by this author) published his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, after it had been serialized by Ezra Pound in The Egoist between 1914 and 1915. The novel portrays the early years of Joyce's alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, in five sections, each in a third-person voice — from early childhood memories, written in simple, childlike language, to Stephen's final decision to leave Dublin for Paris, in Latin-sprinkled stream-of-consciousness prose.

    ~


    It's the birthday of journalist and novelist Robert Ruark, (books by this author) born in Wilmington, North Carolina (1915), who managed to write 4,000 articles about his travels. He said, "There was a time when I would go anywhere, eat airline food, use gin as a substitute for sleep, fight against the Mau Mau, chase elephants on horseback, slug athletes, enjoy being jailed, and wrestle with leopards, all for the love of the newspaper business."

    ~


    It was on this day in 1849 that Edmund Sears' Christmas carol "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" was published in the Christian Register. Sears said that he hoped the song would promote "peace on earth, good will toward men."

    ~


    It's the birthday of businessman Joyce C. Hall, born in David City, Nebraska (1891), who traveled to Kansas City with shoeboxes full of picture postcards and began selling them to dealers around the Midwest. He started manufacturing his own cards and founded the Hallmark Card Company, which is now the largest greeting-card company in the world.
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    It's the birthday of Joseph Rudyard Kipling, (books by this author) born in Bombay, India (1865). Though he'd never fought in battle, his poems about military life became classics among British soldiers around the world. When he finally moved to Vermont after the war, he began to re-imagine the India of his childhood and wrote The Jungle Book (1894), about a boy raised by wolves in the jungle.

    ~


    It's the birthday of novelist Douglas Coupland, (books by this author) born on a Canadian military base in Baden-Solingen, Germany (1961). He is best known for his controversial novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (1991), coining the term "Generation X," which was later attached to the children of the '60s and '70s.

    ~

    It's the birthday of musician and songwriter Bo Diddley, born Ellas Bates in McComb, Mississippi (192. His big break came in 1955, when he recorded "Uncle John" and "Who Do You Love?" for Chess Records in Chicago, and these two songs became the foundation for early rock 'n' roll. He once said, "I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob."

    "Who Do You Love?" is a song written by Bo Diddley. It has been covered by The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Band, The Blues Project, The Doors, George Thorogood, Golden Earring, Juicy Lucy, King Earl Boogie Band, The Misunderstood, Patti Smith, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Rolling Stones, Ronnie Hawkins, Tom Rush, Townes Van Zandt, and The Woolies, among others.
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    It's the birthday of Catharine Read Williams, born in Providence, Rhode Island (1790), who wrote Fall River: An Authentic Narrative (1833), one of the earliest examples of public reporting in the United States. It was an account of the mysterious death of Sarah Cornell, a young mill worker whose body was found hanging from a pole of a haystack one winter day in 1832. She was several months pregnant, and her death was ruled a suicide until they found a note in her belongings that read: "If I am missing enquire of the Rev. Mr. Avery of Bristol." Reverend Ephraim Avery was a prominent Methodist minister, a married man with several children. After the trial the reverend was acquitted on all counts. Catharine Read Williams exposed the corruption of the New England clergy when she wrote about the sleepy town of Fall River, warning readers that "even here, has murder stalked abroad, amidst scenes of nature's loveliness."

    ~


    It's the birthday of the woman Martin Luther King, Jr. called "The Queen of American Folk Music," Odetta, born Odetta Holmes Filious, in Birmingham, Alabama (1930). She thought at first that she'd be an opera singer, but she heard folk music in San Francisco and decided that was the kind of music that said what she wanted to say. A reviewer once said, "Odetta can't sing 'folk' at all, because she doesn't really sound like a person singing, let alone like the person next door singing. She sounds more like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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    It's the birthday of writer E.M. Forster(Edward Morgan Forster), (books by this author) born in London 1879. His father died when he was an infant, and his mother moved the family to an old country estate called Rooksnest, in Hertfordshire, which became the model for the cozy house in his book Howards End (1910). He worked for the Red Cross in Egypt during World War I and then traveled to India, where he was inspired to write A Passage to India (1924).

    ~

    It's the birthday of novelist J.D. Salinger (Jerome David Salinger), (books by this author) born in New York City in 1919, author of The Catcher in the Rye (1951). He was in the ground force invasion of Normandy on D-Day, and for months he saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he wrote the novel The Catcher in the Rye. It was an immediate best-seller. J.D. Salinger now lives in seclusion in New Hampshire, and though he hasn't published anything new in 40 years, his friends and neighbors claim that he still continues to write.

    ~

    It was on this day in 1660 that Samuel Pepys (Peeps) began his famous diary. The 27-year-old kept up the book for nine years during the restoration of the monarchy to England after the British Civil War, and in his daily record he gave eyewitness accounts to the plague (1665), the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667), and the Great Fire of London (1666). He wrote the entire diary in shorthand, and it wasn't until the 19th century that scholars were able to finally decipher the code he had used.
    ***********************
    We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell

    There are three kinds of people : Those who can count and those that can't.




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