My Online Writings - 2004 - '07
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It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
English Classical Writers
There are a lot British writers who have infatuated me in a most enduring manner. Of these, Oscar Wide and Somerset Maugham do stand in very supreme positions.
Their styles of writing do differ, yet what impresses me is that they both did have a level of insight, that could have been simply divine.
Even though I have read many works of both, in my childhood days, there is one story from each person, that I have used continuously for a long time. These are the Happy Prince and Princess September.
Being not very bad in telling stories, one of my easiest methods to enchant my little daughter, when she crossed her 3 years of age, was to draw her into the fascinating world of English children’s stories. Among all the fairy tales, and other stories, that came out of my ancient memory, the above mentioned themes used to stand apart.
In many ways, both stories used to affect my daughter immensely, and if I did try, replacing certain words with some very poignant ones, tears could swell in her eyes, uncontrollably. I had to be careful
The devotion of the swallow to the Prince (Happy Prince) and the entreaties of the little bird, when it was imprisoned in the golden cage (Princess September), both could inflame intense emotional storms in my child.
At times, she would plead with me to control my words, and that it did affect her; and at times, I myself used to be affected by the very words that I had used. Actually, I have used the same stories when taking training programmes for children, with remarkable affects of attention from the children.
But beyond all this, I have discerned that, even though, superficially these stories do have very childlike appearances, they do contain an immensity of human understandings, and deep emotions that seek to bring out the pathos that lie in the small mindless actions of ours, that can cause unnecessary suffering to others, including fellow beings.
And beyond all that, there are actually simmering social statements, in both the stories, which the reader can sense. And these themes do have an appeal that can definitely transcend the barriers of time. For, many books come like lightening, and disappear with the bang and the ringing whisper of a thunder; but others, like the ones that I have mentioned, do linger on, even though one may feel that they are just feeble candle lights. And to traverse lengthy darkness, a dependable candle light is far better than the momentary sparkle of a thunder and lightening.
A small quotation from Princess September:
‘Wake up, wake up, little bird,’ she said.
She began to cry and her tears fell on the little bird. He opened his
eyes and felt that the bars of the cage were no longer round him
‘I cannot sing unless I’m free and if I cannot sing, I die,’ he said.
The Princess gave a great sob.
‘Then take your freedom,’ she said, ‘I shut you in a golden cage because I loved you and wanted to have you all to myself. But I never knew it would kill you. Go. Fly away among the trees that are round the lake and fly over the green rice-fields. I love you enough to let you be happy in your own way.’
Quoting from Happy Prince:
“Far away,” continued the statue in a low musical voice, “far away in a little street there is a poor house. One of the windows is open, and through it I can see a woman seated at a table. Her face is thin and worn, and she has coarse, red hands, all pricked by the needle, for she is a seamstress. She is embroidering passion- flowers on a satin gown for the loveliest of the Queen’s maids-of-honour to wear at the next Court-ball. In a bed in the corner of the room her little boy is lying ill. He has a fever, and is asking for oranges. His mother has nothing to give him but river water, so he is crying. Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow, will you not bring her the ruby out of my sword-hilt? My feet are fastened to this pedestal and I cannot move.”
“I am waited for in Egypt,” said the Swallow. “My friends are flying up and down the Nile, and talking to the large lotus-flowers. Soon they will go to sleep in the tomb of the great King. The King is there himself in his painted coffin. He is wrapped in yellow linen, and embalmed with spices. Round his neck is a chain of pale green jade, and his hands are like withered leaves.”
“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “will you not stay with me for one night, and be my messenger? The boy is so thirsty, and the mother so sad.”
“I don’t think I like boys,” answered the Swallow. “Last summer, when I was staying on the river, there were two rude boys, the miller’s sons, who were always throwing stones at me. They never hit me, of course; we swallows fly far too well for that, and besides, I come of a family famous for its agility; but still, it was a mark of disrespect
I know that I may be being presumptuous, for these stories may be very commonly known over there. But, I need to express my enduring admiration.
Posted on: May 23 2004
Wilf : thanks for the rejoinder. But, my views are more of a romantic type. I prepared one writing for posting.
Here it is:
There are many writings all over the world, many very interesting, and with colourful stories. And most of them have very complicated stories, filled with the most appealing tragedies. And many seem to be filled with deep insights of the mysteries of life.
In comparison, I can even claim the many English stories are singularly simple, and straightforward. Then what is so superior about English classics?
The greatness of English classics exists in the fact that they represent a social scene, which is entirely at variance with most other language social systems. For, even when there is pathos and tragedy, or laughter and joy, the individuals who live through the characters have a strange level of elevated individualism that is not discernable in most other language systems. Be they young, old, wise, rich, poor, dependent or independent, criminal or innocent, the individuals exist with an unnatural level of personal dignity.
Reading such books elevates the mind to that level of social interaction. Yet, what I say here is of no significance to a native English speaker, for he or she has not much experience of non-English social scene.
That was just an introduction. Beyond that I would like to talk about the various writers who have attracted me. It must be admitted that many classical writers may seem to be tedious to read, and hence boring; yet, it all depends on how one approaches, and also on having someone to advice on what to read. For example, if one starts on Shakespeare, in most probability, it is a real route to a cul de sac . Yet, there are passages in the bard’s writings, which may really add to one’s language quality.
I think I can write from an layman’s level about such writers as Agatha Christie, Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, O. Henry, Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, Somerset Maugham, Oscar Wilde, Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Sir. Walter’s Scott, Sir. Winston Churchill, Jack London, Baroness Orczy, A.J. Cronin, Daniel Defoe, Margaret Michelle, Shakespeare etc. Yet, what is there to write?
It would be most interesting to go through the attractive parts of their writings.
Somerset Maugham is a very beautiful writer, with tremendous levels of insight, possibly of a mystical level. His short stories are simply wonderful. And his control over words, and phrases are also simply beautiful.
Yet, when dealing with the beauty of words, one man simply is unbeatable. That is, Oscar Wilde. In the case of command and control over language, he simply is the Lord of the language . The immensity of his words, and the way he uses them to construct epigrams are plainly of the divine levels. One can discern the rare attachment of talent to genius.
R.L.Stevenson’s stories also are of themes that carry one to the mood of a bygone English era.
Actually, I would like to bring out the beauty in many of these authors works. Yet, at the moment I am hindered by the fact that I am now not in my base, as such I do not have any books with me. I hope to depend on my memory.
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