Tag Archives: classics

Bookshelf Battle Cast – Ep. 004 – “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Chapter 1 – “Mr. Sherlock Holmes”

BQB almost missed podcasting this month because he was enjoying a vacation in sunny Orlando, Florida, hobnobbing with Mickey Mouse and eating pineapples under palm trees and such.

But he came back just in time to entertain his 3.5 listeners.

Here, the world renowned poindexter reads the first chapter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

Who would think that a simple stick left in a waiting room would lead to so many deductions?  We learn Holmes’ investigatory process, namely, how he can observe an item and find details and information everywhere, where others would not notice anything.  Simple little clues about the stick tell Holmes so much about its owner.

Watson believes he has received a compliment from Holmes, i.e. that the great investigator has applauded the good doctor’s observations about the stick but rather, as the chapter moves on, we learn that Holmes says that Watson is not a genius, he is not a source of light but rather, a “conductor of light.”

So…that’s a really nice way of telling Holmes that he was wrong but by being so wrong he helped Holmes figure out what was right.

Talk about backhanded compliments.

https://soundcloud.com/user-957435932/ep-004-the-hound-of-the-baskervilles-by-sir-arthur-conan-doyle-chapter-1

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Top Ten Quotes from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

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#10 – “The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness…”

#9 – “Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.”

#8 – “If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed.”

#7 – “Everything I know, I know because of love.”

#6 – “We are asleep until we fall in love!”

#5 – “Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself. ”

#4 – “Human science fragments everything in order to understand it, kills everything in order to examine it. ”

#3 – “Here’s my advice to you: don’t marry until you can tell yourself that you’ve done all you could, and until you’ve stopped loving the women you’ve chosen, until you see her clearly, otherwise you’ll be cruelly and irremediably mistaken. Marry when you’re old and good for nothing…Otherwise all that’s good and lofty in you will be lost.”

#2 – “A Frenchman’s self-assurance stems from his belief that he is mentally and physically irresistibly fascinating to both men and women. An Englishman’s self-assurance is founded on his being a citizen of the best organized state in the world and on the fact that, as an Englishman, he always knows what to do, and that whatever he does as an Englishman is unquestionably correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets. A Russian is self-assured simply because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe in the possibility of knowing anything fully.”

#1 – “Here I am alive, and it’s not my fault, so I have to try and get by as best I can without hurting anybody until death takes over.”

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Top Ten Quotes from “Ivanhoe” by Walter Scott

#1 – “Silence, maiden; thy tongue outruns thy discretion.”

#2 – “I envy thee not thy faith, which is ever in thy mouth but never in thy heart nor in thy practice.”

#3 – “Certainly,” quoth Athelstane, “women are the least to be trusted of all animals, monks and abbots excepted.”

#4 – “The lovers of the chase say that the hare feels more agony during the pursuit of the greyhounds, than when she is struggling in their fangs.”

#5 – “For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.”

#6 – “Revenge is a feast for the gods!”

#7 – “Is death the last sleep?  No, it is the final awakening.”

#8 – “God of Jacob!  It is the meeting of two fierce tides – the conflict of two oceans moved by adverse winds!”

#9 – “Nothing could be more gracefully majestic than his step and manner, had they not been marked by a predominant air of haughtiness, easily acquired by the exercise of unresisted authority.”

#10 – “Of this fickle temper he gave a memorable example in Ireland, when sent thither by his father, Henry the Second, with the purpose of buying golden opinions of the inhabitants of that new and important acquisition to the English crown. Upon this occasion the Irish chieftains contended which should first offer to the young Prince their loyal homage and the kiss of peace. But, instead of receiving their salutations with courtesy, John and his petulant attendants could not resist the temptation of pulling the long beards of the Irish chieftains; a conduct which, as might have been expected, was highly resented by these insulted dignitaries, and produced fatal consequences to the English domination in Ireland. It is necessary to keep these inconsistencies of John’s character in view, that the reader may understand his conduct during the present evening.”

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Top Ten Quotes from “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe

#10 – “Those people cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them because they see and covet what He has not given them. All of our discontents for what we want appear to me to spring from want of thankfulness for what we have.”

#9 – “Redemption from sin is greater then redemption from affliction.”

#8 – “These reflections made me very sensible of the goodness of Providence to me, and very thankful for my present condition, with all its hardships and misfortunes ; and this part also I cannot but recommend to the reflection of those who are apt, in their misery, to say, Is any affliction like mine? Let them consider how much worse the cases of some people are, and their case might have been, if Providence had thought fit.”

#7 – “It is never too late to be wise.”

#6 – “Thus fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself.”

#5 – “I learned to look more upon the bright side of my condition, and less upon the dark side, and to consider what I enjoyed, rather than what I wanted : and this gave me sometimes such secret comforts, that I cannot express them ; and which I take notice of here, to put those discontented people in mind of it, who cannot enjoy comfortably what God has given them, because they see and covet something that he has not given them. All our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”

#4 – “Call upon me in the Day of Trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me…Wait on the Lord, and be of good Cheer, and he shall strengthen thy Heart; wait, I say, on the Lord:’ It is impossible to express the Comfort this gave me. In Answer, I thankfully laid down the Book, and was no more sad, at least, not on that Occasion.”

#3 – “I could not forbear getting up to the top of a little mountain, and looking out to sea, in hopes of seeing a ship : then fancy that, at a vast distance, I spied a sail, please myself with the hopes of it, and, after looking steadily, till I was almost blind, lose it quite, and sit down and weep like a child, and thus increase my misery by my folly.”

#2 – “Man is a short-sighted creature, sees but a very little way before him; and as his passions are none of his best friends, so his particular affections are generally his worst counselors.”

#1 – “My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design. ”

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Top Ten Quotes from “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

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#1 – “It was Silver’s voice, and before I had heard a dozen words, I would not have shown myself for all the world. I lay there, trembling and listening, in the extreme of fear and curiostiy, for, in those dozen words, I understood that the lives of all the honest men aboard depended on me alone.”

#2 – “You’re either my ship’s cook-and then you were treated handsome-or Cap’n Silver, a common mutineer and pirate, and then you can go hang!”

#3 – “Sir, with no intention to take offence, I deny your right to put words into my mouth.”

#4 – “There’s never been a man looked me between the eyes and seen a good day afterward.”

#5 – “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.”

#6 – “If you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!”

#7 – “Before an hour’s out, I’ll stove in your old block house like a rum puncheon. Laugh, by thunder. laugh! Before an hour’s out, ye’ll laugh upon the other side. Them that die’ll be the lucky ones.”

#8 – “We must go on, because we can’t turn back.”

#9 – “It was high time, for I now began to be tortured with thirst. The glow of the sun from above, its thousandfold reflection from the waves, the sea-water that fell and dried upon me, caking my very lips with salt, combined to make my throat burn and my brain ache.”

#10 – “And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.”

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Top Ten Quotes from “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson

#1 – “With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”

#2 – “There comes an end to all things; the most capacious measure is filled at last; and this brief condescension to evil finally destroyed the balance of my soul.”

#3 – “The most racking pangs succeeded: a grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then these agonies began swiftly to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great sickness. There was something strange in my sensations, something indescribably sweet. I felt younger, lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness, a current of disordered sensual images running like a millrace in my fancy, a solution of the bonds of obligation, an unknown but innocent freedom of the soul. I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine.”

#4 – “I have been made to learn that the doom and burden of our life is bound forever on man’s shoulders; and when the attempt is made to cast it off, it but returns upon us with more unfamiliar and more awful pressure.”

#5 – “I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgement. You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden, and the family have to change their name. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.”

#6 – “This was the shocking thing; that the slime of the pit seemed to utter cries and voices; that the amorphous dust gesticulated and sinned; that what was dead, and had no shape, should usurp the offices of life. And this again, that that insurgent horror was knit to him closer than a wife, closer than an eye; lay caged in his flesh, where he heard it mutter and felt it struggle to be born; and at every hour of weakness, and in the confidence of slumber, prevailed against him, and deposed him out of life.”

#7 – “It is one thing to mortify curiosity, another to conquer it. ”

#8 – “I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.”

#9 – “All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.”

#10 – “Under the strain of this continually impending doom and by the sleeplessness to which I now condemned myself, ay, even beyond what I had thought possible to man, I became, in my own person, a creature eaten up and emptied by fever, languidly weak both in body and mind, and solely occupied by one thought: the horror of my other self.”

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Top Ten Quotes from “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau

#1 – “I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

#2 – “Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”

#3 – “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

#4 – “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

#5 – “We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”

#6 – “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”

#7 – “All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.”

#8 – “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Bramin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.”

#9 – “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

#10 – “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”

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Bookshelf Battle Cast – Episode 1 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens” – Stave 1 – Marley’s Ghost – Discussion and Study Questions

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Huzzah, 3.5 readers!

The Bookshelf Battle Cast lives!  Yes, on this fine blog, I’ll be reviewing pop cultural happenings, attempting to be funny, and telling you all about my adventures as a magic bookshelf caretaker, yeti fighter and so on.

The podcast will be very different.  I am very, very far from being the world’s greatest vocal talent, so I’ll be playing it straight.  Each episode, I’ll be reading a piece of public domain literature.  After you listen to me read it in my mush mouth voice, stop by this incredible blog for a discussion and study questions.

FYI – apologies.  I’m new to this.  There were some technical difficulties.  I said I’d let my spokeswoman tell you all about who I am, but for some reason, Garageband did not like that file.  It became a big production to try to re-record the podcast, so I’ll try to figure out that for the next one.  Forgive me people, I’m learning as I go.

Oh well.  Check out what my spokeswoman would have said here:

In Stave 1 – “Marley’s Ghost” we begin with a classic line in literature – “Marley was dead to begin with.  Scrooge pops the joyous bubble of his nephew and local charity collectors, only to be warned by the ghost of his fellow usurer Jacob Marley that if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll be a ghost too, forced to trudge the world with chains attached to him, lamenting the life he wasted on counting coins instead of helping the less fortunate.

STUDY QUESTIONS:

#1 – Dickens really, really, really wants the reader to know up front that Jacob Marley is dead, engaging in humor to insist, almost to a ridiculous degree, that he’s dead.  What’s the point of that?

#2 – Scrooge’s nephew states to his uncle that there are things that exist that bring him no monetary profit, but they make his life better just the same.  Christmas, says the nephew, is one of those things.  Is the nephew a positive thinker, a man who knows how to build spiritual wealth, or do you side with Scrooge, i.e. the wealth in your piggy bank is all that matters?  Can you think of some things that don’t bring you a monetary profit but still enrich your life?  Would you give those things up in order to make more money?  Can money buy happiness?

#3 – The charity collectors attempt to separate Scrooge from some of his dough, arguing that men of means have a duty to provide aid and comfort to the poor.  Scrooge counters with the claim that he supports prisons, union workhouses and so on (through taxes) and thus doesn’t owe the poor anything else.  What say you?  Are taxes enough, or should people with bucks to spare share them with the poor as well?

#4 – Jacob Marley is a ghost.  Chains and cash boxes and other monetary related devices are attached to him.  He must drag them around wherever he goes.  Further, Jacob spent his life never venturing past the counting-house, collecting money and ignoring the plight of the poor.  His punishment, like the punishment of the many souls Scrooge sees outside, is that in death, he must wander the world, seeing all the things he could have experienced and enjoyed in life, but now is unable to do so because he’s dead.

Will you be a ghost one day?  That’s a bigger discussion.  You will be old one day though…and your body will eventually give out on you.  When you’re old and gray and your knees fail, your body gives up and it exhausts you to walk more than five feet, what will you wish you had done in your youth?

CHALLENGE: Make a list of things you want to do before it’s too late to enjoy them…then DO THEM!  Picture your afterlife as a Jacob Marley-esque ghost, forced to drag chains and wander the world.  What would you like to see and do so that, if you ever become such a ghost, you can be happy knowing you got to do those things when you were alive?

Thanks for listening, 3.5 listeners.  The second stave will be out as soon as possible.

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Text of “If” by Rudyard Kipling

EDITORIAL NOTE: Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.  Professor Nannerpants is busy sipping champagne with royalty in Monte Carlo, but he says this poem will be your next homework assignment.  So check it out and leave your thoughts about what it all means in the comments.

“If”

By: Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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Literary Poop with Professor Nannerpants – Analysis of “Dreams” by Langston Hughes

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Professor Horatio J. Nannerpants, Professional Simian Literary Professor/Semi-Professional Poop Flinger

Ah, hello again 3.5 students.  How splendid to see you are still taking time out of your busy schedules to read literature.  Books are food for the mind you know.

Just be sure to find an equal amount of time to fling your poop.  In fact, I dare pose this brain teaser to you:

If a poop is left unflung, was it ever really pooped to begin with?

I’ll let that nugget simmer in your mental stew.  In the meantime, it is Black History Month and thus a time of year where we literary scholars are reminded to peruse the contributions of African American poets and writers to the cultural zeitgeist.  Google “zeitgeist,” 3.5 students, I swear it is a real word.

In this humble professor’s opinion, these contributions must be studied all year long.  In fact, based on conversations I have had with one Mr. Bookshelf Q. Battler, the former proprietor of this blog before Ms. Video Game Rack Fighter won custody of this blog and its 3.5 readers in a divorce case, BQB is particularly fond of this poem:

Dreams

By: Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Eight lines.  Like your humble professor, this poem is short and sweet.  And yet, if you delve deeper into these words, you’ll find so much meaning.

When we’re children, the world is our oyster.  Technically speaking, no outcome is impossible for a child because children possess so much of the most crucial of resources: time.  A forty year old drive-through worker who tells you he wishes to be an NBA basketball player, or an Academy Award winning actor, or an astronaut has the odds against him.  This person may, in theory, be very capable, but he just does not have the time to make such achievements.

On the other hand, a ten year old who tells you he wishes to do all of these things does have the time.  Statistically speaking, the child will, upon reaching adulthood, realize the lesson that many learn, namely, that life is hard, that resources are limited, that there is just too much competition for too few opportunities.  However, until that child comes to that realization, the world is a happy place in his eyes.

I hesitate to put words into Mr. Hughes’ mouth but your professor has a take on the meaning of this poem.  It’s quite simple.  Ignore the realization of the statistically unlikely probability that you will not achieve your big dreams.

Yes, you know in your heart and in your brain that at forty, you will not become an astronaut, but keep looking for the stars and studying astronomy books in the hopes that you might make it happen.

No, you most likely will not take home a gold statue.  Audition for a part in your community theater’s horrendously tacky play anyway.

No, you aren’t going to be drafted by the NBA.  Don’t let that stop you from playing pick up games with your friends.

Take Mr. Battler for instance.  He is well aware that he has a better chance of being struck in the ass by lightning a second time (we all know this happened to him a first time) than he does at becoming a successful writer.

Does he let that stop him? No.  Why?  Because he knows if he stops writing, he will be left with nothing else to look forward to.  He’ll while away his hours watching television, playing video games, stuffing his suck hole with ding dongs, never, ever doing anything productive.

One might even say that at that point, Mr. Battler’s life will be like “a broken-winged bird that cannot fly” or even “a barren field frozen with snow.”

Mr. Battler’s life, without his precious, absurdly difficult to obtain dream, would become hopeless, just as hopeless as a bird who has tasted the joys of flight but will never experience it again…just as hopeless as a field that can’t be utilized for crops because the soil has gone bad and frozen over.

Do you want to feel as hopeless as a broken-winged bird or a barren, frozen field, 3.5 students?  No?  Good.  Then I don’t care how hopeless it seems.  I don’t care if you are ninety and you dream of becoming the next top pop star, you get your old, wrinkly ass to the garage and start squeezing your backside into a pair of tight pants, then start shaking your booty.

No, you will never replace Katy Perry.  Yes, you need to hope that you will in order to get through the day.

And there you have it.  Another fine example of our beloved English language, expertly explained by your all-knowing professor.

Are you pursuing a dream that is unlikely just to keep your life from become a broken-winged bird or a barren, frozen field?  Share your thoughts and fling your poop in the comments.

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