Thursday, November 29, 2007

Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

"Selden paused in surprise. In the afternoon rush of the Grand Central Station, his eyes had been refreshed by the sight of Miss Lily Bart."
With these words Edith Wharton begins Lily and Selden’s tale of woe. Since 1905, the year of publication of The House of Mirth this tale has been the true depiction of the plight of the 19th century American women─women financially dependent and socially victimized

How things have changed in one hundred years! Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique started it all with her clarion call to identify "the problem that had no name." The problem still has no name, but the solution does: Feminism!

Today no longer do we find Lily Barts, but strong professional women such as Helen McCain, CEO. Or, Laura Standish─socialite of rich pedigree─but ambitious investment banker with an MBA and a law degree. Or, take Dr. Ann Norris, with a Ph.D in microbiology. These women who populate Marciano Guerrero’s novel The Poison Pill, are women who command respect; women who fight for what they want, be that wealth, recognition, or ownership.

All this in fictionl. In reality, a woman--Hillary Clinton--could become the next president of the United States.

While Edith Wharton chronicled Lily Bart’s frailty and dependency, Guerrero portrays tough professional and sure-footed women who are players in the rough and cut-throat business sector.

This is the “Republic of the spirit” that Lawrence Selden--the weak hero--spoke to Lily Bart about; something unreal then, but a reality today. A republic in which the spirit of the entrepreneurial women would flourish and compete with men. Although the august halls of Congress still sound with the tread of men, in due time that will change, too. And in the Executive side: a woman for president!

Any post-modern woman owes it to herself to read at least three books: House of Mirth, Feminine Mystique, and The Poison Pill.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

www.writerivetingprose.com



Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



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Lindsey Vonn


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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum

What is noble in Gunter Grass is that his creation, The Tin Drum, has done more than anything else ever done by anyone else to advance peace and the creation of a freer and progressive Germany.

Also, it is hard to imagine magic realism without Grass’s prototype: Oskar Matzerath, the boy who willed himself to stop growing.

The influence that Grass had on Rushdie, Borges, Garcia Marquez, Calvino, Vonnegut, and other literary novelists is undeniable. But what makes The Tin Drum a book for all the ages to come is the sheer depiction of the terror that pernicious ideologies can acid-rain on humankind--pernicious ideologies, be they political, economic, social, or religious: to wit: radical Jihadist Islamists, Christian Evangelicals, Neo-Conservatives, Supply-side fundamentalists, or war mongers such as Norman Podhoretz.

Take a second and compare just one page--yes one page alone--of the Tin Drum to all the warmongering books written by Podhoretz, and ask yourself: which is more noble?

While Garcia Marquez tricks us with transcendental magic (Remedios the Beauty levitating to the heavens), or Borges with the Aleph, or Rushdie with his implausible children, Gunter Grass convinces that the other dimension is within us in full benign splendor as well as in evil darkness.

Apart from its contribution as an anti-novel with a quirky anti-hero, Grass managed to make clear that the arts (works of the imagination, but music in particular) will not only counterbalance power but also disrupt it, outweigh it, and ultimately outlast it; a legacy that is soothing to the soul.

If critics and warmongers want to shout out Gunter Grass's voice, they should begin by asking themselves: have I lived a noble life? Is my work good or evil?

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

www.writerivetingprose.com



Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



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Lindsey Vonn


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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anthony Trollope, Autobiography

This is wonderful book, to own, to treasure, to read and re-read for a lifetime!

Trollope's Autobiography is a perennial source of wisdom--besides being inspirational--to writers, but in particular to fiction writers. The book in general is an ABC of perfect, round sentences, and sentence variation, which of course makes for agile prose.

However, personally, I find three chapters that are unsurpassed in English letters: Chapter VII which contains his 'Scheme of Work;' Chapter X on plots, and the homage to Thackeray; and Chapter XII On Novels and the Art of Writing them.

Chapter VII is the most poignant as it shows how this humble man wrote so much--and all of excellent quality--by sheer determination. And let's keep in mind that he accomplished all that inmense literary output while holding a full time job with the Post Office.

Trollope discovered that "A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules." And never did he deviate from his alloted daily writing. This quotation is taped on top of my computer to remind me to do my own "small daily task," faithfully.

Although I love all his novels,this is the book--An Autobiography--I would save from an all consuming holocaust. No writer's library should be without it--order it now.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

www.writerivetingprose.com



Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



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Lindsey Vonn


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Monday, November 26, 2007

R L Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Up and down, wide and narrow, love and hatred, are a few examples of the dualities we observe in physical nature as well as in human nature. From Heraclitus to Hegel to Derrida, philosophers have used these categories—dichotomies, contraries, antitheses; and from Structuralism onward, binary oppositions—as a way of knowing. Although thinkers like Hegel and Karl Marx attempted to shatter this established way of knowing with their thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, they did not get very far.

Robert Louis Stevenson in his novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde explores the duality of good and evil in us—human mortals

The writing is nervous and quirky, much apropos its theme; yet, exquisite. But what drew my attention, in this re-read, was Stevenson’s use of the “d” sound—throughout the book—to stir repulsion and revulsion.
Something displeasing, something down-right detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet, I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhat.

And later he continues to pepper his prose with: dwarfish, disgust, troglodytic, decay, idol, diabolical, and divine. The author must have discovered that humans develop a visceral reaction to specific “d” sounds, but more than anything else to the odor of: danger, demise, demons, and death.

Masters of phonology channel the readers' emotions by the timely and precise use of specific sounds. Related sounds of disgust are "ch" words: Butch, bitch, scratch, croch, roach, and so on.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's indispensable writing manual:

www.writerivetingprose.com



Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
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Lindsey Vonn


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The Tragic Sense of Life By Miguel de Unamuno - Book Review

"Was man made for science, or was science made for man?" To Unamuno science was secondary to man's destiny, which is to live well.

Whenever life fills me with doubt, I turn to The Tragic Sense of Life and my faith is quickly restored. Faith and reason. The man of flesh and bone. Immortality. These are the themes Unamuno discusses with the ardent --fanatical I'd say--hunger for God.

Heavy thinkers such as Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Spinoza, and Descartes, Unamuno dismisses with stern righteousness. Little value does he place in knowledge--gnosis, rationality--attacking Descartes' arrogance as well as Spinoza's atheism. Wither knowledge? he asks: "The end of man is to create science, to catalogue the Universe, so that it may be handed back to God in order...." he answers himself by quoting a thought from one of his novels. Yet, no praise is too lavish for passion and suffering--emblems of existentialism.

Dostoesvsky's irrational, irreverent, disdainful Underground Man says, "After all suffering is the sole cause of consciousness." Unamuno, like Dostoesvky and other Christian existentialists see the transitoriness of this real world--exalting passion and suffering over reason, truth, and beauty--as prelude to the ideal world of eternity where one returns to God.

Lesser thinkers such as Lucretius, John Stuart Mill, Freud, Marx, Sartre, and other atheists never felt the meaning of the word 'suffering.' Freud came close to understanding it when he said that religion comes about because of the human desire to escape death (The Future of an Illusion). That is partially correct. The ultimate truth is that men are the only beings that go through life knowing that death is a certainty--hence the lifetime uffering.

Those who are wise accept that certainty and find consolation in death as a return to God. Those who are knowledgeable seek more knowledge instead of acceptance and live to die alone; and what can be sadder than the utter desolation of a godless man?

Among the men of flesh and bone--the suffering ones--there have been typical examples of those who possess this tragic sense of life. I recall now Marcus Aurelius, St. Augustine, Pascal, Rousseau . . . Kierkegaard─men burdened with wisdom rather than with knowledge.

There are some fine translations of this book, but I prefer J. E. Crawford Flitch’s who has taken the trouble to add his own Endnotes. Believers as well as unbelievers could well profit from Unamuno’s book.

After such shoddy fiction as the DaVinci Code, and fake TV Documentaries (The Tomb of Jesus), I find solace, wisdom, respect for God, and much joy as I read pages upon pages of this beloved book--The Tragic Sense of Life. Read it and enjoy it.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

www.writerivetingprose.com




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Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


The Alchemist is a pleasant and easy to read story, but I felt the author tried to be too clever, without totally suceeding. Yet the book contains some fine reading.

The story‘s narrative flows well, with high points and low points, and with likeable characters. It is the quest story of a small shepherd boy who follows his dream to find a treasure. After having had a dream, he gives up his current existence and goes in search of this dream.

The main character is a sheperd boy that after having the dream embarks himself in a crusade to reach the piramids of Egypt after going accross the desert. A gypsy woman and a mysterious king advise him to pursue his destiny. The old man says to Santiago: "To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation. All things are one. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." Of course there are many difficulties in his way that prevent him from fulfilling his dream – but what happens at the end, I will not disclose here.

Through a boy's life the book shows how great life can be and that nothing is easy, but if you believe in yourself and your dreams you can find your treasure in life. We all have a reason for our existences and this book helps you to think about your life, about your purpose in this life, and how to find happiness in all the things you do.


The protagonist must choose whether to stay in his current status or to keep walking and taking risks. Though he finally achieves his dream, sometimes he loses everything he had in that moment.

The structure of the story can be compared with the style of life of determined people who chase a dream until they get it. For this reason, the story itself tries to project a practical message. Generally this is an uplifting and inspirational piece of writing. I trully believe it is a book that we should read at least once in our life-time to question ourselves about our own purpose in life.

Coelho's writing is smooth and liquid; it runs off the page at a fair pace, and you should be able to gobble it up in a couple of hours. 50 million copies of this book have been sold world-wide and if you haven’t read it yet, you better make sure you do so soon─or you’ll feel out of the loop!

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

www.writerivetingprose.com



Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
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Lindsey Vonn


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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dante, New Life


Of the three expansive volumes--Paradise, Purgatory, and Inferno, that comprise the Divine Comedy—the most memorable verse is a love verse:

The love which moves the sun and the other stars

The next most quoted verse is: Abandon all hope, You who are about to enter here. A verse that is all but the embodiment of hopelessness.

Yet, in the his brief book New Life, to express hope and his human love for Beatrice--a poet so intoxicated with words--reaches for words that for Christians are but divine, used by the people of Jerusalem to greet the Redeemer with love:

Hosanna in the highest

Dante, one of the pillars of Western civilization left us a mixed legacy of horror, hope, and love.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

www.writerivetingprose.com



Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
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Lindsey Vonn


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Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

The main character of the novel Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky, Raskolnikov, is in reality two totally contradicting personalities. One part of him is the intellectual: cold, unfeeling, inhumane, but with tremendous self-will. It is this side that enables him to commit the most terrible crime imaginable─taking another human life. The other part of his personality is warm and compassionate. This is the side of him that does charitable acts and fights out against the evil in his society. Here are the musings of a tormented soul:

'But this is unheard of! I have never had anything to do with the police! And why should it happen just to-day?' he thought, tormented with indecision. 'Oh, Lord, at least let it be over soon!' He could almost have knelt down and prayed, but he laughed at his own impulse; he must put his trust in himself, not in prayer. He began to dress hurriedly. 'If I'm done for, I'm done for! It's all one . . .I'll put the sock on!' he thought suddenly, 'it will get more dirt rubbed into it and all the stains will disappear.' But no sooner had he put it on than he dragged it off with horror and loathing.


The confusion in Raskolnikov's soul is best seen when he tries to help a girl in the street who has been raped and left to the whims of anyone who finds her. Raskolnikov tries to protect her from the evil of the street, but stops himself overwhelmed by the wickedness of his society. “Why did I take it upon myself to interfere? Was it for me to try to help? Let them eat one another alive - what is it to me?” At one time Raskolnikov is both caring and concerned and yet he is able to push aside the whole affair by being totally indifferent. The goal of the novel is to make him into one character. Sonia─a pathetic soul whose only means of survival for her and her family is prostitution─helps bring Raskolnikov back into his emotional, humane side.

The author is involved every moment with all the characters. The book is complex because the minds of the characters and their thoughts are complex.


Raskolnikov is a college student who doesn't have enough money to support his family or his education that constantly suffers bouts of depression and is stung by his conscience. This book offers a good insight about the human conscience and psychology. Raskolnikov tries to get some courage by persuading himself that human atrocities are real and swarming in a concrete jungle. But most of the time he tries to kill the thought of remorse by reading and using some of Napoleon war actions. One of those that stay in his memory is when Napoleon wiped out unarmed people.

The delirious Raskolnikov's believes that man should be divided into two groups the superior men and the basic men; the basic men should just work and just live their lives while the superior ones should be above the law and do whatever they feel is good for humanity. Unfortunately despite a perfect plan, nothing goes clockwork. Not only does he assassinates the old woman─Ivanovna─but he also kills her sister (a very kind woman). The frustrating part for him is when he discovers that her possessions are worthless.

Sonia, the young prostitute, is his angel of redemption. He is totally upset by this poor girl who has to sell her body for the sake of her relatives. He gets extremely close to her and confesses to her his horrible crime. She makes him understand he has to go the Police and tell the whole thing. He is convicted and deported to Siberia. It is very hard for Raskolnikov to accept his faith and the punishment. He knows he cut himself off from society because of his total alienation. Sonia succeeds in delivering him from his obsession and his guilt and he finally has a feeling of human solidarity, something he was looking for all his life.

Yet he knows the world doesn't change, that it is a lousy place, and the bitter and ironic twist is that he becomes a louse himself.

Here is an excellent book, with a timeless story; a book you'll either love or hate─I loved it! A book is always a welcome gift. This Christmas give a nice edition of Crime and Punishment to your friends and relatives; something they will value and treasure for life.
Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
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Lindsey Vonn


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Conan Doyle, The Hound of The Baskervilles

My neighborhood Barnes and Noble was touting a Sherlock Holmes detective story, and I wondered why? "Babyboomers don't read Sherlock Holmes stuff anymore," I thought.

With some hesitation I purchased The Hound of the Baskervilles and read it over the weekend.

Before long, I realized why I hadn't read Conan Doyle in such a long time: Sherlock's cruelty toward Watson is tasteless; not to say rude. But one cannot help thinking that the ill treatment may be due to Watson's obsequious nature. Ah, yes--let's not ignore the pipe and the violin props.

The book lacks substance; in that, for two thirds of the book Holmes is absent, leaving all the leg work and sleuthing to the amiable Watson. Readers are interested in Holmes' mind, not in Watson's, since we have been conditioned to think of Watson as a dunce.

Anyway, were it not for the well balanced sentences, this detection story--a horror story, though a mild one--would not have merited to be revived. What is admirable is Conan Doyle's mastery of English syntax as well as the lavish display of sentence variation; something contemporary writers could well emulate.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

Toolbox for Writers


Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
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Lindsey Vonn


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Saturday, November 24, 2007

James Webb, Fields of Fire

Look at his resume and see if you'd expect great things from this man: Highly decorated combat marine during the Vietnam War, journalist, Secretary of the Navy, Assistant Secretary of Defense--and now: Senator from Virginia!

Let me add one more accolade: novelist.

Although Fields of Fire will never be a great novel-chronicle as The Red and the Black or War and Peace, it is an important American work of fiction because it brings to our consciousness the absurdity of our Country's misadventures; in particular the enormous misadventure in Vietnam. The narrative is lively and it portrays a variety of well drawn characters.

When Bob Hodges, Snake, or Goodrich walk point in the Godforsaken jungles of Vietnam, James Webb makes one tremble, shake, and suffer in our civilian shoes, as we commiserate with the grunts. And one can only imagine the stark, lonely and dark nights streaked by the slowly hanging flares with which you could see the face of the Vietcong, the North Vietnamese soldiers, or even the Chinese troopers.

That we only lost 50,000 American troops in Vietnam is a miracle given the impossibility of fighting such a guerrilla war where your enemy was your waiter during the day. Live and learn: Vietnamization then. Or so we thought until the new misadventure now called Iraq.

We should be on the lookout for great things from James Webb. Here in our midst we have a quiet, humble American hero who wore his son's combat boots to make a point, but never once did he wave his medals to belittle his now forgotten racist opponent.

Webb never run away from service--or hid in the National Guard, or sought deferments--when his country needed him during war-time. Having served with distinction he deserves to be not only a U. S. Senator but perhaps even president of the United States!

To think that there are virile men like James Webb fills me with great pride, just as shame rushes to my heart and angers me when I think of cowards who advocate war not having fired a single shot in defense of their country.

Warmongers, and their relatives, should be allowed the opportunity to be in the first wave of attack. Only then should war proceed. Those who advocate and press for war should not be allowed to push other people's children to death.

We have to be thankful to James Webb and his son for what they are: American heroes.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

www.writerivetingprose.com



Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
Image via Wikipedia

Lindsey Vonn


Back to main page