Dreams and Nightmares

“The covers of this book are too far apart.”  Ambrose Bierce
 
Prolific author Isaac Asimov once described a dream he’d had.  He’d died and gone to Heaven, where he confessed to the recording angel that he didn’t belong there: “I’m an atheist.”  The angel said, “We decide who qualifies. Not you.”  Asimov pondered this for a moment and then asked, “Is there a typewriter here that I can use?”  Waking, he saw significance in the dream. Heaven was the act of writing, and he had been in Heaven for more than half a century.
 
“I conceive that the right way to write a story for boys is to write so that it will not only interest boys but strongly interest any man who has ever been a boy. That immensely enlarges the audience.”  Mark Twain
 
New York pharmaceutical manufacturer Eugene Scheifflin (1827-1906) was a big fan of Shakespeare. He also loved birds. He hit upon an epic plan to introduce to the United States every type of bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Starlings made a brief appearance in Henry IV. The king ordered a soldier never to mention his brother-in-law’s name again, causing the soldier to dream of buying a starling that would repeat the name over and over. “Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak; Nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ and give it him.”  Over a two-year period, at great expense, Scheifflin imported 100 starlings to New York.  Today there are almost as many European starlings in North America as there are people.  Starlings are estimated to cause at least $800 million in crop damage in the United States every year, bring havoc to air traffic, and carry dozens of diseases deadly to livestock and humans. Ironically, four hundred years ago Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth warned,“What’s done cannot be undone.”
 
“The older I get, the more acutely I am aware that the vast majority of what is written remains unread.”  Jhumpa Lahiri
 
Have a happy June filled with quiet moments for reading whatever you want. 
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*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at carolcail.com
*Originally published in June 2018

 

An International Tour: The South Seas, Korea, Arabia and Tennessee

Did you hear about the discovery of Blackbeard the Pirate’s sunken flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, off the North Carolina Coast? Incredibly, fragments of paper with still legible words were found wedged inside a breech-loading cannon in the warm waters. After much research, the fragments were determined to be from a 1712 first edition of A Voyage to the South Seas and Round the World, Perform’d in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711, by Captain Edward Cooke. Sorry — you won’t find a copy of it in the Longmont Library.

You know the saying that something is “lost in translation”? The January 15th issue of the New Yorker ponders how close to the original a literary translator should hold. “Nabokov, who was fluent in three languages and wrote in two of them, believed that ‘the clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase.'” The Korean media has criticized Deborah Smith, who translated author Han Kang’s novel The Vegetarian, for embellishing Kang’s spare style with adverbs and other words not in the original. Nevertheless, the novel won the Man Booker International Prize for both Kang and Smith. Our fine library *does* have two copies of this book.

Ever wonder why a periodical is called a magazine? It’s because numerous articles are “stored” therein. The Arabic word for storehouse is “makhzan,” and was originally applied to a place used by the army for storing arms. In 1731, the Gentleman’s Magazine appeared, the first to use the term.

“If you don’t read books you only live one life…. If you read books you live a thousand lives.” So say Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos, creators of the comic strip Baldo. And writers, especially fiction writers, experience similar benefits as they work on stories. Tennessee Williams once remarked, “I always have a roomful of company.” David Samuels puts it this way: “Reading [and writing] requires a loner’s temperament, a high tolerance for silence, and an unhealthy preference for the company of people who are imaginary or dead.”

Doesn’t reading about reading make you want to read?

*Written by Carol Cail — Read more from Carol at carolcail.com
*Originally published in February 2018