Category Archives: gardens

Ulysses: why is it so hard to finish?

MI-jamesnora

Recently the world celebrated Bloomsday –  one of the most famous literary holiday. The name is derived from the name of the main character of Joyce’s emblematic novel “Ulysses”. The holiday is a commemoration and celebration of the life of the Irish writer. The events of “Ulysses” are relived during just one day of June 16 in 1904. Joyce chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle.

 

Mouse

And here is the paradox. “Ulysses” is one of the most famous books of the 20th century. The icon. The threshold. Joyce himself is a popular figure, his life being discussed and so many photographs and articles found in the Internet. Yet there are so many people who didn’t manage to finish it or even reach the middle of the book, including those who read it in the translaion to their native language from English.

We searched the Internet for some tips that can help you to read the book and understand the allusions hidden there:

http://www.wikihow.com/Read-Ulysses

http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2004/05/6747.html

https://www.extension.harvard.edu/inside-extension/why-you-should-try-read-ulysses-again

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2012/06/james-joyces-ulysses

But the most important piece of advice is the approach – look at it as the most exciting adventure and try to find a personal interest. It is a book about love, worries, books and love again – so there should be one! The authors of this article agree with us: https://biblioklept.org/2010/06/16/how-to-read-james-joyces-ulysses-and-why-you-should-avoid-how-to-guides-like-this-one/

Finally, here are some book titles “around” “Ulysses”. If you’re in St. Petersburg, you can borrow these books at the British Book Centre.

Books, mentioned in the novel:

 

Books on the topics of “Odyssey” and traveling, both real and in your mind:

 

Books on Irish history, nature, folklore and mythology:

 

Advertisements

On Beauty

These days, welcoming the Spring and celebrating Women’s Day, we are looking through the shelves of the library reflecting on the subject of beauty. “Beauty is but skindeep”, “beauty will save the world”, “apperances are deceptive”, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”… Are there any books to help us?

Homer, “Iliad” 6c28dfcb4d790bb4a29f2ea627008cdb

Of course! The most famous legend about how a war started. Beauty! Is it the root of the evil? The Trojan war originated from a quarrel between the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, after Eris, the goddess of strife and discord, gave them a golden apple, sometimes known as the Apple of Discord, marked “for the fairest”. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, “The Iliad” tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

Oscar Wilde, “The Picture Of Dorian Gray”2325167

The question of selling your soul for the eternal beauty. But who are you inside, are you still a human being? What’s the good looks worth? In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde’s most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

OnBeautybookcover.jpgZadie Smith, “On Beauty”

A 2005 novel by British author Zadie Smith takes its title from an essay by Elaine Scarry (On Beauty and Being Just). The story follows the lives of a mixed-race British/American family living in the United States. On Beauty addresses ethnic and cultural differences, the nature of beauty, and the clash between liberal and conservative academic values. Not only does Zadie Smith’s work focus on physical beauty but it also looks at the concept of beauty itself and its value. Throughout the work many of the characters look at beauty in different ways or some, like Monty and Howard, fail to look at the beauty in anything,  even in the materials that they teach in their art history classes.

“In Search Of Paradise: Great Gardens Of The World” 61Y+0VaaqyL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

For many of us, beauty is associated with nature, something, that was not created by humans, something that existed forever and is still a mystery for us. This book is a survey of the great gardens of the world, presented through photographic images and the descriptions of the garden designer and writer Penelope Hobhouse. Here you will find the oases of the Middle East, the gardens of Chinese scholars, Japanese sages and Renaissance humanists, French baroque gardens, the English landscape garden of Capability Brown and his followers.

William Shakespeare, Sonnets

9780099518860-us.jpgO how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye
As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly
When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses:
But, for their virtue only is their show,
They live unwoo’d and unrespected fade,
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.

Spirit Of Spring – “The Secret Garden”

Spring has finally come to St. Petersburg and there are wonderful smells in the air! It’s fresh and promising, the air of Spring. The end of March is the time when we feel the nature waking up and we, city citizens, feel the urge to be a bit closer to it. Here’s a wonderful good old classics for all ages, that helps to create the necessary atmosphere.

“The Secret Garden” by Frances

Hodgson Burnett

 

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849 – 1924) was born in Cheetham, England. After her father died in 1852, the family immigrated to the United States, settling near Knoxville, Tennessee. There Frances began writing to help earn money for the family.

In 1872 she married Swan Burnett. The Burnetts lived for two years in Paris, where their two sons were born, before returning to the United States to live in Washington, D.C.

Burnett enjoyed socializing and traveling. Beginning in the 1880s, she began to travel to England frequently and in the 1890s bought a home there where she wrote “The Secret Garden”.

This lady didn’t have an easy life: the death of her elder son from tuberculosis, frequent depressions, two divorces. But this strong woman with wonderful fantasy and writing gift has left us her books to read and enjoy.

At the end of her life she settled in Nassau County, Long Island, where she died in 1924 and is buried in Roslyn Cemetery. In 1936 a memorial sculpture by Bessie Potter Vonnoh was erected in her honour in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden. The statue depicts her two famous “Secret Garden” characters, Mary and Dickon.

secretgarden

Mary Lennox is a troubled, sickly, and unloved 10-year-old girl born in India to selfish, wealthy British parents. She is primarily cared for by servants, who pacify her as much as possible to keep her out of her parents’ way. She grows into a spoiled and selfish girl. Eventually, there is a cholera epidemic in India which kills Mary’s parents and all the servants. Mary is discovered alive but alone in the empty house. She briefly lives with an English clergyman and his family and is then sent to Yorkshire to live with her uncle she has never met, at his home called Misselthwaite Manor…

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

Also in the library:

Susan Hill, “Through the Garden Gate”; Penelope Hobhouse, “In Search Of Paradise: Great Gardens Of the World”; Terence Reeves-Smyth, “The Garden Lover’s Guide to Ireland”.

Based on Wikipedia articles.