Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Gandhi, Bernard Shaw and Vegetarianism

Shaw (1856-1950), Gandhi (1869-1948) and Vegetarianism


Dr. P. S. Sri


  “Animals are my friends . . . and I don’t eat my friends.”

 “While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”     ---  G. Bernard Shaw                                                                                                                   


“To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.  I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body.”

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”    --- Mahatma Gandhi


George Bernard Shaw and Mahatma Gandhi were, without doubt, two of the most outstanding personalities of the 20th century.  While Shaw’s genius and wit shone in the dramatic presentation of thought-provoking ideas, Gandhi’s moral principles of truth and non-injury came thrillingly alive in his satyagraha or truthful non-violent aggression against British rule in India.

Shaw genuinely admired Gandhi. When Gandhi attended the Second Round Table Conference in March 1931 in London, Shaw visited him and hailed him as “Mahatma Major,” while calling himself “Mahatma Minor.”(1)  Shaw clearly saw in Gandhi a natural leader (‘Superman=Mahatma’). “Mahatma G.,” he wrote to Nancy Astor, “is not a crook; he is a saint . . . under the covenant of grace. Just like . . . Mahatma G.B.S.” (2)  On New Year’s Day 1933, Shaw sailed with Charlotte from Suez and landed a week later in Bombay.  When reporters asked him what he thought of Gandhi, then in Yervada jail in Pune, he replied: ‘the second greatest man in the world!” (3)

Gandhi too liked Shaw. “I think he is a very good man,”(4)  he said and then paid tribute to G.B.S. as “a Puck-like spirit and a generous ever young heart, the Arch Jester of Europe.” (5)  Later, after reading The Black Girl, he commented: “In everything of his that I have read there has been a religious centre.” (6)

It is interesting and educative, therefore, to set side by side the strict adherence of Shaw and Gandhi to vegetarianism and the accompanying philosophies of their lives.

Shaw became a convert to vegetarianism in his early twenties, after listening to a lecture by H.F.Lester.(7)  He remained a staunch practitioner of vegetarianism till the very end of his life and attributed his good health to his vegetarianism. He found it not only economical but also aesthetically more satisfying.(8)  Vegetarianism also played a significant role in his spiritual development.  It was the natural, the inevitable outcome of his evolving humanitarianism.  “A man of my spiritual intensity,” he stated, “does not eat corpses.”(9)  He firmly believed that vegetarianism would elevate the quality of human beings. “Life is offered to me on condition of eating beefsteaks. . .” he wrote, “But death is better than cannibalism.” (10)

Gandhi confessed in his autobiographical The Story of My Experiments with Truth that he had tried meat-eating to become strong like the British and then given up meat-eating altogether. (11)  When he came to England for higher studies in his twenties, he came armed with a vow he had made to his mother, a vow that helped him persist in his vegetarianism despite various vicissitudes in London.(12)  He practised vegetarianism, because it was economical and pure, till the very end of his life, carrying it even to the extent of denying himself cow’s milk. He embraced the philosophy of vegetarianism, which he hailed as the harbinger of  “true civilization,” (13) for he found this claim to be in perfect harmony with his Hindu way of life.

In our current world of exploding populations, shrinking resources and widespread hunger, the vegetarianism of these two great idealists – one a dynamic thinker and the other a unique political activist – no longer seems a fad; rather, it is an inspiration that points the way to the resurrection of our planet earth and to the salvation of the human soul.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Dr. Samuel Johnson's views on Thomas Gray

THOMAS GRAY, the son of Mr. Philip Gray, a scrivener of London, was born in Cornhill, November 26, 1716. His grammatical education he received at Eton under the care of Mr. Antrobus, his mother's brother, then assistant to Dr. George, and when he left school, in 1734, entered a pensioner at Peterhouse in Cambridge.

The transition from the school to the college is, to most young scholars, the time from which they date their years of manhood, liberty, and happiness; but Gray seems to have been very little delighted with academical gratifications: he liked at Cambridge neither the mode of life nor the fashion of study, and lived sullenly on to the time when his attendance on lectures was no longer required. As he intended to profess the Common Law he took no degree.

When he had been at Cambridge about five years, Mr. Horace Walpole, whose friendship he had gained at Eton, invited him to travel with him as his companion. They wandered through France into Italy, and Gray's letters contain a very pleasing account of many parts of their journey. But unequal friendships are easily dissolved: at Florence they quarrelled and parted, and Mr. Walpole is now content to have it told that it was by his fault. If we look, however, without prejudice on the world we shall find that men, whose consciousness of their own merit sets them above the compliances of servility, are apt enough in their association with superiors to watch their own dignity with troublesome and punctilious jealousy, and in the fervour of independence to exact that attention which they refuse to pay. Part they did, whatever was the quarrel, and the rest of their travels was doubtless more unpleasant to them both. Gray continued his journey in a manner suitable to his own little fortune, with only an occasional servant.

He returned to England in September, 1741, and in about two months afterwards buried his father, who had, by an injudicious waste of money upon a new house, so much lessened his fortune that Gray thought himself too poor to study the law. He therefore retired to Cambridge, where he soon after became Bachelor of Civil Law, and where, without liking the place or its inhabitants, or professing to like them, he passed, except a short residence at London, the rest of his life.

About this time he was deprived of Mr. West, the son of a chancellor of Ireland, a friend on whom he appears to have set a high value, and who deserved his esteem by the powers which he shews in his letters, and in the Ode to May, which Mr. Mason has preserved, as well as by the sincerity with which, when Gray sent him part of Agrippina, a tragedy that he had just begun, he gave an opinion which probably intercepted the progress of the work, and which the judgement of every reader will confirm. It was certainly no loss to the English stage that Agrippina was never finished.

In this year (1742) Gray seems first to have applied himself seriously to poetry, for in this year were produced the Ode to Spring, his Prospect of Eton, and his Ode to Adversity. He began likewise a Latin Poem, De Principiis Cogitandi.

It may be collected from the narrative of Mr. Mason, that his first ambition was to have excelled in Latin poetry: perhaps it were reasonable to wish that he had prosecuted his design; for though there is at present some embarrassment in his phrase, and some harshness in his Lyrick numbers, his copiousness of language is such as very few possess, and his lines, even when imperfect, discover a writer whom practice would quickly have made skilful.

He now lived on at Peterhouse, very little solicitous what others did or thought, and cultivated his mind and enlarged his views without any other purpose than of improving and amusing himself; when Mr. Mason, being elected fellow of Pembroke-hall, brought him a companion who was afterwards to be his editor, and whose fondness and fidelity has kindled in him a zeal of admiration, which cannot be reasonably expected from the neutrality of a stranger and the coldness of a critick.

In this retirement he wrote (1747) an ode on The Death of Mr. Walpole's Cat, and the year afterwards attempted a poem of more importance, on Government and Education, of which the fragments which remain have many excellent lines.

His next production (1750) was his far-famed Elegy in the Church-yard, which, finding its way into a Magazine, first, I believe, made him known to the publick.

An invitation from lady Cobham about this time gave occasion to an odd composition called A Long Story, which adds little to Gray's character.

Several of his pieces were published (1753), with designs, by Mr. Bentley, and, that they might in some form or other make a book, only one side of each leaf was printed. I believe the poems and the plates recommended each other so well, that the whole impression was soon bought. This year he lost his mother.

Some time afterwards (1756) some young men of the college, whose chambers were near his, diverted themselves with disturbing him by frequent and troublesome noises, and, as is said, by pranks yet more offensive and contemptuous. This insolence, having endured it a while, he represented to the governors of the society, among whom perhaps he had no friends, and, finding his complaint little regarded, removed himself to Pembroke-hall.

In 1757 he published The Progress of Poetry and The Bard, two compositions at which the readers of poetry were at first content to gaze in mute amazement. Some that tried them confessed their inability to understand them, though Warburton said that they were understood as well as the works of Milton and Shakespeare, which it is the fashion to admire. Garrick wrote a few lines in their praise. Some hardy champions undertook to rescue them from neglect, and in a short time many were content to be shewn beauties which they could not see.

Gray's reputation was now so high that, after the death of Cibber, he had the honour of refusing the laurel, which was then bestowed on Mr. Whitehead.

His curiosity not long after drew him away from Cambridge to a lodging near the Museum, where he resided near three years, reading and transcribing; and, so far as can be discovered, very little affected by two odes on Oblivion and Obscurity, in which his Lyrick performances were ridiculed with much contempt and much ingenuity.

When the Professor of Modern History at Cambridge died he was, as he says, "cockered and spirited up," till he asked it of lord Bute, who sent him a civil refusal; and the place was given to Mr. Brocket, the tutor of Sir James Lowther.

His constitution was weak, and believing that his health was promoted by exercise and change of place he undertook (1765) a journey into Scotland, of which his account, so far as it extends, is very curious and elegant; for as his comprehension was ample his curiosity extended to all the works of art, all the appearances of nature, and all the monuments of past events.

He naturally contracted a friendship with Dr. Beattie, whom he found a poet, a philosopher, and a good man. The Mareschal College at Aberdeen offered him the degree of Doctor of Laws, which, having omitted to take it at Cambridge, he thought it decent to refuse.

What he had formerly solicited in vain was at last given him without solicitation. The Professorship of History became again vacant, and he received (1768) an offer of it from the duke of Grafton. He accepted, and retained it to his death; always designing lectures, but never reading them; uneasy at his neglect of duty, and appeasing his uneasiness with designs of reformation, and with a resolution which he believed himself to have made of resigning the office, if he found himself unable to discharge it.

Ill health made another journey necessary, and he visited (1769) Westmoreland and Cumberland. He that reads his epistolary narration wishes that to travel, and to tell his travels, had been more of his employment; but it is by studying at home that we must obtain the ability of travelling with intelligence and improvement.

His travels and his studies were now near their end. The gout, of which he had sustained many weak attacks, fell upon his stomach, and, yielding to no medicines, produced strong convulsions, which (July 30, 1771) terminated in death.

His character I am willing to adopt, as Mr. Mason has done, from a letter written to my friend Mr. Boswell, by the Rev. Mr. Temple, rector of St. Gluvias in Cornwall; and am as willing as his warmest well-wisher to believe it true.

"Perhaps he was the most learned man in Europe. He was equally acquainted with the elegant and profound parts of science, and that not superficially but thoroughly. He knew every branch of history, both natural and civil; had read all the original historians of England, France, and Italy; and was a great antiquarian. Criticism, metaphysicks, morals, politicks made a principal part of his study; voyages and travels of all sorts were his favourite amusements; and he had a fine taste in painting, prints, architecture, and gardening. With such a fund of knowledge, his conversation must have been equally instructing and entertaining; but he was also a good man, a man of virtue and humanity. There is no character without some speck, some imperfection; and I think the greatest defect in his was an affectation in delicacy, or rather effeminacy, and a visible fastidiousness, or contempt and disdain of his inferiors in science. He also had, in some degree, that weakness which disgusted Voltaire so much in Mr. Congreve: though he seemed to value others chiefly according to the progress they had made in knowledge, yet he could not bear to be considered himself merely as a man of letters; and though without birth, or fortune, or station, his desire was to be looked upon as a private independent gentleman, who read for his amusement. Perhaps it may be said, What signifies so much knowledge, when it produced so little? Is it worth taking so much pains to leave no memorial but a few poems? But let it be considered that Mr. Gray was, to others, at least innocently employed; to himself, certainly beneficially. His time passed agreeably; he was every day making some new acquisition in science; his mind was enlarged, his heart softened, his virtue strengthened; the world and mankind were shewn to him without a mask; and he was taught to consider every thing as trifling, and unworthy of the attention of a wise man, except the pursuit of knowledge and practice of virtue, in that state wherein God hath placed us."

To this character Mr. Mason has added a more particular account of Gray's skill in zoology. He has remarked that Gray's effeminacy was affected most "before those whom he did not wish to please;" and that he is unjustly charged with making knowledge his sole reason of preference, as he paid his esteem to none whom he did not likewise believe to be good.

What has occurred to me, from the slight inspection of his letters in which my undertaking has engaged me, is that his mind had a large grasp; that his curiosity was unlimited, and his judgement cultivated; that he was a man likely to love much where he loved at all, but that he was fastidious and hard to please. His contempt, however, is often employed, where I hope it will be approved, upon scepticism and infidelity. His short account of Shaftesbury I will insert.

"You say you cannot conceive how lord Shaftesbury came to be a philosopher in vogue; I will tell you: first, he was a lord; secondly, he was as vain as any of his readers; thirdly, men are very prone to believe what they do not understand; fourthly, they will believe any thing at all, provided they are under no obligation to believe it; fifthly, they love to take a new road, even when that road leads no where; sixthly, he was reckoned a fine writer, and seems [seemed] always to mean more than he said. Would you have any more reasons? An interval of above forty years has pretty well destroyed the charm. A dead lord ranks [but] with commoners: vanity is no longer interested in the matter; for a new road is [has] become an old one."

Mr. Mason has added from his own knowledge that though Gray was poor, he was not eager of money, and that out of the little that he had, he was very willing to help the necessitous.

As a writer he had this peculiarity, that he did not write his pieces first rudely, and then correct them, but laboured every line as it arose in the train of composition, and he had a notion not very peculiar, that he could not write but at certain times, or at happy moments; a fantastick foppery, to which my kindness for a man of learning and of virtue wishes him to have been superior.

Gray's poetry is now to be considered, and I hope not to be looked on as an enemy to his name if I confess that I contemplate it with less pleasure than his life.

His Ode on Spring has something poetical, both in the language and the thought; but the language is too luxuriant, and the thoughts have nothing new. There has of late arisen a practice of giving to adjectives, derived from substantives, the termination of participles, such as the "cultured" plain, the "daisied" bank; but I was sorry to see, in the lines of a scholar like Gray, "the honied Spring." The morality is natural, but too stale; the conclusion is pretty.

The poem on the Cat was doubtless by its author considered as a trifle, but it is not a happy trifle. In the first stanza "the azure flowers that blow" shew resolutely a rhyme is sometimes made when it cannot easily be found. Selima, the Cat, is called a nymph, with some violence both to language and sense; but there is good use made of it when it is done; for of the two lines,

What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?

the first relates merely to the nymph, and the second only to the cat. The sixth stanza contains a melancholy truth, that "a favourite has no friend," but the last ends in a pointed sentence of no relation to the purpose; if what glistered had been "gold," the cat would not have gone into the water; and, if she had, would not less have been drowned.

The Prospect of Eton College suggests nothing to Gray which every beholder does not equally think and feel. His supplication to father Thames, to tell him who drives the hoop or tosses the ball, is useless and puerile. Father Thames has no better means of knowing than himself. His epithet "buxom health" is not elegant; he seems not to understand the word. Gray thought his language more poetical as it was more remote from common use: finding in Dryden "honey redolent of Spring," an expression that reaches the utmost limits of our language, Gray drove it a little more beyond common apprehension, by making "gales" to be "redolent of joy and youth."

Of the Ode on Adversity the hint was at first taken from: "O Diva, gratum quae regis Antium;" but Gray has excelled his original by the variety of his sentiments and by their moral application. Of this piece, at once poetical and rational, I will not by slight objections violate the dignity.

My process has now brought me to the "Wonderful Wonder of Wonders," the two Sister Odes; by which, though either vulgar ignorance or common sense at first universally rejected them, many have been since persuaded to think themselves delighted. I am one of those that are willing to be pleased, and therefore would gladly find the meaning of the first stanza of The Progress of Poetry.

Gray seems in his rapture to confound the images of "spreading sound" and "running water." A "stream of musick" may be allowed; but where does Musick, however "smooth and strong," after having visited the "verdant vales," "rowl down the steep amain," so as that "rocks and nodding groves rebellow to the roar"? If this be said of Musick, it is nonsense; if it be said of Water, it is nothing to the purpose.

The second stanza, exhibiting Mars's car and Jove's eagle, is unworthy of further notice. Criticism disdains to chase a schoolboy to his common-places.

To the third it may likewise be objected that it is drawn from Mythology, though such as may be more easily assimilated to real life. "Idalia's velvet-green" has something of cant. An epithet or metaphor drawn from Nature ennobles Art; an epithet or metaphor drawn from Art degrades Nature. Gray is too fond of words arbitrarily compounded. "Many-twinkling" was formerly censured as not analogical; we may say "many-spotted," but scarcely "many-spotting." This stanza, however, has something pleasing.

Of the second ternary of stanzas the first endeavours to tell something, and would have told it had it not been crossed by Hyperion; the second describes well enough the universal prevalence of poetry, but I am afraid that the conclusion will not rise from the premises. The caverns of the North and the plains of Chili are not the residences of "Glory" and "generous Shame." But that Poetry and Virtue go always together is an opinion so pleasing that I can forgive him who resolves to think it true.

The third stanza sounds big with Delphi, and Egean, and Ilissus, and Meander, and "hallowed fountain" and "solemn sound"; but in all Gray's odes there is a kind of cumbrous splendour which we wish away. His position is at last false: in the time of Dante and Petrarch, from whom he derives our first school of poetry, Italy was overrun by "tyrant power" and "coward vice"; nor was our state much better when we first borrowed the Italian arts.

Of the third ternary the first gives a mythological birth of Shakespeare. What is said of that mighty genius is true; but it is not said happily: the real effects of this poetical power are put out of sight by the pomp of machinery. Where truth is sufficient to fill the mind, fiction is worse than useless; the counterfeit debases the genuine.

His account of Milton's blindness, if we suppose it caused by study in the formation of his poem, a supposition surely allowable, is poetically true, and happily imagined. But the "car" of Dryden, with his "two coursers" has nothing in it peculiar; it is a car in which any other rider may be placed.

The Bard appears at the first view to be, as Algarotti and others have remarked, an imitation of the prophecy of Nereus. Algarotti thinks it superior to its original, and, if preference depends only on the imagery and animation of the two poems, his judgement is right. There is in The Bard more force, more thought, and more variety. But to copy is less than to invent, and the copy has been unhappily produced at a wrong time. The fiction of Horace was to the Romans credible; but its revival disgusts us with apparent and unconquerable falsehood. "Incredulus odi."

To select a singular event, and swell it to a giant's bulk by fabulous appendages of spectres and predictions, has little difficulty, for he that forsakes the probable may always find the marvellous. And it has little use: we are affected only as we believe; we are improved only as we find something to be imitated or declined. I do not see that The Bard promotes any truth, moral or political.

His stanzas are too long, especially his epodes; the ode is finished before the ear has learned its measures, and consequently before it can receive pleasure from their consonance and recurrence.

Of the first stanza the abrupt beginning has been celebrated; but technical beauties can give praise only to the inventor. It is in the power of any man to rush abruptly upon his subject, that has read the ballad of Johnny Armstrong, "Is there ever a man in all Scotland" — The initial resemblances, or alliterations, "ruin," "ruthless," "helm nor hauberk," are below the grandeur of a poem that endeavours at sublimity.

In the second stanza the Bard is well described; but in the third we have the puerilities of obsolete mythology. When we are told that Cadwallo "hush'd the stormy main," and that Modred "made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-top'd head," attention recoils from the repetition of a tale that, even when it was first heard, was heard with scorn.

The "weaving" of the "winding sheet" he borrowed, as he owns, from the northern Bards; but their texture, however, was very properly the work of female powers, as the art of spinning the thread of life in another mythology. Theft is always dangerous; Gray has made weavers of his slaughtered bards by a fiction outrageous and incongruous. They are then called upon to "Weave the warp, and weave the woof," perhaps with no great propriety; for it is by crossing the woof with the warp that men weave the web or piece; and the first line was dearly bought by the admission of its wretched correspondent, "Give ample room and verge enough." He has, however, no other as bad.

The third stanza of the second ternary is commended, I think, beyond its merit. The personification is indistinct. Thirst and Hunger are not alike, and their features, to make the imagery perfect, should have been discriminated. We are told, in the same stanza, how "towers" are "fed." But I will no longer look for particular faults; yet let it be observed that the ode might have been concluded with an action of better example: but suicide is always to be had without expence of thought.

These odes are marked by glittering accumulations of ungraceful ornaments: they strike, rather than please; the images are magnified by affectation; the language is laboured into harshness. The mind of the writer seems to work with unnatural violence. "Double, double, toil and trouble." He has a kind of strutting dignity, and is tall by walking on tiptoe. His art and his struggle are too visible, and there is too little appearance of ease and nature.

To say that he has no beauties would be unjust: a man like him, of great learning and great industry, could not but produce something valuable. When he pleases least, it can only be said that a good design was ill directed.

His translations of Northern and Welsh Poetry deserve praise: the imagery is preserved, perhaps often improved; but the language is unlike the language of other poets.

In the character of his Elegy I rejoice to concur with the common reader; for by the common sense of readers uncorrupted with literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours. The Church-yard abounds with images which find a mirrour in every mind, and with sentiments to which every bosom returns an echo. The four stanzas beginning "Yet even these bones" are to me original; I have never seen the notions of any other place; yet he that reads them here persuades himself that he has always felt them. Had Gray always written thus it had been vain to blame, and useless to praise him.

Friday, May 22, 2020



1.Geoffrey Chaucer = The Father of English Literature
2.Geoffrey Chaucer = The Father of English Poetry
3.Geoffrey Chaucer = The Father of English Language
4.Geoffrey Chaucer = The Morning Star of the Renaissance
5.Geoffrey Chaucer = The First National Poet
6.Venerable Bede = The Father of English Learning.
7.Venerable Bede = The Father of English History
8.King Alfred the Great = The Father of English Prose
9.Aeschylus = The Father of Tragedy
10.Nicholas Udall = The First English Comedy Writer
11.Edmund Spenser = The Poet’s poet (by Charles Lamb)
12.Edmund Spenser = The Child of Renaissance
13.Edmund Spenser = The Bridge between Renaissance and Reformation
14.Gutenberg = The Father of Printing
15.William Caxton = Father of English Press
16.Francis Bacon = The Father of English Essay
17.John Wycliffe = The Morning Star of the Reformation
18.Christopher Marlowe = The Father of English Tragedy
19.William Shakespeare = Bard of Avon
20.William Shakespeare = The Father of English Drama
21.William Shakespeare = Sweet Swan of Avon
22.William Shakespeare = The Bard
23.Robert Burns = The Bard of Ayrshire (Scotland)
24.Robert Burns = The National Poet of Scotland
25.Robert Burns = Rabbie
26.Robert Burns = The Ploughman Poet
27.William Dunber = The Chaucer of Scotland
28.John Dryden = Father of English criticism
29.William of Newbury = Father of Historical Criticism
30.John Donne = Poet of love
31.John Donne = Metaphysical poet
32.John Milton = Epic poet
33.John Milton = The great master of verse
34.John Milton = Lady of the Christ College
35.John Milton = Poet of the Devil’s Party
36.John Milton = Master of the Grand style
38.John Milton = The Blind Poet of England
39.Alexander Pope = Mock heroic poet
40.William Wordsworth = The Worshipper of Nature
41.William Wordsworth = The High Priest of Nature
42.William Wordsworth = The Poet of Nature
43.William Wordsworth = The Lake Poet
44.William Wordsworth = Poet of Childhood
45.William Wordsworth = Egotistical Sublime
46.Samuel Taylor Coleridge = The Poet of Supernaturalism
47.Samuel Taylor Coleridge = Opium Eater
48.Coleridge & Wordsworth = The Father of Romanticism
49.Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey = Lake Poets
50.Lord Byron = The Rebel Poet
51.Percy Bysshe Shelley = The Revolutionary Poet
52.Percy Bysshe Shelley = Poet of hope and
53.John Keats = Poet of Beauty
54.William Blake = The Mystic Poet
55.John Keats = Chameleon Poet
56.Lord Alfred Tennyson = The Representative of the Victorian Era
57.George Bernard Shaw = The greatest modern dramatist
58.George Bernard Shaw = The Iconoclast
59.Jane Austen = Anti-romantic in Romantic age
60.Lindley Murray = Father of English Grammar
61.James Joyce = Father of English Stream of Conscious Novel
62.Edgar Allen Poe = Father of English Mystery play
63.Edgar Allen Poe = The Father of English Short Story
64.Henry Fielding = The Father of English Novel
65.Samuel Johnson = Father of English one Act Play
66.Sigmund Freud = A great Psycho-analyst
67.Robert Frost = The Poet of Terror
68.Francesco Petrarch = The Father of Sonnet (Italian)
69.Francesco Petrarch = The Father of Humanism
70.Sir Thomas Wyatt = The Father of English Sonnet
71.Henry Louis Vivian Derozio = The Father of Indian-Anglican Sonnet
72.William Hazlitt = Critic’s Critic
73.Charles Lamb = The Essay of Elia
74.Arthur Miller = Mulk Raj Anand of America
75.Addison = The voice of humanist Puritanism
76.Emerson = The Seneca of America
77.Mother Teresa = The Boon of Heaven
78.Thomas Nash = Young Juvenile
79.Thomas Decker = Fore-runner of Humorist
80.Homer = The Father of Epic Poetry
81.Homer = The Blind Poet
82.Henrick Ibsen = Father of Modern theatre
83.Rabindranath Tagore = Indian National Poet
84.Nissim Ezekiel = The Father of Indian English Poetr

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Fireside Poets

The fireside poets – also known as the schoolroom or household poetswere a group of 19th-century American poets associated with New England. These poets were very popular among readers and critics both in the United States and overseas. Their domestic themes and messages of morality presented in conventional poetic forms deeply shaped their era until their decline in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century.


The group is typically thought to include Henry Wadsworth LongfellowWilliam Cullen BryantJohn Greenleaf WhittierJames Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.,who were the first American poets whose popularity rivaled that of British poets, both at home and abroad. Ralph Waldo Emerson is occasionally included in the group as well. The name "fireside poets" is derived from that popularity; their writing was a source of entertainment for families gathered around the fire at home. The name was further inspired by Longfellow's 1850 poetry collection The Seaside and the Fireside.Lowell published a book titled Fireside Travels in 1864 which helped solidify the title.

In an era without radio, television, or Internet, these poets were able to garner a general public popularity that has no equivalent in the 21st century. Their influence was furthered by their respective long lives, as well as their other high-profile activities, including serving as professors and academic chairs, editing popular newspapers, serving as foreign diplomats, giving popular speeches, and translating works by Dante and Homer.

These poets' general adherence to poetic convention (standard forms, regular meter, and rhymed stanzas) made their body of work particularly suitable for memorization and recitation in school and at home. Only Emerson rejected the traditional European forms that his contemporaries often utilized and instead called for new American forms and emphasized content over form.The poets' primary subjects were domestic life, mythology, and the politics of the United States, in which several of them were directly involved. The fireside poets did not write for the sake of other poets, for critics, or for posterity. Instead, they wrote for a contemporary audience of general readers. Emerson once wrote, "I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low."

Saturday, May 16, 2020



I. The West

'The Theatre of the Absurd' is a term coined by the critic Martin Esslin for the work of a number of playwrights, mostly written in the 1950s and 1960s. The term is derived from an essay by the French philosopher Albert Camus. In his 'Myth of Sisyphus', written in 1942, he first defined the human situation as basically meaningless and absurd. The 'absurd' plays by Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter and others all share the view that man is inhabiting a universe with which he is out of key. Its meaning is indecipherable and his place within it is without purpose. He is bewildered, troubled and obscurely threatened.

The origins of the Theatre of the Absurd are rooted in the avant-garde experiments in art of the 1920s and 1930s. At the same time, it was undoubtedly strongly influenced by the traumatic experience of the horrors of the Second World War, which showed the total impermanence of any values, shook the validity of any conventions and highlighted the precariousness of human life and its fundamental meaninglessness and arbitrariness. The trauma of living from 1945 under threat of nuclear annihilation also seems to have been an important factor in the rise of the new theatre.

At the same time, the Theatre of the Absurd also seems to have been a reaction to the disappearance of the religious dimension form contemporary life. The Absurd Theatre can be seen as an attempt to restore the importance of myth and ritual to our age, by making man aware of the ultimate realities of his condition, by instilling in him again the lost sense of cosmic wonder and primeval anguish. The Absurd Theatre hopes to achieve this by shocking man out of an existence that has become trite, mechanical and complacent. It is felt that there is mystical experience in confronting the limits of human condition.

As a result, absurd plays assumed a highly unusual, innovative form, directly aiming to startle the viewer, shaking him out of this comfortable, conventional life of everyday concerns. In the meaningless and Godless post-Second-World-War world, it was no longer possible to keep using such traditional art forms and standards that had ceased being convincing and lost their validity. The Theatre of the Absurd openly rebelled against conventional theatre. Indeed, it was anti-theatre. It was surreal, illogical, conflictless and plotless. The dialogue seemed total gobbledygook. Not unexpectedly, the Theatre of the Absurd first met with incomprehension and rejection.

One of the most important aspects of absurd drama was its distrust of language as a means of communication. Language had become a vehicle of conventionalised, stereotyped, meaningless exchanges. Words failed to express the essence of human experience, not being able to penetrate beyond its surface. The Theatre of the Absurd constituted first and foremost an onslaught on language, showing it as a very unreliable and insufficient tool of communication. Absurd drama uses conventionalised speech, clichés, slogans and technical jargon, which is distorts, parodies and breaks down. By ridiculing conventionalised and stereotyped speech patterns, the Theatre of the Absurd tries to make people aware of the possibility of going beyond everyday speech conventions and communicating more authentically. Conventionalised speech acts as a barrier between ourselves and what the world is really about: in order to come into direct contact with natural reality, it is necessary to discredit and discard the false crutches of conventionalised language. Objects are much more important than language in absurd theatre: what happens transcends what is being said about it. It is the hidden, implied meaning of words that assume primary importance in absurd theatre, over an above what is being actually said. The Theatre of the Absurd strove to communicate an undissolved totality of perception - hence it had to go beyond language.

Absurd drama subverts logic. It relishes the unexpected and the logically impossible. According to Sigmund Freud, there is a feeling of freedom we can enjoy when we are able to abandon the straitjacket of logic. In trying to burst the bounds of logic and language the absurd theatre is trying to shatter the enclosing walls of the human condition itself. Our individual identity is defined by language, having a name is the source of our separateness - the loss of logical language brings us towards a unity with living things. In being illogical, the absurd theatre is anti-rationalist: it negates rationalism because it feels that rationalist thought, like language, only deals with the superficial aspects of things. Nonsense, on the other hand, opens up a glimpse of the infinite. It offers intoxicating freedom, brings one into contact with the essence of life and is a source of marvellous comedy.

There is no dramatic conflict in the absurd plays. Dramatic conflicts, clashes of personalities and powers belong to a world where a rigid, accepted hierarchy of values forms a permanent establishment. Such conflicts, however, lose their meaning in a situation where the establishment and outward reality have become meaningless. However frantically characters perform, this only underlines the fact that nothing happens to change their existence. Absurd dramas are lyrical statements, very much like music: they communicate an atmosphere, an experience of archetypal human situations. The Absurd Theatre is a theatre of situation, as against the more conventional theatre of sequential events. It presents a pattern of poetic images. In doing this, it uses visual elements, movement, light. Unlike conventional theatre, where language rules supreme, in the Absurd Theatre language is only one of many components of its multidimensional poetic imagery.

The Theatre of the Absurd is totally lyrical theatre which uses abstract scenic effects, many of which have been taken over and modified from the popular theatre arts: mime, ballet, acrobatics, conjuring, music-hall clowning. Much of its inspiration comes from silent film and comedy, as well as the tradition of verbal nonsense in early sound film (Laurel and Hardy, W C Fields, the Marx Brothers). It emphasises the importance of objects and visual experience: the role of language is relatively secondary. It owes a debt to European pre-war surrealism: its literary influences include the work of Franz Kafka. The Theatre of the Absurd is aiming to create a ritual-like, mythological, archetypal, allegorical vision, closely related to the world of dreams.

Some of the predecessors of absurd drama:

  • In the realm of verbal nonsense: François Rabelais, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Many serious poets occasionally wrote nonsense poetry (Johnson, Charles Lamb, Keats, Hugo, Byron, Thomas Hood). One of the greatest masters of nonsense poetry was the German poet Christian Morgernstern (1871-1914). Ionesco found the work of S J Perelman (i.e. the dialogues of the Marx Brothers' films) a great inspiration for his work.
  • The world of allegory, myth and dream: The tradition of the world as a stage and life as a dream goes back to Elizabethan times. Baroque allegorical drama shows the world in terms of mythological archetypes: John Webster, Cyril Tourneur, Calderon, Jakob Biederman. With the decline of allegory, the element of fantasy prevails (Swift, Hugh Walpole).
  • In some 18th and 19th Century works of literature we find sudden transformation of characters and nightmarish shifts of time and place (E T A Hoffman, Nerval, Aurevilly). Dreams are featured in many theatrical pieces, but it had to wait for Strindberg to produce the masterly transcriptions of dreams and obsessions that have become a direct source of the Absurd Theatre. Strindberg, Dostoyevsky, Joyce and Kafka created archetypes: by delving into their own subconscious, they discovered the universal, collective significance of their own private obsessions. In the view of Mircea Eliade, myth has never completely disappeared on the level of individual experience. The Absurd Theatre sought to express the individual's longing for a single myth of general validity. The above-mentioned authors anticipated this.

    Alfred Jarry is an important predecessor of the Absurd Theatre. His UBU ROI (1896) is a mythical figure, set amidst a world of grotesque archetypal images. Ubu Roi is a caricature, a terrifying image of the animal nature of man and his cruelty. (Ubu Roi makes himself King of Poland and kills and tortures all and sundry. The work is a puppet play and its décor of childish naivety underlines the horror.) Jarry expressed man's psychological states by objectifying them on the stage. Similarly, Franz Kafka's short stories and novels are meticulously exact descriptions of archetypal nightmares and obsessions in a world of convention and routine.

  • 20th Century European avant-garde: For the French avant-garde, myth and dream was of utmost importance: the surrealists based much of their artistic theory on the teachings of Freud and his emphasis on the role of the subconscious. The aim of the avant-garde was to do away with art as a mere imitation of appearances. Apollinaire demanded that art should be more real than reality and deal with essences rather than appearances. One of the more extreme manifestations of the avant-garde was the Dadaist movement, which took the desire to do away with obsolete artistic conventions to the extreme. Some Dadaist plays were written, but these were mostly nonsense poems in dialogue form, the aim of which was primarily to 'shock the bourgeois audience'. After the First World War, German Expressionism attempted to project inner realities and to objectify thought and feeling. Some of Brecht's plays are close to Absurd Drama, both in their clowning and their music-hall humour and the preoccupation with the problem of identity of the self and its fluidity. French surrealism acknowledged the subconscious mind as a great, positive healing force. However, its contribution to the sphere of drama was meagre: indeed it can be said that the Absurd Theatre of the 1950s and 1960s was a Belated practical realisation of the principles formulated by the Surrealists as early as the 1930s. In this connection, of particular importance were the theoretical writings of Antonin Artaud. Artaud fully rejected realism in the theatre, cherishing a vision of a stage of magical beauty and mythical power. He called for a return to myth and magic and to the exposure of the deepest conflicts within the human mind. He demanded a theatre that would produce collective archetypes, thus creating a new mythology. In his view, theatre should pursue the aspects of the internal world. Man should be considered metaphorically in a wordless language of shapes, light, movement and gesture. Theatre should aim at expressing what language is incapable of putting into words. Artaud forms a bridge between the inter-war avant-garde and the post-Second-World-War Theatre of the Absurd.




At the time when the first absurd plays were being written and staged in Western Europe in the late 1940s and early 1950s, people in the East European countries suddenly found themselves thrown into a world where absurdity was a integral part of everyday living. Suddenly, you did not need to be an abstract thinker in order to be able to reflect upon absurdity: the experience of absurdity became part and parcel of everybody's existence.

Hitler's attempt to conquer Russia during the Second World War gave Russia a unique opportunity to extend its sphere of influence and at the same time to 'further the cause of [the Soviet brand of] socialism'. In the final years of the war, Stalin turned the war of the defeat of Nazism into the war of conquest of Central Europe and the war of the division of Europe. In pursuing Hitler's retreating troops, the Russian Army managed to enter the territory of the Central European countries and to remain there, with very few exceptions, until now. The might of the Russian Army made it possible for Stalin to establish rigidly ideological pro-Soviet regimes, hermetically sealed from the rest of Europe. The Central European countries, whose pre-war political systems ranged from feudal monarchies (Rumania), semi-authoritarian states (Poland) through to a parliamentary Western-type democracy (Czechoslovakia) were now subjected to a militant Sovietisation. The countries were forced to undergo a major traumatic political and economic transformation.

The Western Theatre of the Absurd highlighted man's fundamental bewilderment and confusion, stemming from the fact that man has no answers to the basic existential questions: why we are alive, why we have to die, why there is injustice and suffering. East European Soviet-type socialism proudly proclaimed that it had answers to all these questions and, moreover, that it was capable of eliminating suffering and setting all injustices right. To doubt this was subversive. Officially, it was sufficient to implement a grossly simplified formula of Marxism to all spheres of life and Paradise on Earth would ensue. It became clear very soon that this simplified formula offered even fewer real answers than various esoteric and complex Western philosophical systems and that its implementation by force brought enormous suffering.

From the beginning it was clear that the simplified idea was absurd: yet it was made to dominate all spheres of life. People were expected to shape their lives according to its dictates and to enjoy it. It was, and still is, an offence to be sceptical about Soviet-type socialism if you are a citizen of an East-European country. The sheer fact that the arbitrary formula of simplified Marxism was made to dominate the lives of millions of people, forcing them to behave against their own nature, brought the absurdity of the formula into sharp focus for these millions. Thus the Soviet-type system managed to bring the experience of what was initially a matter of concern for only a small number of sensitive individuals in the West to whole nations in the East.

This is not to say that the absurdity of life as experienced in the East differs in any way from the absurdity of life as it is experienced in the West. In both parts of the world it stems from the ambiguity of man's position in the universe, from his fear of death and from his instinctive yearning for the Absolute. It is just that official East-European practices, based on a contempt for the fundamental existential questions and on a primitive and arrogant faith in the power of a simplified idea, have created a reality which makes absurdity a primary and deeply-felt, intrinsic experience for anybody who comes in contact with that reality.

To put it another way: the western Theatre of the Absurd may be seen as the expression of frustration and anger of a handful of intellectuals over the fact that people seem to lead uninspired, second-rate and stereotyped existences, either by deliberate choice or because they do not know any better and have no idea how or ability by which to help themselves. Although such anger may sound smug and condescending, it is really mixed with despair. And when we look at Eastern Europe, we realise that these intellectuals are justified in condemning lives of mediocrity, even though many people in the West seem to lead such lives quite happily and without any awareness of the absurdity. In Eastern Europe, second-rateness has been elevated to a single, sacred, governing principle. There, mediocrity rules with a rod of iron. Thus it can be seen clearly what it can achieve. As a result, unlike in the West, may people in the East seem to have discovered that it is very uncomfortable to live under the command of second-rateness.

(The fact that mediocrity is harmful to life comes across so clearly in Eastern Europe either because East-European second-rateness is much harsher than the mild, West-European, consumerist mediocrity, or simply because it is a single, totalitarian second-rateness, obligatory for all. A single version of a simple creed cannot suit all, its insufficiencies immediately show. This is not the case if everybody is allowed to choose their own simplified models and prejudices which suit their individual needs, the way it is in the West - thus their insufficiencies are not immediately noticeable.)

The rise of the Theatre of the Absurd in the East is connected with the period of relative relaxation of the East European regimes after Stalin's death. In the first decade after the communist take-over of power, it would have been impossible for anyone to write anything even distantly based on his experiences of life after the take-over without endangering his personal safety. The arts, as indeed all other spheres of life, were subject to rigid political control and reduced to serving blatant ideological and propagandistic aims. This was the period when feature films were made about happy workers in a steelworks, or about a village tractor driver who after falling in love with his tractor becomes a member of the communist party, etc. All the arts assumed rigidly conservative, 19th-Century realist forms, to which a strong political bias was added. 20th -Century developments, in particular the inter-war experiments with structure and form in painting and poetry were outlawed as bourgeois decadence.

In the years after Stalin's death in 1953, the situation slowly improved. The year 1956 saw two major attempts at liberalisation within the Soviet Bloc: the Hungarian revolution was defeated, while the Polish autumn managed to introduce a measure of normalcy into the country which lasted for several years. Czechoslovakia did not see the first thaw until towards the end of the 1950s: genuine liberalisation did not start gaining momentum until 1962-63. Hence it was only in the 1960s that the first absurdist plays could be written and staged in Eastern Europe. Even so, the Theatre of the Absurd remained limited to only two East European countries, those that were the most liberal at the time: Poland and Czechoslovakia.

The East European Absurd Theatre was undoubtedly inspired by Western absurd drama, yet it differed from it considerably in form, meaning and impact. Although East European authors and theatre producers were quite well acquainted with many West-European absurd plays from the mid to late 1950s onwards, nevertheless (with very few exceptions) these plays were not performed or even translated in Eastern Europe until the mid-1960s. The reasons for this were several. First, West-European absurd drama was regarded by East-European officialdom as the epitome of West-European bourgeois capitalist decadence and, as a result, East European theatrical producers would be wary of trying to stage a condemned play - such an act would blight their career once and for all, ensuring that they would never work in theatre again. The western absurdist plays were regarded a nihilistic and anti-realistic, especially after Kenneth Tynan had attacked Ionesco as the apostle of anti-realism: this attach was frequently used by the East European officialdom for condemning Western absurd plays.

Secondly, after a decade or more of staple conservative realistic bias, there were fears among theatrical producers that the West European absurd plays might be regarded as far too avantgarde and esoteric by the general public. Thirdly, there was an atmosphere of relative optimism in Eastern Europe in the late 1950s and the 1960s. It was felt that although life under Stalin's domination had been terrible, the bad times were now past after the dictator's death and full liberalisation was only a matter of time. The injustices and deficiencies of the East European systems were seen as due to human frailty rather than being a perennial metaphysical condition: it was felt that sincere and concerted human effort was in the long run going to be able to put all wrongs right. In a way, this was a continuation of the simplistic Stalinist faith in man's total power over his predicament. From this point of view, it was felt that most Western absurdist plays were too pessimistic, negative and destructive. It was argued (perhaps partially for official consumption) that the East European absurdist plays, unlike their Western counterparts, constituted constructive criticism.

The line of argument of reformist, pro-liberalisation Marxists in Czechoslovakia in the early 1960s ran as follows: The Western Theatre of the Absurd recorded the absurdity of human existence as an immutable condition. It was a by-product of the continuing disintegration of capitalism. Western absurd plays were irrelevant in Eastern Europe, since socialist society had already found all answers concerning man's conduct and the meaning of life in general. Unlike its Western counterpart, East European absurd drama was communicating constructive criticism of the deformation of Marxism by the Stalinists. All that the East-European absurdist plays were trying to do was to remove minor blemishes on the face of the Marxist model - and that was easily done.

It was only later that some critics were able to point out that West European absurd dram was not in fact nihilistic and destructive and that it played the same constructive roles as East European drama attempted to play. At this stage, it was realised that the liberal Marxist analysis of East European absurd drama was incorrect: just as with its Western counterpart, the East European absurdist theatre could be seen as a comment on the human condition in general - hence its relevance also for the West.

On the few occasions that Western absurdist plays were actually staged in Eastern Europe, the East European audiences found the plays highly relevant. A production of Waiting for Godot in Poland in 1956 and in Slovakia in 1969, for instance, both became something nearing a political demonstration. Both the Polish and Slovak audiences stressed that for them, this was a play about hope - hope against hope.

The tremendous impact of these productions in Eastern Europe can be perhaps compared with the impact of Waiting for Godot on the inmates of a Californian penitentiary, when it was staged there in 1957. Like the inmates of a gaol, people in Eastern Europe are possibly also freer of the numbing concerns of everyday living than the average Western man in the street. Since they live under pressure, this somehow brings them closer to the bare essentials of life and they are therefore more receptive to the works that deal with archetypal existential situations than is the case with an ordinary Wes-European citizen.

On the whole, East European absurd drama has been far less abstract and esoteric than its West European counterpart. Moreover, while the West European drama is usually considered as having spent itself by the end of the 1960s, several East European authors have been writing highly original plays in the absurdisy mould, well into the 1970s.

The main difference between the West European and the East European plays is that while the West European plays deal with a predicament of an individual or a group of individuals in a situation stripped to the bare, and often fairly abstract and metaphysical essentials, the East European plays mostly show and individual trapped within the cogwheels of a social system. The social context of the West European absurd plays is usually subdued and theoretical: in the East European plays it is concrete, menacing and fairly realistic: it is usually covered by very transparent metaphors. The social context is shown as a kind of Catch-22 system - it is a set of circumstances whose joint impact crushes the individual. The absurdity of the social system is highlighted and frequently shown as the result of the actions of stupid, misguided or evil people - this condemnation is of course merely implicit. Although the fundamental absurdity of the life feature in these plays is not intended to be metaphysically conditioned - these are primarily pieces of social satire - on reflection, the viewer will realise that there is fundamentally no difference between the 'messages' of the West European and the East European plays - except that the East European plays may be able to communicate these ideas more pressingly and more vividly to their audiences, because of their first-hand everyday experience of the absurdity that surrounds them.

At the end of the 1960s, the situation in Eastern Europe changed for the worse. After the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, it became apparent that Russia would not tolerate a fuller liberalisation of the East European countries. Czechoslovakia was thrown into a harsh, neo-Stalinist mould, entering the time capsule of stagnating immobility, in which it has remained ever since. Since it had been primarily artists and intellectuals that were spearheading the liberalising reforms of the 1960s, the arts were now subjected to a vicious purge. Many well-known artists and intellectuals were turned into non-persons practically overnight: some left or were later forced to lea the country.

All the Czechoslovak absurdist playwrights fell into the non-person category. It is perhaps quite convincing evidence of the social relevance of their plays that the establishment feared them so much it felt the need to outlaw them. Several of the banned authors have continued writing, regardless of the fact that their plays cannot be staged in Czechoslovakia at present. They have been published and produced in the West.

As in the 1960s, these authors are still deeply socially conscious: for instance, Václav Havel, in the words of Martin Esslin, 'one of the most promising European playwrights of today', is a courageous defender of basic human values and one of the most important (and most thoughtful) spokespersons of the non-establishment groupings in Czechoslovakia.

By contrast, the Polish absurdist playwrights have been able to continue working in Poland undisturbed since the early 1960s, their plays having been normally published and produced within the country even throughout he 1970s.

It is perhaps quite interesting that even the Western absurd dramatists have gradually developed a need to defend basic human values. They have been showing solidarity with their East European colleagues. Ionesco was always deeply distrustful of politics and the clichéd language of the political establishment. Harold Pinter, who took part in a radio production of one of Václav Havel's plays from the 1970s several years ago, has frequently spoken in support of the East European writers and playwrights. Samuel Beckett has written a short play dedicated to Havel, which was staged in France in 1984 during a ceremony at the University of Toulouse, which awarded Havel an honorary doctorate.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Quiz on Tennyson

1. What was the profession of Tennyson's father who was plagued by excessive drinking and a violent, moody temper?

2. What happened to Edward, one of Alfred Tennyson's brothers?

 died in a railway accident
 died while operating a railway
 died in a private mental asylum
 became a famous journalist
3. What name did the American poet Walt Whitman call Tennyson?

 the Melancholy Saxon
 the Dulcet Songster
 the Boss
 the Trumpeter of Empire
4. In which year did Queen Victoria make Tennyson the Poet Laureate of Britain?

5. Where did Tennyson attend university?

 Exeter College, Oxford University
 Trinity College, Cambridge University
 St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University
 King's College, Cambridge University
6. Who was Tennyson's intimate college friend who inspired the confessional autobiographical poem "In Memoriam"?

 Arthur Henry Hallam
 Thomas Henry Huxley
 Charles Edgewood Sellwood
 Charles Henry Rutherford
7. For what illness did Tennyson seek a series of visits to a sanatorium with diet and body wraps?

 brain tumors
8. Which of Tennyson's poems ends with these lines?

"Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore than labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar/ oh rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more"?

 The Kraken
 The Lotus-Eaters
9. Which of Tennyson's poems was written on the sea between the south coast and the Isle of Wight, where he and his wife had made their home (called Farringford) since 1853?

 Crossing the Bar
 The Lady of Shalott
10. Thomas Edison made sound recordings of Tennyson reciting his own poems late in Tennyson's life. Among others, which poem did Tennyson include in his recording?

 In Memoriam
 The Kraken
 The Charge of the Light Brigade
 The Lotus-Eaters

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A Short Story Quiz

There was no pulsation.”
a. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
b. The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs
c. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

“A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.”
a. A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin
b. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
c. The Poor Relation’s Story by Charles Dickens

“The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.”
a. "A Golden Wedding" by L. M. Montgomery
b. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
c. Soon by Alice Munro

“She stood for a long time in the doorway in a red fury that grew bloodier for every second that she regarded the creature that was her torment.”
a. The Red Bow by George Saunders
b. The Doll by Daphne du Maurier
c. Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston

“And one day, out of Heaven knows what material, he spun the beast a wonderful name, and from that moment it grew into a god and a religion.”
a. Sredni Vashtar by Saki
b. The Garden of Paradise by Hans Christian Andersen
c. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl

“She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost.”
a. "Childfinder" by Octavia Butler
b. Samsa in Love by Haruki Murakami
c. "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury

“’Don’t be alarmed,” said Rainsford, with a smile which he hoped was disarming. ‘I’m no robber. I fell off a yacht.’”
a. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
b. The Offshore Pirate by F. Scott Fitzgerald
c. The Killers by Ernest Hemingway

“It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.”
a. Walnut-Tree House by Charlotte Riddell
b. "The Reckoning" by Edith Wharton
c. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The trouble with him was that he was not able to imagine.”
a. "Luck" by Mark Twain
b. To Build a Fire by Jack London
c. Some Other, Better Otto by Deborah Eisenberg

“’I ain’t telling you all this,’ she said, ‘to make you scared or bitter or to make you hate nobody. I’m telling you this because you got a brother. And the world ain’t changed.’”
a. "Thank You, Ma’am" by Langston Hughes
b. Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin
c. "Like a Winding Sheet" by Ann Petry

Answers: a; b; b; c; a; c; a; c; b; b

Quiz on English Short Story

1.Some of the earliest short stories can be found in the Bible. But the short story, as a form, took a major shift in the 14th century, thanks in part to this writer.
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 Washington Irving
 Mark Twain


2. When did the English short story begin to take the form of prose rather than verse?

 15th century
 17th century
 14th century
 20th century


3. This short story writer had a theory about the form. He believed a true short story required a "single effect" and insisted that "[i]n the whole composition there should be no word written of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design."

 Edgar Allan Poe
 Washington Irving
 Mark Twain


4. This short story writer, however, considered the story to be nothing more than "a frame on which to stretch [his] materials," and he aimed at a "familiar and faithful exhibition of scenes in common life."

 Washington Irving
 Mark Twain
 Edgar Allan Poe


5. Which of the following short story writers turned out his works during the 19th century?

 William Faulkner
 Nathaniel Hawthorne


6. His tales include a cast of strange characters. One involves a minister who inexplicably dons a black veil. An even stranger tale tells of a man who one day walks out of his house on the pretence of taking a journey. Instead, he takes up lodging one block away. There he lives for twenty years, unknown to his wife, until one day he finally returns and simply resumes his domestic life.

 Nathaniel Hawthorne
 Edgar Allan Poe
 Washington Irving
 Herman Melville


7. He wrote a short story about a copyist who, when asked to do any work by his employer, always replied, "I prefer not."

 Washington Irving
 Edgar Allan Poe
 Herman Melville
 Nathaniel Hawthorne


8. This naturalist writer gave us "The Open Boat."

 Herman Melville
 Ernest Hemingway
 Henry James
 Stephen Crane


9. Which of the following is _not_ a short story writer who wrote all of their works in the twentieth century?

 Mark Twain
 Sherwood Anderson
 Franz Kafka
 James Joyce


10. The incidents that occur in short stories by this German-language writer are so surreal that a term has even been developed from his name to describe strange experiences.

 Sherwood Anderson
 Franz Kafka
 James Joyce
 Nathaniel Hawthorne


11. Literary critic Forest Ingram introduced the term "short story cycle" to describe a collection of stories with recurring themes, symbols, and characters united by a setting or chronology. Which of the following is _not_ a short story cycle?

 "Go Down Moses," William Faulkner
 "Winesburg Ohio," Sherwood Anderson
 "Twice Told Tales," Nathaniel Hawthorne
 "Dubliners," James Joyce


12. This short story cycle focuses on Esperanza Cordero, who is both the protagonist and the narrator.

 Twice Told Tales
 The House On Mango Street
 Winesburg Ohio


13. His story, "The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes," gave us the phrase "to eat crow."

 Rudyard Kipling
 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
 Franz Kafka
 Henry James


14. His stories have three basic plots: (1) someone is buried alive, or (2) someone is alive who should have been dead, or (3) someone dies.

 Edgar Allan Poe
 Franz Kafka
 Rudyard Kipling
 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


15. In a short story by this author, society, in an attempt to make everyone equal, was forced to make pretty people ugly and graceful people clumsy. One day, Harrison Bergeron attempted to break free of these confines, but he was quickly brought back into line.

 George Orwell
 Franz Kakfa
 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
 Ray Bradbury


.Questions 1 - 2 are based on the following passage:

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal - yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

This poem was written in which of the following eras?
2.The theme of this stanza can best be described as _______________.
3.Questions 3 - 5 are based on the following passage:

A man can hold land if he can just eat and pay taxes; he can do that.

Yes, he can do that until his crops fail one day and he has to borrow money from the bank.

But--you see, a bank or a company can't do that, because those creatures don't breathe air, don't eat side-meat. They breathe profits; they eat the interest on the money. If they don't get it, they die the way you die without air, without side-meat. It is a sad thing, but it is so.  It is just so.

This passage comes from which of the following?
4.What historical period does this passage arise out of?
5.The passage is based on the ideas of which of the following?
6.Questions 6 - 8 are based on the following poem:

why from this her and him
did you and i climb
(crazily kissing) till

into themselves we fell-

how have all time and space
bowed to immortal us
if in one little bed

she and he lie (undead)

The author of this poem is _______________.
7.The versification of the poem would best be classified as:
8.The tone is best described as:
9.Indicate which of the following best characterizes the esthetic philosophy of "Art for art's sake":
10.Questions 10-11 are based on the following passage:

My father's name being Pirrip and my Christian name, Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing more explicit than Pip. So I called myself Pip and came to be called Pip.

These lines open which of the following?
11.The opening of the work indicates what about the speaker?
12.Questions 12-14 are based on the following poem by Bret Harte:

Above the pines the moon was slowly drifting,
The river sang below;
The dim Sierras, far beyond, uplifting
Their minarets of snow.

Lines two and four have what type of meter?
13.The lines contain ____ caesuras.
14.Which lines end with feminine rhyme?

Today's Question

Arrange the following words of Chomsky in chronological order in which they appeared: (i) Current issues in Linguistic Theory (ii) Syntactic...