The Advent Calendar of Literature: Day 1

If you like interesting things about Christmas and literature, then follow Interesting Literature as they provide an Advent Calendar of Literature, starting today!

Interesting Literature

We’ve been running this blog now for two years. When we posted our first literary blog post, on 1 December 2012, we set out to publish a short post every day, or almost every day. To mark the second birthday of InterestingLiterature, we would like to present ‘The Advent Calendar of Literature’. Every day for the next 24 days, leading up to, and including, Christmas Eve, we’re going to publish a short post about some interesting fact relating to literature and Christmas. That’s 24 facts, or one for every month that this blog has been going. These are our favourite festive facts that we’ve uncovered over the last couple of years.

But not only that: each fact will be linked, so that tomorrow’s Christmas literature fact will pick up on today’s, and the one we post on 3 December will follow tomorrow’s, and so on, right to…

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Guest Blog: The House Where Virginia (Sometimes) Lived – 5 Anecdotes from Charleston Farmhouse

Virginia Woolf has been on my mind a great deal lately, and yet I managed to overlook this post from Interesting Literature. For Woolf aficionados and others who just enjoy a bit of history, literary and otherwise: Read on!

Interesting Literature

By Georgina Parfitt

Charleston Farmhouse sits in a valley of the South Downs at the end of a long dirt road, marked private, which carves and winds around ditches of old trees. The house looks out upon farms and grazing, and just a little farther, the town of Lewes, East Sussex.

Being mostly pacifists, the Bloomsbury set conscientiously objected to national service in the First World War, so the house at Charleston was bought in 1916 and there the group stayed, making the farmhouse a sanctuary for the things it believed in: literature, art, discussion, and new ways of doing things. They covered their sanctuary with pictures, portraits of each other, printed patterns on the tables and the ceilings and the chairs.

‘The house seems full of young people in very high spirits, laughing a great deal at their own jokes,’ Vanessa Bell wrote.

Surprisingly, the same is true of…

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10 Great (and Cute) Facts about Writers and Cats

I didn’t know there was such a event as World Cat Day, but thanks to Interesting Literature, now I do know and I also know some more facts about writers and cats. Read on and enjoy!

Interesting Literature

It’s World Cat Day! The purr-fect opportunity (sorry – we couldn’t resist) to share 10 of our favourite writer-related facts about cats.

Ernest Hemingway had over 30 pet cats, with names including Alley Cat, Crazy Christian, Ecstasy, F. Puss, Fats, Furhouse, Skunk, Thruster, and Willy. Many of them had six toes; to this day, such cats are often known as ‘Hemingway cats’.

James Joyce wrote two stories for children, both about cats: ‘The Cat and the Devil’ and ‘The Cats of Copenhagen’. You can see some of the rare illustrations for ‘The Cat and the Devil’ here.

French writer Colette started her working day by picking the fleas off her cat.

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One of Daniel Defoe’s early business ventures was the harvesting of musk which he extracted from the anal glands of cats. Perhaps unsurprisingly (and thankfully for the cats involved), this venture failed.

Samuel Pepys is credited with…

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10 Great Quotations from George Bernard Shaw on His Birthday

Some interesting quotes from George Bernard Shaw on the Interesting Literature blog. My favorite is a quote from Major Barbara. You’ll have to read the post to find it 🙂

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It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman despise him. – Preface to Pygmalion

When I was a young man I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work. – The Wordsworth Book of Humorous Quotations

Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. – Maxims for Revolutionists

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He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career. – Major Barbara

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.

No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious. – Saturday Review, 1895

Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get…

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10 Great Quotations from Writers about Life

Another interesting post from Interesting Literature: writers’ quotes about life. My favorite is one by T.S. Eliot. It is the way I am trying to live my life now. What is your favorite, dear Reader? Do any of these quotes reflect the way you live your life, or wish you lived your life?

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You ask ‘What is life?’ That is the same as asking ‘What is a carrot?’ A carrot is a carrot and we know nothing more. – Anton Chekhov

Live all you can – it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. – Henry James

Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope. – Edith Wharton

Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment. – Samuel Johnson

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

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In real life, the hardest aspect of the battle between good and evil is determining which is which. – George R. R. Martin

Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage. – Anaïs Nin

To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing…

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10 Great Quotations from Writers about Books

Interesting Literature is at it again with great quotations. Baldacci’s quote resonates the most with me. But I urge my published friends to consider Edna St. Vincent Millay’s quote 😉

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The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame. – Oscar Wilde

Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other? – David Baldacci

Books are a uniquely portable magic. – Stephen King

Books are the mirrors of the soul. – Virginia Woolf

When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes. – Erasmus

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A person who publishes a book wilfully appears before the populace with his pants down. – Edna St. Vincent Millay

A book must be an ice axe to break the frozen sea within us. – Franz Kafka

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. – Ray Bradbury

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the…

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On Virginia Woolf and Mrs Dalloway

In a time long ago, I fancied myself an amateur Woolf scholar. I had volumes of her letters and journals; her novels and essays; any biography I could find; and kept all close to my bed, within arm’s reach. My interest in Woolf started while I was in high school and continued, fairly strong, through my grad degree in English. I still fancy Woolf although it’s been a long time since I’ve (re)read anything by her. I no longer claim to be a Woolf scholar, amateur or otherwise, but like a moth to a brilliant light, I fly to her whenever I see her name.
In this blog post, Interesting Literature not only provides an interesting tribute to Mrs. Dalloway (published on May 14, 1925), but also includes a clip of Virginia Woolf talking about writing. I had never heard her voice before. Her accent is much what you would expect from a well-educated, well-to-do British citizen of that time. Her obvious love of language, her philosophy that words should tell us the truth or create beauty, tugs at my heart given that she left this world too soon and too young.

Interesting Literature

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway was published on this day, 14 May, in 1925. In honour of this, we thought we’d offer a few little facts about this novel, and about Woolf herself.

The action of the book takes place over just one day – a ‘moment of June’ in 1923 – although there are flashbacks to events that occurred in the characters’ lives over the previous five years, in the immediate wake of WWI. The original title of the book was ‘The Hours’, a title that Michael Cunningham would go on to use for the title of his novel about Woolf, which weaves together events from Woolf’s own life and events from Mrs Dalloway. The book was filmed, in 2002, starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman (the latter of whom famously wore a prosthetic nose to portray Woolf).

Woolf stampMrs Dalloway wasn’t the only novel Woolf wrote the action of…

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Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

For all you Tolkien fans! I know, you are legion and this post is so interesting!

Interesting Literature

Today is Tolkien Reading Day, an annual event launched in 2003 by the Tolkien Society. (The date of 25 March was chosen in honour of the fall of Sauron in the Third Age, year 3019, in Tolkien’s fiction.) The reading day promotes the use of Tolkien’s writing in schools and library groups, and is celebrated in numerous countries. To mark the occasion, we’ve put together ten of our favourite quotations from John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. The first quotation, about Beowulf, is especially timely because of the recent announcement that Tolkien’s translation of that epic poem is finally going to be published!

On Beowulf and myth: ‘The significance of a myth is not easily to be pinned on paper by analytical reasoning. It is at its best when it is presented by a poet who feels rather than makes explicit what his theme portends; who presents it incarnate in the world of history and geography, as our poet has done. Its defender…

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From Interesting Literature: Five Fascinating Facts about John Steinbeck

Click Five Fascinating Facts about John Steinbeck to read some fascinating facts about John Steinbeck.  Number 5 should be of special interest to my friend Jayde Ashe-Thomas of The Paperbook Collective.  She is a fan of author Thom Steinbeck, John Steinbeck’s son (read one of her posts here) and, of course, John Steinbeck himself (he’s her “homeboy“)   🙂

Five Fascinating Facts about Henry James

I wonder how many of those who may read my blog will be familiar with, much less a reader of, Henry James, a writer who is perhaps the most opposite to Ernest Hemingway, in his style of writing, that is, if not just his time and nature. In short, I have a lovely Modern Library edition of The Ambassadors that I’ve never been able to complete reading because I start dozing after only a couple of pages, and I wonder if any of this blog’s followers have had that experience with James or not, but if you are interested at all in Henry James then you must, indeed, click through and read these fascinating facts about him.

Interesting Literature

By Viola van de Sandt

1. He had no regrets. In a letter to fellow novelist Hugh Walpole, James wrote in 1913: ‘We must know, as much as possible, in our beautiful art . . . what we are talking about – &  the only way to know it is to have lived & loved & cursed & floundered & enjoyed & suffered – I don’t think I regret a single “excess” of my responsive youth – I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions & possibilities I didn’t embrace.’

Henry James2. James’s close and long-standing friendship with Constance Fenimore Woolson, a widely-read writer who like James had also settled in Europe, ended abruptly when Woolson jumped from her bedroom window in Venice in 1894. It fell to James to sort through her belongings and finally dispose of her clothing. Unable to sell or burn her dresses, he eventually…

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