Wordsworth's 'The Tables Turned'

Wordsworth's following lines from the poem 'The Tables Turned' set me thinking.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Philosophers have since times immemorial loaded us with their meaningful lessons about leading life in a better way. But if we go by these words of Wordsworth, we should leave all the books and experience a first hand encounter. I would like to present a strong argument in his favour here. We all remember our childhood or have seen kids around us. How do they learn? Do they cram all things? How do they learn to sit or eat with a spoon? They learn by doing the thing. Even when are grown-up what we do practically ourselves, we comprehend and remember it easily. This is what the poet here is telling us to do.
He is of the view that the books of the 'sages' cannot give us so much wisdom as we can get from natural experiences after first hand encounters.

In this poem 'The Tables Turned' Wordsworth writes:

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you'll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun, above the mountain's head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There's more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

Note here that Wordsworth is asking the readers to make Nature their teacher. Being too much involved in books is a dull exercise. What is the ideal thing is that we must apply our knowledge to real life situations, then we convert our knowledge into education. And where can we find such a great and practical teacher as Nature? Actually the problem with our education system is that the stress is on theoretical knowledge and not the practical aspect. Our focus should be the pragmatic approach rather than the normative one.

Further in the poem he writes:

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless--
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:--
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Actually what happens is that we are so much involved with the material aspects in our life that we often overlook the bounties of nature around us. We ignore the 'impulse from a vernal wood' and remain occupied with Science and Art.

John Grisham's 'Playing for Pizza'

John Grisham's next book 'Playing for Pizza' is being released on September 24,07. I myself am eagerly waiting for the release.

Here I am presenting some excerpts from the press release:

PLAYING FOR PIZZA is a short novel about a fallen American football star who can no longerget work in the National Football League and whose agent, as a last resort, signs a deal for him toplay for the Parma Panthers, in Parma, Italy. The quarterback’s move to a small city in a foreignland leads to a series of cultural misadventures. The idea for the novel grew out of time Grishamspent in Italy researching his last novel, The Broker, which was set in Bologna.

Here's what Grisham himself has to say:

“I was pleasantly surprised to find real American football in Italy,” says Grisham, “and as I dugdeeper a novel came together. The research was tough – food, wine, opera, football, Italian culture– but someone had to do it.”

P.S. To read an excerpt from novel click here

Playing For Pizza (Limited Edition): A Novel

Dickens' 'A Tale of Two Cities'

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Charles Dickens’ famous novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ opens with these lines. These lines form the crux of the novel. The author paints a picture of life in England and France. Scholars have found this novel as the least Dickensian of all his novels. Ever since its publication the book has attracted mixed opinions. Nevertheless, the novel has been a widely read one.
An endeavour to locate the sources of this novel will end in two main sources: Thomas Carlyle’s history, ‘The French Revolution’ and Wilkie Collins’ play ‘The Frozen Deep’. Dickens had acted in this play. At the time Dickens decided to write this novel his relationship with his wife had been deteriorating and they had decided to separate.
In the novel Dickens has conveyed the significance of French Revolution and Resurrection. The novel was studied by the biographical critics from the point of the upheaval in the writer’s life. The Marxist viewed the historical angle, while the psychological critics examined the father-son relationship and the imagery of prison in the novel.

Here is a link of a quiz on this novel for those who have read the novel: Take the Quiz

'The Grapes of Wrath'

‘The Grapes of Wrath’, one of the landmarks in not only American fiction but also in world literature. It was written by John Steinbeck in 1939. It was one of the post-depression novels of Steinbeck. The economic depression of 1930, had taken heavy toll by the means of mass unemployment and migration, of people from eastern to south-western parts, in large numbers. The author has, in this novel, narrated the impact of that depression on socio-economic life of poor people. ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ is thus, chiefly a long panorama of suffering and misery of Joad family, who, like thousands of others, migrated to California in the south-west. Steinbeck has used a number of symbolic allusions including the title – ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.
The title has been borrowed from the song ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ written by Julia Ward Howe. The ‘grapes’ here are symbolic – they may be sour as well as sweet. While the sour grapes are unpalatable, the sweet ones are liked by all. In the novel there are both kinds of grapes – sweet and sour. Grampa is always dreaming of going to California and taste sweet grapes in order to regain his vitality. But the grapes remain sour for him as he dies on his way to those green pastures. Infact, the grapes remain sour for the entire Joad family and other migrants, because they didn’t get what they had hoped for.
Another symbolic aspect of the grapes is apparent from the significant comment made in the twenty-ninth chapter of the novel:

“The break would never come so long as fear could turn to wrath.”

This statement symbolically sums up the whole essence of the novel. It implies that until the people rise against their own fears, concerning their exploiters and other cruel forces, the ‘grapes’ will continue to remain sour for them. The only way is to unite against the exploiting forces and demand the rights of the workers.
Hence, in a way the grapes symbolize the fruits of labour. ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ will be sweet when wrath, that is, anger is shown against the exploiters. Thus, in this way the title is a very precise and apparent way is related to the very theme of the novel and is also the most suitable.

'Stream of Consciousness' and 'Mrs.Dalloway'

I have always been fascinated by the term ‘Stream of Consciousness’. It sounds so poetic, may be because it compares the thinking process or our consciousness to a stream. The psychologist and the writer of ‘Principles of Psychology’, James Joyce, coined the phrase ‘stream of consciousness’ in 1890, although the technique had already been used by Edouard Dujardin (French novelist) in a short novel. By this term James Joyce meant that human consciousness is something fluid. With this technique what we have before us is the outer observations as they
impinge on the flow of thoughts, memory and feelings.
A novel written in this technique, that stands out in my memory is Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mrs. Dalloway’, which has been called “the first wholly successful novel that Virginia Woolf produced” by. The action or description of events in the novel has not been narrated in the chronological order – a typical characteristic of stream of consciousness. All the characters have been portrayed by the ‘flow of the stream of consciousness’. The action is confined to just a single day. The novel begins with Clarissa going out of her house for buying flowers in the morning and ends with Clarissa’s party in the evening. But although the clock time is restricted, yet the psychological time is of much longer duration.Virgina Woolf herself says: "In a novel of subjectivity there is no plot, no character, no tragedy, no comedy and no love-interest as in
traditional novel."

Role of Supernatural in Literature

Writers have from time to time experimented with different themes to weave an altogether new web in their literary works. The presence of a supernatural element has been one of the favourites with many authors.
When Shakespeare made the ghost of Hamlet’s father appear before him in his drama ‘Hamlet’, it was merely that he had used what the Elizabethans already believed. Some of them thought that the ghosts were hallucinations but there were others who believed that the spirit made its journey back to the Earth in order to accomplish some incomplete task. Then there were a section of people who believed that it was by the permission of God that the spirit came to Earth to give a message. But this was only one side – God’s divine spirit; it could be an evil spirit or an independent spirit with a motive to create chaos in society.
Hamlet too in the play doesn’t believe the ghost at first instance. He takes pains to prove what the ghost told him about his father’s murder. This illustrates the Elizabethan dilemma – whether a ghost is an agent of God or that of Lucifer.
Then there were the three witches of ‘Macbeth’. But in contrast to the supernatural in Hamlet (that wants to fulfill the incomplete task through his son), the witches in ‘Macbeth’ instigate Macbeth to commit the heinous crime of murdering King Duncan for becoming the King. Lady
Macbeth has been called the fourth witch because she too coaxes him for this.
When we talk of supernatural we should not forget to discuss the Romantic School of Poetry. While Wordsworth made the natural appear supernatural, Coleridge made the supernatural look natural. The use of ‘Albatross’ in his famous poem ‘The Rime of Ancient Mariner’ stands
witness to it.Literature is so vast that it cannot be summed up in one post, this was just a small part of it.

'The Diary of Anne Frank' - My point of view

The book is indeed a very poignant life story of a young girl named Anne Frank. The book is a detailed sketch, in Anne’s own words, of the toughest two years of her life spent in hiding at the time of World War II because she was a Jew. She bares, in her writing, her fight with her own self, her innermost feelings, her conflicts (both within and without).
Her account of war, where she questions the validity of war is heart-rending. The reader can sense the despair behind those words:

“ ‘…What’s the point of the war? Why, oh, why can’t people live together peacefully? Why all this destruction?’
The question is understandable, but so far no one has come up with a satisfactory answer. Why is England manufacturing bigger and better aeroplanes and bombs and at the same time churning out new homes for reconstruction? Why are millions spent on the war each day; while not a penny is available for medical science, artists or the poor? Why do people have to starve when mountains of food are rotting away in other parts of the world? Oh, why are people so crazy?”

I was here reminded of the famous poem ‘The Man He Killed’ by Thomas hardy. I quote him:
Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.
Another issue on which I fully agree with Anne is that the common man is also responsible. It is a general practice with us that we very nonchalantly blame the politicians for all the wrong that is being done. But we mustn’t forget that we, as people, have equal responsibility if not more. Anne is completely right when she writes that war happens because people have a destructive urge in them – an urge to murder and kill.
Anne Frank’s optimism towards the end of the book, that they’ll be freed, makes her death all the more tragic. They (Anne Frank with her family members and others (eight in total) were taken to different concentration c amps. Out of the eight only Anne’s father Otto Frank survived. They were arrested on August 4, 1944. Anne died in late February or early March 1945 and the camp where she was, was liberated by the British troops on April 12, 1945. This is the irony of life!