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Posts Tagged ‘A Christmas Carol

“No light, but rather darkness visible”*…

 

Satan John-Martins-illustrations-for-643_m_18_facing_p37-edit

Satan Presiding at the Infernal Council (Book II, line 1), from John Martin’s epic set of illustrations for Paradise Lost, 1827

 

I begin with sound. I read Paradise Lost not only with my eyes, but also with my mouth. I was lucky enough to study Books I and II for A level many years ago, and to do so in a small class whose teacher, Miss Enid Jones, had the clear-eyed and old-fashioned idea that we would get a good sense of the poem if, before we did anything else to it, we read it aloud. So we took it in turns, in that sixth-form classroom in Ysgol Ardudwy, on the flat land below the Harlech Castle, to stumble and mutter and gabble our way through it all, while Miss Jones sat with arms comfortably folded on her desk, patiently helping us with pronunciation, but not encumbering us with meaning…

The experience of reading poetry aloud when you don’t fully understand it is a curious and complicated one. It’s like suddenly discovering that you can play the organ. Rolling swells and peals of sound, powerful rhythms and rich harmonies are at your command; and as you utter them you begin to realise that the sound you’re releasing from the words as you speak is part of the reason they’re there. The sound is part of the meaning and that part only comes alive when you speak it. So at this stage it doesn’t matter that you don’t fully understand everything: you’re already far closer to the poem than someone who sits there in silence looking up meanings and references and making assiduous notes…

John Milton’s Paradise Lost has been many things to many people — a Christian epic, a comment on the English Civil War, the epitome of poetic ambiguity — but it is first of all a pleasure to read.  Drawing on sources as varied as Wordsworth, Hitchcock, and Conan Doyle, author Philip Pullman (the author of many wonderful volumes, but most relevantly here, the His Dark Materials [Golden Compass] trilogy and the Book of Dust novels currently underway) considers the sonic beauty and expert storytelling of Milton’s masterpiece, and the shaping influence it has had on his own work: “The Sound and the Story: Exploring the World of Paradise Lost.

* Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1

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As we contemplate the celestial, we might recall that it was on this date in 1843 that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol— a novella he’d written over the prior six weeks– was formally published; it had been released to book stores and the public two days later.  The first run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve, and the book continued to sell well through twenty-four editions in its original form.

Cover of the first edition

source

 

 

Written by LW

December 19, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Now, the supreme moment, the Christmas pudding was brought in, in state!”*…

 

Central Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1900

What did people eat in America 100 years ago during the holiday season? Menus catalogued by the New York Public Library from Christmas dinners served in the early part of the 20th century offer an interesting look at our ancestors’ dining habits. The menus come from a survey of restaurants, hotels, and even an Army fort’s Christmas dinner service…

Just in time to aid in planning this year’s holiday meal:  more (and larger) menus from an age gone by.

* Agatha Christie, “The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding”

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As we bake the bread to break, we might recall that it was on this date in 1843 that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol— a novella he’d written over the prior six weeks– was formally published; it had been released to book stores and the public two days later.  The first run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve, and the book continued to sell well through twenty-four editions in its original form.

Cover of the first edition

source

 

Written by LW

December 19, 2016 at 1:01 am

Take two aspirin, hop down the chimney, and call me in the morning…

From the British Medical Journal, Christmas Edition:

Guidance from the General Medical Council recommends that doctors should not disclose confidential patient information, even to rectify false assertions made by the patient or others in the press. There may be occasions, however, when disclosure “in the public interest” is appropriate. On this basis, with the informed consent of the patient, and after discussion with respected colleagues and my defence union, I would like to set the record straight.

Father Christmas (FC) registered as a patient with Stirchley Medical Practice in 1991, using the name Nicholas S Claus. His relationship with GPs and staff has been, for much of the past 20 years, somewhat tense, but despite his repeated threats to leave our list, we have managed to maintain engagement with him.

He has not been the easiest of patients to deal with…

Read the delightful details in “Primary Care: Reflections of Father Christmas’s GP,” and check out the other articles in this special issue.

As we’re grateful that April Fool’s Day doesn’t come only on April Fool’s Day, we might recall that it was on this date in 1843 that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol— a novella he’d written over the prior six weeks– was formally published; it was released to book stores and the public two days later.  The first run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve, and the book continued to sell well through twenty-four editions in its original form.

Cover of the first edition

 

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