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Posts Tagged ‘Pilgrim’s Progress

“If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist”*…

 

Marx

 

Photographic portraits of Marx don’t suggest a guy who wrote poetry, loved his wife with a passion, doted on his kids, and was once a hellraiser of a student—getting drunk, causing mayhem, and being chased by the police after one too many for the road. He was also scarred in a duel and exiled from Germany, Belgium, and France over his barbed and satiric attacks on these countries often despotic rulers. Marx was a man of action always willing to lead the fight who eventually settled for a life of sedentary toil to produce works that changed the world.

He was also a voracious reader who loved the works of Shakespeare and could quote entire plays by the Bard—just as his children could—and generally took an interest in everything. “Art,” he said, “is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.” No idea or philosophy or culture was foreign to him, and there was nothing that didn’t keen his interest.

Yet, he could also be bad tempered and foul to those who went against him. And on occasion was anti-semitic and racist—he described one poor frenemy (Ferdinand Lassalle) as a Jewish n-word. No saint, but all human.

Karl also enjoyed playing parlor games like Confessions, which is now probably better known as the set of questions devised by Marcel Proust. In April 1865, Marx was staying with relatives when he as asked by his daughters to answer a set of confessions. Marx’s responses give an interesting (and at times humorous) insight into the great political and economic philosopher, journalist and writer.

Your favourite virtue: Simplicity

Your favourite virtue in man: Strength

Your favourite virtue in woman: Weakness

Your chief characteristic: Singleness of purpose

Your idea of happiness: To fight

Your idea of misery: To submit

The vice you excuse most: Gullibility

The vice you detest most: Servility

Your aversion: Martin Tupper [popular Victorian author]

Your favourite occupation: Glancing at Netchen [“Netchen, or Nannette, was Antoinette Philips, aged 28 at the time, Marx’s cousin and a member of the Dutch section of the International”]

Your favourite poet: Aeschylus, Shakespeare

Your favourite prose-writer: Diderot

Your hero: Spartacus, Kepler

Your heroine: Gretchen

Your favourite flower: Daphne

Your favourite dish: Fish

Your favourite colour: Red

Your maxim: Nihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me]

Your favourite motto: De omnibus dubitandum [Doubt everything]

A few of his favorite things: “The ‘Confessions’ of Karl Marx.”

* Karl Marx

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As we hum a few bars of “The Internationale,” we might spare a thought for John Bunyan; he died on this date in 1688.  A Puritan preacher and writer, he is best remembered for the Christian allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, though he wrote nearly sixty titles, many of them expanded sermons.

John_Bunyan_by_Thomas_Sadler_1684 source

 

Written by LW

August 31, 2019 at 1:01 am

Top of the Pops…

After an author has been dead for some time, it becomes increasingly difficult for his publishers to get a new book out of him each year.
– Robert Benchley

source

From the always-amusing Mental Floss, a current read on The All-Time Best-Selling Books.  The top spots are held by volumes either instructional or devotional:

1. The Bible (6.7 billion copies)

2. Quotations from Chairman Mao, Mao Tse-Tung (900 million)

3. The Qur’an (800 million)

4. Xinhua Zidian (400 million — a Chinese dictionary, first published in 1953)

5. The Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cranmer

6. Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

7. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, John Foxe

8. The Book of Mormon, Joseph J. Smith, Jr.

But two works of fiction round out the Top Ten:

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling (107 million — UK title was …and the Philosopher’s Stone)

10. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (100 million)

Read the full list (and find links to top lists of videos, games, and albums) at  The All-Time Best-Selling Books… dive more deeply into the rankings at Wikipedia— which observes:  “This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness.”  To put it politely:  note, e.g., that Tale of Two Cities and Tolkein’s work probably belong in MF’s Top Ten… Still, it’s fun…

“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.
– Mark Twain

As we turn the page, we might recall that it was on this date in 1593 that poet and playwright (Shakespeare’s nearest rival) Christopher Marlowe was killed in a tavern brawl.  Marlowe reputedly supplemented his income as a spy; in any case, he ran afoul of Queen Elizabeth’s government when, earlier in the month, his roommate, playwright Thomas Kyd was grilled by authorities.  Kyd  insisted that the “heretical” papers found in his room belonged to Marlowe, who was subsequently arrested, but was able to use his connections to arrange bail.  While out Marlowe became involved in a fight– ostensibly over a tavern bill, but believed by many to have been a set-up– and was stabbed to death.

The 1585 portrait discovered at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1953, believed to be of the 21-year-old Christopher Marlowe.  The inscribed motto is “QVOD ME NVTRIT ME DESTRVIT,” “that which nourishes me destroys me.”  Indeed.  (source)

 

We might note too that (as the Library of Congress recalls) it was on this date in 1868 that Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 designating May 30 as a day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

The first national celebration of the holiday took place on that day at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated “Memorial Day.”

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