Informal

10 Interesting Facts about Famous Writers at School

I just read some of F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s short stories. I totally agree with his statement.

Interesting Literature

Fun facts about the schooldays of well-known authors and other literary types

September is the ‘back to school’ month, so to take the edge off that inevitable sinking feeling, we’ve put together ten great facts about the schooldays of famous writers. Some authors have been teachers, but all have been schoolchildren at some point. Here’s our pick of the best facts about writers at school. We’ve included a link on some authors’ names to previous interesting posts we’ve written about them.

Samuel Johnson had only three pupils enrol at the school he opened in his hometown of Lichfield in the 1730s. However, one of those three pupils was the actor David Garrick, who later followed Johnson to London to seek his fortune.

Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language defined the word ‘pedant’ as a ‘schoolmaster’. (More facts about Johnson’s Dictionaryhere.)

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reviews from Goodreads

How To Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your DragonHow to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I saw both movies before I read this book which I picked up on a whim when I saw it in the library. It was surprisingly good. I enjoyed it. There was more detail than there was in the first movie and it explained why the second movie was so drastically different. What bothered me before the story got so engrossing that I forgot about it was the blatant sexism. There were not only very few females but there were also jokes that belittled feminine interests. Apart from that the story was engaging but it did make me wonder when there are so many groups campaigning in First World countries for gender equality if it is a good thing to encourage gender inequality in children.

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reviews from Goodreads

Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gone Girl was a surprise. I don’t read thrillers. I make exceptions for crime and mystery stories. I avoid horror like the plague. However, this was the ‘it’ book a couple years ago and since it was handily there in the library, I borrowed it to read. I was pulled in. Both narrators were very unreliable in the beginning. However, I have to wonder if I was more disparaging of Nick than the wife because he was a man and I am a woman? The diary entries that Amy wrote were convincing to me until Nick revealed that it was all a plot. Now I was not seeing him as a murderer. The wife was gone and Nick may have been responsible but there was no evidence to prove it. Besides, who would think of a sociopath when there’s a case like this? You expect a crime of passion or a random event. The thing that bugs me though is, how did her parents not realise that their daughter is a sociopath? They have degrees in psychology.

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General

Professional Mentoring Review

Since I was a high school student, my dream was to become a librarian. At first, it was simply that I spent most of my time there. Then I became interested in what librarians do. The librarians at my high school were kind enough to answer to my curiosity. Research into the job revealed that a Master’s Degree was ideal to secure the job as a librarian in today’s world. So here I am in London, studying at City University London, reading a MSc in Library Science. At City, there are many programmes that help and advise students in their chosen discipline. The Professional Mentoring Scheme was one of them.

I joined the scheme geared toward postgraduate students in October of last year (2014). First, it started with a general meeting where we were introduced to our mentors for the first time. My mentor was revealed to be Diane Bell, Research Librarian at City University. At our introductory meeting, we, the mentees were encouraged to note down our goals for the entire scheme as well as what we would like in terms of personal development. It was my desire to learn the ‘nuts and bolts’ of librarianship in London and in general and to expand on the skills that I was learning through my course. In terms of personal development, I wanted to become someone who can form lasting relationships, both professional and personal.

We met mostly once a month at City Library, Northampton Square. Diane graciously invited me to her workplace so I can meet her colleagues and see how they and she work. We discussed many topics ranging from public and academic libraries and their issues to ideal employee skills. We also visited The British Library together. I was encouraged to visit other libraries as well. As my interest in librarianship fell mainly in the public sphere, I visited other public libraries as well. Throughout the course of the scheme, there were two networking sessions, both of which I attended. There, mentees were offered the opportunity to connect with various professionals in short 6-minute sessions. Interview practice sessions were available as well. As one of my goals was learn communication in the professional sphere, I was glad to have this opportunity. The feedback from those sessions indicated that I usually have no problem in one-on-one communication.

Stating my goals in written format as well as telling my mentor verbally helped me to introduce more introspection to my life. Usually, I am someone who just goes with the flow. Now I find myself analysing that flow. Over these past few months, I have realised that having a formally stated goal is better than having a nebulous one. This is an attitude that I hope to continue in my personal and professional life.

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Informal

Brave New World

“Brave New World” is written by Aldous Huxley. It is a futuristic novel where everyone is under the control of the World State except for the malcontent and the Savages. The plot follows several characters but it is mainly a description of the world that they live in. The descriptions that Mr. Huxley uses confounds me sometimes. On the first page there is this one:

“Cold for all the summer beyond the panes, for all the tropical heat of the room itself, a harsh thin light glared through the windows, hungrily seeking some draped lay figure, some pallid shape of academic goose-flesh, but finding only the glass and nickel and bleakly shining porcelain of a laboratory.”

What did this mean? It took me three read-overs to figure out that the room looked lifeless and cold even though it was summer outside and the temperature inside the room was hot. Part of my incomprehension may be the fact that this was written in the last century when maybe even my grandparents weren’t born yet or were little babies. It was the same when I read the Jane Austen novels and Jane Eyre. Some words and phrases were unknown to me or were hard to understand unless I took the time to think about it.

Then there was chapter III. It alternated between different viewpoints and ended up separating the different dialogues from different conversations as well as the descriptions. It was confusing to read. I had to go back several times to make sure I had the correct thread. Come to think about it, it is almost like a conversation on instant chat- like the one I had on WhatsApp with my brother and sister. We ended up having two or three conversations simultaneously because you would answer one question and have another thought but the other person would answer to the previous reply and then continue with a response to the other thought.

Anyway, Aldous Huxley was a British author so the main story takes place in London which is still called London. In fact, many of the wards and boroughs are still referred to the same names as they have now (or as they had then). The landscape is different, though.

The Society of the World State is segregated very strictly using the letters of the Greek alphabet. I won’t list them here because I don’t know the order but it starts from Alpha and there are six or seven levels. It seemed like that in the novel. Anyway, naturally all the Alphas presented are white but in the lower level, whites, blacks and Asians were presented (deformed of course). The lower levels consists of the manual labourers. It is the job of the higher castes to keep them in line. There is hardly any violence. The world is kept in line through chemicals and subliminal learning. Class consciousness is ingrained in them very early but all strong emotions are balanced by activities and chemicals.

I think this is a horrible world. The one Savage presented in the novel with a name was actually an offspring from the ‘civilised’ world. So he was really a half-breed. He grew part of both worlds so he didn’t really fit in either. So his ending was really sad. He just ran away from it all. There was nowhere for him to go. At least he wasn’t allowed to go. So he left.

The conversation he had with the World Controller was interesting, though. I will not reproduce it here. Copyright probably won’t allow me. It was in chapter XVII. I will reproduce two quotes that the World Controller starts off with, the first is by Cardinal Newman and the second is by Maine de Biran, I think.

We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God’s property. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness, or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way- to depend on no one- to have to think of nothing out of sight, to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgement, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another.But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man- that it is an unnatural state- will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end…”

“A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advantage of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charm has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false- a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.”

The conversation between the Savage and the World Controller afterwards was to argue the point, “we have managed to produce artificially what these men talked about, why do we need God?” The Savage put forth the point that humans need to live with both ups and downs; the WCon , that humans need only stability. In the end, they both stuck to their own viewpoints.

 

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Informal

Library Wars

Declaration of Library Freedom

 

  1. Libraries have the right to gather materials freely.
  2. Libraries have the right to make materials freely available.
  3. Libraries protect the privacy of their users.
  4. Libraries oppose all censorship.

 

When the freedom of the library is violated, we librarians will unite and fight to the end to protect its freedom.

 

In Japan, these are the main points of a document that guides policy-making for libraries. Hiro Arikawa has taken these guidelines and created a dystopian future where they were made into laws to counteract a law that gives the government censorship powers that are unheard of in a democracy. Library Wars is the first book and the overall title for a four-book series by Hiro Arikawa. In this future, the Media Improvement Act was passed to allow the Media Improvement Committee, through the Special Improvement Agency to seize and destroy material that contain derogatory, discriminatory and forbidden speech. The constitution of Japan, of course protects a citizen’s right to freedom of expression but this law managed to slip through a loophole. Citizens are still free to express themselves. The material containing forbidden and taboo words are just not allowed to be distributed to the public. This law is vigorously enforced.

As one of the libraries’ duties is to oppose censorship, even ex post facto censorship, a counter law was passed that allowed the libraries to retain its duty to gather materials regardless of obstruction by the Special Improvement Agency. In the book, as the Special Improvement Agency and its supporters turned to weapons to prevent the distribution of forbidden materials, the Library Force was created to combat them. The series follows the protagonist, Iku Kasahara as she moves up the ranks in the Library Force.

This series is not yet licensed in English at least for the novels. There is a manga series which has been translated into English and is published by Viz. There is also an anime series with a film as well as a live-action film.

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