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Thursday, May 31, 2012

From the Five Rivers


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044
From the Five Rivers
by Flora Annie Webster Steel [1901]

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Very much in the vein of many storied from the north Indian tradition, this one draws on a range of experiences, from the world of the poor and their lives, hardships, comforts and sorrows to the more comfortable existences of those who had more in nineteenth century village India.

The style is antiquarian, reflecting both the times of the glory days of the Raj and the Indian story-telling tradition.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy


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043
Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy
by Stephen Leacock [1915]

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I've included this book as it has a little history to it. A friend alerted me to it when an Australian political leader referred without any context to its title, and she tracked it down and located it on Gutenberg. 

It's not a recently released book but is so whimsically humorous and has such a wonderful title that I can't resist mentioning it here, and including an excerpt.

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In the end he spoke.

"And you, too," he said, leaning over her deck-chair, "are going to America?"

He had suspected this ever since the boat left Liverpool. Now at length he framed his growing conviction into words.

"Yes," she assented, and then timidly, "it is 3,213 miles wide, is it not?"

"Yes," he said, "and 1,781 miles deep! It reaches from the forty-ninth parallel to the Gulf of Mexico."

"Oh," cried the girl, "what a vivid picture!  I seem to see it."

"Its major axis," he went on, his voice sinking almost to a caress, "is formed by the Rocky Mountains, which are practically a prolongation of the Cordilleran Range. It is drained," he continued –

"How splendid!" said the girl.

"Yes, is it not? It is drained by the Mississippi, by the St. Lawrence, and – dare I say it? – by the Upper Colorado."

Somehow his hand had found hers in the half gloaming, but she did not check him.

"Go on," she said very simply; "I think I ought to hear it."

"The great central plain of the interior," he continued, "is formed by a vast alluvial deposit carried down as silt by the Mississippi. East of this the range of the Alleghanies, nowhere more than eight thousand feet in height, forms a secondary or subordinate axis from which the watershed falls to the Atlantic."

He was speaking very quietly but earnestly.  No man had ever spoken to her like this before.

"What a wonderful picture!" she murmured half to herself, half aloud, and half not aloud and half not to herself.

"Through the whole of it," de Vere went on, "there run railways, most of them from east to west, though a few run from west to east.  The Pennsylvania system alone has twenty-one thousand miles of track."

"Twenty-one thousand miles," she repeated; already she felt her will strangely subordinate to his.

He was holding her hand firmly clasped in his and looking into her face.

"Dare I tell you," he whispered, "how many employees it has?"

"Yes," she gasped, unable to resist.

"A hundred and fourteen thousand," he said.

There was silence. They were both thinking. Presently she spoke, timidly.

"Are there any cities there?"

"Cities!" he said enthusiastically, "ah, yes!  let me try to give you a word-picture of them.  Vast cities – with tall buildings, reaching to the very sky. Why, for instance, the new Woolworth Building in New York – "

"Yes, yes," she broke in quickly, "how high is it?"

"Seven hundred and fifty feet."

The girl turned and faced him.

"Don't," she said. "I can't bear it. Some other time, perhaps, but not now."

She had risen and was gathering up her wraps. "And you," she said, "why are you going to America?"

"Why?" he answered. "Because I want to see, to know, to learn. And when I have learned and seen and known, I want other people to see and to learn and to know. I want to write it all down, all the vast palpitating picture of it. Ah! if I only could – I want to see" (and here he passed his hand through his hair as if trying to remember) "something of the relations of labour and capital, of the extraordinary development of industrial machinery, of the new and intricate organisation of corporation finance, and in particular I want to try to analyse – no one has ever done it yet – the men who guide and drive it all. I want to set down the psychology of the multimillionaire!"

He paused. The girl stood irresolute. She was thinking (apparently, for if not, why stand there?).

"Perhaps," she faltered, "I could help you."

"You!"

"Yes, I might." She hesitated. "I – I – come from America."

"You!" said de Vere in astonishment.  "With a face and voice like yours! It is impossible!"

The boldness of the compliment held her speechless for a moment.

"I do," she said; "my people lived just outside of Cohoes."

"They couldn't have," he said passionately.

"I shouldn't speak to you like this," the girl went on, "but it's because I feel from what you have said that you know and love America.  And I think I can help you."

"You mean," he said, divining her idea, "that you can help me to meet a multimillionaire?"

"Yes," she answered, still hesitating.

"You know one?"

"Yes," still hesitating, "I know ONE."

She seemed about to say more, her lips had already opened, when suddenly the dull raucous blast of the foghorn (they used a raucous one on this ship on purpose) cut the night air. Wet fog rolled in about them, wetting everything.

The girl shivered.

"I must go," she said; "good night."

For a moment de Vere was about to detain her. The wild thought leaped to his mind to ask her her name or at least her mother's.  With a powerful effort he checked himself.

"Good night," he said.

She was gone.


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Monday, May 21, 2012

Four new books about women

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These are four books of very different types by and/or about women. They have been newly released or updated in mid-May 2012.
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039
Heroines of the Crusades
 by C. A. Bloss [1853]

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 Heroines of the Crusades by C. A. Bloss

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040
The Girl Who Had Nothing
by Mrs. C. N. Williamson [1905]

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 The Girl Who Had Nothing by Mrs. C. N. Williamson

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041
The Marriage of Esther
 by Guy Newell Boothby [1895]

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SCENE. The bar of the Hotel of All Nations, Thursday Island. Time 9.35, one hot evening towards the end of summer. The room contains about twenty men, in various stages of undress; an atmosphere like the furnace doors of Sheol; two tatterdemalions lolling, apart from the rest, at the end of a long counter; a babel of voices, with the thunder of the surf, on the beach outside, over all.

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 The Marriage of Esther by Guy Newell Boothby

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042
The Adventures of Sally
 by P. G. Wodehouse

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Elsa Doland, the pretty girl with the big eyes who sat on Mr. Bartlett's left, had other views.

"Buy a theatre. Sally, and put on good stuff."

"And lose every bean you've got," said a mild young man, with a deep voice across the table. "If I had a few hundred thousand," said the mild young man, "I'd put every cent of it on Benny Whistler for the heavyweight championship. I've private information that Battling Tuke has been got at and means to lie down in the seventh..."

"Say, listen," interrupted another voice, "lemme tell you what I'd do with four hundred thousand..."

"If I had four hundred thousand," said Elsa Doland, "I know what would be the first thing I'd do."

"What's that?" asked Sally.

"Pay my bill for last week, due this morning."

Sally got up quickly, and flitting down the table, put her arm round her friend's shoulder and whispered in her ear:

"Elsa darling, are you really broke? If you are, you know, I'll..."

Elsa Doland laughed.

"You're an angel, Sally. There's no one like you. You'd give your last cent to anyone. Of course I'm not broke. I've just come back from the road, and I've saved a fortune. I only said that to draw you."

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 The Adventures of Sally by P. G. Wodehouse

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

New/updated books March 2012 [English]


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This complete list of English language books newly released or updated in March 2012 is in alphabetical order by title, but otherwise unsorted. The search function on the page [or in your browser] should find any author whose writing interest you.]
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

April 2012 choices - mainly novels


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I'm aware that not everyone is searching Gutenberg for the same sorts of things that appeal to me, so this time I decided I'd focus on novels and stories released/updated in April 2012 that also appeal to me.

This is not a complete collection and there are a couple of updates I included that are not fiction but that I thought worthy of bringing to your attention. I arranged them alphabetically by author and used >>> to make the author's surname stand out a little more clearly.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kashmir


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038
Kashmir
by Sir Francis Edward Younghusband

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In all the subcontinent there is no place quite like Kashmir. I visited only once, more than thirty years ago, before it became torn apart by war. But I did write my final History Honours thesis on it, so it always had more than a passing interest for me.

Enjoy some paintings published in 1911. The text is also very worth the read.

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 Kashmir by Sir Francis Edward Younghusband

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