Blissful ignorance

((..الجهل نعمة))

v.

“I hold there is no sin but ignorance.”

— Machiavelli ❱ Marlowe ❱❱ Rethink.

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Spanish Fly 😜
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Lest We Forget.

Esoteric red herrings… now I’m in the fucking know.

— Anna Bidoonism

I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp.

— J. K. Rowling

Did you know — I didn’t until I read it tonight — that reading for pleasure in one’s youth is a key factor in determining one’s future “social mobility” (success in later life). OECD Research shows the extent to which one reads for pleasure is the most important indicator of the future success of that individual [read on…]. I ask you, dear reader (Oh! James: Where art thou?), did you hear about/read:

01. — Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler (1970)

02. — Orientalism, by Edward Saïd (1978)

03. — Imagined Communities, by Benedict Anderson (1983)

04. — The Magic of Reality, by Richard Dawkins (2011)

?

Books = a way of escape
Books = a way of escape
Books 📚
Books 📚
Books 📚
Books 📚
The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry
The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry
book___03
Conrad also wrote The Secret Sharer (oh Jay)
bookcover-art-12
From Russia + Vladimir Nabokov


p.s.

Ignorance is bliss
[proverb]
If one is unaware of an unpleasant fact or situation one cannot be troubled by it. — “I don’t want to hear about Trump’s latest tweets, ignorance, in this instance my dear friend, is bliss.”

Red herring
A clue or piece of information which is or is intended to be misleading or distracting. — “The writing of the Secret Sharer is convoluted and full of red herrings.” (Also: ‘a dried smoked herring fish that turns red due to the smoke in the drying process.’)

Delphic
Relating to the ancient Greek oracle at Delphi; to deliberately obscure something; to be or act ambiguously.

Esoteric
Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialised knowledge or interest. — “She grew increasingly frustrated with the esoteric philosophical debates organised by Dr. Humaid.”

Recherché
Rare, exotic, or obscure. — “Some of the idioms he insisted on using were to recherché for most of the students in the Elizabethan era literature class.”

French in English

29% {twenty nine per cent}

It is estimated that some 10,000 purely French words are used in English — around 29 per cent of the total. The focus here will be on a few French phrases that are seen as still being ‘French imports.’ These you will sometimes see in italics when used in English text (but the more frequently used, the less so). A great many of the other French words have become so ingrained into English that they are actually considered as English ones (e.g., voyeur, sabotage, entrepreneur, critique, ballet) and thus, aren’t italisised.


Latin words make up around another 30 per cent of today’s modern English vocabulary. For Latin terms used in academic English click here.


Apropos

preposition
With reference to something/someone. “Jameela remarked apropos the seminar, ‘It’s not going to cut ice with the other side.'”

adjective
Very appropriate to a particular situation. “The book’s reference to power politics is apropos for the current situation.”


Art nouveau

A style of decorative art, architecture, and design prominent in western Europe and the USA from about 1890 until the First World War (1914) and characterised by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.


Au fait

To have a good or detailed knowledge of something. “Jameela was fully au fait with English literature.”


Carte blanche

Literally: “white card” but means to be given the complete freedom to act as one wishes. “The architect given carte blanche to design the house.”


Cliché

A phrase or opinion that is overused (and therefore shows a lack of original thought).


Déjà vu

A feeling of having already experienced the present situation.


De rigueur

Required or expected, especially in terms of following fashion.


Détente

The easing of diplomatic tension. The reduction of problems/hostility, especially between countries. “The UK’s policy of detente acted to improve relations with Russia.”


Façade

The front view of an object (from the Italian facciata, or face). It can also mean a fake persona, as in “putting on a façade” (the ç is pronounced like an s).


Fait accompli

Literally: “accomplished fact.” Something that has already happened and is thus unlikely to be reversed; ‘a done deal.’


Faux pas

“False step”: A breaking of accepted (but unwritten) social rules.


Laissez-faire

(To) “Let do.” This term is often used within the context of economic policy or political philosophy, meaning: leaving something alone, or to not interference with something.


Objet d’art

A work of art, commonly a painting or sculpture; also a utilitarian object displayed for its aesthetic qualities.


Panache

Verve; flamboyance. To do something with panache, is to do that something with style.


Par excellence

“By excellence”: quintessential. The finest example of something.


Pastiche

A derivative work; an imitation; a cheap copy and paste job.


Per se

adverb
By or in itself or themselves; intrinsically. “It is not these facts per se that are important.”


Rapprochement

The establishment of cordial relations, often used in diplomacy.


Raison d’être

The most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.


Riposte

A quick retort in speech or action, or in fencing, a quick thrust after parrying a lunge.


Tête-à-tête

“Head to head.” An intimate get-together or private conversation between two people.


Touché

Acknowledgment of an effective counterpoint; literally ‘touched’ or ‘hit!’


Vis-à-vis

“Face to face [with].” In comparison with or in relation to; opposed to.


Volte-face

A complete reversal of opinion or position, about face.


More cultural and less academic:

Derrière

Rear; buttocks; literally, one’s “behind.”


Dieu et mon droit

“God and my right.” Motto of the British Monarchy; appears on a scroll beneath the shield of the coat of arms of Great Britain.


Enfant terrible

A “terrible child.” A person who behaves in an unconventional or controversial way.


Femme fatale

“Deadly woman”: an attractive woman who seduces and takes advantage of men for her personal goals, after which she discards or abandons them.


Film noir

A genre of dark-themed movies from the 1940s onward that focus on stories of crime and immorality.


Ménage à trois

“Household for three”: a sexual arrangement between three people; a “threesome.”


Renaissance

Rebirth, a cultural movement in the 14-17th centuries.


Voyeur

Literally, “someone who sees.” Somebody who looks at someone without them knowing; a.k.a., a “peeping Tom.”


Sometimes
Sometimes it’s alright not to be alright

Charlotte Brontë

[English | 1816–1855]

Charlotte Brontë was born in Yorkshire in 1816. As a child, she was sent to boarding school along with a number of her sisters but when two of those sisters died there, she was returned home and received the remainder of her education there. This homeschooling was also provided to two other of her younger sisters–Emily and Anne–who also went on to become authors of note. Jane Eyre–her seminal work–was first published in 1847 under the pen-name Currer Bell. Like other female writers of that time (and other times too) Charlotte felt her books would be more widely read if she hid her gender…

Jane Eyre

It is said that Jane Eyre is a novel of intense emotional power, heightened atmosphere and fierce intelligence. Indeed, it dazzled and shocked readers with its passionate depiction of a woman’s search for equality and freedom on her own terms. According to William Makepeace Thackeray, it is:

The masterwork of a great genius

Its heroine Jane endures loneliness and cruelty in the home of her heartless aunt and the cold charity of Lowood School. Her natural independence and spirit prove necessary when she takes a position as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of a shameful secret forces her to make a terrible choice…

Charlotte Brontë -- Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre (1847).

All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.

Shirley

Set during the Napoleonic wars at a time of national economic struggles in the United Kingdom, Shirley provides an unsentimental, but passionate depiction of conflict between classes, sexes and generations. The key protagonist is Robert Moore, a struggling manufacturer who has introduced labour saving machinery to his Yorkshire factory, causing a ferment of unemployment and discontent among his workers. Robert considers marriage to the wealthy and independent Shirley Keeldar to solve his financial woes, yet his heart lies with his cousin Caroline, who, bored and desperate, lives as a dependent in her uncle’s home with no prospect of a career. Shirley, meanwhile, is in love with Robert’s brother, an impoverished tutor – a match opposed by her family. As industrial unrest builds to a potentially fatal pitch, can the four be reconciled…

Charlotte Brontë -- Shirley
Shirley (1849).

📙 The Forty Rules of Love

[Elif Shafak | 1971– ]

Every true love is a story of transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, we haven’t loved …

Elif Shafak’s, The Forty Rules of Love, is one of the BBC’s ‘100 Novels that Shaped the World.’ The book centres around forty rules (these are listed chronologically at the bottom of this post!). One of the novels key protagonists is Ella Rubinstein. She has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is an emptiness at the heart of her life – an emptiness once filled by love. So when Ella reads a manuscript about the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, and his forty rules of life and love, her world is turned upside down. She embarks on a journey to meet the mysterious author of this work… Aziz Z. Zahara. They started email conversations and shared each other’s feelings. First they addressed each other formally and soon after they intermingled ideologically they became friends, then they slowly but surly become…

‘The past and present fit together beautifully in a passionate defence of passion itself’
The Times


Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published over ten novels thus far. She is an advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights and freedom of speech and, has a PhD in political science.

Populism preys on rose-tinted memories of past glories and distorts it into something ugly.

— Elif Shafak

Writing in The Guardian in 2017, Shafak argues passionately and eloquently that we should,”abandon once and for all the cliche about public intellectuals being arrogant and aloof.”

Populism creates its own myths. It tells us that intellectuals are “a privileged liberal elite” out of touch with “the real people.”

— Elif Shafak

It is not true, she stresses, that intellectuals are a privileged class and today’s rise in “anti-public intellectual discourse” is an alarming trend (see: Lust and Lambast). It is a trend fed by populism, nationalism, isolationism. It is also fed by social media and a modern world with a shortened attention span (see: ‘Deepfake’).


Other noteworthy books by Elif Shafak

The Flea Palace

Shortlisted for the 2005 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, Elif Shafak’s The Flea Palace is a moving and highly original novel about a group of individuals who live in the same building and who together become embroiled in a mystery. By turns comic and tragic, The Flea Palace is an outstandingly original novel driven by an overriding sense of social justice. Bonbon Palace was once a stately apartment block in Istanbul. Now it is a sadly dilapidated home to ten wildly different individuals and their families. There’s a womanising, hard-drinking academic with a penchant for philosophy; a ‘clean freak’ and her lice-ridden daughter; a lapsed Jew in search of true love; and a charmingly naïve mistress whose shadowy past lurks in the building. When the rubbish at Bonbon Palace is stolen, a mysterious sequence of events unfolds that result in a soul-searching quest for truth.

The Architect’s Apprentice

Filled with all the colour of the Ottoman Empire, when Istanbul was the teeming centre of civilisation, The Architect’s Apprentice is a magical, sweeping tale of one boy and his elephant caught up in a world of wonder and danger. Sixteenth century Istanbul: a stowaway arrives in the city bearing an extraordinary gift for the Sultan. The boy is utterly alone in a foreign land, with no worldly possessions to his name except Chota, a rare white elephant destined for the palace menagerie. So begins an epic adventure that will see young Jahan rise from lowly origins to the highest ranks of the Sultan’s court. Along the way he will meet deceitful courtiers and false friends, gypsies, animal tamers, and the beautiful, mischievous Princess Mihrimah. He will journey on Chota’s back to the furthest corners of the Sultan’s kingdom and back again. And one day he will catch the eye of the royal architect, Sinan, a chance encounter destined to change Jahan’s fortunes forever.

The Gaze

This elegant novel explores our desire to look at others. As one critic put it, The Gaze considers the damage which can be inflicted by our simple desire to look at others. The book’s two main characters are an obese woman and her lover, a dwarf. Both are sick of being stared at wherever they go and so decide to reverse roles. The man goes out wearing make-up and the woman draws a moustache on her face.

The Bastard of Istanbul

The story centers around the characters of Asya Kazancı and Armanoush Tchakhmakhchian. It is set in both America and Turkey and centres on the families of these to protagonists and how they are connected through the events of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

One rainy afternoon in Istanbul, a woman walks into a doctor’s surgery and states simply, “I need to have an abortion.” She is nineteen years old and she is not married. What happens that afternoon will change her life. Twenty years later, Asya Kazanci lives with her extended family in Istanbul. Due to a mysterious family curse, all the Kaznci men die in their early forties, so it is a house of women, among them Asya’s beautiful, rebellious mother Zeliha, who runs a tattoo parlour; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as clairvoyant; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. And when Asya’s Armenian-American cousin Armanoush comes to stay, long hidden family secrets connected with Turkey’s turbulent past begin to emerge.


The 40 rules of love

Rule 1
How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.

Rule 2
The path to the Truth is a labour of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge and ultimately prevail over your nafs with your heart. Knowing your ego will lead you to the knowledge of God.

Rule 3
You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue or church. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for him: in the heart of a true lover.

Rule 4
Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advices, ‘Beware too much ecstasy’, whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.

Rule 5
Most of problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstanding. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language, as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.

Rule 6
Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is the best to find a person who will be your mirror. Remember only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.

Rule 7
Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.

Rule 8
Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to look at the end of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.

Rule 9
East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.

Rule 10
The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new self to be born, hardship is necessary. Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain.

Rule 11
The quest for love changes user. There is no seeker among those who search for love who has not matured on the way. The moment you start looking for love, you start to change within and without.

Rule 12
There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the number of stars in the visible universe. Do not confuse power-driven, self-centered people with true mentors. A genuine spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself or herself and will not expect absolute obedience or utter admiration from you, but instead will help you to appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors are as transparent as glass. They let the light of God pass through them.

Rule 13
Try not to resist the changes, which come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

Rule 14
God is busy with the completion of your work, both outwardly and inwardly. He is fully occupied with you. Every human being is a work in progress that is slowly but inexorably moving toward perfection. We are each an unfinished work of art both waiting and striving to be completed. God deals with each of us separately because humanity is fine art of skilled penmanship where every single dot is equally important for the entire picture.

Rule 15
It’s easy to love a perfect God, unblemished and infallible that He is. What is far more difficult is to love fellow human being with all their imperfections and defects. Remember, one can only know what one is capable of loving. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God’s creation, we can neither truly love nor truly know God.

Rule 16
Real faith is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with pure water, and that is the stain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify your heart.

Rule 17
The whole universe is contained within a single human being-you. Everything that you see around, including the things that you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Sheitan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within.

Rule 18
If you want to change the ways others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve that stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It is a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.

Rule 19
Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That is the hardest part and that is what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.

Rule 20
We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is an amount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.

Rule 21
When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine bibber goes into the same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that make the difference, not our outer appearance. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed instead opens a third eye – the eye that sees the inner realm.

Rule 22
Life is a temporary loan and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance. Sufis do not go to extremes. A Sufi always remains mild and moderate.

Rule 23
The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into him of My Spirit,” God says. Each and every one of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it fells upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.

Rule 24
Hell is in the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy or fight someone we tumble straight into the fires of hell.

Rule 25
Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level of tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batin – the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.

Rule 26
The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do no harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back – not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.

Rule 27
Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you. Therefore, if there is someone who harbours ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad things about him will only make matters worse. You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy. Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice things about that person. Everything will be different at the end of 40 days, because you will be different inside.

Rule 28
The past is an interpretation. The future is on illusion. The world does not more through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. Eternity does not mean infinite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.

Rule 29
Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to live everything to the fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance. The music of the universe is all pervading and it is composed on 40 different levels. Your destiny is the level where you play your tune. You might not change your instrument but how well to play is entirely in your hands.

Rule 30
The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked and condemned from all sides, he patiently endures, uttering not a sing bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place? How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?

Rule 31
If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss or fright, one way or another, we are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgmental and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before…

Rule 32
Nothing should stand between you and God. No imams, priests, rabbits or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters and not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.

Rule 33
While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and become someone, only to leave it all behind after death, you aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.

Rule 34
Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission a power that comes within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.

Rule 35
In this world, it is not similarities or regularities that take us a step forward, but blunt opposites. And all the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of Insane-I Kamil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.

Rule 36
This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. For not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does it beautifully.

Rule 37
God is a meticulous dock maker. So precise is His order that everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.

Rule 38
It is never too late to ask yourself, “Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?” Even if a single day in your life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one-way to be born into a new life: to die before death.

Rule 39
While the part change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every descent person who passes away is replaced by a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but also nothing ever really changes. For every Sufi who dies, another is born somewhere.

Rule 40
A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.

📙 The Buddha of Suburbia

[Hanif Kureishi | 1954– ]

Hanif Kureishi grew up in Kent, England, and studied philosophy at King’s College London. The Buddha of Suburbia was awarded the Whitbread Award for best first novel in 1990 and three years later was adapted as a BBC mini-series with a soundtrack composed by David Bowie. In 2008, The Times included Kureishi in their list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.’


According to Simon Robb, The Buddha of Suburbia, which was Hanif Kureishi’s first published novel, remains an important time capsule for teenage life in 1970s London. The book deals with the racial politics of that time; a time when immigrants (such as the Indian immigrant family at the centre of this work) were treated as intruders on British soil (aren’t they still??).

The book’s plot is quite straightforward and there’s no neat resolution, but Kureishi’s blunt treatment of race, politics and sexuality is gripping and he confronts well the uncomfortable home truths about British attitudes towards foreigners. Its coming of age protagonist Karim, a “hybrid” of Asian and English blood, is searching for sex and a sense of belonging in the suburbs. He is torn between wanting acceptance from two camps: white supremacists and alienated immigrants. Meanwhile, his father, the book’s most memorable character, is on a similar path, teaching Buddhist discipline to a generation of ageing hippies, while Karim indulges in drugs and mutual masturbation behind closed doors.

England’s a nice place if you’re rich, but otherwise it’s a fucking swamp of prejudice [and] class confusion…

‘Poetic license’

= bending the rules to make one’s art more captivating.

Poetic Licence...?
Curse those giants’ shoulders! ****

Poetic license means the ‘license’ or ‘liberty’ taken by a poet, prose writer, or other artist in deviating from facts and genre conventions etc. so as to be able to produce more interesting and/or effective artwork.

For instance, we know that we should follow poetic rhyming conventions and syllable and stanza counts but sometimes, the message is more important than the mode so, we take the liberty of scrapping some of the rules every once in a while (see: “Sun, Sand &”).


p.s.
Why not see this post too: ‘Poetic justice’

**** Standing on the shoulders of giants.  This metaphor/phrase/idiom: ‘of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants’ (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes) means, discovering truth by building on previous discoveries. This idea/notion has been traced to the 12th c. and is attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Famously, in 1675, Isaac Newton wrote the following, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

Me, upon you.
I was carried by you, I was nestled upon your shoulders my dearest one.

Edith Wharton

[American | 1862-1937]

Edith Wharton was born in 1862 (which was during the American Civil War) and published her first short story in 1891. Wharton’s first novel–The Valley of Decision–came out in 1902 and, arguably, her most famous work, The House of Mirth, was published in 1905 See below). She was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921 (see all Pulitzer Prize winners here). Edith Wharton died in France in her villa, “Pavilion Colombes,” in 1937.

Beware of monotony; it’s the mother of all the deadly sins.

(Rather like, ‘the devil finds work for idle hands’ if people don’t have anything to do with their time, they are likely to get up to monkey business.)

The Age of Innocence

As with most of the novels Wharton set in New York this book makes an ironic commentary on the cruelties and hypocrisies of upper class American society in the years before, during and after WWII.

The return of the beautiful Countess Olenska to New York society sends reverberations throughout the upper reaches of society. Newland Archer, an eligible young man of the establishment is about to announce his engagement to May Welland, a pretty ingénue, when May’s cousin, Countess Olenska, is introduced into their circle. The Countess brings with her an aura of European sophistication and a hint of scandal, having left her husband and claimed her independence. Olenska’s sorrowful eyes, her tragic worldliness and her air of unapproachability attract the sensitive Newland and, almost against their will, a passionate bond develops between them. But Archer’s life has no place for passion and, with society on the side of May and all she stands for, he finds himself drawn into a bitter conflict between love and duty.

It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes.

― Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

Ethan Frome

When this novel was first published in 1911, most of the reviews were critical and negative. Reviewers said the story was cruel and violent (sales in those early years were poor too). But, fast forward to today and this book is one of Wharton’s most widely read works. Different in both tone and theme from Wharton’s other works, Ethan Frome has become perhaps her most enduring and most widely read novel; it centres on a haunting tale of forbidden romance in the frozen waste of a harsh rural New England winter.

Ethan Frome is a tale of despair, forbidden emotions, and sexual tensions… The protagonist, Ethan Frome, works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious, and hypochondriac wife, Zeenie. But when Zeenie’s vivacious cousin enters their household as a ‘hired girl’, Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent. In the words of the Penguin Classics series editors, “in one of American fiction’s finest and most intense narratives, Edith Wharton moves this ill-starred trio toward their tragic destinies.”

I want to put my hand out and touch you. I want to do for you and care for you. I want to be there when you’re sick and when you’re lonesome.

― Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

The House of Mirth

This is often described as a black comedy centering on huge wealth and a woman (Lily) who can define herself only through the perceptions of others. Wharton is mercilessly frank as she chronicles Lily’s fall from grace, contrasting psychological insights with descriptions of external effects.

The beautiful Lily Bart lives among the nouveaux riches of New York City – people whose millions were made in railroads, shipping, land speculation and banking. In this morally bankrupt world, Lily, 29, seeks a husband who can satisfy her cravings for endless admiration and all the trappings of wealth. But her quest comes to a scandalous end when she is accused of being the mistress of a wealthy man…

It is so easy for a woman to become what the man she loves believes her to be.

― Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

The Age of Innocence
From page to stage: “The Age of Innocence”