Some reds, Donne and a Black Beauty.

Some of my beloved reds. Had to include Donne, one of the favourite poets. A lot of depth in his poems,  you can tell he went through a lot…  I read the rest years ago apart from Quo Vadis and I think all of them are worth a re-read. Black Beauty was one of my childhood favourites. Pity it’s the only book published by Sewell. She came from a poor family and it took her six years to write this gem, but perseverance paid off, an instant success when published… Most probably this book is behind the reason why I love black horses the most. I love horse-riding, for me it’s one of those things that accentuates life.  When I crave it I cross the island and go to a family owned business in the north. The hour ride is like a dream, a path by the cliffs and before you scenery of nothing but wild, untouched landscape and the sea. I always end up speechless and can’t speak for some time afterwards… Hope you are having a lovely Saturday🌷

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The Remains of the day, dignity and real gentlemen.

Mr. Stevens is a professional butler working at Darlington. He receives a letter from Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper, and by the tone of her letter he feels that Miss Kenton is not happy with her marriage and that therefore she might consider coming back to Darlington. Encouraged by his new employer to take a break, Mr. Stevens decides to go on a trip to meet her and hopefully bring her back. But is this call solely on professional basis or is there something more? And so he takes us with him on this journey, and whilst driving and lodging in different places he reminisces about the past, telling us in a beautifully melancholic way what his work meant to him. What made him a professional. What dignity is all about. He also tells us about the harmless yet meaningful bickering between him and Miss Kenton especially in the beginning of her employment. He gives us a hint that there may have been something more between them but as always Mr. Stevens is so professional he even hides his feelings from his own self. Analytic, sometimes as cold as fish and callous even, yet you can’t help admiring him for staying calm and in control even in very difficult situations. He was used to putting his feelings aside. A butler yet more of a gentleman than many, including some who were considered to be so because of a title. Is it not, in the end, a noble heart that makes a real gentleman? That gives you that kind of dignity and allows you to remain calm even when someone snaps his fingers at you? A noble heart that drives you to be, at all costs, that professional and disciplined; the utmost refusal, under any circumstance, to lose control or be vulgar. Many regard this level of servitude as weakness. I think it’s a sign of real strength. Only a strong person can be that disciplined and that gentle at the same time. That selfless… This book went down like a glass of cognac after a long day. Whenever I read from it my mind relaxed, absorbed its elegance and made me forget all the rest. I can’t remember the last time a book made me love both the story and the language itself that much. Beautiful in many ways. 5 stars.

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Current painting, current read and the abandon.

I just finished this painting which I have named Flowers in the sky. The inspiration came from the beautiful wild flowers of spring and I painted it whilst listening to Flower duet by Netrebko and Garanca on repeat. I cannot tell you how much I needed this! My life is getting busier everyday and only this afternoon I could allow myself such luxury and abandon. I am also looking forward to bedtime so that I can continue reading The Lord of the Flies; it was on my to be read for ages and so far I’m enjoying it as much as I imagined. Wishing you all a blessed Sunday xxx

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Greene, more facts and curiosities.

📚 Waugh was a student at Oxford at the same time Greene was and once said that Greene looked down on many, especially undergraduates.

📚 Golding described Greene as the ‘ultimate chronicler’ of man’s own thoughts and anxiety.

📚 Greene was an estranged husband to his wife and two children. He had several affairs and eventually separated from his wife, who later said he shouldn’t have married in the first place. He once said that he thought books were his children.

📚 In 1981 he won the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society – a literary prize awarded every other year to writers who wrote about human freedom.

📚 In 1986 at age 82 Greene was awarded the Order of Merit for his contribution to literature.

📚 In Switzerland he lived in the same town as Charlie Chaplin and the two became good friends.

📚 Even though he stopped going to church, Spanish Priest and friend Leopoldo Duran made sure he received all sacraments through the final years until his death.

“The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.”

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Greene: the writer and the secret agent.

Henry Graham Greene was born on the 2nd of October 1904 in UK into a wealthy and known family; members  included RL Stevenson, the owners of Greene King Brewery, statesmen, bankers etc.. He attended the same school where his father taught but was very unhappy there especially because of bullying, so much so that he attempted suicide several times. He published his first volume of poetry when he moved to Oxford in 1925 but it wasn’t well-received. After graduating he worked as a private tutor and then as journalist, last role as a sub-editor at The Times, but quit this job in 1929 when he published his first novel The Man Within since it was successful enough to enable him to write on full-time basis. He still supported himself with freelance journalism and also by reviewing films and books for a magazine. He published The Name of Action in 1930, two years later Rumour at Nightfall and then Stamboul Train which was the most successful and later adapted into the film Orient Express (1934).  In 1937 he and the magazine were sued because of a review he did on a Shirley Temple movie and because of this he moved to Mexico where he wrote the first notes for the most famous novel The Power and the Glory (1940).  He later also wrote short stories and plays, The Living Room being the first one (1953)… Greene travelled a lot and thanks to that he was recruited with the Secret Intelligence Service MI6. This experience was of much inspiration behind his thrillers. He changed religions, suffered from bouts of depression and bipolar disorder and it is said he used set a writing limit of 500 words a day, but all this didn’t stop him from producing over 25 novels which to this day are still appreciated by many. He died and was buried in Switzerland at age 86 (more to come!).

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Golding, the novelist and the knight.

William Golding was born in Cornwall on September 19th, 1911.  His father used to teach science, his mother fought for women’s rights. As a child he attended the same school where his father taught; later in 1930 at age 19 he moved to Oxford for Natural Sciences but after two years changed to English Literature. He published his book of poems in 1934 after he took his BA degree. Five years later he took the role of schoolmaster, teaching philosophy and English. In 1940 during World War II he joined the Royal Navy and later also experienced the horrors of D-Day. After war in 1945 he took back his role as a schoolmaster, this time teaching English only and this went on for 16 years until 1961. Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected many times, even by Faber & Faber’s reader but this novel was later praised by the company’s new editor who asked him to make a few changes and finally in 1954 this famous novel was published. Golding won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1979, Booker Price in 1980 and in 1983 the Nobel Prize for Literature. He wrote a play (The Brass Butterfly), 14 novels, poems, other non-fiction and more unpublished work. In 1988 he was knighted by the Queen; five years later he died of heart failure.This man left a huge legacy behind when it comes to literature and his books are still being given to study from to this day… I am still to read a whole book of his but I’ve read excerpts and so far it’s hair raising material, but the kind that keeps you going back… Speaking of hair raising material , in art , this is the painting from Magritte  – Reproduction Prohibited (1937),  which always gives me that feeling yet like Golding’s writings, not only attracts me but I became to love it.  It is a ‘portrait’ commissioned by poet Edward James, who hated to be seen, and next to him is a copy of a book by Poe. (Magritte was a fan of his).

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For Esme with love and squalor, wit and imagination.

Just when I thought I couldn’t like Salinger more! This particular book is a collection of short stories, the title being one of them and a very good one at that. What a great read! A feast of tragicomedies spiced up with wit and imagination. Each story made me laugh, made me feel compassion towards certain characters and made me wonder.  Even on Salinger himself. To think that he came up with all of this! Seriously Salinger was one clever man; the kind you would want to talk to for hours on end and then be amazed at the mind-blowing conversations you just had with him! Highly recommend this gem.

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