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Index September 2005

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2005-09-01: Human concerns – Averroes (1126-1198);
2005-09-02: Human concerns – Dante Alighieri (1265-1321);
2005-09-04: Human concerns – Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus (1493-1541);
2005-09-07: Human concerns – Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906);
2005-09-09: Educasol;
2005-09-11: … like a herd of stampeding elephants;
2005-09-12: Human concerns – Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914);
2005-09-13: Human concerns – José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (1832-1916);
2005-09-13: Human concerns – Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900);
2005-09-14: Human concerns – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950);
2005-09-14: Human concerns – Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957);
2005-09-16: Human concerns – Federico García Lorca (1898-1936);
2005-09-17: Human concerns – Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986).

Human concerns – Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

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See on this site - Argentine poet, essayist, and short-story writer, whose tales of fantasy and dreamworlds are classics of the 20th-century world literature. Borges was profoundly influenced by European culture, English literature, and such thinkers as Berkeley, who argued that there is no material substance; the sensible world consists only of ideas, which exists for so long as they are perceived. Most of Borges’s tales embrace universal themes – the often recurring circular labyrinth can be seen as a metaphor of life or a riddle which theme is time. Although Borges’s name was mentioned in speculations about Nobel Prize, Borges never became a Nobel Laureate.

“When the end draws near, there no longer remain any remembered images; only words remain. It is not strange that time should have confused the words that once represented me with those that were symbols of the fate of he who accompanied me for so many centuries. I have been Homer; shortly, I shall be On One, like Ulysses; shortly, I shall be all men; I shall be dead.” (from ‘The Immortal’).

Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires. His family included British ancestry and he learned English before Spanish. His father, of Italian, Jewish, and English heritage, was a lawyer and a psychology teacher, who demonstrated the paradoxes of Zeno on a chessboard for his son.

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Human concerns – Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

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See on this site - Spanish poet and dramatist, a talented artist and a member of the ‘Generation of 1927′, a group of writers who advocated avant-gardism in literature. Among García Lorca’s best-known plays is Blood Wedding (1933), a story of a bride who runs away with a previous lover, and is subsequently murdered by her husband. After a period of great creative activity, García Lorca was shot by Falangist soldiers in the opening days of the Spanish Civil war. In both his drama and poetry García Lorca balanced between the traditional and the modern, between mythology and contemporary cultural trends.

“Most of the Madrid critics praised the literary and dramatic merit of Marina Pineda to an extent that surprised me. In general they asserted that it was more than just promising; it was real achievement by a playwright who brought to the theatre a technique aware of the limitations of historical drama and abundance of poetry that flowed naturally and continuously, not only from the characters but also from their surroundings. They found in it an emotional power highlighted as much in the tragic phrases of Marina Pineda as in the sweet and sorrowful worlds of the little nuns when they set out toward the scaffold.

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Human concerns – Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)

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See on this site - Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) – pseudonym of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga: Chilean educator, cultural minister, diplomat, and poet, first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1945). In her acceptance speech Mistral said: “At this moment, by an undeserved stroke of fortune, I am the direct voice of the poets of my race and the indirect voice for the noble Spanish and Portuguese tongues. Both rejoice to have been invited to this festival of Nordic life with its tradition of centuries of folklore and poetry.” Mistral’s reputation as poet was established when she won in 1914 Chilean prize for SONETOS DE LA MUERTE (Sonnets of Death), love poems in memory of the dead. Much of her poetry is simple and direct in language, but full of warmth and emotion, as in ‘La Manca’, which comes near to nursery rhyme:

Que mi dedito lo cogió una almeja
y que la almeja se cayó en la arena
y que la arena se tragó el mar.
Y que del mar le pescó un ballenero
y el ballenero illegó a Gibraltar:
y que en Gibraltar cantan pescadores
‘Novedad de tierra sacamos del mar,
novedad de un dedito niña,
La que esté manca lo venga a buscar’

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Human concerns – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

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See on this site – Irish dramatist, literary critic, a socialist spokesman, and a leading figure in the 20th century theater. Shaw was a freethinker, defender of women’s rights, and advocate of equality of income. In 1925 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Shaw accepted the honour but refused the money.

“Just as the historian can teach no real history until he has cured his readers of the romantic delusion that the greatness of a queen consists in her being a pretty woman and having her head cut off, so the playwright of the first order can do nothing with his audience until he has cured them of looking at the stage through the keyhole, and sniffing round the theatre as prurient people sniff round the divorce court.” (from G.B. Shaw’s preface in Three Plays by Brieux, 1911).

George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin, where he grew up in something close to genteel poverty. “I am a typical Irishman; my family came from Yorkshire,” Shaw once said. His father, George Carr Shaw, was in the wholesale grain trade. Lucinda Elisabeth (Gurly) Shaw, his mother, was the daughter of an impoverished landowner. She was 16-years younger than her husband. George Carr was a drunkard – his example prompted his son to become a teetotaller. When he died in 1885, his children and wife did not attend his funeral. Young Shaw and his two sisters were brought up mostly by servants. Shaw’s mother eventually left the family home to teach music, singing, in London. When she died in 1913, Shaw confessed to Mrs. Patrick Campbell: “I must write to you about it, because there is no one else who didn’t hate her mother, and even who doesn’t hate her children.”

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Human concerns – Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900)

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See on this site – Irish poet and dramatist whose reputation rests on his comic masterpieces Lady Wintermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest. Among Wilde’s other best-known works are his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, which deals very similar theme as Robert Luis Stevenson’s Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Wilde’s fairy tales are very popular – the motifs have been compared to those of Hans Christian Andersen.

“When they entered they found, hanging upon the wall, a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.” (from The Picture of Dorian Gray).

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin to unconventional parents. His mother, Lady Jane Francesca Wilde (1820-96), was a poet and journalist. Her pen name was Sperenza. According to a story she warded off creditors by reciting Aeschylus. Wilde’s father was Sir William Wilde, an Irish antiquarian, gifted writer, and specialist in diseases of the eye and ear, who founded a hospital in Dublin a year before Oscar was born. His work gained for him the honorary appointment of Surgeon Oculist in Ordinary to the Queen. Lady Wilde, who was active in the women’s rights movement, was reputed to ignore her husbands amorous adventures.

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Human concerns – José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (1832-1916)

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See on this site – The leading Spanish dramatist of the last quarter of the 19th century. Along with poet Frédéric Mistral, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1904. Echegaray started to write plays at the age of forty-two. His style changed little during his career. Echegaray’s works are noted for their high degree of technical skill and their ability to keep audiences engaged despite relatively simple and melodramatic plots.
“Like his forebears, he knows how to present conflict, is extremely moving and vitally interested in different temperaments and ideals, and like them he enjoys studying the most complicated cases of conscience. He is complete master of the art of producing in the audience pity and fear, the well-known fundamental effects of tragedy. Just as in the masters of the old Spanish drama, there is in him a striking union of the most lively imagination and the most refined artistic sense.” (C. D. af Wirsén, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, on his presentation speech of José Echegaray).

José Echegaray was born in Madrid to parents of Basque descent. The family moved to Murcia, where his father held a professorship in Greek at the Institute of Murcia. At the age of fourteen Echegaray returned to Madrid. He graduated from the Escuela de Caminos in 1853 and became a professor of mathematics of the same institute. He published papers and treatments in his field, gaining fame as the foremost Spanish mathematician of his time. He taught at the engineering school until 1868. Later he served in various official posts. Echegaray was named minister of commerce in the 1860s and elected to the Cortes, the Spanish parliament in 1869. He also played a major role in developing the Banco de España. In 1866 he was admitted to the Academy of Exact Sciences of Madrid.

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Human concerns – Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914)

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See on this site – French poet and Provençal patriot, who shared with the Spanish dramatist José Echegaray the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1904. Mistral received the prize for his contributions in literature and philology. Mistral called himself ‘humble écolier du grand Homère’, a humble student of Homer – his passionate odes to sun, to his native Provençe, and its people, had much in common with the mediaeval troubadour poetry. The literary language of the troubadours was known first as the ‘Language d’Oc’ and it should not be confused with Modern Provençal.

“The rhythm of this poem has beauty and harmony, and its artistic composition succeeds on all counts. The source from which Mistral has drawn is not psychology; it is nature. Man himself is treated purely as a child of nature. Let other poets sound the depths of the human soul!” (C. D. af Wirsén, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, in his Nobel Prize presentation 1904).

Frédéric Mistral was born in Maillaine, a village in the Rhone Valley of southern France, as the only son of a prosperous farmer. In his early years Mistral developed a passionate attachment to the language of his region, Provençal dialect.

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… like a herd of stampeding elephants

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This text is already a bit older (January 2002), but today, at the anniversary date of 9/11 we may read it again:

The Andreas von Bülow Interview: Former German Minister of Research and Technology Speaks Out About September 11th and After. (Serendipity – World Trade Center, and Serendipity – Index).

A translation of an interview published in the German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel on 2002-01-13: Andreas von Bülow was Minister for Research and Technology in the cabinet of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and was for 25 years an SPD member of the German parliament. During official investigations he learned of the work of the German and American intelligence and security agencies, and subsequently wrote a book on this subject, Im Namen des Staates (In the Name of the State). Von Bülow, 64, lives in Bonn, where he currently works as a lawyer. This interview was conducted by Stephan Lebert and Norbert Thomma.

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Educasol

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Educasol est un espace ouvert de renforcement et de valorisation des pratiques des acteurs de l’éducation au développement et à la solidarité internationale.

Un lieu de concertation et de positionnement des acteurs associatifs impliqués dans l’éducation au développement et à la solidarité internationale. Un espace de promotion de l’éducation au développement et à la solidarité internationale auprès des institutions.

Educasol existe depuis mars 2004. Elle a été mise en place par des associations, campagnes, collectifs, programmes pour lesquels l’Education au développement et à la solidarité internationale est une des priorités d’actions.

Human concerns – Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

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See on this site - Norwegian playwright, one of “the four great ones” with Alexander Kielland, Jonas Lie and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson of the 19th-century Norwegian literature. Ibsen is generally acknowledged as the founder of modern prose drama. He moved away from the Romantic style, and brought the problems and ideas of the day onto the stage of his time.

“… And what does it mean, then to be a poet? It was a long time before I realized that to be a poet means essentially to see, but mark well, to see in such a way that whatever is seen is perceived by the audience just as the poet saw it. But only what has been lived through can be seen in that way and accepted in that way. And the secret of modern literature lies precisely in this matter of experiences that are lived through. All that I have written these last ten years, I have lived through spiritually.” (’Speech to the Norwegian Students, September 10, 1874, from Speeces and New Letters, 1910).

Henrik Ibsen was born in Skien, a tiny coastal town in the south of Norway. His father, Knud Ibsen, was a prosperous merchant, whose financial failure changed the family’s social position. Later Ibsen bitterly recalled how his father’s friends broke all connections with him and the “Altenburg Manor”, earlier known for it dinners and festivities. In disgrace the family moved to Venstøp farmhouse, provided to them by the creditors.

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Human concerns – Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus (1493-1541)

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See on this site – original name Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim – Note: in some sources the birth date is November 10, 1493 – Swiss physician, chemist, alchemist, one of the fathers of modern medicine. Paracelsus was the pseudonym of Dr Theophrastus Bombastus Hohenheim, which meant ‘beyond Celsius’, implying that he was greater physician than the then-revered Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsius. A rebellious thinker, Paracelsus developed his own system of medicine and philosophy.

“By nature I am not subtly spun, nor is it the custom of my native land to accomplish anything by spinning silk. Nor are we raised on figs, nor on mead, nor on wheaten bread, but on cheese, milk and oatcakes, which cannot give one a subtle disposition. Moreover, a man clings all his days to what he received in his youth; and my youth was coarse as compared to that of the subtle, pampered, and over-refined. For those who are raised in soft clothes and in women’s apartments and we who are brought up among the pine-cones have trouble in understanding one another well.” (from Paracelsus: Selected Writings, ed. by Jolande Jacobi, 1951).

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Human concerns – Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

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See on this site – The greatest Italian poet and one of the most important writers of European literature. Dante is best known for the epic poem COMMEDIA, c. 1310-14, later named LA DIVINA COMMEDIA. It has profoundly affected not only the religious imagination but all subsequent allegorical creation of imaginary worlds in literature. Dante spent much of his life traveling from one city to another. This had perhaps more to do with the restless times than his wandering character or fixation on the Odyssey. However, his Commedia can also be called a spiritual travel book.

“It were a shameful thing if one should rhyme under the semblance of metaphor or rhetorical similitude, and afterwards, being questioned thereof, should be unable to rid his words of such semblance, unto their right understanding.” (from Vita Nuova, c. 1293)
Dante Alighieri was born into a Florentine family of noble ancestry. Little is known about Dante’s childhood. His mother, Bella degli Abati, died when he was seven years old. His father, Alighiero II, made his living by money-lending and renting of property. After the death of his wife he remarried, but died in the early 1280s, before the future poet reached manhood. Brunetto Latini, a man of letters and a politician, became a father figure for Dante, but later in his Commedia Dante placed Latini in Hell, into the seventh circle, among those who were guilty of “violence against nature” – sodomy.

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Human concerns – Averroes (1126-1198)

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See on this site – Medieval Spanish-Arab philosopher, physician, and jurist of the Shariah law, who reintroduced Aristotelian thought to Western Europe. After Latin versions of Averroes’ commentaries on Aristotle started to circulate among scholars, the works of the great Greek philosopher were rediscovered. Averroes tried to unite Aristotle with religious thinking. He argued that the teachings of Aristotle are not in conflict with the Holy Law.

“For it is evident from more than one verse in the Book of God Almighty that He calls upon men to believe in the existence of the Originator, glory be to Him, through rational arguments detailed specifically therein, such as the saying of the Almighty: “O people, worship your Lord who has created you as well as those who came before you”; and as the other saying of the Almighty: “Is there any doubt about Allah, Maker of the heavens and the earth?” in addition to many other verses in the same vein.” (from Faith And Reason In Islam by Averroes, trans. by Ibrahim Najjar, Oneworld Publications Ltd, 2001)

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