Thoughts From Chaucer and Shakespeare

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Today I will offer a few quotations from writers from earlier eras about creativity, learning, and teaching.

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(illustration from Cassell’s History Of England – Century Edition – published circa 1902)

“And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche”

“And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.”

These are the Middle English and the Modern English versions of this quotation from “The General Prologue” of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. This idea is of enormous importance to me, because I am both a teacher and a life-long student.  All people should try to continue to learn throughout their lives and to teach someone else the wisdom they have amassed.

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(Portrait of William Shakespeare, attributed to John Taylor
NPG London)

“Suit the action to the word,

the word to the action, with this special observance,

that you o’erstep not the modesty of of nature. For

anything so over-done is from the purpose of playing,

whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to

hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue

her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age

and body of the time his form and pressure.”

                                William Shakespeare (Hamlet Act 3. Scene2. lines 16-23)

Shakespeare speaks to the importance of representing life and humanity as it is and to examine the world in its complexities; it can also be an injunction for all creative efforts. I do not mean we should eliminate abstraction, metaphor, or altered forms, but that, at our core, we are creating art about humanity and our world.

Keep learning and keep sharing what you know.

Quotations on Justice

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(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

                                                                      Elie Wiesel

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(https://pixabay.com)

“No man is justified in doing evil on the ground of expediency.”

                                                                      Theodore Roosevelt

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(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”

                                                                       Eleanor Roosevelt

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“An injustice to one person is a crime against everyone, and we must always try to achieve true justice in the world.”

                                                                     Charles F. French

What Is On Your TBR list?

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I was wondering what everyone is reading and what you are also planning on reading. Summer is often a great time to catch up on our books, although the last few days have been a bit difficult with the heat wave and broken air-conditioning in our apartment unit. (We do have portable air-conditioners, so there are no worries.)

I am currently reading Eterenal by Lisa Scottoline, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, and The Man In The High Castle, by Philip K. Dick.

On my To-Be-Read list are Weathering Old Souls by James J. Cudney & Didi Oviatt, Quichotte by Salman Rushdie, and The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles.

So I ask all of you: what are you reading and what is on your To-Be-Read List?

While The Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle & Elsie Hancy Eaton — A Review

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while the bombs fell

This is a small book, only in length, but please do not be misled by its relatively short size. It is a wonderful historical read, and it is full of interesting and captivating details of life during World War Two as seen through the eyes of a child.

Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton do a marvelous job of pulling the reader into the child’s perspective, who finds wonder and joy, even in this terrible historical period. I loved reading about how the family survived with what they had and still managed to maintain the important aspects of life regardless of the hardships of the time.

The details are fascinating, and the added recipes are delightful. If you are interested in history or a captivating tale, then I recommend this book highly!

I was enthralled in the story from the very beginning through to the end. I have tended to read historical accounts as told through the perspective of adults, and this book, narrated by a very young child, is a refreshing approach.

I give this book a 5 star review, and I hope you buy a copy and read it!

Please visit Robbie Cheadle’s wonderful sites:

Roberta Writes

Robbie’s Inspiration

Robbie Cheadle–Books/Poems/Reviews

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Copy of Roberta Writes - independent pub 2 theme.

Quotations on Stories

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“We owe it to each other to tell stories.”

                                                                         Neil Gaiman

 

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“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”

                                                                         Stephen King

 

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“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those last hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

                                                                         Tim O’Brien      

 

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“In stories, we find the connection of all humanity.” 

                                                                          Charles F. French               

What Are You Reading?

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We are well into the month of June, and I was wondering what everyone was reading. Reading is one of the great pleasures in life, one in which I constantly indulge.

The spring semester is over, but the summer sessions of classes have already begun at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and I am excited that I am teaching a course called Science Fiction & Fantasy. In that course, we have already covered Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, and we are now doing American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

In addition to rereading those books, I am also reading Next To last Stand by Craig Johnson, While The Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle & Elsie Hancy Eaton, and Celtic Myth and Religion by Sharon Paice MacLeod.

So, I ask everyone out there: what are you reading now?

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(Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com)

A Writing Workshop: Get The Draft Done! Helping Writers Finish Their First Draft With Charles F. French

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I am very pleased to announce that I will be giving a 3 hour writing event, focusing on my book Get The Draft Done! Helping Writers Finish Their First Draft on June 13th from 1:30-4:30 p.m. This event will be an interactive workshop specifically designed to give assistance to writers who have difficulties finishing their first drafts of their WIP.

It is sponsored by The Writers’ Community of York Region, and a link can be found here: Get The Draft Done! Workshop with Charles F. French

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If you are a writer who has difficulty with drafting, then consider attending this event, so I can help you with applicable and actionable ideas and exercises.

Remember, the most important draft of a work is the first draft; without that one, no revision can occur.

Available on Amazon

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Get The Draft Done! is available here: Amazon.com

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

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Available on Amazon

French On English

Available on Amazon

 

A New Addition To The U.L.S., The Underground Library Society: Ashley Clayton and her book of choice, Jane Eyre

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I want to welcome Ashley Clayton as the newest member of the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society. This is an unofficial organization dedicated to the preservation of books, and it was created in one of my First Year College Composition Classes at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.  It is based on the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrentheit 451.  To join, a writer creates a post about a book he/she would become if they needed to in order to save it. They do not actually have to memorize it though.

When I first watched Jane Eyre[1] by Charlotte Brontë several years ago, I felt I had stumbled upon a pearl necklace left on a tree branch. I had never heard of the novel before, surprisingly—and I still wonder why it wasn’t included on my school reading lists, alongside The Scarlet Letter and Crime and Punishment. Jane is a protagonist I closely relate to, while still finding her differences complex and intriguing. We’re both introverts and artists, we tend to observe humans from afar and would prefer our own company over most people. Jane is also compassionate and does not let her circumstances overcome her fortitude—qualities I greatly admire in other people.

Jane is orphaned as an infant and grows up in an emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive home. Her Aunt Reed is jealous of the girl and tends to overlook her plights while doting on her three spoiled and vindictive children. After Jane is struck by her older cousin John and she defends herself, she is sent to the red-room in the mansion—a scene which introduces the supernatural theme found throughout the novel. This is the room reportedly haunted by Jane’s dead uncle, and she begs to be released. Abandoned and injured, she falls ill and faints from her panic.

An apothecary is called to the home to see to Jane. Actual physicians, you see, were reserved only for the immediate family—Jane and the servants only saw the apothecary. The man recommends Mrs. Reed to send Jane away to Lowood Institute—an act disguised as charity while tidily securing the girl’s education and ongoing care, and thus eventual livelihood. This is the turning point of Jane’s young life.

Lowood was a harsh and cold place, the food poor and scant, but here Jane is given a chance to learn and develop her talents and abilities. Jane would adapt well and excel in her studies, while learning to survive within the austere school. Jane was already a resilient child from living with her aunt and cousins, and this trait became sharper at Lowood. After her classmate (and only friend) Helen dies, Jane is left alone to navigate the rest of her years at the school.

After Jane finishes her education and teaches at Lowood, she advertises for outside employment and is accepted to work at Thornfield Hall as a governess— “a fine old hall, rather neglected of late years perhaps” as Jane is told. Here she meets the estate’s proprietor, her master—a Mr. Edward Rochester. His life parallels in some ways to Jane’s: he lost a parent (his mother) early in life, his now deceased father was distant and neglectful, and he only inherited the estate after his elder brother’s untimely death. He is also the ward of a Ms. Adèle, a young French child who becomes Jane’s pupil—the third central orphan of the story.[2]

Jane Eyre is a story of injustices, sorrows and resiliency—a story filled with complex moral decisions and vulnerabilities. It is a story of characters struggling along in unfortunate circumstances, trying to find an existence where some sliver of hope and light might be found. Mr. Rochester and Jane find this hope in each other, but only after fire, tragic death and mutual forgiveness. The ending of Jane Eyre is not perfect—the author does not allow for a perfect ending. But the reader is left with a glimpse of a hopeful future and a sense of redemption for mostly everyone involved. And Jane considers herself “supremely blest” at the close of her story.

Jane Eyre is often categorized as a romance novel. While romance is a central theme of the story, I do not believe that is all Jane Eyre should be considered as. And perhaps that is why the novel was not included on my school reading lists. No, Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece is, I believe, one story about what it means to be human and to find yourself in imprisoning circumstances, and ultimately how to live through continued suffering, albeit imperfectly. Charlotte knew these things well herself—her mother, too, died when she was a child and two of her elder sisters died from tuberculosis contracted at school, just as Helen did at Lowood. Jane Eyre is a story of one woman’s strength as she discovers what love, grace and forgiveness truly entail. It is a novel I want alongside me in my life, preserved always for future generations. It is, by no exaggeration, one of the greatest works of literature ever written, and greatly appreciated by myself.

Thank you for reading.

[1] Specifically, the 2006 BBC miniseries starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

[2] It is unclear who Adèle’s father is and whether he may still be alive. Her father may be Mr. Rochester, or more likely, another man who Adèle’s mother was involved with during (or shortly after) she was Mr. Rochester’s mistress. Either way, I still consider Adèle an orphan, if not legally, then spiritually.

Thank you to Ashley Clayton for joining the U. L. S.

Please be sure to visit her website A. R. Clayton.

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Kubrick’s Monolith: The Art and Mystery of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Joe R. Frinzi: A Review

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I am pleased to be able to offer a review of this extraordinary book by film scholar Mr. Joe R. Frinzi.

Joe R. Frinzi’s work, Kubrick’s Monolith: The Art and Mystery of 2001: A Space Odyssey, is an excellent book of film criticism, and it should establish Mr. Frinzi as a top level scholar on Stanley Kubrick and his seminal film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In this masterful treatment, Mr. Frinzi details the creation of the film and the social and cinematic importance of this work by the auteur, Stanley Kubrick. It is deeply researched, demonstrates a masterful understanding of cinema, and confirms Mr. Frinzi as a top film scholar.

If you are interested in film, if you love science-fiction, and if you appreciate Stanley Kubrick, then this is a book you must have.

Mr. Frinzi’s work is on the level of a Ph.D. thesis.

I recommend this book to all lovers of cinema, and I give it 5 stars!

Mr. Frinzi’s book is available here: Amazon

and here: McFarland

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Update on Robert Fillman’s Poetry Reading

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Hello to all! There was a mistake on  the date of Robert Fillman’s Poetry reading.

The corrected date and the flyer appears next:

Join Robert Fillman on Zoom—Thursday, June 3rd, 2021, at 6 pm EST.

Robert Fillman June 2021 poetry reading flyer - corrected date

Here is a link to another of Robert Fillman’s poems: The Batter

See his chapbook November Weather Spell via Main Street Rag

Please check out this opportunity to hear Robert Fillman reading his excellent poetry!