To all the writers out there–please remember to have confidence in yourself and your writing!
Be proud of being a writer, and continue to write–everyday!
I am again asking for those who would like to join the U.L.S.,the Underground Library Society, to join and write a guest post.
In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again.
I am again teaching the subject of banned books and censorship, and my students will take part in this organization, and I hope that many of you do also. My students will create posters about the book they choose, put them up at various places on campus, do a blog post on the project, memorize one paragraph form their chosen books, and then give a short presentation about the work at the end of the semester.
In that spirit, I am putting out the call once more for like-minded people to join The U.L.S. All that is needed is to choose a book you would memorize if the need ever arose. You do not actually have to memorize the book now. You do not need to create a poster, although if you do, I ask only that you use the logo of the U.L.S. on this page. If you wish to join, simply write a guest post in which you say what book you would “become” and why.
I hope many of you choose to join.
If you do wish to do a post, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and write a guest post as a Word doc. Thank you.
Charles F. French
I am looking forward to hearing from new members!
William Shakespeare has had a very large influence on my life. I have loved his work since the first time I saw this play as a 16 year old. It was performed by a traveling professional company at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. I was entranced by the physicality of the actors and the words of the production. Since that time, I have studied and seen as many of his plays as possible. Shakespeare was one of my areas of focus in graduate school at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is one of my favorite plays, and I have had a life long connection with this work. I have read it, seen numerous productions, acted in it, directed it, studied it in college and graduate school, written about it, delivered a conference paper on it, and taught the play in college at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. So, you can see that I have had quite a relationship with this wonderful play.
If you ever have the opportunity to see a live production of this play, I hope you take advantage of it.
As a simple tribute to Shakespeare and this play, I offer a few quotations from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
To continue on my series of favorite writers, I thought I would now deal with Russian writers. As with the other offerings in this group of posts, there are many excellent authors from which to choose, so I will choose three whom I consider to be extraordinary writers.
One of the most important Russian novelists was Fyodor Dostoevsky, who wrote many works that dealt with the interior workings of the human mind, including in its darkest states. Dostoevsky helped to usher in modernism and a deep psychological approach to writing. Among his most important and best novels are Crime And Punishment and The Idiot.
Anton Checkhov was one of the most important playwrights of the world theater. His work was revolutionary in its approach, incorporating the idea of subtext, or the meaning that exists underneath the spoken words, in his plays. His work challenged both the actors who performed in them and the audience who saw the plays. His best works are The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.
The third writer I will offer is Sergei Lukyanenko, the author of the fantasy series that begins with Night Watch and continues with five others novels. His books are innovative and powerful–he creates a complex world, inhabited by supernatural beings on opposing sides.
I chose this painting for the mood of calm it suggests, perhaps after a storm. It seems like an ideal piece to suggest that redemption is possible.
For this particular culinary and fictional interlude, I want to speak with a few characters who have achieved redemption at the end of the work in which they appear: Ebeneezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Leontes from William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Larry Underwood from Stephen King’s The Stand. Some characters are heroic from the beginning of the story through to the end, but some, if not the complete antagonist of the tale, are deeply flawed. In the cases of these three characters they are all deeply damaged, if not morally defective, when we see them much earlier in their respective works.
I thought, given the nature of these men, an afternoon of a few glasses of ale might be the perfect way to discuss what they have learned or how they came to an understanding of what they needed to change in their lives. Scrooge, of course, had to learn not to focus his life on the acquisition and hoarding of material goods, and that people and their welfare should be his concern.
Leontes, in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, allows baseless and unprovoked jealousy to overtake him, and he becomes a vicious tyrant who casts out his loving wife and infant daughter. He also loses his son to death as a consequence of his terrible actions. It is only at the end of the play when he sees a “statue” of his wife Hermione come to life that he is able to understand the enormous errors he has made and their horrible consequences. He has to face knowing that his actions cause deep and almost unimaginable pain to other people. At the end of the play, he is a changed man, one who seemingly has grown as a result of his wife’s extraordinary act of mercy. His redemption can come only through the forgiveness of another.
At the beginning of Stephen King’s epic The Stand, Larry Underwood is a dissolute rock and roll emerging star, who has fallen prey to temptation, drugs, and a very dangerous crowd. He comes back east to visit his mother just in time for the outbreak of Captain Trips. If you have not read this book, I will go no further with the plot, but I do recommend it highly. King acknowledged that this book was his homage to Lord Of The Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien and the same level of epic sweep and individual morality and action occurs here. For Larry Underwood, his most powerful moment is that of personal sacrifice.
As a writer, a reader, and a teacher, I am very interested in how characters change within the arc of a story. I would want to ask these three how it felt to achieve their most powerful changes at or near the climax of the pieces.
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It is time to continue this series about favorite writers, and I do not think I am close to finishing it! I have many ideas in mind about writers and questions about which ones you like.
For this post, I am wondering about playwrights. I have been involved with theater and drama since I was very young. I have been an actor, a director, an acting coach, and I teach drama at college, mainly at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.
The first of my favorite playwrights begins with the one who is the center of literature, William Shakespeare. I have also been involved with Shakespeare most of my life. I have read his plays many times, and it is difficult to choose the ones I think most important, but I will try. My favorite Shakespeare plays are A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, and Hamlet.
Arthur Miller, a modernist American playwright, worked in the 20th Century. Among his best plays are Death Of A Salesman, All My Sons, and The Crucible. His work is powerful, and he explores major themes of America and the world.
(By Thebogsideartists – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43934304)
My third choice is Brian Friel, a playwright who lived from 1929-2015. He emerged as an Irish playwright and became one of the most well known and important writers in the world. Among his plays are Translations, Dancing At Lughnasa, and Philadelphia, Here I Come!
For the next installment of this series, I wanted to focus on a few characters out of Shakespeare with whom I would like to spend a couple of hours eating, drinking, and talking. I have loved Shakespeare’s plays and poetry for much of my life. I have acted in and directed some of his work, and I have studied and taught his writing both at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and in the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, so I would be thrilled to be able to speak to some of his characters.
I would have Hamlet, Henry V, and Macbeth as my guests. I imagine we would meet in an English tavern and have a basic meal and beer. I hope that my royal attendees would not mind not having a grand meal; I am reasonably sure that Henry V and Hamlet spent a fair amount of time in such modest places before their respective plays begin, and as a Scot and a warrior, Macbeth probably was used to basic accommodations while in the field.
I would ask them about their views of leadership and the responsibilities of a leader and about their portrayals in the plays. Henry V and Macbeth are both based on historical persons, while Hamlet is perhaps based on a real person–that is a debate for another day, so I wonder what they might have to say.
I think this would be a lively and deeply fascinating discussion.
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