People also search for
Readers familiar with the later, more widely published versions of Leaves of Grass will find this first version of "Song of Myself" new, surprising, and often superior to the later versions — and exhilarating in the freshness of its vision. In this inexpensive edition, this enormously influential work will especially delight students, teachers, and any devotee of Walt Whitman.
Renowned and beloved author Maya Angelou returns to the kitchen—both hers and ours—with her second cookbook, filled with time-tested recipes and the intimate, autobiographical sketches of how they came to be. Inspired by Angelou’s own dramatic weight loss, the focus here is on good food, well-made and eaten in moderation. When preparing for a party, for example, Angelou says, “Remember, cooking large amounts of food does not mean that you are obligated to eat large portions.” When you create food that is full of flavor, you will find that you need less of it to feel satisfied, and you can use one dish to nourish yourself all day long.
And oh, what food you will create! Savor recipes for Mixed-Up Tamale Pie, All Day and Night Cornbread, Sweet Potatoes McMillan, Braised Lamb with White Beans, and Pytt I Panna (Swedish hash.) All the delicious dishes here can be eaten in small portions, and many times a day. More important, they can be converted into other mouth-watering incarnations. So Crown Roast of Pork becomes Pork Tacos and Pork Fried Rice, while Roasted Chicken becomes Chicken Tetrazzini and Chicken Curry. And throughout, Maya Angelou’s rich and wise voice carries the food from written word to body-and-soul-enriching experience.
Featuring gorgeous illustrations throughout and Angelou’s own tips and tricks on everything from portion control to timing a meal, Great Food, All Day Long is an essential reference for everyone who wants to eat better and smarter—and a delightful peek into the kitchen and the heart of a remarkable woman.
From the Hardcover edition.
Celebrations is a collection of timely and timeless poems that are an integral part of the global fabric. Several works have become nearly as iconic as Angelou herself: the inspiring “On the Pulse of Morning,” read at President William Jefferson Clinton’s 1993 inauguration; the heartening “Amazing Peace,” presented at the 2005 lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House; “A Brave and Startling Truth,” which marked the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations; and “Mother,” which beautifully honors the first woman in our lives. Angelou writes of celebrations public and private, a bar mitzvah wish to her nephew, a birthday greeting to Oprah Winfrey, and a memorial tribute to the late Luther Vandross and Barry White.
More than a writer, Angelou is a chronicler of history, an advocate for peace, and a champion for the planet, as well as a patriot, a mentor, and a friend. To be shared and cherished, the wisdom and poetry of Maya Angelou proves there is always cause for celebration.
From the Hardcover edition.
With more than 20 million copies sold and translated into fifty-seven languages, Things Fall Apart provides one of the most illuminating and permanent monuments to African experience. Achebe does not only capture life in a pre-colonial African village, he conveys the tragedy of the loss of that world while broadening our understanding of our contemporary realities.
In His Day is Done, Angelou delivers an authentically heartfelt and elegant tribute to Mandela, who stood as David to the mighty Goliath of Apartheid and who, after twenty-seven years of unjust imprisonment on the notorious Robben Island, emerged with “His stupendous heart intact / His gargantuan will / Hale and hearty” to lead his people into a new era.
This poignant work of gratitude and remembrance offers condolences to the resilient people of South Africa on the loss of their beloved “Madiba” and celebrates a man like no other, whose life and work changed the world.
Praise for His Day Is Done
“Moving and heartfelt.”—The Washington Post
“A powerful, gripping tribute.”—NewsOne
“[His Day Is Done captures] how many were feeling.”—BBC News
From the Hardcover edition.
Gavin Aung Than, an Australian graphic designer turned cartoonist, started the weekly Zen Pencils blog in February 2012. He describes his motivation for launching Zen Pencils: "I was working in the boring corporate graphic design industry for eight years before finally quitting at the end of 2011 to pursue my passion for illustration and cartooning. At my old job, when my boss wasn't looking, I would waste time reading Wikipedia pages, mainly biographies about people whose lives were a lot more interesting than mine. Their stories and quotes eventually inspired me to leave my job to focus on what I really wanted to do. The idea of taking these inspiring quotes, combining them with my love of drawing and sharing them with others led to the creation of Zen Pencils."
"Zen Pencils deftly blends the inspired thoughts of our great creative and moral thinkers with its own fresh visual wit. Because these work as pithy history lessons illuminating timeless human truths, it's no wonder Gavin's engaging comics go viral!" —Michael Cavna, Washington Post's Comic Riffs
"Sometimes all it takes is a clear, original vision and a talented hand. Gavin Aung Than and his genius of Zen Pencils gives us that together, and so much more." -–Chris Hadfield, retired astronaut and former Commander of the International Space Station
"If you read this book and don't get a lump in your throat and a stirring in your heart at least once, check your pulse. You're dead." —Philip Plait, The Bad Astronomer
"Gavin has the amazing ability to make words and ideas come alive. He teaches, inspires, and brings a whole new level of creativity to the quotes that hold a special place in our hearts." —Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW Author of the No. 1 New York Times Bestseller, Daring Greatly
"Zen Pencils is a visual demonstration of joy and courage. Buy it for inspiration, and keep it for regular reminders of living bigger." — Chris Guillebeau, New York Times Bestselling Author of The $100 Startup
One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.
Celie has grown up poor in rural Georgia, despised by the society around her and abused by her own family. She strives to protect her sister, Nettie, from a similar fate, and while Nettie escapes to a new life as a missionary in Africa, Celie is left behind without her best friend and confidante, married off to an older suitor, and sentenced to a life alone with a harsh and brutal husband.
In an attempt to transcend a life that often seems too much to bear, Celie begins writing letters directly to God. The letters, spanning twenty years, record a journey of self-discovery and empowerment guided by the light of a few strong women. She meets Shug Avery, her husband’s mistress and a jazz singer with a zest for life, and her stepson’s wife, Sophia, who challenges her to fight for independence. And though the many letters from Celie’s sister are hidden by her husband, Nettie’s unwavering support will prove to be the most breathtaking of all.
The Color Purple has sold more than five million copies, inspired an Academy Award–nominated film starring Oprah Winfrey and directed by Steven Spielberg, and been adapted into a Tony-nominated Broadway musical. Lauded as a literary masterpiece, this is the groundbreaking novel that placed Walker “in the company of Faulkner” (The Nation), and remains a wrenching—yet intensely uplifting—experience for new generations of readers.
This ebook features a new introduction written by the author on the twenty-fifth anniversary of publication, and an illustrated biography of Alice Walker including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
A selection of Blake's most haunting verse, including 'The Songs of Innocence and Experience'.
One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics' huge range and diversity, with works from around the world and across the centuries - including fables, decadence, heartbreak, tall tales, satire, ghosts, battles and elephants.
Indeed Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America--and changed American theater forever. The play's title comes from a line in Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem," which warns that a dream deferred might "dry up/like a raisin in the sun."
"The events of every passing year add resonance to A Raisin in the Sun," said The New York Times. "It is as if history is conspiring to make the play a classic." This Modern Library edition presents the fully restored, uncut version of Hansberry's landmark work with an introduction by Robert Nemiroff.
This edition reproduces all of the plates to perfection, in their original size. The illustrations and the text of the poem appear on facing pages, so that the imaginative kinship of Doré and Coleridge is delightfully evident on every page: the illustrations capture all the moods of the poem in their full intensity, bringing the images evoked by the words into clear visual focus.
Unabridged and slightly rearranged republication of the 1878 American edition. Text slightly amended to conform to the authoritative 1834 edition of the poem.
In 2006, a groundbreaking feature-length film revealed the great mystery of the universe—The Secret—and, later that year, Rhonda Byrne followed with a book that became a worldwide bestseller.
Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.
In this book, you’ll learn how to use The Secret in every aspect of your life—money, health, relationships, happiness, and in every interaction you have in the world. You’ll begin to understand the hidden, untapped power that’s within you, and this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life.
The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers—men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible.
A classic memoir set during the Chinese revolution of the 1940s and inspired by folklore, providing a unique insight into the life of an immigrant in America.
When we Chinese girls listened to the adults talking-story, we learned that we failed if we grew up to be but wives or slaves. We could be heroines, swordswomen.
Throughout her childhood, Maxine Hong Kingston listened to her mother's mesmerizing tales of a China where girls are worthless, tradition is exalted and only a strong, wily woman can scratch her way upwards. Growing up in a changing America, surrounded by Chinese myth and memory, this is her story of two cultures and one trenchant, lyrical journey into womanhood.
Complex and beautiful, angry and adoring, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior is a seminal piece of writing about emigration and identity. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976 and is widely hailed as a feminist classic.
As Muldoon writes, "It's almost impossible to think of a world in which The Waste Land did not exist. So profound has its influence been not only on twentieth-century poetry but on how we’ve come to view the century as a whole, the poem itself risks being taken for granted." Famously elliptical, wildly allusive, at once transcendent and bleak, The Waste Land defined modernity after the First World War, forever transforming our understanding of ourselves, the broken world we live in, and the literature that was meant to make sense of it. In a voice that is arch, ironic, almost ebullient, and yet world-weary and tragic, T. S. Eliot mixes and remixes, drawing on a cast of ghosts to create a new literature for a new world. In the words of Edmund Wilson, "Eliot…is one of our only authentic poets…[The Waste Land is] one triumph after another."
The design for the Preacher's Commentary gives the reader an overall outline of each book of the Bible. Following the introduction, which reveals the author's approach and salient background on the book, each chapter of the commentary provides the Scripture to be exposited. The New King James Bible has been chosen for the Preacher's Commentary because it combines with integrity the beauty of language, underlying Hebrew and Greek textual basis, and thought-flow of the 1611 King James Version, while replacing obsolete verb forms and other archaisms with their everyday contemporary counterparts for greater readability. Reverence for God is preserved in the capitalization of all pronouns referring to the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Readers who are more comfortable with another translation can readily find the parallel passage by means of the chapter and verse reference at the end of each passage being exposited. The paragraphs of exposition combine fresh insights to the Scripture, application, rich illustrative material, and innovative ways of utilizing the vibrant truth for his or her own life and for the challenge of communicating it with vigor and vitality.
From soaring to high heights and seeing great sights to being left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch, Dr. Seuss addresses life’s ups and downs with his trademark humorous verse and illustrations, while encouraging readers to find the success that lies within. In a starred review, Booklist notes, “Seuss’s message is simple but never sappy: life may be a ‘Great Balancing Act,’ but through it all ‘There’s fun to be done.’” A perennial favorite and a perfect gift for anyone starting a new phase in their life!
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father-a crusading local lawyer-risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Thus begins “Phenomenal Woman,” just one of the beloved poems collected here in Maya Angelou’s third book of verse. These poems are powerful, distinctive, and fresh—and, as always, full of the lifting rhythms of love and remembering. And Still I Rise is written from the heart, a celebration of life as only Maya Angelou has discovered it.
“It is true poetry she is writing,” M.F.K. Fisher has observed, “not just rhythm, the beat, rhymes. I find it very moving and at times beautiful. It has an innate purity about it, unquenchable dignity. . . . It is astounding, flabbergasting, to recognize it, in all the words I read every day and night . . . it gives me heart, to hear so clearly the caged bird singing and to understand her notes.”
From the Hardcover edition.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin
From the Paperback edition.
Her compassion and commitment lead her to respond to the fiery times by becoming the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King's history-making quest. A tempestuous, earthy woman, she promises her heart to one man only to have it stolen, virtually on her weding day, by a passionate African freedom fighter.
Filled with unforgettable vignettes of famous characters, from Billie Holiday to Malcolm X, The Heart of a Woman sings with Maya Angelou's eloquent prose -- her fondest dreams, deepest disappointments, and her dramatically tender relationship with her rebellious teenage son. Vulnerable, humorous, tough, Maya speaks with an intimate awareness of the heart within all of us.
From the Paperback edition.
The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.
For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.
Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.
Praise for Mom & Me & Mom
“Mom & Me & Mom is delivered with Angelou’s trademark good humor and fierce optimism. If any resentments linger between these lines, if lives are partially revealed without all the bitter details exposed, well, that is part of Angelou’s forgiving design. As an account of reconciliation, this little book is just revealing enough, and pretty irresistible.”—The Washington Post
“Moving . . . a remarkable portrait of two courageous souls.”—People
“[The] latest, and most potent, of her serial autobiographies . . . [a] tough-minded, tenderhearted addition to Angelou’s spectacular canon.”—Elle
“Mesmerizing . . . Angelou has a way with words that can still dazzle us, and with her mother as a subject, Angelou has a near-perfect muse and mystery woman.”—Essence
“True to her style, [Angelou’s] writing cuts to the chase with compression and simplicity, and there in the background is a calypso smoothness, flurries and showers of musicality between the moments of wickedness. . . . A tightly strung, finely tuned memoir about life with her mother.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In this loving recollection of a complicated relationship, Angelou for the first time details the mother-daughter journey to reconciliation and unwavering connection and support. . . . Angelou vividly portrays a spirited woman. . . . [A] remarkable and deeply revealing chronicle of love and healing.”—Booklist
“Written with her customary eloquence . . . follows in the episodic style of Angelou’s earlier volumes of autobiography, pulling the reader along effortlessly. The lessons and the love presented here will speak to those trying to make their way in the world.”—Publishers Weekly
“In straightforward style, Mom & Me & Mom dives deeply into Angelou’s complicated relationship with her mother. . . . At 84, Angelou shows few signs of slowing down.”—BookPage
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Told in her own inimitable style, this book transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.
Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.
Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.
Like the rest of her remarkable work, Letter to My Daughter entertains and teaches; it is a book to cherish, savor, re-read, and share.
“I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.”
–from Letter to My Daughter
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Hardcover edition.
Winner of the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize
Winner of the 2011 Poetry Now Award
Seamus Heaney's new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present—the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered. Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, of lifelines to the inherited past. There are newly minted versions of anonymous early Irish lyrics, poems that stand at the crossroads of oral and written, and other "hermit songs" that weigh equally in their balance the craft of scribe and the poet's early calling as scholar. A remarkable sequence entitled "Route 101" plots the descent into the underworld in the Aeneid against single moments in the arc of a life, from a 1950s childhood to the birth of a first grandchild. Other poems display a Virgilian pietas for the dead—friends, neighbors, family—that is yet wholly and movingly vernacular.
Human Chain also includes a poetic "herbal" adapted from the Breton poet Guillevic—lyrics as delicate as ferns, which puzzle briefly over the world of things and landscapes that exclude human speech, while affirming the interconnectedness of phenomena, as of a self-sufficiency in which we too are included.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the United States to work with Malcolm X. But first she has to journey to California to be reunited with her mother and brother. No sooner does she arrive there than she learns that Malcolm X has been assassinated.
Devastated, she tries to put her life back together, working on the stage in local theaters and even conducting a door-to-door survey in Watts. Then Watts explodes in violence, a riot she describes firsthand.
Subsequently, on a trip to New York, she meets Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the North, and she visits black churches all over America to help support King’s Poor People’s March.
But once again tragedy strikes. King is assassinated, and this time Angelou completely withdraws from the world, unable to deal with this horrible event. Finally, James Baldwin forces her out of isolation and insists that she accompany him to a dinner party—where the idea for writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is born. In fact, A Song Flung Up to Heavenends as Maya Angelou begins to write the first sentences of Caged Bird.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
As the book opens, Maya, in order to support herself and her young son, gets a job in a record shop run by a white woman. Suspicious of almost any kindness shown her, she is particularly confused by the special attentions of a young white customer. Soon the relationship grows into love and then marriage, and Maya believes a permanent relationship is finally possible. But it is not to be, and she is again forced to look for work.
This time she finds a job as a dancer in a sleazy San Francisco bar. Her remarkable talent, however, soon brings her attention of a different kind, and before long she is singing in one of the most popular nightclubs on the coast. From there, she is called to New York to join the cast of Porgy and Bess, which is just about to begin another tour abroad.
The troupe's joyous and dramatic adventure through Italy, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Egypt becomes the centerpiece of Singin' and Swingin'. This remarkable portrayal of one of the most exciting and talented casts ever put together, and of the encounters between these larger-than-life personalities and audiences who had rarely seen black people before, makes a hilarious and poignant story. The excitement of the journey -- full of camaraderie, love affairs, and memorable personalities -- is dampened only by Maya's nagging guilt that she has once again abandoned the person she loves most in life, her son.
Back home, and driven close to suicide by her guilt and concern, she takes her son with her to Hawaii, where she discovers that devotion and love, in spite of forced absence, have the power to heal and sustain.
As always, Maya Angelou's writing is charged with that remarkable sense of life and love and unique celebration of the human condition that have won her such a loyal following.
From the Hardcover edition.
Angelou tells us about the time she was expelled from school for being afraid to speak–and her mother baked a delicious maple cake to brighten her spirits. She gives us her recipe for short ribs along with a story about a job she had as a cook at a Creole restaurant (never mind that she didn’t know how to cook and had no idea what Creole food might entail). There was the time in London when she attended a wretched dinner party full of wretched people; but all wasn’t lost–she did experience her initial taste of a savory onion tart. She recounts her very first night in her new home in Sonoma, California, when she invited M. F. K. Fisher over for cassoulet, and the evening Deca Mitford roasted a chicken when she was beyond tipsy–and created Chicken Drunkard Style. And then there was the hearty brunch Angelou made for a homesick Southerner, a meal that earned her both a job offer and a prophetic compliment: “If you can write half as good as you can cook, you are going to be famous.”
Maya Angelou is renowned in her wide and generous circle of friends as a marvelous chef. Her kitchen is a social center. From fried meat pies, chicken livers, and beef Wellington to caramel cake, bread pudding, and chocolate éclairs, the one hundred-plus recipes included here are all tried and true, and come from Angelou’s heart and her home. Hallelujah! The Welcome Table is a stunning collaboration between the two things Angelou loves best: writing and cooking.
From the Hardcover edition.
* About Large Print
All Random House Large Print editions are published in a 16-point typeface
This wise book is the wonderful continuation of the bestselling Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now.
Even the Stars Look Lonesome is Maya Angelou talking of the things she cares about most. In her unique, spellbinding way, she re-creates intimate personal experiences and gives us her wisdom on a wide variety of subjects. She tells us how a house can both hurt its occupants and heal them. She talks about Africa. She gives us a profile of Oprah. She enlightens us about age and sexuality. She confesses to the problems fame brings and shares with us the indelible lessons she has learned about rage and violence. And she sings the praises of sensuality.
Even the Stars Look Lonesome imparts the lessons of a lifetime.
From the Hardcover edition.
Read by the poet at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House on December 1, 2005, Maya Angelou’s celebration of the “Glad Season” is a radiant affirmation of the goodness of life and a beautiful holiday gift for people of all faiths.
From the Hardcover edition.
As a last resort, he turned to the stage, not that he cared for the dramatic art, for no man seems to care less about "Art for Art's sake," being in this a perfect foil to his brilliant compatriot and contemporary, Wilde. He cast his theories in dramatic forms merely because no other course except silence or physical revolt was open to him. For a long time it seemed as if this resource too was doomed to fail him. But finally he has attained a hearing and now attempts at suppression merely serve to advertise their victim.
It will repay those who seek analogies in literature to compare Shaw with Cervantes. After a life of heroic endeavor, disappointment, slavery, and poverty, the author of "Don Quixote" gave the world a serious work which caused to be laughed off the world's stage forever the final vestiges of decadent chivalry.
The institution had long been outgrown, but its vernacular continued to be the speech and to express the thought "of the world and among the vulgar," as the quaint, old novelist puts it, just as to-day the novel intended for the consumption of the unenlightened must deal with peers and millionaires and be dressed in stilted language. Marvellously he succeeded, but in a way he least intended. We have not yet, after so many years, determined whether it is a work to laugh or cry over. "It is our joyfullest modern book," says Carlyle, while Landor thinks that "readers who see nothing more than a burlesque in 'Don Quixote' have but shallow appreciation of the work."
Shaw in like manner comes upon the scene when many of our social usages are outworn. He sees the fact, announces it, and we burst into guffaws. The continuous laughter which greets Shaw's plays arises from a real contrast in the point of view of the dramatist and his audiences. When Pinero or Jones describes a whimsical situation we never doubt for a moment that the author's point of view is our own and that the abnormal predicament of his characters appeals to him in the same light as to his audience. With Shaw this sense of community of feeling is wholly lacking. He describes things as he sees them, and the house is in a roar. Who is right? If we were really using our own senses and not gazing through the glasses of convention and romance and make-believe, should we see things as Shaw does?
Must it not cause Shaw to doubt his own or the public's sanity to hear audiences laughing boisterously over tragic situations? And yet, if they did not come to laugh, they would not come at all. Mockery is the price he must pay for a hearing. Or has he calculated to a nicety the power of reaction? Does he seek to drive us to aspiration by the portrayal of sordidness, to disinterestedness by the picture of selfishness, to illusion by disillusionment? It is impossible to believe that he is unconscious of the humor of his dramatic situations, yet he stoically gives no sign. He even dares the charge, terrible in proportion to its truth, which the most serious of us shrinks from—the lack of a sense of humor. Men would rather have their integrity impugned.
In "Arms and the Man" the subject which occupies the dramatist's attention is that survival of barbarity—militarism—which raises its horrid head from time to time to cast a doubt on the reality of our civilization. No more hoary superstition survives than that the donning of a uniform changes the nature of the wearer. This notion pervades society to such an extent that when we find some soldiers placed upon the stage acting rationally, our conventionalized senses are shocked. The only men who have no illusions about war are those who have recently been there, and, of course, Mr. Shaw, who has no illusions about anything.
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.