King Solomon’s Ring

The creative writer, in depicting an animal’s behaviour, is under no great obligation to keep within the bounds of exact truth than is the painter or the sculptor in shaping an animal’s likeness. But   all three artists must regard it as their most sacred duty to be properly instructed regarding those particulars in which they deviate from the actual facts. They must indeed be even better informed on these details than on others which they render in a manner true to nature. There is no greater sin against the spirit of true art, no more contemptible dilettantism than to use artistic license as a specious cover for ignorance of fact.

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Vera

Lucy recognised the cover of one of them at once, it was Wuthering Heights.

Miss Entwhistle took it up, read its title in silence, and put it down again.

The next one was Emily Brontë’s collected poems.

Miss Entwhistle took it up, read its title in silence, and put it down again.

The third one was Thomas Hardy’s Time’s Laughing-Stocks.

Miss Entwhistle took it up, read its title in silence, and put it down again.

The other three were Baedekers.

‘Well, I don’t think there’s anything I want to read here,’ she said.

Lizzie asked if she should take them away then, and bring some more; and presently she reappeared with another armful.

These were all Baedekers.

‘Curious,’ said Miss Entwhistle.

Then Lucy remembered that she, too, beneath her distress on Saturday when she pulled out one after the other of Vera’s books in her haste to understand her, to get comfort, to get, almost she hoped, counsel, had felt surprise at the number of Baedekers. The greater proportion of the books in Vera’s shelves were guide-books and time-tables. But there had been other things,—’If you were to bring some out of a different part of the bookcase,’ she suggested to Lizzie; who thereupon removed the Baedekers, and presently reappeared with more books.

This time they were miscellaneous, and Miss Entwhistle turned them over with a kind of reverential reluctance. That poor thing; this day last year she was probably reading them herself. It seemed sacrilege for two strangers…. Merciful that one couldn’t see into the future. What would the poor creature have thought of the picture presented at that moment,—the figure in the blue dressing-gown, sitting in the middle of all the things that had been hers such a very little while before? Well, perhaps she would have been glad they weren’t hers any longer, glad that she had finished, was done with them. These books suggested such tiredness, such a—yes, such a wish for escape…. There was more Hardy,—all the poems this time in one volume. There was Pater—The Child in the House and Emerald Uthwart—Miss Entwhistle, familiar with these, shook her head: that peculiar dwelling on death in them, that queer, fascinated inability to get away from it, that beautiful but sick wistfulness no, she certainly wouldn’t read these. There was a book called In the Strange South Seas; and another about some island in the Pacific; and another about life in the desert; and one or two others, more of the flamboyant guide-book order, describing remote, glowing places….

Suddenly Miss Entwhistle felt uncomfortable. She put down the book she was holding, and folded her hands in her lap and gazed out of the window at the hills on the other side of the river. She felt as if she had been prying, and prying unpardonably. The books people read,—was there ever anything more revealing? No, she refused to examine Vera’s books further. And apart from that horrible feeling of prying upon somebody defenceless, upon somebody pitiful, she didn’t wish to allow the thought these books suggested to get any sort of hold on her mind.

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In the Mountains

There is the oddest lot of books in this house, pitchforked together by circumstances, and sometimes their accidental rearrangement by Antoine after cleaning their shelves each spring of my absence would make their writers, if they could know, curdle between their own covers. Some are standing on their heads—Antoine has no prejudices about the right side up of an author—most of those in sets have their volumes wrong, and yesterday I found a Henry James, lost from the rest of him, lost even, it looked like, to propriety, held tight between two ladies. The ladies were Ouida and Ella Wheeler Wilcox. They would hardly let him go, they had got him so tight. I pulled him out, a little damaged, and restored him, ruffled in spite of my careful smoothing, to his proper place. It was the Son and Brother; and there he had been for months, perhaps years, being hugged. Dreadful.

When I come down to breakfast and find I am a little ahead of the café au lait, I wander into the place that has most books in it—though indeed books are in every place, and have even oozed along the passages—and fill up the time, till Mrs. Antoine calls me, in rescue work of an urgent nature. But it is impossible, I find, to tidy books without ending by sitting on the floor in the middle of a great untidiness and reading. The coffee grows cold and the egg repulsive, but still I read. You open a book idly, and you see:

The most glaring anomalies seemed to afford them no intellectual inconvenience, neither would they listen to any arguments as to the waste of money and happiness which their folly caused them. I was allowed almost to call them life-long self-deceivers to their faces, and they said it was quite true, but that it did not matter.

Naturally then you read on.

You open another book idly, and you see:

Our admiration of King Alfred is greatly increased by the fact that we know very little about him.

Naturally then you read on.

You open another book idly, and you see:

Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoon, who gives us this assurance.

Naturally then you read on.

But, really, the accidental juxtapositions on my bookshelves! Just now I found George Moore (his Memories of my Dead Life, with its delicate unmoralities, its delicious paganism) with on one side of him a book called Bruey: a Little Worker for Christ, by Frances Ridley Havergal, and on the other an American book called The Unselfishness of God, and How I Discovered It.

The surprise of finding these three with their arms, as it were, round each other’s necks, got me nearer to laughter than I have been for months. If anybody had been with me I would have laughed

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American Gods

Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.


..whether home was a thing that happened to a place after a while, or if it was something that you found in the end, if you simply walked and waited and willed it long enough.

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In the Mountains

” While I dress it is my habit to read. Some book is propped up open against the looking-glass, and sometimes, for one’s eyes can’t be everywhere at once, my hooks in consequence don’t get quite satisfactorily fastened. Indeed I would be very neat if I could, but there are other things. “

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Diary of a teacher

  1. There is always a gap between what the students think they know, and what they actually know. Take the self-reported background knowledge with a big pinch of salt.  Your starting point should be a good 1 mile back from the point at which the class tells you it is standing.
  2. It doesn’t hurt to over emphasise key points, the stuff that you want them to take away from the class. Repetition may be boring, but it is important.
  3. That reluctance to put pen to paper, or type the first letters – it may be apathy, but it is more likely fear. The cure is empathy. Do not be afraid of pushing your students. While point 1 is true, it is also true that they know a little more than they they think they know. What is missing is the ability to make connections in the scattered pieces of information they have picked up.
  4. Sometimes the students will not like you. They will not tell you they don’t like you. When you ask them if they have understood everything, they will say yes, but they wouldn’t have understood. They will not tell you they haven’t. These are the occupational hazards. Get used to them. More importantly, don’t let them discourage you.
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Mort

WHAT IS THAT SENSE INSIDE YOUR HEAD OF WISTFUL REGRET THAT THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY APPARENTLY ARE?

Sadness, master. I think. Now –

I AM SADNESS.


‘Do you know anything about m-dimensional topography?’

‘Um. No’

‘Then I shouldn’t aspire to hold any opinions, if I was you,’ said Albert


History unravels gently, like an old sweater. It has been patched and darned many times, reknitted to suit different people, shoved in a box under the sink of censorship to be cut up for the dusters of propaganda, yet it always – eventually – manages to spring back into its old familiar shape. History has a habit of changing the people who think they are changing it. History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It’s been around a long time.

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