Wednesday, 1 October 2014


And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care

And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on ... and on ...

Thursday, 25 September 2014


Northanger Abbey was Jane Austen's first novel; it was written between 1798 and 1803, but  it wasn't published until 1818, after her death. The novel is concerned with the humorous adventures of a seventeen-year-old girl who first discovers  the polite society of Bath, a popular English resort town, with all its balls, dances, shows, fashion, and its gossip, then  Northanger Abbey, the magnificent home of one of the book's wealthiest families. Her travels are full of mischance with new friends and love interests.
Jane Austen was one of the first British female novelists, and became the most celebrated in her time. Her novels  became popular for their penetrating portrayal of the British upper classes using ironic wit to expose their follies as well as for its enjoyable, seemingly romantic plots. Yet she published her novels anonymously, because at the time she wrote, women who became public figures often lost respectability.
Northanger Abbey is a  satire of the Gothic novels that were hugely popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  It contains two elaborate parodies of The Mysteries of Udolpho, a novel by Gothic writer Anne Radcliffe, who was greatly  admired when  Jane Austen wrote her novels. It also satirizes the conduct books of the 1700s, books that informed children and young people how to behave in society. Apart from its historically specific references, the novel is pretty universal. It looks at things like love, friendship, and growing up. Like Jane Austen's later novels, Northanger Abbey humorously focuses on human behavior. This timeless element is a reason why her novels are all still so widely read today.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sunday, 21 September 2014


The Romantic period was largely a reaction against the ideology of the Enlightenment period that dominated much of European philosophy, politics, and art from the mid-17th century until the close of the 18th century.  Whereas Enlightenment thinkers valued logic, reason, and rationality, Romantics valued emotion, passion, and individuality. Chris Baldick provides the following description: “Rejecting the ordered rationality of the Enlightenment as mechanical, impersonal, and artificial, the Romantics turned to the emotional directness of personal experience and to the boundlessness of individual imagination and aspiration.” Read here.

Friday, 19 September 2014


In the end common sense has prevailed. Certainly the UK as a whole and Scotland itself have a better future together. 
David Cameron has announced that the government would honour the promises made during the referendum campaign to prepare legislation for further devolution to Scotland before the general election. All three main UK parties are broadly agreed on further powers for Scotland.
Read here to discover why the Scottish referendum has left a significant legacy. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014


Today the people of Scotland are voting in a referendum on independence. If they vote Yes, the consequences could be dramatic for Scotland, Britain and Europe.
Anyway, with significant numbers of people still undecided, the result remains impossible to predict.
Although Scotland and England have shared a monarch since 1603, it wasn't until 1707 that they had a political and economic union. Continue reading here.

Click here for an animated explanation of the issues at stake.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


The Catcher in the Rye is a novel by J. D. Salinger published in 1951. Originally written for adults, it has become popular with young readers for its themes of teenage anxiety and alienation. It has been translated into almost all of the world's major languages. The novel's protagonist Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage rebellion. The novel also deals with complex issues of identity, acceptance, loss, relationship and alienation. 

Click here if you want to read the novel online. Here you can find a thorough analysis of the novel and here a character map.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Sunday, 14 September 2014


Here you can download a PDF presentation of Jonathan Swift, the Anglo-Irish novelist and the most famous satirist in English literature.
His best known full-length work,  Gulliver's Travels (1726), which is the story of its hero's encounters with different races and societies in distant countries, mirrors Swift's vision of mankind's ambiguous position between bestiality and rationality. Published seven years after  Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe,  Gulliver's Travels may be read as a systematic negation of Defoe's optimistic account of human capability. 
Click here for an extensive analysis of the themes of the novel.
Now you can enjoy the animated  Technicolor film based upon the Lilliputian adventures of Gulliver depicted in Jonathan Swift's novel. The film was released on 22 December 1939 by Paramount Pictures.

Thursday, 11 September 2014


Read here and here two articles about the National September 11 Memorial & Museum situated at the site of the former World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, where the “Twin Towers” were destroyed and more than 2,700 lives were lost.