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Monthly Archives: August 2010

The adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The narrator, Huckleberry Finn, begins Chapter One by stating that the reader may know of him from another book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. The other book ended with Tom and Huckleberry finding the gold some robbers had hidden in a cave. They got six thousand dollars apiece. They would get a dollar each day for interest by judge Thatcher.

Huckleberry began to like school a lot with “six times seven is thirty-five.” Then, Tom with Huckleberry and some other friends formed up a robbery gang as Huck wants to go back home respected by the widow. The Widow lamented over her failure with Huck, tried to stuff him into cramped clothing and before every meal had to pray over the food before they could eat it. They came up of ideas for robbery when they suggested “ransom” which they do not know the meaning of the word.

One day, Huck’s father treated him very badly and he decided to run away when He meets Jim, a black slave who wants to escape to freedom, and they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft.

After Jim’s recapture, events quickly resolve themselves. Tom’s aunt revealed Tom and Huck’s identity but Tom explains that Jim has been free for months: Miss Watson died two months earlier and freed Jim in her will, but Tom chose not to reveal Jim’s freedom so he could come up with an elaborate plan to rescue Jim. Jim tells Huck that Huck’s father has been dead for some time  and that Huck may return safely to St. Petersburg. In the final narrative, Huck declares that he is quite glad to be done writing his story, and despite Tom’s family’s plans to adopt him, Huck intends to flee west to Indian Territory.

The book is often criticised because it shows things like slavery, and uses vulgar language like the word “nigger”. On the other hand, some people say that the book just shows how life and society were at that time, and that at that time, many people thought slavery was normal and not wrong. Also, the book does not portray Jim, the escaping slave, as a bad character.

Mark Twain:

Samuel Clemens, alias Mark Twain, is an American icon whose razor-sharp wit and inimitable genius have entertained countless readers for more than a century

His many publications include such gallant childhood essentials as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, along with many dozens of other works ranging from airy magazine columns to focused, biting anti-imperialist satire.

He was born in Hannibal, Missouri in 1835.  The Clemens family consisted of two brothers, a sister, and the family-owned slave, Jenny, whose vivid storytelling was a formative influence on the young Sam.  As he was growing up, his parents explained their perspective on the nature of things in the established South, about the slave-owning tradition, and about ‘rough western justice.’

Reflections of this pre-war southern upbringing are found in many of Twain’s writings, and although his images are quite idyllic, one cannot ignore the constant historical reminders of some of America’s more unacceptable social realities.

Sam Clemens first discovered his literary talents through an apprenticeship at a local printing shop. He was exposed to countless books and became an avid reader. For him, a career in journalism was more than natural, but it wasn’t until the marriage of his sister that Sam was inspired to real action. Bound by train, he left Hannibal for New York City. Shortly thereafter he found himself in Philadelphia, working in the publishing and journalism fields.

Eventually he relocated to Cincinatti, with the intention of saving enough money to explore the Amazon by way of New Orleans. His method of travel was to be the fateful steamboat, and while contemplating his future, he discovered his deep internal connection with the Mississippi river. Suddenly, he knew he had to learn how to pilot steamboats, and this urge proved stronger than anything he had known before. Stronger, even, than the idea of explorations in South America.

Some years later, after he had left the river to continue his journalistic career, Sam realized he needed a pen-name for the more comedic and fantastic columns he was writing. This was especially necessary since he had been dispatched to Carson City to report the activities of the Nevada legislature. He searched his memory for the proper association and remembered those halcyon river days. As his pen name, he chose a bit of the lingo, relating to the periodic measurement of the distance between the bottom of the steamboat and the riverbed. When the leadsman detected a depth of only twelve feet (two fathoms), he would sound the alert: ‘By the maaa-ark, twain!’

While working in Carson City he met his mentor, the popular humorist Artemus Ward, who recognized Clemens’ talent and encouraged him to write ‘as much as possible.’ Mark Twain did precisely that.

Clemens married, and his finely-honed abilities earned him international renown as a writer, lecturer and traveller. Along the way, he composed some of the best-loved and most widely known literature of 19th-century America. As the chancellor of Oxford University told an aged Clemens in 1907: ‘Most amiable and charming sir, you shake the sides of the whole world with your merriment.’

Mark Twain spent the remaining three years completing his official autobiography, concluding with the death of his beloved wife. Four months later, on the evening of 10 April 1910, he flipped through a book and bade his doctor ‘goodbye’. Thence he drifted into eternal slumber.

Mr. Clemens lives on in the hearts and minds of grateful readers everywhere.

References: http://www.net4tv.com/net4tv/bookworm/twain/bio.htm

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Posted by on August 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Charlotte’s Web

This book begins when Fern’s father, Mr Arable’s sow gave birth to a litter of pigs. Later, Mr Arabale discovers that one of them was a runt and decided to kill it. The runt was Wilbur. Fern pleaded her father not to kill it and thus her father allowed her to keep Wilbur as a pet. Wilbur was a name given by Fern. Fern took care of Wilbur for a few weeks before it was sold to her uncle, Mr Homer Zuckerman. Mr Homer Zuckerman had a barn with geese, cows, sheeps and a rat named Templeton. Wilbur was soon added into the “family” and Fern visited the barn as often as she could. Wilbur gets more lonely as each day passed until a grey spider named Charlotte appeared and it wanted to be friends with Wilbur. Not long later, Wilbur discovers that he was going to be slaughtered and be cooked into smoked bacon and ham. Wilbur didn’t want to die. Charlotte decided to think of a plot and save Wilbur from being slaughtered. Miraculously, Fern could hear the conversation Wibur and Charlotte had. With the help of Templeton, Charlotte wrote words on her spider web to make Mr Homer Zuckerman in believing that Wilbur was no any ordinary pig, it was “holy”. Charlotte used words such as ” some pig”, “terrific”, “radiant”, and eventually “humble”.
The sadpart is that Charlotte died of her old age in the end after laying five hundred and fourteen eggs. Of all the offsprings, only three daughters of Charlotte remained called Joy, Aranea, and Nellie who remained there with Wilbur.

Author E. B. White:

E. B. White was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921, then travelled about trying many sorts of jobs, and finally joined the New Yorker magazine. He kept animals on his farm in Maine, and some of these creatures crept into his stories and books. In 1970, Mr White received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, given every five years for distinguished services to children’s literature by the American Library Assiociation. Mr E. B. White died in 1985.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Happy National Day!!! :D

Happy 45th birthday Singapore!!!! I am watching the show while typing too. The National Day Parade is taking place in the Padang this year. Let us all enjoy the performance put up by the performers who put in much effort in training during their countless rehearsals. The most exciting part of the whole performance I would think would be the fireworks. The fireworks is eye-catching, nice, beautiful…. Well, I would sit in front of my television, munching on some chips while waiting for the arrival of the fireworks.

For the time being, we should also sing some National Day songs to risen the wonderful and delightful ambiance. Don’t you think so?

1. Home

2. Where I belong

3. One people, one nation, one Singapore

4. We will get there

5. One united people

6. Song for Singapore (2010)

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Main characters:

  1. Victor Frankenstein ( creator of the monster )
  2. Frankenstein the monster
  3. Elizabeth ( Victor’s cousin )
  4. et cetera

Summary:

This book entitled “Frankenstein” is about the main character, creator of Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein. He was determined to create a being with stronger body than human but he kind of succeeded. He create what he wanted but it turned out to be a monster, a terrifying monster which everyone feared. The author makes this book interesting by writing in different peoples’ point of view. For the chapters, the narrators were Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein and Walton (in continuation). This book may be enjoyable for science-fiction lovers. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly wrote the novel to be incredibly thought provoking, violent, but beautiful at the same time. Not an easy feat to pull off, but she does it wonderfully. Frankenstein’s tale is one that many people can relate to in one way or another. It includes great success, confusion, extreme guilt, depression, loss of loved ones, and many other emotions that are all part of the human condition. Of course, the main story is the allure of the novel for many people. Frankenstein is a kind of science-fiction where another being is created, just like the role of the god. I do think temptation is a main theme of the novel. Victor Frankenstein creates his monster without first thinking of the consequences because the temptation to do so is far too much to resist. The monster is tempted to kill, because he wants revenge from his creator as even his master disliked or detest him. His childlike mind feels anger, and must act upon it. His high level of intelligence tells him that murder is the best way to take revenge on his creator. You should check out this book too.

Background of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly:

Born August 30, 1797, in London, England, Mary Shelley came from a rich literary heritage. She was the daughter of William Godwin, a political theorist, novelist, and publisher who introduced her to eminent intellectuals and encouraged her youthful efforts as a writer; and of Mary Wollstonecraft, a writer and early feminist thinker, who died of puerperal fever 10 days after her daughter’s birth.

In her childhood, Mary Shelley educated herself amongst her father’s intellectual circle, which included critic William Hazlitt, essayist Charles Lamb and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Another prominent intellectual in Godwin’s circle was poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary met Percy Shelley in 1812, when she was fifteen. Shelley was married at the time, but the two spent the summer of 1814 traveling together. A baby girl was born prematurely to the couple in February, 1815, and died twelve days later. In her journal of March 19, 1815, Mary recorded the following dream, a possible inspiration for Frankenstein: “Dream that my little baby came to life again – that it had only been cold & that we rubbed it before the fire & it lived.” A son, William, was born to the couple in January, 1816.

In the summer of 1816, Percy Shelley and 19-year-old Mary visited the poet Lord Byron at his villa beside Mary ShelleyLake Geneva in Switzerland. Stormy weather frequently forced them indoors, where they and Byron’s other guests sometimes read from a volume of ghost stories. One evening, Byron challenged his guests to write one themselves. Mary’s story became Frankenstein.

Mary and Percy Shelley were married December 30, 1816, just weeks after Shelley’s first wife, Harriet, drowned. Mary gave birth to another daughter, Clara, in 1817, but she only lived for a year.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1818, when Mary was 21, and became a huge success. The first edition of the book had an unsigned preface by Percy Shelley. Many, disbelieving that a 19-year-old woman could have written such a horror story, thought that it was his novel.

In 1818, the Shelleys left England for Italy. In 1819, following the death of 3-year-old William, Mary suffered a nervous breakdown. Of the Shelleys’ children, only one, Percy Florence, born in 1819, survived past childhood. Further tragedy struck Mary in 1822 when her husband Percy Shelley drowned during a heavy squall in the Gulf of Spezia near Livorna.

Mary, only 25 years old and a widow, returned to England with her son, determined not to marry again. She devoted herself to her son’s welfare and education, and continued her career as a professional writer. Shelley gave up writing long fiction when realism started to gain popularity, exemplified by the works of Charles Dickens. She wrote numerous short stories for periodicals, particularly The Keepsaker, and produced several volumes of Lives for Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopedia and the first authoritative edition of Shelley’s poems (1839, 4 vols.).

Mary Shelley lived in England until her death from a brain tumor in Bournemouth, England, on February 1, 1851. She was 54 years old.

Reference:
*http://www.duluth.lib.mn.us/Programs/Frankenstein/ShelleyBio.html

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Harvey Angell by Diana Hendry

Book Review:

Orphan Henry lived with his Aunt Agatha. Aunt Agatha was a stingy person. One day, she was trying to clear out her attic to rent it to a person. However, the conditions she laid down was quite unreasonable. She wants her tenant to be small and they must not eat more than two pieces of toast during breakfast. When, Harvey Angell  zaps into Ballantyre Road, he brightens us Henry’s life like a super-charged thunderbolt. He fits the conditions perfectly, and most importantly, he does not eat breakfast. But despite his Connecting Kit and claim to be researching energy fields, Henry is sure Harvey’s no ordinary electrician. He’s up to something. And Henry’s right. Because Harvey has special plans for Henry’s household. Very special indeed…

About the author:

Diana Hendry was born in the Wirral and grew up by the sea. Wirralis a peninsula situated in the North West of England. She did very badly at school – falling in love at 13 being rather a distraction – and spent a long time catching up, which included becoming a mature student at Bristol University and later studying for an M.Litt.
Primarily a poet, Diana also writes short stories and is the author of many children’s books. She’s worked as a journalist, English teacher and a tutor at the University of Bristol, University of the West of England and the Open University. She has tutored many creative writing courses for the Arvon Foundation and for a year was writer-in-residence at Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary. She is a member of Shore Poets, Edinburgh, and is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow based at Edinburgh University. She writes the occasional book review for The Spectator.

Diana’s Awards Include:

*Whitbread Award for a Children’s Novel, 1991,
*First prize Housman Society Poetry Competition, 1994,
*Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship (with Hamish Whyte) 2007

Reference: http://www.dianahendry.co.uk/DH_Site/About_Diana.html
( For awards and about the author )

Why I like the book:

This book is quite interesting. It captures the reader’s attention and the descriptions are quite detailed in the story. You should check it out

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2010 in Uncategorized