Books and Writers
Read the texts, give a summary and discuss them.
Reading Detective Stories in Bed
I find this delightful at home, and even more delightful when I am away from home, a lost man. The fuss of the day is done with; you are snugly installed in bed, in a little lighted place of your own; and now you make the mind as cosy as the body! But why detective stories? Why not some good literature? Because, with a few happy exceptions — and there are far too few of them — good literature, which challenges and excites the mind, will not do. In my view, it should be read away from the bedroom. But why not some dull solemn stuff memoirs, faded works of travel? Неrе I can speak only for myself. But if my bedbook is too dull then I begin to think about my own work and then sleep is banished for hours. No, the detective story is the thing, and its own peculiar virtues have not been sufficiently appreciated. The enthusiasts are not fascinated by violence or the crime element in these narratives. Often, like myself, we deplore the blood-and-bone atmosphere and wish the detective novelists were not so conventional about offering us murder all the time. (A superb detective story could be written — and I have half a mind to write it — about people who were not involved in any form of crime. About disappearance or double life, for example.) Please remember that most serious fiction now has ceased to appeal to our taste for narrative. The novelist may be a social critic, a philosopher, a poet, or a madman, but he is no longer primarily a story-teller. And there are times when we do not want anybody’s social criticism or deep psychological insight or prose poetry or vision of the world; we want a narrative, an artfully contrived tale. But not any kind of tale, no fragrant romances and the like. What we want — or at least what I want, late at night, you can please yourself — is a tale that is in its own way a picture of life but yet has an entertaining puzzle element in it. And this the detective story offers me. It is of course highly conventional and stylized — think of all those final meetings in the library, or those little dinners in Soho paid for out of a Scotland Yard salary — but its limitations are part of its charm. It opposes to the vast mournful muddle of real world its own tidy problem and neat solution. As thoughtful citizens we are hemmed in now by gigantic problems that appear as insoluble as they are menacing, so how pleasant it is to take an hour or two off to consider only the problem of the body that locked itself in its study and then used the telephone. (We know now that Sir Rufus must have died not later that ten о ’clock, and yet we know too that he apparently telephoned to Lady Bridget at ten- forty-five — eh, Travers?) This is easy and sensible compared with the problem of remaining a sane citizen in the middle of the twentieth century. After the newspaper headlines, it is refreshing to enter this well-ordered microcosm, like finding one’s way into a garden after wandering for days in a jungle. I like to approach sleep by way of these neat simplifications, most of them as soundly ethical as Socrates himself. It is true that I may bum my bedlight too long, just because I must know how the dead Sir Robert managed to telephone; yet, one problem having been settled for me, I feel I sleep all the sounder for this hour or two’s of indulgence. And what a delight it is to switch off the day’s long chaos, stretch legs that have begun to ache a little, turn on the right side, and then once more find the eccentric private detective moodily playing his violin or tending his orchids, or discover again the grumpy inspector doodling in his offices and know that a still more astonishing puzzle is on its way to him and to me!
(from J. B. Priestley)
the fuss of the day — дневная суета • повсякденна суєта snugly — уютно • затишно
to install — помещать(ся) • вміщати(ся)
to be snugly installed in bed — уютно устроиться в постели • зручно вмоститися у ліжку
sufficiently — достаточно • достатньо
violence — стремительность, сила, неистовство • стрімкість, сила
to be hemmed in by gigantic problems — быть окруженным огромными проблемами • бути обсілим грандіозними проблемами
sane citizen — нормальный гражданин • нормальний громадянин
microcosm — микрокосм; ч.-л. в миниатюре • мікрокосм; щось в мініатюрі
simplification — упрощение • спрощення
orchid — орхидея • орхідея
The Contemporary Novel
Circumstances have made me think a lot about writing novels and what it means, and I was a professional critic of novels long before I wrote them. I have been writing novels, or writing about novels for the last twenty years. When a man has focused so much of his life upon the novel, it is not reasonable to expect him to take a modest view of it. I consider the novel an important and necessary thing in modem civilization. I do not think we can get along without it.
There is the theory that the novel is only a means of relaxation. It is the man’s theory of the novel rather than the woman’s. One may call it the Weary Giant theory. The reader is supposed to be a man, hard-working and tired. He has been in his office from ten to four, with perhaps only two hours’ interval for lunch, or he has been playing golf, or he has been voting in the House, or he has been fishing, or he has been disputing a point of law, or doing one of a thousand other of the important things which make up a man’s life. Now at least comes the little interval of leisure, and the weary giant takes up a book. He wants to forget the troublesome realities of life. He wants the book to cheer and amuse him, above all, to amuse. He doesn’t want problems. He wants to dream of a bright merry imaginary world in which he can be a hero.
Both fiction and criticism today are in revolt against that tired giant, the prosperous Englishman, and so I will say no more of the idea that the novel is merely a harmless drug for the vacant hours of prosperous men. As a matter of fact, it never has been and I doubt it ever can be. I do not think that women have ever accepted the tired giant attitude in their reading. Women are more serious, not only about life, but about books. Among readers, women and girls and young men at least will want their novels to be significant and real.
So a novel is something more than just a means of relaxation, and we must not define a general form for it. A year or so ago, for example, there was a quite serious discussion, which began, I believe, in a weekly paper about the proper length of a novel. A considerable number of writers were asked to say exactly how long the novel must be. Our replies varied but the attempt to raise the question shows, I think, that this idea of prescribing a definite length and a definite form for the novel is widespread. In the newspaper correspondence that followed our friend the weary giant appeared again. He believes the novel must be long enough for him to take up after dinner and finish before his whisky at eleven.
As for me, I must admit that I find all the novels of Dickens, which are quite long, too short for me.
(from H.G. Wells)
to get along without smth. — обходиться без ч.-л. • обходитися без чогось
a means of relaxation — средство для расслабления • засіб для розслаблення (релаксації)
Weary Giant theory — теория «утомленного великана» • теорія «втомленого велетня»
to he in revolt [against] — восставать (против) • повставати (проти)
Do We Really Need Poetry?
The average English person considers that poetry is «nice» for children, becoming for girls, and appropriate for women teachers. Few people read poetry and fewer still pay for it.
The reason for disliking poetry is that most people believe poetry should deal only with certain «nice» themes and topics such as birds, flowers, trees and love.
But the fact is that life in all its forms can be the theme of poetry. The so-called ugly and ordinary things are as remarkable in their way as beautiful. Modern poets have discovered this and given as many fine poems on unpoetical subjects.
Do we really need poetry or any of the arts? They may be desirable or even excellent, but are they of any practical use?
We must admit that when we wish to express some tender emotion we turn to poetry. We may not normally like the poetry; we may know very little about it, but we recognize that it is the only way to express the best that is within us.
(from H. G. Wells) 147
appropriate — подходящий • підхожий, притаманний
remarkable — замечательный • чудовий
tender emotion — нежная эмоция • ніжна емоція
Some people read for instruction, and some for pleasure, but not a few read from habit. I belong to that company. Let us admit that reading with us is just a drug that we cannot get along without.
Books are necessary to me and I never travel far without enough reading matter. But when I am starting on a long journey the problem is really great. I have learnt my lesson. Once I fell ill in a small town in Java and had to stay in bed for three months. I came to the end of all the books I had brought with me and knowing no Dutch had to buy the schoolbooks from which intelligent Javanese, I suppose, got knowledge of French and German. So I read again after twenty-five years the plays of Goethe, the fables of La Fontaine and the tragedies of Racine. I have the greatest admiration for Racine, but I admit that to read his plays one after the other requires a certain effort in a person who is ill. Since then I have made a point of travelling with a large sack full of books for every possible occasion and every mood.
There are books of all kinds. Volumes of verse, novels, philosophical works, critical studies (they say books about books are useless, but they certainly make very pleasant reading), biographies, history; there are books to read when you are ill and books to read when your brain wants something to work at; there are books that you have always wanted to read but in the hurry of life at home have never found time to; there are books to read at sea; there are books for bad weather; there are books chosen solely for their length, which you take along when you have to travel light, and there are the books you can read when you can read nothing else.
(from W. Somerset Maugham)
to have the greatest admiration for smth. — больше всего увлекаться ч.-л. • Захоплюватися чимось понад усе
for every possible occasion — для каждого возможного случая • для будь-якого можливого випадку
for every mood — для всякого настроения • для будь-якого настрою
brain — ум, мозг, рассудок • розум, мозок, глузд
Mr. Priestley: In 1833 Dickens had a number of papers published under the title Sketches by Boz, but it was in 1836 that he rose to fame as suddenly and as unmistakably as Scott had done. The circumstances were rather strange. A firm of publishers, Chapman & Hall, had a number of pictures by a humorous artist, Seymour, and they wanted to get some short articles to illustrate them so that pictures and articles could appear together in a magazine in fortnightly parts. Someone suggested that the young newspaper reporter, Charles Dickens, might do the job. It was a job after his own heart. He accepted the offer, but asked for a rather free hand in the writing than had been originally planned. He was allowed to have his way — and so Pickwick Papers come in to being.
Hob: What is Pickwick Papers about? Should I like it?
Mr. Priestley: You ought to get the book, I think you would like it. It is about Mr. Pickwick and his three friends, Mr. Tupman, Mr. Snodgrass, and Mr. Winkle. Mr. Pickwick is a stout, good-natured, cheerful, very simple-hearted old gentleman. He is the General Chairman of the Pickwick Club, and he and his three friends decide to travel about England and send to the-Pickwick Club in London an account of their journeys and their observations on the character and manners of the people they meet on these journeys. The humour of the book consists chiefly in the absurd situations that Mr. Pickwick and his friends get themselves into — deceived by smooth-tongued rogues, put into a debtor’s prison, involved in an action for breach of promise — and yet, though we laugh at Mr. Pickwick, we don’t think any worse of him for being a figure of fun — in fact we love him all the more. That’s what we mean by «humour»; and next to Shakespeare’s Falstaf, Mr. Pickwick is perhaps the greatest comic figure in English literature.
But to continue the story of Dickens. For the first fortnightly part of Pickwick Papers the publishers printed 400 copies, but such was its popularity that for Part Fifteen more than 40,000 copies had to be printed. At one stride Dickens had become the most popular living novelist (Scott died in 1832; Dickens’s first book appeared in 1833) and he held that position until his death. The rest can be told in a few words. It is a story of work, and work without rest. He poured out novel after novel — Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield (perhaps the greatest work of all), A Tale of Two Cities — these are but a few of the more famous. At the same time he was editing newspapers and magazines, visiting America, Italy, Switzerland, Paris; giving readings from his books to huge crowds of people and writing constantly. It was the excitement of these readings (this excitement and the applause of his listeners was what he loved) and the strain of his continual work that brought about his sudden death in 1870. He had asked that his burial should be quite simple, but the whole nation wanted to give him the highest honour they could, and so he lies buried in Westminster Abbey, but as he wished it, with nothing on the stone except his name «Charles Dickens.»
Olaf: Thank you, Mr. Priestley, I’ve enjoyed your story of his life. But why is Dickens great; I mean, what is there in his books that has made him read by all, by learned and simple, rich and poor alike — for that seems to be the case?
Mr. Priestley: You are quite right, it is the case. I don’t think there is any other novelist in England who has such a hold on all classes of people. He had it in his own day, he has it in ours too (David Copperfield is still a «best seller»), and I believe he will keep that popularity as long as English is read. I think the chief cause is the great-heartedness of the man himself. He, like Abou ben Adhem, was one «who loved his fellow-men,» and it was not only the good ones who came in for his love; his kindly, humorous, understanding eyes looked with a wide tolerance on good and bad alike.
(from С. E. Eckersley)
observations — наблюдение, замечание, высказывание • спостереження, вислів, репліка
debtor’s prison — долговая тюрьма • боргова в’язниця
Mother Goose Rhymes
Do you know Mother Goose? You don’t really know the English language if you don’t know Mother Goose...
Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon The little dog laughed To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Who is Mother Goose? What is she? She is a merry old lady who recites jolly rhymes and sings songs full of delightful nonsense. Her rhymes are also often referred to as Nursery Rhymes. Every child in Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand..., in a word, in all English-speaking countries knows his or her nursery rhymes by heart. Prominent statesmen, public figures often quote Mother Goose. Famous prose writers and poets allude to Mother Goose in their works.
Who was that old lady with the odd name? Did she really live? Where did she come from? Did she originally come from France or England? When did she live? Was she a real person or just a legend? Where did she live?..
No one knows for sure, but everyone knows and loves her rhymes and songs.
Mother Goose appeared in England about two hundred years ago. Some of her rhymes are even older. The « Three Little Kittens» was known as far back as 400 years ago. And « Three Wise Men of Gotham» was popular as far back as the 16th century. And today Mother Goose Rhymes are as popular as they were 200, 300, and 400 years ago.
Many countries have a village or district whose inhabitants are proverbial for a kind of wisdom which differs from that of their neighbours. England boasts of several such places.
For more than five hundred years, however, the merriest tales have been told about Gotham, where the villagers built a fence round the cuckoo so that they might keep her, and have summer all the year round. Yet the traveller who arrives at this village and inquires, «Is this the Gotham where the fools come from?» must be prepared for the reply, «No, sir, this is the Gotham that the fools come to.»
Here’s the nursery rhyme «Three Wise Men of Gotham.»
Three Wise Men
Three wise men of Gotham
Went to sea in a bowl.
If the bowl had been stronger
My song had been longer.
Три мудреца в одном тазу
Пустились по морю в грозу.
Будь попрочнее старый таз,
Длиннее был бы мой рассказ.
(Перевод С. Маршака)
Many authors have parodied Mother Goose Rhymes. Most famous are parodies by Lewis Carroll in «Alice in Wonderland» and the poet Edward Lear.
Edward Lear, creator of the limerick, parodied «Three Wise Men of Gotham» in »The Jum-blies":
They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s mom, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And everyone cried, «You’ll all be drowned!»
They called aloud, «Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! We don’t care a fig!
In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!»
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
«...For centuries each generation has been linked to the next by the shared laughter of nursery rhymes... A book of nursery rhymes is a sparkling treasury of memorable verses,» write the publishers in their note to «The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes» compiled by Iona and Peter Opie.
’’Oral rhymes have had to be wonderfully fit to have survived... If the test of a poet is the frequency and diversity of the occasions on which we remember his poetry, then Mother Goose deserves a monument in Westminster Abbey, and a good nursery rhyme book should be every poet’s primer,» say Iona and Peter Opie.
As Iona and Peter Opie note, the rhyme «Hey diddle diddle» makes no more sense in Russian than in English. «But it is nice to think,» they continue, «that a rhyme that amazes English and American children has been translated, and also pleases Russian babes. In tact English nursery rhymes en masse seem to appeal to the children of Russia. Colourfully illustrated collections have been published in Moscow, and translations have been made by poets as eminent as Samuel Marshak and Korney Chukovsky.»
Mother Goose — Матушка Гусыня (старуха-гусыня) — персонаж, «автор» название одной из наиболее популярных в англоязычных странах детских книг • Мати Гуска — персонаж, «автор» і назва однієї з найпопулярніших у англомовних країнах дитячих книжок
Hey diddle diddle — бессмысленное ритмическое сочетание звуков, типичных для начала фольклорных песен, детских стишков • позасмисловий ритмічний набір звуків, типовий для початку народних пісень, дитячих віршиків
Lewis Carroll (1832—1898) — Льюис Кэрролл, английский математик и писатель, автор книг «Алиса в Стране Чудес» и «Алиса в Зазеркалье» • Луїс Керол, англійський математик і письменник, автор книжок «Еліс в Країні Див» та «Еліс у Задзеркаллі»
Lear Edward (1812—1888)—Лиер Эдвард, считается создателем жанра лимриков, один из самых оригинальных поэтов Англии • Лієр Едвард, вважається одним із винахідників жанру лімриків, один із найоригінальніших поетів Англії
limerick — лимрик, вид шутливого стишка определенного настроения • лімрик, вид жартівливого вірша певного настрою
the Jumblies — вымышленные острова, название которых происходит от слова «jumble» — путаница, беспорядок • видумані острови, назва яких походить від «jumble» — плутанина
- on a winter’s morn (= morning) — зимним утром • зимового ранку
ain’t big — небольшое; ain’t — неправильная (разговорная) форма вместо «isn’t» • невелике; ain’t — неправильна (розмовна) форма замість «isn’t"
Iona and Peter Opie — «The Puffin Book of Nursery Phymes,» Great Britain
Oral rhymes have had to be wonderfully fit to have survived — Устные стихи должны быть удивительно точными, чтобы выжить. • Усні рими, щоб вижити, мають бути навдивовижу точні.
Robin Hood — Reality or Myth?
Of all English folk-heroes, and there have been many, the most popular was the yeoman archer of medieval times, Robin Hood, whose deeds still thrill the youth of the Anglo-Saxon world, on the silver screen if not on the printed page.
Speculation about his origin has caused many controversies among the scientists. Many antiquaries of the past have declared that Robin was a historical figure, and some historians still have a sneaking feeling that there is more historical truth in some of his early stories than they will openly care to admit. Others have declared him a myth, a forest elf. His name came from the fact that he was a robber or was synonymous with Robin Goodfellow, and his surname from «o’th’wood,» or from the fact that he was a hood; he «flourished,» some time between the eleventh and fourteenth century. The earliest complete ballads that have come to us date from earlier than 1400.
The popularity of the early ballads, due no doubt to the fact that they told of the common man’s fight against his powerful enemies, the rich bishops and the protectors of the game preserves, led to many inferior stories with Robin Hood as the hero. The popularity of the hero led to the naming of natural features and flowers after him. In Yorkshire we have Robin Hood’s bay, in Nottingham — a cave, his stable, a huge natural rock — his chair, and a well is named after him.
The mythologists hold that the naming of natural features after the folk-hero demonstrates his mythical nature, a matter which will be discussed later. Relics of Robin Hood appear to have provided some people with a means of livelihood many years after his death. Brome, in his «Travels Over England» (1970), records that near a well not far from Nottingham he saw the ancient chair of the outlaw with a cap on it, which, they said, was his. It seems a pity that we have no more details of the ceremony, the people who conducted it, and the amount of the fee.
An examination of some of the mythologists’ theories reveals a host of conflicting ideas. As I have already noted, the first mention in literature occurs in or about 1377. Robin Hood’s place of residence is uncertain. He owns hills, wells, and other natural features in Lancashire, Derbyshire, Shropshire and Somerset. The story is localized in Sherwood, Yorkshire and Scotland.
Historical deduction is often difficult. After Robin Hood’s death the story passed from person to person by word of mouth probably for some time before the ballad-makers heard of it. They, Of course, elaborated and magnified it, and added bits of older stories. This then is how a folk-hero grows, and perhaps the process shown here could be applied to the majority of such heroes.
A great deal of mystery remains unexplained, but the same can be said of Shakespeare, who spent his life leaving written evidence, which seems to be preferred to all other kinds. With the date that Robin Hood «flourished» now fixed, it is possible that still further clues in deeds, rolls or records may finally resolve the puzzle.
As a great hero Robin Hood is dead, but as a flesh and blood person and an outstanding folk-hero, he will live as long as English people take an interest in their traditions and folk-lore.
(After P. V. Harris)
elf — эльф, мифическое существо • ельф (міфічна істота)
bay — бухта, залив • бухта, затока
deduction — вывод, заключение • висновок, умовивід
by word of mouth — по устному преданию, устно • за усним переказом, усно
flesh and blood person — человек из плоти и крови • людина з плоті і крові
The Authors’ Club,
2nd January 20____________________________________
I’m glad to know you enjoyed the books I sent you for Christmas. Your letter of thanks was very well written and I congratulate you on being able to write so correctly.
You ask me for advice on reading. That’s a very difficult request. I always hesitate to advise my friends on what to read. How can I possibly know what will interest other people? And you don’t say in your letter whether you want to read fiction, or drama, or essays, or books on travel.
What you do say is that you’re very fond of reading, and I’m delighted by that. Do you know the essays of Francis Bacon, who lived about the same time as Shakespeare? They’re full of good things about reading. Here are some of them, from the essay «Of Studies.»
«Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.»
«Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.»
I can’t give you advice better than that. The first quotation tells you how to read books of different kinds. I suppose most travel books are «to be tasted»; it’s enough to dip into them and read bits here and there. If you’re fond of crime stories (Agatha Christie, Simenon, and the rest of the modern favourites), you will, if you’re like me, read them quickly; you’ll «swallow» them. And then there are books that you’ll read slowly and carefully. If a book’s on an important subject, and a subject you’re interested in, you’ll want to chew and digest it. And you’ll want to weigh what the author says, and consider his ideas and arguments.
If the book’s in English, that may mean slow progress for you. But I don’t advise you to read too slowly. When I was living in Tokyo (it was many years ago), I used to go to Kanda, where the second-hand bookshops are (just as in London, when you were here last year, you used to spend hours in Charing Cross Road). The shelves were fall of English books. The first twenty or thirty pages of many of them had their margins filled with pencilled notes and there were dozens of words and phrases underlined. The owners, probably earnest university students, had started out very, seriously, determined to master the books. Then, as I turned the pages over, I found clean white margins, with not a single note. In some cases the books had, uncut sheets, like modem French novels, and it was clear that the reader had given up the attempt in despair.
I suppose that’s a common experience in many countries with books in a foreign language. The reader starts out, full of hope and determination. Then the need to turn to a dictionary or a reference book, perhaps ten or even twenty times a page, tires him out.
There are two or three answers to this problem. The first is a negative one. Don’t start reading a book unless you see, from the first few pages, that it’s one you can read with ease and understanding. Don’t try to run before you can walk. There are plenty of books that have been rewritten in simple language — and shortened, too, if necessary. I know there are good reasons against simplified texts. We don’t feel that we’re getting the real thing if we read a book that has been «made simple.» There are some authors whose style is fairly easy, of course. I used to wonder why Oscar Wilde’s books were so popular in European schools and colleges. Wilde seemed to be more famous in Europe than in England. Then I realized that in his short stories he writes in a very simple style.
My second answer to this question of difficult vocabulary is, I think, a much better one. Don’t stop every time you come to a word or phrase you don’t know. Read the whole chapter quickly. Quite often you’ll find the unknown word comes again, perhaps several times, and by the end of the chapter you’ll have guessed its meaning. That’s how we learn the meanings of words in our own language, isn’t it? When we’re children, I mean. When I’m telling a story to children, they seldom stop to ask what a word means. Even when they read, they don’t run for the dictionary every time they see an unknown word.
I was thinking about this problem of how we learn what words mean, yesterday morning after I’d read your letter. We have a young nephew staying with us here for part of the Christmas holidays, so I decided to find out how he learnt words. So at tea-time I asked him: «Peter, v/hat’s a jungle?» (I was sure he knew the word; I wanted to know how he’d learnt it.) «Don’t you know, Uncle?» he said.
«They have jungles in India. They’re full of tigers and elephants. Jungles are hot and steamy. And branches come down from the trees like ropes, and monkeys swing about on them.»
Well, you see, Peter knew what an Indian jungle was like. He said he’d learnt all that from his reading, probably from Kipling’s «Jungle Books,» and from other adventure stories. I’m sure he didn’t go to his dictionary when he first met the word. It’s possible, of course, that Peter leamt the word by seeing Tarzan films or picture strips, but even in that case, he learnt the word by seeing or hearing, not from a dictionary.
Read a chapter quickly, and then go back and read it more slowly. This time, use your reference books when necessary. But try to judge what is worth looking up and what can be ignored.
Let me take you back to Tokyo to illustrate what I mean. One of our best English essayists is a man called Max Beerbohm. On those Kanda bookshelves there was a book of English essays, and among the essays was one by Beerbohm called «Ichabod.» To those of us who know the Bible the name is familiar, but in Japan the Bible is not much read. The owner of this book of essays had been very thorough. First he had looked up the pronunciation, probably in Jones’s «English Pronouncing Dictionary,» and had noted it in red pencil in the margin. Then he had gone to an encyclopaedia and copied from it a long note, twenty or thirty words, explaining who Ichabod was: a grandson of Eli. And a note about where Ichabod is mentioned in the Bible — the First Book of Samuel.
Now all that was a waste of time and effort. This essay of Max Beerbohm’s is about a piece of luggage that was covered with labels — the kind you get from hotels and travel agents. The piece of luggage was sent to have the locks repaired, and when it came back all the labels had been cleaned off. Beerbohm was sorry, because the labels reminded him of his travels. So he used «Ichabod» as the title of his amusing essay. A reader not knowing «Ichabod» would want to know what the title meant. But a dictionary (the «Concise Oxford, ’’for example) tells you that «Ichabod» is a Hebrew word, used as an exclamation of regret: «The glory has departed.» That’s quite enough, isn’t it?
The Japanese, like the Germans, are very thorough. But there are times when being thorough is a waste of time and energy. So when you’re reading, don’t hunt out every word or reference that’s new to you. Try to judge its importance.
You’ll tell me that it’s difficult, very often, foryou to judge whether an unknown word or reference is important or not. I agree that this is often true. But it’s not always difficult. You’re going to be an architect, so words used in architecture are important to you. If you’re reading a travel book, and there are descriptions of abbeys, churches, and cathedrals, you’ll perhaps find the words «transept» and «clerestory they’re new to you, you’ll look them up. They’re words that belong to your subject. But if the reader is a medical student, uninterested in architecture, he could pass them by. They’re not at all necessary for his enjoyment of the book. I’m not an expert in architecture, but my ignorance of some architectural words does not prevent me from enjoying beautiful churches and cathedrals. When I go to Europe I take a Blue Guide or Baedeker with me. I read them when I go to see a cathedral or an old palace. If, as is sometimes the case, there are technical words I don’t know, I don’t worry about my ignorance.
When I read my «Times » these days I often find articles about the uses of atomic energy. There are always words that I don’t know — and some of them are so new that they’re not yet in the dictionaries. But I’m slowly beginning to understand what some of the words mean — simply by meeting them so often.
Well, that’s my advice to you. I hope you’ll find it helpful. It isn’t perfect, I know. There will be times when, if you decide not to look up a reference, you’ll miss something that may be important. If you were reading British history, for example, and came across the name «Ulster, "you would not be wise to pass it by. Even if you looked it up in an Atlas and found that it was the northern part of Ireland, you’d still be without the information you ought to have. Ulster is the only province of Ireland that did not break away from the United Kingdom in 1922. It’s Protestant, the other three provinces (now called Eire) being Catholic. This bit of knowledge is very necessary to a student of British history.
But I feel I’m right in advising you not to be too thorough in your use of reference books — except when you’re studying your own special subject. If you’re too thorough, you’ll lose heart and perhaps give up.
There’s an old English proverb, «Give not counsel or salt till you are asked.» You did ask me for advice! Does salt come into your Spanish proverbs, I wonder? «Help me to salt and you help me to sorrow» is another of our old English sayings. We think it’s unlucky to spill salt, and if we do, we have to throw a little salt over the left shoulder — to keep the bad luck away.
I mustn’t start writing about proverbs and popular beliefs, or I’ll never finish.
Good luck to you in your reading. Do write again, and if you think I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Yours ever, John Churchman
(from A. S. Hornby)
to hesitate — колебаться, не решаться • вагатися
to swallow — глотать, проглатывать, поглощать • ковтати, поглинати
to chew — жевать, пережевывать • жувати, пережовувати
to digest — переваривать, усваивать • переварювати, засвоювати
discourse — рассуждение (письменное или устное); беседа, разговор; речь, доклад • міркування (письмове або усне); бесіда, розмова; доповідь, промова
quotation — цитата • цитата
margin — поле (страницы), полоса, край • берег (сторінки), кайма, край
despair — отчаяние, безнадежность • відчай, безнадія
to judge — судить, выносить приговор; оценивать, считать, полагать • судити, виголошувати вирок; оцінювати, вважати
ignorance — невежество, неведение, незнание • невігластво, незнання
counsel — совет; обсуждение, совещание • рада; обговорення, нарада
to spill — проливать(ся), разливать(ся), расплескиваться), рассыпать(ся) • розливати(ся), розплескувати(ся), розсипати(ся)
Then in Triumph
There were cars in front of the house. Four of them. And two more in the drive. Clifford Oslow cut across the lawn and headed for the back steps. But not soon enough. The door of a big red car opened and a woman came rushing after him. She was a little person, smaller even than Clifford himself. But she was fast. She reached him just as he was getting through the hedge.
«You’re Mr. Oslow, aren’t you?» she said. She didn’t wait for a confession. She pulled out a little book and a pencil and held them under his nose. «I’ve been trying to get her autograph all week,» she explained. «I want you to get it for me. Just drop the book in a mailbox. It’s stamped and the address is on it.»
And then she had gone and Clifford was standing there holding the book and pencil in his hand.
He put the autograph book in his pocket and hurried up the steps.
There was a lot of noise coming from the living-room. Several male voices all going it at once, a strange woman’s voice breaking through now and then, rising above the noise. And Julia’s voice, rising the noise, clear and kindly and very sure.
«Yes,» she was saying. And, «I’m very glad.» And, «People have been very generous to me.»
She sounded tired, though.
Clifford leaned against the wall while he finished the sandwich and the beer. He left the empty bottle on the table, turned off the kitchen light and pushed easily on the hall door. The hall light was on and someone Clifford didn’t know was pacing the carpet across from the room.
A man who talked incomprehensively at him grabbed him by the arm and pushed him along the hall and into the parlour. «Here he is,» somebody shouted. «Here’s Mr. Oslow!»
There were a half-a-dozen people there, all with note books and busy pens. Julia was in the big chair by the fire-place, looking plumper than usual in her new green dress.
She smiled at him affectionately but, it seemed to him, a little distantly. He’d noticed that breach in her glance many times lately. He hoped that it wasn’t superiority, but he was afraid that it was. She looked, he saw, as tired as she had sounded.
«Hello, Clifford,» she said.
«Hello, Julia,» he answered.
He didn’t get a chance to go over and kiss her. A reporter had him right against the wall. How did it seem to go to bed a teller at the Gas Company and to wake up the husband of a best-selling novelist? Excellent, he told them. Was he going to give up his job? No, he wasn’t. Had he heard the news that « Welcome Tomorrow» was going to be translated into Turkish? No, he hadn’t.
And then the woman came over. The one whose voice he’d heard back in the kitchen where he wished he’d stayed.
«How,» she inquired briskly, «did you like the story?»
Clifford didn’t answer immediately. He just looked at the woman. Everyone became very quiet. And everyone looked at him. The woman repeated the question. Clifford knew what he wanted to say. «I liked it very much,» he wanted to say and then run. But they wouldn’t let him run. They’d make him stay. And ask him more questions. Such as which character he had liked best. Which he couldn’t answer.
«I haven’t,» he mumbled, «had an opportunity to read it yet. But I’m going to,» he promised. And then came a sudden inspiration.
«I’m going to read it now!» There was a copy on the desk by the door. Clifford grabbed it and raced for the front stairs.
Before he reached the second flight, though, he could hear the woman’s voice on the hall phone. «At last,» she was saying, «we have discovered an adult American who has not read «Welcome Tomorrow.» He is, of all people, Clifford Oslow, white, 43, a native of this city and the husband of...»
On the second floor Clifford reached his study, turned on the light over the table and dropped into the chair before it. He put Julia’s book right in front of him, but he didn’t immediately open it.
Instead he sat back in the chair and looked about him. The room was familiar enough. It had been his for over eighteen years. The table was the same. And the old typewriter was the one he had bought before Julia and he were married.
There hadn’t been many changes. The fireplace had been rebricked. And the radio was a recent gift of Julia’s. And all along the bookcase were the manuscripts of his novels. His rejected novels. On the top was his latest one, the one that had stopped going the rounds six months before.
On the bottom was his earliest one. The one he wrote when Julia and he were first married. The one whose people both of them lived with in the two years during which he worked over it. «How’s Vincent coming along?» Julia would say, «He’s got the house built,» Clifford would tell her.
Yes, Clifford was a writer then. Large W. And he kept on thinking of himself as one for many years after, despite the concerted indifference of the publishers. Finally, of course, his writing had become merely a gesture. A stubborn unwillingness to admit defeat. Now, to be sure, the defeat was definite. Now that Julia, who before a year ago hadn’t put pen to paper, had written a book, had it accepted and now was looking at advertisements that said, «over four hundred thousand copies.»
Julia Clifford sighed. Well, his failure wouldn’t be permitted to steal any part of his wife’s pleasure in her own accomplishment!
He picked up « Welcome Tomorrow» and opened it, as he opened every book, in the middle. He read a paragraph. And then another. He had just started a third when suddenly he stopped. He put down Julia’s book, reached over to the shelf and pulled out the dusty manuscript of his own first effort. Rapidly he turned over the crisp pages. Then he began to read aloud.
From his own manuscript he read: «The water was high above the fence-top. Vincent stood, silent and stricken beside the ruin of his farm.»
Clifford put the manuscript on the table on top of the book. For a long time he sat quietly inspecting the crease of his trousers. Then he put the book in his lap and left the manuscript on the table and began to read them, page against page. He had his answer in ten minutes.
And then he went back downstairs. A couple of reporters were still in the living-room. «But, Mrs. Oslow, naturally our readers are interested,» one was insisting. «When,» he demanded, «will you finish your next book?»
«I don’t know,» she answered uneasily.
Clifford came across the room to her, smiling. He put his arm around her and pressed her shoulder firmly but gently. «Now, now, Julia,» he protested. «Let’s tell the young man at once.»
The reporter looked up.
«Mrs. Oslow’s new novel,» Clifford announced proudly, «will be ready in another month.» Julia turned around and stared at him, quite terrified.
But Clifford kept on smiling. Then he reached into his pocket and brought out the autograph book and pencil that had been forced on him on his way home. «Sign here,» he instructed.
(from Frank L. Parke)
in the drive — при подъезде к дому • при під їзді до будинку
lawn — лужайка • моріжок
to head for — направиться к ч.-л. • піти до чогось
back steps — ступеньки заднего крыльца • сходинки заднього ґанку
came rushing — бросилась (за ним) • кинулась (за ним)
hedge — живая изгородь • живопліт
confession — признание • визнання
to pull out — доставать • діставати
autograph — автограф • автограф
mail-box — почтовый ящик • поштова скринька
to stamp — наклеивать марку • наклеювати марку
male — мужской • чоловічий
generous — великодушный • великодушний
to lean — прислониться • притулитися
to pace — ходить взад и вперед • ходити взад і вперед
incomprehensively — неясно, непонятно • незрозуміло
to grab — схватить • схопити
parlour — гостиная • вітальня
dozen — дюжина • дюжина
affectionately — нежно • ніжно
distantly — отчужденно • відчужено
breach in her glance — отчужденный взгляд • скляний погляд
superiority — превосходство • перевага
teller — кассир в банке • касир в банку
to give up — бросить, оставить • кинути, залишити
to inquire briskly — спросить бодрым голосом • спитати бадьорим голосом
to mumble — бормотать • бурмотіти
inspiration — вдохновение • натхнення
to race — бежать • бігти
flight — пролет лестницы • марш сходів
to discover — обнаружить • знайти
adult — взрослый • дорослий
native — уроженец • уродженець
typewriter — пишущая машинка • друкарська машинка
to re-brick — заново выложить кирпичом • заново викласти цеглою
to reject — отвергнуть • відкинути, відтрутити
on the bottom — внизу • внизу
How’s Vincent coming along? — Как поживает Винсент? • Як мається Вінсент?
despite — несмотря на • незважаючи на
concerted indifference — общее безразличие • загальна байдужість
publishers — издательства • видавництва
stubborn — упрямый • затятий
to admit defeat — признать поражение • визнати поразку
advertisement — рекламное объявление • рекламна об’ява
to sigh — вздыхать • зітхати
to steal (stole, stolen) — украсть • украсти
accomplishment — достижение, успех • досягнення, успіх
to reach over — протянуть руку • простягнути руку
of his own effort — здесь: плод его авторских усилий • тут: плід його авторських зусиль
crisp — хрустящий • хрумкий
fence-top — верхняя часть забора • горішня частина паркану
crease — складка • складка
in the lap — на колени • на коліна
page against page — сравнивая страницы рукописи и книги • порівнюючи сторінки рукопису і книжки
naturally — естественно • звичайно, дійсно
to demand — настойчиво требовать ответа • наполегливо вимагати відповіді
uneasily — с чувством неловкости • з почуттям незручності
firmly — твердо • твердо
gently — нежно • ніжно
terrified — в ужасе • нажахано
to force — навязывать, заставлять • заставляти, нав’язувати
Answer these comprehension questions.
1. Why did Mr. Oslow try to get into the house through the back door? Who stopped him?
2. Why was the little book that the woman forced on Mr. Oslow stamped and had her address written on it?
3. Why was the living-room noisy? Who were the people there? What were they doing?
4. Why did Mrs. Oslow seem tired?
5. What did Mr. Oslow think of his wife’s attitude towards him at that time? Was it different from her usual attitude?
6. What questions did the reporters ask Mr. Oslow? Were they typical reporters’ questions to celebrities?
7. Why didn’t Clifford answer the woman reporter’s question about his impression of «Welcome Tomorrow»? Why did he finally say that he was going to read it just then?
8. Why did the woman report his answer to her newspaper at once?
9. Why did Clifford escape from the living-room to his study?
10. What memories came back to him while he was looking at his rejected novels?
11. Why did he think that his defeat as a writer was definite now? Did he grudge his wife her success?
12. What made him compare his wife’s book with one of his? What conclusion did he come to?
13. Why was Mrs. Oslow not sure about when her next book would be ready?
14. Why did Mr. Oslow give an answer to the reporter’s question? Why was he proud about it?
15. Why was his wife terrified at his answer?
a) Reproduce the episodes (or situations) in which the following words or phrases are used.
b) Use some of these phrases in sentences or situations of your own:
to wait for a confession, generous, the light was on, superiority, to give up one’s job, to make smb. stay, to reach the second flight, an adult American, to turn on the light, to look about, rejected novels, to admit defeat, advertisement, the dusty manuscript, to inspect, to read page against page, to answer uneasily, to be forced on smb.; to announce proudly; to stare at smb.
Find facts from the story to support these statements:
1. Mrs. Oslow’s novel was a great success.
2. The reporters were eager to get every scrap of information about Mrs. Oslow.
3. The Oslows were a loving couple.
4. Before he gave up writing Clifford had tried very hard.
5. Clifford was not a selfish man.
Describe these episodes:
1. Mr. Oslow gets into his house.
2. Reporters try to get information about the Oslows.
3. Clifford establishes the truth about «Welcome Tomorrow.»
4. Clifford gives news about his wife’s next novel.
Discuss these statements. Make use of these additional phrases wherever possible:
It may be true to some extent but...
It appears so on the surface but...
I’d like to make a point here if I may...
Contrary to your arguments I’d like to point out...
1. Mr. Oslow was a talented writer.
2. Julia wanted fame only for herself.
3. Genuine talent will finally be recognized.
4. Reporters stop at nothing to obtain sensational information.