Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category



I know these pictures aren’t really state of the art, but my overactive mind couldn’t help imagine fairy tales to go along with the images.

The three geese might be 3 beautiful sisters. A witch turned them into animals as a punishment for their love of gab. They now wait by the waterside for their three handsome fiancés to come by on a boat and rescue them. They wait day after day, but the men never show. The witch comes every night to jeer at their frustrated hopes. The goose sisters snap at her angrily and honk defiantly, but when she is gone, each of them lets a tear drop to the earth. One sunny day, when the three men finally arrive…

To be continued….:)

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I’ve been doing some star-gazing at night lately. That is definetely called for, considering the name of my blog. The moon is at her fullest right now and sends her icy light over the sleeping world. I like the way she hides her face in the lower picture.

Lately, I’ve been more obsessed with the moon than usual. It is one of my bedtime rituals to spend a few moments contemplating the sky. Since I started reading Moon Palace by Paul Auster (again) a couple of days ago, I’ve been thinking about it more. It is one of my favorite books, and gives me lots of food for thought.

The moon is a recurrent image in this book (duh…hence the name). The book gives a lot of details about other books, writers, painters, and many other things, and it’s a nerdy pastime of mine to look up these references.  One of them is to Ralph Blakelock (1847-1919), painter of moonscapes.

He led an interesting but tragic life, a large part of which he had to spend in a mental asylum. When his pictures finally began to sell big, it wasn’t easy to track him down there. Being in a mental asylum back then must have been a cruel experience. Blakelock wanted to paint so badly that he used anything he could get his hands on as material- pieces of cardboard and the like. For brushes, he used bark and his own hair. Enough said.

ImageImage via http://g1b2i3.wordpress.com/tag/ralph-blakelock/

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I enjoyed the numerous small details in the picture above a lot. The hunter in the center reminded me of one of my favorite ancient myths. Callisto, a beautiful nymph and servant to the goddess Diana, caught Zeus’s attention as she was resting in a grove. He transformed himself so as to look like Diana. He approached his object of desire imitating the gait and talk of this fair goddess. Diana’s nymphs had all sworn an oath of chastity, but Zeus could not be held back and and made love to Callisto.

Peter Paul Rubens: Jupiter and Callisto. Image via http://ovidsmetamorphoses.blogspot.de

She told none of her companions what had passed. One day, however, Diana called her nymphs to come bathe with her. It was a few months after Callisto’s encounter with Zeus. She tried to hide, but her goddess would not have it. The other girls gasped with shock when they realized she was pregnant. Diana was infuriated and sent her off.

Desperate and alone, Callisto roamed the woods. She delivered a son, Arcas. When Zeus’s wife Juno heard that her rival had given birth, she descended from the heavens full of rage. She dragged Callisto by the hair. She was pleading for mercy, but instead she saw that long black hair was growing all over her white skin. She was turned into a bear, but she still had the mind of a woman. She lived in perpetual fear in the woods and the fields, running from hounds and hunters. She even hid from wolves and bears, because she often forget she was now a wild beast herself.

When her son Arcas reached 15 years of age, he took to hunting the woods, like his mother had before her misfortune. His mother glimpsed him from far away and was overjoyed. She drew near in her eagerness to embrace her loved one who had been lost to her for so long. Arcas saw the bear come closer. But he did not recognize his mother and stepped back. He drew his spear and was about to plunge it into Callisto’s breast, when Zeus intervened at the last moment. He swept mother and son up into the skies and turned them into stars. We know these constellations by the names Ursa Maior and Ursa minor (Great Bear and Little Bear).

The Latin author Ovid created a beautiful version of this legend in his Metamorphoses. You can read a good translation here. There are many other great stories in Ovid’s book of poems. Zeus’ s affairs are numerous and the ladies always have to bear all the blame for Zeus’s bad performance as a husband. The only thing the father of the gods had to cope with was his nagging wife Juno. So much for his lucky ladies.

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Joseph Andrews

Book cover for the Dover Thrift edition.


This will be my first book review. I am writing these partly for fun, and partly to avoid forgetting the main outlines of my reads.

Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding might seem like a weird book to start with, because it’s not the most obvious fun pick. The thing is, it was A LOT of fun to read, even though it was an assignment. Fielding is hilarious as a writer. The whole book is kind of a sequel to his parody of Richardson’s Pamela,or Virtue Rewarded  (icky title…), which he called Shamela in an amazing streak of imagination.

Joseph Andrews, our hero, is not only a h-o-t hunk, he is also incredibly virtuous. He works as a manservant for Lord and Lady Booby. His looks attract some unwanted attention. First, the lady who waits on Lady Booby and goes by the flattering name of Slipslop tries to get him into bed in order to suffocate him with her loosely hanging breasts, but he valiantly resists. Unfortunately, Lady Booby cannot resist Joseph’s charms either after she has lost her husband. She lures him to her bed and tries to seduce him by almost showing her boobies – hence the name? Joseph manages to remain pure and save his chastity. Unfortunately, the lady is offended by his indifference and promptly discharges him.

Joseph now begins his journey to see his sweetheart Fanny (incidentally the most handsome creature any man ever laid eyes on). His distracted friend and mentor Parson Adams accompanies him. They meet a lot of people and live through various adventures on the road. They get shammed, robbed, and almost murdered and sent to prison. The book criticizes superficiality, wickedness, and corruption in people, but in a way that is always funny and hardly ever cynical. I also love the way the book mocks itself constantly. Some great examples are Fielding’s titles for some of the chapters: “VIII: Which some readers will think too short and others too long”, “VII. A scene of roasting, very nicely adapted to the present taste and times”, “IX. Containing as surprising and bloody adventures as can be found in this or perhaps any other authentic history.”

Enough said, it was a delightful read. I have to admit I only skimmed some of Paron Adam’s mock sermons, but found it enjoyable and very amusing on the whole. As a classic, it’s available in some low-price editions, like the Dover Thrift Editions.

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