Nobel Prize For Literature – 2021

The Nobel prize ceremony is literature’s greatest show of the year and the jury ensures that only the best make it to the podium. Each year, the literature community is abuzz with speculations regarding the potential winner. The wait came to an end on Thursday when this year’s victor was declared.

About the Prize

The Nobel Prizes, which have been awarded since 1901, recognise achievement in literature, science and peace. As stated by Alfred Nobel in his will, the Nobel Prize in Literature is given to “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” The 18-member Swedish Academy selects the Nobel Laureates in Literature. Nominations come from members of the Academy, members of literature academies and societies, professors of literature and language, former Nobel literature laureates, and the presidents of writers’ organisations. However, it is against the rules to nominate oneself.

Winner of 2021

Abdulrazak Gurnah was preparing a cup of tea in the kitchen of his Canterbury home on Thursday when he received the auspicious call, telling him that he had won the most esteemed prize in the field of Literature. He admitted, that he didn’t have the slightest idea that he was being considered for the award.

A novelist and academic based in the United Kingdom, Gurnah was bestowed with the Nobel Prize for his eminent contributions to literature. In the words of the academy, the prize motivation was “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”            

About the winner

Born in Zanzibar in 1948, Gurnah was displaced from his country and was forced to take refuge in Britain as a young teenager. His books pronouncedly detail the struggles of refugees who sought asylum in other countries. In the 1960s, the Arab Muslims fled Zanzibar to shield themselves from the oppressive regimes that persecuted their community. After reaching England, Gurnah found solace in writing which helped him cope with the loss of his home. He soon became a member of the faculty, at the University of Kent, following the completion of his studies in Canterbury. Gurnah proceeded to have an illustrious career in both academics and writing. The settings in his stories are diverse, ranging from East Africa under German colonialism to modern-day England. Many of Gurnah’s characters deal with the dilemma of leaving their old lives behind and prepare for the life to come, finding themselves in a gulf between cultures while confronting racism and prejudice. He has authored ten novels, throughout his life with three of them featuring in the Man Booker shortlists — “Memory of Departure,” “Pilgrims Way,” “Paradise”. The novels have left a profound impact all across the world, by highlighting the issues of migration, focusing mainly on uprooted people and the places they make their new homes. His work’s relevance has increased even more now, as the world witnesses the large-scale displacement of the Afghan natives.

Past Winners

Past winners have included novelists such as Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Toni Morrison, poets such as Pablo Neruda, Joseph Brodsky and Rabindranath Tagore, and playwrights including Harold Pinter and Eugene O’Neill.

Oscar Wilde – A Short Biography

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After experimenting with different forms, he became one of the most accomplished playwrights in London in the early 1890s. It is quite difficult to encapsulate Wilde’s brilliance in a few short sentences as there is no dearth of literary accomplishments when it comes to him. In his lifetime, he carved a niche for himself churning out several, critically acclaimed masterpieces, the relevance of which are even profound to this day. He went on to make eminent contributions during the aesthetic and decadent movement, making him one of the most prolific writers of his era.

Early life 

Oscar Wilde was born to an Anglo – Irish couple in Dublin, Ireland on October 16, 1856. He had two siblings, an older brother named Willie, and a sister, Isola, who unfortunately died at the age of 10. Wilde’s mother, identified as an Irish nationalist and wrote under the alias, Speranza. She attracted many other intellectuals and artists who frequented her place. The seeds of art, culture and literature were sown in the Wilde kids’ lives quite early on. They learnt to appreciate scholarly conversations by mingling with the guests. Wilde’s childhood left a lasting impression on his life.

Till the age of nine, Wilde was homeschooled. He joined his brother later on at the Portora Royal School. His peers were awed by his disposition, while many considered him a prodigy for his speed reading abilities. 

Contributions to Literature

Wilde is most fondly remembered for the iconic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. He found great fame and fortune after releasing three very successful comedies-  Lady Windermere’s Fan, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Ernest. Also, he authored critical essays like Intentions (1891), and his long letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, De Profundis, several fairy tales and various proses. Later on, he diversified into shorter tales, publishing works like The Happy Prince and Other Tales. In 1891 he published two more collections, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories, and A House of Pomegranates. Wilde poured his unmatched wit and dazzling flamboyance into his stories which made his work incredibly engaging for the readers. His illustrious career made him a Victorian celebrity. 

Trial and Conviction 

Wilde’s life was riddled with problems as well as scandals. Although he was married and had two children, he led a double life by being a frequent visitor of male brothels. Homosexuality was a crime in the United Kingdom until the 1960s and the punishment meted out, if convicted, was severe. Lord Alfred Douglas and Oscar Wilde began an affair in secret. Douglas was a British poet and aristocrat, and also 16 years his junior. The romantic tryst was eventually uncovered and Douglas’ father put forth a public accusation by calling Wilde a ‘sodomite’. Wilde sued him for libel, subsequently lost and was found guilty of gross indecency arising from indulgence in homosexuality. Soon he was rounded up and sent to prison, where he spent two very difficult years. He first arrived at Newgate Prison in London and was later shifted to Pentonville Prison. The court had sentenced him to hard labour, which comprised of picking oakum and several hours of walking on the treadmill. After a few months, he was again moved to a different prison where the grueling conditions started taking a toll on his fragile health. On one such day, he collapsed from illness and hunger. The fall ruptured his ear drum, which played a major role in his eventual death.

Later Years 

Following his imprisonment, Wilde was shunned by society and left bankrupt. His immaculate public image was tarnished after the invasive court trials. He spent his last years in Europe, strolling in boulevards and drowning in his miseries. The little money he had was spent on alcohol. Wilde soon died of cerebral meningitis which stemmed majorly from his prison injury, leaving behind a rich legacy. He is a celebrated figure even today.

The Stranger by Albert Camus – A critical commentary

“My mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.”

The Stranger , Albert Camus

Albert Camus lures his readers in like a moth to a flame with his powerful diction, giving the reader a fair idea of the whirlwind of emotions they will be descending into. In this masterpiece, Camus puts forth the absurdity of life through the eyes of Meursault, a peculiar shipping clerk residing in French Algiers. It doesn’t shy away from exploring difficult themes of death, dissociation, and sociopathy 

Part 1 

L’Étranger introduces us to Meursault, a man bearing an astonishingly apathetic worldview that is completely detached from society. We witness this when the protagonist doesn’t display any signs of mourning throughout his mother’s funeral instead, maintaining a stolidly indifferent demeanour while smoking a cigarette. This outlandish attitude is met with contempt and hatred from others.

Meursault is merely a spectator of the events around him, leading a life devoid of meaning and emotions. Through this narrative we examine his perceived alienation, relating it with how he is a stranger to the norms of society. 

Throughout this narrative, Meursault conducts himself absurdly and often immorally, not putting much effort to assimilate into the world around him. His indifference is mainly pointed towards women which are affirmed through many instances. He comfortably turns a blind eye to his friend’s ex-girlfriend who was brutally beaten, his loveless relationship with his girlfriend which he pursued mainly for physical gratification and finally his refusal to mourn over his mother. 

The scorching Algerian sun is revealed to have some form of unusual hold over the protagonist that brings to the surface his irrationality.

Often calling the sun ‘oppressive’ and ‘inhuman’, it can be seen how the heat disorients him. The force of the sun eventually makes him commit murder. 

Part 2 

As the murder trial proceeded, the jury was aghast seeing Meursault’s utter lack of remorse for his actions and his disregard for human life. He talked about death in a frigid manner with his jailer, emphasising that death is an inevitable phenomenon. In his words, “I wasn’t unaware of the fact that it doesn’t matter very much whether you die at thirty or at seventy since, in case, other men and women will naturally go on living, for thousands of years even. Nothing was plainer, in fact. It was still only me who was dying, whether it was now or in twenty years’ time. “

Although after he is sentenced to death we see a paradigm shift in this attitude. The readers witness his cold exterior shattering when he realises that his time had come to an end. He is angry at the unfairness of the world, reproaching how he, a simplistic man with such little needs, is unfairly condemned to death. This rage-filled outburst is followed by passivity. While being isolated in a jail cell he is made aware of how he had isolated himself from the world. Upon a priest’s visit before his execution, Meursault’s aversion to religion is disclosed. He found no sense in religion but didn’t outrightly reject it either, believing that the world would descend into chaos without the principles of religion. After letting the priest know that he would rather not waste his last moments praying, he spent his time reflecting on his actions instead and contemplating the worthlessness of life. A newer, more intellectual Meursault was born, quite ironically, only mere moments before his death. He wished to break free from the alienation and hoped that his execution would attract a huge crowd.

Eventually coming to terms with his impending death, he concluded that he doesn’t regret anything and is ready to live his life all over again. 

Conclusion 

Leading a life sans personal values, morals kept Meursault satisfied. He went through his life without truly living. He questioned the purpose of life, declined the societal conventions and still managed to emerge happy, proving himself to the readers as an existentialist anti-hero.

To Read List (Sci-fi)

“Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all gravities of terrestrial life.”

-H.g Wells
See the source image

Introduction

Sci-fi is perhaps one of the coolest literary genre, that is widely read. Scientific fiction encompasses the vast abyss of human imagination that manifests itself in an astounding blend of creativity and literature. Sci-fi stories have a wide variety of themes, they can be based on absolute facts or be a figment of someone’s imagination as well. Fictitious sci-fi stories can include aliens, a world based in space, time travel, strange inventions and weird creatures as well.

Sci-fi might be hard or soft. Hard sci-fi is based on the real world with less novel elements. Soft sci-fi, however, includes far fetched scientific technology.

Sci-fi requires ingenuity on part of writers and proper assimilation of the readers part. Sci-fi is probably one of the most interesting of the genera of the great literary canyon.

Curated below is a list of 4 interesting Sci-fi books that you can check out.

1. The Time Machine

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H.G Wells, renowned as ‘The Father of Sci-fi’, wrote ‘The Time Machine’, in 1895. In this extremely enthralling book, the protagonist goes on a time safari 800,000 years beyond his time. He is transported to an era of devastation and utter destruction of Earth, there he discovers two strange races ,the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks that manifest the terrifying future occupants of the planet and describe the dying humane in humanity.

An absolutely enthralling read, that has gripped readers throughout years.

2. Snow Crash

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Neal Stephenson’s, ‘Snow Crash’, is a riveting book that describes the parallel life of Hiro Protagonist in the real world and the Metaverse. Delivering pizzas for  Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc. in the ordinary world, a warrior prince in the Metaverse. The story takes pace as he crusades through a volley of mysterious computer viruses. He strives to prevent utter destruction by bringing down the ultimate virtual villains.

The story meanders through technical know how of computers and is an absolutely thrilling read.

3. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

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Christopher Paolini’s, ‘ To Sleep in a Sea of Stars ‘, revolves around Kira Navárez, who dreams of life beyond the scape of Earth, in new unchartered worlds. When during a survey mission on a planet, Kira stumbles across an alien relic, although thrilled at first, Kira soon comes to dread her discovery as the ancient relic begins to move around her.

With Earth in great jeopardy and a war brimming amongst the stars, Kira experiences a life altering journey. With her being the ultimate hope, Kira must brave against all odds and delve into the expanse of the universe to bring about order.

4. Cinder

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Marissa Meyer’s, ‘Cinder’, is a riveting tale of a girl Lihn Cinder, a mechanic in New Beijing, the capital of the Eastern Commonwealth, s, who is a cyborg i.e. she is half mechanical, has prosthetic limbs and a complex wiring of internal organs. New Beijing is a place that faces consistent scourge of plagues. In this retelling of Cinderella, humans and androids coexist. When the heir to the throne of the Commonwealth, Prince Kai requires Kai’s help to fix his android, their lives take a thrilling turn. With her mysterious past and a strange Lunar people waiting for ambush from the space, Cinder must traverse through several trials to save the fate of her people and perhaps even the entire world.

A sci-fi twist to the classic Cinderella.

LITERATURE AND LANGUAGE OF NORTHERN INDIA

The languages were evolved at two levels namely the spoken and the written language. The old Brahmi script of Ashoka has uneven letter size by the period of Harsha, the size of letters become even and regular. By comparing the scripts of Hindi, Gujarati, and Punjabi, we can easily discover the changes of how they slowly developed over a long period. About 200 languages are prevailing for spoken languages in India. But some of the languages are spoken in only particular regions. Out of these only 22 languages have been recognized by our constitution. Hindi is spoken by different people in different forms. Rajasthani, which is a language spoken in Rajasthan is another variant of Hindi. This classification is based on the literature written by several poets over years. The Hindi that is spoken now is called Khadi Boli. In the 13th century, Khusrau has used Khadi Bholi in his compositions. But the extensive use of Hindi has started in the 19th century and also it shows some influences of Urdu.

PERSIAN AND URDU:

By the end of the 14th century AD, Urdu emerged as an independent language. By the existence of Turks and Mongols in India, Arabic and Persian were introduced. Urdu was served as an interaction between Hindi and Persian since Persian served as a court language for many centuries. After the conquest of Delhi (1192), the Turkish people acquired this region and slowly Urdu has become a formal language. As time passes, many people around Hindi started speaking Urdu. It became more popular in the early 18th century. Poetry in Urdu is also written by some Mughal emperors.

Khusrau(1253-325) is the earliest known Urdu poet. He was a follower of Nizam ud-din Auliya and he was a poet in the court of Sultan Balban. About 99 works have been completed by him. Laila Majnun and Ayina- I-Sikandari dedicated to Alau-din-Khalji was the most popular works written by him. Ghalib, Zauq, and Iqbal were the other well-known poets in that period. Iqbal’s “SareJahann se achcha Hindostan Hamara” is sung in many national celebrations of India. The Nawabs of Lucknow patronized the Urdu language and slowly it reached its height and now it has been adopted by the Pakistanis as their state language.

Most of the literature was written in Persian since Persian was the language of court during that period. Amir Khusrau and Amir Hasan Dehelvi wrote poetries in Persian. The account of kings, important political events, and incidents during that period was written in Persian by the historians like Minhas-us-Siraj and Zia Barani, and Ibn Batuta. The tuzuk(autobiography) of Babar is originally written in Turkish by him. But later it was translated to Persian by his grandson Akbar. He patronized many scholars and got Mahabharata translated to Persian. Another unique piece of literature in Persian is Jahangir’s autobiography (Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri). The history of Akbar is dealt in it. Abul Fazl’s Akbarnamah and Ain-e-Akbari. Another good piece of poetry was written by Faizi. The Shahjahan’s days were written by Chandra Bhan. By the 20th century, Iqbal wrote some good poetry. All of these have become a part of Indian culture.

HINDI LANGUAGE:

During this time, there was growth in many regional languages like Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Marathi, and Gujarati. The 1st book in Hindi was Prithviraj Raso. It dealt with the exploits of Prithviraj Chauhan. The language has undergone several changes as the area where it was originally spoken expands. Many Hindi writers had looked to Sanskrit classics for guidance while writing literature. Due to the influence of the Bhakti movement in southern India, many poetries and prose written in Hindi were affected. Between the 7th and 8th centuries AD, the Hindi language has evolved during the Apabhramsa stage. This was characterized as Veergatha Kala (early period). Many Rajput rulers have patronized the poetry written in this period. Kabir and Tulsidas were the famous figures of this period. Surdas wrote Sur Sagar in which he talks about Lord Krishna as an infant. The festivals of Rama and Krishna are still celebrated grandly. Another important poet in this period was Nandadasa. Rahim and Bhushan wrote spiritual stories. In the 17th century, Bihari wrote Satsai which talks about shringar(love).   

Many writers have contributed to the development of modern Indian literature over the last 150 years. And in 1913, Rabindranath Tagore Tagore became the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for literature (Geetanjali). Hindi prose came into its own during the 19th century. Bharatendu Harishchandra and Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi translated the works in Hindi from Sanskrit and other languages. Vande Mataram, a patriotic song in Sanskrit was composed by Bankim Chandra Chatterji (l 838-94). IT was later translated to Hindi and became very popular. Swami Dayananda has also contributed to the growth of the Hindi language. His SatyarthaPrakash was the important literature. Mahadevi Verma was awarded Padma Vibhushanis the first woman writer in Hindi to highlight issues related to women. Maithili Sharan Gupt is another important name. Jaishankar Prasad wrote beautiful dramas.

HINDI LANGUAGE MAKES PROGRESS IN MODERN PERIOD:

By the end of the 18th century, the development of modern language was started. The main writers of this period were Sadasukh Lal, Inshallah Khan, and Bhartendu Harishchandra. Shakuntala is translated to Hindi by Raja Lakshman Singh. Many proses of Hindi literature were written by Bhartendu Harish Chandra, Mahavira Prasad Dwivedi, Ramchandra Shukla, and Shyam Sunder Das. A great contribution to the development of Hindi poetry was given by many poets like Jai Shanker Prasad, Maithalisharan Gupta, Sumitranandan Pant, Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’, Mahadevi Verma, Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ and Haribans Rai ‘Bacchan’ made a great contribution to the development of Hindi poetry. Prem Chand, Vrindavan Lal Verma, and Ellachandra Joshi were great novel writers of Hindi. 

LITERATURES OF SOUTH INDIA

LITERATURE

     Literatures is a piece of writings that are valued as a word of art. The literature works maybe novels, plays, or poems, fiction or non-fiction that have long-lasting importance. It is also known as the preserved writings of a certain language or people. It is used to describe anything from the creative works including any technical works, scientific works. Fictional literature includes plays, poems, short stories, and songs. The non-fictional literature includes biographies, autobiographies, essays, newspapers, journals, essays, and diaries. The four Dravidian languages in India had developed their works of literature. These Dravidian languages are Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada.

TAMIL LITERATURE

     Tamil, being the oldest language among these developed the Sangam literature. Sangama literature is the oldest literature in Tamil. Tamil as a written language came into light during the Christian era. The literature of the Tamil language was compiled together in 600 AD. The poets in the assemblies who helped in gathering the Sangam literature over 3 to 4 centuries were patronized by the kings and chieftains. Poets from various parts of south India gathered in Madurai and these assemblies are known as sangams and the literature produced in these assemblies is known as “Sangama literature”. The Sangam literature was the collection of poems and songs written by different poets praising the heroes and heroines. This literature was unique and high in quality. Three sangams were held. The literature collected in the first Sangam was lost. About 2000 poems with more than 30000 lines of poetry have been found in the second Sangam.

     There were two main groups. They are Pathinenkilkanaku and Pathinenmelkanaku. The eight anthologies named Ettuthogai and the ten songs named Patthupaatu come under Pathinenmelkanaku. Pathinenkilkanaku has eighteen works about ethics and morals. The most important work among these is Thirukural written by Tiruvalluvar. Thirukural is divided into three parts. The first part deals with epics, the second part deals with polity and government, and the last part deals with love. Besides this Sangam literature, there is a work named Tholkaapiam which deals with grammar and poetry. Around the 6th century, there were two famous epics namely Silapathikkaram and Manimegalai. During the 6th to 12th century, Tamil devotional poems written by Alwars and Nayanmaars impacts the Bhakti movement. Kambaramayanam and Periya puraanam were two literaaly classic works.

TELUGU LITERATURE

     The golden age of Telugu literature was the Vijayanagara period. Uttaraharivamsam, a literary work was produced by the court poet, Nachana Somanatha. Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529), wrote an excellent prabandha named Amukta Malyada. Ashtadiggajas, eight Telugu literature were popular works in his court. Among them, literature named Manucharitram, by Allasani Peddana was the greatest. He was known as Andhra kavitapitamaha. Some of the author’s and their literature in Telugu are listed below:

  • Dhurjati – Kalahasteeswara Mahatmayam and Kalahasteeswara Satakam
  • Pingali Surana – Raghavapandaviyam and Kalapuranodayam
  • Ramakrishna – Panduranga Mahatmayam
  • Ramarajabhushana – Vasucharitram, Narasabhupaliyam and Harishchandra Nalopakhyanam.
  • Madayagari Mallana – Rajashekharacharitra
  • Ayyalaraju Ramabhadra – Ramabhyudayam and Sakalakathasara Sangraham.

KANNADA LITERATURE

       Apart from Telugu, Vijayanagaras’s extended their patronage over Kannada and Sanskrit writers. Kannada literature was contributed by many Jain scholars. After the 10th century AD, the Kannada language was developed. The Kannada literatures in this period are Dharmanathapurana by Madhava, Dharma Parikshe by Uritta Vilasa, Kavirajamang by Rashtrakuta king, Nripatunga Amoghavarsha, Adi Purana and Vïkramarjiva Vijaya by Pampa, Shanti Purana by Ponna, and Ajitanatha Purano by Ranna. The title of Ratnatraya was given to Pampa, Ponna, and Ranna.

       During the 13th century, many literary works were developed in Kannada. Some of them are Harishchandra Kavya and Somanatha Charita by Harishvara, Harivamshabhyudaya and Jiva Sambodhana by Bandhuvarma, Jagannathavijaya by Rudra Bhata, Madana Vijaya by Andayya, and Suktisudharnava by Mallikarjuna. The first Rama Katha in Kannada composed based on Valmiki’s Ramayana named Tarave Ramayana was written by Narahari. Sarvajna’s aphoristic tripadi (three-lined) compositions serve as a source of wisdom and ethics. Honnamma was the first outstanding poetess in Kannada. She wrote Hadibadeya Dharma (Duty of a Devout Wife).

MALAYALAM LITERATURE

       The people of Kerala and the surrounded areas speak Malayalam. The language of Malayalam emerged in the 11th century AD and become an independent language in the 15th century. A commentary on Arthashastra and Kokasandisan are two great works written by Bhasa Kautilya. Rama Panikkar and Ramanuj were two great authors of Kannada literature. Malayalam has a powerful form of expression even though it has emerged lately. People always enjoy writing in their mother tongue. Nowadays, many newspapers and magazines are published in the magazine.

5 Classic Reads with a Female Protagonist

For a long time, the main protagonist in a book was a male. As reflected in the patriarchal values of times long gone, women were relegated to either secondary background roles or as love interest or a role relative to the male lead. Gradually, as the times began to change, more and more authors started giving female characters the spotlight too, until literature finally breached the gender divide with the inclusion of women protagonists. Particularly, books with young female leads and their experiences became popular.

Here are 5 classic stories with a young female protagonist you must read:

The Anne of Green Gables series

The Anne of Green Gables series

Ever since its first published book (Anne of Green Gables), the Anne of Green Gables series has been considered a popular classic, with the titular character Anne Shirley becoming one of the most popular female protagonists in literary history. The Anne of Green Gables series is written by the Canadian author Lucy Mond Montgomery (published as L.M. Montgomery). The series follows the story of Anne Shirley, an orphan taken in by middle-aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The series follows her life and experiences with others as she grows up.

A Little Princess

A Little Princess

A Little Princess is another popular classic, and has a high-ranking book in a number of surveys. It is written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a popular children’s writer A Little Princess follows the story of young Sara Crewe, a kind young girl sent to a lavish boarding school. The death of her father sees her fall into poverty and being treated horribly by the headmistress and her peers. Yet, Sara does not lose her kind and generous personality. A Little Princess is, at its heart, a story about staying strong in the face of adversity.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, commonly known as the Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic literature pieces to come from the United States of America. The Wizard of Oz is written by Frank L. Baum, who went on to become one of the United States’ prolific children’s book writers with his Wizard of Oz series. The story follows Dorothy, who along with her dog Toto get caught up in a cyclone which transports them to a mysterious and magical land called Oz. Dorothy and Toto, along with their new allies, a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman and a Cowardly Lion embark on a journey to find the powerful Wizard of Oz, the only one who can solve their problems.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm is written by Kate Douglas Wiggins, an American author for children. The story follows Rebecca Randall, who is sent to live with her mother’s sisters at their farm. The story follows her experiences with them and her journey from a child to a young lady, gaining knowledge and wisdom along the way.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland requires no introduction. Though primarily made for children, its story appeals to adults to, even in this age. It is one of the world’s most popular stories and has been adapted multiple times in different formats. It follows the story of Alice, a young girl who follows a mysterious rabbit down a rabbit-hole to a magical fantasy world and follows her adventures there.

Enid Blyton’s Best Series

When English children’s literature is discussed, the name Enid Blyton is bound to be brought up sooner or later. Enid Blyton was a British author who is known worldwide for her books targeted towards children. Even today, decades after her death, her books can still be found in the children’s section of libraries across the world even today. Out of the numerous books she’s written, she is most famed for her series. They span various genres like fantasy, boarding school slice of life as well as mysteries.

Out of Enid Blyton’s book series, these are her most popular five ones:

The Famous Five series

The Famous Five series

The Famous Five is centered around siblings Julian, Dick, Anne and their cousin Georgina and her dog Timothy. The series is set during their school vacations and follows various adventures the Five experience in the English countryside.

The St. Clare’s series

The St. Clare’s series

The St. Clare’s series is the second school boarding school-based series written by Enid Blyton after the Naughtiest Girl series. The story follows two twin girls- Patricia and Isabel O’Sullivan and their journey as well as the journey of their friends and schoolmates at the boarding school of St. Clare’s. The series sees their growth from conceited and arrogant girls to dignified and kind young women. While the original series contained only 6 books, author Pamela Cox, who was responsible for continuing Enid Blyton’s unfinished works after her death, added 3 more titles to the series.

The Secret Seven series

The Secret Seven series

The Secret Seven series follows the adventures of a group of seven children- Peter, his sister Janet, and their friends Pam, Barbara, Jack, Colin and George. The friends form a secret group, which they call the Secret Seven and solve mysteries together. The Secret Seven is one of Enid Blyton’s rare series in which the characters do not attend boarding school; all seven of the children are shown to be attending day school. Coincidentally, the Secret Seven group is based on a real group of friends. Enid Blyton’s publisher’s son Peter and his friends had a ‘secret’ group of their own; they even possessed badges with the inscription of ‘SS’ on them. Enid Blyton exchanged correspondence with this Peter and through his help laid the foundation of the Secret Seven. In 2018 and 2019, two new books, written by author Pamela Butchart were officially added to the Secret Seven series.

The Malory Towers series

The Malory Towers series

The Malory Towers series is Enid Blyton’s third school boarding school series. It follows the story of Darrell Rivers over her years spent at the boarding school of Malory Towers. The original series written by Enid Blyton consists of 6 books. In the year 2009, there was an official continuation to the series. Written by Pamela Cox, the books were a continuation of Darrell’s younger sister, Felicity’s life at Malory Towers.

The Five Find-Outers series

The Five Find-Outers series

The Five Find-Outers series is another children-based detective series by Enid Blyton. It follows the adventures of Fatty, Larry, Pip, Daisy, Bets and Fatty’s dog Buster and the various mysteries they get entangled in and trying to solve it before the local policeman Mr. Goon.

PEN AND PANDEMIC

Literature acts as a powerful tool for capturing moments. Its influence is visible from the very beginning of the human civilisation. Experiences of a particular time period can be restored mentally by the reading/rereading of a text. It also has the ability to create a new world filled with fantasy. Literary works produced in different genres are uncountable and the various methods used by the authors in different contexts help readers to connect with the social- political- economical- cultural scenarios of the time. In history how do we understand that one led to the other? How can we be certain that one was the cause and the other was an effect?  The historian links these two facts and provides a narrative where we can see the cause – effect sequence. Therefore we can know history only in the form of narrative or texts.

Texts are necessary to understand social contexts. These texts are literature. Literary texts not only reflect an age’s themes and contexts, it shapes those contexts by persuading people to accept particular believes and opinions. We can’t separate literature as an effect of historical or social contexts but have to see literature as contributing to informing, influencing and participating actively in the construction of those contexts.

Behind every illness there is a mystery; literature discuss about mysteries. Literary perspective of Pandemic become more important because it shows how disease, death, sex are affecting humans and society, socially mentally and culturally. It is also important that by recording pandemics, literature tries to show pandemic in a literary discourse rather than in a medical discourse. Pandemics in literary discourses help the common people to understand the context. Many authors used pandemic as a narrative device to showcase the effect of diseases and deaths in the lives of creatures, mainly humans. Pandemics have been fictionalised by some writers, but the advancement of science has increased the knowledge of illness by creating an understanding that truth or reality is stranger than fiction.

Pandemics are nothing new in the path of human history and pandemic literature helps to contextualise real incidents. It mirrors people’s fears about disease and societal collapse, but it simultaneously shows that survival is possible and that rebuilding ourselves into something new is not only necessary but inevitable. A story about a pandemic is rarely about the disease itself and as a genre pandemic literature focuses more on sociology, psychology and human behavior. There is a long history of authors writing about and writing in times of pandemics. Human beings have indeed for a very long time experienced pandemics (experiencing) and they have written about it.  Concept of universal fear questions the notion that humans are not in control.

At the beginning of Susan Sontag’s classic text, Illness as Metaphor, she writes, “Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.” According to commonly accepted psychological theories of illness, the sick bear ultimate responsibility for both being sick and getting well. A reading of Susan Sontag’s text says that isolation is a mode of oppression. They are being constantly watched and controlled by the ‘kingdom of well’. People who are trapped in the ‘kingdom of sick’ are treated as mere biological bodies which contain infection instead of ‘normal’ human beings. Medical gazes would follow them until they reach in the ‘kingdom of well’.  Till the mid 19th century modern epidemiology was hardly in action. For most of the time people were confused about the origin and center of diseases and it’s spread. So early examples of pandemic literature focuses more on what people do during the pandemic, with a touch of moralising trend of that period.

The pandemic reached us in an unforeseen way and we’re going through a huge, collective transition. Historically distant texts felt urgent and real, with quarantines, stay-at-home orders, critical staff, and rule breakers. We started to understand the ability of literature to convey something new about the shared experience, something that was not possible to communicate through clear reporting. Perhaps it’s a stretch to say that our answer to COVID-19 gave us knowledge and experience, but we discovered dimensions of our existence that were unmistakably familiar as we entered the foreign worlds of epidemics through history.

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard


Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard was published in 1751. Thomas Gray began writing this poem in 1742 shortly after the death of his close friend Richard West. This Elegy is noteworthy that it mourns the death not of great or famous people but of common men. It’s Gray’s masterpiece and it’s emotional and philosophical at the same time. The beauty of the poem lies in simplicity. Poet brings out the ultimate truth about life and death.
THEMES OF ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD
 UNIVERSALITY OF DEATH: The central focus of Gray’s elegy is the inevitability of death and how people from different social class are remembered. In this elegy Gray meditates on death as it relates to the rustic commoners who populate the village and the country churchyard. Gray’s opening salvo in this contrast between two vast social classes emphasizes death’s universality; just as the poor and the common people are subjected to death, the paths of the rich and glory lead to grave as well. Death is the ultimate which is blind to mankind’s social class and destruction.
 SOCIAL CLASS AND VALUE: Gray’s meditation on how the wealth and the poor are remembered allows him to explore social class and value. The poem suggests that an individual’s value should not be tied to social class. The poem asks whether the rich and the powerful can be brought back to life by “storied urn” or “animated bust” any more effectively than the poor whose graves are marked by “no trophies”.
 IMPORTANCE OF LOVE: Despite their humble lives the dead enjoyed simple pleasures in life. One of these is the love of their families and friends. A clear image of children greeting his father when he came home from the fields is shown. The lively picture of family is full of joy. Gray identifies family and friends both simple pleasures as the greatest joy in life
 THE QUALITY OF MORTALITY: Within the odes and elegies of gray we find him questioning towards the very concept of morality and what it really means to say when one exists.

Journey of the Magi

Journey of the Magi

Journey of the Magi is a poem by Thomas Stearns Eliot. This is an allegorical poem and it speaks more generally about pains of letting go of the one way of life, faith and acknowledging the birth of another. T. S Eliot is an American born British Poet known as the leader of modernist movement in poetry.
The Journey of the Magi is an allegorical dramatic monologue as it inhibits the voice of one of the Magi. The theme of this poem is Journey. It is a religious poem and also a mystic poem. The first stanza speaks about the types of trials difficulties faced by the travellers. It was freezing cold and they travelled at the worst time of the year, and it took ages. The path were difficult and the weather was horrible and it was a brutal winter. Camels were in pain and unwilling to go on. They lay down in the snow. The Magi missed their old days, the summer places on slopes, the terraces and the silken girls bringing drinks to them. The camel drivers were cursing and grumbling and some ran away wanting their liquor and women. The villages they went were filthy and lodging was expensive. They decided to travel throughout the night and sleep when they could.. They heard their voices saying all this was folly.
The second stanza is about The Recovery of Faith. One morning the Magi arrived at a pleasant valley. It was damp but not snowy and full of plant life. There was a stream and a watermill beating the darkness, and three trees on low sky. They saw a white house in a nearby medeow. Then they came there to a tavern with nine leaves over the lintel. Six hands at an open door were dicing for pieces of silver, none of them gave any useful information, so they continued along their way. That evening they finally got to Bethlehem. It was wellsatisfactory. The final stanza speaks about acknowledging the birth. Jesus’s birth didn’t feel like a positive development, but something full of pain like it represented their own death. After returning to their place they felt like they did not belong there anymore, in the old ways. Their people seemed foreign to them, with their false idols. He says that he would be happy to encounter another death..

VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE: BOOK REVIEW

“Veronika Decides to Die” gives you an impression the book is depressing, right? I can assure you it isn’t.

Paulo Coelho, the best selling Brazillian author brings another beautifully woven story. It is bound to make you sad and leave you happy by the end. The story does begin with a depressing tone but takes a twist no one expects.


The story revolves around a 24- year-old girl, Veronika. Veronika lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia and has everything one asks for in life. She is beautiful, has loving parents, a lover and a job. But a feeling of fear that everything will go downhill for her after 24 takes over her mind. So, one evening she sits near her window with a bottle of painkillers. As she starts talking one pill at a time, she takes a look at all the things outside which she sees every day. Slowly, she started getting sleepy but death had not yet come.


The plan to kill herself fails and she woke up to find herself in a mental hospital, Villette. The doctor tells her that her attempt at suicide had failed and her heart had taken the toll of it. She finds out that she has a week only to live. Her world had taken an unexpected turn.


Coelho then goes on to explain how he came to know about Veronika’s story. He relates to her story because his parents also admitted him into a mental institution for his “unusual behaviour”. But Coelho appears in the story for a brief moment only.


Coming back to Veronika, shocked and resistant to live in Villette she tries to find a way out of there. But she fails at this too. Reluctantly she becomes friend with Mari, who suffers from panic attacks. Later she claims that she might have fallen in love with Eduard, a schizophrenic. Somehow she slowly gave in and accepted her reality. She decided to live the last few days of her life to the fullest.


Dr Igor, one of the main characters of the stories gives Veronika series of shocks to test his medical theory. He wants to prove through his experiment that he can shock someone into wanting to live again by convincing them that their death is around the corner. That is exactly what he did with Veronika.


Veronika finds herself on a journey to discover herself before she dies. She rediscovers her passion for piano. She played the piano every evening that lifted the spirits of many at Villette. She suffered a heart-attacks throughout the week, she found her desire to live again.


Coelho, makes you rethink your decisions and your routines. Just like all his other books, this book also successfully connects with its readers. Like Veronika, all of us have had moments in our life where we thought the only way out is to die. Paulo gives his readers a new hope to live. You will reevaluate your reasons to continue living. He leaves a hidden message that there a number of reasons in this world to live and suicide is not an option. A moment can change your life.


I recommend this book to everyone especially the people who have been suicidal some time in life. Veronika decides to Die is not a long read. The stories winds up in around 200 pages. By the end of the book, it will leave its readers happy to be alive. Paulo focuses on the fact that even the slightest of change in perspective can make a broken person stronger.