The book titled The French Mathematician by Tom Petsinis is one of the best of its genre. It is not often that biographies are written in the form of fiction. The author, having adopted the form of novel for this work, captures the essence of the character of Evariste Galois, the brilliant young French Mathematician whose life was cut short at the tender age of 21. The author carries the extra burden of using a first person narrative in the novel, whereby his imagination tries to capture the psyche and style of Galois. Though literary license would smudge some of the facts about the subject, it succeeds in showcasing the essential qualities of Galois’ personality and achievements. For a project such as this, the lack of abundant primary resources can be an advantage. Contrary to confining the author with established facts about the subject and the backdrop, it releases the author to fill up the blanks using creative imagination. And Persinis uses his creative talent to not . . . Read More
Galileo Galilei was one of the most influential scientists of the modern era. His discovery and development of telescopes and his study of the cosmos revolutionized scientific understanding of the day. But his discoveries and inferences were disliked by the dominant religious institutions of his time, for they challenged the Christian theocratic view of the Universe and its origins. As a result, Galileo was subject to threat, coercion, torture and ultimately confinement for a significant portion of his later life. In some ways these controversial aspects of Galileo’s life have overshadowed his brilliant scientific discoveries.
Dana Sobels’ book titled Galileo’s Daughter: A Drama of Science, Faith and Love makes accessible to the reader key facts about the life of Galileo. The primary source material for the book is the compendium of letters written by Sister Maria Celeste, the eldest of Galileo’s daughters. The reciprocal letters sent by Galileo to . . . Read More
Charlemagne, translated into English as Charles the Great, was the King of the Franks, who expanded his empire to as further south as Italy. We learn from the two biographies that Charlemagne was instrumental in the spread of culture and arts to all corners of his kingdom. By closely associating himself with the Papacy, he helped spread the Christian message to much of Europe. As a result of his contributions in various fields, his reign was properly called the Carolingian Renaissance. The reader will be able to get a summation of his lifetime achievements as well as a sense of plebeian life in medieval Europe by reading through the two biographies in discussion.
The book Two Lives of Charlemagne contains two different biographies of Charlemagne, who ruled a large swathe of western Europe during the 8th and 9th century AD. The first version is titled ‘Life of Charles’ (original name Vita Caroli) and is written by Einhard. The second version is titled ‘Of . . . Read More
The Judeo-Christian religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have several common characteristics. All three of them originate from what is presently referred to as the Middle East and thus share a common cultural and geographic heritage. Islam being the most modern of the religions has derived some of its precepts from its immediate predecessor Christianity. The evidence for this assertion could be found in respective holy books The Koran and The Bible. It is in this context that we will be comparing the characters of Sulayman (Koran) and Solomon (Bible). Though the characters of Sulayman and Solomon are essentially the same, although there are a few factual inconsistencies between the two accounts. This paper will argue that the portrayal of Sulayman in the Holy Koran is more generous and reverential when compared to that of Holy Bible.
Before moving to the central points that support the thesis, a brief overview of the basic . . . Read More
Wild Seed is a novel written by Octavia Butler. It belongs to the science fiction genre and was published in 1980. The book belongs to what the author calls the Patternmaster series – a sequence of novels that expand or continue a common storyline. The book is set at a period when the peoples of the world are not yet completely civilized and people strongly believed in mysticism and magic. One of the protagonists of the story is Doro; and it is his telepathic and special powers that starts him off in a path of adventure. It first leads to an old lady called Anyanwu, whose age is stupendous by modern standards. As the lives of Doro and Anyanwu intertwine, their relationship goes through unexpected several ups and downs – all adding to the sense of thrill and suspense in the novel. At different points in the novel’s narrative, the two lead characters take up antagonistic positions toward each other. As the narrative builds up their mixed emotions of love and . . . Read More
It makes sense academically to measure the competency of Judge Dee with respect to his role as a high ranking Chinese official of the Tang period. What follows is an attempt to make an evaluation of Judge Dee from the eyes of an equally high ranking Chinese Censor of the same period. Here the author assumes the role of the censor and the following is the report generated by him on Judge Dee.
One aspect in which Judge Dee differs remarkably from modern day judges is the number of roles he takes up during the process of an investigation. Judge Dee is not only the final decision-maker on a case, but is also its investigator, under-cover detective, prosecutor and the jury. It is quite impressive how he wears these different hats with nonchalant ease and is also able to fulfill those roles adequately.
The stories were set in the era of the Tang Dynasty, during which time, the teaching and philosophy of Confucius was firmly established in administrative circles. It . . . Read More
The novel Family, written by Pa Chin in the early part of the twentieth century, is one of the most influential novels in modern Chinese Literature. Set in the early twentieth century China, the novel has for its backdrop the most eventful period in Chinese history. In retrospect, one could see the early signs of the impending Communist revolution in China by paying careful attention to the recurrent themes in the novel. While the novel focuses on interpersonal relationships within and without the members of the Kao family, it also carries a broader political significance. Historians and biographers alike have indicated that Pa Chin was a passionate advocate of anarchist political principles. While the novel Family does not directly propagate his political beliefs, a careful reading of it reveals to the reader the author’s personal perspective. Further, one could see the internal struggles of the Kao family as an allegory to the broader political and cultural questions . . . Read More
John Donne’s poem Death Be Not Proud is typical of the religious/metaphysical genre employed by the poet. All human beings have a lurking fear of death. As we get older, this fear increases and ultimately dominates our thoughts. But contrary to the negative connotations attached to the event of death, Donne presents to the readers an interesting alternative understanding of this all too common aspect of life. While on surface the poem seems to dismiss the threat and fear of death, reading between the lines one can see the religious implication. The other striking aspect of the poem is its archaic spelling and phrase usage. Since John Donne was a contemporary of Shakespeare, his verses carry elements of early-modern English usage. As for its stylistic elements, the poet follows conventional metrics of sonnets, with a total of 14 lines, which in turn is broken down into three stanzas of 4 lines each followed by a concluding couplet (Diyanni, 2007). Although the language might come . . . Read More
Both the Iliad and the Odyssey remain the oldest known literary works in Western Civilization. Written around eighth century B.C. the Iliad is an epic poem totaling 16000 lines. Its central theme is warfare in ancient Greece, especially those waged by King Agememnon and his rivals. It also has several references to the Trojan War. This work is commonly attributed to the poet Homer, although there is no conclusive evidence toward this end. The other major work attributed to Homer is the Odyssey which followed the Iliad and is considered to be its sequel. Composed in the dactylic hexameter poetic style, this too is a lengthy poem, stretching to 12,110 lines. The plot of Odyssey is centered on Greek war hero Odysseus and his beautiful wife Penelope.
Although both these masterpieces of Western literature were written in pre-Christian times when the written tradition was still in its infancy, they still remain relevant today. Events such as war, love, betrayal, . . . Read More
The two works of literature discussed in this essay have several similarities in their underlying themes and narratives. The Street Car Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947, was not only well received by critics, but also adapted into several stage productions. The post Second World War period in which the play is set was a period of rapid social transformation. The United States had emerged as one of two superpowers and there is unprecedented growth in the manufacturing industry. This alters the conventional equations of power between men and women, cities and country sides, northern states and southern states, etc. It is in this shifting and evolving milieu that the lives of Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois cross paths, which ultimately leads to much interpersonal turmoil. Similarly, the novel ‘The Reader’ written by Bernhard Schlink is a work of high literary standard. The movie version too got several nominations in the Academy Awards. The . . . Read More