APEX HIDES THE CUT

Apex Hides the Hurt is a 2006 novel by American author Colson Whitehead. The novel follows an unnamed nomenclature consultant who is asked to visit the town of Winthrop, which, rather conveniently for the nomenclature consultant, is considering changing its name. During his visit, the main character is introduced to several citizens attempting to persuade him in favor of their preferred name for the town.

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THE CASTLE

The Castle (German: Das Schloss German pronunciation: [das ʃlɔs]; also spelled Das Schloß) is a 1926 novel by Franz Kafka. In it a protagonist known only as K. arrives in a village and struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities who govern it from a castle. Kafka died before finishing the work, but suggested it would end with K. dying in the village, the castle notifying him on his death bed that his “legal claim to live in the village was not valid, yet, taking certain auxiliary circumstances into account, he was permitted to live and work there”. Dark and at times surreal, The Castle is often understood to be about alienation, unresponsive bureaucracy, the frustration of trying to conduct business with non-transparent, seemingly arbitrary controlling systems, and the futile pursuit of an unobtainable goal. Continue reading “THE CASTLE”

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI

“The Gift of the Magi” is a short story, written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter), about a young married couple and how they deal with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. As a sentimental story with a moral lesson about gift-giving, it has been a popular one for adaptation, especially for presentation at Christmas time. The plot and its “twist ending” are well-known, and the ending is generally considered an example of comic irony. It was allegedly written at Pete’s Tavern on Irving Place in New York City.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James’s Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personæ to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play’s major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Contemporary reviews all praised the play’s humour, though some were cautious about its explicit lack of social messages, while others foresaw the modern consensus that it was the culmination of Wilde’s artistic career so far. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde’s most enduringly popular play.

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A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is an 1889 novel by American humorist and writer Mark Twain. The book was originally titled A Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Some early editions are titled A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur.
In the book, a Yankee engineer from Connecticut is accidentally transported back in time to the court of King Arthur, where he fools the inhabitants of that time into thinking that he is a magician, and soon uses his knowledge of modern technology to become a “magician” in earnest, stunning the English of the Early Middle Ages with such feats as demolitions, fireworks, and the shoring up of a holy well. He attempts to modernize the past, but in the end he is unable to prevent the death of Arthur and an interdict against him by the Catholic Church of the time, which grows fearful of his power.

Twain wrote the book as a burlesque of Romantic notions of chivalry after being inspired by a dream in which he was a knight himself, severely inconvenienced by the weight and cumbersome nature of his armor.

PLOT

The novel is a comedy that sees 6th-Century England and its medieval culture through Hank Morgan’s view; he is a 19th-century resident of Hartford, Connecticut, who, after a blow to the head, awakens to find himself inexplicably transported back in time to early medieval England where he meets King Arthur himself. The fictional Mr. Morgan, who had an image of that time that had been colored over the years by romantic myths, takes on the task of analyzing the problems and sharing his knowledge from 1300 years in the future to modernize, Americanize, and improve the lives of the people.

In addition, many passages are quoted directly from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, a medieval Arthurian collection of legends and one of the earlier sources. The narrator who finds the Yankee in the “modern times” of Twain’s nineteenth century is reading the book in the museum in which they both meet; later, characters in the story retell parts of it in Malory’s original language. A chapter on medieval hermits also draws from the work of William Edward Hartpole Lecky.

The story begins as a first-person narrative in Warwick Castle, where a man details his recollection of a tale told to him by an “interested stranger” who is personified as a knight through his simple language and familiarity with ancient armor.

After a brief tale of Sir Lancelot of Camelot and his role in slaying two giants from the third-person narrative—taken directly from Le Morte d’Arthur—the man named Hank Morgan enters and, after being given whiskey by the narrator, he is persuaded to reveal more of his story. Described through first-person narrative as a man familiar with the firearms and machinery trade, Hank is a man who had reached the level of superintendent due to his proficiency in firearms manufacturing, with two thousand subordinates. He describes the beginning of his tale by illustrating details of a disagreement with his subordinates, during which he sustained a head injury from a “crusher” to the head caused by a man named “Hercules” using a crowbar. After passing out from the blow, Hank describes waking up underneath an oak tree in a rural area of Camelot, where he soon encounters the knight Sir Kay, riding by. Kay challenges him to a joust, which is quickly lost by the unweaponed, unarmored Hank as he scuttles up a tree. Kay captures Hank and leads him towards Camelot castle. Upon recognizing that he has time-traveled to the sixth century, Hank realizes that he is the de facto smartest person on Earth, and with his knowledge he should soon be running things…


Download the book: A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court.pdf

DON QUIXOTE

Don Quixote fully titled The history of the valorous and wittie Knight-Errant Don-Quixote of the Mancha (Spanish: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha) is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon.

Plot Summary

Alonso Quixana is an older gentleman who lives in La Mancha, in the Spanish countryside. He has read many of the books of chivalry and as a result, he has lost his wits, and he decides to roam the country as a knight-errant named Don Quixote de La Mancha. Neither his niece nor his housekeeper can stop him from riding his old horse, Rocinante, out into the country. Quixote’s first sally ends quickly. He insists on having an innkeeper knight him into the chivalric order. Quixote believes that the inn is a castle. Returning home for clothes and money, Quixote is beaten and left for dead. A commoner rescues Quixote and brings him home.

The niece and housekeeper deliberate with two of Quixote’s friends, the priest and barber, and they decide to destroy Quixote’s library, burning many of the books of chivalry. These books are the culprit. When Quixote recovers, he asks for his books and his niece tells him that the sage Muñaton has taken them. Quixote believes it was the sage Friston, his mortal foe. Having found a squire, a common peasant named Sancho Panza, Quixote leaves yet again. This second sally provides the story for the rest of Book I. Panza quickly realizes that his master is mad, but the squire hopes that Quixote will make good on his promise to name Sancho as the Governor of an island. Quixote attacks a windmill, believing it to be a giant, destroying his lance in the process. Indeed, Quixote gets involved in several altercations and violent disputes while traveling on the road.
There is a peaceful and pastoral interlude when Quixote joins the goatherds who mourn the death of their friend Chrysostom, a poet who died of a broken heart. Continuing on the road with Sancho, Quixote has a run in with some horse-breeders and he is beaten so badly that Sancho has to quickly get the knight to an inn. Quixote perceives the inn to be a castle, yet again. Quixote believes the innkeeper’s daughter to be a beautiful princess who has promised to come to his bed during the knight. Later that night, Quixote ends up caressing Maritornes: the half-blind, hunchbacked servant girl. Her lover, a mule carrier, is enraged and the carrier beats Quixote when he realizes that his lover, Maritornes, is struggling to get away from Quixote. In the darkness a brawl ensues, including Sancho, Maritornes, the innkeeper, the mule carrier and Quixote‹who quickly passes out. An officer of the Holy Brotherhood enters the room, having heard the commotion, and he fears that Quixote is dead.

Quixote is not dead. When he revives, he asks for the ingredients so that he might prepare for himself the “true balsam of Fierabras.” He prepares the balsam, vomits, passes out, and wakes up feeling better. Sancho drinks the balsam and nearly dies. The next day, knight and squire leave the inn without paying. Quixote believes it to be an enchanted castle and he is offended by the suggestion that he should pay. Sancho does not escape as easily as Quixote does. Indeed, the squire is tossed in a blanket and his bags are stolen. In an arc of violence, Quixote murders some sheep, loses some teeth, steals a barber’s basin (believing it to be Mambrino’s helmet) and sets free a chain of galley-slaves who repay the knight’s kindness with bruises.
Quixote befriends Cardenio, The Ragged Knight of the Sorry Countenance, who mourns the fact that his true love, Lucinda, has married another man: Don Fernando. Cardenio has gone mad with grief, running half-naked through the hills of Sierra Morena. Quixote imitates Cardenio, pining for his beloved lady, Dulcinea del Toboso. Quixote sends Sancho with a letter to deliver to Dulcinea but instead Sancho finds the barber and priest and leads them to Quixote.

With the help of Dorotea, a woman who has been deceived by Don Fernando, the priest and barber make plans to trick Don Quixote into coming home. Dorotea pretends to be the Princess Micomicona, desperately in need of Quixote’s assistance. The final chapters of the novel combine romantic intrigue with the comedy of errors surrounding Don Quixote. Dorotea is reunited with Don Fernando and Cardenio is reunited with Lucinda. This takes place at the same inn which Quixote visited earlier (where was boxed by Maritornes’ lover). Numerous guests arrive at the inn, as long-lost brothers are reunited, two other pairs of lovers are blessed and Don Quixote is almost arrested. The Holy Brotherhood has an arrest for Quixote’s arrest on account of his “setting at liberty” a “group of galley-slaves.” The priest begs for the officer to have mercy on Quixote because the knight is insane. The officer assents; Quixote is locked in a cage and carted home. Quixote believes the cage to be an enchantment, but when it is clear that he is going home he does not fight back. Of course, in Book II, Quixote goes out on his third and final sally, so Book I is not resolved.

Download the book: Don Quixote.pdf