“But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand. Published in 1889, Three Men In A Boat is the most widely acclaimed novel by English author Jerome K. Jerome. Jerome wrote the novel after going on a boating trip along River Thames. Intended initially to serve as a tour guide, the novel, however, was soon overtaken by the comical elements and transformed into the humorous travelogue that is a classic today. Three friends, J. (Jerome), Harris and George, are apparent hypochondriacs in need of a vacation. A two-week long boating trip, they feel, would be good for their health. Narrated by “J.”, an embodiment of Jerome K. Jerome himself, the story chronicles in the form of ramblings and digressions, the hilarious adventures and mishaps of the three friends. The novel’s success led to a sequel, Three Men On The Bummel (1900) and was adapted in several art-forms including film and theatre.”
About Jerome K. Jerome
JEROME KLAPKA JEROME, born on 2 May 1859 in Caldmore, Wallsall, England, was a famous English novelist, playwright and humorist. Before embarking on a literary career, he had worked as a railway clerk, actor, high school teacher and a journalist. In 1889, even though he became well known in the English literary circle with his comic travelogue Three Men In A Boat, success did not come easily to him. Jerome, however, continued to write short stories and satirical essays that he sent to various magazines. Finally, he achieved mild success with his memoir On The Stage And Off (1885) which consisted of comic sketches of his experiences as an actor. This was followed by Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow (1886) initially published as a series of humorous essays in Home Chimes the famous magazine to which Jerome contributed regularly along with other authors like J.M. Barrie and E. Nesbit. Three Men In A Boat and Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow turned Jerome into one of the most influential and celebrated English authors. Jerome K. Jerome also served as an ambulance driver for the French army during World War I. He died at the age of 68 on 14 June 1927 after suffering from a paralytic stroke and cerebral haemorrhage. In memory of the author, a museum was opened in Walsall in 1984, which subsequently closed in 2008.
“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves. Virginia Woolf’s most autobiographical novel, To the Lighthouse (1927) revolves around the Ramsay family and their life in the summer home situated at a distance from a lighthouse, in the Hebrides, Isle of Skye in Scotland between 1910 and 1920. Enjoying the summer with their eight children, the Ramsays host an assortment of guests—Charles Tansley, an admirer of Mr. Ramsay’s work as a philosopher; Lily Briscoe, a young artist, and William Bankes, an old friend of the Ramsays, among others. Six-year-old James Ramsay wants his father to take him to the lighthouse, but Mr Ramsay keeps delaying the trip. And when the summer ends, war and death alter many realities. The journey to the lighthouse is deferred. A book of childhood desires, conflicting adult relationships, philosophical introspection, and multiple subjectivities, To the Lighthouse, divided into three sections—The Window, Time Passes, The Lighthouse—is about many journeys and an evergreen classic.”
About Virginia Woolf
Born on 25 January 1882, Virginia Woolf was one of the most influential modernist 20th-century English writers, notable for using stream of consciousness as a literary technique in her works. While writing anonymous reviews for journals, she resolved to ‘re-form’ the novel by experimenting with dreams and delirium. Her novel Melymbrosia, which she completed in 1912 was born out of this determination. Recast and published in 1915 as The Voyage Out, it was about a young woman’s journey of selfdiscovery on her father’s ship in South America. Later, she modelled many of her characters on real-life associates and acquaintances. At the onset of 1924, the Woolfs moved their residence from the suburbs back to Bloomsbury, where a relationship blossomed between the aristocratic Vita Sackville-West and Virginia. With Sackville-West, she learned to face her anxieties and overcome her nervous ailments. In fact, Orlando, a fantastical biography is partly a portrait of Vita Sackville-West. One of the most important chapters in her early life was the summer home the family visited in St Ives, Cornwall, where she first beheld the Godrevy Lighthouse. To the Lighthouse (1927) is, therefore, considered one of her most autobiographical novels. Apart from her extremely popular extended essay, ‘A Room of One’s Own’ (1929), her other seminal works include-Mrs Dalloway (1925), Orlando (1928) and The Waves (1931). In 1941, Virginia Woolf drowned herself in a river, aged 59. Her last work, Between the Acts, was posthumously published later that year.
“Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves. Considered one of the most important modernist works in literature, James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) is often referred to as a modern parallel of Homer’s epic poem, Odyssey. The story revolves around the events of a single ordinary day, 16 June 1904, in the life of Leopold Bloom, Mary Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, the famous hero from Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, who act as counterparts of Telemachus, Odysseus and Penelope respectively from the epic poem. Joyce portrays modernist concerns in the context of the 20th century by enhancing the structural similarities yet stark differences between the events and characters of the epic poem and his novel. His use of ingenious characterisation and humour as well as literary techniques such as stream of consciousness, allusions and puns not only enrich the novel but also elucidate the inner workings of the mind and the nonlinear progressions of thought. Fans of the author now celebrate 16 June worldwide as Bloomsday.”
About James Joyce
Born on 2 February 1882 in Dublin, Ireland, James Joyce was one of the most revered writers of the 20th century. His masterpiece, Ulysses, remains an unparalleled literary feat. His exploration of language and his exceptional use of the stream-of-consciousness technique immensely contributed to the modernist avant-garde, inspiring contemporary writers to experiment with fresh perspective. A brilliant student, Joyce briefly attended the Christian Brothers-run O’Connell School before excelling at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere. In 1904, in his early twenties, he emigrated permanently to continental Europe with his partner and future wife, Nora Barnacle. Though most of his life was spent in Trieste, Paris and Zurich, his fictional universe was largely set in Dublin, with characters who resembled his family members, acquaintances, friends and enemies. Joyce’s other well known works include Dubliners, a short-story collection; his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which caught the attention of the American poet, Ezra Pound, who praised him for his unconventional style and voice, and the masterly Finnegans Wake. Following the Nazi invasion of Paris, he and his family moved to southern France in 1940. On 13 January 1941, following an intestinal operation, the writer passed away in Zurich, where he is buried in the Fluntern cemetery.
“Poor wretches! I rather pity their folly and indiscretion, than their loss of time and money; for these may be recovered by Industry: but to be a fool born is a disease incurable.” Written by English dramatist, Ben Jonson, Volpone, the 17th-century Renaissance drama is a sharp comment on society, that underscores elements of dark humour, greed and lust. Partially classified as a beast-fable, its central character Volpone, a wealthy old man, is bedridden. Drawn to him are three legacy hunters – voltore, a lawyer, corbaccio, an old gentleman and corvino, a merchant – who lavish gifts on him in the hope of inheriting the estate from a grateful Volpone upon his death. Believed to be amongst the finest Jacobean comedies and Ben jonson’s most performed play, Volpone derives its strength from its unforgettable lesson on human greed and avarice.
About Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson, born on 11 June 1572, was an English dramatist, poet, and literary critic. After completing his formal education, he joined his stepfather’s business, but left it to pursue a career in writing. By 1597, he was writing plays for Philip Henslowe. Jonson became a name to reckon with in 1598, when his play Every Man in His Humour was successfully presented by the Lord Chamberlain’s theatrical company. Known for his literary craftsmanship and his fine artistic ability, Jonson’s direct influence is discernible in each genre he explored. Every Man in His Humour (1598), Volpone (1605), Epicoene; or, The Silent Woman (1609), and Bartholomew Fair (1614) are amongst his most notable plays. Remembered as the second most important English dramatist after William Shakespeare, Jonson died in 1637.
“War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy chronicles the French invasion of Russia and its impact on Tsarist Russia, through the stories of five families,the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskys, the Rostovs, the Kuragins, and the Drubetskoys. The Russian Messenger published portions of the manuscript, titled The Year 1805, as a serial from 1865 to 1867. Dissatisfied with the published version,Tolstoy extensively rewrote the novel between 1866 and 1869. After his wife, Sophia Tolstaya, copied as many as seven separate manuscripts, the author considered it for publication, again. Tolstoy finally changed the name to War and Peace; it is believed that he borrowed the title from Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s 1861 book, La Guerre et la Paix. War and Peace has been translated into several languages and is regarded as Tolstoy’s finest literary achievement.”
About Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 in Russia’s Tula Province,Yasnaya Polyana, into an aristocratic family. Regarded as the greatest living novelist by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Virginia Woolf, Tolstoy’s two seminal works are War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878).
When he was a student of Oriental Languages at the University of Kazan, his teachers thought he was an incapable student who was unwilling to learn. Unsurprisingly,Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana. In 1851, reeling under gambling debts, he decided to accompany his elder brother Nikolay, an army officer, to the Caucasus and join the army. He served as a second lieutenant in the Crimean War (1853-1856). It was during this period that the writer in him was born.
One of his earliest and most notable autobiographical novels was Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852-1856). Novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886) and Hadji Murad (1912) followed. In his last days,Tolstoy was revered as a moral and religious teacher. Even Mahatma Gandhi sought the Grand Old Man’s advice on non-violence and resistance. In 1910,Tolstoy died of heart failure at the railroad station of Astapovo, Russia. He was 82.