Sunday, February 25, 2018

Federigo's Falcon: Fifth Day from The Decameron Review

"Federigo's Falcon" is a novella from the masterpiece of the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio "The Decameron". Boccaccio (1313–1375) lived in Florence during the Medieval Ages. His works gained popularity after his death.

"The Decameron" was framed as stories inside the story: the group of narrators told a new story each day. The author used the tales, myths, anecdotes of the time when he lived and he brought to each story emotional part, focusing on the characters and conflict resolutions.

The story is about a young nobleman who lived in Florence and who fell in love with a noble lady named Monna Giovanna. Trying to win her heart he organized a countless number of tournaments, parties, meetings and eventually he spent all his money, without succeeding in gaining the love of his desirable lady. Only a little farm was left in his ownership, he moved to that farm and started to live there on its revenues very meagrely.

He had nothing valuable except the falcon, which was the finest among that kind of birds. Meanwhile, Monna Giovanna got married and gave the birth to her son. After few years her husband died and he made her the heir of all his fortune if his son died without any legitimate children.

She had a farm too and her farm was close to Federigo's farm. She used to live there with her son. It happened that the boy became more and more friendly with Federigo, he enjoyed seeing Federigo's falcon fly and he wanted so much to have this falcon as his own. He didn't dare to ask Federigo about giving the falcon because he understood that the bird was the only valuable thing which Federigo had.

The son of Monna Giovanna happened to fall ill. The crying mother asked him if there was something that could bring him joy. The son said he wished to have Federigo's falcon. Monna was ready to do anything for her son and she promised to go to Federigo' farm, ask it and bring the bird to her son. In anticipating this present, the condition of her son seemed to have improved and next day Monna Giovanna went to the Federigo's farm.

Federigo was very surprised and pleased his fate to see his lovely woman. He asked her to wait in the room while he was organizing a dinner in her honor. But when he went out to the kitchen he realized that he didn't have any food. In a desperate feeling he took the falcon, he wrung its neck and gave it to the servant girl to prepare the dish. After that, he came back with a cheerful face to his lady. Monna Giovanna didn’t know what it was they were eating.

When the dinner time was over, Monna Giovanna had to start the conversation about the reason for her visit. As Federigo heard about her wish to ask for the falcon, he started crying. Mona thought that he was crying for his falcon and she was ready to leave her wish. When it became clear that they ate the bird, she had to return home and say her son that she couldn't fulfill his wish. The son was very disappointed and after a while, he died.

So, Monna Giovanna started to live alone. Her brothers told her that she should find a new husband. Firstly she refused thinking about it but after some time she said that she would agree to marry only Federigo. Her brothers disagreed because Federigo was poor but because Monna was persistent in her choice, considering the fact that Federigo was of noble birth they accepted her wish. When Fererigo "found himself the husband of such a great lady, whom he had loved so much and who was so wealthy besides, he managed his financial affairs with more prudence than in the past and lived with her happily the rest of his days."

The happy ending of the story conveys to readers the idea that sacrificing for love is what should be rewarded. People who are in love each other must find happiness being together.
This is a link to the text of the story:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Extra Passenger by Stephen Grendon Review

The short story "The Extra Passenger” by Stephen Grendon represents a genre of comic horror tales. The plot includes the story of preparing the murder and what happened after that.

This is the first line: "Mr. Arodias had worked a long time on his plan to kill his eccentric uncle, and he was very proud of it." Mr. Arodias bought the ticket for the train, he decided to commit the crime during the time when he left the train on one station and came back on the next. He expected that it would be an excellent alibi and it could be. But unexpectedly when he returned back to his compartment in the train, the new passenger appeared. This extra passenger kept silence, suspicion of the plot started to increase dramatically.

It is interesting how grammar constructions in English can help to highlight the tense

"Mr. Arodias was suddenly aware that his traveling companion had been speaking of his uncle for the past few minutes in the past tense".

What happened next, the readers can know from the story. This is a link for the text:
This is a short movie about this story:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Face on the Wall by E. V. Lucas Review

The story "The face on the wall" by E. V. Lucas is quite short and very captivating. The author talks about a group of people who presented the stories one after another. One person, the pale man, listened to the stories with a great attention, and he was eventually asked to tell a story too.

The pale man started the story about a strange patch on the wall which reminded him of a face of a man. While the time was passing, the face became clearer and clearer. He couldn't sleep under obsession to find the man and he found him...

I can't disclose the plot further, I'd like to keep some intrigue for the future readers of this story. I think that there is one thing which is remarkable about this story: it is the pitch of voice which the narrator uses. When the suspense grows, the tone of the narration is changing, it goes to a high level and suddenly stops. The listeners are anxious to hear continuation, their interest is growing and so on.

That's all about the story and here the story is:
This is a link to the audio on Youtube:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner Review

A Rose for Emily is a story with a quite gloomy plot. The plot line followed readers through three deaths. This work of Nobel laureate William Faulkner is a common subject for studying in schools and colleges. It is considered that the author conveys to readers the atmosphere of the old South of the USA.

The beginning of the story was about the death of Emily, who was an old lady, who had lived in the city all her life.
"When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old manservant—a combined gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years."

Following parts of the story were about her life. Her father was a rich and respectable citizen of the city. Young Emily lived with him, their circle acquaintance was quite restricted. When her father died, Emily couldn't accept this fact saying everybody that he is alive. The body of her father was taken from the house to cemetery despite her wishes. Following time she refused of any contacts with inhabitants of the city when they asked her to pay the taxes, she denied doing it referring to the conversation with Colonel Sartoris who died many years ago.

The second part of the story was about another time: "That was two years after her father's death and a short time after her sweetheart—the one we believed would marry her ... people hardly saw her at all." Only her servant was going in and out with a market basket. “Just as if a man—any man—could keep a kitchen properly,” the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed.". Dwellers complained about it to the judge, but he said it wouldn't be necessary. After two weeks the smell went away.

Part three was about the time when Emily was a young lady a year after her father died. The young man - Homer Barron came to the city. He was good in communication, soon he knew everybody in the city. The public was surprised when they said Emily with Homer driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy. Emily looked like an extravagant lady: she didn't communicate with people of high society, once she was noticed buying a poison in the shop. When Homer disappeared, she stopped leaving her house at all.

The relatives of Emily came to the house when she was buried. They had to break the door in a closed room above stairs in the house. They saw there a skeleton of a man lying in the bed. They "noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head ...", they "saw a long strand of iron-gray hair."

This story is scary and intriguing. It is interesting to explore the method how William Faulkner was able to keep suspense during of all story. He used the sequence of the chapters so, that events were described not in a chronological order but for the purpose to hide for readers the climax of the story and reveal it in the last lines. The story inspired many people for writing essays, creating video interpretations and so on. We can find these works on the Internet and on Youtube.

This is a link to the text of the story:

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Rights to the Streets of Memphis by Richard Wright Review

"The Rights to the Streets of Memphis" is an excerpt from autobiography "Black Boy" by Richard Wright. That story includes two episodes from his childhood in Memphis, the USA, where he lived with his mother. His father had left the family.

The first episode was about harsh living conditions for the black community in Memphis at that time. When he was a little boy he asked his mother something to eat:

"Mama, I'm hungry,” I complained one afternoon. “Jump up and catch a kungry,” she said, trying to make me laugh and forget. “What's a kungry?” “It's what little boys eat when they get hungry,” she said. “What does it taste like?” “I don't know.” “Then why do you tell me to catch one?” “Because you said that you were hungry,” she said, smiling. I sensed that she was teasing me, and it made me angry. “But I'm hungry. I want to eat.” ... She was ironing, and she paused and looked at me with tears in her eyes. “Where's your father?” she asked me."

Since that, the feeling of hunger was associated in mind of the author with an absence of his father.

The next episode was dedicated to the description of the street life in the city. The mother of the author had got a job, a salary was small but at least they didn't starve. She gave him, a young boy at that time, some money and asked him to go to the grocery and to buy some food. On the way to the shop, he met a gang of boys who took his money. When he came back home in tears, the mother gave him money again and sent him to the shop again. The situation repeated, he was grabbed by this street gang. He returned home crying. The mother didn't allow him to enter the house, she decided to teach him to stand up and fight for himself. She said “Take this money, this note, and this stick,” she said. “Go to the store and buy those groceries. If those boys bother you, then fight. ... Go now! If you come back into this house without those groceries, I'll whip you!”.

The key point of the story was the turn in the mind (the thoughts) of the main character when he stayed in front of the shut door.

"She slammed the door and I heard the key turn in the lock. I shook with fright. I was alone upon the dark, hostile streets and gangs were after me. I had the choice of being beaten at home or away from home. I clutched the stick, crying, trying to reason. If I were beaten at home, there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it; but if I were beaten in the streets, I had a chance to fight and defend myself."

He came back to his way. When the boys saw him they surrounded him and begun to grab his hands. He threatened “I'll kill you!”. That is what happened next: "In blind fear I let the stick fly, feeling it crack against a boy's skull. ... The boys scattered, yelling, nursing their heads, staring at me in utter disbelief." The author finished the episode by a little bit pathetic line "That night I won the right to the streets of Memphis."

The story gave readers some points for discussion:
- was the mother right to leave her son without protection;
- what could be the fate of the author if some boy from the gang was seriously injured;
- did the author exaggerate the negative perception of his life in Memphis?

After the novel "Black Boy" was published, Richard Wright became famous in the USA. He couldn't accept racism which he had experienced in his country so he moved to France, he became French citizen where he continued writing until his death in 1960.
Here is a link to the original text of the story:

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Duchess and the Jeweller by Virginia Woolf Review

The short story "The Duchess and the Jeweller" by Virginia Woolf presents a narrative technique "stream of consciousness". She used in this story the elegant style common to the upper class.

The first part of the story describes the house of the jeweler and his thoughts and attitude in terms of what he owned and the goals he had achieved. He had a luxurious house in the center of London, he was very satisfied with his career. “Behold Oliver,” he would say, addressing himself. “You who began life in a filthy little alley, you who . . .” and he would look down at his legs, so shapely in their perfect trousers; at his boots; at his spats. They were all shapely, shining; cut from the best cloth by the best scissors in Savile Row."

He came to the jeweler's shop and followed by jealous looks into a small room. He was informed that Duchess had come to meet him. The fact that such an aristocratic person wanted to meet with him raised his confidence, he thought "The Duchess of Lambourne waited his pleasure; the Duchess of Lambourne, daughter of a hundred Earls. She would wait for ten minutes on a chair at the counter. She would wait his pleasure. She would wait till he was ready to see her."

The contrast between the rich and the poor, between aristocrats and people of a humble origin is one of the main ideas of the story. Here is how the presence of the Duchess changed the atmosphere in the room: "Then she loomed up, filling the door, filling the room with the aroma, the prestige, the arrogance, the pomp, the pride of all the Dukes and Duchesses swollen in one wave.".

Something had happened before which made him quite suspicious of the Duchess intentions. The lady had brought the pearls asking the Jeweller great money for it. The Jeweller had already had an experience of being deceived by her and he thought about the pearls "But real was it, or false? Was she lying again? Did she dare?"

She moaned that she did it for her children including Diana her daughter who he loved.

The Duchess said that the duke, her husband, was a gambler. If he knew about her intentions to sell the pearls, he would have killed her. She asked to keep that agreement a secret. He would have called his assistants to test the pearls, "He stretched to the bell." but ... She interrupted him “You will come down tomorrow? ... The Prime Minister—His Royal Highness . . .” She stopped. “And Diana,” she added. Oliver took his hand off the bell."

He started filling the check and for a moment he stopped writing.

"The eyes of the old woman in the picture were on him—of the old woman, his mother. “Oliver!” she warned him. “Have sense! Don't be a fool!”

“Oliver!” the Duchess entreated—it was “Oliver” now, not “Mr. Bacon.” “You'll come for a long weekend?” Alone in the woods with Diana! Riding alone in the woods with Diana!

Later he discovered that the pearls were fake "“For,” he murmured, laying the palms of his hands together, “it is to be a long weekend.”

Along with the subject of a social inequality in this story, we have also plot-lines referring to the way how people manipulate each other and their attitude to love. The author showed how the Duchess, who knew about his fond feelings to her daughter, exploited them for getting money. Virginia Woolf left readers the possibility to decide if the main character played a negative role in the story (he was a self-centered and arrogant person) or a positive one (because he was sincerely in love with the girl and that feeling overcame the power of money).

The literary style which Virginia Woolf used was defined by critics as a flow of consciousness. She wrote long sentences and complicated figurative expressions are relevant to the social background of the story and presented readers the atmosphere of upper-class in England of the previous century.

This is a link to the text of the story: