Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

5
Jan

George Orwell’s luminous truths

Written on January 5, 2015 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Literature

orwellThe title of this book is especially apposite. George Orwell’s luminous gift was for seeing things, for noticing what others missed, took for granted or simply found uninteresting, for discovering meaning and wonder in the familiarity of the everyday. In Culture and Anarchy (1869) Matthew Arnold defined culture as “the best which has been thought and said”. But for Orwell, though he was prodigiously well read and deeply learned, culture meant something quite different — “the life most people lead”, as John Carey has put it. Orwell never distinguished between high and low culture: all things were not of equal value to him but they were of equal interest. Nothing escaped or seemed beneath his notice, which was what made him such a good reporter.

There is a scene in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) in which Winston Smith watches a propaganda news film depicting images of war. Amid the slaughter and brutality Winston notices something: a woman attempting to protect a child from the artillery fire that will kill them both. She puts her arm around the boy “before the helicopter blew them both to pieces”. The gesture is futile. What can she really do for the boy? Yet, for Winston, the “enveloping, protective” gesture of the woman’s arm comes to symbolise something fundamental, an act of human dignity and selflessness, and an expression of unconditional love in an unforgiving world.

Repeatedly in Orwell’s fiction and essays, one encounters moments of clarity such as this, when the reader is startled by something small but significant that Orwell has seen. One thinks in particular of the essay “A Hanging”, set during his years as an imperial policeman in Burma, in which the writer looks on as a condemned man steps to avoid a puddle as he is being led to the gallows. Why should he care about getting his feet wet when he is about to die? But, Orwell writes: “When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we are alive.”

One thinks too of the essay “Shooting an Elephant”, in which Orwell recalls the day he shot a rogue elephant and left it to die in agony, not because he wanted to or felt the act was just but because he feared the derision of the villagers who were watching if he did not.

Seeing Things As They Are, selected and edited by the veteran Orwell scholar Peter Davison, features none of the most celebrated essays. It is intended to be a collection first and foremost of his journalism, with preference given to lesser-known pieces and reviews as well as some of the poems he wrote. It is full of interest and curiosities, such as the inclusion of “Awake! Young Men of England”, a jingoistic poem about the start of the first world war published in 1914 when Orwell was 11, in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard.

Continue reading in Financial Times

29
Oct

???????????????????????????????El pasado jueves 23 de Octubre el IE organizó la mesa redonda “Literatura infantil y Diversidad”. El panel estaba compuesto por dos profesores del IE, Margarita Alonso y Vincent Doyle, y por tres escritores, Olga de Dios, Lawrence Schimel y Javier Alonso, que mediante la literatura infantil y juvenil acercan al lector a comprender la diversidad humana desde la orientación sexual a las diferencias étnicas, pasando por las discapacidades físicas y psíquicas.

La primera presentación corrió a cargo de Margarita Alonso que explicó los resultados de sus investigaciones sobre la importancia de educar la diversidad. Su didáctica ponencia mostro los perjuicios de los estereotipos, utilizó como ejemplo el error que es no permitir a las niñas competir deportivamente puesto que posteriormente provoca que las mujeres no sepan distinguir entre lo profesional y lo personal, puesto que el deporte enseña a concentrase en algo y competir por ello en un momento concreto pero una vez terminado ahí se queda.

A continuación la ilustradora Olga de Dios tomó la palabra. Explicó las razones que le llevaron a dedicarse a la literatura infantil y realizó una lectura comentada de su libro Monstruo Rosa (Apila Ediciones, 2013). Durante el expresivo relato de su obra, la autora desentrañó los fines didácticos de la misma. También compartió con el público el hecho de que es una obra autobiográfica y el éxito que ha cosechado como herramienta docente entre niños autistas (de hecho, Monstruo Rosa ha sido traducido a diversos idiomas).

Posteriormente intervino el escritor Lawrence Schimel quien posee una extensa bibliografía de literatura infantil donde abarca temas tales como la adopción, LGBT o multiculturalismo.  El ponente explicó sus obras, entre las que destacan Amigos y Vecinos  (La Librería, 2005) y Igual Que Ellos (Barracuda, 2010). También destaco que una de las funciones de su literatura es “desmachistizar” la literatura infantil, pues la mayoría está protagonizada por varones puesto que los niños se muestran reacios a leer cuentos con protagonista femenina debido a que lo consideran “cosas de niñas”, como en Mi Gata Eureka (Bibliópolis, 2005).

Finalmente fue el turno de Javier Alonso quien nos presentó su libro La historia de España en 25 historias (Montena, 2014),  donde, en sintonía con su anterior publicación La historia del mundo en 25 historias (Montena, 2013), explica a preadolescentes los principales acontecimientos y personajes de la historia de España. El autor se detuvo en un capítulo que trata el respeto a la diversidad, mediante la historia de rey Carlos II, heredero de la endogamia Habsburgo, sufrió la incomprensión de su pueblo. También narró la extraordinaria vida de Mary Kingsley, quien superó los prejuicios de su época y se convirtió en exploradora.

Tras las ponencias los autores y el público compartieron una animada conversación en el cual se trataron numerosos temas referentes a la diversidad y los obstáculos a la hora de transmitirla a los niños. Una vez finalizado el evento varios miembros de la audiencia se acercaron a charlar con los ponentes y a ver su obra.

14
Oct

Humanities Center 2IE Humanities Center tiene el honor de invitarle a la presentación del libro Siete Canciones Pasada La Medianoche, de D. Pedro Letai, el miércoles 29 de octubre a las 19.30 h. En esta mesa redonda intervendrán D. Pedro Letai, profesor de IE University, D. Felix Valdivieso, Director de Comunicación del IE, y D. Ricardo González, Director de la editorial noVelnoBel VB comunicación. El debate estará moderado por Dña. Arantza de Areilza, Decana de Humanidades y Relaciones Internacionales del IE.

Tras la publicación de un libro de poemas y algunos ensayos académicos, Pedro Letai se aventura en el género de la novela. Siete Canciones Pasada La Medianoche es una reflexión sobre la edad y sobre todo aquello que afecta interiormente al ser humano. El amor, la amistad y un extenso mundo de esas relaciones que van apareciendo en nuestra vida y dejan su poso de alegría, pena, ilusión y desilusión. El autor repasa la vida desde el escepticismo de un periodista que busca su lugar definitivo. La obra refleja la influencia de cosas tan diferentes como el fútbol o la poesía; la música, siempre presente, el periodismo.

La presentación se desarrollará en el Pabellón de Papel del IE Business School situado en c/ Serrano, 99.

En caso de ser de su interés, ruego confirme su asistencia en HumanitiesCenter@ie.edu

9
Oct

Patrick Modiano wins the Nobel prize in literature

Written on October 9, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Literature

Modiano-couv-03Patrick Modiano has won this year’s Nobel prize for literature.

The 69-year-old is the 11th French writer to win the prestigious prize.

The Swedish Academy gave the 8 million kronor ($1.1 million or £700,000) prize to Modiano “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”.

Modiano, whose novel Missing Person won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1978, was born in a west Paris suburb two months after the second world war ended in Europe in July 1945.

His father was of Jewish Italian origins and met his Belgian actress mother during the occupation of Paris and his beginnings have strongly influenced his writing.

Jewishness, the Nazi occupation and loss of identity are recurrent themes in his novels, which include 1968’s La Place de l’Etoile – later hailed in Germany as a key post-Holocaust work.

Modiano owes his first big break to a friendship with a friend of his mother, French writer Raymond Queneau, who was first introduced him to the Gallimard publishing house when he was in his early twenties.

Modiano, who lives in Paris, is known to shun media, and rarely accords interviews. In 2012, he won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature.

Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said: “Patrick Modiano is a well-known name in France but not anywhere else. He writes children’s books, movie scripts but mainly novels. His themes are memory, identity and time.

“His best known work is called Missing Person. It’s the story about a detective who has lost his memory and his final case is finding out who he really is; he is tracing his own steps through history to find out who he is.”

He added: “They are small books, 130, 150 pages, which are always variations of the same theme – memory, loss, identity, seeking. Those are his important themes: memory, identity, and time.”

Last year’s award went to the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro.

Continue reading in The Guardian

7
Oct

‘Napoleon. A Life’, by Andrew Roberts

Written on October 7, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Literature

C04Y3G Art Napoleon BonaparteNapoleon would have approved of Andrew Roberts’s title. Like Louis XIV, he encouraged his subjects to call him great even during his lifetime. It is surprising that biographers have done it so seldom before, since most of them have been quite as much his fans as Roberts. And there have been hundreds of them. Probably no figure in history has had so many books devoted to him. In English alone he has had five very substantial biographies since 2010. Partly this is owing to seemingly inexhaustible public fascination with one of the greatest soldiers ever. Partly too, it is because we are living through years of Napoleonic bicentenaries, culminating next year in that of Waterloo. After that, there might be a respite, at least until the anniversary of his death in 2021.

Roberts has written about Napoleon before, both in a volume comparing him with Wellington, and in a concise survey of the battle of Waterloo. Now he gives full rein to his admiration. In preparation, he has visited most of the Napoleonic battlefields, and sites of memory as inaccessible even as St Helena. He has been shown innumerable relics great and small, held often by eminent persons whom he carefully lists in a star-studded preface. He even signs these acknowledgments from a street in a smart Parisian district named after a Napoleonic marshal, and a stone’s throw from the great man’s tomb.

Like other recent biographers Roberts draws on the new scholarly edition of Napoleon’s general correspondence, now nearing completion, which offers a trove of reliable information. One thing that stands out from using this, repeatedly emphasised by Roberts, is how many balls Napoleon could keep in the air at once. On any given day he might be planning (or fighting) a battle, giving instructions for public works back in France, checking accounts or military statistics, and issuing warnings or reprimands to obscure underlings. His memory and passion for detail were prodigious, as were his appetite for work and self-discipline. He was formidably well-read and impressively numerate. It was these all-round qualities that made him so much more than a successful general. It is possible to deplore or despise what he achieved with the power he enjoyed, not to mention the influence of his posthumous reputation. But the world has seldom seen such an amazing concentration of abilities in one man.

Continue reading in Financial Times

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