The New York Times recommends…

… Calgary’s new Central Library, in its popular list called “52 Places to Go This Year.” (Calgary entry by Elaine Glusac)

CLICK HERE to find #20, and then contemplate visiting the 51 other Places recommended!

Calgary Central Library a wonder — and a place to wander!

Living, Loving and Loathing Shakespeare (and Laughing, too!)

Image of William Shakespeare

via Pixabay

Cecilia’s lifelong passion for William Shakespeare was clearly evident in her enthusiastic presentation on October 16, structured in the form of a  five-act Shakespearean play.

Each succeeding act consisted of defined topics, such as family and friends who influenced his writing, his humour as well as various characters who inhabited his plays.

Cecilia’s power point presentation (Act IV) in exquisite pictures, detailed her extensive personal experience with Shakespeare’s live theatre as well as journeys to Stratford in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Shakespeare’s words of wisdom, his philosophy of life and humour still resonate with us today.

FOR MORE, CLICK HERE FOR CECILIA’S PRESENTATION SUMMARY

Sue Carscallen

[NOTE: I have re-posted this, as Cecilia has just published her Presentation Summary, which (like all our presentation summaries) is well worth the read. Janet H.]

Robert Burns: of Mice & Men

Ode to a Mouse (Photo courtesy Guiseppe Martini on Unsplash)

During her presentation, Linda McGregor read four poems by Robert Burns — in Scottish dialect — while we followed her English translation: words so familiar and so foreign! “Address to a Haggis,” “Holy Willie’s Prayer,” “Ode to a Mouse” and Ode to a Louse”. Quaint…

… but it’s satire, and speaks to us over two centuries later! Coincidentally, “Ode to a Louse” was quoted in the next morning’s Calgary Herald (October 31, 2018, p. A15) under the headline, “Who will act to end America’s gun insanity? Moral authority shattered,” writes Terrence J. Downey. Here it is, but using Linda’s translation:

Oh if only God would give us the gift

Of seeing ourselves as others see us!

It would free us from many a blunder

And silly notions.

Translation by Linda McGregor

Robert Burns was a master of humour and satire. We could get no better presenter of this writer than Linda, who as a child spoke Burns’ own “Geordie language” and was told, “Speak English!” when she moved to Aberdeen. Wearing a Scottish scarf and with a gleam in her eye, Linda started her talk by dispensing with myths, such as:

1. There is undue focus on Robert Burns’ sex life. He was not responsible for a population increase in Scotland. He was survived by only three sons (of 13 children.)
2. He did not die a pauper or of venereal disease but of natural causes due to severe poverty in childhood.
3. He was not a prodigious drinker: He couldn’t hold his liquor so pretended to be drunk.
4. Not every Scottish song was written by Burns!

Intrigued to read more?
FIND LINDA’S OWN SUMMARY BY CLICKING HERE.

Linda recommends reading How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman.

Robertson Davies: Humour that’s subtle and intelligent

Sandra Ens has taught Robertson Davies to many English students. Now it’s our turn to find out why! Davies’ style of writing has been out of favour: He uses long sentences and depicts a non-multicultural Canada of times gone by. Yet, his paragraphs, full of literary allusions, can be “unpacked” by an intelligent reader. Is that not us?

Photo of Robertson Davies with quote

Sandra explained that Robertson Davies’ humour is gentle and never malicious. You won’t find many gags. Stories build, characters are well-developed and timing is everything to reveal truth in an unexpected light. Sandra reminded us that truth lies at the heart of comedy, that dying is easy but comedy is hard — and that it takes great skill by an author.

Davies’ comedy is in a SHAKESPEAREAN TRADITION: Satire is to seek improvement and solutions (see also ARISTOPHANES) but delivered through characters that are larger than life, exuberant and expound about life. Laughs will follow!

Sandra’s personal favourite? 5th Business. She also recommends listening to the CBC RADIO INTERVIEW BY ELEANOR WACHTEL

Continue to SANDRA’S SUMMARY, and you will be ready to add Robertson Davies to your reading lists!

Aristophanes: Farce & Satire

Masks portraying Greek tragedy/comedy
Buskin & Sock

For her presentation on November 20, Anne Tingle took us back in time to the Golden Age of ancient Greece, and the plays of Aristophanes.

After an engrossing explanation of Aristophanes and his times, Anne surprised many of us with a Reader’s Theatre. Contrary to Greek times, she had assembled an all-female cast (several of our members and a guest) to read parts of Lysistrata, her favourite Aristophanes’ play. Hilarity ensued!

Anne disclosed she was using a turn-of-the-century (i.e. circa 1900) translation for the (relative) comfort of her readers and audience. A 2005 translation was apparently even racier! What a “reveal!” More laughs!

Cultures have changed, but how recognisable are human characteristics, despite a span of 2400+ years!

Aristophanes used satire and farce to highlight the need for peace, order and good government. Although there is no evidence he had influence politically, his artistic influence is incredible, and his plays are still performed.

CLICK HERE for Anne’s Presentation Summary

Marcello Di Cintio, CPL’s Author-in-Residence

We were so honoured by the presence of two Calgary authors on October 23rd. Poet Rosemary Griebel introduced Marcello Di Cintio, who was in the midst of his three-month tenure, delivering programs, mentoring aspiring and established writers and presenting to august audiences such as the CWLC! [CLICK HERE to learn about Rosemary’s “Literary Bookmark” in Inglewood.]

Image courtesy the author, from his website marcellodicintio.com

Growing up, Marcello described himself as a science nerd who liked to write stories: He graduated with dual degrees, English and Microbiology. Shortly after, he volunteered in Ghana to teach biology for three months, then travelled the next nine. His first published writing was an article in City Palate about weird food he ate while travelling, and Africa inspired his first book, Harmattan: Wind Across West Africa. He was completely hooked on travel.

Trying to get his first book published, he got some very sage advice from a publisher: That his books should reflect not a traveller who writes, but a writer who travelled. And does he travel, but not to easy-going resort destinations! Following his time in Africa, he has been drawn to the Middle East, Persian culture, and the concept of walls as barriers and the people who live along them.

In discussing his most recent book, Pay No Heed to the Rockets, Marcello mentioned he has visited Israel and Palestine nine times. He connected with writers and others in the literary world, who provided him with “a backstage pass” to interesting people. He sought to bring a fresh perspective from individuals in conflict-riddled areas: ageing poets, young novelists (not a common writing form in that culture,) a Bedouin writer of a fairy tale that won the Astrid Lundgrun prize, a teenager who writes on Facebook… To follow more of Marcello’s illuminating, inspiring journeys and writings PLEASE CLICK HERE You will find Marcello Di Cintio is, without a doubt, a writer who has travelled!

Donna Leon’s Venice

Reflections of Venetian houses
Image by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

There is one last Favourite Author to post, shared by Marcia Century in April 2018. Marcia’s favourite genre is crime fiction and her favourite author is Donna Leon. Almost none in the audience have read this author, and we are grateful Marcia made this recommendation!

Donna Leon was born in New Jersey in 1942. This is the only consistent fact Marcia found in her research. The author has lived her adult life between Venice and Switzerland, where her books were published in German. Leon refuses to have her books published in Italian to retain her privacy in Venice. Her works are translated in 35 languages.

Since Marcia’s presentation, a new novel (29th in the series) has come out. In other words, her non-stereotypical Commissario has solved more than a major crime a year in Venice since 1992. Yes, this author was first published at 50! She finds writing effortless, doing one scene every morning and starting the next one before turning off the computer. Critics call her prose “exquisite.” Marcia described her writing as intelligent, intense, subtle, funny, satirical and angry — “character studies wrapped around the heart of a mystery.” There are three more Donna Leon books to discover: a cookbook, a book of essays on Venice and a multi-sensory publication of music, painting and the literary arts.