Robert Burns’ Poetry: Shared by a “native”

Linda has the perfect pedigree to present Robert Burns: She grew up near the area from which Robert Burns called home. With her daughter as special guest, she regaled us all while debunking a number of outrageous myths about the man and the poet.

What an experience it was, to hear Linda read four poems in the Scottish language/dialect: Ode to a Mouse, Ode to a Louse, Address to a Haggis and Holy Willie’s Prayer. Linda provided the poems as written, along with her translation into English.

Linda’s insights helped us understand the satire and irony embedded in his humorous writings, and their relevance in his times and ours. Hearing poems read in their true language enhanced, manyfold, our appreciation of the poetry of Robert Burns. What a treat!

FOR LINDA’S SUMMARY, PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK, BELOW

https://calgarywomensliteraryclub.com/robert-burns/

P.G. Wodehouse: Laughter guaranteed.

By uncredited and restored by Adam Cuerden – “WODEHOUSE (P.G.)” Bonhams, Public Domain, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47188607

Judi always entertains us (impresses us!) enormously with her multimedia presentations, and this time she chose P.G. Wodehouse for her subject. She admitted that even though her mother is British, she didn’t know P.G. Wodehouse until this presentation. She prefers non-fiction, but found P.G. Wodehouse’s humour wonderfully diverting, with something memorable in every book.

P.G. Wodehouse is the most widely acclaimed English humorist of the 20th Century. Born in 1881, he had a rather forbidding Victorian childhood. At five, his parents lived in Hong Kong while he and his brothers were boarded, passed from hand to hand. At 12, he achieved greater stability. He was boarded at Dulwich College (“heaven”) and shortly after, his parents returned to England. At 19, he spent two years at Oxford with a brother, worked briefly in a Hong Kong bank and wrote at night. Already by 1902, he was writing full-time for The Globe.

Although first and foremost a novelist, P.G. Wodehouse began in 1904 as a lyricist of American musicals, and continued working over three decades with the likes of Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern. In fact, he lived much of his life in the United States. However, his quintessential character was the English valet Jeeves (who appeared in novels from 1915-1974) and his novels throw a humorous light on upper and middle-class England of the 20th Century.

In 1934 Wodehouse moved to France, was taken prisoner in 1940 by the Germans. Some radio broadcasts he made (apolitical, comic) sent from Germany to the U.S. during the war made him suspect in Britain and he never returned. He went back to Paris in 1943 and returned to the U.S. after the war, becoming an American citizen in 1955.

CLICK HERE FOR JUDI LEE’S PRESENTATION SUMMARY

Catherine Gildiner, whose memoirs read like fiction

Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Cathy Redfern, how we miss your sense of humour! You introduced many of us to the writer Catherine Gildiner in your latest presentation last November. I won’t say “last” because we hope life will bring you back our way!

Catherine Gildiner has written lively, funny, fascinating memoirs (1999, 2010, 2014) — and occasionally pens serious books: Seduction (2005) and her latest Good Morning Monster (2019), both which draw upon her primary profession of clinical psychologist. She is currently working on Underground (working title) about the underground railway to Canada.

Catherine Gildiner has led a most singular life, and Cathy Redfern’s favourite books are the author’s memoirs, especially the first, Too Close to the Falls.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THIS AUTHOR

p.s. If exploring Waterton is in your travel plans, get a copy of Cathy Redfern’s own guide, Knock, Knock Who’s There: A Walking Tour full of Cottage Folklore, Gossip and Tall Tales




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

CLICK HERE FOR 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

Emily Carr

“Writing is a splendid sorter of… feelings, better even than paint.”

Emily Carr

This past April during our season of “favourite authors”, Lyn Koltutsky revealed the literary side of the now-iconic Canadian artist Emily Carr. Lyn’s talk was interspersed with views of old photographs and stunning paintings. Emily Carr’s talents as an artist went largely unrecognised during a lifetime of sorrow, poverty and many challenges. In spite of — or perhaps because of — her life journey, she shines as a true “original”: adventurous, confident, quirky and complex. Her literary and artistic accomplishments seem even more astounding! 

Carr’s first book Klee Wyck, a collection of short stories, wasn’t published until 1941 near the end of her life when her painting career had ended due to a heart attack. Nonetheless, it won the Governor General’s Award for Literature that year! The two subsequent books published in her lifetime, The Book of Small (1942) and The House of All Sorts (1944) were “autobiographical” but she used creative licence which created somewhat of a myth of Emily Carr. Four more books were published posthumously.

LYN’S PRESENTATION SUMMARY CAN BE FOUND HERE

Nora Ephron launches our Humour, Irony and Satire Season!

Note: Regretfully, Calgary’s poorly-timed, record-breaking dump of snow on Oct 2nd caused us to postpone Mary’s presentation, “The Evolution of Humor & Its Role in Society & Literature. 

Neon sign on wall "all you need is lol"

Our season to Laugh Out Loud!
Photo by Kah Lok Leong on Unsplash

Welcome to CWLC’s Season of LOL!

Della Mae Wood started her presentation by showing us her notes, done in pencil on yellow lined paper. This is now a tradition of hers, ever since preparing an earlier club presentation on John Steinbeck, in the manner of John Steinbeck who always wrote this way!

Like Steinbeck, using traditional writing tools did not hamper Della Mae’s creativity. She launched our season of humor, irony and satire by talking about Nora Ephron, “a feminist with a funny bone”, who chronicled every aspect of being a woman in our times with hilarious acuity.

Nora Ephron produced an extensive body of work as journalist, novelist, essayist, playwright and screenwriter (e.g. When Harry Met Sally; Julie and Julia.) Della Mae shared some of her favorite passages, and the double-whammy of Ephron’s sharp insight and humor! Two of Della Mae’s favorites are: I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing. Ephron’s publisher, in consultation with the author, celebrated her body of work with a compilation, The Most of Nora Ephron.

Della Mae’s summary delves into so much more about this author, whose own life is a story in itself! CLICK HERE to read more…