How To Teach English Literature: Resources, Strategies and Tips #ASMSG

How To Teach English Literature

This textbook is intended for students of English Literature Teaching as well as new and experienced teachers of English Literature.

Written by Thomas Jerome Baker, author of 168 books and a teacher of English with 15 years classroom experience, it explores current methods of teaching literature. It is applicable to instructional settings from middle school to university. It promotes a wide range of different critical approaches and tools for engaging with and interpreting texts. The author believes literature instruction should be organized around topics and issues of interest to students. Throughout the textbook, readers are encouraged to formulate and pursue inquiry-based questions in response to the issues and concerns that arouse their curiosity, enthusiasm and intellectual energies.

Coming out in October 2016


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Voting Rights Act: Exercise Your Right To #Vote on #ElectionDay

Join us.
Are you registered to vote?

I am.

I was born in Louisiana at a time when, if you had the wrong skin color and tried to register to vote or cast a ballot, you might be forced to pass a literacy test, pay a poll tax, or even face the threat of physical violence.

51 years ago today, that changed dramatically when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

It was a profound victory for families like mine — and it’s why I celebrate this anniversary every year, and why I hope you’ll join with me to commit to exercising this hard-won right on Election Day.

I’ve made it my life’s work to fight alongside the Democratic Party to protect the right to vote against efforts to erect new barriers.

I wish it was a fight we weren’t still fighting in the year 2016 — but in the three years since the Supreme Court profoundly weakened the protections of the VRA in Shelby County v. Holder, Republican-led state legislatures across the country have set to work making it harder for the folks the law used to protect to vote.

By rolling back early voting, eliminating same-day registration, implementing new photo ID laws, and more, Republican politicians are systematically targeting women, communities of color, working families, students, first-generation Americans, the elderly — all people who, it just so happens, tend not to be the ones supporting the GOP on Election Day.

The good news is, with a string of recent rulings across the nation, our courts are stepping up and striking down these laws one by one by calling them out for what they really are — partisan ploys to disenfranchise voters inclined to support Democrats.

Each decision has been a step in the right direction, but we still have our work cut out for us. Democrats believe that we are stronger together, and stronger when every voice can be heard at the ballot box.

Thomas, join me today in committing to vote for leaders who share that belief and will continue fighting alongside us:

Thanks for being part of this,


Donna Brazile
Democratic National Committee

Join us.

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The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Gift of Romance For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, or Anniversary #MondayMotivation


The Lost Art Of Love Letters Learn how to write a love letter. Love letters are immortal. Love letters live forever. In a world dominated by technology and social media, hand-written love letters are still worthwhile. Love letters should not be considered out-dated, old-fashioned, and definitely, not a lost art. Love letters live forever and one day more.

Love letters take on their immortal character when the letter comes from the depths of your heart and soul. Your innermost thoughts and feelings, when received by the person you love, will be a treasured memory for all the days to come. In fact, this book shows many examples of immortal love letters.

These love letters live on and on and on, even past the time when both the writer and receiver have long disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Love lives on. That is why I make the effort in this book to motivate you, dear reader, to write love letters to the one you love. A special occasion such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, a birthday or anniversary would be a perfect time to write a love letter to your beloved. It is a unique and incredibly personal gift that your partner will treasure forever.Who knows? It is possible that you might take up writing love letters as a fundamental part of your relationship.

Let me leave you with a final thought. As you read this book, you will find out that the most beautiful and most profound love letter was never delivered. Written, yes, but never did the person who it was meant for, never did that person see the letter. Let me conclude by saying that no matter how beautiful a love letter may be, it must be delivered. Don’t forget that part.

The Lost Art Of Love Letters


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The Story Of A Man Named #Valentine

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]All over the world, people celebrate Valentines Day. Nonetheless, few people know much about its history.

Nowadays, it has become an excuse to spend money on flowers (roses), chocolate, romantic dinners and even more romantic getaways.

Just another commercial holiday, in other words.

The Story of a Man Named Valentine

Mr. Valentine lived in the third century AD in Terni, Italy. According to the legend, Valentines Day goes back to this Italian Bishop, Saint Valentine. He would secretly marry people. He did this against an existing prohibition. It is said that if you wanted to get married, he was the man to go to. He went so far as to marry slaves or soldiers. Imagine that, slaves and soldiers getting married. What good could come of that?

Worse even, Bishop Valentine married people in the Christian tradition. Thus, he was breaking the prohibition of the Roman emperor. In that time, Christianity was banned as a religion. So Valentine was definitely playing with fire. If the emperor found out, Valentine would be fed to the lions.

As you might expect, Bishop Valentine’s luck ran out. He got caught. No, he wasn’t fed to the lions. The emperor had him beheaded. It’s not too difficult to guess what day of the year Bishop Valentin lost his head.

Yes, on February 14 (did you guess correctly?), in the year 269, by order of the Emperor Claudius II, Bishop Valentin was executed. In this way, he became a martyr of the Christian faith. Legend also has it that while in jail, awaiting execution, Bishop Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and he signed it “From Your Valentine.”

This is a great story, but in all fairness, the exact origins and identity of the man named Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.”

One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Legends vary on how the martyr’s name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love.

On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day.

Lupercalia, known as, The Feast of the Wolf, was the festival of the Roman Goddess Lupa (the female Wolf). She was worshiped in the form of the goddess Juno Februata, the Goddess of “Love Fever”.

On this day, flowers were sacrificed and couples apparently connected by “love lottery” for one year. Girls went to the temple, to consult the love oracle.

Young men drew from the lottery an unmarried girls name.

The drawn couples walked along the river Tiber and many of them became lovers.

About 100 years after his death, Valentine was canonized. In the Middle Ages, 496 AD, 200 years later, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 the existing holidays and customs to the Christian faith, and now called it the day of lovers “Valentine’s Day”.

Thus, the old pagan tradition was assimilated into the Christian tradition, under a new name. Same game, just a new name, left everybody happy it seems. The people had a celebration, and Christianity was able to loosen the grip of pagan practices over the people. As Shakespeare’s Juliet would famously say:

“What’s in a name?  A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]Valentine’s Day in England

Since the Middle Ages, royalty, aristocrats, writers and poets have happily adorned their love offerings with Chaucer’s images of mating birds and Cupid with his quiver of arrows. Lovers, whether royal or rustic, exchanged Valentine’s Day love tokens in keeping with their position: elegant poems with musical accompaniment, precious medals, works of art, or simple nosegays of flowers and handmade gifts. Usually, the Valentine gift was a serious declaration of love, and often a formal invitation to marriage. Valentine’s Day could also be a playful occasion. On February 14, 1667, the writer, Samuel Pepys, wrote in his diary:

“This morning come up to my wife’s bedside, I being up dressing myself, little Will Mercer to be her Valentine; and brought her name writ upon blue paper in gold letters, done by himself, very pretty; and we were both well pleased with it. But I am also this year my wife’s Valentine, and it will cost me 5 pounds; but that I must have laid out if we had not been Valentines. So to bed.”

On February 14, 1383, the poet Chaucer performed his poem “The Parliament of Fowls” for King Richard II. The Parliament of Fowls (Birds) has 699 lines and has the form of a dream vision of the narrator. The poem is one of the first references to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day was a special day for lovers.

The plot is about the narrator who dreams that he passes through a beautiful landscape, through the dark temple of Venus to the bright sunlight. Dame Nature sees over a large flock of birds who are gathered to choose their mates. The birds have a parliamentary debate while three male eagles try to seduce a female bird. The debate is full of speeches and insults. At the end, none of the three eagles wins the female eagle. The dream ends welcoming the coming spring.

The Tudor House

“Seynte Valentine of custome yeere by yeere
Men have an usance, in this regioun
To loke and serche Cupides kalendar,
And chose theyr choyse by grete affeccioun,
Such has been move with Cupides nocioun,
Takying theyre choyse as theyre sort doth falle;
But I love oon whiche excelleth alle.”
(Valentine Letter sent from Henry V to Catherine of Valois, 1420)

In 1420, Henry V hired John Lydgate to compose a Valentine greeting to Catherine of Valois. The tradition of love letters, poetry and Saint Valentine’s Day continued in the royal Tudor line. It is perhaps to Henry VIII that we owe the survival of Saint Valentine’s Day, for he made it a national holiday in England by Royal Decree, in 1537.

“And, cosyn, uppon Fryday is Sent Volentynes Day, and every byrdde chesyth hym a make [mate] and yf it lyke yowe to come one Thursday at nyght, and so purvey yowe, that ye may abyde there tyll Monday, I trusty to God that ye schall so speke to myn husband; and I schall prey that we schall bryng the mater to a conclusion.”
(The Paston Letters, no. 782)

In England, Valentine’s Day was a day for the formal negotiation of arranged marriages, as well as courtship. In this correspondence from 1477 we have a letter from Dame Margery Brews proposing that John Paston marry her daughter. In the body of correspondence from which this letter is drawn there is also one from the daughter, Margery, that indicates she was indeed interested in the match.

The practice of sending actual St. Valentine’s Day cards originates in England circa 1400.  What is referred to as the first actual Valentine is a letter written in 1416 by Frenchman Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

This first Valentine itself is bittersweet as she died before it could reach her as the Duke was imprisoned in various English castles for nearly 25 years.

The original letter still exists and is held at the British Library in London.

Incidentally the oldest surviving Valentine written in English is also held there.  This was written by Margery Brews of Norfolk to her fiance John Paxston in 1477.

The practice of sending hand-written Valentine’s Day cards does indeed first appear circa 1400 in England.  Another long-standing belief is that King Henry VIII established February 14 as St. Valentines’ Day in a royal decree in 1537.  By 1601 St. Valentine’s Day has become part of England’s “popular consciousness to the extent that…William Shakespeare mentions it in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet:

“Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s [D]ay

All in the morning betime

And I a maid at your window

To be your Valentine.” [2]

By the 17th century it became commonplace for friends and lovers from all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection like hand-made cards, chocolates, and small gifts on St. Valentine’s Day.  Some of these traditions found themselves brought to America with the colonists.  In fact their popularity grew with imported “writers” from England that were actually booklets that had various “be my Valentine” messages that one could copy onto decorative paper and send.  One popular “writer” even had responses.

Late 18th century and early 19th century Valentines were often religious in nature.  It wasn’t until 1847 that the first American mass-produced Valentine made from–what else but–English imported embossed paper and lace was produced.  They were created and sold by Esther Howland of Winchester, MA, who is commonly referred to as “The Mother of the Valentine”.

“The popularity of sending and receiving [Valentine’s] cards [in England] grew alongside the improvement in postal services and methods of printing to the point in the 1830s where postmen needed refreshments to help with the unprecedented number of cards they had to deliver.” [3]  In America the Valentine didn’t truly become a tradition until during the Civil War (1861-1865) “when [V]alentine cards often depicted sweethearts parting, or a tent with flaps that opened to reveal a soldier.” [4]

Vintage Valentine

“By 1900 printed cards began to replace hand-written letters due to improvements in printing technology.  [Indeed] [r]eady-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings were discouraged.”  It was in the Victorian era with advancements in printing and then the introduction of the “penny post” that sending Valentines became even more popular.

The penny postcard Valentines were most popular during 1890-1917.   Sometime in the late 1800s sending Valentine’s cards fell out of fashion only to be revived sometime in the 1920s.  Contrary to what some believe–Hallmark did not create this holiday.  Hallmark’s first Valentine card was not produced until 1913.

Valentine’s Day now accounts for 25% of the cards sent each year according to the Greeting Card Association.   Today 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in a holiday that in 2014 reached $17 billion in spending.


Nowadays, beyond commercialism, Valentine’s Day reminds us of the desire of love and pleasure. St. Valentine did not care about rules, class, or social status and did give love its proper Christian sanction. This he did, no matter if rich or poor, slave or soldier.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” – Maya Angelou

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]The Lost Art Of Love Letters

Available Now For PreOrder 

Don’t Wait For Valentine’s Day

When was the last time you got a love letter? When was the last time you wrote a love letter? Now that writing love letters is a lost art, what better gift can you give the one you love than an old-fashioned, authentic, hand written, love letter!

The Lost Art Of Love Letters

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PreOrder for $0.99 cents: The Lost Art Of #Love Letters: A Romantic #Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday #ASMSG

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]When was the last time you got a loveletter? When was the last time you wrote a love letter? Now that writing love letters is a lost art, what better gift can you give the one you love than an old-fashioned, authentic, hand written, love letter!

The purpose of this book is twofold. One, it shares some of the most romantic love letters ever written. They act as a model to help you express your love in a profound and personal way that your partner will treasure for the rest of their life.

But first, what is love?

In the year 2012, that phrase – what is love -, was the most researched phrase on Google. Five writers from diverse backgrounds tried to define what love is. The five people were a physicist, a psychotherapist, a philosopher, a romantic novelist, and a nun.

The answers they gave were eloquent, convincing, and yes, diverse. The nun said that love is a paradox. “Love is free yet binds us.” The romantic novelist said that love is everything. The philosopher said that love is a passionate commitment. The psychotherapist identified six different types of love and said that it is unlikely to experience all six types with only one person. And the physicist? He said that “love is chemistry.”

So, what is love?

In this book, I have tried to show love that is as diverse as the five authors above have defined it. I also try to show love that meets the precise definition that Paul gives in his first letter to the Corinthians, below:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” ~ The First Letter of Paul To The Corinthians 13:4-8

The book promotes the appreciation, and the writing, of love letters.
The book encourages and helps people to write love letters.
What is love?
In 1845, the poet Robert Browning, in his first letter to the poet Elizabeth Barrett, wrote:
“I love your verses” with all my heart… and I love you too.” 
Robert, at that time, had never met, never even seen Elizabeth. It was enough for him to read her poetry to fall in love with her…truly…deeply…passionately.
January 10th, 1845

New Cross, Hatcham, Surrey

I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett, and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write, whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me…

The next day Elizabeth wrote back to him:
“I thank you, dear Mr. Browning, from the the bottom of my heart. You meant to give me pleasure by your letter-and even if the object had not been answered, I ought still to thank you. But it is thoroughly answered…
And in the meantime I have learnt to know your voice, not merely from the poetry, but the kindness in it…
I will say that I am your debtor, not only for this cordial letter and all the pleasure which came with it, but in other ways, and those the highest; and I will say that while I live to follow this divine art of poetry, in proportion to my love for it and my devotion to it, I must be a devout admirer and student of your works. This is in my heart to say to you-and I say it.
     And, for the rest, I am proud to remain,
          Your obliged and faithful,
                Elizabeth B. Barrett”
18 months and almost 600 letters later, they were married…
On their honeymoon, one day Elizabeth sneaked up behind Robert, and pressed a document containing over 43 sonnets into his coat pocket and told him they expressed her love for him.
The poems were published in 1850 under the title, Sonnets From The Portuguese.
My favorite is Sonnet 43:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Now, why did Robert publish the intimate, deeply personal, profoundly private, love poems that Elizabeth wrote to him? Didn’t he respect her at all? Robert said:
“I dared not reserve to myself the finest sonnets written in any language since Shakespeare’s.”
1. Sonnet XLIII, found on page 230 of the free book below:
AuthorElizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861).
Initial PublicationIn 1850 the London firm of Chapman and Hall published Sonnets from the Portuguese in Poems.
2. The letters cited can be found on pages 1-4 in the free book below:
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World’s Most #Beautiful #Bookstore #ASMSG

buenos-aires-bookstore-theatre-el-ateneo-grand-splendid-9Tucked away in Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires is a beautiful bookshop called El Ateneo Grand Splendid. It is built within the almost 100-year-old Grand Splendid Theater, which opened in 1919. The theatre was later converted into a cinema and eventually, in 2000, it was converted into the El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookshop, which currently welcomes over one million visitors each year.

The stunning building was originally designed by architects Peró and Torres Armengol, then later converted from a cinema into a bookshop by architect Fernando Manzone, who retained many parts of the theatre, including the stage, the balconies, the incredible architectural details and even the red curtains.

In 2008 El Ateneo Grand Splendid was named the second most beautiful bookshop in the world by The Guardian, and that’s no surprise considering it’s elaborate décor and classic 1920’s theater feel.

Facebook Wikipedia TopShelves


El Ateneo Grand Splendid, una joya entre las librerías del mundo

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Nobody Writes To Me Anymore

So I thought, “I will talk about death.” Seemed to be the passion today. Actually, it’s not about death. It’s inevitable, terrible, but really what I want to talk about is, I’m just fascinated by the legacy people leave when they die. That’s what I want to talk about.

So Art Buchwald left his legacy of humor with a video that appeared soon after he died, saying, “Hi! I’m Art Buchwald, and I just died.”

And Mike, who I met at Galapagos, a trip which I won at TED, is leaving notes on cyberspace where he is chronicling his journey through cancer.

And my father left me a legacy of his handwriting through letters and a notebook. In the last two years of his life, when he was sick, he filled a notebook with his thoughts about me. He wrote about my strengths, weaknesses, and gentle suggestions for improvement, quoting specific incidents, and held a mirror to my life.

After he died, I realized that no one writes to me anymore.

Handwriting is a disappearing art. I’m all for email and thinking while typing, but why give up old habits for new?

Why can’t we have letter writing and email exchange in our lives?

There are times when I want to trade all those years that I was too busy to sit with my dad and chat with him, and trade all those years for one hug. But too late. But that’s when I take out his letters and I read them, and the paper that touched his hand is in mine, and I feel connected to him.

So maybe we all need to leave our children with a value legacy, and not a financial one. A value for things with a personal touch — an autograph book, a soul-searching letter. If a fraction of this powerful TED audience could be inspired to buy a beautiful paper — John, it’ll be a recycled one — and write a beautiful letter to someone they love, we actually may start a revolution where our children may go to penmanship classes.

So what do I plan to leave for my son?

I collect autograph books, and those of you authors in the audience know I hound you for them — and CDs too, Tracy. I plan to publish my own notebook. As I witnessed my father’s body being swallowed by fire, I sat by his funeral pyre and wrote.

I have no idea how I’m going to do it, but I am committed to compiling his thoughts and mine into a book, and leave that published book for my son.

I’d like to end with a few verses of what I wrote at my father’s cremation. And those linguists, please pardon the grammar, because I’ve not looked at it in the last 10 years. I took it out for the first time to come here.

“Picture in a frame, ashes in a bottle, boundless energy confined in the bottle, forcing me to deal with reality, forcing me to deal with being grown up. I hear you and I know that you would want me to be strong, but right now, I am being sucked down, surrounded and suffocated by these raging emotional waters, craving to cleanse my soul, trying to emerge on a firm footing one more time, to keep on fighting and flourishing just as you taught me. Your encouraging whispers in my whirlpool of despair, holding me and heaving me to shores of sanity, to live again and to love again.”

Thank you.

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Love Letters: Juliette & Victor


The following letter was written to Victor Hugo by his mistress Juliette Drouet. The two began their affair in 1833 after the production of Hugo’s play, Lucrezia Borgia, in which Drouet played the lead role of the murderous Princesse Négroni. At the time Hugo, after discovering the betrayal of his wife and childhood friend, Adèle, had fallen into an emotional recession.

Already prone to fits of melancholy, he began to doubt the framework of his spiritual and ontological views.

Drouet, with a penchant for the melodramatic, apparently provided the perfect antidote to Hugo’s ruined conception of romantic love.

He would come to practice many of his half-religious, half-philosophical theories on his mistress, forcing her to adopt a state of abject poverty in what he called “the marriage of escaped birds.”

When Drouet complained that she had nothing to do in her monastic apartment in Les Metz, Hugo encouraged her to write “everything that made her heart beat.” Drouet followed his advice; she wrote over 20,000 notes, most of which were left for Hugo in the hollow of an old chestnut tree. They remained lovers until Drouet’s death in 1883. 

November 1st, 1839.

Good-morning, my dear little beloved, my darling little man. You told me so definitely yesterday that my handwriting was hideous, and my scrawl nothing but a horrible maze in which you lose both patience and love, that I hardly dare write to you to-day, and it would take very little to make me cease our correspondence altogether. We must have an explanation on this subject, for it is cruel of you to force me to make myself ridiculous night and morning, simply because I love you and am the saddest and loneliest of women. If my love must be drowned in my ignorance and stupidity, at least do not force me to make the plunge myself.

 There was a time when you would not have noticed the ugliness of my writing; you would only have read my meaning and been happy and grateful. Now you laugh, which is shabby and wicked of you. This seems to be the fate of all the Quasimodo of this world, moral and physical; they are jeered at: form is everything, spirit nothing. Even if I could constrain my crabbed scrawl to say, “My soul is beautiful,” you would not be less amused. Therefore, my dear little man, pending the moment when I can join in the laugh against myself, I think it would be as well to suspend these daily writings. Besides, the moment has come when I must turn all my time and energies towards making my position secure. Nothing in this world can turn me from my purpose, for it is to me a question of life and death…

I count upon you to help me, my beloved. I am asking you for more than life—for the moral consummation of our marriage of love. Let me go with you wherever my happiness is threatened, let me be the wife of your mind and heart, if I cannot be yours in law. If I express myself badly, do not scoff, but understand that I have a right to put into words what you yourself have felt, and that I insist upon defending myself against all those women who get at you under pretext of serving you. I will have my turn, for I love you and am jealous.


Later that same day:

 You are good, my adored one, and I am a wretch. But I love you while you only permit yourself to be loved; that is what makes you so tranquil and me so bitter. My heart is weighed down by jealousy this evening and nothing less than your adored presence will suffice to calm me. I carry hell and all the furies within my soul. I wish I could be sewn to the lining of your coat tonight. I feel I am about to encounter some great danger that I can only defeat by not leaving your side. If my fears are well-grounded, I shall probably fail in averting the doom that threatens me, for you will not be able to stay with me all the evening. The compliments and flattery you will receive will take you from me. I cannot deny that I am unhappy, and would much rather be with you at Fontainebleau, at the Hôtel de France, than in Box C. of the Théâtre Français, even when Marion de Lorme is being played.

Kiss me, my little man. You were very sweet in your new greatcoat, but you had not told me you had been to your tailor. I shall keep up with you by sending for my dressmaker. I do not mean to surrender to you the palm for smartness and dandyism


From: Juliette Drouet’s Love-letters to Victor Hugo. Edited by Louise Guimbaud. Translated by Lady Theodora Davidson. London: Stanley Paul & Co. (1915).

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ReInterpreting Michelangelo’s David

The Ruined Block of Stone

Look at the statue. Before it was “The David“, it was just a ruined block of stone.

David,  by Michelangelo     (1504 ) Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence ( a GNU Free Documentation License photo de Rico Heil (User:Silmaril), published here)

“At this time some of his friends wrote to him advising him to come back to Florence, because there was some talk of having the great piece of marble which was lying spoilt made into a statue, and Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere had talked of giving it to Leonardo da Vinci, and now was preparing to give it to Andrea Contucci. Michael Angelo had desired to have it many years before; so he returned to Florence, and tried for it.

It was a piece of marble nine braccia in size, out of which a Master Simone da Fiesole had begun to carve a giant, and had managed it so badly that the heads of the works at S. Maria del Fiore, without caring to have it finished, had abandoned it, and it had been lying thus for many years.

Michael Angelo measured it again, and examined it to see if a reasonable figure could be cut out of the rock by accommodating its attitude to the maimed condition in which Master Simone had left it, and resolved to make a request for it from the architects and Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere.

They, considering it a useless thing, granted it to him, thinking that anything would be better than the state it was in. Then Michael Angelo made a model in wax of a young David with a sling in his hand, and began to work in S. Maria del Fiore, setting up a scaffold round the marble, and working at it continually without anybody seeing it until he had brought it to perfection.

Master Simone had so spoilt the marble that in some places there was not enough left for Michael Angelo’s purpose, and certainly it was a miracle restoring thus one that was dead.

When Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere saw it, it pleased him much, but he said to Michael Angelo, who was engaged in retouching it in certain places, that he thought “the nose was too thick”.

Michael Angelo, perceiving that Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere was below the statue, and could not see it truly, to satisfy him went up the scaffold, taking a chisel in his left hand with a little marble dust, and began to work with his chisel, letting a little
dust fall now and then, but not touching the nose.

Then looking down to Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere, who was watching, he said, “Look at it now.”

It pleases me better,” said Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere; “you have given it life.”

So Michael Angelo came down, pitying those who make a show of understanding matters about which they really know nothing. For the statue, Michael Angelo received
four hundred crowns from Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere. It was set up in the year 1504.

Source: Stories of the Italian Artists, Vasari 

Michael Angelo carved the David, according to Condivi, though few believe this, in eighteen months and “extracted the statue so exactly that the old rough surface of the marble [and Simone da Fiesole’s chisel marks] still appear on the top of the head and on the base.”

David, Andrea del Verrocchio, ca. 1466-69, Museo del Bargello, Florenz, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Andrea del Verrocchio‘s bronze statue of David was most likely made between 1473 and 1475. It was commissioned by the Medici family. It is sometimes claimed that Verrocchio modeled the statue after a handsome pupil in his workshop, the young Leonardo da Vinci.

The statue represents the youthful David, future king of the Israelites, triumphantly posed over the head of the slain Goliath. The bronze was initially installed in Palazzo Vecchio in 1476.[1]


The bronze David created by Donatello between 1430 and 1432. It is currently located in the Bargello Palace and Museum. CC BY-SA 2.0

David is the title of two statues of the biblical hero by the Italian early Renaissance sculptor Donatello, an early work in marble of a clothed figure (1408-09), and a far more famous bronze figure that is nude between its helmet and boots, and dates to the 1430s or later. Both are now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence.

Sculptor John Edwards suggests an alternative interpretation for Michelangelo’s David. Traditionally, David is thought to look at his adversary, Goliath. Like the “Davids” of Donatello and Verrocchio, who stand on Goliath’s head signaling that the battle is over and the victory won, Michelangelo’s David may also represent the victory over Goliath.

Not only that, but also Michelangelo’s David is looking at the rest of the Philistine army, wondering if they will honor Goliath’s pledge to turn back if he is defeated in single combat.

This could be Michelangelo’s comment on the wretched leadership of Lorenzo de Medici’s son Piero, and his dereliction of civic responsibility.


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President Obama on #Dallas: “We are horrified over these events”

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press regarding the police shootings in Dallas, Tex., from the Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, July 8, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

THE WHITE HOUSE With your understanding, I want to begin with a few words about the situation back in the United States, specifically the situation in Dallas, Texas.

My team has been keeping me updated throughout the morning of the evening in Dallas. I spoke this morning with Mayor Rawlings of Dallas to convey the deepest condolences of the American people. I told him that the federal government will provide whatever assistance Dallas may need as it deals with this tremendous tragedy.

We still don’t know all the facts. What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement. Police in Dallas were on duty, doing their jobs, keeping people safe during peaceful protests. These law enforcement officers were targeted, and nearly a dozen officers were shot. Five were killed. Other officers and at least one civilian were wounded — some are in serious condition, and we are praying for their recovery.

As I told Mayor Rawlings, I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events, and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas. According to police, there are multiple suspects. We will learn more, undoubtedly, about their twisted motivations. But let’s be clear: There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement. The FBI is already in touch with the Dallas police, and anyone involved in these senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.

I will have more to say about this as the facts become more clear. For now, let me just say that even as yesterday I spoke about our need to be concerned, as all Americans, about racial disparities in our criminal justice system, I also said yesterday that our police have an extraordinarily difficult job and the vast majority of them do their job in outstanding fashion. I also indicated the degree to which we need to be supportive of those officers who do their job each and every day, protecting us and protecting our communities.

Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us. We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in the days ahead, we’re going to have to consider those realities as well.

In the meantime, today our focus is on the victims and their families. They are heartbroken. The entire city of Dallas is grieving. Police across America, which is a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core. And we’re grieving with them. I’d ask all Americans to say a prayer for these officers and their families. Keep them in your thoughts. And as a nation, let’s remember to express our profound gratitude to our men and women in blue — not just today, but every day.

Watch the President’s statement here.

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