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Thanksgiving – Literature

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

Of all those arts in which the wise excel, Nature’s chief masterpiece is writing well… John Sheffield

Writers Block

Think of the world of literature and how many great lines authors have gifted us with down through the ages? “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…” is the opening gambit of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. From the world of the Russian nobility Tolstoy noted, not unkindly, “Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in their own way…” in Anna Karenina. Finally there is Jane Austen’s brilliantly executed observation at the start of Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This list is far from exhaustive and you are welcome to add to it at your leisure for good literature is a joy that is meant to be shared, not secreted away.

The accepted wisdom is you will never be alone if you have a book in your possession. It’s counterintuitive but these low-tech two dimensional objects, with nothing but plain black and white printing on cracked leaves of paper, truly have the ability to make the senses soar. How amazing is the experience when reading something written decades or centuries ago and you find not a word of excess or out of place, and that every one of them rings true? There can be no doubting that when a good read gets it hooks into you there is not a lot that can better it for stoking the sense of anticipation at next curling up and reading some more. So much so that one is always a little bereft once a great book has been finished. You sit becalmed on an ocean, waiting for a friend or luck to recommend you the next reading project.


How ironic that Project Gutenberg seeks to salvage our cultural heritage by reclaiming many of the public domain books in a plain vanilla e-book form. Over 500 years ago Johannes Gutenberg was deemed a threat by various religions for perfecting the printing press and making the bible available to the masses, not just Clergy or scholars. Now his successors are determined to democratise the accessibility of great literary works and put a spoke in the wheel of the business model of the Amazons of the world. They do this by ensuring reading doesn’t go the way of the dodo bird by preserving a growing list of great works that may have fallen out of print. I only wish I had all the time in the world to play in the sandpit with their treasury of works.
To all those great writers who have committed their sweat and torment to producing great literature for us, we say thank you.

Previous thanksgiving article: Foreign Cinema

The season of Lent asks of us for sacrifice and the foregoing of many things, but an attitude of joy and gratitude should not be amongst them.

As an exercise in almsgiving over the next 40 days, this webpage will joyfully give up its praise and thanks for one aspect of life, and not always necessarily a religious one.

At the outset it should be made clear the viewpoints expressed here are a matter of individual opinion. If any one item doesn’t coincide with your own personal tastes then why not seek to better it with some thanksgiving of your own rather than a critique? You are always welcome to do so at the Archdiocesan website feedback mechanism.

So we invite you to come, walk with us awhile, and be thankful as we journey together to Calvary and beyond to Easter.

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