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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ancient Books

By Srianee (Bunter) Fernando Dias


                                       Ancient Books

Some of you know that I have been hunting for my father’s collection of P.G. Wodehouse books in Colombo.  Sadly, the trail came to a dead end when I found out that one of my brothers had lent several of the Penguin editions to a friend who never returned them.  The friend subsequently emigrated to the UK, and my brother lost track of him. (Perhaps I should put Speedy on the quest to track him down.) 

While searching for these gems, I stumbled across a very old edition of a collection of fourteen selected short stories by Aldous Huxley entitled “Twice Seven” published by the Reprint Society in 1944.  They are mostly deliciously satirical stories about late 19th Century British society. There are philosophical digressions here and there, and I found them to be quite entertaining. Huxley wrote these at a time when he didn’t have to worry about being “politically correct.”  Women were thought to be “old” after age thirty. (It reminded me of Professor Sinnathamby predicting that all of us female medical students would be “Elderly Primaes”)  I thought I would share this amusing passage from a story entitled “Young Archimedes” describing an Italian woman.

“Her vitality, if you could have harnessed it and made it do some useful work, would have supplied a whole town with electric light.  The physicists talk of deriving energy from the atom; they would be more profitably employed nearer home – in discovering some way of tapping those enormous stores of vital energy which accumulate in unemployed women of sanguine temperament and which, in the present imperfect state of social and scientific organization, vent themselves in ways that are generally so deplorable: in interfering with other people’s affairs, in working up emotional scenes, in thinking about love and making it, and in bothering men till they cannot get on with their work.”

 

 

 

13 comments:

  1. Bunter
    Thankyou for sharing this hilarious excerpt.Iam glad your search was not entirely in vain! - I haven't read the lighter works by Aldous Huxley except for the children's book- Crows of Pearblossom. The Doors of Perception and Brave New world Which I read long years ago were "thought- provoking"-I must get back to reading some of his other works - There is so much to do in such a short life!! Nice to see you back from your holidays-
    Rohini Ana

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    1. Yes, I need to put "Brave New World" on my list of books to read. I found these short stories quite witty and clever. One has to remember that he wrote in a different era when social norms were not the same as today. He was a screen writer later on and wrote screen plays for several well known films. I don't remember the titles at the moment.
      I'm winding down my vacation, although I am still in Colombo. I hope to see you in NYC soon. Bunter

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  2. Thanks, Srianee! Your valuable article answers my puzzlement why we do not see much books, quotations, and other works by women much before mid 20th century. Now I’ve got the answer! Men of Aldous Huxley’s ilk, stopped them, confined them to the sink, and never gave publicity to their works. Then came the Suffragette movement and women went on hunger strikes, were imprisoned etc and finally got the suffrage and then they just ‘broke loose’ in other areas too! Aldous Huxley must have squirmed when in 1928 women got the same political rights as men.
    Zita

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    1. Hi Zita,
      Yes, we have come a long way. Unfortunately, there are a few men like that left, but I see hopeful trends in the younger generation. I think about some of the comments our professors made, and I wonder how we put up with all that. I would not put up with any of that today, so we have changed too! Srianee

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  4. Zita and Srianee
    Though I can understand Zita's ire about the Huxley excerpt owing to its derogatory nature towards women,I must confess I do like it as a humorous
    Piece of writing! This is prose written in the 19th century and is innocuous in comparison to what women suffer In reality in this day and age.An informative read is a book "Half the Sky" written by two Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn- They have also won several other prestigious prizes for their journalism-cheers- Rohini Ana

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    1. Hi Rohini, I agree that we should take Huxley's writing for what it is-satirical humor. I read Nicholas Kristof's Op Ed columns regularly, and you just added another book to my list of books I should read. I think I saw the TV program covering their travels and reseach for the book. Srianee/Bunter

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  5. Bunter
    It is nearly a 100 year since the British Suffragettes fought for equality and won the right for women to vote. Since then there has been progress although not fast enough. Equality may not be achieved in my lifetime but I am encouraged by the many people around the world like Bunter who keep the flame alive. In the East we have a long way to go where girls still fight for their right to go to school. Equality being a basic human right we have much further to go. Bunter, Well said and well done!!
    ND

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    1. Yes ND, I'm trying to do my bit! Bunter

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    2. Srianee, well done! You appear to have cracked it! I mean commenting as you and not using that most famous person Miss Anon Nymous.

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    3. Thanks Speedy. It took a little patience, that was all.

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  6. Speedy, I used to comment as myself -but then your instructions on how to comment said we should go anonymous and add the name at the end of the comment !!! Am I mistaken?Rohini Ana

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  7. Oh no Rohini! That was meant for those who were not able to do so, if you have another peep. Please do comment as yourself.

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