Did you know that some famous literary classics almost ended in a completely different way?

Did you know that some famous literary classics almost ended in a completely different way? If you are fine with spoilers, read on...

Great Expectations

Great Expectations by English novelist Charles Dickens follows the life of Pip, a young orphan who dreams of transcending his humble origins and becoming a gentleman. Through a mysterious benefactor, Pip is granted financial resources, thus fulfilling his aspirations. However, his newfound wealth and status lead him down a path of self-discovery, where he encounters various characters who shape his journey.

Dickens initially penned a bleak conclusion for this masterpiece. However, prior to its publication in 1861, a group of his trusted friends intervened, urging him to reconsider the ending. They proposed a revision that would introduce a glimmer of hope, a chance for the protagonist Pip and his beloved Estella to mend their broken relationship. Although Dickens approached this alteration with a hint of reluctance, he ultimately embraced the suggestion and made the change.

A Farewell to Arms

 A Farewell to Arms by American novelist Ernest Hemingway is a novel that was published in 1929. This classic follows the story of an American ambulance driver named Frederic Henry, who serves in the Italian army during World War 1. The book explores important themes such as love, war, and the feeling of disappointment that comes from witnessing the horrors of battle. Hemingway's portrayal of how people respond to tragedy makes this book a significant and enduring piece of literature. Interestingly, Hemingway went through extensive revisions to find the perfect ending for the book. In 1958, he mentioned in an interview that he rewrote the ending 39 times until he was satisfied. However, in a 2012 edition of the book, his grandson Sean Hemingway, shared that he discovered an astonishing 47 different alternative endings to the book hidden within his grandfather's papers.

Rinkitink in Oz

Rinkitink in Oz is a delightful children's fantasy novel written by American author L. Frank Baum and published in 1916. It is part of the famous Oz series, which includes the beloved classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz It follows the jolly character Rinkitink from the kingdom of Gilgad, who unexpectedly ventures into the magical Land of Oz with Prince Inga and a talking goat named Bilbil Baum wrote 14 Oz books in his lifetime. However, Rinkitink in Oz the 10th book in the Oz series. stands out as a unique entry. Although it is widely regarded as an excellent story, around 90% of the tale unfolds outside of Oz. Only at the very end does Dorothy make a sudden appearance to introduce the heroes to the wonders of Oz The reason for this divergence is quite straightforward the book was originally written as a standalone fairy tale with no connection to the Oz universe, a decade before its inclusion in the series. When in need of a new Oz book and feeling weary after a busy period of writing. L. Frank Baum repurposed Rinkitink's story and reworked its ending to integrate it into the popular series. The great news is that despite its deviation from the typical Oz setting. Rinkitink in Oz is considered one of the finest stories in the entire series.


Persuasion is English novelist June Austen's final completed novel, written after Emma and finished in August 1816, a year before her death at the age of 41 The stony follows Anne Elliot, who is persuaded by her family to decline a marriage proposal from Captain Frederick Wentworth, Years later, circumstances reunite them, compelling Anne to confront her emotions and societal expectations Interestingly, the published ending of the book was not Austen's original one. In James Edward Austen-Lengths A Memoir of Jane Austen, the authors nephew included the "cancelled chapters associated with the book, revealing Austen's first ending of the novel. However, she became dissatisfied with it and rewrote the chapters between July and August 1816. These unique pages are the only surviving manuscript of a novel Austen planned and completed for publication The revised ending, was published in the first edition of the novel in 1818. Since the release of A Memoir of Jane Austen in 1871, both readers and critics have agreed that Austen made the right choice by selecting the altemate ending. It is widely regarded as superior for it offered a greater emotional depth and artistry.

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What is the cherry blossom festival?

The Japanese call it 'Sakura Matsuri' It is a festival held in spring every year all over Japan and also in a number of other countries. It celebrates the blooming of the cherry trees and is a time for locals to have a picnic or hanami and enjoy the pleasant weather outdoors. There are blossom-viewing parties held both in the cities and the countryside.

The tree that is so revered is the Yoshino cherry tree or sakura that puts out exquisite pale pink blossoms. The cherry blossom is Japan's national flower. It is grown for its ornamental beauty and does not bear fruit.

Short but colourful life

To the Japanese, cherry blossom symbolises the ephemeral or transient quality of life. It features prominently in Japanese art, literature and folklore. At the picnics and parties, guests compose short poems or create brush paintings on the spot in celebration.

Cherry blossom festivals are a Occasion for street fairs, with stalls selling local craft and food. Visitors can also relish traditional theatre and dance performances.

The arrival of the cherry blossom is tracked closely with round-the-clock - news reports providing updates on exactly where and when the fabled flowers will appear. The blossoming begins in January in Okinawa and reaches Kyoto and Tokyo in April. It blooms last in Hokkaido in the northern reaches a few weeks later. The flower was used to whip up patriotic fervour during World War Il with the soldiers' sacrifice compared to the falling of the blossoms. Japanese pilots on suicide missions painted the cherry blossom on the side of their planes.

Blooming friendship

Japan has gifted thousands of cherry trees as a goodwill gesture to several countries. The cities which have nurtured these cherry orchards hold a cherry blossom festival every spring, just like in Japan. One such city is Washington D.C. which received 3,000 trees from Japan in 1912.

Every spring, the Tidal Basin along the Potomac River in Washington DC erupts in a shower of white and pink as thousands of cherry blossom trees bloom in all their glory.

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In the rich tapestry of Shakespearean plays, there exists a character who, despite its comedic antics, embodies far more depth and significance than meets the eye - the Shakespearean fool. Distinguishing this character from a clown isn't merely a matter of costumes and gags; it delves into their roles and impact within society. The Shakespearean fool, unlike a traditional clown, possessed a multifaceted role. Such characters were not just jesters for entertainment but often served as insightful commentators, revealing truths about other characters and situations through wit, irony, and satire. They often disguised their wisdom within their humorous dialogues, speaking uncomfortable truths that others dared not vocalise.


Types of Shakespearean Fools

In the Bard's theatricalmasterpieces, the depiction of fools transcends a singular archetype, offering a spectrum of characters that exemplify diverse facets of wit, wisdom, and societal critique. One such variant is the "clown," a character like the Fool in King Lear or Feste in Twelfth Night. They skilfully interweave jests and puns with profound insights, often using humour to shield poignant observations on the world around them. Their seemingly light-hearted banter belies a deep understanding of the underlying truths of the society they inhabits.  Contrasting the down is the 'wise fool', epitomised by character such as touchstone in as you like it. These figures posses an innate preceptiveness that belies their outward Appreance of buffoonery.  Their playful antics serve as a tool to unravel the hypocrisies and challenge conventional wisdom. In addition, the "moral fool" emerges in characters like Edgar disguised as Poor Tom in King Lear. These individuals adopt a guise of madness or folly to navigate perilous circumstances. Through their seemingly irrational behaviour

Court jesters  

Court jesters were the predecessors of the Shakespearean fool, and held a pivotal position in the monacrch's courts across the world. Beyond providing amusement, they acted as truth-tellers in a world where criticising those in power was perilous.


The iconic attire of a courtjester from its unique cap with bells and colourful costumes were symbols of their privilege to talk and mock without the fear of punishment. Beyond playing the role of injecting levity into a situation these comics possess a very rare privilege-free speech.

Comedy in the contemporary world Connecting the iconic Shakespearean archetype to modern stand-up comics unveils a similar underlying principle. Many contemporary stand-up comics, akin to the English playwright's stock character, use humour as a medium for societal commentary. However, they do not don a garb that could help them evade punishment for speaking truth to power or even expressing their personal opinions on a sensitive tonic that has rattled society.

The social impact By dressing reality in humour, comedy invites audiences to reflect on society's shortcomings, absurdities, and hypocrisies. It's a mirror held up to society, making us laugh while revealing uncomfortable truths. Challenging authority and societal norms provides a space for dissent and fosters critical thinking. In essence, the Shakespearean fool, the court jesters of history, and the stand-up comics of today share a common thread - they harness the power of comedy to illuminate truth.The laughter they induce in the guise of entertainment acts as a vehicle to convey profound insights, provoke contemplation, and challenge societal norms. As we laugh along, we also find ourselves introspecting, confronting uncomfortable realities, and perhaps, contemplating the change we wish to see in the world.

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Biblioburro: A four-legged library

In La Gloria, Colombia many rural communities lack access to books, limiting educational opportunities for children. Luis Soriano's Biblioburro aims to bring books directly to these communities, bridging the gap and giving children the chance to experience the magic of reading and learning.

In the heart of rural Colomina, where the rugged terrain meets the vast blue sky, a man and hus bvo faithful donkeys carry a precious cargo of knowledge and imagination. The man is Luis Soriano, a teacher with a passion for books, and the donkeys are Alfa and Beto (alfabeto Spanish for alphabet), his trusty companions in his bring the world of literature to the quest to bring the world remote villages of his homeland.

Together, they form the Biblioburro (the donkey library), a mobile library of around 120 books that roams the countryside, spreading the joy of reading and learning to children who would otherwise have no access to books. As they journey across mountains and valleys, Soriano and his companions are greeted with excitement and wonder by the young readers who eagerly gather around them.

A beacon of hope

 After finishing high school in La Gloria, Columbia, Soriano knew he wanted to become a teacher, so he got a job at a small rural school, while completing a degree remotely from the Universidad del Magdalena. However, he found that his students were not progressing and did not do their homework, which he attributed to their lack of access to books at home.

Despite his limited access to resources, he resolved to bring knowledge to his pupils by bringing books to them. One day in the year 1997, with the help of one of his donkeys and a stack of books, he set off before dawn and embarked on a challenging journey across the countryside He travelled several miles stopping at the homes of each of his students and reading with them. Afterwards, he lent them the books and promised to come back to collect them the next day. Day after day, he repeated this process, arriving in the early hours of the morning, long before school started. Soriano's Biblioburro soon became more than just a mobile library: it became a beacon of hope a symbol of possibility and a gateway to a brighter future.

More than two decades later, Luis Soriano has not stopped, Despite being robbed a couple of times, facing violent threats and enduring many injuries during his travels, Soriano continues to promote literacy because he believes it is crucial for ending violence and bringing peace to his Country. His library which started off with only 70 books, today, boasts a collection of more than 7.000 titles, most of which were donated after his inspirational story was made known to the public via different media. His admirable work has also inspired two recent children's books. ‘Waiting for the Biblioburro and Biblioburo: A True Story from Colombia’

Through his simple yet effective idea, Soriano continues to inspire others around the world to take action and make a difference in their own communities.

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India’s first graphic novel is back in print!

Between 1991 and 1994, Indian graphic artist Orijit Sen drew inspiration from influential works like Art Spiegelman's ‘Maus’ and Keiji Nakazawa's ‘Barefoot Gen’ to create India's groundbreaking first graphic novel, River of Stories. This timeless work serves as a poignant critique of India's idea of development and political practices. It revolves around the fictional Rewa Andolan, closely mirroring the real-life Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a people's movement fighting against the displacement caused by the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Illustrated entirely by hand, the graphic novel delves into a decades-long struggle raising pertinent questions about the notion of development. Though the dam was eventually built, the movement's core concerns, such as "development for, whom?" remain deeply relevant today.

 Originally published in 1994 and later going out of print, a new edition of this powerful work was released by Blaft Publications in 2022, featuring a foreword by Indian author Arundhati Roy.

River of Stories

This hand-illustrated novel span 62 pages and intricately weaves together two distinct narratives. One revolves around Vishnu, a spirited journalist from Delhi, who embarks on a journey to the valley, documenting the protests of the Rewa Andolan. The other narrative draws upon the rich mythologies of the Adivasis, painting the enchanting tale of Malgu Gayan, a singer whose melodic tunes bring to life the ancient origins of the river.

The new edition

In this new edition, Orijit Sen acknowledges the significant changes that have occurred since he originally penned the graphic novel. The Narmada Bachao Andolan has progressed, and the landscape has evolved. Sen had contemplated creating an illustrated preface. The purpose was to contextualise the scenario of the early '90s and highlight the changes that have occurred in the Narmada Valley since then.

Additionally, he wanted to shed light on the broader situation of Adivasi and indigenous communities in the present time. However, despite having this idea, Sen had never acted upon it. It was Sen's daughter who ultimately convinced him to reprint the book. "She reminded me to see it for what it is: River of Stories might be the first Indian graphic novel, but more importantly, it is almost a historical document that represents a crucial moment in time in the Narmada Andolan," he says.

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What is Katherine Rundell famous for?

Step into the magical world of childhood with acclaimed English author Katherine Rundell, whose adventurous stories have captured the hearts of many young readers in recent years. Read on to discover more about this talented author and her enchanting tales.

Katherine Rundell is a celebrated multiple-award-winning English author whose poetic verse makes words dance on the page like sunlight on a rippling stream. With a heart full of adventure and a mind brimming with creativity, she crafts stories that ignite the imagination of young readers and transport them to magical worlds.

Born in 1987 in Kent, England, Rundell spent her formative years in Zimbabwe and Brussels. Following her undergraduate studies at Oxford, she was chosen as a Fellow of All Souls College, where she completed her doctoral thesis on the renowned metaphysical English poet John Donne. Last September she published the book ‘Super infinite The Transformations of John Donne’, in honour of the 450th anniversary of the poet's birth. This critically acclaimed work won her 2022's Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Rundell who is in her mid-thirties now, started working on her debut novel ‘The Girl Savage’ the day after she turned 21. Drawing on her carefree childhood in Zimbabwe, and the devastation of her family relocating to Belgium when she was 14, her debut novel narrated the story of a free-spirited girl called Wilhelmina Silver who has spent most of her childhood on an African farm and is sent to a boarding school in England following the death of her father.

As an imaginative and adventurous storyteller, Rundell intricately weaves her intriguing and quirky personal interests into her characters, whether it is her love for tightrope walking or roof walking or her fascination with the Amazon. Her characters act as an extension of her inner child and her stories (that are generally aimed at middle-grade readers) combine elements of action, adventure, and magical realism. Her tales take the readers on a journey to faraway lands, where they can explore the mysteries of the world and discover beauty in its hidden corners. Some of her most well-known works include ‘The Rooftoppers’ which won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize in 2014, and ‘The Explorer’, which was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award in 2017.

Choosing children's literature

When Katherine Rundell first began writing children's books, it was not because she saw it as her ultimate destination. Rather, she viewed it as a stepping stone, a path to follow in the footsteps of her literary idol Jane Austen. Rundell was acutely aware that her authorship was not at the level she aspired to, and so she turned to the world of children's fiction as a training ground. But as she has grown and developed as an author, she has come to realise that the genre is so much more than a mere proving ground. To suggest that children's literature is simply a place to polish her skills before moving on to "real" writing is a notion that she now passionately rejects

Reading: A way to cope with the loss

Reading is almost exactly the same as cartwheeling: it turns the world upside down and leaves you breathless says Katherine Rundell Reading was a cherished pastime for Randell, especially because it helped her during some of the most difficult years of her life. It was a stressful time for the family, and Rundell was only nine or 10 years old when her parents were caring for a foster sister who was terminally ill. The experience of losing someone so young was deeply saddening and profoundly painful for the author. Yet, she found solace in books devouring them with an insatiable- appetite. Looking back on this time she believes that it was no accident that she writes for the age she was when she experienced such heartache. Despite the pain, Rundell drew those she loved closer and cherished the things that brought her joy, namely, the power of storytelling.

Embracing the wonder of childhood

Rundell's stories are more than just mere escapism; they are tales that inspire and challenge young readers to think deeply and feel connected to the world around them. Her books are important because they offer a glimpse into the human experience that is both universal and uniquely personal. She captures the essence of childhood wonder and joy but also the fear and uncertainty that often come with growing up. Her stories speak to the resilience and ingenuity of the human spirit and encourage readers to embrace their sense of adventure and explore the unknown.

Through her stories, Rundell shows young readers the power of creativity, resilience, and empathy, and why these qualities are essential to making the world a better place. The success of her books is a testament to the power of storytelling to inspire and transform young minds. Through her beautiful and imaginative works, she has created a legacy that will continue to inspire generations of young readers for years to come.

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What is an encyclopaedia? What does it contain? When did the concept evolve?

The word 'encyclopaedia originates from the Greek term enkuklios paideia, which means general education. Though the concept of an encyclopaedia existed since ancient times, the term came to be used only in the 1500s.

An encyclopaedia is a voluminous body of reference work containing general information about a range of topics or on various aspects of one particular subject. The information is contained in the form of articles, which are arranged alphabetically, in a single book or in a series of volumes. To access the information. one has to look up the topic, as one would do in a dictionary.

Ancient Volume

Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia, an encyclopaedia of 37 books covering natural history. geography, medicine, architecture and many other facets of the ancient world, is an important work of the Roman Empire to have survived to the modern day.

Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, was a naval and army commander of the Roman Empire in the first century AD. In his spare time, he studied books written by experts on various subjects. Based on his research, he compiled the Naturalis Historia, an encyclopaedia of 37 books covering natural history, geography, medicine, architecture and many other facets of the ancient world. The encyclopaedia is an important work of the Roman Empire to have survived to the modern day. It listed 20,000 facts from 2000 different works by 100 authors. Pliny's tome became the model for modem encyclopaedias -it laid the ground rules for providing in-depth knowledge about the subject matter, reference of original authors and detailed indexed lists of the contents.

John Harris, a London clergyman, introduced the concept of the alphabetical order in modern encyclopaedias in his work Lexicon Technicum (1704).

Oriental tome

Classic Chinese encyclopaedias documented the economic, social, cultural and political history of the land. One of the largest encyclopaedias in the world was commissioned by the Chinese Ming emperor Yongle in 1403. Two thousand scholars worked tirelessly for five years to compile 22.937 manuscript rolls into 11,095 volumes. Given the vastness of the encyclopaedia, it could not be block-printed and hence only three handwritten copies were made. Only 400 volumes of the original manuscripts have survived. They are preserved in national libraries and private collections around the world.

The modern age

The modern encyclopaedia with its systematically organised information appeared around the 18th Century.

One of the first general encyclopaedias in English was the popular Cyclopaedia, or a Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1728), produced by Ephraim Chambers. It provided cross-references to the alphabetically arranged articles, making it easier for the reader to access relevant information.

The Encyclopédie, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert is a landmark in the history of encyclopaedias. What was originally meant to be a French translation of Cyclopaedia turned out to be a significant literary work reflecting the essence of French Enlightenment.

Published between 1751 and 1780, it featured contributions of leading French thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu. The Encyclopédie had a tremendous impact on society in the years leading up to the French Revolution (1789).

The Encyclopædia Britannica was first printed between 1768-71 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The edition consisted of three volumes with 2,391 pages. Over time, it expanded to include over 30 volumes covering 50,000 topics.

Britannica published its 15th and final edition in 2010. Now its encyclopaedic knowledge is available exclusively in digital formats

To date, Encyclopædia Britannica is seen as an excellent reference book in the world of general encyclopaedias.

Personalities such as Walter Scott, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Harry Houdini have contributed articles to it. The last edition featured contributions of Desmond Tutu and Bill Clinton.


*The Encyclopædia Britannica was first printed between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh, Scotland. It consisted of three volumes with 2,391 pages.

* Over time, it expanded to include over 30 volumes covering 50,000 topics.

*The Encyclopedia Britannica published its 15th and final edition in 2010. Now its encyclopaedic knowledge is available exclusively in digital formats.

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Opening lines that spark curiosity

The opening lines of a book are paramount in setting the tone for the story. Here are a few riveting first lines from some of the most famous books in literature.

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."

These are the sarcastic opening lines from English author Jane Austen's 1813 novel ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Set in the Regency Era (1811-1820) this novel revolves around five daughters of the Bennet family and their economic anxiety. At the time Austen was writing this masterpiece marrying into a rich and well-off family was a financial necessity for young women. Through this novel, the author explores the complexities between an individual's quest for love and the financial benefits of making a match.

Nineteen Eighty -Four

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

This ominous opening sentence belongs to George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel titled Nineteen Eighty-Four. Set in a fictional vile and gritty state of Oceania where the citizens are under constant government surveillance, it story acts as a warning against a totalitarian form of government that does not promote individual freedom or the idea of free speech. Through this book, the English novelist also highlights how the written word and language can alter society and its functions.

The Metamorphosis

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

The shocking, strange and unnerving beginning of German author Franz Kafka's ‘The Metamorphosis’ (1915) draws the readers in with an uncanny grip. It summarises the premise of the novel which revolves around salesman Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a monstrous vermin and narrates how he deals with the social isolation and emotional distress that he must endure because of his new state. Originally written in German, this story is one of the most successful fictional works produced by Kafka.

A Tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

These introductory lines from Charles Dicken's ‘Tale of Two Cities’ are easily some of the most popular lines in literary history. Set in London and Paris in the run-up to and during the French Revolution, this historic novel opens with a contrasting set of clauses to highlight the struggle between good and evil which is a recurring theme in the novel. This classic novel was originally printed in instalments in the English author's weekly periodical All the Year Round and has been estimated to have sold more than 200 million copies since its first publication.

The Hobbit

"In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit."

This intriguing first line marks the beginning of English author J. R. R. Tolkien's children's fantasy novel The Hobbit. Writing to English poet W.H. Auden in 1955, Tolkien revealed that the idea for this book came to him while correcting papers as a professor at Oxford University in the early 1930s. The book revolves around a hobbit called Bilbo Baggins, who takes up an adventurous quest to fight the dragon called Smaug and win back the stolen treasures and reclaim the home of the dwarves. Published in 1937, this book was the public's first introduction to Tolkien's elaborate imagined world of Middle Earth. The success of this novel motivated the author to pen a sequel, which would eventually lead to the extraordinary ‘Lord of the Rings series.’

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What is diasporic literature?

The word diaspora is derived from the Greek verb diaspeiro which means to scatter or to spread about. In its original context, it was an agricultural term used for the scattering of seeds during the process of sowing.

However, In the 21st Century, this word describes the dispersion of people from their homeland. Today, scholars acknowledge two types of diaspora- forced and voluntary. The first occurs as a consequence of wars or natural disasters like famine or drought, whereas the latter happens when people leave their homeland in search of better economic opportunities. The common link between the two diasporic communities is their shared sense of nostalgic longing for the homeland accompanied by a desire to return.

Diasporic literature

Diasporic literature refers to the literary: works produced by these displaced individuals, who migrated away from their homeland. As literature that reflects the displaced condition of its author, this kind of writing is informed by nostalgia for the motherland and the pangs and pains of assimilating into a foreign culture.

But the multicultural identity of these individuals does have a silver lining which is by not belonging to just one culture they have the freedom to borrow elements from multiple cultures and truly become global citizens.

First Indian diasporic writer India's first diasporic writer was Sake Dean Mahomed who was born in Bihar in 1759 and migrated to Britain in 1782. He was the first Indian author to publish a book in English. His book The Travels of Dean Mahomet was published in 1794 and is regarded as the first major work of both Indian-English literature as well as Indian diasporic literature. Some contemporary examples of diasporic literature include Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, and Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss.

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What is historical fiction?

As the name suggests, it's a fictionalised version of history. But, as Booker-winning British author Hilary Mantel's famous trilogy shows, such novels have the power to ignite reader interest in history

"Award-winning British author Hilary Mantel dies at 70" announced media all over the world in September. Not all writers are fortunate enough to get such a global coverage but as she had the distinction of being the first woman writer to win the Booker Prize twice and popularise the genre of historical fiction, she was accorded such a high recognition. To honour her and to familiarise us with her work, our English teacher organised a presentation in the morning assembly. It is a practice in our school to focus on such significant moments.

An alumnus of our school, currently studying Engineering, was invited to talk to us as he was known to have read her writings widely. What follows is some ideas from his presentation.

He started off by saying that though there were several kinds of fiction such as adventure novels, horror novels, utopian novels, and sci-fi, he was always fascinated by historical novels for two reasons: "One, they narrate stories based on a historical figure, and second, readers can acquaint themselves with many facets of life of that period."

Having underscored the benefits of reading historical fiction, he moved on to inform us that Mantel was a prolific writer-published 12 novels, two collections of short stories, and a huge number of articles and essays, but it was the trilogy centered around Thomas Cromwell that brought her fame. She chose to fictionalise the life of Cromwell, a fascinating historical figure of the 16th Century, who was chief minister to King Henry VIII but ordered by the same king to be beheaded on the charges of treason. He, thus, tasted the glory of power, and on the other hand, suffered the humiliation meant for a criminal. She chose to present such an intriguing character interestingly.

Cromwell was the case of ‘rags to riches’, he pointed out. Cromwell was the son of a blacksmith but worked his way to become the most trusted advisor to the king. It happened at a time when such happening was considered inconceivable as what mattered most was the =family fame to be in the royal court. The writer, obviously, identified a character, which would arouse the curiosity of any reader and to trace his unlikely rise and fall.

Wolf Hall (2009), the first of the trilogy, portrayed Cromwell's rise from his 'low' parentage to becoming the wealthiest and the most influential person in King Henry VIII's court. By contriving to annul King's first marriage with Katherine, and enabling him to marry Anne Boleyn, he earned the king's trust. Later, he managed to bring in a legislation, despite the opposition, to ensure the succession of Anne's children to the throne.

The second of the trilogy. Bring up the Bodies (2012) was a continuation of the first. As the king found Anne, his second wife, argumentative and irksome, he decided to separate and marry Jane Seymour. Cromwell schemed his way to get Anne arrested on the charges of cheating on the king, and he encircled a few others who stood in his way and got them executed along with her. Thus, he was delineated as an ambitious, unscrupulous, and corrupt politician who was bent upon achieving what he desired at any cost.

The alumnus told us that he was yet to read the last one, The Mirror and the Light published in 2020. But from the reviews he got to know that it was about the last four years of Cromwell's life, and was curious to read it.

Commenting on the writer’s style, he highlighted that although she was dealing with the past, she preferred to employ the present tense to create a sense of contemporaneity to her readers. And her frequent use of dialogues gave an image of observing the characters talking to each other alive. He concluded stating, "After reading the first novel, I felt an urge to know about the Tudor history. So historical novels could ignite reader interest in history but it's not a must to understand them." He suggested that we must read her trilogy to appreciate historical novels.

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Nushu: world's only secret language curated by women

Originating in China's Jiangyong province in the 19th Century as a code of defiance against social gender inequality, Nishu (Chinese for women's writing) is considered to be the world's only writing system that is created and used exclusively by women.

Once upon a time...

In Ancient and Imperial China a set of moral principles called the Three Obidiences dictated the entirety of a woman's existence. Schools and education were privileges reserved for men while ignorance was seen as a womanly virtue. These unfair stringent rules and social ideals forced women to come up with a new language to tell their stories, comfort each other, sing out their sorrows and express admiration. This was how Nushu the world's only writing script curated and used exclusively by women came into being, Passed down through generations from mothers to daughters, Nushu is based on phonograms (where each character represents a sound). Besides communication, women also embroidered this script onto handkerchiefs, belts, shoes and fans hiding their secrets in decorative patterns.

The earliest record of Nushu

The earliest known artefact with the script on it is a bronze coin from the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864) unearthed in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province. The characters etched in Nüshu on the coin translate to "all the women in the world are members of the same family".

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First mentioned nearly 700 years ago, Dogri is one of the oldest modern languages of India. It is recognised as the ethnic language of the Dogras (an Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic community that inhabited parts of India and Pakistan). The earliest mention of Dogras can be traced back to the 11th Century A.D Chamba copperplates.

The origin of Dogri Dogri literature began as an oral or folk tradition. Like any kind of folk literature, its diverse themed narratives dealt with mythology, parables, humour, and domestic issues. The first written poem in the language was composed by Devi Ditta (commonly called Dattu) in 1770.

The golden age of Dorgi literature coincides with the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Dev (1733-82). Remembered as one of the most influential rulers of Jammu, his reign was  characterised by a period of affluence and tremendous socio-economic progress in the region. However, the Devanagari script replaced Dogri at the advent of the 20th century.

History of Dogri Literature published by the Sahitya Akademi, elaborates upon how the apathy of the elite and the educated class of Dogras towards their mother tongue is to a great extent responsible for the disappearance of the language from the literary circles and the loss of the original Dorgri manuscripts that might have existed.

Although it is an officially recognised language of India added to the Eighth Schedule of the constitution it is still chiefly spoken only in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, along with certain parts of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and northeastern Pakistan.

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Found poems are simply the literary equivalent of a collage. Created by assembling borrowed text from published newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, letters, speeches, poems, and sometimes even documents like tax forms or medical reports, this poetry recycles words by giving them a new meaning and context.

This mode of writing not only makes poetry accessible but also gives a fresh insight into evocative writing.

The origin story

According to the former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins, the cento (Latin for patchwork) which belongs to the third Century, may have been the original found poem.

A cento-poet often refashioned lines from the works of various revered writers like Homer and Virgil to create a unique verse. The Greeks and Roman assembled centos to pay homage to the literary idols of the past.

Types of Found Poetry

Found poetry can be further classified into blackout poetry, erasure poetry, and cut-up poetry.

Blackout poetry is created by blacking out or blotting certain lines and phrases of an existing article, short story or poem using a pen or a black marker to reinterpret the original work. Contrary to this, erasure poems are created by erasing, clipping out. or obscuring certain lines or words of a printed text using a light coat of white paint.

Cut-up or Remix poetry is curated by literally cutting out words from source materials and rearranging them to create a unique meaning.

A strong proponent of the cut-up approach, American writer William S. Burroughs once said "All writing is in fact, cut-ups. A collage of words read, heard and overheard. What else?"

Found poetry rose to prominence in the 20th century due to its shared similarities with the pop art of artists like Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp. It combined literature and visual art to represent the plurality of language.

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World War I, or the Great War (1914-1918), fractured the American worldview in ways that were beyond imagination. Many young Americans were in a state of shock after having witnessed death and destruction on such an unparalleled scale. The country that they once knew, as a safe haven built on tenets such as patriotism, faith, and morality (prior to the war) had fallen. All that remained was the population that felt lost, hopeless, scattered and at odds with the old norms of the society.

These sentiments pervaded many cultural aspects of change in the 1920s, including literature. Writers could no longer relate to the subject matter or the themes of the texts produced before the war. Although the term Lost Generation' was introduced by Gertrude Stein, a modernist American writer who made Paris her permanent home, it only gained popularity after Emest Hemingway included it in the epigraph of his novel The Sun Also Rises (published in 1926).

As the story goes, Stein came upon the term when an auto mechanic upset with his young employee's unsatisfactory work on her car, referred to the nation's youth as a lost generation, difficult to prepare for work or focus

The Lost Generation, therefore, referred to that group of men and women who came of age during the First World War and felt disillusioned in the unfamiliar post-war world.

In literature, the Lost Generation was a group of American writers, most of whom immigrated to Europe and worked there from the end of World War I until the Great Depression.

A bohemian lifestyle of travel among intellectuals felt more appealing than remaining in a place where virtuous behaviour no longer existed, faith in religion was broken, and a connection to morality was questionable at best. So, the expatriate writers living in Europe wrote about the trials and tribulations of this Lost Generation, while, being a part of it themselves.

The most famous writers of the Lost Generation include Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Gertrude Stein, and T.S. Eliot.

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Geetanjali Shree has become the first Indian author to win the prestigious International Booker Prize for her "utterly original" Hindi novel "Tomb of Sand", a family saga set in northern India about an 80-year-old woman who travels to Pakistan to confront the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition and re-evaluates what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman and a feminist.

At a ceremony in London on Thursday, the 64-year-old New Delhi-based writer said she was "completely overwhelmed" with the "bolt from the blue" as she accepted her 50,000-pound prize, and shared it with the book's English translator Daisy Rockwell. The prize is split between author and translator equally.

"Tomb of Sand", originally "Ret Samadhi", is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman in a tale the Booker judges dubbed a "joyous cacophony" and an "irresistible novel".

"I never dreamt of the Booker. I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I'm amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled," said Shree in her acceptance speech. "There is a melancholy satisfaction in the award going to it. 'Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand' is an elegy for the world we inhabit, a lasting energy that retains hope in the face of impending doom. The Booker will surely take it to many more people than it would have reached otherwise, that should do the book no harm," she said.

Reflecting upon becoming the first work of fiction in Hindi to make the Booker cut, the author said it felt good to be the means of that happening. "But behind me and this book lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi, and in other South Asian languages. World literature will be richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages. The vocabulary of life will increase from such an interaction," she said.

Rockwell, a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, US, joined her on stage to receive her award for translating the novel she described as a "love letter to the Hindi language". "Ultimately, we were captivated by the power, the poignancy and the playfulness of ‘Tomb of Sand’, Geetanjali Shree's polyphonic novel of identity and belonging, in Daisy Rockwell's exuberant, coruscating translation," said Frank Wynne, chair of the judging panel.

This is a luminous novel of India and Partition, but one whose spellbinding brio and fierce compassion weaves youth and age, male and female, family and nation into a kaleidoscopic whole," he said.

The book's 80-year-old protagonist, Ma, to her family's consternation, insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, a feminist.

The Booker jury was impressed that rather than respond to tragedy with seriousness, Shree's playful tone and exuberant wordplay resulted in a book that is "engaging. funny, and utterly original", at the same time as being an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and boundaries, whether between religions, countries, or genders.

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