The Plague Bookclub

Our Plague Book Club recommends the following books for a Plague year: The Alchemist (Ben Jonson) (1610) “The sickness hot, a master quit, for fear, His house in town, and left one servant there.” The Black Death (Philip Ziegler) (1969) “All the citizens did little else except to carry dead bodies to be buried… At every church they dug deep pits down to the water-table; and thus those who were poor who died during the night were bundled up quickly and thrown into the pit. In the morning when a large number of bodies were found in the pit, they…

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Australian Classic Fiction

The Varnished Culture thinks some Australian novels are worthy of the whole world: An Imaginary Life (by David Malouf) The Book Thief (by Markus Zusak) Capricornia (by Xavier Herbert) The First Man in Rome (by Colleen McCullough) Gould’s Book of Fish (by Richard Flanagan) The Harp in the South (by Ruth Park) The Magic Pudding (by Norman Lindsay) The Man Who Loved Children (by Christina Stead) The Merry-go-round in the Sea (by Randolph Stow) My Brilliant Career (by Miles Franklin) My Brother Jack (by George Johnston) Oscar and Lucinda (by Peter Carey) Picnic at Hanging Rock (by Joan Lindsay) Power Without Glory…

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Thomas Carlyle

December 4, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Carlyle by Millais

(December 4, 1795 – February 5, 1881) “His venerable appearance, his utter independence, his doomladen view of the folly and triviality of the world, his powerful and idiosyncratic command of language, to which a strong Scottish accent lent unfamilar emphasis…were all manifestations of genius to which the Victorian imagination readily responded…”* “Injustice pays itself with frightful compound-interest.”^ “Robespierre was sitting on a chair, with pistol-shot blown through not his head but his under-jaw; the suicidal hand had failed. With prompt zeal, not without trouble, we gather these wrecked Conspirators; fish up even Henriot and Augustin, bleeding and foul; pack them…

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Joseph Conrad

December 3, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Born 3 December, 1857; died 3 August 1924 Mistah Kurtz might be dead, but Joseph Conrad lives on in his great novels: Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, Under Western Eyes, The Secret Agent, and, of course, Nostromo. Walter Allen, in The English Novel, thought that a good case could be made out for considering it the greatest novel in English in the 20th Century, a claim made even more remarkable by the fact that English was Conrad’s third language.  A great moraliser (a favourite saying of his was that ‘nobody can escape his fate‘), Conrad could be wise and sharp…

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Lucan

November 3, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, HISTORY, WRITING & LITERATURE |

AD 39, 3 November: Lucan born. Lucan spoke truth to power.  This from the Pharsalia: “These nations, Caesar, if now the fire does not consume them, with the earth it will consume, with the waters of the deep it will consume. One pile in common is left for the world, destined to mingle the stars with its bones.”

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