Archive for the ‘literature’ Category

Finding a William Shakespeare portrait

March 9, 2009

Believed to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare (1564-1616,) the image of the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon will be displayed for several months in London. England’s most celebrated playwright is represented as a handsome well-dressed wealthy youngish gentleman with pink cheeks, light red-brown beard, and smooth wrinkleless skin.

It’s just the right depiction of the prodigious poet credited for writing the most exquisite and inspiring words of the English language. The alleged portrait thought to have been done almost 400 years ago belongs to the Cobbes family who for years didn’t know of the gentleman’s identity until it was authenticated after three years of rigorous research.

Dated to be 1610 when the portrait was made, Shakespeare would have been 46 years old at that time. His exceptional literary works included 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. (Photo Credit Clyde Fitch Report/ Shakespeare Birthplace Trust) =0=


Charles Dickens’ Artful Dodger comes to life in Barbara Ricafrente’s short story

January 20, 2009

Despite his poverty, Awil had a happy disposition. He had neither expectations nor goals. He did not bother to get employment anywhere, join his peasant neighbors reap palay for local landowners during the harvest season, weave weed baskets for local middlemen in the lean months like his neighbors did, or sell rice biscuits or puto in nearby cities for extra income. He simply lived each day as it came.”—Manuel (01/20/09, Ricafrente, B)

The colorful sketch of Manuel’s life (Awil) by Ibalon’s Bambi Ricafrente resurrected my memory of Artful Dodger, the smart petty robber in Charles Dicken’s moving story of Oliver Twist (1838). The clever pubescent Dodger introduced gullible Oliver into the world of stealing headed by the old merry patron Fagin in the dark dingy slums of London.

Yet, the similarity of Manuel’s life to the pickpockets in the squalid backstreets of the 19th century England abruptly ends. I learn there is more to Awil’s thievery than what meets the eye. Bambi describes an extended and complex life that is curiously worth learning from.

In an ill-descript Bicol town, Awil has to wrestle with fate and intergenerational circumstantial snags that shape adaptation and dampen acrimony against the changes of the seasons. His life and that of Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist seem intertwined. In all of them, the antagonism between good and evil must really be fought relentlessly until the last.

If one stands on Awil’s shoe, the forbearance to survive pulsates at a rate and vibrancy of a baby’s racy heart. His story tells of the struggles of ordinary people—those who are fallen and redeemed. Awil’s imperfect life isn’t far from what the Catholic preacher Rev. Fulton Sheen often referred to: a “life that is worth living.” (Photo Credits: George Cruikshank; Bohirab) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Manuel” Posted by Bambi Ricafrente at 1/20/2009

Oliver Twist
by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and page illustrations by George Cruikshank for his work in 1838 which mirrors society’s paradoxical influences in the lives of ordinary people. The story of Oliver Twist portrays wholesome dignity and antithetical sordidness in a world where good and evil exist and are in constant debacle. The popular English author of Victorian vintage had A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, The Pickwick Papers, and A Christmas Carol among his great works. (Photo Credit: Charles Dickens PD; George Cruikshank x 2 PD)


T. S. Eliot and the magical cats

October 24, 2008

The naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn’t just one of your holiday games. You may think at first I’m mad as a hatter. When I tell you a cat must have three different names…” – T.S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot (Sept. 26, 1888-Jan. 4 1965,) the famous dramatist, critic, and poet who won the 1948 Nobel Prize in literature wrote on the cat’s human-like temperament, behavior, and social disposition.

His book of light verse called “ Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats ” is a collection of imaginative poems which he shared with children.

Published in 1939, his written work on Felis catus (Linnaeus) was the basis of the successful long-running Broadway show: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats.” After its closure in 2000 in the Winter Garden Theatre, “Cats” which widely appealed to children and adults alike became one of Great White Way’s most memorable theatre musicales.

The same cats are featured in the 6th Annual CFA-lams Cat Championship in Madison Square Garden in New York, New York which runs till the third week of October 2008. The endearing feline masterpieces are no different from those adored and whimsically described from Egyptian antiquities over the millennia.

In the cat exhibition, the calm aloof winner is Blade Runner, the Russian blue cat with a detached luminous look and seemingly independent, sometimes obstinate disposition. He is dubbed as the best in the show. With his colored award ribbon, he quietly sits still, perhaps to think of important things other than the vanity of winning.

The fluffy brown sleepy ball of fur with pampered chink pair of lazy eyes is called Rusty, the Persian cat. He curls up to take time for his extended nap, an average of 16 hours a day required by his species.

There is the costumed feline glamour with green standing plumage on her head, sporting that erect pair of large sensitive ears and mysterious worried gaze. Her name is Masquerade, the Sphynx cat. She is cared for by doting owner Sandra Alder.

Other notables in the show with remarkable soft manes, proud tails, and splendid names are Pocahontas, Baldwin, Renegade, Winter, Jay Jay, and Rizzo who wowed the feline lovers in the crowd. Nowhere to be found is the sly, agile, and conjuring Mr. Mistoffelees, one of T.S. Eliot’s beloved cats. (Photo Credits: jonathanmoreau; ChipEast/Reuters; FrankFranklinII/AFP;; yokviv; fofurasfelinas) =0=

When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name

The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He’s always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.
He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can’t get out.”

Well I never!
Was there ever
A cat so clever
As Magical Mr. Mistoffelees
!” —T.S. Eliot