Both Guy de Maupassant and Alphonse Daudet dedicated a number of their short stories to the events and aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, France’s national trauma. While we today tend to forget the horrors of that event, their stories preserve the misery and shame of those years. These stories remain a powerful indictment of aggressive war and its all-too human consequences.
In this classic essay, Vernon Lee shows us how life and discovery are phenomena that occur while we are busy running after trains. Lee (1856-1935), a member of the Aesthetic Movement, lived long before our current digital age of high tech toys, but she nevertheless already realized its implications. As she wrote in one of her essays:
There is an unlucky tendency … to allow every new invention to add to life’s complications, and every new power to increase life’s hustling; so that, unless we can dominate the mischief, we are really the worse off instead of the better.
Personally, I enjoy walks greatly, and frequently develop my best ideas when I’m out on one. Nevertheless, I can think of plenty of activities other people seem to love but that to me are a sheer waste of time. How about you?
“Revenge is mine, saith the Lord”, but how many of us could resist the temptation, when the day of vengeance is upon our enemies? Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story – practically a literary haiku – exposits by withholding all the usual explanations. Who needs a backstory when the story itself tells us all we need to know…?
One of These Days, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7:06)