Losing One’s Train, by Vernon Lee

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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.

Losing One’s Train, by Vernon Lee (8:49)

One of These Days, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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“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)

The Catskill Witch, by Charles M. Skinner

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New York-born Charles Montgomery Skinner (1852-1907) was an American journalist and author who compiled several collections of American folklore. According to Wiki, “He hoped to combine folklore conventions with New England transcendentalism to keep alive traditions endangered by the industrial age.”

The Catskill Witch, by Charles M. Skinner {3:28}

The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee, by HonorĂ© de Balzac

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Coffee was novelist HonorĂ© de Balzac’s elixir and his downfall. In this essay, he explains the right way to drink it – but only for “men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins.” All others do so at their own risk…

The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee, by Honoré de Balzac {8:39}