Friday, July 29, 2005

"A Brown Woman" by James Branch Cabell

Pitiable poet Alexander Pope woos a country lass, but she has different ideas. His friend, the poet and playwright John Gay, is no help, either--but there may be good material here! Read by Scoot.

Unknown to most readers today save for his novel Jurgen, Virginian James Branch Cabell was an enormously popular and prolific novelist in his time (1879-1958). You might call his work "fantastic fiction," but it is more literary than that sounds, and his influence on later fantasy and sci-fi authors has been profound--though his own work is much more in the high romance realm. One might never guess that his work once caused him to be dragged into court on an obscenity issue... you'll have to read more to find out what we're talking about here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"A, B,and C--TheHuman Element in Mathematics" by Stephen Leacock

Anyone who's ever had to solve one of those bothersome "story problems" in a math class could find much to be amused by in this bit of levity. Here, the characters A, B, and C discover that the sum is sometimes greater than its parts. Read by Scoot.

Visit the Stephen Leacock Museum at Old Brewery Bay in Canada, and you'll discover more about the writer than we could possibly put here. While you're in Canada, watch out for Leacock Peak in the Yukons, Leacock Park on Lake Simcoe, the Leacock Addition and the Leacock Room at McGill University, the Leacock Hotel at Couchiching Beach Park, and the Leacock Memorial Home nearby--all named after the Anglo-Canadian humorist, economist, educator, and public speaker. That's how popular he was and is, not just Up North, but all around the English-speaking world. A kind of Canadian Mark Twain (who Leacock wrote a book about), the writer (here we'll end soberly, if not a bit glumly) lived from 1869 to 1944.

Monday, July 25, 2005

"A Dry Spell" by Einar H. Kvaran

A government store clerk waits out a prolonged dry spell by philosophising about death with his colleagues. Little does he realize how near actual death is to him. Read by Jonathan Strong.

This story was written one-hundred years ago, when Einar H. Kvaran was approximately 49 years old. (He died in 1938.) Kvaran was of a generation of Icelandic students and scholars who became prominent in the burgeoning regional arts movement of that country around the turn of the twentieth century; he was a journalist and editor who also wrote all types of fiction, as well as poetry and plays. This story may show a tinge of the moralism which eventually overwhelmed Kvaran's work, when he became more interested in the hereafter than the here-and-now. Oh, well, it's still nice to finally have an Icelandic writer represented on this site!

Jonathan Strong used to write plays, as well, but nowadays restricts himself solely to fiction. We've told you about him before.