Monday, 20 October 2014
Last week in the US, NPR aired a really lovely Letters of Note series that was recorded a short while ago, in which a few people related to various letters in the book were interviewed by Audie Cornish--a couple even read their letters aloud. Those people were: Amy Corcoran, a lady who, as a young girl, received a letter from Roald Dahl; Bill Baxley, who, as attorney general of Alabama in 1976, wrote a succinct letter to the KKK; and Frank Ciulla, whose father was killed in the Lockerbie bombing and whose family received a beautiful letter from Scotland a few years later. I also read out a favourite letter of mine, written by Robert Pirosh. To listen to the series--and you really should--go here. I only wish it covered every letter in the book.
I hope you enjoy it. Enormous thanks to all who participated.
Wednesday, 1 October 2014
The Lists of Note book is out today and can now be found in shops across the UK. I'm VERY excited. A few things:
1. The special edition can still be purchased via Unbound.
2. Waterstones have chosen it as their 'Non-Fiction Book of the Month' across the land. Hooray!
3. An extract of the book was published by the Telegraph the other day.
4. A lovely piece was written in the Independent, inspired by the book and our fascination with lists in general.
5. More info about the book and its stockists can be found here.
6. Photos of the book can be found here. Feel free to use them as you see fit.
That's all. I really hope you enjoy it.
Thursday, 18 September 2014
In 1400, a middle-aged Welshman named Owain Glyndŵr spearheaded the Glyndŵr Rising—an ultimately unsuccessful but initially promising independence movement intended to shake Wales free from the ruling grip of Henry IV's England. The revolt started well, and within a few years Glyndŵr, now Prince of Wales, had control of the majority of the country and valuable support from the French; however, by 1407 the English had slowly begun to regain control. Glyndŵr eventually retreated and was last seen in 1412. He remains a hero in Wales.
Below are two letters written by Glyndŵr during the revolt—the first, a request for military assistance sent to the King of Scotland that was intercepted by the English, its bearer apparently beheaded; the second, a famous document now known as the Pennal Letter which was sent five years later to the King of France, Charles VI. In it, he asks for help against the "barbarous saxons," pledges allegiance to Pope Benedict XIII and reveals plans for, amongst other things, a Welsh Church.
(Source: Llywodraeth Cymru; Image above: The Pennal Letter, via the British Library--full document here.)
To the King of Scotland, 1401
Most high and mighty and redoubted lord and cousin,
I commend me to your most high and royal majesty, humbly as beseemth me, with all honour and reverence. Most redoubted lord and right sovereign cousin, please it you and your most high majesty to know that Brutus, your most noble ancestor and mine, was the first crowned king who dwelt in this realm of England, which of old times was called Great Britain. The which Brutus begat three sons, to wit Albanact, Locrine and Camber. From which same Albanact you are descended in direct line. And the issue of the same Camber reigned royally down to Cadwalladar, who was the last crowned king of my people, and from whom I, your simple cousin, am descended in direct line; and after whose decease I and my ancestors and all my said people have been, and still are, under the tyranny and bondage of mine and your mortal foes the Saxons; whereof you, most redoubted lord and right sovereign cousin, have good knowledge. And from this tyranny and bondage the prophecy saith that I shall be delivered by the aid and succour of your royal majesty. But, most redoubted lord and sovereign cousin, I make grievous plaint to your royal majesty and right sovereign cousinship, that it faileth me much in men at arms. Wherefore, most redoubted lord and right sovereign cousin, I humbly beseech you, kneeling upon my knees, that it may please your royal majesty to send unto me a certain number of men at arms who may aid me and may withstand, with God's help, mine and your foes aforesaid; having regard, most redoubted lord and right sovereign cousin, to the chastisement of this mischief and of all the many past mischiefs which I and my said ancestors of Wales have suffered at the hands of mine and your mortal foes aforesaid. Being well assured, most redoubted lord and right sovereign cousin, that it shall be that, all the days of my life, I shall be bounden to do service and pleasure to your said royal majesty and to repay you. And in that I cannot send unto you all my businesses in writing, I despatch these present bearers fully informed in all things, to whom it may please you to give faith and credence in what they shall say unto you by word of mouth. From my court. Most redoubted lord and right sovereign cousin, may the Almighty Lord have you in his keeping.
To the King of France, 1406
Most serene prince, you have deemed it worthy on the humble recommendation sent, to learn how my nation, for many years now elapsed, has been oppressed by the fury of the barbarous Saxons; whence because they had the government over us, and indeed, on account of the fact itself, it seemed reasonable with them to trample upon us. But now, most serene prince, you have in many ways, from your innate goodness, informed me and my subjects very clearly and graciously concerning the recognition of the true Vicar of Christ. I, in truth, rejoice with a full heart on account of that information of your excellency, and because, inasmuch from this information, I understood that the Lord Benedict, the supreme pontifex intends to work for the promotion of an union in the Church of God with all his possible strength. Confident indeed in his right, and intending to agree with you as indeed as far as it is possible for me, I recognize him as the true Vicar of Christ, on my own behalf, and on behalf of my subjects by these letters patent, foreseeing them by the bearer of their communications in your majesty's presence. And because, most excellent prince, the metropolitan church of St. David was, as it appears, violently compelled by the barbarous fury of those reigning in this country, to obey the church of Canterbury, ad de facto still remains in the subject of this subjection. Many other disabilities are known to have been suffered by the Church of Wales through these barbarians, which for the greater part are set forth full in the letter patent accompanying. I pray and sincerely beseech your majesty to have these letters sent to my lord, the supreme pontifex, that as you deemed worthy to raise us out of darkness into light, similarly you will wish to extirpate and remove violence and oppression from the church and from my subjects, as you are well able to. And may the Son of the Glorious Virgin long preserve your majesty in the promised prosperity.
Dated at Pennal the last day of March (1406)
Owen, Prince of Wales.
To the most illustrious prince, the lord Charles, by the grace of God, King of the French, Owen by the same grace, sends the reverence due to such a prince with honour. Be it known to your excellency that we have received from you the articles following, brought to us by Hugh Eddowyer, of the Order of Predicants, and Morris Kery, our friends and envoys, on the eighth day of March, A.D. 1406, the form and tenor of which follow:
In the first place they express the cordial greeting on the part of our lord the king, and of his present letter to our said lord the prince. In this manner, our lord the king greatly desires to know of his good state and the happy issue of their negotiations. He requests Owen, that he will write as often as an opportunity offers, as he will receive great pleasure, and he will inform him, at length, concerning the good state of the said lord, the king, of the queen, their children, and of the other lords, the princes of the royal family, how my lord the king, and the other princes of the royal family have and intend to have sincere love, cordial friendship, zeal for his honour, the prosperity and well-being of the state of the said prince, and in this the said lord, the prince, can place the most secure faith.
They also explain to the same lord, the prince, how our lord, the king, who esteems him with sincerity and love, greatly desires that, as they are bound and united in temporal matters, so also will they be united in spiritual things, and they may be able to walk to the house of the Lord together. My lord, the king, also requests the same lord, the prince, that he wishes him to consider, with a favourable disposition, the rights of my lord, the pope, Benedict XII, the supreme pontiff of the universal church, that he may himself learn and cause all his subjects to be informed. Because my lord the king, holds that it shall be to be health of his soul and of the souls of his subjects, to the security and strength of his state, and that their covenants shall be laid in a stronger and more powerful foundation in the advantage of faith and in the love of Christ. Again, even as all faithful Christians are held to keep themselves well informed concerning the truth of schisms. Princes, however, are so held even more than others, because their opinion can keep many in error, especially their subjects, who must conform with the opinion of their superiors. It is, also, event o their advantage, on account of their duty, to keep themselves informed in all things, that such a schism may be entirely removed and that the Church may have unity in God. Because he, who is the true Vicar of Christ, should be known and acknowledged by all the faithful in Christ, while he, who is an intruder, and know to have by nefarious means usurped the holy apostolic see, shall be expelled and cast aside, by all the faithfully, as anti-Christ. To this purpose they should bind themselves to strive, to their utmost, according to the decrees of the holy fathers. To which purpose the said lord, the king, has striven, not without great burdens and expense, and will strive unweariedly.
Following the advice of our council, we have called together the nobles of our race, the prelates of our Principality and others called for this purpose, and, at length, after diligent examination and discussion of the foregoing articles and their contents being thoroughly made by the prelates and the clergy, it is agreed and determined that we, trusting in the rights of the lord Benedict, the holy Roman and supreme pontiff of the universal church, especially because he sought the peace and unity of the church, and as we understood daily seeks it, considering the hard service of the adversary of the same Benedict, tearing the seamless coat of Christ, and on account of the sincere love which we specially bear towards your excellency, we have determined that the said lord Benedict shall be recognized as the true Victor of Christ in our lands, by us and our subjects, and we recognize him by these letters.
Whereas, most illustrious prince, the underwritten articles especially concern our state and the reformation and usefulness of the Church of Wales, we humbly pray your royal majesty that you will graciously consider it worthy to advance their object, even in the court of the said lord Benedict:
First, that all ecclesiastic censures against us, our subjects, or our land, by the aforesaid lord Benedict or Clement his predecessor, at present existing, the same shall by the said Benedict be removed.
Again, that he shall confirm and ratify the orders, collations, titles of prelates, dispensations, notorial documents, and all things whatsoever, form the time of Gregory XI, form which, any danger to the souls, or prejudice to us, or our subjects may occur, or may be engendered.
Again, that the Church of St. David’s shall be restored to its original dignity, which form the time of St. David, archbishop and confessor, was a metropolitan church, and after his death twenty-four archbishops succeeded him in the same place, as their names are continued in the chronicles and ancient books of the church of Menevia, and we cause these to be stated as the chief evidence, namely, Eliud, Ceneu, Morfael, Mynyw, Haerwnen, Elwaed, Gwrnwen, Llewdwyd, Gwrwyst, Gwgawn, Glydâwg, Aman, Elias, Maeslyswyd, Sadwrnwen, Cadell, Alaethwy, Novis, Sadwrnwen, Drochwel, Asser, Arthwael, David II, and Samson; and that as a metropolitan church it had an ought to have the undermentioned suffragan churches, namely, Exeter, Bath, Hereford, Worcester, Leicester, which see is now translated to the churches of Coventry and Lichfield, St. Asaph, Bangor and Llandaff. For being crushed by the fury of the barbarous Saxons, who usurped to themselves the land of Wales, they trampled upon the aforesaid church of St. David’s, and made her a handmaid to the church of Canterbury.
Again, the same lord Benedict shall provide for the metropolitan church of St. David’s and the other cathedral churches of our principality, prelates, dignitaries, and beneficed clergy and curates, who know our language.
Again, that the lord Benedict shall revolve and annul all incorporations, unions, annexions, appropriations of parochial churches of our principality made so far, by any authority whatsoever with English monasteries and colleges. That the true patrons of these churches shall have the power to present to the ordinaries of those places suitable persons to the same or appoint others.
Again, that the said lord Benedict shall concede to use and to our heirs, the princes of Wales, that our chapels, &c., shall be free, and shall rejoice in the privileges, exemptions, and immunities in which they rejoiced in the times of our forefathers the princes of Wales.
Again, that we shall have two universities or places of general study, namely, one in North Wales and the other in south Wales, in cities, towns, or places to be hereafter decided and determined by our ambassadors and nuncios for that purpose.
Again, that the lord Benedict shall brand as heretics and cause to be tortured in the usual manner, Henry of Lancaster, the intruder of the kingdom of England, and the usurper of the crown of the same kingdom, and his adherents, in that of their own free will they have burnt or have caused to be burnt so many cathedrals, convents, and parish churches; that they have savagely hung, beheaded, and quartered archbishops, bishops, prelates, priests, religious men, as madmen or beggars, or caused the same to be done.
Again, that the same lord Benedict shall grant to us, our heirs, subjects, and adherents, of whatsoever nation they may be, who wage war against the aforesaid intruder and usurper, as long as they hold the orthodox faith, full remission of all our sins, and that the remission shall continue as long as the wars between us, our heirs, and our subjects, and the aforesaid Henry, his heirs, and subjects shall endure.
In testimony whereof we make these our letters patent. Given at Pennal on the thirty-first day of March, A.D. 1406, and in the sixth year of our rule.
Friday, 29 August 2014
Hi! It's been a while. I've missed you.
I've just returned from a much-needed holiday that seemed to finish before we'd unpacked--quick as a flash; however, the main reason for my recent silence can be seen above. The Lists of Note book. I finally got my hands on a copy yesterday and it's completely lovely, head to toe, cover to cover. You can see more photos over here on Flickr; also, more info about the book can be found on the Lists of Note website.
Next week I'll restart the engines around here.
Have a great weekend.
Monday, 16 June 2014
In 1932, renowned Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung wrote a largely critical piece for Europäische Revue on the subject of Ulysses, James Joyce's groundbreaking, controversial, and famously challenging novel. From Jung's essay:
I read to page 135 with despair in my heart, falling asleep twice on the way. The incredible versatility of Joyce’s style has a monotonous and hypnotic effect. Nothing comes to meet the reader, everything turns away from him, leaving him gaping after it. The book is always up and away, dissatisﬁed with itself, ironic, sardonic, virulent, contemptuous, sad, despairing, and bitter [...] Yes, I admit I feel have been made a fool of. The book would not meet me half way, nothing in it made the least attempt to be agreeable, and that always gives the reader an irritating sense of inferiority.In September of that year, Jung sent a copy of his article to Joyce along with the following fascinating letter. Joyce was both annoyed and proud. Interestingly, two years later Jung treated Joyce's daughter, Lucia, for schizophrenia. It was around this time that Joyce wrote in Jung's copy of Ulysses:
To Dr. C. G. Jung, with grateful appreciation of his aid and counsel. James Joyce. Xmas 1934, Zurich.(Source: A Companion to James Joyce; Image via Wikipedia.)
Küsnacht-ZürichSeestrasse 228September 27th 1932
James Joyce Esq.
Your Ulysses has presented the world such an upsetting psychological problem that repeatedly I have been called in as a supposed authority on psychological matters.
Ulysses proved to be an exceedingly hard nut and it has forced my mind not only to most unusual efforts, but also to rather extravagant peregrinations (speaking from the standpoint of a scientist). Your book as a whole has given me no end of trouble and I was brooding over it for about three years until I succeeded to put myself into it. But I must tell you that I'm profoundly grateful to yourself as well as to your gigantic opus, because I learned a great deal from it. I shall probably never be quite sure whether I did enjoy it, because it meant too much grinding of nerves and of grey matter. I also don't know whether you will enjoy what I have written about Ulysses because I couldn't help telling the world how much I was bored, how I grumbled, how I cursed and how I admired. The 40 pages of non stop run at the end is a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil's grandmother knows so much about the real psychology of a woman, I didn't.
Well, I just try to recommend my little essay to you, as an amusing attempt of a perfect stranger that went astray in the labyrinth of your Ulysses and happened to get out of it again by sheer good luck. At all events you may gather from my article what Ulysses has done to a supposedly balanced psychologist.
With the expression of my deepest appreciation, I remain, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully,C. G. Jung
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
In 1945, weeks after graduating from high school and with no support from the child's father, 17-year-old Maya Angelou gave birth to her only son. Two months later, desperate for independence, she moved out of her mother's home, found accommodation of her own, and began to raise her son. Over the next 70 years, Maya Angelou achieved more than most as a celebrated and award-winning author, poet, educator, dramatist, actress, filmmaker, and activist. The first of her seven autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is considered a classic.
Eight years ago, she wrote a letter of advice to her younger self. It was reprinted in the book, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self.
(Source: What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self; Image: Maya Angelou in 1993, via Wikipedia.)
You’re itching to be on your own. You don’t want anybody telling you what time you have to be in at night or how to raise your baby. You’re going to leave your mother’s big comfortable house and she won’t stop you, because she knows you too well.
But listen to what she says:
When you walk out of my door, don’t let anybody raise you—you’ve been raised.
You know right from wrong.
In every relationship you make, you’ll have to show readiness to adjust and make adaptations.
Remember, you can always come home.
You will go home again when the world knocks you down—or when you fall down in full view of the world. But only for two or three weeks at a time. Your mother will pamper you and feed you your favorite meal of red beans and rice. You’ll make a practice of going home so she can liberate you again—one of the greatest gifts along with nurturing your courage, that she will give you.
Be courageous, but not foolhardy.
Walk proud as you are,