Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

She was called Sin. Who gave her such a name I cannot say. Was it her professional name she would not say for silver or for my abject surrender to her wish the whole day. My persuasive speech and silver was wasted on her. She came in her street clothes a voluptuous red head on whom any dress didn’t do justice. I meant to keep aloof and keep the encounter strictly business like. No perfect specimen of her kind had I ever seen or made love to. Having bought love by galore from the day I became a man I knew I was the boss.
I placed directly an envelope into her hands. I noticed the dimple in her elbow and I could not help thinking she was well upholstered. She smiled and laid aside the envelope unopened with neither hauteur not rancor. ‘I will demand my price after my service.’ The rodomontade of a whore was not in her speech. It was more of woman of pleasure who had whole time to give pleasure and transport her clientele to dimensions they never had an inkling of. She knew it and the luxuriousness of oohs and ahhs during our sport was that of woman who was born to give pleasure.
Pleasure she could give like a tap running on and on. I asked her name and she said: Sin. Much to my annoyance she never budged. Her body could writhe and roll and add to the pleasure but her inner spirit was like a barbed wire, cutting and tearing my human frailties that must seek pleasure and pay and go on paying,- and in the end feel left out in the cold. She was correct and Sin chose to be correct.
She stuck to our contract; it was sealed over a written contract sealed and delivered to her three days before the encounter. She would surrender her body totally for the price she deemed fit. I knew how high the price was but that nothing compared to the wound in my innermost being. It was a rvage I could not bear. I wanted to her carnally and the knowledge was all that mattered. By midnight as she parted she merely nipped my earlobe so only I could hear it. ‘Price is paid for.’
The strangest sensation was the early hours of the night. Sin was completely erased from my thoughts! I slept like a log and the love-making had sunk into some dark pool like a boulder and not for once I could recall it. She had completely disappeared from memory.
In my forties I married a girl from the village where my ancestral house even now stands. Meanwhile I had become a man with power and influence and I was the Big Boss to great many.
Marriage of the Big Boss was an event and how the townsfolk bent backwards to make the wedding a success. I knew the bride knew my position and my prestige. She was docile and on the wedding night I would do my duties. One thing led to another and she was all for me to take. But the image of Sin lay before me. Incredible it was! My hair all stood on ends and sweat beaded on my fore head. The bride asked if anything was the matter. The shadow of Sin lay between and the lips of my bride had taken on the snarl of a cougar. However much I tried she just didn’t go away. My bride was all for sleeping off. But it was a vain hope. Sin had come back and she was demanding payment.
One night I just sneaked out of the house and I had not the heart to face the woman I had married. Let her live with the illusions she was married into power and prestige. I had paid the price Sin demanded. Her image merely would not go away was the price I paid.
benny

Read Full Post »

Changing values

In a curious town like Pye-in-the Skye there are many ways to be considered ‘mad.’ Max was not an idiot but the folks thought he was a borderline case. They didn’t take kindly to those who did not live unto their expectations. Nor did they warm up to those who stuck to their guns. As soon as he learned to assemble a refrigerator he knew he wanted to sell one. Where did he go but to the North Pole and naturally the rest sighed and said, ‘Good riddance.’
He wanted to sell refrigerators to the natives.
The Inuit didn’t buy a single one and he died a very poor man. All that he left behind was some ice boxes and a technical manual.
On the other hand Dr. Faustus having made a pact with the devil became the most celebrated scholar. He knew everything that went under the Sun, which passed for knowledge. How the crowned heads and scholars alike feted him! Then came the computers that made him redundant. He died in grief. He said that a machine beat him. Yes.
The world went a-changing! Then came a thaw and ice melted. The polar caps vanished as an icicle in a furnace. The people in Nunavut learned to live with the climate changes. Then someone found the papers of ‘Mad’ Max and it was a discovery that electrified the whole region. They began to make fridges themselves and control their houses to the right temperature.
The world in their own muddling ways saw a great injustice was done to Inuit. They owed to them a great debt for destroying their old way of life. How to repay them?
Nunavut became synonymous the home of refrigerators. The world leaders came to an agreement that fridges made there could be sold worldwide duty-free. Buying fridges made in Nunavut was consistent with principles of ethical living. Inuit prospered.
Who contributed to the welfare of the world more? A fool or a scholar?
benny

Read Full Post »

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
When novels were written with a serious purpose and read as avidly all across the world Tolstoy was a doyen in the same class as Balzac, Dickens, Hawthorne, Poe, Scott and Dosteovsky. Literary tastes have since changed. Tastes of readers are weighted on the side of best sellers and since writers who sell are more a product and who are geared to cater to the lowest denominator we see the kind of books that is touted in each season as best sellers. I would not be surprised if Tolstoy’s moral passion and Dosteovsky’ delving into darkness human soul are now dubbed as top heavy or elitist by modern readers who have grown up with Dan Brown or John Grisham.
Nevertheless according to the English writer Virginia Woolf, ‘he with his observational powers elicited a kind of fear in readers’ and she granted that Tolstoy was “the greatest of all novelists.”
The scion of prominent aristocrats, Tolstoy was born at the family estate, about 130 miles south of Moscow, where he was to live the better part of his life and write his most important works. Having lost his parents at a tender age Tolstoy and his four siblings were then transferred to the care of another aunt in Kazan, in western Russia. From his diaries we know the agonizing spiritual ambivalence that plagued him and he well into his mature years lived a loose life as customary with nobility of his times in debauchery. . Educated at home by tutors, Tolstoy enrolled in the University of Kazan in 1844 as a student of Oriental languages. His poor record soon forced him to transfer to other areas. Thus he drew towards literature. The writings of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau made a deep impact on him. (in place of a cross, he wore a medallion with a portrait of Rousseau). In 1851 he joined his older brother Nikolay, an army officer, in the Caucasus and then entered the army himself. He took part in campaigns against the native Caucasian tribes and, soon after, in the Crimean War (1853–56).
Concealing his identity, Tolstoy submitted Childhood for publication in Sovremennik (“The Contemporary”), a prominent journal edited by the poet Nikolay Nekrasov. Nekrasov was enthusiastic, and the pseudonymously published work was widely praised. During the next few years Tolstoy published a number of stories based on his experiences in the Caucasus, including “Nabeg” (1853; “The Raid”) and his three sketches about the Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War: “Sevastopol v dekabre mesyatse” (“Sevastopol in December”), “Sevastopol v maye” (“Sevastopol in May”), and “Sevastopol v avguste 1855 goda” (“Sevastopol in August”; all published 1855–56).
After the Crimean War Tolstoy resigned from the army and was at first hailed by the literary world of St. Petersburg. But his prickly vanity, his refusal to join any intellectual camp, and his insistence on his complete independence soon earned him the dislike of the radical intelligentsia. He was to remain throughout his life an “archaist,” opposed to prevailing intellectual trends.
The period of the great novels (1863–77)
Happily married and ensconced with his wife and family at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy reached the height of his creative powers. He devoted the remaining years of the 1860s to writing* War and Peace. This was followed up with his other great novel, Anna Karenina(1875–77). These two works share a vision of human experience rooted in an appreciation of everyday life and prosaic virtues. In 1899 Tolstoy published his third long novel, Voskreseniye (Resurrection).
Tolstoy’s rejection of religious ritual contrasts markedly with his attitude in Anna Karenina, where religion is viewed as a matter not of dogma but of traditional forms of daily life.
His search was increasingly straining his married life since his wife yearned for a settled life with the rightly earned fame and material affluence while his attitudes and beliefs were creating enemies inside Russia. His religion upset the Orthodox Church and pacifism, the State.
With the notable exception of his daughter Aleksandra, whom he made his heir, Tolstoy’s family remained aloof from or hostile to his teachings.
Tormented by his domestic situation and by the contradiction between his life and his principles, in 1910 Tolstoy at last escaped incognito from Yasnaya Polyana, accompanied by Aleksandra and his doctor. Within a few days, he contracted pneumonia and died of heart failure at the railroad station of Astapovo.
In contrast to other psychological writers, such as Dostoyevsky, who specialized in unconscious processes, Tolstoy described conscious mental life with unparalleled mastery. His name has become synonymous with an appreciation of contingency and of the value of everyday activity. Oscillating between skepticism and dogmatism, Tolstoy explored the most diverse approaches to human experience. Above all, his greatest works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, endure as the summit of realist fiction.


Most readers will agree with the assessment of the 19th-century British poet and critic Matthew Arnold that a novel by Tolstoy is not a work of art but a piece of life; the 20th-century Russian author Isaak Babel commented that, if the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy. Critics of diverse schools have agreed that somehow Tolstoy’s works seem to elude all artifice. Ultimately he remains by such diverse works as War and Peace, Resurrection, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Anna Karenina the living symbol of the search for life’s meaning.
• War and Peace
The work’s historical portions narrate the campaign of 1805 leading to Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, a period of peace, and Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Contrary to generally accepted views, Tolstoy portrays Napoleon as an ineffective, egomaniacal buffoon, Tsar Alexander I as a phrasemaker obsessed with how historians will describe him, and the Russian general Mikhail Kutuzov (previously disparaged) as a patient old man who understands the limitations of human will and planning. Particularly noteworthy are the novel’s battle scenes, which show combat as sheer chaos. Generals may imagine they can “anticipate all contingencies, ” but battle is really the result of “a hundred million diverse chances” decided on the moment by unforeseeable circumstances. In war as in life, no system or model can come close to accounting for the infinite complexity of human behaviour.
The novel’s other hero, the bumbling and sincere Pierre Bezukhov, oscillates between belief in some philosophical system promising to resolve all questions and a relativism so total as to leave him in apathetic despair.
Tolstoy’s belief in the efficacy of the ordinary and the futility of system-building set him in opposition to the thinkers of his day. It remains one of the most controversial aspects of his philosophy.

(Copyright © 1994-2011 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc./ Gary Saul Morson)

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,870 other followers