Category Literature & Leisure

Why serialised novels were precursors to book series?

Whether it is “Harry Potter” or “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”, book series have their own unique charm. Waiting eagerly for the next instalment in the series, speculating what lies in store for your favourite characters, and binge reading all the books at once are some of the joys associated with reading a series. But did you know that serialised novels were precursors to book series? Or that Charles Dickens is credited for popularising serialised novels? “The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club” (popularly known as “The Pickwick Papers”) was published in instalments over 19 issues from March 1836 to October 1837.

Dickens wrote most of “The Pickwick papers” under the pseudonym Boz, It follows an elderly gentleman named Samuel Pickwick as he journeys around the British countryside. It was through this work that Dickens established his characteristic writing style, which was marked by humour and exaggerated characters. He also highlighted the shortcomings of Victorian society.

Buoyed by the success of “The Pickwick Papers”, Dickens serialised all his work, including classics such as “Great Expectations” and “Little Dorrit”, Soon, scores of other notable Victorian novelists joined the craze,

Today, however, book series are more popular than serialised novels. From “The Lord of the Rings” to “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Harry Potter”, book series are turned into franchises with spin-offs, films and merchandising.


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What is the story of Lady Xu Mu?

About Lady Xu Mu

Lady Xu Mu was born to Wan, Count Zhao of Wey and his wife Xuan Jiang, with the clan name Ji. When she was older, she married Duke Mu of the neighbouring State of Xu and became known as Lady Xu Mu. She wasn’t particularly thrilled about the marriage since she saw Xu as a weak State that wouldn’t protect her homeland in times of need. But persuaded by the rich gifts of the Duke of Xu, per parents decided that he would be her husband. With that agreement forged, Xu Mu left her beloved homeland.

Her longing for home was expressed in the poems she wrote during her times in Xu. “Bamboo Pole” and “Spring Water” spoke of how much she missed home. These were the only two works of hers from that time that survived.

Her uncle, who took over Wey after her father, was an incompetent ruler who drained the coffers with his affinity for pet cranes. In fact, it is said he gave his pet cranes important places in his court. In 660 BS, when the northern Di nomads invaded Wey, the State was left defenceless and the capital was burnt and pillaged. After her uncle was killed, her brother took over the throne and he too died soon after. During this time, she realised it as her duty to help her homeland and drove on a chariot towards Wey, requesting help and supplies from neighbouring States. The Xu courtiers stopped her and persuaded her tp return to Xu. It was at this time she wrote “Speeding Chariot”, a scathing critique of bureaucracy.

The poem had a strong response, especially from the neighbouring Qi statesmen, who rode to Wey and solved its crisis. The State shifted its capital elsewhere and survived for another 400 years, thanks to its daughter Lady Xu Mu. Her poems were praised by her contemporaries and carried down the Wey State through generations.


Poetry was an art from that many cultivated women were trained to write, and when she moved to her husband’s kingdom, Xu wrote “Bamboo Pole”, solved in nostalgia for her home.

With a long and slender bamboo

I fished by the shores of Qi;

Can’t help thinking of the river

And the land so far from me.

On the left, the fountain gushes,

On the right, the river flaws.

Far away the girl has travelled.

From parents, brothers and home.

 Did you know?

When Xu Mu’s homeland was under siege, she approached her husband for help and asked him to send his forces. He refused and so she left Xu to go towards her homeland in search of help. Many called her rash and meddlesome but she was also appreciated for her strong and capable leadership during hardship.


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Who is Britain’s first feminist?

About Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft was born in London to a comfortable family but soon her father, who was a bully and abusive, diminished the family’s wealth through a series of bad business choices. When her mother passed away in 1780, Marry moved out of her home to earn her own living.

She was angry that her brother was allowed to receive formal education but she wasn’t. So she began to educate herself and dedicated her life to writing and speaking for women’s rights.

Along with her sister and her friend Fanny, Mary established a small school for girls, and from her teaching experience came her first piece of writing – a pamphlet called “Thoughts on the Education of Daughters” (1787). When her friend passed away, the school went through some financial struggle, and Mary had to move on.

For some time, she worked as a governess for a family in Ireland but soon discovered that domestic work was not something she liked doing. Three years later, she returned to London and began to work as a translator and literary advisor for a radical publisher called Joseph Johnson. In this capacity, she entered the intellectual circles in London and became known as a radical thinker.

She published “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” in 1792, where she argued passionately for women’s equality and laid down the doctrines of the feminist movement that followed many years later. It lamented on women’s position in society as adornments at home and described society as rearing ‘gentle, domestic brutes’. This book made her both famous and infamous in her own time.

In 1792, she moved to Paris and began to write critically against the violence taking place in the early stages of revolution. She met Captain Gilbert Imlay in the English circles there and had a daughter with him. They soon separated, and a few years later, she met an old friend of Joseph Johnson, political writer-novelist William Godwin, in whom she found an intellectual companion. Both William and Mary abhorred marriage but eventually did tie the knot. Soon after, Mary gave birth to her second daughter. She died a few days later due to complications in childbirth.


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Who were the joint winners of the Booker Prize 2019?

Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo were the joint winners of the Booker Prize 2019. The judges broke the rules of the award to declare a tie for the first time in 30 years. The pair spilt up the prize money equally. Evaristo is the first black woman to win the Booker.

The chair of judges, Peter Florence, emerged after more than five hours with the jury to reveal that the group of five had been unable to pick a single winner from their shortlist of six. Instead, despite being told repeatedly by the prize’s literary director, Gaby Wood, that they were not allowed to split the £50,000 award, they chose two novels: Atwood’s The Testaments, a follow-up to her dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, and Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, which is told in the voices of 12 different characters, mostly black women.

Evaristo’s win makes her the first black woman to win the Booker since it began in 1969 and the first black British author. At 79, Atwood becomes the prize’s oldest winner. The Canadian author previously won the Booker in 2000 for The Blind Assassin; she becomes the fourth author to have won the prize twice.


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Why was the Nobel Prize in literature postponed?

The Nobel Prize was postponed in 2018 in light of a scandal that exposed harassment, infighting and conflicts of interest among the 18-members of the Swedish Academy, founded in 1786. In 2019, two literature prizes were announced. Polish author Olga, Tokarczuk for 2018 and Peter Handke for 2019.

“The present decision was arrived at in view of the currently diminished academy and the reduced public confidence in the Academy,” the academy’s press release read.

The group’s permanent secretary, Anders Olsson, said: “We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the academy before the next laureate can be announced.”

He added that the cultural institution also made the decision to delay the 2018 award “out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public.”

The academy said it intended to bestow the 2018 literature award in 2019.


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Why is the Salvator Mundi so expensive?

Mona Lisa is known for her inscrutable smile, but there’s another Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece which is equally intriguing. The Salvator Mundi is the world’s most expensive artwork. In 2017, it was sold for a record $450m at auction by Christie’s in New York. After that, the location of the painting was kept secret. Many people speculated about its location, but were unable to find it. On June 2019, Artnet, an art industry news service disclosed the mysterious hideout of the painting. According to the news service, the 500-year-old painting was being kept on Prince Mohammed’s yacht, Serene!

The fact that Salvator Mundi was the last work by da Vinci in private hands therefore makes it an extremely enticing prospect for any private collector looking to own a serious piece of art history.

There’s been some debate in the art world as to whether the da Vinci painting is really by the master himself. Some think it’s a fake, whilst some think that extensive restoration work on the painting interferes with the ability to attribute it to da Vinci. Christie’s say that scholars agree that is authentic and its finding in 2005 is “the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 20th century.”


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What is the story of Da Vinci code?

A newly identified portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci, was displayed in London as the world marked the 500th anniversary of the death of the artist and inventor.

The sketch was made by an unidentified assistant shortly before the master’s death in 1519. Only one other portrait has survived from the artist’s lifetime, aside from self-portraits.

The film, like the book, was considered controversial. It was met with especially harsh criticism by the Catholic Church for the accusation that it is behind a two-thousand-year-old cover-up concerning what the Holy Grail really is and the concept that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and that the union produced a daughter, as well as its treatment of the organizations Priory of Sion and Opus Dei. Many members urged the laity to boycott the film. In the book, Dan Brown states that the Priory of Sion and “all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”

The film grossed $224 million in its worldwide opening weekend and a total of $758 million worldwide, becoming the second-highest-grossing film of 2006, as well as Howard’s highest-grossing film to date. However, the film received generally negative reviews from critics. It was followed by two sequels, Angels & Demons (2009) and Inferno (2016).


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How much did the Avengers endgame make?

If the 2000s were about Harry Potter, then the 2010s were all about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The MCU, which includes 22 films, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man, became the most successful film franchise of all time, making more than $18.2bn to date.

Avengers: Endgame, released on April 26, 2019, spelt the end of phase three of the MCU and the infinitely Saga. There was so much buzz around the film that multiplexes held special early-morning and post-midnight screenings, which ran to packed houses.

Endgame made an estimated $1.19 million at the domestic box office this weekend to push its total worldwide tally to $2.79 billion. Avatar’s haul stands at $2.789 billion. The record is the newest jewel in Marvel’s crown — or Infinity Stone in its gauntlet, if we want to stay on theme with the Marvel cinematic mythology. When the movie came out in April, it set the record ($1.2 billion) for the biggest worldwide opening weekend in history and the biggest domestic opening weekend in history; it also holds the fastest-to-$1 billion title (it only took five days).


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Who is on the reverse of the new 10 note?

England paid tribute to the early-19th century novelist, Jane Austen by printing her image on the new 10-pound note, which replaced the image of naturalist Charles Darwin. It was issued on September 14, 2017.

The £10 note will be made of the same material as the £5 note, which means it also contains some traces of animal fat – an issue which caused concern for vegans and some religious groups when it was launched last September.

A petition to ban the note attracted more than 100,000 signatures but the new £10 will again contain some tallow, which is derived from meat products.

The Jane Austen quote on the note from Pride and Prejudice has also attracted some unfavourable comment.

The quotation: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” is uttered by a character called Caroline Bingley who in fact has no interest in books and is merely trying to impress Mr Darcy, a potential suitor.

But Mr Carney defended the choice.

“It captures much of her [Jane Austen’s] spirit, at least in my mind,” he said. “It draws out some of the essence of some of her social satire and her insight into people’s character. So it works on multiple levels.”

A new polymer £20 featuring artist JMW Turner is due to be issued by 2020, but there are no plans to replace the current £50 note, which was released in 2011.

The Bank of England says the new £10 notes contain sophisticated security features and are expected to last five years, which is two-and-a-half times longer than the current note.


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Why did Bob Dylan not collect his Nobel Prize?

The first songwriter to receive the Nobel Prize, Bob Dylan courted controversy over his win. Firstly, he did not accept the award till 2017. Then, he was criticized for plagiarizing parts of his lecture from an online study guide. The lecture is the only requirement to claim the 8m kronor prize money.

The Academy praised him for “creating new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Despite this, Dylan failed initially to acknowledge the honour, and was branded “impolite and arrogant” by one member of the Academy for failing to respond.

Dylan finally spoke about being awarded the Nobel Prize over two weeks after it was announced he was receiving the honour.

“It’s hard to believe,” he told the Daily Telegraph in an interview.

Asked why he chose to stay silent about it for so long, Dylan only replied: “Well, I’m right here.”


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