Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils is a famous work of fiction by Selma Lagerlöf, first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. The background for publication was a commission from the National Teachers Association to write a geography reader for the public schools. “She devoted three years to Nature study and to familiarizing herself with animal and bird life. She has sought out hitherto unpublished folklore and legends of the different provinces. These she has ingeniously woven into her story.”

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Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life

Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life by Lafcadio Hearn

Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life by Lafcadio Hearn

In an introductory paragraph, Lafcadio Hearn declares his intention: “The papers composing this volume treat of the inner rather than of the outer life of Japan, for which reason they have been grouped under the title Kokoro (heart). Written with the above character, this word signifies also mind, in the emotional sense; spirit; courage; resolve; sentiment; affection; and inner meaning, just as we say in English, “the heart of things.”” The result is a highly eclectic collection of stories, diary entries, cultural essays, and collected traditional texts that illustrate not only the state of Japanese society in the 1890s but also the endlessly fascinating issue of the intersection of cultures as demonstrated in a Westerner’s interpretations of what he observed in Japan. As much is revealed about the Western mind as the Japanese mind whenever such an intersection occurs.

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The City That Was

The City That Was by Will Irwin

The City That Was by Will Irwin

As all but Martians know (and who knows, perhaps even they), the city of San Francisco, California, was destroyed by massive earthquake and unquenchable fire in April, 1906. Will Irwin was a sometime San Franciscan who was then living in New York. He wrote a piece for the newspaper The Sun on April 21st, remembering and describing he city that was no more. He called it The City That Was. Four years later he returned to San Francisco and, amazed at the rebuilding, wrote a second piece for The San Francisco Call which he entitled The City That Is. The first endeavor became famous and was frequently reprinted; it made the reputation of Irwin as a reporter.

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The Night the Mountain Fell

The Night the Mountain Fell by Edmund Christopherson

The Night the Mountain Fell by Edmund Christopherson

A severe earthquake, centered in the vacation area of West Yellowstone, Montana, shook the ground and its inhabitants and visitors on August 17, 1959, at 11.37 pm. A mountainside fell, a lake formed, roads and houses disappeared, people were trapped, people died. The author of this narrative went to the area the day after the quake, took first-hand stories of the catastrophe, researched in the following months, and wrote this account within a year of the shaking. The printed source has many informative photographs.

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