What Are the Origins of May Day?

What better way to celebrate May Day and a rich history of a life-long fight, documenting the lives of countless generations and uniting people from all over the world?

Rosa Luxemburg speaks of May Day and its history:

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The happy idea of using a proletarian holiday celebration as a means to attain the eight-hour day was first born in Australia. The workers there decided in 1856 to organize a day of complete stoppage together with meetings and entertainment as a demonstration in favor of the eight-hour day. The day of this celebration was to be April 21. At first, the Australian workers intended this only for the year 1856. But this first celebration had such a strong effect on the proletarian masses of Australia, enlivening them and leading to new agitation, that it was decided to repeat the celebration every year. Continue reading

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April Wrap-up

This month was not a bad reading month for me, considering I’m having a schedule at the moment that is far too busier than usual. I managed to get a few books read and re-read, consisting of a mixture of academic books and novels. I am trying to read a wider selection of books so I’d appreciate any recommendations!

 

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Graham Greene – The Quiet American (1955)

I haven’t posted a blog review of this one yet because I want to review it in light of my current reading, Albert Memmi’s The Colonizer and The Colonized.

 

 

 

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The Quest for Power in the Lord of the Flies

I first read this book three years ago, in a rush, as I had only two days before returning it to the library. This time however, I have my own copy and more time to reflect on what I am reading. More time to pause and visualise the horrors of a seemingly beautiful island, horrors that none but mankind, in its most innocent form, commits.

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Lord of the Flies is an allegorical story about the realms of innocence and adulthood, civilisation and madness, order and chaos. Published in 1954, it loosely fits in the dystopian genre, one I have been trying to dabble more into recently.

In plain writing style, Golding manages to transport the reader into a dark place, creating an atmosphere of chaos, murder and fear, of the other and the self.

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Loots From a Secondhand Books Bookfair

Casablanca is hosting the 8th edition of the secondhand books bookfair in Sahat Es’sraghna, a place I rarely venture to transformed into a haven of books that have been to different homes and now four of them have ended up in mine.

I found the bookfair to be offering a wonderful variety of books (more than 600 000 of them) with different editions and affordable prices, which is a bit of a relief if you read in a language that is not the prevalent language in your country.

The only downside of it I thought was that more linguistic variety would have been better, as most of the books were in French and Arabic, with only of minority of books in the English language.

Without further ado, here are the books I got from there!

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Malcolm Lowry – Under the Volcano (1947)

W. Somerset Maugham – The Painted Veil (1925)

Joyce Cary – Mister Johnson (1939)

Richard Hoggart – The Uses of Literacy (1957)

 

They’re all a bit battered and dusty to be fair but I still prefer old books. They smell nice and carry memories of previous lives between their pages.

If you are in Casablanca, don’t miss out on the bookfair. It ends on the 30th of April and there are loads of literary events organised by the festival as well, so make sure you nip into one of them!

If not, are there bookfairs of this sort where you live? We would love to hear more about it in the comments section.

 

 

The Art of Ignorance in Fahrenheit 451

Can one think of a more efficient way of making ignorance become the norm?

Is there an easier method of keeping the population under strict control?

Perhaps not. Published in 1953, this novel is not only post-apocalyptic or sci-fi literature as it would normally be classified. It comes as a reminder of things that are imminently real, and yet are dismissed as unimportant. I would refer to it as a dystopian novel with with a realist dimension.

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Fahrenheit 451, initially called the Fire Man, gives a different picture of firemen, not as saviours from fire and restorers of hope, but as burners and members of circle whose purpose is to keep to society in order, and order, according to the novel, cannot be achieved without maintaining ignorance.

Ignorance is strength. The Orwellian slogan of INGSOC applies to society in this novel. Ignorance here does not strengthen individuals, but rather the government, which subtly encourages people to accept everything that is presented to them, without giving it much thought. In fact, one of the goals of burning books and making reading prohibited I believe is not only to control the population, but also to erase every trace of history and rational thought. In this sense, history becomes oral but most importantly, irrelevant to the present and the future. 

To give a quick summary of the novel without spoiling it much, it is about a fireman called Guy Montag, whose job is to burn books along with his crew members, and arrest people who oppose the law of the ban. He was someone who enjoyed burning books, and thus, reinforcing the law.

“It was a pleasure to burn.”

The metamorphosis of his thoughts and actions happens quickly, after he meets two characters, Clarisse and Faber, the former being a young neighbour who inspires him to question the value and reasons of things, and the latter being  an old man who helps him do what he feels he has to do, under all costs.

Guy Montag embodies the modern anti-hero through his rebellion, quest for self discovery and partial disillusionment with the outcome of his rebellion. 

This novel does not have one story line, or one message. Bradbury discusses different ideas throughout the plot, ranging from censorship to the influence of media and rebellion.

It is not censorship that struck me, but rather the cause of censorship and burning of books which I found eerily disturbing. In this novel, it is a choice of the population not to read, to remain ignorant, and feign a sort of happiness that is twisted, unshared and deceitful, further enhanced by methods of loud entertainment without any pause. This point could be referred in the present times, to how other types of media, social media for instance, affect the way people approach books now and how reading a Facebook status or a tweet could be done more often than reading a chapter.

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.”

Montag’s ambitious plans of rebellion are not enough. The only thing that can make drastic change is if people develop a sense of curiosity again and seek knowledge rather than petty amusement. They must make the choice of abandoning comfort for discomfort.

Ray Bradbury’s prophetic novel is reflected in present times. Indeed not all book holders are arrested and not all books are burnt, though for many goverments, the possession of certain books can lead to legal consequences. However, in our actual dystopian future, so many books are published, books of no value which only make ignorance more blissful, whilst others are pushed into forgetfulness and labelled as books no one reads. People are becoming more superficial, artificial, braindead, dreary, muesli-enraged and pettiness-seeking homo neanderthalensis.

This is a book that is simply written, but delivers a message that resonates through time, space and fire, and is there to remind some of us of what to do, like Montag.

 

 

 

Back to Classics Challenge

Karen K. of Books and Chocolate is hosting a great reading challenge again this year. I found out about it a bit late so I can’t sign up but I will still do it on my own, using the categories that she has put up. I can’t wait!

These are my book selections:

tess.jpg1.  A 19th century classic: Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (1891)

Fun fact: It took me years to spot the first “R” in the book title. I’ve always thought it was Tess of D’Ubervilles until I bought a copy of it!

 

 

ken 2.  A 20th century classic: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey (1962)

 

 

 

 

frances 3.  A classic by a woman author: Evelina – Frances Burney (1778)

Surely the love triangles, quest for self-fulfillment and romantic entanglements of an Englishwoman don’t sound like a novelty, but at that time, they were considered so scandalous that the book had to be published anonymously.

 

 

Dona Perfecta cover 4.  A classic in translation: Doña Perfecta – Benito Perez Galdós (1876)

 

 

 

 

passing.jpg 5.  A classic by a non-white author: Passing – Nella Larsen (1929)

 

 

 

 

 

jungle-book-cover-image.jpg 6.  An adventure classic: The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling (1894)

 

 

 

 

 

burgess 7.  A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic: A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess (1962)

 

 

 

 

 

moonstone 8.  A classic detective novel: The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins (1868)

 

 

 

 

 

smithbetty 9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – Betty Smith (1943)

 

 

 

 

the-grapes-of-wrath 10. A classic which has been banned or censored: The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (1939)

 

 

 

 

 

sans famille 11. Re-read a classic you read in school: Nobody’s Boy (Sans Famille) – Hector Malot (1878)

 

 

 

 

 

41OEfVmkOBL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_ 12. A volume of classic short stories: Stories of Anton Chekhov – Anton Chekhov (1922)

This is one of the Russian writers that I have been meaning to read for a long time. I am finally getting round to him!

 

 

 

What about you then? Are you doing any challenges this year? And do you have any books that fit into these categories that you would recommend? Please leave a comment down below.

Procrastinators of The World Unite!

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I set up this blog more than a year ago, with the intention of writing book reviews of most of the books I read and posting my writings, as I find it to be a good way to have discussions whilst keeping up with the pressing technological necessities of our age. Of course, being a gifted procrastinator when it comes to using technology, it took me one year to start working on my blog properly but I am finally getting there.

Brethren of Procrastination! If you are readers and are reading this, prepare yourselves to embark upon this journey and be part of the riveting bookish tales of my life (assuming that I actually keep on posting).

We shall conquer the world together, one long, snobby book review after another.

Let the reading (and writing) begin!