Thursday, October 18, 2007

Personality - ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1899-1961)

"You can destroy me, but can never defeat" – said Santiago, hero of The Old Man And The Sea. Ernest Hemingway, the Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize winner had the courage of despair. He wrote with simplicity and hostility. He had a general and a lasting influence on the generation which grew up between the world wars like himself. His influence is not confined to literature and art, nor to the intellectual elite, nor even to any single country. He is one of the most popular authors among all classes of the reading public, irrespective of age, transcending the geographical boundaries, both in the west and in the communist countries.
He sought his heroes, not among the champions and victims of the social revolutions, but among professional boxers, lion-hunters and bullfighters. They survived the tests of physical exertion.

Archibald MacLeish described Hemingway’s meteoric rise to fame in one of his poems, "A veteran of the war before he was twenty; famous twenty-five; at thirty a master."

A Perfect Upbringing
Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, to Dr Clarence and Grace Hall Hemingway. The second of six children (he had four sisters and a brother), he was named after his maternal grandfather Ernest Hall and his great uncle Miller Hall. Hemingways appeared to be a model family for their friends at Oak Park. Dr Hemingway, his father, was a sober man; a devoted father, a responsible husband, and a competent physician.

When he was seven weeks old, he was taken to Bear Lake to the shorefront property, which his father had newly purchased to live with his grandfather. When his grandfather died and the family left his grandfather’s house and moved to a corner lot at 600 North Kenilworth Avenue and Iowa street.

In mid–August 1906 Hemingway family moved to their new three storeyed house. "A town of wide lawns and narrow minds" is how Hemingway referred to Oak Park, the upper middle class suburb of Chicago, where he grew up. His upbringing was grounded in solid Mid-western conservative values. He was brought up to be religious and hardworking, to have a strong self-determination and be physically fit. Young Ernest was taught to fish and to hunt by the shores of the Lake Michigan and the forests around. The family in the summer months stayed at a summerhouse called Windemere on Horton Bay where Hemingway would go fishing at different streams or row the boat out into the bay and fish there. It was at a young age that he learned about the serenity that one could get from being alone in the woods or by a stream. This was something that he always went back to. Despite the hectic life that he led, he always preferred living in isolated places.

When not out hunting or fishing alone or with his father, his mother – who once aspired for a professional career in music – gave him lessons in music.


In early September 1906, Ernest was enrolled at the Oliver Wendell Holmes School, Chicago Avenue in Oak Park. On Saturday afternoons, after school, the mother took children to see the collections at the Chicago Art Institute. But growing was not easy for Ernest. As he moved up through the elementary grades at the Holmes School, he had to put in extra efforts. He had to compete with his elder sister Marcelline who was in the same grade.

During his seven years stay at the Oliver Wendell Holmes School, he performed outstandingly in his class. While he was in the 5th grade, he turned to reading. He read popular boys magazines as Might and Main or Rough Riders’ Weelky, which contained Stories for Boys who Succeed. He also read literature as Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Charles Dickens’s Christmas Stories for Children and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Later on he also read Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Books and Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi. He adopted Twain’s humor and influenced by it he wrote Death in the Afternoon.

When he was in the 7th grade, in 1911-12, he was chosen for the lead in a class play and to write the class prophecy in the spring.

On September 6, 1913, Ernest joined preparatory course at Oak Park High. Ernest signed up for Latin other than Algebra, English and general science. He had the wide–ranging reading list as Freshman English was from the English ballads to Sohrab and Rustum, the Greek myths and several stories from Bible. In 1917, Ernest got a pair of brown leather boxing gloves from his father and he started shadow boxing all over the house. At one time or another that spring, he invited every member of the football team up for an afternoon of boxing in their mama’s music room. He beat them all, quite severely. On January 20, 1916 his first article appeared in the Trapeze. Entitled Concert A Success reported on a performance the Chicago Symphony Orchestra had given in Oak Park.

The Beginning

He graduated in spring of 1917 and rather than going for further studies he took up a job as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. His uncle helped him to land up with the job.

When in school, he had enjoyed writing for the high school newspaper called The Trapeze and this was where he wrote his first articles, which were mostly humorous and written in the style of popular satirist Ring Lardner. At Kansas City Star, Hemingway achieved perfection as a reporter. He also tried his hand as a feature writer. He worked here for eight months and moved to Chicago. He reported Bull-fights in Spain. The `bullfight’ is a symbol of life and death. It became his leading theme, which occupied him throughout his life.

The Kansas City Star was where he learned his first lessons in style. He learned that the kind of language that was most effective had short sentences and paragraphs, active verbs, authenticity, compression, clarity and immediacy. Later, Hemingway said of these rules : "Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I have never forgotten them."

At an early age French magazines accepted several of his stories. The Querschnitt of Berlin printed a number of his sketches and also a longer story, The Bullifight. Even the leading literary journal, Atlantic Monthly, accepted his story Fifty Grand. The editor of a Hearst Paper offered him a contract, which could have guaranteed his financial security for years, yet he declined. He thought that his work would have suffered if he knew that everything he wrote was already accepted and paid for. He struggled on and kept his integrity. He said, "The integrity in a writer is like virginity in a woman. Once lost, it is never recovered."

World War I And Hemingway

he First World War was raging and when he turned 18, Hemingway tried to enlist in the army but was deferred because of his poor left eye. He then volunteered as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross. He left his job at the paper and sailed for Europe in May 1918.

He first went to Paris, and on receiving his orders went to Milan. The day he reached Milan, he had to carry mutilated bodies and body parts from an exploded munitions factory to a makeshift morgue. Two days after this initiation to the horrors of war, he was sent to the town of Schio where his work was to drive ambulances. While distributing chocolates and cigarettes to soldiers in trenches near the front lines, he was wounded by shrapnel from an Austrian bombshell, which landed a few feet away from where he stood. It left him unconscious, killed an Italian soldier and blew the legs off another. What happened then has been debated for a long time. It is said that despite the many pieces of shrapnel lodged in his legs, Hemingway managed to carry a wounded soldier back to the first-aid station. While doing this, he was hit in the legs by several bullets from a machine gun. He was awarded the Italian Silver Medal for valor. Its official citation read : "Gravely wounded by numerous pieces of shrapnel from an enemy shell, with an admirable spirit of brotherhood, before taking care of himself, he rendered generous assistance to the Italian soldiers more seriously wounded by the same explosion and did not allow himself to be carried elsewhere until after they had been evacuated."

Describing his injuries to a friend, he said, "There was one of the big noises, you sometimes hear at the front. I died then…I felt my soul or something coming right out of my body, like you’d pull a silk handkerchief out of a pocket by one corner. It flew all around and then came back and went in again and I wasn’t dead any more."

While he was hospitalized in Milan, he fell in love with a Red Cross Nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky. Agnes, who refused to marry him, was the first of the great loves of his life. This unrequited love was the inspiration for his great novel A Farewell to Arms.

Lonely At Home

In January 1919, he returned home which he found dull as compared to the adventures of war and the lure of foreign lands. He was just nineteen and a half, but the war had given him a kind of understanding that made him mature. He could not get interested either in studies or in looking for a job, things that his parents were beginning to question him about. He sat reading either at home or in the library. He even gave talks about his war exploits to small civic organizations. His story Soldiers Home is about the state that a man going back home from war is in – the frustration that he feels when the people around him do not understand the immensity of what he has gone through.

It was at the last speaking assignment that he took that he met Harriet Connable, the wife of an executive from Woolworth’s Company, Toronto, who offered him a position to watch over her partially handicapped son. It gave him a chance to write for the Toronto Star Weekly, the editor of which Harriet’s husband Ralph promised to introduce him to. He moved to Chicago but continued to write for the Toronto Star Weekly.

A Movable Feast

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of good life it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast."

Friend, Philosopher And Guide

Out of all his friends Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound were the closest ones. They were major influences of his life. Gertrude Stein was the first to read his stories and poems. Hemingway used to visit her at regular intervals and she used to listen attentively as she expounded her theories on style and language. She used to motivate him and praised his various stories, advising him on the art of story-telling and to concentrate exclusively on his work.

While Ezra Pound was the first to recognize Hemingway’s great talents. They were good friends, but anti-Semitic and fascist leanings of Pound’s political views destroyed their friendship. Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound were his guides. Pound read each one of his stories and gave suggestions to improve it. Gertrude Stein confined herself to a general criticism, Constructive and sometimes harsh. For their relationship Hemingway wrote, "Ezra was right half the time, and when he was wrong he was so wrong you were never in any doubt about it. Gertrude was always right."

Marriages And Children

He met Hadley Richandson, a young girl from Michigan in Chicago. She was a singularly gifted pianist and became a permanent member of the artistic circle. They got attracted, fell in love and married in September 1921. After falling in love with and getting married to Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, Hemingway moved to Paris where, as writer Gertrude Stein put it ‘the 20th century was’. He divorced her in 1927 and married Pauline Pfeiffer a fashion reporter. In 1928, the young couple left Paris for Florida, where they lived for 10 years. It was a peaceful place which could fetch wonderful creative ideas. From his first marriage with Hadley he had a son, John in 1923. From his second marriage he had two sons Patrick and Gregory born in 1928 and 1931. He divorced Pauline in 1940 and married Martha Gellhorn the same year. He divorced Martha in 1945 and married for the fourth time to Mary Welsh, in 1946.

Hemingway : The Political Reporter

In November 1921, he accepted an offer by the Toronto Daily Star to work as its European correspondent. Hemingway reached Paris armed with letters of introduction from novelist Sherwood Anderson. Paris was where literature was being changed and Hemingway was not going to miss the bus. With Anderson’s introduction, he soon met some of the most prominent of writers and artists in Paris and built relationships with them. His friends in the artistic circle in Paris included Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Max Eastman, Wyndahm Lewis, Sylvia Beach, Lincoln Steffens and the painters Picasso and Miro. These people played an instrumental role in his development as a writer and an artist.

He did extensive reporting. At the Genoa conference in 1922, Hemingway gained an insight into the bustle and intrigue of high politics. He was the first to warn against the fatal danger of Fascism. Hemingway was neither a communist nor a socialist, but always had been an anti-fascist. He said, "Fascism is a lie told by bullies. A writer who will not lie cannot live and work under Fascism." He remained an anti-fascist for the rest of his life. Political ideologies never interested him. What bothered him the most was man’s inhuman behavior to fellow human beings and could never get away with the subject. He experienced such selfish and cruel behavior by man when he joined the Greek civilians on their flight to Macedonia in October 1922.

He spent most of his days here doing other pieces on politics as well as lifestyle pieces on social life in Europe, fishing, bullfighting, skiing and a lot more.

The Hemingways moved for a while to Toronto where their first child, John Hadley Nicanoz (named after a Spanish Bullfighter), was born. The move was made in order to get better hospital facilities available in North America. While in Toronto, he wrote for the Toronto Daily Star. A few months later, they headed back to Paris. Hemingway was delighted about the fact that he had taught the baby to put up his fists and make a fearsome face – stage one in becoming a man’s man.

He edited Ford Maddor Ford’s magazine the Transatlantic Review on Ezra Pound’s recommendation. Some of his earliest stories were published by Ford and though the magazine did not last long (only a year and a half, till 1925), it gave Hemingway a chance to work out his own artistic theories and see them in print

The Author Emerges

In four short years from 1925 to 1929, he shot up from being an unknown writer to the most important writer of his generation. He wrote the experimental In Our Time, then his first true novel The Sun Also Rises followed by Men Without Women. Then came A Farewell to Arms, which has been pronounced the best novel that came out of the First World War. The Sun Also Rises introduced the ‘lost generation’ and was a great success. His writing career was on a fast track but his personal life was slowly beginning to fizzle out. He divorced his first wife Hadley and married Pauline Pfeiffer who wrote, at times, for Vogue or Vanity Fair and moved to Key West.

Death Of Father

In December of the same year, his father who had been suffering from depression and paranoia shot himself in the head. Dr Clarence Edmonds Hemingway committed suicide. In Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls the hero, Jordon, touches the subject of his father’s suicide and said, "I’ll never forget how sick it made me the first time I knew he was a… coward. If he wasn’t a coward he would have stood up to that woman and had not let her bully him. I wonder what I would have been like if he had married a different woman." Ernest Hemingway went from Key West to Oak Park to arrange for the funeral.

Key West

"It’s the best place I have ever been anytime, anywhere; flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms… Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks."

Hemingway and Pauline learned about Key West from their writer-friend, John Dos Passos. After living in a rented apartment for two years, the Hemingways bought a large house at 907, Whitehead Street, with some monetary help from Uncle Gus, Pauline’s wealthy uncle. It was in Key West that Hemingway finished A Farewell to Arms. Their son Patrick was born in June 1928. Three years later Pauline gave birth to Gregory, the last of Hemingway’s children. Here Hemingway also discovered the big game fishing, which later served as an inspiration for many of his books and became a life long passion.

African Influence

He had made an expedition to Africa for five months. He was affected with a painful attack of dysentery in the African bush and due to this he had to stay long in a Nairobi hospital, and this ill stroke provided material for The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Harry, a writer dying of gangrene, finishes his life and in his quest for riches and luxury he sacrificed art, love, freedom and intellectual independence. Memories of his youth float through his delirium. Lot of opportunities were open to him which remained unused. Same spirit of discontent constitutes in his next novel, To Have and Have Not.

The impressions and experiences he collected during his hunting trips provided him with the background for The Macomber Affair. In the film he portrayed a marriage which he felt was typical of the decadence found in certain sections of rich American society. In those circles marriage had become a business, devoid of any sincere feeling and warmth.

During the next few years, Hemingway traveled a lot, mostly through France and Spain and came up with some of his experimental writings. In March 1937, he traveled to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance. He traveled with Martha Gellhorn, "the beautiful blonde in a black dress," whom he had met at Sloppy Joe’s bar and immediately taken a liking to. Martha used fake press credentials but later sold her articles to Collier’s. They had a four-year long affair before Hemingway divorced Pauline and married Martha. What he had learned from Spain and her war, touched him deeply and he wrote about it in For Whom the Bell Tolls and in other short stories and a play called The Fifth Column.

Finca Vigia

On their return from Spain and after their marriage, Hemingway and Martha moved to a large house outside Havana, Cuba, which they called Finca Vigia (or Lookout farm). This is where Hemingway lived for the next 22 years of his life with "9,000 books, 4 dogs and 54 cats" as novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez put it. Gabriel also said, "[It was the] only really stable residence Hemingway had in his life." During the time he spent here, he wrote vigorously and traveled a lot.

He was an avid reader. He considered Tolstoy’s novels, Anna Karenina and War and Peace and Dostoevsky’s, The Brothers Karamazov as priceless. Next on his list were Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the short stories of Henry James and Sherwood Anderson. Ulysses and The Dubliners by James Joyce and the autobiography by Yeats. English books that he named were Wuthering Heights, Hudson’s Far Away and Long Ago, two novels by Henry Fielding, three by Captain Marryat and Kipling’s short stories. He also loved The Red and the Black, Madame Bovary by Flaubert and Maupassant’s The House of Madame Tellier from French literature, and Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann.

World War II And Hemingway

Looking for adventure during the Second World War, he undertook an undercover operation to hunt German submarines in the Atlantic, off the coast of Cuba. He gathered friends and other people, outfitted his boat ‘Pilar’ with bazookas and grenades, and looked for German U-boats. He called this gang the ‘Crook Factory’. All they actually did was fish, drink, and have a good time. The whole thing irritated Martha who thought that he was avoiding the responsibilities as a great writer to report the real war.

Hemingway did go to Europe to report on the war. First, he went to London and wrote about the effects the war had on England and about the RAF (Royal Air Force). He was injured in a car crash. He suffered a serious concussion and a gash on his head, which required 50 stitches. Martha’s harsh reaction to his condition marked the beginning of the end of their marriage.

In London, he met Mary Welsh who was a reporter for Time. Like in all the other wars, Hemingway fell in love again. Hemingway wrote, "Funny how it should take one war to start a woman in your damn heart and another to finish her. Bad Luck."

They went all over London and France after the allied invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Paris. Hemingway had formed a band of irregular soldiers and he was fond of saying that he was the first to enter Paris in its liberation. The story however seems far-fetched. However, he did liberate the Ritz hotel, which was his favorite and spent a week celebrating his return to the city that was for him a moveable feast. He then traveled to the North of France where he joined forces with his friend General Buck Lanham, and moved towards Germany. The fighting that he saw during the month that he stayed with Lanham was the bloodiest of the war and it made its way obliquely into Across the River and into the Trees, which he wrote on his return to Cuba.

The Nobel

Later he wrote The Old Man and the Sea, which won him both the Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize for Literature. He had not sacrificed the high standard of artistic integrity he demanded for himself. The language is highly imaginative, the description of nature was immediate.

Other Works

In An Idyll In The Alps, he used indirect speech with jerky telegraphs which he later used with great effect in his novel The Sun Also Rises. The novel gained him fame overnight. It laid the foundation of his literary career and opened a new direction in American literature. It was a tremendous success. Sex has an unfailing magnetism for the public and the novel discussed the basic instinct at length.

The Survival

In 1954, the Cessna airplane that was taking Hemingway and Mary to Africa crashed, which he survived only to go through another one, which injured him badly. He survived both to read his own premature obituaries.

Despite his severe injuries, the Hemingways traveled for one last time to Venice with a few friends and then went to Cuba. Due to his injuries he was unable to attend the ceremonies for the Nobel Prize but John Cabot, the US Ambassador to Sweden, read out his written acceptance, which bespoke his code as a writer.

Grace Under Pressure

The following years were a struggle against deteriorating health that kept him from working.

In 1959, he had been asked by Life magazine to write a short article about a series of Mano y Mano bullfights between two of Spain’s best matadors, Antonio Ordonez and Louis Miguel Dominguin. He traveled to Spain collecting matter for the article that soon exceeded the word limit and grew to 120,000 words.

He then did something he would never have done before. He asked his friend A E Hotchner to help him cut it down and together they brought it down to 65,000 words. It was published in three installments as The Dangerous Summer and was the last of his works that he saw in print during his lifetime. He was also working on memoirs of his Paris days.

The Castro revolution in 1959 forced the Hemingways to leave Cuba. They settled in Ketchum, Idaho.

He was getting increasingly paranoid and was convinced that the FBI was following him. He also became obsessively concerned about his finances. He was finally admitted to the Mayo Clinic at Rochester, Minnesota. He was given electric-shock therapy. One of its side effects was loss of memory. This meant that he could no

longer recall the images and facts that he required for creation. That which had become difficult, now became impossible.

The Bell Tolls

"All Stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is not true storyteller who would keep that from you."

Back home from the Mayo Clinic, one morning, Mary found him holding a shotgun in one hand and a handful of shells in another. Mary and the family doctor managed to take the gun from him and re-admitted him to the clinic. However, he returned home again fooling his doctors into believing that he was better.

On the morning of July 2, 1961, Mary who was still in bed heard a loud sound that she went to investigate. She found her husband’s body, in a red bathrobe that she had given him long ago. His head had been blown to pieces. The man who had always claimed to be fearless had finally given way to his fears and shot himself. Yet, he died as he had lived, in his own way.

Many rumors prevailed on why he killed himself. Someone rightly said that he killed himself because according to him –

"If I can’t exist on my own terms, then existence is impossible…that is how I lived, and that is how I must live or not live."

Todays Pic

Father knows Best...

A young boy had just gotten his driver's license and inquired of his father, if they could discuss his use of the car.

His father said he'd make a deal with his son. "You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, get your hair cut and we'll talk about the car."

The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he'd settle for the offer and they agreed on it.
After about six weeks his father said,

"Son, I've been real proud. You brought your grades up and I've observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I'm real disappointed you haven't gotten your hair cut."

The young man paused a moment then said, "You know, Dad, I've been thinking about that,
and I've noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair and there's even a strong argument that Jesus had long hair."

To this his father replied, "Did you also notice they all walked everywhere they went?"


Q- What is the difference between the people who pray in the church, and those who pray in casinos?
A-The ones in the casinos are serious.

Women are confusing...
Before marriage they expect a man, after marriage they suspect a man, after he dies they respect the man

When I was young I used to pray for a bike, then I realized that God doesn't work that way, so I stole a bike and prayed for forgiveness.

One Liners

The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.

Remember half the people you know are below average.

Love is a great master. It teaches us to be what we never were.

If Barbie is so popular why do you have to buy her friends?

If you are not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.

Love at first sight is easy; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

The sooner you fall behind the more time you’ll have to catch up.

Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.

Courage is resistance of fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.

Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.

If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.

Anything too stupid to be spoken is sung.

True love comes quietly, without banners, or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.

A fool in love makes no sense to me. I only think you are a fool if you do not love.

How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics, so important a biological phenomenon as first love /?

If you’re falling off a cliff, you may as well try to fly. You have nothing to lose.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Personality - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

One of the masters of the world literature, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe was the last European poet who possessed the revolutionary qualities of the great Renaissance personalities. He was a critic, journalist, painter, statesman, educationist, philosopher, and apart from all this, a theatre manager too! The variety, depth and quality of his output were in itself, stupendous.

The German poet’s entire life is a mirrored showcase of human existence through which a reader can find respite and peace in understanding himself in order to gain access to inner wealth of knowledge and moral courage. No other poet has left behind such a rich legacy in literature that gives invaluable insight into Goethean ideas, experiences and actions.

Goethe’s literary, scientific and philosophical contribution, his revolutionary ideas and activities, and his intimacy towards the relations based on friendship and love give us insight into this great literary figure.

Today, he is known by his poetic dramas Faust and Wilhelm Meister in the world of literature. A timeless figure in the history of Western thought, Goethe truly belongs to the entire world. From the treasure trove of his literary wisdom, generations to come will be able to seek solutions to address their pressing problems.

The Man Of Letters

Noble be man,
Helpful and good!
For that alone
Sets him apart
From every other creature
On earth.

The originator of such a poetic definition of an ideal human being was born in the 18th century. He was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. On the day of August 28, 1749, he was born as the first child of Johann Caspar Goethe, and Katherine Elizabeth Textor. His family was residing in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and was a well-to-do family.


Goethe had a luxurious childhood. He was greatly influenced by his mother, who was a daughter of the mayor of Frankfurt. She was instrumental in development of Johann’s literary aspirations. His father was a retired lawyer. He was of north German origin and spent his spare time in visiting the neighboring countries like Italy. In Goethe’s well-furnished house, there was a well-stocked library and an art and picture gallery.

As a child, he was not exactly an 'author-in-making', but was quite quick-witted and he excelled in creating and telling stories to his companions and friends. He was appreciated for his story, The New Paris, which found mention in his autobiography. He was also very fond of games and he ratained this characteristic all through his life. The child-like innocence always remained in him. One of his childhood play was the puppet theatre, a gift from his grandmother, the puppet theatre that got famous with Wilhelm Meister.

His Father

Eighteenth-century Germany was divided into small duchies – counties, and cities. But Frankfurt, in spite of many narrow aspects of its life, was quiet a free city of Europe. It had a wider horizon and liberal atmosphere than other European cities of its time. Johann’s father, a tailor’s son, who got the title of Imperial Councilor, reconstructed a beautiful house in the midst of the city. In this house, Johann spent his youthful days. He found his father to be very studious and all too fond of teaching. The element of irony in his works was rooted in the fact that his father was excessively fond of teaching and preaching morals which found due reflection in all his works. In Goethe’s words, his father had a ‘very tender heart, externally maintained, an iron-clad severity.’ Goethe Sr was quite an inflexible person and was a disciplinarian.


Young Johann’s imagination took refuge in the fact that his father had a zeal for education when he tried to invent a story about a dispersed family whose members corresponded with each other in French, Latin, Italian, and Greek. Goethe could write in all these languages.

The characteristics of Goethe’s personality were developed from his inner circle of his childhood: a strict father, a loving younger sister Cornelia, and a pleasing mother – his loving family. Johann was affectionate to his mother, whose only two of six children had survived infancy. This bond of affection grew stronger as his father withdrew himself into more and more demanding legal profession, making him self-centered and isolated from rest of his family.

During his childhood, he set an emotional bond with his sister Cornelia, which found expression in the numerous portrayals of brother-sister relationship, in his later works.

His education depended entirely on private tutors. Though the teaching never went on systematically, it made him aware of a treasure in his own home - his father's library. He made use of almost each and every volume to enrich his knowledge about various subjects like geography by the display of travel books, maps, etc. Johann himself, at a later age used his library to share knowledge. His favorite book was Johann Amos Comenius' Orbis Pictus. Even at that age, he was appealed by the pictorial images presented in the book.

His obsession with neat and good handwriting is legendary. Even his father described him as the Magister artis scribendi. He always emphasized on making carefully drawn handwritings, so much so that he detested to open letters with unclean handwritings. On the other hand, he never paid heed to spellings, punctuation and grammar. In fact, he found grammar rules 'ridiculous'.

Young Johann used to engage himself into lively dialogues with his Latin teacher. This must have been helpful later when the masterpieces like Faust were written.

Johann was a child raised in aristocracy and he enjoyed his distinguished isolation. Once, for a short period, he was put into a class where other pupils were also present. They tried to bully Johann and this enraged him to the extent that one day, he caught hold of the 'coarse' boys and warned them seriously against any such tormenting in future. Trying hard, the boys could not manage to release themselves from his infuriated clutch. He enjoyed ruling over other boys of his age. This resulted in having very few friends in his childhood.

Higher Education

Johann was sent to study law at the University of Leipzig in October of 1765. A 16 years old boy entered the ‘little Paris’, then a leading cultural center. Goethe later described the city in Faust. The world of elegance and fashion made the young provincial feel like ‘a fish out of water.’ Here, he began creating his earlier poems and writings. In Leipzig, he suffered from severe illness. So by the autumn of 1768 he returned home. Soon after his arrival at Weimar, he began to develop his own revolutionary base toward a way of living and an art of writing. He studied alchemy, astrology, and philosophy, knowledge of which left indelible mark on his magnum opus Faust. In 1770, he joined the University of Strassburg. The most auspicious moment of Goethe’s Sturm and Drang era occurred at Strassburg. Here, he found Johann Gottfried Herder, who later assisted Goethe in developing his creative genius. Herder was five years older than Goethe. He was famous as a critic and scholar, rather than a poet. Goethe, for the next four years practiced law with his father. He also wrote two poems May Song and Welcome and Farewell, which are epoch making, heralding a new approach to German lyric.

First Love

The celebrated lyrics were inspired by one of his early loves, Friederike Brion, the daughter of the pastor of Sesenheim. He was introduced to the pastor's family by his friend Weyland. The Brion family was known for its generosity and fun-loving nature. Just to satisfy his curiosity, Johann visited them as a poor theological student. The pastor family welcomed him in and soon he was adopted as a student. There, he was introduced to the pastor's pretty daughter, Friederike. They spent the entire day together, enjoying the pastoral beauty and chatting. Next morning Johann appeared before them as 'Herr Goethe', as his original self. He was accepted in the family whom he visited very regularly. In his later visits they sometimes took shelter in some fishermen's huts from where they were soon driven away by gnats. Though they were having a great time together, the idea of marriage never occurred to him. When his father insisted upon he finishing his doctorate, the heavenly lovestory came to an unwelcome end.

Goethe immortalized Friederike and her liveliness in Dichtung und Wahrheit and in various other poems. About a 100 years later the lovestory was presented in form of an operetta called Friederike.

In his youth, Goethe was very emotional, and this was the reason why he was feeling fearful at times.

Storm And Stress

During the Sturm and Drang (Storm and Stress), a movement for literary liberty, he was recognized as a leading figure. His poem Prothemeus, with its insistence that a person must believe in himself and not in God, became the motto for the whole Sturm and Drang movement.

In 1774, he published his first novel Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers [The Sorrow of Young Werther]. It was inspired by his hopeless affair with Charlotte Buff, another temporary interest. The poetic transfiguration of this love episode crossed the horizons of international success, very fast.

After the publication of his first novel, he went to Switzerland. Soon after a relaxing trip, he was invited by Duke Karl August into the small court of Weimar, where he held numerous high office positions till 1786. Going to Weimar was a major turning point in Goethe’s life. He remained there, despite Napoleon Bonaparte’s invitation to Paris, until his (Goethe) death. During this period, he hardly wrote anything worth mentioning.

The Weimer Affair

At Weimer, he came in touch with Charlotte von Stein, a married woman with seven children. But these things never hindered Goethe's sincere affection for her and he always admired her. It was the first time, that Goethe found himself a person to match his intellect. He addressed many a poems to her and wrote him letters for over 50 long years. He wrote around 1,500 letters to her during his lifetime.

She was a friend, philosopher, guide, and above all an inspiring figure for him. During those years, he wrote mysterious and wonderful lyrics on Charlotte von Stein. Their relationship turned out to be purely platonic in nature. But at the end Goethe left for Italy leaving the fate to decide the course of his life.


Goethe who was also interested in science, had during his scientific researches discovered the existence of human inter maxillary bone and formulated the vertebral theory of skull, in the year 1784.

The next two years were spent in Italy. This journey inspired him to write Iphigenie auf tauris and Romishe Elegien. These sensuous poems were more or less inspired by Christiane Vulpius, who became Goethe’s mistress in 1789. He met Christiane in a public park near Rome. The beautiful girl attracted the poet and he took her home. He did not marry her until 1806.

Concentrated On Writing

The journey to Italy significantly influenced his developing commitment to the classical view of art. It also brought to an end his emotional dependence on Charlotte. Now Goethe retired himself from day-to-day governmental duties to concentrate on writing. Although he remained as a general supervisor for arts and sciences and he also worked as a director of the court theaters during 1791 to 1817

Producing The Masterpieces

Goethe had realized that he was an ‘artist’ and resolved to dedicate the rest of his life to writing. During this period, Christiane Vulpius bore him a son in 1789. Goethe finally married her in 1806, to legitimize the child.

From 1794 to 1805, he spent much of his time at Jena, where he developed an intimate friendship with Fredric Sehiller. This union is regarded today as a high point in German literature. Goethe’s creative power reached its peak during his sixties and seventies. He wrote many writings of which Faust and Wilhelm Meister were the most important works created during these two decades.

Last Days

He continued the active contribution of his intuition and pursued it to the very end. He wrote five days before his death, "I have nothing more important to do than to enhance as much as possible that which is and remains in me and to distill my properties."

Goethe lived in his age with all vitality and verve. He was aware of the needs of his time and he went beyond to achieve all that he sought to achieve. He took his last breath at the age of 83 in Weimar, on March 22, 1832, after a short illness. He was buried in the Prince’s Vault on March 26 near the grave of Schiller, who had died over a quarter of century earlier. The Goethe House and Schiller House, memorials constructed in their memories are still maintained in the town, and outside the National Theatre. The statues of these two literary giants remind the world of their immortal creations. Goethe departed, leaving a wealth of literature for generations to inspire and seek as to what he knew and sought to be ‘of a still distant future.’

Todays Pic

Did I marry a right Person?

During one of our seminars, a woman asked a common question. She said,"How do I know if I married the right person?"

I noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so I said, "It depends. Is that your husband?" In all seriousness, she answered "How do you know?"

Let me answer this question because the chances are good that it's weighing on your mind. Here's the answer.

EVERY relationship has a cycle. In the beginning, you fell in love with your spouse. You anticipated their call, wanted their touch, and liked their idiosyncrasies.

Falling in love with your spouse wasn't hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience.

You didn't have to DO anything. That's why it's called "falling" in love... Because it's happening TO YOU.

People in love sometimes say, "I was swept of my feet." Think about the imagery of that expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing, and then something came along and happened TO YOU.

Falling is love is easy. It's a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few years of marriage, the euphoria of love fades. It's the natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touch is not always welcome
(when it happens), and your spouse's idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts.

The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship, but if you think about your marriage, you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage.

At this point, you and/or your spouse might start asking, "Did I marry the right person?" And as you and your spouse reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when marriages breakdown. People blame their
spouse for their unhappiness and look outside their marriage for fulfillment.

Extramarital fulfillment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most obvious. But sometimes people turn to work, church, a hobby, a friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your marriage. It lies within it. I'm not saying that you couldn't fall in love with someone else. You could.

And TEMPORARILY you'd feel better. But you'd be in the same situation a few years later. Because (listen carefully to this):


SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. It'll NEVER just happen to you. You can't "find" LASTING love. You have to "make" it day in and day out. That's why we have the expression "the labor of love." Because it takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it takes WISDOM.

You have to know WHAT TO DO to make your marriage work.

Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your spouse) to succeed with your marriage.

Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. Just as the right diet and exercise program makes you physically stronger, certain habits in your relationship WILL make your marriage stronger. It's a direct cause and
effect. If you know and apply the laws, the results are predictable... you can "make" love.

Love in marriage is indeed a "decision"... Not just a feeling.

Interesting yet Funny

* You can become an engineer if u study in Engineering college .. u cannot become a president if u study in Presidency College !

* You can expect a BUS from a BUS stop... You cannot expect a FULL from FULL stop.

* A mechanical engineer can become a mechanic but a software engineer cannot become a software!

* You can find keys in Key board but you cannot find mother in mother board.

* You can study and get any certificates. .. but you cannot get your death certificate.

Room Change

The drunk staggered up to the hotel reception and demanded his room be changed.

"But sir," said the clerk, "you have the best room in the hotel."

"I insist on another room!!" said the drunk.

"Very good, sir. I`ll change you from 502 to 555. Would you mind telling me why you don't like 502?" asked the clerk.

"Well, for one thing," said the drunk, "it's on fire."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Personality - Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 – 1564)

"It has been said that Michelangelo Buonarotti nailed some poor man to a board and pierced his heart with a spear, so as to paint a crucifixion." Francesco Susinno here repeats an early urban legend about one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance.

Michelangelo Ludovico Buonarroti-Simoni – sculptor, painter, architect and poet was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime. His practice of several arts, however, was not unusual in his time. Few artists have been as prolific; fewer still have succeeded in creating enduring masterpieces in so many mediums. He would have guaranteed his place in history if he had produced only the David, or painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or erected St. Peter’s. Rather, he made all three, and each is an ultimate achievement in the history of human endeavor.

Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475 in the little town of Caprese, not far from Florence. His father, Ludovico Buonarroti was serving a six-month term as podesta, or resident magistrate. The mayor of the obscure commune of Caprese made an entry in his notebook, "This day a male child was born to me. I give him the name of Michelangelo". This simple announcement was made at the birth of a genius. When Michelangelo was only a few weeks old, his father’s term of office expired and the family returned to Florence. He was placed in the care of a marble-worker’s wife at Settignano. Michelangelo’s mother, Francesca de Neri died when he was six. In 1485, his father married again.

Little Michelangelo haunted Florence. He minutely observed the paintings that filled the ancient pieces of beauty. Many of the buildings and works of art, which are still attracting visitors were standing tall in Florence at the time of Michelangelo. Those places happened to be his school where he got all his needed education.

When old enough to go to school, Michelangelo was sent to school but by no means he became a dedicated student. He never concentrated in studies, instead all he did during those years was drawing in the workshops of the various painters .By the time he was 13 the thought of being an artist had imbibed him thoroughly. Though artists were honored in Florence, his decision had brought worries to his father. There were many artists in Florence but they were all rich in terms of art and not in wealth.

Ludovico made acquaintance with Francesco Granacci, who was working with the famous Ghirlandaio brothers. Michelangelo finally got apprenticed to two artists– Domenico and David Ghirlandaio, on April 1, 1488, for three years. Domenico Ghirlandaio was the head of the studio in which Michelangelo started his work. He was one of the most famous painters in Florence.

Earlier, Ludovico, Michelangelo’s father, had argued with him about taking up the profession, least aware of what the future had in store for his son who was to be one of the most illustrious artists of all time. He tried to dissuade Michelangelo by saying that they were descendants of the Counts of Canossa and it would be unbecoming of their nobility to engage in such a profession. However,later Michelangelo’s decision made him the benefactor of the entire family. He earned better than any other of his four brothers.

It is of interest that Ludovico was not a wealthy man, but the Buonarotti or Buonarroti-Simoni, as they liked to call themselves, were proud of their lineage. Luckily for the world of art, Michelangelo stuck to his decision and his father had to relent. The Buonarotti pride ran in his blood and the passionate sculptor in him carved out success and took his fame to greater heights. He sucked in this passion, as he used to say, with his foster-mother’s milk in the marble quarries of Settignano.
In 1489, he went to the ‘School of Sculpture’ in the Medici Gardens. Here, Lorenzo de Medici, the ruler of Florence, allowed young sculptors to study his collection of antique sculptures under the tutorship of Bertoldo Di Giovanni. Michelangelo studied Greek and Roman marbles, making among other copies, a marble head of an old Faun (now lost). It was his first attempt at sculpture, but the copy was extremely good and it attracted Lorenzo’s attention.

Lorenzo realized soon that Michelangelo had immense talent and sent for Michelangelo’s father. He persuaded Ludovico to agree to Michelangelo’s living in the Medici Palace and continuing his studies under Bertoldo’s eye. To Ludovico, he offered any official position. The next three years were probably in many ways, the happiest in Michelangelo’s long life. The members of the Medici circle inspired in Michelangelo a love of literature. They also taught him the ideas of neo-Platonism – a philosophy that regards the body as a trap for the soul that longs to return to God. Scholars interpret many of Michelangelo’s works in terms of these ideas. It is seen in his human figures that appear to break free from the stone that imprisons them. Michelangelo also listened to the conversations of Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and other humanists. Their influence was profound and he remained a Christian Platonist to the end of his days.

In the spring of 1492, Lorenzo died. His son, Piero de Medici inherited the position. Piero invited Michelangelo to remain as a guest in the palace but gave him no serious commissions. Michelangelo returned home. War was drawing close and the French army marched toward Florence. It became evident that disaster was imminent. In October 1494, Michelangelo fled and six weeks later the French entered Florence. The Medici were expelled and for the next four years (1494-98), Savonarola a preacher and religious reformer, governed the town. Florence was under the sway of Girolamo Savonarola who had managed to turn the city into a virtual theocracy. Michelangelo, too, had heard his sermons and admired them. In a frenzy of reform, the city gave up its luxurious, self-indulgent lifestyle, even consigning books and works of art to the famous ‘bonfire of the vanities’. Michelangelo told his biographer, Ascanio Condivi, years later that he still retained the memory of the Friar’s voice. Florence under Savonarola was not a conducive atmosphere for artists; especially those closely associated with the exiled Medici.

After a year in Bologna, Michelangelo returned to Florence. He carved a St. John for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici, a cousin of Lorenzo de Medici. This St. John is lost, and so are three other early works : a marble Hercules, a wooden Christ on a cross and a Sleeping Cupid. The Sleeping Cupid was sold by a dealer to the cardinal Raffaello Riario di San Giorgio, as a genuine antique. When the fraud was discovered, the cardinal could not but help admire Michelangelo’s skill.

In June 1496, Michelangelo went to Rome in the fond hope of finding a patron in the cardinal of San Giorgio. But Jacopo Galli, another collector of antique sculpture, commissioned him to make a life-size marble statue of a standing Cupid (now lost). Jacopo Galli’s next commission was for Bacchus and later, a Pieta for the French cardinal Jean de Villiers de La Groslaye. It is the only sculpture that Michelangelo signed with his name. In spite of his great achievements, he received no further commissions in Rome, and in the spring of 1501 returned to Florence.

On his return Michelangelo found that many changes had taken place – there was a democratic regime. A few months later, Pietro Soderini, an admirer of his was elected the head of the Siginoria. Soon the artist was entrusted with more commissions than he would deal with. On August 6, 1501, he made a contract for a gigantic marble David and before he had finished it, a bronze David was commissioned. Before this second statue was cast, he had signed another contract for the 12 marble statues of the apostles for the Cathedral. At the same time he worked on a commission he had accepted from Cardinal Francesco Piccolamini for 15 marble statues.
When the great statue of David was completed, the question of its placement arose. A meeting of the chief artists in Florence was called to discuss the matter. After much deliberation, Michelangelo decided that his David should replace Donatello’s Judith, which stood in the Piazza Signoria. David was placed outside the main entrance to the Pallazzo Vecchio. The statue was the pride of all Florence. For years, the events were dated by it and people remembered events by the date of the erection of the statue.

While working on the David, Michelangelo neglected the commission for the 15 figures for the Siena Cathedral and at last, finished only four. Of the 12 apostles for the Florence Cathedral, Michelangelo began only one, the unfinished St. Mathew.

Between 1503 and 1505, Michelangelo executed three tondi (circular representations) of the Madonna. While Michelangelo was working on the tondi, Leonardo-da-Vinci was designing a painting for the east wall in the Sala del Gran Consiglio. A few months later, Pietro Soderini procured for Michelangelo the commission to execute a companion painting. Michelangelo designed the cartoon between 1504 and 1506, but neither artist ever executed the work in Fresco.

In August 1503, Pope Alexander VI died and was succeeded by Pope Pious III who too, passed away soon. Cardinal Vincula became Pope Julius II – a Pope who was to play a very important role in the life of Michelangelo. Pope Julius II took a passionate interest in art and architecture. He was determined to be served by the finest artists of his day. Michelangelo, at the age of 30, was the most famous artist in Italy. He was working on the cartoon for the council chamber and a number of other contracts. But when the Pope commanded, everyone else had to give way. In 1850, Michelangelo left the Pisa cartoon as it was rode away to Rome for the second time.

The latter part of the winter (1532-33), and the following spring, Michelangelo spent in Rome. He formed a life-long friendship with Tommaso de Cavalieri, to whom he dedicated many poems and drawing. Michelangelo decided to settle in Rome. In June 1533, he returned for four months to Florence and made arrangements with his assistants to finish the Medici Chapel and the Laurentian library.

In November 1533, Michelangelo went once more to Rome to work on the Julius monument, but Pope Clement insisted that he complete the decoration of the Sistine Chapel. Clement wanted him to paint the wall above the back of the altar - the subject chosen was the Last Judgment. The artist moved to Rome. He was 60 years old and had another 30 years to live, but he never saw Florence again.

On September 25, 1534, Pope Clement VII died, to be succeeded by Pope Paul III. The actual work of the painting of the Last Judgment began in 1536. It was unveiled on November 1, 1543 – almost 30 years after the unveiling of the ceiling Frescoes. The painting had an enormous influence on artists of the period but also aroused the hostility of theologians and men of letters. During this time – known as Michelangelo’s religious period – he came into contact with the widow Vittoria Colonna, Marchesa of Pescara. Michelangelo met her when he was 63, became her friend, and dedicated to her many poems and religious drawings.

In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed by Pope Paul III to complete the Palarro Farnese – the building left incomplete by Antonio da Sangallo. Michelangelo also succeeded Sangallo as the chief architect of St. Peter’s.

In Michelangelo there was an eternal dissatisfaction – as there is in every artist – and that drained his body into that of an aged, eccentric man, sleepless, ill; the man whose restlessness sent him out before his death to wander in the pouring rain.

On February 12, 1564, Danielle da Volterra watched his master all day working on a Pieta. Two days later, Michelangelo fell ill and wandered around in the open air. After two days in bed, he

died on February 18, 1564, in the presence of a number of friends and doctors. His body was taken to Florence, to be buried, by his nephew and heir Leonardo Buonarroti. The kingdom of arts had suffered the loss of one genius.

Pope Julius II entrusted to Michelangelo the task of executing his tomb. Michelangelo worked on the design of the tomb and got the Pope’s approval. In April, he left for the quarries of Carrara in order to superintend the breaking and shipping of the marble blocks. The first of these blocks arrived in Rome in January 1506. But soon, Michelangelo felt that the Pope’s interest in the tomb was waning. Michelangelo, possessed of an artist’s temperament, felt that undue attention was being given to Bramante and his plan for rebuilding St. Peter’s in which the tomb was to be placed. As a result, there occurred one of the most famous quarrels in history of arts. It is reported that Michelangelo wrote to the Pope "If you require me in future, you can seek me elsewhere than in Rome."

On April 17, 1506, the day before the Pope laid the foundation stone of the new church; Michelangelo fled on horseback from Rome to Florence. During this time, the Pope was engaged in a military campaign against Bologna, which ended in triumph on November 10, 1506. As soon as the campaign ended, he summoned Michelangelo to join him there. On reaching Bologna, Michelangelo was taken into the presence of the Pope. On seeing the Pope, he knelt down. "So instead of coming to us, you have waited till we came to seek you," exclaimed Julius. Michelangelo was granted his pardon. He was ordered to make a bronze portrait of the Pope and so Michelangelo had no alternative but to start. The statue was completed at last early in the new year.

On February 21, 1508, the titanic bronze statue was placed over the central door of the Cathedral of St. Petronio, and Michelangelo, finally, was free to return to Florence. Three years later the

statue that had caused its creator so much labor, anxiety, disappointment and discomfort was thrown down from its perch by the victorious Bentivogli family when they regained power in Bologna. Nothing remains of this great statue.
Early in March 1508, Michelangelo was back in Florence where he rented a workshop. A few weeks later, he was again ordered back to Rome by Julius II. The new project that the Pope envisioned was for Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – the Pope’s private Chapel. Three hundred figures were to be painted as against the 12 of the original project. Michelangelo protested at first that he was not a painter but a sculptor. The Pope would not accept a refusal. He had made up his mind and nothing could change it. Despite certain interruptions, Michelangelo worked at the ceiling, until it was finished and finally unveiled on October 31, 1512.

In February 1513, Pope Julius II passed away. He had left the papacy much stronger than it had ever been. A month later, Giovanni de Medici, Lorenzo the Magnificent’s second son was elected Pope and took the name of Leo X. The election of a Medici to the papacy silenced all opposition to the family in Florence. For the following two or three years Michelangelo worked at the tomb of Julius II. It was during this time that he produced Moses.

Pope Leo X employed Michelangelo as an architect. Michelangelo designed for him the front of a small Chapel in Castle Sant Angelo in Rome (1514). In 1516, Michelangelo returned to Florence and worked on two commissions intended to bring honor to the Medici. For the fa├žade of the church of San Lorenzo, he made several designs and models but these magnificent plans were never carried out.

In 1523, Cardinal Giulio de Medici became the Pope, taking the name of Clement VII. 1520 onwards, Michelangelo made designs for the completion of the Medici Chapel. Pope Clement VII wanted Michelangelo to add a library to the cloisters of San Lorenzo. Clement, who admired Michelangelo, arranged for a pension to be paid to him and also a rent. Besides, free house near the church of San Lorenzo. This was done to enable him to be near his work. The ongoing war between the Pope and the emperor reached a climax while Michelangelo was still laboring on the Medici tombs and Julius monument.

In 1527, Rome was occupied and sacked by the imperial tombs and the Pope was besieged in Castle Sant Angelo. The emperor and Pope soon reconciled and agreed to restore the rule of the Medici in Rome. In 1529, Michelangelo was employed as a military engineer to fortify Florence against the expected attacks. He went on diplomatic missions to Ferrara and Venice and negotiated pessimistically for a future residence in France. He was declared a traitor and threatened with confiscation of his property. On August 12, 1530, Florence capitulated and the imperial troops entered the city, which was handed over to the Pope. Michelangelo went into hiding, but at the intervention of Valori, was promised immunity by Pope Clement. The Pope agreed to help him only on the condition that he resumed work on the Medici Chapel. Michelangelo made the first designs in February 1526 and the work was completed in the winter of 1532-33.

Todays Pic


A well respected surgeon was relaxing on his sofa one evening just after arriving home from work. As he was tuning into the evening news, the phone rang.

The doctor calmly answered it and heard the familiar voice of a colleague on the other end of the line. "We need a fourth for poker," said the friend.

"I'll be right over," whispered the doctor.

As he was putting on his coat, his wife asked, "Is it serious?"

"Oh yes, quite serious," said the doctor gravely. "In fact, three doctors are there already!"

Confidence, Trust and Hope


Once all village people decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all people gathered and only one boy came with an Umbrella......that's confidence...........


Trust should be like the feeling of a one year old baby when you throw him in the air, he laughs.....because he knows you will catch him........


Everynight we go to bed, we have no assurance to get up alive in the next morning but still you have plans for the coming day.



Two blonde girls were working for the city public works department. One would dig a hole and the other would follow behind her and fill the hole in.

They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, then moved on to the next street, working furiously all day without rest, one girl digging a hole, the other girl filling it in again.

An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but couldn't understand what they were doing. So he asked the hole digger, "I'm impressed by the effort you two are putting into your work, but I don't get it -- why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?"

The hole digger wiped her brow and sighed, "Well, I suppose it probably looks odd because we're normally a three-person team. But today the girl who plants the trees called in sick.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Personality - Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Always enveloped by mysticism and controversy, Percy Bysshe Shelley lived a life of a rebel. Raising his voice against the conventionality and social injustice, this romantic poet expressed his religious and political views in broad daylight. Struggling against his own people, Shelley produced some of the most cherished verses of English literature.

He is often referred to as the 'Poet’s poet'. His passionate search for love and social justice was gradually channeled from overt actions into poems. The spirit of revolution and the power of free thought were his biggest passions in life.

Queen Mab, published in 1813, was his first major poem. A philosophical poem, it was the result of long serious work. The poem emerged from Shelley’s friendship with British philosopher William Godwin and it expressed Godwin’s freethinking socialist philosophy.

"How wonderful is death
Death and his brother sleep !"

Shelley represents the most interesting period of English literature and history. His romanticism has since been the inspiration and influence for generations.

The Distinguished Boy

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born with a silver spoon in mouth. A heir apparent of Sir Timothy Shelley, he was destined to become a lord like his father and grandfather. But the child grew up to become a revolutionary. Radically opposite to conventionality, Shelley contributed in the field of English literature with the same fervor.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on August 4, 1792. He was the eldest son of Sir Timothy and Elizabeth Shelley. While a child his father became the region’s representative in parliament. Shelley also an heir to a rich estate called Field Place acquired by his grandfather. The newborn was of slight built and as he advanced in age, he developed a delicate look which made him look girlish.


Six year old Shelley was put under the tutorage of Rev Mr Edwards to learn Latin. The teacher enjoyed teaching this pupil with excellent memory and good grasping power. His base of Latin prepared by Mr Edwards helped Shelley a lot in his further education.

Shelley was brought up in privileged circumstances, attending Syon House Academy in 1802 when he was 10. Shelley was a better companion to younger girls rather than boys of his age. He learned various subjects like geography, astronomy and languages like French and Latin. His Syon House days were a different experience for the youngster. He was not used to usual boyish sports and was not quite amiable by nature. The worst part was the punishments imposed upon him. It was a strange experience for a boy raised in aristocracy. He became an easy prey for the senior bullies and underwent punishments executing their orders. His only solace was his cousin Tom Medwin, who studied at the same school. Even at that tender age, Shelley's tilt towards romanticism was quite apparent. His interests varied from fairies to fighting, spirits to volcanoes. For study, he found the class-work very easy and therefore tedious. But what he hated the most were the dance-lessons. He enjoyed reading and gazing out of his window and drawing the pine trees in his notebook. Back home on vacations, he would suddenly feel completely in command and would entertain his younger sisters with mysterious and melodramatic stories. He was much fascinated by electricity and tried to catch it by flying a kite.

At Eton

At 12 he was enrolled at Eton in 1804, where he remained for six years as an exceptionally brilliant student. He attracted attention with his careless dressing, stringless shoes and by not wearing hat at all. He was not a popular student, was rather known as 'Shelley the atheist' or 'mad Shelley'. He normally ignored these comments and continued his own way. But at his boiling point, he was reported to have stabbed a boy with a fork. He lived in a world of his own, often believing his make believe stories to be true.

Shelley got outlet to his curiosity in science at Eton. He experimented with chemicals and once almost poisoned himself. During a vacation, he constructed a steam engine which blew up during the experiment. His interest diverted to metaphysics and magic too. He used to wait all night through for ghosts. He learned special ways of raising ghosts and experimented them alone at midnight.

He was a voracious reader and enjoyed reading even on some forced gaming trips. He normally spent his pocket money to buy books and scientific toys. He devotedly read Gothic romances and thrillers. He also discovered the works of William Godwin and embraced the ideals of the French Revolution.

At Eton, Shelley found his union with muse. His budding creativity found way in form of verses. During his Eton years, he wrote and published his Gothic novel Zastrozzi, that voiced his own heretical and atheistic opinions through the villain Zastrozzi. By the time he left Eton, he was an author and loved his work.

At Oxford

In 1810, Shelley went to Oxford University, where he enlisted his fellow Thomas Jefferson Hogg as a disciple, but after a year, the University expelled both for refusing to admit Shelley’s authorship of The Necessity of Atheism – a pamphlet that attacked the idea of compulsory Christianity.

In 1813, he published his first major poem – Queen Mab. In England he met William Godwin, a British philosopher. He also wrote articles for The Examiner on political subjects.

First Love

At the age of 19, Harriet Grove, Shelley's cousin, was an exceptionally beautiful girl. He was madly in love with her and compared her with Madonna of Raphael. She was rather naive. They corresponded quite regularly with recorded 44 letters form Shelley and 20 from Harriet during 1809. They used to enjoy blissful togetherness at Field Place. The girl was brought up in typical Catholic atmosphere, while Shelley delved in revolutionary thoughts. Somehow, the Groves and Shelleys came to the conclusion that the marriage of two was quite improbable. This did not deter Shelley as he continued to write hopeful letters. He disliked Christianity for taking away his sweetheart. Sometime later, Harriet got married to a country gentleman and the affair came to an end.

Marriage With Harriet Westbrook

Shelley got acquainted with Harriet Westbrook, daughter of a coffeehouse keeper through his friend Thomas Jefforson Hogg. During 1811, slowly the acquaintance transformed into strong feeling. He felt more of a rescuer rather than a lover, as Harriet was put under restrictions. Once, Harriet was caught reading one of Shelley's letters and Timothy Shelley was summoned to her school. Harriet was allowed to continue her study but she was looked down upon. This made her decide to leave the school. Shelley decided to rescue her from her confinement and they eloped one day. He married her despite his anti-matrimonial views. This was a terrible scandal and his father never forgave him. He immediately stopped all the allowances due to Shelley. He moved to Ireland where he made revolutionary pamphlets on politics – A Declaration of Rights. Harriet gave birth to their first child Elizabeth Ianthe in 1813.

Mary Godwin

Shelley admired William Godwin's writings and developed friendship with him and his family. Mary Goldwin was a beautiful daughter who inherited the word-trade from her father. In 1814, Shelley fell in love with Mary Godwin. This greatly upset Harriet and William Godwin. The lovers were again and again pleaded not to meet and put an end to the unwelcome affair. This frustrated Shelley so much that he threatened to commit suicide. He, Mary and her cousin Claire eloped, against Godwin’s objections in 1814. For the next year they traveled across Europe. He continued his involvement in politics. Returning to England, he produced Alastor or The Spirit of Solitude in 1816, which anticipated his later important work. Shelley and Mary met the British poet Lord Byron. At that time Shelley wrote two short poems Hymn to Intellectual Beauty and Mont Blanc. Meanwhile, Harriet gave birth to their son Charles. When Shelley and Mary returned, she was pregnant and soon gave birth to a girl-child who died within a few weeks. In early 1816, Mary gave birth to their son William. The same year, in November, Harriet Shelley's deadbody was found from Hyde Park's Serpentine. She was quite depressed because of the Mary-Shelley affair and she was believed to have committed suicide. Soon, Mary and Shelley decided to get married and they exchanged vows on December 30, 1816.

Shelley was also supposed to be attracted to Chaire. This was a matter of distress between the husband and wife.

Mastermind At Work

In 1817, he wrote the pamphlet – A Proposal for Putting Reform to the Vote Throughout the United Kingdom, in which he suggested a national referendum on electoral reforms and improvements in working class education. He also produced Laon and Cythna, a long narrative poem, which tells a symbolic tale of revolution. It was republished as The Revolt of Islam. At the same time, he wrote revolutionary political tracts signed The Hermit of Marlow. And the couple left England for the last time.

As Shelley’s health suffered due to change in climate, Shelley and Mary proceeded to Italy. They reached Milan in 1818. There, Shelley translated Plato’s Symposium and wrote his own essay On Love. He also wrote a poem Rosalind and Helen in which he imagines his destiny in the poet – reformer Lionel, who was imprisoned for radical activity.

During the remaining four years of his life, Shelley produced all his major works. Traveling and living in various cities of Italy, the Shelleys were friendly with British poet Leigh Hunt and Byron. Before his death in a boat accident, he published seven volumes of poetry : Rosalind and Helen, The Cenci; Prometheus Unbound; with Other Poems which contains The Cloud and Ode to the West Wind; Oedipus Tyrannus.

Many other poems were left in his notebooks like the Letter to Maria Gisbornem, The Witch of Atlas; The Triumph of Life; Posthumous Poems.

Sudden Exit

P B Shelley did not know to swim. But he loved sailing. This had proved fatal once when his boat turned down and escaped death by inches. But he could not fight the fate any longer. Shelley and a few friends decided to spend the summer of 1822 sailing on Bay of Lerici. A special boat was constructed and he named it Don Juan. On July 7, just 10 miles away form the shore, Don Juan was caught in storm. The boat could not survive against huge waves of Mediterranean sea. After his body was washed ashore near Viareggio 10 days later, it was cremated according to the dictates of Italian Law. His ashes were buried in a Protestant cemetery in Rome.

Many critics regard Shelley as the greatest of all English poets. They point especially to his lyrics, including the familiar short odes To a Skylark, To the West Wind, The Cloud. The effortless lyricism of these works is also evident in Shelley’s verse dramas The Cenci and Prometheus Unbound. His prose include a translation of The Symposium of Plato and his critical work A Defense of Poetry is equally skillful.

Byron wrote about Shelley’s death :
"There is another man gone about whom the world was ill-natured, and ignorantly, and brutally mistaken."

Todays Pic

Time to Laugh

"Laughter is an instant vacation" --Merlin Berke

Girlfriend: And are you sure you love me and no one else?
Boyfriend: Dead Sure! I checked the whole list again yesterday

Waiter: Would you like your coffee black?
Customer: What other colors do you have?

Manager: Sorry, but i can't give you a job. I don't need much help.
Job Applicant: That's all right. In fact I'm just the right person in this case. You will see, I won't be of much help anyway!!

Dad: Son, what do you want for your birthday?
Son: Not much dad, Just a radio with a sports car around it.

Diner: I can't eat such a rotten chicken. Call the manager!
Waiter: It's no use. He won't eat it either.

Diner: You'll drive me to my grave!
Waiter: Well, you don't expect to walk there, do you?

Husband: You know, wife, our son got his brain from me.
Wife: I think he did, I still got mine with me!

Man: Officer! There's a bomb in my garden!
Officer: Don't worry. If no one claims it within three days, you can keep it.

Father: Your teacher says she finds it impossible to teach you anything!
Son: That's why I say she's no good!

Catching the Train

Three professors had walked down to the train station from the University. They were so absorbed in their conversation that they didn't hear the train arrive, but they did notice the noise of the train as it started to depart.

After a desperate rush two of them manage to scramble onboard. The third looked sad and a passing railway official said, 'Don't feel bad, atleast two out of three of you made it.'

'True...', sighed the professor, 'But the other two were only here to see me off!'

Successful Future

We all make mistakes. We wouldnt be human if we didnt.

The difference between the winners and the losers is how we react to the mistakes that we make.

The negative people dwell on them?
while the positive people learn from them. The really unsuccessful (or ?unlucky?) people continue making the SAME mistakes over and over again.

Take 5 or 10 minutes every day before you go to bed reviewing what you have done welland what you havent done so well. Consistent re-evaluation like this makes it harder to dwell on the negatives... and gives you an opportunity to look at the positive things that you do.

Action Point:

How can you focus more on the positive, rather than the negative, things in your life?

We are all too critical of ourselves when we compare our successes and failures to other people.

So dont compare yourself to other people!

Do what you can do to the very best of YOUR ability - and make sure that when you do make mistakes - you take some time at the end of the day to focus on how you can LEARN
from them!

Just do it...

Spend just 5 minutes every day applying this knowledge... and you will be surprised at how this,in conjunction with your higher target, will move you forward.

Personality - William Thackeray(1811 - 1863)

William Makepeace Thackeray was an English novelist, whose reputation rests chiefly on Vanity Fair, a novel of the Napoleonic era in England, and The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., set in the early 18th century.

A striking figure – six feet three inches in height, with a massive head – he had become familiar due to his appearances on stage and popular through the caricatures of himself that he had introduced into many of his drawings in Punch and elsewhere. He was held in affectionate reverence by thousands who had never seen him. Though he first became famous as a satirist, he was a man without malice and of extraordinarily tender sensibilities. He had to struggle hard to gain a footing in the literary world and suffered more than his share of domestic sorrow; but he was genuinely helpful to others, even as he could little afford it. Thackeray found his greatest delight in brightening up the lives of children. In his writings, he wields an English style , which not many can surpass for its clarity, ease, and grace. It was a style capable of lofty eloquence, extreme tenderness, and fiery scorn, but always appropriate and enduringly sincere.


William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta, India, on July 18, 1811, into a wealthy English merchant family. His father, Richmond Thackeray, an officer in the East India Company, died in 1815, and the following year William was sent to England to live with his aunt at Chiswick. After his father’s death, William’s mother married an engineering officer named Major Carmichael Symth. She had been in love with him before she married Richmond Thackeray.

Solace In Patterns

William showed his talent for drawing at a very early age. He would draw caricatures of his relatives and send them to his mother through letters. Even at school, he used to draw pictures of his friends and teachers and his friends preserved those pictures all through their lives. Though his caricatures of his teachers got him into trouble sometime, he enjoyed his popularity in school due to his art. Otherwise, William was not much physically active as a boy due to his shortsightedness. Furthermore, he found solace in drawing, as he said later,' They are a great relief to my mind.'


William was given the 'education of a gentleman', at private boarding schools. He was sent to the Charterhouse School, where he was enrolled as a day-scholar. He led a rather lonely and miserable existence as a child. He wrote regularly to his mother and stepfather. In one of his letters, he wrote : "There are 370 in the school; I wish there were 369". This subtle post-script showed how utterly out of place he felt at the institution. The caning and other abuses he suffered at school became the basis for recollection in his essays, such as The Roundabout Papers, as well as episodes in his novels Vanity Fair and The Newcomes.

In 1820, William’s mother and stepfather Major Carmichael Symth joined him at Chiswick. The reunion of mother and child was very emotional. He got along well with Major Symth as well, he also addressed him 'father' later on. They met many times after that as he used to spend holidays with them. Thackeray based the character of Colonel Newcome on this respectable, unworldly gentleman.

William later recalled the dry lessons in the classical languages that he was forced to learn and the debilitating effect it had on what he felt about classical literature. He developed a life-long dislike for classical literature. He relied on literary escapades on popular fictions of the day like Scott’s Heart of Midlothian or Pierce Egan’s Life in London. William was never an outstanding student but while at school he developed two habits that were to stay with him lifelong : sketching and reading novels. He also started working as an amateur theatre artist.

When he graduated from the Charterhouse school, he needed additional tutoring to prepare for Cambridge. He got this tutoring from Major Symth. He made many good acquaintances at Cambridge including Edward FitzGerald. Cambridge was full of distraction for the young man. Rowing was an official sport which the students enjoyed a lot but drinking and occasional illicit visits to London was also added to their list of recreation. William started his adventure in journalism at Cambridge. He started to enjoy writing as much as drawing.

From 1828 to 1830 he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. His tutor then was William Whewell (a philosopher of natural science), but Thackeray saw little of the don and spent his time at wine parties. Neither at Charterhouse nor at Cambridge did he distinguish himself as a scholar. In 1830, Thackeray left Cambridge without a degree. During 1831-33 he studied law at the Middle Temple, London. He attempted to develop his literary and artistic talents, first as the editor of a short–lived journal and subsequently as an art student in Paris. None of these worked out since he kept oscillating between various occupations that were temporary in nature.

The trouble with Thackeray was that he could never settle for one thing. One day he would translate Horace; the next day he would draw funny sketches; the day after that, he would write satirical verses. After having left the university, he toured the continent, visited museums, theaters and libraries. He also wrote poems, which penned his profound observation upon the vanity and pity of life.

Stepping Into World

He moved to Weimer, Germany, then the intellectual capital of Europe. He learned German and read Goethe. Personal life of Goethe was making waves in the German society at that time. He had the opportunity to meet the aged poet once. Though nothing significant occurred at the meeting, as Goethe was almost a national monument and Thackeray an upcoming journalist. Though he did not achieve anything great during his nine month stay in Germany, his sketchbook gained a lot many pages of excellent portraits, landscapes and caricatures. This stay gained for him a command of the language, a knowledge of German romantic literature and an increasing skepticism about religious doctrine. The time he spent at Weimar is reflected in the Pumpernickel chapters of Vanity Fair.

On his return from Germany, Thackeray lived the life of a young indulgent man, gambling, drinking in taverns, and enjoying the company of women. He considered painting as a profession and his artistic gifts can be seen in his letters and his early writings, which are energetically illustrated. On his return, he had to pursue his law study, however reluctantly. Pulling on his study, he took utmost advantage of London life, moving freely between high society balls and parties, and low class taverns and gambling houses. In fact, gambling and theatre became his full time occupation during that time.

On coming of age in 1832, Thackeray inherited £ 20,000 from his father. However, he soon lost his fortune through gambling, unlucky speculations and reading investments. Most of it was lost due to the failure of an Indian bank where he had invested a lot of money.

In 1832, Thackeray met William Maginn. Maginn was an editor and he influenced Thackeray's professional life. Thackeray got the break into the world of London journalism through him. He also invested part of his patrimony in a weekly paper, The National Standard, which he took over as editor and proprietor in 1833. He used to write most of the articles himself. He was very hopeful of the success of his newspaper, but his wait for about a year never yielded any result. The paper was unsuccessful and went under quickly, but it gave Thackeray his first taste of the world of London journalism. It was an event that Thackeray once again found use for in his novel The Newcomes. He was seriously in trouble, as he had to earn his living.

Thackeray resolved to study art when he found that he could earn a living by using his artistic talents. In 1834 he went to Paris for this purpose. Life in Paris was neither easy. He could barely support himself there with his limited income form occasional journalism. But Paris brought him a dream realized - to find someone to love. He had met many a girls and women in his life and had fallen in and out of their love quite many times by now. Even his sketchbook was filled with imaginary characters like Mr and Mrs Thack and their trail of many children.


He met Isabella Shawe, a timid, simple and artless girl. He fell outrightly in love with Isabella. She was just 17 and was totally under control of her mother. He was immediately ready for marriage, but Mrs Shawe did not permit. Isabella herself could not make any decision. Similarly, his parents were also much reluctant for the union. His stepfather wanted him to establish himself first, for that Thackeray was made the Paris correspondent for a newspaper The Constitutional and Public Register at £400 per year. Backed by the income and through his steady persistence, the marriage did take place finally on August 20, 1836. After trying out briefly the bohemian life of an artist in Paris, and failure of his newspaper, he returned to London in 1837 and started his career as a journalist. He worked for periodicals like Fraser’s Magazine and The Morning Chronicle, but his most successful association was with Punch.

Thackeray worked as a freelance journalist for about 10 years, publishing literary criticism, art criticism, articles, and fiction, either anonymously or under a number of comic pseudonyms. Often he used absurd pen names such as George Savage Fitzboodle, Michael Angelo Tit Marsh, Theophile Wagstaff and C J Yellowplush, Esq. William and Isabella Thackeray’s first child, Anne Isabella, was born on June 9, 1837. Her birth was followed by the collapse of The Constitution of which William was the Paris correspondent. Thackeray began writing as many articles as humanly possible and sent them to any newspaper that would print them. This was a precarious sort of existence, which would continue for most of the rest of his life. He was fortunate enough to get two popular series going on in two different publications. During this time, Thackeray also produced his first books, Collections of Essays and Observations published as travel books. This combination of hack writing and frequent travel took Thackeray away from home and kept him from his wife’s growing depression.

Troubled Times

Thackeray and Isabella Shawe had a happy life during their first years of marriage. But as financial demands forced Thackeray into more and more work, Isabella became isolated and lonely. The happy years of marriage was eclipsed by the tragic death of their second daughter Jane, born in July 1838. She died of respiratory illness in March the following year. Harriet Marian, their third daughter was born in 1840. It was at this time that Isabella fell victim to mental illness . After a few months she started displaying suicidal tendencies and as it was difficult to control her, she was placed in a private institution. Doctors told Thackeray that all she needed was a change of air. She was taken to her mother in Ireland, where she attempted to drown herself in the ocean.

Thackeray began a series of futile searches for her cure. He took Isabella to various spas and sanatoriums, at one point himself undergoing a 'water cure' with her, since she wouldn’t go at it alone. He continued to hope for some time that she would make a full recovery. He was forced to send his children to France to his mother. For the next several years he shuttled back and forth between London and Paris - from the journalism that supported himself and his debt-laden family, to his parents and children in Paris, and to his wife in French asylums.

Thackeray entrusted Isabella to the care of a friendly family, and threw himself into the maelstrom of club-life for which he had but little taste. He said, "My social activity is but a lifelong effort at forgetting."


Thackeray’s children returned to England in 1846. He gradually began paying more and more attention to his daughters, for whom he established a home in London. Eventually, he resigned himself to Isabella’s condition and was seemingly indifferent to the circumstances around her and the children. He raised his daughters with the help of his mother, who was never satisfied with the governess’s Thackeray hired. The touching reminiscences of Anne Thackeray’s biographical introductions to his works portray him as a loving, if busy, father.

He started the serial publication of his novel Vanity Fair in 1847. It brought Thackeray both fame and prosperity. From then on he was an established author on the English literary scene. Dickens was then at the height of his fame, and, though the two men appreciated each other’s work, their admirers were fond of debating their comparative merits.

The Brookfields

During these years of success, Thackeray lived the life of a bachelor in London. He spent much time with his friends, attending the social functions of a fashionable society. He became the constant attendant upon Jane Brookfield, the wife of an old friend from Cambridge.

Thackeray and the Brookfields were involved in an increasingly tense emotional triangle. His first trip to America in 1852 provided the time and distance for Thackeray to try and extricate himself from the tangle. Henry Brookfield’s coldness and desire to dominate his wife, her resistance and the need for someone to turn to, and Thackeray’s loneliness combined to create a complicated affair.

Brookfield alternately ignored or forbade his wife’s warm communications with the successful novelist. Jane Brookfield returned Thackeray’s ardent expressions of friendship and lamented her husband’s inability to understand her. Thackeray, for his part, professed for Jane a devotion that was pure and he also remained a companion of her husband. He nonetheless felt betrayed by Jane’s tendency to cool down the correspondence when Brookfield complained. Thackeray eventually caused a dramatic break in the triangle by berating Brookfield for his neglectful treatment of Jane. After Thackeray heard of Jane’s pregnancy, during his second trip to America, he decided never to return to her.

Trip To America

Thackeray tried to find consolation through travel and, lecturing in the United States. He thus followed in Dickens’ footsteps. These lectures were profitable for Thackeray and also provided influential insight on novelists like Jonathan Swift and Laurence Sterne. Dickens had offended the Americans and did not write a profitable account of his journey. Thackeray, on the other hand, saw America through friendly eyes. In one of his letters to his mother, Thackeray wrote that he did not recognize blacks as equals (though he condemned slavery on moral grounds). He chose to believe that the whipping of slaves in America was rare and that families were not normally separated on the auction block. This was because he was apprehensive about criticism from his hosts that the living conditions for English workers were worse than those for slaves in America.

Thackeray made enduring friendships during his lecture trips to the United States. The most significant of these was the one with the Baxter family of New York. The eldest daughter, Sally Baxter, enchanted the novelist and she became the model for Ethel Newcome, the protagonist of his novel. She was vibrant, intelligent, beautiful and young. He visited her again on his second tour of the States by which time she was married to a South Carolina gentleman.

Through all this, he was continually ill with recurrent kidney infections caused by a bout of syphilis in his youth. Inspite of his failing health, Thackeray still managed to have an impressive house built and settled generous dowries on his daughters.

After the second profitable lecturing tour on The Four Georges (that is, the Hanoverian kings of the 18th and early 19th centuries), Thackeray stood for parliament elections as an independent candidate. His sense of humor perhaps prevented him from trying too hard for appealing his constituents. When Lord Monck, presiding at one of his rallies, said "May the better man win", Thackeray retorted with a smile, "I hope not !" He knew that the rival candidate, Edward Cardwell would make a much better statesman. Thackeray believed that his advocacy of entertainment on the Sabbath was crucial in his defeat.

Controversy With Charles Dickens

Of the several literary quarrels in which Thackeray got involved during his life, the ‘Garrick Club affair’ is best remembered. Charles Dickens had always been one of Thackeray’s earliest and best friends. But a quarrel had arisen and for several years the two men were not on talking terms. Thackeray had taken offense at some personal remarks in a column by Edmund Yates and demanded an apology, eventually taking the affair to the Garrick Club committee. Dickens was already upset with Thackeray for an indiscreet remark about his affair with Ellen Ternan and so he championed Yates. Dickens helped Yates to draft letters both to Thackeray, and in his defense, to the club’s committee. Despite Dickens’ intervention, Yates eventually lost the vote of the club’s members, but the quarrel was stretched out through journal articles and pamphlets. Thackeray told Charles Kingsley, "What pains me most is that Dickens should have been his advisor; and next that I should have had to lay a heavy hand on a young

man who, I take it, has been cruelly punished by the issue of the affair, and I believe is hardly aware of the nature of his own offence, and doesn’t even now understand that a gentleman should resent the monstrous insult which he volunteered."

This quarrel was resolved only in Thackeray’s last months when one evening the two met on the stairs of the Athenaeum, a London club. Thackeray impulsively held out his hand to Dickens. The latter returned the greeting, and the old quarrel was patched up.

Later Years

It was as if Thackeray had an intuition that he must make haste to hail and farewell to his old friend. It was only a few nights later – December 23, 1863 – that he went to sleep for the last time. He was found dead on the morning of Christmas Eve. The master had called the roll; and Thackeray, like the beloved Colonel Newcome in one of his novels, responded gently, "Adsum – I am here."

Towards the end of his life, Thackeray was proud that through his writings, he had regained the patrimony lost to bank failures and gambling. He passed on to his daughters an inheritance sufficient for their support and also a grand house in Kensington.

He was buried in the Kensal Green Cemetery on December 30. An estimated 2000 mourners came to pay tribute, among them was Charles Dickens. After his death, a commemorative bust was placed in Westminster Abbey.