A Post from A Member of the U. L. S. — Robbie Cheadle

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I want to welcome Robbie Cheadle to the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society! This group is an unofficial collection of people who deeply value books. It is based on the idea of The Book People from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  Robbie is the newest member of this group of book lovers!

Robbie has excellent blogs: Robbie Cheadle books/poems/reviews and   Robbie’s inspiration. Both are wonderful; please be sure to visit them.

King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard

Background

I decided to read King Solomon’s Mines as it is set in South Africa in the late 19th century. I am currently finalizing my first adult novel, A Ghost and His Gold, which is set during the Second Anglo Boer War. I hoped that King Solomon’s Mines would give me insight into life in southern Africa during this period.

Rider Haggard spent time in South Africa after he took a position as the assistant to the secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Natal in 1875. In 1876, he was transferred to the staff of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Special Commissioner for the Transvaal. It was in this role that Sir Haggard was present in Pretoria, capital of the then Boer Republic of the Transvaal, in April 1877 when it was officially annexed by Britain. Sir Haggard was tasked with the duty of raising the Union flag and reading out much of the proclamation at the annexation event after the official originally entrusted with this duty lost his voice.

I had an interest in Sir Rider Haggard and his books because he lived in Ditchingham, a town close to my mother’s hometown of Bungay in Suffolk, England. When her brother was a young man he was employed by Sir Haggard and Sir Haggard daughter, Lilias Haggard, edited a book entitled The Rabbit Skin Cap which told the story of an old man who was well known to my mother. My mother’s memories of Sir Rider Haggard’s house and his daughter, Lilias, are included in the fictionalized memoir of her life, While the Bombs Fell, which we wrote together.

King Solomon’s Mines literary importance

King Solomon’s Mines is a book that is worth preserving because it is a rollicking good story with lots of action, written along similar lines to the famous Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson. The author has a wonderful gift of descriptive writing and shares the beauty and mystery of Africa in a most appealing and interesting way. The author demonstrates a thorough knowledge of southern Africa and the way of life among the hunters of the time. An example of this glorious language is as follows:

“But just before you come to Durban there is a peculiar richness about the landscape. There are the sheer kloofs cut in the hills by the rushing rains of centuries, down which the rivers sparkle; there is the deepest green of the bush, growing as God planted it, and the other greens of the mealie gardens and the sugar patches, while now and again a white house, smiling out at the placid sea, puts a finish and gives an air of homeliness to the scene.” Although this sentence is long by modern book writing standards, it describes the scene vividly. The language used by the writer is not complex and overwhelmingly ornate like many other books from this same period, but rather is written in a simple and conversational style.

Another wonderful description is of the Kalahari Desert: “On, on we went, till at last the east began to blush like the cheek of the girl. Then there came faint rays of primrose light, that changed presently to golden bars, through which the dawn glided out across the desert. The stars grew pale and paler still, till at last they vanished; the golden moon waxed wan, and her mountain ridges stood out against her sickly face like the bones on the cheek of a dying man.”

I must state that this book is set in Southern Africa in the late 19th century and contains some language that is offensive to modern readers. This book also expresses some of the colonialist thinking of the time, particularly in its descriptions of certain relationships between the Europeans and the Africans. These views and relationship depictions are dated and reprehensible by modern standards, but it is of literary interest that the author was progressive for the time and this was reflected in his work.

Haggard demonstrates respect of the African culture and describes many of the African warriors, including Ignosi, one of the main characters in the book, as brave and heroic. Twala, the existing king of the Kukuana people, when the three European travelers and Ignosi arrive in Kukuanaland, and Gagool, the witch doctor, are described as being cruel and barbaric but this is in line with their roles as the villains of this story. The story also includes a romance between Englishman, Captain Good, and a Kukuana maiden called Foulata, which would have been socially unacceptable at the time.

My review of King Solomon’s Mines

King Solomon’s Mine is a thrilling tale of Allan Quatermaine, a European hunter living in Durban, South Africa, who partners with Sir Henry Curtis, a huge Adonis of a man from a wealthy English family, and his colleague Captain Good, to cross the Kalahari Desert in search of Sir Curtis’ younger brother, Neville and the legendary mines of King Solomon. Being on the wrong side of 50 years old and with his career as an elephant hunter drawing to an end, Mr Quatermaine agrees to accompany the pair on their ambitious journey.

Allan Quatermaine is rather pessimistic by nature and does not believe he will live to return to his home in Durban. His terms of engagement include making provision for his son in the likely event of his death. He does not see himself as a brave man, but his actions demonstrate this he is brave, and clever and levelheaded too.

Sir Henry Curtis is beset with guilt as he believes himself responsible for his brother’s rash action in crossing the desert, a journey very few have survived. He is determined to look for his brother and redeem himself, even if it results in his own death. Sir Curtis is brave and strong, the kind of man admired by many for his physical attributes. He fights alongside Ignosi’s best warriors when a tribal war erupts later in the story. Sir Curtis is kind and compassionate and is not corrupted by greed like many men are, even when he learns of the treasure hidden in King Solomon’s mines.

Captain Good is an ex-navel man and quite precise in his behaviour and beliefs. He is prim and proper and takes great care of his personal appearance, a characteristic that nearly results in his death early in the story but proves to be of great assistance to the adventurers later on.

Ignosi enters the story as an African servant named Umbopa. He is a huge man, strong and clever, who does not fit well into the role of a servant. Despite this, Sir Henry and Quatermaine decide he is perfectly suited to accompany them on their journey. Good has some reservations but these are swept aside by his traveling companions.

The book tells the story of the four men’s journey from Durban to a small African village on the outskirts of the desert. It provides a lot of insight into life at the time and describes travelling by ox wagon, an exciting elephant hunt that ends in tragedy and the life-threatening trek across the desert.

Once the men manage to traverse the desert and the mountain and enter Kukuanaland, the story becomes even more exciting when they encounter the evil Twala, a Shaka Zulu styled tyrant with no respect for human life, and Gagool, a powerful witch doctor with a taste for murdering beautiful young girls.

Readers are treated to a ferocious tribal war, an exciting trip to the mines of King Solomon and an evil trap. This is an exciting and fast paced story which demonstrates the author’s knowledge of southern Africa and the lifestyles and cultures of the time from both the European and African perspective.

Potential readers should be warned that this book was written during the colonialist era and contains some language and ideas that are offensive to modern readers. If you can set this aside as a function of the politics and ideology of the era, it is a fantastic adventure story along the lines of Indiana Jones.

A Ghost and His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Cover reveal

A Ghost And His Gold

About Robbie Cheadle and Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

Thank you to Robbie Cheadle! Please visit her sites.

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Welcome To A New Member of the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society!

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I want to welcome a new member of the U. L. S., the Underground Library Society, Michelle Saul, an excellent writer, a former student of mine, and someone I am proud to call friend. This is her choice of book to become and to save, if we lived in a world as in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in which books are forbidden.
Michelle’s post:
I have always though that the preservation of the written word is one of the most important things in the world. As a lover of books for as long as I can remember, some of my earliest and fondest memories are of my mother, my Aunt Mary, and my nana reading books to me. Blue Bug and Word Bird were just the start of a life long love of books. As I’ve gotten older and have discovered more books and authors, my love for books has only grown stronger with each passing year. So the thought of a world without books and reading is a horrifies me!
I’ve given a lot of thought as to what book I would memorize should the need ever arise and I’m sure for anyone who knows me, they would be surprised to find that my choice isn’t Harry Potter. Though I have loved Harry Potter for over half of my life and have learned many lessons from it over my lifetime, the book I’m choosing I feel embodies the true spirit of memorizing stories and telling them.
That book would be Ireland by Frank Delaney.
The first time I read Ireland was in my Irish Literature class during my undergraduate degree and it was literary love at first read. This is a book that comes off the page and immerses you in the world Frank Delaney created. For those who have never read this novel, it’s about a storyteller who visits the home of the main character Ronan when he is nine-years-old. The three nights that the storyteller is there changes Ronan’s life forever. From there, we see Ronan grow and have only one true goal- To find the
storyteller that changed his life forever.
It is a beautifully written story with a rich history of Ireland. This novel shows how one good story can change a person’s life and set them on the path of who they’re meant to become. It shows how important the written and spoken are. So this novel, with its theme of storytelling and the life-changing magic that comes with them, makes it feel like an appropriate and very fitting choice for The Underground Library Society.
Please visit Michelle at mythoughtsonwritingandreading
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My Recommended Reading List!

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In my college classes at both Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA,  I sometimes do something I call — Chuck’s recommended readings.  I ask the students to write the title and author I suggest and then tell the students that what they do with that information is entirely up to them.  I have put together a partial list of some of the books I have suggested. Some of them I consider among the best and most important books ever written, and some I simply found to be wonderful and entertaining.

Now, the list of Doc Chuck’s Recommended Readings:

Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.

Brown, Larry. Fay.

Cervantes, Miguel De. Don Quixote.

Delaney, Frank. Ireland.

Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose.

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods.

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum.

Helprin, Mark. A Soldier of the Great War.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Pacific and Other Stories.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom The Bell Tolls.

Homer. The Iliad.

. . . . . . . The Odyssey.

King, Stephen. Hearts In Atlantis.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . The Stand.

Lee, Harper.  To Kill A Mockingbird.

Poe, Edgar Allan.  Complete Works.

Rice, Anne. Interview With the Vampire.

Rowling, J. K. The entire Harry Potter series.

Shakespeare, William. The Collected Works.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath.

Stoker, Bram. Dracula.

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Lord of the Rings.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.

I am certain there are many books I have forgotten to mention.  This is neither intended to be all-inclusive, nor is it meant to be authoritarian.  I hope that someone may find a book or books from this list, read them, and enjoy them.

Happy reading!

 

 

A Renewed Call To Join The Underground Library Society!

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I am again asking for those who would like to join the U.L.S.,the Underground Library Society, to join and write a guest post. I put this request out several times over the course of a year, because I hope to have more people join in the cause.

In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again.

In that spirit, I am putting out the call once more for like-minded people to join The U.L.S. All that is needed is to choose a book you would memorize if the need ever arose. The type or genre of the chosen piece does not matter.  There is no restriction on what you would become. You do not, however, actually have to memorize  the book now. If you wish to join, simply write a guest post in which you say what book you would “become” and why.

I have had several other bloggers join the U. L. S. Join the movement!

I hope many of you choose to join.

In the past, I have mentioned that I would become one of the following books: The Lord Of The Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you do wish to do a post, please email me at frenchc1955@yahoo.com  and write a guest post as a Word doc. Thank you.

Charles F. French

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I am looking forward to hearing from new members!

Please, come and join in the fun!

Magic In Stories!

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There is magic in stories. Magic is the transmutation of objects or the manipulation of the world in ways that move outside the realm of science. Whether or not magic is real in the sense of the here and now world is not the point; magic is a metaphor for fiction. Stephen King says, “books are a uniquely portable magic” (104). This magic is in the words, in their transmitting from the writer to the reader other worlds and ideas. In writing fiction, writers create a world that was not there; even so-called realistic, literary writers create an alternate world that readers inhabit when they read the book. The writers and the readers, in a mystical incantation, create another reality, one that can be so strong sometimes that readers can be moved to tears or laughter or sadness or joy or grief or sorrow or despair or hope. Readers come to care about the characters and feel empathy as if they were real. That is a kind of magic.

Neil Gaiman, in his introduction to Ray Bradbury’s  60th Anniversary Edition Fahrenheit 451, speaks to the power of the written word and stories: “Ideas—written ideas—are special. They are the way we our stories and our thoughts from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over” (xvi). It is through the creation of artificial worlds, no matter how speculative or fantastic, that we experience our world in more intensity and with deeper clarity. This act of magic is what we share as writers and readers. I am honored to be a mere apprentice in the magic of writing novels.

Works Cited

Gaiman, Neil. “Introduction.” Ray Bradbury. 60th Anniversary Edition Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Scribner, 2000.

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10 Books That Influenced Me

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After doing a post about the 10 most influential books to literature,  I wanted to create a post about the 10 books I consider the most influential books to  me.  I am open to all suggestions.

Hamlet. William Shakespeare.

The Iliad. Homer.

Le Morte d’ Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory.

The Lord Of The Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien.

Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury.

The Stand. Stephen King.

The Shadow of the Wind. Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes.

Frankenstein. Mary Shelley.

Dracula.  Bram Stoker.

What are some of the most influential books for you?

Another Member Of The U.L.S. — Robbie Cheadle Writes On The Red Badge of Courage

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I want to welcome Robbie Cheadle to the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society! This group is an unofficial collection of people who deeply value books. It is based on the idea of The Book People from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  Robbie is the newest member of this group of book lovers!

Robbie has excellent blogs: Robbie Cheadle books/poems/reviews and   Robbie’s inspiration. Both are wonderful; please be sure to visit them.

The Red Badge of Courage

Background

The Red Badge of Courage is a novel about the American Civil War, written by American author, Stephen Crane. Although the author was born after the war and had not ever participated in a battle when he wrote the book, The Red Badge of Courage is cited for its realism and naturalism.

The book depicts several very vivid and intense battle scenes which are graphically depicted from the perspective of the young protagonist, Henry Fleming, a private in the Union Army. The book explores the themes of maturism, heroism and cowardice with regards to Fleming’s regiment which comprises mainly of inexperienced first-time soldiers who have conscripted for various reasons and the indifference of nature to the follies of man.

The red badge of courage referred to in the title of the book is a wound incurred during battle.

My review of this book

The Red Badge of Courage was a fascinating insight into the psychology of warfare for young recruits who have never experienced battle before. I read the author’s biography and was astonished that he had never experienced war before he wrote this startling descriptive and vivid account of the fictional 304th New York Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War.

The main character is 18-year old man from a farming background called Henry Fleming. Henry is tired of the monotony of his life helping his mother on the farm and enlists because he has romanticized battle as a result of reading several accounts of war. He is attracted by his perceived glamour of battle and enlists against the advice of his mother. When she attempts to give him some practical advice before he leaves to join his new regiment, he resents her words which belie and detract from his romantic notions.

Henry’s main ambition is to prove that he is man enough to be a soldier, and he suffers endless anxiety about how he will react when his regiment eventually sees some action on the front. He becomes friendly with a number of his compatriots, including a young man named Jim Conklin, who confesses that he would run from battle if all his peers did so.

Henry’s regiment finally faces the enemy and is successful during their first session of combat. After a short reprieve, the regiment faces the enemy again and this time Henry is convinced that his regiment will lose and he runs away from the battle. He retreats into a nearby wood and comes across a dead body. In his fear and fright at coming across this grim sight, he joins up with a group of injured soldiers, one of whom is is friend, Jim Conklin. Henry is deeply ashamed of his cowardly behavior and does his best to hide the fact that he is not injured but has fled the battle. He manages to get away with it, but his disgust at his own behavior and fear of discovery results in later behaviour that is almost reckless and lacking in reasonable self-care in his attempt to redeem himself in his own mind.

I loved the characterisation of Henry as a thinker and a person who is sensitive to his own potential failings and fears. I am sure that many young men must feel like this when faced with the real possibility of their own imminent death. The effect of peer pressure and the comradery or brotherhood of soldiers when in a group is also intriguing and believable.

Once again, thank you to Robbie Cheadle, and welcome to the U. L. S., The Underground Library Society!

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An Invitation To Join The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society

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I am again asking for those who would like to join the U.L.S.,the Underground Library Society, to join and write a guest post. I put this request out several times over the course of a year, because I hope to have more people join in the cause.

In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again.

I am again teaching the subject of banned books and censorship, and my students will take part in this organization, and I hope that many of you do also. My students will create posters about the book they choose, put them up at various places on campus, do a blog post on the project, memorize one paragraph form their chosen books, and then give a short presentation about the work at the end of the semester.

In that spirit, I am putting out the call once more for like-minded people to join The U.L.S. All that is needed is to choose a book you would memorize if the need ever arose. The type or genre of the chosen piece does not matter.  There is no restriction on what you would become. You do not, however, actually have to memorize  the book now. You do not need to create a poster, although if you do, I ask only that you use the logo of the U.L.S. on this page. If you wish to join, simply write a guest post in which you say what book you would “become” and why.

I hope many of you choose to join.

In the past, I have mentioned that I would become one of the following books: The Lord Of The Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

If you do wish to do a post, please email me at frenchc1955@yahoo.com  and write a guest post as a Word doc. Thank you.

Charles F. French

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I am looking forward to hearing from new members!

Please, come and join in the fun!

A New Invitation To Join The U.L.S., The Underground Library Society!

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I am again asking for those who would like to join the U.L.S.,the Underground Library Society, to join and write a guest post.

In an earlier First Year Class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, The U.L.S. — The Underground Library Society — was created. It is in the spirit of the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. In that novel, all books have been banned, and a few people “become” books by memorizing them, in the hope that, one day, books will be permitted to exist again.

I am again teaching the subject of banned books and censorship, and my students will take part in this organization, and I hope that many of you do also. My students will create posters about the book they choose, put them up at various places on campus, do a blog post on the project, memorize one paragraph form their chosen books, and then give a short presentation about the work at the end of the semester.

In that spirit, I am putting out the call once more for like-minded people to join The U.L.S. All that is needed is to choose a book you would memorize if the need ever arose. You do not actually have to memorize  the book now. You do not need to create a poster, although if you do, I ask only that you use the logo of the U.L.S. on this page. If you wish to join, simply write a guest post in which you say what book you would “become” and why.

I hope many of you choose to join.

If you do wish to do a post, please email me at frenchc1955@yahoo.com  and write a guest post as a Word doc. Thank you.

Charles F. French

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I am looking forward to hearing from new members!

 

Books That Have Influenced Me: Dracula

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I have ready many books over the course of my life, and books have become a central part of who I am. I read books for pleasure, for study, and for examination. I teach books in my literature classes, I write about them in scholarly work, and I write novels. As I was considering the topic for this post, I started to think about what books have influenced me the most in my life.

I do not mean that I want to explore what books are the most meaningful or the most important literature. That is a completely different discussion. Certainly there can be crossover in my choices, because I will not eliminate a text on its literary value, but I am interested now in which books had a part to play in my development as a human being, which ones helped to form me into the person I now am.

So many come to mind and are possibilities for discussion, especially when I think of some of the books I read as a youngster in high school. Among these novels are Dracula, The War of the Worlds, A Tale of Two Cities, Frankenstein, The Lord of the Rings and Fahrenheit 451.  Certainly, there were many more books that I read at that time, and I have always been a voracious reader, but these books, in a variety of ways help to shape my interests and some of my directions in life.

Today, I will focus on Dracula by Bram Stoker and what its influence on me was and is. This was one of the first Gothic novels I had read, and its power caught me immediately. I was drawn to the images of dark castles, terrible villains, and the supernatural. That I love Gothic is still clear, because not only do I teach Gothic literature, but also I write it.

Dracula, however, had a much deeper impact on me that simply the horror aspect; I was drawn to the idea of the need for good people to oppose evil.  It is a theme that, on the surface, might seem simplistic, but a person need only look at the history of the 20th Century into our contemporary time to see that evil does exist, especially in the form of people who would oppress, torment, exclude, and bully others. Of course, I am not making an argument that the supernatural evil in this novel exists, but that human evil certainly does.  The Nazis demonstrated that human horror in its full capacity.

In this book, a fellowship of human beings is created, and they decide to fight a creature that is far more powerful than anything they could have imagined, and they do so at the risk of their lives.  This act of defending others, even if the people do the battle are put at risk, became a central part of my ethos.  There will always be those who would bully and oppress others, and they must always be opposed.  While in early high school, Dracula helped to form that idea in my mind.

In the next entry in this series, I will discuss a book in which the idea of fellowship is a central theme.

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Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

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Please follow the following links to find my novel:

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Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

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Available on Amazon

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