The Address by Manga Minco

The Address by Manga Minco About the background of the story .. It’s a moving story dealing with the annihilation of a whole Jewish family barring a daughter who escaped death because she was away. The Nazi soldiers herded Jews in the occupied countries and … Read more

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost –Analysis

 

Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963) was an American who scaled great heights of popularity among his native Americans, but among the vast number of English poetry readers who read his poems for pleasure and as a pastime. Like many other English poets of his time, he adored Nature and loved delving into the many riddles it offered. Frost’s own life was full of non-conventional decisions and a few twists and turns. At one stage, he even worked as a cobbler. But, by the time he wrote this poem, he had scaled great heights in the literary world. Perhaps, this poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ was written when he was in a reminiscent mood.

Read moreThe Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alexander Baron

The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alexander Baron –Reassessing Private Quelch

Private Quelch, the army recruit around whom the story ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ has been written, is a much maligned person. This story forms part of the English text book in countless schools across the world. Sadly, students and teachers often treat this profoundly learned person of astounding scholarship and boundless energy with mockery, calling him boastful, vainglorious, arrogant, pretentious etc.

Read moreThe Man Who Knew Too Much by Alexander Baron

Virtually True by Paul Stewart

Virtually True by Paul Stewart

1. The newspaper headline screamed ‘Sebastian Shultz’. It was an unusual name to make the headline.
2. The person reading the newspaper was a woman whose face behind the paper. She was an elderly woman who apparently breathed with a little difficulty.
3. The newspaper story was about Shultz, the 14-year-old London school lad, who had come out of his coma the day before. His miraculous turn around had baffled the doctors, who had assumed the near-dead medical condition to drag on and on indefinitely.
4. I was curious because I had met a boy of this name before. I leaned forward to read the story in the newspaper in the woman’s hands.
5. A motor accident six weeks ago had nearly killed Shultz. From the accident site, he was carried to the General Hospital battling for his life. The doctors did their best to revive the boy, but he defied all their efforts. As he lay unconscious in the hospital bed, the doctors had no way but to inform Shultz’s parents that their boy had slipped to coma.
6. In the press conference, Mrs. Shultz, the mother profusely appreciated the untiring efforts of the doctors to resuscitate her son, but, at the same time, she admitted that his condition could only revive through a miracle.
7. It now appeared that the miracle had happened. …..
8. As the woman’s hand moved to clear the view, I could see from the photo that the boy was none other than Sebastian. I was soon lost in thought trying to figure out how such a tragedy had come to pass.
9. I pondered the travails of Sebastian Shultz in the hospital bed where he had remained immobile for days clinging to the last thread of life. His struggle made me anguished.
10. I stared out of the train window and began to imagine the sequence of events that had led to the tragedy.
11. A month ago, I had spent nearly the whole of a Saturday afternoon going round the Computer Fair.
12. My father is a computer enthusiast. He has a Pentium computer that can paint, play music, create displays, and even help me in my homework.
13. The most exciting features it has are the games – Tornado, Mebabash, Black Belt, Kyerene’s Kastle etc. When I played, it made me feel I was in the midst of the real action.
14. My father had a strong fascination towards the many new ideas, products and gadgets the fast-changing world of computers was churning out in quick succession. To have a first-hand feel of all these, we had been to the Computer Fair. We bought an array of gadgets with mind-boggling capabilities. Among them were the virtual reality visor, gloves, and some inter-active psycho-drive games. The visor and the glove offered very astonishing visual effect besides manipulating our mental faculties.
15. We later realized some of them were ‘used’ items.
16. But, that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. No sooner had we got home, than I began to explore my high-tech toys. The first game I played was named, ‘Wildwest’.

Read moreVirtually True by Paul Stewart

The Unknown Citizen By W. H. Auden

The Unknown Citizen
By W. H. Auden
———————————–

W.H. Auden, the American poet of British origin, wrote ‘The Unknown Citizen’ in 1939. This was shortly after he migrated to the United States. The poem appeared in The New Yorker in 1939. One year later, it was included in Auden’s collection ‘Another Time’. Since then, countless readers have read and enjoyed this satirical poem that blisters with sarcasms against the practice in America and elsewhere of reducing all their citizens to a collection of cryptic statistical numbers.

Central theme
The American system of politics, governance and social welfare uses a set of identification tag to collect, store, monitor and analyze the state of affairs of a citizen. Functional, accurate and scientific and user-friendly this system may be, but, the way it squeezes the most illustrious citizen and the most ordinary one through the same sieve makes it appear inhuman, brutal, insensitive and archaic. This method of cataloging citizens has no regard or room for the feelings, aspirations, sorrow, happiness, love, and excitement that a citizen experiences from his cradle to his grave. The system has no room for hero worship, nor has it any provision to castigate the most hideous characters. Abraham Lincoln, the iconic revered American had one set of numbers just as President Kenney’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had another set. This indifference and aloof nature of the number-letter based identification of individuals disturbed Auden. Through his pen and his sense of irony, he revolted against it in his poem ‘The Unknown Citizen’.
The poem is a stinging indictment of the American way of life and politics. The poem is an epitaph of a man who is identified by ‘JS/07/M/378’. This is the Social Security number the state has ascribed to him. No doubt, the number has everything about the man, but only externally. His education, job, spending habits, state of health, his material possessions, family size, participation in the country’s war etc. are all coded into these set of numbers. Auden conjures up an imaginary administrative monster – the Bureau of Statistics – that does the statistics collection, and collation job remorselessly, like a heartless robot.
‘Individualism’ is unknown to the Bureau of Statistics. Auden’s hero had led a ‘normal’ life with no blots, no brush with the law, had spent liberally, but judiciously, and worked hard till his last day in office, and had registered as a soldier when the call came without asking the justness of the war. By all accounts, he had led an ‘exemplary’ life, exactly akin to the ideal American’s ways. How did the state take note of this lifelong toil? Through a set of numbers! This shatters the ‘soul of his ideal citizen’. Such short-shrift given by the bureaucracy is demeaning and hurtful.

Read moreThe Unknown Citizen By W. H. Auden

Ozymandias  

Ozymandias   by Percy Bysshe Shelley.. Introduction …The celebrated English poet P. B. Shelley once met an intrepid traveler who had gone around ancient Egypt. The traveler recounted his seeing two extra-ordinarily large trunkless legs made of stone which were, obviously, the remnants of a … Read more

Comprehension questions 17

Comprehension questions 17 Read the following write-up and answer the questions that follow. ‘Girish Karnad has passed away at the age of 81’, read a message on my phone from an old acquaintance on Monday morning. His death had been announced to the world like … Read more

Writing ‘for’ & ‘against’ a view -2

Making children practice handwriting is a wasteful exercise. With the advent of computers, handwriting has lost its relevance. Support and oppose. —————————————————————- Support .. Computers are making inroads into our lives at an unstoppable pace. With the advent of AI, IoT, Machine Learning etc., Information … Read more