Book of the Week:

Boy Between Worlds: The Cabinet of Curiosities by Cynthia C. Huijgens

In this action-packed thriller, twelve-year-old Max Mead is headed to Cairo, but there’ll be no time for fun. His grandfather, a famous antiquities expert, has gone missing and his father is frantically organizing a search party. When Max is given the key to his grandfather’s cabinet of curiosities, he hopes to locate clues to his grandfather’s disappearance. Instead, he unlocks an old and powerful family secret and encounters people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.

Author Interview: Cynthia Huijgens

Tell us something about your book.  

My first children’s picture book is titled Polar Bear and the UFO.  It takes place in the frostiest reaches of the Arctic Circle and in a very playful and subtle way shines a light on problems of climate change and shrinking polar bear habitat.

My first middle grade thriller is titled Boy Between Worlds: The Cabinet of Curiosities.  It begins in England but quickly shifts to Egypt where the heart of the story unfolds.  The cover was illustrated by Iranian-American artist Nazli Tahvili and it’s amazing.  She has also illustrated the cover for the second book in the series, The Novice Collector

Who is the ideal reader for your book?

In the few months the book has been available, I have found that kids between ages of 7 and 9 seem to enjoy it most, although I’ve had parents with infants send me photos of their kids drooling over the illustrations.  Anne Costa, the illustrator, did an amazing job!  It’s a story for everyone.

Boy Between Worlds is written for 9 – 12 year-olds or middle grade, but I’ve had several adults tell me they loved it.  It’s a fast-paced action thriller with a mystery that needs urgent solving and characters that are really unique.

Share the best critique/review of your book.

This is a five star comment from Goodreads for Polar Bear and the UFO: “Cynthia’s debut children’s picture book is creative, beautifully illustrated, and something I’ve never read before. I appreciated the subtle hints of climate change, and the ending made me laugh pretty hard. Very cute, fun to read, and makes me want to read more of the author’s children’s books in the near future.“ – Stacy 

This is a five star review from Goodreads for the other book:

Ellery Alouette wrote, “Wow!!! This is a great action/adventure and thriller fantasy with mystery, twists, incredible characters and a fascinating storyline!! Any middle-grader, Y/A or even adults of any age will love Boy Between Worlds: The Cabinet of Curiosities.“

It’s so heartwarming to read that someone you’ve never met before liked your book enough to write a review about it! 

What inspired you to write it? 

While on a visit to Vancouver in 2017 I came across a painting, by indiginous Canadian artist Linus Woods, of a polar bear walking across the tundra.  In the very top right hand corner was what looked like a spaceship, or UFO.  I immeidately went home and started to scratch out a story about what might happen when a UFO encounters a hungry polar bear. 

And while living in Cairo, Egypt, I had many experiences that pulled me into the rich history, culture, geography and people of the country.  I spent a lot of time exploring tombs and heritage sites when other tourists stayed away because of the political unrest.  I shaped those experiences into this story.  There will be three novels in the Boy Between Worlds series, so stay tuned for more!

What message would you like readers to take away from your book

Polar Bear and the UFO: That the solutions to climate change and repairing our planet can not be found in space.  They will have to come from us, and originate on earth.

Boy Between Worlds:  I’ve taken a very old fashioned approach to character development in that my hero is a twelve-year-old boy and he’s cis.  I made his experiences dealing with family, school and peer pressures, identity, etc. universal, which I hope appeals to a broader audience.  The focus is really the magic found within ancient artefacts and its ability to shape our thinking and understanding of who we are if we take time to connect to it.

Share an excerpt from your book. 

This is how the first book begins: In the frostiest reaches of the Arctic Circle, northern lights are bowing and leaping, and lying next to a hole in the ice is a polar bear not sleeping.

Boy Between Worlds:

Mrs Marjorie appeared out of the corner of Max’s eye. Within a heartbeat, she wrestled the notebook from his hands.  Max was horrified by the way she held the book open so everyone could have a look inside.

“Oh, dear, dear Mr Mead, I’m afraid Saint Valentine’s Day is not for another week,” she said, a hint of something evil in her voice.

Max could feel his orbicularis oris tighten, his temperature rising to a million degrees. “Well, clearly you’ve never been in love, Mrs Marjorie.” The words poured out before he even thought about what he was saying.  He’d never spoken this way to a teacher before.

The entire class burst out laughing. Mrs Marjorie’s face went splotchy red. “That sentiment, Mr Mead, has earned you a special invitation to my classroom for detention. After school. Today.”

“What?” Max gasped in disbelief, “I didn’t mean it.”

Mrs Marjorie handed back the notebook, pressing it open to a clean white page. She leaned in close.  A foul smell, like the breath of a dead person, made Max stop breathing.   

“You’re meant to be making notes for the exam we’re having day after tomorrow. I’ll give you a hint Mr. Mead: mus-cu-lo-ske-let-al sys-tem.”

Did you dare to believe that your book will be published when you started writing? 

I knew Polar Bear would be, it was just a question of when.

As for the other one,  I spent seven years writing it, but somewhere along the mid-point I began to believe that I had a worthy story on my hands and I became determined to see it through.  It was somewhere along the mid-point that I realized I had more than one story, and that’s when I took the decision to make Boy Between Worlds a trilogy.  The Cabinet of Curiosities, book one, came out in 2020 and The Novice Collector, book two, comes out late 2021.

Can you share your writing rituals/habits/process? 

I write everyday but not always in the same location nor with the same pen.  Sometimes I speak into my phone or type into my iPad.  I like music and candles and sunshine, they all seem to cheer me on.  I usually work on two or more projects simultaneously, which allows me to tap creativity when it’s flowing.

Who was your first literary crush?

Dr Seuss, definitely.  Who wouldn’t fall in love with his amazingly clever and funny writing?  

Did you imagine yourself as an author in your teens? 

Never.  I wasn’t even much of a reader until my early twenties.  But I was always a penner of letters and it was through that act of writing to friends and family – trying to make my adventures seem as interesting as possible – that my storytelling developed.

What was the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne might be an odd choice for some, but for me it was spot on.  The hero of the story, Hester, is made to wear the letter “A” on her chest to mark her as an adulterer.  I remember being stunned at her determination to transform the meaning of that public act of shaming and take control of its meaning rather than being a victim of it.  I was like, “wow” this woman is not going to let society and its crazy norms define her or her identity.  I thought she was brilliant! 

Did a book ever make you cry? (Which one?) 

I’m sure books have made me cry, I just can’t remember one.

Do you sing in the shower?

I never sing in the shower, but I sing out of the shower quite a lot – to my plants, my dog, anybody who will listen.

Do you like to cook? What is your specialty? 

I cook almost everyday, and always vegan.  I have great recipes for cakes and donuts, and whenever I’m invited to a friend’s house, I bring some sort of baked concoction to eat with coffee or as dessert.

Do you have a pet? 

I have a labradoodle named Luna who is 11.5 years old.  She is helping me to write her lifestory called, The Travel Diaries of Luna the Labradoodle.  Luna has traveled to three continents and visited more than a dozen countries.  She’s amazing company!

Frida Kahlo’s Love Letters to Nickolas Muray

Frida Kahlo and Nickolas Muray

Yesterday was the corporate holiday that makes money on people’s tender feelings, but Nickolas Muray was born on this day in 1892. Born as Miklós Mandl, the Hungarian artist traveled to America before the outbreak of World War I with very little money and equally scarce knowledge of the English language but armed with a flaming desire to succeed as an artist.

He worked as an engraver before the commission from Harper’s Bazaar to do a photograph of actress Florence Reed. That photo launched his career and he became recognized as an exceptional portrait and fashion photographer. Muray’s works were published in Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and other prominent magazines. He photographed Hollywood movie stars and traveled to Europe to take photos of celebrities. Nickolas made over 10,000 portraits between 1920 and 1940, competed as an Olympic saber fencer, and married four times.

Muray’s romantic relationship with Frida Kahlo lasted ten years until her divorce and remarriage to Diego Rivera made the lovesick photographer realize that she wanted him as a lover and would never marry him. Still, they remained close friends until Frida’s death.

Frida Kahlo by Nickolas Muray

The letters that Frida wrote to him are some of the tenderest I have ever seen. For example, she used a dictionary to write this little note in Hungarian, which is very sweet:

“Nick,

I love you like I would love an angel. You are a Lillie of the valley, my love. I will never forget you, never, never. You are my whole life. I hope you will never forget this.”

This one is also touching:

“My beloved Nick,

This morning I received your letter after so many days of waiting. I felt such happiness that I started crying even before I read it. My child, I really should not complain about anything that happens to me in life, so long as you love me and I love you. This love is so real and beautiful that it makes me forget all my pain and problems; it makes me forget even distance. Through your words I feel so close to you that I can feel your laughter, so clean and honest, that only you have. I’m counting the days until my return. One more month! Then we’ll be together again.”

And this one makes you smile if you are aware that she had a husband the whole while:

“You can only kiss Mam as much as you want. Don’t make love to anyone, if you can help it. Do it only in case you find a real F.W. (fucking wonder), but don’t fall in love.”

Frida gifted her self-portrait to Nickolas, and he kept it in his living room his whole life.

Frida Kahlo: Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

My Valentine’s Gift to Romance Authors

I was still a beginner when I translated my first Katie Fforde novel into Serbian. And I remember thinking that no modern girl could be so naive, which is pretty snobby since all of us tend to be a bit ‒ a bit? ‒ unsure and go a little nuts when we are in love. By the way, Katie Fforde is to thank for my first encounter with a spotted dick and dead man’s leg ‒ sounds so appetizing, right? ‒ and the realization that pudding is a name for every dessert in British English, except black pudding and what else but white pudding, of course.

Anyway, I have translated three books by K.F. so far and must admit that she has grown on me although romance isn’t my cup of tea. Speaking of tea, Katie’s characters drink a lot of it since a nice cup of tea solves every problem in the idyllic English countryside. Interestingly, I dated a great guy from Surrey and we never drank tea since beer and hot chocolate brought more comfort. But Katie’s novels are full of tea in quaint cups and vivid surroundings, cupcakes and other puddings with crazy names, and descriptions that make you see bright green grass so clearly that you can almost smell it. She has perfected descriptions to that level that you can almost feel the sun on your face, hear the bees buzzing, admire the colors on a meadow, or that make you frown because of dirty windows sticky with flies’ entrails… The lady sure has mastered the “Show, don’t tell” mantra.

Her side characters are as interesting as the main ones, colorful, quirky, relatable. The old ladies from her books with their age struggles and witty lines are endearing. Just imagine a flushed, confused older lady preparing for a blind date with a guy she met on a dating site. Hilarious.

As for the love story, I find it boring to read a book if I know that the couple will live happily ever after even before opening the first page. Luckily, I am not the majority and romance books are still dominating the market. But my preferences don’t mean that I can’t recognize and appreciate a well-structured novel. And I must admit that Katie Fforde has mastered that genre. She was a president of the Romantic Novelists Association for a reason.

I may find her female characters naive or old-fashioned, but without a misunderstanding, however silly it is, you don’t have a plot. There must be some hindrance before the couple deserves its happy end. And a love story isn’t enough. Many modern authors seem to forget that their protagonists had a life and some background before they met the person that swept them away and try to fix the gaping lacks with steamy scenes. But Katie never made that mistake.

So, dear romance authors, if you are struggling with your story, I suggest taking a look at Katie’s novels and thinking about them as manuals for structuring your book.

And cherish the love, today and every day.

By the way, it’s Saint Tryphon’s Day in Serbia. And he is the patron of vineyards, wine-makers, and wine, which is a good reason to raise a glass. Cheers.

Mark Krylov’s Birthday with a Writing Challenge

When partners can’t agree

Their dealings come to naught

And trouble is their labor’s only fruit.

Ivan Andreyevich Krylov is known as the Russian Fontaine. It is fascinating that he found the genre that suited him best at the age of forty, which confirms the old saying that it is never too late for anything. Before that, he mostly wrote poems and plays. I don’t know about you, but I think that fable is an interesting and demanding genre: we enjoy it as a fun read as kids and view it in a different way when we understand the context as adults. If we ever return to childhood fables, which are a great comfort read.

Krylov’s literary career began when he was sixteen. He sold the opera libretto Cofeynitsa, about a gypsy telling the future from coffee grounds ‒ a popular pastime even today ‒ which he wrote as a fourteen-year-old. Young Krylov used the money to buy books by Racine, Moliere, and Boileau. The French playwrights probably influenced his future plays.

Krylov started publishing his first monthly satirical magazine, Mail of Spirits, in 1789, using it as an outlet for his satirical short stories, which boldly exposed the vices of the nobility and the bureaucratic machinery. However, his sharp poignant satire displeased the authorities. The empress Catherine the Great advised Krylov to give up everything and go on a journey abroad, even offering to pay all the expenses. Of course, he refused. The magazine had only nine issues. However, Krylov started another one, Spectator, in 1792 and continued ridiculing the nobility and even the empress. The police searched his publishing house, looking for Krylov’s story My Fevers and Klushin’s poem Turtle-doves, confiscating both manuscripts. The authorities didn’t forbid the magazine but they did put it under secret surveillance. That prompted Krylov and Klushin to try their luck for the first, and last time, with the monthly Saint Petersburg Mercury. That publication was also short-lived since both of them were forced to resign from their editorial posts. However, this magazine became famous for the poem Dying Coquette, a satire about the empress.

Although many of his earlier fables were inspired by Aesop and La Fontaine, his later works were completely original. Krylov’s first collection of twenty-three fables was published in 1809. The reception was so good that he turned to writing fables, abandoning drama. All in all, he wrote 236 fables.

A few years later, Krylov began working in the Imperial Public Library, which left him a lot of time for writing since the job wasn’t demanding. The stories about his laziness and gluttony were legendary. Krylov was on friendly terms with the emperor, Nicholas, who granted him a nice pension. During his lifetime, over 75,000 copies of his fables were sold in Russia. Their imaginative, engaging plots and distinctive style ensured the enthusiastic reception in his homeland. Some of them were published only after his death because of their sharp satire, while others were published because it became known that they amused Emperor Nicholas.

Once Crawfish, Swan and Pike

Set out to pull a loaded cart,

And all together settled in the traces;

They pulled with all their might, but still, the cart refused to budge!

The load it seemed was not too much for them:

Yet Crawfish scrambled backward,

Swan strained up skywards, Pike pulled toward the sea.

Who’s guilty here and who is right is not for us to say –

But anyway the cart’s still there today.

Swan, Pike, and Crawfish

There are many busy-bodies in the world, always worrying, always rushing back and forth; everyone wonders at them. They seem ready to jump out of their own skins; but in spite of it all, they make no more progress than does the Squirrel in his wheel.

An Argosy of Fables

It is only when our consciences become tangled that the truth begins to hurt.

An Argosy of Fables

Sometimes you get stuck with your writing. In times like that, a small shake-up usually helps. I bet that you have never written fables. Why don’t you try it now? It’s fun, I promise. The piece shouldn’t be long and you should dedicate less than half an hour to this exercise since we have never enough time for everything, right? If someone irritated you last week, put that person in the fable. Not only will you have a great writing exercise, but you will vent your bad feelings through mild, good-natured mocking. Say, you could write about a ladybug who is obsessed with her spots and can’t stop checking their size in the mirror while her lizard friend is complaining that her torn tail is growing slowly and painfully. And don’t forget to show, not tell. The ladybug was checking the size of her spots in the mirror for the third time since they met is much better than writing that she is obsessed. Now, have fun!

Get Inspired with Judy Blume

Judy Blume is one of the most loved authors for some time now. Her novels sure have provoked controversy, but her works were sold in over 82 million copies worldwide and translated into 32 languages.

Maybe you thought that she had some crazy luck and found a publisher as soon as she submitted like in some fairytale? Nope, Judy was rejected for two whole years, receiving up to six rejection letters a week before the publishers Reilly and Lee accepted her first book, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo. There is even a story that someone in the publishing industry called her and said, “You’re a nice girl, Judy, but get out your hankie and get ready to have a good cry because you just can’t write.”

However, “Determination is every bit as important as talent”, she claims, and, thankfully, that didn’t stop her. Blume said that you have to learn from the criticism and learn to spot your mistakes so you can polish your writing. And, of course, you must carry on however painful the rejections are.

And now, let’s get inspired with some quotes from this master:

When you ask, did writing change my life? It totally changed my life. It gave me my life.

I was sick all the time, one exotic illness after another, which lasted throughout my twenties. My worst decade. But from the day the first book was accepted, I never got sick again. Writing changed my life.

The best books come from someplace deep inside… Become emotionally involved. If you don’t care about your characters, your readers won’t either.

The best books come from someplace inside. You don’t write because you want to, but because you have to.

I’m a rewriter. That’s the part I like best . . . once I have a pile of paper to work with, it’s like having the pieces of a puzzle. I just have to put the pieces together to make a picture.

What I remember when I started to write was how I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning to get to my characters.

I’ve heard that some authors do dream their books and I would love that if it happened to me, but so far it hasn’t. Sometimes I’ll get a good idea during the night and if I don’t write it down, I won’t remember it the next morning.

I don’t believe in writer’s block. There are good days when you’re writing and less good days. I’ve learned that if it’s not happening to walk away and return later. I doodle a lot and often get my best ideas with a pencil in my hand while I’m doodling. The problem is, sometimes I lose my doodles and that’s bad!

When writing a book, you can’t think about your audience. You’re going to be in big trouble if you think about it. You’ve got to write from deep inside.

The only thing that works with writing is that you care so passionately about it yourself, that you make someone else care passionately about it.

I hope that Judy’s words inspired and encouraged you. Do you agree with her thoughts? Care to share some of your hacks for overcoming writer’s block, rejection blues, or the fear that your writing is worthless and that you have nothing new to say?

Gertrude Stein’s Quotes about Writing

I think that Mrs. Stein’s style was overly repetitive and that her disregard for punctuation can be confusing, but that doesn’t mean that her insights aren’t useful to authors. What do you think? Can you make good use of them?

“You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting… It will come if it is there and if you will let it come.”

“It is nice that nobody writes as they talk and that the printed language is different from the spoken. Otherwise, you could not lose yourself in books and of course you do, you completely do.”

“It takes a heap of loafing to write a book.”

“If the communication is perfect, the words have life, and that is all there is to good writing, putting down on the paper words which dance and weep and make love and fight and kiss and perform miracles.”

“A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears.”

“If you knew it all it would not be creation but dictation.”

“I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences.”

“The artist works by locating the world in himself”

“If everyone were not so indolent they would realise that beauty is beauty even when it is irritating and stimulating not only when it is accepted and classic.”

“I think one is naturally impressed by anything having a beginning a middle and an ending when one is beginning writing and that it is a natural thing because when one is emerging from adolescence, which is really when one first begins writing one feels that one would not have been one emerging from adolescence if there had not been a beginning and a middle and an ending to anything.”

“I like the feeling of words doing as they want to do and as they have to do.”

“I write for myself and strangers. The strangers, dear Readers, are an afterthought.”

“Sentences are made wonderfully one at a time. Who makes them. Nobody can make them because nobody can what ever they do see. All this makes sentences so clear I know how I like them. What is a sentence mostly what is a sentence. With them a sentence is with us about us all about us we will be willing with what a sentence is. A sentence is that they cannot be carefully there is a doubt about it. The great question is can you think a sentence. What is a sentence. He thought a sentence. Who calls him to come which he did…What is a sentence. A sentence is a duplicate. An exact duplicate is depreciated. Why is a duplicated sentence not depreciated. Because it is a witness. No witnesses are without value.”

“A novel is what you dream in your night sleep. A novel is not waking thoughts although it is written and thought with waking thoughts. But really a novel goes as dreams go in sleeping at night and some dreams are like anything and some dreams are like something and some dreams change and some dreams are quiet and some dreams are not. And some dreams are just what any one would do only a little different always just a little different and that is what a novel is.”

“The painter does not conceive himself as existing in himself, he conceives himself as a reflection of the objects he has put into his pictures and he lives in the reflections of his pictures, a writer, a serious writer, conceives himself as existing by and in himself, he does not at all live in the reflection of his books, to write he must first of all exist in himself, but for a painter to be able to paint, the painting must first of all be done.”

Author’s birthday AND release date

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”

‒ James Joyce

How cool would it be to have your book published on your birthday? Well, that happened to James Joyce. His masterpiece, Ulysses, was first published on February 4, 1922, on the Irish author’s fortieth birthday. Sylvia Beach, famous for her cult bookstore Shakespeare and Company in Paris, was, not surprisingly, brave enough to publish Ulysses.

However, the novel was soon banned in the US, England, Ireland, and Canada after mass-burnings proved ineffective. The ban in the US was lifted only in 1933 after judge John Woolsey spent a month reading Joyce’s novel and concluded: “I am quite aware that owing to some of its scenes ‘Ulysses’ is a rather strong draught to ask some sensitive though normal person to take. But my considered opinion, after long reflection, is that whilst in many places the effect of Ulysses of the reader undoubtedly is somewhat emetic, nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac.”

It might be interesting to read the first reviews of Ulysses.

Edmund Wilson wrote a long review for the New Republic on July 5, the same year:

Yet, for all its appalling longueurs, Ulysses is a work of high genius. Its importance seems to me to lie, not so much in its opening new doors to knowledge – unless in setting an example to Anglo-Saxon writers of putting down everything without compunction – or in inventing new literary forms – Joyce’s formula is really, as I have indicated, nearly seventy-five years old – as in its once more setting the standard of the novel so high that it need not be ashamed to take its place beside poetry and drama. Ulysses has the effect at once of making everything else look brassy. Since I have read it, the texture of other novelists seems intolerably loose and careless; when I come suddenly unawares upon a page that I have written myself I quake like a guilty thing surprised. The only question now is whether Joyce will ever write a tragic masterpiece to set beside this comic one. There is a rumor that he will write no more – that he claims to have nothing left to say – and it is true that there is a paleness about parts of his work which suggests a rather limited emotional experience. His imagination is all intensive; he has but little vitality to give away. His minor characters, though carefully differentiated, are sometimes too drily differentiated, insufficiently animated with life, and he sometimes gives the impression of eking out his picture with the data of a too laborious note-taking. At his worst he recalls Flaubert at his worst – in L’Education Sentimentale. But if he repeats Flaubert’s vices – as not a few have done – he also repeats his triumphs – which almost nobody has done. Who else has had the supreme devotion and accomplished the definitive beauty? If he has really laid down his pen never to take it up again he must know that the hand which laid it down upon the great affirmative of Mrs. Bloom, though it never write another word, is already the hand of a master.

On the other hand, The Sporting Times concluded:

Ulysses appears to have been written by a perverted lunatic who has made a speciality of the literature of the latrine… I have no stomach for Ulysses… James Joyce is a writer of talent, but in Ulysses he has ruled out all the elementary decencies of life and dwells appreciatively on things that sniggering louts of schoolboys guffaw about. In addition to this stupid glorification of mere filth, the book suffers from being written in the manner of a demented George Meredith. There are whole chapters of it without any punctuation or other guide to what the writer is really getting at. Two-thirds of it is incoherent, and the passages that are plainly written are devoid of wit, displaying only a coarse salacrity intended for humour.

With which review do you agree? Did you know that the whole book, a monster around 600 pages long, takes place in only one day? And that day is June 16, 1904. Which is the date when James went on his first date with Nora. What a way to mark the first rendezvous with the love of his life!

Of course, it’s not only that. Ulysses is original, intelligent, ironic, amusing, brilliant just like the author.

Burns Night

Of course, nobody is celebrating Burns Night with a bunch of friends this year, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t give a toast to Robert Burns with a glass of whiskey ‒ a wee dram. Or eat neeps and tatties ‒ turnips and potatoes ‒ or even haggis if you are not a vegetarian. And if you feel like it, you can take your bagpipes out of the closet and truly honor the Scottish Bard.

Bagpipes aside, this is the perfect opportunity to remember the Auld Lang Syne, one of those rare songs that are perfect for grief and tears as much as for merry celebrations:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For days of auld lang syne

We twa hae run about the braes

And pu’d the gowans fine

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit

Sin days of auld lang syne

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn

Frae morning sun till dine

But seas between us braid hae roar’d

Sin days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For days of auld lang syne

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp

And surely I’ll be mine

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For auld lang syne

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere

And gie’s a hand o’ thine

And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught

For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet

For auld lang syne.

Stendhal – Fun facts

Marie-Henri Beyle, born on January 23, 1783, is commonly known as Stendhal. But the French author used over a hundred pseudonyms: Anastasius Serpiere, Louis Alexandre Bomber, William Crocodile, Baron de Cutendre, Poverino… His authorship of some books and articles was discovered only in the twentieth century. After the publication of Rome, Naples, Florence, he used the pseudonym M. de Stendhal, Officier de Cavalerie. The only book that he published under his real name was The History of Painting.

His most famous book, Le Rouge et le Noir, was inspired by the crime section of a local newspaper. I just love that! Sure, anything can spur inspiration, and crime reports are an often prompt, but I never imagined that they inspired this book. Red and Black is also considered the first psychological novel.

Interestingly, Stendhal hated priests and went out of his way to avoid them. That animosity originated in childhood since his education included reading the Bible.

The author was a dandy, social butterfly, and big womanizer. In a true Romanticism manner, he despaired and lost his mind because of love. But Stendhal was also a realist and ironic, which is a unique mixture, noticeable in his works. Like many in those days, Stendhal contracted syphilis and had many health problems, most of them caused by the various treatments more than by the very illness.

Stendhal was enlisted in Napoleon’s army during the invasion of Russia in 1812 and witnessed the burning of Moscow. However, he wasn’t a soldier but part of the administration.

Monsieur Stendhal is also responsible for the word tourist. Since his book Memoirs of a Tourist was published, the word became common. He wrote many travel guides, articles, and essays since that was his bread and butter. Stendhal often wrote about art, which had an important place in everything he wrote. Works of art could excite him so much that he would fall into a stupor, a condition called Stendhal syndrome.

“A good book is an event in my life.

“A novel is a mirror walking along a main road.”

“To write a book is to risk being shot at in public.”

“A novel is like a bow, and the violin that produces the sound is the reader’s soul.”