A question for you all...

I hope that you can help me. 

I apologise if you read this anywhere else, it is x-posted like mad.

I am illustrating literature at the moment, and for an example, used a line from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh "I caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still bring him back with a twitch upon the thread".

This seems to have worked well, and I was wondering what line has made an impact on you in particular? If you could leave your line and the work and the author from which it was from I would be most appreciative. 

If you would like to see what I am doing with these lines, jump over here to the picture:

Thank you  in advance 

  • Current Mood
    hopeful hopeful

Some help if I may be so bold to ask...

As I am new to this Live Journal business, you must forgive me if I make a glaringly embarrassing faux pas, it's not my intention, I assure you.

I first must apologise if you read this elswhere, as it is cross-posted in other communities. For I am in a state of desperation.

If any of you reading this are teachers yourself, or have written or are writing a thesis/dissertation, I find I must beg of your help.

I am involved in a course that has recently implemented a thesis/dissertation trial. We are marked as if it were as important as the 'real thing' etc. However, the only thing missing is the luxury of time. I have 2 months in which to write the 10,000 words, and I now have a month and a half left. I have an incredibly broad scope to choose from - anything that I can justifiably relate to the writing sphere. I am not begging for ideas. I fully intend on coming to that realisation myself. Once I have my starting point I .know. that I am capable of achieving this goal. The problem I face is how to go about reaching the topic. It seems everything I come up with would be a wonderful essay. But I do not think that the ideas are original enough to be classed as 'Thesis worthy'. They are observations, not difinative beliefs.

Due to unfortunate circumstance (there is no malice involved, however)I find that I am not recieving the help that the other students are. My teacher has packed me away in a box believing I am fully capable of doing this on my own. So I have had to go over her head to get advice, and I was hoping someone out there in the big wide web may be able to point me in the right direction.

If anyone has any tips on how to go about beginning this creature, I would be most grateful. I feel as if I am tearing out my hair trying to work this out on my own. If someone could please point me in the right direction, either from their own experience or some useful sources you have come across it would help a great deal. I have looked up the definition and found a book that briefly mentions Dissertations, but I find that I am still at see.

I hope I am not breaking any rules here.
Pope George

The Sarantine Mosaic

Like I said, I just recently finished Guy Gavriel Kay's The Sarantine Mosaic, which is composed of Sailing to Sarantium and The Lord of Emperors.

The first book sees the aging mosaicist, Martinian, summoned by no less than the Sarantine Emperor himself to journey to the capital city of of Sarantium to assist in a massive building project there. He doesn't particularly want to go, and he manages to persuade his partner, Crispin, to assume his name and journey in his stead. The book traces his travels to the city, his involvement in political intrigue there, and his eventual start of work on the project.

What makes this a completely fascinating and engrossing book is that the world Kay has created is a retelling of 6th-century Byzantium. The Emperor Valerius II is an analogue of Justinian, Sarantium is, of course, Constantinople, and the enormous monument on which Crispin sets to work is none other than than the Hagia Sophia itself. Pretty much all the major characters of real-world Byzantium are included in one guise or another, from the actress who became Empress, to the great general Belisarius (Leontes), to the court secretary and writer of chronicles Procopius, who keeps his hatred of his Emperor concealed until a crucial moment in the second book. Tribonian, John the Cappadocian, and even Mohammed himself are part of the story. There are as well various imagined minor characters, and Kay's skill is such that they seem none the less real for their imaginary status.

The history of the fictional world Kay creates is our history. In the first book, he flashes back to the Nika riots, in which Valerius is persuaded by his wife not to flee the city, and so orders a military response which results in the butchering of 30,000 citizens. Part of the backdrop of the first book is the religious discord between the pagans from the western, fallen parts of the Empire, the Orthodox, and the monophysites.

Kay takes this historical grounding and adds his own fantastic elements, his 'alchemy,' which isn't alchemy in the real-world sense of fuddling around with reagents, but is a darker, more dangerous affair of mingling reality with what is termed the 'half-world.' This is a subtle underpinning, however; while it is crucial to plot development in places, characters do not go around wielding spells and magical implements, and the only fire being summoned forth against various persons is of the Greek variety.

The second book details further Valerius's plans and attempt to reunite the sundered halves of the empire, as well has his designs on the Persians to his east, and demonstrates why they are doomed to not be realized. Crispin's efforts to finish his mosaics in the temple are ended, if not completed, and governments rise and fall.

I think Kay's quasi-historical approach is a brilliant one, because it simultaneously allows us insights into the nature of the historical period, places, and people, and allows our prior knowledge of the real-world equivalents to inform our concepts of the characters. Valerius II, Alixana, and many other of the principle characters wield vast power over a tremendous area of the world, can order the deaths of thousands with but a word, and yet Kay makes it possible to empathize with them. To paint people who are at the pinnacle of human society as characters with depth and substance, while managing the scale of things well enough to give the same treatment to Bodo himself is a rare thing in literature, and even moreso in the genre in which Kay writes.

These are tremendous, moving, emotionally involving books. The first moves slow in places, as exposition tends to, but even so, when the book comes to an end, it does so appropriately - too often first books just run into a brick wall and end abruptly, which makes sense when you consider they're just the first part of a single larger work that was split into two more-or-less arbitrary parts for ease of publishing and marketing. But Sailing to Sarantium draws gracefully to a close; certainly not all matters are resolved, but the ones that are left open are left open in a pleasant fashion. Then the second book comes along and knocks your socks off.

To borrow a phrase, I wish I had two hands, so I could give them four thumbs up.

In nominae Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti

Can anybody recommend an authoritative history of the Catholic Church?

Optimally, it would cover both the evolution of church doctrine and the usual history textbook stuff. Inclusion of source texts and detailed annotation / bibliography are pluses, readability is not a major concern.

A round of applause to bradamant for providing us with a true alternative to all the other Harry Potter appreciation literary communities on LJ...
Slashed sleeves

To get things started, I'll x-post my most recent...

I recently read two excellent books by Karen Armstrong--noted writer about comparative religion--back-to-back and in the wrong order. They are the two parts of her remarkable autobiography. We'll be publishing the second volume, The Spiral Staircase, in a few weeks. The first volume, Through the Narrow Gate, I found used on Amazon.

Armstrong grew up in Birmingham, England in a nominally Catholic family, and attended a parochial school. As a teenager, Karen was shy and studious. Her parents were horrified when she suggested that she did not want to go to university, believing herself to have a vocation. Karen insisted in the face of their practical objections and in 1962, at the age of seventeen, she entered a convent.

Through the Narrow Gate is the story of her seven years as a nun. First she is a postulant, living with ten other girls and learning the rules of her Order--one which has been scarcely touched by the reforms of the Vatican II. She is shocked to learn that they only get one pair of underwear a week and that they are not allowed to speak except during two brief recreation periods a day. After nine months, she becomes a Bride of Christ and is inducted into the Novitiate. The novices lead an even more isolated and abstemious existence under the stern eye of dictatorial Mother Walter, who intends to weed out those not strong enough for the religious life. The novices must wake every morning at 5:30 for prayers, yet are given a broken clock that wakes them at 2am or not at all. Karen is a hopeless seamstress and is made to practice endlessly on a machine that has no needle. She is constantly told that her pride is preventing her from accepting God and that she must allow her self to die, as Christ did, to serve God. She desperately wants to do this, but does not know how. When she suffers fainting spells, her superiors criticize what they call her hysteria and give her a whip for self-flagellation.

Despite her difficulties, she is allowed to make her five-year vows during a ceremony which she and the other novices spend lying face down by the altar, arms in the shape of a cross, with a black pall spread over them to symbolize their death. "Sister Martha" is sent to Oxford, where she and Sister Rebecca ride to their classes on bicycles. Their schedule combines all the domestic work and worship time as the rest of the nuns' with a full university schedule. Although they are the only two students in the Order and are always together, they are forbidden to form a "particular friendship" which might threaten their relationship with God. Often they must skip meals or eat on the run; Karen's fainting spells worsen and her mental weakness is further criticized. Both students develop a then unheard-of "nervous disease," anorexia. Karen eventually makes the decision she had long been dreading--to leave the order. No matter how hard she tries, she cannot set aside her feelings of loneliness and intellectual curiosity, and so must face the fact that she has no vocation, after all. "Needless to say," she writes, "the convent was not what I expected. I entered in 1962 as an ardent, idealistic, untidy, unrealistic, and immature teenager, and left seven years later, having suffered a mild breakdown, obscurely broken and damaged. This was nobody's fault, even though I assumed that the failure was entirely my own doing."

The Spiral Staircase tells of what happened after she left in 1969--utterly unaware of world events and the rise of youth culture. She cannot believe that her fellow students wear such short skirts and want to institute co-ed colleges. She has never heard of the Beatles and finds their lyrics transparently, alarmingly sexual. She is depressed by her failure to live as a nun and cannot shake herself into wanting to join the world. Her health problems continue--she is beset by devastating panic attacks and seizures, only to learn in 1976 that she suffers from epilepsy. Suddenly, all of her problems come into focus.
"I don't think you need to waste any more of your time with these psychiatrists." [The neurologist] made the word sound like an obscenity. "No amount of talking about your problems will make the smallest impression on your condition, and I'm very sorry indeed that you have had to wait for so long before getting adequate medical help. By the way," he added, as I reached for the door, "it's interesting that you were once a nun. People with temporal lobe epilepsy are often religious!"
Armstrong's story of being a "teenage nun" (as a friend later jokes) and missing the 1960s is surely unique. She writes with a talkative spark that I associate with the British; even when writing about the most depressing topics, she remains vivacious. Because of her natural curiosity, she is an ideal guide to the strange world of the convent--she explains everything about the rule, taking nothing as a given. She conveys both the urgency and the immaturity of her desire to enter the convent and movingly details her slow collapse. In the second volume, she manages to overcome the fact that the revolutions of the '60s are now old hat and makes the 21st century reader feel the disorientation she experienced upon her re-entry into secular life. I find most memoirs to be self-indulgent, but this one is clear-eyed and informative, a perfect marriage of author and topic.