Born today September 9th 1828
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy
(Usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy) was a Russian aristocrat and one of the world’s most preeminent writers. Tolstoy become famous through his epic novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina.
Tolstoy’s fictional work includes: dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, and Hadji Murad. He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Anna Karenina)
Towards the end of his life, Leo Tolstoy became increasingly interested in a version of pacifist Christianity with support for a strand of anarchist Communism. His exposition of pacifism and non-violence had a profound influence on others – most notably Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
This prompted his non-fiction work;
A Confession and The Kingdom of God is Within You.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Howard Phillips Lovecraft – born today, August 20, 1890
He wrote many essays and poems early in his career, but gradually focused on the writing of horror stories. After the advent in 1923 of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, he contributed most of his fiction therein.
His relatively small corpus of fiction; three short novels and about sixty short stories, has nevertheless exercised a wide influence on subsequent work in the field. Though virtually unknown before his death, he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
Forbidden, dark, esoterically veiled knowledge is a central theme in many of Lovecraft’s works. Many of his characters are driven by curiosity or scientific endeavor, and in many of his stories the knowledge they uncover proves Promethean in nature, either filling the seeker with regret for what they have learned, destroying them psychically, or completely destroying the person who holds the knowledge.
The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft
collects the author’s novel, four novellas, and fifty-three short stories. Written between the years 1917 and 1935, this collection features Lovecraft’s trademark fantastical creatures and
supernatural thrills, as well as many horrific and cautionary science-fiction themes,
that have influenced some of today’s writers and filmmakers, including Stephen King, Alan Moore, F. Paul Wilson, Guillermo del Toro, and Neil Gaiman.
“I think it is beyond doubt that H. P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” -Stephen King The Call of Ctulhu
“I couldn’t live a week without a private library – indeed, I’d part with
all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I’d let go of the 1500
or so books I possess.” ~H.P. Lovecraft
A man after my own heart!
Who can relate?
Flamboyant heroes, adventure, riveting duels, and of course romance.
Alexandre Dumas and his swashbuckling Musketeers have fascinated for ages!
To honor Dumas on his birthday today
July 24th 1855, I wanted to share his many works featuring the most beloved comrades The Musketeers.
Here are the D’Artagnan Romances:
The Three Musketeers
An adventurous tale of the young man d’Artagnan. Leaving home to travel to Paris, d’Artagnan wishes to join the Musketeers of the Guard. He is not one of the musketeers of the title but befriends Athos, Porthos and Aramis (inseparable friends who live by the motto “all for one, one for all.”) This motto which is first put forth by d’Artagnan, has become a most well known and loved signet. This a historical fiction full of memorable adventure and characters.
Rated: 4.5 on amazon.com
Book Bean: Un café
A coffee, plain and simple, but not as we would have in the U.S. Order “Un Café” and you will get a small cup of plain strong espresso.
Twenty Years Later
Two decades have passed since the musketeers triumphed over Cardinal Richelieu and Milady. Time has weakened their resolve, and dispersed their loyalties. However, treason and stratagem still cry out for justice: civil war endangers the throne of France, while in England Cromwell threatens to send Charles I to the scaffold. Dumas brings his immortal quartet out of retirement to cross swords with time, the malevolence of men, and the forces of history. But their greatest test is a titanic struggle with the son of Milady, who wears the face of Evil.
Rated: 4.5 on amazon.com
Book Bean: Chocolat l’ancienne
Rich and decadent melted dark chocolate poured into cups, and served alongside it’s own separate dish of fresh whipped cream. So thick and creamy, I’ll have mine with Un café please!
Ten Years Later: The Vicomte de Brabelonne
In the English translations the 268 chapters of this large volume are usually subdivided into three, but sometimes four or even five individual books. In three-volume English editions, the three volumes are titled “The Vicomte de Bragelonne”, “Louise de la Valliere”, and “The Man in the Iron Mask.” Each of these volumes is roughly the length of the original
The Three Musketeers.
Here they are in Three Volumes:
The Vicomte de Bragelonne
It is May 1660 and the fate of nations is at stake. Mazarin plots, Louis XIV is in love, and Raoul de Bragelonne, son of Athos, is intent on serving France and winning the heart of Louise de la Valliere. D’Artagnan, meanwhile, is perplexed by a mysterious stranger, and soon he learns that his old comrades already have great projects in hand. Athos seeks the restoration of Charles II, while Aramis, with Porthos in tow, has a secret plan involving a masked prisoner and the fortification of the island of Belle-Ile.
Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com
Book Bean: Cafè latte au Chocolat
Espresso with steamed milk and drizzled with
chocolate on top.
The Musketeers are now in their late 50’s.
They are still vital characters but they are no longer young men looking for any excuse to duel with the Cardinal’s Guard. From this point on, there is a lot less sword play and campaigning (Sorry Swashbuckler fans.)
The focus of the story now shifts to the intrigues of Louis XIV court.
Lousise de la Valliere
Devoted in large part to romantic events at the court of France’s King Louis XIV. It is filled with behind-the-scenes intrigue, the novel brings the aging Musketeers and d’Artagnan out of retirement to face an impending crisis within the royal court of France.
Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com
Book Bean: Chocolat chaud
Otherwise known as good old Hot Cocoa 🙂
The Man in The Iron Mask
Some thirty-five years on, the bonds of comradeship are under strain as they end up on different sides in a power struggle that may undermine the young Louis XIV and change the face of the French monarchy. In the fast-paced narrative style that was his trademark, Dumas pitches us straight into the action. What is the secret shared by Aramis and Madame de Chevreuse? Why does the Queen Mother fear its revelation? Who is the mysterious prisoner in the Bastille?
Rated: 4.3 on amazon.com
Book Bean: Cafè au Lait
A coffee with hot milk added (In comparison to the Itallian caffè latte.) In the U.S. a café au lait is a drink of strong drip coffee or French pressed coffee, to which steamed milk is added.
Fun Fact: Two further sequels to the D’Artagnan books — the novels The Son of Porthos (1883) and D’Artagnan Kingmaker (1900) — were written and published after Dumas’s death. D’Artagnan does not appear in the first novel, which, although written by Paul Mahalin, was published under the pen name “Alexandre Dumas” and is still sold as such. The second novel was supposedly based on one of Dumas’ plays (wikipedia)
Have you read any or all of these novels?
Please share your thoughts.