Tag Archives: shakespeare

BOOK TALK: THE BET by Anton Chekov

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THE BET

by Anton Chekov

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

    Anton Chekov, was a Russian playwright and a short-story writer. He was considered to be the greatest, among the writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics. His best short stories are held in high esteem by many renowned writers and even critics. Chekov all his life practiced as a medical doctor along with his illustrious literary career. ‘Medicine is my lawful wife,’ he once said, ‘and literature is my mistress.’

    ‘The Bet’ is an 1889 short story by him about a banker and a young lawyer who enter into a bet. To, decide what is better death penalty or life in prison.

    The story opens with the banker reminiscing the occasion, of the bet some fifteen years ago. The guests at that party that he was hosting that day fell into a discussion of capital punishment. The banker argued that capital punishment is more humane than life imprisonment. Where, the young lawyer disagreed. Insisting he would choose, life in prison rather than death. So, to, arrive at a conclusion. They agree to a bet of some two million roubles. Thinking the lawyer won’t be able to spend fifteen years in solitary confinement. Thus the bet was struck. When the lawyer cast’s himself into isolation, for fifteen years.

    The man spends his time in confinement reading books, writing, playing piano, studying, drinking wine and educating himself. One finds him growing intellectually throughout the story. We see various phases in his term of imprisonment over the years. At first, the lawyer suffers from serious loneliness and depression. But soon he begins vigorous studies. About languages and other related subjects. Then, he ventures into a mix of science, literature, philosophy and some other random subjects. Further, he ends up reading some six hundred volumes in the course of four years. Then the Gospel followed by theology and histories of religion. In the final two years, the imprisoned lawyer reads immensely subjects of chemistry, medicine and philosophy and at times works of Byron or Shakespeare.

     In the meantime the banker’s fortune declines. He all of a sudden realises that if he loses the bet, paying off the debt will leave him bankrupt.

    So, the day before, the fifteen-year period concludes. The banker resolves to kill the lawyer so that he doesn’t have to pay him the money. And on his way to do so, the banker finds a note written by the lawyer. The note only declares that during the time of his confinement. He has learned to despise material goods as fleeting things and he believes that knowledge is worth more than money. Therefore, he elects to renounce the reward of the bet. The banker is moved and shocked to his bones after reading the note. He kisses the strange man on the head and leaves the lodge weeping, relieved not to have to kill anyone. The prison warden later reports, that the lawyer has left the guest house. Thus losing the bet but proving his point that solitary confinement is more humane than death punishment as it gives a chance to a person (the lawyer in this story) to develop himself. The lawyer also unwittingly saves his own life by writing the note.

 CHARACTERS

    The lawyer is seen to be persistent, intelligent and self motivating. He doesn’t break down in the 15 years of imprisonment as the banker had foretold. He is intelligent by the virtue of reading so many books, which reflects on his eagerness to associate with other men, rather than claiming the final prize. He starts as a young impatient person, ready to spend 15 of his best years of life for 2 million roubles. His character of being a person with no interest in materialistic luxury is reflected when he renounces the 2 million and settles with just having proved his point.

    Whereas, the banker likes to be in a position of authority. Where, he likes to wield power over others. Especially those, who happen to disagree with him. The character changes drastically from the beginning of the story when he seems to be very free handed as he easily bets to pay two million. But later, lack of wealth drives him to dishonesty and a plan for murder. This also signifies the weak character of the banker. He is very attached to the materialistic luxuries of life and values human life less than his luxuries. So he plans to kill the lawyer for money and nothing but money changes his mind.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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The Picture of Dorian Gray– by Oscar Wilde

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–Read India Initiative–

Khidki (window)

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

BY OSCAR WILDE

Khidki (Window)

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

        This is an amazing novel of its times but with an unearthly theme. The biggest truth of life is, everyone wants to look beautiful and that too all throughout their lives. This offbeat novel profoundly captures this primeval topic. Even in present times. You will find many celebrities and even average, well-to-do individuals going in for various beauty treatments to keep their looks shipshape. 

    Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, in the year 1854. After a notable career as a poet, a lecturer, and even an editor, he published ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ in a monthly magazine in 1890. But he wasn’t satisfied with it. So he soon revised and lengthened it, for book publication in 1891. Wilde even wrote nine plays that included four celebrated comedies namely: Lady Windermere’s Fan, An ideal Husband, A Woman of No Importance, and The Importance of being Ernest. Sadly, Wilde died in Paris in the year 1900.

    I had read this eerie book long ago. The story is not that easy to forget. As the essence of it keeps haunting you, even during your day to day existence—that is, how to keep your good looks alive. Remember, there are always moments in your life that can but change the drift of your pursuits.

    While waiting to begin his final sitting for artist Basil Hallward’s portrait of him. The beautiful, young Dorian Gray has a conversation that changes the very course of his life. Basil’s friend Lord Henry Wotton fills Dorian’s head with the idea that youth, beauty, and pleasure are all that matters in the world. He urges Dorian. To, indulge in all of life’s sensual joys. Before, age catches up and his good looks fade.

    When Dorian sees Basil’s stunning finished picture. He is transfixed by its reflection on his own beauty. But he is also troubled by the insight that the image in the painting will forever remain youthful and handsome, while he himself would grow old, and be less desirable in times to come. So, he wishes aloud if the roles could be reversed. Saying that he would give his soul, if only the painting would suffer the ravages of time and instead he would remain young forever. But as the old adage goes: Be careful what you wish for.

    And that brings me to the splitting point. If Oscar Wilde’s only published novel is at an elevation of hedonism? Or is it just a cautionary tale, or something else, altogether? In his preface, Wilde warns readers not to search for meaning in the story. He says ‘Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming.’ He further says ‘There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.’

    ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is one of the most elegantly written books of all time. So I understand and even felt while reading.

    The chief protagonist ‘Dorian’ has some unusual emotions and beliefs when you find him saying. “How sad it is!” murmured Dorian Gray with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. “How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June….If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that—for that—I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!”

    Some call it a philosophical novel. But I would also call it a controversial one for that era of time.    Since it has been published several times the plot of the novel varies between each of the published versions.  The summary below deals with the longest version the 1891 novel.                           

    ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ commences on a pleasing summer day of the Victorian era England. Where, Lord Henry Wotton, a dogmatic personality, is attentively observing the astute artist Basil Hallward while he is painting the portrait of Dorian Gray. A handsome young man who happens to be Basil’s ultimate muse.

    While posing for the painting, Dorian listens to Lord Henry, espousing, his hedonistic world view. When he begins to think that beauty is the only aspect of life worth pursuing. This prompts Dorian to incessantly wish that the painted image of his, would age, instead of himself. Under the hedonistic influence of Lord Henry, Dorian decides to fully explore his sensuality. When, he discovers actress Sibyl Vane, who performs in Shakespeare plays, in some dingy working-class theatre. Dorian approaches and courts her and soon proposes marriage. The enamoured Sibyl calls him ‘Prince Charming.’ She swoons with the ecstasy of being loved. But her over protective brother James Vane, warns, that in case ‘Prince Charming’ harms her, he will murder him.

    Dorian proudly invites Basil and Lord Henry to see Sibyl perform in Romeo and Juliet. Sibyl, too enamoured with Dorian to act, performs poorly on that day that makes both Basil and Lord Henry think. Dorian has fallen in love with Sibyl because of her beauty instead of her acting talent.  

     Embarrassed, Dorian rejects Sibyl. Telling her that acting alone was her beauty. Without which she no longer interests him. On returning home, Dorian notices that the portrait has changed. His wish has come true as the man in the portrait bears a subtle sneer of cruelty.

    Conscience-stricken and lonely, Dorian decides to reconcile with Sibyl, but he is too late, as Lord Henry informs him that Sibyl has committed suicide by swallowing prussic acid. Dorian then understands, where his life is headed, lust and good looks shall suffice. Dorian locks the portrait up, and over the next eighteen years. He experiments with every vice; influenced by a morally poisonous French novel that Lord Henry Wotton gave him. (The narrative does not reveal the title of the French novel. But during the trial, Wilde did say that the novel he had read was ‘A Rebours’ (Against the Nature, 1884), by Joris-Karl Huysmans.

    One night before leaving for Paris. Basil goes to Dorian’s house. To, ask him about the rumours of his self-indulgent voluptuary.

    Dorian does not deny his debauchery and takes Basil to see the portrait. The portrait has become hideous. Which Basil is able to identify as his work, only by the signature he affixes to all his portraits. Basil is horrified and beseeches Dorian to pray for salvation. But in deep anger Dorian blames his fate on Basil and stabs him to death. He then calmly blackmails an old friend, the scientist Alan Campbell into using his knowledge of chemistry to destroy the body of Basil Hallward. Alan not able to come to terms kills himself over the deed.

    To, escape the guilt of his crime. Dorian goes to an opium den. Where, James Vane is unknowingly present. James has been seeking vengeance upon Dorian, ever since Sibyl killed herself. But he had no leads to pursue. The only thing he knew about Dorian was the name Sibyl called him by, ‘Prince Charming.’ In the opium den he hears someone refer to Dorian as ‘Prince Charming,’ and he accosts Dorian forthwith. Dorian deceives James into believing that he is too young to have known Sibyl, who killed herself 18 years ago, as his face is still that of a young man. James relents and releases Dorian. But is then, approached by a woman from the opium den who reproaches James for not killing Dorian. She confirms that the man was indeed Dorian Gray by explaining that he has not aged even in eighteen years. James runs after Dorian. But by then he is gone.

     James then begins to stalk Dorian, causing Dorian to fear for his life.  However, during a shooting party, a hunter accidentally kills James Vane, who was lurking around a thicket. On returning to London, Dorian tells Lord Henry that he will live righteously now on. His new probity begins with deliberately not breaking the heart of the naive Hetty Merton, his latest romantic interest. Dorian wonders if his new-found goodness has reverted, the corruption in his picture. But when he looks at it he sees even an uglier image of himself. This makes Dorian understand that his true motives for self sacrifice of moral reformation were only a vanity and curiosity of his quest for new experiences. Deciding, only full confession will absolve him of the wrongdoing. Dorian decides to destroy the last vestige of his conscience, and the only piece of evidence remaining of his crimes—the picture.

    In a rage, he takes the knife with which he had murdered Basil Hallward, and stabs the picture. The servants of the house awaken on hearing a cry from the locked room. On the street, passers-by who also heard the cry call the police. Upon entering the locked room, the servants find an unknown old man, stabbed in the heart. With his face and figure, withered and decrepit. The servants identify the disfigured corpse by the rings on its fingers that belonged to their master. And beside him is the picture of Dorian Gray, restored to its original beauty.   

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

Story of an Indian salesman who is lowly qualified but fights his ways through uncertainities to reach the top. A good read for all salesmen. Now available in Amazon.com

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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THE COPHETUA SYNDROME

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cophetua2

    Cophetua was an African King. He was known for lack of sexual attraction towards any woman. But one day while looking out of the palace window he witnesses a young beggar Penelophon, who was without clothes. Struck by love at first sight, Cophetua decides, that he will either have the beggar as his wife or commit suicide.

cophetua1

    Walking out into the street he scatters coins for the beggars to gather and when Penelophon comes forward, he tells her that she is to be his wife. She agrees and becomes the queen, and soon loses all trace of her former poverty and low class. The couple lives a quiet life but are much loved by their people. Eventually, they die and are buried in the same tomb.

cophetua

    Much has been written about ‘King Cophetua and the beggar maid’ in English literature by various authors and poets. To quote a few:

    In D.H. Lawrence’s novel Sons and Lover, Paul sees Miriam’s well-worn clothes as, “like the romantic rags of King Cophetua’s beggar-maid.”

    Agatha Christie uses the phrase “Cophetua syndrome” in her novel The Body in the Library, to refer to the case of an elderly upper-class Englishman who becomes infatuated with a working-class girl, albeit in a fatherly rather than sexual way. Christie also references Cophetua in her novel Crooked House.

    That brings me to the point. That a human heart is very simple and unpredictable. It can fall for anyone. In my own life I’ve see people falling to Cophetua syndrome.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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BOOK QUOTES … INTERESTING LINES

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Name of book and author is not mentioned. Should you want to know please write to us.

ULYSSESHARRY PORTERBENHUR

  • For as his brain developed—you cannot stop your brain developing, and it is one of the tragedies of the half-educated that they develop late, when they are already committed to some wrong way of life.
  •   “It’s all very well,” grumbled Ellis, with his forearms on the table, fidgeting with his glass. The dispute with Mr. Macgregor had made him restless again. “It’s all very well, but I stick to what I said. No natives in this Club! It’s by constantly giving way over small things like that that we’ve ruined the Empire. This country’s only rotten with sedition because we’ve been too soft with them. The only possible policy is to treat ‘em like the dirt they are. This is a critical moment, and we want every bit of prestige we can get. We’ve got to hang together and say, ‘We are the masters, and you beggars—‘ “ Ellis pressed his small thumb down as though flattening a grub—“ ‘you beggars keep your place!’”
  • He followed her into the bedroom. In a week–it was only a week–her appearance had degenerated extraordinarily. Her hair looked greasy. All her lockets were gone, and she was wearing a Manchester longyi of flowered cotton, costing two rupees eight annas. She had coated her face so thick with powder that it was like a clown’s mask, and at the roots of her hair, where the powder ended, there was a ribbon of natural-coloured brown skin. She looked a drab. Flory would not face her, but stood looking sullenly through the open doorway to the veranda.
  • “Thank you, Monsieur.” She spoke in English but her voice was foreign, a rich low voice very seductive in quality. As she was about to pass on, she hesitated and murmured: “Pardon, Monsieur, but I think you were recently at Grasse?”
  • At the same time, the Emperor had a great desire that I should see the magnificence of his palace; but this I was not able to do till three days after, which I spent in cutting down, with my knife, some of the largest trees in the royal park, about a hundred yards distance from the city. Of these trees I made two stools, each about three feet high, and strong enough to bear my weight.
  • Alas,” said Candide, “my dear Pangloss often proved to me that the goods of this world are common to all men, that everyone has an equal right to them. Acting on that principle, the Franciscan should have left us enough to finish our journey. So you have nothing left, fair Cunegonde?”
  • P.V. Narasimha Rao came from humble home. His intellectual centre was India; his roots were deep in its spiritual and religious soil. His knowledge of Sanskrit profound. He was a man of learning, a scholar, a linguist and a thinker of the first order.
  • Gogol has never heard the term ABCD. He eventually gathers that it stands for “American-born confused deshi.” In other words him. he learns that C could also stand for “conflicted.”
  • The Don said meekly, “Wait, I’ll get you your money.” Then he went out into the garden and said to Sonny, “Listen, there’s some men working on the furnace, I don’t understand what they want. Go in and take care of the matter.”
  • “The rudeness spread to one of the assistant directors,” said Moriarty. “Instead of calling Marilyn for a scene, he would stand there and glare at her, tapping his foot for as long as he could. There would eventually be a big blow up, when all the man had to do was say, ‘Excuse me, Miss Monroe, we’re ready for you.’ She was denied all the prerogatives of a star.”
  • Taken aback by this passionate eloquence, Ruru lowered his staff. He feared that the snake might be a sage in disguise. Seeking to appease the great soul, Ruru said, “You do not seem like an ordinary snake. I believe you must be some other being only temporarily occupying this form. Tell me then, how did you come to be a snake?’
  • The sun was now setting. It was about three in the afternoon when Alisande had begun to tell me who the cow-boys were; so she had made pretty good progress with it- for her. She would arrive some time or other, no doubt, but she was not a person who could be hurried- Sandy’s Tale- Mark Twain page 107
  • I honour your circumspection. A fortnight’s acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But if we do not venture somebody else will; and after all, Mrs. Long and her daughters must stand their chance; and, therefore, as she will think it an act of kindness, if you decline the office, I will take it on myself.
  • FAY. Your son is a thorn in my flesh. The contents of his dressing-table are in indictment of his way of life. Not only firearms, but family-planning equipment. A Papal dispensation is needed to dust his room.
  • In a country as diverse as ours, there will always be passionate arguments about how we draw the line when it comes to government action. That is how our democracy works. But our democracy might work a bit better if we recognized that all of us possess values that are worthy of respect; if liberals at least acknowledged that the recreational hunter feels the same way about his gun as they feel about their library books, and if conservatives recognized that most women feel as protective of their right to reproductive freedom as evangelicals do of their right to worship.
  • The pigeon that stays at home is always in terror for the fate of the pigeon on the wing.
  • All this modern brag about women’s lib, male bashing appeared as poster signs for the erudite to read and jostle through this not-so-good world, as you still had the Ria’s of the world to be saved from the callous studs and the bitchy hens of the ‘scheming jungle’ called society.’
  • ‘Mar. Death is a penalty which a person can pay only once, and she has made that payment. What you wish to do has been done already for you. the last words she spoke were, “Anthony, most noble Anthony!” and in the midst of her speech, a rending groan came in the middle of “Anthony”; the word was split in two between, her heart and her lips. She gave up her life, and the half of your name was buried within her.’
  • “All is well so far. The lambardar reports regularly. No refugees have come through the village yet.I am sure no one in Mano Majra even knows that the British have left and the country is divided into Pakistan and Hindustan. Some of them know about Gandhi but I doubt if anyone has even heard about Jinnah.”
  • In the Mahabharata, Pandu has two wives but cannot have sex with them because of a curse. Pandu means pale and weak and could be related to the Sanskrit word panda meant for men unable to have sex with women for a variety of reasons.
  • ‘Mr Gilmer’s back stiffened a little, and I felt sorry for him. Perhaps I’d better explain something now. I’ve heard that lawyers’ children, on seeing their parents in court in the heat of argument, get the wrong idea: they think opposing counsel to be the personal enemies of their parents, they suffer agonies, and are surprised to see them often go out arm-in-arm with their tormentors during the first recess.’
  • ‘Well, there was once a tortoise, who was, of course, provided with a shell, and within this shell he used to hide for protection against the attacks of his enemies. One day, someone said to him, “You must find it very hot inside there in the summertime. Besides, when you are hidden, no one can admire your bodily perfections. Now, here is a serpent who will give you a million and a half for your shell.”’ ‘Good!’ said Monsieur Fouquet, laughing.       ‘So the tortoise sold his shell, and had to go about unprotected. He was discovered by a vulture, who, feeling hungry, broke his back with a blow of his beak, and had him for dinner.’
  • A little later, full into view swung a duplication of his dromedary, tall and white, and bearing a houdah, the travelling litter of Hindostan.’
  • Viswamitra, the greatest of the ascetic heroes of the Iliad of the East, had in him a perfect representative. He might have been called a Life drenched with the wisdom of Brahma- Devotion Incarnate.’
  • ‘He spoke bluffly, and only somebody like Sherlock Holmes or Monsieur Poirot could have divined that at the sound of her voice his soul had turned a double somersault, leaving him quivering with an almost Bill Rowcester-like intensity.’
  • Initially the losses ran to crores of rupees, Sir, but since we stopped production it has proved very economical !