Thursday, 26 February 2015

from Rodney Fisher

an 'Italian' version of Jack and the Beanstalk

Unas appona taim uasa boi name Giacche.  E uoroche anne fam.  E plante.
E plao. E milche de cause. E fidde chiccense.  Esai itse toffe laife.

Uan dei ise moma ghiv eme binne ana tell ime planta de binne ana ghetto
binnestocche.  Datsa guiste warri didde, ana soneeamagonne iffe binnestoche no gro
oppe uan, tu, tri, fifte fitte laiche fairaidran, ana itse gadde inoffe binnese tu fidde da cit e Bostin fo twenty irs.  Itte gro aire den ole de claudes.  Iu nevve sen saccie big e binnestocche in iur laiffe.

Giacche go picchene, picchene, and picchene aire en aire tille e pesse de claudes,
ana e se a cassel bilonghe tu a giante u uonse a biudefool uaite gus. Ole taime
disse giant ise singhe “ Fe, Fi, Fo Fum,  ai smella blode uva inglesmanne”.
Ittse onli songhe ino.  Giacche isa Americana so e don uarri. Uenne de giant folle sleppe enne snorene laiche Versuvio,  Giacche grob  de uaite gus enne ronne
 laiche elle. He getta om saif en e sei tu isa papa  “Lucche me !  Lucce uarri ai gotte!”

“Gudde” sei es papa. “Iu gonne ave ardboila heggeste for breggfeste.”
Neggeste dei ise moma boila de heggeste ana uarra iu tinghe? Dei uas gholen gus heggese, enna isa papa brecce ise folse titte.

“Moma” ei sei  “Demme titte costa me siveni faive dollars” Enne ghiva Giacche da bittenghe ova isa laif.

De morrale ove dissa stor ise “Iffa iu guarra enoffe trobbel inna iur onne becciard,donna go lucchen fo binnes”

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Thoughts on

The Wall


Jean-Paul Sart

Sartre is one of the great figures in postwar philosophy as well as being a novelist and political activist.   This story was published in 1939 just after the Spanish Civil War which it deals with, and just before the Second World War in which Sartre was first a soldier, then a prisoner of war, and after escaping a member of the French Underground.   The Wall is his second publication, coming after the novel Nausea.   Both of these are about what is known as Existentialism, a philosophical movement which ask what it is for a person to ‘be’,  to live.   And it often focuses on the final meaninglessness of human life on the one hand, and on the other the need for us to try and be total honest with ourselves, to be in ‘good faith’, and not try to make up comforting myths and roles to hide from the starkness of existence as such.   Later, after the war, Sartre became interested in Marxism and social issues.   But in The Wall you can see how he works variations on the theme of death, the end of 'existence'  when it stares his characters in the face.  

The story deals with three prisoners of war who are about to be shot, and it looks at the ways they try to deal with this.

The main character and narrator, Pablo, is an anti-fascist revolutionary, who seems to represent Sartre’s own viewpoint.   He is able to remain stable, to deal with his fear, although it is not so much fear as acceptance that now everything is finished, and since it is his life doesn’t matter very because all human life is pointless.  He shows physical manifestations of fear in his sweating and so on,  but  has no regrets.   His decision to try to save Gris, one of his leaders, is made not out of bravery or dedication, but just for the hell of it.   We see at the end the link between his viewpoint and ‘absurdism’.

Pablo simply closes up and ceases to exist or to value anything, as it were ‘in advance’,

Juan, the youngster is concerned with the process of being shot, how long his death will take.   He’s concerned more with fear of suffering than the concept of death itself.

Tom,  is concerned primarily with his problem of registering that he’s actually going to stop existing.  

The Belgian doctor gives another viewpoint, that of the observer and student of how people behave in this situation.   He even tries little 'experiments'

Another view point we might forget is that of ourselves, the readers, who are observers, of course, but not dispassionate.   We identify with the characters and judge them from our own perspectives.  They make us reflect on our own mortality.  We imagine briefly ourselves in their final situation.  We don't necessarily take Pablo's authorial viewpoint.


How far do you sympathise with Pablo's viewpoint.  

Is he convincing?   Or is he also playing a role?

Is he 'macho'?  Realistic?  'Materialistic?

Does Sartre create a sense of 'before-death'?

Why DOES Pablo decide to give information about Gris?

What ARE Pablo's feelings at the end?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Jack and the Beanstalk

There was once a boy called Jack who was brave and quick-witted. He lived with his mother in a small cottage and their most valuable possession was their cow, Milky-White. But the day came when Milky-White gave them no milk and Jack's mother said she must be sold.
"Take her to market," she told Jack, "and mind you get a good price for her."
So Jack set out to market leading Milky-White by her halter. After a while he sat down to rest by the side of the road. An old man came by and Jack told him where he was going.
"Don't bother to go to the market," the old man said. "Sell your cow to me. I will pay you well. Look at these beans. Only plant them, and overnight you will find you have the finest bean plants in all the world. You'll be better off with these beans than with an old cow or money. Now, how many is five, Jack?"
"Two in each hand and one in your mouth," replied Jack, as sharp as a needle.
"Right you are, here are five beans," said the old man and he handed the beans to Jack and took Milky-White's halter.
When he reached home, his mother said, "Back so soon, Jack? Did you get a good price for Milky-White?"
Jack told her how he had exchanged the cow for five beans and before he could finish his account, his mother started to shout and box his ears. "You lazy good-for-nothing boy!" she screamed, "How could you hand over our cow for five old beans? What will we live on now? We shall starve to death, you stupid boy."
She flung the beans through the open window and sent Jack to bed without his supper.
When Jack woke the next morning there was a strange green light in his room. All he could see from, the window was green leaves. A huge beanstalk had shot up overnight. It grew higher than he could see. Quickly Jack got dressed and stepped out of the window right onto the beanstalk and started to climb.

"The old man said the beans would grow overnight," he thought. "They must indeed be very special beans."
Higher and higher Jack climbed until at last he reached the top and found himself on a strange road. Jack followed it until he came to a great castle where he could smell the most delicious breakfast. Jack was hungry. It had been a long climb and he had nothing to eat since midday the day before. Just as he reached the door of the castle he nearly tripped over the feet of an enormous woman.
"Here, boy," she called. "What are you doing? Don't you know my husband likes to eat boys for breakfast? It's lucky I have already fried up some bacon and mushrooms for him today, or I'd pop you in the frying pan. He can eat you tomorrow, though."
"Oh, please don't let him eat me," pleaded Jack. "I only came to ask you for a bite to eat. It smells so delicious."
Now the giant's wife had a kind heart and did not really enjoy cooking boys for breakfast, so she gave Jack a bacon sandwich. He was still eating it when the ground began to shake with heavy footsteps, and a loud voice boomed: "Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum."
"Quick, hide!" cried the giant's wife and she pushed Jack into the oven. "After breakfast, he'll fall asleep," she whispered. "That is when you must creep away." She left the oven door open a crack so that jack could see into the room. Again the terrible rumbling voice came:
"Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
A huge giant came into the room. "Boys, boys, I smell boys," he shouted. "Wife, have I got a boy for breakfast today?"
"No, dear," she said soothingly. "You have got bacon and mushrooms. You must still be smelling the boy you ate last week." The giant sniffed the air suspiciously but at last sat down. He wolfed his breakfast of bacon and mushrooms, drank a great bucketful of steaming tea and crunched up a massive slice of toast. Then he fetched a couple of bags of gold from a cupboard and started counting gold coins. Before long he dropped off to sleep.

Quietly Jack crept out of the oven.
Carefully he picked up two gold coins and ran as fast as he could to the top of the beanstalk. He threw the gold coins into his mother's garden and climbed after them. At the bottom he found his mother looking in amazement at the gold coins and the beanstalk. Jack told her of his adventures in the giant's castle and when she examined the gold she realized he must be speaking the truth.
Jack and his mother used the gold to buy food. But the day came when the money ran out and Jack decided to climb the beanstalk again.
It was all the same as before, the long climb, the road to the castle, the smell of breakfast and the giant's wife. But she was not so friendly this time.
"Aren't you the boy who was here before," she asked, "on that day some gold was stolen from under my husband's nose?"
        But Jack convinced her she was wrong and in time her heart softened again         and she gave him some breakfast. Once more Jack was eating then the ground shuddered and the great voice boomed: "Fee. Fi, Fo, Fum." Quickly, Jack jumped into the oven.
As he entered, the giant bellowed:
"Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum,
I smell the blood of cm Englishman,
Be he alive or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
The giant's wife put a plate of sizzling sausages before him, telling him he must be mistaken. After breakfast the giant fetched a hen from a back room. Every time he said "Lay!" the hen laid an egg of solid gold.
"I must steal that hen, if I can," thought Jack, and he waited until the giant fell asleep. Then he slipped out of the oven, snuck up to the top of the beanstalk, keeping the hen under one arm, he scrambled down the Beanstalk as fast as he could until he reached the bottom. Jack's mother was waiting but she was not pleased when she saw the hen.
"Another of your silly ideas, is it, bringing an old hen when you might have brought us some gold? I don't know, what is to be done with you?"
Then Jack set the hen down carefully, and commanded "Lay!" just as the giant had done. To his mother's surprise the hen laid an egg of solid gold.
Jack and his mother now lived in great luxury. But in time Jack became a little bored and decided to climb the beanstalk again.
This time he did not risk talking to the giant's wife in case she recognized him. He slipped into the kitchen when she was not looking and hid himself in the log basket. He watched the giant's wife prepare breakfast and then he heard the giant's roar:
"Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
"If it's that cheeky boy who stole your gold and our magic hen, then help you catch him," said the giant's wife. "Why don't we look in the oven? It's my guess he'll be hiding there."
You may be sure that Jack was glad he was not in the oven. The giant and his wife hunted high and low but never thought to look in the log basket. At last they gave up and the giant sat down to breakfast.
After he had eaten, the giant fetched a harp. When he commanded "Play!" the harp played the most beautiful music. Soon the giant fell asleep, and Jack crept out of the log basket. Quickly he snatched up the harp and ran. But the harp called out loudly, "Master, save me! Save me!" and the giant woke. With a roar of rage and he chased after Jack.
Jack raced down the road towards the beanstalk with the giant's footsteps thundering behind him. When he reached the top of the beanstalk he threw down the harp and started to slither down after it.
The giant followed, and now the whole beanstalk shook and shuddered with his weight and Jack feared for his life. At last he reached the ground and seizing an ax,  Jack chopped at the beanstalk with all his might. Snap!
"Look out, mother!" he called as the giant came tumbling down, head first. He lay dead at their feet with the beanstalk on the ground beside them. The harp was broken, but the hen continued to lay golden eggs for Jack and his mother and they lived happily and in great comfort for a long, long time.

Some Interpretations.

1   The story illustrates, metaphorically, the way Jack grows to maturity, from dependent child, to well-to-do man whose mother depends on him.

2   Jack is a layabout who gets into bad company, then into burglary, and ends up a very successful criminal

3  Jack works out a psychological problem. He enacts a kind of Oedipus complex in which he kills his father and controls replaces him as head of the household.

4  There’s a great emphasis of wealth in the story. It’s a struggle for gold.

5  There are two worlds, the real world of poverty and cattle markets, and a dream world of beanstalks and talking harps and ogres.   Jack manages to reconcile the two by destroying the dream world, but at the same time ‘milking it’ of its value.  

6   The ogre eats boys and Englishmen.  Obviously he deserves to be deceived by his wife and fleeced and killed by Jack.

7  The women in the story are foolish.  Jack’s Mum is wrong about the beanstalk, and doesn’t see the value of the hen.  The  giant’s wife deceives and indirectly causes his death.

8   The tale deals, as so often, with anxieties:  about poverty, about being killed, about leaving home.

9   Looking at the picture above don't you feel a little sorry for the Giant?