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Dante's Hell is one of the most remarkable visions in Western literature. An allegory for his and future ages, it is, at the same time, an account of terrifying realism. Passing under a lintel emblazoned with these frightening words, the poet is led down into the depths by Virgil and shown those doomed to suffer eternal torment for vices exhibited and sins committed on earth. The Inferno is the first part of the long journey which continues through redemption to revelation - through Purgatory and Paradise - and, in this translation, his images are as vivid as when the poem was first written in the early years of the 14th century.
Great poetry can indeed outlast stone and the glory of princes, and the English poetic tradition is perhaps the richest in the world. This ebook tells the story of that tradition through its towering figures - Spenser and Shakespeare, Milton and Dryden, Wordsworth and Tennyson, Whitman, Dickinson and Eliot - and through scores of other poets. Clear and accessible, blending criticism with imagination and illustrated with scores of quotations, this new history will delight all who care about the past and the future of English poetry.
Purgatory is the second part of Dante's Divine Comedy. We find the Poet, with his guide Virgil, ascending the terraces of the Mount of Purgatory inhabited by those doing penance to expiate their sins on earth. There are the proud - forced to circle their terrace for aeons bent double in humility; the slothful - running around crying out examples of zeal and sloth; while the lustful are purged by fire.
Here are the stories of ten key Shakespeare plays: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Richard III, Othello, Macbeth, The Tempest, Henry V, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. David Timson presents the complex plots in a clear, entertaining and informal style, introducing the main characters in the context of the famous lines. This account not only entertains but but also acts as an ideal 'starter pack' for children going to see the plays of Shakespeare.
Here are the stories of nine people whose energy, inspiration, courage and determination changed the world. From Christopher Columbus, who set off into unknown seas in a small ship in the 15th century, to a young girl, Anne Frank, caught in the turmoil of the 20th, who wrote a remarkable diary while in hiding in Amsterdam during the Second World War. Their personalities and their achievements make them heroes and heroines for our time also.
It is no secret today that classical music has big problems. Which are the orchestras best able to survive? What can the public do? Written by world-renowned American conductor John Axelrod, The Symphony Orchestra in Crisis presents in nine chapters many eye-raising observations and amusing anecdotes. Speaking from experience, Axelrod articulates the current challenges and possible solutions facing the instrument of the orchestra. For the music lover or the classical music cognoscenti, there are plenty of tongue-wagging zingers in this short but spicy ebook: Why was Herbert von Karajan invited only once to conduct the Cleveland Orchestra? Do French orchestras go on strike more frequently than others? Are Swiss musicians always so serious? Is there still a "e;Big 5"e; in the USA? Are English orchestras overrated? Are professional musicians underpaid? This is a thought-provoking and insightful survey of the current state of the symphony orchestra, conducted with humor and care by John Axelrod. "e;Only a few can really write well about music. Axelrod is one of them and he has composed a true 'Symphony' that delights, fascinates, intrigues, and explains. A must read!"e;Daniel Hope
Robert Craft was co-conductor, companion and confidant to Igor Stravinsky for the last two decades of the composer's life, an intimate working relationship that is unique in musical history. Now, in his ninetieth year, Craft has produced a book of astonishing freshness, warmth and wit as he surveys through the lens of his own distinctive position Stravinsky's relationships with others - from family members to fellow composers to some of the greatest writers, philosophers, politicians and artists of the time. Craft has written often of this period, but in Stravinsky: Discoveries and Memories he explores areas of the composer's life that he has never before touched upon. Peppered with delightful anecdotes, it is at times revelatory, showing sides of Stravinsky that only now Craft feels able to consider. The years have given Robert Craft a balanced view of the composer he knew so well. Not only was he present at important meetings, rehearsals and premieres as well as numerous dinners and parties, he was also there when Stravinsky reminisced about the early years; the composer trusted him and gave him unique access to his archives.Among the many people discussed in connection with Stravinsky are Anton Webern, Arnold Schoenberg, George Balanchine, Serge Diaghilev, Maurice Ravel, Nino Rota, Giacomo Puccini, Sergei Prokofiev, George Gershwin, Luciano Berio, Benito Mussolini, Salvador Dali, Henry Moore, Sir Isaiah Berlin, Thomas Mann, Sir Kenneth Clark, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley and Edwin Hubble.
Which king liked to bathe while the band played Rule Britannia? Which queen was so fat she needed a hoist to get on the throne? Which prince shut his wife out of Westminster Abbey to prevent her from being crowned? Who was the blood-thirstiest monarch of them all? Kings and Queens of England is a no-holds-barred account of the British monarchy with the gossip and gore left in, and nothing left out! It leaves no stone unturned in its mission to portray kings and queens as they really were, warts and all.
General interest in Buddhism has never been higher. The story and teachings of a man who lived 2,500 years ago have a special resonance for us today, perhaps because he taught a way of life that was not based on belief in a creator god but rather on personal experience. 'Test my words for yourself,' he said. But what lies behind those distinctive images of the Buddha, seated with unshakeable poise, with eyes half-closed and a slight smile? How did Buddhism develop, from the austere style which governed the life of the yellow-robed monks in ancient India to the more colourful, even magical expression of Tibet? And where does Zen fit in? In The Middle Way, Jinananda, a Western-born Buddhist, divides the subject into The Three Jewels - The Buddha (a life of the historical figure), The Dharma (an account of the fundamental teachings) and The Sangha (the disciples, both lay and monastic throughout the world). With extracts from some of main sutras, Jinananda explains the key concepts that lie behind a system of thought and behaviour which, like the universe itself, is continuously expanding.
This bold undertaking covers Western theatre from ancient Greece to the present day. It traces the development of dramatic art through the miracle plays, the great Shakespearean period, Moliere and Racine in France, Goethe in Germany, through the nineteenth century and the main movements in the twentieth century. It is written by David Timson, the British actor and director who features extensively on Naxos AudioBooks in both roles.
The four Gospels are the source material for this sympathetic account of the life of Jesus, from the traditional story of his birth, to his death and resurrection. All the principle episodes are covered - the baptism, the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper, the trial, and the crucifixion - as well as portraits of the main characters in the story: Mary, Joseph, the Disciples, Mary Magdalene, Pontius Pilate and many others. With many famous parables also included, it is an invaluable introduction for younger readers.
Here are the main stories from the Old Testament: Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, Abraham and Isaac, Cain and Abel, Moses, the Ten Commandments, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel in the Lion's Den and many more. In these days when religion plays a diminishing role, it is important that we know the stories of the Bible not least because they appear again and again in art, literature, drama, music and even in films and computer games!
Bellerophon and the winged horse Pegasus launch into the blue sky in search of the dreaded three-headed Chimera, but will success go to the hero's head? Orpheus, devastated by the death of his wife, Eurydice, dares the dangers of the kingdom of the dead in an attempt to bring her back to life. Echo loves Narcissus but the only person that he loves is himself: a story that can only end in sadness. These and other colourful legends from ancient Greece are retold in lively fashion.
It is a mysterious world that this selection of stories from the treasure house of Irish myths and legends describes. Here the line between the fantastical and the real is blurred: mortals and immortals live strange entwined lives; nature and high magic exist side by side. It is Ireland under its old name, Erin, a country of ancient gods with fading powers, who dwell invisible in fairy mound palaces, waiting for a chance to meddle in the affairs of men. In The Children of Lir, Erin is a land of harsh enchantment and tragedy - even for a sea god, whose innocent children are so cruelly cursed by their foster mother. In the epic tales of Cu Chulainn, it is a proud realm of valiant heroes and near-impossible quests for love. In the stories of Finn Mac Cool Erin is a kingdom of glory where Finn leads his band of warriors, the Fianna, through their perilous adventures in defence of Erin's shores, to a place in Irish legend forever.
Julian Curry, actor and wine buff, has devised this unique guide to wine. In a clear but light-hearted manner, he takes the reader to the heart of wine making and wine drinking. However rich and complex the subject of wine may be, he insists that it is also hugely rewarding and great fun. Curry's informative and entertaining account begins with a description of work in vineyard and cellar. It outlines the many choices faced by grape-grower and winemaker, resulting in the variety of different styles of wine produced. It continues with wine's journey from winery to gullet, with advice on cellaring, buying, serving, food-matching and tasting. It then moves on to thumbnail sketches of the grape varieties most commonly used, their natural habitats and the related styles of wine. It concludes with a lengthy section devoted to all the major wine regions, in the Old World and the New.
Robin Hood, one of the great legends of England, lives again in this re-telling of the famous story. Dressed in Lincoln green, with his longbow never far from his hands, he moves through Sherwood Forest righting the wrongs done by the Sheriff of Nottingham, and his evil henchman, Guy of Guisborne. Little John, Will Scarlett, Friar Tuck and Lady Marion are all part of the forces of good against the Sheriff and his mysterious sister, the Prioress.
This unique history of the Olympics, first issued in 2008, has been updated to include the Beijing Olympics and released to coincide with the London event. Written by the prize-winning sports journalist John Goodbody, and with a fascinating personal documentary featuring one of Britain's leading Olympians, Sebastian Coe, who is now heading the 2012 Games, this is an ideal opener!
What is art? Why do we value images of saints, kings, goddesses, battles, landscapes or cities in eras utterly remote from our own? This history of art shows how painters, sculptors and architects have expressed the belief systems of their age - religious, political and aesthetic. From the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece to the revolutionary years of the 19th and 20th centuries, the artist has acted as a mirror to the ideals and conflicts of the human mind. He has always started with reality, but has selected and reshaped that reality to create a parallel world: a world of the imagination.
The French Revolution marked the birth of modern Europe. From the storming of the Bastille to the horrors of the guillotine, the events of 1789 and after are among the most stirring - and most disturbing - in the continent's history. But what really happened in France during those turbulent closing years of the 18th century? And what does it mean for us in the 21st? This text tells the story of a nation's traumatic journey from absolute monarchy through the shadow of terror to military dictatorship. But it is also the story of a people's heroic struggle for the values of liverty, equality and fraternity, which stand at the very heart of today's democracies.
Napoleon is one of the giants of modern history. From the last days of the French Revolution to the epochal battle of Waterloo, he bestrode the political landscape of Europe like a colossus, and the age to which he gave his name remains one of the most tumultuous in the history of the continent. But who was Napoleon Bonaparte? And why does he still arouse such powerful passions? This account traces the remarkable rise and fall of a man who, as military leader and lawgiver, left his mark on the lives of millions in France and beyond, and whose presence continues to be felt in Europe and the wider world to the present day.
Karma and rebirth are words used by many but properly understood by few. In his accessible introduction, Jinananda explains that although these are concepts presumed to be principally from the East, they have in fact been part of the life-view of societies all over the world, from the Ancient Greeks and Gnostics to African and Aboriginal tribal communities. However, it is the cultures of India, Tibet and China that colour the contemporary understanding of karma and rebirth, and Jinananda looks at these concepts principally through the Buddhist tradition, showing that although 'actions have consequences', it is erroneous to believe that all misfortune stems from a past cause, in this or previous lifetimes.
Charles Darwin, father of evolution, was one of the greatest pioneers in science. His five-year voyage on The Beagle, his visit to the Galapagos Islands, his careful work in noting small differences of fauna on different islands - all led to the concept of natural selection, which radically changed the way mankind and the animal world was viewed. But what kind of man was Darwin, and why did he keep his conclusions secret for so many years? In this clear but informative account, Peter Whitfield sets Darwin in the 19th-century society from which he sprang, and considers the effects of his ideas on the 21st century.
For almost two millennia, cathedrals have been among the most imposing, astonishing and inspiring buildings in Europe. Regardless of faith, their scale and architectural daring has never ceased to spark wonder. This guide traces the development of the cathedral from its earliest beginnings as a Bishop's house, through the Romanesque and Gothic peiods and up to the most extravagant contemporary designs around the world. In doing so, it sheds light on social, religious and architectural history, as well as bringing the story of these extraordinary buildings to life.
The oldest long poem in Old English, written about 1000 AD, Beowulf tells the story of a great warrior in Southern Scandinavia in both youth and maturity. The monster Grendel terrorises the Scyldings of Hrothgar's Danish Kingdom until Beowulf defeats him. As a result he has to face Grendel's enraged mother. Beowulf dies after a battle against a fierce dragon.
A mysterious knight all in green arrives at King Arthur's court and issues a bizarre challenge. Gawain answers the knight - but at what cost? This new translation brings all the poetic power of the original's extraordinary alliteration. In doing so it brings the saga vividly to life, and in a manner that demands to be read. One of the greatest stories of English literature from any period, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a magical medieval combination of the epic and the uncanny.
To the Western imagination, Tibet has always been a mysterious place. For centuries its capital, Lhasa, was known as a Forbidden City: it was ruled by a priest-king, and its medieval society was not welcoming to foreigners. But the exile of the Dalai Lama and his followers half a century ago, the destruction of the monasteries, and the plight of the Tibetan people who remained, evoked continuing sympathy. Jonathan Gregson places the religious and political situation against an historical perspective in this sympathetic portrait.
Between the 8th and 11th centuries Vikings stormed out of their Scandinavian homelands to raid and loot along the coasts of Europe. In old Norse to 'go-a-viking' meant to go on an adventure - to seek wealth and fame. Vikings would take to the sea in a long ship, sometimes for a trading trip, sometimes a piratical raid. Often it was both. Explorers and traders, warriors and poets, they ranged between Byzantium in the south and Iceland, and even North America, in the North. Their fame lives on.