Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions [EPUB]
17 April 2016, 17:18
2013 | EPUB | 2.81MB
Most of us never realise how many words and expressions used in everyday English have a fascinating nautical origin. This charming book explains the practical ship-board beginnings of over 200 such phrases - colourful, bizarre and surprising - and how they came ashore.
Serendipities: Language And Lunacy [EPUB]
17 April 2016, 04:37
1998 | EPUB | 1.84MB
Best-selling author Umberto Eco's work unlocks the riddles of history in an exploration of the "linguistics of the lunatic," stories told by scholars, scientists, poets, fanatics, and ordinary people in order to make sense of the world. Exploring the "Force of the False," Eco uncovers layers of mistakes that have shaped human history, such as Columbus's assumption that the world was much smaller than it is, leading him to seek out a quick route to the East via the West and thus fortuitously "discovering" America. The fictions that grew up around the cults of the Rosicrucians and Knights Templar were the result of a letter from a mysterious "Prester John"―undoubtedly a hoax―that provided fertile ground for a series of delusions and conspiracy theories based on religious, ethnic, and racial prejudices. While some false tales produce new knowledge (like Columbus's discovery of America) and others create nothing but horror and shame (the Rosicrucian story wound up fueling European anti-Semitism) they are all powerfully persuasive.
In a careful unraveling of the fabulous and the false, Eco shows us how serendipities―unanticipated truths―often spring from mistaken ideas. From Leibniz's belief that the I Ching illustrated the principles of calculus to Marco Polo's mistaking a rhinoceros for a unicorn, Eco tours the labyrinth of intellectual history, illuminating the ways in which we project the familiar onto the strange.
Eco uncovers a rich history of linguistic endeavor―much of it ill-conceived―that sought to "heal the wound of Babel." Through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Greek, Hebrew, Chinese, and Egyptian were alternately proclaimed as the first language that God gave to Adam, while―in keeping with the colonial climate of the time―the complex language of the Amerindians in Mexico was viewed as crude and diabolical. In closing, Eco considers the erroneous notion of linguistic perfection and shrewdly observes that the dangers we face lie not in the rules we use to interpret other cultures but in our insistence on making these rules absolute.
With the startling combination of erudition and wit, bewildering anecdotes and scholarly rigor that are Eco's hallmarks, Serendipities is sure to entertain and enlighten any reader with a passion for the curious history of languages and ideas.
Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches, 1998-2003 [EPUB]
01 April 2016, 16:57
2012 | EPUB | 0.9MB
The essays of Roberto Bolano in English at last, translated by Natasha Wimmer.
Between Parentheses collects most of the newspaper columns and articles Bolano wrote during the last five years of his life, as well as the texts of some of his speeches and talks and a few scattered prologues. “Taken together,” as the editor Ignacio Echevarría remarks in his introduction, they provide “a personal cartography of the writer: the closest thing, among all his writings, to a kind of fragmented ‘autobiography.’” Bolano’s career as a nonfiction writer began in 1998, the year he became famous overnight for The Savage Detectives; he was suddenly in demand for articles and speeches, and he took to this new vocation like a duck to water. Cantankerous, irreverent, and insufferably opinionated, Bolano also could be tender (about his family and favorite places) as well as a fierce advocate for his heroes (Borges, Cortázar, Parra) and his favorite contemporaries, whose books he read assiduously and promoted generously. A demanding critic, he declares that in his “ideal literary kitchen there lives a warrior”: he argues for courage, and especially for bravery in the face of failure. Between Parentheses fully lives up to his own demands: “I ask for creativity from literary criticism, creativity at all levels.”