viernes, 14 de diciembre de 2012

The Hobbit

As you probably know, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." Once Tolkien had written this sentence on a blank examination paper he was marking, he decided that he had to find out what sort of hole he lived in, why he lived in a hole, etc. The result was a tale that was later published in 1937 with immediate success. It tells the story of how Bilbo Baggins, a respectable hobbit, had an adventure and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. This is quite unusual, since respectable hobbits never have adventures or do anything unexpected. And a big adventure it is: he'll have to deal with trolls, goblins, the Gollum and even a fearsome dragon; he'll also find a certain ring with amazing powers. Fortunately he'll have the invaluable help of Gandalf the wizard and a group of dwarves with funny names.

JRR Tolkien

What do hobbits look like? They are a little people, about half our height, and have no beards. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colors (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick brown hair; have good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it).

The Hobbit is an utterly enjoyable story with lots of action and humour. It's like a fairy tale for smart children: the heroes are not quite perfect - their motivations not quite heroic; they are affected by cold weather, lack of food and difficulties; the outcome is a lesson in geopolitics. Bilbo gradually develops self-confidence, courage and good judgement; at the end he'll be a stronger, better person.

The Hobbit is soon to be added to our library. Meanwhile you might want to see Peter Jackson's first part of  a trilogy of films, which opens worldwide today: I hope they're as good as the book!

jueves, 6 de diciembre de 2012

Winter Poems

We haven't published any poems in a while so, on occasion of the first big snowfall, here go these about winter and its connotations.



By Frederick Seidel

Snow is what it does.
It falls and it stays and it goes.
It melts and it is here somewhere.
We all will get there.

The Darker Sooner

By Catherine Wing

Then came the darker sooner,
came the later lower.
We were no longer a sweeter-here
happily-ever-after. We were after ever.
We were farther and further.
More was the word we used for harder.
Lost was our standard-bearer.
Our gods were fallen faster,
and fallen larger.
The day was duller, duller
was disaster. Our charge was error.
Instead of leader we had louder,
instead of lover, never. And over this river
broke the winter’s black weather.

Lines for Winter

By Mark Strand

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are. 

domingo, 18 de noviembre de 2012

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, after receiving rave reviews when it was published. It is a collection of linked short stories that tell us about the pretty messed up lives of different characters at different times, past and future. They are more or less closely related and converge at different moments. Some are beyond redemption but there's hope for others.

Goon squads were originally groups of violent thugs who would beat up anyone opposed to certain labor unions and corrupt political machines. As one of the characters says: 'Time's a goon, right? You gonna let that goon push you around?'. This is the main theme in the novel, how time and circumstances shape people's lives.

Now, it might seem like a dark, depressing book, but actually it isn't boring at all: it's fast-paced and there are funny stories too, like the one about the public relations manager who represents a dictator. A particularly touching story -my favorite- is just a slide presentation! The last story describes a future in which the music industry is driven by toddlers.

This is definitely a good read and I highly recommend it. Of course, it is available at our library.

More about A Visit from the Goon Squad:

sábado, 3 de noviembre de 2012

Life of Pi

I'm pretty excited. Later this month opens Life of Pi, based on the wonderful novel by Yann Martel. Born in Salamanca of Canadian parents, Martel won the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Life of Pi, which was translanted into 40 languages and stayed in The New York Times Best Seller List for 57 weeks.

In the story, Pi Patel's family own a zoo in India but decide to emigrate to Canada. Unfortunately, the ship where they're travelling along with their animals sinks and 16-year-old Pi is stranded in a lifeboat for 227 days. His only companion, a Bengal tiger.

Pi's real name is Piscine Molitor, after a famous swimming-pool in Paris. With a name like that, you can expect he has trouble at school, so when he changes schools he decides to go by the name of Pi, as in the number. However his plan backfires, as his classmates then call him 'lemon pie.'

The film is directed by Ang Lee, winner of an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain and nominated to another for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; he's also responsible for the very successful Sense and Sensibility. With these credentials one expects a brilliant movie, and it certainly looks spectacular, as you can see in the trailer.

Life of Pi is available at our library.

More on Life of Pi:

lunes, 22 de octubre de 2012

Ray Bradbury Dies at 91

Just before the summer holidays, as we were all busy with final exams, legendary science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91. Author or 27 novels and more than 600 short stories, he was one of the most popular writers in the world. Many of his works have been adapted into television shows or films, including Farenheit 451 by François Truffaut in 1966, and The Martian Chronicles, a collection of short stories - both available in our library. Among many other awards, Bradbury received the National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W Bush, and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He was also given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and this year's landing site of NASA's Mars Rover was named Bradbury's Landing.
The Martian Chronicles is about the colonisation of Mars by humans escaping a devastated Earth, and the conflict between aboriginal Martians and the colonists. First published in 1950, it is curious to see how the future - now - was imagined more than half a century ago. As an example, see this prune advertisement featuring Mr Bradbury. You can read a short excerpt here.
Farenheit 451 presents a future USA where books are outlawed and firemen burn any house that contains them. Read this short article describing the circumstances in which it was written - on a rented typewriter at a public library. Also, here's the film trailer.

domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2012

Welcome back!

I hope you all had a good summer. I'm back to the grind and I found this article: why should you go to your public library? The answer may seem obvious, but if you had to list 10 reasons what would you say? Just to brush up on your English you can follow the link and see if it mentions your ideas (you might be surprised by the webpage).

miércoles, 23 de mayo de 2012

¡Hasta pronto!

Llegadas estas fechas de exámenes nos despedimos hasta el próximo curso. Buena suerte con los exámenes y no olvidéis leer durante el verano.

lunes, 14 de mayo de 2012

Maurice Sendak dies at 83

Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on May 8 in Danbury, Conn. He was 83.

Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963.

(read the whole New York Times article)

Watch the trailer for the film directed by Spike Jonze in 2009.

viernes, 4 de mayo de 2012

Herman Hesse

Am 9. August 2012 wird der Todestag des deutschen Schriftstellers und Dichters Hermann Hesse gefeiert. Hesse ist weit hinaus über die deutschen bzw. europäischen Grenzen bekannt.

Seine Bücher, Romane, Erzählungen, Betrachtungen, Gedichte und Schriften sind in aller Wert verbreitet.

Der am 2.7. 1877 in Calw (Würtemberg) geborene Autor, ausgezeichnet 1946 mit dem Nobelpreis für Literatur, starb am 9. August 1962 in Montagnola bei Lugano.

Wenn Sie mehr über sein Leben bzw. sein Werk wissen möchten, klicken Sie einfach hier:

domingo, 29 de abril de 2012

Organizing the bookcase

How do you organise your books? By size? Alphabetically? Watch this video: wouldn't it be cool if this happened at home?

On a larger scale, by the same authors:

domingo, 22 de abril de 2012

Swedish noir

You have probably heard about Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy or seen one of the films. Nordic crime fiction is pretty popular these days and you can easily find Assa Larson or Camilla Lackberg's books at the hypermarket. If you are into Scandinavian noir, you're not alone: the trend seems universal. As an example, you can read this article from the Los Angeles Times, and learn about more authors:

sábado, 14 de abril de 2012

Hardcore book lovers

This pair takes their reading very seriously.

You can find the lyrics in the author's blog, and a link to the original video (look for the March 19 entry).

martes, 27 de marzo de 2012

Día mundial del cuentacuentos

Am 20. März begann der Frühlingsäquinoktium. Am selben Tag feierte man der Weltgeschichtentag. Deshalb laden wir euch das Märchen "Frau Holle" zu hören und zu lesen.

Le 20 mars a eu lieu l’équinoxe de printemps et on a célébré le Jour mondial du conteur. Pour le fêter, nous vous invitons à écouter le conte suivant : « La chèvre de monsieur Seguin », un conte d’Alphonse Daudet (1840 - 1897)

On March 20 the spring equinox took place and World Storytelling Day was celebrated. To mark the occasion  we invite you to read and listen to "Why Rabbit Has a Short Tail", a Cherokee legend.

(Um das Märchen zu hören, benötigen Sie Real Player)

lunes, 26 de marzo de 2012

Addio ad Antonio Tabucchi autore di "Sostiene Pereira"

Lo scrittore è morto a Lisbona all'età di 68 anni. Era malato di cancro. Esperto e traduttore di Pessoa, era anche un brillante polemista. Collaborava con il nostro giornale. Napolitano: "Ha interpretato lo spirito europeo"

Antonio Tabucchi si è spento a Lisbona all'età di 68 anni. Era malato di cancro. Tra le sue opere più famose ricordiamo Notturno indianoSostiene Pereira eRequiem. Citando la moglie dello scrittore, Maria Josè Lancastre, l'agenzia portoghese Lusa riferisce che Tabucchi era ricoverato all'Hospital da Cruz Vermelha e che i funerali si terranno giovedì nella capitale lusitana. 

Tabucchi era nato a Pisa il 23 settembre del 1943. Da universitario, negli anni Sessanta, viaggiò molto per l'Europa e fu in quel periodo, durante un soggiorno a Lisbona, che nacque la sua passione per quel Paese e per la sua cultura. Una passione che lo portò a diventare il più grande critico e traduttore di Fernando Pessoa.

Il suo primo libro, Piazza d'Italia, fu pubblicato nel 1975 da Bompiani. L'ultimo, Racconti con figure, è uscito l'anno scorso da Sellerio. I suoi romanzi e saggi sono stati tradotti in 40 lingue. Nel corso della sua lunga carriera Tabucchi ha ottenuto numerosi riconoscimenti, tra i quali il premio francese "Médicis étranger" perNotturno indiano e Campiello per Sostiene Pereira. Alcuni dei suoi romanzi sono stati portati sullo schermo da registi italiani e stranieri (Roberto Faenza, Alain Corneau, Alain Tanner, Fernando Lopes) o sulla scena da noti registi teatrali (Giorgio Strehler e Didier Bezace fra gli altri).

Ma Tabucchi non è stato soltanto un letterato. Appassionato di politica e brillante polemista, non si è mai sottratto al confronto di idee e posizioni, anche dalle colonne di Repubblica. Il suo nome divenne noto al grande pubblico con Sostiene Pereira, del 1994: il romanzo è ambientato a Lisbona durante la dittatura di Salazar e narra le vicende di un giornalista obeso e cattolico che, dopo le avventure avute con il rivoluzionario di origini italiane Monteiro Rossi, diventa antifascista. Un anno uscì in Italia il film tratto dal romanzo, diretto da Roberto Faenza, con Marcello Mastroianni nei panni di Pereira. Era l'epoca della "discesa in campo" di Silvio Berlusconi e durante la campagna elettorale il personaggio di Tabucchi fu un simbolo dell'opposizione al Cavaliere, della lotta per la libertà di informazione.  

Per molto tempo, a partire dal 1973, Tabucchi ha insegnato lingua e letteratura portoghese. E così amava definirsi, "un professore universitario", sostenendo che per lui la scrittura non era una professione, "ma qualcosa che coinvolge i desideri, i sogni e la fantasia".

Piazza d'Italia seguirono varie raccolte di racconti, tra cui Il gioco del rovescio (1981) e Piccoli equivoci senza importanza (1985). Ma il genere che gli era più congeniale era il romanzo breve, che gli procurò successo e fama in Italia e all'estero. Il primo ad aver fortuna a livello internazionale fu Requiem (1992), scritto in portoghese e poi tradotto in italiano. 

L'impegno civile e l'alone di mistero che pervadono lo stile di Tabucchi furono confermati in La testa perduta di Damasceno Monteiro (1996) e soprattutto nel romanzo epistolare Si sta facendo sempre più tardi (2001).

Il presidente Napolitano ha espresso la sua commossa partecipazione "al cordoglio della famiglia e del mondo della cultura per la perdita di uno scrittore civilmente impegnato, che con la sua attenzione alle tradizioni e alle vicende non soltanto del suo paese, i suoi legami e il suo stile letterario ha saputo interpretare lo spirito europeo".

Un omaggio allo scrittore anche da Roberto Saviano, sulla sua pagina Facebook: "'Se scrivessi a penna queste parole sarebbero lettere tremanti e spezzatè. Addio Antonio Tabucchi". 


viernes, 16 de marzo de 2012

Jean Giraud (Moebius), 1938-2012

C'était l'un des dessinateurs français les plus importants de sa génération. Jean Giraud alias Moebius est mort à Paris des suites d'une longue maladie. L'importance de l'œuvre de celui qu'on surnommait «Dr Gir et Mr Moebius» n'est plus à démontrer. Le Janus de la BD franco-belge va laisser un très grand vide. On ne compte plus les dessinateurs du monde entier qui se sont inspirés de son style.
Lisez l'article complet

The artist Jean Giraud was principally known for his work on comic books under two pen names. Giraud, who has died of cancer aged 73, had an impact on the visual arts that went beyond comics. In cinema, his fans ranged from Federico Fellini to Hayao Miyazaki and his style influenced dozens of others, including Ridley Scott, George Lucas, James Cameron and Luc Besson.
Read the complete article

Er war einer der einflussreichsten Künstler der zeitgenössischen Comicszene. Nun ist der Franzose Jean Giraud alias Moebius im Alter von 73 Jahren gestorben. Seine Westerngeschichten um "Leutnant Blueberry" und sein Science-Fiction-Held "John Difool" sind weltberühmt. 

E' morto, all'età di 73 anni, il disegnatore e sceneggiatore di fumetti francese Jean Giraud, più noto con lo pseudonimo di Moebius. Negli anni, Giraud ha collaborato con numerose figure chiave della letteratura e del cinema di animazione, dallo scrittore Alessandro Jodorowsky al cartoonist giapponese Hayao Miyazaki, con cui nel 2004 realizzò una mostra alla Monnaie di Parigi.

sábado, 10 de marzo de 2012

A new take on the Three Little Pigs

Last week we saw this video in one of the Students Talks held on Tuesday. As part of their open journalism campaign, The Guardian made this advert where they imagine how they would cover the story of the Three Little Pigs in print and online.

There seems to be a growing interesting in children's tales. Currently you can watch Once Upon a Time (AXN), a series on the story of Snow White set in the modern world. There's also a similar series in production for Spanish TV. This year there is not one, but two major live action movie releases for general audiences on the same fairytale: Mirror, Mirror - starring Julia Roberts - and Snow White and the Huntsman - with Charlize Theron. These follow in the footsteps of French production The Sleeping Beauty (2011), and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), not to mention other recent animated features. What's going on? Are we becoming childish? Are we looking for comfort in a period of our lives when we didn't have any troubles? Is this just a passing fad?

Whatever the answer, this is not the first time when traditional children's stories have been given a modern perspective. Author Roald Dahl re-interpreted six well-known tales in Revolting Rhymes (1982), giving them surprise endings in place of the traditional happily-ever-after. Listen to his version of Little Red Riding Hood, read by himself. You can read some others, including Three Little Pigs, on this other webpage.

The animal I really dig
Above all others is the pig.
Pigs are noble. Pigs are clever.
Pigs are courteous. However,
Now and then, to break this rule,
One meets a pig who is a fool.

Tell us: what was your favourite fairytale when you were a child?

miércoles, 7 de marzo de 2012

domingo, 4 de marzo de 2012

Free online short stories

Do you ever log on to the web looking for nothing in particular, just something interesting? Here's a selection of sites where you can read short stories - I mean short: you can read one in ten minutes. These are reputed literary magazines that let you read some of their content without a subscription.
  • Ploughshares: in the 'Read' section you'll find links to open content, which seems restricted to the latest issue only.
  • The Paris Review: in the 'Archive' menu click on 'Fiction', then choose any of the 'Paris Review Discoveries' (the links in 'All Fiction' lead to truncated texts); there is also an 'Audio' option.
  • New England Review: both under 'Current issue' or 'Back issues' there are links to the stories you can read online.
  • The Kenyon Review: under 'KR Online' click on 'Current Issue & Archives,' then choose from the table of contents - some include audio.
You might read something by a future Pulitzer Prize winner!

lunes, 27 de febrero de 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

We proudly present this year's winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, a moving story of books with a mind of their own. If it reminds you of  The Wizard of  Oz and Buster Keaton, it is no coincidence. Simply marvellous.

You can watch the whole thing in YouTube. More information here.

lunes, 20 de febrero de 2012

The Simpsons 500th

The Simpsons aired its 500th episode yesterday 19 February, with the guest voice of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. That's roughly 200 hours of show. Currently in its 23rd season, it is the longest running prime-time scripted programme on TV. Previous guest voices include former Prime Minister Tony Blair, graffiti artist Banski and novelist Thomas Pynchon.

To celebrate the occasion, the Fox network sponsored a fan marathon of all 500 episodes of the series, in order, all at once on Feb. 8. Two lucky fans set a new Guinness World Record for the longest continuous television viewing by watching 86 hours and 37 minutes of the show, and won $10,500 each in the process.

Watch this preview of the episode, in which the Simpsons are evicted from Springfield and join an alternative community outside the town.

To learn more, read an interview with creator Matt Groening.

If you're a fan, you can find the complete 1st season in our library. Tell us, who's your favourite character?

lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012

Historias de amor recomendadas

Por San Valentín os pedimos comentarios sobre alguna historia de amor (libro o película) que os haya gustado (o no). Eso sí, escribid en vuestra lengua extranjera e incluid  vuestro nombre y curso.

sábado, 11 de febrero de 2012

A poem for Saint Valentine's Day

Sonnets from the Portuguese 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways 

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

SonnetsfromthePortuguese43 from

Learn about the author's truly romantic story
Read it in Spanish

viernes, 10 de febrero de 2012

Ein Gedicht zum Valentinstag

Die Liebe

Manchmal ist die Liebe groß, manchmal klein.
Oft lässt sie Menschen allein.
Liebe ist manchmal dick und auch dünn,
manchmal finde ich die Liebe wirklich schlimm.
Mal ist die Liebe hier, mal da,
mal zickig und mal wunderbar.
Mal ist sie dunkel, dann wieder hell,
manchmal vergeht sie auch ganz schnell.
Heut ist die Liebe in unserem Nest,
kommt - halt sie mit mir zusammen fest.

Un poème pour la Saint Valentin

Elle a 700 ans, revient chaque année à la même date, et comme elle célèbre l’un des sentiments les plus universels qui soient, l’amour, elle est toujours aussi jeune ! C’est la Saint-Valentin dont il s’agit.

Le Jardin  (Jacques Prévert)  

Des milliers et des milliers d’années
Ne sauraient suffire
Pour dire
La petite seconde d’éternité
Où tu m’as embrassé
Où je t’ai embrassée
Un matin dans la lumière
de l’hiver
Au parc Montsouris à Paris
À Paris
Sur la terre
La terre qui est un astre

una poesia per la festa di san Valentino

arcobaleno di sogni

Ho scritto il tuo nome sull’acqua
con dita di vento…
Ho liberato il mio amore
pazzo aquilone
sopra un prato di nuvole.
Ho lasciato scorrere parole
come perle di pioggia
lungo fili di seta…
Ho costruito un ponte iridescente
che mi porti a te:
arcobaleno di sogni,
sfida di sole
nell’oscura tempesta.

Luciana Favretto (Umago d'Istria 1940 - Messina 2001)