The 6th Gift of Christmas in Ireland, c.1913

Today is St. Nicholas Day. But the following quote from the story “A Candle for St. Bridget” by Ruth Sawyer features a different saint, St. Bridget of Ireland:

“It was a day of celebration; we had currants in the griddle bread, and Mickey, the post-boy, dropped in for his ‘sup o’ tea.’ I was given a free choice of a the stories I would be hearing again, and I chose St. Bridget. With the moor wind caoining around the chimney and the turf blazing high, the children stretched on the clay floor, and Delia with her foot on the cradle keeping the ‘wee-eat one’ hushed, Michael took us over the hills again to Bethlehem to the manger wherein Mary had laid her baby. We saw the byre with its rude stalls and the crib where the hay was stacked; we saw the gray donkey munching contentedly and Joseph, fallen asleep; and we saw Bridget stoop and take the baby to her own heart and croon him his first cradle-song. All this we saw by ‘the light of the Wee Child’s own glory’ and the gift of Michael Donnelly’s tongue.” ~from A Newbery Christmas, Fourteen Stories of Christmas selected by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh.

Today’s gifts from Semicolon:
A song: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

A booklist: Celebrating the Irish

A birthday: Joyce Kilmer, b.1886.

A poem: The Fourth Shepherd by Joyce Kilmer.

1913: Books and Literature

In 1913, the following significant works were published or were new and popular:

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather. I remember a long time ago reading this novel about a pioneer woman who struggles to hold onto the family’s land. I think it would be a good one to revisit, however, since I remember very little of the plot or characters.

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The story of the jungle hero, Tarzan, has been filmed many times. The most fammous Tarzan movie was Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), starring Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to star in eleven other Tarzan films.

Sons and Lovers by D.H.Lawrence. I’ve never read anything by Lawrence, but this book sounds very Freudian and not very pleasant or edifying.

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. Pollyanna, on the other hand, is a little too edifying. However, each to his own, the book inspired eleven sequels and numerous movie adaptations.

Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. This play provides the source material for the musical My Fair Lady, although the musical departs from Shaw’s script in several areas, especially the ending.

Principia Mathematica by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell. This three-volume work on the principles and origins of mathematics “is an attempt to derive all mathematical truths from a well-defined set of axioms and inference rules in symbolic logic.” (Wikipedia) Ummmmmmmm. . . . yeah.
Bertrand Russell: “A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.”

A Boy’s Will by Robert Frost. Frost’s first book of poetry was published while the American poet was living in Great Britain. My 20th century history and literature students will be reading Frost all year long, two or three poems a week. I think there is some value in immersing oneself in the poetry or art or music of one artist for a long period of time, and Frost is a good choice. I’m looking forward to exploring his poetry at a leisurely pace with my students.

1913: Arts and Entertainment

May 30, 1913. Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s new ballet, The Rite of Spring (Le sacre du printemps), premiered in Paris and caused a near-riot. The French audience booed Stravinsky’s dissonant and rhythmically complex music and Njinsky’s provocative and non-traditional choreography. The story is that there were fist fights in the aisles, and some concertgoers stormed out in disgust.

Then, in 1940 Disney’s Fantasia made the piece about, not primitive pagan rituals of spring, but rather the primitive pagan story of Evolution. It fits.

Also in 1913, silent film comedians Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Charlie Chaplin made their U.S. film debuts. Arbuckle was in two of the new Keystone Kops comedies, and Chaplin starred in a film called Making a Living.

On a much more somber note, Woyzeck is a stage play written by Georg Büchner which premiered in Munich in 1913. Oddly enough, Drama Daughter just told me that she is playing the female lead in this influential German play in a production this fall. She also says the play is sad and depressing.

1913: Events and Inventions

January 8, 1913. Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso declares Tibet independent from China. He has returned to Tibet from India following three years of exile.

January 31, 1913. Turkish revolutionaries, the Young Turks, overthrow the Ottoman government. Balkan peace negotiations are put in jeopardy.

February 23, 1913. Mexican President Madero is deposed and killed. General Victoriano Huerta takes over as president.

'Zipper' photo (c) 2007, Stella Dauer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/April, 1913. Swedish inventor Gideon Sundback patents a new fastener, the zipper.

May 30, 1913. End of the First Balkan War. Turkey and the members of the Balkan League sign a peace treaty agreeing to recognize a new country, Albania, in territory that once belonged to the Ottoman Empire and to divide the territory of Macedonia between Serbia and Bulgaria.

June 30, 1913. The Second Balkan War begins. Bulgaria attacks Greece and Serbia. Montenegro and Rumania will help the Greeks against the Bulgarians and Serbians.

August 10, 1913. Peace is agreed to in the Balkans, ending the Second Balkan War. All nations will withdraw to their pre-war borders, and Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland will establish frontier lines to keep the peace. Bulgaria must disperse its troops and give up most of its newly gained lands.

September 21, 1913. As the British Parliament passes the Third Irish Home Rule Bill, Dublin, Ireland is filled with strikers demanding Home Rule now (an independent, self-governing Ireland). Protestant Unionists in the north who oppose Home Rule begin to recruit their own army to keep Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

October 7, 1913. Henry Ford establishes the assembly line at his automobile plant to make cars more quickly and efficiently.

'panama canal' photo (c) 2005, dsasso - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

October 10, 1913. The Panama Canal opens.

November, 1913. Pancho Villa and his Villistas try to take over the government of Mexico. Some Americans, including writer Ambrose Bierce, come to join Pancho Villa’s revolutionaries. Some quotations form Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. Bierce went missing, presumed killed, in December, 1913 while he was supposedly with Villa’s army, and neither he nor his body was ever found.