June 27, 2023

#08-322: Rothschild's Fiddle

Painting of an old violin (Wikimedia)

Note: Anton Chekhov is usually better known for his plays, but he also wrote hundreds of excellent short stories. This is one of the best.

Get Ready: How can terrible change misfortune affect a person?

June 25, 2023

#08-321: Cap o' Rushes

Cap o' Rushes (Wikipedia)

Note: Not all the great fairy tales collected in the 19th century were brought to us by the Brothers Grimm. Joseph Jacob's collection English Fairy Tales gives us "Jack and the Beanstalk," "The Three Little Pigs," "The Three Bears," and many others, including this lovely little tale that opens with a "Lear test" motif.

Get Ready: What can we say about a parent who sets up artificial tests of his or her children's love?

June 23, 2023

#08-320: Swan Lake

Prince Siegfried and Odette (Wikimedia)

Note: Few works of ballet have penetrated the popular consciousness like Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Here's the story it depicts.

Get Ready: Have you ever been to a ballet, or watched one on a video? What's your impression?

June 16, 2023

#08-319: Bearskin, Part II

Bearskin and the swineherd have a grand feast (Gutenberg)

Note: As Bearskin's story continues, we see him overcome an adversary in much the same way Queen Esther overcame Haman (see Lesson #08-294).

Get Ready: Which do think is more important, physical strength or mental cleverness (though bearskin exhibits both!)

June 15, 2023

#08-318: Bearskin, Part I

The she-bear finds the baby drifting in the basket (Gutenberg)

Note: Howard Pyle not only illustrated and rewrote the stories of others, but also wrote a few of his own--though with heavy borrowing of common motifs. This one is sheer fun.

Get Ready: As you read, see how many plot elements you can recognize from other well-known stories.

June 09, 2023

#08-317: The Cottingley Fairies

The first of the girls' five photos. (Wikipedia)

Note: One of the most amusing affairs in the history of fakery is the time two young girls fooled one of the most famous "smart guys" of his time.

Get Ready: Do you think that "belief" can ever be the enemy of "knowledge"?

June 08, 2023

#08-316: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

"...across the farmlands..." (based on this photo at Wikimedia)

Note: This devastating story by Ursula K. LeGuin asks the question: can the benefit of the many justify the abuse of the few (or even one)?

Get Ready: Look at the question in the "Note." How would you answer it?