Wednesday, 15 April 2009

The five daughters of Johann Sebastian

"No," said Johann Sebastian, irritated. "After all the trouble that I have gone through in order to give you an education, I am not going to allow you to marry a baker."

Pensively, Annette listened to the words of her father. She was trying her best to understand the old man's logic. "Edmund is not a baker, father," she replied calmly. "He makes chocolate."

Johann Sebastian stood up, walked to the window, and looked outside. The first villagers were already entering the church. The Sunday service was due to start in ten minutes. The truth is that Johann Sebastian was feeling in no mood to play the organ.

His conversation with his youngest daughter Annette was upsetting him more that he let it show. Why did Annette have to be so rebellious? Johann Sebastian had arranged good marriages for his other four daughters, but Annette had rejected all suitors presented by her father.

"Chocolate is just a fashion," Johann Sebastian retorted angrily, as he turned around and faced his daughter. "You and your baker Edmund will starve, and then what, who will take care of your children?"

Annette smiled, realizing that her father had already accepted her choice of husband as inevitable. "You don't understand, father. Times are changing. People want to try new things to eat. One day, Edmund says, people will eat chocolate everyday."

She walked to her father, stood still by his side, and kissed him softly. "Will you play the organ in our wedding?" she begged. Johann Sebastian pressed his lips and contemplated his daughter in silence. The bells of the church gave the last announcement. The Sunday service was about to start.

Johann Sebastian caressed his daughter's hair. "How foolish you are, Annette. Yes, you can marry Edmund, but he has to promise me first that he will become a regular baker and forget about chocolate."


[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Wolfgang Staudt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The five daughters of Johann Sebastian

"No," said Johann Sebastian, irritated. "After all the trouble that I have gone through in order to give you an education, I am not going to allow you to marry a baker."

Pensively, Annette listened to the words of her father. She was trying her best to understand the old man's logic. "Edmund is not a baker, father," she replied calmly. "He makes chocolate."

Johann Sebastian stood up, walked to the window, and looked outside. The first villagers were already entering the church. The Sunday service was due to start in ten minutes. The truth is that Johann Sebastian was feeling in no mood to play the organ.

His conversation with his youngest daughter Annette was upsetting him more that he let it show. Why did Annette have to be so rebellious? Johann Sebastian had arranged good marriages for his other four daughters, but Annette had rejected all suitors presented by her father.

"Chocolate is just a fashion," Johann Sebastian retorted angrily, as he turned around and faced his daughter. "You and your baker Edmund will starve, and then what, who will take care of your children?"

Annette smiled, realizing that her father had already accepted her choice of husband as inevitable. "You don't understand, father. Times are changing. People want to try new things to eat. One day, Edmund says, people will eat chocolate everyday."

She walked to her father, stood still by his side, and kissed him softly. "Will you play the organ in our wedding?" she begged. Johann Sebastian pressed his lips and contemplated his daughter in silence. The bells of the church gave the last announcement. The Sunday service was about to start.

Johann Sebastian caressed his daughter's hair. "How foolish you are, Annette. Yes, you can marry Edmund, but he has to promise me first that he will become a regular baker and forget about chocolate."


[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Wolfgang Staudt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

You have been selected


Chances are that you have never heard of Horatio Alger. In his time, that is, during the last two decades of the XIX century, he was one the best-selling writers in the United States of America. Alger was the author of dozens of novels aimed at young readers, telling for the most part rags-to-riches stories.


“Ragged Dick” was his most famous book. Its protagonist, a quintessential Alger character, tries out his hand at different professions until he finally achieves the life of prosperity that he pursues. “He went into business,” wrote Alger in that novel, “starting in a small way, and worked his way up by degrees.”


If you read Alger's novels nowadays, you might find their plot too simple. His characters were, to a certain extent, stereotypes. Did Alger's stories take place in exotic, exciting settings? No, that was mostly not the case. Was Alger an author known for his ability to write impressive dialogue? Hardly. His prose was fine, but not spectacular.


Literary critics who have studied Alger's work often conclude that his extraordinary popularity was based on the fact that “his stories responded well to the spirit of his time,” a period of adventurous entrepreneurs and rapid economic progress.


This conclusion might be true, but in my view, it still leaves an important aspect out of the picture. If you read Horatio Alger's stories, you will find that they address important life issues. His novels, however simple and stereotypical, revolved around fundamental values such as ambition, independence, and integrity.


The recurring message in Alger's books is that you, the reader, has the same right to succeed as anybody else, irrespective of your origin, family, or personal history. If you don't give up and keep on pushing, you might just make it.


"Keep up a little longer and we will save you," wrote Horatio Alger in the final chapter of his best-selling book. “Dick heard the shout and it put fresh strength into him. He battled manfully with the treacherous sea, his eyes fixed longingly on the approaching boat. Hold on tight, little boy, there's a boat coming."


No wonder that those who read Alger's novels in the late XIX century liked them so much. At that time, when the world was still untouched by radio, movies, and television, Alger's popular fiction was a bright sign pointing to a better future, telling each of his readers that he had been selected to make his dreams come true.


Today, a century later, this message of hope is something that we don't get to hear often enough.


[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by mikebaird under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

You have been selected


Chances are that you have never heard of Horatio Alger. In his time, that is, during the last two decades of the XIX century, he was one the best-selling writers in the United States of America. Alger was the author of dozens of novels aimed at young readers, telling for the most part rags-to-riches stories.


“Ragged Dick” was his most famous book. Its protagonist, a quintessential Alger character, tries out his hand at different professions until he finally achieves the life of prosperity that he pursues. “He went into business,” wrote Alger in that novel, “starting in a small way, and worked his way up by degrees.”


If you read Alger's novels nowadays, you might find their plot too simple. His characters were, to a certain extent, stereotypes. Did Alger's stories take place in exotic, exciting settings? No, that was mostly not the case. Was Alger an author known for his ability to write impressive dialogue? Hardly. His prose was fine, but not spectacular.


Literary critics who have studied Alger's work often conclude that his extraordinary popularity was based on the fact that “his stories responded well to the spirit of his time,” a period of adventurous entrepreneurs and rapid economic progress.


This conclusion might be true, but in my view, it still leaves an important aspect out of the picture. If you read Horatio Alger's stories, you will find that they address important life issues. His novels, however simple and stereotypical, revolved around fundamental values such as ambition, independence, and integrity.


The recurring message in Alger's books is that you, the reader, has the same right to succeed as anybody else, irrespective of your origin, family, or personal history. If you don't give up and keep on pushing, you might just make it.


"Keep up a little longer and we will save you," wrote Horatio Alger in the final chapter of his best-selling book. “Dick heard the shout and it put fresh strength into him. He battled manfully with the treacherous sea, his eyes fixed longingly on the approaching boat. Hold on tight, little boy, there's a boat coming."


No wonder that those who read Alger's novels in the late XIX century liked them so much. At that time, when the world was still untouched by radio, movies, and television, Alger's popular fiction was a bright sign pointing to a better future, telling each of his readers that he had been selected to make his dreams come true.


Today, a century later, this message of hope is something that we don't get to hear often enough.


[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by mikebaird under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]