Of Expenses by Francis Bacon –Explanation

September 25, 2017 at 8:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags:

OF EXPENSES

RICHES are for spending, and spending for honor and good actions. Therefore extraordinary expense must be limited by the worth of the occasion; for voluntary undoing may be as well for a man’s country as for the kingdom of heaven.

Meaning .. Money and wealth are to be spent one day. People spend money for enhancement of one’s own standing in society and for better living. Money is also spent for charity, social good, and other such benevolent causes. While spending large sums of money or investing a god amount of wealth, one must weigh the wisdom of such parting of resources. Spending for the cause of one’s country, or for noble and lofty causes can be justified as good enough reasons.

But ordinary expense ought to be limited by a man’s estate; and governed with such regard, as it be within his compass; and not subject to deceit and abuse of servants; and ordered to the best show, that the bills may be less than the estimation abroad.

Meaning .. Normal day-to-day expenses of the apparently routine type need to be done commensurate with one’s income and assets. No money should be spent for furthering dishonest and immoral causes. Servants are valued human assets, and the employer must never spent any money to dishonor or humiliate them. Expenses must be less than the income, and should not exceed it.

Certainly, if a man will keep but of even hand, his ordinary expenses ought to be but to the half of his receipts; and if he think to wax rich, but to the third part. It is no baseness for the greatest to descend and look into their own estate.

Meaning .. Ideally, expenses must be around half of one’s income. For those who want to become rich, their expenses should be a third f their incomes. To be calculative and cautious in spending is not a mean thing. Keeping an eye on the income while spending is a prudent policy.

Some forbear it, not upon negligence alone, but doubting to bring themselves into melancholy, in respect they shall find it broken. But wounds cannot be cured without searching. He that cannot look into his own estate at all, had need both choose well those whom he employeth, and change them often; for new are more timorous and less subtle.

Meaning ……Some people do not stick to these principles of judicious spending not only out of negligence, but also for the fear of feeling sad. Inevitably, abandoning caution in spending leads to their financial ruin. If a ruined man wants to rebuild his finances, he must entrust the job of scrutinizing his budget to someone else, who can do the job dispassionately. A person can’t scrutinize his own spending pattern himself, because he will be biased. Even, the ‘Finance Manager’ brought in to restore the health of the finances needs to be replaced periodically. This is because, a newly-recruited Finance Manager will tend to be very alert and strict.

He that can look into his estate but seldom, it behooveth him to turn all to certainties. A man had need, if he be plentiful in some kind of expense, to be as saving again in some other. As if he be plentiful in diet, to be saving in apparel; if he be plentiful in the hall, to be saving in the stable; and the like.

Meaning … A person who is too pre-occupied to manage his own business, property and wealth, must hand over this charge to an outsider who knows the job better. Due to certain circumstances, if a person over-spends on something, he should cut his expenses on other items to neutralize the excess outgo of funds. For example, if he spends too much on food, he must economize on his clothing expenses. In the same way, if a person spends excess amounts in furnishing his living quarters, he must spend much less on building his stable.

For he that is plentiful in expenses of all kinds will hardly be preserved from decay. In clearing of a man’s estate, he may as well hurt himself in being too sudden, as in letting it run on too long. For hasty selling is commonly as disadvantageable as interest.
Meaning ……A man who spends without restraint, is bound to come to grief, sooner than later. Consequently, he may impulsively sell his estate, or liquidate any such wealth to free himself from the creditors. Such sudden action is really very harmful to his long term interests.

Besides, he that clears at once will relapse; for finding himself out of straits, he will revert to his customs: but he that cleareth by degrees induceth a habit of frugality, and gaineth as well upon his mind as upon his estate.
Meaning …The man who frees himself from his debts so suddenly will revert to his of ways of extravagant spending. This is devastating. On the other hand, a debt-ridden person who liquidates his loans gradually by incremental cut in his expenses, will be really happy in the long run. This is because, the period of contolled spending will change his extravagant habits, and he will imbibe the habits of thrift and caution.

Certainly, who hath a state to repair, may not despise small things; and commonly it is less dishonorable to abridge petty charges, than to stoop to petty gettings. A man ought warily to begin charges which once begun will continue; but in matters that return not he may be more magnificent.
Meaning ….Lastly, it is much less embarrassing to make small cuts in one’s expenses, than to become a bankrupt, and invite ridicule from the society. A man in such distress might resort to petty and often criminal ways to get some money. This is the worst case scenario. A man who judiciously steers clear of such pitfalls will be treated with respect by the society.

———————————–END——————————— 1

Advertisements

ISC English –The Voice of Humanity by Rabindranath Tagore

September 20, 2017 at 11:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags:

The Voice of Humanity by Rabindranath Tagore

About Tagore .. A true universalist and a liberal, Tagore shot to international prominence when his book Gitanjali got him the Nobel Prize. From his adolescent days, Tagore’s literary genius had begun to unravel. He loathed formal education imparted within the confines of a class room. The rigors of school education repelled him. He let his mind wander far and wide and delved deep into his inner consciousness. The result was astounding. This son of the undivided Bengal, with no formal education, wrote hundreds of poems, short stories, and plays based on the joy and suffering of the humble people around him in the poverty-stricken, superstition-ridden society.
His sojourn to Europe opened his mind and rekindled the humanist in him. He began to feel that he belonged to the whole mankind, and he had a mission to bring light and wisdom to the whole world.
This essay is the lecture he gave in Italy. It overflows with his liberal idealism, compassion, and feelings of universal brotherhood.

The essay … 

It was 1928. The reins of Italy was in the hands of its fascist dictator Mussolini. Rabindranath Tagore was on his first visit to the country that was the citadel of the best elements of European culture. Undoubtedly, it was an overwhelming experience for the eminent visitor from the East. Tagore loved every moment of is stay there. Literally, he bathed himself in the literary, architectural, and scientific heritage of his host country and Europe in general.

First para .. Explaining the language barrier

This essay is the transcript of his lecture before an august audience of elite intellectuals. Tagore felt both humbled and honoured to address such a gathering.

Tagore knew English was not the mother tongue of the Italians. However, this was the only common language in which he could communicate with the audience. In his characteristic style, Tagore regretted the inconvenience he was putting his listeners by having to speak in English.

Second para ..  Author explains why he thinks it is a pilgrimage

Tagore had already decided what he was going to speak on. He wanted to explain to the listeners why he had travelled thousands of miles to come to their country. Tagore was a deeply spiritual and contemplative man. He saw God’s hand everywhere. His vision of the Divine transcended religious or national barriers. So, he explained to his audience that he had come n a pilgrimage to explore the place where the landscape bristles with is Divine creativity and love. Layers and layers of sublime manifestation of Divinity had enriched Italy. In the true Eastern tradition, he has come to discover the Divine hand here.

Third para   .. Europe enthralls the author

 Quite clearly, Europe’s astounding progress in all facets of culture and civilization had greatly impressed the young author. He was so impressed with the blossoming of the human spirit in this distant continent that he considered the land to be holy, worthy to be called a shrine. In 1921, driven by an urge to explore this land, he set out on this pilgrimage to Europe. He reasoned that Europe led the world because the inquisitive minds of its people were always reactive and restless. The frenzied intellectual activity that ensued led to spectacular advances in literature, art, science, philosophy and technology.  In contrast, around this time, Asia seemed to be asleep, losing its initiative, verve, and drive. Such indolence led to lethargy, backwardness, and poverty. Barring just a handful of bright minds engaged in the pursuit of knowledge and skill, the whole continent seemed to be asleep. The author left his pet project at Shantiniketan, and came to Europe to experience its electrifying energy and creativity.

Fourth and Fifth Para … Author sets foot in Italy 

However, this was not his maiden visit. In 1878, when he was a young boy of 17, he had set foot in the shores of Italy with his elder brother as escort. During those times, people in the East held Europe in awe and wonder. Although his English skill was far from being exemplary, the author had read the works of the literary icons of Europe, and was aware of the literary resurgence that was sweeping the continent.

In the moonlit shores of Brindisi in Italy, the steamer in which Tagore and his brother were travelling, landed. The breathtaking beauty of this alien land manifested in the blue waters of the ocean, the bewitching landscape virtually swept Tagore off his feet. He had never see such a sight earlier.

Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Para .. A fleeting encounter with a maid in an or chard

The small town of Brindishi didn’t have the daunting façade of the cities. The author found the place unusually quiet, but at the same time, very welcoming. The author’s didn’t have a placid dormant mind. He had already savoured the romance of literature, and had begun to dream. The two brothers stayed in an ordinary hotel with the most basic facilities. But, being in the land of Europe set his heart aflutter.

The next day, the author, his brother, and a Indian friend ventured out to a nearby orchard. The place was un-guarded and no one accosted them. Sun shone liberally over the orchard setting the garden lit with a golden glow. There was a youthful damsel plucking the grapes. She had a coloured scarf round her head. The author was spellbound by her charm. He was seventeen then, and the gush of manly instinct drew him to her. The sunlight accentuated her beauty. The author understood he was the guest in a foreign country, and must conduct himself with the required dignity.

Ninth Para .. Author explains why he has been sent to England

The encounter triggered no feelings in the other two, but for the author, it rekindled romantic instincts. The trio left the place soon. The author had been a problem pupil in his traditional skill. He used to be repelled by the walls of the school room. Finding his virtual refusal to be schooled in the traditional way, his guardians sent him to England so that he could learn good English – the language that held the key to respectability and accomplishment.

Tenth Para… England appears so cold, so distant

The author finaly landed in England – his destination. But it was winter, and the harsh chill made life quite unpleasant for him. The trees stood bare with all the leaves gone. There was hardly any crowd in the road. The usual bustle f an Indian city was sorely lacking. The contrast rattled the author, leaving him disconcerted and lonely. The place seemed so distant, and so unwelcoming. From his room’s window, he fixed his gaze at the Regent’s Park wondering what a bewildering land he had come to. Perhaps, he was too young to delve into the treasury of knowledge and enlightenment England held. He felt lost, pining for his homeland.

Eleventh Para ..Author returns home

After a stint of rigorous education, the author returned home, and felt more disinclined to pursue formal education that could give him a degree. He spent time in laziness doing little, but soon started writing stories, novels and poems. He wrote profusely, sitting in the bank f the Ganges. His restive mind found fulfillment in literature. He was oblivious of the tumultuous political changes that were happening around the world then.

Twelfth Para ..The seed of class room-free education is sown

The author’s mind underwent a sea change. He no longer liked to work in seclusion. Instead, he wanted to be among the crowd. He loved children, and loved to guide them as they grew up. He knew the system of class room education stifled and caged many young bright minds. He wanted these young minds to savour the taste of education in a free, unfettered environment. He chose a secluded place, away from the madding crowd, where he could school the students in the lap of Nature. 

Thirteenth Para ..New idea of education takes shape

While in the midst of this unique experiment with education, the author seemed to hear a distant call — a summon from the land where human endeavour and spirit had reached its pinnacle. He wanted to go on a pilgrimage again, to explore, learn, and feast his senses with the best of human civilization. He knew, his dream destination was Europe that stood at the forefront of humankind’s progress.

Fourteenth Para … World events unsettle the author

By then, the author was a well-read man. He had studied History, Literature and all such subjects. He had read the works of such eminent writers like Wordsworth. The hatred, oppression, exploitation, revenge, and wars that had ravaged the human race made him sorrowful. He had painfully concluded that man was the worst enemy of man. Despite such gloomy thoughts, the author remained an optimist. He felt the noble wisdom of mankind will eventually dispel the dark forces one day, ushering in an age of harmony, peace, progress and peace.

Fifteenth Para ..Visit to England brings more gloom

Sadly for the author, when he reached England, the whole f Europe was gripped with strife, discord, upheavals, and war. Mutual suspicion, envy, and avarice had bedevilled the land. Passion to create had ceded place to passion for destruction. The specter was was so depressing for the author.

Sixteenth Para ..The  lush green farms captivate the author

While travelling from Calais to England, the author got to see the lush-green fecund farms through which the train track ran. The bounty of the fields filled his heart with joy. He marvelled at the hardworking nature of the farmers who had grown the crops. These great sons of the soil had done extremely valuable service to their motherland. Their dedication deserved the highest praise, because through their sweat and sacrifice, they had brought security and sufficiency to their countries, and to the mankind at large. In the land where such worthy toiling men lived, misery couldn’t set foot. But, why was Europe so riven with the ugly and the unbearable’, wondered the thoughtful author.

Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Paras .. Author examines Europe’s boon and bane

The author reasons that Europe’s children did fairly well till their endeavour was restricted to solving their own lands’ problems. Through application of their intelligence, ingenuity and their penchant for perfection, they did quite well. They brought prosperity and plenty to themselves. However, with the advent of science and technology, new challenges emerged. Europe began to look far beyond its shores. Such adventure unleashed huge political, military and economic challenges. Harmony of earlier times was gone. In its place, came discord and dis-harmony.  Tempestuous events overtook Europe. She is still grappling with these new destructive forces. Solutions to the new challenges have eluded the Europeans so far. However daunting the task might appear, a holistic and enduring solution to the new challenges must be found. A wrong prescription may lead to unintended consequences. The bounty that God bestowed on Europe would soon become her bane. The abiding virtues like the love of justice, freedom, love f beauty that once characterised Europe would become the things of the past.

In the relentless pursuit of profit, production, trade, Europe would lose the nobler virtues of art, creativity, and the softer side of the human civilization. Tragically, this would disembowel Europe of her tender core. Deprivation, misery, and suffering would follow.

20th Para …Europe’s rise and her nightmares

The author proceeds to analyse how Europe could build her huge repository of the best of human achievements. According to him, it all came through patient pursuit of perfection. The patience was borne out of Love. The legendary artists of Europe would work endlessly to reach perfection on the tiniest of things. Such passionate effort, and perseverance are anathema to a quantity and profit-oriented commerce-driven society. Greed and creativity are quite opposite to each other.  Unfortunately, greed has overtaken Europe. This shift towards profit and gain has dispelled creativity and beauty from the human mind. The voices of sanity, restraint, and the sublime have become too feeble to be heard. Man’s inner voice is lost in the din of factories. 

21st Para .. Author stresses role of Science

The author laments the lucre associated with the unravelling of a profit-driven industrial economy, but applauds the march of Science. In this domain, Europe has led the world. Nature’s secrets have been gradually decoded, and the benefits have been passed on to the future generations of mankind. Europe has made stellar contribution in pushing back the limits of the Infinite, but so much more needs to be done. Europe must continue to stay the course in this regard. True happiness lies in relentlessly continuing the quest to unravel Nature. 

22nd Para .. Author underlines Materialism’s role in human welfare

The author tries to clear the air by stating that the material world in not all bad. He likens it to the nurse and cradle that nurture life, and the human spirit. Europe has taken to the material world. This has brought goods and conveniences to human living. Despite such involvement in commerce and manufacturing, Europe has continued to cross more milestones in the path of science. This is really laudable, thinks the author. However, the author cites a note of caution here. He thinks that Europeans must not be too possessive about whatever they have gained in science and wealth generation through industrialization. They must assume that the gains belong to the whole mankind. Through such generosity, they can lay their claim to real greatness.

23rd Para .. Science does not hold all Truths

Europe surged in Science because of the power of its citizens to observe, question, think, and analyze. This gift is a rare one, but keeping the new-found knowledge close to their chest would do the Europeans no good. They must willingly share the scientific gains with the rest of the world. By doing so, Europe’s best brains would redeem themselves. There are truths which do not come under the domain of Science. Such truths must be allowed to fuse with the ones unravelled by Science. Disregard of truths of other domains unrelated to Science is fraught and could have disatrous ramifications. Sadly, this is what is happening. All the evils that plagued Europe then were rooted in the neglect of truth from other non-science fields.

24th Para ….Author bemoans the misuse of Science

The author feels that the mightier the weapon you have, the stronger should be the restraint in using them. Science has unleashed great potential to do good, and also to wreak havoc. Without the wisdom to rein in its destructive forces, it runs amuck and brings calamity on earth. The author laments that Europe pioneered science, but failed to circumscribe its devilish power. As a result, Europe faces so much danger now. 

While crying out for peace, the people at the helm go ahead to invent more formidable weapons. So, more violence results. The craving for peace must come from within for it to be enduring. Peace imposed from outside by force has only limited effect. In matters of ensuring lasting peace and tranquility, the virtues of sympathy and self-sacrifice are more potent than the efficacy of mass mobilization.

25th and 26th Para … Science mustn’t lead to hubris and colonial instincts    

The author had always been an optimist. He believed that ultimately, the goodness of the human spirit would prevail. Like the Sun gets temporarily covered by clouds, the human spirit might be besmirched by evil instincts temporarily, but it would regain its radiance sooner or later. Some naive Europeans who cite their scientific prowess to justify their instinct to subjugate other peoples. However, like the earthquake unleashes great ferocity to shake the earth temporarily, the bombast of the colonizers would fall flat in the times to come. Some of these powers, who thought they could be eternally supreme by fostering the supremacy of their own nation, are beginning to crumble. Slowly, they are fading into the past. Quite logically, those nations who can think and act beyond their borders transcending narrow nationalism, can ultimately survive and prosper. In other words, the benefits of one’s progress must be shared with others for the gain to be lasting.

27th, and the last Para ..As the eternal optimist, the Author sees hope

Human beings who live in proximity with each other, and do not share each other’s joys and owes are not likely to thrive in the long run. By cocooning themselves within their own national confines, these self-centered people will self-destruct themselves. A day would come when the unified human spirit would prevail over parochial attitudes, and the whole human race would think and work like a single entity. That would signal the triumph of Truth.

Finally, the author humbly tells his listeners that he has come to Europe in search of the Voice of Humanity, which has been dampened by the clamour to amass power and wealth by the most brutal means. Fortunately, this dormant voice is beginning to be heard more clearly and loudly. With time, this would assume the level of a thunder which no one can ignore.

———————————————————END———————————————————

Readers are invited to send their comments on this interpretation of Tagore’s thoughts.

 

ISC English –The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

September 6, 2017 at 2:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags:

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

About the author .. Kate Chopin(1850-1904) is remembered as much as for her gripping short stories, as for her pioneering role in American feminist movement. She believed in the institution of marriage as any normal woman, but her inner self told her relentlessly that wives must have the liberty to profess their views with no hindrance, and do things they liked without seeking the permission of their husbands. Born in St. Luis, Missouri, she had a French mother and an Irish father. She was widowed prematurely, but the disaster proved to be blessing as it enabled her to plunge into writing with all her time and energy.
In her novel ‘The Awakening’, she gives enough indication about her strong belief in women’s emancipation and the idea f equality of the sexes. ‘The Story of an Hour’, she has portrayed the feelings of a woman who receives the news of her husband’s death with equanimity and subdued glee because as a widow she could live own life. The dream is shattered moments later when the ‘dead’ husband appears alive in person

The story …

Mrs. Mallard had just lost her husband in a train accident. Being widowed at a relatively young age is a shattering tragedy for a woman. Besides this, she had a cardiac history, so everyone took extraordinary care to soften the blow before breaking the news to her. It fell on Josephine to communicate the news to her elder sister. Josephine spoke in tits and bits, in indirect language, and in a way, so that the news didn’t strike Mrs. Millard too hard.

Their family friend Richards had brought the news of the train accident that had proved fatal for Mr. Millard. In the list of passengers list killed in the accident, Mr. Millard’s name surely was there. Richards had cross-checked it through a second telegram, before coming to convey the news to the bereaved wife.

Mrs. Millard’s reaction to the news was a bit unusual. She didn’t become benumbed and still, as most women react on first hearing the news of the death of their husbands. Instead, she cried loudly and wildly in Josephine’s hands. After a while, the tumult and the frenzy began to calm somewhat. Mrs. Millard rushed into her room, bolted it from inside, and locked herself. Everyone though, most likely she wanted to be left alone in that hour of grief.

Inside the room, there was a comfortable cane chair kept facing a large window. One could see trees with lush foliage. Spring was setting on. It had rained for a while. A hawker carried his ware a little distance away. Sparrows had been twittering in the eaves exuberantly. Cloud hovered in the sky. A lone singer was singing somewhere afar.

In the comfortable cane chair. Mrs. Millard seated herself appearing as if unable to take the burden of the grief. 

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

About the author .. Kate Chopin(1850-1904) is remembered as much as for her gripping short stories, as for her pioneering role in American feminist movement. She believed in the institution of marriage as any normal woman, but her inner self told her relentlessly that wives must have the liberty to profess their views with no hindrance, and do things they liked without seeking the permission of their husbands. Born in St. Luis, Missouri, she had a French mother and an Irish father. She was widowed prematurely, but the disaster proved to be blessing as it enabled her to plunge into writing with all her time and energy.
In her novel ‘The Awakening’, she gives enough indication about her strong belief in women’s emancipation and the idea f equality of the sexes. ‘The Story of an Hour’, she has portrayed the feelings of a woman who receives the news of her husband’s death with equanimity and subdued glee because as a widow she could live own life. The dream is shattered moments later when the ‘dead’ husband appears alive in person

The story … 

Mrs. Mallard had just lost her husband in a train accident. Being widowed at a relatively young age is a shattering tragedy for a woman.  Besides this, she had a cardiac history, so everyone took extraordinary care to soften the blow before breaking the news to her. It fell on Josephine to communicate the news to her elder sister. Josephine spoke in tits and bits, in indirect language, and in a way, so that the news didn’t strike Mrs. Millard too hard.

Their family friend Richards had brought the news of the train accident that had proved fatal for Mr. Millard. In the list of passengers list killed in the accident, Mr. Millard’s name surely was there. Richards had cross-checked it through a second telegram, before coming to convey the news to the bereaved wife.

Mrs. Millard’s reaction to the news was a bit unusual. She didn’t become benumbed and still, as most women react on first hearing the news of the death of their husbands. Instead, she cried loudly and wildly in Josephine’s hands. After a while, the tumult and the frenzy began to calm somewhat. Mrs. Millard rushed into her room, bolted it from inside, and locked herself. Everyone though, most likely she wanted to be left alone in that hour of grief.

Inside the room, there was a comfortable cane chair kept facing a large window. One could see trees with lush foliage. Spring was setting on. It had rained for a while. A hawker carried his ware a little distance away.  Sparrows had been twittering in the eaves exuberantly. Cloud hovered in the sky. A lone singer was singing somewhere afar.

In the comfortable cane chair, Mrs. Millard seated herself as if unable to take the burden of the grief. A torrent of thoughts seemed to pass through her mind. She was sad, no doubt, but she was experiencing something different. She looked vacantly at the distant sky, gazing into the clouds. Perhaps, she was trying to imagine her life as a widow. She reminisced about her married life. It was both sour and sweet. Her husband loved her, no doubt, but disagreements often marred their marital bliss. The loss was tragic, but she must come to turns with it sooner r later. She must do the rebuilding task on her own terms, not pushed or influenced by anyone else.

She felt that she was ‘free’ at last. The thought was exciting. She saw an opportunity here –to do things she liked without being fettered by anything or anyone else’s overpowering influence. She was beginning to feel happy at the prospect of living an un-shackled life. After some serious introspection, she convinced herself that the deliverance from married life was a welcome opening indeed. She looked forward to a joyous life in the coming years.

Josephine, overcome with trepidation, was frantically trying to come in and see her bereaved sister. From outside the locked door, she screamed at her elder sister to open the door and let her in. Mrs. Millard didn’t like to be disturbed from her reverie. Optimism had returned. She looked forward expectantly to the months ahead. She seemed to have triumphed over her misfortune.

Finally, she opened the door to let Josephine in. She exuded rare self-confidence and hope. She clung to her sister and both of them went downstairs. Richard was waiting there.

Something utterly unbelievable happened. Brently Millard came in opening the front door by his key. As usual, he was carrying his umbrella and grip-sack. He looked somewhat tired. He was blissfully unaware of the accident as he happened to be in a different location when the mishap happened.

Mr. Millard had a quizzical look in his eyes. Josephine recoiled in horror on seeing him, standing before her in person. The shock was perhaps too much for Mrs. Millard. Her reverie had been smashed by hard reality.

Mrs. Millard couldn’t possibly bear it. She breathed her last.

——————————END——————–

 

ISC English –Quality by John Galsworthy

September 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags:

ISC English

Quality by John Galsworthy

About the author ….John Galsworthy (1867–1933), the celebrated English novelist and playwright will remain in the minds of readers for his campaign against class divide, materialistic pursuits and appalling conditions in prisons. He wrote The Forsyte Saga to vent his indignation against the Victorian values that divided the society on the basis of wealth and affluence. Although he came from a very well-to-do family of businessmen, he rebelled against the mad pursuit to amass wealth, denial of equal status to women, and indifference to the basic human rights of prisoners, and many such human rights issues. He won the 1932 Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932. But he was too ill to receive it in person. John Glossworthy will be remembered for his novels The White Monkey (1924), The Silver Spoon (1926), Swan Song (1928). Maid in Waiting (1931), Flowering Wilderness (1932), and Over the River (1933).

About this story .. ‘Quality’ is a short story about a master shoe-maker who was fanatically fastidious about the shoes he made with his own hand. He had some loyal customers, but not many as he lathed advertising, sales promotion, and all such means of modern-day business. In commercial acumen, he was a naïve, but in dedication to his work, he was second to none. Sadly, he died because, lost in shoe-making, he forgot to feed himself. Lack of food, coupled with punishing involvement in his work did him in.

The story ..

Two brothers, both ace shoe-makers lived and worked in a nondescript shop in a alley in the fashionable West End area of London. The author’s acquaintance with the duo went back many years to his adolescent years. His father used to patronize the shoe-making shop for getting his bespoke shoes made.

The shop had no flashy signage, no bright light, except a dull-looking name board that read Gessler Brothers. The name seemed German, so did their accent. In the window, the two brothers had kept a pair of shoes, perhaps to announce to the public that it was but a tiny shoe-making unit. There was a reason behind such modesty, because the two brothers made only customized foot wear. They didn’t make standard-sized shoes in large numbers for the market.

The shoe maker made shoes with his own hands, with delicacy and care, so that they fitted the wearer’s feet perfectly. He also made the finest light dancing shoes using the finest leather. He also made tall brown riding shoes that seemed almost new after long years of use. Rare artisanship was the hallmark of the shoes coming out of the hands of this shoe-maker.

In his youthful young days, the author seldom thought about the uniqueness of the shop. By the age of fourteen, the author began to realize that it was no ordinary cobbler’s shop, but the work place of two splendid craftsmen. The place seemed so intriguingly wonderful.

On one occasion, the author walked up to the shoe-maker to say that the pair of walking-boots supplied by him had creaked.

The complaint left Gessler flummoxed for a while. He perhaps couldn’t believe the shoes made by him could ever fray like this. With incredulous eyes, he asked the author if the tearing of the leather had occurred before the shoes were worn. The author denied it.

Gessler seemed lost in thought. He was perhaps trying to recollect when and how he had made the pair of shoes. Then, quite unhesitatingly, he asked the author to bring the shoes, so that he could examine them. The seriousness with which Gessler took the complaint made the author uneasy.

Gessler said that some boots made by him had defects from the beginning. Quite sportingly, he offered to refund the cost f the shoes, if they were really bad. The refund offer came after the author had worn them for long!

On another occasion, the author went in to order a new pair of shoes. He was wearing a pair of shoes procured from some other shop. While taking the order Gessler had noticed that his customer wore shoes made by someone else. He eyed the author’s footwear with incisive keenness. With a mixture of hurt pride and subtle disapproval, he commented that the pair of shoes in the author’s feet were not his products. By a feel of his finger, he could ascertain where the shoe hurt the wearer.

The author’s ready-made pair of shoes had struck a raw cord in Gessler’s heart. He began a monologue deriding the large shoe making companies who mass produce the items without adequate attention to the comforts of their customers. Quite clearly, Gessler was annoyed at the commercial approach of the big firms. He railed against their advertising, sales promotion, and everything else they did to entice the buyer at the cost of quality. Their ultimate aim is to maximize their profits. Such derisive comments seldom came to Gessler. Displeasure and annoyance were palpable in his face, wrinkled by years of toil in his trade.

The author was moved by the commitment and dedication of Gessler to his trade. He felt bad that he had some time back complained about the boot he had bought from this master artisan. To make amends for any feelings of hurt he might have caused to the embittered artisan, the author ordered quite a few pair of shoes on him. The shoes were so well made that they lasted for ages, almost driving the author to the point of boredom. For two years, the author couldn’t think of buying any more shoes.

When he went there after the lapse of two years, the author was surprised to see that one of the two windows of the old shop bore a signboard. It brazenly claimed patronage of the royal household. It was a brutal and shocking makeover. It became clear that another business had started operating from the premises.

It soon emerged that Gessler had rented out a part of the shop to curtail cost.

The author came back gain to order more shoes. He ordered three pairs instead of two. 

The author had developed a sentimental bonding with Gessler’s shop that made him return there again and again.

The visit had some unpleasant surprises for the author. He learnt that the elder of the duo had died. The author was indeed quite sorry to know of this. Worries borne out of slack business and the resulting difficulties had forced the two brothers to give up one shop. The loss apparently drove the elder brother to death.

The author ordered a few more pairs of shoes. This time, the supplies came late. The author wore them to great delight. Soon, he left for abroad. He returned to London after a year.

He went to see his favourite shoe-maker, but the encounter was not  very pleasant. Gessler had battled poor business, loss of his brother, and despondency. The continuing distress had taken a toll of his physical and mental condition. He looked so haggard, and broken. He had aged fifteen years in just one year of dull business. At first, he failed to recognize the author.

The author started his conversation by heaping praise on the boots he bought from the old shoe maker. 

Quite characteristically for Gessler, his attention fell on the author’s shoes. He felt it by his own hands and lovingly remembered that he had put in a good deal of effort to make it.

The shoemaker had practically. So, he was glad to take the author’s orders for fresh pairs of shoes. He felt the author’s feet and toes with the utmost care to determine how he was going to get a perfect fit.

The four pairs of shoes arrived at the author’s place one evening. The author tried them one by one. In fit, finish and workmanship, these were perfect. Strangely, although a long time had elapsed, the shoe man had charged the same old rate. The author paid off the amount.

A week later, the author went to Gessler’s place to talk about the excellent shoes he had made. But, what he discovered devastated him. Gessler’s name board had vanished, although other items were still there. With heart pounding, the author stepped in. A completely different man met him, not Gessler. He started soliciting order in the usual salesmanship ways.

When the author demanded to know where Gessler was, the man disclosed that he was dead. It sent a chill down his spine.

To add to the author’s horror, the man disclosed that Gessler had starved himself to death. Towards his final days, orders came few and far between. Gessler found the going hard. When any order came, Gessler worked very hard without rest or food to supply the orders in time. His body couldn’t cope with the punishing schedule. Despite his failing strength, he poured his heart out to the shoes he made. He was a shoemaker par excellence, but was poorly equipped to stand up to the commercial monster farms that dominate the trade. With the demise of the man, the fine art of shoe-making was lost forever from the face of the earth.

The curtains had come down on the life of a shoe maker of astounding dexterity and dedication. The passing away of this remarkable man left a wound in the heart of the author because he adored the humble shoe maker so much.

————————————END——————————

Question .. Write the character sketch of Gessler listing his strengths and failings.

 

 

 

——————————-To be continued——————————–

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.