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...and welcome to the website for Raven Books, Blackrock. You'll find a variety of books, book-related news, a posting celebrating writers and writing, and plenty of suggestions for what to read next.  We hope you enjoy browsing! (This site is best viewed using Firefox)

March 31st

Today is the birthday of John Fowles, born in Essex, England, in 1926.  His first published novel, The Collector (1963), was about a lonely butterfly collector who kidnaps a young woman in the hope that she will fall in love with him.  When the paperback rights to the novel were sold, the publisher said it was "probably the highest price that had hitherto been paid for a first novel."  The story was adapted for the screen in 1965 with Terence Stamp.  Fowles is perhaps best known for The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969).  The protagonist, Sarah, is portrayed ambiguously, begging the question as to whether is she a victim of the French Lieutenant, a victim of the strict gender roles of Victorian society, or a cunning manipulator creating her own destiny.

The Secret Life Of Sleep,
Kat Duff

What makes us cross the line from waking to slumber? According to Harvard scientists it's our 'sleep switch' - a cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus. For the ancient Greeks it was the god Hypnos, caressing you with his wings. For the Blackfeet Indians, a butterfly. And in European children's tales, the Sandman, sprinkling you with dust.

Why do we sleep? What happens in our brains when we sleep? Why are sleep patterns in modern Western industrialised countries so unhealthy? Is the boundary between sleep and wakefulness as clear cut as we might have supposed? How meaningful are dreams? Kat Duff brings insights from her own life, from the latest in sleep science, the paintings of Salvidor Dali, the musings of Michel de Montaigne, and wisdom and rituals from around the world and the past to paint a fascinating picture of a world that is both the most intimate and the most secret to us: sleep.

Confronting The Classics,
Mary Beard

Mary Beard is one of the world's best-known classicists - a brilliant academic, with a rare gift for communicating with a wide audience both though her books and TV presenting.

In a series of sparkling essays, she explores our rich classical heritage - from Greek drama to Roman jokes, introducing some larger-than-life characters of classical history, such as Alexander the Great, Nero and Boudicca. She invites you into the places where Greeks and Romans lived and died, from the palace at Knossos to Cleopatra's Alexandria - and reveals the often hidden world of slaves. She brings back to life some of the greatest writers of antiquity - including Thucydides, Cicero and Tacitus - and takes a fresh look at both scholarly controversies and popular interpretations of the ancient world, from The Golden Bough to Asterix.

The fruit of over thirty years in the world of classical scholarship, Confronting the Classics captures the world of antiquity and its modern significance with wit, verve and scholarly expertise.
And I Quote...
A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way. ~ Caroline Gordon

Russia has a long and legendary literary tradition that can perhaps give some insight into their current president.

As the roles of P.G. Wodehouse's characters Bertie and Jeeves coalesced, they became indissolubly and lastingly linked in the public imagination.

Yiyun Li talks about her new novel, Kinder Than Solitude, which echos her love of Irish writers.

Willy Vlautin: Who is my perfect reader? An obsessive reader who has a few dents and admits them

ZoŽ Heller and Mohsin Hamid discuss whether writers should stick to what they know.

  Poetry Corner

A Blackbird Singing,
Ronald Stuart Thomas

It seems wrong that out of this bird,
Black, bold, a suggestion of dark
Places about it, there yet should come
Such rich music, as though the notes'
Ore were changed to a rare metal
At one touch of that bright bill.

You have heard it often, alone at your desk
In a green April, your mind drawn
Away from its work by sweet disturbance
Of the mild evening outside your room.

A slow singer, but loading each phrase
With history's overtones, love, joy
And grief learned by his dark tribe
In other orchards and passed on
Instinctively as they are now,
But fresh always with new tears.

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