The Magic Ring: Russian Folktales from Alexander Afanasiev’s Collection


“At the end of three days he returned with two small flasks: the water of life in one, the water of death in the other. The Wolf took the two flasks, ripped the young raven apart, sprinkled the water of death over it–and two halves joined together. Then he sprinkled the water of life over it–and the young raven flapped its wings and flew off. Next the Grey Wolf sprinkled Prince Ivan’s body with the water of death–and the wounds healed. Then he sprinkled the body with the water of life–and Prince Ivan stood up and said: ‘How long have I slept?'”

“The king ordered the princess to be executed: the unfaithful wife was tied to the tail of a wild stallion which was set loose upon the open plain. The stallion flew like the wind, dashing her snow-white body against the gullies and steep ravines.”

“The girl put her ear to the ground and heard Baba Yaga coming. At once she threw down her towel–and a wide, wide river appeared. The witch had to stop at the river, gnashing her teeth in fury. She returned home, took her oxen, drove them to the river, and the oxen drank the river clean. Then off she rushed again in pursuit. The girl once more put her ear to the ground and heard the witch getting near. Straightway she threw down her comb–and a dense, dark forest appeared. The witch began to gnaw through it, but it was too much for her and she had to turn back.”

some interesting scenes from The Magic Ring: Russian Folktales from Alexander Afanasiev’s Collection



Japanese Books – Ima wa mukashi


images taken from the Boston Museum of Fine Art‘s collection

“…Imawa-mukashi (a simple translation of which would be ‘Once upon a time. . .’, though the opening characters can also mean ‘stories of strange demons’).

“There is one other inexplicable feature of Imawa-mukashi: it repeats several creatures, in almost unchanged form, that appear in a painted scroll by the Maruyama/Shijo artist Komai Genki.”

“. . . by showing the awful unnerving effect of the apparitions on ordinary human beings, Shunei heightens their terrifying aspect.”

“. . . [I]n the three volumes comprising the work, there is limited colour-printing, but it is invariably effective, eerily highlighting bloodstains, or menacing shapes, like the bulk of the ogre-mountain, printed a sullen red in the original.”

~from The Art of the Japanese Book by Jack Hillier

The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa


“Dreams are severed fruit
Auburn pears have fallen in the field
Parsley blooms on the plate
Sometimes the leghorn appears to have six toes
I crack and egg and the moon comes out.”

“Rains like flower petals.
Hit by a heavy weight, insects descend the tree shade.
Gathering at the mast wall, trailing a faint breeze – sounds are killed by the sun, the waves.
My skeleton places white flowers upon it.
Interrupted by thoughts, fish climb the cliffs.”

“A butterfly landed on the pipe organ on the rooftop garden
The unseasonable syllables wrench the lady’s heart
The bouquet is torn away    the fire does not burn
Outside the window a deer passes by, trampling on the stars
At the ocean bottom, fish mock the weather    people put on their glasses
This year, too, the widowed moon deceives its age.”

some of the poems I enjoyed from Chika Sagawa’s collected poems

A Companion to the Iliad by Malcolm M. Willcock


“The strongest oath which the Gods could swear by was the river Styx, the river of the underworld.”

“Typhoeus was the last of the opponents of Zeus, a monstrous creature, not human in shape like the giants or Titans. He was cast down beneath the surface of the Earth by the thunderbolts of Zeus, and his stirring there, on his hard bed of stone, served to explain local earth tremors and volcanic activity.”

hecatomb = large sacrifice of animals to a god

“aegis – a supernatural weapon of Zeus, normally defensive, but when shaken in the face of an enemy, strikes terror in their hearts.”

some quotes and info I found interesting from A Companion to the Iliad by Malcolm M. Willcock

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett


“The Luggage said nothing, but louder this time.”

“With a cry of triumph Cohen managed to free his sword and waved it triumphantly, severely wounding a man who had been creeping up behind him.”

“The disc, being flat, has no real horizon. Any adventurous sailor who got funny ideas from staring at eggs and oranges for too long and set out for the antipodes soon learned that the reason why distant ships sometimes looked as though they were disappearing over the edge of the world was that they were disappearing over the edge of the world.”

some lines I liked from Terry Pratchett’s The Light Fantastic

The Three Kingdoms: Russian Folktales from Alexander Afanasiev’s Collection


“I was at the feast too, and I drank mead and wine, but all of it ran down this beard of mine.”

“You are to build a kingdom of gold in the middle of the sea and also a bridge of gold that will connect this palace with it. The bridge is to be carpeted with the richest of velvets, beautiful trees are to grow on either side of it, and songbirds are to sit in them and sing away for all they are worth.”

“The boys grew fast, not by the day but by the hour…”

“Whether he was long on the way or not nobody knows, for a tale is quick in the telling and a deed is slow in the doing.”

some interesting recurring phrases in The Three Kingdoms: Russian Folktales from Alexander Afanasiev’s Collection

Louis Comfort Tiffany: Masterpieces of Art


“Clara Driscoli, designer for Tiffany Company…”

“In 1881, the four [founders of LC Tiffany & Co] were commission to decorate the interior of Mark Twain’s house in Connecticut.”

“The Aesthetic Movement sought to leave behind Japanese and Oriental styles–it aimed for simplicity, quality, and innovation.”

“By the end of the 1890’s, Tiffany’s commerical output was extensive. From stained-glass windows and lampshades to tiles, mosaics, vases and other ornamental objects, the popularity of his goods was enormous.”

some interesting info from Louis Comfort Tiffany: Masterpieces of Art

Japanese Books – Daito Keigo

two images, Seated Couple and Lovers, attributed to Ikeno Taiga

“Erotic books were almost exclusively the province of the Ukiyo-e school, but there are a few that were created by artists of other schools. One is associated with the illustrious name of Ikeno Taigo…”

“…with a text by Shibata Roshu (1840-90), in folding album form, and the title Daito Keigo, ‘Boudoir Tales from the East.’ The two prints illustrated are from the 1814 edition; they show the bold, dragged brush lines, and the compact compositions, underscored by simple colour-printing limited to broad areas of two colours, with marked gradiations.”

~from The Art of the Japanese Book by Jack Hillier

I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki


“He has no secret vices, but he is totally abandoned in the way he buys book after book, never to read a single one.”

“He then starts a new line. He seems to have some vague notion that, provided he himself produces a new line, maybe some kind of a Chinese poem will evolve itself.”

“Though a single line would clearly have sufficed, he draws two lines and then three lines. He goes on drawing more and more lines regardless of their crowding into the neighboring line of writing. When he has drawn eight such obliterations, he seems unable to think of anything to add to his opening outburst. So he takes to twirling his mustache, determined to wring some telling sentence from his whiskers.”

“Every evening he makes a point of going to bed with a book which he does not read. Sometimes he makes a positive beast of himself and shuffles in with three or four books tucked under his arms…. It would seem that for my master a book is not a thing to be read, but a device to bring on slumber: a typographical sleeping-pill, a paginated security-blanket.”

some of my favorite quotes from Soseki’s I Am a Cat

Grass on the Wayside by Natsume Soseki


“The lonely years he had spent thus far had been a necessary preparation for the present, he told himself. And whatever he was going through now was a necessary preparation for the future. What he had done and what he was doing was right. Yet sometimes he could not avoid the thought that his life amounted to little more than growing old.”

“They loved him, to be sure, but they did so expectantly, like a rich man who spoils his pretty mistress. Unable to take pleasure merely in being able to reveal their love, they insisted on tangible evidence of its effectiveness.”

“As always, the compassion, the sorrow, the suffering that he felt, he could express only in this terse, commonplace fashion. Only he could know that he was begging her to speak to him, to look at him…. He was only too prone to sentimentality, but to be demonstrative about it was quite beyond him.”

“A calm, leisurely conversation with someone friendly would have helped to soothe his nerves. But to Kenzo, who had customarily gone out of his way to avoid people, a suitable companion was not readily available. And so he smoldered alone.”

“People really didn’t change very much, he thought; they only decayed.”

some of my favorite quotes from Grass on the Wayside