Archive | July, 2018

Well-Researched Works for History Buffs: The Revenant, Frederick the Great, and 1491

25 Jul

Do you open a book to the notes and bibliography and marvel at the 150+ pages of thorough research?  Will this assure you that this massive compendium holds all wonderful magic you crave?  18th century Prussian battles? 15th century pre-Columbian Americas?  Yes please!  How about we add a novel with its own short, but concise, bibliography that entices the reader with a fictionalized recreation of a story shrouded in myth but rooted in fact?  Sign me up!

The Revenant
by Michael Punke
Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans changed my life.  I was seven and it was revelatory; a work of fiction with an historical backdrop.  That being said, when I saw trailers for Alexandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant I was all in. Based on a true story?  Oh yeah!  But, wait, there’s a book!  How did I get so lucky?  Michael Punke delivers a page-turning tale of revenge and survival in a brutal frontier landscape.  Set in 1823, Punke recounts a fictionalized version of the tale of Hugh Glass, a very real fur-trapper who was left for dead after a grizzly attack in the wilderness.  Because Michael Punke researched his subject masterfully, the reader easily finds themselves absorbed in an authentic feeling epic, complete with Hugh Glass’ surprising back story of piracy and his life among the Pawnee Native Americans.  Have you already seen the movie?  Don’t worry, this book has a few surprises for you.  Besides being available in print, HPL resident card holders can also borrow it as an ebook from eLibraryNJ or as an ebook from eBCCLS.

Frederick the Great: King of Prussia
by Tim Blanning
Do you love court intrigue?  Do you love 18th-century European battles?  How exactly does a middling kingdom in central Europe rise to first-rate power in the course of one man’s 46 year reign?  Tim Blanning delivers the authoritative English-language compendium of Frederick the Great in a biography that elucidates the enigmatic King of Prussia through meticulous research that includes a vast array of personal letters.  Complete with detailed maps of battle-lines and marvelous illustrated depictions of the illustrious King’s statues, palaces, and portraits.  Wonderfully accessible, the author instructs readers while keeping them enticed in this top-down analysis of Frederick the Great.  You can borrow it in print from HPL or as an ebook from eBCCLS.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
by Charles C. Mann
While Charles C. Mann promises a lot with this title, he certainly delivered with precision an invigorating and revelatory history of the people of the pre-Columbus Americas.  Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus provided me with a re-education in a subject that most people, myself included, have a tenuous grasp of.  Mann expertly uses archaeology, science, and great writing to compel the reader to question everything they thought they knew about Native American history in the tens of thousands of years before Europeans “discovered” the Americas.  One of my favorite discoveries was finding out that Charles C. Mann wrote a second book, 1493, that I will be suggesting in the future.  You can borrow 1491 in print from HPL or as an ebook from eBCCLS.

Written By:
Adam Cricco
Library Assistant

What is True Beauty?: Cyrus Macmillan’s The Indian Cinderella and HappyThankYouMorePlease

18 Jul

Cyrus Macmillan’s “The Indian Cinderella”, suggests that the Fairy Tale’s allegorical purpose is to reveal the importance of honesty and true beauty. This caused me to reflect on a deeper moral: Beauty is so much more than what just meets the eye. It is so much more than “acts of kindness” and outer appearance. It is a hidden truth to be sought for and deeply rooted in the heart. True beauty is being honest in the face of adversity, amid not being granted a reward because the truth is a reward in of itself. In this modern adaptation of the Classic Cinderella, true beauty is revealed.

Macmillan’s “The Indian Cinderella” is a Fairy Tale about a great Indian Warrior who has a wonderful and strange power of invisibility. It was published in his collection Canadian Wonder Tales available from Project Gutenberg Canada. Throughout the fairy tale Strong Wind, the Indian warrior, is seeking a bride to marry and help him with his good deeds and will not marry anyone who is untruthful. He therefore assesses his perspective brides by having his sister test their truthfulness. In the end he marries the only woman who tells the truth.

So, the moral of this fairy tale is that integrity and remaining true to moral convictions (no matter what the circumstances are), can grant us our deepest desires and lead us into a rich and restored life with a ‘happy ending.’ The Indian Cinderella was not forever beautiful and did not win Strong Wind’s affection by mere looks. It was her virtue, purity of heart and honesty that allowed her to see him, metaphorically unveiling her eyes to what matters most: truth.

It is seen as relevant because the moral of telling the truth serves as a symbol that beauty is not based on the outer appearance. It is through honesty and being morally good, especially not for personal gain but rather selflessness, that one’s true beauty is revealed.

When one thinks of fairytales, one does not automatically think about honesty. In fact, happy endings are usual what comes to mind. Even the classics are dripping with deceitful undertones – and that’s coming from, me, one of the most hardcore Disney fan there is. The Little mermaid – which is my ultimate favorite Disney princess and movie – has to basically hastily and forcefully manipulate/trick Prince Eric to fall for her in 3 days or else she’ll turn back into a mermaid. Aladdin lies about his identity in order to win the heart and the throne of Princess Jasmine. Even the classic Cinderella has to hide her identity and completely transform into someone she’s not in order to have one night with the Prince. In one form or another, most classic fairytale has been founded upon a level of deceit or another – in order to equate beauty. This is why I admire Macmillan’s “The Indian Cinderella”.

In the end, her honesty is what transformed her into real beauty. Now – as associative connections go – this particular moment made me think about a movie I saw titled “HappyThankYouMorePlease,” which is available for streaming from Hoopla or can be borrowed on DVD from BCCLS libraries.  There is this particular moment in the movie that embodies this very realization: the dinner scene. Not to give away any spoilers to the movie in question, but in this scene the female lead is told to close her eyes. She was asked this so that she may only hear what her date has to say, rather than also “hear” with her eyes and be clouded by the judgment they bring. It is with her ears that she listens to the truth that comes from her date’s mouth. A truth that is dripping with honesty and what ends up being the real beauty that not only connects with her soul, but also her mind. Check out the movie. It’s worth watching.

I really believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – as cliché as clichés go – and that the eyes can be the window to the soul – yet another cliché – so therefore if one’s inner self is true and honesty is beautiful, then shouldn’t that be a fairytale worth basing one’s dreams on? Integrity is so underrated nowadays that we underestimate the power and beauty that lies within it. After all, isn’t that what we want to raise our children on?

Written By:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

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