The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

scMark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published on 18 February 1885 in the United States and 10th December 1884 In the United Kingdom. It is narrated by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective). It is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer which take place along the Mississippi River.Satirizing a Southern antebellum society that had ceased to exist about twenty years before the work was published. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism. Finn struggles not only with the challenges of his strenuous journey, but also with the 19th century attitudes concerning his friendship with Jim which is at odds with the prevailing social Attitude towards African American culture. It is also suggested that the character of Huckleberry Finn illustrates the correlation, and even interrelatedness, between white and black culture in the United States.

The story begins in St. Petersburg, Missouri, on the shore of the Mississippi River, between 1835 and 1845 (when the first steamboat sailed down the Mississippi). It features Two young boys, Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn. Huck is currently living with Widow Douglas, and her sister Miss Watson, who are attempting to civilize him and Tom Sawyer helps him to escape one night past Miss Watson’s slave Jim. However, his abusive drunk father “Pap”, sudden reappears, and he moves into a remote cabin, however he dislikes his Father’s drunken violence, so he escapes and sets off down the Mississippi River.While living quite comfortably in the wilderness along the Mississippi, Huck encounters Miss Watson’s slave Jim on an island called Jackson’s Island. Huck learns that Jim has also run away & is trying to make his way to Cairo, Illinois, and then to Ohio. Whilst traveling the Mississippi together Finn learns about Jim’s difficult past and the horrors of slavery.

Huck and Jim take residence In a cavern on a hill on Jackson’s Island, scrounging for food until they find a raft. Later, they encounter an entire house floating down the river and enter it to grab what they can, but they find a dead man, shot in the back while apparently trying to ransack the house. The sheriff learns of this and sends a Posse, then Whilst escaping Finn and Jim become separated. Finn seeks shelter with a prosperous family called the Grangerfords and befriends Buck Grangerford, a boy about his age, but unwittingly gets involved in the Grangerfords blood feud against another family, the Shepherdsons which comes to a head when Buck’s sister, Sophia Grangerford, elopes with Harney Shepherdson. In the resulting conflict, all the Grangerford males from this branch of the family are shot and killed, and Huck narrowly avoids his own death in the gunfight,

Finn and Jim then Sail farther south on the Mississippi River, and rescue two cunning grifters, who join Them on the raft. The younger of the two swindlers, a man of about thirty, introduces himself as a son of an English duke (the Duke of Bridgewater) and his father’s rightful successor. The older one, about seventy, says that he is the Lost Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI and rightful King of France.The Duke and the King join Jim and Huck conning people as they travel south. They finally arrive in a town and advertise a three-night engagement of a play which they call “The Royal Nonesuch”, which turns out to be a couple of minutes of hysterical cavorting, not worth anywhere near the 50 cents the townsmen were charged to see it. Then a drunk called Boggs arrives in town and threatens a southern gentleman by the name of Colonel Sherburn. so Sherburn kills him and almost gets lynched. By the third night of “The Royal Nonesuch”, the locals are getting fed up, but the Duke and the King have already left together with Huck and Jim, and continue down the river.

ln the next town they decide to impersonate two brothers of the recently deceased and very wealthy Peter Wilks, and manage to convince nearly all the townspeople that they are a preacher just arrived from England and a deaf-mute. However One man suspects fraud and confronts them, so the Duke, suggests that they should escape. The King boldly states his intention to continue to liquidate Wilks’ estate.However Huck likes Wilks’ daughters, who treat him with kindness and courtesy, so he tries to thwart the grifters’ plans by stealing back the inheritance money. Then The arrival of two new men who seem to be the real brothers throws everything into confusion. Luckily, the Duke and the King are able to escape and manage to rejoin Huck and Jim on the raft, where Huck resolves to free Jim, who has been caught and is being held at the plantation of Silas and Sally Phelps. Huck intercepts Tom on the road and tells him everything, Tom joins Huck’s scheme & develops an elaborate plan to free Jim…

Enzo Ferrari

ferrari_166mm_corsa_1950Italian motor racing legend and entrepreneur, the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team and Ferrari automobile marque Enzo Ferrari, was born February 18, 1898 in Modena, Italy. Ferrari grew up with little formal education but a strong desire to race cars. At the age of 10 and seeing 1908 Circuit di Bologna, he decided to become a racing Driver.During World War I he was assigned to the third Alpine Artillery division of the Italian Army. His father Alfredo, as well as his older brother, also named Alfredo, died in 1916 as a result of a widespread Italian flu outbreak. Ferrari became severely ill himself in the 1918 flu pandemic and was consequently discharged from Italian service. Upon returning home he found that the family firm had collapsed. Having no other job prospects, Ferrari eventually settled for a job at a smaller car company called CMN (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali), redesigning used truck bodies into small passenger cars. He took up racing in 1919 on the CMN team, but had little initial success.

Ferrari-250-gto2He left CMN in 1920 to work at Alfa Romeo and racing their cars in local races he had more success. In 1923, racing in Ravenna, he acquired the Prancing Horse badge which decorated the fuselage of Francesco Baracca’s (Italy’s leading ace of WWI) SPAD S.XIII fighter, given from his mother, taken from the wreckage of the plane after his mysterious death. This icon would have to wait until 1932 to be displayed on a racing car.In 1924 Ferrari won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara. His successes in local races encouraged Alfa to offer him a chance of much more prestigious competition. Ferrari turned this opportunity down and did not race again until 1927. He continued to work directly for Alfa Romeo until 1929 before starting Scuderia Ferrari as the racing team for Alfa.Ferrari managed the development of the factory Alfa cars, and built up a team of over forty drivers, including Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari. Ferrari himself continued racing until 1932.

The support of Alfa Romeo lasted until 1933. Only at the intervention of Pirelli did Ferrari receive any cars at all. Despite the quality of the Scuderia drivers, the company won few victories. Auto Union and Mercedes dominated the era, but Ferrari achieved a notable victory when Tazio Nuvolari beat them on their home turf at the German Grand Prix in 1935.In 1937 Alfa took control of its racing efforts again, reducing Ferrari to Director of Sports under Alfa’s engineering director. Ferrari soon left, but a contract clause restricted him from racing or designing cars for four years.In response, Ferrari organized Auto-Avio Costruzioni, a company supplying parts to other racing teams. Ferrari did manage to manufacture two cars for the 1940 Mille Miglia, driven by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni. During World War II his firm was forced to undertake war production for Mussolini’s fascist government. Following Allied bombing of the factory, Ferrari relocated from Modena to Maranello. It was not until after World War II that Ferrari could start making cars bearing his name, founding today’s Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947.

ferrari-365-gtb4-daytona-02The first open-wheel race was in Turin in 1948 and the first victory came later in the year in Lago di Garda. Ferrari participated in the Formula 1 World Championship since its introduction in 1950 but the first victory was not until the British Grand Prix of 1951. The first championship came in 1952–53, with Alberto Ascari. The company also sold production sports cars in order to finance the racing endeavours not only in Grands Prix but also in events such as the Mille Miglia and Le Mans.Ferrari’s decision to continue racing in the Mille Miglia brought the company new victories and greatly increased public recognition. However, increasing speeds, poor roads, and nonexistent crowd protection eventually spelled disaster for both the race and Ferrari. During the 1957 Mille Miglia, near the town of Guidizzolo, a 4.0-litre Ferrari 335S driven by the flamboyant Alfonso de Portago was traveling at 250 km/h when it blew a tire and crashed into the roadside crowd, killing de Portago, his co-driver, and nine spectators, including five children. In response, Enzo Ferrari and Englebert, the tyre manufacturer, were charged with manslaughter in a lengthy criminal prosecution that was finally dismissed in 1961.Many of the firm’s greatest victories came at Le Mans (14 victories, including six in a row 1960–65) and in Formula One during the 1950s and 1960s, with the successes of Juan-Manuel Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorn (1958), Phil Hill (1961) and John Surtees (1964).

In 1969 the problems of reduced demand and inadequate financing forced Ferrari to allow Fiat to take a stake in the company. Ferrari had previously offered Ford the opportunity to buy the firm in 1963 for US$18 million but, late in negotiations, Ferrari withdrew once he realised that he would not have been able to retain control of the company sporting program. Ferrari became joint-stock and Fiat took a small share in 1965 and then in 1969 they increased their holding to 50% of the company. (In 1988 Fiat’s holding rose to 90%). In 1974 Ferrari nominated Luca Cordero di Montezemolo sporting director. Niki Lauda won the championship in 1975 and 1977. After those successes and another title for Jody Scheckter in 1979, the company’s Formula One championship hopes fell into the doldrums.1982 opened with a strong car, the 126C2, world-class drivers, and promising results in the early races. However, Gilles Villeneuve was killed in the 126C2 in May, and teammate Didier Pironi had his career cut short in a violent end over end flip on the misty back straight at Hockenheim in August. Pironi was leading the driver’s championship at the time; he would lose the lead as he sat out the remaining races. Ferrari remained chairman of the company until his death in 1988 but the team would not see championship glory again during his lifetime.

Len Deighton

imageBritish military historian, cookery writer, graphic artist, and novelist Len Deighton was born 18 February 1929 in Marylebone, London, in 1929. His father was a chauffeur and mechanic, and his mother was a part-time cook. At the time they lived in Gloucester Place Mews near Baker Street. His interest in spy stories may have been partially inspired by the arrest of Anna Wolkoff, which he witnessed as an 11-year-old boy. Wolkoff, a British subject of Russian descent, was a Nazi spy. She was detained on 20 May 1940 and subsequently convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act for attempting to pass secret documents to the Nazis.

After leaving school, Deighton worked as a railway clerk before performing his National Service, which he spent as a photographer for the Royal Air Force’s Special Investigation Branch. After discharge from the RAF, he studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London in 1949, and in 1952 won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1955. While he was at the RCA he became a “lifelong friend” of fellow designer Raymond Hawkey, who later designed covers for his early books. Deighton then worked as an airline steward with BOAC. Before he began his writing career he worked as an illustrator in New York and, in 1960, as an art director in a now defunct London advertising agency, Sharps Advertising. He is credited with creating the first British cover for Kerouac’s On the Road. He has since used his drawing skills to illustrate a number of his own military history books.

Following the success of his first novels, Deighton became The Observer’s cookery writer and produced illustrated cookbooks and wrote and drew a weekly strip cartoon-style illustrated cooking guide in London’s The Observer newspaper – Len Deighton’s Cookstrip. At least one of the strips is pinned up in Deighton’s spy hero’s kitchen in the 1965 film of his novel The IPCRESS File.

In September 1967 he wrote an article in the Sunday Times Magazine about Operation Snowdrop – an SAS attack on Benghazi during World War II and The following year David Stirling was awarded substantial damages in libel from the article. He also wrote travel guides and became travel editor of Playboy, before becoming a film producer. After producing a film adaption of his 1968 novel Only When I Larf, Deighton and photographer Brian Duffy bought the film rights to Joan Littlewood’s stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War!. Deighton wrote the screenplay and was an uncredited producer of the film but he had his name removed from the credits, however, a move that he later described as “stupid and infantile”. That was his last involvement with the cinema. Deighton left England in 1969 and briefly resided in Blackrock, County Louth, in Ireland, only returning to England apart from personal visits and media appearances, his last one since 1985 being a 2006 interview that formed part of a “Len Deighton Night” on BBC Four.

Several of Deighton’s novels have been adapted as films. His first four novels featured an anonymous anti-hero, named “Harry Palmer” in the films and portrayed by Michael Caine. The first trilogy of his Bernard Samson novel series was made into a twelve-part television series by Granada Television in 1988, and Quentin Tarantino has since expressed interest in filming the trilogy. Deighton also wrote a World War II historical novel Bomber about an RAF Bomber Command raid over Germany is and also reportedly began an unfinished Vietnam War novel, a portion of which appeared as the story First Base in his short story collection Declarations of War. He also wrote Len Deighton’s London Dossier (1967), a guide book to Swinging Sixties London with a “secret agent” theme – contributions from other writers are described as “surveillance reports” and his 1977 novel Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain was said by Albert Speer (once Hitler’s Minister of Armaments) to be “an excellent, most thorough examination”.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

imageI would like to read The Farm, a gripping and atmospheric psychological thriller by Tom Rob Smith. Set in London and Sweden, it features Protagonist Daniel who believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. However his life collapses after an unexpected phone call from his father, who informs him that his mother is suffering from intense paranoid delusions and has been committed to a mental hospital. Daniel’s mother, meanwhile, claims that she is wholly sane and seems perfectly lucid, insisting that Daniel’s father is part of a group that sexually accosts young women in their local Swedish district. Daniel is left torn between his parents and unsure of whom to believe or trust.

This is Smith’s fourth published work after Child 44, Secret Speech and Agent 6, and his first standalone novel. His Inspiration comes from Smith own mother’s experience of psychosis, from which she has since fully recovered. Smith was surprised by his mother’s lucidity when describing her paranoid delusions. The novel confronts issues of mental health, family, and truth and sometimes blurs the distinctions between sanity and madness, reality and fantasy, leaving the reader guessing until the bitter end.

In March 2014, BBC Films and Shine Pictures bought the film rights for the book, which will star Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Gary Oldman. It will be produced by Shine’s head of film, Ellie Madden with Christine Langan as executive producer.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian calendar. Occurring 46 days before Easter, it is a moveable fast that can fall as early as February 4 and as late as March 10. According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke; Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a reminder and celebration of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. This practice is common in much of Christendom, being celebrated by Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and some Baptist denominations.

In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance—a day of contemplating one’s transgressions. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer also designates Ash Wednesday as a day of fasting. In the medieval period, Ash Wednesday was the required annual day of penitential confession occurring after fasting and the remittance of the tithe. In other Christian denominations these practices are optional, with the main focus being on repentance. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 (whose health enables them to do so) are permitted to consume only one full meal, which may be supplemented by two smaller meals, which together should not equal the full meal. Some Catholics will go beyond the minimum obligations demanded by the Church and undertake a complete fast or a bread and water fast. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of abstinence from meat (mammals and fowl), as are all Fridays during Lent. Some Catholics continue fasting throughout Lent, as was the Church’s traditional requirement, concluding only after the celebration of the Easter Vigil. As the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday comes the day after Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the last day of the Carnival season.

lent

The Biblical Significance of Ash is that it was used in ancient times to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent’s way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. An ancient example of one expressing one’s penitence is found in Job 42:3–6. Job says to God: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (vv. 5–6, KJV) The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes” (Jer 6:26). The prophet Daniel recounted pleading to God this way: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). Just prior to the New Testament period, the rebels fighting for Jewish independence, the Maccabees, prepared for battle using ashes: “That day they fasted and wore sackcloth; they sprinkled ashes on their heads and tore their clothes”.

The earliest date Ash Wednesday can occur is February 4 (in a common year with Easter on March 22), which happened in 1573, 1668, 1761 and 1818 and will next occur in 2285. The latest date is March 10 (when Easter Day falls on April 25) which occurred in 1546, 1641, 1736, 1886 and 1943 and will next occur in 2038. Ash Wednesday has never occurred on Leap Year Day (February 29), and it will not occur as such until 2096. The only other years of the third millennium that will have Ash Wednesday on February 29 are 2468, 2688, 2840 and 2992. (Ash Wednesday falls on February 29 only if Easter is on April 15 in a leap year.)

In the Republic of Ireland, Ash Wednesday is National No Smoking Day. The date was chosen because quitting smoking ties in with giving up luxury for Lent. In the United Kingdom, No Smoking Day was held for the first time on Ash Wednesday 1984, but is now fixed as the second Wednesday in March. However The Eastern Orthodox Church does not, in general, observe Ash Wednesday; instead, Orthodox Great Lent begins on Clean Monday. There are, however, a relatively small number of Orthodox Christians who follow the Western Rite; these do observe Ash Wednesday, although often on a different day from the previously mentioned denominations, as its date is determined from the Orthodox calculation of Pascha, which may be as much as a month later than the Western observance of Easter.