Devoted Sherlockians meet in Manhattan
The hundreds of Sherlock Holmes devotees who meet in Manhattan every January are getting younger and less bookish.
Even with his superlative sleuthing skills, Sherlock Holmes may not have recognized a costume ball held in his honor the other night.
The costumes — from a pink Easter bunny to an ironic butterfly — carried obscure references to stories written about the fictional private detective by the British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The winner was an English teacher from Germany dressed as the Scottish moor, a setting from the Doyle classic “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” A crew from the reality show “Cake Boss” brought in a cake shaped like a bust of Holmes.
The ball, held by a female group of Holmes devotees called the Baker Street Babes, was part of an annual Sherlock Holmes celebration organized largely by the Baker Street Irregulars, an invitation-only society of devoted Sherlockians founded in 1934.
Since then, fans of Sherlock Holmes — Irregulars and other smaller Holmesian societies from across the country — have been convening in Manhattan every January to celebrate his presumed birthday: Jan. 6, 1854. They host lectures, cocktail parties, brunches, lunches, dinners, costume galas and presentations of scholarly papers.
The Irregulars’ annual banquet has become the centerpiece of five days of celebration in Manhattan attended by several hundred Sherlockians from around the world.
Weekend attendees discuss the latest books, films and television shows related to the sacred canon of Holmes’ adventures: Doyle’s 60 stories published between 1887 and 1927. Many wear Victorian dress, including Holmes’s preferred deerstalker cap and Inverness cape.
Source: The New York Times
Ban on reading or how books save people's lives
If you want to know how reading saves the lives of people behind bars, listen to the poet and lawyer Reginald Betts or ask Michelle Jones.
At 16, in 1996, Mr. Betts was sentenced to eight years for a carjacking. Books, he has said, “became magic.” Reading became the way that he “learned about what it means to be human.” After being released from prison, Mr. Betts got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, received a Master of Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College and graduated from Yale Law School.
Last fall, after serving more than two decades in prison for murdering her son, Ms. Jones began a Ph.D. program at New York University. While incarcerated, she’d read avidly and discovered her love for history — including the history of the prison where she was locked up. In 2016, along with another woman in prison, she won the award for Indiana Historical Society’s best research project.
Mr. Betts and Ms. Jones may be exceptional people, but their experience is backed up by research that reading and education lead to lower recidivism rates.
In an effort to “enhance the safety and security of correctional facilities,” the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision began implementing a ban that forces incarcerated people in New York state prisons to receive packages from only a handful of select state-approved sellers. The new rule, which has so far been enforced in three state prisons (Green, Taconic and Green Haven) and will be expanded to the entire state in September, has the effect of banning not just items typically sent to them in care packages from loved ones and organizations, like fresh produce, but also many books.
So far, six companies have been approved by the state to sell books, and the first five announced offer one dictionary, one thesaurus, 21 puzzle books, 11 how-to books, 14 religious books, 24 coloring books and five romance novels. The next Mr. Betts or Ms. Jones will be unlikely to find inspiration in a coloring book.
There have long been policies in place to keep people in prison from reading materials that could encourage them to protest or escape, thereby threatening the general security of the prison.
That makes sense, in theory. New York, for example, has long restricted books with maps as well as those with nudity. Yet a nudity ban means that art history, figure drawing and anatomy books are also banned.
But denying people the right to read, especially books that reflect their own lives, goes deeper than politics. “Every living human being has the right to be able to understand the condition of their life,” said Elizabeth Alexander, a poet and Wun Tsun Tam humanities professor at Columbia University. “Anything short of that is cruel.”
Source: The New York Times
People and labour in Anuar Alimzhanov’s works
Anuar Turlybekovich Alimzhanov is a well-known Kazakh and Soviet prosaic, writer, publicist and social activist.
He was born on 12 May, 1930 in the aul of Karlygash located near Dzhungar mountains. He became an orphan at the early age and was educated in the orphanage. Then, he graduated from the Faculty of Journalism at Kazakh State University in Almaty and worked in the “Literary newspaper” as a correspondent (Middle Asia and Kazakhstan).
Later, he was an Editor-in-Chief at the “Kazakhfilm” studio, a correspondent at “Pravda”, Editor-in-Chief at the newspaper “Kazakh adebieti”.
Since 1970 he was the First Secretary of the Writers’ Union of Kazakhstan. From 1981 to 1991 he was in charge of the Kazakh Agency for Copyright Protection and the president of the Association of Commercial Television and Radio of the Kazakh SSR.
After the first experience in the historic prose, namely, the tale “Suvenir iz Otrara” (“Souvenir from Otrar”, 1966), Anuar Alimzhanov appeals to the huge genre form. One by one come out his historic novels, arranging the whole cycle of the stories about the fate of the Kazakh people a thousand years ago.
Among them the historic works imaging the life of the Kazakhs in early XIX century - “Strela Makhambeta” (“Makhambet’s arrow”, 1969), early XVIII century – “Gonets” (“Rider”, 1974) about the period of time when Kazakhstan started the close association with Russian people, and X century – “Vozvrashenie uchitelya” (“The teachers’ return”, 1979). The last novel in the cycle stood to be “Doroga lyudey” (“People’s way”, 1984) where the author tried to combine the past, present and future.
Working on the novel about Makhambet, Anuar Alimzhanov referred to the oral tales among Kazakh people. Court lifestyle near the khan, trip to Petersburg, initiation to the ideas of December movement, break-up with the khan, participation of Isatay Taimanov (the head of the national liberation movement in West Kazakhstan region in 1836-38 yy.), its defeat – all are deeply depicted by the author.
The same can be said about his tales, where he in a talented way tells about the life of simple and poor people not only of Kazakhstan, but also Africa in which he was quite interested.
A. Alimzhanov’s works are given high estimation in the whole world. They were translated into the languages of the people of the CIS and foreign countries. Among Afro-Asian writers Anuar Alimzhanov was one of the first ones to be honored the “International award of the People’s Republic of Kongo for the fortification of the friendship among the people of Asia and Africa and active contribution in the fight for their independence”. For a number of works on the themes of India in 1969 Anuar Alimzhanov was awarded the prize named after Dzhavakhrlala Neru. He was also awarded the orders of the Friendship of people, “Honor Badge” and medals. Anuar Alimzhanov died on 9 November 1993.
One of his tales about which will be written more in detail is “Povest o pakhare” (“Tale of plougher”). It is rather short and chosen for the description not in vain as not much written about shorter tales of Anuar Alimzhanov.
The tale is about an outstanding hard-working plougher Ibray-aga being in love with his lifework.
Even he was called (in fact, was) the high performer, lead worker in his field (he specialized in rice growing), innovator he always stayed himself, did not differ from his friends-shepherds of the Aral Sea region. Ibray-aga was squatty, indifferent to the praises, all the clamor and fuss around him. He liked listening to his conversants carefully weighing each word of theirs, but couldn’t stand too talkative people.
He was asked of the secret of growing such big harvest. But he had no secrets. Actually, there was the work, conscientious hard word.
Many years passed since the time he had started to deal with rice growing. He was born on the bank of Syrdaria river and had never left his aul (Kazakh village). He defended his aul in the years of the Civil war. Only once he left his native land for half a year when there was severe hunger during which he managed to save some handfuls of white rice. He saved them for the whole winter and in the spring he planted rice. Since that time his home folks had always had a cup of rice – both in the years of war and peace, in the dry and moist days.
Notwithstanding the fact that he had never left his aul, his fields he was known at the motherland of rice – Burma and Korea, China and India.
Newspapers often (during thirty-five years) wrote about his methods and system. But he himself didn’t pronounce such words as “my method” and “my system”. He asked for advice only from his land, he listened to its breath and applied in his work what was tested, tried and proved with results for tens of years.
He had his own world full with deep thoughts and searches, disappointments and joys, however, he unchangingly stayed calm. Thus, some people thought he was a weird man although it was not like that. And he had a son whom he loved a lot and who was already a grown-up and fought at war. His son was his hope in life whom he saw as the successor of his work. He had trained his son since early years of his life and taught him how to feel the land and how to grow rice in the fields.
But, one day he heard the song of lamentation, it was weeped by his wife. His son, his only son died at war… That night he couldn’t sleep; he didn’t want to believe in that death. He worked hard on the field all night without having a rest and only by the sunrise with bleeding hands, shivering with cold and being ready to drop he slowly went home. It seemed as if the gigantic machine or the army of dzhigits (Kazakh fellows) toiled at the field, that was even and without any bushes and stumps. People were struck with the sight and since that day he had became not Ibray-aga, but Ibray-ata (elder, highly respected man is called “ata”).
The following autumn he collected his first harvest from that field. And it became the sensation for all the rice growers – 172 centner from a ha!
He was a plougher, communist, and a revolutionary who conquered and commanded his fields.
Aging, he gave out his ketmen and reaping hook as the symbol of labour and life to young ploughers, and further to the museum.
After giving up rice growing he never gave up coming to the banks of the river and delighted the sunrise and sunset, saw the work of the young and sometimes grieved or smiled looking at the new sprouts.
His words were, “Heroism is won by life, and fame by labour and talent”. And he wrote the the only one book in his life about his work and friends but stayed modest.
Indeed, he was loved, respected and appreciated by his nobility and huge work.
Anuar Alimzhanov sees things in people’s characters and describes their feelings in a skillful way. He is also good at the presentation of nature, situations and conversations. The reader pictures the story vividly and feels the mood of characters.
The author was one of not many having so many versatile talents and abilities, and at the same time staying so moderate and delicate.
Woman’s role in the prose of Dulat Isabekov
Dulat Isabekov is a contemporary Kazakh writer known for his meaningful tales depicting the contemporaneity and the past with the accent on the life of auls (Kazakh village).
One of his most delicate tales “Gaukhar Tas” (Kazakh word for “gemstone”) is about the young girl named Saltanat being like a tender flower and true gem.
The main thought of the story is in the survival of times past in the auls, misinterpretation of man’s power.
Even not loving her newly wed Tastan for real, Saltanat pretended to be the exemplary wife, dignified daughter of her parents and sometimes it seemed as if she was falling in love with her husband.
By a twist of fate, she became Tastan’s wife. The fact was that she didn’t have a father and was the eldest one in the family suffering from poverty and at that very moment her future father-in-law came to ask in marriage for his son. As they say, stars are aligned so.
Her husband was the personification of indifference, closed nature and silence and took after his father with the exception for the age. And his father loved him much, the only one thing which he didn’t like in his son was his snailishness.
Tastan’s unique feature was his passion for kokpar (Kazakh horse race) and love for his horse. And his special love did its part. The thing was that he didn’t allow anyone to ride his horse even his young wife. However, one winter day she took that horse for riding and Tastan knew about that. As a consequence, she was beaten severely by him…
The real defender and supporter for young Saltanat was Tastan’s younger brother Kairken who was of the opposite character and truly respected and even admired his zheneshe (Kazakh word for “sister-in-law”).
Actually, she really did not deserve such an attitude (no one deserves, in fact) as together with her beautiful appearance, childish face and ringing voice she was extremely kind, sympathetic and hard-working. She managed to melt the heart of even her father-in-law who was himself strict and hard.
Unfortunately, there was no happy end as she died due to the endless hard men’s work. She had to do too much work, man’s work and her husband did not take care of her.
And only after her death, in the complete silence, in the lack of her trills of laughter Tastan realized the grief of the loss. But it was too late. It is the man’s nature of the Kazakh steppe and upbringing by the mighty fathers of the past.
And near the grave Tastan’s father said to him, “That’s what happens when one doesn’t esteem the gold in his hands. Son, you let the gold slip through the fingers”.
Tastan was standing for long in silence and then replied, “You are guilty yourself, you made me like that…You and your friends…”.
“If everything in the world was made up by the will of fathers would not the life die on the earth? You are our future. And you are to decide how to live. No, don’t blame me. I didn’t fence the life from you”, said his father quietly and he was right though he shed all responsibility.
The irony is that still there are similar situations in nowadays distant auls and Kazakh settlements and not only. Thus, the author strongly wishes to appeal to the society minds to change and improve within the humanism and mutual understanding aspect.