Monday, December 24, 2012

Brain Workout: Variety Puzzles to Boost Your Memory and Brainpower

Brain Workout: Variety Puzzles to Boost Your Memory and Brainpower presents more than two hundred puzzles and mental tests that cover a variety of different themes, styles, and difficulty levels. This collection has been developed by author G. R. Roosta to stimulate and challenge the key components of the brain that control reasoning, language, logic, visual perception, attention, and flexibility. Brain Workout includes fun and challenging activities and mental exercises to help you get your brain in shape and keep it healthy. The puzzles included here are specifically designed to improve memory, attention, and speed, as well as the spatial, verbal, and numerical capabilities of your brain. Studies have shown that puzzles and mental exercises can improve brainpower by stimulating creativity and imagination, along with the analytical, rational, and logical areas of the brain. You can achieve great results with these puzzles by solving ten or more puzzles each day. Stimulate your mind and boost your brainpower through the mental gymnastics of the Brain Workout.

Brain Workout: Variety Puzzles to Boost Your Memory and Brainpower presents more than two hundred puzzles and mental tests that cover a variety of different themes, styles, and difficulty levels. This collection has been developed by author G. R. Roosta to stimulate and challenge the key components of the brain that control reasoning, language, logic, visual perception, attention, and flexibility. Brain Workout includes fun and challenging activities and mental exercises to help you get your brain in shape and keep it healthy. The puzzles included here are specifically designed to improve memory, attention, and speed, as well as the spatial, verbal, and numerical capabilities of your brain. Studies have shown that puzzles and mental exercises can improve brainpower by stimulating creativity and imagination, along with the analytical, rational, and logical areas of the brain. You can achieve great results with these puzzles by solving ten or more puzzles each day. Stimulate your mind and boost your brainpower through the mental gymnastics of the Brain Workout.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Romain Rolland

A French novelist, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915, has been considered as the top novelist of all time:

Romain Rolland

When Romain Rolland is considered as the top novelist of all time or one of the top novelists of all time, it is mainly due to his two literary "must read" masterpieces: Jean-Christophe and L'Âme enchantée (The Enchanted Soul).

Romain Rolland
Romain Rolland


The Enchanted Soul
The Enchanted Soul


A branch of nanotechnology concerned with the study and application of fabricating nanometer-scale structures, meaning patterns with at least one lateral dimension between the size of an individual atom and approximately 100 nm:


Nanolithography Application

Cambrian Explosion

The relatively rapid appearance of most major animal phyla, as demonstrated in the fossil record, accompanied by major diversification of organisms including animals, phytoplankton, and calcimicrobes:

Cambrian Explosion

Cambrian Explosion was over a period of many millions of years around 530 million years ago.


In biology, the primary subdivision of a taxonomic kingdom, grouping together all classes of organisms that have the same body plan:

Phylum (plural: Phyla)


The producers in a food chain, such as plants on land or algae in water, an organism that produces complex organic compounds; such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from simple substances present in its surroundings, generally using energy from light by photosynthesis or inorganic chemical reactions, chemosynthesis:


Monday, August 6, 2012

The Great Oxygenation Event (GOE)

The Earth is the only known planet with an atmosphere rich in life-giving oxygen. But for billions of years after its formation, it was blanketed by a suffocating mix of noxious gases. The transformation into the bright, airy planet we inhabit today started with an astonishing chemical make-over that scientists call:

The Great Oxygenation Event (GOE)


A member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds:

Fungus (plural: Fungi)

Fungi can be single celled or very complex multicellular organisms. They are found in just about any habitat but most live on the land, mainly in soil or on plant material rather than in sea or fresh water. A group called the decomposers grow in the soil or on dead plant matter where they play an important role in the cycling of carbon and other elements. Some are parasites of plants causing diseases such as mildews, rusts, scabs or canker. In crops fungal diseases can lead to significant monetary loss for the farmer. A very small number of fungi cause diseases in animals. In humans these include skin diseases such as athletes’ foot, ringworm and thrush [source].


Easter Island

The 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created between the years 1250 and 1500, are located in:

Easter Island (or Rapa Nui)

Easter Island, a territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean.

Easter Island
Easter Island


In 1940, Hitler embarked on a campaign of bombing raids on Britain that became known as:


Blitz is from 'blitzkrieg' (or lightning war). Late in the afternoon of 7 September 1940, 364 German bombers attacked the English capital, escorted by 515 fighters. Many of the bombs aimed at the docks missed their target and fell on residential areas instead, resulting in the deaths of 436 Londoners and injuring a further 1666. The appearance of German bombers in the skies over London marked a tactical shift in Hitler's attempt to subdue Britain. While the Blitz was directed against numerous cities across the country, it began with the bombing of London for a total of 76 consecutive nights.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Divisible by 6

A number is divisible by 6 if the sum of its digits is divisible by 3 AND its last digit is even (in other words, a number is divisible by 6 if it is an even number and it is divisible by 3).


Find a path from the START to the END passing only through numbers that are divisible by 6. Note that there is only one solution for this numerical maze.

Divisible by 6 (numerical maze)

Scroll down to check your solution!

Divisible by 6 (numerical maze)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bullet Proof Glass

How is bullet proof glass made?

Bullet proof glass is a sandwich made up of transparent plastic between two layers of ordinary glass. The first sheet of glass shatters when ills hit, dissipating much of the bullet's energy. The remaining momentum is caught by the plastic layer, which distorts but leaves the other glass sheet intact. The material is further strengthened through a process of heating and cooling called tempering.
Bullet Proof Glass

Simone de Beauvoir

A French public intellectual, political activist, feminist theorist, social theorist, and existentialist philosopher who wrote The Second Sex book:

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)

Simone de Beauvoir

Divisible by 12

A number is divisible by 12 if it is divisible by 3 AND 4.


1) If the sum of the digits of a number is divisible by 3 that number is divisible by 3. For example, 2130021 is divisible by 3 because 9, the sum of its digits (2 + 1 + 3 + 0 + 0 + 2 + 1 = 9), is divisible by 3.

2) If half of a number is an even number then that number is divisible by 4. For example, 72 is divisible by 4 because half of it, 36, is an even number. Also, if the last two digits of a number is divisible by 4 then that number is divisible by 4. As an example: 897232 is divisible by 4 because its last 2 digits; i.e. 32, is divisible by 4.

Q: Is 804 divisible by 12?

A: Yes, because it is divisible by 3 and 4:

8 + 0 + 4 = 12 where 12 is divisible by 3
804 / 2 = 402 where 402 is an even number.


Find a path from the START to the END passing only through numbers that are divisible by 12. Note that there is only one solution for this numerical maze.

Numerical Maze

Scroll down to check your solution!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Recorded History

The period in history of the world that starts around the 4th millennium BC, with the invention of writing:

Recorded History

Recorded history is the period in history of the world after prehistory.


A philosophical theory or attitude having various interpretations, generally emphasising the existence of the individual as a unique agent with free will and responsibility for his or her own acts, though living in a universe devoid of any certain knowledge of right and wrong:


Existentialism Is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre

A French novelist, existentialist philosopher, playwright, screenwriter, and literary critic, who was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused it:

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 – 1980)

Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Very hard and brittle metallic element used as an important component of steel:


Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature (often in combination with iron), and in many minerals. Manganese is a metal with important industrial metal alloy uses, particularly in stainless steels [Read more ...].



Moderately-spicy Indian curry of marinated meat or vegetables cooked with peppers, tomatoes, onions, and chillies:



Saturday, June 30, 2012


An insect with large eyes wide apart on the head and usually transparent, well-veined wings, and with about 2,500 species around the world:



The curve traced by a fixed point on a circle, or on the rim of a circular wheel, which rolls smoothly on a straight line:



Saturday, June 23, 2012

Claude Debussy

A French composer, one of the most famous and influential of all composers, who created Estampes (Prints) in 1903, and whose picture was on twenty-franc banknote:

Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy

Twenty franc banknote

Paris Opera

The primary opera company of Paris, founded in 1669 by Louis XIV, that is still running:

Paris Opera

Paris Opera

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Webster's Dictionary defines it as "an artistic dance form based on an elaborate formal technique, characterized by gestures and movements of grace, precision, and fluidity":


Thursday, June 14, 2012


The first woman poet:


Sappho, an Ancient Greek poet, is the first woman poet known by name.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Western literature begins with this poem composed probably 2000 B.C.:

Gilgamesh (the Babylonian poem Gilgamesh)

Vint Cerf & Robert Kahn

Two persons are known as the fathers of the Internet; they are:

Vint Cerf & Robert Kahn 

Vint Cerf

Robert Kahn 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Abbey of Saint-Denis

The first Gothic building:

The Abbey of Saint-Denis (in France)

The ambulatory at the Abbey of Saint-Denis.


Gothic architecture began in:


Sunday, June 10, 2012


The earliest surviving evidence of a town, located on the Jordan River, where the settlement began around 7500 B.C.:


Dwelling foundations unearthed at Tell es-Sultan in Jericho


A large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones:


Stonehenge, Wiltshire, United Kingdom, is one of the world's best known megalithic structures.


The last part of the Stone Age, a period in the development of human technology beginning about 10000 years ago, ending when metal tools became widespread in the Bronze Age:


Lower Paleolithic

The prehistoric period of human history which spans the time from around 2.5 million years ago when the first evidence of craft and use of stone tools by hominids appears in the current archaeological record, until around 300,000 years ago:

Lower Paleolithic

The Paleolithic Age, a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered, contains three subdivisions:

Lower Paleolithic [2.5 million to 300,000 years ago]
Middle Paleolithic [300,000 to 30,000 years ago]
Upper Paleolithic (or Late Stone Age) [40,000 and 10,000 years ago]

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Terra Amata

The earliest known structures built by humans are at:

Terra Amata

Terra Amata is an archeological site in southern France.


A numeral system with sixty as its base:

Sexagesimal (or Sexigesimal)

Sexagesimal originated with the ancient Sumerians in the 3rd millennium BC, it was passed down to the ancient Babylonians, and it is still used — in a modified form — for measuring time, angles, and geographic coordinates (see Sexagesimal for more info).

Sunday, June 3, 2012


The terrestrial planets are the four closest to the sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and:


Terrestrial Planet

A planet that is composed primarily of silicate rocks or metals:

Terrestrial Planet

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kaffeklubben Island

A small island lying off the northern tip of Greenland which is the northenmost point of land on Earth:

Kaffeklubben Island (or The Coffee Club Island)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Burglar's Christmas


by: Willa Cather

Two very shabby looking young men stood at the corner of Prairie Avenue and Eightieth Street, looking despondently at the carriages that whirled by. It was Christmas Eve, and the streets were full of vehicles; florists' wagons, grocers' carts and carriages. The streets were in that half-liquid, half-congealed condition peculiar to the streets of Chicago at that season of the year. The swift wheels that spun by sometimes threw the slush of mud and snow over the two young men who were talking on the corner.

"Well," remarked the elder of the two, "I guess we are at our rope's end, sure enough. How do you feel?"

"Pretty shaky. The wind's sharp tonight. If I had had anything to eat I mightn't mind it so much. There is simply no show. I'm sick of the whole business. Looks like there's nothing for it but the lake."

"O, nonsense, I thought you had more grit. Got anything left you can hock?"

Nothing but my beard, and I am afraid they wouldn't find it worth a pawn ticket," said the younger man ruefully, rubbing the week's growth of stubble on his face.

"Got any folks anywhere? Now's your time to strike 'em if you have."

"Never mind if I have, they're out of the question."

"Well, you'll be out of it before many hours if you don't make a move of some sort. A man's got to eat. See here, I am going down to Longtin's saloon. I used to play the banjo in there with a couple of coons, and I'll bone him for some of his free-lunch stuff. You'd better come along, perhaps they'll fill an order for two."

"How far down is it?"

"Well, it's clear downtown, of course, way down on Michigan avenue."

"Thanks, I guess I'll loaf around here. I don't feel equal to the walk, and the cars—well, the cars are crowded." His features drew themselves into what might have been a smile under happier circumstances.

"No, you never did like street cars, you're too aristocratic. See here, Crawford, I don't like leaving you here. You ain't good company for yourself tonight."

"Crawford? O, yes, that's the last one. There have been so many I forget them."

"Have you got a real name, anyway?"

"O, yes, but it's one of the ones I've forgotten. Don't you worry about me. You go along and get your free lunch. I think I had a row in Longtin's place once. I'd better not show myself there again." As he spoke the young man nodded and turned slowly up the avenue.

He was miserable enough to want to be quite alone. Even the crowd that jostled by him annoyed him. He wanted to think about himself. He had avoided this final reckoning with himself for a year now. He had laughed it off and drunk it off. But now, when all those artificial devices which are employed to turn our thoughts into other channels and shield us from ourselves had failed him, it must come. Hunger is a powerful incentive to introspection.

It is a tragic hour, that hour when we are finally driven to reckon with ourselves, when every avenue of mental distraction has been cut off and our own life and all its ineffaceable failures closes about us like the walls of that old torture chamber of the Inquisition. Tonight, as this man stood stranded in the streets of the city, his hour came. It was not the first time he had been hungry and desperate and alone. But always before there had been some outlook, some chance ahead, some pleasure yet untasted that seemed worth the effort, some face that he fancied was, or would be, dear. But it was not so tonight. The unyielding conviction was upon him that he had failed in everything, had outlived everything. It had been near him for a long time, that Pale Spectre. He had caught its shadow at the bottom of his glass many a time, at the head of his bed when he was sleepless at night, in the twilight shadows when some great sunset broke upon him. It had made life hateful to him when he awoke in the morning before now. But now it settled slowly over him, like night, the endless Northern nights that bid the sun a long farewell. It rose up before him like granite. From this brilliant city with its glad bustle of Yuletide he was shut off as completely as though he were a creature of another species. His days seemed numbered and done, sealed over like the little coral cells at the bottom of the sea. Involuntarily he drew that cold air through his lungs slowly, as though he were tasting it for the last time.

Yet he was but four and twenty, this man—he looked even younger—and he had a father some place down East who had been very proud of him once. Well, he had taken his life into his own hands, and this was what he had made of it. That was all there was to be said. He could remember the hopeful things they used to say about him at college in the old days, before he had cut away and begun to live by his wits, and he found courage to smile at them now. They had read him wrongly. He knew now that he never had the essentials of success, only the superficial agility that is often mistaken for it. He was tow without the tinder, and he had burnt himself out at other people's fires. He had helped other people to make it win, but he himself—he had never touched an enterprise that had not failed eventually. Or, if it survived his connection with it, it left him behind.

His last venture had been with some ten-cent specialty company, a little lower than all the others, that had gone to pieces in Buffalo, and he had worked his way to Chicago by boat. When the boat made up its crew for the outward voyage, he was dispensed with as usual. He was used to that. The reason for it? O, there are so many reasons for failure! His was a very common one.

As he stood there in the wet under the street light he drew up his reckoning with the world and decided that it had treated him as well as he deserved. He had overdrawn his account once too often. There had been a day when he thought otherwise; when he had said he was unjustly handled, that his failure was merely the lack of proper adjustment between himself and other men, that some day he would be recognized and it would all come right. But he knew better than that now, and he was still man enough to bear no grudge against any one—man or woman.

Tonight was his birthday, too. There seemed something particularly amusing in that. He turned up a limp little coat collar to try to keep a little of the wet chill from his throat, and instinctively began to remember all the birthday parties he used to have. He was so cold and empty that his mind seemed unable to grapple with any serious question. He kept thinking about gingerbread and frosted cakes like a child. He could remember the splendid birthday parties his mother used to give him, when all the other little boys in the block came in their Sunday clothes and creaking shoes, with their ears still red from their mother's towel, and the pink and white birthday cake, and the stuffed olives and all the dishes of which he had been particularly fond, and how he would eat and eat and then go to bed and dream of Santa Claus. And in the morning he would awaken and eat again, until by night the family doctor arrived with his castor oil, and poor William used to dolefully say that it was altogether too much to have your birthday and Christmas all at once. He could remember, too, the royal birthday suppers he had given at college, and the stag dinners, and the toasts, and the music, and the good fellows who had wished him happiness and really meant what they said.

And since then there were other birthday suppers that he could not remember so clearly; the memory of them was heavy and flat, like cigarette smoke that has been shut in a room all night, like champagne that has been a day opened, a song that has been too often sung, an acute sensation that has been overstrained. They seemed tawdry and garish, discordant to him now. He rather wished he could forget them altogether.

Whichever way his mind now turned there was one thought that it could not escape, and that was the idea of food. He caught the scent of a cigar suddenly, and felt a sharp pain in the pit of his abdomen and a sudden moisture in his mouth. His cold hands clenched angrily, and for a moment he felt that bitter hatred of wealth, of ease, of everything that is well fed and well housed that is common to starving men. At any rate he had a right to eat! He had demanded great things from the world once: fame and wealth and admiration. Now it was simply bread—and he would have it! He looked about him quickly and felt the blood begin to stir in his veins. In all his straits he had never stolen anything, his tastes were above it. But tonight there would be no tomorrow. He was amused at the way in which the idea excited him. Was it possible there was yet one more experience that would distract him, one thing that had power to excite his jaded interest? Good! He had failed at everything else, now he would see what his chances would be as a common thief. It would be amusing to watch the beautiful consistency of his destiny work itself out even in that role. It would be interesting to add another study to his gallery of futile attempts, and then label them all: "the failure as a journalist," "the failure as a lecturer," "the failure as a business man," "the failure as a thief," and so on, like the titles under the pictures of the Dance of Death. It was time that Childe Roland came to the dark tower.

A girl hastened by him with her arms full of packages. She walked quickly and nervously, keeping well within the shadow, as if she were not accustomed to carrying bundles and did not care to meet any of her friends. As she crossed the muddy street, she made an effort to lift her skirt a little, and as she did so one of the packages slipped unnoticed from beneath her arm. He caught it up and overtook her. "Excuse me, but I think you dropped something."

She started, "O, yes, thank you, I would rather have lost anything than that."

The young man turned angrily upon himself. The package must have contained something of value. Why had he not kept it? Was this the sort of thief he would make? He ground his teeth together. There is nothing more maddening than to have morally consented to crime and then lack the nerve force to carry it out.

A carriage drove up to the house before which he stood. Several richly dressed women alighted and went in. It was a new house, and must have been built since he was in Chicago last. The front door was open and he could see down the hallway and up the staircase. The servant had left the door and gone with the guests. The first floor was brilliantly lighted, but the windows upstairs were dark. It looked very easy, just to slip upstairs to the darkened chambers where the jewels and trinkets of the fashionable occupants were kept.

Still burning with impatience against himself he entered quickly. Instinctively he removed his mud-stained hat as he passed quickly and quietly up the stair case. It struck him as being a rather superfluous courtesy in a burglar, but he had done it before he had thought. His way was clear enough, he met no one on the stairway or in the upper hall. The gas was lit in the upper hall. He passed the first chamber door through sheer cowardice. The second he entered quickly, thinking of something else lest his courage should fail him, and closed the door behind him. The light from the hall shone into the room through the transom. The apartment was furnished richly enough to justify his expectations. He went at once to the dressing case. A number of rings and small trinkets lay in a silver tray. These he put hastily in his pocket. He opened the upper drawer and found, as he expected, several leather cases. In the first he opened was a lady's watch, in the second a pair of old-fashioned bracelets; he seemed to dimly remember having seen bracelets like them before, somewhere. The third case was heavier, the spring was much worn, and it opened easily. It held a cup of some kind. He held it up to the light and then his strained nerves gave way and he uttered a sharp exclamation. It was the silver mug he used to drink from when he was a little boy.

The door opened, and a woman stood in the doorway facing him. She was a tall woman, with white hair, in evening dress. The light from the hall streamed in upon him, but she was not afraid. She stood looking at him a moment, then she threw out her hand and went quickly toward him.

"Willie, Willie! Is it you?"

He struggled to loose her arms from him, to keep her lips from his cheek. "Mother—you must not! You do not understand! O, my God, this is worst of all!" Hunger, weakness, cold, shame, all came back to him, and shook his self-control completely. Physically he was too weak to stand a shock like this. Why could it not have been an ordinary discovery, arrest, the station house and all the rest of it. Anything but this! A hard dry sob broke from him. Again he strove to disengage himself.

"Who is it says I shall not kiss my son? O, my boy, we have waited so long for this! You have been so long in coming, even I almost gave you up."

Her lips upon his cheek burnt him like fire. He put his hand to his throat, and spoke thickly and incoherently: "You do not understand. I did not know you were here. I came here to rob—it is the first time—I swear it—but I am a common thief. My pockets are full of your jewels now. Can't you hear me? I am a common thief!"

"Hush, my boy, those are ugly words. How could you rob your own house? How could you take what is your own? They are all yours, my son, as wholly yours as my great love—and you can't doubt that, Will, do you?"

That soft voice, the warmth and fragrance of her person stole through his chill, empty veins like a gentle stimulant. He felt as though all his strength were leaving him and even consciousness. He held fast to her and bowed his head on her strong shoulder, and groaned aloud.

"O, mother, life is hard, hard!"

She said nothing, but held him closer. And O, the strength of those white arms that held him! O, the assurance of safety in that warm bosom that rose and fell under his cheek! For a moment they stood so, silently. Then they heard a heavy step upon the stair. She led him to a chair and went out and closed the door. At the top of the staircase she met a tall, broad-shouldered man, with iron gray hair, and a face alert and stem. Her eyes were shining and her cheeks on fire, her whole face was one expression of intense determination.

"James, it is William in there, come home. You must keep him at any cost. If he goes this time, I go with him. O, James, be easy with him, he has suffered so." She broke from a command to an entreaty, and laid her hand on his shoulder. He looked questioningly at her a moment, then went in the room and quietly shut the door.

She stood leaning against the wall, clasping her temples with her hands and listening to the low indistinct sound of the voices within. Her own lips moved silently. She waited a long time, scarcely breathing. At last the door opened, and her husband came out. He stopped to say in a shaken voice,

"You go to him now, he will stay. I will go to my room. I will see him again in the morning."

She put her arm about his neck, "O, James, I thank you, I thank you! This is the night he came so long ago, you remember? I gave him to you then, and now you give him back to me!"

"Don't, Helen," he muttered. "He is my son, I have never forgotten that. I failed with him. I don't like to fail, it cuts my pride. Take him and make a man of him." He passed on down the hall.

She flew into the room where the young man sat with his head bowed upon his knee. She dropped upon her knees beside him. Ah, it was so good to him to feel those arms again!

"He is so glad, Willie, so glad! He may not show it, but he is as happy as I. He never was demonstrative with either of us, you know."

"O, my God, he was good enough," groaned the man. "I told him everything, and he was good enough. I don't see how either of you can look at me, speak to me, touch me." He shivered under her clasp again as when she had first touched him, and tried weakly to throw her off.

But she whispered softly,

"This is my right, my son."

Presently, when he was calmer, she rose. "Now, come with me into the library, and I will have your dinner brought there."

As they went downstairs she remarked apologetically, "I will not call Ellen tonight; she has a number of guests to attend to. She is a big girl now, you know, and came out last winter. Besides, I want you all to myself tonight."

When the dinner came, and it came very soon, he fell upon it savagely. As he ate she told him all that had transpired during the years of his absence, and how his father's business had brought them there. "I was glad when we came. I thought you would drift West. I seemed a good deal nearer to you here."

There was a gentle unobtrusive sadness in her tone that was too soft for a reproach.

"Have you everything you want? It is a comfort to see you eat."

He smiled grimly, "It is certainly a comfort to me. I have not indulged in this frivolous habit for some thirty-five hours."

She caught his hand and pressed it sharply, uttering a quick remonstrance.

"Don't say that! I know, but I can't hear you say it—it's too terrible! My boy, food has choked me many a time when I have thought of the possibility of that. Now take the old lounging chair by the fire, and if you are too tired to talk, we will just sit and rest together."

He sank into the depths of the big leather chair with the lions' heads on the arms, where he had sat so often in the days when his feet did not touch the floor and he was half afraid of the grim monsters cut in the polished wood. That chair seemed to speak to him of things long forgotten. It was like the touch of an old familiar friend. He felt a sudden yearning tenderness for the happy little boy who had sat there and dreamed of the big world so long ago. Alas, he had been dead many a summer, that little boy!

He sat looking up at the magnificent woman beside him. He had almost forgotten how handsome she was; how lustrous and sad were the eyes that were set under that serene brow, how impetuous and wayward the mouth even now, how superb the white throat and shoulders! Ah, the wit and grace and fineness of this woman! He remembered how proud he had been of her as a boy when she came to see him at school. Then in the deep red coals of the grate he saw the faces of other women who had come since then into his vexed, disordered life. Laughing faces, with eyes artificially bright, eyes without depth or meaning, features without the stamp of high sensibilities. And he had left this face for such as those!

He sighed restlessly and laid his hand on hers. There seemed refuge and protection in the touch of her, as in the old days when he was afraid of the dark. He had been in the dark so long now, his confidence was so thoroughly shaken, and he was bitterly afraid of the night and of himself.

"Ah, mother, you make other things seem so false. You must feel that I owe you an explanation, but I can't make any, even to myself. Ah, but we make poor exchanges in life. I can't make out the riddle of it all. Yet there are things I ought to tell you before I accept your confidence like this."

"I'd rather you wouldn't, Will. Listen: Between you and me there can be no secrets. We are more alike than other people. Dear boy, I know all about it. I am a woman, and circumstances were different with me, but we are of one blood. I have lived all your life before you. You have never had an impulse that I have not known, you have never touched a brink that my feet have not trod. This is your birthday night. Twenty-four years ago I foresaw all this. I was a young woman then and I had hot battles of my own, and I felt your likeness to me. You were not like other babies. From the hour you were born you were restless and discontented, as I had been before you. You used to brace your strong little limbs against mine and try to throw me off as you did tonight. Tonight you have come back to me, just as you always did after you ran away to swim in the river that was forbidden you, the river you loved because it was forbidden. You are tired and sleepy, just as you used to be then, only a little older and a little paler and a little more foolish. I never asked you where you had been then, nor will I now. You have come back to me, that's all in all to me. I know your every possibility and limitation, as a composer knows his instrument."

He found no answer that was worthy to give to talk like this. He had not found life easy since he had lived by his wits. He had come to know poverty at close quarters. He had known what it was to be gay with an empty pocket, to wear violets in his buttonhole when he had not breakfasted, and all the hateful shams of the poverty of idleness. He had been a reporter on a big metropolitan daily, where men grind out their brains on paper until they have not one idea left—and still grind on. He had worked in a real estate office, where ignorant men were swindled. He had sung in a comic opera chorus and played Harris in an Uncle Tom's Cabin company, and edited a socialist weekly. He had been dogged by debt and hunger and grinding poverty, until to sit here by a warm fire without concern as to how it would be paid for seemed unnatural.

He looked up at her questioningly. "I wonder if you know how much you pardon?"

"O, my poor boy, much or little, what does it matter? Have you wandered so far and paid such a bitter price for knowledge and not yet learned that love has nothing to do with pardon or forgiveness, that it only loves, and loves—and loves? They have not taught you well, the women of your world." She leaned over and kissed him, as no woman had kissed him since he left her.

He drew a long sigh of rich content. The old life, with all its bitterness and useless antagonism and flimsy sophistries, its brief delights that were always tinged with fear and distrust and unfaith, that whole miserable, futile, swindled world of Bohemia seemed immeasurably distant and far away, like a dream that is over and done. And as the chimes rang joyfully outside and sleep pressed heavily upon his eyelids, he wondered dimly if the Author of this sad little riddle of ours were not able to solve it after all, and if the Potter would not finally mete out his all comprehensive justice, such as none but he could have, to his Things of Clay, which are made in his own patterns, weak or strong, for his own ends; and if some day we will not awaken and find that all evil is a dream, a mental distortion that will pass when the dawn shall break.


The Marriage Plot (Award Winner)

The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot is a 2011 novel by American writer Jeffrey Eugenides. The story concerns three college friends from Brown University—Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell—beginning in their senior year, 1982, and follows them during their first year post-graduation.


Publication Date: October 11, 2011

A New York Times Notable Book of 2011
A Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Book of 2011
A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Best Fiction of 2011 Title
One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011
A Salon Best Fiction of 2011 title
One of The Telegraph’s Best Fiction Books of the Year 2011

It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.
As Madeleine tries to understand why “it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France,” real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead—charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy—suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old “friend” Mitchell Grammaticus—who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange—resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

Editorial Reviews Review
Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: Even among authors, Jeffrey Eugenides possesses a rare talent for being able to inhabit his characters. In The Marriage Plot, his third novel and first in ten years (following the Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex), Eugenides describes a year or so in the lives of three college seniors at Brown in the early 80s. There is Madeleine, a self-described “incurable romantic” who is slightly embarrassed at being so normal. There is Leonard, a brilliant, temperamental student from the Pacific Northwest. And completing the triangle is Mitchell, a Religious Studies major from Eugenides’ own Detroit. What follows is a book delivered in sincere and genuine prose, tracing the end of the students’ college days and continuing into those first, tentative steps toward true adulthood. This is a thoughtful and at times disarming novel about life, love, and discovery, set during a time when so much of life seems filled with deep portent. --Chris Schluep
Praise for The Marriage Plot:
“Wry, engaging and beautifully constructed.” —William Deresiewicz, The New York Times Book Review
“[The Marriage Plot] is sly, fun entertainment, a confection for English majors and book lovers . . . Mr. Eugenides brings the period into bright detail—the brands of beer, the music, the affectations—and his send-ups of the pretensions of chic undergraduate subcultures are hilarious and charmingly rendered . . . [His] most mature and accomplished book so far” —Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
“No one’s more adept at channeling teenage angst than Jeffrey Eugenides. Not even J. D. Salinger . . . It’s in mapping Mitchell’s search for some sort of belief that might fill the spiritual hole in his heart and Madeleine’s search for a way to turn her passion for literature into a vocation that this novel is at its most affecting, reminding us with uncommon understanding what it is to be young and idealistic, in pursuit of true love and in love with books and ideas.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“This is a story about being young and bright and lost, a story Americans have been telling since Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Our exceptionally well-read but largely untested graduates still wonder: How should I live my life? What can I really believe in? Whom should I love? Literature has provided a wide range of answers to those questions—Lose Lady Brett! Give up on Daisy! Go with Team Edward!—but in the end, novels aren’t really very good guidebooks. Instead, they’re a chance to exercise our moral imagination, and this one provides an exceptionally witty and poignant workout.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“If there is a writer to whom Eugenides appears connected, it is not Wallace but Jonathan Franzen. They are less than a year apart in age, and while Franzen got a head start, the two, who are both with the same publisher, are on similar publishing schedules. Last year, Franzen's Freedom was a bestseller; like The Marriage Plot, it's a robust, rich story of adults in a love triangle. Eugenides benefits by the comparison: This book is sweeter, kinder, with a more generous heart. What's more, it is layered with exactly the kinds of things that people who love novels will love.” —Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
“Eugenides steers effortlessly through the intertwining tales of his three protagonists, shifting seamlessly among their three viewpoints and overlapping their stories in a way that's easy to follow and never labored. His prose is smooth but never flashy, and his eye for the telling detail or gesture is keen. Slowly but confidently he fleshes out his characters, and as they slowly accrue weight and realism, readers will feel increasingly opinionated about the choices they make . . . It's heavy stuff, but Eugenides distinguishes himself from too many novelists who seem to think a somber tone equates to a serious purpose. The Marriage Plot is fun to read and ultimately affirming.” —Patrick Condon, San Francisco Chronicle
“Eugenides, a master storyteller, has a remarkable way of twisting his narrative in a way that seems effortless; taking us backward and forward in time to fill in details . . . For these characters, who don't live in Jane Austen's world, no simple resolution will do for them in the world. And yet you close this book with immense satisfaction—falling in love just a bit yourself, with a new kind of marriage plot.” —Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times
“Jeffrey Eugenides, in his glorious new novel, mines our thrall and eternal unease around sex, love and marriage . . . At its core, The Marriage Plot is besotted with books, flush with literary references. It seems coyly designed to become the volume all former English majors take to their breasts.” —Karen Long, The Plain Dealer
“There has been a storybook quality to much American fiction recently—larger-than-life, hyper-exuberant, gaudy like the superhero comics and fairy tales that have inspired it. By sticking to ordinary human truth, Eugenides has bucked this trend and written his most powerful book yet.” —Zachary Lazar, Newsday
“Befitting [Eugenides’s] status as that rare author who bridges both highbrow book clubs and best-seller lists, his third novel is a grand romance in the Austen tradition—one that also deconstructs the very idea of why we'd still find pleasure in such a timeworn narrative style. It's a book that asks why we love to read, yet is so relentlessly charming, smart and funny that it answers its own question.” —David Daley, USA TODAY
“There are serious pleasures here for people who love to read.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“Eugenides's first novel since 2002's Pulitzer Prize–winning Middlesex so impressively, ambitiously breaks the mold of its predecessor that it calls for the founding of a new prize to recognize its success both as a novel—and as a Jeffrey Eugenides novel. Importantly but unobtrusively set in the early 1980s, this is the tale of Madeleine Hanna, recent Brown University English grad, and her admirer Mitchell Grammaticus, who opts out of Divinity School to walk the earth as an ersatz pilgrim. Madeleine is equally caught up, both with the postmodern vogue (Derrida, Barthes)—conflicting with her love of James, Austen, and Salinger—and with the brilliant Leonard Bankhead, whom she met in semiotics class and whose fits of manic depression jeopardize his suitability as a marriage prospect. Meanwhile, Mitchell winds up in Calcutta working with Mother Theresa's volunteers, still dreaming of Madeleine. In capturing the heady spirit of youthful intellect on the verge, Eugenides revives the coming-of-age novel for a new generation The book's fidelity to its young heroes and to a superb supporting cast of enigmatic professors, feminist theorists, neo-Victorians, and concerned mothers, and all of their evolving investment in ideas and ideals is such that the central argument of the book is also its solution: the old stories may be best after all, but there are always new ways to complicate them.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“In Eugenides’ first novel since the Pulitzer Prize–winning Middlesex (2002), English major and devotee of classic literature Madeleine Hanna is a senior at Reagan-era Brown University. Only when curiosity gets the best of her does she belly up to Semiotics 211, a bastion of postmodern liberalism, and meet handsome, brilliant, mysterious Leonard Bankhead. Completing a triangle is Madeleine’s friend Mitchell, a clear-eyed religious-studies student who believes himself her true intended. Eugenides’ drama unfolds over the next year or so. His characteristically deliberate, researched realization of place and personality serve him well, and he strikes perfectly tuned chords by referring to works ranging from Barthes’ Lovers’ Discourse to Bemelmans’Madeline books for children. The remarkably à propos title refers to the subject of Madeleine’s honors thesis, which is the Western novel’s doing and undoing, in that, upon the demise, circa 1900, of the marriage plot, the novel ‘didn’t mean much anymore,’ according to Madeleine’s professor and, perhaps, Eugenides. With this tightly, immaculately self-contained tale set upon pillars at once imposing and of dollhouse scale, namely, academia (‘College wasn’t like the real world,’ Madeleine notes) and the emotions of the youngest of twentysomethings, Eugenides realizes the novel whose dismantling his characters examine.” Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)
“A stunning novel—erudite, compassionate and penetrating in its analysis of love relationships. Eugenides focuses primarily on three characters, who all graduate from Brown in 1982. One of the pieces of this triangle is Madeleine Hanna, who finds herself somewhat embarrassed to have emerged from a “normal” household in New Jersey (though we later find out the normality of her upbringing is only relative). She becomes enamored with Leonard, a brilliant but moody student, in their Semiotics course, one of the texts being, ironically, Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse, which Madeleine finds disturbingly problematic in helping her figure out her own love relationship. We discover that Leonard had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder during his first year at Brown, and his struggle with mood swings throughout the novel is both titanic and tender. The third major player is Mitchell, a Religious Studies major who is also attracted to Madeleine but whose reticence she finds both disturbing and incomprehensible. On graduation day, Leonard has a breakdown and is hospitalized in a mental-health ward, and Madeleine shows her commitment by skipping the festivities and seeking him out. After graduation, Leonard and Madeleine live together when Leonard gets an internship at a biology lab on Cape Cod, and the spring after graduation they marry, when Leonard is able to get his mood swings under temporary control. Meanwhile Mitchell, who takes his major seriously, travels to India seeking a path—and briefly finds one when he volunteers to work with the dying in Calcutta. But Mitchell’s road to self-discovery eventually returns him to the States—and opens another opportunity for love that complicates Madeleine’s life. Dazzling work—Eugenides continues to show that he is one of t...
About the Author
Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published by FSG to great acclaim in 1993, and he has received numerous awards for his work. In 2003, Eugenides received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Middlesex (FSG, 2002), which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and France’s Prix Médicis.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
To start with, look at all the books. There were her Edith Wharton novels, arranged not by title but date of publication; there was the complete Modern Library set of Henry James, a gift from her father on her twenty-first birthday; there were the dog-eared paperbacks assigned in her college courses, a lot of Dickens, a smidgen of Trollope, along with good helpings of Austen, George Eliot, and the redoubtable Brontë sisters. There were a whole lot of black-and-white New Directions paperbacks, mostly poetry by people like H.D. or Denise Levertov. There were the Colette novels she read on the sly. There was the first edition of Couples, belonging to her mother, which Madeleine had surreptitiously dipped into back in sixth grade and which she was using now to provide textual support in her English honors thesis on the marriage plot. There was, in short, this mid-size but still portable library representing pretty much everything Madeleine had read in college, a collection of texts, seemingly chosen at random, whose focus slowly narrowed, like a personality test, a sophisticated one you couldn’t trick by anticipating the implications of its questions and finally got so lost in that your only recourse was to answer the simple truth. And then you waited for the result, hoping for “Artistic,” or “Passionate,” thinking you could live with “Sensitive,” secretly fearing “Narcissistic” and “Domestic,” but finally being presented with an outcome that cut both ways and made you feel different depending on the day, the hour, or the guy you happened to be dating: “Incurably Romantic.”
These were the books in the room where Madeleine lay, with a pillow over her head, on the morning of her college graduation. She’d read each and every one, often multiple times, frequently underlining passages, but that was no help to her now. Madeleine was trying to ignore the room and everything in it. She was hoping to drift back down into the oblivion where she’d been safely couched for the last three hours. Any higher level of wakefulness would force her to come to grips with certain disagreeable facts: for instance, the amount and variety of the alcohol she’d imbibed last night, and the fact that she’d gone to sleep with her contacts in. Thinking about such specifics would, in turn, call to mind the reasons she’d drunk so much in the first place, which she definitely didn’t want to do. And so Madeleine adjusted her pillow, blocking out the early morning light, and tried to fall back to sleep.
But it was useless. Because right then, at the other end of her apartment, the doorbell began to ring.
Early June, Providence, Rhode Island, the sun up for almost two hours already, lighting up the pale bay and the smokestacks of the Narragansett Electric factory, rising like the sun on the Brown University seal emblazoned on all the pennants and banners draped up over campus, a sun with a sagacious face, representing knowledge. But this sun—the one over Providence— was doing the metaphorical sun one better, because the founders of the university, in their Baptist pessimism, had chosen to depict the light of knowledge enshrouded by clouds, indicating that ignorance had not yet been dispelled from the human realm, whereas the actual sun was just now fighting its way through cloud cover, sending down splintered beams of light and giving hope to the squadrons of parents, who’d been soaked and frozen all weekend, that the unseasonable weather might not ruin the day’s festivities. All over College Hill, in the geometric gardens of the Georgian mansions, the magnolia-scented front yards of Victorians, along brick sidewalks running past black iron fences like those in a Charles Addams cartoon or a Lovecraft story; outside the art studios at the Rhode Island School of Design, where one painting major, having stayed up all night to work, was blaring Patti Smith; shining off the instruments (tuba and trumpet, respectively) of the two members of the Brown marching band who had arrived early at the meeting point and were nervously looking around, wondering where everyone else was; brightening the cobblestone side streets that led downhill to the polluted river, the sun was shining on every brass doorknob, insect wing, and blade of grass. And, in concert with the suddenly flooding light, like a starting gun for all the activity, the doorbell in Madeleine’s fourth- floor apartment began, clamorously, insistently, to ring.
The pulse reached her less as a sound than as a sensation, an electric shock shooting up her spine. In one motion Madeleine tore the pillow off her head and sat up in bed. She knew who was ringing the buzzer. It was her parents. She’d agreed to meet Alton and Phyllida for breakfast at 7:30. She’d made this plan with them two months ago, in April, and now here they were, at the appointed time, in their eager, dependable way. That Alton and Phyllida had driven up from New Jersey to see her graduate, that what they were here to celebrate today wasn’t only her achievement but their own as parents, had nothing wrong or unexpected about it. The problem was that Madeleine, for the first time in her life, wanted no part of it. She wasn’t proud of herself. She was in no mood to celebrate. She’d lost faith in the significance of the day and what the day represented.
She considered not answering. But she knew that if she didn’t answer, one of her roommates would, and then she’d have to explain where she’d disappeared to last night, and with whom. Therefore, Madeleine slid out of the bed and reluctantly stood up.
This seemed to go well for a moment, standing up. Her head felt curiously light, as if hollowed out. But then the blood, draining from her skull like sand from an hourglass, hit a bottleneck, and the back of her head exploded in pain.
In the midst of this barrage, like the furious core from which it emanated, the buzzer erupted again. She came out of her bedroom and stumbled in bare feet to the intercom in the hall, slapping the speak button to silence the buzzer.
“What’s the matter? Didn’t you hear the bell?” It was Alton’s voice, as deep and commanding as ever, despite the fact that it was issuing from a tiny speaker.
“Sorry,” Madeleine said. “I was in the shower.”
“Likely story. Will you let us in, please?”
Madeleine didn’t want to. She needed to wash up first.
“I’m coming down,” she said.
This time, she held down the SPEAK button too long, cutting off Alton’s response. She pressed it again and said, “Daddy?” but while she was speaking, Alton must have been speaking, too, because when she pressed LISTEN all that came through was static.
Madeleine took this pause in communications to lean her forehead against the door frame. The wood felt nice and cool. The thought struck her that, if she could keep her face pressed against the soothing wood, she might be able to cure her headache, and if she could keep her forehead pressed against the door frame for the rest of the day, while somehow still being able to leave the apartment, she might make it through breakfast with her parents, march in the commencement procession, get a diploma, and graduate.
She lifted her face and pressed SPEAK again.
But it was Phyllida’s voice that answered. “Maddy? What’s the matter?
Let us in.”
“My roommates are still asleep. I’m coming down. Don’t ring the bell
“We want to see your apartment!”
“Not now. I’m coming down. Don’t ring.”
She took her hand from the buttons and stood back, glaring at the intercom as if daring it to make a sound. When it didn’t, she started back down the hall. She was halfway to the bathroom when her roommate Abby emerged, blocking the way. She yawned, running a hand through her big hair, and then, noticing Madeleine, smiled knowingly.
“So,” Abby said, “where did you sneak off to last night?”
“My parents are here,” Madeleine said. “I have to go to breakfast.”
“Come on. Tell me.”
“There’s nothing to tell. I’m late.”
“How come you’re wearing the same clothes, then?”
Instead of replying, Madeleine looked down at herself. Ten hours earlier, when she’d borrowed the black Betsey Johnson dress from Olivia, Madeleine had thought it looked good on her. But now the dress felt hot and sticky, the fat leather belt looked like an S&M restraint, and there was a stain near the hem that she didn’t want to identify.
Abby, meanwhile, had knocked on Olivia’s door and entered. “So much for Maddy’s broken heart,” she said. “Wake up! You’ve got to see this.”
The path to the bathroom was clear. Madeleine’s need for a shower was extreme, almost medical. At a minimum, she had to brush her teeth. But Olivia’s voice was audible now. Soon Madeleine would have two roommates interrogating her. Her parents were liable to start ringing again any minute. As quietly as possible, she inched back down the hall. She stepped into a pair of loafers left by the front door, crushing the heels flat as she caught her balance, and escaped into the outer corridor.
The elevator was waiting at the end of the floral runner. Waiting, Madeleine realized, because she’d failed to close the sliding gate when she’d staggered out of the thing a few hours earlier. [source:]