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Episode 81: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Today’s book discussion on The Literary Life podcast centers around the book 84, Charing Cross Road. Angelina Stanford, Cindy Rollins and Thomas Banks share their first experiences reading this book of letters between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. Cindy talks about her deep identification with Helene the first time she read 84, Charing Cross Road and how much she dreamed of going to England. Angelina and Thomas talk about the characteristics of Helene as a reader and as a person seeking self-education.

Come back again next week for a special guest episode look at the literary life of Charlotte Mason! After that, we dig into George Eliot’s Silas Marner.

Listen to The Literary Life:

Commonplace Quotes:

Our Japanese soldiers who came back from overseas were a pitiful sight. They looked thin, weak, and exhausted. And some of them were invalids, drained of color and borne on stretchers.

But among the returning soldiers there was one company of cheerful men. They were always singing, even difficult pieces in several parts and they sang very well. When they disembarked at Yokosuka the people who came to greet them were astonished. Everyone asked if they had received extra rations, since they seemed so happy.

These men had had no extra rations, but had practiced choral singing throughout the Burma campaign. Their captain, a young musician fresh from music school, had enthusiastically taught his soldiers how to sing. It was singing that kept up their morale through boredom or hardship and that bound them together in friendship and discipline during the long war years. Without it, they would never have come home in remarkable high spirits.

Michio Takeyama 

Men are apt to prefer a prosperous error before an afflicted truth.

Jeremy Taylor

Secondhand booksellers are the most friendly and most eccentric of all the characters I have known. If I had not been a writer, theirs would have been the profession I would most happily have chosen.

Graham Greene

Reading in Wartime

by Edwin Muir

Boswell by my bed,
Tolstoy on my table;
Thought the world has bled
For four and a half years,
And wives’ and mothers’ tears
Collected would be able
To water a little field
Untouched by anger and blood,
A penitential yield
Somewhere in the world;
Though in each latitude
Armies like forest fall,
The iniquitous and the good
Head over heels hurled,
And confusion over all:
Boswell’s turbulent friend
And his deafening verbal strife,
Ivan Ilych’s death
Tell me more about life,
The meaning and the end
Of our familiar breath,
Both being personal,
Than all the carnage can,
Retrieve the shape of man,
Lost and anonymous,
Tell me wherever I look
That not one soul can die
Of this or any clan
Who is not one of us
And has a personal tie
Perhaps to someone now
Searching an ancient book,
Folk-tale or country song
In many and many a tongue,
To find the original face,
The individual soul,
The eye, the lip, the brow
For ever gone from their place,
And gather an image whole.

Book List:

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

The Harp of Burma by Michio Takeyama 

Holy Living by Jeremy Taylor

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

The Narnian by Alan Jacobs

The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

P. G. Wodehouse

A Modest Proposal by Jonathon Swift

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Dubliners by James Joyce

The Works of Lord Byron: Letters and Journals by Lord Byron

Selected Letters by Jane Austen

Few Eggs and No Oranges by Vere Hodgson

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Connect with Us:

You can find Angelina and Thomas at HouseofHumaneLetters.com, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ANGStanford/

Find Cindy at https://cindyrollins.net, on Instagram @cindyordoamoris and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cindyrollins.net/. Check out Cindy’s own Patreon page also!

Follow The Literary Life on Instagram, and jump into our private Facebook group, The Literary Life Discussion Group, and let’s get the book talk going! http://bit.ly/literarylifeFB

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