Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus


Courtesy: University of Adelaide

When I first picked up this novel by Many Shelley, I expected the ‘horror and the macabre’, as described by The Guardian. However, my experience was the complete opposite. I found it to be a most tender reading.  Admittedly, it is grotesque in a number of ways. Joining different body parts from different human beings can hardly be described as a pleasant reading. The murder of a child especially to a parent is revolting. Nonetheless, beneath this creative license to astound, are the themes that pins the novel’s appeal. These are the pursuit of knowledge, acceptance or the need for friendship and the therapeutic effect of the great outdoors.

The Pursuit of knowledge

The novel is commenced through four letters (isn’t that what makes for a tender read?), written by Robert Walton to his sister Mrs Saville. Therein, he states his purpose and we see the pursuit of knowledge and raw human ambition at play.

‘I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements…’

This pursuit of human knowledge is later on seen when Frankenstein enters the scene.

I was capable of…intense application and was…deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge…The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember.

To find out the end result of this ‘curiosity’ you might just need to pick up the book as well.


Acceptance/Need for Friendship

As Robert sets about to leave his mark in the annals of human history, he has a deep seated desire that is best described in his own words

‘I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy, and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil, I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend.’

It is in Robert’s journey northwards, that he encounters Frankenstein, in a frail condition and on the brink of death.

Robert takes him in and his desire for a friend is realized.

I said in one of my letters, my dear Margaret, that I should find no friend on the wide ocean; yet I have found a man who, before his spirit had been broken by misery, I should have been happy to have possessed as the brother of my heart.

Nonetheless, it is in the ‘monster’ own words, that the desperate need for companionship forcefully breaks through.

‘Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”

He hid from men, and while doing so observed a family of three and studied their ways, as an anthropologist would do.

‘When I slept or was absent, the forms of the venerable blind father, the gentle Agatha, and the excellent Felix flitted before me. I looked upon them as superior beings who would be the arbiters of my future destiny. I formed in my imagination a thousand pictures of presenting myself to them, and their reception of me. I imagined that they would be disgusted, until, by my gentle demeanour and conciliating words, I should first win their favour and afterwards their love’

As he narrates his ordeals, one cannot help but ask who the monster here is. Man or him?

‘To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased and I turned away with disgust and loathing.’

I must confess I found the monster’s narration to be the most moving portion of the novel.


The Great outdoors

I have written before on the soothing effect nature has often afforded me. I occasionally get bouts of depression that not even my dear wife can help in alleviating. I can always tell when that black cloud is about to descend. I feel it in my bones. Before I met the LORD, I would drown it in alcohol and dissipation. It seemed to work but only for a while. In the LORD, I found a cure. I found it in his creation-landscapes and wildlife. Perhaps this is why Frankenstein greatly appealed to me. To read of another soul being healed by the beauty of nature is absolutely wonderful. And I can only ask of you, dear reader, as Walton asked of his sister, ‘do you understand this feeling?’

Here are snippets from the novel showing what I mean.

‘I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling?’

‘Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions seem still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth.

The weight upon my spirit was sensibly lightened as I plunged yet deeper in the ravine of Arve. The immense mountains and precipices that overhung me on every side, the sound of the river raging among the rocks, and the dashing of the waterfalls around spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence — and I ceased to fear or to bend before any being less almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements, here displayed in their most terrific guise…he very winds whispered in soothing accents, and maternal Nature bade me weep no more…I remained at the window watching the pallid lightnings that played above Mont Blanc and listening to the rushing of the Arve, which pursued its noisy way beneath. The same lulling sounds acted as a lullaby to my too keen sensations; when I placed my head upon my pillow, sleep crept over me; I felt it as it came and blessed the giver of oblivion.’

‘They congregated round me; the unstained snowy mountaintop, the glittering pinnacle, the pine woods, and ragged bare ravine, the eagle, soaring amidst the clouds — they all gathered round me and bade me be at peace.’

Ah, Mary Shelley, barely at nineteen years of age, you bequeathed future generations with deep insights into the human nature. While many may read Frankenstein and shrink with horror, I will always read it teary-eyed, with that golden commandment ringing true in mine heart…

‘Love your neighbour as you would love yourself’


Doctor Thorne

doctor thorne

Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne, though a fictional novel is but really a study on human nature. The diverse characters; Doctor Thorne, witty, true to his profession and his word and invariably the author’s hero; Mary Thorne, the doctor’s niece, humble yet proud, of ignoble birth but noble in character;  the rough but kind-hearted Sir Rodger Scatherd;  The pitiable Squire, Lord Gresham who is up to his nose in debt, his wife Lady Arabella, a schemer who means well for her loved ones, her son Frank Gresham who is hopelessly in love with Mary Thorne…and a horde of other characters make up Trollope’s most read novel.

Set in the rural County west of England namely Barsetshire, Trollope brings to life the quintessential rural England. Though Thomas Hardy in his novel Tess of D’Urbervilles does a highly commendable job of painting the rural England, it is a most difficult task to distinguish who does a better job between the two. Nonetheless, Trollope decidedly introduces the reader to Barsetshire before his characters and goes about it in a manner that can only be described as Trollopian.

There is a county in the west of England not so full of life, indeed, nor so widely spoken of as some of its manufacturing leviathan brethren in the North, but which is nevertheless very dear to those who know it well. Its green pastures, its waving wheat, its deep and shady and-let us add-dirty lanes, its paths and stiles, its tawny-coloured, well built rural churches, its avenues of beeches, and frequent Tudor manors, its constant county hunt, its social graces, and the general air of clanship which pervades it, has made it to its own inhabitants a favoured land of Goshen.

Another key feature of Doctor Thorne is the Narrator who casts a long shadow over the characters from the first sentence to the last.  While in some narrations his (assuming the author’s gender) side comments would be an intrusion, in Trollope’s works, they are welcome. Here are about a few sprinkled throughout the novel. The ones on doctors are by far my favourite.

It is sometimes becoming enough for a man to wrap himself in a toga of silence and proclaim himself indifferent to public attacks but it is a sort of dignity which is difficult to maintain.

Ladies think that doctors should be married men. All the world feels that a man when married acquires some of the attributes of an old woman-he becomes to a certain extent, a motherly sort of being; he acquires a conversance with the women’s ways and women’s wants and loses the wilder and offensive sparks of his virility.

People when they are in love with each other or even when they pretend to be, do not generally show it by loud laughter.

She said to herself, proudly that God’s work was the inner man, the inner woman, the naked creature animated by a living soul; that all other adjuncts were but man’s clothing for the creature; all others whether stitched by tailors or contrived by kings. Was it not within her capacity to do as nobly, to love as truly to worship her God in heaven with as perfect a faith and her god on earth with as leal a troth, as though blood had descended to her purely through scores of purely-born progenitors 

Good fires, winter cheer, groaning tables, and warm blankets make a fictitious summer, which to some tastes, is more delightful than the long days and hot summer.

Doctor Thorne is not outlandish in its plot or in its characters. It is real yet fictitious. Reading it, one glimpses into the lives of the heroes and villains and sees a clear reflection of his own. It is one novel I highly recommend. However, if you are not the reading kind (how unfortunate), you might enjoy watching it instead.












More often than not, life is smooth; our health is good, finances secure, family safe etc. And just when you are getting comfortable on this smooth road, something happens and you are plucked from it and set on a thorny path. It  might be an acute illness, sudden financial ruin, death of a loved one etc. In the midst of it all, it easy to become bitter, shake your fist at God and feel justified in doing so. However, a more noble choice would be to be grateful.

I have been recently reminded of this in the usual way. I was about my business when I fell ill. Nothing serious so do not get worried and all worked up. Just a cold (but if you know most men’s temperament, catching a cold is really serious!). Hence, I was forced to slow down a little bit. Knock on that doctor’s door. I can complain, get peevish at the slightest inconveniences. Nonetheless,  I choose to be grateful. Grateful that I can still continue with my work albeit at a slower pace. Grateful that I can still play with my daughter though not for long lest she gets it too. Grateful-eternally grateful-of being reminded of my human frailty and consequently, of God’s power to heal and restore.

Yep! Gratitude is a choice we make. Life happens to us. There is nothing we can do to alter its course. However, how we respond is entirely our ball to play. We can choose to sulk and complain or be grateful and experience God’s joy. I choose the latter. I hope you do too.

My Annual Dose of Wisdom


It appears I have formed the habit of doling out wisdom on my birthday every year. While some may be of the view that such is unwarranted, let it be known that I do it solely for my own pleasure. It is true of course that there are those who may benefit from this annual random musings. I truly appreciate them. However, let it never be misconstrued that I write for them. Nay, I write for me. I write to make sense of it all, to laugh at myself, to bring myself back to the straight and narrow road. Once I am treading therein, then the ‘other’ benefits.  And since I have no intention of dropping this tradition, here goes.

You may be aware from my previous post that my wife is heavy with a child-a baby girl

[Long Pause]

I am terrified.

No one prepares you for this. You marry and everyone wishes you well. You go for your honeymoon, come back and settle into marriage. You no longer spend the evenings in a local restaurant sipping tea and watching news with strangers. No, you go straight home after work and reach around the same time with your wife. You cook dinner together and do the things that married folks do e.g. washing dishes, budgeting…and pinching your snoring partner while tugging at the blanket lest you are left in the cold (what were you thinking married folks do?).

It is all very well structured; regular times, movie night, and once in a while giving each other space.  Then a third one-forming in the womb-enters the scene. It is almost as if she is an intruder. A friend once described them as guests who never leave and are fully dependent on you. It shocks you-takes a while before it hits you. You then realize life is about to change forever. There is a slight resentment at all this. Then again, there is an excitement that cannot quite be captured fully in words. You are about to become a father. Nothing compares to it.

In relation to fatherhood beckoning, I also realise I have come of age. Go on, take a minute and laugh. It is true.

There are things I did back then, that I would not dare do now, like quitting a job without a plan B. Recall that time I walked away from banking after 37 days? Well, if that was now I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was young, hungry, with no care in this world and had a distinct distaste for routine. I still do-hate routine I mean. However, now I am forced to live with it. You know, so that I can still pay the bills and all. I take solace in the fact that I can shoot birds in my free time (with a camera of course) but even so, I get weary in my job.

Hence to the young I say this; live your lives. Let no one tell you what you can and cannot do. Stuck in a rut? Quit. Bored with your campus lectures? Take a road trip. Got a windfall? Shop till you drop. Frugal is not a word to be found in the vocabulary of a twenty-something-year old. Want to splash your new vanities all over the internet? Hey! Your funeral!

Live your life. I assure you a few years from today, you will look back and say, ‘boy, those were good times, we sure had fun!’

[Another long pause]

Well, it seems that is all I have to say.

I have my evening well planned out-pick up my wife, go home, freshen up, go for Bible study, come back home, sup, read one chapter of The Idiot, be in bed by 10pm. I intend to enjoy this structure while it lasts.

So long dear reader.

Fatherhood Beckoning


I vividly recall the first time my wife told me she is pregnant. It must have been in the evening. We had just come back from work and she was feeling a little bit off. We bought a pregnancy kit; you know, just to rule out that she is pregnant. Well, she took the test without me and informed me the next day that she is pregnant. I could not believe it. The doubting Thomas in me demanded to see the kit but she had already thrown it away. I just had to take her at her word. I did but the skeptic in me demanded to see proof.

This proof was provided later when we went for an ultra-sound. The sonographer ushered us in. He perceived we were first time parents and took the liberty to manage our expectations; it is too early know the sex of the child, it is crucial that we take measures to ensure viability if the foetus beyond the first trimester, my wife should eat well-no junk food, plenty of water (I avoided mentioning am a nutritionist) plenty of rest and of course, tone down on activities in between the sheets. I took this latter advice very seriously. I was ready to forego my conjugal rights for even a year as long as the baby is fine. However, I get ahead of myself. Let us go back to the ultra-sound.

My Sunshine was gently told to lie down on the high bed just beside the ultra-sound machine. A jelly was smeared on her lower belly and spread side to side with a mouse-like device connected to machine. The sonographer took us step by step as to what he would do next. He was quite reassuring. This was quite helpful especially since my dear had freaked out during an injection for blood works. She was still rattled and the sonographer must have perceived this as well. Anyway, I digress but you can tell I was really impressed by the professionalism exhibited by the guy.

It was still too early for the baby to have clearly distinct features. We did the scan at three weeks. We were able to see the placenta and a few other things that I do not vividly recall. Nonetheless, one thing remained with me-the heartbeat. My eyes moistened at the sight of that little beating heart-150 beats-per-minute it was. I believed.

Now most of you know am a man of words and pictures. I love creating stories through both avenues. Moreover, I have a distinct disinterest in photographing humans. This is because there is no randomness to the art compared to photographing wildlife. However, this one time I was enthralled by the image of the little one. At home, I kept leaving whatever task I was doing just to glance at the scanned images. It brought back that sweet memory when I first heard that heartbeat and it also drifted me into the future. What sort of girl would she grow up to be? Yes, it’s a girl, a fast growing girl.

By our last scan she is already 2.7kgs, and by all indices at 35 weeks even though by gestational age she is about 34 weeks. It is a great feeling this fatherhood. I have seen the joy children bring to their parents. Apart from going home to the arms of the one you love, it is immensely satisfying when there are children chattering about. It reminds you why you toil so hard and gives meaning to the whole 8-5 shenanigan. Furthermore, it is endearing to know that you have been tasked with that great responsibility to bring up a godly generation, one that knows Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and is untainted with the passing pleasures of this world. It is truly endearing and terribly horrifying.

My wife and I could worry ourselves to death over this little one. However, we have grown to be certain that the Lord gives life and protects. We have committed ourselves to raise a girl who knows what she is about; brave, intelligent, loves the great outdoors, loves people and above all fears God. It is a huge task, one which will take the hands of many to make it a success, including you, dear reader.

That’s all for now, watch this space!



My 2015 Favourite Movies

The ‘race’ word has been thrown around much in this year’s Oscars. While I can understand where those who chose to boycott the awards are coming from, I simply cannot understand why some movies missed out this year. Hence, I have decided to list the movies I really enjoyed for the year 2015. Some  such as Mad Max and Bridge of Spies made it to the enviable list but most did not. It may be inconsequential to the world at large but these movies were worth my while every Friday night.

10. Mad Max: Fury Road

Although I am not much into action movies, I happened upon Mad Max and I was hooked from start to finish. The action was not senseless and barbaric, there was a storyline, however simple and the imagery was surreal.


5. The Martian

Matt Damon and Chiwetel Ejoifor? A botanist in space? Oh, and making water from the elements? What was there not to love? This was one of the best feel-good movies I watched last year.

6. 45 Years

I looked for a word to describe this movie and all I could think of was sublime. The acting was superb; the tempo just right and the central them-regret-played throughout the movie.


7. Mr Holmes

I am not quite sure what endeared me to Mr Holmes, an old man and a boy as the protagonists or the many insights into human nature seen here and there. All in all, I enjoyed this one and would not mind watching it again.


6. Concussion

The Kenyan in me liked the fact that Nairobi is mentioned in the movie albeit once or twice. Nonetheless, If a black man was to be nominated for an Oscar, it would not have been Idris Elba for his role as a war lord in Beast of No Nation. It would be Will Smith for his role as a pathologist in Concussion-I cannot recall a single moment in the movie when his eyes were not moist.’Tell the truth. Tell the truth’ remains with you long after you have finished watching. I am not saying that emotion for its own sake is worth meriting with an Oscar but Will Smith indeed does justice to true stories.One taint in Concussion though- I do  not understand how a priest can ask a single man to house a single girl in the name of helping her settle down.

5. Woman in gold

How far would you go in pursuit of justice? This movie was all about a dogged determination of a fledgling lawyer to return a painting in the hands of the Austrian government to its rightful owner; definitely worth watching.



4. Suffragette

Ever since Calvary, I have held a soft spot for Brendan Gleeson. Herein, he acts as a police inspector mandated with quelling a riotous group of women agitating for their right to vote. Meryl Streep appears here and there but it is the courage of a few women that gives the movie an edge. Their sacrifice, even to the point of death, was something to behold.

3. Bridge of Spies

This is Tom Hanks at his best. An unflinching lawyer with great foresight, unappreciated at the time of defending a Soviet spy but much applauded after a while. ‘A standing man’ he was; very inspiring.


2. Brooklyn

Perhaps it is the story of all American immigrants. The land of opportunity beckons, a love is struck, tragedy hits back home, one returns…and is torn between going back to America or staying. No matter, this was a story beautifully told.

1.In the Heart of the Sea

I have often quoted Moby Dick in my writing. Hence, I looked forward to its adaptation with much anticipation. I was not disappointed. Perhaps because it was Brendan Gleeson that acted as the Older Ishmael that made it my number one 2015 movie or the rivalry between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne that was subtly captured in the movie. Whichever the case, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would not mind watching it again and again.




Anthony Trollope; English best kept literary secret

You have probably seen it around town but you cannot vividly recall where. It stands at approximately one and half meters long and is cylindrical in shape. It is cast in iron. It is red in colour and if you look close enough, you will see the words POST OFFICE embossed on it. It seems to smile for it has a slash in its upper body through which it swallows letter whole.  Dear reader, it is called the pillar box.

pillar box

A few years back, before the advent of internet and subsequently the entrenchment of email, the pillar box was a pivotal piece in communication. We dropped letters inside it and hoped the mail-man would pick them up in due time. A week or so was given for the letter to reach its recipient, then another week for the reply to be received. Yes, it was essential to communication. Now, it serves as a relic of an era gone by and to the nostalgic, of a time when we really communicated. Nonetheless, today I am not so concerned with the pillar box but rather its inventor, a little known gentleman called Anthony Trollope.

Anthony Trollope

Anthony Trollope worked at the General Post Office in London where he invented the pillar box in order to make the collection of letters in bulk from far flung stations easier and consequently reduce the time it takes to send and receive a letter. Although he led a distinguished career at the GPO, Anthony Trollope was also a writer. I recently came across what many literature critics consider to be his masterpiece- The Barchester Towers.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of his novel, perhaps it is prudent to introduce its author properly.

Anthony Trollope was born in 1815, the third son of a barrister who ruined his family prospects by giving up law for farming. His mother, Frances Milton Trollope, supported the family through writing. She had fifty novels under her name. In 1834, Anthony joined the GPO workforce where he worked seven years for a pittance. In 1841, he was transferred to Ireland as a surveyor’s clerk, where he began to make good money which enabled him to marry in 1844 and settle in Clonmel. He tried his hand at writing but his first two novels which were devoted to Irish life were failures. In 1867, Anthony resigned from the GPO and spent his time travelling, fox-hunting, playing whist, socialising and of course, writing. He woke up at five thirty am everyday and wrote for two and half hours at the rate of one thousand words an hour. His average annual income from writing was £ 4,500. As elucidated in a foreword by Professor David Skilton, a professor of English at Lampeter University, his writing style was unique.

Anthony’s contemporaries such as Charles Dickens and George Elliot wrote of the world as they knew it a few decades earlier, and hence were able to draw on the enormous and fertile reserves of childhood and adolescent memories in themselves and their mature readers. Anthony Trollope, however, wrote about the world as it was around him at the time, trying to explain the functioning of the English upper-and middle class society in the very years he was writing. Furthermore, there was a proliferation of religious fiction during the time of his writing Barchester Towers. He could have maintained the status quo and gone on to deliver an excessively exaggeration of religion as other fiction writers were wont to do, However, Barchester Towers had its own comic ordinariness, which was found to be a breath of fresh air as was noted by the Saturday Review:

[Anthony Trollope] has the merit of avoiding excessive exaggeration. He possess an especial talent for drawing what may be called the second-class of good people-characters not noble, superior or perfect but still good and honest with a fundamental basis of sincerity, kindliness, and religious principle yet with considerable proneness to temptation, and a strong consciousness that they live, and like to live, in struggling, party-giving, comfort-seeking world. Such people are so common, and form so large a proportion of the betterish and more respectable classes, that it requires a keen perception of the ludicrous, and some power of satire to give distinctness to the types taken from their ranks by the novelist. Mr Trollope manages to do this admirably…

Now that we have a glimpse of who the creator was, let us delve into his creation.

The novel is centred on the question, who is to be the new Bishop of Barchester?’ Right from the first sentence to the last in the novel, this question looms large over the reader and the intriguing characters jostling each other for the position.

The Bishopric seat is left vacant following the death of old Dr Grantly who ‘died as he had lived, peaceably, slowly and without excitement’. His death marks the entry of other characters onto the stage: Harding, a man known for his stubbornness but good heart, Dr Proudie, an ambitious man of the cloth set to succeed the late DR Grantly, Mrs Proudie a no-nonsense woman who knew how to tug at her husband’s heart-strings to her favour, Mr Slope, Dr Proudie’s Chaplain and an intelligent slippery character whom all men of Barchester who considered themselves religious loved to hate, the hopeless Stanhopes, the intelligent but clueless about a woman’s love Mr Arabin…and of course Mr  Quiverful to whom the concept of family planning was dreadfully foreign.

Throughout the novel, the reader is treated to interesting twists and turns and is taken right into the heart of church politics. Of course, the characters stick to the script and do not resort to unholy means (read murder, sex, etc.) to acquire power such as their counterparts in Parliament may do. However, tensions rise and quite often, anger is expressed in the strongest of terms. Nonetheless, it does seem that there is an Unseen Hand that keeps matters from tipping over. Once in a while, the intrigues get to the press, and under the table arrangements are made to gain favour with the who’s who in Church leadership. These were all interesting but that really hooked me to the novel and reeled me in was the insight of Anthony Trollope on human nature. Sprinkled over the pages of the novel were gems of wisdom that were often delivered in a humorous, scathingly  tender tone that made me ponder awhile before resuming reading. Here are just but a few:

On lengthy Sermons bordering on falsehood

‘There is perhaps no greater hardship at present inflicted on mankind in civilized and free countries than the necessity of listening to sermons. No one but a preaching clergyman has, in these realms, the power of compelling an audience to sit silent, and be tormented. No one but a preaching clergyman can revel in platitudes, truisms, and untruisms, and yet receive, as his undisputed privilege, the same respectful demeanour as though words of impassionate eloquence, or persuasive logic, fell from his lips. Let a professor of law of physic find his place in the lecture room, and there pour forth jejune words and useless empty phrases and he will pour them forth to empty benches. Let a barrister attempt to talk without talking well and he will talk but seldom…a member of parliament can be coughed down or counted out. Town councillors can be tabooed. But no one can rid himself of the preaching clergy man. He is the bore of the age, the nightmare that disturbs our Sunday rest, the incubus that overloads our religion and makes God’s service distasteful. We are not forced into church! No: but we desire more than that. We desire not to be forced to stay away. We desire, nay, we are resolute, to enjoy the comfort of public worship; but we desire also that we may do so without an amount of tedium which ordinary human nature cannot endure with patience; that we may be able to leave the house of God, without that anxious longing for escape, which is the common consequence of common sermons.’

On persistence in creativity

‘There is no royal road to learning; no short cut to the acquirement of any valuable art. Let photographers and daguerreotypers do what they will, and improve as they may with further skill on that which skill has already done, they will never achieve a portrait of the human face divine. Let biographers, novelists, and the rest of us groan as we may under the burdens which we so often feel too heavy for our shoulders; we must either bear them up like men, or own ourselves too weak for the work which we have undertaken. There in no way of writing well and also of writing easily. Labor omnia vincit improbus- Persistent work overcomes all things. Such should be the chosen motto of every labourer.’

On maternal love and it’s permitted excesses

‘As a general rule, it is highly desirable that ladies should keep their temper; a woman who storms always makes herself ugly and usually ridiculous also…but if there be a time when a woman may let her hair to the winds, when she may loose her arms, and scream out trumpet-tongued to the ears of men, it is when nature calls out within her not for her own wants, but for the wants of those whom her womb has borne, whom her breasts have suckled, for those who look to her for their daily bread as naturally as man looks to his Creator’

On love and appetite

“Don’t let love interfere with your appetite. It never does with mine.” 

On holier-than-thou personas

‘There are such men; men who can endure no taint on their personal self-respect even from a woman; men whose bodies are to themselves sacred temples, that a joke against them is desecration and a rough touch downright sacrilege ’

I obtained Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers from a street book vendor, one of the ubiquitous common sights in Nairobi. However, the literary style and wisdom exuded during my reading of it have been anything but common. It has been a pleasure reading Trollope and I highly recommend him to any reader of English literature. It is worth the while.