Imagination needs inspiration to bloom.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is one of the stories in the Selected Illustrated Works of Charles Dickens, which includes the Christmas stories, ghost stories and other tales. Many know the story about the miser that despises Christmas and learns an important lesson when visited by the Ghost of Christmas past, present and future. The story takes place during Christmas but it really is about other things. It's about the disadvantage of capitalism, which robs people of their human emotions, where selfishness and indifference take the place of humanity and generosity.

Another theme could be faith. In the beginning, Scrooge has no faith. He is a cynic, dismissing everything as "humbug", but after getting a new perspective of himself and the world, he turns into a believer.

Something worth mentioning about Dickens work is the occasional half-digressions that aren't necessary for the plot. The descriptions are beautiful and colored, but demands patience from the reader and, to a certain extent, actually slow down the pace.

During the Victorian era, ghosts were common in literature. If not as scary beings, they served to deliver a message, explain things, present the reader with feelings, emphasized with the supernatural element. In A Christmas Carol, the ghosts could be real or not. Ebeneezer Scrooge could be a man wakened by his conscience, hunting him in his sleep. Or he could actually be visited by those ghosts. Either way, the ghosts aren't important. The message about human greed and ignorance is the important matter, and that every man can choose to improve, it's never too late. And, that happiness doesn't come of money, but of humanity.


The Ebony Horse

One tale of the 1001 Nights, "The Ebony Horse" is an ancient story about kings, kingdoms and beautiful princesses. In a kingdom far away, in Persia, a prince receives a present from a wise man. The present is a magic horse, which can fly if managed in the right way. The prince visits many places, and finds a princess in Yemen. But he is not the only one that falls in love with her, and a chain of events follows.

1001 Nights is believed to originate as Sanskrit tales in ancient India. Then, before the ninth century, at the latest, they were translated into Persian. It narrates fascinating stories with great fantasy, but it also serves as a reminder of a past with no room for women's opinion and choice, and where women more often then not were treated as property, a piece of jewelry and merchandise.


Ali Baba and the forty thieves killed by a slave girl

This edition is one tale of the collection translated by Malcolm C. Lyons. "Ali Baba and the forty thieves killed by a slave girl" is one among many stories forming a sequence that lasted 1001 nights. Ali Baba is a woodcutter, less fortunate than his brother, well off married Qasim. One day, Ali Baba happens to witness a band of thieves opening a cave with the word "Open, Sesam", a phrase with which the world is familiar. In the cave, he meets glimmering gold. What happens next is a series of fortunate and unfortunate events which include Ali Baba and his relatives, the band of thieves and the inhabitants of the village. As is suggested by the title, a slave girl is the true hero of the book, which is surprising and fascinating considering the age of the book.


The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita was written between 1928 and 1940. It all begins with the Devil arriving in Moscow and interjecting in a conversation between to men about the existence of God.

It's layered, complicated plot with it's satire and philosophical context rises many questions. The novel consists of wizards, talking cats and flying pigs but at the same time it reveals a dysfunctional society. The paranoia, the fear of the police and the senseless arrests are common in this book and can be connected to the time of it's creation. The frequent, unnamed fear that bubbles beneath the surface within the characters mirrors the oppressed Soviet society in the 30's.

The really interesting aspect is that the Devil isn't the true evil in the book. The true evil lies within people, and Woland just brings it out. Bulgakov reveals man's inner nature in an exceptional way. Human flaws such as greed and selfishness destroy the characters. Had they been able to resist the temptations, they would have made it. It takes people to build a dysfunctional society. The author shows how easy people are manipulated and affected by money, for instance.

The book deals with contrasts such as good and evil, courage and cowardice, belief and denial, and freedom and imprisonment. When people speak their mind they end up at the psychiatric ward. This symbolizes the oppressed people in the Soviet Union in the 30's. Being free wasn't a choice in such a society, and it required for Margarita to become a witch to be able to brake the rules. The novel also contains the concept of atheism during the time of its creation, and the significance of every man's right to believe.

Something interesting and worth speculating about is the true identity of the Master.