Those of us who live in Reading, Berkshire either love the town or hate it, people escape to Reading and many escape from it.
We moved here in the early 1980s from north London; we were pleased to escape from semi-detached suburbia to somewhere where we might find work and affordable rent and a subsequent mortgage.
Little did we know that we had moved to the home of the Reading Rock Festival. To where every teenager in the UK and further escape to; very August Bank Holiday; when all the locals escape from, to avoid the noise and violation.( this in my opinion is unfounded)
However, it was Reading Prison that came t mind when I read this week’s Photo Challenge; It is not the most visually pleasing of buildings. It does have at least one ‘romantic’ connection; it was the ‘home’ of Oscar Wilde for a time and where he wrote the Ballad of Reading Gaol.
I understand from a recent visitor (not an inmate I hasten to add) that the cell where he was imprisoned is marked accordingly. But, It does beg the question, does anyone actually care about this ridiculous fact?
The prison is relatively new, built in 1840 and described in the Illustrated London News as
‘Standing, as it does on the rising ground at the entrance of Reading, and close to the site of the venerable abbey, this new prison is from every side the most conspicuous building, and, architecturally, by far the greatest ornament to the town’
It is the largest of the town’s public buildings and before the other buildings had encroached the surrounding walls then it would have looked very imposing. It is built of red Tilehurst brick with decorative quoins of Bath stone, the turrets and crenulations give an impression of a 15th century castle. Nonetheless I am sure each prisoner would plan to escape such a vile environment.
I was very pleased that last week I picked up my Sanskrit translation. When I went to Brazil I took a break from my weekly sessions and it has taken me far too long to back into the routine again
I translate a few verses each week and then I meet up with another student and over a cup of tea we compare notes and come up with fair translation … I am not sure that that Professor Deshpande would agree but it gives me a lot of joy and pleased I am back on the road of reading Sanskrit.
We are reading the Bhagavad Gita which is one of the most studied and translated texts in the history of world literature. Coming from the post-Vedic India and considered to be the standard and universal work of the Hindu tradition and renowned as the jewel of India’s spiritual wisdom.
Aesop’s Fables are a collection of stories credited to Aesop; a slave and story teller who lived in Greece in 5th Century BCE. It was at the time of the first enlightenment when scholars, slaves and singing bards where beginning to question their existence and the notion of good and evil. Long before the words were recorded so the tales and songs were memorised and passed down through the ages.
The fables have been compared with Buddhist Jataka Tales and the Hindu Panchatantra; as some of the tales are similar. There is some debate over who actually began the tradition. Although Buddha and Aesop were contemporaries; the stories would have not been written down until centuries later and no scholar is interested enough to take a stand either way. This particular book was reprinted (1926) from a 1692 edition translated by Sir Roger L’Estrange (1616-1704) and the wood engravings are by Celia Fiennes.
Since I did not study mathematics beyond ‘O” level in 1966; I think I can be forgiven for not knowing too much about the relatively new mathematical sign ‘0.’
Zero did not appear in the European understanding until it became necessary in the 14th century. According to Brian Rotman in Signifying nothing : the semiotics of Zero; the sign for nothing originated in Central India and was established by the 10th century as the ‘distinguishing element’ in the now familiar Hindu system of numerals. By the 1300s the Arab merchants had adopted it readily in their culture. Meanwhile the Christians of Europe dismissed its use as it was incomprehensible and unnecessary.
Numbers, were until then were bound to the confines of the church; the educated clerks remained devoted to the holy Latin orders. While the merchants, artisans and architects; speakers of the local languages needed to become familiar with the arithmetic of trade and technology. It was important for them to understand the Arab mathematics and in particular Hindu numerals
It was the need for accuracy and the zero balance for double entry book-keeping that broke down any barriers to the ‘infidel symbol’ of zero. By the end of the 17th century the Hindu numerals had completely replaced the holy Roman ones and became the dominant mode for recording and manipulating numbers throughout Europe.