Category Archives: Quotes

Quotes, from a variety of sources, related to teaching and learning–somewhat more loosely defined than in other categories on Mark’s Text Terminal.

8 Immortals

“Chung-Li Chuan * Ho Hsien-ku * Chang Kuo * Lu Tung-pin * Han Hsiang-tzu * Ts’ao Kuo-chiu * Li T’ieh-kuai * Lan Ts’ai-ho

This Taoist pantheon of gods, heroes, and historical individuals had by the thirteenth century become a sort of national pantheon of Chinese saints. Painted on silk, depicted on vases, sculpted and used as a central motif in story telling, they are a ubiquitous element in art. They are also known as the Eight Immortal Scholars of the Han.

Chung-li Ch’uan is usually depicted as a bearded sage with fan; Ho Hsien-ku, as a young girl holding a lotus; Chang Kuo is a comical bearded figure mounted back to front on a white mule with a bamboo drum; Lu Tung-pin, the bearded patron of barbers, is equipped with a fly whisk and word slung across his back; Han Hsiang-tzu is a youthful flute player and the patron saint of musicians; Ts’ao Kuo-chiu is an elderly bearded figure (the patron of actors) usually seen playing castanets; Li T’ieh-kuai is a beggar with a gourd bowl and iron crutch; while Lan Ts’ai-ho is a woman holding a basket of flowers, who is (naturally) the patron saint of florists.

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.


“Hittite: A member of an ancient people of Asia Minor who gained control of central Anatolia c. 1800-1200 BC. The Hittite empire reached its zenith under the totalitarian rule of Suppiluliuma I (c. 1380 BC). Whose political influence extended from the capital, Hattusas, situated at Bogazkoy (about 22 miles east of Ankara in modern Turkey) west to the Mediterranean coast and southeast into northern Syria. In their struggle for power over Syria and Palestine the Hittites clashed with the troops of Ramses II of Egypt in a battle (1285 BC) at Kadesh on the River Orontes which seems to have ended indecisively. The subsequent decline and demise of Hittite power by 700 BC resulted from internal and external dissension, probably following an outbreak of famine.”

Excerpted from: Wright, Edmund, Ed. The Oxford Desk Encyclopedia of World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Arata Isozaki

“Isozaki, Arata: (b. 1931) Japanese avant-garde architect, he studied at the University of Tokyo and open in own studio in 1963. His first notable building is the Oita Prefectural Library (1966), which show the influence of the Metabolist school. Later works, which often synthesize Eastern and Western elements, use bold geometric forms and frequently make historical allusions. Among his innovative structures are the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (1986) and Art Tower in Mito, Japan (1990).”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Subramania Bharati

“Subramania Bharati: (1882-1921) Tamil poet, songwriter, and essayist. Bharati is considered one of the giants of modern Tamil literature. His patriotic verse echoes with revolutionary romanticism. He wrote of a free India in which men and women will have broken their chains, as in his famous poem “Murasu” (“The Drum”). Panchali Sapahtam (1912), an epic in five cantos, uses the humiliation of Draupadi in the Mahabarata to symbolize India’s humiliation under colonialism. Bharati’s devotional poems and songs continue to be immensely popular, especially those forming the Kannan Pattu, some twenty-three lyrics celebrating the Hindu god, Krishna. As a journalist, Bharati contributed to the creation of a vigorous Tamil prose and worldview, affirming internationalism, social justice, and woman’s rights. Collections in English include Poems of Subramania Bharati (1978) and Subramania Bharati: Chosen Poems and Prose (1984).”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Jun’ichiro Tanizaki

“Jun’ichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965) Japanese novelist. Tanizaki’s works are characterized by skillful storytelling and by a deep concern with the psychic forces rooted in human sexuality. This is especially evident in his last two novels, Kagi (1957; tr The Key, 1960) and Futen rojin nikki (1961; tr Diary of a Mad Old Man, 1965), but is also true of his earliest stories, such as Shisei (1910; tr Tattoo, 1961). The works of his middle period, notably Tade kuu mushi (1928; tr Some Prefer Nettles, 1955). Shunkin sho (1933; tr A Portrait of Shunkin, 1965), and Sasame yuki (1943-48; tr The Makioka Sisters, 1957), reveal Tanizaki’s fascination with classical Japanese culture and its unique code of sensuous, feminized bearuty. His admiration for traditional aesthetics is expounded in a famous essay, In’ei raisan (1933; tr In Praise of Shadows, 1977). Many critics consider Tanizaki to be Japan’s greatest modern author.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.


“Bhasa (3rd century AD) Sanskrit dramatist. Bhasa’s works show great skill in narrative, exquisite poetry, the depiction of human sentiment, and excellent stagecraft. Svapna-Vasvadatta (The Dream of Vasavadatta) is the most popular of the thirteen Bhasa plays ndiscovered in 1912 by Pandit Garapati Sastri.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Arabian Nights Entertainment or The Thousand and One Nights

“A collection of ancient tales from India, Persia, and Arabia. They were first introduced into western Europe in a French translation by Antoine Galland (12 volumes, 1704-1717), derived from and Egyptian text, probably dating from the 14th or 15th century. English translations based on Galland were made by R. Heron (1792) and W. Beloe (1795). The later translations by Henry Torrens (1838), E.W. Lane (1839-1841) and John Payne (1882-1884) and Sir Richard Burton’s unexpurgated edition published at Benares (Varanesi; 16 volumes, 18851888) are based on a late 18th-century Egyptian text. The standard French translation (1889-1904) by J.C. Mardrus has been severely criticized.

The framework of the tales is the story of Scheherazade, daughter of the grand vizier of the Indies. The Sultan Schahriah, having discovered the infidelity of his sultana, has resolved to have a fresh wife every night and to have her strangled at daybreak. Scheherazade entreats to become his wife, and so amuses him with tales for a thousand and one nights that he revokes his cruel decree, bestows his affection on her and calls her ‘the liberator of the sex.’ Her stories included the tales of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba.

The film Arabian Nights (1942) is an Oriental adventure involving the caliph of Baghdad, but has not stronger link to the original tales. Much more in the spirit of the original is The Arabian Nights (1974), a visually beautiful film by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) that also encompasses some of the original’s complex narrative structure (tales within tales,  and so on). The Thief of Baghdad (1940), a wonderful fantasy film directed by Michael Powell and others, features elements of the tales in a story about an urchin imprisoned for theft who is joined in his cell by the deposed prince, whom he helps to regain his throne. The first film with this title (1924) was written by and starred Douglas Fairbanks, and there were remakes in 1960 and 1978.

Several pieces of music have been inspired by the Arabian Nights. The best known is Sheherezade, as symphonic suite (1888) by Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), which Fokine turned into a ballet (1910). Sheherezade (1903) is a set of three songs by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), setting poems by Tristan Klingsor. Schehrezade also makes an interesting appearance in one of the novellas in Chimera (1972) by the US writer John Barth (b. 1930).”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.