Monday 24 October 2011

Best Laid Plans

I intended to spend my weekend either reading lots or reviewing lots, and in the end... I did neither.  I think I only managed about ten pages of Great Expectations and ten of Nella Last's Peace all weekend, and didnt' write a word of a review.  Tut TUT.

So, instead, I shall just direct you to Darlene's lovely review of Helen Thomas' As It Was.

And, in honour of that review, ask you to suggest a good book which has a title borrowed from elsewhere (Helen Thomas' being from the Book of Common Prayer).

Here are some of my suggestions:

Mr. Weston's Good Wine by T.F. Powys (title from Jane Austen's Emma)

Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead by Barbara Comyns (title from Henry Longfellow's 'The Fire of Drift-Wood' which is melancholy and beautiful and is here)

Told By An Idiot by Rose Macaulay (from Shakespeare's Macbeth)

Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge (from Francis Bacon's 'Of Marriage and Single Life')

Faster! Faster! by E.M. Delafield (from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass)

Thanks Heaven Fasting by E.M. Delafield (from Shakespeare's As You Like It)

All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West (from Milton's Samson Agonistes)

That was good fun.  Over to you!


  1. I can think of two old green Penguins with titles borrowed from elsewhere: The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin (title from The Rape of the Lock)and With a Bare Bodkin by Cyril Hare (title from Hamlet).

    The first was absurd but very enjoyable; the second was a little dull but I always thought it was a clever use of the title

  2. These Lovers Fled Away (Keats 'The Eve of St Agnes')

    All the Day Long (from a prayer by John Henry Newman)

    The Houses in Between (old music hall song: 'You Could See the Crystal Palace if it Wasn't for the Houses in Between')

    All by Howard Spring

    Carol (on a mission)

  3. Tender is the Night (Scott Fitzgerald, from Keats)
    Blithe Spirit (Noel Coward, from Shelley)
    Brave New World (Huxley, from The Tempest)
    Cover Her Face (PD James, from The Duchess of Malfi)

  4. A Handful of Dust, by Evelyn Waugh (from TS Eliot's The Waste Land)

    Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe (from Yeats's The Second Coming)

    The Gates of Ivory, by Margaret Drabble (from The Odyssey)

    O Pioneers, by Willa Cather (from Walt Whitman's "Pioneers! O Pioneers!"

    And that's all I've got. All listed are good books. If I currently had access to all my books I could give you more!

  5. Also, I didn't mean to use the word "all" so many times in that paragraph. I'll attempt to edit better next time.

  6. A cursory look around the shelves yields:

    Clemence Dane's Regiment of Women (borrowed from John Knox);
    Susan Hill's Strange Meeting (Wilfred Owen);
    Kate O'Brien's Without My Cloak (from Shakespeare's sonnet 34)
    V. Sackville-West's All Passion Spent (from Milton's Samson Agonistes).

    among many others. The original title appears to be the rarer article.

  7. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, Ecclesiastes 1:4

    "The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down and hasteth to his place where he arose."

  8. Oh, and...taken for granted...the title of this post: Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. Quote from Robbie Burns poem, "The best laid plans o' mice and men Gang aft a-gley."

  9. Sorry, my last post was tres confusing. Try this...

    Best Laid Plans, blog post title, Simon Thomas

    Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

    Quotes from the same poem: To A Mouse by Robert Burns

  10. All from poems:

    'Gone with the Wind' from Cynara by Ernest Dowson,
    'Fair Stood the Wind for France' from Agincourt by Michael Drayton,
    'Farewell to Arms' from poem of the same name by either George Peel or Henry Lee (opinions differ)

  11. I would like to give this one more time than I have, but Agatha Christie titles always come to mind...By the Pricking of My Thumbs (Shakespeare), Hickory, Dickory, Dock (nursery rhyme), Come, Tell Me How You Live (argh! can't remember), and there are more. She was good at "borrowing" titles. Of course, some of them may be US titles.

  12. And, yes, I'll be thinking of titles all evening when I should be paying attention at my meeting. (But thank you for the mental diversion. ;) )

  13. Ok, looking for the deliberate mistake -- keeping in mind there might be an un-deliberate mistake. Is it:

    Thanks Heaven Fasting by E.M. Delafield (from Shakespeare's As You Like It)

    Should be: Thank Heaven Fasting

    But mistress, know yourself; down on your knees,
    And thank Heaven, fasting, for a good man’s love:
    For I must tell you friendly in your ear, —
    Sell while you can; you are not for all markets.

    Ha!Good advice!

  14. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored ... etc etc

    And then, of course, there's the Darling Buds of May, which leads us straight to Summer's Lease (John Mortimer).

  15. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway (from one of Donne's meditations...can't remember which...the "no man is an island" one.)

    I'm going to have to start writing these down. Thanks for giving me a new obsession.


  16. How about Gilead? (biblical)
    Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger (referencing Blake I assume)

  17. One more guess... "As it was in the beginning...", the Gloria Patri (lesser doxology)...I'm thinking it was around before the Church of England ...and the latin text sounds pretty Roman Catholic. So the original quote is not from the Book of Common Prayer, is that right?

  18. Margaret - I will put you out of your misery! I was actually referring to a deliberate mistake in the words 'Best Laid Plans' - in Burns' poem they are best laid schemes, but I decided to go with the more common expression. The other mistakes were not deliberate! (Although As It Was isn't really a mistake, because it was Crammer who first formed the words in that translation)

  19. Karyn - I have the former, several people recommended it to me, but not got there yet...

    Carol - you are on a mission!

    Harriet - and are they all good? I have my suspicions about Huxley...

    Dan - oo, I didn't know Things Fall Apart was a quotation.

    Tanya - I scanned my bookshelves in Oxford yesterday and could find almost none! And I see we both picked All Passion Spent - that was one of the few times I enjoyed studying the period, when my Milton tutor said the last words of Samson Agonistes had been used by "some twentieth century author" and I was able to leap in with Vita!

    Michelle - great ones, thanks! I didn't know Farewell to Arms was a quotation.

    Susan - oh yes, Agatha loved a good quotation! The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side; One, Two, Buckle My Shoe; Crooked House; And Then There Were None; Taken At The Flood; Sad Cypress; The Moving Finger...

    Mary - lovely!

    Cat - Her Fearful Symmetry, of course! Great one.

  20. Bother - was dithering between the VSW and The Night Watch, and forgot you'd mentioned All Passion Spent. STW's The Corner That Held Them is another biblical title - and a very good book.

  21. I don't think anyone's mentioned 'The darling buds of may' by HE Bates, or 'Nothing like the sun' by Anthony Burgess yet, both from Shakespeare of course.

  22. Far From the Madding Crowd - Gray's Elegy
    Vanity Fair - Pilgrim's Progress

  23. I'm a little late but I can't resist joining in!

    Dusty Answer, by Rosamond Lehmann (from a poem by George Meredith).

    Cakes and Ale, by W. Somerset Maugham (from Twelfth Night).

    All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot (from the hymn).

    Thanks for all the great posts, by the way - I really enjoy reading them!



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