Wednesday, March 27, 2013

King James Version of the Bible - 402 Years Old

This post originally appeared on sometime in 2011, but I thought it was worth another look.

Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is not the only book having a big anniversary this year. The Authorized King James Version of the Bible beats Austen out by 200 years. This translation of the Bible sponsored by the Church of England was begun in 1604 and completed in 1611 in response to problems with earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a cranky lot who found fault with everything. The translation was undertaken by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. The New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin.

Now for the interesting part. The Authorized Version’s acceptance by the general public did not happen overnight. Biblical scholar, Hugh Broughton, the most highly regarded English Hebraist of his time (but who had been excluded from the panel of translators because of his uncongenial temperament), chimed in with his opinion of the completed work: “I would rather be torn in pieces by wild horses than that this abominable translation should ever be foisted upon the English people.” Fortunately, for him, no one could find any wild horses.

A primary concern of the translators was to produce a Bible that would be appropriate, dignified and resonant in public reading. Hence, in a period of rapid linguistic change, they avoided contemporary idioms, tending instead towards forms that were already slightly archaic, like “thee and thou,” “verily” and “it came to pass.” The translators also tended to enliven their text with stylistic variation, finding multiple English words or verbal forms in places where the original language employed repetition. In other words, they used a thesaurus.

There are so many phrases that we use in everyday language that come from this translation. Here are a few of them from Matthew:

Man shall not live by bread alone. (4:4)
The salt of the earth (5:13)
The light of the world (5:14)
Turn the other cheek. (5:39)
O ye of little faith (6:30)
Seek and ye shall find. (7:7)
Every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand. (12:25)
The blind lead the blind. (15:14)
The signs of the times (16:3)
Take up the cross. (16:24)
Suffer little children (19:14)
The last shall be first, and the first last. (20:16)
Out of the mouth of babes (21:16)
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (26:41)

As a Catholic, I did not grow up with the Protestant King James’ Version of the Bible, but I know a stylistic masterpiece when I read it. British Theologian, F. W. Haber, said it best:  [The King James Version of the Bible] lives on the ear, like music that can never be forgotten, like the sound of church bells, which the convert hardly knows how he can forego. Scholars may argue about the accuracy of the translation of the King James's Version, but it would be hard to find a more beautiful one. Happy Anniversary!

Compiled from on-line sources including Wikipedia as well as The History of the English Language by Professor Seth Lerer, The Teaching Company.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review of Best Exotic Marigold Motel

I rarely do movie reviews because, by the time I have seen a film, so has everyone else. Occasionally, something is so good and so touching that you want to share so that no one misses out on a true gem. Here is the description of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel from

British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.

Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson all have unique reasons for seeking retirement in a country and culture that is the antithesis of their well-ordered life in England. Upon arrival, they are hit in the face with the sounds, sights, and smells of the Indian subcontinent, and they are pulled into the vortex that is modern-day India.

The story is predictable. There will be salvation for all but the crankiest visitor. And there are a few false notes, most particularly Wilton’s extremely nasty character and Smith’s reaction during a visit to a servant’s home. But it is the journey that makes this film so enjoyable. And the acting! My goodness! It is a pleasure watching six of Britain’s premier actors doing what they do best: drawing believable characters that we care about.

As wonderful as the older talent is, Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), the owner of the hotel, is a scene stealer. He twists and turns the most negative news until it comes out of his mouth as a positive. His mantra is: “Everything will be fine in the end, and if it’s not, it is not the end.” Retired or not, that’s a great outlook on life.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Winner of Headstrong Girls

The winner of Headstrong Girls is Monica P. June Williams will be contacting you to  get your information for Nook or Kindle. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Darcy on the Hudson - Two Five-Star Reviews

Last week, I hit two home runs when Darcy on the Hudson received two five-star reviews. Here are excerpts:

Janet Taylor at More Agreeably Engaged - 5 Stars

"On more than one occasion, I laughed out loud. I even had 'a little water' in my eyes on others. I loved this book, and I thank you, Mary Simonsen, for a good and rewarding read."

To read Janet's entire review, please click here

Evie Cotton at The Lavendar Lady - 5 Stars

"One thing I love about Mary Lydon Simonsen is her attention to detail. Every time I open up one of her books I am transported to a time and place that I never knew that I never knew. For instance, I am a history buff and love war time stories. World Wars I and II are my favorites, but I have never contemplated what life was like in Great Britain during those times. I've really only heard these stories told from the American point of view. While reading 'Darcy Goes To War', I found myself constantly saying out loud (to my husband's irritation) "Huh!" and "Wow!" and "Gee Whiz!". The same is true for 'Darcy on the Hudson'. I learned so many things about the day to day lives of those living in 1811 New York that I hardly know where to begin. Its those day to day events, told in such a detailed yet easy manner that leave you with no question of how things transpired."

To read Evie's entire review, please click here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Headstrong Girls - An Interview

When Headstrong Girls co-operate, rather than compete...

Please welcome June Williams and Debra Anne Watson. Along with Enid Wilson, they are co-authors of Headstrong Girls, a new collection of writings inspired by Jane Austen. June, Enid and Debra Anne met on-line in a Jane Austen community. After reading each other's stories for years, they decided to publish a collection together, with each person writing one-third of the content, and collaborating on a tag-along story.

Mary: Please introduce the ladies in your photo.

Debra Anne: The photo was taken a few years ago on a visit to San Francisco. I am on the far left. Next to me is Aimée Avery, author of A Little Bit Psychic: Pride & Prejudice, and Honor and Integrity. Next to her is Sara Angelini, author of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy and co-founder of Austen Underground, which Aimée and I help administer. On the right is June. Enid is from Down Under, and we haven’t managed to meet in person yet.

Mary: How did the three of you decide to collaborate on this book/collection?

June: One day, Enid, who has published a few JA-inspired novellas, read a comment from a sick reader at a forum, saying she wanted to combine a few short stories from her favorite authors to bring with her when she visited a doctor’s office. That was the inspiration for Honor and Integrity, a collaborative short-story collection, which was published last summer with Aimée and Enid. They both were extremely helpful in guiding me through the publishing process. I enjoyed the camaraderie when we were discussing and writing, so for Headstrong Girls, I was happy to join in again. This time, Debra Anne makes her debut.

Debra Anne: Yes, it has been a great experience. I’ve written three short stories for Headstrong Girls, Enid two stories and a short film script, and June one long short story.

June: We have a tag-along story, too, in which the three of us each write a section, but we cannot change what the previous writers did. The last writer has the hardest job—bringing all the threads together. Debra Anne volunteered to be that writer this time. It was as if Debra Anne had been reading Enid’s mind from the start. (Enid was quite evil, starting the story with Caroline Bingley accusing Elizabeth Bennet of being a murderer. Luckily, Mr. Darcy came to stand by Lizzy!)

Mary: Finishing each other’s section of stories without consulting with each other! That sounds challenging.  You must have become very good friends.

June: Yes, almost everyone we’ve asked for help in the Jane Austen community has responded favorably, including more established authors such as you, Mary, for letting us post here and advising us about blogs. My legal story, No Cupid Contract, was edited by two amazing lawyers that I met for the first time through Georgia Girls Rock, a fun group within the JA community. I posted a cry for help, and they responded.

Debra Anne: I have edited for many JAFF authors over the years, but formatting for publishing was new to me. Enid was our manager, keeping us on target. I also want to credit Aimée for putting the bug in me for my story, Pride and Preservation, set on a wildlife preserve in South Africa.

Mary: Why did Aimee suggest a story set in South Africa?

Debra Anne: It wasn’t the locale she suggested. When Aimée’s stories have cliffhangers, she blames a mischievous monkey named Cliff (Hanger), who I’ve borrowed a time or two myself. Aimée mentioned that Cliff wanted me to “write a story with monkeys in it.” The story wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote it. That monkey must have been hopped up on Banana Krimpets!

June: That story has some beautiful imagery: a baby samango monkey that is hand-fed by Lizzy (a veterinarian), a colourful sunset over the South African plain, an injured lioness, wild dogs, a blue crane with a five-foot wingspan, a boa constrictor – oh, wait, that was Caroline Bingley.

Mary: Sounds like fun, and it has familiar characters from Pride and Prejudice.

June: The rule was to use the term “Headstrong Girl” in each story. The girls are Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, Emma Woodhouse, and Jane Fairfax, not to mention JA’s memorable gentlemen and a few new characters we invented.

Debra Anne: But it’s not all fluffy. People get killed in some of the stories. And we couldn’t write an Austen-inspired work without Wickham appearing somewhere, although he’s not always the main villain.

Mary: The result of all your efforts is available now?

Debra Anne: Yes, Headstrong Girls, a bit of mystery, a bit of love, all inspired by Jane Austen, is available in any good e-book store.

Thank you, ladies. It’s been a pleasure. Mary

GIVEAWAY!!!! To help celebrate the publication of Headstrong Girls, the authors are hosting a giveaway of one e-book of Headstrong Girls.

The fine print: Leave a comment by March 12 about a time when a stranger helped you with something. Winner will be announced on March 13. Entry is open worldwide. Because my blog does not capture e-mail addresses, you must leave an address where I can contact you.

Headstrong Girls is available at: