R Venkataramanan

R Venkataramanan

R Venkat's Blog

R Venkat's Blog
"To be an Inspiring Teacher,one should be a Disciplined Student throughout Life" - Venkataramanan Ramasethu



Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sri Ramakrishna & Sri Swami Vivekananda

He looked just like an ordinary man, with nothing remarkable about him. He used the most simple language, and I thought, 'Can this man be a great teacher?' I crept near him and asked him the question which I had been asking others all my life: 'Do you believe in God, sir?' 'Yes.' `How can you?' 'Because I see Him just as I see you here, only in a much more intense sense.' That impressed me at once. For the first time I found a person who dared to say that he saw God, that religion was a reality, to be felt, to be sensed in an infinitely more intense way than we can sense the world. I began to go to that man, day after day, and I actually saw that religion could be given. One touch, one glance, can change a whole life.

— said Swami Vivekananda about his guru Sri Ramakrishna.

Born in the village of Kamarpukur in West Bengal on February 18, 1836 in a pious family, Sri Ramakrishna was very clear in his mind from boyhood that the aim of life is God-realization

As a priest of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar he worshipped the Deity with such intensity that She revealed Herself to him and became his constant companion. He could talk, play and joke with Her. He then practised not only the different spiritual streams of Hinduism, like Vaishnavism and Tantrism, but also other religions like Christianity and Islam. He was able to revalidate by his personal experience the Rig Vedic declaration, 'Truth is One, the wise speak of It variously.' He became the prophet of harmony of religions.

Sri Ramakrishna says

1. You see many stars in the sky at night, but not when the sun rises. Can you therefore say that there are no stars in the heavens during the day? Friends, similarly you cannot see God because of your ignorance, but say not that there is no God.

2. One should feel a yearning for God like the yearning of a person who has lost his or her job and is wandering from one office to another in search of work.

3. Be not a traitor in your thoughts. Be sincere. act according to your thoughts and you shall surely succeed. Pray with a sincere and simple heart, and your prayers will be heard.

4. Whoever wants God intensely, finds Him. Go and verify it in your own life.

5. Remain always strong and steadfast in your own faith, but eschew all bigotry and intolerance.

Naxalite Movement & Naxalbari

Naxalite or Naxalism or Naxalvadi(Hindi) is a terrorist group active in parts of india, check map on the right. Origins of this group can be attributed to communist groups that were born out of the Sino-Soviet split in the communist movement in India. Activities include damaging property, killing and mass massacre of civilians. The Naxalite (CPI Maoist) and some other Naxal factions are considered terrorists by the Government of India.[1] Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal. In recent years, they have spread into less developed areas of rural central and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist).[2] They are conducting Terrorism in India, typically called the Naxalite-Maoist insurgency. Naxals hold sway in about 180 districts across ten states of India[3] accounting for about 40 percent of India's geographical area,[4] They are especially concentrated in an area known as the "Red corridor", where they control 92,000 square kilometers.[4] According to India's intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, 20,000 Naxalites were in April 2006 in operation,[5] and their growing influence prompted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare them as the most serious threat to India's national security.[6]

The CPI (Maoist) and some other Naxal factions are considered terrorists by the Government of India.[1] In February 2009, Central government announced its plans for simultaneous, co-ordinated counter-operations in all Left-wing extremism-hit states—Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, to plug all possible escape routes of Naxalites.[7]


The term Naxalites comes from Naxalbari, a small village in West Bengal, where a extremist section of Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) led by Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal led a violent uprising in 1967, trying to develop a "revolutionary opposition" in opposition to the CPI(M) leadership. The insurrection started on May 25, 1967 in Naxalbari village when a farmer was attacked by local goons over a land dispute. Maoists in the guise of local farmers retaliated by attacking the local landlords and escalated the violence.[1] Majumdar greatly admired Mao Zedong of China and advocated that Indian peasants and lower classes must follow in his footsteps and overthrow the government and upper classes whom he held responsible for their plight. He strengthened the Naxalite movement through his writings, the most famous being the 'Historic Eight Documents' which formed the basis of Naxalite ideology.[8] In 1967 'Naxalites' organized the All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries (AICCCR), and later broke away from CPI(M). Violent 'uprisings' were organized in several parts of the country. In 1969 AICCCR gave birth to Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

Practically all Naxalite groups trace their origin to the CPI(ML). A separate tendency from the beginning was the Maoist Communist Centre, which evolved out of the Dakshin Desh-group. MCC later fused with People's War Group to form Communist Party of India (Maoist). A third tendency is that of the Andhra revolutionary communists, which was mainly presented by UCCRI(ML), following the mass line legacy of T. Nagi Reddy. That tendency broke with AICCCR at an early stage.

During the 1970s the movement was fragmented into several disputing factions. By 1980 it was estimated that around 30 Naxalite groups were active, with a combined membership of 30 000.[9] A 2004 home ministry estimate puts numbers at that time as "9,300 hardcore underground cadre… [holding] around 6,500 regular weapons beside a large number of unlicensed country-made arms".[10] According to Judith Vidal-Hall (2006), "More recent figures put the strength of the movement at 15,000, and claim the guerrillas control an estimated one fifth of India's forests, as well as being active in 160 of the country's 604 administrative districts."[11] India's Research and Analysis Wing, believed in 2006 that 20,000 Naxals are currently involved in the growing insurgency[5]

Today some groups have become legal organisations participating in parliamentary elections, such as Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation. Others, such as Communist Party of India (Maoist) and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Janashakti, are engaged in armed guerrilla struggles

Violence in Bengal

The Naxal movement was immensely popular with not only the radical sections of the students movement in Calcutta, but the whole student body of Bengal undeniably were sympathetic about them since the mainstream Communist ideology had proved itself to be hypocritical and farcical in practice, as they stand to this day.[12] The state machinery of India systematically annihilated this student support baseline from the whole movement as international human rights watch dog bodies picked up frantic calls of disappearances of students and intellectuals. Between 1969 and 1979 an estimated 5000 students and intellectuals disappeared or were killed under mysterious conditions. The West Bengal Left Front maintains that these students and intellectuals left their education to join violent activities of the Naxalites. Charu Majumdar progressively changed the tactics of CPI(ML), and declared that revolutionary warfare was to take place not only in the rural areas but everywhere and spontaneously. Thus Majumdar's 'annihilation line', a dictum that Naxalites should assassinate individual "class enemies" as a part of the insurrection was exploited by state media and the Bengal Left Front to infuse a sense of demonic identity into Naxals and over thirty years portrayed them as a social evil. Where as the statistical data refers to the theory being only practiced against such elements in civil society who were deemed as "class enemies". The police, landlords and corrupt politicians cutting across mainstream party lines.

Throughout Calcutta, schools were shut down. The police claims that students took over Jadavpur University and used the machine shop facilities to make pipe guns to attack the police and that their headquarters became Presidency College, Kolkata. The movement soon found ardent supporters amongst most of the educated class, and Delhi's prestigious St. Stephen's College, alma mater of many contemporary Indian leaders and thinkers, became a hotbed of Naxalite activities.

The strategy of individual terrorism soon proved counterproductive. Eventually, the Chief Minister, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, began to institute counter-measures against the Naxalites. The West Bengal police and the state sponsored CPI(Marxist) cadres fought back to stop the advancement of Naxalites. The student part of the movement was cruelly repressed by numerous disappearing s, staged encounters, and a doldrum of state sponsored media allegations tarnishing the image of the Naxalite movement and this massive and relentless public brain washing campaign was partly successful in hijacking public opinion sympathetic of the Naxalite ideology to that of misinformed 'fear'. The human rights violations on the West Bengal police went unabated for decades after this to attain the demonic proportions of the eighties and nineties where they have been appropriately termed as the 'uniformed mafia' . Buddhadev Bhattacharya tactically led from the front line as the police and home minister of West Bengal during the same period to turn the evil nexus of CPIM and the West Bengal Police into a feared repressive regime which was the most effective counteractive agent against the onslaught of Naxalites.

- The Naxalites continue to enjoy widespread support among the poor and a majority of the Indian intelligentsia who believe in social equality justice and a corruption free civil society.

Moreover, the movement was torn about by disputes infused by state intelligence. In 1971 CPI(ML) was split in two, as Satyanarayan Singh parted ways with Majumdar's leadership. In 1972 Majumdar was arrested by the police and subsequently he died in Alipore Jail under unexplainable circumstances. After his death the State unsuccessfully tried fragmenting this movement for the next three decades.

Lalgarh, West Bengal has emerged as a region close to coming completely under control of the Naxalites after the group threw out the local police and attacked members of the ruling communist government in late May 2009. The state government initiated a huge operation with central paramilitary forces and state armed police to retake Lalgarh in early June. Maoist leader Kishenji claimed in an interview that the mass Naxalite movement in Lalgarh in 2009 aimed at creating a 'liberated zone' against "oppression of the establishment Left and its police" has given them a major base in West Bengal for the first time since the Naxalite uprising went underground in the mid-1970s and that "We will have an armed movement going in Calcutta by 2011". [13]

Cultural references

The British musical group Asian Dub Foundation have a song called Naxalite. This song was part of the soundtrack to the 1999 film Brokedown Palace. In 2005 a movie called Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi directed by Sudhir Mishra was released with the backdrop of Naxalite movement. In August 2008, Kabeer Kaushik's Chamku starring Bobby Deol and Priyanka Chopra explored the story of a boy who is brain-washed to take arms against the state.

There is a reference to a character, in the novel, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, joining with the Naxalites.

The 1998 film Haazar chaurasi ki Maa (based on the novel, "Hazar Churashir Maa" by Mahasweta Devi) (Mother of 1084-the number assigned to her son) starring Jaya Bachchan gives a very sympathetic portrayal of a Naxalbari militant killed by the state.The 2009 Malayalam movie 'Thalappavu' portrays the story of Naxal Varghese, who was shot dead by the police during the 70s.

The Kannada movie Veerappa Nayaka directed by S.Narayan portrays Vishnuvardhan - a Gandhian with his son becoming a Naxalite. The 2007 Kannada movie Maathaad Maathaadu Mallige directed by Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar again portrays Vishnuvardhan as a Gandhian, confronting a Naxalite Sudeep showing that the ways adopted by Naxals will only lead to violence and will not achieve its objective.

Eka Nakshalwadya Cha Janma, (Marathi: The birth of a Naxal), a novel written by Vilas Balkrishna Manohar, a volunteer with the Lok Biradari Prakalp, is a fictional account of a Madia Gond Juru's unwilling journey of life his metamorphosis from an exploited nameless tribal to a Naxal.[14]

Deaths related to violence

Violence has peaked in India from Maoist or Naxalite separatist violence being more dangerous to India's national security, as declared by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

From the Ministry of Home Affairs it has been stated that:

1996: 156 deaths [15]
1997: 428 deaths[15]
1998: 270 deaths[15]
1999: 363 deaths[15]
2000: 50 deaths[15]
2001: 100+ deaths[15]
2002: 140 deaths[15]
2003: 451 deaths[15]
2004: 500+ deaths[15]
2005: 892 deaths
2006: 749 deaths
2007: (as of September 30, 2007) 384 deaths[16]
(related to Naxalite insurgency)[17]

2008: 938 casualties (including 38 Maoists).[18]

2009: Naxalites separatists struck at the first phase of elections on 16 April, 2009 in Bihar, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand killing 18 civilians and security forces. Later, on 23 April, 2009, they also struck in the second phase of polling in Jamshedpur and surrounding areas in Jharkhand injuring several member of the polling party. May 2009: 16 police die in suspected Maoist attack [20]
The BBC maintains that upwards of 6,000 people have died in the Naxal uprising.[6]

See also References

1.^ a b c Diwanji, A. K. (2003-10-02). "Primer: Who are the Naxalites?". Rediff.com. http://us.rediff.com/news/2003/oct/02spec.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
2.^ Ramakrishnan, Venkitesh (2005-09-21). "The Naxalite Challenge". Frontline Magazine (The Hindu). http://www.flonnet.com/fl2221/stories/20051021006700400.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
3.^ Handoo, Ashook. "Naxal Problem needs a holistic approach". Press Information Bureau. http://www.pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=50833. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
4.^ a b "Rising Maoists Insurgency in India". Global Politician. 2007-01-15. http://globalpolitician.com/22790-india. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
5.^ a b Philip Bowring Published: TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 2006 (2006-04-18). "Maoists who menace India". International Herald Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/04/17/opinion/edbowring.php. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
6.^ a b "South Asia | Senior Maoist 'arrested' in India". BBC News. 2007-12-19. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7151552.stm. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
7.^ Co-ordinated operations to flush out Naxalites soon Economic Times, Feb 6, 2009.
8.^ Hindustan Times: History of Naxalism
9.^ Singh, Prakash. The Naxalite Movement in India. New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 1999. p. 101.
10.^ Quoted in Judith Vidal-Hall, "Naxalites", p. 73–75 in Index on Censorship, Volume 35, Number 4 (2006). Quoted on p. 74.
11.^ Judith Vidal-Hall, "Naxalites", p. 73–75 in Index on Censorship, Volume 35, Number 4 (2006). p. 74.
12.^ Judith Vidal-Hall, "Naxalites", p. 73–75 in Index on Censorship, Volume 35, Number 4 (2006). p. 73.
13.^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8127869.stm
14.^ "Who's who of Indian Writers, 1999 By K. C. Dutt, Sahitya Akademi". Books.google.com. http://books.google.com/books?id=QA1V7sICaIwC&pg=PA723&lpg=PA723&dq=vilas+manohar+writer&source=web&ots=iZo851RPGh&sig=uEHP-KtmRvUV1iO8KLsoKHx9ccU&hl=en&ei=e-ucSeCrOo_akAWtjPiiBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
15.^ a b c d e f g h i "Armed Conflicts Report - India-Andhra Pradesh". Ploughshares.ca. http://www.ploughshares.ca/libraries/ACRText/ACR-IndiaAP.html. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
16.^ "Asian Centre for Human Rights". Achrweb.org. http://www.achrweb.org/ncm/ncm.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
17.^ "Reuters AlertNet - Indian Maoist violence". Alertnet.org. http://www.alertnet.org/db/crisisprofiles/IN_MAO.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
18.^ Govt. of India " the number of incidents of violence and police/civilian casualties were 1435 and 658 as compared to 1420 and 636 for the corresponding period of the year 2007"[1]
19.^ www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/IB93-Kujur-Naxal.pdf
20.^ [2]
[edit] Further reading
Naxalite Politics in India, by J. C. Johari, Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, New Delhi, . Published by Research Publications, 1972.
The Naxalite Movement, by Biplab Dasgupta. Published by , 1974.
The Naxalite Movement: A Maoist Experiment, by Sankar Ghosh. Published by Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, 1975. ISBN 0883865688.
The Naxalite Movement in India: Origin and Failure of the Maoist Revolutionary Strategy in West Bengal, 1967-1971, by Sohail Jawaid. Published by Associated Pub. House, 1979.
In the Wake of Naxalbari: A History of the Naxalite Movement in India, by Sumanta Banerjee. Published by Subarnarekha, 1980.
India's Simmering Revolution: The Naxalite Uprising, by Sumanta Banerjee. Published by Zed Books, 1984. ISBN 0862320372.
Tribal Guerrillas: The Santals of West Bengal and the Naxalite Movement, by Edward Duyker. Published by Oxford University Press, 1987.
The Naxalite Movement in India, by Prakash Singh. Published by Rupa, 1995. ISBN 8171672949.

Stephen King

Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his parents separated when Stephen was a toddler, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of the elderly couple. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.
Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He and Tabitha Spruce married in January of 1971. He met Tabitha in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine at Orono, where they both worked as students. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many of these were later gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted the novel Carrie for publication. On Mother's Day of that year, Stephen learned from his new editor at Doubleday, Bill Thompson, that a major paperback sale would provide him with the means to leave teaching and write full-time.

At the end of the summer of 1973, the Kings moved their growing family to southern Maine because of Stephen's mother's failing health. Renting a summer home on Sebago Lake in North Windham for the winter, Stephen wrote his next-published novel, originally titled Second Coming and then Jerusalem's Lot, before it became 'Salem's Lot, in a small room in the garage. During this period, Stephen's mother died of cancer, at the age of 59.

Carrie was published in the spring of 1974. That same fall, the Kings left Maine for Boulder, Colorado. They lived there for a little less than a year, during which Stephen wrote The Shining, set in Colorado. Returning to Maine in the summer of 1975, the Kings purchased a home in the Lakes Region of western Maine. At that house, Stephen finished writing The Stand, much of which also is set in Boulder. The Dead Zone was also written in Bridgton.

In 1977, the Kings spent three months of a projected year- long stay in England, cut the sojourn short and returned home in mid-December, purchasing a new home in Center Lovell, Maine. After living there one summer, the Kings moved north to Orrington, near Bangor, so that Stephen could teach creative writing at the University of Maine at Orono. The Kings returned to Center Lovell in the spring of 1979. In 1980, the Kings purchased a second home in Bangor, retaining the Center Lovell house as a summer home.

Because their children have become adults, Stephen and Tabitha now spend winters in Florida and the remainder of the year at their Bangor and Center Lovell homes.

The Kings have three children: Naomi Rachel, Joe Hill and Owen Phillip, and three grandchildren.

Stephen is of Scots-Irish ancestry, stands 6'4" and weighs about 200 pounds. He is blue-eyed, fair-skinned, and has thick, black hair, with a frost of white most noticeable in his beard, which he sometimes wears between the end of the World Series and the opening of baseball spring training in Florida. Occasionally he wears a moustache in other seasons. He has worn glasses since he was a child.

He has put some of his college dramatic society experience to use doing cameos in several of the film adaptations of his works as well as a bit part in a George Romero picture, Knightriders. Joe Hill King also appeared in Creepshow, which was released in 1982. Stephen made his directorial debut, as well as writing the screenplay, for the movie Maximum Overdrive (an adaptation of his short story "Trucks") in 1985.

Stephen and Tabitha provide scholarships for local high school students and contribute to many other local and national charities.

Stephen is the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

Writer - Filmography
Talisman, The (2005) (novel)
Bag of Bones (2004) (novel)
Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, The (2005) (novel)
"Desperation" (2005) (mini) TV Series (also novel)
Riding the Bullet (2004) (novella Riding the Bullet)
All That You Love Will Be Carried Away (2004) (story)
'Salem's Lot (2004) (TV) (novel Salem's Lot)
Man in the Black Suit, The (2004) (story)
Secret Window (2004) (novella Four Past Midnight: Secret Window, Secret Garden)
"Kingdom Hospital" (2004) (mini) TV Series
Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, The (2003) (TV) (characters)
Autopsy Room Four (2003) (short story)
Dreamcatcher (2003) (novel)
Rainy Season (2002) (short story)
Dead Zone, The (2002) (V) (novel)
Carrie (2002) (TV) (novel)
Night Surf (2002) (story)
"Dead Zone, The" (2002) TV Series (novel)
Firestarter 2: Rekindled (2002) (TV) (novel Firestarter)
"Rose Red" (2002) (mini) TV Series (written by)
Mangler 2, The (2001) (V) (characters) (uncredited)
Children of the Corn: Revelation (2001) (V) (characters)
Hearts in Atlantis (2001) (book)
Strawberry Spring (2001) (story)
Paranoid (2000/II) (poem Paranoid: A Chant)
Green Mile, The (1999) (novel)
Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return (1999) (V) (story Children of the Corn)
Sometimes They Come Back... for More (1999) (characters)
Rage: Carrie 2, The (1999) (characters)
"Storm of the Century" (1999) (mini) TV Series (written by)
Apt Pupil (1998) (novella Apt Pupil)
Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998) (V) (short story Children of the Corn)
Trucks (1997) (TV) (short story)
Night Flier (1997) (story)
Quicksilver Highway (1997) (TV) (short story Chattery Teeth)
Ghosts (1997/I) (idea) (story)
"Shining, The" (1997) (mini) TV Series (novel) (teleplay)
Thinner (1996) (novel)
Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996) (V) (short story Children of the Corn)
Sometimes They Come Back... Again (1996) (characters)
Children of the Corn III (1995) (story Children of the Corn)
Langoliers, The (1995) (TV) (novella From Four Past Midnight)
"Outer Limits, The" (1995) TV Series (story) (episode "The Revelations of "Becka Paulson")
Dolores Claiborne (1995) (book)
Mangler, The (1995) (story)
Shawshank Redemption, The (1994) (short story Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption)
"Stand, The" (1994) (mini) TV Series (book) (teleplay)
"X Files, The" (1993) TV Series (writer) (episode 5.10 "Chinga")
Needful Things (1993) (book)
Tommyknockers, The (1993) (TV) (novel)
Dark Half, The (1993) (novel)
Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1993) (story Children of the Corn)
Sleepwalkers (1992) (written by)
Lawnmower Man, The (1992) (title only) (credit removed following lawsuit)
Golden Years (1991) (TV)
Sometimes They Come Back (1991) (TV) (short story)
Misery (1990) (novel)
It (1990) (TV) (novel)
Graveyard Shift (1990) (story)
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) (story) (segment "Cat From Hell")
Pet Sematary (1989) (novel) (screenplay)
"Monsters" (1988) TV Series (story) (episode "The Moving Finger")
Last Rung On the Ladder, The (1987) (short story)
Lawnmower Man, The (1987) (short story)
Return to Salem's Lot, A (1987) (novel Salem's Lot)
Running Man, The (1987) (novel) (as Richard Bachman)
Creepshow 2 (1987) (also story The Raft)
Stand by Me (1986) (novella The Body)
Maximum Overdrive (1986) (short story Trucks) (written by)
Silver Bullet (1985) (novella Cycle of the Werewolf)
"Twilight Zone, The" (1985) TV Series (story Gramma)
Cat's Eye (1985)
"Tales from the Darkside" (1984) TV Series (story) (episode "The Word Processor of the Gods") (writer) (episode "Sorry, Right Number")
Firestarter (1984) (novel)
Children of the Corn (1984) (story)
Disciples of the Crow (1983) (story)
Woman in the Room, The (1983) (story)
Christine (1983) (novel)
Dead Zone, The (1983) (novel)
Cujo (1983) (novel)
Boogeyman, The (1982) (story)
Creepshow (1982) (also stories The Crate, Weeds)
Shining, The (1980) (novel)
Salem's Lot (1979) (TV) (novel)
Carrie (1976) (novel)

Tom Clancy

Seventeen years ago Tom Clancy was an obscure Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history and only a letter to the editor and a brief article on the MX missile to his credit. Years before he had been an English major at Baltimores Loyola College and had always dreamed of writing a novel. His first effort, The Hunt for Red Octoberthe story of a Russian submarine captain who defects to the United Statessold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the New York Times bestseller list after President Reagan pronounced it the perfect yarn and non-put-downable. Since then Clancy has established himself as an undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense.
Clancys next novel, Red Storm Rising, took on U.S./Soviet tension by providing a realistic modern war scenario arising from a conventional Soviet attack on NATO. Other bestsellers followed: Patriot Games dealt with terrorism; Cardinal of the Kremlin focused on spies, secrets and the strategic defense initiative; Clear and Present Danger asked what if there was a real war on drugs; The Sum of All Fears centered around post-Cold War attempts to rekindle U.S./Soviet animosity; Without Remorse took on the rising U.S. drug trade and Vietnam War era POWs; and Debt of Honor explored the hazards of American/Japanese economic competition, the vulnerability of Americas financial system, and the dangers of military downsizing. In light of recent events, Debt of Honor demonstrated once and for all Clancys cutting-edge prescience in predicting future events. The novel ends with a suicide attack against the U.S. Capitol Building by a terrorist flying a 747 out of Dulles airport.

Clancys uninterrupted string of best sellers continued with Executive Orders, which combined the threat of biological and conventional terrorism with the instability of the Persian Gulf region; Rainbow Six, which explored the dual threats posed by former Soviet intelligence operatives willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder, and genetically engineering bio weapons; and, most recently, The Bear and The Dragon, which posited a limited war between China, the U.S. and Russia.

Clancys nonfiction works include Submarine, Armored Cav, Fighter Wing, Marine, and Airbornea series of guided tours of Americas warfighting assets. He has also written three books in an extraordinary nonfiction series that looks deep into the art of war through the eyes of Americas outstanding military commanders. Into The Storm: A Study in Command, written with armor and infantry General Fred Franks Jr., and Every Man a Tiger, written with Air Force General Chuck Horner, won unanimous praise for their detailed exploration of traditional war-fighting from the ground and from the air. The third book in the Commanders series, Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces, written with General Carl Stiner, former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, tells the story of the soldiers whose training, resourcefulness, and creativity make them capable of jobs that few other soldiers can handle, in situations where traditional arms and movement dont apply.

Rainbow Six (2006) (announced) (novel)
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005) (VG) (idea)
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (2004) (VG) (idea)
Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield (2003) (VG) (scenarios)
Splinter Cell (2002) (VG)
Sum of All Fears, The (2002) (novel)
Ghost Recon (2001) (VG) (idea)
NetForce (1999) (TV) (story)
OP Center (1995) (TV) (story)
Clear and Present Danger (1994) (novel)
Patriot Games (1992) (novel)
Hunt for Red October, The (1990) (novel The Hunt for Red October)

JK Rowling

Ms. J K Rowling was born on July 31st, 1965 in Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England. Her given name at birth was Joanne Kathleen. Ms. Rowling has one sister, Di, who was born 2 years after J K.

It is interesting to note that Ms. Rowling claims that she has actually been writing since she was 5 or 6 years old. Her first story, called Rabbit, was filled with interesting characters, such as a large bee called Miss Bee.

Ms. Rowling, along with her parents and sister, moved twice while J K was growing up. While at one of their homes, close to Bristol and in Winterbourne, she had friends next door whose last name was Potter. J K never forgot the children, or the last name, which she liked very much.

When she was nine years old her family moved again to Tutshill. Ms. Rowling attended a primary (grade) school in Tutshill, and later attended Wyedean Comprehensive. Ms. Rowling describes herself as being shy, freckly, with no natural athletic ability but a great love of literature. Later, when she graduated from Wyedean Comprehensive, she attended Exeter University. Here Ms. Rowling studied French after her parents encouraged her into what they believed would be a wonderful career as a bilingual secretary. After graduation, however, it didt take Ms. Rowling long to realize that she was not meant to be a secretary. Self described asthe worst secretary ever, very disorganized, she found it increasingly hard to remain attentive during meetings, actually writing story ideas instead of taking notes as she had been instructed.

When Ms. Rowling was 26 years old she moved to Portugal to be an English teacher. Ms. Rowling has been quoted many times as saying she loved teaching English, often teaching in the afternoons and evenings so that she could be free to work on her writing during the mornings. It was during this period that she began working on a story about a wizard.

Ms. Rowling met and married a journalist in Portugal (he was Portuguese), and her daughter Jessica was born in 1993. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, the marriage ended in divorce and Ms. Rowling, along with her infant daughter, moved to Edinburgh, Scotland so that J K could be near her younger sister, Di. It was during this time that Ms. Rowling became determined to not only finish her Harry Potter wizar novel, but to get it published. Often she would write in restaurants, where she and her daughter could stay warm while she wrote. Ms. Rowling requested a grant from the Scottish Arts Council, which she eventually received, in order to complete her book. When it was completed and after several rejections, Ms. Rowling sold the novel, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, to Bloomsbury in the UK for the equivalent of about $4,000.

To support her daughter and herself, Ms. Rowling began working as a French teacher. After several months Arthur A Levine Books/Scholastic Press bought the American rights to the firstHarry Potter, and Ms. Rowling received enough money to give up teaching and write full time. Ms. Rowling has described this moment as the happiest of her life.

After Bloomsbury Children's Books published the book in June 1997, it wast long before Ms. Rowling was recognized as a major discovery. The awards and accolades grew quickly for both Harry Potter and Ms. Rowling. In 1997 the book won The British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year, and the Smarties Prize.

When published in the US, in September of 1998, the book was renamed and released by Arthur A Levine Books / Scholastic Press; the new title was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Ms. Rowling quickly wrote a sequel, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, which was published July of 1998 in the UK, and in June 1999 in the USA. Immediately after this successful sequel a third book, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, was published in July and September of 1999, in the UK and the USA, respectively.

To her amazement, and joy, Ms. Rowling became a household name when the first three installments of the Harry Potter series took over the top 3 slots in the New York Times bestsellers list. (Is interesting to note that the books also did as well, achieving similar results, in the UK)

By the summer of 2000, Ms. Rowling had reportedly earned over $400 million for her first three Harry Potter books, which have been printed in 35 languages and sold over 30 million copies. Her fourth book in the popular series, entitled Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, pre-sold over one million advanced copies, with a first printing of 5.3 million. Because of her domination and incredible success on the New York Times bestseller list, the decision was made to introduce a bestseller list for childrens books, which would eliminate the dominating factor of these bestsellers on the current The New York Times bestseller list. This brought a tremendous amount of relief and happiness to a lot of competing authors - and a tremendous honor to Ms. J K Rowling.

Writer - Novels include
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2008) (announced) (novel)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) (announced) (novel)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) (filming) (novel)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) (novel)
Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup (2003) (VG)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) (novel)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) (novel)

My Luv for Rural Bengal

William Shakespeare

Details about William Shakespeares life are sketchy, mostly mere surmise based upon court or other clerical records. His parents, John and Mary (Arden), were married about 1557; she was of the landed gentry, he a yeomana glover and commodities merchant. By 1568, John had risen through the ranks of town government and held the position of high bailiff, similar to mayor. William, the eldest son, was born in 1564probably on April 23, several days before his baptism on April 26, 1564. That Shakespeare also died on April 23, 52 years later, may have resulted in the adoption of this birthdate.

William no doubt attended the local grammar school in Stratford where his parents lived, and would have studied primarily Latin rhetoric, logic, and literature [Barnet, viii]. At age 18 (1582), William married Anne Hathaway, a local farmers daughter eight years his senior. Their first daughter (Susanna) was born six months later (1583), and twins Judith and Hamnet were born in 1585.

Shakespeares life can be divided into three periods: the first 20 years in Stratford, which include his schooling, early marriage, and fatherhood; the next 25 years as an actor and playwright in London; and the last five in retirement back in Stratford where he enjoyed moderate wealth gained from his theatrical successes. The years linking the first two periods are marked by a lack of information about Shakespeare, and are often referred to as the dark years; the transition from active work into retirement was gradual and cannot be precisely dated [Boyce, 587].

John Shakespeare had suffered financial reverses from Williams teen years until well into the height of the playwrights popularity and success. In 1596, John Shakespeare was granted a coat of arms, almost certainly purchased by William, who the next year bought a sizable house in Stratford. By the time of his death, William had substantial properties, both professional and personal, which he bestowed on his theatrical associates and his family (primarily his daughter Susanna, having rewritten his will one month before his death to protect his assets from Judiths new husband, Thomas Quiney, who ran afoul of church doctrine and public esteem before and after the marriage) [Boyce, 529].

Shakespeare probably left school at 15, which was the norm, and took some sort of job, especially since this was the period of his fathers financial difficulty. Numerous references in his plays suggest that William may have in fact worked for his father, thereby gaining specialized knowledge [Boyce, 587].

At some point during the dark years, Shakespeare began his career with a London theatrical companyperhaps in 1589for he was already an actor and playwright of some note in 1592. Shakespeare apparently wrote and acted for Pembrokes Men, as well as numerous others, in particular Stranges Men, which later became the Chamberlains Men, with whom he remained for the rest of his career.

When, in 1592, the Plague closed the theaters for about two years, Shakespeare turned to writing book-length narrative poetry. Most notable were Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, both of which were dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, whom scholars accept as Shakespeares friend and benefactor despite a lack of documentation. During this same period, Shakespeare was writing his sonnets, which are more likely signs of the times fashion rather than actual love poems detailing any particular relationship. He returned to play writing when theaters reopened in 1594, and published no more poetry. His sonnets were published without his consent in 1609, shortly before his retirement.

Amid all of his success, Shakespeare suffered the loss of his only son, Hamnet, who died in 1596 at the age of 11. But Shakespeares career continued unabated, and in London in 1599, he became one of the partners in the new Globe Theater [Boyce, 589], built by the Chamberlains Men. This group was a remarkable assemblage of excellent actors who were also business partners and close personal friends . . . [including] Richard Burbage . . . [who] all worked together as equals . . . [Chute, 131].

When Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 and was succeeded by her cousin King James of Scotland, the Chamberlains Men was renamed the Kings Men, and Shakespeares productivity and popularity continued uninterrupted. He invested in London real estate and, one year away from retirement, purchased a second theater, the Blackfriars Gatehouse, in partnership with his fellow actors. His final play was Henry VIII, two years before his death in 1616.

Incredibly, most of Shakespeares plays had never been published in anything except pamphlet form, and were simply extant as acting scripts stored at the Globe. Only the efforts of two of Shakespeares company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, preserved his 36 plays (minus Pericles, the thirty-seventh) [Barnet, xvii] in the First Folio. Heminges and Condell published the plays, they said, only to keep the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our Shakespeare [Chute, 133]. Theater scripts were not regarded as literary works of art, but only the basis for the performance. Plays were a popular form of entertainment for all layers of society in Shakespeares time, which perhaps explains why Hamlet feels compelled to instruct the traveling Players on the fine points of acting, urging them not to split the ears of the groundlings, nor speak no more than is set down for them.

Present copies of Shakespeares plays have, in some cases, been reconstructed in part from scripts written down by various members of an acting company who performed particular roles. Shakespeares plays, like those of many of the actors who also were playwrights, belonged to the acting company. The performance, rather than the script, was what concerned the author, for that was how his play would become popularand how the company, in which many actors were shareholders, would make money.

William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church where he had been baptized exactly 52 years earlier.

Writer-Complete Works
1 Henry VI 158992
2 Henry VI 159091
3 Henry VI 159092
Richard III 159193
Venus and Adonis 159293
The Comedy of Errors 159294
Sonnets 15921609
Titus Andronicus 159394
The Rape of Lucrece 159394
The Taming of the Shrew 159394
The Two Gentlemen of Verona 1594
Loves Labors Lost 1594
King John 159496
Richard II 1595
Romeo and Juliet 1595
A Midsummer Nights Dream 159596
Henry IV, Part 1 1596
The Merchant of Venice 159697
Henry IV, Part 2 159697
The Merry Wives of Windsor 1597
Much Ado About Nothing 159899
Henry V 1599
Julius Caesar 1599
As You Like It 15991600
Hamlet 160001
The Phoenix and Turtle 1601
Twelfth Night 160102
Troilus and Cressida 160102
Alls Well That Ends Well 160203
A Lovers Complaint 160208
Measure for Measure 1604
Othello 1604
King Lear 1605
Macbeth 1606
Antony and Cleopatra 160607
Pericles 160608
Coriolanus 160708
Timon of Athens 160708
Cymbeline 160910
The Tempest 161011
The Winters Tale 1611
Henry VIII 1613
The Two Noble Kinsmen 1613

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and he lived during a very challenging time for Europe. His stories were very realistic and sometimes very sad to read. They dealt with how life was for the poor and lower-classes. His art, although not always pleasant to read, has a unique style and I love the way Dickens put words together. He lived until 1870 and during his life-time, he wrote several books. Out of all his works, my favorites are "Great Expectations" and "A Tale of Two Cities".

Charles Dickens is to Victorian England what Shakespeare is to Renaissance England: he typifies the period his writings disclose and expose. The greatest comic genius of his age, Dickens relentlessly calls for reform at every level, implores us to embrace the disadvantaged for our own good, and offers the values of a loving heart and the image of a warm hearth as the emblem of the solution to the cruel and mindless indifference of a society given over to the pursuit of "money, money, money, and what money can make of life," as Bella Wilfer says in Our Mutual Friend.

Born in Portsmouth, England, on February 7, 1812, the second of John and Elizabeth Dickens's eight children, Charles was raised with the assumption that he would receive an education and, if he worked hard, might some day come to live at Gad's Hill Place, the finest house on the main road between Rochester and Gravesend. But John Dickens, on whom Mr. Micawber is based, moved the family to London in 1823, fell into financial disaster, was arrested for debt and imprisoned in the Marshalsea Debtors' Prison. Charles was forced to go to work at Warren's Blacking Factory at Hungerford Stairs labeling bottles. In his Life of Charles Dickens, John Forster shares the fragment of Dickens's autobiography upon which David Copperfield's Murdstone and Grinby experiences are based:

It is wonderful to me how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age. It is wonderful to me, that, even after my descent into the poor little drudge I had been since we came to London, no one had compassion on me -- a child of singular abilities, quick, eager, delicate, and soon hurt, bodily or mentally -- to suggest that something might have been spared, as certainly it might have been, to place me at any common school. Our friends, I take it, were tired out. No one made any sign. My father and mother were quite satisfied. They could hardly have been more so, if I had been twenty years of age, distinguished at a grammar-school, and going to Cambridge.
Dickens himself did not know how long this ordeal lasted, "whether for a year, or much more, or less"; surely it must have seemed as if it would last forever to this sensitive twelve-year-old boy and it so seared his psyche that Dickens the man never "until I impart it to this paper [a full quarter century later], in any burst of confidence to anyone, my own wife not excepted, raised the curtain I then dropped, thank God."

Dickens was able to continue his education after his father received a legacy from a relative and was released from the Marshalsea. Charles attended Wellington House Academy from 1824 to 1826 before taking work as a clerk in Gray's Inn for two years. In order to qualify himself to become a newspaper parliamentary reporter, Dickens spent eighteen months studying shorthand, a perfect command of which was "equal in difficulty to the mastery of six languages," he was cautioned, and studying in the reading room of the British Museum. He won a reputation for his quickness and accuracy during his two years (1828-1830) as a reporter in the court of Doctors' Commons before reporting for the True Sun and the Mirror Parliament and finally becoming a reporter for the Morning Chronicle in 1834.

Dickens's first published piece appeared in the December, 1833, number of the Monthly Magazine , followed by nine others, the last two appearing over the signature "Boz," a pseudonym Dickens adopted from a pet name for his younger brother. These sketches were collected into two volumes and published on Dickens's twenty-fourth birthday, February 7, 1836, as Sketches by Boz. Illustrative of Everyday Life and Everyday People. Dickens's skills as an observant reporter intimately familiar with middle and lower class London are demonstrated in these descriptive vignettes of everyday life, which also reveal his high humor and his deep concern for social justice, qualities that will dominate his novels.

On April 2, 1836, Dickens married Catherine Hogarth, daughter of George Hogarth, with whom Dickens worked on the Morning Chronicle . Catherine and Charles had ten children before they separated in 1858. Mary Hogarth, Catherine's beautiful younger sister, joined the Dickens household shortly after the honeymoon. Mary's death, at seventeen years of age, in Dickens's arms established in his mind an image of ideal womanhood that never left him. The ring he took from Mary's dead finger remained on his hand until his own death.

The introduction of Sam Weller into the fourth number of Pickwick Papers (1836-37) launched the most popular literary career in the history of the language. Pickwick Papers became a publishing phenomenon, selling forty thousand copies of every issue. Published in twenty monthly installments, Pickwick took England by storm: Judges read it on the bench, doctors in the carriages between visiting patients, boys on the street. Carlyle tells Forster the story of a clergyman who, after consoling a sick person, was alarmed to hear the patient exclaim, upon the clergyman's leaving the sickroom, "Well, Thank God, Pickwick will be out in ten days anyway!" People named their pet animals after characters in the novel; there were Pickwick hats, cigars, and coats, and innumerable plays and sequels based on the original.

The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club chronicle the amusing misadventures of Mr. Pickwick, a lovable innocent who seeks to discover the world with his youthful companions, parodies of the lover, the sportsman, and the poet. While the Papers begin as a hilarious romp parodying the eighteenth-century novels Dickens had pored over as a child, they eventually assume a shape rising to the mythic level of great literature. Pickwick's education, under the guidance of Sam Weller, his streetwise, Cockney manservant, leads him to the discovery of the world of shyster lawyers, guile, corruption, vice, and imprisonment. The comic exuberance of Pickwick dominates this dark underside, though, and the sheer energy and wonderful good humor of the Papers carries the sunny day. There are, however, the Interpolated Tales of madness, betrayal, and murder, and Mr. Pickwick is forced to become a prisoner in his own room in the Fleet, for three months. The horrors young Charles Dickens had witnessed as a boy working in the blacking warehouse while his father was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea are not eliminated from Pickwick's world; indeed, his awareness of their existence is what allows Mr. Pickwick to become a fully loving, if finally not fully effective human being, who, with Sam's help, can see reality and relieve evil--to the best of his limited abilities.

Even as Pickwick Papers was enjoying its huge success, Dickens started Oliver Twist; or The Parish Boy's Progress in January, 1837; it continued in monthly numbers through 1838. In Oliver , Dickens explores the social evils attendant upon a political economy that made pauperism the rule rather than the exception. Oliver flees the cruel Sowerbys where he is apprenticed as an undertaker, having been sold to them by the workhouse for daring to ask for more -- food, love, nutrition, warmth -- and seeks his fortune in the criminal slum world of London proper. Befriended by the irrepressible Artful Dodger, he discovers warmth and good humor in Fagin's den, among thieves, pickpockets, prostitutes, and burglars. Dickens presents an unrelenting portrait of the filth and squalor that surround poverty and, refusing to romanticize the criminal world, at the same time makes it clear that this sector has been abandoned by society just as surely as Oliver and the other Parish Boys have been abandoned by an unresponsive system. This is the world the young Dickens saw at the blacking warehouse.

The contrasting world of the Brownlows and the Maylies may serve to rescue Oliver from the corruption of Fagin and the brutality of Sikes, but the other boys in Fagin's gang--who have been nurtured better by Fagin than Oliver's fellows had been in the workhouse--will remain abandoned. Rose Maylie, Dickens's first resurrection of Mary Hogarth, is discovered to be Oliver's aunt and Oliver is returned to her through Nancy's intervention, When Bill Sikes learns of Nancy's betrayal of him and the gang, Dickens has Sikes brutally murder her. Dickens's almost compulsive public reading of the death of Nancy some thirty years later--readings that shortened his own life--seems an insistent reminder to his public that this problem has not been successfully addressed. The social system has victimized Nancy and Sikes just as surely as the Poor Law has failed Oliver. There may be Brownlows and Maylies who can intervene individually and occasionally--and miraculously--in the lives of some Olivers, but the masses of screaming mobs hot in pursuit of Sikes for the murder of Nancy need to know how those destructive forces can be reversed. Sikes has been as brutalized by that society as Nancy has been by him. Dickens's novels seek to help us understand this and to do something about it, as a society.

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby , appearing in twenty numbers from April, 1838, to October, 1839, returns to the comic exuberance and vitality of Pickwick Papers. Dickens is exposing the cruelty and exploitation of children in the Cheap Schools in Yorkshire, immortalized in the portrayal of Wackford Squeers at Dotheboys Hall. In Nickleby Dickens brings together the serious issues of social reform he addresses in Oliver Twist with the rollicking humor and vast landscape of humanity he presents in Pickwick Papers . The public responded enthusiastically with sales reaching fifty thousand.

Fearing the public might weary of long novels like Pickwick and Nickleby in twenty monthly installments, Dickens decided to embark on a publication resembling the Spectator , which would come out weekly and allow him--with the help of others--"to write amusing essays on the various foibles as they arise" and to introduce new characters, along with Pickwick and Sam Weller, to comment on passing events. Thus was born Master Humphrey's Clock (1840-41), a weekly magazine, the first number of which sold seventy thousand copies. However, as sales dropped off due to the lack of a sustained story, Dickens introduced the story of Little Nell in The Old Curiosity

Shop (1840), beginning with the fourth number of Master Humphrey's Clock and resuming intermittently until the ninth chapter, at which point it continued uninterrupted. The story of the innocent Nell surrounded by surrealistic figures like Quilp and his gang and continuing onto a nightmarish journey through the industrial inferno with her half-crazed, gambleholic grandfather calls forth all of Dickens's original genius. The death of Nell, based on the death of Mary Hogarth, caused a nation to weep and skyrocketed sales to 100,000 copies. The publication of The Old Curiosity Shop secured Dickens's success not only in England but in America, where he was now famous as well.

Dickens followed The Old Curiosity Shop with Barnaby Rudge

(1841), also published weekly in Master Humphrey's Clock . Set in the time of the Gordon Riots of 1780, this represents Dickens's first attempt to write an historical novel. While the riots themselves were inflamed by anti-Catholic sentiment, Dickens suggests throughout the novel that they are actually an outburst of social protest. Dickens is appalled by the mob violence he brilliantly depicts in the brutal riots, but he expresses deep sympathy for the oppressed who are driven to such lengths by an indifferent and unresponsive system. Dickens himself was becoming increasingly impatient with England's political economy, which he perceives as insensitive to the needs of the people, and is indignant with the social conditions he sees around him. While he does not advocate a violent outburst from those who are the victims of this oppression, the explosive energy of the riot scenes in Barnaby offers a vision of what is possible if the needs of the people are not addressed.

Upon completing Barnaby Rudge Dickens visited America where he was absolutely lionized. However, after several attacks on him for his insistent speaking out in favor of international copyright laws and after further acquaintance with American ill breeding and overly familiar intrusion on his and Catherine's privacy, Dickens became disenchanted with his own vision of America as a land of freedom that was fulfilling a democratic ideal. In American Notes (1842) he expresses his reservations about America, much to the chagrin of his American audience.

With The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit , Dickens returned to monthly numbers publishing in twenty installments from January, 1843, to July, 1844. Martin Chuzzlewit is organized around the theme of selfishness, and marks an advance in Dickens's development as a novelist. However, sales dropped off to twenty thousand; in an effort to increase sales, Dickens sends Martin to America where Martin discovers the boorish behavior Dickens had only gently portrayed in American Notes . But if Dickens is scathing in his portrayal of America in Chuzzlewit , he is even fiercer in exposing greed, selfishness, hypocrisy, and corruption in his homeland. He is able to sustain this satiric exposure with his comic genius, creating here characters who have achieved a reality beyond their pages. Sairey Gamp is no less real for us than Mrs. Harris is for her, and Pecksniff's name has entered the language as descriptive of hypocritical benevolence.

In December, 1843, Dickens published the most popular and beloved of his works, A Christmas Carol, a work that expresses succinctly his "Carol philosophy." Scrooge has sacrificed joy, love, and beauty for the pursuit of money and is representative of a society whose economic philosophy dooms the less fortunate to lives of want and oppression. The ghosts help him to a Wordsworthian recollection of youth and the promise of a better being, and as a result, Scrooge's imagination is extended sympathetically beyond himself and he is redeemed. Dickens's vision of a society redeemed through love and generosity will haunt his works from now on. The alternative to this vision seems to be the threat of revolutionary violence we see in Brandy Rudge .

Dickens traveled to Italy in 1844-45 and then to Switzerland and Paris in 1846. His next Christmas book, The Chimes (1844), continued the assault on the economic philosophy exposed in A Christmas Carol. Dickens ridicules Malthusian philosophy and the economic theory that the poor have no right to anything beyond meager subsistence. He is coming increasingly to believe that the social problems in England are an inevitable byproduct of an economic philosophy that is fundamentally wrong-minded. The Cricket and the Hearth (1845) and The Battle of Life (1846) continue the Christmas books, and Pictures from Italy (1846) recounts Dickens's impressions of his Italian travel.

Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son appeared in seventeen monthly numbers from January, 1847, through April 1848, the last being a double number. In this work Dickens is able to integrate his criticism of the social philosophy dominating nineteenth-century England into the structure of the novel itself, as he will continue to do in Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, and Our Mutual Friend. Dombey and Son investigates the callous indifference of an economic system that places the cash nexus before human relations. Mr. Dombey, who represents the enterprising nineteenth century businessman, rejects the love of his daughter in favor of the son who will become heir to the firm. Dombey's universe collapses around him as his son dies, he drives his daughter away, his second wife leaves him, his business goes bankrupt, and he loses his fortune. Like Scrooge, though, Dombey is redeemed by memory and remorse--and the loving forgiveness of his daughter.

The importance of memory once again becomes central to Dickens's next Christmas book, The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848), the tale of a man who gets his wish to lose all memory of sorrow at the expense of losing the attendant sensibility that comes with the loss of memory. This Wordsworthian concern for the importance of recollection of the past and the healing influence of memory--even the memory of sorrow and grief--comes to be central for Dickens, as he has his story conclude with the prayer, "Lord, Keep my Memory Green."

It is at this time that Dickens is writing the autobiographical fragment he shares with Forster and which he mined for his most autobiographical novel, The Personal History of David Copperfield , published in twenty monthly installments from May, 1849, to November, 1850, the last issue being a double number. David Copperfield opens with David, the narrator, indicating that the pages of his book must show whether he will turn out to be the hero of his own life. After overcoming the brutal experiences based on Dickens's own experience at the blacking warehouse, David eventually marries, sets up household, establishes a growing reputation as a novelist, and yet discovers "a vague unhappy loss or want of something" in his life. He wonders if this unhappiness is the result of his having given in to "the first mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart" by marrying his child-wife, or if it is representative of the human condition. He does know it would have been better if his wife "could have helped me more, and shared the many thoughts to which I had no partner; and that this might have been; I knew."

Dickens was himself experiencing a similar sense of vague dissatisfaction at this time and may have wondered if his wife were not partly responsible. Whether she was or whether Dickens was experiencing the angst that every major Victorian thinker suffered from we cannot know. David's problem is settled by Dora's early death and David's recognition that Agnes has loved him all along and that on a level he was not aware of he had loved her too. They marry, have a lovely family, and share a fulfilled existence.

The novel ends with David's apostrophe to his true wife: "Oh Agnes, Oh my soul, so may thy face be by me when I close my life indeed; so may I, when the shadows which I now dismiss, still find thee near me, pointing upward!" In his Preface to the novel, Dickens talks about "dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy world" as he finishes David Copperfield. Both Dickens and David equate the world of vision with the world of actuality--one is as impermanent as the other. For David, Agnes is pointing to a world he hopes lasts beyond the worlds of shadow. In 1842, Dickens had written to Forster in response to the overwhelming triumph of his welcome in Boston: "I feel, in the best aspects of this welcome, something of the presence and influence of that spirit which directs my life, and through a heavy sorrow has pointed upward with unchanging finger for more than four years past." He is referring, of course, to Mary Hogarth.

In the novel, David is able to realize his ideal vision, actually to possess the beauty that is his inspiration and end as artist. Mary Hogarth becomes, for Dickens, an idealized vision of beauty that cannot be possessed, but she serves "as a presence and influence of that spirit that directs" Dickens's life. Whether that ideal can be attained beyond this realm is not the issue. The ideal has allowed David to become the hero of his life, not by possessing the ideal but by acting on its inspiration. David the artist becomes artist as the result of realizing his imaginative vision, of creating art. In the act of creating art he possesses the vision.

The world David is born into is flawed. He experiences the evil of the world, deeply at Murdstone and Grinby's, and escapes it. In his adult world he participates in the evil, contributes to it, unwittingly, as when he introduces Steerforth to the Peggottys and brings ruin upon that innocent house. He feels responsible for Dora's death, the loss of Em'ly, Steerforth, and Ham. But in the end he is able, with Agnes's help, to put his universe back together. He has been involved in a struggle, with his undisciplined heart on the one hand, with active evil in the form of Uriah Heep on the other. Agnes tells David that she believes simple love and truth will prevail over evil in the end. It will, for Dickens, only if goodness has the measure of evil and if good people are willing to use their creative energy to work hard to realize that goodness. The evil that David experienced as a child on the streets of London sharpened his wits so that, for example, David is able to catch Uriah staring at him while pretending to write, on their first encounter. And as a result of David's experience on the streets, he has the help of Mr. Micawber in defeating Uriah in his scheme to take over the Wickfield firm, indeed to take over the world of the novel. David's first-hand experience with the evil streets of London as a boy gives him the knowledge and wherewithal to take the measure of evil. His imaginative creativity, inspired by Agnes, allows him to order his universe. The very powers that allow David Copperfield to succeed as hero are the powers that allow Dickens to create David Copperfield . He will extend those powers beyond the world of the novel to continue to address the evils of a social system that is oppressive and life denying.

Dickens extended his capacity to address social issues and to provide entertainment by founding Household Words , a weekly magazine that first appeared on March 30, 1850, and continued until he replaced it with All the Year Round , which he founded and edited in 1859.

In 1850 he also helped to establish the Guild of Literature and Art to create an endowment for struggling artists. Money was raised for the Guild through amateur theatrical performances that Dickens usually performed in, directed, and managed. Dickens was a brilliant actor and loved the stage, producing plays throughout his career as fund raisers for the many charitable concerns he worked tirelessly to support. His love for the theater culminated in his captivating public readings from his own novels.

Bleak House , appearing in twenty monthly installments from March, 1852, to September, 1853, is a scathing indictment of government, law, philanthropy, religion, and society in nineteenth century England. The organizing principle of the plot is the hopelessly entangled lawsuit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which destroys the lives of all who become enmeshed in the Court of Chancery through the suit. The legal system is exposed as itself a symptom of what is wrong with a society that is structurally flawed. The mud, ooze, slime, and fog that symbolically dominate the world of this novel suggest that this society cannot be redeemed through a simple restructuring. The spontaneous combustion of Krook, the counterpart of the Lord Chancellor, indicates that this society must be fundamentally altered or it will explode of its own internal corruption. Jo, the crossing sweep, has neither the energy nor the tools to sweep away the mud and slime into which the slum of Tom-all-Alone's is crumbling. And Tom-all-Alone's is infecting all of London, just as surely as Jo's smallpox infects the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson.

If this society is to be redeemed, Dickens insists, it will be through the values represented by Esther Summerson. Jo's broom cannot sweep away the mud of Tom-all-Alone's, but the clarity and warmth of Esther's sympathetic love may be capable, if it becomes contagious, of illuminating this world and dissipating the fog. Esther and Allan Woodcourt, the physician who attends Jo at his death, marry, and we believe that their family can contain, in miniature, the order and love that must be transmitted to the larger society if it is to be saved. But Dickens is not sure, at this point, if what Esther and Allan represent can withstand the evils of London: they set up household in a country cottage, provided by the benevolent John Jarndyce, Esther's guardian.

In order to improve the sales of Household Words , which had started to slip in 1854, Dickens began to publish a new serial in weekly installments in that magazine. Hard Times. For These Times , an assault on the industrial greed and political economy that exploits the working classes and deadens the soul, ran from April 1 to August 12, 1854. The Gradgrind philosophy, based on Facts, Facts, Facts of utilitarian calculus, is demonstrated as being not only cruel and destructive to the workers--"hands"--it dehumanizes and exploits but humanly inadequate to the Gradgrind family it purportedly serves. Mrs. Gradgrind sees that her husband has missed something, "not an ology at all," in his life, and Louisa and her brother Tom, "the whelp," are nearly destroyed by the mechanical philosophy of Gradgrindery. Sissy Jupe, who grew up among Sleary's Horse Riding Circus, represents the imaginative creativity and generosity that the Gradgrind family miss. The union of Sissy and Loo, at the conclusion of the novel, is emblematic of what Dickens believes industrial England needs: "let me lay this head of mine upon a loving heart," Loo says to Sissy at the end.

The Crimean War, which broke out in March, 1854, prevented the government from addressing the domestic social ills Dickens had been railing against since at least as early as Oliver Twist. The inept government, which cannot seem to get beyond just muddling along, is captured brilliantly in the portrayal of the Circumlocution Office in Little Dorrit , published in monthly numbers from December, 1855, to June, 1857. The dominant symbol of the novel is imprisonment, and society itself becomes the prison of its inhabitants. Dickens had begun the novel, significantly, with the title "Nobody's Fault" in mind, but later entitled the work after its heroine, Amy Dorrit. Amy is the daughter of the "Father of the Marshalsea," who has been confined in debtors' prison for twenty five years. Arthur Clennam, whose gloomy childhood resembles what David Copperfield's would have been had he been raised by the Murdstones, is a middle-aged man looking for meaning in life. Clennam and Little Dorrit escape the imprisonment of this stultifying society by discovering their love for each other, a love that is difficult to discover since Arthur is so much older than Amy and she has the goodness, and physical resemblance, of a child. Importantly for Dickens, Arthur and Amy are willing to engage the fallen society of London and to attempt to change it. After their wedding Arthur and Amy "went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar." Unlike Esther Summerson and her husband, Arthur and Amy stay in London where they live "a modest life of usefulness and happiness."

On April 30, 1859, Dickens launched the weekly journal, All the Year Round . To get the journal off to a good start, the first installment of A Tale of Two Cities appeared in the inaugural issue and continued in weekly installments until November 26, 1859. Set in the time of the French Revolution, this novel once again looks at the potential for revolutionary violence Dickens had explored in Barnaby Rudge . If the ruling class in England does not take seriously the lesson of the French Revolution, Dickens appears to be saying, such a violent outburst is possible again. While Dickens deplores violence, his sympathies are clearly with the victims of oppression. Only the kind of sacrificial love represented by Sydney Carton's willing sacrifice of himself for his loved ones will be able to prevent such a revolution if society continues along its present course

In an effort to pick up declining sales of All the Year Round , Dickens once again published a novel in weekly installments of the journal. Great Expectations ran from December 1, 1860, to August 3, 1861. Dickens and Catherine had recently separated after over twenty years of marriage. Perhaps in an attempt to come to terms with his personal unhappiness, Dickens returns to the first person narrator in Great Expectations. To assure that he did not fall into "unconscious repetition" as he wrote this story of a "hero to be a boy-child, like David," he reread David Copperfield.

Pip is "raised by hand" by his shrewish older sister and her husband, Joe Gargery, whom Pip treats "as an older species of child." Pip comes into Great Expectations as the result of befriending the convict, Magwitch, but is led to believe that it is actually the eccentric and half-mad Miss Havisham to whom he is indebted. Pip is also under the misapprehension that the beautiful Estella, Miss Havisham's daughter by adoption, will become part of his inheritance. Pip's real education begins when he realizes that Magwitch is his benefactor and that he has betrayed the loving Joe for the false society made available by ill gotten gains from an escaped convict. His redemption comes as the result of his coming to love and value Magwitch, who, he realizes, has been much truer to Pip than Pip has been to Joe.

In the earlier novel based loosely on his own life, Dickens has David Copperfield marry Dora, has him suffer the consequences of yielding to the first mistaken impulse of an undisciplined heart. When Dora dies, David is able to discover his true wife, Agnes, who had seemed almost supernaturally removed from him. Here, Pip falls hopelessly in love with Estella, who is as icily indifferent to him as are the stars, because, as she says, she has no heart. Dickens originally intended for Pip and Estella to remain apart in the end, but Bulwer Lytton persuaded him to change the ending. Dickens has Estella discover, through suffering inflicted in a brutal marriage, her own heart and the value of Pip's love. At this time in his career Dickens seems clear about the values that must be embraced if society is to succeed, the values of selflessness, compassion, and sympathetic love. He does not seem as sure that those qualities can sustain personal happiness, at least not for him at this point.

In Our Mutual Friend, published in twenty installments from May, 1864, to November, 1865, Dickens makes still another advance in his artistic vision. Dominated by the dust heaps and the spiritual wasteland they symbolize, the vision of this novel suggests that we must die to ourselves if we are to be redeemed, and society must forego material pursuits if it is to become spiritually and culturally whole. The recurrent theme of death and resurrection indicates Dickens's developing understanding of the meaning of personal fulfillment that he explores in earlier novels, particularly in David Copperfield and Great Expectations .

There is no first person narrator in Our Mutual Friend , as there is in David Coppperfield and Great Expectations, although we are given an interior monologue as John Harmon recounts his own near death by drowning. However the novel is framed by Mortimer Lightwood's stories: he tells the story of "The Man from Somewhere," John Harmon, at the beginning of the novel; his story of Eugene Wrayburn's marriage to Lizzie Hexam horrifies the "society" to whom he recounts this tale at the end. The narrator/hero role that is central to David Copperfield is shared in Our Mutual Friend among Harmon, Wrayburn, and Lightwood. The roles of the heroines are altered from the earlier novels as well. The Agnes who has been associated with stained glass windows becomes Lizzie Hexam, daughter of the water rat Gaffer Hexam; and the cruel Estella becomes the willful, mercenary Bella Wilfer. Dickens is reworking his themes and relationships from the earlier novels here, particularly those themes he explored in the novels written from the first person point of view, the more autobiographical novels.

Like David Copperfield, Lizzie Hexam has much to be grateful for in her sordid background. David's experiences on the streets allow him to take the measure of evil; Lizzie's sordid work with her father gives her the strength and the experience literally to save Eugene Wrayburn from drowning. As a result, Eugene is empowered to renounce the false society and indolent existence of his former self and to be redeemed by Lizzie's love. Bella Wilfer sees her own selfishness and vanity played out in Noddy Boffins's pretended miserliness, and sacrifices her great expectations in defense of John Harmon. In so doing, Bella demonstrates herself as worthy of Harmon's love, just as Eugene demonstrates his worth of Lizzie's love in repudiating the society he had been surrounded by. Unlike earlier Dickens heroines, though, Bella wants to become "something so much worthier than the doll in the doll's house," and does. Both Bella (the Estella figure) and Eugene (the Pip figure) prove themselves after marriage, when the real tests come. Marriage is no longer an end for Dickens, the symbol of order and success. Rather it is something that needs to be worked at and worked out. And Bella, who proves to be "true golden gold at heart," and Lizzie, whom Eugene calls a "heroine," live together with their husbands in London where, for Dickens, the real work needs to be done. Dickens celebrates the moment of Bella's marriage with John with the message that has been central to his vision from the beginning: and "O there days in this life, worth life and worth death. And O what a bright old song it is that O 'tis love 'tis love, that makes the world go round."

Our Mutual Friend ends with Mortimer Lightwood, who feels that, like Dickens, he has "the eyes of Europe upon him" as he tells his stories at the Veneerings' dinner parties, seeking the true voice of society while he reports the story of Eugene and Lizzie. He discovers it in Twemlow, who knows what it means to act nobly. Dickens must himself have been wondering about the voice of society with regard to his personal situation, and probably with Mortimer's perspective. Neither Dickens nor Mortimer participates directly in the happiness of those they tell stories about. But they share the vision and take joy in seeing the results of the stories and the effects those stories have on their audiences.

Dickens, our greatest storyteller, may not have discovered the personal happiness in his own marriage that Eugene and John Harmon, the Pip and David of his last completed novel, achieve, but in the end he achieves personal fulfillment through his art. David realizes, in the life of his novel, what Dickens saw represented in Mary Hogarth, and what was not attainable in his own life. That Dickens's own fulfillment is in creating the vision rather than attaining it here may be explained in part by the fact that Dickens is an artist and in part by the kind of artist he is. According to Forster, Not his genius only, but his whole nature, was too exclusively made up of sympathy for, and with, the real in its most intense form, to be sufficiently provided against failure in the realities around him. There was for him no 'city of the mind' against outward ills, for inner consolation and shelter. It was in and from the actual he still stretched forward to find the freedom and satisfaction of an ideal, and by his very attempts to escape the world he was driven back into the thick of it. But what he would have sought there, it supplies to none; and to get the infinite out of anything so finite, has broken many a stout heart.

Dickens has shown us how the real can more nearly approximate his vision of the ideal through his novels. In his later years he told those stories in brilliant public readings from his novels in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and in America, where people stood all night in lines one half mile long to purchase tickets to see him perform.

His last novel, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood , was to be issued in twelve monthly numbers from April, 1870, but he died in June, having completed half the mystery. In this novel, Dickens extends his vision beyond England to include the empire itself. It appears as if he would continue to make yet another advance in his artistic development in this unfinished novel.

Dickens died June 9, 1870, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. In a letter to Forster, Carlyle sends his condolences: "I am profoundly sorry for you and indeed for myself and for us all. It is an event world-wide; a unique of talents suddenly extinct; and has "eclipsed," we too may say, "the harmless gaiety of nations.' No death since 1866 [the year of Carlyle's wife's death] has fallen on me with such a stroke. No literary man's hitherto ever did. The good, the gentle, high-gifted, ever-friendly, noble Dickens, -- every inch of him an Honest Man."

The 'Business' of Maoist Movement in India - By P.V. Ramana

Financing a 'revolution' is not child's play. It is all the more tough when the organization is proscribed and hence operates underground. For the Indian Maoists, also known as Naxalites, the conditions are a little more unfavorable because they claim to be fighting for the deprived and neglected sections of society who are poor. And the Maoists do not enjoy the support of the affluent.

But still the Maoists are being able to collect and manage vast sums of money. According to a media report of April 9, 2008, the annual 'extortion' by the Maoists is a whopping Rs.1,000 crore. A former official of the Intelligence Bureau and now a senior police officer in Chhattisgarh told this author in 2007 that the annual extortion totals Rs.1,500 crore! This is truly impressive.

The question that naturally arises is: how is this possible? The answer is not far to seek. The Naxalites extort money from those who they can reach, and those who have ill-gotten wealth. The fear of violent retribution makes people pay money. Those who pay up include politicians -- big and small, corrupt government servants, businesses and rich landlords. Besides, the rebels also raise funds through contributions from sympathizers and activists.

According to the 'constitution' of the Maoists, which was prepared in September 2004 during the foundation of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and reportedly amended at the Unity Congress of January 2007, each cadre (party member) has to pay an 'annual subscription' of Rs.10. Besides, the rebels will decide the sums to be paid annually by supporters who are gainfully employed.

Writing in December 2001, well-known environmental writer Richard Mahapatra claimed that in Orissa, bamboo fellers, who have been organized by the rebels, 'contribute' Rs.5 every day from their wages to the rebels.

Similarly, poor tribals who are engaged in the collection of kendu/tendu/beedi leaf (similar to tobacco) that is grown in forest areas also contribute to the Maoists. They have reason to do so. The rebels have organized them, fought for their cause against beedi leaf contractors and ensured that they get at least the minimum wages stipulated by the government, if not more. In the 1970s, when the minimum wage prescribed was 5 paise for a bundle of 100 leaves in Andhra Pradesh, the beedi leaf contractors were paying 4 paise.

And then the Naxalites came on to the scene. After that, every year they have been able to successfully negotiate with the beedi leaf contractors and secure better wages for the tribals. This has been the greatest success of the Naxalites. But they also 'extort' huge amounts from beedi leaf contractors in order to let them to do business. Indeed, extortion from these contractors is the single largest source of income for the Naxalites.

A variety of businesses generate money to the Naxalites. A senior intelligence official in Andhra Pradesh told this author that Class A, B, C and D public works contractors pay 8, 6, 4 and 2 percent respectively of the total bid. That apart, a large paper mill in Andhra Pradesh is believed to have paid Rs.5 million every month in 2001. Similarly, a rayon factory, also in Andhra Pradesh, pays Rs.10 million annually to the Maoists, a senior superintendent of police told this author.

The Naxalites demand and secure money from politicians of various hues and from different levels. The home minister of one of India's highly affected states is said to have paid a huge sum to the rebels to get elected from his constituency. Another political leader who went on to become a cabinet minister in the central government paid Rs.1.7 million to the Maoists to facilitate his election, a senior intelligence official from Jharkhand told this author in February 2007. Reportedly, a former union minister paid money to the Maoists to win elections.

A junior central intelligence official in Visakhapatnam said that government servants, including teachers in the GK Veedhi mandal were asked to pay a 'fine' of approximately one month's salary for continuously being absent from work.

The chief editor of the Ranchi-based Prabhat Khabar Hindi daily said in January 2005 that in Bihar and Jharkhand the Naxalites had circulated a limited number of booklets listing the sources of their funds. Reportedly, some government employees too have paid levy to the Naxalites. All this persuades one to wonder if Naxalism is indeed not a thriving business proposition!

(P.V. Ramana is Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. The views expressed here are his. He can be contacted at: palepuramana@gmail.com)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Performing a Low Vision Evaluation - William K. Van Cleave

Performing a Low Vision Evaluation
By William K. Van Cleave
Performing a Low Vision Evaluation
In most states properly trained opticians or ophthalmic assistants can perform low vision evaluations
with the proper authorization from a medical doctor. Many times an optician who is thoroughly familiar
with the mathematics of optics and refraction can more easily comprehend the principals that must be
applied when performing a low vision evaluation.
First, the term “low vision” must be defined. A person is considered to have low vision if their ability
to perform basic daily tasks is affected by their ability to see. The term “Low Vision” usually means the
best attainable visual acuity is somewhere around 20/50 or worse. In order to help someone with low vision
is best to thoroughly understand what it might be like to have low vision. Low vision can result in general
cloudiness, central vision loss, peripheral vision loss, blurry areas, or blind spots causing a loss of some
portion of the visual field
Next, the question “What causes low vision?” must be addressed. By far, the most common cause of
low vision is macular degeneration. This condition most commonly results in the loss of vision in the
central visual field. Although implants can usually correct the problem, cataracts can also cause low vision
difficulties. Cataracts are a clouding of the crystalline lens that can cause glare, distortion, and a general
loss of detail, although the visual field is normally unaffected. A detached retina is another cause of low
vision. The visual field defect is apparent manifesting itself in the form of a dark wave or curtain effect
usually across upper or lower part of the visual field. Diabetic retinopathy is another common cause of low
vision. This condition occurs in some diabetics. It is caused by swelling and leaking of blood vessels
which interfere with light passage through the eye and usually cause a loss of vision in the central visual
field. Trauma to the eye or head can also cause low vision problems. Many trauma victims have resulting
neurological damage therefore there tends to be a wide variety in the displayed vision symptoms.
A Low Vision Evaluation is an in-depth functional evaluation to determine if the current vision can be
improved to do those things the person wants to do. The end result of the low vision evaluation will be to
determine the lens power and device that is best suited to meet the patient’s needs. The low vision
evaluation should explore the optical and non-optical systems that are currently available. A Low Vision
Evaluation is not a medical evaluation to determine eye health. The person’s regular eye doctor must
continue to monitor their eyes for any conditions that might result in additional eye health complications or
additional vision loss.
We must also address the question “Who can be helped?” Only those people who have accepted their
vision loss and are motivated and willing to try new things can be helped. The patient must also have
realistic expectations and goals.
The most common low vision devices are stand or hand-held magnifiers, clip-on magnifying loops,
high magnification spectacle lenses, electronic magnification devices, and spectacle or hand-held
Another possible solution usually not considered as a low vision device are gas permeable contact
lenses. If the individual’s ability to see is caused by a scarred or highly irregular cornea, rigid contact lenses
may be the best answer. The tear layer fills in between the irregular cornea surface and the contact lens and
optically removes the irregularity. Trial lens over-refractions must be used in order to develop an accurate
contact lens prescription in these cases.
What testing equipment will you need? Personally, I recommend the following equipment to do the
job right: A phoroptor or trial set (preferably both) a retinoscope, a keratometer, a distance Snellen visual
acuity chart, a near Snellen equivalent visual acuity reading card, and amsler grid, a contrast sensitivity
chart, and a simple color vision test of some type.
What near low vision devices should you carry? I recommend starting with the following near low
vision devices for testing purposes: Hand magnifiers in 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, and 24 diopters in power,
a small assortment of clip-on jeweler’s loops, clip-on near telescopes in 2.5x, 4x, 6x and 10x. For testing
purposes you may want to consider substituting an interchangeable head halogen magnifier in place of the
separate hand magnifiers. It would also be a good idea to have some kind of electronic CRT magnifier for
those who are beyond help using conventional lenses and telescopes.
What distance low vision devices should you have on hand? I would recommend the following devices
for testing purposes: Distance telescopes in 2x, 4x, 6x, and 10x. Be sure to get the type that can be handheld
or mounted in a spectacle lens. You may want to carry 10x or 12x wide field light gathering binoculars
for those who are beyond help by other means.
The first step in performing a low vision evaluation is to obtain complete medical and visual history
and family visual history information. Try to get this information from the patient before their first visit if
possible. During the first visit obtain complete information on the patient’s visual habits and identify all
problem areas from the information you have gathered. Most importantly, ask the patient to determine the
goals they would like to achieve for distance and/or near vision. Remember that the goals must be realistic
considering the patient’s visual condition. In most cases you will find the patient’s only concern is the near
vision. The goal you will hear most often will be “I want to be able to see my mail and read the paper.”
Low Vision Testing
I normally perform the following steps during the patient’s first visit for a low vision evaluation:
· Starting visual acuity at distance and near
· Thorough objective and subjective refraction including Keratometry
· Determine best attainable visual acuity
· Amsler Grid test
· Confrontational visual field test
· Contrast sensitivity test
· Color vision test
The order of the tests may be modified to suite your needs. Also note that you may not need to perform
every test on every patient. The following text describes each of these steps in greater detail.
Visual Acuity for Distance
· Use a standard Snellen visual acuity chart.
· If the patient is unable to see even the largest letters on the chart, move the chart closer to the patient
until they can just see the large letters (You must convert the result to the Snellen 20-foot equivalent).
· Record the binocular and monocular visual acuity without correction, and with the patient’s current
Visual Acuity for Near
· Use a Snellen near reading card with distance equivalent notation beside each line.
· The Fonda-Anderson reading card is a good choice for this purpose.
· Record the binocular and monocular visual acuity without correction, and with the patient’s current
Low Vision Refraction - Keratometry
· Keratometry should be included as part of your refraction to assist in determining how much of the
problem is being caused by an irregular cornea.
· If a highly irregular cornea is found to be part of the patient’s problem, consider doing a trial lens overrefraction
to determine how much the vision could be improved with gas permeable contact lenses.
Objective Low Vision Refraction - Retinoscopy
· If you observe a good retinoscopy reflex, you should rely primarily on your retinoscopy results rather
than subjective results unless a subjective improvement in VA is noted.
· If you have a poor reflex, try to ignore the peripheral part of the reflex and continue.
· If the reflex is too poor to give a comfortable result, you may need to rely primarily on the subjective
Subjective Low Vision Refraction
· Be aware that many low vision patients are unresponsive to subjective tests.
· Be prepared to make larger changes of at least .50 or 1.00 diopters rather than the normal .25 changes
in order to prompt a usable patient response.
· Try starting with at least a 1.00 diopter cylinder in the JCC to help the patient find the proper axis.
· If you are lucky enough to have different cross cylinders to choose from, the following chart provides a
good guideline to use in selecting the best cross cylinder power for a given low vision situation.
Visual Acuity Best Cross Cylinder Power
20/15 to 20/20 +-.12 D
20/25 to 20/30 +-.25 D
20/40 to 20/60 +-.50 D
20/70 to 20/200 +-1.00 D
Subjective Refraction Warning!
· Many low vision patients who have irregular reflexes in retinoscopy may subjectively take you to more
than one axis and cylinder power! The one they will take you to may depend on which axis you were
closer to when you began the subjective refinement.
· If this occurs, select the axis and cylinder that gives the best visual acuity then use a trial frame. The
patient will usually prefer the axis that is closer to the axis of their previous eyeglass Rx.
Swinging Cylinder Test
· Another good subjective test to verify the axis position, especially if the patient seems to be unsure or
unresponsive to the Jackson Cross-Cylinder test.
· Use this test after performing a normal subjective refraction if you still have concerns or doubts about
the cylinder axis position.
· Step 1: Start with the best distance prescription dialed into the phoroptor as determined by a normal
subjective refraction.
· Step 2: Have the patient look at the smallest letters they can see on the chart while you swing the
cylinder off axis an equal number of degrees in both directions checking for equal blurring.
· Step 3: If the two off axis positions are not equally blurry, move the axis slightly toward the better of
the two. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the two off axis positions are equally blurry.
· Step 4: If you changed the axis using this test, you must once again refine the cylinder and sphere
Using the Stenopaic Slit to Find Axis
· Rotating the Stenopaic slit in front of the eye may help locate the principal astigmatic meridian that
yields the best vision.
Amsler Grid Test
· Occlude the eye not being tested.
· Have the patient look at the center dot.
· Ask the patient:
“Can you see the center dot?”
“Are all the lines straight?”
“Are any of the lines missing?”
“Are any areas more blurry than others?”
· Identify and record the effected areas.
Confrontational Visual Field Test
· Sit directly in front of the patient and ask them to look directly at your nose.
· While you are also looking directly at the patient’s nose, hold a penlight at your peripheral visual field
positions, noting and recording the patient’s visual field relative to your own. (This test assumes the
tester’s visual field is normal)
· Useful test for determining mobility problems.
Contrast Sensitivity Test
· Using a contrast sensitivity chart determine the minimum amount of contrast the patient can
· Record the results relative to a normal eye.
· Useful to determine vision problems caused by the lack of contrast in some sources of printed reading
Matching Color Vision Test
· Have several colors of small pieces of yarn or other material available and ask the patient to group
matching colors together.
· This test helps screen for color vision defects and help assess the macular cone and optic nerve
· Try lens tints that match the colors least effected by the patient’s color vision defect.
At this point you should end the first visit. Do not try to do a complete low vision evaluation all in one
visit. The patient and their eyes will have become tired at this point and it would be unproductive to
continue. Tell the patient you will determine the best device(s) for them and call them to set up an
appointment when the device(s) arrive.
Initial Low Vision Power Evaluation
Remember that visual acuities may be modified by information from Amsler Grid testing, lighting
conditions, eccentric viewing, and any other factors you think might make a difference in the patient's
Initial Distance Power Evaluation
Step 1. Determine patient’s distance visual acuity. If they can not see the largest letters on the chart at 20
feet, move them closer until they can just see the large letters. Multiply it out to convert the result to the
normal Snellen notation. For example, if a patient can see the largest letters on the chart (20/200) at a
distance of only 10 feet, then the patient’s visual acuity would actually be 20/400. VA : 20 / A
Step 2. Determine the visual acuity the patient needs to have to perform the task(s) desired. The patient
needs to have reasonable expectations considering the condition of their eyes of course. For example, if the
patient needs to be able to see the letters on the 20/40 line at a distance of 20 feet, then the desired (or
needed) visual acuity would be 20/40. VA : 20 / B
Step 3. Compute the magnification required to bring the patient’s visual acuity to the required level by
using the following formula: M = A / B where A is from step 1 and B is from step 2.
Step 4. Start with this magnification power for a telescopic low vision device. In the above examples
substituting the values of the variables we find the magnification needed to bring this patient from 20/200
to 20/40 at distance to be 10x:
M = A / B
M = 400 / 40
M = 10x
Distance Magnification Limitations
· Telescopes up to 10x may be considered for patients with VA up to about 20/600.
· If distance VA is worse than 20/600 telescopes should not be considered. They may
be candidates for light gathering binoculars and/or other special mobility training.
Initial Near Power Evaluation
Step 1. Determine the patient’s near visual acuity using a reading card that uses the Snellen distance visual
acuity equivalent notation. The Rosenbaum or Fonda-Anderson reading cards are both good choices for this
purpose. They will give you an accurate distance visual acuity equivalent for near vision when used at a
reading distance of about 14 to 15 inches. Again, if the patient can not read the largest letters on the card,
you can move it closer as long as you convert it as described in step 1 of the distance low vision evaluation.
VA : 20 / A
Step 2. Determine the near visual acuity the patient needs to have to perform the task(s) desired. The
patient needs to have reasonable expectations considering the condition of their eyes of course. For
example, if the patient needs to be able to see the letters on the 20/40 line of the reading card, then the
desired (or needed) near visual acuity would be 20/40. VA : 20 / B
Step 3. Compute the magnification required to bring the patient’s near visual acuity to the required level by
using the following formula: M = A / B where A is from step 1 and B is from step 2.
Step 4. Now determine the actual add or reading power in diopters that is required to produce the desired
magnification. Assuming the patient is not contributing any useful amount of accommodation on their
own, use the following formula: D = M x 2.5
Step 5. Next, you must determine the focal distance of this resulting dioptric power. This new focal
distance will be where the patient must hold the reading material in order to have the desired effect (again,
this assumes the patient has no useful accommodation available).
For result in inches use: FD = 1 / D x 39.3
For result in centimeters use: FD = 1 / D x 100
Quick & Simple Initial Near Power Evaluation Method
1. Determine the patient’s near visual acuity as in step 1 above.
2. Divide the result of step 1 (variable A) by 20 to get the starting dioptric power. I.E. 20/50 would result
in a power of 50/20 = 2.5 diopters. I.E.: 20/200 would result in a starting power of 200/20 = 10 diopters.
3. Next, you must determine the focal distance of this resulting dioptric power as in the previous method.
This new focal distance will be where the patient must hold the reading material in order to have the
desired effect (again, this assumes the patient has no useful accommodation available).
For result in inches use: FD = 1 / D x 39.3
For result in centimeters use: FD = 1 / D x 100
Near Add Power Limitations
· High add powers in bifocals may be considered as an excellent alternative to low vision devices for
near. Be aware however that if the patient has usable binocular vision, you must limit the add power to
no more than about +5.00 to avoid convergence problems.
· When using high add powers in binocular situations always adjust the patient’s near PD to compensate
for the extra convergence required to focus at the closer reading distance.
· Higher add powers than +5.00 may be considered in monocular situations or when the patient has
useful vision from only one eye. Binocular vision is very difficult, and sometimes impossible when
using add powers above +5.00.
Computing the Correct PD for High Add Powers
Use the following steps to compute the best PD for near when high add powers are involved or when
the fitting vertex distance is greater than normal:
Step 1: First, compute the focal distance of the new add power in millimeters using the following formula:
FD = 1 / Add *1000
Step 2: The normal human eye rotates on a visual axis approximately 13 mm behind the cornea. Knowing
this, we can geometrically compute the exact amount of adjustment for the near PD if we also know the
vertex distance in millimeters. Substitute these known values in the following formula to get you answer:
New Near PD = (FD / ( Vertex + 13 + FD )) x DistPD
Ordering the Desired Lenses and/or Devices
At this point you should have in mind what powers and devices you will try on the patient when they
return for their second visit. If any of the lenses or devices you have ordered are on backorder, try to
substitute another similar device whenever possible to avoid lengthy waits. Once the desired low vision
devices have arrived, call the patient to set up an appointment for the second visit.
During the second visit have the patient try each of the devices and evaluate the visual acuity results.
Also take into consideration the patient’s ability to comfortably use the device. Once a determination is
made of the most effective device, you must instruct the patient in detail concerning the proper use of the
device in order for it to have its optimum effect. Make sure you give the patient proper instructions on the
use of the device and the proper focal point of all near devices as explained in the steps below.
Reading Focal Distance Training
· After determining the best near vision device, determine the focal distance of the device.
· Instruct the patient concerning the importance of using the device at the proper focal distance.
· Supply the patient with large print and/or verbal instructions on the proper use and focal distance of the
selected near vision device.
If the amsler grid test results indicate a possible vision improvement by use of the patient’s peripheral
vision for near, consider the use of eccentric vision training. If the patient is able and willing to practice
this procedure, their ability to read smaller print can sometimes be improved considerably. If eccentricviewing
training is indicated, follow the procedure as outlined below.
Eccentric-Viewing Training
· Identify the best area of near vision using the Amsler grid results.
· Instruct the patient on the best viewing position for near vision using the Amsler grid results as your
· Give the patient large print training material and/or verbal instructions specifically designed for their
particular situation.
After your first visit you should have a good picture of the patient’s habits around the home and the
home’s lighting conditions. Always cover lighting recommendations, television viewing recommendations
when appropriate, and always provide proper instructions concerning the focal distance of any near vision
device as explained in the steps below.
Lighting Recommendations
· Reading vision can almost always be improved simply by increasing the quality of lighting.
· Consider increasing the patient’s home lighting by using brighter bulbs in existing fixtures, or by
adding an additional reading light.
· For reading, a shade or globe must be used to redirect the light onto the reading material and away
from the patient’s eyes.
Television Viewing Recommendations
· The most effective and least expensive solution is to simply sit closer to the TV screen.
· Consider purchasing a large screen TV.
· Sometimes, improvement can be obtained by increasing the brightness and contrast of the picture.
Always remember the importance of patient follow-up. Make sure the selected device(s) is continuing
to have the desired result. Re-instruct the patient if necessary on the proper use and focal distance of the
selected device(s). Re-evaluate the situation and select an alternate device if appropriate. If the device
proves to be too difficult to learn to use for the patient, select a device that is easier to use.
It is important to remember the three things that almost always help low vision patients:
· Increase the quality and quantity of light.
· Increase the magnification of the image.
· Always hold the reading material at the proper focal distance for the power of the device being used.
Performing low vision evaluations can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you will ever have in
this business, but remember that every situation will be unique. You must be compassionate and kind, but
most importantly, you must have a never-ending supply of patience.
Michaels, David D. Visual Optics and Refraction. Saint Louis: The C.V. Mosby Company, 1975.
Veasey, Clarence A. Refraction Difficulties. Spokane: American Academy of Ophthalmology and
Otolaryngology, 1950.
Fonda, Gerald E. Refraction Problems. Rochester: American Academy of Ophthalmology and
Otolaryngology, 1969.
Freeman, Paul B., and Jose, Randal T. The Art and Practice of Low Vision.
Boston/London/Oxford/Singapore/Sydney/Toronto/Wellington: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1991.
Milder, Benjamin, and Rubin, Melvin B. The Fine Art of Prescribing Glasses. Gainsville: Triad Publishing,
Carlson, Nancy B, et. al. Clinical Procedures for Ocular Examination. Norwalk: Appleton and Lange, 1990.
Garcia, George E. Handbook of Refraction. Boston/Toronto/London: Little, Brown and Company, 1989.
Jagerman, Louis. Understanding Magnification in Ophthalmology. Rochester: American Academy of
Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, 1970.
Parrish, Richard K. An Introduction to Visual Optics. Rochester: American Academy of Ophthalmology
and Otolaryngology, 1967.