The Emperor and the Nightingale (Bagram Ibatoulline) pdf, epub, doc

The Emperor and the Nightingale ePub and PDF Available
A beautiful, wonderful, heart-touching story. One wonders if Reagan’s Secretary of Education, that brain-storming tuition solutionist (who switched government grants to student loans), and fairy tale fan (I won’t mention the gambling—oops), Bill Bennett, included this story in his book of forgotten tales that all children should learn because they embody and cultivate the principled soul. [update: He did not.]

The Tale of the Nightingale indirectly poses (at the very least) the following questions: Does material wealth bring happiness or inculcate wisdom? Do society’s enthusiasms tend to follow things of inherent value? Is power or expertise required to recognize true beauty?

*****************SPOILER ALERT**************

The emperor of China has a wonderful palace and garden filled with exquisitely wrought objects of beauty that cost enormous amounts and show off human ingenuity in spades, but what do all the visitors like the best? The song of a humble gray bird. The emperor is not even aware of the existence of such a bird, and when he finally finds out, he is disgusted that no one has told him (where does the emperor finally discover the truth from?—a book!). The bird is duly captured for the emperor and made to sing. The emperor of Japan sends as obeisance a mechanical bird covered in jewels that sings (plays) a single flawless song. And it turns out everyone at the palace loves the MECHANICAL bird. It plays so RELIABLY, you see. It’s so beautiful covered as it is with sparkling JEWELS, isn’t it. Moreover, its song CONFORMS to the palace musical director’s THEORY of melody. What’s not to love? In the course of all the fawning, the real nightingale flies away. No one misses it.

Questions my six year old son asked: Is a real bird better than a mechanical bird? Why? (In our high rise in the middle of the city we don’t have opportunity to hear any birds other than crows.) And why does society love the mechanical bird so? (Also tough to explain.)

The last part of the story: The old emperor falls sick, but no one seems to care. Why don’t they care? They are the type of people who enthuse over a mechanical bird covered with jewels. How could they be expected to care? Death awaits the emperor, who is haunted by the ghosts of all that he has done and failed to do. He lays on his sick bed, alone with the spirit of death above him, the mechanical bird on a table beside him. He cannot listen to the bird, because there is no one there to wind it up. Suddenly the real nightingale appears at the window. At her song, death is sent packing, and the soul of the emperor is rescued. The emperor recovers; everyone is astounded.

Could the mechanical bird have rescued the soul of the emperor or sent death packing, if someone had been there to wind it up? Would it have had that power? (One wishes Andersen had set the story up like this.) I think everyone instinctively knows the answer, although I get the feeling Silicon Valley capitalists would answer by simply denying the existence of the soul (which, to be fair, would be true for them).

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The Emperor and the Nightingale (Bagram Ibatoulline) pdf, epub, doc

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