Sounds like a wonderful read but also very, very sad. It has been on my shelves for some time now and deserves to be dusted off and read. Yes, indeed we are obsessed by class- in which our education system bears much responsibility!
An occasional series, cross-posting my reviews from The Complete Booker.
To see my progress with completing the Complete Booker Challenge, see here.
The Sea, by John Banville, won the Booker Prize in 2005
October 10th, 2005
The Sea is a brilliant book. I don’t think it can be matched for the quality of its poetic prose or the cleverness of its imagery both sharp and subtle. It arouses intense feelings of nostalgia, loss, impatience and relief – it’s really quite extraordinary.
Max Morden has lost his beloved wife Anna, and he isn’t coping well at all. He’s a middle-ranking art historian and he’s supposed to be writing a book about Bonnard (a French artist), but he’s not getting anywhere because he’s wallowing in grief and old memories and alcohol.
His memories revert to childhood. When he was a child he went on holiday to the…
Ich stelle mir vor, Edward Hopper lebte noch. Der große amerikanische Maler von Stilleben der Einsamkeit und der Verlassenheit. Inzwischen xy Jahre alt, im siebten Stock eines Mietshauses hausend, mit freiem Blick auf Ground Zero. Die Arthritis in den Händen quält ihn. Seine Kurzsichtigkeit erzeugt Grimm und Arbeitswut zugleich. Seine Schwerhörigkeit begrüßt er als Bollwerk gegen die lärmende Stadt. Seine Füße tragen ihn nur noch innerhalb der Radien seiner karg möblierten Wohnung. Maldrang, manisch, von kurzen Nickerchen unterbrochen. Die Nächte sind wie Tage und seine Imbisse die eines Singvögelchens. Eine Zugehfrau versorgt ihn mit dem Nötigsten. Brot und Wasser, Pinsel, Ölfarben, Leinwand, Terpentin, Tabletten gegen die depressiven Verstimmungen. Die Kunstgazetten wissen von seinem Entschluss, sich das Leben zu nehmen, sobald ihm die Malerei zur körperlichen Qual wird oder ihn wahlweise Ekel vor ihr überkommt. Zeit wird kritisch, der Kunstmarkt schließt Wetten ab über seinen Tod.
In reading about museums I discovered that Derrida had written about archives. He develops a post modern approach to how the perspectives on the past are subject to change. Witness the recent debates about racism and colonialism in relation to this.
There are two moving poems by Louis MacNeice that moved me when I read them this morning. The first was an early poem called just “Museums” with a pronounced rhyme scheme. The second is more interesting and called “In the Reading Room at the British Museum”. The final line is perhaps more poignant than ever.
Museums by MacNeice
Museums offer us, running from among the buses, A centrally heated refuge, parquet floors and sarcophaguses, Into whose tall fake porches we hurry without a sound Like a beetle under a brick that lies, useless, on the ground. Warmed and cajoled by the silence the cowed cypher revives, Mirrors himself in the cases of pots, paces himself by marble lives, Makes believe it was he that was the glory that was Rome, Soft on his cheek the nimbus of other people’s martyrdom, And then returns to the street, his mind an arena where sprawls Any number of consumptive Keatses and dying Gauls.
Entre les dents d’un piège La patte d’un renard blanc Et du sang sur la neige Le sang du renard blanc Et des traces du renard blanc Qui s’enfuit sur trois pattes Dans le soleil couchant Avec entre les dents Un lièvre encore vivant.
Between the teeth of a trap The paw of a white fox And blood on the snow The blood of the white fox And traces of the white fox Who runs away on three legs In the setting sun With between the teeth A hare still alive.
Just discovered this rather relaxing post by this superb anti-Nazi Austrian painter. The accompanying Chopin Nocturne adds to the ambience I find.
Leo Putz (18 June 1869, in Merano – 21 July 1940, in Merano) was a Tyrolean painter. His work encompasses Art Nouveau, Impressionism and the beginnings of Expressionism. Figures, nudes and landscapes are his predominant subjects. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Putz
When I think of paintings from interiors of the scene beyond, I tend to think of the South of France,of Dufy or perhaps Matisse. There is something too which reminds me of looking out from a safe place to the activity beyond. It recalls hours in childhood, perhaps when bored watching the summer visitors who looking lost were exploring the cobbled hill outside, often looking somewhat lost themselves.
The above is a view in an Oxford suburb into the garden with trees and a bird-feeder beyond.
This is a view from an upstairs window in Cornwall. The rubber plant has not survived my feckless care unfortunately.
This is a view from the Newlyn Art Gallery cafe which has a splendid large window overlooking the Mount and Bay.
Du lautlos dunkler Kanal, Verlassene Bucht, Uralter Häuser graue Flucht, Gotische Fenster und maurisch verziertes Portal! Von tiefem Traum besiegt, Vom Tode eingewiegt Schläft hier die Zeit Und alles Leben scheint so weit, so weit! Hier will ich ganz allein Durch alte Gassen gehn, Bei Fackelschein An Gondeltreppen stehn, In blinde Fenster sehn, Bang-glücklich wie ein Kind im Dunkeln sein.
It is certainly refreshing to meet an actor who recognizes the potential pitfalls of producing a play which, as Eliot himself famously and publicly admitted, was one of his theatrical failures. What seems all the more intriguing is the fact thatThe Family Reunionappears to express views as apposite today as when first staged in those dangerous times just months before the Second World War.
“It ran only a few weeks” when originally staged, not least because it was “ahead of its time” and because, as Gaunt explains, “audiences in ’39 were far too used to the realism of dramas by Somerset Maugham or eager for light comedies” to appreciate a play steeped in Christian imagery and employing verse in a classically-inspired way.
“It is stylised to a certain extent,” he adds, “with its use of a Greek Chorus and the presence of Furies which haunt the…
I read this a few months ago and felt that the character was rather affectless and experiences what has been termed the pathology of normalcy. Clearly the store gives her a sense of safety but her inability to truly relate may have been due to some childhood trauma. Nevertheless a challenging read.
What is the lesson of the eccentric book? Perhaps mostly that we should not think it is so eccentric? The obvious analogy between working in a store as a convenience to customers and living in a normal way that is convenient for everyone else extends to the idea of a hero or heroine. This is a there and back again story, where nothing is new or resolved. Everyone pretty much goes back to how they started. Why should the hero of a story follow a development you find convenient?
There’s an ironic series of scenes between the protagonist, Keiko, and her loafer, no-good boyfriend, where we (and she) see some of the parallels between the way he lives as a parasite and the way she lives detached from friends and family. There is a strong line of argument about women’s role in…
I like this play a lot, and have read it and seen it performed multiple times. It is such a rich play that one could write volumes on it. Having said that, I decided that I would keep my post short and focus on one of Prospero’s passages that exemplifies the wonder of this play.
You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismay’d: be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with…