Evelyn Waugh, Ann Pasternak Slater

It's only chemo

More literary criticism ought to be like this. Ann Pasternak Slater understands the genre Waugh writes in and judges his work according to what it was trying to achieve. She pays meticulous attention to the structuring and patterning of his novels, demonstrating how his themes and arguments are built up through the careful choice of words and motifs. The section on Gilbert Pinfold is especially entertaining. Did you know Waugh mixed his chloral and phenobarbital with creme de menthe to make it taste better? There’s also a brilliant footnote about tricolon diminuens where Slater quotes Waugh being dismissive of Churchill’s ‘sham-Augustan prose’.

The best analysis is of Brideshead, where Slater makes a compelling defence of the famous scene when Charles ‘takes possession’ of Julia’s loins. The word possession is frequently repeated in the book, and an attentive reading shows that Waugh is as unimpressed with Charles’ chauvinism as we…

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“The Roots of Europe” by Umberto Eco

Stuff Jeff Reads

In this short essay, included in the book Turning Back the Clock, Eco provides a brief summary of how Christian Europe assimilated ideas and traditions from ancient and pagan cultures.

In our current society, the adoption of elements from other cultures is now deemed “cultural appropriation” and is definitely something that is frowned upon. But historically, this has not been the case, as Eco points out, and in the past ideas and traditions were shared and incorporated, the result of which was the blossoming of ideas and persistence of traditions.

Europe has assimilated Greco-Roman culture in law, philosophy, and popular beliefs. Often with a certain nonchalance, Christianity absorbed pagan myths and rituals and forms of polytheism that linger on in popular devotion. It wasn’t only the Renaissance that stocked up on Venuses and Apollos as it embarked on the discovery of the ancient world with its ruins and manuscripts…

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Une nuit au Louvre : Léonard de Vinci



L’exposition « Léonard de Vinci » a attiré près de 1,1 millions de visiteurs, « un record absolu pour le musée du Louvre. »
Le musée parisien a enregistré un record absolu de fréquentation pour cet événement qui s’est terminé le 24 février et réunissait quelque 150 œuvres du maître et de ses proches ou élèves.

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Eight novels of the Mexican Revolution

Looks like a fascinating review and perhaps somewhat disregarded topic.

Messenger's Booker (and more)

The impact of Mexico’s revolution (1910-20), the last of the great peasant revolts and the first major revolution of the twentieth century was felt on much of the literary production of the country throughout the first two-thirds of the last century.

- ‘The Contemporary Spanish-American Novel: Bolaño and After’ Edited by Will H. Corral, Juan E De Castro and Nicholas Birns

The Mexican Revolution, a field rich with characters, narrative, metaphors, and stories. Not only a political turning point but a pivot in Mexican literature’s history. Whilst there are numerous titles using the Revolution as a setting or indirectly referring to the fallout and subsequent events, I have chosen ten books, written by Mexican writers, that have been translated into English and although some may be obscure, they are available as I have only recently filled my shelves with a number of these titles.

The numbering here is…

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Gib mir Asyl im Paradies – Gemälde von Susanne Haun

Diese Farben finde ich sehr ansprechend.

Susanne Haun

Atelieransicht, Herbst, Asyl im Paradies, Gemälde von Susanne Haun (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020Atelieransicht, Herbst, Asyl im Paradies, Gemälde von Susanne Haun (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020

Dieses Gemälde von Susanne Haun ist sehr persönlich. Während die Künstlerin das Bild malte, hörte sie die Musik von der Band Silly speziel das Lied “Asyl im Paradies”. Die Sängerin Tamara Danz wusste zu der Zeit als sie das Lied sang schon, dass ihr Tod nahte. Den Text hörend weinte die Künstlerin beim Erstellen des Bildes. Die Tränen übertrugen sich sinnbildlich in die auf dem Bild laufende sepiafarbende Tusche.

steht es in der Objektbeschreibung der Pariser Galerie Singulart (-> Klick)

Noch heute kann ich das Lied von Tamara Danz nicht hören, ohne zu weinen und zu trauern. Hier könnt ihr das Lied auf youtube hören (-> klick)

Vor kurzem habe ich in der Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung einen Artikel über die Performance Künstlerin Marina Abramovic gelesen.

Abramovics hat ihr Begräbnis schon…

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The Clerk’s Tale and the expectation of astonishment

Interesting to see you tackling your old exam papers! When I was learning the algebra of conic sections and Fitzgerald was writing her her amazing novels!

It's only chemo

Penelope Fitzgerald mentions this as one of the stories that developed her love of plots with a twist at the end. But it appeared on the 1970 A-level exam with this question: ‘Whatever its other merits, The Clerk’s Tale does not achieve its effects primarily through surprise.’ So is it a plot with a twist or not?

Here’s the story. Walter the Duke marries Griselda a village girl. He decides to test her wifeliness and has her children taken away at birth. She thinks they have gone to die. Another Duke, however, raises them in secret. Years later, Walter tests Griselda again: he sends her home and tells her he is marrying a younger woman. Griselda dutifully goes home but comes back to help with the wedding preparations. The big surprise is that the children are coming back. Instead of marrying one of them, Walter presents the young woman and…

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Avoiding Death in Venice

Did Karl understand his daughter?

Did she look like Romola Garai?

Did he foresee the dialectical change- Miss Marx the film star?

Perhaps this was an example of what?

A clear example of antithesis.

Could he now explain how the intensification of labour led to social distancing?

Perhaps this is what he meant by reification-

the consequence of capitalism in a higher stage.

Certainly alienation.

Wet market in Wuhan arriving at the film festival

In Venice.

Today’s Haul

I was trying to get into Eva Ibbotson’s “The Dragonfly Pool”. It is actually quite good and suitable for regression. Maybe because the current situation seems to require hyper-vigilance or some other reason, I am reading it somewhat slowly. I know she has written interestingly about Vienna but this is set in Dartington in the pre-war era. The school is not called Dartington- but Delderton Hall in the book is clearly there. Incidentally this reminds me of an Edward Crispin crime novel about a cathedral which was set in the same area but a slightly later era.

Robert Lowell has much been in the news currently- I believe his letters were recently reviewed in the LRB or perhaps the TLS. The poem of his that I liked most was “Sailing Home from Rapallo” –

The crazy yellow and azure sea-sleds
blasting like jack-hammers across
the spumante-bubbling wake of our liner,
recalled the clashing colors of my Ford.
Tom Pauling has an interesting appreciation of this poem in his book “The Secret Life of Poems” In any case this poem and a distant memory of his most famous poem “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48984/the-quaker-graveyard-in-nantucket 
In any case my reading about his friendship with John Berryman was enough to tempt me to part with £2-99 for the collection of essays about Lowell from the charity shop. Thumbing through this volume in a nearby coffee shop I discovered an essay explaining how Lowell and Berryman were in a tradition stretching back to Baudelaire- poète maudit. Outsiders responding to the new criticism of a special few like Allen Tate and Randall Jarrel. They were living in the era of the Cold War and also living life at an extreme pace, devoted to literature and studying its classical roots.
The Hemingway begins with a kind of prose poem to a particularly downtrodden and louche venue seen through the approach of autumnal mists- the Cafe des Amateurs. It no longer exists. It develops into a surreal story which Hemingway sounds lyrical and slightly sozzled!

10 of the best novels set in Russia – that will take you there

I would add The Siege by Helen Dunmore and The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald.

Julian Worker Travel - A few ideas for your next trip in every direction

This list of novels and novellas will help you explore Russia’s vast landscapes and complex history

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Skying 7: Impressionism

The Eclectic Light Company

It’s only when you look through hundreds of Impressionist and Naturalist paintings – the movements which dominated European painting in the latter half of the nineteenth century – that you realise how high most of their horizons are. Despite a strong culture of painting in oils outdoors, and the general availability of oil paint in tubes, skying seems to have become much less popular after about 1850.

It’s also easy to mistake the rough facture and overall sketchiness of many of the paintings made by Impressionists as indications that their finished works were no more than the sort of sketches of clouds that John Constable made on Hampstead Heath. Skies weren’t a strong part of the mainstream Impressionist agenda, though, with limited scope for intensified chroma and lightness, leaving them to be relegated to backgrounds. As a result, the most prolific of the Impressionist sky painters were those at the…

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