- @ClassicBookworm @Pussstein With all tweets in between, my episode ended just now, so I am #off and going to bed. And you go to library! :-) 8 hours ago
- @ClassicBookworm @Pussstein I met with that name in the book I am reading now & in V's biography. Must check Internet Archive for books. 9 hours ago
- @Pussstein He was Assistant Private Secretary to Queen Victoria from 1897 to 1901 and to Edward VII from 1901 to 1910 @ClassicBookworm 9 hours ago
- 316,965 hits
Monthly Archives: July 2007
Thousands of literary texts are now available online, all submitted by volunteers. Is this the most enlightened initiative since English studies was invented?
It’s now possible to access 21,000 literary texts (50 more every week) from Project Gutenberg – arguably the most enlightened initiative in literary studies since University College London invented English as a departmental subject 170 years ago.
Project Gutenburg (PG) began in 1971, as the initiative of Michael Hart (the offspring of a Shakespearian scholar and a maths professor), then a student at the University of Illinois.
All of the PG texts are taken from the public domain. But some seven-eighths of a conventional English course is out of copyright material. And what isn’t is available reduced price (“new or used”) from Amazon. No need to trouble the university bookstore with your custom anymore.
The Gutenberg e-library is the effort of an army of volunteers, thousands strong, who have taken on the arduous labour of scanning and correcting. Why? Because they believe in Hart’s project and they believe in the subject.
The Gutenberg texts are not bibliographically perfect. And, in witness of their prehistoric origins (digitally speaking) they are packaged in bog-standard ascii typeface. This precludes typographic effects (even italic). Their bibliographical apparatus is at best minimal, and too often non-existent.
But PG texts are fluid, and easily correctable. More important, they are searchable and downloadable. “The mission of Project Gutenberg”, Hart declares, “is simple: to encourage the creation and distribution of e-books.” Lots, and lots, and lots of them. Free of charge.
Project Bartleby, which began 20 years later as a not-for-profit free electronic library of literary works at the University of Columbia, is more elegant in its packaging, more attentive to apparatus, and pickier as regards its list. Only high literature need apply. It, too, depends on volunteer effort, although nowadays (unlike PG) it makes money from side-column advertising.
For the first half of the 20th century, domestic service was the largest single occupation of British women.
Most middle-class households had one or more servants, many of whom had been sent across the country by families living in harsh rural or urban poverty.
Although the conditions in which they worked varied widely, the fundamental inequality of the servant-mistress relationship (it was the job of the woman of the house to order other women around), and the trauma of leaving their families, caused many servants profound distress.
“When Winifred Foley looked back on leaving her mining village in Gloucestershire at 14 for a job in London,” writes Alison Light in her illuminating account, “she believed she had been ‘cut in half’.”
Virginia Woolf was a writer for whom true, productive solitude – the room of one’s own – was hard to come by.
As a progressive woman of independent means, she tried her best to reconcile her desire to live freely and spontaneously with an atavistic urge to surrender all responsibility for herself. She had grown up in a large family that was attended to by a staff of seven; therefore, you could say, she knew no different.
Upon reaching adulthood, she would never live without some form of domestic “help”, and battling the “timid spiteful servant mind” throughout her life both enraged her and sustained her. It was easier for her to regard her servants as not quite real than to accept the fact of her dependence on others.
Woolf’s diary became a repository for all her meanest thoughts about her servants.
She saw in her long-standing servant Nellie Boxall’s rages “human nature undressed”, as though she’d plucked her out of a zoo, and could not fully convince herself that, despite deserving better conditions, they could ever have an inner life as rich and inquiring as hers. more…
A DISAGREEMENT HAS broken out among the serially quarrelsome Wagner clan as to who should take over the running of the Bayreuth Festival – just in time for the publication of A. N. Wilson’s 20th novel, Winnie and Wolf. The “Winnie” of the title is Winifred Wagner, née Williams, the Welsh-born wife of the composer’s epicene son, Siegfried, and grandmother of the three formidable Wagner women, Nike, Eva and Katharina, currently vying to take over the artistic direction at Bayreuth.
As for Wolf (or “Uncle Wolf”, as he is known to Winnie and Siegfried’s children), our first sight of him is in a delightful domestic setting, giving a dramatic rendition to the four little Wagners of the Grimm’s folk tale of the poor fisherman’s wife, whose husband one day nets a magical flounder with the power to grant wishes, but whose vaulting ambition eventually grows so outrageous that her entire edifice of magical grandeur collapses in ruins. The rasping voice, the compelling oratorical powers, the shiny serge suit . . . yes, dear Uncle Wolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
The observer of the scene is another intimate of the Wagner menage. Herr N- (he follows what he calls “the polite German convention” of identifying name and place only by initials) is officially assistant to Siegfried Wagner, but in effect a general dogsbody and repository of confidences, drawn to the menial work by a passion for the works of Richard Wagner, about whom he hopes to write a book. more…
Charles Thomas Samuels, Encountering Directors (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1972), pp. 15-32
Rome, July 29,1969
Feature Films: 1950 Cronaca di un amore (Chronicle of a Love Affair); 1952 I vinti (The Vanquished); 1953 La signora senza camelie (The Lady Without Camellias); 1955 Le amiche (The Girl-Friends); 1957 Il grido (The Outcry); 1959 L'avventura (The Adventure); 1960 La notte (Night); 1962 L'eclisse (Eclipse); 1964 Il deserto rosso (Red Desert); 1966 Blow-up; 1969 Zabriskie Point.
The living room of Antonioni’s apartment, where this interview took place, reflects intellectual restlessness rather than a desire for comfort. Except for a plush couch, the room is sparely furnished, yet everywhere there are books, records, a wild array of bric-a-brac. One table holds a collection of arrowheads, knife blades, and other antique weaponry. Crowding the windowsills is a profusion of objects trouves, including the television circuitry to which he refers during our conversation. Even the low glass coffee table is covered with an assortment of boxes, fragments of statuary, enormous ashtrays, and other items, some unidentifiable. Overwhelming the whole are striking, sometimes garish paintings, particularly the Lichtenstein he mentions and an enormous Francis Bacon of a semi-human figure installed in an easy chair but, for all that, apparently losing its innards.
We talked for four hours, despite the intense heat and his preoccupation with editing Zabriskie Point. My questions were posed in English, although, for speed’s sake, I invited him to answer in Italian. My wife, who is fluent in that language, was present for on-the-spot explanations of anything I failed to understand. Subsequently, a full transcript was made and translated at Antonioni’s expense, since he refused to let the tapes out of his hands. He explained that an uncensored conference recorded with students had been broadcast without his knowledge, thus putting at his producer’s disposal certain comments he did not want publicized, including-to his later discomfort-some negative remarks about the producer. Moreover, he does not like the sound of his voice and prefers to limit its circulation.
The voice is soft and toneless, the eyes are lugubrious, and though the face and body are far younger than his sixty years, Antonioni’s apparent virility is belied by an extremely austere manner and by a series of nervous tics that become more intense as he finds himself struggling for words. A week after the interview, at lunch, he showed his capacity for wit and relaxation, but as we talked now, he seemed burdened by his earnest attempt to answer my questions. Having been forewarned that he would find answering difficult, I began with something familiar and general.
Samues: You are quoted as saying, “Once one has learned the two or three basic rules of cinematographic grammar, he can do what he likes-even break these rules.” What rules were you referring to?
ANTONIONI: The simplest ones: crosscutting, making the actor enter from the right if he had previously exited to the left of the frame, etc. There are hundreds of such rules which are taught in cinema schools and which have value only until you actually begin making films. Often I have shot something simply to show myself how useless they are. You break one and no one notices, because the audience only sees the result of your “error.” If that works, who cares about rules!
S: Cronaca di un amore, your first feature film, has more inventive and innovative camera work than your second film, La signora senza camelie. For example, in La signora you regularly track into a character when he moves toward the camera, which is certainly playing according to the rules, whereas in Cronaca, as in your later films, you are seldom so orthodox. Why is this so?
A: I can’t answer that question. When I am shooting a film I never think of how I want to shoot something; I simply shoot it. My technique, which differs from film to film, is wholly instinctive and never based on a priori considerations. But I suppose you are right in saying that La signora seems more orthodox than the earlier Cronaca because when I was shooting the first film, I made very long takes, following the actors with my camera even after their scene was finished. But, you know, Cronaca isn’t more innovative than what comes after. Later I break the rules much more often. Look at L’avventura and particularly Blow-up. more…
Yet another great director!!!
Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the most innovative and distinctive film-makers of the 20th century, has died at the age of 94. The Italian director died at his home in Rome on Monday evening, less than 24 hours after the death of Ingmar Bergman – that other great giant of European art-house cinema.
Alongside his near contemporary Federico Fellini, Antonioni signalled a break with the “neorealist” style that flourished in Italy at the end of the second world war. In contrast to the working class parables of Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini, his films were cool and stylised, traditionally focusing on the experiences of an alienated bourgeoisie. Antonioni made his film debut with Cronaca di un amore in 1950. International success followed with the release of his classic L’Avventura in 1960.
Away from his native Italy, Antonioni made his English language debut with the epoch-catching London thriller Blowup in 1966. He later moved to America to shoot the counter-culture romp Zabriskie Point and ushered Jack Nicholson through Europe in his existential odyssey, The Passenger. more…
The media coverage before the premiere was almost unprecedented, and even surpassed the hype around Christoph Schlingensief‘s “Parsifal“. Because this new production of “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg” was not only a festival directing debut, it was also that of a potential festival director. The 29-year-old Katharina Wagner is the daughter and preferred candidate of Wolfgang Wagner, who at almost 88 has headed the festival – founded by his grandfather Richard – since 1951. In her media appearances Katharina Wagner has clearly shown she doesn’t lack ambition, and her first directing work at the festival (and only her fifth independent directing project overall) is not lacking in ambition either. But does ambition alone suffice to stage a coherent performance of Wagner’s monumental comedy?
Katharina Wagner and her set designer Tilo Steffens locate the first two acts in a spacious school auditorium. Peter Konwitschny‘s Hamburg production of “Lohengrin” comes to mind, and the hunch is proved right again and again that Wagner’s great granddaughter – how could it be otherwise – must have seen a good many Wagner productions by now. The school – with galeries on the side and rooms at the back – is clearly an academy for music, theatre and dance: a sombre, ugly building.
The masters of the opera are teachers. They sit at cumbersome tables wearing doctors’ caps and gowns – except for the chain-smoking shoemaker Hans Sachs, who appears barefoot in a black shirt. Eva and Magdalene (Carola Guber) appear as childish twin sisters in prudish grey (costumes by Michaela Barth), while the apprentice David busies himself at a photocopier. And this is where the young squire Stolzing is supposed to sing? This lanky boor who mixes up the house rules even while the masters are explaining them? more…