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Archive for November, 2009

Three Courtesans

By one of those strange co-incidences in the course of six days we saw three very different productions, in three different art forms (theatre, cinema and opera), in all of which courtesans were the central characters. This was certainly completely unplanned, but provides the chance for a blog which includes some reflections on the whole issue, which has been given contemporary relevance in the UK by the revelation of the identity of Belle de Jour. (more…)

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Powell and Pressburger’s Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, with which I have opened my PandP retrospective, is my favourite film. I do not make this claim lightly or easily. and recognise that there are times when I would advance the claims of other contenders for this title. It is, however, the only contender which is also, quite indubitably, a great film. (more…)

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Walter Scott’s Tales of a Scottish Grandfather takes as a paratext the idea that he is explaining Scottish history to his grandson. In fact the degree to which Scott remembers this varies – he certainly slips in the odd reference to ‘your grandfather’ or ‘your grandfather’s grandfather’, but for the majority of the time it is clear that he is pursuing much larger ideological and political (and commercial, for we must never forget that where Scott is concerned – and these books, now almost forgotten even among the works of this most neglected of writers, were another big commercial success) goals. (more…)

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I have been reading over the past few months Alexander Herzen’s My Past and Thoughts – or, more accurately, an abridgement of My Past and Thoughts. It is a book about which I could,  and probably will, write at inordinate length. Herzen is a companion for life. But I wanted to start by attempting to explain why I like him so much, and then make some remarks about his life and the book. (more…)

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The Lover’s Journey, in contrast to the three Tales which preceded it, is most definitely not part of any group in terms of its subject or theme. It is a poem which could very easily be taken out of the context of The Tales. It is also in many ways a sunny, happy poem and thus provides a rebuttal to those who would claim that Crabbe is always gloomy. (more…)

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