Brief Highlights in the History of American Poetry

American FlagOkay, I’ll be honest, I tried to research and write a detailed history of American poetry, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered, so here instead is a selection of the really important bits. Continue reading “Brief Highlights in the History of American Poetry”

Poems You Should Know: ‘The Waste Land’ by T. S. Eliot

Following my recent post on the history of poetry I’m starting a new series of posts along the same lines as my Paintings You Should Know series – ‘Poems You Should Know’. Much like the painting series I’m not planning on following a particular chronology or providing deep analysis; I’ll simply be sharing significant poems.

So here’s my first offering, ‘The Waste Land’ by T. S. Eliot (1888-1965). It’s a Modernist work full of literary allusions. Continue reading “Poems You Should Know: ‘The Waste Land’ by T. S. Eliot”

A Brief History of English Poetry

 

Rupert Brook The Soldier 1915
Rupert Brooke, ‘The Soldier’, 1915

Throughout its history, the glory of the English artistic spirit has always found its clearest expression in words, and while prose writing began to gain ascendency with the evolution of the novel in the 18th century, the roots of poetry extend much further back. Indeed, so far back do they go that the earliest poems are lost in the mists of time. What follows, then, is a very brief summary of some 1,500 years of literary history. Continue reading “A Brief History of English Poetry”

Treasure Trove: This Really Cool ‘Prize Bound’ Book Awarded By My Old High School Nearly A Hundred Years Ago

While browsing one of the second-hand book-stalls at my local market, as I am wont to do on a Saturday morning, I found… THIS!

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The cover caught my eye immediately: while my school crest has changed over the last hundred years, the school name – Wanganui Girls’ College – hasn’t. (The spelling of ‘Whanganui’ has changed, but that’s a don’t-mention-the-War kind of thing). Continue reading “Treasure Trove: This Really Cool ‘Prize Bound’ Book Awarded By My Old High School Nearly A Hundred Years Ago”

A Very Short History of Art: Into Modernity

Lautrec_marcelle_lender_doing_the_bolero_in_'chilperic'_1895
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, ‘Marcelle Lender Doing the Bolero in ‘Chilperic’, 1895

Even before the First World War, not everyone in the world of art was cocooned in the golden haze of Impressionism. As early as the 1880s, just a decade after the term ‘Impressionist’ had been coined, another group of artists were producing work which would collectively come to be identified as ‘Post-Impressionist’. Continue reading “A Very Short History of Art: Into Modernity”

Opera in my Pyjamas: Dido and Aeneas

I really did watch this opera in my pyjamas, when I had to take a day off work sick a couple of weeks ago. The version I watched was a 1995 production by the BBC, which you can view here. Being a BBC production it was basically filmed as a musical movie rather than recorded from the stage, and with all the resources of the BBC at their disposal the set and costume designers appear to have delighted in mashing up the styles of ancient Carthage and Restoration England, with a healthy dose of pyromania just for kicks. The end result may not be exactly what Purcell had in mind (at least, I’m guessing he probably didn’t intend for his opera to include nudity and prostitutes), but it was certainly visually interesting.

Dido and Aeneas BBC 1

Continue reading “Opera in my Pyjamas: Dido and Aeneas”

A Very Short History of Art: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Realism, and Impressionism

1 Camille Corot A View Near Volterra 1838
Camille Corot, ‘A View Near Volterra’, 1838. Neither Romantic nor Realist, but merging aspects of both, this view is a real one, based on sketches Corot made on a visit to Italy a decade before.

From the early Christian period to the Rococo, the story of European art is one of evolution: the Gothic art of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries blossomed into the Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth, which developed into the elaborate Baroque of the seventeenth century, which reached the furthest extent of its development in the Rococo of the early eighteenth. Only at that point did a conscious disconnection from the immediately preceding style occur, first in the opposition of Neoclassicism to the principles of the Rococo, and then in the rebellion of Romanticism against the principles of Neoclassicism.

But as we move into the nineteenth century, something different happens. For the first time, rather than a single, unified artistic school or a pair of opposing schools we encounter the beginnings of a plurality of distinct artistic styles. These styles sprang from different, sometimes conflicting, artistic philosophies, but they coexisted alongside one another, and in doing so arguably laid the groundwork for the endless variation in artistic expression which would be produced by the artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Continue reading “A Very Short History of Art: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Realism, and Impressionism”

Reading ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’

Lady Chatterleys Lover book**Warning: like the novel, this post contains sexual references and obscene language. Please do not click ‘read more’ unless you actually do want to read more.**

First published in 1928, D. H. Lawrence’s last novel has become a byword for illicit, illegal, erotic fiction. It’s the story of the unhappily married Lady Constance ‘Connie’ Chatterley and her affair with her paraplegic WWI veteran husband’s gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. There is also a minor sub-plot involving Sir Clifford Chatterley’s relationship with his widowed caregiver, Mrs. Bolton. To cut a long story short, from a modern perspective these people don’t need romantic relationships nearly so much as they need counselling. Continue reading “Reading ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’”

A Beginner’s Guide to Reading the Bible

*post is based on a document I put together a few years ago, so apologies for any weird formatting*

A while after I became a Christian, I realised I needed to read the Bible. So, I began at the beginning, and read through to the end. It soon became clear to me that this was a mistake, but I didn’t know what else to do except press on. It wasn’t until I spent a year studying for a Diploma in Biblical Studies that I realised where I had gone wrong, and what follows is my attempt to help anyone who’s thinking about tackling the Bible for the first time to avoid some of my pitfalls.

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Like many Christians in the affluent West, I have a lot of Bibles.

Continue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Reading the Bible”

A Very Short History of Art: Neoclassicism and Romanticism

1 Jacques Louis David The Oath of the Horatii 1784to5
Jacques-Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784-85 – one of the earliest Neoclassical paintings.

Both Neoclassicism and Romanticism began as expressions of rejection. Neoclassicism, which emerged in the 1740s, with its clean lines and commitment to an idealised reality, was a rejection of Rococo extravagance and embellishment, which by the 1780s had succeeded in supplanting it. Romanticism, with its love of drama, emotion, and the natural world, was a rejection of the perceived coldness and intellectualism of Neoclassicism, and emerged just as the Rococo was disappearing. Continue reading “A Very Short History of Art: Neoclassicism and Romanticism”