ricardienne: (library)
I really seem to be unwilling to do work these days, and am instead poking through the old things on googlebooks in search of references to my obscure Roman people: here is a strange little story about a haunted piece of parchment, which brings tragic death to various people...
The Professor and the Palimpsest )
ricardienne: (chord)
Looking up sources for "The Wander" this afternoon, I found an amazing poem: "The Fall of Thuringia". I don't think it will be useful for my essay right now, but… I wish it were. The book listed it as by one Venantius Fortunatus, but more research has indicated that it could well be by (Saint) Radegund, who was a friend of Fortunatus, or perhaps was a collaboration between the two of them. Anyway, I can't find a text of it on the internets (ah, Natty, how you have corrupted me!), so I'm going to type up the one from my book. It's probably at least somewhat illegal, so this should be locked, I guess.

Long, but worth it )

The more I think about, this is kind of a weird poem: half lament and half love-letter. And just like my "Wanderer" the Christianity is rather vague. Hmmm. Maybe I can use it after all.
ricardienne: (snail)
I have been thinking about Beowulf (no coincidence this: I'm reading it again). It's really interesting: when Beowulf is going to face the dragon, and sort of resigning himself to this last fight, he doesn't talk about his 50 years of kingship, but only about his deeds as Hygelac's man. Although when he's dying, he does talk about ruling the Geats, so I'm not sure how much one can make of this. But then there's his thing about being the last of his line, with the possible exception of Wiglaf. It's almost as though Beowulf is a "last survivor" himself. All of his kin are dead; his lord is dead… Hrothgar is dead (almost surely) and the Shieldings, at any rate, are engulfed in their own civil war and kin-killing not to mention feud with the Heatho-Bards. (Really, being Germanic/Scandinavian royalty is bad news all the way around: does ANYONE ever come out well in these stories?) And he doesn't want to be king, you know. When Hygelac is killed and Hygd asks him if he will take the kingship, he refuses, ostensibly out of loyalty to Hygelac's son (in contrast to Hrothulf and Hrethil, I suppose), but I think he honestly doesn't want it. Beowulf is a hero, not a king. There's even a line to this effect that I noticed for the first time this reading: "He worked for the people, but as well as that/ he behaved like a hero." Heroes are supposed to risk their lives and go out young, in a blaze of glory. Or they become like Hrothgar, and are wise but passive kings in their old age. Even Wiglaf admits that Beowulf wasn't such a great king, in the end, to go off and get himself killed by the dragon and not leave a son to continue protecting the Geats.

Oh, how can you not love Beowulf like this? He's such a paragon of somber Anglo-Saxon heroics, and now I've got him all mixed in with The Wanderer, except that he doesn't quite have the philosophical eloquence of the Wanderer, or maybe he's just more practical. The more I think about, the more I think that all of this is so horribly sad: all people being left alone in a dark, cold world because all of their friends and family are gone. Or maybe it's because I'm listening to Mozart in a minor key?
ricardienne: (augustine)
I went to the SOS office today to get boxes, and what did I find but a brand new copy of How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. Although I am suspicious for several reasons. One being that the author is a Catholic himself, although I suppose it makes sense, as you wouldn't tend to have a Jew, for example, or a Lutheran writing about how the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. The other is that David Brooks featured this book, I think, in a column a while ago. He liked it a lot. This is not a good sign. And really, I do refer back to my title line. The Catholic Church largely took over Roman bureaucracy, and Roman Law was as influential as Canon law for the medieval jurists. Rome, which was such an important place/idea/symbol for the Church wasn't built by the Catholics. And I do think that Virgil and Ovid had more to do with Western literature than the New Testament. I may be wrong. Perhaps two semesters of Latin have corrupted me.

But I was thinking about this while rereading Saga of the Volsungs for the comparative lit final tomorrow (Ahh!) for which I should be studying. The other day I was talking to S. and pulling stuff off the top of my head to argue for a real parallel between the beginning and the end of the Aeneid. We can talk about a conscious, authorial manipulation of language to express a connection not explicit in the story itself when we talk about the Aeneid; we can ask whether Virgil is subverting his own theme of glorious imperial Rome. You can't do that with the Saga of the Volsungs. You can kind of do with Roland, although it tends towards "the poet is unable to fully articulate or realize the problems that he gives voice to in his text." I'm not sure what this has to do with the Catholic Church, but it does give light, so to speak, on why they call it the dark ages.

I am terrified by the thought of my lit final tomorrow, but I really really really don't want to study. I need to reread Rabelais, at least -- I was sick and then depressed when we covered it, and so, though I read the text and attended class, I don't feel like I got any kind of handle on it. And that's sort of the culmination of the whole course with the Renaissance and humanism and language for the sake of language. Ah! I am going to fail! I am going to be utterly unable to contextualize passages and then write an essay in 1 hour 20 minutes. I want it to be tomorrow night.
ricardienne: (Default)
Happy Birthday, Shakespeare!*
442 years.

(Today is also the birthday of Michael Moore and Timothy McVeigh. Also International Book Day, and the feast of St. George, which is quite appropriate. And Beer Day in Germany, according to wikipedia.)

The thing that struck me today is how recent Shakespeare is. It hasn't even been 450 years since he was born. 442 years before Shakespeare, Eleanor of Aquitaine was born. That's amazing to me. We're only as far away from Shakespeare as Eleanor was. Chaucer was born a little over 200 years before Shakespeare was. 200 years after Shakespeare was born, the French and Indian war was on. Dante was born 300 years before Shakespeare. Three hundred years after Shakespeare, we're in the middle of the American Civil War.

To put things in perspective a little bit more, and because I'm obviously addicted to wikipedia. Virgil died in 19 b.c. Tacitus died in 117. Augustine died in 430.

I guess this is what Early Modern means -- as close, or closer, really, to the modern world as to the ancient world, but it does seem as though time is speeding up.
It's interesting to think about which writers get first names and which by their last. No one would ever call Dante, "Alighieri" but I think all English authors get last names, probably because they all have the same first names so it would get confusing. Classical authors get their cognomen, usually, although Cicero used to by called Tully. Homer only has one name.
ricardienne: (chord)
Is what I should have quipped in Latin, today while we were doing Ovid, but I only managed it in English. Oh, well. Next time, I shall be prepared and be brave enough to attempt a joke in lingua originale.

We had our concert tonight; it wasn't too bad, although something weird happened in the Wagner and M. and I got off by a beat, but I don't think anyone (in the audience, that is) noticed. We had a big crowd this time: probably two dozen entire people.

My lesson was moderately okay-awful. But D. mentioned a possible Monteverdi opera this semester that she recommended me for. Which would be unbelievably awesome if I actually got to do. It would probably make up for the less-than-wonderful orchestra experience this year.

It's funny: the more things I tick off towards break starting, the guiltier I feel about feeling that I'm off the hook. I have to meet with two professors tomorrow, one about a paper and one "just to catch up on things" (which is possibly even scarier), to go to Latin & French tables, to practice at least my 1 reserved hour -- plus my ~45 minutes in the morning -- and go to lit class. And I should do laundry. Well, and I need to print my boarding pass and pack. But that shouldn't take long, as I'm not bringing anything except my laptop, my bow, the books that I'll need, and maybe some socks and underwear (must check with my mother concerning whether or not I have any underwear still at home).

Lit class should be fun, though. We don't have another paper for quite a while, and we're doing Inferno. This is pure pleasure, to go and talk about Dante. I am having a few issues with this distinction between "the Dante Pilgrim" and "the Dante Poet," however. Not that I can't see that there is a difference. But when I hear "Dante Poet," I think of an anonymous author. We talk about the Pearl Poet, and the Beowulf Poet, and, more frequently, in art, the Master of the St Cecilia Altarpiece. But the Dante Poet: we know who he is; in fact, he is who he is. This sounds like we only know him as the author of the poem about Dante. Although, I suppose, one could ask to what extend Dante did create himself in the Divine Comedy. There's all of that weird, cyclical allusion to his fame, which only came after the publication of the work, and his status as a great poet, as which he wasn't recognized until he wrote Divine Comedy. So maybe it is appropriate to think of the person who wrote the poem as the "creator of Dante Alighieri," and hence, the Dante Poet.

I got my mid-term crite sheet today. Among other (fairly nice) things, the professor noted that although I am "quick to notice argumentative holes," I "avoid ad hominem attacks." This is pretty ironic, considering the amount of literally ad hominem attacking I do (to (some) of these same people) when I'm talking to friends or in this journal. My second thought was that perhaps this is a hint that I am verging on this sort of thing in class. Although I really don't think I am, and I'm pretty sure this professor would not try to correct it in such a round-about way if I were. I don't think I've made an ad hominem attack on anyone in a serious argument/discussion since Professor Umbridge's class high school government. And even then, if it was ad hominemn, it was also most certainly in absentia. And, I would argue that it wasn't really ad hominem (let's see how many times I can use the phrase in this paragraph, shall we?), because, in spite of what Professor Umbridge the teacher may have said, my comment was that someone who thinks he has a direct link to the deity is mentally unstable and therefore not fit to be president, which, although it is flippant and perhaps offensive, is not irrelevant to a discussion of whether or not one should re-elect Bush. /defensiveness.
ricardienne: (angelo)
We're reading A Vindication of the Rights of Woman for FYSEM. I was flipping through the back matter (yay for Norton Critical Editions!) and found an exerpt from a rather angry poem by contemporary Richard Polwhele, "The Unsex's Females". Ironically, he completely misses the point. All of his arguments are precisely the ones that Wollstonecraft demolishes.

Among the many things that bother him about,

A female band despising NATURE's law,
As "proud defiance" flashes from their arms,
And vengeance smothers all their softer charms

Is that they,

Court prurient Fancy to the private stage;
With bliss botanic as their bosoms heave,
Still pluck forbidden fruit, with mother Eve,
For puberty in signing florets pant,
Or point the prostitution of a plant;
Dissect its organ of unhallow'd lust,
And fondly gaze the titillating dust;

Even more amusing, however, is his note to 'botanic':

"Botany has lately become a fashionable amusement with the ladies. But how the study of the sexual systems of plants can accord with female modesty, I am not able to comprehend. I had at first written:
More eager for illict knowledge pant,
With lustful boys anatomize a plant;
The virtues of its dust prolific speak
Or point its pistill with unblushing cheek.

I have, several times, seen boys and girls botanizing together"

I suspect that the Reverend Polwhele just couldn't bring himself to actually use the word "pistill" in print.

In other news, the discussion-leading I was supposed to do on Rousseau today more or less didn't happen. And it's worth a tenth of our semester grade. This is really icky. But seeing as we got all of 6 minutes to prep, I'm really not surprised.
ricardienne: (augustine)
When we picked presentations in Comp. Lit., no one else wanted Chansons de Geste. So I don't have to deal with a group. Of course, my research so far has been to go to the library and check out whatever translations of chansons other than Roland they have. Unfortunately, they only have two: Chanson d'Aspremont, which is Charlemagne cycle, and Chançun de Guillelme which, though not involving Charlemage, nevertheless has the plot of A Very Outnumbered But Valiant French Army (or in this case, three successive Very Outnumbered But Valiant French Armies) nearly get slaughtered by Pagans, but eventually Rout them By The Grace Of God. This is sort of too bad, as I was hoping to get one of the family cycles, as well. I remember reading a prose translation of Raoul de Cambrai once, and it would be nice to have a good, non-Saracen-centric, chanson like that one. (This is not precisely the research I'm supposed to be doing, I think. But I'll do general research tomorrow.)

Chanson de Guillelme )
Chanson d'Aspremont )


Jan. 16th, 2006 09:29 pm
ricardienne: (snail)
I have come up with two analogues to Romeo and Juliet: Hero and Leander and Pyramus and Thisbe.

Now that I have more examples, I really can state the difference between this story and the Tristan and Isolde one. There is a physical barrier that prevents the lovers from uniting in this story. Hero is in her tower; Pyramus and Thisbe are separated by a wall; Romeo and Juliet, while they don't have a concrete barrier, are separated by the enmity of their families. They can't get together. In Tristan and Isolde, or Dido and Aeneas, or any similar, the barrier is moral. They can get together, but they shouldn't.

Something else that I've noticed: many of the big stories involve a trip down to the Underworld. Odysseus goes; Aeneas goes, Orpheus, Theseus, Dante… Even Beowulf goes down into the lair of Grendel's Mother. In Tolkien, Aragorn has to take the Paths of the Dead (and he doesn't look back!) as part of his story. So will Harry? He really should. And death is such an important theme in the series: his parent's deaths, Voldemort's fear of death and need to conquer it, Dumbledore's not being afraid of death, the Death Eaters, the ghosts, who weren't brave enough to go on, the Veil in the Department of Mysteries. But how will he have time when he has all of the horcruxes to find and a Dark Lord to defeat all in one book?
ricardienne: (snail)
Natalie and I saw Casanova yesterday.

honestly, there wasn't anything worth spoiling, really )

I still can't quite believe that they've made a movie of Tristan and Isolde. In the review in the local paper this morning, they called it "the story that inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet." Now that isn't true at all. Tristan and Isolde fall in love, but she's supposed to marry King Mark, Tristan's overlord. The conflict is between his love and his duty. Romeo and Juliet isn't quite the same; it might ultimately come from that, but the paradigm has altered, I think. The love is still illicit, but what is absent is the betrayal. Romeo isn't hurting anyone by loving Juliet; he doesn't have to choose.

We (my dad and I) were trying to trace this a little. There are a lot of stories like Tristan and Isolde:
Lancelot and Guinevere
Pelleas and Melisande
Naoise and Deirdre
Paolo and Francesca
Antony and Cleopatra
Paris and Helen (not quite the same, but there is still that basic idea of love for a woman who is already bound elsewhere causing a big mess)

And then there's the slightly different story, where a young man elopes with the princess/daughter of an enemy, and is pursued and killed by them:

Earl Brand
The Braies of Carrow
Lochnivar (though that one ends happily, if I remember)

And then there's Romeo and Juliet, to which we couldn't find a direct folkloric parallel, though it does seem to be related to these other things.

When we were first talking about Tristan and Isolde, my dad challenged me to come with a Shakespeare play whose plot fit that model. Eventually, I came up with Antony and Cleopatra. But first I thought of Measure for Measure. Because that basic idea is there: a woman (and her sexuality) screw up a man's previously upright existence.
Someone, give me a new obsession, please -- I'm getting a little tired of this one )
ricardienne: (Default)
First of all, unceremoniously yoinked from [livejournal.com profile] voglia_di_notte:
Harry Potter Character Meme )

So. As some of you know, summer vacation is a time to read and re-read St. Nicholas Magazine, and immerse myself in good, wholesome, Victorian era children's literature.

This is the summer of the Annoyingly Sappy Historical Ballad. My favorite specimen of which was "Crooked Dick." Stop that right now! I know what lewd thoughts you're having! Stop. No. Bad. This is the 1890's. People don't even kiss eachother on a general basis.
Anway, it is moderately cringe-worthy, but actually presents a fairly decent Richard, for a n essentially Shakespearian model. Here it is:
Crooked Dick )
Well. Amusing, n’est-ce pas?

The idea, of course, is that even evil cannot stand up against the innocent trust of a child. Hmm. So, l could not, of course, resist trying one of my own.

And as I had already made the Severus-Richard comparison in a previous entry (not a comparison of character but a comparison of my reaction to the character), I had a logical subject... yeah, spoilers for HBP, I think.

This is an Unabashed Parody )
There, now. Don't you feel like a better person?


ricardienne: (Default)

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