Monthly Archives: April 2012

The burnt-out ends of smoky days

We began April with a quotation from T S Eliot; one of the great modernist poets,  he wrote some of the most original and striking poetry of the 20th century. To get a feel for more of  his work, try these suggestions:

  • Read the Preludes. ( This is where the wonderful phrase in the title of this post comes from.)
  • Watch and listen to The Waste Land, his greatest poem.
  • Read Australian author Stephen Carroll’s brilliant novel, The Lost Life, for an interpretation of the private life behind Eliot’s poetry.
  • Have a look at the biography Painted Shadow: the life of Vivienne Eliot for the story of the scandals in Eliot’s first marriage. Eliot’s first wife is said to have influenced his poetry as both his ‘muse’ and his ‘torment’.
  • Read this annotated version of the famous poem The Hollow Men (This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper)
Advertisements

Comments Off on The burnt-out ends of smoky days

Filed under WHAT TO READ NEXT

Poem Flow (eBook of the month)

Advertised as ‘Poetry in your hand’, the Poem Flow app from the Academy of American Poets (at poets.org) is a new and unusual way of enjoying poetry. I really like it, while being quite happy to admit that it’s not for everyone. Let me explain how it works.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under eBooks, iPads & other technologies

Shakespeare’s Dark Lady

‘A whitely wanton with a velvet brow’ and ‘raven black’ eyes,  Shakespeare’s  Dark Lady is shrouded in mystery. She appears towards the end of the sequence of Shakespeare’s sonnets (from Number 127); her identity is still unknown in spite of years of research, speculation and wild guesses.  As the World Shakespeare Festival (and Shakespeare’s birthday) is upon us, let’s have a look at some of these conjectures and at some of the sonnets.

Continue reading

Comments Off on Shakespeare’s Dark Lady

Filed under WHAT TO READ NEXT

Poets House (Library of the Month)

This wonderful library has been on my radar since I first visited New York, a city well-known for its beautiful buildings, famous museums and great libraries (think of the New York Public Library and the special collections in the Pierpont Morgan Museum.)  The Reed Foundation Library in Poets House is in Lower Manhattan, near Battery Park. I love it because of its atmosphere: warm, welcoming, spacious. There are leather couches, big windows with views over the Hudson River and shelves and shelves of poetry books. An independent, not-for-profit organization, it’s open to the public and it’s free.   Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Libraries

The Edwardians and the Titanic

Why the Titanic? As we embark on Titanic 100, the centenary commemoration of the famous ship’s disaster, it’s interesting to speculate why this story has such a strong hold on the public imagination. Why, for instance,  are we having a Titanic concert here in Adelaide this week?  Why are people queuing to have their wedding photographs taken in a replica of the Titantic’s stateroom?  And why on earth would anyone want to buy their daughter a special edition Titanic Barbie doll?

Robert Sullivan wrote a moving article,  ‘Why the Titanic still matters’ in a recent issue of the Huffington Post. I found this quite convincing until I read Catherine Bennett’s blistering counter-argument,  ‘Can we please just sink the Titanic once and for all?’ in The Observer. Both articles are well worth reading.

I am not going to see the 3D version of the movie, or bake a Titanic cake . But I do like the idea of re-reading some of my favourite Edwardian fiction, particularly the novels that portray the slice of wealthy, aristocratic society  whose members would have had the leisure and the money to board a world-class cruise ship. And for that I can’t go past Edith Wharton’s superb novel of manners  The House of Mirth (1905) nor Henry James’ beautiful but sinister Golden Bowl (1904).

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under WHAT TO READ NEXT

The Legacy (Book Review)

Kirsten Tranter has had some interesting publicity with her debut novel, The Legacy (HarperCollins, 2010.)  Her intriguing and very readable work has been described as ‘a seductive contemporary literary thriller’, ‘part love story, part psychological thriller’, ‘an entertaining literary thriller’.  But anyone expecting the  suspense and fast pace of a thriller will be disappointed. The novel does have a mystery at its heart, but that is uncovered very slowly in a leisurely, graceful meditation on friendship, love, scholarship, money and art.

The Legacy has also, rightly, been called ‘a modern reworking of Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady.’ This is an immense part of its appeal: Tranter has taken the framework of a great nineteenth-century novel and dressed it in vibrant twenty-first century clothes. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Australian authors, Book reviews

Writers on Place (Book Review)

Last month I posted a description of a Writers Week event called The Away Bound Train : writers on place.  This month Kylie Jarrett, a Reading Woman from Flinders University, shares her thoughts on a book that is very much about place – mountains in Nepal and Peru:

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Book reviews