The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

No, you can't go back in time and kill baby Hitler.  It's complicated.  (Yes, this is Adolf as a tot).

No, you can't go back in time and kill baby Hitler. It's complicated. (Yes, this is Adolf as a tot).

by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (June 2017) Neal Stephenson, you promised me time travel, magic, and Ancient Greek – all in the first few pages. You quoted Peter Gabriel! I was so there!  Oh goody, I thought, gentle reader, Mr S is back to  pre-Reamde/Anathem/Seveneves form. Nearly 750 pages later  >sigh<  I can tell you that I was wrong. Mr S misled me. Read our review of Seveneves for a more detailed exegesis of what ails Mr Stephenson’s writing now. Sadly, D.O.D.O lacks even the beauty and science that leavened Seveneves.  There’s no magic or Ancient Greek to be seen, either. Dr Melisande Stokes, Harvard lecturer in ancient language, is writing a record…

Continue Reading →

Night’s Lies by Gesualdo Bufalino


(1988) The place of confinement is an island fortress, “It is known as an island but ought to be called a rock.  For it is nothing more than a stack of volcanic tufa heaped up into the form of an enormous snout, wearisomely steep in some places, but for the most part bare, sheer crag.  The strip of sea between it and the mainland is no wider than a keen eye can traverse.  None the less to cross it, be it through the malice of the winds or of the currents, is a hazardous business for vessels, and totally beyond the…

Continue Reading →


June 16, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, LIFE, WRITING & LITERATURE |

June 16 (1904) June 16 is the day we commemorate Ulysses, the massive novel by James Joyce (2/2/1882 to 13/1/1941) which turns on events on that day in Dublin. It is structurally based on The Odyssey, a work written a few thousand years ago (Leopold ‘Poldy’ Bloom is Odysseus, or Ulysses in Roman parlance; Marion Bloom is Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus is Telemachus), so that episodes, action (if you can call it action – not a whole lot happens) and characters follow, roughly, Homer’s book.  Psychologically, Joyce adds the modernising shade of Hamlet. For The Varnished Culture, the novel is too big and ragged,…

Continue Reading →


June 13, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Sidney Lumet) (1976) It has been suggested that TV doesn’t create the rage that Network evokes. With profound respect, bull-crap!  Network is a perfect film for the mid 70s and beyond, a great tribute to anyone who has found himself shouting at Mr. Television (at the odd pundit, politician, referee, insurance salesman) from time to time. Lumet had a wonderful directorial career, but he suffered (if lack of gongs counts) from being first and foremost a director for actors and writers. Network is a grand homage to both: Paddy Chayefsky mines a bit from his script for The Hospital but here, it…

Continue Reading →

When Translation is Divine

June 12, 2017 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | HISTORY |

The Varnished Culture loves linguistic error – see out travelogue of malapropisms, Bitings on a Complimentary Basis. But we just had to add this: a scholar, explaining the derivation of the English word ‘frown,’ pointed to his forehead and stated “I’m wrinkling my foreskin.”

Continue Reading →

© Copyright 2014 The Varnished Culture All Rights Reserved. TVC Disclaimer. Site by KWD&D.