The Aspern Papers

November 17, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Directed by Julien Landais) (2018) “…So Percy Shelley, his wife Mary and their friend Edward Trelawny indulged in a little Venetian ménage à trois…” No, start again. “Shelley washes up from the Golfo dei poeti, in the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea, where his wife finds a portrait and a satchel of early drafts“…This won’t do. “Henry James was bedazzled by European sophistication and scared of its vestiges in formidable and incorruptible women, so one day he decided to revamp Madame Merle and Isabel Archer within a literary mystery of elegant design, where the papers of debauched dead poet Jeffrey Aspern…

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The Double (Jose Saramago)

November 13, 2019 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Fiction, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS, WRITING & LITERATURE |
Doppelgangers

Painting by Sebastian Bieniek

(English translation: 2004) Secondary-school history teacher Tertuliano Maximo Afonso (almost always referred to by his full name) is depressed and apathetic. He cares little about his work (believing that history should be taught in reverse not forward), neglects his mother, can’t remember what led him to get married, forgets why he got divorced and is trying to dump his girlfriend, Maria da Paz (also almost always named in full). He lives alone and spends most of his free time listlessly plodding through a large tome on Abyssinian history. His only friend, a fellow teacher, suggests that he is out of…

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Tasmanian Art Gallery

November 11, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, AUSTRALIANIA, HISTORY, TRAVEL |

November 2019 If you’re still reeling from the inanities of MONA, why not check out Hobart’s more staid collection, on Davey Street (but enter on the landward side), a stone’s throw from the docks? The Gallery combines artistic works with natural history pieces of local significance: For instance the famous Thylacine, a carnivorous marsupial otherwise known as the Tasmanian Tiger, due to the stripes along its coat. Although last seen alive in 1933, we like to think the wily animal exists and flourishes somewhere in the wild western half of the island (there have been some unverified sightings in recent years)….

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The Wall Comes Down

November 9, 2019 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, POLITICS |

Wall Up 13 August 1961: East German police and troops occupied the dividing line between that Soviet satellite and West Berlin, to stop the hemorrhaging of its citizens to the West of that city. Four days later, they started building the Berlin Wall. President Kennedy put US forces on alert and took diplomatic steps, but copped criticism for what was tagged a weak response. Possibly 200 people were killed trying to get over the Wall from the East to the West; probably many more of the tens and tens of thousands making the attempt over the years were dealt with…

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Russian Roulette

(by Michael Isikoff and David Corn) (2018) This is an absorbing, readable and – remarkably – balanced account of the 2016 US election and the possible effect of Russian or Russian-sponsored hacking and disinformation. The existence of actual collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin’s apparatchiks relies on a number of guilt-by-association inferences, commercial ties with Russian oligarchs, and meetings attended by the numerous idiots connected with the campaign. Ultimately, the authors leave open the question both of direct collusion, and of the causative links of Russian meddling to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Which is not to say there isn’t plenty…

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