Regularly added bite-sized reviews about Literature, Art, Music & Film.
Voltaire said the secret of being boring is to say everything.
We do not wish to say everything or see everything; life, though long is too short for that.
We hope you take these little syntheses in the spirit of shared enthusiasm.
(by Frank Hardy)
Never mind that Hardy was an unreconstructed Commo; this is a great, great-big book, a scandalous roman-a-clef based on a Collingwood Mafioso, John Wren and his rise (and rise). Blessed with no literary touches but a lot of narrative drive, the book has become, in its unpretentious way, a landmark of Australian literature. Hardy had to overcome a myriad hurdles to get his work published and only then did his troubles really begin, in the form of various reprisals, including an almost ruinous trial for criminal libel.Continue Reading →
(Sydney Art Gallery)
I have to admit that the hanging I most appreciated said “EXIT” in illumined green and white…
Wyndham Lewis had this to say of Picasso (1881-1973) in 1940:
“Cézanne is the great influence: that, and the arts of primitive man…Picasso is parasitic…he is at the same time original. His originality is of a technical order…And were Picasso a musician, he would be able to play a dozen instruments, and be as adept with a kettledrum as with a harp. But he would not be a Bach or a Beethoven…He is such a great, luxuriant, voracious, plant: and he is a little too much of the liana – the prolific, tropical creeper – rather than the solid giant of the forest – to which description Daumier, or Cézanne, or Goya answers, but he does not.”
The criminal genius who stole one of Pablo’s repellent series of “Weeping Woman” works had the right idea – he swiped it from the NGV and stowed it safely at Spencer Street Railway Station, in a locker, where nobody had to see it – but then it was recovered. Picasso, the master showman / shaman of 20th century painting, would have approved.
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(by Taylor Branch)
This is the first of a trilogy re American civil rights politics under the stewardship of Martin Luther King Jnr, covering the years 1954 to 1963, ending with the march on Washington and the death of JFK. This giant work is bigger than a mere bio of King and its scholarship and sheer mass of detail is leavened with clear and eloquent prose and mature reflection.
No panegyric, this: King is treated as a human, remarkable though he was, and as the politician he surely was. A wonderful work that demands to be read and read again. The Varnished Culture admits with embarrassment to having not yet taken on the last 2 pieces of the jigsaw, Pillar of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge. Thumbnail reviews to come in due course.
On August 28 1963 came a high point of the civil rights movement in America – the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Taylor Branch has a brilliant chapter on this thrilling moment, carefully deconstructing the machinations that led to the culmination, where King addressed several hundred thousand people and millions more on television: “He recited his text verbatim until a short run near the end: “We will not be satisfied until justice runs down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”…[Then King abandoned some lame suggestions in the speech to advance the cause in various communities and instead he urged continued struggle to bring change ‘somehow.’] “There was no alternative but to preach. Knowing that he had wandered completely off his text, some of those behind him on the platform urged him on, and Mahalia Jackson piped up as though in church, “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin.” Whether her words reached him is not known.” Courtesy of You Tube, here’s the concluding portion of the “I Have a Dream” speech, 28 August, 1963:
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(by B Netanyahu)
Definitive, immense and profound work on the causes and motives of the Spanish Inquisition.
Inquisitiana[Note that TVC recommends the following:
Torquemada himself would be impressed with Wakefield & Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages (1991) and Lu Ann Homza’s The Spanish Inquisition 1478-1614; An Anthology of Sources (2006), which is a very valuable resource of primary documents.
The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (1998) by Henry Kamen, is a good general volume (TVC has a pretty Folio edition).
The Spanish Inquisition (1937) by Cecil Roth is a superior general academic treatment.
The Inquisition of the Middle Ages (1887) is a definitive work by an early expert (Henry Charles Lea); this is an expurgated version from the 3 volume work (1963); the Inquisitors “inevitably reached the practical conclusion that the sacrifice of a hundred innocent men were better than the escape of one guilty.”
Frontiers of Heresy (1990) by William Monter focuses on various aspects not usually covered in detail.
Good general non academic texts: The Growth of the Spanish Inquisition (1960) by Jean Plaidy; Inquisition and Society in Spain (1985) by Henry Kamen; The Italian Inquisition (2009) by C.F. Black; In the Shadow of the Virgin (2003) by Gretchen D. Starr-LeBeau; Inquisitorial Inquiries (2004) edited by Richard L. Kagan & Abigail Dyer scrutinizes specific cases.
Popular re-hashes, readable but hardly novel: The Inquisition (1999) by Michael Baigent & Richard Leigh; The Inquisition (1984) by Edward Burman; Inquisition (1999) by John Edwards; The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual (2009) by Jonathan Kirsch; The Spanish Inquisition (2002) by Joseph Pérez, and The Pope and the Heretic (2002) by Michael White.]
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(by Susie Harries)
The rather ponderous biographical figure can make for a fascinating biography, when it is written and researched judiciously and with love. Pevsner’s love for his adopted England is shown in the Teutonic thoroughness with which he trundled about every shire in the country, travelling and lodging uncomfortably with a hard cheese sandwich wedged in his coat pocket, to document every church, every manor, every public building, bridge and stile of consequence. He accumulated a wall of architectural volumes for the intelligent layperson that still inspire the question: “Is it in Pevsner?”
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