Friday, August 28, 2015

Gustave Doré’s Hauntingly Beautiful 1883 Illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

Edgar Allan Poe

Gustave Doré’s Hauntingly Beautiful 1883 Illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing…”
Something uncommonly beautiful takes place when a great artist brings a great writer’s words to life, doubly so when those words transmit the inherent enchantment of poetry — that special cross-pollination of spirits seen in rare masterpieces like William Blake’s paintings for Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Maurice Sendak’sformative etchings for Blake’s “Songs of Innocence,” and Milton Glaser’s drawings for Lord Byron’s “Don Juan.”
More than a century before Italian artist Lorenzo Mattotti created his beautiful illustrations for Lou Reed’s reimagining of “The Raven,” the great French illustrator, sculptor, printmaker, and engraverGustave Doré (January 6 1832–January 23, 1883) took to the Edgar Allan Poe classic. Having previously illustrated works by such literary titans as Dante, Balzac, Milton, Coleridge, Tennyson, and Lord Byron, Doré created a series of stark, beautifully haunting steel-plate engravings for a special edition of The Raven (public library | free ebook). It became his final legacy — Doré died shortly after completing the illustrations, at the age of fifty-one, and this exquisite edition was posthumously published in 1884.
Prefacing the poem is Poe’s magnificent instruction on how to enjoy poetry — for, lest we forget, the willing reader’s communion with the poetic spirit is itself an art form:
The secret of a poem, no less than a jest’s prosperity, lies in the ear of him that hears it. Yield to its spell, accept the poet’s mood: this, after all, is what the sages answer when you ask them of its value. Even though the poet himself, in his other mood, tell you that his art is but sleight of hand, his food enchanter’s food, and offer to show you the trick of it, — believe him not. Wait for his prophetic hour; then give yourself to his passion, his joy or pain… The vision has an end, the scene changes; but we have gained something, the memory of a charm.
What we gain in this particular interpretation of Poe’s joy and pain is a vision triply more powerful than the words alone — Doré’s engravings capture with piercing precision the heart of Poe’s poem, that bewitching interplay between the light toward which we reach in the grip of longing and the darkness into which longing plunges the psyche when it becomes a nightmarish fixation.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘T is some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow:—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘T is some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is, and nothing more.”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
‘T is the wind and nothing more!”
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore,—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore.'”
But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above, us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Five scandalous affairs that changed History

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton


History is filled with great, enduring love stories, from Napoleon and Josephine to Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson. And then there are those somewhat more unseemly courtships. The ones that began in the shadows as steamy affairs or adulterous liaisons, the consummation of which has produced some of the great love children of literary, political, film and music history. Here are some of history’s most consequential trysts:

1. Mary Godwin & Percy Bysshe Shelley

The Sordid Details: One of the great unions of literary history began in 1814, when the 16-year-old Mary Godwin and the dreamy, but very married, 21-year-old romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley met in secret at the grave of Mary’s famous suffragette mother, Mary Wollstonecraft. There, as Mary later recounted, the two touched each other with the “full ardour of love,” an ardor that would eventually leave the aspiring writer pregnant and Shelley estranged from his wife.
The Fallout: The lovers were married a few years later after Shelley’s pregnant wife drowned herself in Hyde Park, but their tumultuous partnership ended when the poet drowned a few years later. Still, it would produce some literary masterpieces, including Mary’s classic Frankenstein, which she conceived while on holiday in Switzerland with Shelley and Lord Byron in 1816.

2. Catherine the Great & Grigory Potemkin

The Sordid Details: Every great empress needs a counselor, military strategist, soul mate and boy toy, or, in the case of Grigory Potemkin, one man capable of wearing all of those hats. Catherine the Great first encountered the dashing Potemkin when the young commander (10 years her junior) helped the 33-year-old overthrow her disappointing (in more ways than one) husband, Czar Peter III, in 1762. Their steamy though unadulterous affair, thanks to Peter’s untimely end, was likely consummated in the basement sauna of the Winter Palace.
The Fallout: The coupling produced a powerful political alliance for decades. Yet even as Potemkin’s role at court expanded, he grew more marginalized in Catherine’s bedroom, increasingly relegated to the third wheel of a ménage à trois or consigned to the role of pimp, acquiring younger male specimens for one of the most powerful women in history.

3. Charles Dickens & Nelly Ternan

The Sordid Details: Even literary giants are not immune to the midlife crisis. By 1857, the 45-year-old Victorian novelist was at the height of his powers, a literary superstar — who was also married with nine children and living, by all appearances, a virtuous family life. Then he began an adulterous affair with Ellen “Nelly” Ternan, a gifted young actress in his employ who was just a year older than his 17-year-old daughter.
The Fallout: The affair proved the best and worst of times for the writer. Dickens’s marriage fell apart, but his 13-year relationship with Nelly continued until his death, though his tireless (and successful) efforts to keep his double life a secret may have hastened his demise. Nelly is believed to have inspired the dark secrets characteristic of his later novels and several of their characters, including Estella in Great Expectations.

4. Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn

The Sordid Details: This historic pairing, portrayed in countless films, books and television shows, has long captured the public imagination, though the precise details of the courtship remain fuzzy. It seems likely that despite years of chaste courtship, Anne and Henry’s sexual relationship had indeed begun before they were wed and the king’s first marriage to Catherine of Aragon had been annulled.
The Fallout: Henry’s attempt to legitimize his marriage to Anne would famously lead to England’s break from the Roman Catholic Church, while Anne’s brief stint as Henry’s second queen would lead to the birth of the future Elizabeth I and Anne’s ultimate beheading.

5. Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton

The Sordid Details: It seems fitting that the famous Hollywood duo met while playing another famously doomed couple in Cleopatra (1963). Both Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were married to others at the time but the attraction was epic (Burton once said Taylor’s breasts were “apocalyptic, they would topple empires”) and a ferocious affair ensued.
The Fallout: The couple’s 10-year “marriage of the century” became the closest thing to reality television in the 1960s, a constant magnet for gossip and hordes of paparazzi. They would divorce in 1974, remarry the following year and divorce again shortly after that.
The list goes on. John Lennon’s peaceful affair with the Japanese artist Yoko Ono not only helped break up the Beatles but his marriage to wife Cynthia as well. Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson’s six-year fling with the married Lady Emma Hamilton, a great beauty with a voluptuous body and shady past, was the scandal of its age.Johnny Cash and June Carter walked the line of their marriages to others until they finally wed each other. Then there’s Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet, or Richard Wagner and Cosima von Bülow, or perhaps Brangelina 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rachel McAdams / Five best moments

Rachel McAdams: five best moments

Her stock-in-trade may be the generic romcom, but look beyond and you’ll see there’s more to her than just a pretty face

Ruby Lott-Lavigna
Friday 24 July 2015 09.31 BST

Rachel McAdams is so much more than the good-looking love interest that she is often typecast as. While many of her films seem to be generic romcoms, they frequently fulfil – or in the case of Mean Girls, subvert – their genre cleverly, and she continually shows her willingness to take on interesting projects. As this week sees the release of her new film, Southpaw, we’re looking back on her defining moments.

Mean Girls

Disguised as a regular teen comedy, this Tina Fey-scripted cult classic depicts the drama of an American high school with the wit and insight of everything Fey has written combined. McAdams is the manipulative Regina George, and manages to play the utterly hateable character with the perfect amount of saccharine awfulness.

A Most Wanted Man

You know what? Even though McAdams gives a very good performance as an immigration lawyer in this John le Carré adaptation, she does such an impressive German accent that it’s hard to remember anything else about the film. Slightly more gritty and slow compared to her usual stuff, she proves her versatility as an actor (even if the script insists on reminding us that she’s good-looking).

The Notebook

It’s hard not to swoon just writing about the Notebook: it’s a pure romance that gets even the cynics a little teary. The film is a prime example of McAdams acting in a genre classic without succumbing to the dull trap of playing just a pretty face. She is also good at kissing Ryan Gosling on a jetty in the rain.

Wedding Crashers

OK, look, it’s not the most amazing film, and I’ve always felt a bit conflicted about the scene where they throw naked women on the bed to the soundtrack of Shout by the Isley Brothers. However, McAdams holds her own against Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in this frat-pack comedy, even if she is playing the romantic lead (again).

To the Wonder

This is textbook Malick – a bit dull, philosophical, and visually spectacular with enough lens flare to give you a headache. Although the screenplay doesn’t give her much to work with, McAdams plays the childhood friend of Ben Affleck, and steps successfully out of her comfort zone into an aesthetically spectacular world.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dance / Nela Sisarić and Nino Bokan

Nela Sisarić and Nino Bokan
Work in Progress
Croatia, 2012
Video: Neven Muretić
Música y producción: Johan Troch


Monday, August 24, 2015

John Steinbeck / The Fireplace Still Burns / Letters

The Fireplace Still Burns
After his divorce from Gwyn, John Steinbeck settled into a bit of a rut. He questioned almost everything about the way he lived his life, and fell into something of a writer's block. In his personal affairs he was clearly a lonely man who was not exactly a pleasure to be around, and his prolific letter-writing took over as his major connection with others. The explosion of energy we find in these letters to his editor Pascal "Pat" Covici, constitutes the journal he felt he had to keep while working through the pain of losing his family.
with his two kids, john and thom
To Pascal Covici
September 1948
Dear Pat —
The thing makes a full circle with 20 years inside of it. Amazing, isn't it? And what wonderful years and sad ending ones. I am back in the little house. It hasn't changed and I wonder how much I have. For two days I have been cutting the lower limbs off the pine trees to let some light into the garden so that I can raise some flowers. Lots of red geraniums and fuchsias. The fireplace still burns. I will be painting the house for a long time I guess. And all of it seems good.
There are moments of panic but those are natural I suppose. And then sometimes it seems to me that nothing whatever has happened. As though it was the time even before Carol. Tonight the damp fog is down and you can feel it on your face. I can hear the bell buoy off the point. The only proof of course will be whether I can work — whether there is any life in me. I think there is but that doesn't mean anything until it gets rolling. Women I will have to have of course, only I wonder if I have learned to keep them in their place. They have a way of sprawling all over and that I can't have any more. I haven't enough time and I couldn't take another sequence like the last two.
Anyway this is just a note to tell you I'm in a new shell or an old one, like a hermit crab and the ink is now out of two of my pens and this is the last one. I have no more ink in the house tonight. I'll keep you posted.
(and write to me)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Diego El Cigala / Flamenco star gives emotional concert just hours after wife’s death

Diego El Cigala
Poster by T.A.

Flamenco star gives emotional concert 

just hours after wife’s death

Spanish singer El Cigala pays tribute to spouse Amparo Fernández in Los Angeles

El Cigala, un artista viudo (De otros mundos)

“Good evening, Los Angeles. I’m happy to be able to share great music with a great audience. On behalf of my colleagues I’d like to say how glad we are to be here, and so, thank you for coming. Thank you very much.”
That was how El Cigala, one of Spain’s most popular flamenco singers, kicked off his concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday night.

El Cigala with his wife Amparo Fernández PHOTO: ANYA BARTELS-SUERMONDT

But the truth was very different. On Tuesday evening, the night before the performance, his wife of 25 years, Amparo Fernández, had died.

El Cigala performed like a professional, putting aside his pain to give a taste of life to others

Little did the audience know that 45 minutes before taking the stage, El Cigala had arrived in his dressing room wearing pajamas, his eyes covered by sunglasses. Leaning against his bass player, Yelsy Heredi, he seemed beyond consolation.
As the minutes passed, he and Julio César Fernández, his road manager and son, began dressing. Diego asked for an eye bath and nasal spray, but insisted that he couldn’t go on: “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,” he mumbled.  But he could, more so than on any other night, turning the performance into a tribute to Amparo.
During the previous six months, she had been being discreetly treated for the cancer from which she was suffering in Miami while El Cigala toured the United States.
But eventually, he began to suspect something was wrong, and eventually she told him the truth: that her insignificant tumor was taking control. On May 8, shortly after finding out, El Cigala gave an unforgettable performance at Carnegie Hall: Amparo had instructed him not to stop performing, to keep getting up on stage no matter what happened.
And he kept his promise by going out to perform in Los Angeles just hours after she died on Wednesday night, giving the show of his career, with each song taking on a special meaning: “In life there are loves that we can never forget,” he sang in Inolvidable(Unforgettable) and, from Vete de mí, “My hands are so hurt from clenching that I can no longer hold you.”
But there was not a trace of sentimentality in his performance, the intensity growing as he sang Soledad (Loneliness): “Forever to be in mourning. Oh, my solitude. Oh, come back now. You, come back now.”

Diego El Cigala

The tension reached its peak in Está lloviendo ausencia (It’s raining absence): “And we part like this, without looking, without speaking, without kissing, without touching, we part as though it were nothing, each in a different direction, each with their destiny.”
There were no encores, and no confession at the end. El Cigala performed like a professional, putting aside his pain to give a taste of life to others.
The performance closed with Gracias a la vida (Thanks to life). And with that, his audience still unaware of what had happened, El Cigala left to board a plane for the Dominican Republic, where he now lives, and where his wife will be cremated in a private ceremony.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Molly Lambert / The Fuck Of The Century

The Fuck Of The Century
Basic Instinct (1992)
Wr. Joe Eszterhas
Dir. Paul Verhoeven
"You know I don't wear any underwear, don't you Nick?" - novelist Catherine Tramell
Basic Instinct is a bizarro Vertigo, which is remarkable considering that Vertigo is pretty fucking bizarro to begin with. Joe Eszterhas takes a sledgehammer to Hitchcockian tropes and the result is LURID. And I've learned that I like lurid. Eszterhas's dialogue here is as awesome as it is in Showgirls, with side characters prone to tossing out lines like "there's cum stains all over the sheets" to remind you that this is a SEXY R RATED MOVIE. It's mostly silly and sporadically legitimately hot.