Literature

The Scythians and The Rite of Spring: Stravinsky and Roerich

Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (in French, Le Sacre du printemps) – the third ballet which Stravinsky composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, after The Firebird (1910) and Petrushka (1911) – was written for the 1913 Paris season, and premiered just over a hundred years ago, on 29 May, in the newly-opened Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. The centenary of this most notorious…

Rabindranath Tagore, E. E. Cummings; Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Björk

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a Bengali polymath, best known as a poet. Born in Calcutta – then part of the Bengal Presidency, and the capital city of British India – Rabindranath was the youngest child of Debendranath Tagore, the first leader of the Brahmo Samaj, a religious and social reform movement prominent in the development of the Bengal Renaissance. The Brahmo…

Bookshops in York

I am spending this week in York, the city in which I lived from the age of two until the age of nineteen; returning, after four years in Sweden, for three years before moving to Amsterdam last October. York’s city centre is compact but plentiful, with a decent variety of shops, an abundance of places to eat and drink, and…

‘Daily Bread’ – A Short Story

About the story: This is pretty much the first short story I ever wrote and completed, around seven years ago, when I was nineteen or twenty. I recalled it recently and read through it for the first time in a few years, and I thought it was worth publishing here, particularly fitting since we have just had Easter weekend. The…

Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits; and the Jesuits and James Joyce

Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits; and the Jesuits and James Joyce

With the election yesterday evening in Rome of former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I (and as the first, we may do away with the numeral, and declare him simply Pope Francis), there is now but one word sitting upon and emanating breathlessly from the world’s collective lips. The word is ‘Jesuit’, for Pope Francis is not only…

Pierrot Through the Arts: Deburau, Laforgue, Schoenberg and On

Pierrot, the sad clown, with white face and loose white blouse, expressing slowly and subtly and in the absence of and beyond words, emerged in the nineteenth century from his roots in stock comedies and pantomimes to become the embodiment of a certain artistic type, a specific strain of artistic emotion: sensitive, melancholy and solitary, and at once playful and…

Alexander Blok – ‘Night, street, street-light, drugstore,…’ (1912)

Alexander Blok (Александр Блок) (1880-1921) was the foremost of the Russian Symbolists, who changed the face of Russian letters from the late 1890s through until the Russian Revolution, leading Russian literature into a ‘Silver Age’ after the great works of the previous century. Chekhov died in 1904, and Tolstoy, over thirty years his senior, not until 1910. Tolstoy published his…

Heteroglossia in the Music of Ariel Pink

I sometimes think that popular music criticism – taking popular music very broadly as a whole, and the criticism of popular music as something distinct from the criticism of classical music (a distinction which generally holds strong, in spite of a number of crossover artists or artists whose music draws from and fits alongside classical composers and compositions) – lacks…

‘Silentium!’ by Fyodor Tyutchev

‘Silentium!’ by Fyodor Tyutchev

Silentium! Speak not, lie hidden, and conceal the way you dream, the things you feel. Deep in your spirits let them rise akin to stars in crystal skies that set before the night is blurred: delight in them and speak no word. – How can a heart expression find? How should another know your mind? Will he discern what quickens…