Literature

Crimea: A Literary Perspective

Crimea: A Literary Perspective

The situation in Crimea continues to develop agallop. Following events in Kiev, unidentified Russian troops have taken control of Crimea’s airports, public buildings, military installations, and ports. Amid claim and counterclaim – the apparent defection of the chief of the Ukrainian Navy, the claimed defection of thousands of Ukrainian armed forces, and allegations that the human rights of UN envoys…

The Scythians and The Rite of Spring: Documents

The Scythians and The Rite of Spring: Documents

Here are a selection of documents and sources – videos, images, and text – relating to and referred to in the piece I just published, on the influence of Nicholas Roerich and Asiatic culture on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Mikhail Glinka, Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842) – Overture Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade, Op. 35 (1888) Vladimir Soloviev, ‘Pan Mongolism’ (1894) Pan Mongolism! The…

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: The Cultural History of a Sad Clown

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…