I watched one of the latest acquisitions in my DVD collection, POSSESSION. It is a 2002 movie I hadn’t had the occasion to see when it was released nor managed to see on Tv. So I decided to buy the DVD after reading about the movie in one of the text-books I use at school. Based on A.S. Byatt's 1990 novel of the same name, and filmed on wonderful locations in the U.K., the romantic mystery tracks a pair of literary scholars who unearth the amorous secret of two Victorian poets - only to find themselves falling under a passionate spell. Maud Bailey( Gwyneth Paltrow), a brilliant English academic given to doing things by the book, is researching the life and work of poet Christabel La Motte (Jennifer Ehle). Roland Michell (Aaron Ekhart) is an upstart American scholar in London on a fellowship to study the great Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam), now best-known for a collection of rapturous, late-life poems dedicated to his wife. When Maud and Roland discover a cache of love letters that appear to be from Ash to La Motte, they follow a trail of clues across England to the Continent, echoing the journey of the impassioned couple over a century earlier.
In this way Byatt measures the distance between a world in which some notion of absolute value still prevailed and the cultural relativism of today, in which notions of what is profound and what is superficial have become hopelessly entangled. In her ambitious novel Byatt invents an entire body of Victorian poetry in the style of the two poets for her modern academics to interpret, which are like false documents of a simulated history
The story of the two poets, inspired to the love story between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, is set in the victorian Age. It was a multifaceted time of transition which in many ways paved the way for the structure of contemporary society, announcing many of the changes (such as the predominance of city life, the decline of religion and traditional morality, the emancipation of women, the prevalence of mechanical production and the advent of consumer society) that have become commonplace features of the modern Western world view.
I'll leave you with the trailer of the film. Pay attention to the final lines ... they are really beautiful and very romantic. Just like the film!
I am fond of baddies – well depicted ones, not the stereotyped villains – in fiction, poetry, drama, theatre. I prefer Macbeth and Shylock to Benedick and Bassanio, byronic heroes to Walter Scott’s ones, l’Innominato to Renzo Tramaglino, Wickham and Willoughby to Mr Bingley and Colonel Brandon… Guy of Gisborne to Robin Hood. That’s the point. I always try to justify them, to find the reasons of their evil, malevolent acts. There’s always a reason… and, then , I try to imagine the sufference of bearing their great sense of guilt, their haunted nights, their anxiety and desperation, their solitude and sorrow. They are tragic heroes and they move me more than perfection and goodness.
Where does this reflection come from? Last night, Saturday night, I was terribly tired and wanted to relax watching something entertaining, amusing. You’ve seen (in the right column, down under all the rest of my stuff…) that I like watching BBC Robin Hood, too. (Yes, I know it is meant to be for kids but … I like it and I’ve seen the entire first two series on DVD). They are broadcasting RH 3 on BBC 1 in this period but I have to be satisfied with just some clips I can find in the Net (Youtube, for ex.) which have been enough to realize this season is darker and less “romantic” than the others. Anyhow, I decided I could listen to my new audiobook, inspired to
Robin Hood 3, THE WITCHFINDERS. I did it and it was exciting and entertaining but not relaxing at all. I was so involved in Richard Armitage’s skillful, emotional reading that I started writing as soon as it finished , trying to imagine Guy’s tormented, haunted nights. You know, Guy of Gisborne is a Norman ( a French Norman) descending from a noble family, now the Sheriff of Nottingham’s right-hand man. He challenges the Anglo-Saxon Robin of Locksley, then Hood as an outlaw, in more than one field. For instance, he takes Robin’s lands and manor while he is in the Holy Land, he wooes Lady Marian who was promised to Robin and wants to marry her – this happens in the first two series . Marian pretends she accepts Guy’s friendship and uses him and his influence to her advantage. But, finally, she reveals him she is in love with Robin and is going to marry him. The tragic epilogue of series two was the extreme crime of passion: Guy killed Marian.
THIS IS WHAT I WROTE AFTER LISTENING TO THE WITCHFINDERS
He startled in sweat, breathing heavily, his blood rushed in his veins. His eyes stared at the daylight. Guy realized he had been lying in bed after morning. He never used to be this way before…BeforeMarianne’s death his dreams had been untroubled. Now all he saw every night was the expression in her eyes as she died. The accusation in her eyes: it was unbearable. Sometimes he forced himself to stay awake till sunrise, beyond the point of exhaustion, but as soon as he fell asleep the dream came back again, haunting him. She had betrayed him, mocked him, cheated him and all for Hood! ROBIN HOOD! He was the culprit of her death. Why didn’t she go and haunted him , instead?
Oh, no! He, Guy, deserved that! After all, he reflected, that was the only way to still see her, in his dreams. He couldn’t lie to himself: his sword had stubbed her, his offended pride had made him blind and his fury had destroyed her… he had destroyed everything. Life had turned into hell since then, he couldn’t forgive himself and nothing else mattered to him any longer.
He used to dream of glory, power, position, richness and a happy life with Marian at his side but, without her , he lived in darkness and felt definitely lost. She had seen good where there was none. She had made him about a man. What now? Was there anything worth living for?
If there was something he had always lacked, it was love. Then he had lost his family, his land, his position; he had to strive to survive and to achieve his goals. Nonetheless, what he longed for most was love, someone who loved him.
Since he was a boy, Robin had come along and troubled his life. Their parents had died, all of them: his father and mother, as well as Robin’s father, in the same tragic fire. But they were grown up now. Robin had gone to the Crusades with King Richard and, while he was in the Holy Land, Guy had started getting what he had always wished for: position (he was Sir Guy of Gisborne now), power (everybody feared him, the Sheriff ‘s right - hand man ), land (he was the Lord of Robin’s land now, Locksley), Marian (she had accepted his protection and even his marriage proposal). As Robin got back, everything was spoilt, troubles began, Marian died, the Sheriff humiliated him more and more. He was leading a miserable, nightmarish, guilt-ridden life. He was in Hell.
THIS POST IS ESPECIALLY DEDICATED TO TWO OF MY BLOG MATES:
I hope they will appreciate. And now, to all of you ... a music clip and
a very good night!
Sylvia had suffered from depression as a teenager and had even tried to kill herself at 19. She was rescued and treated with electro-shock therapy. A terrible period of her life she wrote about in THE BELL JAR, her splendid, deeply touching autobiographical novel. Her fascination to death ( "blackness and silence") became her favourite subject in her poetry, nearly an obsession, and grew on and on till she decided to try again: she gassed herself, she succeded in committing suicide, on the 11 of February 1963. She was 30. In that last troubled year, she wrote her most beautiful lines, Ted Hughes would later on published.
RELATED POSTS AND SITES
Last night I was working on some of my students' papers: they are preparing their interdisciplinary essays for their final exams, we call them "tesine" or "percorsi". The school leaving examinations will start next week, on 25th June. They are all very anxious ( me too!) because they will be also examined by 4 external teachers and will have to do very difficult tests coming from the Ministery of Education. For their oral examination, they can usually choose a topic and then try to link as many subjects as they can to it. They are writing very interesting essays and choosing very beautiful literary works. So, last night, I bumped into GEORGE GRAY - a very grey person indeed in his life - in one of their essays. I like these lines very much and often read them to my students. They are taken from SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY (I started this blog with a poem from this collection. Do you want to have look? HERE) by Edgar Lee Masters. The poem can be connected to Horace's idea of "seize the day".
I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me—
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire—
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.
HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!! MG
Among the trees, you can catch a glimpse of St. Scholastica's monastery and its Romanesque bell-tower. Impressive, isn't it? At this point of the walk, the temptation to sit down on the side wall and watch the breathtaking view is great but it's not yet time to rest. Let's go on then...
What do I do once I'm up here? I sit and rest and enjoy the beautiful view ...
Isn't it like ... FLYING HIGH?
This is an '8 Tag' meme - the rules being you have to mention who tagged you, you have to complete your lists of 8's and have to tag 8 other bloggers.
8 things I am looking forward to
- having more spare time
- travelling to England again
-watching new good films
-going for long walks
-going to the seaside
-having my flat restored
8 things I did yesterday
- stayed at school from 8.30 a.m. till 7.30 p.m.
- had a good quick lunch in a beautiful place in the countryside with some colleagues
- wrote a lot of papers
-yawned a lot (well, I tried not to)
-gave lots of good final marks to my best students
-gave lots of bad final marks to my worst students
- listened to my headmistress speaking for hours (that’s the reason of my yawning)
- felt guilty ‘cause I was completely neglecting my family
8 things I wish I could do
- improve my Spanish and English
- teach to people who really want to learn
- live in a different age for some time
- live and work abroad for some time
- learn new things each day
- become a superwoman, that is a perfect mum, wife, housewife, teacher
- take life with more …”leggerezza calviniana” (I’ll explain when I improve my English or when I have more time)
8 favourite fruits
8 cities I've visited
8 places I'd like to travel to
-New York again
-Lots of places in Italy I’ve never been to!
The movie tells the story of the tragic romance between JOHN KEATS, one othe English Romantic poets of the second generation, and Fanny Brawne. Keats has now become one of the most popular poets in the English language, but in his life, though he managed to publish his works, he wasn't either famous or rich.
Keats, played by Ben Whishaw, met Fanny, Abbie Cornish in the movie, at his friend Charles Brown’s house in 1818 and soon fell in love with her. She was 18 and he was 23. He had already lost his mother for tuberculosis and his brother Tom would soon follow her, just when John himself started showing the first symptoms of the terrible desease.
The screenplay is based on the letters that the poet wrote to his beloved, letters which were published only after Fanny’s death.
Keats had abandoned his studies in Medicine to dedicate his life to poetry but could hardly live on it.So Fanny’s mother, at the beginning, didn’t approve him as her daughter’s wooer. Despite his health troubles, Keats was a cheerful person, full of life, and with the passing of time Fanny started to return his love. The two lovers got engaged, but their happiness was definitely short. In February 1820, on a cold evening, Keats got back home feverish and started coughing blood, an undeniable sign of his next end.
After a while, sure of his approaching death, he wrote to Fanny suggesting to break their engagement but she firmly refused and he couldn’t hide his relief. After seeing his terrible health conditions, Fanny’s mother hosted him in their house where he lived for three months. But his doctor and his friends stirred him to go to Italy where the mild climate might have helped improve his health.
He had seen his mother and his brother die for that illness and, maybe, he didn’t want to give Fanny the same terrible sorrow he had suffered, so he accepted the proposal of leaving England for Italy. She gave him the paper to write to her and a marble oval, used at that time to cool high temperature. He left with his friend, painter John Severn, but he was quarantined for several days at Naples port so when he finally arrived in Rome his health was seriously compromised. He lived at “La Casina Rossa”, next to the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna for about 3 months, dying there on the 23rd of February 1821, at 25. He never wrote to Fanny nor read her letters but wanted them to be buried with him with a curl of her hair. On his grave, at Testaccio Protestant Cemetery in Rome, no name nor date were written, just these words: “Here lies one whose name was writ in water”. From the letters Fanny later wrote to her sister, we know she remained deeply in love with the poet. She accepted to get married only after 9 years from his death and had three children. She kept Keats’s letters till her death - secretly from her husband.
The title of the movie is taken from one of Keats’s poems, a sonnet, dedicated to Fanny:
Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
While sweating on my husband's shirts and trousers or my sons T-shirts and jeans, I've recently re-watched BLEAK HOUSE (BBC 2005). I had already seen it as soon as I got the DVDs from Amazon UK, but it is such a complex but exciting mystery story I wanted to see it once more.
The 15-episode series is based on Charles Dickens's mature novel published in 19-20 instalments between 1852-53. His long, well-narrated, exciting stories published in monthly journals substituted , in the Victorian Age, our modern TV drama and made Dickens widely-popular and extremely rich. London theatres were crowded of enthusiastic readers who paid to see and listen to Dickens reading his novels on stage. He was a VIP in the 40s and 50s of the 19th century.
This is - very briefly - the story you find in the book and in the TV series. Bleak House is a mystery story in which its heroine Esther Summerson, discovers the truth about her birth. She is brought up as an orphan by her aunt whom she believes to be her godmother; Mr John Jarndyce, the middle-aged hero of the novel, becomes her guardian and pays for her education. Once she's grown up Mr Jarndyce brings her to his home, Bleak House, as a companion to Ada Clare, his ward and one of the heirs and heiress to the Jarndyces' will.
There are lots of characters and sub-plots in this complicated novel which make it so gripping. But, since it deserves to be read - if you love reading, there are more than 1,000 pages waiting for you - or at least to be watched as a TV series, I don't want to give you too many spoilers. Well, just a hint more...The question of whom Esther will marry contributes to the plot interest and her illness (smallpox) which leaves her face disfigured - but her moral beauty unimpaired - provides one of the story's dramatic and sentimental crises. I MUST STOP NOW, otherwise I'm going to tell you too much!
This is the view...
And this is the music ...
These two little things already made me happy and relaxed. So I decided to read a little. And I did it for about an hour. I'm reading a novel by Charlotte Bronte , SHIRLEY. I like it but I'm not keeping the pace I would like to 'cause I've been very busy these days. School is going to end, lots of final reposts to write and final tests to mark. But not today.
But I've got many more! And it took me much less than 15 minutes!
It's been, as usual, another very busy day off. I've been studying English with my niece all day through, she's got her first English Language Exam at university tomorrow, so she wanted to be reassured by this old ex-ex student. By the way, good luck, Mari!
Well, I'm not going to write about our beloved J.A. tonight but just about young Holden Caulfield, a complicated, sensitive 16-year-old boy I've loved since the first time I met him in the pages of Salinger's cult novel "THE CATCHER IN THE RYE" ( Il Giovane Holden) , several years ago.
I'd love to meet a 16-year-old boy or girl who'd like to be a catcher in the rye or something like that. But more and more of them just want to be "veline" (Italians know!They are sort of not very good, half-naked, female dancers on prime time TV in the evening) or rich footballers. Fortunately, I know lots of teenagers, since I teach them English, and they're not all that bad. Then, I go on reading them this page from Salinger's novel ... Who knows? Maybe few of them might choose to be ... catchers in the rye ... We might need them in this careless world.