Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When and why did Knightley fall in love with Emma?

Emma (Penguin Classics)I have a post on Austen Authors today. The question of the day is: when, how, where, and why did Knightley fall in love with Emma Woodhouse? (Choose one; choose all.) Come join the discussion.

Plus, Cindy Jones has her launch of My Jane Austen Summer. She's giving away books at each stop on her blog tour. It's time to celebrate!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dickens' Workhouse Saved from Wrecker's Ball

From the Guardian UK Online: The derelict Georgian building in Cleveland Street, London, which in Dickens's day was known as the Strand Union workhouse, has been given listed status by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. ... Built in 1775 as the workhouse for the parish of St Paul's church in Covent Garden, by the mid-1830s the building had been taken over under the New Poor Law legislation – the real target for Dickens's anger – to serve a number of poor central London parishes. Conditions there were notably harsh and it became a target for later Victorian reformers such as Louisa Twining and Joseph Rogers. The lintel over the entrance bore the message: "Avoid idleness and intemperance."

From Oliver Twist: [T]he parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved, that Oliver should be "farmed" ... or despatched to a branch-workhouse some three miles off, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor-laws, rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing, under the parental superintendence of an elderly female, who received the culprits at and for the consideration of sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week. Sevenpence-halfpenny's worth per week is a good round diet for a child; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny, quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncomfortable. The elderly female was a woman of wisdom and experience; she knew what was good for children; and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reclining Figure from Cyclades Islands

I know that I have a tendency to be all over the place, and today is no exception. When I studied art history, I was very taken with the art of the Cyclades Islands,* and a fine example of Cycladic sculpture is this figure of a reclining woman. Looks very modern, doesn't she? But she was carved in 2400 B.C.!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Brigid of Kildare

Along with St. Patrick, St. Brigid of Kildare (450-520) is a patron saint of Ireland. Like Patrick and his shamrock, Brigid used rushes from the floor of a dying chieftain to explain another Christian doctrine, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. One version goes as follows:

A pagan chieftain from the neighborhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. As she talked his delirium quieted, and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he was converted and baptized at the point of death. Since then the cross of rushes has been venerated in Ireland.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This Day in History - The Newburgh Conspiracy

In addition to today being the Ides of March when Julius Caesar was set upon by by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, and 60 other co-conspirators in 44 B.C in the Roman Senate and stabbed to death, it is the 228th anniversary of the Newburgh Conspiracy.

In 1783, there was considerable unrest among the officers of the Continental Army. These veterans of the Revolution had been promised a lifetime pension of half pay, but, instead, Congress was promising to give them five years full pay. When Washington met with the officers in Newburgh, New York, he immediately noted a lack of deference and respect and that an aura of distrust and anger permeated the room.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thank You King James’s Version of the Bible

The following are extracts from the King James Version of St. Matthew’s Gospel from which some of our most beloved expressions have derived:

Man shall not live by bread alone. (4:4)
The salt of the earth (5:13)
The light of the world (5:14)
Turn the other cheek. (5:39)
No man can serve two masters. (6:24)
O ye of little faith (6:30)
Seek and ye shall find. (7:7)
Straight and narrow (7:14)*
Wolves in sheep’s clothing (7:15)
Built his house upon the sand. (7:27)
New wine into old bottles (9:17)
Lost sheep (10:6)

*In the 1960s, there was a rehab center for alcoholics located at the corner of Straight and Narrow Streets in Paterson, NJ.

Scholars may argue about the accuracy of the translation of the King James's Version, but it would be hard to find a more beautiful one.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

British, Australian, and American Idioms Quiz

I love English. I most particularly enjoy idiomatic English and colloquialisms. So I was pleased as punch, over the moon, and walking on water when I stumbled across a quiz for the new Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, and I thought I would share it with you.

Where would you expect to hear the following? In American, Australian or British English?

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary1. They’ve been coining it in since they opened the shop on the corner.

2. I hear you’re a dab hand with a paintbrush.

3. He’s as daft as a brush. Don’t believe a word he says.

4. I tried to make a cupboard for my bedroom, and I made a real dog’s breakfast of it.

5. She said that her job was as easy as rolling off a log.

6. He hemmed and hawed and then agreed to come with us.

And here are the answers:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nazi Loot - What Might Have Been Lost

Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art - America and Her Allies Recovered It
After posting yesterday's review of The Venus Fixers, I found another work on the same subject:  Saving DaVinci. On its cover, the piece of artwork being held by the American soldier is Da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine. "In 1939, almost immediately after the German occupation of Poland, it was seized by the Nazis and sent to the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin. In 1940 Hans Frank, the Governor General of Poland, requested that it be returned to Kraków, where it hung in his suite of offices. At the end of the Second World War it was discovered by Allied troops in Frank's country home in Bavaria. It has since returned to Poland and is once more on display at the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków." (Wikipedia)

American GI admiring a triptyck propped up against a wall above a bathroom sink! Note the painting resting near the pipe! I hope it didn't leak.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Venus Fixers by Ilaria Dagnini Brey - A Review

In 1943, the Allies appointed the Monuments Officers, a group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists, to ensure that the masterpieces of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The officers of Italy shored up tottering palaces and cathedrals, safeguarded Michangelos and Giottos, and even blocked a Nazi convoy of stolen paintings bound for Goring’s birthday celebration. Sometimes they failed, but to an astonishing degree they succeeded. (from the back jacket)

The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War IIThe Venus Fixers by Ilaria Dagnini Brey is the remarkable tale of a small group of men who were attached to the British and American Armies for the purpose of preserving and restoring the art and monuments of Sicily and Italy. The task was daunting. Every village had a church or monument or piazza in need of preservation. The cities of Naples and Florence were mother lodes of artwork and monuments sitting in the midst of an active theater of operations. But in some cases, before they could make damage assessments, the Venus Fixers had to find the artwork first.

To protect the artwork, paintings and sculptures were taken out of the cities and moved into the country to thickly walled churches or medieval fortresses where they would be safe. Or would they?