It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.
So the first essay, The Order of Persons, was a mixed bag of the worst kind of pointless academic pontification about trivialities and interesting material about how the book industry actually worked in Middleton's day.
As soon as we get away from amateur history and back-room politicking, this gets a lot more interesting.
The Introduction also reveals that the reason you have no idea what the Seven Pillars actually are is because Lawrence made the title up for an unfinished novel he later destroyed!
I'm not sure how to classify what I'm reading; the Introduction says that along with numurous exaggerations there are some outright fabrications, so it's hardly history and memoir seems a bit of a stretch, too - indeed Lawrence himself claims that much was left out. So, what with omissions, additions and conflicts with official records (which may or may not be reliable sources themselves), maybe it's an autobiographical/historical novel?
I was worried about the future of the Village of Indomitable Gauls we know so well, after finding the first Ferri & Conrad outing good but the subsequent two volumes to be following a deteriorating trend. My persistence paid off, however, with this return to form. It's the story most like one Goscinny would have written we have been given since the great writer's death. It focuses on some of the most beloved tropes of the series; bickering amongst the villagers, puns, daft character names, standing up to the Romans, long-suffering legionaries... and we get insight into the teens in the village, too - an amusing innovation. Delightful!
I can't remember reading such an out-right entertaining biography before (not that I've read a large number) and certainly never one so funny which is a bit surprising considering the subject, a man many found forbidding, even a little scary. Yet Rogers finds the genuine comedy in the man's life as well as the humour Thomas displayed to the people who could get past the facade to the human underneath.
It seems like Thomas found it very difficult to express his emotions in any way other than through his poetry. This caused many problems, leaving his only child extremely bitter, for instance, and alienating many who he could not engage with on an intellectual front. Yet many of his parishioners found him endlessly patient and considerate in times of trouble, illness or bereavement. And so it goes on, developing a picture of a compicated man, full of contradictions, in search of something he never really found, that he probably couldn't name. Perhaps closest to it when bird watching, alone in a wild space.
Rogers, who knew Thomas, also offers helpful insight into the poetry and the social context of Wales in Thomas's lifetime, necessary to anything but a superficial understanding of the man. I strongly recommend that anyone interested in R.S. Thomas, the man or the poet, read this - it won't be a chore.
The Magnificent Entertainment: Pageant 4 was sponsored by the Netherlands' ex-pat London community. The Netherlands was at war with Spain and keen to ensure that Britain did not ally themselves with the Spaniards under the new King James I.
In Memory of L.I. Shigaev: Takes incomprehensible, pointless, pretentious crap to new levels of...incomprehensible, pointless, pretentious, crapness.
Leonardo: In which for no intelligible reason two brothers persecute a mysterious elderly night-owl who moves in next door.
His paintings kind of give an impression of the scene rather than a photo-realistic documentation of it. What should we call this approach? I like it, no matter what we label it...