A Matter of Dancing Madness

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Hooray: the #Swashathon, Movies Silently’s “blogathon of swashbuckling adventure“, is back! Four days of cloaks and daggers, swords and sails, fops (or not) and farthingales, derring-do and damsels not-quite-in-distress… Does it get more fun than that?

Let’s get dancing, then – and discuss my favourite swashbuckler of all times: Stevenson’s Alan Breck Stewart. Alan  is a wonderful character – the most perfect one in English literature, according to Henry James, no less – but how has he fared on the screen? Ah now, this is a tricky question – so be warned: it’s going to be a long, long post. Continue reading

Giving Up on The Religion

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On the plane to Malta, I began reading Tim Willocks’ The Religion, one of a few Siege-themed novels I’d purchased in view of the journey. I rather liked the prologue, and my first glimpse of Grand Master La Valette and Sir Oliver Starkey, and the preparations for the siege.

If I  was tempted to raise an eyebrow at La Valette’s life-or-death insistence that they must have Tannhauser at all costs… well, he is the hero, after all, and he’s been a Janissary for part of his life – so he must be in the thick of things, and there is some sort of reason for it, right? Continue reading

The Tale of the Strolling Queen

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We had Of Men and Poets again, last week. A one-off performance in the small garden of the small Virgilian museum in the small town where we like to think Virgil was born. On paper, it was perfect: the summer evening, the right place…

True, because of a couple of last-minute substitutions, and because it came in between other things, Nina settled on a reading, rather than a full performance. But we’ve done this before: it’s still lovely to see, and very effective, so nobody worried a whit.

But perhaps we should have. Continue reading

Clara and the Maize Sultan

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I have, o Readers, a riddle for you: How is maize like an Ottoman Sultan?

Let me tell you a story. Do you remember Ugo Foscolo and his Salamini/Little Sausages? Do you remember as both I and my friend Dave in the comments wondered how on earth could he have made such a tragedy-killing blunder?

Well, it may be that I know just how… Continue reading

Sunshine Blogger Award!

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And so, my friend Dave over at Karavansara nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award… In truth, he did some ten days ago – but back then I was swimming in chaos, what with Shakespeare in Words approaching fast, and two talks, and everything else. So I asked leave to give a delayed response: and here we are.

Thank you very much, Davide – for the award itself, and for the patience… Continue reading

The Mystery of the Missing Cloak

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Caesar’s cloak is missing.

Not that it’s a real cloak, either – just a large square of thick, dark red fabric. In Shakespeare in Words it does double duty: it is the cloak – the one we all know, the one Caesar first put on one summer evening in his tent – and also stands for the body. And it’s perfectly sized, and doesn’t reflect light, and always falls in good-looking folds… And it is missing. Continue reading