I love Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great – and by that I mean the first of the two parts. It may be rougher around the edges than his later work, but it’s breathlessly fiery. With his blank iambic pentameter, with the historical subject-matter, and his unpunished bloodthirsty hero, the boy (all of twenty-three at the time) was breaking ground in many ways – and knew it well. Continue reading
More empires, then…
Vienna is, on many levels, a lovely city – but after reading Joseph Roth I was never able to see it in the same way again. Roth’s Empire, the one of the Hapsburgs, of the many ethnic groups, of my Dreiländer grandmother who gave her son an Emperor’s name, that elephantine, multilingual Empire, orderly in it chaos, austere, slow and immutable – that Empire died with Franz Josef, and decomposed with World War One. Most surely it is not to be found in the quaint patisseries in the form of the Sachertorten fed to endless tourists, nor in the ubiquitous Mozartkügeln, the girls dressed up as Sisi, the maudlin songs played in garden restaurants… Vienna has chosen a sugary image of the Empire, flattering for the national character and good for tourism – betraying the ancient, supranational and hallowed idea. Because while kingdoms are places, empires are ideas… Now a shadow of that idea only remains, perhaps, in the Kapuzinergruft in the Neue Markt. Continue reading
Now this was sparked by an exchange of mails with an archeologist friend. We came to discuss empires – falling and fallen, lost and surviving in shadows… which brought me to muse on my personal collection of Lost Empires – or, at least, of shadows I found, sometimes in strange places or in the pages of a book.
Lisbon, for instance, I found to be a strange place: melancholy, grand, and neglected, still dotted with ruins from the 1746 earthquake, with its tower overlooking the Tago, the cramped, untidy Alfama clinging around the crumbling castle, and caravels everywhere. Caravels are exhibited in museums, double as ex-votos in churches or children’s swings in parks, recur in trademarks and symbols everywhere… There is a sense of proud decay – as though the whole city whispered “let it all go to ruin, what matters now that the Empire is lost? Continue reading
And so the second run of our CC is nearing its end: four more nights now, and we’ll be done for the season.
And you know what? I’m going to miss it terribly. It’s been an intense and very successful affair, sold out from the beginning, with the box office besieged with calls well after all the seats were gone (why, one particular lady called last Saturday, during the show – begging for eight seats, no less…), ticket-less people turning up every night, queuing in hope of a last-minute seat, and a number of very good reviews… Continue reading
I have the flu – the damn flu… again!
For the second time in less than a month. And I rather suspect it can’t have been the flu both times – at least not the same kind of flu – but that’s definitely cold comfort, when you are nursing a wildly see-sawing temperature, enjoying a sore throat, and feeling in general as if your head were stuffed with corned beef, glass marbles and cotton-wool. Continue reading
It’s Santa Lucia, over here – the gift bringer. One of these days I’ll tell you about the various forms the legend and the tradition take, but not today. Today – as you may have gathered by the post’s title – it’s about the notebooks.
Because, you see, this year, together with the usual candy, a couple of books, and the first December snowfall* in ages, Saint Lucia gave me three notebooks – and they couldn’t be more different. Continue reading
The second run of “my” A Christmas Carol” opens tonight – and let me boast a little: we’re sold out all the way to January. There is no way on earth to call it anything else than a huge hit, and I’m inordinately proud.
That said… Continue reading
Oh, look – the end of November!
The end of November, when I usually wrap up my writing year, and take stock of it. This year… well, this year things might be a wee bit different – but I’ll get there.
First, the writing year – the good and the bad of it… Continue reading