What he wanted to do, was a picaresque, baroque tale, in the way of Scarron and Scudery… only, he must not have wanted it too much, because in 1845, when he signed a publishing contract (and received a substantial advance), he forgot to mention that he still had to write a single word of the novel. Worse still, he kept procrastinating for years, while the publisher Buloz grew understandably nervous… Continue reading
Well, this year, thanks to a longer rehearsals break, I’ve decided that things can take care of themselves for a few days while I read a little for fun and pleasure… Continue reading
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
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
And it was a surprise.
The story begins in 1792 England, with a bunch of entusiasts bent on founding their own colonial utopia on an island off the Western coast of Africa – a free, slaveless and democratic utopia, based on hard work, merit and honest interaction with the coastal tribes.
True, the coastal tribes happily thrive on the slave trade – but only for lack of proper morals, a state of things the settlers’ good example and conversion to Christianism are bound to change… Continue reading
Once upon a time I came across an interview or an article – I wish I could remember – in which a historical novelist gleefully told about placing in his latest novel’s prologue a handful of elements that could easily pass for anachronisms. He gleefully anticipated the mails, weblogs and reviews pointing out his “blunders”, and the joys of answering back that, in fact, a lack of written record for some thing before a certain date could not be taken as proof that the same thing did not exist… Continue reading
Well, this is exactly what Titian’s Boatman feels like.
It may not look like it at first, when the reader is introduced to several characters in various places and various times. There is the eponymous boatman, plying his trade in a plague-ridden Venice in 1576, ferrying back and forth Titian’s last surviving son and plucky courtesan Tullia Buffo. Then, in present day London, there are actor Terry Jardine and Italian director Ludovico Zabarella, brought together by Shakespeare and personal loss. Lastly, there’s Cuban maid Aurora, carrying the weight of childhood trauma and widowhood – and finding consolation in a painting… Continue reading