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Showing posts from December, 2012

Three Thoughts on the Saatchi

At the risk of coming across like a cultural Tory, I'd like to jot down some thoughts I've been having since I spent some time in the Saatchi gallery in London. For those of you who don't know, it's a (free) space dedicated to contemporary and post-war art: Saatchi himself, as a collector, is most famous for his patronage of the generation of 'Young British Artists' like Emin and Hirst.

I'm speaking from a kind of double-degree of naivety - I know literature a lot better than painting, and my knowledge of painting is certainly stronger in the classic 'Giotto to Cezanne' line rather than contemporary art. But then again, there is no arguing about taste.

I liked a lot of what I saw. Something like Jānis Avotiņš ghostly canvases, somewhere between a luminously monochrome Rothko and a blurred photographic negative from Victorian times, which I found beautiful. I enjoyed the weird splicing of anatomy, industrial diagram and Piranesian fantasy in the imag…

Notes on Webster and Milton

The end is in sight! Next week is the final week of term, and after 108 hours of seminar teaching and 10 hours of lecturing, my first two modules - Romantic Revisions and Foundations - wind down. It's a hectic last few weeks, especially as I am also trying to write on Wordsworth two or three days a week at the moment, but I'd thought I'd sign off on Foundations with a series of thoughts on our last two texts: Webster's revenge tragedy, The White Devil, and Milton's pastoral elegy, Lycidas. It's been a really pleasurable course to be a part of, and I'm sad that I won't be running any first-year seminars next semester.

1. Absent Bodies in Lycidas. One of my students made a connection between the empty tomb in the Gospel stories and the hauntingly lost corpse in Milton's elegy
To strew the Laureat Herse where Lycid lies.
For so to interpose a little ease,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise.
Ay me! Whilst thee the shores, and sounding Seas
Wash f…