“Don Giovanni”, La Scala: Milano, 2011.

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What? – Yes, a three-hour video as a blog post is a rather cheap way to opt out of writing a long article on such a hot summer’s day. On the other end, we’re talking about music here. So we should listen to some.

On a rather general level, I find it funny that, in our day and age, the music of Romanticism is still universally revered, while the writings of that era are, in a broad generalisation, all but dead. Apart from the usual Gothic nod, or the annual “Ivanhoe”-reruns on TV, where does the average citizen without professional relation to the topic even get in touch with it? – Through the radio. 🙂 And I am not trying to be snobbish here, at all. Most people who deal in books are incredibly arrogant about other people not being into their topics. I find that to be an extremely embarassing, and hypocritical behavior.

And on a specific level, woohoo, Don Giovanni! Don Juan! From Dumas to Zorrilla, the one big trope that unites 19th century European literature. And while Mozart didn’t invent it, and while a certain Mr Horace Walpole also had a hand in it, Mozart’s opera certainly introduced the story to the audiences of his day!

The video is from Youtube, and hope its redistribution through that channel is legal. Please don’t “sue” me, anyone. Unless your name is Sue.

Robespierre – new investigation points to Sarcoidosis as reason for health issues

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I stumbled over a German newspaper article a few months ago that brings new attention to the vita of our trusted acquaintance, Robespierre.

http://www.spiegel.de/gesundheit/diagnose/raetselhafter-patient-revolutionaer-koennte-erster-sarkoidose-fall-sein-a-940281.html

According to Der Spiegel, it seems very plausible that Robespierre suffered from a rare disease of the inner organs, Sarcoidosis. The effects of the disease are profoundly unpleasant, but not deadly. Still, it sheds some light on Robespierre’s later years, and the many theories that surround the state of his health: With Robespierre, we have a man who was struggling to keep up with his duties, every day, while dealing with a disease neither he nor his contemporaries could possibly understand or heal.

We’re back! – Long version. [LOOKING FOR WRITERS]

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Dear followers,

Thank you for your patience, and welcome back to “Your Coleridge”. I am still Rafe, previously posting as “Person from Porlock”, now using my overlord account at WP. Soon, the blog will resume its usual studiousness – albeit with a few changes. For once, my day job allows me less involvement with, well, non-profit endeavors. I will still post once or twice per month, because, little secret, I love this topic, BUT way less frequently than I used to do.

Because of this, here’s my call to arms, I am looking for writers for the Coleridge blog!

Looking for writers for “Your Coleridge! – When and why this should concern you:

  1. …If you’re an active member in the community of Romantic researchers. I often get notes and PMs from people that ask me to post certain announcements, or talk about an upcoming project. Post them yourselves, right here!
  2. …If you’re a “Friend of the Blog”, and I have shared material by you earlier on. That means that I consider your contributions interesting, and relevant to the topics we deal with here.
  3. If you feel you have something meaningful to contribute – like, any thoughts on Coleridge, or his time and age, or his heritage, or…. Again, whatever you consider interesting enough to be shared.

How you become a writer for “Your Coleridge”:

  1. PM, or email me, at: daysofrain@email.de
  2. Hit me up on Facebook, under my work account: https://www.facebook.com/raphael.pinthus
  3. Comment on the blog, indicate your interest.

Please note, though, that I don’t give out writer rights blindly. If you’re interested in contributing to the blog, please explain (briefly, three sentences are more than enough), your motivation, and your planned contribution. Please mind that abusing writer rights will lead to their withdrawal.

Why I do this/what’s in it for me

  1. I like to learn new stuff.
  2. I want to bring the community closer together, and get to know cool people from all over the world that are connected to my own studies.
  3. I want to continue blogging about Coleridge, and your contributions will surely serve to motivate me, and to keep me with the general topic.

So, let me know if you think you are fit to become a writer at “Your Coleridge”!

Yours,

Rafe

 

On the death of Nelson Mandela…

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Outside of all media marketing, public imagery, liberal greeting card sales,  and so on, Nelson Mandela was most certainly one of the men of the century. One of the great teachers, one of the greatest rolemodels. 

I think the image we have of him is distorted, though: This man was not valuable to mankind as an African quasi-Dalai Lama; this man was worth looking up to because he was a fighter, a grinder with balls of steel. This is how I look at him, at least.

There’s this anecdote about Mandela reciting the famous Invictus poem to other prisoners during his incarceration on Robben Island; I am not sure if it’s true or not. It connects Mandela’s life, sort of, at least, to what I do on this blog, and so here I present you, dear readers, William Ernest Henley. Farewell, Mr Mandela!

“Invictus”, by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

“Der König in Thule”, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

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One of my favorite poems, and one for the wintery season. 

Goethe’s poetry, to the Englishman, is perhaps best comparable to the poetry of Burns and Scott. Coleridge, compared to Goethe, is more sentimental, and later, more focused on transcendent themes. When Coleridge embraces catholicism, Goethe begins to express religious criticism that reaches from general defiance to formulating his own religious theory.

But more about that, later: “The King in Thule” is, primarly, a narrative poem. The motif of the dying king is a popular one in German literature. Later, Uhland, Franz Schubert, and others, will pick it up.

Also, notice how the trope of “The City by the Sea” is foreshadowed in the 3rd stanza: I wonder if Goethe, being arguably the most popular German writer of the 18th AND the 19th century, might be one of the Romantic trope namers. – Internet lingo, for sure, but you know what I mean.

Enjoy! I think this might even be the first “serious” poem I ever read, as a child with five or six years of age, in a songbook from my mother.

The following tranlation, I took from Wikipedia: While I am not sure about the source (could be Coleridge, but that’s for later), I consider it excellent!

Der König in Thule/The King in Thule

Es war ein König in Thule,
Gar treu bis an das Grab,
Dem sterbend seine Buhle
einen goldnen Becher gab.

Es ging ihm nichts darüber,
Er leert’ ihn jeden Schmaus;
Die Augen gingen ihm über,
So oft er trank daraus.

Und als er kam zu sterben,
Zählt’ er seine Städt’ im Reich,
Gönnt’ alles seinen Erben,
Den Becher nicht zugleich.

Er saß beim Königsmahle,
Die Ritter um ihn her,
Auf hohem Vätersaale,
Dort auf dem Schloß am Meer.

Dort stand der alte Zecher,
Trank letzte Lebensglut,
Und warf den heiligen Becher
Hinunter in die Flut.

Er sah ihn stürzen, trinken
Und sinken tief ins Meer,
die Augen täten ihm sinken,
Trank nie einen Tropfen mehr.

There was a king in Thule,
So faithful to the grave.
His love, when she was dying,
a goblet of gold him gave.

He used to love it deeply,
And always drank from it.
His eyes they filled with tears
Whenever he emptied it.

And when his time to die came
He counted all his wealth,
And everything gave to his heirs,
But only kept that cup.

He sat at the royal banquet,
With all his knights around,
In his forefathers’ lofty hall
There in his castle by the sea.

There stood the old carouser,
And drank life’s final glow,
Then threw the holy goblet far
Deep down into the waves.

He watched it fall, and drinking
it sank deep into the sea.
He closed his eyes forever,
And never drank a drop more.

Tim Roth to star in David Cronenberg’s “The Knifeman”, 18th century London series.

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It has been a long month of November for me personally, but there’s some good news for my fellow Coleridgians:

After Garrow’s Law, it seems we will get another ambitioned mini-series project set in 18th century London: Wendy Moore’s “The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching and the Birth of Modern Surgery” is getting adapted for TV, with the pilot directed by nobody else but David Cronenberg. Tim Roth stars as the titular Knifeman in what appears to be joining recent historical drama procedurals such as Ripper Street and Copper.

Now, since my impression of both of those was rather mixed, I am not expecting too much, except for the usual Hollywood kiss-kiss-bang-bang, this time with wigs, maybe.

What leaves me rather hopeful, though, is that 18th century London per se can be an extraordinary background for historical mysteries, as Keith Heller’s George Man Mysteries proved in a rather impressive fashion. To be true, I’d rather like to see the Man Mysteries on the silver screen, than yet another sensationalist fictional adaptation of a non-fiction book. 

I welcome, though, that Coleridge’s London might get a spotlight in the media that it wouldn’t get otherwise. Also, that the production will at least pretend to tell a serious story. Also, it’s Cronenberg. 🙂

From what I understand, the series is slated for a late 2014 release. I am happy to say, I am very much looking forward to watch it when it’s out!