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  • Translating Rimbaud into Italian
    Posted on Jul 29, 2020
    Interview with Professor Adriano Marchetti by Valentina Gosetti VG: You have recently published with Pazzini Editore your translations of Rimbaud’s verse poems (Opera in versi, 2019). Coming after your Italian editions of Illuminations (2006) and Une saison en enfer (2009) for the same publishing house, this latest collection completes not only the Rimbaudian triptych, but your journey of a lifetime as a reader and scholar of Rimbaud’s œuvre. Have you adopted a different approach in the translation and editing of these three volumes or have you tried to express yourself in the same voice? …
  • Leftovers in Lockdown: From Literary Haunts to Re-thinking Eating and Drinking in French Thought
    Posted on Jul 20, 2020
    You will often find me thinking about food and drink. Sometimes, it is part of my research on what I call leftovers: the unthought-of psychological, historical and figurative meanings which I identify in representations of eating and drinking in post-war French fiction and thought (a taste of which follows, after a virtual detour to some erstwhile haunts of Rimbaud, Verlaine and a host of other French literary figures). Sometimes, I am just thinking about delicious things (often French). And, during lockdown, I am no doubt not alone in thinking a lot about contemporary questions of consumption…
  • Adela Maddison: cosmopolitan decadent
    Posted on Jul 14, 2020
    The poetry of English and French decadents sustained a substantial popular song-literature in the early decades of the twentieth century.  Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Symons, and Ernest Dowson were particular favourites, and well-known composers, including Roger Quilter, Cyril Scott, Frederick Delius, and Gabriel Fauré, set a number of works by these poets to music.  A quick survey of the Liedernet Archive for singing translations of decadent poetry, however, reveals that a good number of women composers and musicians set decadent poetry to music.  Many of these women actively …
  • Illuminating A Queer Aesthetic
    Posted on Jul 8, 2020
    By Struan Leslie Sam Cater, Circus Ensemble and Aurora Orchestra, Illuminations, Aldeburgh Festival 2016 (photo by Mark Allan) In 2016 I conceived and directed a new theatre work that premiered at that year’s Aldeburgh Festival fusing a string orchestra, a soprano and a bespoke circus ensemble: Illuminations. The conceptual germ for this production was Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations - his settings of fragments, selected by him, from Rimbaud’s collection of prose poems of the same name.  The creation of this work is an expression of my relationship to a shifting Queer Aesthetic as it de…
  • Brian Moore and Rimbaud: the unfinished poetic finale
    Posted on Jul 1, 2020
    Belfast-born Canadian writer Brian Moore (1921–1999) wrote the screenplay for The Blood of Others, based on Simone de Beauvoir’s novel Le Sang des autres, and co-wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain. But it is as a versatile and prolific fiction writer that he is most revered, and Graham Greene described him as his favourite living novelist. Both writers deal with Catholic themes and, like Greene, Moore was a master storyteller whose works included both historical novels and thrillers. What is less well known is that, when he died in 1999, he left a half-finished novel abou…
  • A pact with the devil?
    Posted on Jun 25, 2020
    There is certainly nothing new about hubris, abuse of power, and moral compromise. Nor is there anything new about what is now called ‘gas lighting’, the blatant invitation to treat falsehood as truth, and lies as reality. We have been invited down this path before. In trying to understand it better, and the cognitive dissonance that follows from it, perhaps we should consider the myths and legends that we have developed on this theme? Foremost amongst these is the story of Faust and the sale of his soul to the devil. Emerging during the upheavals of the Reformation (Marlow) this story was lat…
  • Songs we learn from trees
    Posted on Jun 22, 2020
    Chris Beckett explains how Rimbaud inspired the first ever anthology of Ethiopian poetry in English! Like many Rimbaud enthusiasts, I love his poems, but also his life story. The daredevil speed and appetite with which he lived. The brutal changes he put himself through, whatever the cost. When a new photo is unearthed, like the one of him sitting on a terrace in Aden, discovered in a Paris brocante in 2010, I feel shocked, excited, as if I have received a postcard from my long lost brother… I also like to count the coincidences, those little points where our life-paths seem to cross over the…
  • Patočka and the arts paradigm
    Posted on Jun 17, 2020
    Even under lockdown R&V’s work on the translation of key texts by the Czech philosopher Jan Patočka is continuing. A few weeks’ ago Alex Zucker, our amazingly talented translator from the Czech, sent through a near final version of Art and Time, an essay written by Patočka in 1966. Once again, his ideas seem fresh and of great contemporary relevance, demonstrating how the arts can offer a different paradigm, and a real possibility of philosophical change… Jan Patočka regarded the arts as essential to his phenomenology and to the way in which human beings make meanings. When R&V organi…
  • Dreaming of the runaway lovers
    Posted on Jun 15, 2020
    Researching Sergei Eisenstein, the great Russian filmmaker, can take you to some unlikely places. However, many may be surprised to learn that Eisenstein showed a particular fascination with Rimbaud and Verlaine and the time they spent living as lovers in Royal College Street in London. In fact, it is a story that takes us into the heart of the director’s own creative endeavours and sexual identity. Eisenstein made only two journeys abroad in his short life, although the second of these was something of an epic. Crossing Western Europe at the end of 1929, he sailed for America, where he lived…
  • Tea and Scandal: Renée Vivien and the Fin de Siècle Salon
    Posted on Jun 11, 2020
    Fig 1. Renée Vivien c. 1905 (Public domain image) Today, the image of the fin de siècle salon conjures up for many the image of a social network fuelled by intellectual fervour, creativity, and sexual liberation. Yet this liberation did not necessarily extend to all literary women, for as Shari Benstock notes, many ‘remained in the shadows of…male colleagues…husbands, lovers or literary supervisors.’1 However, the crucial contribution of such women has been the subject of much renewed scholarly interest, following the republication and retranslation of several out-of-print works and memoirs…
  • Vive Robert Desnos!
    Posted on Jun 5, 2020
    In May 1944 the Parisian publishing house, Librarie Gründ, put on sale a collection of thirty nursery rhymes entitled Trente chantefables pour les enfants sages à chanter sur n’importe quel air (Thirty storysongs for good children to sing to any tune). By the time the short volume appeared, its author, the poet Robert Desnos, had been arrested by the Gestapo and was on a journey that would take him through a series of concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald, and ultimately to his death. Desnos’s Chantefables, each of which focuses on an animal, were immediately popula…
  • Free French Food. Dining out with the French in wartime London
    Posted on Jun 4, 2020
    During these ‘difficult times’, war metaphors have proliferated, especially in the UK where recourse to the national narrative of the Second World War is already familiar. Although war analogies may seem compelling, they can also be misleading or just plain wrong, failing to do justice either to the experiences of war or of the pandemic. There may be parallels to be drawn with wartime, but there are also important differences. And in specific areas of social and cultural life, there are some stark contrasts. One of these is restaurant culture, which in the current crisis has effectively fallen…