The Magdalen Reading — Ambrosius Benson

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“A very fanciful person, when dead, to have his burial in a cloud” (And other ideas from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Note-Books)

  1. When scattered clouds are resting on the bosoms of hills, it seems as if one might climb into the heavenly region, earth being so intermixed with sky, and gradually transformed into it.
  2. A stranger, dying, is buried; and after many years two strangers come in search of his grave, and open it.
  3. The strange sensation of a person who feels himself an object of deep interest, and close observation, and various construction of all his actions, by another person.
  4. Letters in the shape of figures of men, etc. At a distance, the words composed by the letters are alone distinguishable. Close at hand, the figures alone are seen, and not distinguished as letters. Thus things may have a positive, a relative, and a composite meaning, according to the point of view.
  5. “Passing along the street, all muddy with puddles, and suddenly seeing the sky reflected in these puddles in such a way as quite to conceal the foulness of the street.”
  6. A young man in search of happiness,–to be personified by a figure whom he expects to meet in a crowd, and is to be recognized by certain signs. All these signs are given by a figure in various garbs and actions, but he does not recognize that this is the sought-for person till too late.
  7. If cities were built by the sound of music, then some edifices would appear to be constructed by grave, solemn tones,–others to have danced forth to light, fantastic airs.
  8. Familiar spirits, according to Lilly, used to be worn in rings, watches, sword-hilts. Thumb-rings were set with jewels of extraordinary size.
  9. A very fanciful person, when dead, to have his burial in a cloud.

 

From Nathaniel Hawthorne’s American Note-Books.

Young Woman Reading — Karl Müller

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Elizabeth Siddal — Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Novel — Edward Cucuel

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Molly Reading a Book — Rose Mead

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Lady in Black — Carl Vilhelm Holsøe

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Alice — John Lavery

(c) Rosenstiel's; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Edgar Poe, Charles Baudelaire, an Orangutan and the Raven — Julio Pomar

Vittoria Colonna from Barcelona — Sebastiano del Piombo

New Alain Badiou — The Age of the Poets (Book Acquired, 10.10.2014)

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New from Verso Books, a collection of writings from philosopher Alain Badiou. Verso’s blurb:

The Age of the Poets revisits the age-old problem of the relation between literature and philosophy, arguing against both Plato and Heidegger’s famous arguments. Philosophy neither has to ban the poets from the republic nor abdicate its own powers to the sole benefit of poetry or art. Instead, it must declare the end of what Badiou names the “age of the poets,” which stretches from Hölderlin to Celan. Drawing on ideas from his first publication on the subject, “The Autonomy of the Aesthetic Process,” Badiou offers an illuminating set of readings of contemporary French prose writers, giving us fascinating insights into the theory of the novel while also accounting for the specific position of literature between science and ideology.

More to come—but for now: Diagrams! (I will try to understand them in context):

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Ugolino Martelli — Agnolo Bronzino

An idiom characterizes a society (Flannery O’Connor)

An idiom characterizes a society, and when you ignore the idiom, you are very likely ignoring the whole social fabric that could make a meaningful character. You can’t cut characters off from their society and say much about them as individuals. You can’t say anything meaningful about the mystery of a personality unless you put that personality in a believable and significant social context. And the best way to do this is through the character’s own language. When the old lady in one of Andrew Lytle’s stories says contemptuously that she has a mule that is older than Birmingham, we get in that one sentence a sense of a society and its history. A great deal of the Southern writer’s work is done for him before he begins, because our history lives in our talk. In one of Eudora Welty’s stories a character says, ‘Where I come from, we use fox for yard dogs and owls for chickens, but we sing true.’ Now there is a whole book in that one sentence; and when the people of your section can talk like that, and you ignore it, you’re just not taking advantage of what`s yours. The sound of our talk is too definite to be discarded with impunity, and if the writer tries to get rid of it, he is liable to destroy the better part of his creative power.

From Flannery O’Connor’s lecture “Writing Short Stories.” Republished in Mystery and Manners.

The Cotter’s Saturday Night — David Wilkie