Therese and Isabelle (1968) by Radley Metzger

In this post I discuss and link to the movie Therese and Isabelle (also known as Thérèse and Isabelle and Thérèse et Isabelle). It’s a 1968 French-American romantic drama film directed by Radley Metzger, and loosley based on the novel Thérèse et Isabelle by Violette Leduc. Two young girls meet and share affectionate intimacies in a European boarding school for girls. The movie is now available through archive.org.

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Violet Leduc (1907-1972) was French writer from a middle class family. She was born illegitimate and suffered from poor selfesteem as a young girl. Her relatives on the paternal side refused to recognize her. After the war, she went to a boarding school, the Collège de Douai, where she experienced a lesbian affair with her classmate “Isabelle”, which Leduc later adapted into the novel. I read an English translation of it which was a tideous experience. The novel was also censored for a long time.

Radley Metzger’s film adaptation of Thérèse et Isabelle have been generally favorable. IMDB.com presents the plot as following: “An older woman visits the boarding school of her youth after a 20 year absense. While strolling about the deserted grounds and classrooms she remembers her highly emotional experiences there, and well-executed flashbacks occur to her youth. At 17 she is abandoned by her loving mother because of remarriage and left at a European boarding school, disenchanted and lonely. Immediately she meets Isabell, an older, confident, rebellious girl. The two develop a friendship quickly without much conversation or bonding, but have the always temporary chemistry necessary for their friendship to progress into a sexual relationship. (…) Despite their undying love confessions to each other, Theresa wakes up one morning to find Isabelle has left the school, her room and desk replaced with another student. She never see’s Isabel again.” I can’t say I agree to everything in the quoted review. Even if I like the plot in the movie much more than the novel itself, the movie is sometimes too much with an unconvincing dialogue and Metzger’s intrepretation of lesbianism on the whole as a director becomes loathsome, or silly.

Therese and Isabelle (1968)

The movie available through archive.org

Sources

archive.org

imdb.com

wikipedia.org

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Jane Eyre (1934) – The very first movie adaption

Jane Eyre is a 1934 American romantic drama film directed by Christy Cabanne, starring Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive. It is based on the 1847 novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and is the first adaptation to use sound.

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Production began 17 May 1934 at General Service Studios. Adele sings the “Bridal Chorus” from the opera Lohengrin, by Richard Wagner, she also sings “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” which may seem a bit odd. The critic Leonard Maltin gave the film 2 stars (out of four), describing it as a “[t]hin version of the oft-filmed Bronte novel, produced by Monogram, of all studios[…] Still, it’s not uninteresting as a curio.”Produced by Ben Verschleiser and written by Adele Comandini.

Sources

Archive.org

Wikipedia.org

“When you are old” – A poem by William Butler Yeats

In this short post I wish to present a short poem by Irish poet and playwriter William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). He was born in Dublin and received an education in both Ireland and England. W.B Yeats rose to become one of the most prominent writers in the 20th Century. As the title goes old age and getting older is the main theme of this poem. Note the gently rhyme. It’s softspoken and calm. No storms. Getting older is associated with physical decay in this poem. It’s also a bit moralizing over Love. Take some time to figure out what goes on in the lines. There’s a narrator and a woman. What does he tell her?

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Sources

wikipedia.org

James Elroy Flecker – “On the Golden Journey to Samarkand”

We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go

Always a little further; it may be

Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow

Across that angry or that glimmering sea,

White on a throne or guarded in a cave

There lies a prophet who can understand

Why men were born: but surely we are brave,

Who take the Golden Road to Samarkand.

Flecker and his Journey

James Elroy Flecker (5 November 1884 – 3 January 1915) was an English poet, novelist and playwright. As a poet he was most influenced by the Parnassian poets. According to wikipedia Flecker was educated at Dean Close school in Cheltenham, where his father was the headmaster. He studied at Trinity College, Oxford, and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. While at Oxford he was greatly influenced by the last flowering of the Aesthetic movement there under John Addington Symonds, and became a close friend of the classicist and art historian John Beazley. In his poetic writings he would always return to Greece and the Middle East. It’s believed the few lines from his most well known poem The Journey to Samarkand (1913) has ancient has inspired thousands of people to take to the Silk Road city in southern Uzbekistan. And most people who journey there today will be arriving from Tashkent. From 1910 Flecker worked in the consular service in the Eastern Mediterranean. On a ship to Athens he met Helle Skiadaressi, and in 1911 he married her. Flecker died on 3 January 1915, of tuberculosis, in Davos, Switzerland. His death at the age of thirty was described at the time as “unquestionably the greatest premature loss that English literature has suffered since the death of Keats”.

Sources

Flecker’s Works on Archive.org

Hassan : the story of Hassan of Bagdad and how he came to make the golden journey to Samarkand: a play in five acts

The golden journey to Samarkand – A reading on YouTube

wikipedia.org

“The Palace” – A poem by Alcaeus

Alcaeus (c. 620 BC-6th century BC), was an Ancient Greek lyric poet who supposedly invented the Alcaic verse. He was included in the canonical list of nine lyric poets by the scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. He was an older contemporary of Sappho, with whom he may have exchanged poems. Both of them were the prime stars of literature throughout the Antiquity. He was born into the aristocratic governing class of Mytilene, the main city of Lesbos. His poetry is said to be very subjective and passionate with a very expressive form of language.

To any Greek alive in the days of Alcaeus the scene of this poem would have been familiar. The palace was the place of the richer families and those who would have gained fame and fortune. In these lines the palace is a pleasant place to be and is even descibed as spacious and lofty. The walls of the palace are filled of objects related to war, such as arrays, burned clads and helmets. It’s an English translation from Stasiotica made by Colonel Mure. It also comes with some well to do rhymes. Its themes are the palace, nostalgia; and war.

The Palace

From roof to roof the spacious palace halls
Glitter with war’s array;
With burnished metal clad, the lofty walls
Beam like the bright noonday.
There white-plumed helmets hang from many a nail,
Above, in threatening row;
Steel-garnished tunics and broad coats of mail
Spread o’er the space below.
Chalcidian blades enow, and belts are here,
Greaves and emblazoned shields;
Well-tried protectors from the hostile spear,
On other battlefields.
With these good helps our work of war’s begun,
With these our victory must be won.

Bildresultat för alcaeus

Sources

PoemHunter.com
wikipedia.org

The Shakespeare Sonnet – A few comments

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) didn’t only write plays and historical dramas. He was also deeply engaged in the poetry of his time. The art of writing a good poem had rules and regulations as many tried to imitate the Italian verse after Petrarch. Shakespeare managed to develop his own poetic style and the Shakespeare Sonnet differs in style and rhythm from the Petrarchan.  William Shakespeare’s Sonnets was published for the very first time in 1609.  The first 126 sonnets are addressed to a young man; the last 28 to a woman. A lot of time and energy has been put in to analyze and interpret themes and characters. Are they autobiographical in nature? Who was the mysterious dark Lady? And who was the anonymous young man? It’s now thought he wrote 154 Sonnets between 1592-1598.

The Themes of the Shakespeare Sonnets

One interpretation is that Shakespeare’s sonnets are a pastiche or parody of the 300-year-old tradition of Petrarchan love sonnets; Shakespeare consciously inverts conventional gender roles as delineated in Petrarchan sonnets to create a more complex depiction of human love.

The Structure of the Shakespeare Sonnet

Let’s take a look on how structure, rhythm and metrics work in the Shakespeare sonnet. But first, what is a Sonnet? A sonnet is in verse form and has fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. The Petarch’s sonnet has this particular scheme: abba abba cdecde. The Shakespeare Sonnet follows a different pattern: a-b-a-b c-d-c-d e-f-e-f  g-g. In Shakespeare’s sonnet the iambic pentameters are finished by a couplet [g-g].

SONNET 116

[a] Let me not to the marriage of true minds
[b] Admit impediments. Love is not love
[a] Which alters when it alteration finds,
[b] Or bends with the remover to remove:
[c] O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
[d] That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
[c] It is the star to every wandering bark,
[d] Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
[e] Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
[f] Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
[e] Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
[f] But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
[g] If this be error and upon me proved,
[g] I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 


Sources

Introduction to Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Wikipedia.org

Wikipedia.commons

”Abraham Lincoln is my name” – A short poem by Abe

President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) had many talents, and one of his less known was his interest in poetry. He started to write poetry at an early age and one early attempt to greatness is perhaps shown in the following few lines written about 15 or 17. About 9 poems seemed to have survived and are included in the Collected Works by Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln is my nam[e]
And with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote in both hast and speed
and left it here for fools to read.

Source

wikipedia.org
wikipedia.commons