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

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Charles Dickens – “A Christmas Carol” and a movie adaption from 1910

I guess you already know the story. The day before Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge refuses to contribute to the Charity Relief Committee, and then rudely rejects his nephew Fred when he visits Scrooge in his office. When Scrooge returns home, he sees the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley, who warns him of the punishment he will suffer in the next life if he does not change his ways. That night, Scrooge is visited by three more spirits, who show him his past, present, and future him.

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Through the decades there has been numerous adaptions of Dicken’s famous story. A Christmas Carol was released on December 23, 1910 by the Edison Company. It was likely the first silent adaption of the story with English intertitles. Marc McDermott stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in this silent film version of Dickens’ classic ghost story, A Christmas Carol. About 10 minuets long.

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 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

“The Destruction of Sennacherib” – A poem by Lord Byron

In previous posts you learned more about the Romantic poets and I continue today with Lord Byron (1788-1824). He has been mentioned here before and was one of the leading poets of the Romantic Movement. Lord Byron may have lived a very adventurous lifestyle, but his time and place in history was also a more religious one than today. Therefore, many of his poems contains religious references to the Bible and Christianity. One such well-known poem is called “The Destruction of Sennacherib” and was published in 1815. In this poem Lord Byron manages to re-tell the biblical story (2 Kings. 18-19) on how the Assyrian king tried to capture Jerusalem. The Assyrian Siege of Jerusalem is historical (dated 701 BC), but the Assyrian annals report that the result was the payment of tribute by Jerusalem, with king Hezekiah remaining in office as a vassal ruler. Pay attention to how he builds up the story! Can you hear the horses while you’re reading?

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

Bildresultat för Sennacherib
From the Khorsabad Palace of King Sargon II c.722-705 BCE Relief depicting King Sennacherib 
Bildresultat för Sennacherib

The Biblical References

According to the story as related in 2 Kings, the Assyrian army came “against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.” When the Assyrians were besieging Jerusalem, Hezekiah prayed to the Lord in the Temple, and Isaiah sent the reply from the Lord to Hezekiah to the effect “I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (2 Kings 19:34), and during the following night the Angel of the Lord (מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה) “smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand” (i.e. 185,000), so by morning most of the Assyrian army was found to have died, mysteriously, in their sleep (2 Kings 19:35), and Sennacherib went back to Nineveh.

Sources

wikipedia.org [various entries]

 

“A Night Scene”- A poem by Mary Shelley

Everyone knows Mary Shelley (1797-1851) as the writer of well-known Gothic novel Frankenstein – The Modern Prometheus (1818), but she wrote poetry as well. Shelley was the daughter of political philosopher William Godwin (1756-1836) and her mother the was well-known writer and “early feminist” Mary Wollonstonecraft (1759-1797). She never knew her mother who died shortly after giving birth to Mary. Her parents were liberals and her father gave her a good education even if it was informal. As a young girl Mary Shelley started to write short stories and maintained a lifelong interest in writing. She wrote novels, drama, poetry and about her travels. She married the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1816 and they travelled a lot and lived a somewhat unconventional life together until he drowned in Switzerland. They met in 1814 and Mary’s father never accepted their marriage. Mary got pregnant before they married which gave the pair social difficulties. After her husband’s death Mary focused on their young son and her writing. Mary Shelley died of a brain tumour at the age of 53 in London. She had been ill for over a decade.

Context and literary themes

This poem “A Night Scene” is about a woman called Isabel. The poem is quite lenghty and has a number of themes common to any writer of the Romantic period. Pay attention to the vivid descriptions of light, the Stars and the Night. How does they frame the story told in the poem? What can be said about the woman named Isabel? Notice how the protagonist takes on a male perspective: “That on that couch my Isabel reclines. I see yon brilliant star and waving tree,”

The Poem: “A Night Scene”

I see thee not, my gentlest Isabel;

Ambrosial night, with her mysterious spell,

Has woven shadows thick before thy face,

Drawing impervious veils athwart the space

That does divide us; thy bright eyes alone

A lucid beam into the dark have thrown,

Till the long lashes and the downcast lid

Quench it again, and the bright orbs are hid.

I see thee not: the touch of they soft hand,

And thy deep sighs, fraught with emotion bland,

Are to my sense the only outward signs

That on that couch my Isabel reclines.

I see yon brilliant star and waving tree,

Through which its beams rain down inconstantly;

I see ten thousand of those radiant flowers

Which shed light on us in dim silver showers,

High in the glorious heavens; I see full well

All other forms – not thine, my Isabel.

Sweet Mystery! I know that thou art there–

I scent the fragrance of thy silken hair;

The lines that do encircle thee I trace;

That spot is hallow’d by thy lovely face;

Thy woman’s form, in soft voluptuousness,

Enriches vacant air in yon recess;

Yet to my eyes no sign of thee appears,

And the drear blank suggests a thousand fears.

Speak, Isabel! – And yet not thus were broken

The cruel spell – for have not spirits spoken?

Are then thine eyes no nearer than that star,

Which unattainably doth shine afar?

Thy voice as immaterial as the wind

That murmurs past, yet leaves no form behind?

And is the visiting of this soft gale,

Rich with the odours of the flow’rets pale,

Which sweeps my bosom with delicious fanning,

My thrilling limbs with arms aerial spanning,

Is it as truly real, as warmly glowing

As thy dear form, rich with the life-tide flowing?

Ah, darling, quick thine arms around me throw,

Press thy warm lips upon my night-cool brow,

In thy dark eyes thy fair soul I must read –

One kiss, sweet heaven, ’tis Isabel indeed!


Sources

List of works by Mary Shelley – Information about the poem cited. 

wikipedia.org (various entries about Mary Shelley and her literary works)