April 15th, 2008

Cultural Round-up

1.  Many thanks to

bodhibird for introducing me to The Orthodox Celts- a Serbian band who play traditional Irish folk.  Their videos feature them lounging about in green fields wearing flat caps and braces, riverdancing on craggy cliffs, perusing books about the IRA and sinking pints of Guinness. They sing in English, but with pronounced mittel-European accents. They're fab. Check them out on YouTube.

No, I'm not mocking. Or, if I am, I'm doing it with affection. It's lovely- and oddly moving-  to see this music flourishing outside the pale.  

2. Season 4 of Dr Who has got off to a good start- so fast and funny you disregard the absurdities. But does the Earth have to face destruction from alien interlopers every week? How about some gentler, less apocalyptic story lines?

3. And now for more Balzac:

In Etude de Femme a society lady receives a love letter meant for another and delicately deals with (a) her annoyance at receiving advances from an unexpected quarter and (b) her disappointment in discovering the truth. The male lead is our old friend Rastignac- whom I picture as looking like the young Delacroix.

Un Episode Sous La Terreur takes us back to the Revolution. It's an exercise in suspense- and Royalist propaganda. Le Requisitionnaire is much the same sort of thing. I don't like Balzac's politics. Yes, I know; so what?

L'Auberge Rouge is a masterpiece. Your girlfriend is set to inherit a huge fortune from her father, the eminent financier. She worships him. You know he established his fortune by committing an atrocious murder: discuss, with special reference to your responsibilities in the matter.

Ferragus is an ur-text of la Comedie Humaine. The title character is a rough draft of Vautrin. Situations arise that will be more fully explored in Le Pere Goriot and Splendeurs et Miseres.   Here as elsewhere Balzac seems on the verge of inventing the detective story. 

Image:Eugene delacroix.jpg

Eugene Delacroix: Self Portrait.