May 3rd, 2008

Signs Of Spring, Hamlet And Yet More Balzac

1. Blackbirds (probably the same pair as last year) are nesting in the honeysuckle. I keep spotting dad, with a worm in his beak, perched on the back gate, checking to see that all's clear for his final hop home. Also- and this too is a sign of spring- we have a fat little mouse scampering around the kitchen.

2. Ailz is collecting Hamlets. Today Mel Gibson's popped through the letter-box. Yesterday she watched Branagh's; she thinks it's marvellous. Me, I'm still in love with John Gielgud's quiveringly sensitive 1948 performance (audio only). People who saw him on stage say he was the Hamlet of the century and I'm not going to argue.

3. I didn't watch Branagh because I needed to finish Balzac's La Rabouilleuse- due back at the library today. If it's less famous than Le Pere Goriot or Eugenie Grandet, it's because it's a bit rambly- starting off in Paris with one group of characters, then jumping to another set in Issoudun- though everything comes togaether in the end. I like Balzac when he's rambly because you never know what he's going to serve up next. La Rabouilleuse is about an obsessed mother with two sons- a bad boy whom she favours and a saintly artist- but it's also a proto-western about two amoral ex-soldiers (this town ain't big enough for the both of them) matching wits over an inheritance, then settling things with a duel to the death. It's a lovely book.