Love & Friendship, unpublished Jane Austen novella now film


This video says about itself:

Love & Friendship Official Trailer #1 (2016) – Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny Movie HD

Lady Susan Vernon takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate and, while there, is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica — and herself too, naturally.

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Love & Friendship: An early Jane Austen work adapted

8 June 2016

Written and directed by Whit Stillman; based on an unpublished novel by Jane Austen

Whit Stillman’s new film, Love & Friendship, is based on a novella by Jane Austen entitled Lady Susan, which the British author probably penned in the mid-1790s, when she was 19 or 20. Complicating matters, however, Stillman has actually borrowed the name of his film from another piece Austen wrote when she was merely 14. Neither work was published during Austen’s lifetime.

In England in 1790, the widowed Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) is more or less fleeing the estate of the married Lord Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearain), leaving that household and its relationships in some disarray.

Penniless and without prospects, Lady Susan takes up residence (“We don’t live, we visit”) at the home of her brother-in-law, Charles Vernon (Justin Edwards), and his wife, Catherine (Emma Greenwell). Catherine is not looking forward to her captivating but troublesome guest—“the most accomplished flirt in England.” Susan’s lady-in-waiting and unpacker of her clothes is unpaid, as the former feels “the paying of wages would be offensive to us both.”

Men are nothing but prey to Susan and she sets her sights on the naïve younger brother of Catherine, Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel), heir to a considerable fortune. While Reginald is in the process of falling victim to Susan’s duplicitous charms, Catherine and her parents (James Fleet and Jemma Redgrave) plot to break up the budding love affair.

Meanwhile, back in the land of feminine wiliness (and, of course, such wiliness was forced on women by their social vulnerability), Susan’s co-conspirator is the American Mrs. Alicia Johnson (Chloë Sevigny), who is, if anything, a bigger schemer than her friend.

If Alicia continues her friendship with Susan, however, her husband (Stephen Fry) threatens “the severest punishment—sending me back to Connecticut.” Susan worries Alicia might get “scalped” in that “nation of ingrates”—this is in the wake of the American Revolution—and observes in regard to the Americans, “Only having children makes you understand such behavior.” Susan also opines that “facts are horrid things” and laments that Alicia’s husband is “too old to be governable and too young to die.”

As Susan is tightening the net around Reginald, her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) shows up at the estate, having left a school where, according to her mother, “the fees are too high to even think of paying.” Frederica is horrified by her mother’s proposal that she should be married off to Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett), a wealthy but hopelessly silly man: “Cowper the poet? He also writes verse? Most impressive!” (William Cowper 1731–1800, an English poet much admired by Austen). James has, according to Susan, “the one thing of value—his income.”

“But marriage is for one’s whole life!” Frederica protests. “Not in my experience,” replies her mother, who in the end, creates the dynamic that she desires and deserves! (Lady Susan, in Austen’s novella: “My understanding is at length restored, and teaches no less to abhor the artifices which had subdued me than to despise myself for the weakness on which their strength was founded.”)

Whitman’s [sic; Stillman’s] version of Austen’s Lady Susan is conscientious. He spent some years transforming an epistolary novel into a screenplay, and the results indicate the pains taken.

Stillman (born 1952), the son of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administrative aide, is best known for three brittle, articulate films he did in the 1990s, Metropolitan (1990), Barcelona (1994) and The Last Days of Disco (1998), which were fairly realistic depictions of life within a layer of the upper middle class, or, as the director termed it, the “urban haute bourgeoisie.”

In regard to The Last Days of Disco, which also featured Beckinsale and Sevigny, the WSWS commented: “Stillman’s films are intelligently written. His direction is discreet and well-paced. He has a feel for the dynamics and conviviality of people in social settings. Indeed his group scenes are invariably greater than the sum of the one-on-one encounters that go on. …

However, “Stillman makes fun of his characters’ brainlessness … and then asks us to take their emotional traumas seriously. He wants credit both for exposing their amusing prattle (which also serves the purpose of demonstrating that he is smarter than they are) and for demonstrating sensitivity about their dilemmas. … Alternately sneering at, speaking through and seeking sympathy for his characters Stillman is incapable of providing a satisfying perspective on them. One doesn’t know which attitude to trust.”

In fact, Stillman wanted credit for making relatively sharp and incisive films about a certain milieu without ever having made up his mind about the overall society to which it belonged. Some of the same issues hold true for Love & Friendship .

A lot of obvious care went into the look of the film. The performances are all noteworthy. Beckinsale tackles her demanding role with finesse and intelligence. Sevigny is sufficiently conniving. The general artistic level of Love & Friendship is raised by the contributions of outstanding character actors who bring substance and verve to the project.

Our times cry out for savage satire. The endless wars justified on the basis of hypocrisy and lies, the ever more noxious politicians, the dreadfulness of the media and the celebrity culture, the gaping social inequalities––all this demands mockery, derision, ridicule, most especially in the US.

One only wishes this latest Austen project could be half of that, even in historical guise. But Whitman’s Love & Friendship is too polite, too blunted, too oblique. The fact that the writer-director can come up with a number of pointed, scathing lines makes it all the more unfortunate that he pulls his social punches.

Stillman wants to have his cake and eat it too. Why make this sort of social satire if one does not have present circumstances in mind? However, it is demanding too much of and is unfair to Jane Austen to make an unpublished novel of hers the medium for a serious critique of contemporary life. It doesn’t wash.

Furthermore, what would Austen have thought about the quality and maturity of the work, Lady Susan, on which the film is based? In her best-known novels, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma (all published between 1811 and 1816), she went considerably beyond her undeveloped adolescent writings. Those later novels presented considerably more of a broader and deeper picture, which helps explains their tremendous success. Whitman has chosen something earlier and narrower, although, unlike much of the fiction of the time, it does portray the female on equal footing with the male as predator.

Austen (1775-1817) lived through a period of vast upheaval (the American and French Revolutions, the Napoleonic Wars and the Industrial Revolution). She herself was known for her conservative, staid social outlook, but this does not mean she went unaffected by the tumultuous times. Of course, although it may never have occurred to her, the very fact that she, as a woman, was writing and publishing novels––and eventually making a name for herself by doing so––was itself a product of a transformative age. In fact, Austen belonged to that group of remarkable women writers who left such a mark on English literature, including Fanny Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, and George Eliot.

Austen, above all, was a great realist, who penetrated the everyday appearance of life and the official motivations of her characters to reveal what lay beneath. It fell to Sir Walter Scott, probably the most popular author on earth at the time and very much the opposite of Austen in terms of style and subject matter, to pay her one of the most heartfelt and accurate tributes.

Scott noted in his private journal in 1826: “Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen’s very finely written novel of Pride and Prejudice. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain [!] I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!”

Honduras, violence aganst environmentalists and journalists


This video says about itself:

The Resurrection of a Honduran Journalist

13 May 2016

Days after suffering a double attempt on his life, Felix Molina gets back to work covering the case of slain indigenous leader Berta Cáceres.

Night heron cleans feathers, video


This video shows a black-crowned night heron cleaning its feathers near Alphen aan de Rijn in the Netherlands.

José Olsthoorn made this video.

Surinamese Anansi stories, now part of Dutch heritage


This video from Jamaica says about itself:

Anansi and the Pot of Beans

19 October 2006

Anansi loves his grandma’s beans.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Stories about spider Anansi on heritage list

Today, 02:27

The stories about the spider Anansi are from now on recognized on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Netherlands. This Caribbean storytelling tradition has its roots in slavery.

The Anansi stories have been told for centuries in West Africa. The slave trade spread them to Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. The postwar migration brought them also to the Netherlands.

The Knowledge Centre of Intangible Heritage says the stories have a positive connotation, despite the dark past. They “contribute to strengthening the awareness and pride in heritage and culture.”

Dutch as frogs

The main character is a savvy spider which likes to fool other animals. Anansi is an ambivalent figure, a trickster, who also regularly harms his own wife or children.

In the days of slavery the narrators could also use the stories to embarrass the plantation owners. Dutch did not realize they were ridiculed in the fairy tales as frogs.

The stories were formerly told from parent to child, but now also through theater, schools and libraries. One of the most famous books about Anansi was written by the Surinamese former President Johan Ferrier.

Exotic

The Anansi stories are an exotic addition to the heritage list, because nearly all have a European origin …

Of the 93 traditions 6 have a multicultural background, like the Surinamese koto and angisa costumes and tambú drums from the Antilles.

The non-Western traditions in the list:

Indies rijsttafel: Indonesia
Maroon culture: Suriname
Anansi: Suriname
Angisa and koto clothes: Suriname
Henna art: Turkey, Morocco
Tambú: Antilles

The addition of the Anansi stories to the heritage list will be celebrated today at the new Anansi tree in the Open Air Museum in Arnhem. Twenty storytellers will keep the stories alive for the visitors the coming time.

This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

The Power of Stories – Performance Wijnand Stomp (official trailer English)

1 October 2014

Theatre maker Wijnand Stomp and documentary maker Jean Hellwig present a stand-up storytelling show for people from 10 to 110 years old. In a mix of theatre, comedy and documentary they bring the audience in a cheerful way in contact with stories about the history of slavery.

The flamboyant Mister Anansi (Wijnand Stomp) sits on his porch in what he calls his “Anansi Tree”. From the branches hang old shoes. The window of his house is a television. It reveals in mini documentaries the special encounters during his journey along the Transatlantic triangle of the slave trade: Zeeland – Ghana – St. Eustatius. Mister Anansi tells about the new stories he created and his energetic Aunt Jewel drops by for a game of domino. With her hilarious First National Slavery Quiz she confronts the audience in a humorous way with the traces of slavery, under the motto ‘Hats off to slavery’.

In The Power of Stories Stomp and Hellwig weave a web of slavery in the Netherlands with personal stories from overseas. At the end of the show Mister Anansi lets his audience in notes write about their personal links with slavery. He keeps these stories in the shoes on his Anansi tree and lets the wind take them traveling.

SUITABLE for theaters, festivals, schools, libraries and cultural heritage institutions.

Shakespeare and British poetry today


This 2012 video says about itself:

Shakespeare Sonnet 18 performed by 8 year old child actress Alexis Rosinsky.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

‘All of human life in a poetic instant’

Saturday 23rd April 2016

o mark the quatercentenary of Shakespeare’s death, Hannah Crawforth and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann invited 30 leading contemporary poets to respond to Shakespeare’s sonnets in their own form, voice and style. The resulting book is, they say, a unique poetic celebration of a writer whose work ‘contains multitudes’.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE died on April 23 1616, which may have been his birthday. That his life should seemingly end on the anniversary of the day it began is apt, for Shakespeare’s death represents the start of a long and vibrant afterlife for the poet’s works.

Shakespeare’s plays and poems have continued to be read and performed around the world, translated into every language imaginable, and reinterpreted in every possible way.

Our book seeks to continue the tradition of reinventing Shakespeare, while also serving to commemorate his writing in the year of the quatercentenary of his death.

The poems they produced appear alongside the sonnets with which they engage most closely. At times this engagement is detailed and sustained; at others a single word, phrase, metaphor or fleeting feeling prompted their imaginations to take flight. In all instances it is Shakespeare’s language, his verbal brilliance, the dazzling way that he crystallises all of human life into a poetic instant, which our poets respond to.

While such virtuosic qualities are on display throughout his works, they are perhaps most potently captured in his sonnets; 154 poems of 14 lines of interwoven rhyme, first published in 1609, that form a loose sequence.

Shakespeare’s sonnets are at once the apex of the form, representing the heights of what it can achieve, and also an afterword to a poetic tradition that had dominated literary fashion some 20 years earlier: the 1590s saw sonnet sequences by Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Richard Barnfield, Samuel Daniel and others and it may have been during this period that Shakespeare first worked on his own poems.

An element of belatedness is central to our understanding of the sonnets, and to this book. Our poets, like Shakespeare himself, are returning to a form that is itself propelled by the logic of return, as its rhyme sounds constantly bring the reader back to preceding lines, making the past vividly present in the current moment.

One of the preoccupations of Shakespeare’s series is with how the poet and his lovers will be remembered after they are gone. As such, the sonnets make a particularly fitting place at which to pause and commemorate Shakespeare himself.

The themes of loss, grief, the passing of time, mortality, and posthumous remembrance that pervade the sequence have proved enduring. Our own poets frequently take them up and, like Shakespeare, explore such terrain as a way of thinking about what poetry itself can do.

When Shakespeare imagines his own poems as “the living record of your memory,” he speaks of each reader’s ability to bring life to his verse, as well as his verse’s ability to memorialise the beloved.

There is a knowing bravado there too and these new poems respond to the cynical competitiveness of the sonnet as well as its capacity for more reverent celebration. A concern with inheritance — the transmission of ideas, values and even words from one generation to another — often guides the writers assembled in the book, who look to the past and its literary riches as well as to the future and their own legacies.

This past is at once a source of inspiration and a shadow any writer must step out of. Shakespeare felt this acutely and now he himself casts perhaps the longest shadow of all.

The desire to emulate and surpass the writers of the past drove Shakespeare to new literary heights, while rivalry with his contemporaries prompted some of the most astonishing theatrical and poetic experiments ever known.

This potent combination of past tradition and individual innovation makes Shakespeare’s voice unique. His metaphors, in particular, deserve comment for their power, aptness and sheer unexpected beauty.

Shakespeare remakes the language afresh, and our poets in turn rework the imaginative landscape of poetry.

Sleep is figured as the sea, ebbing and flowing to its own rhythms. A fragile flower or plant comes to hold the weight of the universe. A storm summons up all the forces of nature and human invention. The sonnet form requires that each poem is often built around one such image — or conceit — exploring a metaphor by turning it inside out.

The “volta,” or turn, that comes in the latter lines of each sonnet gives this particular force, allowing a poet to radically rethink his or her own ideas within the security of a tightly constrained form.

Our contributors have seized this imperative and often borrow the logic of the Shakespearean sonnet, even where they do not choose to write in this form themselves.

The skeleton of such poems, which are usually structured in two units of eight and then six lines, but which retain a sense of quatrains and a couplet, prompts numerological play and allows a writer to create a counterpoint between the movement of a poem and the differing rhythms of the ideas it contains.

Again, Shakespeare does this to a superlative degree and our poets have internalised this aspect of his writing, giving it new life in their own verse.

The sonnet is at once the most compressed of literary forms and also one of the most expansive. Like Shakespeare, it contains multitudes.

We believe the poems in this collection do the same.

On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration, edited by Hannah Crawforth and Elizabeth Scott-Baumann, is published by Bloomsbury in association with the Royal Society of Literature and King’s College London, price £12.99.

Sonnet 116

William Shakespeare

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

Magnetism

Gillian Clarke

Pull between earth and moon, or chemistry,
carries the swallow home from Africa
to perch again on his remembered tree,
the weeping birch by the pond. A star
will guide his mate home in a week, perhaps,
to the old nest in the barn, remade, mould
of spittle and pond-sludge in its cusp
as the new year in the mud-cup of the old.
Loss broke the swan on the river when winter
stole his mate when he wasn’t looking. Believing,
he waited, rebuilt the nest, all summer
holding their stretch of river, raging, grieving.
So would I wait for you, were we put apart.
Mind, magnetism, hunger of the heart.

Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales 2008-2016, was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2010 and the Wilfred Owen Award 2012. Her recent books include Ice, shortlisted for the TS Eliot Award 2012 and The Christmas Wren, 2014. She is currently working on a new collection Zoology and her New Selected Poems is to be published by Picador next month.

William Shakespeare, book republished


This video about William Shakespeare is called King Lear: The Fool.

By Gordon Parsons in Britain:

Of his, and our time

Thursday 21st April 2016

GORDON PARSONS reflects on the timely republication of a book on Shakespeare’s significance in his own period and today

Shakespeare: Poet and Citizen by Victor Kiernan (Zed Books, £14.99)

THERE are many Shakespeares.

There’s the Stratford lad whose private life, despite many biographies, remains relatively unknown. In consequence an inventive industry, questioning whether such a “nonentity” could possibly have been the playwright and poet whose achievement is recognised as the Everest of world literature, has spawned a mountain of publications.

There’s the writer whose texts are seen by the educational establishment as necessary examination fodder for generations of children who mostly will never again wish to read or even to see Shakespeare on stage, his natural and essential habitat.

Then there’s the national icon whose name can be employed to stir up patriotic spirits in time of need and the commercial “Shakesploitation,” whereby cigars are only one of the myriad products that use the Bard tag.

But both his huge and creative vocabulary and his poetry live in the bloodstream of the language.

They inform everyday conversation, so that Colonel Tim Collins can rouse his troops for battle in Kuwait with an extemporised version of Henry V’s “band of brothers” Agincourt speech and, less auspiciously, there’s the Royal Marine sergeant, unluckily videoed paraphrasing Hamlet. “Shuffle off this mortal coil, you cunt,” he told a wounded Afghan prisoner before shooting him in cold blood.

Undeniably, the plays have captured the imagination and spoken to the generations in the theatre and now on the screen over the 400 years since his death, the quatercenteneary of which is marked on Saturday.

Innumerable books have attempted to answer why this should be the case, literary specialists have analysed the poetry and the characters, while directors and actors have explored the stagecraft and thematic meaning in productions in every kind of venue from village halls to the Royal Shakespeare and National Theatre stages.

Whatever the works may have meant to previous ages — grotesquely adapted in the 17th century or played alongside pantomimes and circus acts in the 19th — they have engaged with our troubled modern world with a particular acuity.

Victor Kiernan, one of that outstanding group of Marxist historians, including Eric Hobsbawn and EP Thompson, spent nearly 50 years studying the 16th century, which shared with today the unnerving crisis of a fundamentally changing world. The movement from feudalism to early capitalism questioned every element of life as codes of behaviour, ethics, class and economic power were going through tectonic shifts.

Few would deny that our own world is undergoing momentous upheavals, from post-capitalism’s decay into an unknown future.

Kiernan’s exhaustive research led, at the age of 80, to the 1993 Shakespeare: Poet and Citizen, now republished.

His detailed knowledge of the plays and the period they emerged from give an enormous authority to his analysis of the forces at work in them. He covers the entire canon, including the sonnets and the comedies but his analysis of the histories is central.

As an historian, Kiernan was understandably more interested in Shakespeare the citizen than the poet, believing that “all good critics are historians” who cannot divorce literature from the socio-political world that spawned it.

If he believes that the sonnets would not be much read if they had been written by anyone other than Shakespeare, he finds them most interesting in their range of social and political implications. An example is “lease” in the line “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” which, according to Kiernan, reminds us that “short leases were weapons in the hands of landowners who were busy ejecting superfluous tenants.”

He maintains that “past politics fascinated Shakespeare from the beginning so obviously it is scarcely possible to think that he was not interested in the politics of his own time.”

Half of his plays, including the great tragedies — treated in depth by Kiernan in his later Eight Tragedies of Shakespeare — are set in historical times. His central analysis of the English history cycles, mapping the 14th and 15th centuries of civil turmoil from the reigns of Richard II to Richard III, captures the essence of Shakespeare’s instinctive understanding of the forces at play in power and personal politics, forces that emerge in all his works.

Here was a world, like both Shakespeare’s and our own, struggling to emerge from a crumbling system into a new world of hope and fear. His plays give “a human contour to impersonal tides of change.”

In the “feminine” world of the comedies, the heroines collectively demonstrate “the vision of a humanity not yet in being,” with an intelligence, strength and sensitivity greater than any of the male characters.

By comparison with the histories, the comedies centre on individuals, with the group “much less a microcosm of society.” Yet the comedies do mirror a society “permeated by money and money-making.”

Primarily, though, Shakespeare was and is an entertainer.

But, as Kiernan has it, “every genuine poet is a teacher” and for his contemporary audiences and those of today he reflects a dramatic image of the past “in order to understand the present better and what was needed to understand the future better than either.”

Birds and Harry Potter in Cornwall, video


THis video from Britain says about itself:

11 April 2016

Videos for Kids to Watch – Harry Potter and The Forest Birds

Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall