Interview: PJ Harvey reads her poetry

The launch event for Lancaster Words, a three-day celebration of all things literary.

PJ Harvey joined Paul Muldoon on stage at the Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster on 6 July 2017 to read from their poetry and explore, through conversation, its relationship to song lyrics.

Advertisements

The Strange and Twisted Life of “Frankenstein” 

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley began writing “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus” when she was eighteen years old, two years after she’d become pregnant with her first child, a baby she did not name. “Nurse the baby, read,” she had written in her diary, day after day, until the eleventh day: “I awoke in the night to give it suck it appeared to be sleeping so quietly that I would not awake it,” and then, in the morning, “Find my baby dead.” With grief at that loss came a fear of “a fever from the milk.” Her breasts were swollen, inflamed, unsucked; her sleep, too, grew fevered. “Dream that my little baby came to life again; that it had only been cold, and that we rubbed it before the fire, and it lived,” she wrote in her diary. “Awake and find no baby.”

Pregnant again only weeks later, she was likely still nursing her second baby when she started writing “Frankenstein,” and pregnant with her third by the time she finished. She didn’t put her name on her book—she published “Frankenstein” anonymously, in 1818, not least out of a concern that she might lose custody of her children—and she didn’t give her monster a name, either. “This anonymous androdaemon,” one reviewer called it. For the first theatrical production of “Frankenstein,” staged in London in 1823 (by which time the author had given birth to four children, buried three, and lost another unnamed baby to a miscarriage so severe that she nearly died of bleeding that stopped only when her husband had her sit on ice), the monster was listed on the playbill as “––––––.”

“This nameless mode of naming the unnameable is rather good,” Shelley remarked about the creature’s theatrical billing. She herself had no name of her own. Like the creature pieced together from cadavers collected by Victor Frankenstein, her name was an assemblage of parts: the name of her mother, the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, stitched to that of her father, the philosopher William Godwin, grafted onto that of her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, as if Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley were the sum of her relations, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh, if not the milk of her mother’s milk, since her mother had died eleven days after giving birth to her, mainly too sick to give suck—Awoke and found no mother. [ . . . ]

Continue & listen to audio story at THE NEW YORKER: The Strange and Twisted Life of “Frankenstein” | The New Yorker

The feminist energies of William Blake and Faith Wilding take over Chicago 

The Block Museum’s current exhibition, “William Blake and the Age of Aquarius,” is a study of time travel and tripping. It connects Blake’s ethereal radicalism to that of the 1960’s to that of the post-truth U.S., and in Chicago, Faith Wilding’s show at Western Exhibitions. [ . . .]

Continue Reading at: The feminist energies of William Blake and Faith Wilding take over Chicago – Chicago Tribune

Was George Orwell just a dirty old man?

George Orwell
George Orwell

CRAIG BROWN: In our contemporary climate, would George Orwell be allowed a platform to speak up about anything?

THE DAILY MAIL 2/14/18
A week or two ago, I pointed out that Brexiteers and Remainers alike are convinced that if George Orwell were alive today he would be firmly on their side.

This raises another question. In our contemporary climate, would George Orwell be allowed a platform to speak up about anything?

In America, the wonderful comic writer Garrison Keillor has been silenced following allegations of improper conduct. The long-running radio show he created has been given a new name and old episodes are no longer being repeated; his weekly newspaper column has been cancelled; and a plaque in his honour at his old university has been removed.

 And what exactly was his crime? No one is saying. According to Keillor, he placed his hand on a woman’s back, meaning to console her after she told him of her unhappiness.

‘She recoiled. I apologised. I sent her an email of apology and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.’

Nearly 70 years after his death, George Orwell is still regarded as one of our greatest essayists and novelists, but a trawl through his life and work by the Thought Police would, I’m sorry to say, unearth far worse.

Even his most sympathetic biographers acknowledge that, as an officer of the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, he paid regular visits to the waterfront brothels of Rangoon. After spending time in Morocco, he also confessed to his friend Harold Acton that he ‘seldom tasted such bliss as with certain Moroccan girls’.

A friend recalled Orwell saying that ‘he found himself increasingly attracted by the young Arab girls’. He confessed to the same friend that he told his wife, Eileen, he ‘had to have one of these girls on just one occasion’. Eileen agreed, and so he went ahead [ . . . ]

Full Story at: CRAIG BROWN: Was George Orwell just a dirty old man?