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Next on my Italian Renaissance reading list is the father of Humanism, Francesco Petrarca, better know in the English speaking world simply as Petrarch (1304-76). He spanned the gap between Dante and Boccaccio, being friends with the latter and his dad mostly likely being an acquaintance of the former.
I’ve read and studied Petrarch before, at university and after. Reading him in translation is always a bit of a disappointment. The translator can choose either to convey his carefully nuanced meaning complete with complex classical allusions or to capture the easy flowing music of his words. No single translation can […]
Next on my reading list of the Italian Renaissance is the Divine Comedy (or Commedia) of Dante Alighieri, written some time between 1308 and 1321 after his exile from his beloved Florence with the expulsion of the White Guelphs. It can in some ways be seen as Dante’s way of dealing with this blow in the same way as Boethius wrote the Consolation of Philosophy to deal with his impending execution.
Before saying a few words about each of the three books of the Commedia, I want to point out a couple of things about the whole which I […]
I’ve just finished read the Decameron, as part of my literary tour of the Florentine Renaissance, and I want to say a few words about my reactions to it in order to enlighten those poor, benighted illitates out there who haven’t experienced the joy of reading this book. I’m not going to say anything about Boccaccio himself or the book as a whole as you can look that up yourself.
The first thing the struck me was the lengthy description of how the Black Plague hit Florence only a couple of years before. Even across a gap of some 650 […]
This is a follow on from the facebook meme which has been doing the rounds of late. Below are a list of four writers whose work has changed the way I look at the world, at people or at fiction. Surprisingly, there’s no literary figures here. All of them are commercial writers. I figured that the likes of William Shakespeare, Italo Calvino or Geoffery Chaucer would figure in the shorter list but they don’t. Great literature may elucidate the human condition but, when the chips are down, we turn to that which speaks to us loudly and clearly rather than […]
I fancy myself as a rather literary kind of guy. I read quite a bit and not only books with pictures in them; some of them are just words. There’s a whole list of books which are form the core of western civilisation which I should know better. While a don’t want to get into arguments for and against the idea of “The Canon,” the follow are a list of books and authors whose works are continually appearing in one form or another or are being alluded to in pretty much every story being told today.
Title: The Aegean Bronze Age
Author: Oliver Dickinson
Paperback: 364 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (1994)
This is a much-needed summary of current evidence and scholarship on an amazing period of eastern Mediterranean history from around 3000 – 1000 BC. Although it is now fifteen years old, it outlines the recent revolution in ideas about the period and show how the (still depressingly scant) archaeological evidence has put nail after nail in the coffin of Arthur Evans and the historians of his age. Dickinson brings to life a vibrant civilisation which traded widely […]
Title: Zombie Myths of Australian Military History
Author: Craig Stockings (editor)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: University of New South Wales Press (2010)
A fascinating look at the difference between received ideas and facts. It covers ten major historical myths across 200 years from the original settlement of the country by Europeans to our recent involvements in Southeast Asia and East Timor. It strives to show the reasons or circumstances which created and have sustained each zombie myth until it gained a life of it own and needs no more prompting. In many cases, the […]
HP Lovecraft and the Myth of the Golden Age
I started reading H.P. Lovecraft again after a break from his work of far too many years. Specifically, I re-read Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, one of the Randolph Carter cycle. The story itself was published posthumously and HPL intended it as nothing more than a writing exercise. It was never a finished work. Regardless – or perhaps because – of this, it highlights the central themes in all of Lovecraft’s writing, Progress and the Myth of the Golden Age.
Lovecraft struggles to reconcile the ideas of progress, that science and technology […]
This the fourth part of my series looking at the rapier teaching Camillo Agrippa outlined in his 1553 text Trattato Di Scientia d’ Arme. In this port, I want to look at the last of the primary guard, Stance A. I’m not entirely sure that this is a guard position that one would adopt in preparation for a duel but rather a position one falls into during the fight in order to make an attack.
Again, I’d like to acknowledge that I’m a beginner and make no claim to the accuracy or utility of what follows. I’d love anyone who […]
In this third part of my wallowing in the cesspool of Agrippa’s 1553 fencing text Trattato Di Scientia d’ Arme, I want to examine the primary guards of Stance B and Stance D and try to understand the differences Agrippa makes between them. To me they seem like mirror images of each other in terms of function and Agrippa, too, treats them in this way.
Again, I’d like to acknowledge that I’m a beginner and make no claim to the accuracy or utility of what follows. I’d love anyone who understands Agrippa to correct me.
First, let’s define some terms. […]
This is the second part of my delvings into the morass which is Camillo Agrippa‘s 1553 fencing text, Trattato Di Scientia d’ Arme. Today, I want to look at Agrippa’s third primary stance which Capo Ferro calls the only true guard position. I’m going to check out how to stand in it and what attacks and defenses can be best used from it.
Before getting stuck in, I’ve got to acknowledge again that I’m a beginner and make no claim to the accuracy or utility of what follows. I’d love anyone who understands Agrippa to correct me.
First, let’s define […]
- Inigo Montoya
- You are using Bonetti’s Defense against me, ah?
- Man in Black
- I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.
- Inigo Montoya
- Naturally, you must suspect me to attack with Capo Ferro?
- Man in Black
- Naturally… but I find that Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro. Don’t you?
- Inigo Montoya
- Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa… which I have.
And with this quote from The Princess Bride begins my look at the work of Camillo Agrippa, a Renaissance architect, engineer and mathematician who lifted fencing out of the Middle Ages and started it on the path to becoming the […]
Lately, I’ve become entangled in a number of debates with others about the quality of various films and novels. Only now have I realised that I approach these media in a manner which seems completely at odds with the way other approach them. Therefore, it’s time I explained myself.
I have a couple of fixed ideas on what makes a movie, novel or short story good. These have developed out of a cloud of different inputs such as:
- four years of studying film and literature at university,
- a strong interest in learning other languaes and reading foreign literature,
- a strong