Scott-King’s Modern Europe by Evelyn Waugh

‘Then what do you intend to do?’
‘If you  approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.’
‘It’s a short-sighted view, Scott-King.’
‘There, headmaster, with all respect, I differ from you profoundly. I think it the most long-sighted view it is possible to take.’

from Scott-King’s Modern Europe, by Evelyn Waugh

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Three Men in a Boat – latest 3-minute lecture/podcast on YouTube.

Here is my 3-minute lecture/microlecture/podcast on Jerome K Jerome’s classic, Three Men in a Boat.

 

A three minute lecture – Absent Mothers and Bad Fathers: Silas Marner.

Text:

Bad Fathers and Absent Mothers

Silas Marner is a fairy tale, one in which Silas, the wounded, childless patriarch with no family, is restored to psychological and social health through the intervention of the matriarch-in-waiting, Eppie. Through Eppie Silas regains his lost kingdom, that is, both a place in society, and his faith in humankind. With the marriage of Eppie to Aaron and thus the expectation of children Silas acquires a family and a stake in the future.

A major theme of the novel is that of flawed patriarchs. The book is notable for its bad or useless fathers and fallible men. William Dane betrays Silas in Lantern Yard; Squire Cass is a careless and brutal father, Dunstan is a thief and a liar, while Godfrey is weak-willed, self-centred and a feckless father.

But if the tale is notable for its bad fathers and men then it is equally notable for its absent mothers or matriarchs. Silas at the beginning is without both father and mother, though it is only the latter he recalls (and his dead sister). The Cass boys are also motherless, and Eppie becomes motherless as a child.

It is the women, however, who facilitate the process of reintegrating Silas the outsider into village life and human community. Dolly Winthrop, having taken pity on Silas, visits him, bringing him cakes. The offering and sharing of food is a primal activity that establishes and strengthens the bonds between people.

Dolly also brings along her little son, Aaron, thereby signalling the importance of family within the community. And Aaron of course will eventually marry Eppie, thus sealing Silas’s integration into village life.

The female, matriarchal principle is the civilising, humanising force at work here, healing the rifts between people and helping to re-establish a benevolent patriarchy as a necessary part of a stable society. As in a fairy tale, Eppie is the pauper girl who starts out with nothing and ends up as a kind of princess with family, husband, and a stake in the community; while Silas, the disenfranchised exile, not only establishes a new home for himself but also finds a role as a patriarch in his own household and village.

© Michael Blackburn, 2017

Sucks To Your Revolution – Annoying the Politically Correct

suckstoyourrev

At last – an antidote to the relentless stream of leftist whingeing on Facebook, Twitter and the media, Sucks To Your Revolution is a selection of my articles for the Currente Calamo column of The Fortnightly Review.

Whether it’s the increasing bands of prodnoses trying to control what we eat, think, say or learn, or the phoney revolutionaries like Russell Brand inciting us to turn the world upside down for the sake of some vague socialist utopia, Sucks To Your Revolution spares none of them.

Articles include:

Stop the March of Cupcake Fascism (yes, eating cupcakes now officially identifies you as a fascist)
Sucks to Your Revolution (the bien pensants wring their hands over the immiserated classes)
Sunnis, Shias and the Religion of Peace (say no more)
The Unintended Horses of Consequence (the EU, Romania and the horsemeat scandal)
Clowns against the Stagnant Quotidian (the Brand buffoon)
Gok Wan’s Bangers (Aussies, boobs and unfunny comediennes)
Kristallnacht in Slow Motion (the growth of acceptable antisemitism).

Plus a new look at Chesterton’s forgotten 1915 classic, The Flying Inn, with its prescient theme of the attempted Islamisation of Britain.

It’s available now in the Kindle Store – Sucks To Your Revolution – at £1.99.

 

Updike’s dumpster archives.

UpdikeDumpsterArchives
Moran has kept thousands of pieces of Updike’s garbage—a trove that he says includes photographs, discarded drafts of stories, canceled checks, White House invitations, Christmas cards, love letters, floppy disks, a Mickey Mouse flip book, and a pair of brown tasseled loafers. It is a collection he calls “the other John Updike archive,” an alternative to the official collection of Updike’s papers maintained by Harvard’s Houghton Library. The phrase doubles as the name of the disjointed blog he writes, and it raises fundamental questions about celebrity, privacy, and who ultimately determines the value and scope of an artist’s legacy.

Source: The Atlantic.

Drunks, druggies, killers, debtors and shirt-stealers. What writers used to be like.

Dylan Thomas, possibly weaing someone else's shirt.

Dylan Thomas, having a drink while possibly wearing someone else’s shirt.

IT HAS OFTEN occurred to me what a bad lot so many writers have been: spongers, liars, defaulters, thieves, betrayers, turncoats, murderers, wife-beaters, child-abandoners, drunks, druggies, skirt-chasers and lunatics by the score. I have the feeling that this tradition is dying out here in Blighty. I’ve met a few writers and poets who were bores, serial adulterers and all-round egotists, but none has come close to the heights (or depths) of our ancestors.

The mediaeval French poet, Villon, for instance, killed a priest in a pub brawl (makes you wonder what kind of chap the priest was, frequenting an ale-house) and was basically a member of a criminal gang called la Coquille. Shakespeare’s mate, Ben Jonson, killed a player from a rival theatre company in a duel, and managed to escape punishment by pleading benefit of clergy…

Read on.

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Peter Hitchens on War and Peace.

Don’t hesitate to read it if you haven’t. You will not regret the time. It is not written in an elevated or inaccessible, or pseudo-intellectual way. Its characters are people that you know…

Oh, and there is the sadness of seeing all these people, kind and cultured by their own lights, happy in their homes and families, and knowing (as they do not) that their entire way of life will, in little more than a century, be swept away in a wave of blood, bones and hatred. Don’t bother telling me they were exploiters, and the rest of the Bolshevik defamation of the past. They were kinder by far than the supposedly just men who succeeded them, whose cruelty still marks Russia with deep furrows.

Peter Hitchens in Mail on Sunday.