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Posts tagged “English literature

cam caminí (4): Blake for Disney

The metrics of William Blake’s Song of Innocence dedicated to the Chimney Sweeper is perfectly available with Chim Chim Cher-ee, the song performed by Bert (Dick van Dyke) in Walt Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins. (A Pasquale Curatola’s recent discovery).

It is to sing the verses following the music, as if they were the lyrics of the song:


the Happy Prince according to Rupert Everett

The Happy Prince‘ directed by Rupert Everett and based on the famous Oscar Wilde’s tale, starred by Hugh Dancy and to be shooted next October, has been presented at Cannes.

His first time as a director, Rupert says he has realized a dream, given his will to tell the world of Oscar Wilde and overall his relationship with Robert Baldwin “Robbie” Ross, being that one with lord Alfred Bruce Douglas, ”Boosie” yet to arrive. (‘Swallow, swallow, my little swallow...’).

Relationship a part, The Happy Prince is the story of a statue covered with gold that asks a swallow to remove the metals and precious stones from his body in order to help widows and poor people.

For the entire novel in original, please click here.

qualunquemente Lear…

King Lear, protagonista dell’omonima tragedia di Shakespeare, aveva deciso di dividere il suo regno in tre parti e di assegnarle alle tre figlie in ragione dell’amore che loro avrebbero dichiarato; le prime due si lanciarono in promesse spropositate e magniloquenti attestazioni mentre la terza, Cordelia, disse di amarlo “per quanto era in suo dovere”. Due sostanziose parti di regno andarono alle prime due mentre la terza sarebbe rimasta senza dote.

È considerata la tragedia dell’ingratitudine perché le figlie maggiori, Goneril e Reagan, a dispetto delle dichiarazioni di folle amore, avrebbero ricambiato la generosità del padre in modo tutt’altro che leale e l’unica a comportarsi in maniera corretta fino alla fine sarebbe stata proprio Cordelia, quella che meno si era sbilanciata; la mia personale perplessità è sul livello di conoscenza e comunicazione tra padre e figlie, se davvero si possa misurare l’amore  filiale e assegnare un’eredità solo in base al linguaggio.
Il grande insegnamento di questa tragedia è che si comincia a vedere chiaramente quando si va al di là dell’approccio sensoriale e si cerca la Verità profonda delle cose; succede a Lear, quando si accorge del vero amore di Cordelia, e al conte Gloucester, quando, ormai cieco, realizza cosa è davvero successo tra i suoi due figli. “Solo i ciechi vedono bene“, scriveva Victor Hugo.

L’altra sera, volendo muovere verso piú faceta prospettiva, mi è venuto in mente cosa avrebbe detto Lear a Cordelia se, piuttosto che essere re di Britannia, fosse stato Cetto La Qualunque:

“Ah, caina! Ah, bastasa!

Non ti sputo per non lavarti, non (CENSURA)!

Gonerilla i Regan sunnu ddu bravi figghioli, parraru ‘ngarbati

i a iddi ‘nciu lassu u regnu!

A ‘ttia sai chi ti rugnu, bastasa?

‘Na beata (CENSURA)!

Vatindi in Francia,

cu’ ‘ddu stortu chi ti difindiu, non mi ti viru cchiú innanzi all’occhi!”

La traduzione è probabilmente intuibile… Chi volesse, invece, una trattazione piú ortodossa, può leggere una vecchia tesina:


Oscar Wilde and the Reading Gaol

Oscar Wilde was one of the most representative authors of the Victorian age, the phase of English history that corresponds to the reign of the Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901). The Victorian society is to be considered a very significant moment for English history and culture but also contained some contradictions difficult to understand; scientific development, enormous increase of commercial business, international power and prestige for United Kingdom, a rich and fine literature were the first side of a coin that showed, on the “dark side”, social inequalities, pollution and, in our case, hypocrisy. Homosexuality, in exemplum, was not tolerated at all and the existing laws condemned it very firmly, even to the jail and the hard work.

There was, then, a wit and brilliant novelist, poet, aphorist. And there was a lord, Alfred Douglas who fell in love with him. Surely, the guy had been fascinated and fallen in love with the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray and many other interesting masterpieces because he was wit, he had education, an intelligence and a sagacity which certainly made him seem something special in such an hypocrite and mediocre society (perhaps Alfred should be quiet fed up with). 

To stop the relationship between Oscar and Alfred, Lord Douglas senior, Marquis of Queensberry and Alfred’s father, prosecuted for libel, a charge carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison. The trial discovered evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour.

Of course, a condemn like that one  comported to have almost killed him because the hard life of a jail and of the works was too hard to suffer for any human being and, over all, for a sensitive and delicate person.

How could such a gentle being face such an appalling and difficult situation? How could an educated gentleman, used at humanities, literature, fine arts, live in a squalid place, without freedom, without the possibility to cultivate his interests, strangely watched by the other jailbirds and having for skythat little tent of blue”?

In 1897, when he was in prison yet, Oscar Wilde wrote De Profundis which was published in 1905, a long letter which discusses his spiritual experience through his judgments, creating a shady counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure.

Upon his release he definitely left Ireland and Britain, never to return, moved to France and there he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem remembering the cruel rhythms of prison life, exactly two years before to die, only forty six years old.

In the Ballad of the Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde tells us the sufferance he lived in that time of two years, when he wanted to pray and he could not, he wanted to weep and it was difficult, he walked and the detainees whispered ‘that fellow’s got to swing!”. The first image Wilde gives us is that one of a prisoner who does not wear the colours of the blood and the wine, although his hands had been found red after the murder of his wife. Now he wears a suit of shabby grey and, wistfully all the day, takes sometimes a look at that little tent of blue quiet similar to the sky. Oscar walked and a voice whispered someone was destined to be hanged.

Secondly, Wilde lists the crimes of the people of the Reading Gaol and the types of the humanity he had to live with. There is that one who killed the thing of his love, who strangled, who used knives, crying or not, with tender words or in silence and, reasoning in terms of literary categories, it seems a minimal reference to the Love – Death relationship which is an important reading key of Victorian poetry and literature.


Salomé according to Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde wrote ‘Salomé’ in 1891, in French, during his Parisian sojourn.

It is told that one evening, after conversing on the representations of Salomé throughout history, he returned to his hotel to notice a blank copybook lying on the desk, and it occurred to him to write down what he had been saying. He wrote a new play that way, ‘Salomé’, then, rapidly and in French.

A tragedy, Salomé is based on the stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, and on the choice we know from the holy Gospel, to request the head of Jokanaan (John the Baptist) on a silver platter as a reward for dancing the Dance of the Seven Veils. It is important to affirm that Wilde did a quiet “sensual” elaboration of the Gospel because, according to the original story, Herodias, Salomé’s mother, asked her the head of the prophet to revenge of what he publicly said against her and her behaviour. Wilde imagined Salomé fascinated by the look, the hair, the mouth of the prophet and eagerly willing his head to kiss it. Moreover, the dialogue between Love and Death is an important reading key of the Victorian literature, of what the Irish novelist and poet was an important exponent.
And it is to note that the dance was enormously appreciated by Herod, spite of mother’s opinion; on the opposite, the request for the head of Jokanaan made her stepfather’s disappointment and her mother’s delight.


the Happy Prince

Wilde è sempre stato uno dei miei autori preferiti. La lettura de Il Principe felice in lingua originale mi ha riservato non poche, piacevolissime sorprese…


PS: sì, lo so che i classici andrebbero sempre letti in lingua originale…


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