12 May, 2008


Reading: Having sped through Thérèse Raquin (post soon), I've just started L'assommoir.

Listening: Tosca tonight!

Watching: went to see Jeremy Hardy doing stand-up in Stratford on Saturday as my birthday treat with my family. Also, The good soul of Szechuan on Friday at the Young Vic, which was well... ok.

08 May, 2008

Gospel truth

I came across an excellent Penguin paperback copy of the Gospels in a charity shop, so I've been reading them. Gosh, they're bizarre. Very episodic and unliterary, and nothing seems to follow anything else with any kind of logic. And some of the parables are just strange and incomprehensible. I like the fact that they are four retellings of the same story, and in some bits the story is exactly the same and other bits the emphasis is completely different. I also like this bit from the end of Matthew 28, which my brother says shows that Jesus didn't really rise again.

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.
12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,
13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.
15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. [22]

07 May, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Finally finished Balzac's La peau de chagrin, which was an odd little book. I was expecting to find Balzac's style much tougher going that I actually did: clause upon clause, and constantly breaking off to offer a little aphorism here and there, but I actually relaxed into it pretty quickly. It's the story of Raphael who, when about to commit suicide, comes across a mysterious little antique shop where he buys a piece of ass's skin which grants wishes. Every time he wishes for something, the skin gets smaller until it disappears and he dies. And on the way he meets an evil temptress, and then a sweet, innocent young girl who he falls in love with. So it's very fairytale-like, but at the same time Balzac describes absolutely everything in detail: rooms, clothes, street scenes. This makes it very uncanny, the contrast between the nineteenth century Paris and the supernatural event which take place. Some of it I didn't understand and will have to go back to: particularly the banquet scene, where Raphael and his friends discuss politics and philosophy in a sort of mad drunken discourse. [21]

Phil's review of it is here.

06 May, 2008


Reading: Lothar Kettenacker's Germany since 1945 and Eberhard Kolb's The Weimar republic. Revision time is upon me...

Listening: Birthday presents - the latest Kris Kristofferson album and Ella Fitzgerald's Cole Porter songbook.

Watching: series 3 of the Wire! Yay. The first episode was already so funny and good. And looking forward to The good person of Szechuan at the Young Vic on Friday - my birthday treat.