Benjamin Hertwig : Slow War (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017)

Of Fear and Hope – Slow War, by Benjamin Hertwig (2017)

I returned to Benjamin Hertwig’s book of poetry “Slow War,” which I last read in December. At that time I found the language fully assured, and the correlations between places of war and places in Canada remarkable. I am still of this view. In a more general sense, for there’s a lot of this in…

Music as the Perfecting of Poetry: Liszt – Sonetto 104 del Petrarca (c. 1846)

Petrarch/Liszt, sonnet 104. “The effect of the abbaabba octave is truly remarkable. It is actually a blend of 3 brace-rhyme quatrains, since the middle 4 verses whose sounds overlap the others and echo their patterns, impress the reader with a similar sound pattern, thus, abBAABba.”(Alex Preminger, ed., Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics) Canzone CIV…

Marcel Proust

A Note on Proust’s In Search of Lost Time

I’ve started to pull together some of my general thoughts on Proust’s novel.  I have explained to some that my interest was in the fiction, not its sources. And in how structure and narrative were handled. Proust’s novel is very long, sometimes unwieldy, sometimes plodding, but overall is fascinating. Like any long work, such as…

Piazza San Marco, Venezia

Proust and Schubert, Captive

Proust’s The Fugitive has taken me captive. Though I am nearing its end, because of the nature of its style, Proust requires a slow and not always continuous reading. Towards its conclusion it gathers an extraordinary density to and within itself and, furthermore, an extraordinary disposition to the refulgence of mortal change, the observations liberated therein…

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where Gounod's opera Mireille is set

Gounod and Mistral – Mireille

The video below is Vincent’s aria in the second scene of the fifth and final act of Charles Gounod’s 1864 opera Mireille, written the year before his remarkable Faust, based on the first part of Goethe’s play. Mireille contains fascinating music. The libretto is based on Frédéric Mistral’s long lyric poem Mirèio. Mistral was the 1904…

Marcel Proust

Exhaustion and Intoxication

“… while pretending not to have heard anything, and preserving in her fine eyes, ringed with dark shadows by the habit of listening to Debussy more than they would have been by that of sniffing cocaine, the exhausted look induced by musical intoxication alone, would revolve nevertheless behind her splendid brow, bulging with all those…

Rembrandt, drawing at a window. Self-portrait, 1648.

Self-portraits

“Each new doubt makes us feel that the limit has been reached, that we cannot cope with it; then we manage to find room for it all the same, and once it is introduced into the fabric of our lives it enters into competition there with so many longings to believe, so many reasons to…