Today marks 220 years since the birth of French writer Victor Hugo on 26 February 1802. Hugo is best known for his great classic novels Les Misérables  and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame , and was also a passionate social and political activist who famously supported the abolition of the death penalty, the view that was taken in his short novel The Last Day of a Condemned Man .
“Our mind is enriched by what we receive, our heart – by what we give.”
“The future has several names. For the weak it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown; but for the valiant, it is ideal” (Victor Hugo).
Notre Dame de Paris [1967/2013]
I watched this 2013 Bolshoi Theatre-Teatro alla Scala production of Roland Petit’s 1967 ballet Notre Dame de Paris, based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. This is a magnificent ballet based on my all-time favourite classic book. Esmeralda is played by Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova, who is currently a principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet in London, and Roberto Bolle, a well-known Italian danseur, is Quasimodo. This avant-garde ballet fuses traditional ballet elements with modern dance techniques, and tells the story of a poor gypsy girl Esmeralda who becomes the object of ardent desire on part of three distinct men: strict priest Claude Frollo, hideous, but kind-hearted bell-ringer Quasimodo and handsome Captain Phoebus. Flamboyant, colourful costumes, designed by no other than Yves Saint Laurent, as well as music by film composer Maurice Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia ) help turn this production into a real feast for the eyes (and ears!), as the ballet also deals in such themes as religious devotion, duty, romantic love and erotic longing.
Continue reading “Ballet: Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris” →
I saw this book tag at Nut Free Nerd and decided to have a go at it (I changed slightly the original tag). I am not nominating specific people for this tag and anyone who wishes to participate is free to do so.
I. Totally should’ve gotten a sequel
This is easy – Susanna Clarke’s amazing fantasy book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell should get a sequel. There are still some questions that remain about the story and the story finished in such a way as to hint that there may be a continuation.
II. Totally should’ve had a spin-off series
The Harry Potter book series. Ok, I know what everybody is thinking, but, please, hear me out. We had Harry’s story in seven books; we had additional books published by Rowling on quidditch and fantastic beasts; and we had screenplays that showed the magical world of America in the eighteenth century. But, I think it would be a great idea to have a spin-off series where we can see the magical world in a historical context. Hogwarts was founded in 990 A.D., and it will be interesting to see students studying at some historical point in time, such as maybe in the middle ages and to see how fashion changed and what spells were in fashion – to see the magical world as a historical fiction with new characters. Perhaps, references can be made to magical schools in Latin America or Africa, etc. The great thing about this is that the Harry Potter events would not be muddled with or changed since the action in any spin-off can take place centuries before Harry Potter. Continue reading “The Totally Should’ve Book Tag” →
“Each face, each stone, of this venerable monument, is a page of the history, not only of the country, but of the science and the art” (Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame [1831: 110]).
“It was a singular destiny…for the church of Notre-Dame, at that period, to be thus beloved in two different ways, and with so much devotion, by two beings so unlike as Claude and Quasimodo – loved by the one, a sort of half-human creature, instinctive and savage, for its beauty, for its stature, for the harmonies dwelling in the magnificent whole; loved by the other, a being of cultivated and ardent imagination, for its signification, its mystic meaning, the symbolic language lurking under the sculpture on its front, like the first text under the second in a palimpsestus – in short, for the enigma which it eternally proposes to the understanding” (Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame [1831: 155]).
Flip That Page has created the Greek Mythology Book Tag, and since this is a popular type of posts on wordpress.com, I also thought I would give it a go. I also slightly re-worked the original tag framework.
- Zeus (Jupiter): God of the Sky and Thunder / King of the Gods
Favourite book: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Richard Yates has created a fascinating, heart-breaking account of one couple – the Wheelers who simply want “to live” by deciding to go Paris and settle there permanently, breaking from the culture of conformity that pervaded the 1950s US. This marvellous novel is beautiful, a bit traumatic, but always moving.
- Poseidon (Neptune): God of the Seas and Earthquakes
Book that drowned you in feels: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
There is something emotional, evanescent and indeterminate about Kazuo Ishiguro novels, but The Remains of the Day has got to be one of his most moving novels. While reading this novel, one cannot but feel about the whole situation of opportunities lost and never recovered, and think deeply about the nature of duty, responsibilities and how the tiniest and most mundane details/attention can sometimes mean the world to some people, and everything should be seen in its context. Continue reading “The Greek Mythology Book Tag” →