Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Duveen: A Life In Art, Meryle Secrest

c. 2004

Fly: p. 4
Post-chaise, p. 16

Chaise: from the French, chair

Post: regular route, for hire

Fly: from "flying-carriage"

Friday, March 6, 2015

Eleanor Of Aquitaine: A Life, Alison Weir

c. 1999

12th century English/French history; High Middle Ages; First Renaissance; time when England owned "most" of western, northern France; and then shortly after, lost it in the 100 Years War.

Romantic literature thrived during the 12th century

Perhaps Eleanor represents that period of coming out of the Dark Ages; England is defined as a country that controls, but then loses, western/northern France. One woman at the center of all this: Eleanor of Aquitaine -- Queen of France (annulled); Queen of England; mother of two kings whom she outlived.

Eleanor and Henry II build up huge empire -- England, Ireland, most of France -- only to lose most of France due to son John's ineptitude.


Before Eleanor is born/married: England -- through Wm the Conqueror still held Anjou and Normandy on the continent.

Marriage of Eleanor to King Henry II (England) added Aquitaine to Anjou and Normandy on the continent.

Anjou, Normandy, and Aquitaine: pretty much all of western and northern France.

Henry II vs Louis VII 

Hundred Years War: England throne lost French lands forever; 1337 - 1453

It is of interest that despite the English kings/royalty holding title to French lands, these French kings/royalty were "vassals" to the French king and owed them their support. The French kept trying to reduce the power and the possessions of English royalty on the continent. Gascony -- far southwest of France, along the Castille, Navarre and part of Aragon of Spain -- was about all that was left by the time of the 100 Years War (need to confirm)


Eleanor becomes Duchess of Aquitaine (owned by "France" ) - 1137
Second marriage to King Henry II (Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou)
So, she is queen (and later queen dowager) of England when married to Henry II
She outlives two of her sons who become king: third-born son Henry (King Richard I -- "Lionheart" -- almost all his time in France) and King John
War of the Roses, 1455 - 1487


Geoffrey (nickname, Plantagent), Count of Anjou
Son by Empress Matilda: Henry II (either Angevin Empire or first Plantagenet), becomes king, 1154
Third son Richard I ("Lionheart" - most of time in France)
 Fifth son John (who lost continental holdings)
John's son, Henry III -- first (or second) Plantagenet


Eleanor of Aquitaine -- during High Middle Ages


First of many Franco-Scottish alliances under Louis VII to frustrate Henry II


Progeny by first husband, Louis VII of France, all daughters
Progeny Henry II, England
First son: William, 1153 (thereabouts); died at age "not quite three" in 1156
Second son: Lord Henry, 1155
First daughter: Matilda (in honor of the Empress), 1156
Her third son: Richard, 1157; designated heir to Eleanor's Poitou and Aquitaine, in place of his deceased brother William; Richard was Eleanor's special son (p. 147)
Fourth son: Geoffrey, after the King's late father and brother, 1158
Fifth (?) son: Philip, unlikely but rumors; unusual name for a son; died in infancy? (p. 155)
Second daughter: Eleanor, 1161 (first baby in three years; led to rumors of Philip; married to King Alfonso VIII, Castile; daughter Blanche to become Louis's wife; Louis VIII)
Third daughter: Joanna, 1165
Six son, last child: John, 1166, raised as an oblate? (p. 170)


Marriage alliances
Soon after her birth, Henry "conspired" to have his son Lord Henry marry King Louis VII's new daughter Marguerite  -- if no male heir, Marguerite could inherit the French kingdom (not allowed under French law, but that wouldn't stop Henry)(hopes to "have" France ended when Louis VII married a second time, after first wife's death in childbirth -- p. 152); Marguerite to have the French Vexin has her dowry; Vexin had been ceded back to France by Henry's father; Vexin to be protected by Knights Templar (p. 148)
11 y/o Lady Matilda to Henry of Saxony; part of plan to ally with German Emperor; Henry the Lion (Saxon) was 24 years her senior; very successful marriage; improved trade between England and Germany



12th century
an age of burgeoning scholarship that is now regarded as the first Renaissance
an age that gave birth to a ssuccession of outstanding and perceptive chroiclers

Prologue: 1152 (Eleanor about 30 years of age); the year she married Henry II, son of Geoffrey -- this would have brought Anjou, Normandy and Aquitaine all under English king (but still vassals? to the French king)

Married in the Cathedral of Poiters; Poiters at one time in the province that ruled Aquitaine; it appears Poiters was Eleanor's home. Considered far from Frankish power.

He was 19; she was about 30?

Henry: claimed England through his mother Empress Matilda; Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou.

But Eleanor also:
  • former Queen of France
  • Duchess of Aquitaine
  • Countess of Poitou
  • owned most of the land between the Loire and the Pyrenees
  • renowned for her loveliness
  • huge prize for an aspiring ruler
  • Louis VII was unaware of the simply, hasty marriage

Chapter 1: "Opulent Aquitaine"
  • history of Aquitaine
  • history of troubadours
  • romantic literature flourished in the 12th century, particularly in Aquitaine and Provence
  • chanson de geste tended to celebrate ideals of courage in battle, loyalty, honour and endurance, as well as legendary heroes such as Charlemagne, Roland, and King Arthur
  • romantic poems and lais (lays) of love
  • the poets of the south, the troubadours, popularized the concept of courtly love, revolutionary in the day
  • troubadours drew on Plato and Arab writers; influenced by the growth of the cult of Virgin Mary
  • lyric poetry and rather complex songs in the mellifluous langue d'oc
  • deified women; granting them superiority over men; laid down codes of courtesy, chivalry, gentlemanly conduct
  • these precepts echoed int he lays of the trouveres of northern France, who wrote in the lange d'oeil 
  • this chapter not completed 
Chapter 2: " A Model of Virtue"

Chapter 3: "Counsel of the Devil" -- begins, "early in 1141, Louis VII decides to lay claim to Toulouse in his wife's name; Eleanore probably instigated this; her grandmother was Philippa of Toulosue

Chapter 4: "To Jerusalem" -- begins, " King Louis meets up with the Emperor Conrad at Metz on the banks of the the middle of June, 1147."

Chapter 5: "A Righteous Annulment"

Chapter 6: "A Happy Issue" -- marries Henry, Duke of Normandy, Count of Anjou, 19 years of age

Chapter 7: "All the Business of the Kingdom"

Chapter 8: "Eleanor, by the Grace of God, Queen of England"

Chapter 9: "The King Has Wrought A Miracle"
  • the early days of the new King, Queen in England
  • the early days of Thomas Becket
  • son William dies
  • bastard son Geoffrey
  • son Lord Henry and new female infant return to France with Eleanor
  • third son Richard born 1157; Richard may have been named heir to Poitou and Aquitaine, in place of his deceased brother William
  • "The eagle of the broken covenant shall rejoice in her third nesting" -- Merlin, p. 147
  • Becket arranges marriage between Henry's son Lord Henry to Louis VII infant daughter Marguerite; Louis VII loses the Vixen; Henry gets back "his" Normandy which his father had ceded back to Louis VII in 1151; Henry also promised Brittany over his brother's claim to Brittany; 
  • end of chapter: names Chancellor Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury
Chapter 10: "Conjectures Which Grow Day By Day"
  • 1158; Henry returns to England; absent for five years; would be in England for next 3 years
  • this chapter is on the rift between Becket and Henry II
  • Weir's narrative suggests Becket pretty much in the wrong on all counts 
  • Becket escapes to Flanders; Louis VII protects him in Cistercian abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy
  • Henry's plan to ally with German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (p. 163)
  • Henry's Welsh campaign; Eleanor in France; famous affair between Henry and Welsh Rosamund; "no other mistress of an English king has ever inspired so many romantic tales" -- but nothing verifiable (p. 165 - 166)
  • Aquitaine in revolt; adding to problems -- Henry had designated Lord Henry to inherit Aquitaine; Lord Henry already had Anjou and Normandy; Geoffrey had Brittany; that meant Richard -- Eleanor's favorite -- would get nothing (p. 168)
  • Empress Matilda dies (daughter of Henry I, mother of Henry II, wife of Geoffrey)
  • the story of William the Marshall (p. 171 - 172); saved Eleanor's life in Aquitaine; appointed him guardian, tutor, and master in chivalry to the Lord Henry; became inseparable companions; later described as the "best knight who ever lived"; befriended five English kings; would culminate 50 years later, in his ruling England as regent for the young Henry III
  • Louis and Henry (at Louis' suggestion) agreed to his: no French inheritance for John who was to give his life to the Church; Lord Henry -- Anjou, Maine, Brittany; Geoffrey -- hold Brittany as Lord Henry's vassal; Lord Richard -- Aquitaine
  • Henry II and Louis VII at odds again; Louis VII allies with Henry's other enemy, William the Lyon, King of Scots, thus forging the first in a long tradition of Franco-Scottish alliances
  • Eleanor initiates separation from Henry II; he is not entirely in favor of this; Oedipus worry; but benefits outweigh concerns; Eleanor to live with Richard in Aquitaine; reasons not known; the story of Rosamund surfaces; but nothing suggests this was the reason (she, 46; he, 35)
  • Eleanor sets up court at Poitiers
  • the Courts of Love, probably a literary invention, p. 175; inspired by Ovid;
Chapter 11: "The Holy Martyr"
  • plans fall through Henry's daughter Eleanor to marry son of Frederick Barbarossa; now, new plans for daughter Eleanor to marry 12 y/o King Alfonso VIII of Castille (ro prevent a Franco-Castilian alliance)
  • Lord Henry crowned as The Young King at age 15; his wife, daughter of Louis VII not crowned
  • The Young King becomes ever more upset that he has meaningless titles; no money, no power; even his young brothers ruling their fiefdoms in France
  • first-hand account of the killing of Becket by the four knights; Henry II was in Normandy when the four knights slipped away to murder Becket at Canterbury; December 29, 1170
Chapter 12: "The Cubs Shall Awake"
  • the four knights that murdered Becket remained holed up for one year in Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire
  • was it the murder of Becket that turned Eleanor against her husband? relations soured between late 1170 and late 1172
  • Henry II changes his mind about dedicating his youngest son John, age 5, to the church
  • John betrothed to Humbert's heir, German (Maurienne -- later Savoy and Piedmont); controlled Alpine passes
  • 1171: Henry takes Ireland, more or less; institutes Christian reforms
  • Henry absolved by the Pope over the Becket murder
  • Richard, 15 years old: Eleanor oversees his "Duke of Aquitaine" ceremony; Richard "stronger" than the Young King (Henry); lange d'oc; troubadour culture, an Angevin,
  • wow -- a real rogue -- three illicit daughters; gave Pride to the Knights Templar; Avarice to the Cistercians; and Sensuality to the princes of the Church -- p. 194; and he is considered a "god" by the English -- wow 
  • the Young King and Marguerite, a second crowning
  • Louis VII tried to drive wedge between Henry II and the Young King (the latter upset with his father; delaying him any power, money)
  • Young King spending time with Eleanor, Richard, and Geoffrey -- stage is being set
Chapter 13: "Beware of Your Wife and Sons"
  • Becket canonised by Pope Alexander III
  • rebellion by Eleanor and three sons against Henry II; the latter prevails
  • no savage retribution; Eleanor taken prisoner
Chapter 14: "Poor Prisoner"
  • not much is known about Eleanor at this time; kept in restraint for a decade
  • Henry II no longer trusted her; kept her away from his sons
  • vassals of Poitou and Aquitaine upset, but switched their allegiance from Eleanor to her son Richard
  • commentators saw Eleanor as the Eagle of Merlin's prophecies
  • Henry was Merlin's King of the North Wind
  • Henry lives openly with his mistress, Rosamund de Clifford
  • Rosamund unlikely presided over court; most likely the young Queen Marguerite stood in for the queen
  • Duke Richard off to his domain -- Poitou, Aquitaine; ruthless, savage against the rebels
  • Duke Geoffrey (bastard) off to his domain -- Brittany
  • Young King Henry and Henry II reconciled; all was at peace in the English world
  • 1175 -- Henry II took first steps to annul marriage -- but he would lose his/her lands (Aquitaine, Anjou) and she could no longer be kept prisoner
  • again, the Young King planned to revolt; but Henry II discovered intent; stopped it
  • 1176 -- negotiations concluded for Henry II's daughter Joanna to marry William II, King of Sicily
  • 1176 -- Lord John betrothed to his cousin Hawise, daughter and heiress of Williams, Earl of Gloucester, one of the most powerful English magnates and son of the Earl Robert, who had so staunchly supported the Empress Matilda; John would acquire widespread estates in England
  • 1176 -- Rosamund retires to a nunnery; dies in late 1176 (or 1177)
  • many legends about Rosamund and Eleanor; none of them true
  • new scandal: Henry II begins affair with Princess Alys -- who was pre-contracted to his son, Richard
  • Princess Alys was daughter of Queen Constance (King Louis VII) -- died in childbirth
  • King Louis VII told Henry II to stop liaison with Alys; Henry II "agreed"
  • Richard no longer wanted to marry Alys; nor could he -- it would be incestuous
  • Henry II maintained affair with Alys
  • daughter Eleanor married to King Alfonso VIII, Castile
  • son Lord John sent to Ireland
  • 1179 -- King Louis VII incapacitated with a stroke, son Philip crowned -- and eager to get French lands back from Henry II
  • 1181 -- true son Geoffrey finally married to Constance of Brittany
  • bastard son Geoffrey appointed chancellor of England (Becket's old job)
  • sons Geoffrey and Young King Henry still causing trouble for Henry II in France
  • Young King Henry still a spoiled brat and Richard still the ass -- p. 226
  • June, 1183: Young King Henry dies of dysentery
  • Henry II, through Marguerite kept most of French lands (Vexin, Normandy, Anjou)
Chapter 15: "Shame, Shame On a Conquered King"
  • 1183, Henry II, 50 years old
  • Eleanor has been prisoner for a decade; she was 61
  • Henry II and Eleanor seen more often together now, probably for political reasons
  • Henry II keeping Alys under guard at Winchester
  • King Philip wanted Alys married to Richard immediately; Henry II resisted
  • Henry II did not want Richard to get: England, Normandy, Angou, Poitou, and Aquitaine
  • John "Lackland" would get only Ireland as it now stood; Henry II would not stand for that
  • John was Henry's favorite son; 16 years old
  • John: a dandy, rampantly promiscuous like his father; had at least 7 bastards; raped at will
  • chroniclers considered John worse than Hell; he murdered when it was expedient
  • quarreled with the church; excommunicated
  • father, sons feuding among themselves
  • 1184: Eleanor returns to England
  • family in England; Geoffrey sent to oversee Normandy; shocked observers
  • John given the crown of Ireland; his first kingdom
  • 1186: Duke Geoffrey dies (Brittany)
  • war about ready to erupt between King Philip of France and Henry II, over Alys
  • Richard becomes a close friend of King Philip; ally with each other to fight Henry II
  • meanwhile, in Jerusalem: Saladin, the Turk, wipes out crusaders in Jerusalem; crusaders have only three seaports in the Mideast
  • Henry II raises money for crusades; Richard says he will go to Jerusalem
  • the ancient elm of Gisors cut down by King Philip
  • Henry II -- weak and very ill, loses convincingly to King Philip and Richard
  • 1187, summer: Matilda of Saxony, age 34, Eleanor's/Henry's oldest daughter, dies
  • 1187: a few days later, before he got knew that his daughter died; Henry II dies
  • Richard: the undisputed heir
Chapter 16: "The Eagle Shall Rejoice in Her Third Nesting"
  • Richard I is king
  • first act: free Eleanor and put Eleanor in charge of England until he could get there; Eleanor: 67 y/o
  • she put Alys in house arrest; age 29; future unsettled but would not be part of Richard's life
  • Richard planned to marry Alys
  • John joined them (Richard and Eleanor in England)
  • Richard makes Geoffrey the Archbishop of York (honoring his father's (Henry II's) wish
  • Geoffrey, at Richard's request, resigns his office as chancellor of England
  • John marries his cousin Hawise of Gloucester
  • Richard gives John several counties in England; a county in Normandy; etc -- John becomes the wealthiest and most powerful English magnate; John also gets Ireland
  • most magnificent coronation ever in English history; set precedents for future coronations; Richard and Eleanor ride in together
  • coronation marred by anti-Semitic acts/killings; King of England supposed to protect the Jews
  • despite his lion-hearted reputation, Richard I was to prove a failure as King of England
  • William Longchamp / Hugh de Puiset -- co-leaders of England while Richard I gone; William Longchamp deposes de Puiset; Longchamp alone in charge
  • Eleanor calls Duke John to England to take charge; watch over Longchamp
  • no clear heir if Richard killed (see why, page 257)
  • Eleanor knew Richard needed "new" betrothal (not Alys) and fast and a male heir
  • Berengaria, daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre, the little kingdom that straddled the Pyrenees
  • Mildenhall, Bishop's Lynn (now King's Lynn), Norwich, Lincoln, and Stamford mentioned in connection with anti-Semitism, p. 254

Chapter 17: "The Admiration of Her Age"
  • Richard departs; side-by-side with King Philip to the crusades; though they eventually take separate routes (must have tired of each other) -- upset about Alys (page 261)
  • Richard arrives in Sicily; finds his sister Joanna a prisoner; delays Richard until spring 1191
  • meanwhile, Eleanor and Berengaria, had crossed winter-bound St Bernard Pass; on way to Lombardy
  • Joanna and Berengaria remain in Italy; Eleanor had not seen her daughter for 14 years
  • Eleanor joins son Richard in Sicily
  • Eleanor heads back to Normand; Richard continues to Outremer (French for "overseas"; was a general name given to the Crusader states established after the First Crusade: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Tripoli and especially the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The name was often equated to the Levant of Renaissance)
  • 1191, Cyprus: Richard and Berengaria finally married
  • arrives at Acre; since the founding of the crusader kingdoms of Outreme, Acre had been the major port of Jerusalem; Richard takes Acre
  • Richard's atrocity: beheaded 3,000 Turks
  • Richard heads for Jerusalem
  • Geoffrey, meanwhile, although consecrated Archbishop of York at Tours, he was told to stay out of England for three years; ignored that advice; headed for England
  • John prepares to take over as King of England; chancellor Longchamp on the run
  • Richard had been in the Holy Land for a year; still no nearer to launching an assault on Jerusalem
  • re-taking Jaffa, his last victory; ill again with malaria
  • on way home, Richard taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria (a cousin)
Chapter 18: "The Devil is Loosed"
  • Richard, imprisoned, under the watch of Emperor Henry VI (Holy Roman Emperor/Germany)
  • Eleanor took control of England; John preparing for his role
  • 1193; Richard spoke for his release at Speyer, p. 283
  • Eleanor refers to herself as Queen of England, Duchess of Normandy, Countess of Anjou, p. 283
  • John returns to England; intent on establishing himself as King
  • King Philip invades Normandy
  • Richard released after huge ransom paid, p. 291; Richard held in house arrest until ransom raised
  • 1194: Richard finally released; Eleanor had traveled to Speyer to receive  him
  • arrives back in England; first time since December 1189
  • Queen Eleanor and King Richard; Berengaria was not present; remained in Poitou
  • visits Sherwood; legend of Robin Hood, p. 298
  • while in the Levant, Philip takes some of Normandy from Richard
  • Richard gives up on the Crusades; eager to get his Normandy lands back from King Philip
Chapter 19: "The Staff of My Old Age"
  • John asks for forgiveness from his brother Richard; gets it
  • John stays quiet for five years; out of mischief
  • for the rest of his life, Richard fought Philip for his land; never able to return to the Crusades
  • 37 years old
  • Eleanor, 72, withdraws to Fontevrault, the refuge of many high-born widows; she had ruled England for 18 turbulent months; had reconciled her sons; felt entitled to a rest; however, she did not take veil, but lived at the abbey as a gues tin her own apartments; may have remained there for most of the rest of Richard's reign
  • not much heard of Eleanor after 1194; Fontevrault centrally placed between Anjou and Poitou
  • no evidence that Richard was homosexual (pp 302 - 304) but much speculation
  • finally brought Berengaria to England, but they never had any children
  • Richard finally frees Alys; she is married to Count of Ponthieu, never heard of after that
  • 1196, Richard names Anthony his heir of Brittany (Anthony -- mother Constance)
  • Eleanor names her grandson, Otto of Saxony, her heir
  • the mural: possibly King Richard I, Queen Eleanor, Queen Berengaria, Eleanor's heir, her grandson Otto of Brunswick; and the fifth, a young, lad, Arthur of Brittany, who Richard had just named his own heir (unlikely County John) -- pp. 306 - 307
  • reminder: Angevins; Plantagenets
  • around 1197, Eleanor lost her two daughters by Louis (Alix and Marie)
  • 1199: 5-year truce between Richard and Philip; Richard got his French lands (Normandy) back
  • 1199: Richard dies of gangrene; arrow hit him in the arm; died, age 41; named John his heir
  • Berengaria left almost destitute after death of her husband Richard; John withheld most of the estates left to her; on one occasion, the Knights Templar intervened on her behalf
  • Berengaria: took care of the poor in her widowhood; found the Cistercian monastery of l'Espan near Le Mans where she retired; 30 years later she became a nun, took the name Juliana; date of death unknown
  • Eleanor had lost her favorite son; now needed to protect his youngest son's inheritance
Chapter 20: "The Most Reverend Eleanor:
  • John to assume power; not sure if all will support him; needs Eleanor's assistance
  • Arthur of Brittany had greater claim; primogeniture not established at that time; Arthur a mere boy; John a grown man; King Philip proclaims 12-y/o Arthur the right heir to the Angevin empire
  • Eleanor outraged; order that Anjou be laid waste
  • Eleanor spent early weeks touring her domains; attending to business; imagine her age
  • 1199: John crossed into England to claim his kingdom
  • John had his marriage to Hawise annulled
  • looked for new wife; considered one of the daughters of King Sancho I of Portugal -- either Theresa or Berengaria -- who was unwed -- another Berengaria?
  • John and Eleanor meet up in Rouen; joined by Joanna, pregnant, destitute (bad husband, Raymond)
  • Joanna, dying; newborn dies; Eleanor mourns the loss of yet another child
  • Eleanor cedes Poitou and Aquitaine to John
  • Philip and Arthur grow apart
  • Eleanor travels across the Pyrenees in the dead of winter; gathers up Blanche, daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and Queen Eleanor (this Queen Eleanor was the 2nd daughter of King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine -- received her namesake from her mom)
  • Blanche to be married to Louis, son of Philip II -- ensures that Eleanor's descendents would one day sit on the throne of France (p. 327)
  • Eleanor retires to Fontevrault, again
Chapter 21: "The Brook of the Wicked Shall Not Thrive"
  • John, chance meeting, falls in love with Isabella, a 13-y/o;heiress of Count Aymer of Angouleme; political suicide for John if he marries her
  • John marries Isabella, year 1200
  • John and Isabella tour England
  • 1201: John and Isabella cross into Normandy
  • War breaks out between John and Philip; Eleanor actively supports John
  • John defeats and takes Arthur of Brittany captive; most brilliant victory of John's career; saves his mother
  • but John, through his stupidity, failed to consolidate his position (p 334)
  • Eleanor: 80 years old
  • Eleanor: returns to Fontevrault and takes the veil
  • rumors that John killed Arthur (Eleanor's grandson; Eleanor had told John not to harm Arthur); Arthur was John's nephew
Chapter 22: "A Candle Goeth Out"
  • the story of how Arthur might have died, pp. 336 - 338
  • Philip and John still at war
  • Philip had made such inroads into Normandy it was clear that John would never recover what he had lost
  • John losing everything in Normand; English aware of his ineptitude
  • nothing is heard of Eleanor during these terrible months
  • April 1, 1204: Eleanor died; 82 years old
  • her death virtually unremarked in the chaos surrounding the collapse of the Angevin empire
  • buried in the crypt of the abbey of Fontevrault, between those of her husband, Henry II, and her son, Richard I
  • during the French revolution, the abbey of Fonevrault was sacked and the tombs were disturbed and vandalized; the bones of Eleanor, Henry, Richard, Joanna, and Isabella of Angouleme were exhumed and scattered, never to be recovered. The abbey was then converted to a prison.
  • The prison later converted to a hotel, which it remains 
  • Eleanor did not leave to see the eventual destruction of the empire that both she and Henry had built
  • her own death, in fact, removed an insuperable legal obstacle to Philip's ambitions
  • by June, 1204, the whole of Normandy was in Philip's possession -- lost by John
  • grandson Henry III born three years after Eleanor's death
  • Eleanor, like Queen Victoria: could be accurately described as the Grandmother of Europe: her sons and their descendents were kings of England, her daughters were queens of Sicily and Castile; among her grandsons were a Holy Roman Emperor and the kings of Castile and Jerusalem, while her great-grandson became king of France; two saints, St Louis IX of France and St Ferdinand III of Castile were among her descendents; in England, the line of kings that she and Henry founded endured until 1485, and her blood flows in the veins of Britain's present queen, Elizabeth II
  • portrayed in Shakespeare's King John

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War, Frank Varney

c. 2013

Wow, this is a tough book to sort out. It is incredibly well-written, detailed, with a great dust jacket, great font, great binding -- a treasure to hold (the hardcover).

I have not read much Civil War history; most of my understanding of the Civil War in the southern theater is based on US Grant's Memoirs.

The problem I have with Varney's book is his heavy-handedness: from the very outset he says Grant is a liar and Rosecrans was destroyed by Grant. He says that on every page, and it seems, in every paragraph. It gets tiresome.

Others have said Varney made factual errors; I have no idea but it's a book that every student of the Civil War should read. My hunch is that this would have been a much better book had the author simply written a history or biography of Rosecrans, and making mention of how Grant and others reported the story. That would have let the readers come to their own conclusions whether Rosecrans was as bad as Grant made him out to be by Varney.

I will have to go back and re-read Grant's Memoirs; I don't recall such harsh language about Rosecrans but I wasn't looking.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rocket Girl: The Story Of Mary Sherman Morgan, America's First Female Rocket Scientist, George D. Morgan

c. 2013

Mary Morgan Sherman: invented hydyne in 1957, the rocket propellant that launched America's first satellite (in response to Sputnik); "retired" from work c. 1958; born 1921, "retired" 1958 at about age 37; one child at home; pregnant, and eventually four children (two boys, two girls) in that family (one much earlier in life given up for adoption)


Born / raised on a farm near Ray, North Dakota; November 4, 1921 -- three months older than my own dad. Father Michael. Three daughters: Mary, Elaine (youngest), Amy; three brothers: Michael, Vernon, Clarence (confirmed p. 243)

Started school two to three years late; rode horse she named Star to school; given to her by child protective services so she could get to school; emotionally (maybe physically) abused by three brothers, alcoholic father; one sister, Elaine

Valedictorian of Ray High School

Very, very strong in math, chemistry

The Great Escape: ran away from home, after high school; caught bus at Rachel's Diner in Ray; Rachel's Diner had Williams County's first neon sign

Bussed to Toledo, Ohio; DeSales College; first two years; never graduated

Recruited in sophomore year to work at Plum Brook Ordnance Works, the largest supplier of explosives for the US military during WWII; this book has a nice history of Plum Brook Ordnance Works

Mentions how she learned to play bridge; off the radio, 1943; American bridge export Alfred Sheinwold

Gives up newborn in 1944; travels to St Vincent's Hospital in Philadelphia; 

War ends; work ends at PBOW

First mentions his mother playing bridge, page 131; 

Takes bus to Los Angeles; finds her way to North American Aviation, Downey.

Irving Kanareck story begins on page 134; parents born in USSR; on job application he says parents born in USSR; clerk reviewing application for accuracy has never seen "USSR" before, changes it to USA;

Tom Meyers at NAA sees her application; he is human resources for theoretical performance specialist (TPS), someone who is strong in both chemistry and math; preferably college graduate;

Project Paperclip mentioned on page 149.

Accepted for position as "analyst" at NAA, at the Inglewood facility. "Analyst" = engineer without a college degree; lower pay than an engineer. Reported for work, July 15, 1947. Age: 26 years old.

First woman to be hired on the "engineering floor."

Meets Carl Amenhoff -- a TPS, just like Mary. Hired by Tom Meyers; her boss. Sees copy of one of Alfred Sheinwold's books on bridge; asks if she can play with the other engineers

Introduces his dad, page 162, 1950: George Richard "Red" Morgan. Caltech graduate (Pasadena). Author would be born three years later.

Working on "viable fuel and oxidizer compounds." By the end of 1950, almost all of the "viable fuel and oxidizer compounds had been theoretically calculated; many of them had been synthesized." All with pluses and minuses: hydrazine is an excellent fuel, and unlike LOX is liquid at room temperature, but highly explosive.

"Cocktail": mixture of two or more rocket propellants. The idea had been invented by the Germans.

On the day Richard Morgan began working for NAA, Mary was working on cocktail of oxygen and fluorine. Fluorine was nothing less than the best oxidizer in the universe; unfortunately it reacted with everything, page 164. She called the mixture FLOX.

Met by chance; relationship cemented over bridge; married six months later, July 29, 1951.

Page 172 on: Redstone propellant -- lifting power -- 93.10% -- would not reach orbit. Needed a better propellant. Huntsville, AL.

Specific impulse: measured in seconds, specific impulse is a sort-of horsepower rating for rocket propellants; the high the number, the greater the power. every fuel and oxidizer propellant combination had its own specific impulse value; calculated theoretically, then adjusted downward a few points; reality always trumped theory (great bridge analogy).

284: specific impulse for the Redstone rocket's current fuel/oxidizer propellant combination of alcohol and liquid oxygen. Same propellant used by von Braun for V-2. Best number one could get from LOX/alcohol mixture.

305: the minimum specific impulse value the Redstone propellant system need to push a satellite into orbit.

Huntsville Redstone team knew of NAA in California; sent team out to NAA to contract for better propellant.

Tom Meyers receives phone call: most important phone call he had ever received.

Tom Meyers (NAA) met Colonel Wilkins, Huntsville/Redstone -- new engine design

Mary: still the only woman among all the engineers

White Sands -- Huntsville -- Fort Bliss: "all the same" -- p. 178

Colonel Wilkens noticed that Irving Kanarek worked at NAA: he was the inventor of inhibited red fuming nitric acid -- a propellant that was being successfully used with the Nike program.

Colonel Wilkens wanted Irving Kanarek.

Tom Meyers said he had someone better than Kanarek: Mary Sherman.

Chapter 17.

Nick Toby, Lansing Chemical Company, cold call; meets Mary. Toby has a promising new chemical, diethylenetriamine -- looking for applications: di-ethylene tri-amine.

Tom Meyers asks Mary if she wants the Redstone project -- p. 187

Wikipedia: the name "Jack Silverman" pops up as the inventor of hydyne.

Author notes that the name Jack Silverman had come up only once in eight years of author's research. A September, 1955, paper, nothing to do with hydyne, authors listed as: M. S. Morgan, J. Silverman, and W. T. Webber. Author's copy had been in his archives for ten years.

Author met with W. T. Webber who said Silveman was a credit-grabber; he was Mary's supervisor; stole credit for others ideas/accomplishments

Author asks W. T. ("Bill") Webber to put his version in writing, swear to it, sign it.

Author obtains book from NASA on history of Rocketdyne. Author Robert S. Kraemer gives credit to Irving Kanarek for inventing hydyne (p. 44) of that book. Kraemer gives the formula for hydyne as "75% dimethylhydrazine, 25% diethylenetriamine." The author says that mixture is obviously wrong; every hydyne source available lists it as 60/40, not 75/25. Also, author has on video, in-person, in-depth interviews with Irving Kanarek in which he acknowledges that hydyne was the brainchild of his mother.

It turns out Kanarek was Mary's immediate supervisor and even had his desk adjacent to hers. Kraemer may not be completely accurate but at least he refutes jack Silverman's claim.

Mary's Redstone project appeared to be a set-up to make her fail. Engines/propellants designed together; Mary was to come up with propellant to work in existing engine.

Supervisor Kanarek and Tom Meyers both suggested she start with the oxidizer. Quick review: nothing would work. So she quietly turned her attention to the fuel side and did not tell anyone.

Chemical fact: handful of oxidizers; hundreds of fuels.

Her list of ten (10) properties and characteristics -- p. 192.

Tom hires two engineers to help Mary -- p. 196.
  • Bill Webber: masters degree, chemical engineering, Caltech (Pasadena)
  • Toru Shimizu: masters degree, chemical engineering, UCLA; four years in Japanese internment camp, Manzanar, northwest of Los Angeles
The boys' list of possibilities and Mary's reaction:
  • alcohol with fluorine; Redstone alcohol-compliant; but oxidizer side of system won't tolerate even a slight amount of fluorine -- no
  • fluorine and derivatives like FLOX -- no
  • hydrazine -- no
  • monomethyl hydrazine -- no
  • aniline with ozone; good isp but ozone too unstable -- no
  • propane with LOX -- no
  • JP-4 with LOX -- wrong mixture ratio -- no
  • all kerosene pairs -- wrong mixture ratio -- no, no, no
  • hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, my God, how did you even know about that? mixed with fluorien -- already a no; matched with nitrous oxide -- isp too low -- no
  • ethylene with LOX, not bad -- hold on to that one
  • ammonia with LOX -- no
  • B2H6 with hydrazine as an oxidizer? Innovative, but hydrazine is out on both sides -- no
  • aniline with RFNA -- no
  • hydrogen ... hydrogen!? what have you two been drinking -- no
  • methane with LOX -- maybe
  • lithium with fluorine!? my god you boys are dangerous
  • RP-1 with nitrous oxide -- no
  • turpentine with nitric acid -- no
  • nitrogen tetroxide and pentaborane with LOX -- no, and no
Hydrogen? commercially unavailable.

Hydrazine: fuel used as a coolant; hydrazine is a poor coolant, p. 201

Chalkboard at Mary's desk: 305   1.75  155  0.8580
  • 305: specific impulse
  • 1.75: ratio, 1.75 pounds of oxidizer to every pound of fuel
  • 155: seconds of burn time
  • 0.8580: density 
First criteria: chemicals that will yield an isp greater than 305 when mixed with LOX

Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine, Bill's idea, p. 207; ISP of 315; invented by the Soviets

UDMH: density only 0.7914 -- way off, but Redstone says it might work

UDMH: won't work, p. 209

The boys come with the idea of a cocktail; adding another fuel with higher density that would reach mixture / cocktail density of 0.8580


Mary remembered the density but nothing else; needed to find the business card.

Nick Toby at Lansing Chemical, diethylenetriamine (di-ethylene triamine) -- DETA; Mary ordered four. Four pounds? No, four tons. -- p. 216

Ratio: 60% UDMH / 40% DETA


Santa Susanna (sic) at top of page, 221

Simi Valley: location of first successful oil well in California

1947: forty miles southeast of Simi Valley, in LA suburb of Downey, Dutch Kindelberger built a company, called in North American Aviation; major supplier of fighters and bombers during WWII.

NAA: built Santa Susana (sic) Field Laboratory (p. 224) in Simi Valley; thought it was far from civilization; then the San Fernando Valley happened; named after Mission San Fernando Ray de Espana

January 5, 1955: first test

First three tests failed

Fourth test

Flashback: October 6, 1957 -- Sputnik 1 launched

Chapter 22

Flashback: the story of James Howard "Dutch" Kindelberger, born in Wheeling, West Virginia, May 8, 1895

The story of Tom Meyers facing of Kindelberger in his support for Mary -- pp. 259 - 261 -- "Mary Sherman is not just the best in the company, she's probably the best in the world." -- p. 261

Chapter 23

310 at 1.75 and 0.8615 for 155

Seventh test

I can't find the date of the successful test; was it in 1957?

Remember, the first test was January 5, 1955

Chapter 24: The Law of Unintended Consequences

Discovers his older sister, Ruth E. Fichter, Detroit, the one given up for adoption in 1944.

Ruth flies out to Southern California; she had never seen the Pacific Ocean before. Sees the Getty Museum, the Griffith Observatory.

Chapter 25.

January 31, 1958 -- first US satellite launched; Explorer 1

Wernher von Braun's reaction to the launch, p. 278:
"In his room that evening, he fired off a letter to North American Aviation. america's first satellite had only been possible due to the invention of hydyne. Without it, the US would have continued to trail the Russians for months, if not years. The only thing he knew about its creation was that a woman at North American Aviation had cooked it up. It was a curious cocktail of two little-used chemicals, and it had done its job perfectly. He did not know her name, but he wanted to thank her. Von Braun took out pen and stationery and wrote, Dear Unknown Lady. People, like satellites go nameless.

Mary died in 2004.

Chapter 26: Wings of the Condor

Mary cleans out her desk; less than one full cardboard box. Included a congratulatory letter from Wernher von Braun.

Apparently she decided to quit on her own; she had one child at home; pregnant with another. Wanted to raise a family.

Spelled Santa Susana Pass Road -- p. 286

On her last day at work, she was invited out to Santa Susana Field Laboratory to do the calculations; saw a California condor;

Santa Susanna (sic) in the author's note, p. 296.

It appears Mary had five children:
  • Ruth (Fichter)
  • George (Morgan)
  • Stephen (Morgan)
  • Monica (Weber)
  • Karen (Newe)
and then page 298, in Acknowledgements: Santa Susanna Field Laboratory.

Wiki spells "Susana" with one "n."

The Catholic saint is spelled with two "n's."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Libraries


Top Shelf

How The Scots Invented The Modern World, Arthur Herman, c. 2001

My Anaïs Nin Library

Linotte: The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1914 – 1920, preface by Joaquin Nin-Culmell,
The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 4: 1927 – 1931, preface by Joaquin Nin-Culmell
The Diaries, Volume I, 1931 – 1934, Anaïs Nin
The Diaries, Volume II, 1934 – 1939, Anaïs Nin (purchased 2010, completes the series)
The Diaries, Volume III, 1939 – 1944, Anaïs Nin
The Diaries, Volume IV, 1944 – 1947, Anaïs Nin (purchased 2008)
The Diaries, Volume V, 1947 – 1955, Anaïs Nin
Anaîs Nin: A Biography, Deirdre Bair, 1995
In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays, Anaïs Nin, c. 1976, earliest essay c. 1966,
Incest: The Unexpurgated Diary, 1932 – 1934, Anaïs Nin
Fire: The Unexpurgated Diary, 1934 – 1937, Anaïs Nin 
Anaïs: The Erotic Life of Anaïs Nin, Noël Riley Fitch, c. 1993 
A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932 – 1952,
Henry and June: The Unexpurgated Diary, from “A Journal of Love,” Anaïs Nin 
Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
Henry Miller: The Happiest Man Alive, Mary Dearborn, c.1991
D.H. Lawrence: The Story of a Marriage, Brenda Maddox, c. 1994

My Virginia Woolf Library

Passionate Apprentice: Virginia Woolf, The Early Journals, 1897 - 1909, Virginia Woolf, edited by Mitchell A Leaska, c. 1990
Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell: A Very Close Conspiracy, Jane Dunn, c. 2000, $6.98
The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to VW and Bloomsbury, Sarah M. Hall, c. 2007
Selected Works of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, c. 2005
Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life, Julia Briggs, c. 2005
The Mrs Dalloway Reader, Virginia Woolf et al, edited by Francine Prose, 2003
Virginia Woolf, Nigel Nicolson, c. 2000
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Manic Depression and the Life of VW, Peter Dally, c. 1999
Who's Afraid of Leonard Woolf, Irene Coates, c. 1998
Charleston: A Bloomsbury House and Garden, Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson, c. 1997
Virginia Woolf, Hermione Lee, c. 1996
Art and Affection: A Life of Virginia Woolf, Panthea Reid, c. 1996, $7.98
Virginia Woolf: Interviews and Recollections, edited by J. H. Stape, c. 1995
Virginia Woolf, A to Z: Mark Hussey, c. 1995
Virginia Woolf, James King, c. 1994
Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers: The Hogarth Press, 1917 - 1941, J. H. Willis, c. 1992
Mrs Dalloway: Mapping Streams of Consciousness, David Dowling, c. 1991
Virginia Woolf: The Major Novels, John Batchelor, c. 1991
Virginia Woolf, Modern Fiction, Susan Dick, c. 1989
Congenial Spirits: The Selected Ltrs of VW, edited by Joanne Trautmann Banks, c. 1989
Virginia Woolf, Modern Critical Reviews, edited by Harold Bloom, c. 1986
The Letters of Vita Sackville-West to VW, edited by L. DeSalvo and M. A. Leaska, c. 1985
Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life, Lyndall Gordon, c. 1984
Virginia Woolf: Revaluation and Continuity, edited by Ralph Freedman, c. 1980
The Unknown Virginia Woolf, Roger Poole, c. 1978
Virginia Woolf, Susan Rubinow Gorsky, c. 1978
Moments of Being, Virginia Woolf, c. 1977
A Moment's Liberty: The Shorter Diary, abridged and edited by Anne Olivier Bell, c. 1977
Virginia Woolf: A Biography, Quentin Bell, c. 1972
Recollections of Virginia Woolf by Her Contemporaries, edited by Joan Russell Noble, c. 1972
Downhill All the Way, 1919 - 1939, Leonard Woolf, c. 1967
A Writer's Diary, Virginia Woolf, edited with an introduction by Leonard Woolf, c. 1953
The Common Reader, Virginia Woolf, c. 1925
The Diary of VW, Volume One, 1915 - 1919, c. 1977, hardback,
The Diary of VW, Volume Two, 1920 - 1924, c. 1978, softback,
The Diary of VW, Volume Five, 1936 - 1941, c. 1984, softback,
Bloomsbury: A House of Lions, Leon Edel, 1979, hard cover, warehouse sale.
Mrs Woolf and the Servants, Alison Light, c. 2008, Harvard Bookstore, hard cover, $7.00;

My Hemingway Library
The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, 1923 - 1925, Vol 2, edited by Sandra Spanier, et al, c. 2013, hardcover,
The Hemingway Women, Bernice Kert, c. 1998 
How It Was, Mary Welsh Hemingway, c. 1951, $4.98, hard cover;   
Travels With Myself and Another: A Memoir, Martha Gellhorn, c. 2001
Selected Letters of Martha Gellhorn, edited by Caroline Moorehead, c. 2006, $14.98, hardcover;  
Papa Hemingway, A.E. Hotchner, c, 1966 
Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences, James R. Mellow, c. 1992, hard cover  
Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, Carlos Baker, c. 1969, $5.98, hardcover;  
The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway: The Early Years, Charles A Fenton, c. 1954, $5.00; hard cover; very, very hard to find;   
Hemingway: The Final Years, Michael Reynolds, c. $4.98, hard cover, 1999  
Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved, and Lost, 1934 - 1961, Paul Hendrickson, c. 2011, full price
Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917 - 1961, edited by Carlos Baker, c. 1981, $9.98, hardcover
Islands In the Stream, Ernest Hemingway, c. 1970 by Mary Hemingway; $5.98, soft cover
A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway, c. 1964, Scribner Classics, $22.00, hard cover

My James Joyce Library

James Joyce, Edna O'Brien, c. 1999,  $7.98, hardcover,
James Joyce, Edna O'Brien, c. 1999,  $7.98, hardcover, (2nd copy)
James Joyce, Bernard Benstock, c. 1985, $1, hardcover
A Reader's Guide to James Joyce, William York Tindall, c. 1959, soft cover
Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce's Ulysses, Don Gifford, c. 1988, soft cover,
James Joyce: A Literary Life, Morris Beja, c. 1992, $7.98, soft cover,
James Joyce: The Citizen and The Artist, C. H. Peake, c. 1977, $2.98, soft cover, 
Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake, Carol Loeb Schloss, c. 2003, $9.98, hard cover, 
Dubliners, James Joyce, c. 1967, $4.98, soft cover,
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce, c. 1992, soft cover,
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce, c. 1994, soft cover, Dover Thrift Edition,
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce, c. 1968, soft cover, $3.98; Viking Critical Library,
Ulysses: Portals of Discover, Text, Criticism, and Notes, edited by Chester G. Anderson, c. 1990; $1.00, hardcover
Ulysses: The Complete and Unabridged Text, as Corrected and Reset in 1961, James Joyce, c. 1934, 1961,
Ulysses: The Complete and Unabridged Text, as Corrected and Reset in 1961, James Joyce, c. 1934, 1961, Modern Library, The Modern Library's #1 Novel of the 20th Century
Finnegans Wake, James Joyce, c. 1999, Penguin,

My Thomas Hardy Library

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy, Penguin Soft Cover, 1891
Tess of the D'Urbervilles, edited by Scott Elledge, a Norton Critical edition, c. 1965 Far From The Madding Crowd, edited by Robert C. Schweik, a Norton Critical edition, c. 1986
A Laodicean, Thomas Hardy, Everyman softcover, 1997 
Thomas and Florence Hardy, Thomas Hardy, c. Woodsworth, 2007
Oxford Reader's Companion to Hardy, edited by Norman Page, c. 2000
Hardy, Martin Seymour-Smith, soft cover, c. 1994

My Hunter S. Thompson Library

Hell's Angels, Modern Library edition, 
The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955 - 1967
Fear and Loathing in America: The Gonzo Letters, Volume II, The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, edited by Douglas Brinkley; two copies
The Rum Diary, soft cover
The Great Shark Hunt, soft cover,

My Brontë Library

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë, edited by Linda H. Peterson, c. 1992, (perhaps the best edition ever; several critiques, case studies in contemporary criticism
The Brontës: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family, Juliet Barker, c. 2012; $25.00 Brontë Parsonage Museum, A Souvenir Guide, c. 1998,
Critical Essays on Charlotte Brontë, edited by Barbara Timm Gates, c. 1990, $1, hardcover
The Life of Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, c. 1975, $2.48, Penguin Classics, soft cover, 
The Brontë Myth, Lucasta Miller, c. 2001, $15.00, soft cover
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë, edited by Mark Schorer, c. 1959, $1.98, softcover
Reading the Brontës: An Introduction to Their Novels and Poetry, Charmian Knight and Luke Spencer, c. 2000,
The Art of Emily Brontë, edited by Anne Smith, c. 1976, $1, hard cover,
Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life, Lyndall Gordon, c. 1994, $1.98, hard cover
The Landscape of the Brontës, Arthur Pollard, c. 1998, $4.00, hard cover
Villette, Charlotte Brontë, c. 1984, $4.98, soft cover, Oxford World's Classics
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë, c. 1992, $3.98, soft cover, Oxford World's Classics

My Joseph Conrad Library

Joseph Conrad, Adam Gillon, Twayne's English Authors Series, Kinley E Roby, Editor, c. 1982, $1, hard cover, 
The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad
Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

My Graham Greene Library

Graham Green: The Viking Portable Library, edited by Philip Stratford, c. 1973
The Life of Graham Greene, Vol III: 1955 - 1991, Norman Sherry, c. 2004
The Life of Graham Greene, Vol II: 1939 - 1955, Norman Sherry, c. 1994
The Life of Graham Greene, Vol I: 1904 - 1939, Norman Sherry, c. 1989
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

My Jane Austen Library

Critics on Jane Austen, edited by Judith O'Neill, c. 1970, $1,
Jane Austen in Context, edited by Janet Todd, c. 2005, $9.98 
Jane Austen: The Cambridge Companion, edited by Edward Copeland, c. 1997,
Emma, The Norton Critical Edition,
Pride and Prejudice, Wordsworth Edition, $3.98 
Northanger Abbey, Norton Critical Edition,  

My Shakespeare Library

Lectures on Shakespeare, W H Auden, c. 2002
Shakespeare's Sonnets Freshly Phrased, Joseph Gallagher, c. 2011, $7.98
Who's Who in Shakespeare, Peter Quennell and Hamish Johnson, c. 1995, $8.00
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Harold Bloom, c. 1998,
Richard III, Book-of-the-Month Club, c. 1995
Richard III, Signet Classic, c. 1963;
Richard III, Folger Shakespeare Library, c. 1996
Complete Works of Shakespeare, Viking Press
Richard III, Paul Marray Kendall, c. 1955; this edition, 1973
Who’s Who and What’s What in Shakespeare, Evangeline M. O’Connor

My Harold Bloom Library

Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine, Harold Bloom, c. 2005
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Harold Bloom, c. 1998
Virginia Woolf, Modern Critical Reviews, edited by Harold Bloom, c. 1986
Hamlet, Poet Unlimited, Harold Bloom, c. 2003 
The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages,  Harold Bloom, c. 1995 
Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? Harold Bloom, c. 2004 
Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds, Harold Bloom, c. 2002  

British and French History

Heloise & Abelard, James Burge, 2003
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, Alison Weir, 1999, soft cover;
Henry VIII: The King and His Court, Alison Weir, c. 2001, soft cover 

My Ornithology Library

85 Years Birding, Kenneth J. Johnson, c. 2005;
On Rare Birds, Anita Albus, c. 2011; full price, $24.95; Chatham, MA
The History of Ornithology, Valerie Chansigaud, 2009; $12.00; HBS sale
The Wisdom of Birds, Tim Birkhead, c. 2008, $7.99; HBS sale

My Art Book Library

The Faces of Impressionism: Portraits from the Musee d'Orsay, c. 2014, hard cover; $45
The Musee d'Orsay, Alexandra Bonfante-Warren, c. 2003; gift, hard cover
The Journal of Eugene Delacroix, Phaidon Press, 3rd edition, c. 1995James Ensor: Christ's Entry into Brussels in 1889, Patricia G. Berman, c. 2002
James Ensore, Herwig Todts, c. 2008
The Pre-Raphaelites, Timothy Hilton, c. 1970, small softcover
Pre-Raphaelites And Olympians, art gallery of New South Wales, c. 2001, a small monograph
Vincent Van Gogh: A Psychosocial Perspective, Richard H. Rahe, M.D., a short monograph
Turner: Painting The Nation, English Heritage, c. 1996, a small softcover
The Life and Works of Monet, Edmund Swinglehurst, c. 1994, a small softcover
Manet By Himself, edited by Juliet Wilson-Bareau, c. 1991, hardcover, small
Monet, Christopher Heinrich, Taschen, c. 2000, a small softcover
Monet By Himself, edited by Richard Kendall, c. 1989, softcover, small
Monet and the Impressionists for Kids, Carol Sabbeth, c. 2002, softcover, 21 activities
Salvador Dali: Life and Work, Frank Weyers, c. 1999, small hardcover

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Los Angeles Before Hollywood: Journalism And American Fmil Culture, 1905 To 1915, Jan Olsson

c. 2008

This is a wonderful book I stumbled across while shopping in a Japanese bookstore in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. As mentioned in an earlier post at another blog, 90% of the offerings at this bookstore were in Japanese, but the English-book section was outstanding. I picked up a "Manga" book on electricity, and a graphic novel on Steve Jobs. But the best buy was the 2008 Los Angeles Before Hollywood by Jan Olsson. I enjoy it mostly because it is a most challenging book to read; very, very dense; somewhat obtuse writing, I guess, one would say. I have started the book several times, and have had to read the first two or three pages three or four times to figure out what the author's intent for the book was. I have now gotten through the introduction after the fourth or fifth try, and for the first time, finally looked at the author's bio on wikipedia. It looks like it's a much better book than I had even imagined.

I don't recommend the book for anyone but the most diehard movie historians. It has real heft, again literally and figuratively. It looks compact but it is "heavy." It has ten chapters (plus an introduction), 394 pages; notes, 50 pages; a 14-page bibliography; and a 19-page index.

The book covers the history of film in Los Angeles and the West Coast from 1905 to 1915, a period the author considers a transitional period for film. Two films serve as symbolic bookends for this decade: Escape From Sing Sing (1905) and The Clansman, later The Birth of a Nation (1915). I recall seeing the latter many years ago, but I forget where and exactly when -- but it must have been back in high school, if you can imagine that. It left a huge impression on me. 

I doubt I will finish the book any time soon. I may not finish it at. Certainly, I will skim some portions of is. It is interesting, rewarding, and fulfilling to see my alma mater, University of Southern California mentioned often.

The early 1910s was a period when social scientists and progressive reformers began mapping the amusement and recreational geographies in America. In the spring of 1911 renowned social scientist Dr Emory S Bogardus was summoned to Los Angeles at the behest of the University of Southern California's president.
The mission: establishing a department of sociology at USC. The result: a highly regarded and in several respects groundbreaking academic institution crafted during Bogardus' long tenure at the helm.
According to a small news item from December, 1911, Dr Bogardus, during his first year as a professor at USC, had thirty-five students in a civic-education course prepare to maps of downtown Los Angels marking all its places of amusement and recreations based on a systematic inventory of 3,600 blocks.

1905 - 1915: a transitory period for film

Paging through the newspapers during this time period may be one of the best ways to learn about the evolution of film during this transitory period.

Bookend movies: Escape From Sing Sing (1905; the reel has been lost); and The Clansman (re-titled, Birth of a Nation, D. W. Griffith, 1915).

1905: the nickelodian craze.

The Saunterer. From the net:
One hundred and thirty years ago today, the new owner of the Los Angeles Daily Times, Colonel Harrison Gray Otis, reported to work in this modest building at Temple and New High. According to the 1882 newspaper announcement, Otis would have editorial oversight of the Daily Times and Weekly Mirror (now the Los Angeles Times). Otis and his wife Eliza had purchased 15% of the newspaper. While Harrison published bombastic editorials, Eliza wrote articles for the women’s section and columns called “The Saunterer” and “Susan Sunshine.” By 1886, the couple bought out their partners and owned 100 percent of the newspaper. -- the blog posting was undated
"Otis saw a glorious future for Los Angeles whose population totaled about 12,000 when he joined the Times. ‘Los Angeles is in a transition state,’ he wrote in an early editorial. ‘She has finally waked up from the dull lethargy of those old days when she was one great sheep-walk and cattle range. All she needs now is men of brawn and brains to grow up with her.’" [Harrison Gray Otis became the newspaper's editor in July, 1882.]
 The Times.

The flaneur.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Great Gatsby

Having completed my Girl-With-The-Dragon-Tattoo phase I am now in my Great-Gatsby phase. 

Truthfully, it will be awhile before I get out of my GWTDT phase. In addition to everything else, the novel has an interesting structure, several stories within the novel, which is not unusual, but the way the author bookended the murder mystery with a boring financial exposé was fascinating. I'm not sure if I had seen that type of structure in other books I have read. It was a great book, but probably one I won't read again. On the other hand, I will watch the movie over and over, probably any number of times, before I finally get it out of my system, if I ever do.

On the other hand, it is very likely that I will read The Great Gatsby over and over, any number of times, and I may never get it out of my system. It took a long time for me to "get over" Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. While reading Mrs Dalloway the second time, I had the uneasy feeling, I wasn't "getting it." I tried to solve that by typing the entire novel. That exercise took about six months, typing a couple of hours every other night or so. When I was done, I found myself blown away by the novel, and was able to read it a third time, and can now go back and enjoy reading it again and again.

The Great Gatsby is going to be like Mrs Dalloway for me. I won't re-type the entire novel, but I certainly might type out all the impossible-to-understand and almost-impossible-to-understand phrases, sentences and paragraphs. I don't recall reading TGG in high school or college. I don't remember ever reading it until 2004 or sometime around then when I was beginning my aggressive reading program. I read it, and remembered parts of it, but it wasn't until I saw the 2013 movie, that I really followed the story line.

I'm slowly reading TGG again. Today on page 116, chapter VI, a bit more than halfway through the book, I recognized the climax.

According to wiki:
According to Freytag, a drama is divided into five parts, or acts, which some refer to as a dramatic arc: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement. Although Freytag's analysis of dramatic structure is based on five-act plays, it can be applied (sometimes in a modified manner) to short stories and novels as well, making dramatic structure a literary element.
Briefly, J. Gatsby has spent the last five years of his life, ostensibly, trying to "get back" with Daisy, the love of his life. Wow, as I write that, and try to think next what to say, it becomes overwhelming. It is an incredible book, and an incredible story. Of course, it helps to know the ending. In fact, one needs to know the ending to a) recognize the climax; and, b) realize how really great this book is/was.

This was Fitzgerald's third huge, immeasurable, success. Two earlier novels had made him the "rock star" of his generation. He was having trouble, probably sensing intense pressure, to "do it again," to hit a third home run. The Great Gatsby was a grand slam; he predicted as much but did not live long enough to see that play out.

Wow, what a digression.

Briefly, J. Gatsby has spent the last five years of his life, ostensibly, trying to "get back" with Daisy, the love of his life. And then this, Chapter 6, about halfway through the book, on page 116, near the bottom of the page. J. Gatsby felt that he had failed up to that point in winning Daisy back. His "friend," his neighbor, the novella's narrator, declares:

    "I wouldn't ask too much of her, "I ventured. "You can't repeat the past."

    "Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!"

    He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.

That was the climax. Then begins immediately the downward trajectory of the dramatic arc:

    "I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly. "She'll see."

At that point it is just a matter of seeing how the novel plays out. In the end, the story becomes a metaphor not only of F. Scott Fitzgerald's life but the lives of many who read the book and realized how really good this book was.

It literally happens that fast. One is casually reading the book, and then it hits, the climax, "you can't repeat the past. Can't repeat the past? Of course you can." Talk about stripping down a literary effort to a dozen words, an practically monosyllabic at that. Wow.

[It's possible some folks will argue that the climax was the moment when Gatsby and Daisy got together for tea at Nick's house. But that was not a "moment." It was a scene. That scene begins somewhat earlier than the "true" climax, beginning on page 91. It is a comedic scene, not a tragic scene, and does not "feel" climactic." The scene does not provide the weight (as in "gravitas") that a climax would need for a book to be called a classic.]

[There may be a foreshadowing of the climax on page 98, still part of the "tea" scene. The narrator suggests that the "colossal significance of {the green light at the end of Daisy's dock} had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it has seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Not it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.]


Did F. Scott Fitzgerald recognize he was trying to re-live his past? Was he his own psychoanalyst? I need to go back and read his biography and Zelda's to review what was going on in their lives in 1920. He was starting to write the book in 1922 or thereabouts (published in 1925), so whatever the book is "about" was based on his internal struggles before 1922. This Side of Paradise was published in 1920; The Beautiful and The Damned was published in 1922. Born in 1896, he was only 26 years of age in 1922.