Romantic Circles Blog

Musical Setting for Blake's Songs Performed

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From an April 12 review by John Rockwell in The New York Times:

"ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 9 — William Bolcom's gigantic, well-more-than-two-hour setting of William Blake's complete 'Songs of Innocence and of Experience' poetic cycle is enormously difficult and expensive to perform. Looking down at the forces assembled for the University of Michigan performance in Hill Auditorium here on Thursday night [APRIL 8] was a mega-Mahlerian experience, with a stage extension needed to accommodate the nearly 500 musicians (bigger than the forces of any Mahler 'Symphony of a Thousand' I have encountered). All that was missing were lighting effects and projections of Blake's engravings, suggested in the score. But they were on display in the lobby. . . ." [read the entire review]

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"The Monster Makers" performed in Calgary, Alberta, CA

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This letter came today to the Romantic Circles Editors:

Hiya!

I thought you might be interested of a small local production based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, based on the experiences of the summer of 1816 at Villa Diodati in Geneva.  It is an all original script called "the Monster Makers" written and directed by Louis B. Hobson.

[see this story in the Calgary Sun --SJ]

It puts on a theatre stage an account of what might have transpired between the five characters of Lord George Byron, Dr. John Polidori, Claire Clairmont, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Godwin.  It opens April 13 at the pumphouse theatres in Calgary, Alberta and goes until April 20.  A shortened version recently won the Calgary regional one-act play festival, and this also will be used for the Alberta provincial one-act play festival.

Sincerely,
David C. Hume

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Michael Foot's Hazlitt Collection

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Scholar, journalist, and political activist Michael Foot, 90, officially opened a an exhibition on William Hazlitt at the Wordsworth museum in Dove Cottage in Grasmere last Saturday. In interviews Foot confirmed that most of the 1,000 volumes in his Hazlitt collection will pass to the Wordsworth Trust when he dies. The Trust has published a new edition of The Spirit of the Age to coincide with the exhibition and dedicated it to Mr Foot. (See the story in the Guardian.)

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"Daffodils": Poetry reading for charity

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On March 19, to mark the 200th anniversary of the composition of "Daffodils" ("I wandered lonely as a cloud"), groups of more than 260, 000 pupils from local schools near Grasmere read the poem at the same time, an attempt to break the record for the world's largest poetry reading and a benefit for the Marie Curie Cancer Care daffodil campaign. (See the story in the Guardian.)

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An adaptation of Shelley's Mask of Anarchy

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The new album by independent pop musician, John Vanderslice (formerly of MK Ultra), Cellar Door, contains perhaps the most recent in a long line of adaptations of P. B. Shelley's political song on the occasion of the Peterloo massacre, The Mask of Anarchy. The lyrics of "Pale Horse" are taken straight from Shelley's ballad (with a little cutting and pasting and one or two interpolations). Listeners can even download an MP3 audio file here.

from the haunts of daily life
where is waged the daily strife
common wants and common cares
cuts the human heart with tears

rise like lions after a slumber
in greatly unknowable numbers

let the tyrants pour around
with apocalyptic sound
on the charge of iron wheels
and the crash of horse’s heels

rise like lions after a slumber
in greatly unknowable numbers
free the blood that must ensue
we are many and they are few

from the workhouse and the prison
pale as corpses newly risen
knives are drawn now let them see
standing tall that say they’re free

your strong and simple words
set to wound as sharpened swords
wide as targets let them be
with their shade to cover me

rise like lions after a slumber
in greatly unknowable numbers
free the blood that must ensue
we are many and they are few

SJ

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Blake Archive: America A Prophecy

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The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of the electronic edition of America a Prophecy copy M. One of 14 extant copies, and one of only four that are colored, copy M was printed c. 1807. Now in the Yale Center for British Art, it joins copies A, E, and O in the Archive and will be joined by copies F and H in the near future.

America is dated 1793 on its title plate, and the first ten copies were printed that year followed in 1795 by two more copies. Copies E (1793) and A (1795) are from these two printing sessions. Copy O was the last to be printed, c. 1818. With the addition of copy M, the printing history of America is fully represented in the Archive.

Copy M, however, is an oddity, for it was uniquely printed with no other works during a period when Blake appears to have been generally inactive in the printing of his illuminated books. It is the only illuminated book printed on Hayes & Wise 1799 paper and with most of its plates printed in blue ink. It appears to have been printed while Blake was proofing various plates from the first two chapters of Jerusalem, some of which are also in blue ink. A few of these proofs will enter the Archive in the near future.

Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Andrea Laue, technical editor
The William Blake Archive

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Valuing the Murray Archive

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For those of you following the story of the possible sale of the John Murray Archive, a recent article on Scotsman.com cites Joan Winterkorn, director and chief of valuations, antiquarian booksellers Bernard Quaritch, who was recently asked to value the Murray Archive--and "put the value at £45m, possibly more." The National Library of Scotland hopes to buy the collection for £33 million.

"What I had not anticipated was the extraordinary richness and depth of the collection, the many hundreds of boxes of letters that have never been catalogued and have seldom been consulted," Winterkorn says.

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What are you working on? (Michael O'Neill)

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We asked Michael O'Neill, of the University of Durham, "What are you working on?"

I have been working on a number of things, all connected with my wish to write on poems that I admire and to explore why I think they are impressive. Most of these projects have appeared in essay form: forthcoming pieces include an essay on "Adonais" and poetic power, a wide-ranging survey of poetic forms and Romanticism for Nicholas Roe's new OUP volume on Romanticism, further work on Beddoes, an essay on the legacy of Romanticism in the work of twentieth-century poets, especially Crane, Stevens, Yeats, and Bishop, an essay on Shelley's translation of the Symposium that seeks to explore its qualities as a "prose poem," some essays on Byron (including a piece on Beppo), and an essay on "Madness in poetry from Shelley to Plath." What I'm trying to work towards is a book on Romanticism and its Poetic Legacy.

Best wishes,
Michael O'Neill

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New: Romantic Circles Pedagogies

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Next month, Romantic Circles will launch a special section called Romantic Pedagogies, which will continue to expand well into the summer. Within this section, we plan to set up a "Romantic Commons" in which teaching issues can be discussed and teachers' materials shared with one another.

We plan to establish the section on a firm scholarly footing, including peer-review and MOO conference participation as part of each thematic-based "issue" or site produced. All Romantic Circles materials are peer-reviewed, of course, but we add this by way of indicating that we would work to ensure that people's work "published" and discussed in this site will be adequately valued by their home institutions.

Leaders would serve as editors of thematically named issues within the Pedagogy Commons. For example, we could imagine a special issue called "Wordsworth's Pedagogy," or, say, one on Romantic Ecology. We had originally planned to launch the Commons with the theme "Romantic Women Writers," asking in particular our continental associates how they teach British Romantic women writers. Those interested in helping to establish Romantic Pedagogy Commons as part of the RC Pedagogies section should contact us.

Laura Mandell
Ron Broglio
Tilar Mazzeo

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Murray Archive Poised to Move to Scottish National Library

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The John Murray Archive--a collection built by the famous publishing house that includes, among other important papers, Byron's correspondence--may soon move from London to the National Library of Scotland (at a cost of something close to £33 million). As readers of this blog will know, Byron’s literary executor inherited the poet's papers and his daughter bequeathed them to the Murrays. (See the story this week in Scotsman.com.) The British Library has expressed support for the move. The Scottish Library has plans to stage for special exhibitions devoted to the works of Lord Byron, Jane Austen, and others. (See as well this article at the BBC 4 site.)

SJ

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