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beatriceotto, Author at www.writingredux.com
Of pens and pencils

Of pens and pencils

Listening time: under 3 minutes.   This is a charming account of negotiating communist bureaucracy at the height of the Cold War.  John Steinbeck and his pal Robert Capa showed up in the Soviet Union in 1946 for a month of exploration.  Here they encounter a small...
Life and Fate – documentary

Life and Fate – documentary

Stumbled across this excellent documentary by Priscilla Pizzato, Life and Fate by Vasili Grossman (in French, with English subtitles) on the European channel Arte.tv.  If you haven’t yet read the book, this could be the trigger. Note that it is available online...
Trim, trig and tickety-boo

Trim, trig and tickety-boo

Came across the upright word ‘trig’ in another of Arthur Ransome’s charming children’s adventure stories, Winter Holiday, which I read on suitably cold, blustery nights. It seems the word is used only in Scotland or in northern English dialect...
Topaz-coloured eyes

Topaz-coloured eyes

Adrienne is far the most interesting female character in this monumental trilogy, and there is great finesse in the author’s description of her development from a young girl into a mature woman. Her eyes are also a wonderful feature. Banffy’s books...
As active as…

As active as…

What a great simile to describe a fast-darting, quick-acting mind!  Sadly, this vivid image also reminds me of a certain virus now prevalent, being similarly active and biting everything that comes near. ‘With such a mind, active as phosphorus, biting everything...
Missing homework

Missing homework

Here Steinbeck suffers a bout of exam nerves before being bombarded with highly intellectual questions from his counterparts in the Soviet Union, particularly regarding ‘American writing’, which for some reason they expected him to know something about. As...
Ahead of his time

Ahead of his time

While I believe that ‘cold statistics’ properly deployed, can in fact help us take account of people’s feelings and traditions, and avoid treating men like robots, nevertheless, there is a warning here, as we approach what has been described as a...
Szkupcsina

Szkupcsina

This intriguing word turned up in Miklos Banffy’s superb Transylvanian Trilogy, tracing the decline of the Hungarian aristocracy in the years up to the start of the First World War.  He mentions szkupcsina as referring to ‘the disgruntled old armchair...
Poison-green brocade

Poison-green brocade

Wondering what shade is poison-green, I discovered that Pantone has given it a vivid verdancy; the hex-code is 49B960 and it looks like this… slightly paler than I expected. NEVER BE SEEN IN POISON GREEN LEST IT GO TO YOUR HEAD AND RENDER YOU DEAD. It seems that...
Ink-licking notary

Ink-licking notary

Love this triologism, ink-licking, you can imagine smudgy blue fingertips and grubby blots on his cuffs. The speaker may be more than an ink-licking notary, but he is core-corrupt and keeps the locals in his thrall. His animadversions regarding the ‘little...
The timbre of a voice

The timbre of a voice

Voices are evanescent and yet they can stay with us all our lives; I can still ‘hear’ the voices of my mother and grandmother.  Some voices are striking for their timbre and I liked this description of Dorothea’s voice in Middlemarch. ‘But what...
My kind of letter

My kind of letter

Love receiving ‘real’ letters, and so was thrilled to find this beautiful envelope in the letter box, apparently made from an old map. I’ve come across map-made envelopes before, but they put the map on the inside so the outside was white and you...

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