The original fake news

The original fake news

‘Fake news’ is nothing but a new term for the age old curses of rumour or propaganda, so it’s good to be reminded that these were always with us. And let’s remember to keep adding a pinch of salt to the spice bowls of rumour.  Rumour who loves...
Speed meets beauty

Speed meets beauty

One of the most vivid and original similes I have come across is Ted Hughes’ description of the two dazzling qualities of the athletic Atalanta: her speed and her beauty.  Against such speed and such a simile, taut wrought like that powering air-borne arrow,...
Lapping the summits

Lapping the summits

What an image!  The original deluge raising water levels so high that they lap over the summits like liquid blankets.  And look at that ignominious end to Jove-drowned humanity. From Hughes’ superb, punchy re-telling of Ovid’s tales.  Now’s your...
Fire or flood?

Fire or flood?

How did the Flood of floods come about?  According to Hughes’ irresistible re-telling of Ovid’s tales, Jove quietly considered the best means to delete humanity.  Being a great zapper of thunderbolts, it is natural that he begins there, pondering mass...
Thunderbolts are go (ii)

Thunderbolts are go (ii)

The Arcadian king, Lycaon, doubting that it is Jove who has come to visit, does a stomach-churning test.  Note Hughes’ horrifying use of domestic cookery language, including that simple alliterative ‘the rest to roast’, rendering the whole scene all...
Thunderbolts are go (I)

Thunderbolts are go (I)

The gods learn the price of rebellion against the supreme one.  Hughes’ re-telling of Ovid’s tales has some spectacular thunderbolt strikes from on high. This is a wrathful god.  Here, the top is blown off Olympus, with rocky shrapnel reducing rebel...
The age of iron

The age of iron

The Four Ages described in Ted Hughes’ muscular re-telling of Ovid’s tales, begins with the Golden Age when humanity knew how to behave because it hadn’t strayed too far from the source.   The final age is of iron, not in the sense of Iron Age...
The innocent forest

The innocent forest

A wonderful image of splendid towering trees innocent in their virgin forests, untouched by axe, unaware of their future forging of ocean-going ships. Love the great swinging line describing the arc of an axe ‘hurtling towards them on its parabola’, though...
The first golden age

The first golden age

Continuing his retelling of the myth of Creation, Ted Hughes reminds us of a first golden age when humans were so close to ‘the source’ that they didn’t even need laws, let alone enforcers, to know how to behave.As the Four Ages unfold, you’ll...
Alighting stars

Alighting stars

I like this hint of stars being both lit up and alighting in their permanent positions in the firmament, after an eternity huddling together in the bolus of everything that was Chaos. Now, in their proper place, they can do what they’re meant to do, and...
The translation of thinking

The translation of thinking

Steinbeck seeks to understand the difficulties his interpreters faced when supporting him on his trip to the Soviet Union with Robert Capa. The language difference wasn’t the real issue, it was bridging the thinking gap. ‘The answers I was supposed to have...
All the details of the tree

All the details of the tree

A fine injunction to a writer, first to face truth and then to give unhidden all the details. Neither is easy.’Face truth, wrapped in a puzzle. …You’ll tellYour tale in writing?  Make sure that you giveUnhidden, all the details of the tree.’...
China through Chinese literature

China through Chinese literature

Glad to highlight a new audiobook company dedicated to bringing modern Chinese fiction to a wider audience through new and sensitive recordings of English translations.Silk Gauze Audio allows you to get to know key Chinese authors and their works, also providing...
Scum-skinned tide

Scum-skinned tide

Something alarmingly contemporary about this polluted surface in Dante’s Inferno, especially when he discerns, through the miasma, dead souls fleeing.”Now train your gaze across that scum-skinned tide,”He said to me as he set my eyes free,”To...

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