Text books and journal articles for the PhD, including:
- The Sappho History, by the marvellous Margaret Reynolds – crisp, smart writing
- France Observed in the Seventeenth Century by British Travellers, by John Lough – a hoot
- Still browsing through the wonderful One Thousand Buildings of Paris, with photos by Jorg Brockmann and James Driscoll, and pithy text by Kaathy Borrus
- Rabelais and His World, the classic text (I know that’s an over-used description, but true in this case) by Mikhael Bakhtin – filled with vivid flashes and genuinely brilliant insights into the world of fairgrounds, festivals, freaks and folklore around early modern Paris – on archetypes and ancient lore that trickles down to us today.
- The Secret Life of Aphra Behn, by Janet Todd. Still remember the moment, in 1985, when I first visited London and wandered around Westminster Abbey – looked down, and there, below my feet, was Aphra’s grave. Getting that weird chill thing even now. Or maybe it’s a flush. Anyway – there’s a good subject for a cracking movie bio. Spy, playwright, independent woman, deviant, subversive – and yet not. Fascinating.
- George Sand: A Woman’s Life Writ Large, by Belinda Jack. Ditto – except for the grave thing.
Escapist reading is The Sealed Letter, by Emma Donoghue, about which I’m still making up my mind. I’m not sure why it’s in the present tense, and that’s a question I’m also asking myself about Tragédie.
First it seemed like a moment until Act of Faith comes out. Now it seems like years. It’s actually somewhere in between – two months or so. So the anxious, exhilarated, dumb-struck, sleepless, proud, despairing thing is starting a bit ahead of schedule.
Don’t tell anyone, but I feel like this one might go OK.
Deadwood. It’s like Macbeth on crack.
French vocab. It will not stick in my brain. I go to class and everything looks fine on paper, and then I get asked a question and there’s nothing there at all. A black hole where a word or phrase ought to be. It was there yesterday. Where do they go?
And then there’s …
King Tutankhamun exhibition opened at the Melbourne Museum last night. Wonderful, wonderful things. Best of them: his dagger, with goldwork so fine you know the Egyptians had to have some kind of magnifying lens. And a stunning realist mask of Nefertiti. And a tiny cosmetic case shaped like a duck. And – well, everything, really.
Happy hours of research planning the trip to Paris and Provence in October.
Autumn in Melbourne: reddening leaves and rhubarb and stirring great vats of crabapple jelly and green tomato relish and crisp mornings with balmy days. Bliss.