About Me

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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 4 August 2013

"The marble faun" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Kenyon, a sculptor and his two painter friends, dark mysterious Miriam and blonde New England goody goody virginal 'Anglo Saxon' protestant Hilda do arty stuff in Rome and notice the resemblance of their innocent Tuscam friend Donatello to the famous Faun of Praxiteles. Entering the catacombs, Miriam gets lost and reappears with an ugly 'shadow' who had a strange psychological hold over her. Something dreadful happens which leads to a great deal of remorse and soul searching on the part of everyone except Kenyon. Months later he journeys into deepest Tuscany to visit the ancestral home of Donatello, aka the Count of Monte Bene. Remorse and soul searching continues: Donatello's innocent joi de vivre has become guilty gloom, Miriam has disappeared and Hilda positively wallows in guilt despite having nothing to be guilty of.

Romantic gothic hokum. The prose style is typically overblown Victorian: when Kenyon goes to sleep we are told that "Kenyon betook himself to his repose". There is so much of this, and relentless moralising, and cardboard allegorical characters, and condemnations of the Italians and their Roman Catholicism, and homilies on Art, that this book is nearly unreadable. Even the blurb on the back does not claim it as a great read but "both interesting and thought-provoking". According to wikipedia, Ralp Waldo Emerson called the novel "mush" though I would argue that it is a particularly inedible type of porridge.

Heavy going. August 2013; 317 pages

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