Sunday, October 31, 2010

Notes on London Review of Books, February 3, 2005 (Volume 27, Number 3)

Linda Colley on N.A.M Rodger: the superiority of British Sea Power is a mid-19th century construction, not consistently supported by the actual history of the preceding three centuries.

Joyce’s “Stephen Hero” is a reference to “Turpin Hero” – Dick Turpin, a highwaymen and folk-hero, subject of ballads and broadsides, was probably really just a thug.

Context for “Godzilla” - not only were Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the Japanese public mind but even more recently, 1954, a boatload of tuna poisoned with radiation by US Bikini Atoll hydrogen bomb experiment had been sold in Japan before the hospitalization of its crew with radiation sickness was known. The Emperor himself stopped eating fish.

Emma Richler (daughter of Mordecai) has written two books, Feed My Dead Dogs and Sister Crazy about growing up in a big, eccentric E. Nesbit-styled family. This turns out to be more psychologically complex in real life than in Y.A. novels but the books sound charming all the same.

White Mozambican Mia Coutu, who writes in Portuguese (hence lusophone) sounds well worth reading. The Last Flight of The Flamingo and Sleepwalking Night, at least, have been translated into English.

Mendelssohn a fascinating character, must listen to more of his music. Wagner’s anti-semitism partly originates in personal rivalry with Felix, from whom he (Wagner) stole quite freely.

Documentary film Mondovino is “substantively about the world of wine and taste, but formally it’s skilful agit-prop against the forces of globalisation.” (Steven Shapin)

Alfred Wegener’s 1915 “The Origins of Continents and Oceans” posited the existence of the Pangaea supercontinent which was not commonly accepted until the late 1960s. Also beneath Yellowstone Park is a “supervolcano” whose effects, should it erupt, would be much more cataclysmic than most of the things we worry about. It is 40,000 years overdue for its cyclical eruption.