By the early years of the twentieth century, the fame of Torquato Tasso and his work in England had started to wane. This book of Tasso's literary, artistic, and biographical afterlives is an attempt to stimulate a revival of 'sympathetic interest' in a now undeservedly underappreciated epic masterpiece and its fascinating poet. It addresses the simultaneous and long-standing impact of the poet's work, particularly his epic Gerusalemme liberata, on opera and the visual arts. The first strand of the book traces the reception and artistic afterlives in England, focused on the amorous interlude of Armida and Rinaldo in her enchanted garden in cantos XV and XVI. Initially, the book concentrates on the literary impact of Armida's arrival in the poem, examining how the poets Abraham Fraunce and Samuel Daniel both responded to canto IV of Tasso's poem. The poet, Edmund Spenser, regarded Gerusalemme liberata as a significant new epic model as he seemed to both reflect and pre-empt its enormous popularity in other artistic media. The book investigates the impact in England of visual depictions of scenes from Tasso's romantic episodes, featuring both Rinaldo and Armida and the almost equally popular Tancredi and Erminia. It explores ambitious musical adaptations of the episode for the London stage in the native form of dramatic opera in John Dennis's 'Rinaldo and Armida: A Tragedy'. Among other things, the second strand of the book analyses many imaginative engagements with aspects of the poet's legendary biography, such as his prolonged imprisonment in Ferrara.
‘Die Politik’, Bismarck is reputed to have said, ‘ist die Lehre von Möglichen’. Translated as ‘politics is the art of the possible’, this phrase captures neatly the pragmatism that has been at the heart of modern British approaches to the art of government. It is not as though ideology has not, occasionally, loomed large in political debate. Conviction certainly has a respectable pedigree in explaining the attachments, destinies and ultimate fate of some politicians. But success in British politics has come most readily to those who have been flexible, responsive to the shifting mood of the electorate of the day, able to anticipate how social and economic changes may reconstitute the terms of debate, and how through their own words and writings they themselves may help to constitute political meaning. This volume explores some of the major transitions, opportunities and false dawns of modern British political history. Chronologically its span runs from the first general election to be conducted under the terms of the Third Reform Act, with an extensive (if still incomplete) adult male electorate, through to the 1997 referenda in favour of devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales. This was the period in which British politicians most obviously addressed a mass, British-wide electorate, seeking national approval for policies and programmes to be enacted on a UK-wide basis. In covering this period and this theme the volume as a whole engages with the scholarly legacy of Duncan Tanner.
In a European country like Britain you would normally expect the most interesting films to be produced within the area of art cinema.
Alan Lovell 1
Art cinema, as a significant historical element of a national film culture and a counterbalance to the international power of the American cinema, has a secure place, established very firmly in the 1920s, in the histories of the major European cinemas, and represented, in particular, by the films of France
What is British art cinema? Finding the answer to this question is far from easy. Other nations seem to have found the task simpler; one of the earliest French production companies called itself Film d’Art and was dedicated to making ‘cultural films’. 1 By the early 1920s a group of international avant-garde artists, including Man Ray and Fernand Léger, were settled in Paris pursuing their creative interests through the comparatively new medium of cinema. Yet when Erik Hedling wrestled with the term for The British Cinema Book (2009
Writing in 1969, Alan Lovell observed that Britain apparently lacked the kind of stylistically self-conscious art cinema characteristic of other European countries. 1 If Britain had an art cinema, he argued, it had taken the form of the documentary film which had characteristically subordinated aesthetic experiment to educational and ideological purposes. 2 By the 1980s, however, it had become much easier to identify a recognisably British ‘art cinema’ and to see it as a significant strand of
Art cinema, just like its mainstream counterpart, needs audiences to be sustainable. Reaching those audiences requires structures to finance production and to distribute and exhibit work: in short, a business. Without this business, films remain largely unseen or the preserve of a coterie of insiders. Art cinema as a cohesive genre emerged in Britain comparatively late, in the 1970s, 1 and its survival since then has not just been achieved through the talents of film-makers but also by producers, distributors, exhibitors and programmers
accommodated alongside a tangible and authentic sense of place and time; an authenticity of performance, marked by the casting of non-professional actors recruited as much for their experience of their characters’ environments and occupations as for their dramatic skills; and an interest in dislocation, both political and emotional (although they are inextricably connected), combine to shape what we might understand as a poetic tendency within Loach’s work with Hines. With these characteristics in mind, the films might also be categorised within the broader context of art
The application of the concept of ‘art cinema’ to British film production in the 1960s immediately poses certain problems of definition. If we adopt Steve Neale’s institutional perspective, highlighting how the concept was used in France, Italy and Germany to foster indigenous national cinemas that could resist the threat posed by Hollywood by emphasising the cultural value of film, 1 then the evidence suggests a rather different set of priorities in the case of Britain. For the UK film industry
Borrowed objects and the art of poetry examines seven Exeter riddles, three Anglo-Saxon biblical poems (Exodus, Andreas, Judith), and Beowulf to uncover the poetics of spolia, an imaginative use of fictional recycled artefacts to create sites of metatextual reflection. Old English poetry famously – and for a corpus rather interested in the enigmatic and the oblique, appropriately – lacks an explicit ars poetica. This book argues that attention to particularly charged moments within texts – especially within texts concerned with translation, transformation, and the layering of various pasts – gives us a previously unrecognised means for theorising Anglo-Saxon poetic creativity. Borrowed objects and the art of poetry works at the intersections of recent interest in materiality and poetics, balancing insights of thing theory, and related approaches with close readings of specific passages from Old English texts.
The Art of The Faerie Queene is the first book centrally focused on the forms and poetic techniques employed by Spenser. Though much scholarly attention in recent years has been on the relationships between Spenser’s poetry and political and colonial history, the place of his epic in literary history has received less attention. This book aims to rectify that by re-reading The Faerie Queene as poetry which is at once absorbing, demanding, and experimental. The Spenser explored here ingeniously uses the tricks of his poetic style to amplify his symbolic agendas and to deepen the reading experience. One of the book’s particular originalities is the way in which it reframes Spenser’s place in literary history. As opposed to the stylistic conservatism diagnosed by previous generations of scholars, The Art of The Faerie Queene presents the poem as more radical, more edgy, and less conventional, particularly as it appeared to Spenser’s first readers. As such, the book proposes new ways of understanding the Elizabethan poetic Renaissance and the ways in which Spenser is best understood in terms of literary history. The book progresses from the choice of individual words through to questions of metre, rhyme, and stanza form up to the larger structures of canto, book, and the incomplete yet massive poem itself. It will be of particular relevance to undergraduates studying Elizabethan poetry, graduate students, and scholars of Renaissance poetry, for whom the formal aspect of the poetry has been a topic of growing relevance.