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Poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw's poetic reflections on William Morris's Icelandic Journal, one of the overlooked masterpieces of travel literature The great Victorian designer and decorative artist William Morris was fascinated by Iceland and wrote a book documenting his travels there. He gets caught up with questions of travel, noting his reaction to the idea of leaving or arriving, to hurry and delay, what it means to dread a place you’ve never been to or to encounter the actuality of a long-held vision. He is sensitive to the emotional landscape of his band of travelers and, above all, continuously analyzing and fixing this “most romantic of all deserts.” Lavinia Greenlaw follows in his footsteps, and interposes his prose with her own “questions of travel.” The result is a new and composite work that brilliantly explores our conflicted reasons for not staying at home.
Author : Rosalind Williams
ISBN : 9780226899589
Genre : History
File Size : 75.4 MB
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In the early 1600s, in a haunting tale titled New Atlantis, Sir Francis Bacon imagined the discovery of an uncharted island. This island was home to the descendants of the lost realm of Atlantis, who had organized themselves to seek “the knowledge of Causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.” Bacon’s make-believe island was not an empire in the usual sense, marked by territorial control; instead, it was the center of a vast general expansion of human knowledge and power. Rosalind Williams uses Bacon’s island as a jumping-off point to explore the overarching historical event of our time: the rise and triumph of human empire, the apotheosis of the modern ambition to increase knowledge and power in order to achieve world domination. Confronting an intensely humanized world was a singular event of consciousness, which Williams explores through the lives and works of three writers of the late nineteenth century: Jules Verne, William Morris, and Robert Louis Stevenson. As the century drew to a close, these writers were unhappy with the direction in which their world seemed to be headed and worried that organized humanity would use knowledge and power for unworthy ends. In response, Williams shows, each engaged in a lifelong quest to make a home in the midst of human empire, to transcend it, and most of all to understand it. They accomplished this first by taking to the water: in life and in art, the transition from land to water offered them release from the condition of human domination. At the same time, each writer transformed his world by exploring the literary boundary between realism and romance. Williams shows how Verne, Morris, and Stevenson experimented with romance and fantasy and how these traditions allowed them to express their growing awareness of the need for a new relationship between humans and Earth. The Triumph of Human Empire shows that for these writers and their readers romance was an exceptionally powerful way of grappling with the political, technical, and environmental situations of modernity. As environmental consciousness rises in our time, along with evidence that our seeming control over nature is pathological and unpredictable, Williams’s history is one that speaks very much to the present.
If Lavinia Greenlaw's Minsk was about home, her new collection tests the proximities of elsewhere, 'the circle round our house', the road between two lives. Its title recalls a phrase of Robert Lowell's to describe Elizabeth Bishop -- one of the book's presiding spirits, with her insistence on the provisional, on the moment in which perception is formed, on landscape as action rather than description. The Casual Perfect continues Lavinia Greenlaw's explorations of light and the borders of vision, which include a journey to the four corners of Britain to observe the solstices and equinoxes, and a cycle about the East Anglian landscape which is nine-tenths sky. Questions of travel hover around many of these poems, or questions which need to be 'travelled fully' rather than answered -- and which involve the overheard and the glimpsed, what is gleaned from traces and external signs. The result is a collection that is under-stated, spare but inclusive, which invites our presence as readers.
This Companion engages with key debates surrounding the interpretation and reception of Elizabeth Bishop's published and unpublished writing in relation to questions of biography, the natural world, and politics. Chapters from an international team of scholars explore the full range of Bishop's artistic achievements and the extent to which posthumous publications have contributed to her enduring popularity.
This is a story about a woman and a man who meet by chance. Nothing of any importance is said, yet she suddenly turns away, leaves the room, and starts to run. She is in shock from what this man has brought back to life: an electrical affinity, a higher self, a feeling of having been woken, recognized, and desired. Iris, a museum conservator in her late forties, is in the midst of separating from her husband, with whom she has two daughters. Her house is falling down, money is tight, and her husband is unwell. The man she meets is Raif, a stalled academic whose wife has died and whose girlfriend is about to move in. He is not as mysterious as he appears. Iris and Raif have no say. For all we talk about love; name its parts; explain it to each other, it is something that just happens to us. We repeat steps laden with memory. In the City of Love's Sleep reveals love in all its inscrutable complexity: the raw nature of feeling and its uncontrollable, inconsistent, unsettling truths.
An original poetic work that brings alive Chaucer’s great love story, illuminating the psychological drama at its heart. The captivating love story of ill-fated Troilus and Criseyde, first popularized by Chaucer’s poem in the 1380s, is one of the most enduring stories of the English language. In A Double Sorrow, award-winning poet Lavinia Greenlaw breathes fresh life into the medieval tale through a series of seven-line stanzas, which mimic the form of Chaucer’s original poem. Set during the siege of Troy, A Double Sorrow is the story of the Trojan hero Troilus and his beloved Criseyde, whose traitorous father defects to the Greeks and persuades them to ask for his daughter in an exchange of prisoners. Troilus suggests that Criseyde flee with him, but she knows she will be universally condemned and instead pretends to submit to the exchange while promising Troilus that she will find a way to return to him within ten days. But once in the company of the Greeks, she soon realizes the impossibility of her promise to Troilus and in despair succumbs to another. In this series of skillfully crafted poetic vignettes, Greenlaw illuminates each small but irrevocable step as these characters argue each other and themselves into and out of love. The result is a breathtaking and shattering read, contemporary and timeless.
Lavinia Greenlaw's latest collection, The Casual Perfect (2011), focused on 'the achievement of the provisional'. In the near decade since writing those poems, she has found herself exploring what we build out of the provisional: beginnings and endings, arrivals and departures, and the moments we fix as memories, fixing too their joy and pain. The Built Moment is divided into two sections. The first, 'The Sea is an Edge and an Ending', is a sequence of poems about her father's disappearance into Alzheimer's. It is not a narrative of illness so much as a meditation on the metaphysics of memory loss. What does it mean only to exist in the present, for your sense of self to come loose and for the past to float free? The second half of the book is called 'The Bluebell Horizontal'. If the first section is about loss (the verticals), this section is about possibility (the horizontals). It includes a prayer ('Men I Have Heard in the Night'), a blessing ('Fleur de Sel') and a speculation on why we cling on to pain ('The Break'). There are poems about Joy Division and David Bowie, and an elegy for first love. There are structures that arrest remembering and forgetting - monoliths and oubliettes - and the fundamental arrest of a poet's difficulty with words. These poems are about what we make and hold onto and offer one another. They are also about how, as we get older and death becomes more and more a part of life, what we build and what we break out of becomes more important than ever.
The Importance of Music to Girls tells the story of the adventures that music leads us into - getting drunk, falling in love, cutting our hair, wanting to change the world - as well as the darker side of the adolescent years: loneliness, bullying, getting arrested. Lavinia Greenlaw remembers the music that inspired and accompanied her, and compelled her generation. From fancying Donny Osmond, to wanting to be Ian Curtis, this is a razor-sharp memoir, filtered through the medium of music.