Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Chapter 23: Sir John Gielgud and Dame Ellen Terry

This is a quick entry as I am busy with PhD work, but the amazing Stephanie Graham Pina reminded me about this today when we were discussing the Victorian actress Dame Ellen Terry on Facebook.

Ellen Terry
Her great-nephew Sir John Gielgud, considered one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century, performed a wonderful version of part of Tennyson's Ulysses for a 1996 commercial for Union Bank of Switzerland.

I really like that it has the lines: "Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die" in it as they are perhaps my favourite lines in the history of poetry.  Gielgud's voice was perfect for a performance of the poem.

Terry herself perfomed Tennyson on stage in a number of his plays (Not as well known as his poetry but he did write a number of them). Most notability in the 1893 production of Becket (Photos of her in the role of  Rosamund can be found here and here)

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Chapter 22: How They Met Themselves

Happy #PRBday everyone. To celebrate here is a use of the Pre Raphaelites that inspired the creation of this very blog. 

When I  last looked at Neil Gaiman I spoke about the writers use of the "story behind the story" trope. This is where a fictionalized version of an established writer or artist' work is inspired by a event that happened to them in the fictionalized world of the story they appear in. This is another case of the trope in Gaiman's work, this time within his famous Sandman series.

How they Met Themselves by D.G.Rossetti

First published in the comics anthology Vertigo: Winter's Edge #3 (2000) The Sandman: How They Met Themselves imagines the story behind Rossetti's painting of 1860-1864 as being based on a jounrey that he, Lizzie Siddal and Algernon Charles Swinburne took. During this winter excursion they meet the personifiaction of Desire (Sister/Brother of Dream, the main character of the Sandman), leading to the events that inspire the painting.

From Absolute Sandman vol.3
Gaiman's use of the character is perfect, from Rossetti using the Guggums nickname for Lizzie and his brash egotistical characterization, Lizzie's jealously and fears over losing Rossetti and Swinburne's plee to Desire (Which I will not spoil, but people who know his history will get a kick out of it). The story is helped by the beautiful artwork of Michael Zulli, an artist with noticeable Pre Raphaelite infulences. His likenesses are beautiful. 

I wish I could say more about the story but I can't as that would spoil it. It is a narartive that needs you need to come to without much infomation because spoliers rob it of it's imapct. 

While you can still find copies of Winter's Edge cheeply, you could alternatively buy the much more expensive Absoulte Sandman Volume 3, if only to see Zulli's beautiful artwork in a larger format. 

Buy Vertigo: Winters Edge #3 US|UK
Buy Absolute Sandman vol.3 US|UK