Biblical illiteracy: “Imagine a national art gallery without any biblical scenes”

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I’m still worrying about biblical illiteracy. Seriously. In this excellent article non-religious biblical scholar Philip Davies explains why secular biblical scholarship is important. And not only a national art gallery is unimaginable without biblical scenes — imagine literature without biblical allusions and phrases, imagine opera, classical and modern music (from Bach over Samson et Dalila or Salome to Boney M) without biblical stories or poetry. Theatre, sculpture, the very languages we speak in Europe.

I’m all for knowing where Abraham gets his mustard.

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More Hysteria

… not vibrators-related, this time — but heated minds on a seriously hot topic: *gasp* the Bible!

Gove’s Bibles: good for schools?
This week, copies of the King James Bible were sent out to every state school in the country, courtesy of the education secretary Michael Gove. They were paid for by donations, not from the public purse. Tell us if you think the scheme is a good idea, and if you don’t, use the thread below to suggest books that could have been donated instead.
The Guardian

The mind-boggling result:

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Don’t miss the conspiracy theories, hilarious alternatives suggested and sheer ignorance in the readers’ comments!

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I briefly thought of the Gilgamesh Epic. Gilgamesh certainly has higher literary qualities then a lot of Bible writings. But the Bible has such a variety of themes, stories, history, philosophical-musings-next-to-erotic-poetry and so on, such an overwhelming range of characters and plots and literary styles — it remains one of the absolute masterpieces of world literature. The King James Version, of course, should be read because of its fine English. But, apart from the intrinsic qualities of the Bible and of this translation, there is another excellent reason for handing out Bibles: if the kids are going to be able to appreciate some of our finest works of art — painting, sculpture, literature, music, film, … — it might be a good idea to tell them what those works are about.

These are just a very few examples of the bloody *grin* good stories in the bible, and the art inspired by them — See if you can spot them!

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Some fine examples of the connections between women in the Bible and art are to be found on this lovely blog.

The Bible is on my List of Deserted-Island-Books

Evelyn Waugh & Father Brown

Brideshead Revisited is on my List of Deserted-Island-Books

One of the most powerful metaphors in the book, and I never spotted it’s origin. Delightful —
thanks to whoever pointed this out, you made my day! 😀

In Evelyn Waugh‘s novel Brideshead Revisited, a quote from the Father Brown story “The Queer Feet” is an important element of the structure and theme of the book. Father Brown speaks this line after catching a criminal, hearing his confession, and letting him go: “I caught him, with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.” Book Three of Brideshead Revisited is called “A Twitch Upon the Thread,” and the quote acts as a metaphor for the operation of grace in the characters’ lives. They are free to wander the world according to their free will until they are ready and receptive to God’s grace, at which point He acts in their lives and effects a conversion. In the miniseries made by Granada Television adapting Brideshead, the character Lady Marchmain (Claire Bloom) reads this passage aloud.

Source: Wikipedia article on Father Brown

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Books to Read :: Es kam ein Stern aus Babylon

taz.de 24.04.2012. Rezension von Najem Wali.

Aufklärung. Mit “Platon in Bagdad” hat der amerikanische Autor John Freely eine aufregende Kulturgeschichte verfasst, die mit eurozentrischen Vorurteilen bricht. In seinem Buch erzählt er, wie das Wissen der Antike von Bagdad aus in die arabisch-islamische Wissenschaftnach Europa zurückkehrte

John Freely: “Platon in Bagdad. Wie das Wissen der Antike nach Europa kam”. Aus dem Englischen von Ina Pfitzner. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2012, 388 Seiten, 24,95 Euro

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Dracula

Carmilla was, bafflingly, left out of the Guardian’s Top 10 Vampires for kids. Dracula is number one. The author apologises for being obvious. Well, geez louise. Frankly, I’d much rather the kids read Carmilla then Dracula.

Because? Because Dracula is a colonialist, sexist, xenophobic, imperialist, racist, misogynist, sadistic, … errmm, Un-Book. Dracula is a nasty piece of invasion literature. Even GradeSaver says so.

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Says requireshate

Likely he never thought “women’s only place is on the pedestal,” yet that’s where his female characters generally end up

in a delightful post about Tolkien; but the same goes for Stoker — bleeding and bitten to pieces, heads cut off and stakes driven through their hearts — yet these women go on smiling saintly and bravely. The battle between good and evil hinges upon their sexual mores, bless their hearts. Dracula’s sexuality seems unhinged — to say the least — but surely the xenophobic and misogynist reaction of the British boys — the sadistic pleasure in the description of Lucy being deeply penetrated by a stake through the heart, for example — is far more frightening.

Aforementioned penetration comes, fittingly, from Lucy’s cornuto fiancé, Arthur Holmwood: Lucy is being punished not so much for being a vampire, but rather for being available to the vampire’s seduction—Dracula, we recall, only has the power to attack willing victims. When Holmwood slays the demonic Lucy, he returns her to the role of a legitimate, monogamous lover, which reinvests his fiancée with her initial Victorian virtue.

Want to read:

  • A Vampire in the Mirror: The Sexuality of Dracula by John Allen Stevenson. MLAA 103, No. 2 (Mar., 1988), pp. 139-149. JSTOR
  • A Feminist Introduction to Romanticism by Elizabeth A. Fay. Wiley-Blackwell, 1991.
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  • Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula by Christopher Frayling et al. Faber & Faber, 1992. Reviews on Goodreads. Vampire literature is an amazingly varied genre of writing, providing elements of everything from the penny dreadful horrors to powerful doses of myth and eroticism. Because it contains its own mythology and its own …
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  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations) by Harold Bloom. 2003.
  • Dracula Wiki: The Mythic Text(s) of Dracula: Reproducing the Aura. A Reading Guide to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
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    Chiens écrasés

    • ❤ Nasty Quotes 1 ❤
      “Dracula is far more interesting for its influence upon us than it can be in itself, given Stoker’s inferior gifts as a writer. Rather like Poe’s dreadfully stylized stories, Dracula verges upon myth because it has contaminated our nightmares. Stoker inaugurates our sordid dilemma by suggesting that there are two choices only: become a vampire, or transform yourself into a sublimely violent murderer of vampires.” Harold Bloom ( ❤ )
    • ❤ Nasty Quotes 2 ❤
      “He is a master of the commonplace style in which clichés flow as if they were impelled by the same pressure as genius. I don’t say this lightly. There is a semi-heroic, Everyman quality about his intense command of the mediocre … When such a man, just once, is thoroughly afraid, the charade stops and what you get is Dracula.” Ludovic Flow
    • Christopher Frayling. Dracula: The man behind the cape
    • Dracula’s Castle returned to its ancestral owners 60 years after being seized by communists
    • ❤ Nasty Quotes 3 ❤ “Bram Stoker must be turning over in his grave”, imdb comment on Coppola’s Dracula, with, quelle nightmare, Keanu Reeves and Wynona Rider. The mind boggles.
    • Dracula bites back! Dacre Stoker, great grand-nephew of Bram, worries about Dracula’s reputation.
    • There was actually one intriguing element in Dracula: the geographical descriptions in the book. Thanks to some friends in the English Language Café I got a better sight on Dracula countryVarna, the Donau Delta, Bulgaria and Rumania, Galați, Vlad the Impaler & the history of the Austro-Hungarian rule and the Turkish occupation. So with the good advice I found on this excellent blog-for-teachers, I started My Own Dracula Map 🙂
    • drakula, drakula

      drakula, du schlimmer,
      komm nicht auf mein zimmer,
      tu mama nicht schrecken,
      nicht uns kinder necken,
      bleib´ bloß schön zu haus´,
      bei der flebebermaus.“

      H.C.Artmann

    • Denn die Todten reiten schnell …

      The sentence „denn die Todten reiten schnell“ (“for the dead travel fast”), famously quoted from the ballad Lenore by Gottfried August Bürger. The name Lenore is also used in The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe(Wikipedia). I tried to read Lenore. I really tried.

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    Reading now :: Dracula :: Watching now

    After reading-&-rantingly-loving Carmilla (here and here, and a review to comeno, it’s not there yet), I decided to give Dracula a try. After all, Bram Stoker got his mustard from Sheridan Le Fanu, so how bad could it get?

    Pretty bad. Well, no, honestly — execrably bad.

    Bram Stoker. Dracula. First published In London, January 1st 1897
    Reviews on Goodreads
    Read more on the Bram Stoker Website or on Wikipedia

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    Jess Franco. Count Dracula (1969)
    On Wikipedia

    Count Dracula (German: Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht, Spanish: El Conde Dracula) is a European horror film / (s)exploitation movie, directed by Jesús Franco and based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.

    Starring: Christopher Lee (Count Dracula), Klaus Kinski (Renfield), Maria Rohm (Mina Murray), Herbert Lom (Professor Van Helsing), Fred Williams (Jonathan Harker), Soledad Miranda (Lucy Westenra), Jack Taylor (Quincey Morris), and Paul Müller (Dr. Seward). Music by Bruno Nicolai.

    Sounds yummy … Sounds extremely yummy 😀