Monday, 16 April 2018

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

I read 'Ordeal by Innocence' the other day, and since then several more Agatha Christie novels.  I now regard the current BBC TV adaption of 'Ordeal' a ridiculous travesty, the subtlety and insight of the original jettisoned in favour of a lurid ego trip by the director.

It seems to me that Agatha Christie's greatest gift was understanding the psychology of families.  For me, too, there is the fascination of period detail - the comfortable middle classes on holiday in hotels, or in their country houses.  What they ate, how they dressed - it's escapist in a way, but it is social history.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Carl Gustav Jung

Carl Gustav Jung
I watched two episodes of the BBC' series 'Face to Face' with John Freeman on  iPlayer last night.  The first was with Dame Edith Sitwell, charming, funny and with a mention of Henry Moat, the family butler at Renishaw Hall.

Next, I watched Freeman's interview with Jung.  These two episodes turn out to be related, in the sense that Jung believed that there is a part of our psyche not located in time and space.

This morning, I read in the Telegraph that a seal had swum 50 miles up river, mentioning a famous episode in the Sitwell saga when Henry Moat brought a seal by train to Renishaw.

Curious, eh?

Saturday, 7 April 2018

The Rehearsals by Vladimir Sharov, translated by Oliver Ready

Sometimes described as a magic realist, Sharov in this book brings Borges to mind.  in particular, the idea of a map the same size as the area it represents.


Friday, 6 April 2018

Maisky Diaries

The Maisky Diaries

Ivan Maisky, ambassador
The Maisky Dairies have landed.  

Thursday, 5 April 2018


Poster for 'The Mousetrap'

Synchronicity occurred this morning, when the TLS arrived with a piece about Agatha Christie illustrated by a poster for  her ‘The Mousetrap’ play on the back page. My middle grandson aged 10 saw the play in London on Monday, plus a real mouse. I saw Richard Attenborough in it when I was about 10 too, back in 1954.

I can highly recommend Andrew Eames's book '8.55 to Baghdad', where he follows in Christie's footsteps on the train from Victoria to Baghdad  thence to meet the man who was to become her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan.

Also, the new adaptation of her 'Ordeal by Innocence' on BBC TV.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Where were we?

Ivan Turgenev,  literary master 1818-1883

Where we we? I was carted off to hospital with pneumonia over Christmas and New Year, but now I’m better.

Bullet point news:

  • We live in hopes of discussing Turgenev with our Russian partners in October.
  • The poinsettia that Masha Bond gave me last November is still alive with red bracts - this is surely a record.
  • I am reading the Maisky diaries and Vladimir Sharov’s The Rehearsals translated by Oliver Ready next after ‘The Triumph of Christianity’ by Bart Ehrman
  • I have nearly finished translating the collected correspondence 1974-1988 between the Russian icon painter Julia Reitlinger (1898-1988) and her spiritual father Alexander Men’ (1935-1988), whom I met five months before he was murdered. I have 30pp to go. My generous guest editor Dr Jonathan Sutton is coming up soon so that we can look at difficult bits together.
  • Sarah Hughes of the Courtauld Institute has been helping with the art history side of things.

As of the time of writing, the sun is out.