Literature and Humanities

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A WITCHCRAFT JUDGE SAYS SORRY

Professor Richard Francis, Bath Spa University College, on 20 November 2002

Professor Francis's paper was derived from the biography of Samuel Sewall he is writing on commission from his publishers, Fourth Estate.

DANCING THE IMPOSSIBLE

Leo Aylen, Poet actor and film maker, on 15 October 2002

Leo Aylen was born in Kwazulu, South Africa. He is just completing a Royal Literary Fund Fellowship at Bath University. He performs and writes for the BBC and ITV and has just co-written the script for a film `Gods and Generals'. His recent books include `Dancing the Impossible' and `Rhymocerous', a children's book of poetry. His recitation at this meeting is best summarised by two of his poems.

PEOPLE OF HEAVEN

You who have called me friend,

Welcomed me into your house,

IAN McEWAN'S NOVELS

Nancy Catchpole, Member, on 17 September 2002

This discussion was a good start to the season, at least one of McEwan's books having been read by most of the audience.

The main discussion centered around Atonement, the convincing realism of the style and construction, and how much of this was actuality or filled in by Briony Tallis's vivid imagination as herself an aspiring writer.

PAUL VALERY'S The Evening With Monsieur Teste

Victor Suchar, BRLSI Member, on 18 June 2002

Summary

Robert Musil's Man Without Qualities

Paul Edwards, Bath SPA University College, on 21 May 2002

Robert Musil (1880-1942) is considered to be one of the great masters of European Modernism, of comparable stature to Proust and Joyce, though his masterpiece, The Man without Qualities, remained unfinished at his death. In the latest translation, including many of Musil's drafts, it is about 2,000 pages long.

ROMANTICISM IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA

G. Catchpole, Member, on 16 April 2002

After noting that Romanticism, essentially an arts movement, reflected social, political and philosophical developments in many countries over a period of at least two hundred years, the speaker referred in turn to its three phases: 1650/1789,1789/1830, 1830/1870 or so.

EDITH WHARTON'S THE AGE OF INNOCENCE

Betty Suchar, Member, on 19 March 2002

The objective of this talk was to examine Edith Wharton's book , The Age of Innocence, to discover her style, her ideas and what the book reveals about her life.

The talk began with a question. Why, when most American writers were focusing on the changes emerging in the wake of the end of World War I, should Edith Wharton choose to return to the New York of her childhood?

PATRICK WHITE'S RIDERS IN THE CHARIOT

John Bulman, Member, on 19 February 2002

The title of this long and complex book invites us to discover which of its characters are intended by the author to be seen as the Riders, and to what kind of fulfilment or exaltation they are being carried.

Orwell and Communism

John Newsinger, Bath Spa University College, on 15 January 2002

When George Orwell died he was in the process of trying to counter the belief that Nineteen Eighty Four was an anti-socialist novel. He insisted that he was a man of the left and that the book was written from a leftwing stance. In fact, the book together with Animal Farm became a mainstay of Cold War propaganda with both the British and American governments sponsoring its publication abroad and its translation to the big screen. How did this come about?

SYLVIA PLATH

Tracy Brain, on 15 May 2001

The packaging and physical design of any book can never be innocent. Books need to be sold, and this is often a much more pressing concern for publishers, agents, and sometimes even for writers, than if or how books are subsequently read. With Sylvia Plath's work, these commercial pressures are manifested in unusual ways, and magnified to an unusual degree.

A SECOND READING OF H. H. RICHARDSON'S THE GETTING OF WISDOM

Dr Sali Dening. Member, on 16 January 2001

Henry Handel Richardson is the pen name of Ethel Richardson, who drew inspiration for this short novel from her life as a schoolgirl from 1883-1887 at the Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne, a public day and boarding school founded in 1875 to ensure that girls could receive just as sound a secondary education as that available to boys.

MALCOLM LOWRY'S UNDER THE VOLCANO

George Donaldson, on 20 February 2001

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD AND THE GREAT GATSBY

Elisabeth Suchar, Member, on 20 March 2001

This talk addressed the influences of Fitzgerald's life relating to The Great Gatsby, the historical context of the 1920s, which served as the background for the novel, as well as some of the major themes the book contained.

HERODOTUS AND THUCYDIDES

Audrey Leigh, Member, on 17 April 2001

Herodotus was born about 484 BC at Halicarnassus, a Greek city of the coast of Asia Minor, at that time under Persian rule. He left the city at an early age and travelled widely to Egypt, Tyre, Babylon, the north coast of the Black Sea and the northern Aegean. He finally settled in southern Italy until he died about 425 BC.

BATH'S LINKS WITH WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR

Jean Field, Author. on 5 July 2001

The Warwickshire poet Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864) highly regarded by his contemporaries but today almost forgotten wrote that Bath was `unparalleled in beauty and surely the warmest (place) in England'. His various stays in the city throughout his long life led to the placing of a plaque at 35 St. James Square. Jean Field, also from Warwick and the author of a new biography entitled Landor, came to the BRLSI to remind Bathonians of these links.

MY FAVOURITE POEM and WHY

Seven Members of the Group on 18 September 2001

Victor Suchar started with an untitled poem by the German poet Rilke. Surprisingly nostalgia was Victor's main reaction, and he saw it as irreversible urbanisation and loss of the countryside.

PHILOSOPHY OF THE ACTUAL

Dr Malcolm Parlett, Editor, British Gestalt Journal, on 16 October 2001

The speaker started by quoting Merleau-Ponty from Phenomenology and Perception. "We must begin by reawakening the basic experience of the world, of which science is a second-order of expression."

Is science fiction anti-science?

Professor Helen Haste, University of Bath, on 19 November 2001

What is Literary Theory?

Professor Andrew Bennett, University of Bristol, on 21 November 2000

NEGLECTED WOMEN WRITERS

Nicola Bauman, Chairman, Persephone Books, on 15 February 2000

The speaker had recognised that some women writers who had been popular at an earlier period were not being reprinted. To remedy this situation she started Persephone Books in March 1999 with the objective of publishing neglected fiction and non-fiction.

The Political Ideas of John Stuart Mill

Dr Paul Adelman, on 7 March 2000

FROM JANE EYRE TO JEAN RHYS' ACROSS THE WIDE SARGASSO SEA

Dr Peter Valentine, Member, on 18 April 2000

My reason for choosing Across the Wide Sargasso Sea is that I lived and worked in Jamaica where it is set. I have been across the Sargasso Sea in a banana boat, seen the sargassum and know the difference between Gothic and Exotic. It was a beautiful place, above all untouched, with an alien, disturbing, secret loveliness.

PAUL SCOTT'S THE RAJ QUARTET

Valerie Lorenz, Member, on 19 September 2000

Paul Scott's four novels, which form The Raj Quartet (The Jewel in the Crown, The Day of the Scorpion, Towers of Silence and The Division of the Spoils) portray political, personal, racial and religious conflicts during the period 1942 - 1947. This covers the time from the `Quit India' riots up to Partition, the division into India and Pakistan, and the absorption of the Princely States.

MICHAEL FRAYN'S PLAY COPENHAGEN

Victor Suchar, Member, on 17 October 2000

Michael Frayn attempts to re-enact the famous meeting that took place in October 1941, in Copenhagen, between Niels Bohr, his wife Margrethe, and Werner Heisenberg. Bohr and Heisenberg were two of the most celebrated physicists of the 20th century (and perhaps of all time). Margrethe, portrayed in the play as a woman of great common sense and intuition, learned

EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

Speaker: Betty Suchar, Member, on 19 January 1999

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), an American Pultizer prize winning poet with F. Scott Fitzgerald, represented the boldness and exuberance of the early 1920s.

The speaker started by explaining some of Miss Millay's childhood experiences in Camden, Maine which influenced her poetry and especially her early success with the long poem entitled `Renascence'.

Versions of Freedom: Nicolas Berdyaev and John Cowper Powys

Introduced by Professor John Hooker, Bath Spa University College, on 16 February 1999

The Russian religious thinker, Nicolas Berdyaev (1874-1948), was from an aristocratic background. After early involvement with Marxism he returned to Orthodox Christianity, and was expelled from Russia in 1922, settling eventually near Paris.

REDISCOVERING CECIL ROBERTS

Introduced by Graham Harrison, Member, on 20 April 1999

Graham opened his talk by relating the circumstances which led to his rediscovery of Cecil Roberts (1892 - 1976), a prolific author in the 20s and 30s. His elder boy came home from school complaining that they had had to sit through an assembly addressed by a most boring Old Boy _ Cecil Roberts.

The Art of Biography

Introduced by Jane Coates on 18 May 1999

Jane Coates opened the meeting with a half hour survey of the subject from the point of view of a devoted reader of biography, a trained historian and an amateur archivist but not a writer or literary critic.

MIKHAIL BULGAKOV'S "THE MASTER AND MARGARITA"

Speaker: Victor Suchar, Member, on 15 June 1999

Mikhail Afanasievich Bulgakov was born in Kiev in 1891. He graduated as a doctor from Kiev University in 1916 but gave up the practice of medicine in 1920 to devote himself to literature. By 1923 he was a freelance journalist contributing to a wide range of newspapers, magazines, medical journals and trade union papers. The White Guard was his first major work. It was dramatised in 1926 under the title The Days of the Turbins but was later suppressed.

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