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Posts by Jay Barksdale

Margot Adler 1946-2014

Remembering Margot Adler, a writer in the Allen Room.Read More ›

John Donne, Re-done

My colleague MN said she would be coming the 'my' next lecture. Of course I said what?? (your friends will come to your funeral, your real friends go to your lectures). She had just discovered John Adams's opera Doctor Atomic and pointed me to the YouTube clip of the aria "Batter My Heart," one of Donne's most famous poems. Cool, as the youngbloods say (used to say?)

But back to the lecture, which is neither mine, nor a lecture. This 

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Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Last month, while reading the ever-elegant obituaries in The Economist, I ran across RPJ's. I knew the name through the Merchant/Ivory movies, but she was a writer-writer as well as screen-writer. She wrote over a dozen novels, with a "heroine [who] was almost always herself: trapped in a cross-cultural marriage, tipping between the old world and the new, observing from the outside some bewildering place." As so often happens, 

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Shakespeare in the Rose Main Reading Room

Most of the collections at the Stephen A. Schwarzman building are closed-stacked, i.e., we bring them to you. But on the 3rd floor, the Rose Main Reading Room maintains open, very open stacks of about 30,000 volumes on every subject, not just the humanities and social sciences which is our collection strength.

Here is a picture of the Shakespeare section, on the short shelves at the north-east corner. In addition to the complete works, it holds critical editions, 

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Not Your Grandmother's Hamlet

That is, the kick-off to Shakespeare Week—April 15 to 20 here at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Schizophrenia, nomadism, Lacan (oh the joys of serendipity—I just ordered his Television: A Challenge to the Psychoanalytic Profession), Deleuze, all the quite-cut edge philosophers and concepts. 

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Shakespeare and Teens: "The Juliet Club"

Well, it's April and time for Shakespeare Week. And once again, to read a great novel—The Juliet Club, by Wertheim writer Suzanne Harper.  Here is the

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The Art of Anna Bella Geiger

Harper Montgomery, a writer in the Wertheim Study, has curated a fascinating exhibition at Hunter College, going until May 4. At 68th and Lexington, it is a smallish (read: do-able) delight — Open Work in Latin America, New York & Beyond: Conceptualism Reconsidered, 1967-1978.

It features prints, artists' books, photography and videos, photocopies, all sorts of experimental treats, including Ed 

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R.I.P. Ed Koch

I'll miss him, for he was such a quintessential New York, and a terrific ambassador for the City. I met my colleague MN in the hallway (no, not at the hydration station, formerly water cooler) and we chatted about him. She had seen a picture flash by of his tombstone, apparently all set up to go, and reported it was very simple and elegant. I asked if it had an

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English Nature Writers: Charles Waterton

Charles Waterton by Charles Willson Peale oil on canvas, 1824 ©National Portrait Gallery, London. Creative Commons BY-NC-NDMost recently discovered, just last week, is Charles Waterton (1782–1865). I've not read enough to evaluate him as a writer (of which all authors tremble in dread), but he certainly led an interesting life. Of a very ancient Catholic family including St. Thomas More and Margaret of Scotland among his ancestors, he became interested in nature in 1804 

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English Nature Writers: Richard Jefferies

"Why, we must have been blind all our lives; here were the most wonderful things possible going on under our very noses, but we saw them not." —Walther Besant.

Richard Jefferies (1848-1887), though a novelist, is more known as a nature writer. His childhood was spent on a farm in Wiltshire (now a museum), during which he began his observation and awareness of nature and people within it. At the age of 9, he was already an adept at tracking and hunting, and perhaps not surprisingly, left school at the 

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English Nature Writers: Gilbert White

I'm a literary Anglophile. There — I've confessed and we can move on. One of their really cool genres is nature writing. They do it in such a quiet and smooth style, as if they've lived in field and woods all their lives. (Dah!)

Perhaps the most famous, or at least the most referred to, is

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Haiku Redux

Fang and I were very, very lucky during the hurricane. We were out of power for only 24 hours, during which I wrote the three haiku below: "On the Advantages of the Absence of Electricity."

Haiku is one of the more accessible poetic forms (have you ever tried writing a sestina?), at least for the likes of me. There are, of course, books galore of and about them, but a short and sweet

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Arnold Schoenberg and Haiku

I play the piano a little bit and am working on AS's Six Little Pieces, op. 19. Little they are — all six take less than five minutes to play. Easy they are not — the slightest error in nuance ruins them. Written in 1911, they are among his 'atonal' works, a vague term but basically describing those works in which the usual major/minor tonalities were avoided. I don't quite know why so many people have an aversion to this music, and its successor, serial 

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Books I Read in 2012

It's amusing to keep track of the critters, and helps me read more non-fiction, novel-hound that I am. The Library has most of these books, but I've only linked a few, as not to clutter and overburden the post. At the end of the list I award prizes, or "the Barkies," for various categories. But just two things first: Re-reads (always a good idea) are in bold, and if you have a taste for rhetorical but highly passionate drama, do read some Thomas Otway (1652-85).

I'm lucky enough 

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George Romney Republican: The Rise and Fall of Mitt's Political Mentor

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, or does it? If you come to the South Court Auditorium of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street this Thursday at 1:15 p.m. (whew!) you might find a clue. The first lecture of the year by the writers of the Wertheim Study and Allen Room will be given by John R. Bohrer, a cool guy and journalist often writing 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and The Merchant of Venice, Updated

E M DelafieldSt. John Ervine was an English theatre critic in 1920s, '30s, writing often for Time and Tide, that remarkably sensible middle-class magazine which first featured the dry and sly E. M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady (reserve this book right away!). But I digress.

He also wrote a play, The Lady of Belmont, which takes the Merchant of Venice 10 years later.  Below is a sample of the dialogue, which is dated, though perhaps it 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and that of 2011

The late, and very great, Bernice W. KlimanThinking a great deal just now about the Great One, I thought of last years venture, April 11-15 2011.  It was a great deal of fun, and inspiration, and I felt great admiration for the Allen Room and Wertheim Study scholars who presented such fine work.  The week was audio-taped 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and Romeo and Juliet

Since in less than a week you will have heard a terrific lecture incorporating and marmorializing [sic] Romeo and Juliet, I thought to prime the pump with a reprint of an earlier post: The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper.  It is still one of my favorite, for joyous, books.


Enough of the oceanic understanding of Dickens, the truth and tragedy of Balzac, the flawless technique of Sylvia 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and Poems about Shakespeare

Its'a comin'.  Five presentations on Him.  At 1:15 in the South Court Auditorium at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. 

In the meantime, last night at the Columbia Shakespeare Seminar, a friend and I began to explore the 

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Shakespeare Week April 23-27 and How to Boil an Egg

It's coming up, 5 lectures from really smart people on the one and only Mr. William "Bard" Shakespeare.

Hamlet, Hamlet (redux) Taming of the 

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