Monday, 20 January 2014

Slippery Trollopes on Blue Monday

Hi everybody. Ignore all that 'Blue Monday' rubbish: it's just an abuse of science in the name of PR. Instead, have some music. Starting, appropriately, with New Order's 'Blue Monday'.

As it happens, I collect cover versions of New Order and Joy Division songs. One of my favourites is this 'Blue Monday', by the Côr Meibion Brythoniaid to promote the rather wonderful Festival No. 6, held in the weird and wonderful fantasy world of Portmeirion. Much to his shame, my experimentalist drone-rock friend Alan's dad is one of the singers.

I went to a very different musical event on Saturday. Wearied by making hollandaise, marking and teaching preparation, I headed to Birmingham's Symphony Hall for some virtuoso violin action. I'm not normally a fan of the classical western canon, preferring the medieval and the twentieth-century's dissonance and experimentation, but I couldn't resist Joshua Bell whatever he played. The highlight for me was Brahm's Violin Concerto: I didn't know he could be so exciting. The first movement's cadenza (improvised by the violinist) was just stunning, and deserved the applause it earned. After the interval Bell and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields played Beethoven's Eroica: familiar and beautifully performed, but not as acrobatic as the Brahms. It all made up for Stoke losing to Crystal Palace earlier…almost.

Teaching started today. For me, it was straight in with the final-year students and the first of two weeks on Trollope's The Way We Live Now. It's a great big brick of a novel and resoundingly unfashionable. This baffles me: how can a novel obsessed with dodgy businessmen, élitist politicians, snobbery, public displays of wealth and racist attitudes towards incomers not strike a chord today? I don't know why the BBC doesn't repeat its 2001 adaptation.

I wasn't expecting any of the students to have finished it by this point, but I was pleased that so many of them were a good way in, and more of them than usual were ready to talk about it. I also discovered that they have a Carry On sense of humour: much giggling when I said 'Trollope is a bit slippery'! I was talking about his narratorial technique, kids!

1 comment:

Arthur Adams said...

On Trollope, the reason people think it's unfashionable is because of the Barchester Chronicles, which are great novels in themselves, The Warden probably the best book Trollope wrote. But the people think of Trollope and associate his works with women in bonnets looking depressed and elderly clergymen and that's it.

I agree with you about 'The Way We Live Now' being relevant to today's situation, so is Trollope's other novel 'The Prime Minister' about a Coalition Government between Tories and Liberals that is constantly on the verge of collapse with journalists carrying out their trade with less that ethical standards. The only problem might be with it is that Palliser is a likeable figure and, I say this a true blue Tory, Cameron isn't.

It's been whilst since I've seen BBC adaptation and all I can remember of is that David Suchet and Cillian Murphy were in it. I can't see why the BBC doesn't repeat it, it's better than watching repeats of Eastenders and a lot more entertaining than Downton Abbey.

Did you see the Tractate Middoth and the M.R. James documentary on BBC over Christmas?