Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Literary plates!

While doing a little bit of cleaning I ran into some plates with literary characters on them, that I forgot that I had! Yes, that happens to me all the time. I remember collecting them when I was younger. They are in ceramic and it is possible to use them for eating, but I think the main purpose was to hang them on the wall. Well, I don't like so much plates on the wall so they were just standing around! I think, I actually had them on the wall at a certain time.

Now they are standing on a side table in the garden. Here a picture of the five plates I still have. One was broken and thrown away, I think it was Carmen. There seems to be two other in a series of eight, which are Hamlet and Aphrodite. Here are mine:

They are showing Camille, Faust and Marguerite, Don Juan, Anna Karenina and Leda and the Swan!

Camille being the famous book by Alexander Dumas the younger, made into an unforgettable film with Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. How sad it was and how I cried!

Faust, a most famous literary character originating in a German legend of a man dissatisfied with life so he made a pact with the devil. The legend as written down in the Faust chapbook found its way to England and Christopher Marlowe who used the legend for his play Doctor Faustus (1604).  Next in line to use the legend was Johan Wolfgang von Goethe in his play Faust (1808). The same story is part of Mikhail Bulgakov's well-known novel The Master and Margarita (1928-40). Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus: Das Leben des deutschen Tonsetzers Adrian Leverkühn, erzählt von einem Freunde (1947) (free translation: Dr Faust, The Life of German Composer Adrian Leverkühn, told by a Friend) adapts the legend into a 20th century context. There are also films and an opera on this popular theme. Might be as popular as the vampire theme these days!

Don Juan, probably don't need any introduction. Although another libertine like Casanova actually lived, Don Juan is a legendary, fictional libertine. Also characterised by many writers like Molière and Byron just to mention a few. Mozart wrote the opera of the theme with his Don Giovanni.

Anna Karenina, the tragic heroine of Leo Tolstoy's famous novel.  He considered it to be his first true novel, and it was one of the first books written in a realistic style. Dostoyevsky said it was a "flawless magic of Tolstoy's style" and Faulkner described the novel as "the best ever written". Still popular today and has been voted into "The Top Ten" books in Time.  I have the book on my TBR shelves and has just started. However, this will be a book to read over a longer time I think. It also has one of the most famous openings:  Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in it own way. It has been filmed several times most lately in a modern version with Keira Knightley. There is also the classic with Greta Garbo.

Leda and the Swan is the least known to me. This is someone you have heard about but can not exactly pin it down. It goes back, of course, to Greek mythology, where Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces or, rapes,  
Leda. There are different versions of what happened afterwards. One is that Leda bore Helen and Polydeuces, children of Zeus, while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her husband Tyndareus, the King of Sparta. In one version, Zeus took the form of a swan and raped or seduced Leda on the same night she slept with her husband. In some versions, she laid two eggs from which the children hatched. Yeats has written a sonnet titled Leda and the Swan which combines psychological realism with mystic vision. He also alludes to the Trojan war which was provoked by the abduction of Helen (one of the children); Clytemnestra (one of the children), who killed her husband, Agamemnon, leader of the Greeks in Troy. Well, what would we do without the Greek myths?

No comments:

Post a Comment