Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bard Big Read: Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 7:00PM
#6: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
I’m not making a groundbreaking statement here when I tell you there are many books about women. You know, those great books that explain how women can band together, be strong, and conquer whatever comes their way simply by being themselves? Well there is hardly a man to be seen here, but this is not one of those books.
What I found to be equally heartbreaking and comforting in this story is the reality in which the women of Housekeeping live. They are not always close to one another, they do not always agree, and they are not overly sentimental. What they do is continue to go about their lives with one another, slowly transforming into the women came before them. The phenomenon of time moving both forwards and backwards is strange, but just about any girl can tell you how she’s slowly turning into her mother. And even when times are hard, with little joy to be had, there is always survival mode in which women continue to move by listening to that rarely-heard voice deep from within that somehow turns thought into action. 
It is in this book, Robinson is able to craft an ordinary story using magnificent language that never seems to break.  I was simultaneously able to look into the life of a fictional world far from my own, and into my current realm with the fine women who continue to influence my life simply by being my family. And in both worlds, there is housekeeping. 
Side note: Sometimes when I was reading on the subway, I would look at this cover and imagine that the D train was taking me to the wilderness. Maybe books shouldn’t be judged on their cover, but it’s nice when a picture can converge with a story, making it’s viewer travel along its tracks.

Readers Neil Gaiman, Nicole Quinn and Mary Caponegro perform excerpts from 
pulitzer prize winning author Marilyn Robinson'sHousekeeping. Free admission.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I delivered the audio files today.  What a ride this trilogy is!  I always wondered what the women were doing during war.  Too much it seems.

Once Sourcebooks approves the files, it's two weeks to publication.

On to Mina, and the Night Mare's world....

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Origins of the Wars of the Roses

Choosing the Red and White Roses.jpg
The following short introduction to the origins of the Wars of the Roses is from Battle of Wakefield 1460 by Philip A. Haigh (published by Sutton (UK) 1996). Mr. Haigh can be contacted at this email address:
The Origins of the Wars of the Roses
Reprinted with the permission of the author Philip A. Haigh
It was in this year [1411], that Richard Plantagenet was born to Richard, fifth Earl of Cambridge and Anne Mortimer. His father was the son of Edmund, the first Duke of York, who was in turn the fourth son of Edward III. If Henry VI had died before 1453, the year of the birth of Edward, Prince of Wales, then Richard would have undoubtedly been crowned King of England, since there was no other noble (since the death of Henry VI's uncle and heir Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who had died in 1447) with such a strong claim to the throne at that time, other than Richard himself.
Being so highly placed in the royal household, Richard was destined to play a significant role in the Government and politics of England throughout his lifetime and in England's affairs in France during the later stages of the Hundred Years War. He was appointed Lieutenant of France in 1436. Throughout his service in Europe, he had to pay for the services of his men and finance the army in France from his own personal funds.
Although York was a wealthy man in his own right, (York was the sole benefactor of the childless Edmund Mortimer, who had died of plague in Ireland in 1425). It was his marriage to Cicely Neville in 1438 (who was known as 'The Rose of Raby'), daughter to Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland and sister of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, which had brought him great wealth. Thus, he was able, albiet unhappily in doing so, to fund the English army overseas. By the time he left France, York had forwarded some £38,000 of his own money to maintain English interests in France. To add insult to injury, in 1445 he was replaced as Lieutenant of France by Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. It is not to be doubted that it was on Somerset's advice (who was Henry VI cousin, and someone Henry trusted more than the Duke of York) that Henry VI created York Lieutenant of Ireland, which was in reality, exile by office. Somerset was no doubt fearful of York, a fear enhanced by the fact that Somerset, a man whom York equally detested, and a favourite of Henry VI was forwarded funds to the sum of £25,000 to sustain the king's army in France.
Not only did York detest Somerset because of his favouritism with the king, but he also detested the fact that he had been given the office he had previously held in France and the funds to support it, despite his inability as a soldier. York's fears over the management of the campaign in France was soon realised, as the war began to go badly for the English. The Duke of Somerset was personally responsible for the surrender of the strategic town of Rouen which subsequently led to the fall of Normandy to Charles VII of France. Because of this, Somerset became distinctly unpopular at home. However, because he retained the king's favour, he maintained his prestigious position at court.
In June 1451, Bordeaux in France, and Gascony, were lost to the French. This was disastrous news for the English and the King, Henry VI, took the loss very badly. York in turn, was quick to blame Somerset for the disaster and, with support for the king and his adherents at such a low point (due mainly to English failings in France), York, decided to risk all and attempt to wrest control from the king by force of arms and arrest the Duke of Somerset, thus removing him from his position as the king's most senior advisor.
Doubtless this move was not only inspired by York's fear for the conduct of the war in France, but also because he was equally fearful that Somerset might take over the very position that York felt was his own, that of the most likely heir to Henry in the absence of the king having any children of his own. Thus York, believing that he had more popular support than he actually had, sailed from Ireland and landed in North Wales, gathered his forces and travelled straight for London and the encounter at Blackheath.
The Wars of the Roses Begin
After York's release from custody, there then followed several years of relative peace. However, by the year 1453, the political storm clouds were once again gathering over the country. By this year, England's possessions in France had been almost lost as the disastrous Hundred Years War had all but come to an end . It was this - it is said - that brought about the first bout of madness in Henry VI. What form this illness took is not recorded, but it seems that it manifested itself in a form of paralysis. York, with the king incapacitated, was made protector of England and took the opportunity to seek revenge on his earlier enemies, namely the Duke of Somerset, who was sent to the Tower on a revised charge of treason (for his poor management of the war in France) in September 1453. The Earl of Salisbury, Richard Neville and his eldest son Richard, Earl of Warwick, also took the opportunity afforded by the king's illness and, under the cover of their kinsman's protectorate began to seek their revenge against the Percy family, the Earls of Northumberland, with whom, they had held a long running feud, over the issue of ownership of property in Northumberland and Yorkshire .
Thus, England was plunged into a series of minor wars between the land's most powerful lords to which the Duke of York, as protector was able to use his authority to the advantage of his family and supporters. However, this all came to an end when the king recovered from his illness in January 1455. Somerset was released from the Tower, and immediately formed a natural alliance with Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland (and Percy's ally in the north Lord Clifford), against the Duke of York - who was stripped of his powers as protector - and his supporters, namely the Earl of Salisbury and the Earl of Warwick. With this the battle lines for the 'Wars of the Roses' were drawn. The pact between Somerset, Northumberland and Clifford, supported by the king would in later years go by the name of Lancastrians, taken from the family name of the House of Lancaster to which the lineage of Henry VI was derived. While the followers of the House of York, Warwick, Salisbury and the Duke of York himself became known as the Yorkists .

Napoleonic Soldiers Remains Buried In Belarus

Napoleonic Soldiers Burial

MINSK, Belarus -- Belarus held a burial ceremony Friday for 110 Napoleonic soldiers who died in a major battle in 1812 against the Russian army.
Tens of thousands of French troops died in November 1812 when the Russians attacked French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's army as it fled across the Berezina River on a retreat from Moscow.
The devastating defeat eventually led to the 1814 Russian takeover of Paris and Bonaparte's exile. Since then, the word "Berezina" means "a complete disaster" in French.
The remains were excavated by a Belarusian Defense Ministry unit that searches for soldiers' remains. They were buried Friday at a cemetery in the village of Studenka, 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of the capital of Minsk, in a ceremony attended by French Ambassador Michel Raineri.
Belarusian authorities in previous years have buried hundreds of remains of Napoleonic soldiers found in the same area.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guinevere to Lancelot

Julia Margaret Cameron - "Lancelot and Guinevere (Lancelot and Elaine)"

by: H. C. C. (Author), H. C. C. are the initials of H. C. Caulfield.
from: Cornhill Magazine (P. 340)  March 1869
The night is here, and thou art with me still,
   Loved one, although beyond the reach of hands
Eager to clasp thee; and I long to fill
   Again this soul more dry than desert sands
Now thou art gone, with the deep-flowing streams
   Of thy most gracious prescence. Soon it will
Return all life-like in the land of dreams.

How shall our struggling hearts, so many years
   As may perchance be thine and mine, sweet Love,
Out-face this ceaseless storm of hopes and fears,
   For aye within us, round, below, above?
Oh ask me not; for whether joy or tears
   Remain for us, we must bear silently,
Dearest, and with a love that cannot die.

How do the angels reason of our love?
   And those blest spirits that are gone before,
Who, now rejoicing in their place above,
   Walked with us on this melancoly shore
Of life, years, years ago; will they forgive
   In us such earth-born folly? Or once more
Could we with such as they are choose to live?

Ah weary hearts, encrusted o'er with dross
   Caught up from this vile world! Can we be sure,
When of this lower life we suffer loss,
   They will beat freely in an air so pure,
Fit for the souls who enter into light?
   Such dross is in the grain; it must endure
Our own, unchanging still, in death's despite.

But come what will, to the last agony,
   My choice is made; I cannot yield thee up.
Dross or pure gold, I give it all to thee.
   The pearls of all my life shall in thy cup
Be thrown and melted; they are nought to me,
   Save as they make some bubbling sparkle rise
To see itself one instant in thine eyes.

Hidden Goya Painting Found Using X-Ray Technology, May Reveal Political Leanings

Francisco Goya

A new painting by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya has been discovered underneath his portrait of Judge Don Ramón Satué at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The newly discovered portrait, thought to be of Joseph Bonaparte, may reveal more about Goya's supposed neutrality during the French occupation of Spain in 1808. The hidden painting was discovered using new x-ray technology developed by Joris Dik of Delft University and Koen Janssens of Antwerp University.
Curators at the museum were mindful of something underneath the portrait of Satué, a supreme court judge in Madrid at the time, but the image was indecipherable under the layers of paint. However, the new high-intensity x-ray technology made it possible to view the painting in precise detail for the first time. "It is exciting." Dik told The Guardian. The technology , which has previously been used to uncover a Van Gogh portrait of a peasant woman underneath his 1887 work, "Patch of Grass," is an incredible resource for the art world. Many painters throughout history have reused canvasses either to save money or to cover up a work which they were dissatisfied with, but in the case of Goya, political motivations are suspected to be the reason for the cover-up.
Medals worn by the subject can be linked to an order created by Napoleon's brother, Joseph Bonaparte, during his brief reign as king of Spain from 1808 to 1813. Though Goya documented the atrocities of the French occupation in his series of prints, 'The Disasters of War,' he was also knownto have painted portraits of French patrons and sympathizers. However, Dik explains how the departure of the French rule in Spain would have been reason for Goya to cover up the image.
"Goya, we know, managed to survive both political situations – the transfer of Spain to the French and back to Spain … After 1820, [such a portrait] could have been dangerous. That's when we believe the portrait was overpainted with the figure we can see now, as that painting dates from 1823."

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Trilogy!

Napoleon-Themed Amusement Park Being Planned By French

Napoleonland Amusement Park
First Posted: 01/20/12 08:54 AM ET Updated: 01/20/12 08:54 AM ET

But, the French seem poised to present an accurate version of history, with park attractions that show some of Napoleon's most famous defeats in addition to his victories. These would include a daily recreation of the Battle of Waterloo -- which might allow audience participation -- and a water show re-enacting the Battle of Trafalgar.The work of former French politician Yves Jego, Napoleonland is estimated to roughly $278 million. It will be built at the location of the Battle of Montereau, from which Napoleon emerged victorious.Allons enfants de la Patrie...and head on down to Napoleonland! A Napoleon-themed amusement parkis being planned for just south of Paris, and is being billed as a rival to Disneyland, reports The Telegraph.
Allons enfants de la Patrie...and head on down to Napoleonland! A Napoleon-themed amusement parkis being planned for just south of Paris, and is being billed as a rival to Disneyland, reports The Telegraph.
The work of former French politician Yves Jego, Napoleonland is estimated to roughly $278 million. It will be built at the location of the Battle of Montereau, from which Napoleon emerged victorious.
But, the French seem poised to present an accurate version of history, with park attractions that show some of Napoleon's most famous defeats in addition to his victories. These would include a daily recreation of the Battle of Waterloo -- which might allow audience participation -- and a water show re-enacting the Battle of Trafalgar.
The park complex is also expected to include a museum, a hotel, shops and restaurants. Other, more peculiar, proposed attractions would have guests ski around frozen corpses of horses and soldiers on a battlefield, and watch the beheading of Louis XVI, according to The Daily Mail.
Jego hopes that construction can begin in 2014 in anticipation of a 2017 opening.
Our question is, if it's supposed to rival Disneyland -- or even Parc Asterix -- where are all the rides?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou was a warrior queen.  Due to an unstable husband and king, this French noblewoman ruled England and was a major player in the War of Roses.  You could almost consider her the King of England and Queen of England during the reign of her husband, King Henry VI.  She was fearless, strong, proud, and determined.  She was no queen consort to sit in the corner and do her embroidery, but a queen who would lead in the political ring and on the battlefield.  She was truly a royal tigress.

Born March 23, 1430 in Pont-a-Mousson, Lorraine to Rene of Anjou and Isabella, the Duchess of Lorraine, Margaret was destined for royal greatness.  Her uncle, King Charles VII of France married her to King Henry VI of England who was eight years older than her in reality, but in maturity Margaret was wise beyond her years.  The two were married on April 23, 1445 in Hampshire, England.

King Henry VI was an odd husband for the fiery and exciting Margaret.  Henry VI was more concerned with religion and learning than being a warrior king.  His father, King Henry V had been one of the greatest warrior kings ever, but Henry VI was content with creating educational institutions for young learners.  He also had mental instability most likely inherited from his maternal grandfather, the late King Charles VI of France.  King Henry and Queen Margaret did manage to produce a son and heir named Edward of Westminster.  Many believed that Edward of Westminster was not the king's though due to his instability and was conceived during one of the numerous affairs the people believed Margaret to be having while her husband suffered mental breakdowns. 

Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York became a royal pain in Margaret of Anjou's side.  He had been appointed regent during Henry VI's breakdown and was considered by many to be a true claimant to the throne.  Many began to take sides, some for the Lancastrian cause represented by Margaret of Anjou and other for the Yorkist cause led by the Duke of York and his bevy of sons.

A big blow occurred on May 22, 1455 when the Lancastrians were defeated at the First Battle of St. Albans.  King Henry VI was taken prisoner by the Duke of York.  Margaret of Anjou got back at them by the Battle of Wakefield on December 30, 1460 where the Yorkist army was defeated and Margaret had the Duke of York beheaded.  It continued though in dramatic fashion on March 29, 1461 at the Battle of Towton where the son of the late Duke of York and future King Edward IV deposed King Henry VI and proclaimed himself the king.  Margaret fled with the Prince of Wales to Wales and then Scotland.

The warrior queen received support from her cousin, King Louis XI of France and a surprising ally in Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the former Kingmaker of King Edward IV.  An alliance was made with a marriage between Margaret's son Edward, Prince of Wales and Richard's daughter Anne Neville.  King Henry VI was briefly restored to the throne from these efforts.

The Battles of Barnet  and Tewkesbury changed everything though.  The Earl of Warwick was killed on April 14, 1471 leaving Margaret of Anjou to fully lead her army into battle.  The Battle of Tewkesbury on May 4, 1471 left Margaret of Anjou defeated and her 17 year old son, Edward, Prince of Wales dead.  King Edward IV resumed the throne and King Henry VI was left to languish in the Tower of London until his eventual mysterious death.

What happened to the proud warrior queen?  Margaret of Anjou lost her spirit and pride after the death of her son and the crushing defeat to King Edward IV.  She was imprisoned at Wallingford Castle and then the Tower of London until she was ransomed in 1475 by the French king. 

Margaret of Anjou returned home to France.  She died on August 25, 1482 in Anjou.  She was buried with her parents in the cathedral of Angers, but during the French Revolution in 1789 her remains were lost and scattered about. 

Margaret of Anjou appears in a number of written historical works.  She is the main character in "Red Rose of Anjou" by Jean Plaidy.  She is also a prominent character in the early parts of "The Sunne in Splendour" by Sharon Kay Penman.  She also appears in "Henry VI" and "Richard III", masterpieces by William Shakespeare. 

Margaret of Anjou was a brave, complicated, and dynamic woman.  She was a rare queen who didn't sit back, birth babies, pray, and embroider, but helped rule, led soldiers into battle, and was at the forefront of the War of the Roses.  No matter her faults or flaws, Margaret of Anjou was definitely a warrior queen.

The Legend of Queen Guinevere

Lady Guinevere 03 by MarjoleinART-Stock

Arthur's marriage to Guinevere established his court. As her dowry, Guinevere brought the legendary Round Table and the royal couple became the center of the glittering circle of the chivalric knights.
Guinevere's heritage varies according to different legends. According to Malory, Guinevere (in Welsh, Gwenhwyvar which means 'White Phantom') was the daughter of King Leodegrance of Cameliarde. In Welsh tradition, her father is called Gogrvan or Ocvran. In Thelwall's play The Fairy of the Lake (1801), it is suggested she is the daughter of Vortigern. In some stories, she had a sister named Gwenhwyvach, and a French legend tells of an identical twin sister called Guinevere the False. In yet another tale, she had a brother called Gotegrin.

Once Arthur was firmly established on the throne, and despite Merlin's warnings she would one day betray him, Arthur chose Guinevere, to become his wife. As a dowry she brought the great round table capable of seating one hundred and fifty knights, made by Merlin at the bidding of Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon.

In Gawain and the Green Knight, it is stated the reason Morgan le Fay sent the Green Knight to Camelot was to frighten Guinevere. One reason given was because of an old rivalry, dating back to the beginning of Arthur's reign when Guinevere had banished one of Morgan's lovers from court. Another reason is the representation of Guinevere and Morgan as two goddesses of very different aspect. Morgan, as her origin in the figure of Morrighan indicates, is a dark goddess and represents the powerful qualities of winter and warfare. On the other hand, Guinevere is called the Flower Bride, representing spring and the unfolding of life. As such, these two women are constantly in opposition. Lancelot, Guinevere's champion, becomes the bitter foe of Gawain, who is Knight of the Goddess - Morgan's champion.

When the Arthurian legends were reworked by Christian writers,
both Guinevere, the goddess of flowers and light, and Morgan,
the Dark Goddess, spent time in a nunnery.
As the Flower Bride, myth calls for Guinevere to be stolen away by one of her suitors and then to be rescued by another representing shifting polarities with the change of seasons. An example of this role is told in theLife of Gildas, by Caradoc of Llancarfan. In this text, Melwas of the Summer Country carried off Guinevere and she was then rescued by Arthur. The abduction scene reappears in several stories where the kidnapper is Meliagraunce, a knight desirous of Guinevere. In this tale, the rescuer is Lancelot rather than Arthur.
Eventually, she and Sir Lancelot fall in love. In one tale, the False Guinevere takes Guinevere's place while she takes refuge with Lancelot in Sorelois. The False Guinevere and her champion Bertholai finally admit their deception and after the False Guinevere's death, the true Guinevere is restored to Arthur. By this time, Guinevere and Lancelot are irrevocably in love and Lancelot's struggle with his conscience keeps him away from Camelot pursuing quests. Just when Guinevere and Lancelot came to the decision to end their affair for the good of the kingdom, Mordred, Arthur's illegitimate son, captured them in the queen's chamber. Lancelot fled and Mordred forced Arthur to condemn Guinevere to the stake. Lancelot rescued her but in the process accidentally killed Gareth and Gaheris, Gawain's brothers, and a war ensued. While Arthur was away fighting Lancelot, Mordred declared his father dead and proclaimed himself king and announced Guinevere will become his wife. She refused and locked herself in the Tower of London. Arthur returned to fight yet another war against Mordred and received a mortal wound in battle.

Following the death of Arthur, Guinevere entered a nunnery at Amesbury and stayed there until her death. A different tale according toPerlesvaus, says she died as a prisoner of the Picts. At her death, she was laid to rest beside Arthur.

It has been argued Guinevere is a mythical figure representing the sovereignty of Britain over which would be rulers battle. In this respect she is a figure similar to Eriu, the goddess of the sovereignty of Ireland. As well as the Flower Bride, Guinevere represents the Sorrowful Queen or the Wounded Lady who suffers the burden of evil acts carried out in ignorance of love in Arthur's kingdom.

Revolution to Empire

The Directory 1795–1799

The Directory became the new government of France after the Convention created a new constitution establishing a bicameral parliament. This government included an upper house, called the Council of Ancients, and a lower house, called the Council of Five Hundred. The Directory sought to relax the austerity and radicalism of the Committee of Public Safety by supressing the extremes of the Jacobin and royalist forces within France.

Despite desire for change and stability, the Directory was beset with economic and civil problems, giving rise to high inflation and increased spending. Support for the new government weakened as it began to alienate key sectors of French society with its obvious corruption and quest for control of conflicting factions.

The Rise of Napoleon

In 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte returned from the Egyptian Campaign.  Successful in suppressing uprisings against the government and victorious in his Italian campaigns, Bonaparte was known as an excellent strategist who had gained the respect of his men through bravery and courage under fire, meticulous planning and an unconventional approach to warfare. Despite defeats in Egypt, Napoleon returned to a hero’s reception. Outmanoeuvring the government and supported by his army he collaborated in a coup d’état to overthrow the Directory and establish the Consulate. By 1800 Napoleon had become the First Consul of France, and was now in a position of total power.