Weekend links 126

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Mala Reputación (1991) by Dogo Y Los Mercenarios. Cover art by Nazario Luque.

Artist Nazario Luque was Spain’s first gay comic artist who’s also known for the drawing which appeared (without permission) on the sleeve of Lou Reed Live – Take No Prisoners in 1978. On his website Nazario says he’s been described as “Exhibicionista, solidario, provocador, agitador moral, rompedor, arriesgado, polifacético, transgresor, canalla, pintiparado, morigerado o simplemente superviviente…” Via Música, maestros, a two-part post (second part is here) about album cover art by comic artists.

The BBC Radiophonic Workshop Returns. And quite conveniently, Ubuweb posts some original Radiophonic creations by electronic music genius Delia Derbyshire. Ms Derbyshire is profiled along with her other pioneering colleagues in an hour-long TV documentary, Alchemists of Sound.

• Tor.com celebrates the fiction of Shirley Jackson. Too Much Horror Fiction has a substantial collection of Shirley Jackson book covers.

Phantasmagorical and all but plotless, Nightwood flings itself madly upon the night, upon Wood, and upon the reader. Its sentences pomp along like palanquins and writhe like crucifixions. They puke, they sing. Their deliriums are frighteningly controlled. […] TS Eliot loved Nightwood so much that he shepherded its publication and wrote the introduction to the first edition. Dylan Thomas complimented it with his left hand by calling it “one of the three great prose books ever written by a woman” and with his right hand by stealing from it. […] Nightwood’s Dr. Matthew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante O’Connor, florid monologist and transvestite, seems to have been a model (along with Captain Ahab) for Judge Holden in Blood Meridian. The difference is that Cormac McCarthy’s Judge is essentially Satan, whereas O’Connor is essentially Christ; they’re only just on opposite sides of the border of madness.

Austin Allen on The Life and Death of Djuna Barnes, Gonzo “Greta Garbo of American Letters”. There’s a lot more Djuna Barnes at Strange Flowers.

• Out at the end of the month, Extreme Metaphors, interviews with JG Ballard, 1967–2008, edited by Simon Sellars & Dan O’Hara.

• The favourite Polish posters of the Brothers Quay. Over at Cardboard Cutout Sundown there are more Quay book covers.

The Mancorialist: people on the streets of Manchester are given the Sartorialist treatment.

The Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia takes place on 29th September.

The Caves of Nottingham are explored in a detailed post at BLDGBLOG.

• In Remembrance: Bill Brent, Groundbreaking Queer Sex Publisher.

Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie

The Uranus Music Prize 2012

Fuck Yeah René Lalique

Dr Who: original theme (1963) by Ron Grainer with Delia Derbyshire | Falling (1964) by Delia Derbyshire | The Delian Mode (1968) by Delia Derbyshire | Blue Veils And Golden Sands (1968) by Delia Derbyshire.

Powell’s Bluebeard

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The subject of yesterday’s post, The Tales of Hoffmann, was the closest Michael Powell came to realising his concept of the “composed film”, a work which would combine performance, music, lighting and set design to create something which was unique to cinema. The central ballet sequence in The Red Shoes is another example of this, and Powell & Pressburger had plans to follow Hoffmann with similar works, including something based on The Odyssey which would have had contributions from Igor Stravinsky and Dylan Thomas. None of this worked out, unfortunately, Hoffmann was less successful than was hoped and the Archers partnership was eventually reduced to making dull films about the Second World War until P&P went their separate ways. The scandal of Peeping Tom in 1960 finished Powell’s career as a filmmaker in Britain, but he managed to return to the composed film concept in 1963 when production designer Hein Heckroth asked him to direct a production of the Bartók opera Bluebeard’s Castle for German television. Heckroth was responsible for the distinctive character of the later Archers films, including The Red Shoes and Tales of Hoffmann, but was working here with greatly reduced resources. Being a great Bartók enthusiast as well as a Powell aficionado it’s long been a source of frustration for me that this hour-long film is one of the least visible from Powell’s career. To date, the stills shown here are about the only visuals one can find.

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Bluebeard: Norman Foster.

Bluebeard’s Castle was Bartók’s only opera, a tremendous work and a lot easier to digest than some being a one-act piece for two singers: bass (Bluebeard) and soprano (Judith, his wife-to-be). The fairy tale of the murderous husband is turned into a psychodrama with Judith’s successive opening of the castle’s seven doors revealing more than she wants to know about her suitor’s personality. The libretto by Béla Balázs drops the last-minute rescue of the heroine by her brothers for a darker conclusion. The simple storyline and pronounced symbolism—the doors are often given different colours, while the rooms to which they lead each have a symbolic decor and import—lends itself to a variety of interpretations. Needless to say I’d love to see how Heckroth and Powell presented the drama. To whet the appetite further, one of the P&P sites has this account of a recent screening.

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Judith: Ana Raquel Sartre.

There are many other filmed versions of this opera, of course, and YouTube has the usual motley selection chopped into opus-ruining ten-minute segments. The BBC screened a fantastically gloomy version in 1988 by Leslie Megahey, director of many fine TV documentaries including the major Orson Welles edition of Arena in 1982 and a chilling adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Schalcken the Painter. His Bluebeard has been released on DVD in the US, and YouTube has an extract here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Tale of Giulietta
Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes
Béla Bartók caricatured