The recurrent pose 56

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A pair of literary poses for this increasingly sluggish series. Both these titles are gay-themed to a greater or lesser degree. James Purdy (1914–2009) received much praise from contemporaries while he was alive but, like Angus Wilson, he’s one of those writers’ writers you don’t hear about today. Outsiders were a favourite Purdy theme, and he wrote several novels about gay characters, of which Narrow Rooms is considered something of a classic. I’ve not read it but going by descriptions the use of Flandrin’s painting on this cover from 1980 would seem a little lazy. This later use on the cover of Teleny (another gay classic) at least suits the French theme. (Thanks to Sander for the tip!)

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The second volume hasn’t been published yet but Callum James posted the cover proof on Twitter a few days ago so I hope he doesn’t mind my showing it here. The book is a collection of letters by Frederick Rolfe aka Baron Corvo. I don’t know whether this is one of Rolfe’s own photos but he enjoyed photographing naked youths so even if it isn’t his work it suits the book. Further news about the publication should be announced at Front Free Endpaper.

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Aubrey Beardsley in The Studio

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Aubrey Beardsley in the year 1893 was 21, and on the threshold of being catapulted to fame (and notoriety) via his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. Some of Beardsley’s drawings in the distinctive style he called “Japanesque” had already appeared in The Pall Mall Magazine, and he was hard at work on some 600 illustrations and embellishments for Dent’s Le Morte D’Arthur which began publication in 1894. Some of those illustrations are featured in the glowing introduction by Joseph Pennell which appeared in the first issue of The Studio magazine in April 1893 (when Beardsley was still only 20), a title that became the leading showcase for the British end of the Art Nouveau movement in the 1890s. Pennell’s appreciation also included Beardsley’s Joan of Arc’s Entry into Orleans, a piece which showed how much the artist’s early work owed to Mantegna, and the first drawing of Salomé which later helped secure the Wilde commission. The Joan of Arc picture was reproduced as a fold-out supplement in the magazine’s second issue.

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All the major Beardsley books refer to Pennell’s article but I’ve never had the opportunity to see it in full until now, thanks to the excellent online archives at the University of Heidelberg. There are many volumes of the international editions of The Studio at the Internet Archive but for some reason these don’t include the early numbers; at Heidelberg we can now browse the missing issues. In the first volume in addition to Beardsley there’s a piece about Frederic Leighton’s clay studies for paintings and sculptures, illustrations by Walter Crane and Robert Anning Bell, and an article on whether nude photography can be considered art. In this last piece several of the examples happen to be provided by Frederick Rolfe aka Baron Corvo, and Wilhelm von Gloeden, two men who we now know had other things on their mind when they were photographing Italian youths.

The collected volumes of The Studio from 1893 to 1898 may be browsed or downloaded here. I’ve not had time to go through the rest of these so I’m looking forward to discovering what else they may contain.

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Continue reading “Aubrey Beardsley in The Studio”

Weekend links 175

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Heartbeat of the Death – Queen Elizabeth the First (2013) by Haruko Maeda.

• “The casual mixing of people from across the world at The Garden broke down many barriers. Its rich, beautiful, smart, and successful people were confident enough to exercise the kind of sexual freedom that would land you in jail elsewhere in the country.” Kate Webb on Alla Nazimova’s Hollywood estate, The Garden of Alla.

• “…from 1956 to 1970 Borges taught English literature at the University of Buenos Aires, and now, over half a century later, one of his courses is finally available in English in a slim, delightful volume.” Will Glovinsky on Professor Borges. Related: Jacob Mikanowski says “To Tlön: Let’s Invade Reality”.

• Mixes of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 084 by Koen Holtkamp—Alice Coltrane, Alan Watts, John Cage, Popol Vuh, Faust and others—and Sequenze E Frequenze, “the rarefied outer limits of ‘stare at the sun, outsider peaked’ Italian music”.

Consider the fate of the concept of ‘futuristic’ music. The ‘futuristic’ in music has long since ceased to refer to any future that we expect to be different; it has become an established style, much like a particular typographical font. Invited to think of the futuristic, we will still come up with something like the music of Kraftwerk, even though this is now as antique as Glenn Miller’s big band jazz was when the German group began experimenting with synthesizers in the early 1970s.

Where is the 21st-century equivalent of Kraftwerk? If Kraftwerk’s music came out of a casual intolerance of the already-established, then the present moment is marked by its extraordinary accommodation towards the past. More than that, the very distinction between past and present is breaking down. In 1981, the 1960s seemed much further away than they do today. Since then, cultural time has folded back on itself, and the impression of linear development has given way to a strange simultaneity.

Mark Fisher on the present cultural moment, and the weirdness of Sapphire and Steel.

• At Front Free Endpaper: A Gay Library Thing and French Line Gay Pulp Cover Designs. Callum is also giving away books by Frederick Rolfe/Baron Corvo to anyone who asks. The proviso is you write a short review for his blog.

• Film director Ben Wheatley on Don’t Look Now: “I felt a great panic come over me”. Elsewhere it was announced this week that Wheatley is planning a film of JG Ballard’s High Rise.

• Brits may remember the wonderful Laurie Pike from the Manhattan Cable TV show in the early 1990s. These days she’s writing an online guide to the city of Paris.

Ben Frost has made three previously unreleased recordings available at Bandcamp.

The Media History Digital Library: 800,000 pages of film and radio periodicals.

• The results of three derives in London by Christina Scholz here, here and here.

• The late Seamus Heaney reads his own translation of Beowulf here and here.

High Rise (1979) by Hawkwind | Pop Sicle (1994) by High Rise | High Rise (2005) by Ladytron