Friday, 24 June 2011

"Mock-Epic" Literature

The mock-epic literary genre was especially prominent in 18th century literature. Central literary figures like Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift used the mock-epic, also known as the mock-heroic, for satirical purposes. The use of Classical forms, doctrines and imagery either to emphasise or deliberately blow trivial events out of proportion offered an efficient method for satirising and elaborating on the object of their critique. THis could by illustrated by the quite similar excerpts from The Rape of the Lock by Pope (1712), Swift's The Lady's Dressing Room (1714) and Description of a City Shower (1710).

The Rape of the Lock and The Lady's Dressing Room both describe aspects of the ladies' toilet by using Classical myths and literal methodology. Where Pope draws parallels between the rites of beauty and the rites of mass, Swift uses imagery from Greek and Roman mythology (such as the myth of Celia and Strephon and the myth of Pandora's box). While Pope draws further parallels between Belinda's toilet and the Classical armor of a hero, the entire mock-epic satirically expands the petty squabble of two Catholic families into an epic struggle in the manner of the Iliad.

Swift's Description of a City Shower evokes biblical, diluvian imagery to rain scorn upon what he considers to be a corrupt and doomed city. Political conflict, which was slowly tipping in Swift's disfavour, prompted him to make use of imagery from the Aeneid, drawing parallels between Aeneas and Dido and Tories and Whigs sheltering from the weather. Also, the use of biblical references, such as describing dust (the biblical material for the first man) as evil further marks this out as a mock-epic.

The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume C: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, 8th edition, New York and London: Norton, 2006
Goring, Paul: Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture, London: Continuum, 2008

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Chances of Dying

The US National Safety Council publishes an annual Injury Factbook in which the odds of dying from this and that are shown. Not surprisingly, most Americans die from illness:

Interestingly, you seem to be far more likely to die by your own hand or by falling off your bike than in an air transport accident. At least, you were in 2007 which is the latest freely available numbers. It would seem you are about five times more likely to die in a car or on a motorbike that in any other mode of transportation. Furthermore, the seasonal patters show what might be expected: more drownings in summer than in winter and vice versa for death in fires.

As a small treat at the end, here are the statistics for injuries in amusement parks (from 2010). At the latest recording, 4,4 in every million visitor were injured, which bodes well for the holidays.

See also my Great "Death Bys".

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Monday, 20 June 2011

Turning Points in US Foreign Policy

The Civil War

Confederate dead, May 1863

The Civil War (1861-1865), the bloodiest conflict in US history, was a struggle between the industrial, Union North and the agrarian Confederate South based on primarily ideological and economic issues such as slavery and trade. It represents a turning point in several ways; apart from the abolition of slavery, it changed the nature of US expansion from a territorial to an economic focus, in search of markets for initially northern industrial goods. Further it deepened the political division between north and south a divide still clearly visible today.

The Spanish - American War

This war, which was fought in 1898, consisted of military support for Cubans who rebelled against Spanish rule. The US was worried about their assets in Cuba and supported the rebels to safeguard these. It represents a turning point in US foreign policy towards Cuba through the Platt amendment, introducing Cuba as a strategic hot-spot. In addition, it extended US presence to the Pacific and East Asia through the acquisition of the Philippines.

The Roosevelt Corollary


The Roosevelt Corollary (to the Monroe Doctrine) of 1904 represented a shift in US policy towards other countries in the Western Hemisphere (and by extension towards those in the Eastern). It reserved to the US the sole right of military intervention in countries within its sphere of influence, contrary to the Monroe Doctrine, which had no specifications on this point. It was the background for the construction of the Panama Canal and was later replaced by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy.

The Washington Naval Treaty

The 1922 Washington Naval Treaty governed the naval capabilities of the US, European powers and Japan, placing the US and Britain above the rest. The treaty constitutes a turning point because of the increased US commitment to safeguarding its economic interests. Furthermore, the establishment of the prominence of the US navy signals a desire for overseas expansion, which can be seen as related to the Hay's Open Door Policy and the Roosevelt Corollary.

The New Deal


The New Deal was a set of government programs initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 as a response to the Depression. Focusing on relief for unemployed, restructuring of business practices and recovery of the domestic economy, these isolationist programmes represented a turning point in US history because of the increased influence of the federal state on domestic life, especially business life. American society is traditionally anti-statist and adverse to this idea, which explains why the New Deal also introduced the first ever social welfare system in US history. The New Deal itself lost prominence due to the boom during the Second World War, but government influence in this area was not severely restricted until the Reagan era.


The National Security Council Report 68 of 1950 was the political application of George Kennan's advice of containment of the Soviet Union. Although Kennan advised economic and social containment, the NSC-68 deviated from this by prioritising military intervention over diplomatic containment. It thereby represented a turning point not only in US-Soviet relations but also a general shift in foreign policy practice towards former colonies and the third world. NSC-68 can be seen as the political foundation and prelude to the Korean War.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Photo taken from USS Maddox in 1964 showing
three North Vietnamese torpedo boats

This resolution of 1964 was the response to the allegedly two, though probably only one attack by the North Vietnamese on US ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. It gave the executive broad powers to step up the military commitment in Vietnam, leading to a massive troop build-up and aerial bombardment culminating in 1968. This represents a turning point in terms of expanded executive war powers, leading to dramatic effects on the domestic consensus, later known as the "Vietnam Syndrome" and the extension of the traumatic Vietnam War. The resolution was attempted reversed by the War Powers Act.

The War Powers Act

This 1973 act of congress was a response to executive accumulation of war powers following World War Two. Specifically, it demanded congressional approvement for any military engagement lasting more than 60 days, and further reports by the executive to Congress. While this might be said to represent a shift to more legislative control with foreign policy, the fact is that later presidents have either kept military engagements brief or popular with the public, thus often forcing Congress to give its approval without executive request. To the extent that the WPA can be called a turning point, this has got to do with political practices rather than a real shift in power.

The Carter Doctrine

Formulated by national security advisor Zbigniev Brzezinski and named after President Carter, this 1977 doctrine was a commitment to the security of the Gulf area and a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It represents a turning point due to its expressed commitment to the Middle East, leading both to the armament of the Mujahedin and later involvement in the area.

The Homeland Security Act

Terrorist attacks, 9.11 2001

In response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the Homeland Security Act was rushed through Congress. It called for the establishment of the Department for Homeland Security and broadened the power of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance of the US public as a anti-terror measure. The constitutionality of the Act has been questioned and it represents a dramatic twist of domestic policy as a complement to a turn in in foreign policy. It can also be seen as a turn against anti-statism, human rights conventions and legislative power due to the role of the Executive in the period of the passing of the act.

Jenkins, Philip: A History of the United States, London: Palgrave 2003

Cox, Michael & Doug Stokes: US Foreign Policy Oxford, Oxford University Press 2008
Nye, Joseph S.: Understanding International Conflicts, London: Longman 2003
and as given

Friday, 17 June 2011

Nick Clegg Looking Sad

Poor Nick Clegg. Stuck in an abusive relationship with a man with a shiny head. It doesn't help that he looks sad by default. A bit like Elijah Wood in most of his films, really.

Sad by default

This blog taps into that brilliantly with pictures and captions that can't fail to appeal with their pathos. Here are some of my favourites.


Nick Clegg clicked on 5 iPads to win a free iPad, but there was no free iPad, and now when he tries to open his work stuff loads of arses come on the screen instead.

Nick Clegg made a lasagne but it was far too big, and now he has to eat it all week because he hates throwing away food, and he doesn’t even like lasagne that much.

Nick Clegg sent a girl flowers, but she thought they were from another guy who she liked already, and then the other guy said it was him and took the credit.

Nick Clegg got told by Miriam to tidy the garden when he was already going to do it as a surprise, so now it’ll just look like he did it because she said to

Nick Clegg wanted to listen to Radio 4, but Miriam put on Chris Evans and said if he didn’t like it he could bloody well walk.

Nick Clegg heard a song that reminds him of when his cat was ill.

Remind you a bit of the Chuck Norris facts, don't they? I, for one, have added a new RSS feed to my blog...

Sources: 1, 2 and as given. Thanks to K

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

"In An Artist's Studio" Illustrated

In An Artist's Studio

One face looks out from all his canvasses,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans;

We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer greens,
A saint, an angel; -- every canvass means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.

He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light;

Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.


This collage, made with Christina Rossetti's poem and portraits and details by Botticelli would seem an unlikely match. Not only did they work in different periods but also under different artistic paradigms. However, it is the content which makes them compliment each other.

The poem is Rossetti's reaction to her brother, the Pre-Raphalite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti's use of his female models. She notes, somewhat disdainfully, how each paining takes something away from the model and how the artist's relationship can be an exploitiative one. She explains how the painter's obsession with his model ("feeds upon her face" "not as she is, but as she fills his dream") has become detached from her and intimates that the model might have some unreturned romantic interest in him.

This ties in well with the Botticelli paintings. All of them depict the same model, Simonetta Vespucci, regarded as the most beautiful woman of Renaissance Florence. It has been suggested that she and Botticelli had an affair, although there is no evidence to prove this. She does, however frequent his paintings at an astonishing rate. Simonetta died in 1476 from tubercholosis, only 22 years old having turned the heads of artists and statesmen alike. When Botticelli completed his Birth of Venus, from which the first detail is taken, nine years later, he was very much doing what Rossetti described in the poem. Who knows, perhaps he might have been doing so all the time.

At any rate, the fascination led Botticelli to request to be buried at her feet when he died. Their graves can be seen in the Church of Ognissanti in Florence. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

Lydia and Wickham

This essay aims to provide a close analysis of the representations of the sub-plot concerning Lydia and Wickham from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in two film adaptations of the novel (i). These two films will be the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice by director Joe Wright and director Gurinder Chadha’s 2004 Bride & Prejudice. Throughout, comparisons and investigations into the adaptive relationship to the original will be made and the terminology used in this endeavour will be taken from Deborah Cartmell and Julie Sanders (ii). Seeing as the analysis of the representations of the sub-plot in these two adaptations would be highly deficient without a similar one of characters and characterisation, such will also be provided. Mise-en-scène will only be treated indirectly and when relevant.

Jane Austen’s hypotext sports a number of sub-plots all of which can be labelled based on their protagonists. The primary plot, of course, concerns Elizabeth Bennet’s relationship with Mr. Darcy, while a number of sub-plots, like the Elizabeth-Collins sub-plot or the Jane-Bingley sub-plot work in conjunction with the primary plot. However, due to this interconnectivity, there are some challenges concerned with considering sub-plot as distinct from primary plot or indeed other sub-plots. This essay will consider the sub-plot where Lydia and Wickham elope and are made to marry with relevant instances of foreshadow and indications of the affair. It must, however, at times refer to the Darcy-Wickham sub-plot since this is defining the Wickham character in hypo- and hypertext. Furthermore, while elements of the sub-plot affect the primary plot, so do elements from the primary plot affect the sub-plot. When Darcy exposes Wickham for a scoundrel, he lays the foundation for the Lydia-Wickham sub-plot while this in return gives Darcy an opportunity to show his virtue.

Finally, it is worth noting how the sub-plots serve a purpose in relation to the primary plot. In many cases, the protagonists of sub-plots function as foils to those if the primary plot emphasising different qualities in these. The sub-plot in question is certain to appear in adaptations, because the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy is explained in contrast to the relationship between Lydia and Wickham through the way these relationships engage with each other.

Gurinder Chadha’s Bride & Prejudice

Chadha’s film Bride & Prejudice is a complex adaptation of Austen’s hypotext influenced by both Bollywood and Hollywood cinema. It is set primarily in modern India, but also in England and the US. It follows the plot of the original closely, centring on the adapted Bennet family, the Bakshi, and their quest for acceptable marriages for the Bakshi daughters. Like Chadha’s 2002 film Bend it like Beckham, it enters into a complex social discourse addressing issues such as multiculturalism post-colonialism and globalisation. It also comments on heritage cinema versions of the hypotext with its own brand of national cinema (iii). It thus closely engages with its literary hypotext in a variety of ways. This chapter will study the representation of the Lydia-Wickham sub-plot in Chadha’s adaptation, here identifiable as the Lakhi-Wickham sub-plot.

Like the hypotext, the film contains a number of sub-plots amongst which the Lakhi-Wickham sub-plot figures. The adaptation of a plot from literature into the film medium often entails a shortening of both the plot itself and the reduction and sometimes omission of subplots. This is because directors would find that the timeframe available is unable to cater for all the plot elements present in the hypotext. In Bride & Prejudice, the Lydia-Wickham sub-plot is maintained but relegated further to the margins and somehow altered in order to suit the medium. All the basic constituents of the sub-plot are present; the exposition of characters, the elopement and the resolution but much of what is represented through the spoken and written dialogue and internal monologue of other characters in the hypotext is substituted for brief visual or significant spoken representations in the hypertext. Thus, the exposition of the characters, the signifiers of their romantic involvement and the resolution are shown rather than told (iv). This technique condenses the sub-plot and allows the primary plot to fit within the timeframe of the film.

The film also alters the original sub-plot somewhat. It includes a growing affair between Lakhi and Wickham. This might be a necessary addition in order to explain the transition of Wickham’s affections from Lalita, the adapted Elizabeth, to Lakhi or a commentary on the lack of such in the hypotext, where the elopement appears suddenly. Furthermore, the resolution appears on a level which is visually more available to the audience than a more “faithful” representation of the equivalent in the hypotext would indicate (v). In the film, the adapted Darcy and Lalita tracks down Wickham and where he in Austen’s novel is made to marry Lydia, he loses a fistfight against Darcy in the film and Lakhi recognises her folly as opposed to Lydia. This is an approximation of the resolution to a modern setting and a modern audience where the crucial involvement of Darcy is retained. Finally, the fundamental conflict in Lydia and Wickham’s elopement, the romantic union outside cultural norms, is maintained although not as explicitly as in the hypotext because this would require more playtime. The extra flaw, Wickham’s moral deficiencies and his earlier elopement with Georgiana Darcy, was in Austen’s novel introduced well before his elopement with Lydia. In the film, however, these faults had to be altered. They had to be introduced closer to the actual elopement in order to keep the suspense of the plot and within the time frame of the film. Also, more of the faults from the hypotext had to be approximated, despite time concerns, in order to make the unsuitability of the union apparent to a modern, Western audience who unlike a more traditional Bollywood audience would not necessarily consider the union immoral. After the elopement has taken place, Darcy reveals that Wickham had earlier made his sister pregnant at the age of 16 as compared to them having an affair when she was 15 (vi). In this manner, Chadha approximates the conflict and restructures the plot in order to accommodate modern, Western sensibilities and the altered medium, but it is worth noting that the significance of the Darcy-Wickham sub-plot is maintained as crucially intertwined with that of the Lydia-Wickham sub-plot.

Film Poster

Seeing as the sub-plot is defined by character, a brief introduction to characters and characterisation is in order. The hypertext has received the Austen characters in a new cultural context. There is, in general, a one-to-one relationship between the received and the original characters (although a few minor characters are left out and Mary and Kitty are combined into the comparatively flat character of Maya). Lydia, then, becomes the flirtatious and socially naïve Lakhi while George Wickham becomes Johnny Wickham. Nomenclature does, in other words, play a role in presenting adaptive fidelity to the hypotext. Furthermore, as evidenced by the Wickham character, the characters are approximated for a modern audience and a modern setting in terms of names. This does not merely concern names, as Wickham’s defining vocational characteristic, being a soldier, is received in the new setting as a backpacking and seemingly unemployed Casanova, his social weight retained in contrast to the adapted Darcy’s position as a corporate executive. This change is made because a soldier would not hold the same attractions for Lakhi in the hypertext as he would for Lydia in the hypotext. Finally, it is worth noting that the relationship between Lakhi and Wickham appears in the film as noticeably secondary to that between Lalita and Wickham. This can be seen as a result of the limitations of the medium, for because of the limitations in play time, Wickham’s role in relation to Lalita and Darcy needs to be visualised more directly and succinctly than in the sub-plot in question here.

Without a clear narrative voice, the Bride & Prejudice characterisation diverges from that of the original novel. Whereas the novel’s point of view catered for the direct comments of a third person omniscient narrator in addition to the characterisations afforded by written and spoken dialogue, the hypertext has to represent the protagonists of the sub-plot through different means. While the rest of the film makes widespread use of a characteristic Bollywood feature, diegetic songs and item numbers, for characterisation, Lakhi and Wickham is primarily characterised through action as well as apparel, being in the margins of the primary plot.

Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice

Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, launched in 2005, ten years after Andrew Davies’ iconic fusion adaptation for television, is an adaptation for a new target audience. It is set in 1797 when First Impressions, the first version of Austen’s 1813 hypotext, was published. It thus distances itself from earlier adaptations, all centred on the latter version, whose formality would alienate the younger target audience intended for this film. This approximation entails some degree of rejection of the Laura Ashley school of filmmaking, “chocolate box England” and heritage aspects of earlier adaptations and incorporates Hollywood-style elements, which would appeal more to a younger audience (vii). This, coupled with the change of medium discussed above, affects all levels of the film, including the sub-plot of Lydia and Wickham.

The first foreshadowing of an affair, and a platonic one at that, is given immediately after the introduction of the Wickham character (viii). After initially having made Lydia and Kitty’s acquaintance, he joins them in shopping for ribbons. In offering to pay for Lydia’s ribbon, he strokes her cheek and produces a formerly palmed coin from behind her ear. This is a signifier of physicality with connotations to prostitution and the gesture has no ready equivalent at that point in the hypotext plot (ix). However, where the book indicates the platonic aspects of the relationship in the possibility of Lydia’s coming “upon the town” or being “secluded from the world, in some distant farm house”, i.e. prostitution or giving birth in hiding, this very visual representation approximates that aspect for a younger, more modern audience (x).

The film’s representation of the sub-plot goes on to follow the hypotext relatively close. As opposed to the Chadha adaptation, this adaptation allots the appropriate amount of play time needed to make the Lydia-Wickham sub-plot a considerable factor in the primary plot. On the commentary track, Wright recognised that once Elizabeth and Darcy had been brought together at Pemberley, taking centre stage in earnest, the sub-plot had to be made appropriately prominent to appear relevant (xi). Its relevance, as mentioned in introduction, stems from its comparative role, allowing for Darcy’s consolidation of his virtue, morality and place in Elizabeth’s heart. The Lydia-Wickham sub-plot works further here to define both Lydia and Wickham as negative foils outside the primary plot protagonists’ subjective spheres. This means that all the major elements of the hypotext sub-plot, the conflict; the news of the elopement, the resolution; the marriage settlement and even the, from a narrative point of view, consolidating stay at Longbourn can be found in the film.

The points of divergence from the hypotext, then, appear only in a number of smaller instances and do not constitute a decisive rewrite of the original sub-plot. As often as not these divergences can be explained by the above mentioned factors of medium and audience. The news of the elopement is brought by letter, as in the hypotext (xii). However, the corresponding scene not only includes both the Gardiners in addition to Elizabeth but also Mr. Darcy (xiii). This was probably done to limit the play time whilst still incorporating the protagonists of the primary plot, establishing the above mentioned function of the unravelling sub-plot for viewers. Elizabeth’s comical circling of the wall might be a ploy to appeal to those younger viewers unaware of the implications or unimpressed by the social magnitude of such an elopement.

Film Poster

Furthermore, Mr. Bennet does not show the same feelings of guilt in Lydia’s fate as he does in the hypotext (xiv). In the novel, Bennet comments on his guilt in between correspondence by letters with Mr. Gardiner and Mr. Collins. The omission of all this is a part of a larger process of limiting the narrative to the essentials and even commenting on the sheer amount of correspondence in the interval between the rise of the conflict and the resolution. Also, in terms of narrative levels, the added dimension of Bennet’s feelings would complicate the levels above, i.e. the sub-plot and the primary plot, and confuse younger viewers. Therefore, the film contents itself with visual representations of exasperation which can easily be neglected or missed without much consequence for the sub-plot. The only indication of Bennet’s regret in his method of raising his daughters is given when he in the film, like in the book, becomes stricter with Kitty as a result of the Lydia-Wickham sub-plot.

When the Wickhams arrive for their stay at Longbourn, Lydia reveals Darcy’s role in the resolution with considerably less candour in the hyper- than in the hypotext. In a scene which in many ways shares some characteristics with the elopement letter scene in terms of reduction of narrative space, Lydia performs the role originally assigned to Mrs. Gardiner (xv). Thus, in the interest of narrative space and flow, for the hypotext letter from Mrs. Gardiner would certainly disrupt the dinner scene, the same agenda for simplification is pursued for much the same reasons as above.

The last alteration in the representation of the sub-plot to be found consists of an added element. Apart from the presence of the soldiers, whose belligerent vocation is toned down in favour of appearance, Austen’s novels have little room for physical violence, and yet the adaptation hints at such. When the Wickhams are leaving, the novel only remarks Wickham’s vivacity compared to Lydia, but the film clearly shows him violently pushing Lydia down into the seat of the carriage (xvi). This could both emphasise the artificiality of the affair and hint at future domestic abuse. The use of violence, if noticed by viewers, would provide a commentary on the absence of such in the hypotext and to some extent anchor the sub-plot in a social context.

Rupert Friend plays Wickham

In terms of characters and characterisation, much remain similar to the hypotext and the deviations can largely be explained by the introduction to this chapter. The social status of each character is reflected in his or her attire and surroundings. Despite the rejection of revealing Laura Ashley style dresses, a certain physicality to the characters is maintained by the inclusion of dressing scenes, untidy hair and more physical contact than what the hypotext sanctions. The already mentioned foreshadowing of the affair as well as Lydia’s physical display of affection; touching and dancing about, could serve as examples in addition to the above extension of the sub-plot. This approximation of characters and the visual characterisation is mirrored by the characterisation through auditory communication. Though the use of letters, so prominent in the hypotext, is maintained to some extent in the hypertext, the narrative would suffer both in space and flow without the substitution of some letters for dialogue. One effect of this is that characters appear more outspoken. Lydia’s verbal narration of her affair at Longbourn gives her an air of lacking in sensibility which excels that given by the letter in the novel (xvii). Another effect is that in order to maintain the level of intimacy the letter offers, the mise-en-scène would have to create the atmosphere of intimacy a letter has, which would be a natural transition for an adaption into a visual medium. A further signifier of intimacy could be the use of language, body language and posture which is used extensively for purposes of characterisation in the adaptation. In contrast with earlier adaptations and the hypotext, the characters use modern polite language diverging from the original dialogue, modern body language like slouching or expressive airs and looks. The language, attitudes and facial expressions of Lydia in the final scene at Longbourn and her and Elisabeth’s surreptitious play with the glass of wine are both aspects of a visual form of narration and an approximation to a younger audience (xviii). This element in the representation of sub-plot thus mirrors the overarching agenda for the entire sub-plot as well as the adaptation in its entirety; to update Austen’s novel for a new audience, both in terms of form and medium.


Both these film adaptations can be seen as approximations and commentaries on the hypotext and the representation of the Lydia-Wickham sub-plot mirrors this. The Chadha hypertext performs a cultural transposition as well as a modernising approximation and receives the sub-plot in a more visual medium. This process allows for commentary, most prominently a post-colonial one, i.e. in terms of the cultural background of the protagonists and their encounters with cultural settings closer to the hypotext. In the Wright adaptation, the sub-plot is more faithful to the hypotext. It is more prominent and disconnected from Elizabeth’s person in than in Chadha’s adaptation, the resolution is similar but closer to that of Austen and the elopement is not shown as it is in Bride & Prejudice. Thus, the divergences in Wright’s film are less apparent but, as seen above, do serve a purpose.

What is shared by the sub-plot representation in both adaptations are media-specific characteristics, a recognition of a new target audience and the realisation that the sub-plot serves as the primary channel through which the Lydia and Wickham character show their significance for the primary plot. While the two former are shown in the formal and social aspects of the film, the latter is shown by mere inclusion. In terms of narrative, the sub-plot could easily have been left out with a few adjustments to the primary plot, but this would have left the primary plot deficient because of the Lydia-Wickham sub-plot’s relevance for the primary plot and its protagonists in terms of characterisation and plot progress.

(i) Jane Austen, ed. by Donald J. Gay: Pride and Prejudice, 3rd ed. New York/London, 2000, Joe Wright: Pride & Prejudice, [2005] (DVD), Gurinder Chadha: Bride & Prejudice, [2004] (DVD)
(ii) Deborah Cartmell The Cambridge Companion to Literature on Screen, Cambridge, 2007, Julie Sanders: Adaptation and Appropriation, London 2006
(iii) See Bill Nichols: Engaging Cinema – An Introduction to Film Studies, New York/London, 2010: 147-153
(iv) See examples of of the exposition of Lakhi and Wickham in Chadha 2004: (02:30-02:57) ,(28:55-33:36), of the elopement in Ibid: (01:31:20-01:31:57) and of the resolution in Ibid (01:33:20-01:36:14).
(v) For comments on the problematic nature of fidelity, see Cartmell 2007: 108
(vi) Austen 2000: 133, Chadha 2004: (01:33:00-01:33:10)
(vii) For more on the characteristics of these, see Cartmell 2007: 75-87
(viii) Wright 2005: (29:50-31:22)
(ix) See Austen 2000: 49-50
(x) Ibid: 201
(xi) Wright 2005: (01:31:30-01:31:43)
(xii) Austen 2000: 176-180
(xiii) Wright 2005: (01:27:40-01:28:50)
(xiv) Austen 2000: 194-195
(xv) Ibid: 207-211, Wright 2005: (01:33:05-01:33:25)
(xvi) Austen 2000: 214, Wright 2005: (01:34:30-01:34:32)
(xvii) Austen 2000: 189
(xviii) Wright 2005: (01:31:45-01:34:32)

Austen, Jane ed. by Donald J. Gay: Pride and Prejudice, 3rd ed. New York/London, 2000
Cartmell, Deborah The Cambridge Companion to Literature on Screen, Cambridge, 2007
Nichols, Bill: Engaging Cinema – An Introduction to Film Studies, New York/London, 2010
Sanders, Julie: Adaptation and Appropriation, London 2006
Chadha, Gurinder: Bride & Prejudice, [2004] (DVD)
Wright, Joe: Pride & Prejudice, [2005] (DVD)
Pictures: 1, 2, 3

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Story of Another Riff

In September and December 2010, I presented a number of songs built over the same riff. This is quite a common phenomenon. Easy to come by just about sums it up. The good thing about that is that if you like one of the songs, you will probably like a few of the others. In this spirit, I'd like to present the story of another riff.

The Beatles - Blackbird

Written by Paul McCartney early one morning in 1966 in the back garden of his house at Cavendish Avenue.

Eva Cassidy - American Tune

Composed by Paul Simon in 1975 and sung by Eva Cassidy, it is difficult not to be moved by American Tune.

Keb' Mo' - I'll Be Your Water

From the 2005 album Suitcase, the song is an interesting mixture of the melodies of Blackbird and American Tune and the motif of Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Why the US isn't French - A Mosquito's Tale

In November 1801, Napoleon had a plan. Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, France had just annexed the massive 828.800 square miles Louisiana Territory. As far as the rest of the world knew, Louisiana was still Spanish. Meanwhile, the French revolution had granted the slaves of future Haiti their freedom, resulting in the rise of Toussaint L'Overture. He had, however, shown a regrettable tendency to cooperate with the Americans and with the state coffers rapidly drying out, Napoleon was in need of money. It was time for an overseas empire.

The Louisiana Territory,
here represented in white

He sent his brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc, to regain administrative control of Haiti before swiftly moving on to New Orleans. This city was the outlet for most of the cotton, farm produce and other export from the American interior and the key to the Louisiana territory. If successful, this would both create a self-sufficient French American-Carribean territory but also control the trade in the area, which would supply the funds for Napoleon's plans for the old world.

Generals L'Overture and Leclerc

All was set for the takeover. American Southerners feared the spread of a Haitan slave rebellion and were also increasingly opposed to President Jefferson's policies. Central US figures were on Napoleon's payroll, such as "Agent 13", Brigadier General James Wilkinson. The commander in chief of the US army had been in Napoleon's pocket since 1787 and George Rogers Clark, conqueror of the Northwest Territory also recieved an annual payment.

Considering this support, it is not unlikely that Napoleon would be able to establish a foothold in the Americas. If the war in the old world should fail, as it did, he could well escape from Elba to the American territory where his skills and fame would rally central and competent characters and legions to his cause. He could then possibly move on to expand the territory towards Mexico, like the US ended up doing, and even emerge from a potential war with the US and Britain fairly victorious. This would change history as we know it.

Haiti before L'Overture

Everything hinged on the successful subjugation of Haiti, however. Nobody evisaged any problems in that venture. Initially, the war was going well and L'Overture's forces were driven back from the coast. However, clandestine supplies from the US and Britain was brought in which made the conflict drag out in time. It was in these uncertain times that French soldiers started succumbing to a strange malady.

Initially, the soldier would lose strength, soon becoming to weak to walk. Then, black vomit, yellow skin and convulsions would herald death. With the onset of the April showers, the frequency of these cases would increase dramatically. Leclerc's original force of 20.000 would be diminished to just a few thousand with casualties including Leclerc and 18 other generals. Reinforcements would arrive which who succumb to the same illness. At the French capitulation in December 1803 an estimated 50.000 French had died from the disease.

Aedes Aegypti

It turned out to be the old scourge of Caribbean colonies, yellow fever. The disease had originated in Africa and spread with the slave trade. A viral disease, it was spread by Aedes Aegypti, the Yellowfever Mosquito. The April rains led to enormous swarms originating from the swamps and mires abundant on the island and the French, who had never before been exposed to the disease and were vulnerable to the environment died in droves. Furthermore, the appropriate social and medical measures were not taken. Moving the army into the mountains and away from the swamps, prohibited by Napoleon, probably would have reduced the casualties.

Ironically, it was a disease introduced by the slave trade that defeated the army sent to subjugate former slaves. Also, the European diseases which decimated Native American populations found a counterpart in a disease from the colonies. The army that was to augment a French overseas empire failed to do so and as a result, rather than making America French, Napoleon had to sell the Louisiana Territory for a pittance to Jefferson in 1803, who gained the political victory of his life. However, the real credit for the Louisiana Purchase does not lie with the president, but with a mosquito the French did not know how to handle.

Cowley, Robert (ed.): More What If?, Oxford 2002
Peterson, Robert K. D.: Insects,disease, and military history: the Napoleonic campaigns and historical perception, in American Entomologist 1995, 41:147-160 at link 
Pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5