Friday, 29 June 2007

Themes Expressed Through Characters in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

Students will be asked to read this novel over the summer. It will be a more profitable read if they note and annotate the pages for themes and characterisation, etc. In addition to the Study Mat for CCM in a previous post students would be well advised to think about how the novel's themes are expressed through a range of characters. The themes and the characters related to them are given in note form below.


This theme is linked to morality. Corelli makes his honour personal. Corelli talks to Weber about his punishment of a man who attempted to rape Mina,  the girl who who had been purportedly "cured by the supposed miracle.” Corelli made him carry “A haversack full of Rocks. Yes. I did it because I imagined that woman was my sister. I did it because when he was well-cooked I felt a lot better. That is my morality. I make myself imagine that it’s personal.” (Chapter 48) de Bernieres constrasts this with people who believe in ideas more that they believe in people or, indeed, morality.

-Carlo (See below on love and honour)
-Doctor Iannis
-Doctor Iannis work as a doctor
-Drousoula (Her story is told by De Berniere’s in “A Bird Without Wings” which deals with the mass migration and exchanging of Greek and Turkish populations between the two countries.)
- Bunny
-Mextaxas fears for the honour of Greece. His fears for Lulu and Greece parallel Dr. Iannis’ for Pelagia and Greece.
“When soldiers are dead, when a country is devasted and destroyed, it is honour that survives and endures. It is honour that breathes life into the corpse (of Greece) when evil times have passed”. (The third person narrator gives Metaxas’s feelings on Greece and its forthcoming trials for its “personal and national honour.”) 29

Metaxas replies to the Italian ambassador that he knows that in fighting the Italians he will also end up fighting the Germans. Still, he adds in French “That it is a question of honour”. Page 96, Ch. 12.

Carlo on the Italian officers of the Acqui division:
Fortunately the officers of the division were honourable men, and if it were not for this fact, I am quite sure that the islanders would have gone into insurrection, as they very quickly did in those places occupied by the Germans.“ 160

The Doctor to Corelli on hospitality and honour while still maintaining his resistance:
“Kyria Pelagia will bring water, some coffee, and some mezedakia to eat. You will find that we do not lack hospitality. It is our tradition, Captain, to be hospitable even to those who do not merit it. It is a question of honour, a motive which you may find somewhat foreign and unfamiliar”. (At this point the Doctor is unaware of Corelli’s deep feelings on honour.) P. 170

Mandras shoots the old man because he does not want to “lose face” and “it was a question of being a man in front of other men, a question of honour.” 193 ( In this instance, honour is besmirched as a positive virtue.)

The communist andartes
The British and Americans (letting the Italians down)

A foolish sense of honour is counterposed with common sense. (General Gandin’s dithering. His attitudes to war belong to the First World War and not WWII.)

Nobility and sacrifice
Related to the theme of honour and linked with love and morality.

Various kinds of love

-Heterosexual between Captain Corelli and Pelagia and Mandras and Pelagia
-Homosexual “Love will make men dare to die for their beloved –Love alone”. Carlo sees it as heroic and honourable to die for the one he loves. (Self-sacrifice)

-Soldierly love: this relates to the theme of various forms of love
“A further fact is, that regardless of the matter of sex, soldiers grow to love each other; and, regardless of the matter of sex, this is a love without parallel in civil life. You are all young and strong, overflowing with life, and you are all in the shit together”. Pages 32-3

-Parental – the Doctor and Metaxas for their daughters. (Lulu and Pelagia)
– Lust (before Pelagia learns to love Corelli.) See Chapter 11 for Pelagia’s lust.
-Of music (Antonia)
-Of Cephallonia
-Of Greece – Metaxas, Mandras, Iannis and his neighbours, Kokolios and Stamatis.

Waste-the sacrifices of Pelagia
-the sacrifices of Carlo

Metaxas thinks he “holds the fate and honour of his beloved country in the palm of his hand”. Page 26. He also thinks that “discipline and self-sacrifice” are the virtues that he wants to commend”. However he feels hamstrung by the behaviour of his daughter. It is a kindly portrayal of what was a dictator who had many imprisoned, tortured, etc.

“Destiny” and “honour” Page 29
Metaxas: “he knew that fate had selected him as a protagonist in the tragedy and that he had no choice but to grip the hilt of the sword and draw it”. Page 27

“Was it not it a form of irony to be so mocked by fate? Had he not selected for himself his role as ‘The First Peasant’, ‘The First Worker’, ‘The National Father’? Had he not surrounded himself with the pompous trappings of a modern Fascist? . . . Page 29

Dr Iannis to Pelagia: “You will marry Mandras if that is what providence decrees.” P. 87, Ch. 12
Corelli is fated to survive and mistake Pelagia’s child for hers.
Pelagia considers she is fated not to produce her waistcoat for Mandras. Page 112, Ch.16

Dr Iannis (self-educated as he travelled on ships around the world – he is formally qualified.)
Pelagia (taught Italian by her father and speaks Katharavousera (educated Greek) and not Demotic Greek. She completes her father’s “New History . . .” after his death and discovers her ideas as she articulates them.
Carlo writes and is highly articulate – his letters, etc.
Mandras learns how to read and write.
Captain Corelli educates Pelagia into art. (She has already received a scientific education from her father. The Captain helps her appreciate art and love in relation to her work on her waistcoat. See page 179.
Unlike Corelli the Doctor was unable to teach Pelagia about music. See page 188.

Dr Iannis is writing “The New History of Cephallonia” and this is finished by his daughter, Pelagia.

Carlo discusses “history” in some detail on page 33 as “the propaganda of the victors”. His own writings are an attempt to put his own “history” (or story) to tell “the truth” of his experiences and feelings while he lived. He gives further historical points on the pretext for the invasion of Greece by Italy on page 35. (“It seems clear in retrospect that an invasion of Greece must have been the ultimate intention; there were clues everywhere, if only we had seen them.” )35

The entire novel has been criticised for its historical bias and omissions. Perhaps one lesson that can be drawn from De Bernieres’ experience is that history is very contentious. Men such as Iannis and Carlo would be easily forgotten in a macro approach to history such as big battles, kings and leaders, events style history. History is made up of the doings of the ordinary as well as the great! Much of De Bernieres’ work is centred on the experiences of ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives as they lived them against the background of great events.

History is seen through the eyes of several narrators for a more rounded view, particularly on how historical “events” impact on the lives of ordinary people.

Pelagia feels as if she is “melting into history” as she watches Mandras. Page 89 (Ch. 12.)

History is related to “Memory”. This is represented by Iannis’s “History”, Pelagia’s letters and “History”, Carlo’s memoirs, etc.
Iannis becomes conscious during the Italian invasion that he is living through history: ‘History’, he proclaimed, ‘all this time I have been writing history, and now history is happening before my very eyes.’ 156 Chapter 23.

The yearly miracles of St Gerasimos and the focus on the mad on his feast day(s).
The actions of Mandras after he thinks “nobody wants him”. He raves after his experience of war when he returns to the Island. See Chapters 22-23.

Pelagia thinks that Mandras seems “madder in his new sanity than he had been when he was mad”. (After Mandras arising from his bed.) P. 177.

The position of women on the island

A women’s lot is not easy on the Island. Pelagia later relates this when thinking about Lemoni’s future. Education was not open to them and a life of marriage including hard, grinding work as well as bearing children was all that they could look forward to. Wife-beating was also common. Although several women are strong: Drosoula is a good example and also Stamatis’s wife who breaks a plate over his head! (Only education, trade and wealth would be a way out of this. See the theme of Education.)

Women without husbands or sons are vulnerable to mistreatment on the Island. This is a predicament Pelagia faces later in the novel.

Mandras to Iannis: “You know how everyone treats a widows, ‘They end up as whores’.

See also the notes on Pelagia on Ch..12
Drosoula is proud of Pelagia’s ability to treat Mandras for his ailments after he arrives home from the mainland: “You are astonishing. You are the first woman I have ever known who knows anything.” Ch.21, Page 138

What it means to be Greek/nationalism
Like Stamatis and Kokolios, Iannis shows solidarity after the Italians sink the Elli with its pilgrims and icon. It’s ironic that a religious icon would bring them together as two of them profess no religious beliefs. They are outraged that such an attack should take place on a holy day(“The feast of the Dormition”) in which a holy icon was probably destroyed. P.57 on The Orthodox Church and what it means to be Greek seems inseparable.)

The novel advances an ideology of caring for one another. Iannis echoes De Berniere’s sentiments here.

Several characters’ names have musical connections and connotations: Corelli, Weber, etc.

Music and Corelli’s playing of the mandolin awakens Pelagia’s feelings about it. Music not only bridges the distance between the couple, it also reflects a sense of “journey” and is linked with Ulysses and The Odyssey:

“She saw the tendons moving . . .from time serene at times suddenly furious, occasionally smiling,, from time to time stern and dictatorial, and then coaxing and gentle. Transfixed by this, she realised suddenly that there was something about music that had never been revealed to her before: it was not merely the production of sweet sound; it was, to those who understood it, an emotional and intellectual odyssey.

The captain’s singing group are called 'La Scala' after the opera house in Milan.

In Auschwitz the prisoners in the resistance tried to maintain morale among the inmates by organising poetry readings and music to help take their minds off the dreadful realities of their lives. Music was a form of escape. In CCM music has a similar function.

Sources for Research (English and Media Studies)

I produced this mind-map to help my A2 Media Students prepare their Critical Research Paper for OCR. Several of the suggested sources would be useful Lit. students too, as they read around texts.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Narrative Viewpoint Excercise on "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

Narrative Viewpoint

A. Identify the style of narration for each passage below.

B. Consider the extent of the point of view. For example, how omniscient or limited
is it?

C. In addition, can you identify the narrator's attitude towards characters or

D. Identify adjectives and phrases that show the narrator's tone.

The following extracts are from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres

Ch. 1. Dr Iannis Commences his History and is Frustrated

Dr Iannis had enjoyed a satisfactory day in which none of his patients had died or got any worse. He had attended a surprisingly easy calving, lanced one abscess, extracted a molar, dosed one lady of easy virtue with Salvarsan, performed and unpleasant but spectacularly fruitful enema, and had produced a miracle by a feat of medical prestidigitation.

Ch. 2. The Duce

Come here. Yes, you. Now tell me something; which is my best profile, right or left? Really, do you think so? I am not so sure. I think that perhaps the lower lip has a better set on the other side. O, you agree do you? I suppose you agree with everything I say? O you do. Then how am I supposed to rely on your judgement?

Ch. 8. A Funny Kind of Cat

Lemoni ran into the courtyard of Dr Iannis’ house just as he was departing for the kapheneion for breakfast; he had been planning to meet all the mangas there and argue about the problems of the world.

Ch. 4. L’Omosessuale

I, Carlo Piero Guercio, write these words with the intention that they should be found after my death, when neither scorn nor loss of reputation may dog my steps nor blemish me.

Ch. 16 Letters to Mandras at the Front


I have heard nothing from you for such a long time, you have not written since that sad day that I saw you off from Sami. I have written to you every day, and I am beginning to suppose that you never got my letters, or that your replies do not reach me on account of the war.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Study Mat for Jane Austen's "Emma"

Emma (prose) Jane Austen (1815)

What you need to consider as you annotate the text

AO1 and AO3
On characters and characterisation:
points on the characters- how do characters develop (are they round?) or do they remain flat?
internal conflict and tensions - what are the opposing desires or values in the character’s minds? (Think of Emma, Jane Fairfax, Frank Churchill, etc.)
the functions and roles - What are the characters’ roles and functions?
the situations – how are characters affected by the situations and places that they find themselves in?
the language – what type of language is associated with characters?

The third person narrator:
tone: what is the attitude of the narrator to characters or events? Does the narrator’s tone of voice associated with characters change? How do characters use tone in their relationships with each other?
the relationship – what is the relationship between the narrator and the reader at various points in the novel?

AO1 and AO3
irony – is there irony in the narrator’s comments on characters and in what characters say and do?
the style of writing/speech – when and where are the following used and why are they significant: ornamental features in description, formality in language, symbolism, other narrative devices, etc?
plot devices – how are the following presented: the exposition of the plot, its rising climax and falling action, discovery including self-discovery for Emma, openings and endings, withholding of information by the narrator, characters, etc.
recurring images and symbols: what are they and what do they signify?

Themes (AO5i):
Can you identify recurring concerns and ideas that are important for the characters and the readers in Jane Austen’s time? (They will reflect the social and historical context.)the social and historical context: what is the importance of social rituals, manners, the theme of marriage, duty, the importance of the small community? (Austen believed that the fate of the landed classes depended on their ability to preserve the system of manners which supported their authority: their beliefs and values)
Locations – what are their significance for the characters and themes?

Monday, 25 June 2007

Study Mat for an effective first reading of Louis de Bernieres' "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

I call these "Study Mats" because they can be covered in plastic and laid out on students' tables, etc. It's an old idea but worth doing.

What you need to consider as you annotate your text on your first and second reading

AO1 (10%)
Can you write about the text?
Can you show knowledge and understanding of it?
Are you able to use appropriate literary terms about it?
Show insights?
Write about it clearly and accurately?

AO2 Genre and Period• plot construction and development
• content and the treatment of recurring themes
• the defining characteristics of the writer’s work?
• historiographical/postmodernist fiction.

AO3 Methods –Characterisation (5%)
How do the characters develop? Do they change or do they remain the same? (Are they flat or round?)
Internal conflicts and tensions –what are the opposing desires and values in characters’ minds?
characters functions and roles – what are they? Do they change?
Characters’ situations – how are characters affected by the places or situations they find themselves in?
language and ideas – what ideas are associated with characters and how do they use language?
What is the main imagery and symbolism of the novel?

AO3 The style of narration (5%)
-Variation in narrative voices/perspectives
-Why does de Berniere’s vary the style of narration between chapters and even sometimes within a chapter?
-tone: what is the attitude of the narrator(s) to characters and events? Does the tone change? How do characters use tone in their relationships with one another?
-What is the relationship between the narrator(s) and reader at various points in the novel? (For instance, is it didactic, intrusive, informative, etc.
Style and Forms
Satire – who or what is made to look foolish and why? Is the use of satire gentle, savage or dark? What is its corrective function in the text?
-Is irony important and does it emerge out of the situations faced by the characters, structure of the novel or black humour?
-Elegance in syntax and description
-Use of period detail
Settings and situation
How does de Berniere’s use period detail?
Social rituals: the kephenion, eating, etc.
Symbolic associations including “roots”, music, names, etc.
The significance of locations
Structure and Plot
Stance of the narrators – critical, ironic, intrusive, etc.
Plot as a vehicle of them: the changing roles of women, love and waste, the long history of repeated suffering on the Island, the Romoi and Hellenes, etc.
Structure of the plot – predictable/unpredictable
Pace when does the narrative(s) slow down or pick up speed? Why?
Degree of credibility of events.

AO4 Opinions and Interpretations (10%)
How is the novel and de Bernieres’ treatment of its ideas/themes, etc viewed by other readers?
How has it been received by various critics? What are the reasons for their views?
What are the different perspectives offered by different critical standpoints? For instance, a feminist critique, a Marxist view, etc (See the link for Introduction to literary theory for ideas on this.)

AO5 Social and Historical Contexts And Themes (5%)
What are the recurring themes –the main messages and ideas? For instance: love and loss, honour and dishonour, nobility and sacrifice, wasted lives, various forms of love, fate, education, history, the position of women, being Greek, etc.
What are the social and historical contexts?
The literary context? (post-modernism)
What significant events take place in the novel? (The Italian/German invasion, the earthquake, growing commercialism in Cephalonia and how this affected lives, beliefs and social behaviour, etc.
What was the context in which the novel was written by de Berniere’s? (the early 1990s). What wars were taking place then in the Balkans and what moral questions/dilemmas did they pose for the population of Europe and its leaders?

Research, presentation and written tasks for the AS-A2 transition classes on ballads

This will be my last post on ballads. Guidance on the set reading for the Summer on "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and Chaucer's "The Merchant's Tale" will follow.

Briefing Sheet for the AS/2 Transition Tasks for English Literature.

These task(s) are anchored to specific assessment objectives that should enable you to acquire key skills for A2: AO1,  AO2, AO3, AO4. (Look the A.O.s up in the A2 Course Booklet if you need to clarify what they mean.)

To succeed next year you will need to develop skills in independent learning. Your tasks will enable you to do this and you will receive a grade for your work: the presentation and the written piece(s) that follow up.)

Main Task
Individual/paired to present a ballad and produce a written appreciation of it.

1. Select a ballad: from the Year 13 Intranet folders: “Ballads”, “Ballads for Research”. The other folders also have information to help you with your task.
2. Research the literary traditions and historical contexts surrounding your ballad and analyse it. Use my mind-map, “Ballads – aspects of form” to help you make points on your choice of ballad: a traditional folk ballad, broadside or literary ballad.
3. Prepare a presentation of your ballad. To interest your audience you could:
perform your ballad as a piece of drama, sing it, or as a silent movie with help from a narrator to speak the main scenes or speeches..
• show a Powerpoint with appropriate images and music
• Show extracts from films that illustrate a theme or idea from your ballad.
• Use paintings or photographs to illustrate key points and ideas.
• Select just few points to focus on if presenting a literary ballad (a longer, more complex poem by a named poet.)
• Film and present your ballad with accompanying music.
If you’ve chosen a literary ballad you could work in pairs. Otherwise it’s got to be a ballad each. Of course, in presentations you can get a friend to help you with your presentation and repay the favour when they present their ballad.

4. Write a critical commentary on your chosen ballad in which you analyse the poem and discuss the historical traditions surrounding it.
5. Write a broadside ballad of your own in four and three stresses (eight syllables and six) on a sensational event from the news. Use rhyme and rhyme schemes (e.g. ABCB, refrains, speech, etc. using the points mentioned in mind-map on aspects of the ballad form to make your ballad authentic. See also the Intranet Sources for Ballads if you need murders from the past, etc. Events from our time are fine, too.

Deadlines: the presentation – Mon. 9th of July – written commentary Fri. 13th July. ( See Patty or Me for the appropriateness of ballad choices, etc.)

Saturday, 23 June 2007

"The Mummer's Dance" by Loreena McKennit

Around the time(s) of the early ballads another expression of folk art was mummers' plays or folk plays. Loreena gives a good visual impression of what they may have looked like.

Grateful Dead's "Casey Jones"

No wonder he crashed that train!

"The Ballad of Casey Jones"

I've been fascinated with this one, ever since the old television series. Lots of versions of the ballad exist. Casey's wife queried several of them as they tended to give reasons for Casey's absence of mind when he should have been looking out for what was in front of him. See the Grateful Dead's version for such an example.

The annotated "Casey Jones" by The Grateful Dead can be found here:

(Copy and paste the adresses into the address bar.)

"The Ballad of Lucy Jordan" sung by Marianne Faithfull

Ballads are still being written. It's a living form in which many of the old ballads are still being modernised or updated. In this modern ballad a 37 year old disillusioned housewife from "A white surburban town" leaves her home to seek the life she might have had. This ballad features in the film, "Thelma and Louise" which has a similar theme. The ballad ends in an ambiguous way.

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" Part 1 by Iron Maiden

Different, eh?

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" Part 2 by Iron Maiden

Oh Yeh! A real headbanger!

Simon and Garfunkel's arrangment and performance of the old English Ballad, "Scarborough Fair"

Haunting, yes. They do the ballad about impossible tests of love better than most.

Loreena McKennit's live rendition of "The Lady of Shalott"

This cut down version is only a taster for the studio version that lasts all of eleven minutes. What a voice! Her own life has been sadly too close to the content of this song. (She lost her fiance who drowned in Lake Huron as she performed this song on tour in the mid 90s.)

"The Highwayman" by Kheri and Michelle from Britannica Dreams. Music and singing is by Loreena McKennit

Loreena Mckennit's version is, wordwise, more faithful to the poem.

"Everywhere" - Fleetwood Mac's late 80s version of Noyes' "The Highwayman"

Interesting, even if the lyrics are loosely based on the poem.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

The History of Ballads

Found this on the Net but it's good stuff. It will help with contextualising your work on ballads.

A Short History of the Traditional Ballad

The Child ballad is a late-period phenomenon, by SCA standards. Such ballads may or may not have been sung as far back as the fifteenth century. They were certainly being sung by the sixteenth century, but not many of them were being recorded. Our good records don't begin until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the ballads that are popular today are usually nineteenth- or twentieth-century variants. If you want to fit your favorite ballads to SCA use, you will probably have to peel off several centuries of accretions.

a) Precursors and early forms
Were songs that we would call ballads being sung in the England and Scotland of the fifteenth (or even fourteenth) century? It's possible, but we can't prove it The popular metrical romances of the day, such as "The Marriage of Sir Gawain" (which survived to become Child ballad #31), have marked resemblance to ballads, but it is not clear that they existed as popular song, as opposed to the repertoire of minstrels. There is some evidence that the Child ballads that do date to this time were being recited - possibly to some musical accompaniment - rather than sung.
Consider the Robin Hood ballads, for instance. There are thirty-eight in Child's collection (Child #117-154), but we possess almost no music for them, and that little is from the eighteenth century or later. Our oldest reference to these ballads is in "Piers Plowman", in the late fourteenth century, where they are referred to as "rymes of Robyn Hood". One of the earliest surviving `rymes', -- "Robin Hood and the Monk" (Child #119), from about 1450 AD -- refers to itself as a `talking', rather than a song, which makes it plausible that, at least originally, it was meant to be spoken. The last verse of "Robin Hood and the Monk" is:
"Thus endys the talkyng of the munkeAnd Robyn Hode i-wysse;God, that is euer a crowned kyng,Bryng us al to his blisse! "

Once the ballad form became popular, it began to borrow freely from the carols, riddle songs, popular stories, and romances of this time. There is no doubt that many of our ballads have elements that can be traced back to the fourteen-hundreds, or earlier. There is no song we can point to, however, saying "This ballad was being sung in the fifteenth century."

b) Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century ballads
The sixteenth century saw the gradual disappearance of the old-style romances, along with the minstrels who used to sing or recite them. Concurrently, increasing numbers of songs and ballads were being recorded, registered, and printed for sale. This was not just a British phenomenon: Ballads were popular throughout Europe, and the English-language ballad tradition shows considerable borrowing from other lands.

By the end of the sixteenth century, we begin to accumulate a reasonable body of documentable balladry: Most of the Child ballads that we can trace to the SCA's period will be traceable to the very end of the period.
The ballad form remained popular through the seventeenth and into the eighteenth century. What we now call the ballad had established itself as a popular genre, and appeared in broadsides, books (eg, collections of Robin Hood ballads, known as `garlands'), and plays (eg, ballad operas, which were plays in which the actors would periodically break into song for little reason or none -- as they have tended to do in musical productions ever since).

Popular ballad tunes also become easier to locate, as they tended to appear in music collections, dance manuals, song books, instrumental instruction manuals, and broadsides. (This was the age of the broadside ballad. Most broadside ballads are not considered ballads, as we are using the term, but they frequently named the popular tunes to which they should be sung - and sometimes even provided the music - so they are valuable for what they tell us about the popular music of the day.)

c) Eighteenth-century balladry
The eighteenth century saw two major ballad revivals. One came in mid-century, and was marked by Bishop Thomas Percy's collection and publication (in his 1765 "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry") of many of the old ballads he was able to acquire. The other came at the end of the century, through the efforts of Sir Walter Scott and his circle. Most of our obviously-Scottish ballads date to this time or later. (These revivals are a mixed blessing from our perspective. We are indebted to them for a great deal of our current ballad repertoire. On the other hand, people like Thomas Percy were both eager to impute great antiquity to their ballads, and happy to `improve' them. The combination tends to muddy the historical record.)

Most magical and supernatural ballad themes also tend to enter ballads at this time. If a ballad has ghosts, or people returning from the dead, or magicians casting spells, it is most likely (thought not certain) to have come from the eighteenth century or later. In earlier ballads, supernatural influences are largely restricted to the devil and the occasional elf. (The latter tended to be unnatural minions of evil, not Tolkien-type elves.)

d) The modern `rediscovery' of the ballad
By Child's day, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, many considered the ballad a literary form, only incidentally connected to song. Late in the century, however, scholars began to realize that an oral ballad tradition still survived in both England and the United States. Most of the traditional tunes we know were gathered in the frenzy of ballad collection that followed this realization, and most ballad performances with which people are familiar today are reworkings and updatings of that material.

Take a theme with broad appeal - a love triangle, a killing, an elopement, a haunting, a long-lost lover returned, a sea battle, a land battle, a rejected wooer grieving, a villain outwitted, a husband won, a monster defeated, or any of a hundred others. Set it to a easily-remembered verse form and a singable melody. Modify it as desired to suit the tastes of your audience, to fit a popular new tune, or maybe just to fill in gaps where you don't quite remember the lyrics you originally learned. This is a formula for a song that can survive in the popular domain for centuries.

At least, the idea of the song can survive for centuries through changes in lyrics, changes in melody, loss of old plot elements, and introduction of new ones. The bad news is that the versions of ancient ballads that survive to modern times tend to survive because they have been adapted to modern tastes. Sometimes we are lucky, and can find records of earlier versions of the same ballads, but usually what we have to work with is a relatively modern song in a very old tradition.

The good news is that when we are lucky, we have a song that - possibly with a bit of modification - is likely to appeal to modern listeners. The very factors that kept the ballad tradition alive work in our favor.

Need some ideas to write a ballad of your own?

Click on the ballad to see it full size.

Try this website. It has authentic material with transcriptions of ballads, etc. It's hard to beat those murder ballads!

This is also an excellent website for understanding the background to broadside ballads.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

This is a great audio for the origins of "The Ballad of Frankie and Johnny

The radio show is a brief one - but it really helps with the origins and traditions surrounding this ballad/song.

Here are also notes on the background of this ballad. Scroll down for them. Interesting stuff"
And there's more! Here's a thread of messages and comments on this song.
Here's the great Satchmo singing this ballad.
Listen to Frankie and Johnny - (Real Audio - 3:57)

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Monday, 18 June 2007

For Year 13 Transition - a beginner's guide to ballads

This a very woof-ful starting point for your work on ballads. You may also find an example for your presentation here.

Very woof-ful for sources and background information

Monday, 11 June 2007

"What is wrong with the modern literary novel? Why is it so worthy and dull? Why is it so anxious? Why is it so bloody boring?"

A fascinating article which questions why the tragic is more valued than the comic in Western culture in novels, plays, etc. Isn't it time to re-evaluate? I'm glad that I've found an intellectual reason to justify my preference for teaching "Much Ado About Nothing" over "Hamlet".

Sunday, 10 June 2007

The HUI Signal (Half_Monty)

I've been following Half Monty for around four years over at the Gold Eagle Forum. He is not always right but he has ever been articulate and astute in the comments and judgements that he has made over that time. This post which he made this morning is worthy of posting in full - because if he is right, gold and gold shares will be truly on their way up.

"We goldbugs are at a distinct advantage this weekend as we try to guess the follow-through to last week's market volatility.

We know something that no mainstream commentator has noticed -- something that not one investor in a hundred has paid any attention to.

We know that the index of unhedged gold stocks reversed to the upside on Friday, even as the price of gold tumbled $14 to new spring lows.

So this morning, as we assess the future of bonds, stocks and commodities, we do so with a certain foreknowledge:

1) We know that precious metal stocks are about to launch a sustained rise.

2) We know that the next major move of gold and silver will be to the upside.

Since our investment interest is in PMs, we needn't translate this known action to a general market forecast, but we might reasonably do so.

We might recall that PMs have risen both in the context of falling interest rates (2001-2003) and rising interest rates (2003-2006). But, throughout, the PM bull market has had a common theme -- CB (Central Banks) accommodation. In 2001-2003, this took the form of plummeting interest rates; in 2003-2006 it took the form of lagging, baby-step rate increases and direct bolstering of monetary aggregates.

The coming PM launch tells us that renewed CB accommodation lies directly ahead. Given the current level of interest rates, the accommodation will likely take the form of lower interest rates -- absolutely lower on the short end and relatively lower on the long end, measured as real return after inflation.

Another thanks to goldmich5 for making this conclusion not only compelling but (to quote L. P. Berra) necessary."


Is a novel by Jane Austen just " a bird's book"?

Someone I know thinks so: "They are birds' books". He doesn't think that there is much in them for male readers. Is he right?

Is Royal Gold Inc washed out?

If this is the bottom for Royal Gold there is no other company that I would rather hold. The Williams R suggests it's oversold. This gold royalty company is the prince of gold stocks. It will either be a long hot summer in which this one does very little or an exciting ride into the late thirties with a fall in the Dollar and the consequent rise in gold. Royal Gold is all about leverage to gold. The big money in New York have still not sniffed out this company fully yet. When they do, maybe in a year or so, expect a three figure share price.
Do your own research. This is not investment advice.

Hidefield on the rise?

The next few weeks will tell whether this one will break out or not. The 200 day moving average has kept this one in jail.

Again, Argentina is the key and they are getting very good results from their work in another place called Santa Cruz. (Not quite the same place as Patagonia's) But not that far off either. Their holdings in Columbus Gold makes this company exciting too. Holders, however have had a frustrating year watching this one go nowhere but scrape along the bottom.

Again, do your own research. This is not investment advice.

Patagonia Gold

This share should make a move over the next few months as news of their lab reports find their way to the market. There's gold in them there hills in Argentina! (Particularly in Santa Cruz.) The current price is less than 10p.

But do your own research as this is not investment advice!

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Wanna know more about narration? Woof!

Really woof woof articles for helping with A.O.4 for "Captain Corelli" essays

This important assessment objective expects you to give independent opinions and judgements, informed by different interpretations of the novel by other readers.The following articles and websites offer interesting views on aspects of this novel and may be helpful for achieving this assessment objective.

An interesting article

"Captain Corelli's Crisis" by Seamus Miln
(an essay written for "The Guardian" in 2000)

"Greek Myth" an article printed in "The Guardian",,348087,00.htmlWebsite review

(UK Amazon)You will need to fish around for the best ones.


It's Dog, here. I'm here to help you out with a number of tings - mostly about investments in precious metals companies and how do do well in A level Literature. Yeah, I know that it seems an odd combination but who said life was straightforward?
And there's more!

About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.