Friday, 27 July 2007

An essay on the fiction of Martin Amis

I've been reading "Money" over the last few days. Thought I'd post this essay to refer back to Amis's characterisation of John Self and the depiction of late Capitalism from the 1980s.



The son of Kingsley Amis, a writer who began his literary life - with John Osborne and John Wain - as one of the Angry Young Men, Martin Amis outstripped his father's reputation for offending the literary niceties of his day with his first novel, The Rachel Papers (1973). Amis was twenty four when the book appeared to admiring reviews. Many of the features that characterize Amis's subsequent fiction are already discernible in this book - its scatalogical and satiric treatment of sex, its comic description of the indignities of bodily life (spots, smells, toilet habits, sexual infection and the like), and above all its inventive deployment of language. The protagonist and narrator is Charles Highway who spends the last five hours of his nineteenth year reading over his diaries covering the last year of his adolescence, a year in which he manages to seduce Rachel and gain entry to Oxford University. The diaries reveal a representative cool young man of the swinging early 1970s. What is distinctive about the book is its infatuation with the primacy of writing over experience. Experience only becomes real for Charles when it is written down. He prefers reading about his doings of the last year to spending time with Rachel. She has been subdued by stratagems already recorded in one of his many notebooks, Conquests and Techniques: A Synthesis (the use of italics forming its own comment on Charles' literary pretentiousness). The novel ends: "I refill my pen." The novelist's transformation of life into text is far from over.

Although Martin Amis (born in 1949) was brought up in a literary household, he records that he never read anything more serious than science fiction until his father's second wife, the writer Elizabeth Jane Howard, took him in hand in his mid teens and encouraged him to start reading some of the classics of English literature. By then he had passed his early childhood in South Wales where his father was still struggling to make ends meet, spent a year at Princeton where his father taught creative writing, left for Majorca with his mother at the age of twelve after his parents separated, and got kicked out of his grammar school in Battersea on their return to London for absenting himself to appear in the film A High Wind in Jamaica. Altogether he attended about fourteen schools and only won a place at Exeter College, Oxford University, by attending a number of crammers that taught him enough Latin and other required subjects to meet the entry requirements. A late developer, he left Oxford in 1971 with a formal First. Thereafter his career was characterized by early success. He became an editorial assistant for the Times Literary Supplement in 1972, literary editor for the New Statesman in 1976 at the age of twenty seven, and a special writer for the Observer. By 1979 in addition to The Rachel Papers he had published two more widely reviewed novels, Dead Babies (1975) and Success (1978), and became a full-time writer.

Amis established himself as a comic writer with his first novel, but a comic writer whose subject is not the traditional subject of comedy. Charles Highway speaks for his author when he observes: "Surely, nice things are dull, and nasty things are funny. The nastier a thing is, the funnier it gets" (91). Martin Amis appears to be deliberately staking out territory that is unlike that of his father's (Lucky Jim) Dixon who claims that "nice things are nicer than nasty ones." For his younger generation the world had deteriorated so much in two decades that the only possible subject for contemporary comedy was material considered fitter for tragic treatment in his father's time and before. "I'm not really in search of the sordid," Amis has said. Modern life "just is sordid" (Bragg). Prior to recording his first attempt at seducing Rachel, one that has to be aborted when Rachel announces that she is not on the pill, Charles Highway prepares his reader for the coming anti-romantic outcome: The final kiss we associate with the conclusion of Shakespearean comedies "is now the beginning of the comic action [. . .]. We have got into the habit of going further and further beyond the happy-ever-more promise: relationships in decay, aftermaths [. . .]" (154). For Amis both relationships and the globe itself are in decay. The only available response for a writer who was born, as he has pointed out, four days before the Russians successfully exploded their first atom bomb and inaugurated the era of nuclear deterrence, is comic (Einstein's Monsters 1). However, he is interested not in light comedy, but in "a wincing laughter, or a sort of funky laughter [. . .]. Sort of a hung-over laughter, where it hurts" (Morrison 96).

Many of the stylistic characteristics that have come to be associated with postmodernist writing flow naturally from this conjunction of matter and generic treatment. His matter is ready-made - the sordid, ugly, threatening phenomenon of late capitalist Western civilization, a dying world in which love is also in its death-throws. This view radically affects every aspect of his writing - not just its grotesque content, but his attitude to fiction, his rejection of realism, especially psychological realism, his exuberant use of figurative language, his punning allusiveness and his belief in the moral power of language used creatively. For Amis writing is "black fun" (Ross 24). The modern understanding of comedy enables him to laugh at characters in his novels who "aren't just ridiculous but hideous and sinister" (Bragg). His characters are ostensibly manipulated, frequently by an author figure incorporated in the novel. He dismisses motivation as "a shagged out force in modern life." "I have enough of the postmodernist in me [. . .] to want to remind the reader that it is no use getting het-up about a character, since the character is only there to serve the fiction" (Haffenden 19). Amis encourages the reader to identify with the author of his fiction, not with any of the characters. He is constantly surprised when readers admit to feeling sympathy for one of his more horrific creations such as Keith in Dead Babies (1991).

He is in full flight from what he calls "the typical English novel [. . .]. 225 sanitized pages about the middle classes" (Stout 35). His imagination is more excited by the savage contrast in wealth and cultural values that prevails between the British upper and lower classes. His third novel, Success, describes the diametrically opposing fortunes of a wealthy aristocrat and his lower class step brother. The latter's ultimate success in business and bed acts as an ironic commentary on the changing relationships between the classes in late seventies Britain when the trades unions appeared to control the government and the country.

In his fourth novel, Other People. A Mystery Story (1981), Mary Lamb, the female protagonist suffering from amnesia, is made to experience an upward journey through contemporary circles of hell, starting with beggars (one of whom forcibly has sex with her) and ending with her (sexual) victimization of an upper class philanthropist. In this book Prince, the narrator, is also the protagonist's demon-lover and murderer (the Prince of Darkness?). Both narrator and murderer have the power to end Mary's existence. Here Amis gives fictional expression to his conviction that "the author is not free of sadistic impulses. But," he goes on, "it isn't real sadism," because as an author he does not grant any character in his books the reality he accords real people (Haffenden 12). Amis has also made his anti-realist use of time in his fiction more extreme in this novel. It ends as it begins with Mary's awakening into life or death - it is hard to say which in this unconventional mystery story. The entire novel can be seen as a single instant in which her life is reenacted before her murder.

Amis has always put language before realist considerations. Even the names he gives to many of his characters contribute to the primacy he places on language over psychological naturalism. In Other People Mary Lamb is both the innocent of the nursery rhyme, innocent also like Charles Lamb's mad sister, while her previous malevolent identity as Amy Hide suggests that Amy hides her past in Mary (almost an anagram), just as Stevenson's villainous Mr Hyde hides in Dr Jekyll. Amis's delight in onomastics is given full rein in his subsequent novels, as is his conjuring with literary allusion which he employs creatively and mischievously. In Success the upper class Gregory opens his diary entry for April (the novel consists of the diary entries of each step brother for the twelve months of one year) with an ironic allusion to T.S. Eliot's already ironically allusive opening to The Waste Land : "April is the coolest month for people like myself. Down comes the roof of my ritzy green car. Out burgeons my spring wardrobe. I have a £20 haircut" (92). Amis's use of "cool" and "ritzy" places his fiction at as a great a distance from Eliot's "cruelest month" as that is from Chaucer's "showres soote."

The opposite of his father, Martin Amis considers a plain sentence to be so much wasted opportunity. His father blames the influence of Nabokov on his son for what he calls the "terrible compulsive vividness in his style" (Michener 142). Certainly the son is indebted to Nabokov (especially to Despair ), as he is to Saul Bellow, the only writer to warrant two essays in The Moronic Inferno (1986), his collection of journalistic pieces written about the United States mainly for the Observer. But Amis's at times dazzling manipulation of language - often seen when addressing some of the more revolting aspects of human behavior - is uniquely his own. Reviewers unfairly attributed his depiction of the consciousness of Mary, the amnesiac in Other People, to the influence of Craig Raine's "A Martian Sends a Postcard Home." In fact Amis began this novel a year before the poem appeared. Some of the effects he achieves are quite stunning. Mary's first encounter with children is typical: "they were shrunken, impacted - mysteriously lessened in some vital aspect. They limped in pairs [. . .]. Some were so bad now that they had to be wheeled round in covered boxes, protesting piteously to their guides [. . .]" (16). Amis achieves a similarly powerful impact when describing a tramp's sexual assault on her: "His two wet red points wanted to get as close as they could to her, to get inside. His two tongues wanted her two mouths" (42). That is a typical Amis effect - the use of linguistic estrangement to take you into the (seeming) consciousness of a character.


With the publication of Money. A Suicide Note (1984) American as well as British critics began to see Amis as a major force in contemporary fiction in the English-speaking world. As the novel alternates between London and New York this might well have been part of his intention. Money paints a consciously caricatured portrait of New York. But it avoids adopting that snide condescending stance towards everything American that so many British writers inherit from their insular culture. In fact London and New York become interchangeable centers of rampant greed in the novel. This is the America of Reagan's deficit-making spending spree and the Britain of Thatcher's sale of state assets such as the North Sea oil fields. In both countries the indigent were being thrown onto the streets to swell the number of the homeless. In both countries the rich were getting richer. In Money Amis gives comic fictive life to one financial scam, although this remains small scale compared to the S. and L. or junk bond embezzlements that were concurrently being perpetrated. The novel is set in 1981 and incorporates the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana, the inner city riots in England and the Polish military coup as symbolic reminders of the new political climate of the eighties. Amis thinks that "the money age we're living through now is a short-term, futureless kind of prosperity [. . .], a 'live now, pay later' thing. Money is a more democratic medium than blood, but money as a cultural banner--you can feel the whole society deteriorating around you because of that" (Stout 36).

John Self, the narrator and protagonist of Money, is the epitome of this era - a maker of outrageous television commercials, brought up on junk culture, top of the pops, booze and pornography. His only god is money. It proves a destructive god, which is why Self (and Amis in the subtitle) calls Money a suicide note. Amis has pointed out that "money is always connected with excrement in myth" (Smith 79). Self mirrors the untramelled self, the naked ego (and id), a bundle of appetites. All his actions and relations with others are governed by money. His astonishing consumption of alcohol is, Amis has explained, "more a painkiller than a quest for a good time" (Haffenden 13). His onanistic and pornographic sex life is the product of having seen too many videos and soap operas and too many hardcore magazines, both of which sell sex as a commodity. Describing sex with Selina, his beautiful and faithless English girlfriend, Self writes: "While making love, we often talk about money. I like it. I like that dirty talk" (143). It turns out that Selina herself is marketing her sexual appeal, and Self is not the highest bidder. He is consumed by consumerism, cretinized by television. All of his sexual experiences come already mediated by his immersion in the porn industry. Self is a representative child of the eighties for whom money has to compensate for a total absence of culture.

Since the entire book is narrated by Self this limitation in his background, knowledge and sensibilities might have acted as a severe curb on Amis's descriptive and linguistic potentialities. The solution he adopted in the book is one first suggested to him by Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King. "Henderson," Amis has said, "has the most elaborate and poetic thoughts, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, it's drivel" (McGrath 190). At one point in the book Amis pays Bellow comic homage when his producer offers Self a Rain King cocktail (24). Amis has fun reducing life's polychrome complexities to Self's monochrome vision: "While others look at art or read books or surrender to serious music, my mind just razzes me about money, Selina, hard-ons, the Fiasco. I'm trying, but that's trying too" (301). Both trying is trying (taxing) and his mind is trying to reimpose its debased values on him. The pun anticipates his failure to enculturate himself. Amis also enjoys having Self describe events as he erroneously sees them. Dead drunk at a media restaurant in Manhattan, Self recalls, "I found a woman talking unhappily into a telephone and tried to cheer her up and went on trying even after her boyfriend or husband appeared from somewhere. I disliked his tone. He hurt my feelings. We had an altercation that soon resolved itself with me lying face down in a damp bed of cardboard boxes [. . .]" (175). Even in the descriptive portions of the book Amis will incorporate literary references of which Self is unaware but which cannot help catching the reader's attention:

And one, and two, and three, and four. I'm lying on the fourteenth floor of the Ashberry, wearing tagglebag only and wiggling my legs in the air like an upended beetle. What am I doing? I'm exercising[. . .]This is the new-deal me. This is my metamorphosis. (312).

Unlike Self we hear the allusion to Kafka's Metamorphosis and compare Self's "improved" state as a beetle to Gregor's deterioration in the same circumstances.

Amis has defended his technique of providing characters of severely limited perceptions with poetic thoughts by citing V.S. Pritchett's claim that ordinary people are filled with extraordinary, magical thoughts, but that they have no vocabulary with which to express them (Haffenden 8-9). Ultimately Amis chooses to fly in the face of realism. His antipathy to the whole concept of motivation becomes part of the book itself. Fielding Goodney, the American producer of the projected movie, Money, has Self unknowingly finance the entire hoax operation. Why? For no good reason. As a practical joke. After discovering the truth Self worries away at Fielding's motivation. The character, Martin Amis, dismisses Self's demand for a motive: "It hasn't got what it takes to motivate people any more" (331). Later he adds: "it's an idea taken from art, not from life, not from twentieth-century life" (341). On the penultimate page Self takes up the argument: "I've settled the motivation question. I supplied it all. The confidence trick would have ended in five minutes if it hadn't been for John Self. I was the key. I was the needing, the hurting artist. I was the wanting artist" (362). What he wanted was confidence, the confidence that a large bank balance is supposed to offer. And confidence is something Amis considers to be "a wildly inappropriate response to present-day life" (Haffenden 5).

When Self draws the character "Martin Amis" into the novel by asking him to rewrite the screenplay of his movie to resolve the actors' conflicting demands while making them behave realistically, "Martin Amis" replies: "we're pretty much agreed that the twentieth century is an ironic age--downward-looking. Even realism, rockbottom realism, is considered a bit grand for the twentieth century" (231). Amis's postmodern rejection of classic realism then is closely related to his feeling that the present era represents a deterioration in the quality of living. This relation between the present age of late capitalism and its cultural expression using anti-realist esthetic modes has been extensively theorized by Fredric Jameson. Unlike Jameson and his own father in his youth, Amis is no Marxist. His is nevertheless a representative artistic response to the postmodern era. Both cities between which the novel alternates show signs of irreversible decay. There is "[b]lasted, totalled, broken-winded, shot-faced London, doing time under sodden skies" (150) (the metaphors building up an apocalyptic image of breakdown and entropy). New York is characterized by its birds that, having "been processed by Manhattan and the twentieth century," "have slipped several links in the chain of being" (199). Money values, Amis maintains, are responsible for having "turned paradise into a toilet" (Morrison 102). How can realism afford the contemporary writer an adequate response to the unreality of humankind's collective madness?

By injecting a substitute author figure called "Martin Amis" into the novel Amis is further distancing the reader from Self and the insane lifestyle and values with which he is associated, a distance needed for the satire to be effective. "Martin Amis" lectures a bored Self on the way the modern antihero is so removed from the author that "you can do what the hell you like with him" (229). The most important function "Martin Amis" performs in the plot is to re-write the screenplay of Money so successfully that he foils Fielding's plan of seeing Self torn apart by his outraged leading actors. The irony of this development is that it only serves to prolong Self's state of self-delusion. As in Other People, Amis confronts his readers with their complicity in the author's sadistic treatment of his main character. At the same time there is a similarity, as he has pointed out, between the "lone gratification" of Self's endless hand jobs and the writer's lone gratification in subjecting his helpless protagonist to such humiliations. As Karl Miller has written, the original Onan of Genesis "is an orphan, and there are two of him" (411). "Martin Amis" acts as Self's cultured alter-ego in London, just as Martina Twain (a feminized twin to Martin?) performs the same role for Self in New York.

Amis employs numerous puns and literary allusions to ironically highlight the gap that separates Self and the world of money from these two cultured alter-egos. One or two of these allusions become more like recurrent thematic motifs. Take for example the allusions to Othello. What possible relation can the events in this novel have to Shakespeare's play? In the first place, the play evokes a world that is patently inaccessible to Self. When Martina takes him to the opera to see Otello Self congratulates himself for knowing the plot from having seen the TV spinoff. His understanding of the story however is a hilarious misinterpretation that stems from the media stereotypes into which he automatically turns the major figures: "The flash spade general arrives to take up a position on some island, in the olden days there, bringing with him the Lady Di figure as his bride. Then she starts diddling one of his lieutenants, a funloving kind of guy whom I took to immediately" (277). In no time Self has converted Verdi's opera into a soap opera. To add insult to injury he identifies with Cassio and assumes that Desdemona must be sleeping around like the rest of the women in his life, especially Selina.

Amis keeps Othello in view throughout the book by such devices as calling "Martin Amis's" car Iago, or having Self take a swig from a bottle of Desdemona Cream. His father works in a pub called the Shakespeare. In a climactic scene near the end Self is waylaid by Fielding in drag. After he has delivered a devastating kick to Fielding's jaw Self hears Fielding cry out, "Oh damn dear go [. . .] Oh and you man dog" (322). It takes the educated "Martin Amis" to explain to Self that Fielding was in fact quoting Roderigo's accusatory words directed at Iago after Iago has fatally stabbed him: "O damn'd Iago, O inhuman dog." As "Martin Amis" remarks, this is a remarkable piece of transference on Fielding's part, since Fielding's relation to Self is like that of Iago's to Othello. But Self is no Othello, as Amis has explained: "he's Roderigo, the lecherous spendthrift and gull" (Haffenden 23). He is a pawn that is forced to move at the cost of its own defeat, as occurs in the chess game he loses to "Martin Amis" near the end. "Martin Amis" explains the quotation from Othello to Self towards the end of the game in which he, like Fielding, "zugwangs" Self (i.e. forces him to move and lose). It is ironically appropriate that Self mistakes "Martin Amis's" reference to Iago to refer to "Amis's" old car, convinced that if he wins the author will demand as his prize Self's Italian sportscar, the Fiasco. The truth is that Martin Amis has - just as much as Fielding - acted Iago to Self's Roderigo by subjecting him to 360 pages of humiliation.

Amis's invention of a fictionalized alter-ego enables him to embed the device of the intrusive author and his self-reflexive voice firmly within the narrative structure. It is Self, the narrator, not "Martin Amis," who is finally expelled from the novel at its conclusion, expelled from the world of money that has been his undoing. He is also typographically expelled from the book. The final section of his narrative is in italics to draw attention to the different Self to be found there living his life in the present. While he thought he had money he saw himself as an express train rushing through the night: "Though travelling nowhere I have hurtled with blind purpose to the very end of my time." He continues: "I want to slow down now, and check out the scenery, and put in a stop or two. I want some semi-colons" (288). In the final sentence of the book describing the return from work of his new unpretentious girlfriend, Georgina, Amis has allowed the first and only semi-colon in the book to appear. It is a fittingly linguistic touch with which to round off the narrative of a character so reliant for his fictive existence on Amis's brilliant and witty manipulation of language.


Amis's next book was Einstein's Monsters (1987), a collection of five short stories and a polemical introduction in which he denounces the insanity of nuclear deterrence. The stories were widely criticized for being no more than exempla of his stance on nuclear weapons. His next long and ambitious novel, London Fields (1989), is set in 1999 against a backdrop of imminent planetary disaster (not specifically nuclear seeing that glasnost had set in by the time he wrote this book) referred to throughout as the Crisis. Its size and ambitious scope attracted wide attention in the press on both sides of the Atlantic. Once again there is a writer figure in the novel who in this case is dying from the same causes as the Earth. The central character is Nicola Six who seeks her own death by inducing one of two men - a wealthy family man and a working class small-time criminal - to murder her. As in Other People the author figure cannot escape complicity in her murder. The novel is burdened by some of the didactic content that marred Einstein's Monsters. Nicola's death wish, for instance, is a direct consequence of the death of love at the end of the century. Yet this novel rivals the ingenuity and wit of Money whenever Amis abandons his high moral tone. After these last two books reviewers were beginning to think of Amis as a writer taken over by a moral platform - displaying, as Martin Harris wrote unfairly in the New Statesman, "the portentiousness of the reborn eco freak and the whine of the nuke neurotic" (Harris 34).

Then Amis published Time's Arrow (1991) which restored his reputation among critics and earned a nomination for the Booker Prize. Taking as its central character a Nazi doctor who participated in the horror of Auschwitz and then escaped to anonymity in America, the book traces his life backwards from his death in the United States from an automobile accident to his birth in Germany. This is his only novel to take the past for its subject. The device of reversing the flight of time's arrow is not original in itself. It has been employed, for instance, by numerous science fiction writers including Brian Aldiss, J. G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick. But the audacious combination of reversing narrative chronology so as to retell the story of the Holocaust is both unique and strangely moving. It is bold enough for an Aryan to try and recount this catastrophic event in the history of the Jews. But to render it as the one healing episode in a senseless world by reversing the order in which we experience life requires literary courage and a command of language that Amis clearly has.

The Holocaust is, as Amis has said, "the central event of the twentieth century" (Bellante 16). And the Nazi doctors' role in the death camps was crucial. In an Afterword to the novel Amis acknowledges his debt to his friend Robert Jay Lifton's book, The Nazi Doctors. The perverse story it tells of an entire profession adopting an ideology of killing as a means of healing (their notion of ethnic cleansing striking chilling echoes in the Serbian atrocities against Croatians, Bosnians and Albanians in the 1990s) struck him as "the only story that would gain meaning backwards" (Trueheart B1). By moving the narration in the direction of the Holocaust Amis imparts to this novel the same feeling of apocalypse that London Fields has set in the Crisis of the near future. At the same time to reverse history is to undo it, to return to the innocence of a time before the European Fall - a common theme of Holocaust poetry.

To achieve both effects he introduces as the narrator of the book, not the doctor, but his doppelganger, the doctor's soul, "the soul he should have had," as Amis put it to one interviewer (DeCurtis 146). It is a wholly fictional device that works for the most part and contributes a terrible sense of irony to the historical events we see unfolding in reverse. The doctor and narrator share the same body but otherwise have different identities. The narrator admits that he's slow on the uptake: "It may very well be that I'm not playing with a full deck" (29). He has no memory of the past as does the doctor. So when the doctor seeks to lose his earlier identity the narrator observes: "My presence is never tinier. But it's the same story. Render up your soul, and gain power" (49). The doctor clearly abandoned this "voice of conscience" (47) in the process of becoming a doctor with the doctor's power of life and death over others. Both his wife and later girlfriend tell him he has no soul. His soul which comes to life, which is born at the moment of the doctor's death on the first page of the book, is consequently essentially child-like and innocent of the terrible dreams from which the doctor suffers.

Those dreams act for both narrator and reader as anticipations - the narrator talks of "the prophesy of my dreams" (140), of "a terrible secret" he feels he is journeying towards (5). But for the doctor they represent the past that haunts him throughout the rest of his life. So for the narrator there is something deterministic about the way he is forced to experience the doctor's life in strict reverse. As he remarks, "Suicide isn't an option, is it. Not in this world" (25). The doctor's dreams begin on the second page with an image of a male shape in a white coat and black boots. (Doctors preside over the novel, "life's gatekeepers' (4), who give life to the protagonist at the end of the book and deprive him of it at the beginning.) "In his wake, a blizzard of wind and sleet, like a storm of human souls" (8). The souls become stars in the night sky, souls of babies with enormous power. Next come nightmares featuring a wooden shed and implements. Amis is using the doctor's nightmares to prepare the reader for the period late in the book when he works at Auschwitz. The shed turns out to be Room 1 in which prisoners are put to death by injection. The doctor's most horrific dream occurs shortly before he regresses to the death camp. "He dreams he is shitting human bones" (106). The dreams are then replaced by the historical event, the mass extermination of the Jews, played in reverse.

The way Amis makes use of the technique of narrative reversal is responsible for the savage irony of this book. It is not surprising that Time's Arrow has been compared to Swift's A Modest Proposal, for it shares with that work an indignation that is all the more powerful for its restraint. Amis maintains a comic tone throughout, although it is "disgusted laughter" he cultivates to "laugh the wicked off the stage" (Trueheart B1-2). David Lehman called the novel "a fictional deconstruction of time" in which history is undone (15). And time, according to Amis, is linked to morality. "Almost any deed," Amis has said, "any action, has its morality reversed, if you turn time's arrow around" (DeCurtis 147). On reading The Nazi Doctors, Amis realized that "[h]ere was a psychotically inverted world, and if you did it backward in time, it would make sense." (DeCurtis 146). The sea change that chronological reversal has on causality and moral responsibility enables Amis to defamiliarize an event the shock value of which has become blunted by reiteration.

In fact it is the very playfulness with which he treats the horror of the death camp that makes it strange, both linguistically, in Shklovsky's definition of ostranenie, and narratively. He spends the first two thirds of the novel acclimatizing the reader to the looking glass world that the narrator inhabits. In his inverted world fire and violence are creative. Earthquakes erect cities in half an hour. Moral acts are reversed. And of course this makes no kind of sense to him. The doctor's attempts to compensate for his past by buying toys for kids on the street when reversed becomes in the narrator's eyes a mean way of taking toys from the children so as to cash them in at the store for a couple of bucks. Kennedy's assassination is triumphantly transformed into a hero's welcome on his return to life in the streets of Dallas. The conversations of lovers told in reverse have an uncanny way of reading just as satisfactorily as when recorded chronologically, just as love affairs seem to work just as well recounted back to front. The boat taking him from Europe to the States in its inverted form leaves "no mark in the ocean, as if we are successfully covering our tracks" (99), which is precisely what the doctor was doing.

Above all there is the absurd reversal between the doctor's perfectly ethical medical practice in the United States and his lethal medical procedures at Auschwitz. In America he is called Tod Friendly. "Tod" means "death" in German. Amis explains his last name: "'Friendly' America, forgiving, forgetful America" (Bellante 16). His German name is Odilo Unverdorben. His surname in German means "uncorrupt, innocent," as if original sin were undone. In the perplexed narrator's eyes Dr Friendly performs disfavours to his American patients:

The babies get wheeled or carried in here, and they're well enough, and you look them over and say something like "This little fella's just fine." And you're always dead wrong. Always. A day or two later the baby will be back, crimson-eared, or whoofing with croup. And you never do a damn thing for them. (44)

By comparison Dr Unverdorben performs miraculous resuscitations for his Jewish patients at Auschwitz. "Our preternatural purpose? To dream a race" (120). They start off as corpses stacked in the Chamber. "Entirely intelligibly, though, to prevent needless suffering, the dental work was usually completed while the patients were not yet alive" (121). Next the poison gas is returned to the vents: "It was I, Odilo Unverdorben, who personally removed the pellets of Zyklon B and entrusted them to the pharmacist in his white coat" (121). After getting dressed, they leave the Sprinkleroom and miraculously are rejoined on the platform by their menfolk who have synchronistically "completed their term of labour service" (123).

The deluded narrator is so happy at this late turn of events that he begins to use the first person pronoun in this section when describing Odilo's apparent acts of resuscitation. And yet ironically the distance at this point between his and Odilo's moral vision is at its maximum. Amis relies on three different perspectives for this section to work. There is Odilo's perverted misinterpretation of the Hippocratic oath. There is the naive narrator's celebration of Odilo's seeming miracles of healing. And there is the modern reader's sinking knowledge of what really went on at Nazi death camps like Auschwitz. The reader, who is expected to identify with the [implied] author, not the narrator, supplies the truth and the tragedy, as Amis has explained (DeCurtis 146). David Lehman has ingeniously suggested that in the Auschwitz section Amis is appropriating the definitive motif of deconstruction - erasure: "The very instrument of revisionist history is put to the service of heartbreaking fiction" (15). Amis has said that he came up with the technical device of narrational reversal before finding the subject suited to this treatment. But Amis, a novelist and not a theorist, is always "looking for [. . .] a way to see the world differently" (Morrison 99). In Time's Arrow he has brilliantly combined a postmodern use of narrative defamiliarization with his recent insistence on the need for moral vision. Powerfully imagined, savagely ironic, strangely moving, the novel is a celebration of the fictive and of what the fictive imagination can wrest from history.

Works Cited
Amis, Kingsley. Lucky Jim. New York: Viking Penguin, 1961.
Amis, Martin. Dead Babies. New York: Vintage, 1991.
---. Einstein's Monsters. New York: Vintage, 1990.
---. London Fields. New York: Vintage, 1991.
---. The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America. New York: viking Penguin, 1987.
---. Money. A Suicide Note. New York: Viking Penguin, 1985.
---. Other People. A Mystery Story. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1982.
---. The Rachel Papers. New York: Knopf, 1974.
---. Success. New York: Vintage, 1991.
---. Time's Arrow, or The Nature of the Offence. New York: Harmony, 1991.
Bellante, Carl and John. "Unlike Father, Like Son. An Interview with Martin Amis." The Bloomsbury Review 12. 2 (1992): 4-5, 16.
Bragg, Melvyn. The South Bank Show (Martin Amis). London Weekend Television, 1989.
DeCurtis, Anthony. "Britain's Mavericks." Harper's Bazaar Nov. 1991: 146-47.
Haffenden, John. Novelists in Interview. London and New York: Methuen, 1985. 1-24.
Harris, Martyn. "Pursuit of the Millenium." New Statesman and Society 2. 68 (1989): 34.
Lehman, David. "From Death to Birth." New York Times Book Review 17 Nov. 1991: 15.
McGrath, Patrick. "Martin Amis." Bomb 18 (1987). Rpt. in Bomb Interviews. Ed. Betty Sussler. San Francisco: City Light Books, 1992. 187-97.
Michener, Charles. "Britain's Brat of Letters." Esquire 106 (1986): 136-42.
Miller, Karl. Doubles: Studies in Literary History. New York: Oxford UP, 1985.
Morrison, Susan. "The Wit and the Fury of Martin Amis." Rolling Stone 17 May1990: 95-102.
Ross, Jean W. "CA Interview" (with Martin Amis). Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series. 27 (1987): 23-5.
Smith, Amanda. :Martin Amis (PW Interviews)." Publishers Weekly 8 Feb. 1985: 79.
Stout, Mira. "Down London's Mean Streets." New York Times Magazine 4 Feb. 1990: 32-36, 48.
Trueheart, Charles. "Through a Mirror, Darkly." Washington Post 26 Nov. 1991: B1-2.

Copyright 1995 Brian Finney

Half Monty's "The Trauma of Transition"

Posted earlier over at Gold Forum

The Trauma of Transition
(Half_Monty) Jul 27, 09:22

In the continuing rotation from bonds to stocks to commodities, periods of transition have proved volatile for all markets. As one investment theme is exhausted, there is a resort to cash as investors await clarification of the next investment theme.

In June 2003 the bond market made a 50-year top. In the following weeks, bonds sold off, and the PM sector, which had tracked higher with the bond market for two years, also sold off. POG fell back to $335 from much-publicized resistance at $354. The HUI failed for the third time at 155, falling back to 141.

As we now know, the action of Jun-Jul '03 marked a transition of investment focus from bonds to stocks. In the time since, the PM sector has tracked higher with the broad SM, just as did previously with bonds. In the immediate aftermath of Jun-Jul '03, gold stocks launched to a new cycle high, while gold and silver followed along to new highs in 1st quarter 2004.

It is possible that we have just witnessed, in Summer '07, a stock market top akin to the bond market top of Summer '03. It is possible that we are seeing a transition period very like that of Jun-Jul '03. Just as PMs had risen with bonds, they fell with bonds; just as PMs have since risen with stocks, they are now falling with stocks.

What we have seen, imo, is a secondary rotation from bonds to stocks within the context of a primary commodity cycle. What we will see next, I think, is a secondary rotation from stocks into commodities. We will finally see the secondary rotation in commodities meld with the primary cycle in commodities.

At the risk of overstating the similarities with 2003, the $354 and $682 resistance levels for POG are both Jim Sinclair "lines in the sand." HUI 155 was a level that resisted penetration for over a full year, just as 370 has.

To sum, I believe that the final rotation from stocks to commodities may be on the threshold of a launch. We have seen, in this primary commodity cycle, a topping of the secondary cycles in bonds and, quite likely, in stocks. It may be now be time for the primary and secondary cycles in commodities to conjoin in a final, multi-year run to the top.



Goldtent's Rambus's take on the current "fleshwound" for gold

He's a great thinker on gold and well respected within the gold community. Here's his latest thoughts on the the dip in gold and the HUI.

Putting things into perspective.
-> Posted by Rambus @ 1:45 am on July 27, 2007
As bad as this last week felt, was it as bad as our emotions make us believe or was it just another week in this 15 month old grinding consolidation pattern? Keep things in perspective when looking at the minute charts.

Patterns can change very fast in the micro world but in big picture the change may be hardly noticable. After reading todays post I detected alot of emotional stress from some of the folks under the tent. It may have been due to expecting to much from our minute charts and when they turned down the air was let out of alot of sails. So here we go again another swing down in the much bigger consolidation that we thought was supposed to be our breakout. Folks we can’t tell the market when it is supposed to breakout she tells us. She told us this week in the XAU for instance that the breakout last week will be tested and that is what we are doing right now.

Today we backtested the breakout and even traded well below the top support rail for awhile before we had a fairly decent rally at the end of the day to close above the support rail. This was a big positive in my book. So at this point, this is exactly what we should have been looking for is the backtest. We got it, and the only way we could get it is with either a slow move down taking up time or a fast move down taking up very little time.

The point I’m trying to make here is nothing out of the ordinary happened, we got our move down to backtest the breakout and that is where we are now. Some folks bought today when things looked the worst and that is how you play this game by buying the dips. There is no guarantee these folks will be right but at least they are buying low. They had to fight their emotions just like everyone else who buys into weakness and be strong when others are weak.

The market is nothing more than physcological warfare and when you learn to control your emotions you can start to have fun as you will be on the right side of the trade more than the wrong side. Below are the daily charts of the XAU and the HUI. It is obvious that the XAU is stronger than the HUI at this time. Today the XAU backtested its breakout where the HUI still hasn’t even broken out yet. Onthebeach, your 21:57 who is the author of this chart.

That was a chart I posted awhile back trying to show the May 6 month inverted time cycle and its also a good chart to show that even tho we wanted this breakout more than ever the HUI wasn’t ready yet to give in. When looking at the HUI chart all we did was get back to the top rail and nothing more. We are still consolidating and until we can break the top rail and move higher we have to accept the fact that we still have some more chopping around to do. Its not the end or the world by along shot.

As Irish would say its just a flesh wound and nothing more. We have to stay strong and not let our emotions get the better of us when the chips are down. Actually I’m feeling pretty good in here as I know we are alot closer to the end of this consolidation than to the beginning.

Don’t let your emotions get the better of you and stay strong…Rambus

Thursday, 26 July 2007

When Will Gold Go Ballistic?

Another inciteful article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. I don't agree with all of it but he is perceptive and one of the few journos out there posting stuff like this.

When will gold go ballistic?
Posted by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on 23 Jul 2007 at 15:37
Tags: Economics, Currency, Gold, Euro, financial markets
A lot of readers have asked why I duck the issue of gold when talking about the dollar crisis and the M3 monetary blow-off.

All that glitters: gold will soon sparkle again

So here we go:

I started buying gold mining shares in September 2001, missing the bottom by four months. I still hold some shares (mostly duds, since I am the village idiot when it comes to picking stocks). Gold’s 15 to 20 year upward cycle is alive and well.

For those who don’t follow bullion, gold hit $252 an ounce in the Spring of 2001 in a final capitulation sell-off when Gordon Brown began his Treasury sales. It rose to a peak of $730 in May 2006.

Gold has languished since, in part because of sales by the Spanish and Belgian central banks. I remain very wary in the short to medium-term.

What unnerves me is the way gold has tended to move in sympathy with global stock markets. Whenever risk appetite rises, it rises. When investors shun risk, it falls. In other words, it has become correlated with all the speculative trades - notably the yen and franc carry trades - responding to abundant global liquidity. This liquidity is now being drained as the BoJ, ECB, SNB, BoE, Riksbank, and Chinese Central Bank, etc, turn off the tap. So be careful.

While the pattern appears to have changed over the last couple of weeks, this is not long enough to establish a “paradigm change”, excuse the ghastly term. My concern is that gold will fall hard along with everything else (except the yen and the Swissie) in any market crash/correction.

At some point it will decouple, as it did during the 1987 crash when it fell hard, found a ledge, and then recovered hard, while the DOW kept falling. But, I would rather hold Swissies or Yen until gold finds that ledge in a downturn, resuming its old role as a safe store of value. This may happen quite quickly in a crisis. (Of course, I may also be left behind right now in an accelerating rally, but that is a risk I accept)

Ultimately, gold will surge, once it becomes clear that the euro lacks the staying power to serve as an alternative to the dollar. To restate a point I have made many times, the euro-zone is an ill-assorted mix of 13 unconverged national economies – with national treasuries, debt structures, taxes, pensions, and labour laws - that are not ready to share a currency, and are drifting further apart by the day.

(Lest anybody forgets, the motive behind monetary union was PURELY political. The economists at the European Commission warned that the project could not survive over time if it included a Latin Bloc of countries with an unreformed culture of high inflation, rising wage costs, and an export base exposed to Asian competition [unlike Germany’s, which is complimentary] – unless it were backed by a full superstate. They were ignored. Indeed, any future crisis was to be welcomed as the “beneficial crisis”, a chance to force through full political integration that would otherwise have not been possible, as Romano Prodi so candidly admitted when he was Commission chief).

At some point it will become clear to everybody that: the Club Med group cannot compete at an exchange rate of $1.40, $1.45, $1.50, or whatever it reaches; their credit booms are tipping over; they will soon need stimulus more than the US.

Goldman Sachs, by the way, is already 'shorting' Italian and French bonds, while going 'long' on German bunds to play the divergence (the opposite of the euro-zone 'convergence play' that made the banks rich in the 1990s).

We may have a situation where sharp dollar falls caused by impending rate cuts by the Fed sets off a systemic crisis for Euroland. If so, politics will quickly take over from economics and begin to dictate events in Europe. The ECB will have to stop raising rates (whatever Berlin wants), and the euro will become a structurally weak currency tilted to the need of the weakest players. If it doesn’t, the EU itself will blow up. So the ECB will have to change tack to support the union. And the European Court will interpret the treaties in such a way as to force the ECB to do so.

Gold will fly once investors can see that neither of the two reserve currency pillars (euro and dollar) is on a sound foundation, and once the pair are engaged in a beggar-thy-neighbour devaluation contest to stave off a slump (if necessary with the use of Ben Bernanke’s helicopters, meaning mass purchase of Treasuries, mortgage bonds, stocks, or assets of any kind to support the markets). This would amount to a partial breakdown of the monetary system. Gold will not stop at $800. It might well go beyond $2,000.

We are not there yet. Timing is not my forté, but 2008 looks ripe. Watch the Spanish housing market. Watch the French trade data. Watch Chinese inflation. And, of course, watch the US jobs market – the bogus prop to the alleged US recovery (on that, more later).

Posted by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on 23 Jul 2007 at 15:37

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Puplava Securities are buying Royal Gold Shares

A very bullish development for my favourite gold share. Puplave Securities have bought 27416 recently. Puplava is not dumb and he knows what to invest in and when to do it.

Love that share!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Calling From Porec in Croatia, by the Istrian Coast

Gold markets are just treading water here. The HUI is building and marking out a pattern for a major advance. The advance will possibly take place in the last days of July reaching into mid August.

British gold shares are way off the mark. I expect those to make good gains after the US gold shares have taken off. This may allow a few sales of US goldsters to buy British ones.

No more posts on AS or A2 Literature will be made over the Summer.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Is the pound truly strong?

This Telegraph article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is spot on with its assessment of what will happen to the pound going forward - and it is worth posting in full.

'Dutch Disease' could shake the pound
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 20/07/2007

Don't be fooled by the surge in sterling to a 16-year high of $2.05 against the dollar. We have not become the planet's Über-rich, nor have we stumbled upon the secret of perpetual wealth.

The pound is no higher against the euro or Canada's loonie than it was three years ago. It has fallen against India's rupee, the Philippine peso, Poland's zloty, Romania's leu, Chile's peso, and the Aussie and Kiwi dollars. Brazil's real has been the strongest currency in the world for a couple of years.

This is a global dollar slide, the long-deferred consequence of America's monetary misrule. At least at first sight.

advertisementLook closer at the world currency system and you see a shift in spending power from Atlantic civilisation to the rest of the world, one of those rare realignments that occurs every century or so. The euro and sterling will follow the dollar down soon enough against the new boys.

For now, China is refusing to play its proper role in the emerging order, causing ructions for everybody else. It is holding down the yuan against the dollar by political intervention - in the process flooding the world with some $1.2 trillion in liquidity, and driving up the prices of London houses, premier cru Bordeaux, Monet landscapes, and gold.

By default, much of the dollar exodus is ending up in Europe, even though an ageing, hidebound continent with unfunded pensions is no place to put money.

The euro has reached a record $1.38, leading to this week's pitched battle between France and Germany for control over the European Central Bank. As Airbus chief Louis Gallois said last week, if the euro stays above $1.35 for any time, aircraft production in Europe is finished.

Fund managers may suspect - many do - that the euro's moment of glory merely brings forward the day when the two-speed currency union finally cracks up. That does not stop them buying euros. There will be plenty of warning signals before that happens.

So they watch with a jaundiced eye as the Teutonic and Latin blocs drift ever further apart (Germany has a current-account surplus above five per cent of GDP after its decade-long wage squeeze; Spain, Greece and Portugal all have deficits of 10 per cent after their credit bubbles). For now the ECB is still raising rates, so up the euro goes.

Against this stateless currency, sterling looks rock solid. It has a viable nation state to back it up in a crisis. The Bank of England has regained the prestige it last enjoyed in the halcyon days of late empire. We offer interest rates of 5.75 per cent and yields on 10-year Gilts of 5.45 per cent, the best terms on offer from a big G7 player.

The Banca d'Italia has placed 26.5 per cent of its foreign reserves in sterling. The Swiss, Swedes and oil-rich Russia (world's number three in reserves with $405 billion) have all put 10 per cent in pounds.

Foreign governments love our money, for now, and we love their money. As Peter Mandelson put it: "We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich."

But has Britain itself metamorphosed into little more than a bank, just as Iceland has become a hedge fund? IMF data show that - on paper - the UK is now the world biggest "creditor" with claims of $7.05 trillion.

This is not because we have any savings to lend out. Household debt is running at £1,300 billion, or 165 per cent of disposable income - worse than America. No, this is the world's money, courtesy of the global credit bubble. Hats off to the City for netting these flows.

If you step back, however, is it not obvious that Britain has succumbed to a mutant strain of the Dutch Disease, the fate that befell Holland after it briefly struck rich on North Sea natural gas in the 1960s?

Countless countries have been through versions of this boom-bust saga: 19th-century Brazil with rubber, or 1970s Norway with oil, or imperial Spain with metals. The currency rises too far, warping the economy. The underlying commodity crashes.

Our disease is the great nexus of banks, hedge funds and private-equity firms stretching from Mayfair to Canary Wharf, collectively known as "Richistan" and so flush it could afford to pay £1 million or more in bonuses to 4,000 of its own last year.

Add the attendants - accountants, florists, lawyers, chefs, estate agents and nannies - who live off the machine and it becomes big enough to push the economy off kilter.

Richistan is the clearing house for globalisation, but aren't Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai and a revived Tokyo all trying to create their rival cities to bag regional business? And what happens if the global mood changes?

The EU has just eliminated "free and unfair" competition from its list of core treaty objectives, but has kept Maastricht Article 59 giving EU ministers the power to impose exchange controls by majority vote.

On Capitol Hill, the all-powerful Democrats are turning market shy. If Hillary Clinton takes the White House, protectionists will have a duopoly in Washington.

In any case, the "price" of finance has surely been inflated just as extravagantly as oil or rubber in their day. The world's central banks held interest rates too low from 2003 to 2006, driving down the cost of credit to levels that encouraged reckless use of debt. They have belatedly slammed on the brakes.

With the usual time-lag, we are now starting to see the denouement. The issuance of new-fangled CDOs (collateralised debt obligations), CLOs (collateralised loan obligations) and other exotica that make up the $2.5 trillion world of structured finance has come close to freezing since two Bear Stearns hedge funds blew up on US property bets.

While the epicentre of this credit crunch is America, the tremors are hitting Europe. Hardly any junk bonds have been issued for three weeks. Traders are on the sidelines, holding their breath.

When the liquidity tide does recede, and beaches the British economy, we will find out what the Brown legacy really is: a bloated state sector that has risen from 37 per cent to 45 per cent of GDP in a decade (on OECD data) with taxes to match, and that is now higher than Germany's; a budget deficit of three per cent of GDP at the top of the cycle, worse than America or Italy; a current-account deficit of 3.4 per cent of GDP; and of course our own version of America's subprime debacle - yet to hit, although arrears are already shocking.

Soon enough the British housing boom will cool, knocking away the interest-rate prop that has held up sterling. Global markets will then make a harsher judgment on Brownism.

The pound will not look so pretty, and perhaps that will help cure us of our Dutch Disease. As Churchill mused regretfully in the late 1920s after restoring Britain to the Gold Standard at a punishing exchange rate to please the City: "I would rather see finance less proud, and industry more contented."

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

"Flags Of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"

Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg's remarkable contribution to our understanding of World War II is also useful for understanding key themes in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" - honour/dishonour and wasted lives. These texts and de Bernieres's also point to modern contexts in which honour seems absent from our lives at both a political and micro level. The cost of occupying Iraq appears to be the implied modern context for the historical occupation of Iwo Jima. I've added the music for "Letters From Iwo Jima" as it's memorable and atmospheric.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

STRIVE or STRIDE (Help with reading and writing unseen poems in exams)

The acronym S T R I V E is a useful aid to the analysis of poetry. It is particularly useful in an exam situation where you need to kick-start your response to an unseen poem fairly rapidly.

What does the poem appear to be about? Is it obvious or ambiguous? Is it narrative in nature, telling a story; or is it more abstract and concerned with feelings and emotions? Is there a clear link between its subject and its title?

Does the poem convey a feeling of celebration, sadness, rage, joy, regret, love, hate, irony, satire, pathos? Does the tone of the poem appear to give an insight into the poet's state of mind at the time the poem was written?

Rhythm and Rhyme:
Is there a clear rhythm to the poem? Is there a discernible rhyme scheme? Does it rhyme at all? If so, how and where? Are all the lines of roughly the same length? Are short lines intermixed with long lines? What effect does this have as the poem is being read? Does it help to emphasise the poem's meaning?

What visions and pictures fill your head when you read the poem? Are they beautiful, gentle, savage, awe inspiring, confused, picturesque, horrific...?

Vocabulary (lexis):
What words, phrases and register does the poet use to add impact and power to the poem? Can you identify the use of metaphor, simile, personification, or any other imaginative devices?

What sound effects does the poet use and why? Scan the poem for the use of, for example, onomatopoeia, assonance, alliteration, cacophony...

STRIVE does not have to be applied mechanically to a poem. Apply the letters in any order you like. Many of the categories will almost certainly overlap anyway. Treat it as an aid, not a rigid set of rules. You can also adapt it to STRIDE, with the 'D' standing for the appropriate term, 'Diction', rather than 'Vocabulary'.

Remember!!! Poetry is an extremely condensed and concentrated form of text in which form and meaning are closely interwoven. Everything in a poem - every word, comma, space and sound - has been carefully selected with this in mind. The relevance within the poem of everything you decide to comment upon should be thought through just as carefully.

Stanza The correct word for a verse in poetry.
End-rhyme A rhyme occurring at the end of a line of poetry.
Eye-rhyme Looks as though it should rhyme but does not ... Home / Come.
Pathos Evocation of intense deep feeling.
Irony The literal meaning is not the intended meaning.
Satire Irony employed in a moralistic way.
Simile Likening one thing to another to illuminate meaning using as or like.
Metaphor Imaginatively representing one thing in terms of something else.
The ship ploughed through the waves.... Peter was a rock.
Assonance Repetition of similar vowel sounds .... How now brown cow.
Alliteration Repetition (most commonly) of the initial consonant .... Peter Piper ...
Cacophony The use of clashing and jarring words for effect.
Hyperbole Exaggeration.
Oxymoron The combination of opposites for effect .... A thunderous silence.
Ambiguity Inability to establish definitive meaning from information provided.
Allusion A subtle or blatant reference to something else.
Euphemism Substituting a gentle phrase for a blunt one ... Passed away/died.
Allegory A work with more than one level of meaning.
Elision Omitting or slurring part of a word for rhythmic effect ... O'er/Over.
Cliche Trite, over used ideas and rhymes ... Breeze/Trees.
Onomatopoeia Words which imitate that which they represent ... Zip/Buzz/Plop.

Friday, 13 July 2007

The execution scene from "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

Sure, Carlo falls backwards instead of forwards and it is Megalo Velisarious who finds Corelli and not Mandras; still, it's a decent redition - and it is, after all, Hollywood.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

"Captain Corelli's Mandolin" - a movie trailer

Again, this is only intended as a taster for the novel. The film falls far short of the novel.

"Captain Corelli's Mandolin" - Taster video

Inside Reel: Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Posted Aug 15, 2001

Nic Cage, Penelope Cruz and director John Madden dish on their WWII romance flick.

It's a pity that the film departed so far from the novel. However, this video on the making of the film still has a flavour of the novel and is worth watching.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - the character of Leonato Part One and Two

Click on the images to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - the character of Don John

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - Motifs

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - Social and Historical Context

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - "Nothing" as a motif

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - Themes - Loyalty and Friendship

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - Themes

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" -Themes

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - Speech and Overhearing

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - Themes

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - Themes

Click on the image to enlarge.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

"Much Ado About Nothing" -Dogberry part 2

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" -Speech and Overhearing

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing -Dogberry part 1

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - The character of Don Pedro

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - Hero

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - The character of Claudio

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" -The character of Beatrice

Click on the image to enlarge.

Benedick 3

Click on the image to enlarge.

Benedick 2

Click on the image to enlarge.

"Much Ado About Nothing" - the character of Benedick 1

"Much Ado About Nothing" - the historical context

Click on the image to enlarge,

Monday, 9 July 2007

Resources in the pipeline for "Much Ado About Nothing"

The AS Shakespeare text for September is "Much Ado About Nothing". Several of the posts that follow will include resources for studying this text. They will mostly take the form of mindmaps.

Friday, 6 July 2007

The Third Wave of Three in Gold and PM stocks is about to begin!

Ronald Rosen's latest article sums up my feelings about the up-coming rise in the HUI and gold. The HUI broke out today. The rise should go on until mid 2008, with, of course, the expected pull-backs. It's been a long time coming!

"Wait For Me" by Bob Seger

There's a night-roaming wolf in it, too. No doubt the wolf, the open country, empty roads and motorbike symbolise freedom - the man's freedom.

In terms of representation the gender roles are somewhat stereotypical: she's a blond picture of purity, dressed in white, passively hanging out the washing while she muses over the return of her 'mobile', biker-boyfriend dressed in black. However Segar's "trailer-trash" couple are invested with more romantic passion than one would expect from a blander, middle class couple from the suburbs.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Today's presentations on ballads

In the unlikely event that my students ever read anything on my blog I'd still like to congratulate them on today's presentations on ballads.

I really enjoyed the ones I saw today. They were inventive, playful and analytical. There's no doubt that they were the result of thought and hard work. Very well done, Laura and Nathan, for "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". Along with that powerpoint and your role-plays you produced degree level work, particularly for your points on form and structure. (Loved those props!)

Cressida's animated "Frankie and Johnny" was one of the most unusual and enjoyable presentations that I have ever witnessed! And Nina and Tom's on Keats's "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" was academic, spirited and downright interesting.

Well done everyone! You belted the life out of those assessment objectives and are on the way to achieving very high grades. I'm looking forward to next week's presentations.

I'll post again when I've finished with the music video group projects.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

"I don't have to show you any stinking badges!"

On of the most memorable lines from the movie.

Are you lookin' to read something worthwhile over the summer?

B. Traven's morality tale about gold and what "it can do to men's souls" is worth reading. The book and film of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" are both masterpieces. The experienced old man Howard does his celebratory discovery dance in this scene. Curtain and Dobbs think he has gone barmy.

About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.