Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Feliz Navidad

I heard this song for the first time when some of our female students performed it during the end-of-year service at our college. It makes a nice change from the expected songs from the likes of the "X Factor", etc.

Monday, 8 December 2008

How Venice Rigged the First, and Worst, Global Financial Crash

It appears that J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Barrick Gold have nothing on the bankers from Florence and Venice! Those Venetians knew all the moves well before anyone else! Now those guys were the masters of derivatives. Gallaher's article from thirteen years ago was early - but there's plenty to be learned from it. Looks like the 1340s has a lot more in common with the noughties than I thought.

"How Venice Rigged the First, and Worst, Global Financial Crash" by Paul Gallaher.

"Six hundred and fifty years ago came the climax of the worst financial collapse in history to date. The 1930s Great Depression was a mild and brief episode, compared to the bank crash of the 1340s, which decimated the human population."

It's long one but a good'un!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Manipulation of Gold Prices from Seeking Alpha

An excellent and ingenious article which explains why gold and silver prices must go much higher soon

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The coming boom in gold and silver stocks

The inflation scare has become a reality and it has the world's central banks afraid. Their only hope now is to inflate together - or face a relentless, slow death and the destruction of their economies. Inflation is on its way and its dynamic unstoppable. All the political mantras of the last fifty-sixty years are about to be ditched as the central banks begin printing money rather than just borrowing it. This is euphemistically known as "quantative easing".

The world's currencies will fall in value while gold, silver and PM stocks will rise, probably to astonishing values from where they stand now. Mining stocks are at their most bombed out levels for at least forty years. And this at a time when countries are having to nationalise or part nationalise their nations' banks, to save them from bankruptcy. The taxpayers are having to bail out irresponsible banks, insurance companies and motor manufacturers. The latter should have been making economic vehicles and improving the fuel efficiency of their cars. Instead we lived, and to some degree, are still living in the four-wheel-drive SUVS.

For gold and silver producers the high octane combination of lower fuel and other important input costs together with rising precious metal prices should spark a boom in PM stocks, the likes of which has not been witnessed for a very long time. Juniors will also thrive as they will become takeover targets by big miners looking for replacement ounces. The chance to pick up good explorers for a song will prove irresistable and bidding wars will likely emerge.
For gold, silver and related stocks time there has never been a better time to buy! Many Gold and silverbugs have been "all in" for some time. Whether the rise begins in earnest before the end of this year or early 2009 is surely academic.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

"It's Just Time" by Martin Armstrong

I can't say that I agree with everything that Martin Armstrong says here, but it's an interesting read and quite wide-ranging too. Some of it seems unconnected but what does a man do who has been locked up without trial for years in the US! According to Armstrong, there will be little respite in a deepening recession until June 2011.

Friday, 24 October 2008

The Death of the Dollar? (from Radio 4)

This is an excellent 30 minute programme which casts a historical as well as contemporary eye on the role of the dollar in the world's financial system.
"Dollars and Dominance" from "Analysis".

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Outline of The Course for AS English Lit.

The Exam Board is Edexcel.

Unit 1 Explorations in Prose and Poetry

Articulate creative, informed and relevant responses to the poems, using appropriate terminology and concepts (poetic terms and ideas) and using clear, accurate written expression (10% of the final exam)

Demonstrate detailed critical understanding in analysing the ways in which structure, form and language shape meanings in the poems.
(10% of the final exam)

Explore connections and comparisons between the poems that are informed by interpretations of other readers. (5% of the final exam)

Section A: Unseen poetry/ prose, short answer response (AOs 1-2)
Section B: Poetry essay response (AOs 1-3)
Section C: Prose essay response (AOs 1-3)

(You will study and analyse a novel and a novella for section C.)
100 marks (combined)

Unit 2 Explorations in Drama – “Hamlet”
In addition to the other assessment objectives there is this one:

Demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the historical and social contexts in which literary texts are written and received.

2000-2500 words maximum, including quotations.

Two responses: an explorative study and a creative response
Teacher assessed, internally standardised and externally moderated.

80 marks (combined)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

John Embry- "Rescue will send gold to surreal price level"

Even if things have been tough for John over the last few years, John Embry remains a key caller for gold and PM stocks. Here's his latest investment review from Sprott Management.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The gold share panic!

Why press this?

When its only volatility

Now's the time to BUY, not sell!
Gold and PM stocks have NEVER been bigger bargains than today.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 from the BBC's modernised production of Much Ado About Nothing

A marvellous rendition and analysis from the Beeb's production of "Much Ado About Nothing". It was clever of them to insert it into Shakespeare's play, even if The Bard did not do so. Benedick and Beatrice are the estranged characters who were earlier tricked into falling in love - even though their love-hate relationship always indicated their love for one another. This scene is placed before Claudio and Hero's "wedding".

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The Assessment Objectives for AS Poetry, Unit One

These are the key assessment objectives for Unit One (Poetry) for AS English Literature. Click on the image to enlarge. Remember that AO4 is for the Shakespeare text.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Even Hank Paulson's bail-out-plan cannot detox global banking

Abrose's latest is, as ever, a good read. He thinks that we are due a re-run of the 1930s. However, I think that the concluding part of his article includes some wishful thinking: it's going to be much worse.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Scarborough Fair - the historical background

This poem is not included in Section 2 of the Edexcel Anthology, however it still fits in well with the other ballads and there are also some useful notes in this interesting rendition of this old ballad although it would be wise to question some points. In most versions it is the male who sets a series of impossible tasks as tests of love to be passed on by a third party to a female. In this version the female gives her list of impossible tasks in her tests of love. Both versions represent the medieval obsession with faithfulness in love and fear of cuckholdry. It was their equivalent of "the battle of the sexes".

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Francis Child Ballad Collection

The main link for the Francis Child collection of ballads.


Notes on the early Child ballads including "The Three Ravens" and "The Twa Corbies".


Friday, 19 September 2008

AS Poetry The Historical Context for Romantic Poetry AO4

The Romantic composer, Beethoven creating music from his imagination
Year 12 (AO4. The Historical Context)
Find out about:
· Neo classicism and the significance of reason, rationality and science in the seventeenth century (1700s) . How was it represented in art (poetry, art, music, literature, etc.?)
· Romanticism (which poets were in the first wave and which in the second? Did they differ in their treatment of Romanticism?)
· How the imagination was considered important by some as a reaction against neoclassicism in the late seventeenth (1700s) and early eighteenth centuries (1800s.)

Consider the poems that you have already studied in class and think how you can apply the concept of Romanticism and the importance of the imagination.

Check the power-points on the system and use the folders that include mini essays on these topics. You can also do an internet search for this information. Ask Richard in the Library where relevant books and articles might be to help you with your research. Make notes on a pad or on Word so you can use them for feedback in class.

There will be a class test on the two poems and on this background information next week!

Hitler gets a margin call

Up until yesterday this was what it felt like to be a gold and silver bug!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Three peaks and a domed house - the current correction in gold shares

The chart above was created in the middle of August!
Stacey Himes has been calling this savage downturn in goldshares as the rare chart pattern three peaks and a domed house for some time. He also gives target lows for the HUI index. It's fairly impressive stuff so far.

Here is his most recent post
Saturday, September 6, 2008

Close in time is not always close in price!
Gold and commodity markets have experienced some severe declines. We are just starting to see some posts that these bull markets may be ending. Although we are not contrarian for contrarians sake it seems likely that these musings are indeed indications of a impending sentiment low. The three peaks pattern has finally enterred the final leg of is wave to a measured move. Since we have not had a confirmed reversal we dont know if this fifth wave will extend. I could give you some potential minute wave counts. I think that would not be productive as its clear we are attempting to break down or capitulate. Momentum indicators are usually the best way to pick bottoms in a capitulation. I still stand by my prediction that 276 must be hit as a minimum. Now that the 307 area has failed I feel confident we are going to 276 and probably lower. There are several pivots that support a final low. ive mentioned the 263 area. theres another at 248 that has manifested itself from a fib expansion of the recent wave. In terms of cycle times the fnm/fre news this weekend is going to cause some fireworks monday. Its unclear whether is sell the news or not just yet. I know what I want to see, but the market will do what it wants. I will say this. If gold and silver continue the selloff next week and selloff hard then its time to buy. If they take off to the upside early next week, then we may have a bottom as well. either way we are about there in time , maybe not price. S.M. Himes

His comments on this chart formation can be found in recent posts on his blog site.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Interview with U.S. Gold's Rob McEwen: 'Gold Will Start Shining Again'

One of the most knowledgeable insiders of the gold industry is Rob McEwen is always worth paying attention to. In this interview he considers the prospects and predicaments of the juniors and he considers gold's ultimate price in a bull market.


GSE Woes and More Fed Easing Ahead by Frank Barbera

In one of the best articles of its kind Barbera explains how rising unemployment figures reveal how the US and the West are already in recession and how they are probably well on their way to a major depression. He goes on to reveal the differences between CDOs and CDS and their relationship with clarity and insight and he demonstrates how when significant CDOs go belly up the results will cause a systemic catastrophy for the US financial system and its main representative, the Dollar. In short, it's a enlightening read.


Saturday, 23 August 2008

"Who Knows Where The Time Goes" by Sandy Denny

This has nothing to do with any of the courses. Yet while memories of times past and where time has gone were in mind I thought I'd post the late Sandy Denny's song about this topic which she penned herself. She was the talented lead singer of Fairport Convention for a while and died far too young.

"Sir Patrick Spens" a traditional ballad by Fairport Convention

If I will not go down the Chaucer route this year for A2 English the alternative is pre 17th century poetry from the second half the Edexcel Anthologies. And I think it would make a refreshing change to do that this year. I need a change from "The Merchant's Tale".

This author of this ancient Scottish ballad like all medieval balladeers was anonymous. Fairport Convention were a popular folk band who played it in gigs in the early 70s. It can also be found on some of their albums. Here's a decent rendition of it from a Fairport gig in 1970, in the days of Flower Power when many young people did not give a hoot about worldly things and conventional representations of power. Ahhhhhh!

Still, Fairport's version of the ballad is slightly different to other versions. However that is to be expected as the ballad form allowed itself to be contracted, elongated and altered through time

Sit back and enjoy a lost classic that's now "far out"!

Friday, 22 August 2008

"I Remember, I Remember" by Thomas Hood

As the new term approaches I thought I'd prepare a little by placing a few expressive performances of poems for my incoming students who will study them for their AS Literature. This poem is selected by the Exam Board (Edexcel) from the class text: The Oxford Anthology of English Poetry Volume II: Blake to Heaney, ed. John Wain (Oxford, 2003) ISBN-10019280422

The Exam Board places this poem under the theme of home for the poetry element of Unit 1, Explorations of prose and poetry. Of course the related themes are: innocence and experience ,age and youth, and life and death, are also significant when exploring the theme of home. Perhaps faith too is another theme related to the rest

Eleanor Bron's reading is nicely expressive and well pitched.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Get out Of Gold?

Here's an interesting article in which new points are made, especially about China.


Friday, 15 August 2008

Power Teaching again with Chris Biffle teaching Aristotle

Chris Biffle again teaching Aristotle's four causes.

Power Teaching by Chris Biffle

Chris Biffle's Power Teaching is definitely worth a go. After all, in teaching variety IS the spice of life. And he is right - teachers talk far too much, me included! This looks barking mad but I bet it's really effective. I'm sure it would go with concept maps etc. and all kinds of new topics and material.

Friday, 8 August 2008

The Infinite Mind in Second Life with Kurt Vonnegut (an interview)

Kurt Vonnegut, who died in April 2007 was one of the best American writers of the second half of the 20th century. His playful, light prose overlay thoughtful themes and ideas that were relevant for people's lives then and now. For instance, Vonnegut's explores "pretence" in a variety of ways in his short stories. His view of pretence was also articulated in his novel Mother Night "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."

I spent several hours during my week in Turkey reading Vonnegut's stories and they played on my mind for some time afterwards. Surprisingly, Vonnegut, a self-confessed Luddite, who only used computers as word processors and who did not carry a mobile phone, gave one of his last interviews on Second Life. Perhaps this is not so surprising as Vonnegut has written several works of science fiction so his willingness to experiment was always there. Kurt's comments on the importance of following an art around 24-26 minutes in are very interesting. However, the interview as a whole is suffused with Vonnegut's humour, wisdom and wit.

If you've never read Vonnegut before try any of his short stories or the novels, Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse 5 or Breakfast of Champions.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Minefields in LatAm: Dodging Political Pitfalls

This is a useful article for anyone who needs to monitor their mining investments in South America. The comments on Artentina's Santa Cruz and Patagonia Gold's potential for proving up their resources in the Chabut are must-reads.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Chıll out tıme ın Icemeler and Turunc (Turkey)

Icemeler bay
Icemeler bay from above a fancy hotel

I've been chıllıng out or more precısely beıng boıled ın Icmeler and Turunc. The mıddle ımage of Icemeler ıs somewhat ıdealısed. Not ıncluded ın that are the crazed restauranteurs and bar staff who do all ın theır power to encourage you to part with your dough. These eaterıes become a gauntlet at nıght. Yet they "seem" frıendly folk. The food's been good and the EFES (beer) ıs fırst class. The place ıs a heat-trap surrounded as ıt ıs by mountaınous terraın.
I'm now off to another mountaınous place but far cooler - the Scottısh Hıghlands and I hope to post from there ın a few days.

Gold Mıd-Year 2008 Revıew - and update by John Hathaway

Found thıs on the excellent Goldtent posted by eeos and ıt's worth repostıng here.

Gold and gold shares continue to be in a consolidation phase since the dramatic rescue of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan Chase at the end of the first quarter. Credit and capital market stress continue at a high level as evidenced by the weak performance by financial sector shares during the first half of 2008. Such concerns tend to drive capital market flows into safe haven areas including gold. Following the current pause, we expect gold to achieve new highs later this year. We believe that gold shares are awaiting leadership from the metal itself. Once gold attains new highs, we believe the shares will break out of their consolidation mode. The $1000 per ounce threshold for gold is at present a psychological barrier for investors. Once that level is viewed as a floor rather than as a ceiling, we expect a significant rerating of gold shares.
We suggest that gold’s underperformance relative to other commodities will change based on one simple notion that has become wildly popular in the financial media: demand destruction. There is no doubt that high commodity prices, regardless of whether they are labeled a bubble or not, are economically destabilizing. They have the potential to cripple normal economic functioning. High inflation, perceived or anticipated, will probably alter economic behavior as it did in the 1970’s. The efficacy of a “hard asset strategy” would ultimately be undermined by the associated economic disruption. This, in our opinion, would leave gold and other precious metals standing alone in the world of commodities as true safe havens.
Read More
Portfolio Manager of the Tocqueville Fund, will appear on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on, Thursday, July 24th at 10:40am to discuss The Tocqueville Fund and its investment strategy with Erin Burnett, in a segment called “5-Star Strategy”.

A Frog ın the Pot by Davıd Petch

One of the best chartısts out there and hıs thoughts on where thıngs wıll go next ın the maın markets and the PMs.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Fannie and Freddie bail out - but what will this do for gold?

The bail out will add to the US debt and will mean increased money supply and inflation. As the FED and other central banks fear deflation more dollars will be created in the weeks and months ahead - and this will do wonders for the price of gold.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Fresh Rout of US banks!

Dow Jones dives as Hank Paulson rules out rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Last Updated: 11:40pm BST 11/07/2008


Thursday, 10 July 2008

Oil price shock means China is at risk of blowing up (along with western property markets!)

In another provocative and insightful article by Ambrose he suggests that China is at risk from economic meltdown because of the price of oil.

Oil price shock means China is at risk of blowing up
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 2:00am BST 08/07/2008

The great oil shock of 2008 is bad enough for us. It poses a mortal threat to the whole economic strategy of emerging Asia.

The manufacturing revolution of China and her satellites has been built on cheap transport over the past decade. At a stroke, the trade model looks obsolete.

No surprise that Shanghai's bourse is down 56pc since October, one of the world's most spectacular bear markets in half a century.

Asia's intra-trade model is a Ricardian network where goods are shipped in a criss-cross pattern to exploit comparative advantage. Profit margins are wafer-thin.

Products are sent to China for final assembly, then shipped again to Western markets. The snag is obvious. The cost of a 40ft container from Shanghai to Rotterdam has risen threefold since the price of oil exploded.

"The monumental energy price increases will be a 'game-changer' for Asia," said Stephen Jen, currency chief at Morgan Stanley. The region's trade model is about to be "stress-tested".

Energy subsidies have disguised the damage. China has held down electricity prices, though global coal costs have tripled since early 2007. Loss-making industries are being propped up. This merely delays trouble.

"The true impact of the shock will only be revealed over time, as subsidies are gradually rolled back," he said. Last week, China raised internal rail freight rates by 17pc.

BP 's Statistical Review says China's use of energy per unit of gross domestic product is three times that of the US, five times Japan's, and eight times Britain's.

China's factories "were not built with current energy levels in mind", said Mr Jen. The outcome will be "non-linear". My translation: China is at risk of blowing up.

Middle East war threat rattles oil markets

Any low-tech product shipped in bulk - furniture, say, or shoes - is facing the ever-rising tariff of high freight costs. The Asian outsourcing game is over, says CIBC World Markets. "It's not just about labour costs any more: distance costs money," says chief economist Jeff Rubin.

Xinhua says that 2,331 shoe factories in Guangdong have shut down this year, half the total.

North Carolina's furniture industry is coming back from the dead as companies shut plant in China. "We're getting hit with increases up and down the system. It's changing the whole equation of where we produce," said Craftsmaster Furniture.

China is being crunched by the triple effects of commodity costs, 20pc wage inflation, and sagging import demand in the US, Canada, Britain, Spain, Italy, and France.

Critics warn that Beijing has repeated the errors of Tokyo in the 1980s by over-investing in marginal plant. A Communist Party banking system has let rip with cheap credit - steeply negative real interest rates - to buy political time for the regime.

Whether or not this is fair, it is clear that Beijing's mercantilist policy of holding down the yuan to boost exports share has now hit the buffers.

A worker on an oil field in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province
Foreign reserves have reached $1.8 trillion, playing havoc with the money supply. Declared inflation is just 7.7pc, but that does not begin to capture the scale of repressed prices, from fuel to fertilisers. "There is a lot more bottled-up inflation in this economy than meets they eye," says Stephen Green, from Standard Chartered.

Inflation merely steals growth from the future. It defers monetary tightening until matters get out of hand, which is where we are now. Vietnam has already blown up at 30pc. India is on the cusp at 11pc, so is Indonesia (11pc), the Philippines (11pc), Thailand (9pc) - leaving aside the double-digit Gulf.

Of course, oil prices may fall again. They plunged to $50 a barrel in early 2007 after the Saudis raised production. The scissor effect of slowing global growth and extra crude later this year from Brazil, Azerbaijan, Africa, and the Gulf of Mexico may chill the super-boom.

The US Commodities Futures Trading Commission is on an "emergency" footing, under orders from the Democrats on Capitol Hill to smash speculators. If it is really true that investment funds have run amok, we will soon find out.

I suspect that the energy markets have fallen prey to their own version of the "shadow banking system" that so astonished regulators when the credit bubble burst.

I also suspect that Hank Paulson and his EU colleagues have a surprise up their sleeve for the late-cycle über-bulls. Those who claim that derivatives (crude futures) cannot drive spot prices have overlooked a key point. The Saudis and others use the IPE Brent Weighted Average of futures contracts as their pricing mechanism. Futures now set the spot price.

But even if oil comes down for a year or two, the mid-term outlook of the International Energy Agency warns that crude markets will be tighter than ever by 2012. Call it Peak Oil, or just Peak Non-Cooperation by the dictatorships that control most of the world's remaining 5 or 6 trillion barrels (Mankind has used one trillion so far).

Come what may, globalisation has passed its high-water mark. The pendulum will now swing back from China to America. The mercantilists will have to reinvent themselves.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

USDollar on Edge, Gold on Verge by Jim Willie

Jim Willie's latest is as good as any he's written before. Amongst a myriad of points he makes intriguing comments on junior miners and how they are being shorted by hedgefunds.

USDollar on Edge, Gold on Verge

Jim Willie CB July 2, 2008


What Makes A Good Presentation - a short course by the O.U.

This is an essential skillset for the world of study and work in the twenty first century.

Well worth going through this unit to blow the socks off the opposition with the quality of your presentations!


Learning How To Learn - an excellent unit by the O.U.

This unit helps you think about the difference between what you are learning and how you organise your learning (the process). When you accomplish your essays, etc. you then need to reflect upon the effectiveness of how you learn and your understanding of the concepts that you learned.

A crucial unit by the Open University. Again, you can pick and choose the parts of the unit that you need to focus on to develop particular skills.


Approaching Prose Fiction - by the O. U.

Useful for developing skills in reading fiction. There's no need to go through every part as a course. You can select the section that you need to know more about to develop skills for the novel that you are currently reading.


What Is Poetry ? An exeptional learning unit from the Open University

As one might expect from the O.U. it is a thorough unit with brief audio interviews with established poets to aid oral learners. Sheer excellence!

Friday, 4 July 2008

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Fortis, a large European bank, predicts an imminent collapse of US financial markets!

English translation :

American 'meltdown' reason for money injection Fortis.
28th of June, 9:10
BRUSSELS/AMSTERDAM - Fortis expects a complete collapse of the US financial markets within a few days to weeks. That explains, according to Fortis, the series of interventions of last Thursday to retrieve € 8 billion. "We have been saved just in time. The situation in the US is much worse than we thought", says Fortis chairman Maurice Lippens. Fortis expects bankruptcies amongst 6000 American banks which have a small coverage currently. But also Citigroup, General Motors, there is starting a complete meltdown in the US"


Can UK markets and the pound be far behind?

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Barclays turns on the Fed - a financial storm nears

The banksters know what is coming - and they are turning on one another. Gold and silver will be the only refuges in such a storm - and they know it. PM stocks should do hand-stands as they are revalued and re-rated in the months ahead. The world is headed for the greatest recession since The Crash and Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s. With the encouragement and propaganda of the media, Joe public has believed everything their governments have said about the inflation rates (2-3%!) with 4% mentioned as "possible" in the UK. This is when money is has been printed at the rate of 14-17% in the UK with similar rates in the US and elsewhere. This is the REAL rate of inflation. With western governments in the US and the UK only interested in bailing out Wall Street and London's City Banks and European governments doing the same it looks as if everyone else is being sacrificed for the greed and credit scamming of the banks. Late September to October looks to be crash time.


Monday, 23 June 2008

Bullish action in several PM stocks today!

Gold is currently down around $20 and goldstocks like RGLD and GG are up? That's very bullish action. Patience will win here. The next rise is almost upon us.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

"RBS warns of black monday within three months - buy precious metals"

This recent post from Peter J. Cooper is worth reposting here.

I will focus on gold and silver during the summer now that the exams are out of the way.


Friday, 20 June 2008

The Coming Depression - "not of productivity but of purchasing power"

Ken Gerbino's latest piece exemplifies the choices ranged before us in the coming months and years. It's sobering if fascinating reading.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Revising "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" : revision using concept maps

Use the concepts in conjunction with past questions to construct concept maps. Ensure that you select at least two chapters/passages and produce a map with a hierarchy of ideas from top to bottom or from the bottom to the top or from the centre. The least important concepts should be on the outside of your map.

(You should also identify the chapters/passages by their chapter number and titles) 

Use the prompts in questions to get at the underlying assessment objectives. For instance, the word "presentation" is an AO2  word and " relationships which convey powerful emotion highlights AOs 3-4.

Select key passages from chapters to focus on to get depth in your concept maps and essays.

AO1 literary terms, understanding and expression





Critical reception

Critical approaches

Description (purple passages)



Historiographic –fiction  ( real events with fictitious characters  - a post modern form )






Multiple Narrative






Parallel narratives


Polyphony and polyphonic ( many voices in its style of narration )




Tone/ attitudes of the narrator to the characters

How the narrative is affected by: the first, third person omniscient, parallel narrative, intrusive narrative, interior dialogues, polyphony, etc.

Focalising - Does the narrator identify /empathise from the POV of a character for more than a few paragraphs?

AO2 (Remember that AO2 can act as a springboard in questions into AOs 3-4)


• characters and fate and their relationship with the Island;

• typical and atypical characters;

• contrasts between characters;

• characters in conflict;

• characters’ inner conflicts;

• writer’s development of relationships between characters;

• presentation of characters’ perceptions of each other;

• characters’ dialogue; interior monologues, writing/memoirs;

• external and internal presentations;

• writer’s tone(s) in presenting characters. Are they presented sympathetically or unsympathetically?

AO2 Structure/Plot

• stance of the narrator(s) mostly empathy with the characters except for Hector;

• the presentation of characters’ perception of events; multiple narrations, the third person narrator focalising from a character's POV, through self contained chapters, etc.

• plot as vehicle of theme, e.g. the love story of Pelagia and Corelli used to carry themes of love and war, the history of the island, education, fate, the changing role of women etc. ;

• structure of the plot – unpredictable, yet linear, self-contained chapters;

• pace: sometimes de Berniere's gives historical and cultural detail that slows down the development of the plot. For instance the chapter on the saint;

• degree of credibility of events.

AO2 Style and Tone

• use of period detail; descriptions of the Island and its history, description of events, etc.;

• irony, satire, hyperbole, (e.g. The pamphlet on Mussolini) and "The Great Spikey Rustball");

• elegance of syntax; purple passages (description); unusual words to create tone, mystique, status, etc.;

• the comic and the tragic -i.e. - pathos and bathos

AO2 Structure and language shape meanings.

Setting and Situation

• use of period detail - the Kephenion, etc.

• social rituals - Saint Gerasimos's feast day(s), modes of address; La Scala, etc.

• symbolic implications of motorbikes, goats, cats, the olive groves, events

• locations focused on, Iannis's house, Argostoli, Casa Nostra, Mount Aenos, etc.

AO2 Themes
Love and War


History and myth



Debt and Sacrifice

Barbarism and Heroism

Death and Resurrection

The Ephemeral and the Eternal

Division and Re-union

AO 3 (your own and other readings of the text)

Remember that your own argument constitutes AO3. Drawing attention to ambiguity is another good thing to do for AO3.

Other interpretations

Great authors -
It’s important because de Bernieres made his name by writing it!
Close reading matters (AO1 and 3)
De Bernieres’ biography does not matter
The historical context is not important
The writer’s art is what the reader should be able to appreciate.

The economic struggle between classes matters
The causes of conflict between the rich and the poor
You need to relate the text to the social context to its author.
You need to understand the historical context in which the text was written and read.

Literature teaches its readers something, and helps them to become better people.
Good literature is basically moral and uplifting.
It is important to consider the themes in the text, to understand
its moral purpose.

The Text needs to have a reader before it can mean anything.
Meaning can be constructed from the text by filling in the gaps, making connections and predictions, and seeing how far these expectations of it are confirmed or disappointed.
The ‘mistakes’ a reader makes when predicting what will happen in a text are an important part of the meaning.

It does not matter when a text was written, or who it was written by, or even what it is about.
Language is used not simply to describe the world, but to construct it.
What matters is how a text is constructed: its form, its overall structure and the patterns of language in it, especially pairs of opposites.
Texts from popular culture, societies, belief systems (ideologies) are all structures which can be explored and analysed like a literary text.
Some critics who, like me, were interested in patterns and structures became more interested in the gaps, silences and absences (what is not there) in texts. They became known as post-structuralists.

This is all about the unconscious.
What matters is what is glossed over or ‘repressed’. You need to look beyond the obvious surface meaning to what the text is ‘really’ about.
What are the representations of psychological states or phases in the Tale?
The emotional conflicts between the characters or groups in a text is more important than its wider context.

• I read historical and other relevant texts, alongside the literary ones, in order to see more clearly the context in which the literature was produced, and to recover its history.
•I am interested in pre-twentieth century texts, often those written in the Renaissance, for example Shakespeare. I look at the ways these texts have been packaged and consumed in the present day.
•What matters is analysing the text closely, in order to question previous ways in which the text has been read.
•The word ‘cultural‘ in my label means that I consider all forms of culture, popular as well as high culture, to be relevant; ‘materialist’ means that I believe that it is impossible for any form of culture to be independent of economic and political systems.

‘Feminine’ and ‘masculine’ are ideas constructed by our culture, and it is important to be aware of this when reading texts from periods and cultures different from our own.
I prefer to read literature written by women, which explores women’s experience of the world.
What matters is how women are represented in texts written by men, and how these texts display the power relations between the sexes.

AO4 What it means for a modern reader and readers over time

The Cultural Contexts

Mothers and Sons

Greek mythology - Odysseus, Penelope, etc.

Daughters and Doweries

Honour and Shame

Saints and Superstitions

The pastoral and the Olympian (Goatherds – Alekos looking down from the mountain)

Barbarians and Civil War

Burial and Resurrection

Mandolins and Composers – Corelli and Weber

The Historical Contexts

Life on the Greek island of Cephelonia

The Second World War – Occupation by the Italians and Germans

The Greek Civil War after World War II.

The earthquake of 1953

Economic and social change, particularly for women over time

Historiographic fiction


Homer’s “The Odessey”

Friday, 30 May 2008

The coming "prime crisis" and a killer reason for the forthcoming rise in gold

Jim Willie's latest has some amazing charts, an interesting reason for a rise in gold shares and some startling statements on the coming "prime crisis" which, he claims, will be greater in magnitude because of falling property prices and bankrupt bond insurers and banks.

After the current shellacking what is the bigger picture in gold?

The falls in gold and related equities will have many goldbugs questioning the wisdom of holding either. The truth is gold and goldshares are historically cheap. Sometimes it is important to stand back to get a proper perspective on where gold shares are going and how they will eventually break out of a chart pattern that goes back several decades. The first chart by James Turk is a work of art - and a keeper. The second chart produced a few years ago by the Aden sisters confirms Turk's work.

A new blog on gold and silver - well worth a visit!

Here's a link to new blog with good content on gold and silver. Peter J. Cooper is a financial journalist based in Dubai and one of a small band of journalists who knows the importance of precious metals.


Thursday, 29 May 2008

Gold is "taking a time out" by Richard Russell


Like Richard Russell, I'd rather be a buyer here. His 40 week chart suggests a big upturn is coming over the next few weeks and months. However, the rise will not be in a straight line.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Chaucer - Concept Map Resources For "The Merchant's Tale

This image is an early effort and it does not feature a focus question; Still it is structured as a hierarchy of readings of the text for AO4 and it shows (without arrows this time) how relationships between concepts can be made. Several students challenged the order of this paired student reading with strong arguments suggesting that the feminist reading of the text should have been placed in either first or second position. I will post other versions in another week or so when the students have worked on the maps again for revision.

The characters, themes and the terms for language and form are all you need to create a concept map. Concept maps can help you "construct" what you know to deepen your understanding of a topic. They can also help you understand what you do not know! Ultimately, concept maps help you conceptualise a topic so you can establish an overview. Consequently they are great for revising texts and topics.

What you need to do for a concept map is:

  1. Produce a question preferably with the word "how" in it. This will enable you to produce a better, more focused map that will help you conceptualise your ideas on the Tale by organising the concepts into a pattern.

  2. Place the question at the top of your concept map.

  3. Place the ideas/concepts in a hierarchy from the top with the less important, ideas that you cannot link to others or stand on their own below. (You can also find and cut out appropriate images to stick with your concepts to make your map more memorable!)

  4. Place arrows between and around your concepts to trace their relationships. (This will enable you to conceptualise and deepen your understanding of the text.)

  5. Use blue or white tack with the concepts on slips of paper to stick them to a wall or on a big A2 sheet of paper.

  6. Try to justify how you organised your concepts to someone else to find out whether they agree with the pattern of your map.
Rinse and repeat to cover a range of appropriate questions for the text.

Here are a few good questions for the head of your concept map:

In what ways do the Tale reflect the sense of a social hierarchy?

How does Chaucer exploit literary and other traditions?

Can the Tale be described as consistently hostile to women?

Does Chaucer satirise religious and courtly values?

How is the marriage debate presented in lines 307-364 and in another passage of your choice?

How is a modern reader's response to the Tale more complex than Harry Bailey's in the Epilogue?

Is the "world of deceit" presented in the Tale recognisably our own? How is the theme of deceit presented in three passages in the Tale?





Justinius and Placebo

Pluto and Proserpine

Harry Bailey - the host


Auctorite(s )- authors/clerks/figures from The Bible, male experience, proverbs, etc.

Courtly Love - satirised through Damyan and May

The position of women

The Garden

Marriage - includes the marriage debate

The teller and The Tale - nested narratives and implied audiences

Appearance and Reality

Blindness and Seeing

Religion and religious beliefs

Age and Youth

Deception and Self Deception

The Position of Women

Terms - language and form

A Fabliau




Stock Characters (archetypes)

A Senex Amans - Foolish old man

Animal Imagery associated with characters


An Oral Culture and an Oral Style




Heroic Verse - Rhyming Couplets – accentual syllabic verse – like common speech. Aids memory.

Diction of Phrases


Epithets (Part of the oral culture)


The Three Estates (No merchants!)

Fortune - chance and fate - (The roman goddess, Fortuna, the queen of fortune and her wheel)


Time and fate

The influence of the Classical World – Ancient Greece and Rome

Literary Context
The Decameron
The Romance of the Rose
The Mirror of Marriage

The Pear Tree

Metonymy – words to associate feelings and accepted ideas

Timeless and Essentialist
(There is little representation of linear time. Life seen as cyclical.)

The Redundant Style - Additive – for fullness, oral impact, variation on a theme and to develop poetic power!

Conseil – advice and willfulness!

Chaucer’s Wrote in English
English merged with French and Latin additions! This reached a wider audience – to represent variations in life as he saw it?

The Dialogue as a device
An ancient form. Plato and other philosophers used it to inform, teach, reveal etc.

Mythical figures from ancient Greece merged with fairies from English folklore

The Christian world overlaps a pagan one

A Marriage Tale linked to others (identify three others!)

Individualisation (Characters that have detail and depth as opposed to stock characters)

Social Hierarchy –by rank or "degree"

Add in concepts that you think I have left out!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

"A Streetcar Named Desire" - revision guide with synopses, key issues and themes

Need some last minute revision for Tenessee Williams's play? It's brief, punchy and to the point. Just the thing at this stage.

Monday, 19 May 2008

"The Ecstasy of Gold" by Ennio Morricone (live version in concert)

"Kubla Khan" - read and presented by John Brick

Given that S.T. Coleridge's poem is highly dependent on images drawn from his imagination, and for the Romantics the power of the imagination was all-important, John Brick's rendition of the poem with well-chosen images to aid understanding is a welcome and timely aid to understanding Coleridge's poem. Enjoy! Classic Poetry Aloud is an excellent website and I have posted work from there before. The link is given at the beginning and at the end of the video. You can also find it if you scroll down to poetry links on the right of this blogsite.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Banking Crisis Renewed?

With the fall in the prices of UK banks because of their need for huge rights issues it looks as if the banking crisis is back after being discounted by the Bank of England only last week! Is this the catalyst for precious metals and their associated equities? Perhaps. One fund manager thinks that some UK banks are "in denial" and that they will have to raise another £10 billion in a rights issue in less than a year's time.

What could be the biggest banking crisis of all time could still well play out!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Is the tide in gold about to turn?

After a two-year correction that has sapped the strength and will of goldbugs, is the tide in gold equities about to change? The new upsurge in goldshares has been mooted for a long time and in each instance the rises proved fleeting and false, only for the correction to rumble on longer. The angst for gold and silver bugs has lasted longer than any previous correction in this bull market. It's only when the hardiest goldbugs have been tested to the nth degree that the tide turns; it changes slowly at first and then with a great gush it comes in.

Several technical commentators think that for cyclical and technical reasons we are very close to an important rise in gold equities and gold itself. Posters such as Cyclist of Gold Action on Kitco and Goldrunner, who also posts as Nelderand, think that we could see that rise between next week running into the third week of June.

Options expiry ends on Friday in New York. That has sapped the life out of gold equities. Next week will tell the tale.

Key Skills With Chaucer - theory and much more

Here's a great new link for studying Chaucer.

I particularly like this page (theory and genre) as it is helpful for applying Assessment Objective 4.

For those studying The Merchant's Tale have a look at the text/audio of The Merchant from the General Prologue to the Tales:

I've added the link to the Chaucer section of links on the right of this blog.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Stages of Courtly Love

(Adapted from Barbara Tuchman)
1. Attraction to the lady, usually via eyes/glance
2. Worship of the lady from afar
3. Declaration of passionate devotion
4. Virtuous rejection by the lady
5. Renewed wooing with oaths of virtue and eternal fealty
6. Moans of approaching death from unsatisfied desire (and other physical manifestations of lovesickness)
7. Heroic deeds of valor which win the lady's heart
8. Consummation of the secret love
9. Endless adventures and subterfuges avoiding detection

From the "analysis" section in Wikipedia

Courtly love saw a woman as an ennobling spiritual and moral force, a view that was in opposition to ecclesiastical sexual attitudes. Rather than being critical of romantic and sexual love as sinful, the poets praised it as the highest good. Marriage had been declared a sacrament of the Church, at the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215, and within Christian marriage, the only purpose was procreation with any sex beyond that purpose seen as non-pious. The ideal state of a Christian was celibacy, even in marriage. By the beginning of the 13th century the ideas of courtly tradition were condemned by the church as being heretical. The church channeled many of these energies into the devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary; it is not a coincidence that the Church used her devotion to Virgin Mary as a counter to the secular, courtly and lustful views of women in the 12th century. Francis of Assisi called poverty "his Lady".
Courtly love had a civilizing effect on knightly behavior, beginning in the late 11th century; it has been suggested that the prevalence of arranged marriages required other outlets for the expression of more personal occurrences of romantic love. New expressions of highly personal private piety in the 11th century were at the origins of what a modern observer would recognize as a personality, and the vocabulary of piety was also transferred to the conventions of courtly love.

At times, the lady could be a princesse lointaine, a far-away princess, and some tales told of men who had fallen in love with women whom they had never seen, merely on hearing their perfection described, but normally she was not so distant. As the etiquette of courtly love became more complicated, the knight might wear the colors of his lady: where blue or black were sometimes the colors of faithfulness; green could be a sign of unfaithfulness. Salvation, previously found in the hands of the priesthood, now came from the hands of one's lady. In some cases, there were also women troubadours who expressed the same sentiment for men.
More posts on Chaucer's poetic style will follow.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Chaucer's poetic style - his use of epithets: Page 9

An epithet is a term used to characterise a person or thing, such as “rosy-fingered” in “the rosy-fingered dawn” or “the Great” in “Catherine the Great.”
It is a term used as a descriptive substitute for the name or title of a person, such as “The great communicator” for Tony Blair and “The iron lady” for Mrs Thatcher.
“Fresshe May” from "The Merchant's Tale".
Does Chaucer always involve irony when he uses epithets or are can they just be interpreted as part of the formulaic base of oral phrases that his audience would have expected to hear? Or does exploit each way of interpreting them between as part of his expressive range?
See page 2 for instructions on activities.

Chaucer's poetic style -hyperbole: P8

Another oral characteristic in Chaucer's tales and in particular, "The Merchant's Tale", is hyperbole – that is, exaggeration in description, effects, numbers. It adds emphasis and/or heightens the comedy, danger, passionate, dramatic, etc.

There is more hyperbole in Chaucer’s style than is usually consciously recognised.

Hyperbole is a fundamental human characteristic which gives ordinary speech much of its emotional and imaginative impact. “There were thousands of them!” (meaning an unexpected number.) and “I’m frozen”, hyperbole and a metaphor for being cold.
Chaucer stylistically uses hyperbole to bring discipline, point and heightening.

For the patient Griselda Chaucer uses hyperbolical feelings and actions – through her extreme patience and the cruelty of her husband is extreme, etc.

The patient Griselda from “The Clerk’s Tale”

Audiences were not always expected to give their full sympathy to characters whose actions were hyperbolic.

See Page 2 for instructions on activities.

Chaucer's poetic style - addition and association (metonymy) and, and, and - Page 7

Another aspect of "The Redundant Style".
Common speech, and oral verse and prose, tend to proceed, as the above example suggests, by the addition of material and events, rather than by analysis.
For instance, in The General Prologue there are lively character sketches but they are not analytical. One detail is added to another. This is true of the sequence of events in traditional stories.
In general the oral poet is not much interested in causation, because he uses pre-existent underlying patterns and structures.
Whenever you see a series of “ands” you have a additive and non-analytical style. There are few subordinate clauses and every detail seems to be presented with the same prominence. There is, as it were, no perspective. (For instance, the Bible’s –Genesis – on creation).
(Chaucer definitely has a perspective and so does his narrators but there are points in their storytelling that is simply additive.)

Association, more technically called metonymy, is created by, juxtaposition, likeness (metaphor) and connection.

Fundamental for oral poetry and speech, metonymy depends on associations formed by habit (memory and experience)
By metonymy words can be relied on to evoke particular associated accepted ideas and feelings. These words naturally depend on social, moral, and intellectual structures, some of which have been lost.
We therefore may easily overlook the richness of oral poetry because we do not know, or we neglect the social, moral, and intellectual context, which is the associative structure.

Metonymy works with other elements of style.
Although metonymy depends on association and addition, not likeness, to make connections, it may join with likeness contribute towards various kinds of wordplay that characterise oral poetry. For instance, puns where the likeness of sound can have two different meanings, often with comic effect.
As literacy progressed and became dominant from the seventeenth century onwards, puns became despised and other wordplay disliked. Puns are used in Shakespeare but were later regarded as a fault, but were overlooked in Chaucer until recently.

See page two for an explanation of the activites.

Chaucer and "the redundant style” - the influence of an oral culture - Page 6

At first this sounds odd if we apply the modern meaning to the word, redundant, as superflous. Here this term applies to a style of writing that was steeped in rhetoric and the oral culture prevalent before printing changed the medieval world.

•The kind of style, aiming at eloquence and copiousness is technically described as “The redundant style” and it is based in a social oral culture.
•Redundancy, having established the central point, emphasises it by repetition and then allows the audience to meditate on its implications.
•Poetry that has a social oral base helps turn literate learned matter into an oral style.
•Such speeches need to be read with the ear, without impatience to get on with the action. (Leisurely progress.)
•When listening, an audience needs guide-lines to what is going on, advance notice of the next subject, and appreciates the sense of leisurely collaboration.

Repetition with variation (the redundant style)
This is often used to create heightened feeling. (i.e. Hamlet’s “To be or not to be speech” is a set of variations which are repetitions on the same theme.)
The social context of orality allows repetition to develop poetic power.

It is easily misunderstood because its oral origins have been forgotten.

To repeat (the redundant syle)
In opera it fulfils the role of an aria – it involves repetitions and variations on a given theme.

It emphasises through its repetitions and allows the audience to meditate on its implications.

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender! " Part of the famous speech by Winston Churchill in 1940.

See instructions for activities on page 2

Chaucer's poetic style - sententiousness (a style full of aphorisms – instructive sayings.) Page 5

Traditional social wisdom is articulated using formulas and set phrases, ‘What oft was thought’, results in a particular tone and style.
The use of proverbs and “sentences”: remarks long accepted in society for their general truth and applicability. The idea of summing up fraught situations with apt traditional phrases.

These phrases can be ironical but are not necessarily so.
“As many schools make students hard to collar,
A woman many-schooled is half a scholar.” Januarie, L. 1427-8 ("The Merchant's Tale".

The sententious style lends itself to authorial comment of the kind familiar to oral narrative and song. The story-teller comments on his story to the listening audience and his comments may be serious or comic according to the effect desired.

Proverbs are used “to enforce with th’ effect of my mateere”.
Chaucer’s style is continuously sententious throughout his work with a deeply proverbial style.

Alliteration hammers home the familiar.

Apostrophe is a form of direct address that gives the narrator’s moral attitudes and these can sometimes be ironic.

See page two for instructions for activities

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


Interesting analysis on where we are with gold. Gold and silver bugs feel bombed on at present!

More on the Chaucer presentation and tasks when I have more time.

A Revision Time-table that you can fill in and print off

If you need a revision time-table in which you can allocate the time and topics that you intend to revise. Try this:

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Chaucer's poetic style

More on this presentation and suggested activities to establish Chaucer's poetic style will follow soon.

Chaucer's poetic style - Diction of formulas and set phrases - Activities for A2 - Page 4

There is a long tradition of fixed phrases in oral poetry going back to Homer. Chaucer uses them with “an underlying habit of mind” using “traditionalist” diction.

This diction aims at familiar effects for audiences, ready communication, sympathetic attention. It is transparent, does not call attention to itself, is modest, collectivist, not individualised.
  • This diction rests on a static concept of the true nature of the world, or of the world as how it ought to be, as a harmonious whole, etc.

  • The familiarity of this diction establishes the link between the poet and audience.

  • It makes attention easier, characters and actions clearer and more memorable.

  • Familiarity, transparency and self projection are themselves poetic effects that convey warmth, sympathy and anxiety.

  • The use of familiar phraseology is more common in the style at the beginning of poems, to introduce the poet, establish a bond with the audience, express an attitude to the forthcoming story, and to start it off. This can also be seen in adjectival phrase, “fresshe May” from "The Merchant's Tale".

See page 2 for instructions

Chaucer's poetic style - Activities for A2 Page 3

Orality and literacy

Chaucer stands poised between oral and literate cultures and he actively exploits his participation in both.

Firstly, he invites us into the warm, ancient oral world of the listening group of friends to which we in imagination are joined.

Secondly, he invites us into the world of books.
He also makes the stylistic effort to absorb literacy into orality by blending the new world of literate thought into the old but always current world of personal direct speech and relationship.

Style and the speaking voice
  • Notice the oral character of Chaucer’s style with the use of direct address to the audience.

  • Modern poems rely on the stability of print in which the poet/narrator and reader exist unknown to each other.

  • Oral storytelling is at the centre of “The Canterbury Tales”. (There are several narrators/tellers and a group of listeners.)

  • The paradox is that the poet’s speaking voice is also addressed to us.

See page two for instructions

About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.