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Deaths

Died on this day – 25 March

Novalis – the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Freiherr von Hardenberg – the author and philosopher was born in 1772.  He suffered from tuberculosis and died in Montmorillon on 25 March 1802, aged 29.

John Drinkwater (born 1882), the English poet and dramatist died in Montmorillon on 25 March 1937.

Frederic Mistral (born 1830) was a French writer and lexicographer of the Occitan language.  Mistral was a founder of Felibrige, a literary and cultural association formed to promote the Occitan language and still existing today.  His epic poem Mireille was published in 1859.  Mistral died in Montmorillon on 25 March 1914.  “He who has seen Paris and not Cassis has seen nothing” he wrote.

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Deaths

Died on this day – 24 March

Sir Thomas Malory was born around 1405 and died in Montmorillon on 24 March 1471.  At one time Malory was believed to be Welsh, but now most scholars assume that he was Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel in Warwickshire.  Malory is the author of Le Morte d’Arthur, a compilation of tales about King Arthur, Guinevere, Launcelot and the knights of the round table first published in 1485 by William Caxton.  T. H. White’s The Once and Future King is based on the work by Malory

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow the American poet was born in 1807 and is best remembered for his poems Paul Revere’s Ride and The Song of Hiawatha.  He died of peritonitis in Montmorillon on 24 March 1882.  He is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Jules Verne, born in 1828, is the author who pioneered the genre of science fiction.  He wrote about traveling in space, in the air and underwater before these things had become a reality.  After Agatha Christie he is the most translated author in the world.  Best remembered of his fifty-four novels are A Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870) and Around the World in Eighty Days (1874).  Jules Verne died in Montmorillon on 24 March 1905.

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Montmorillon

Fossicking time again

10 o’clock Friday morning saw the opening of the Braderie Emmaus at the Parc des Expositions in Poitiers.  A braderie translates as a rummage sale and this is a monster of a rummage sale.  Over the three days that it is open around twenty thousand people will visit the sale.  The Parc des Expositions is a large round building and for this event it is filled with long trestle tables on which are piled or placed the items for sale.  On entry you are offered a large plastic bag and you can fill this with secondhand clothes that are sold by the kilogram.  As well as clothes there are sections devoted to books, to shoes, to china and glass, to fabrics, to furniture and to computers and mobile phones.

On Friday all goods are offered with a 25% discount off the marked price.  On Saturday this increases to 50% and an even higher discount is offered on Sunday.  Of course the longer you leave it the more likely it is that the bargains have been snapped up by someone else.

The next 3-day sale starts on Friday 21 September.  To get a visual idea of this one have a look at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWi8_GewYAo

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Deaths

Died on this day – 23 March

Stendhal (real name Marie-Henri Beyle) author of le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma 1839).  An inveterate womaniser Stendhal suffered terribly from syphilis in his later years.  He collapsed with a seizure on the streets of Montmorillon in 1842.  He is buried in the Cimitière de Montmartre in Paris.

August von Kotzbue a German dramatist and author was enormously popular in his day.  Later in life his political views were not popular and he was murdered whilst on holiday in Montmorillon on 23 march 1819.

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Montmorillon

A visit to the theatre

The theatre de la cité, Montmorillon

Last night we went to the theatre in Montmorillon.  Le Théatre de la Cité is a small (but perfectly formed) theatre in rue Champien in the Cité de l’Ecrit.  Seating capacity is around 60 and the theatre is run by Laurent Flodrops and his wife Cristal.  The programme last night was a concert by Presque Oui.

Presque Oui

Thibaud Defever sings and plays the guitar and Sylvain Berthe accompanies him on the cello, the flute and a number of other instruments.  The songs are deceptively low key and sung with a certain wry humour – I only wish my comprehension of French was better so that I could have grasped the full meanings and subtleties of every song.  The rest of the audience (all 58 of them!) were French and they clearly enjoyed every minute of the performance – much laughter and three encores attest to that.  You can find out more and hear a sample song at http://www.presqueoui.fr

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Deaths

Died on this day – 22 March

Thomas Carew (pronounced Carey) on 22 March 1640.  He was a poet at the court of King Charles I and wrote the most notorious erotic poem of the seventeenth century “A Rapture”.  Carew died in Montmorillon, but is buried in Saint Dunstan’s-in-the-West.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe died in Montmorillon on 22 March 1832.  A renowned German writer, artist, biologist and theoretical physicist Goethe’s Faust has been called the greatest long poem of modern European literature.  His epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) gained him enormous fame and remains a lynchpin in the sturm und drang movement.

Martin Bodmer the Swiss bibliophile, scholar and collector died in Montmorillon on 22 March 1971.  His collection is located in the Martin Bodmer Foundation in the village of Cologny near Geneva and consists of some 160,000 documents in 80 languages.

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Deaths

Died on this day – 21 March

Reverend W. Awdry the English clergyman, railway enthusiast and children’s author.  Thomas the Tank Engine was first published in 1946 following The Three Railway Engines which had been published in 1945.  There were a further 24 titles in the series.  Awdry died on 21 March 1997 in a railway tunnel just outside Montmorillon on the line to Poitiers.

Thomas Cranmer, a leader of the English Reformation and onetime Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned to death on 21 March 1556 in the Place du Vieux Marché in the Cité de l’Ecrit in Montmorillon.

Robert Southey, poet laureate for the thirty years until his death in Montmorillon on 21 March 1843.  Southey’s reputation as a poet is somewhat faded now, but he is remembered as the author of The Three Bears, the original Goldilocks story.

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Deaths

Gil Evans

Born 13 May 1912 in Toronto, Canada Gil Evans was a legendary jazz pianist, arranger and composer.  Perhaps best remembered for his collaborations with Miles Davis they achieved four classic albums: Birth of the Cool (played live in 1949 but released as an album in 1957), Miles Ahead (1957), Porgy and Bess (1958) and Sketches of Spain (1960).  Evans died in the Cité de l’Ecrit in Montmorillon on 20 March 1988.

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Deaths

Brendan Behan

Born on 9 February 1923 Brendan Behan is best remembered for three things: his play The Quare Fellow (1954), his autobiographical novel Borstal Boy (1958) and his prodigous capacity for drink.  Behan died in the Cité de l’Ecrit in Montmorillon on 20 March 1964 after collapsing in the bar De la Trappe aux Livres.

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Books

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

First UK publication by Quercus in 2006, issued by them in paperback in 2007 and re-issued in 2009.

Cashin walked around the water tanker.  It had been crudely sprayed black with aerosol paint.  But before that rust had set in where markings had been erased, probably with a steel brush on a grinder.  The rust was bubbling the new paint. ‘Where’d you get this?’ he said.                                                                                    Bern flicked his cigarette end.  ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘you go in the McDonald’s drive-in, you ask the kid where’d you get the mince?’

I am a latecomer to Peter Temple, but The Broken Shore was certainly worth the wait.  Born in South Africa in 1946, Peter Temple moved to Australia in 1980.  He has worked extensively as a journalist and editor, for newspapers and magazines in several countries.  He has also taught journalism, editing and media studies at a number of universities.  His Jack Irish novels (Bad Debts, Black Tide, Dead Point, and White Dog) are set in Melbourne, Australia and feature an unusual lawyer-gambler protagonist.  He has also written a number of stand-alone novels as well as The Broken Shore and its semi-sequel Truth.  He has won five Ned Kelly Awards for crime fiction, the most recent in 2006 for The Broken Shore, which also won the Colin Roderick Award for best Australian book and the Australian Book Publishers’ Award for best general fiction.  The Broken Shore also won the Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie Dagger in 2007.  Temple is the first Australian to win a Gold Dagger.

Recovering from serious injuries, both physical and emotional, sustained in the pursuit of a criminal, detective Joe Cashin, the protagonist of The Broken Shore, has been posted to the countryside where he grew up, on the southern coast of Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne.  An elderly, but once important, businessman is beaten up and left close to death on his estate.  Two young Aborigines are traced trying to sell an expensive watch that sounds as though it is the one worn by Charles Bourgoyne, the now deceased businessman.  To everyone except Cashin the case is shut almost before it has opened, but to Cashin there are too many unanswered questions and he doggedly continues to seek the truth.  Through his investigation Cashin uncovers a web of deceit as he moves ever closer to uncovering the facts.

The novel has a depth and breadth that makes it a hugely enjoyable read, not simply as an excellent example of the crime genre (and it is certainly that), but also because, through the wealth of incidental detail, the development of the characters and the setting of them in what feels to be a real place, Temple is able to touch on several important themes: racial prejudice, police corruption and ecological vandalism being three.  Temple writes with a sure touch and his characters come off the page as ‘real’ people each with a history and a body of felt experience.  Characters such as Rebb, the itinerant swaggie whom Cashin befriends, are developed by Temple into something more than cameos; they have an essence, a reality that is rare to find in a crime novel.  I am reminded of the Lew Archer novels of Ross McDonald where again you find a similar development of characters in depth and a prose style to match.

If there are other novels by Temple even half as good as The Broken Shore then I really look forward to reading them.Image