Matt Smith and a Pimm’s Cup, I bet. So is he at polo, Wimbledon, or a garden party?
Today’s Brit was going to be The Bard Himself, but while I was looking for something poetic to quote, I came across this magnificent rendering of Hamlet and his father’s ghost–
The artist is an 18th century Swiss who lived most of his life in England [and therefore gets to be today’s Brit of the Day], Henry Fuseli. Fuseli was a very complicated cat who is best known for his painting “The Nightmare”–
Wikipedia offers up this explanation of the painting:
A few years before he painted The Nightmare, Fuseli had fallen passionately in love with a woman named Anna Landholdt in Zürich, while he was traveling from Rome to London. Landholdt was the niece of his friend, the Swiss physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater. Fuseli wrote of his fantasies to Lavater in 1779:
“Last night I had her in bed with me—tossed my bedclothes hugger-mugger—wound my hot and tight-clasped hands about her—fused her body and soul together with my own—poured into her my spirit, breath and strength. Anyone who touches her now commits adultery and incest! She is mine, and I am hers. And have her I will.…”
Fuseli’s marriage proposal met with disapproval from the woman’s father, and in any case Fuseli’s love seems to have been unrequited—Landholdt married a family friend soon after. The Nightmare, then, can be seen as a personal portrayal of the erotic aspects of love lost.
I think Fuseli would have fared better in his marriage proposal if he had kept his wet dreams about Anna to himself rather than exposing them to her uncle, but who am I?
If you want to read more about “The Nightmare”, go here:
And more about Fuseli, who had the uncommon good fortune to be famous for his art in his own lifetime, is here:
OK, I got all kindsa things to say about this picture. 1] Spoiler Alert! Henry V dies! But an even bolder choice on the part of the BBC production was to open the play with a sequence from King Henry’s funeral, thus making the whole of the action a flashback–brilliant. 2] Seeing Tom Hiddleston playing the dead king is one of the most beautiful and disturbing things I’ve ever seen–he’s my New Favorite Corpse [NFC]; and finally, 3] What is going on with the two crowns here? Was there a special lying-down crown made for not poking the back of his head? I guess it would be difficult to play dead if you are wincing from the pain of your crown. “Uneasy lies the head…” In any event, it seems to be a serious matter for the two costumers on set. And Hiddleston hasn’t even broken character as he lifts his head. How DO you get in character to play a dead monarch?
Meet Lauren Fox, author of at least 2 novels and this brilliant short story that I stumbled upon on Salon.com the other day:
Now here’s a huuuuuge stretch–Lauren gets to be Brit of the Day by virtue of being married to a guy from Dublin. I know that’s beyond suspect as Britishness goes, but I just had to get her onto this blog. After all, this blog started off as a platform for my own short stories a million years ago, and you see how far that got. People like Lauren remind me that there are enough awesome writers out there, writing about the things that needle at me, that I don’t have to add my warbling voice to the many others who are singing the song in tune.
Here is how Lauren describes herself on her website:
I was born in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, into a family full of love, support, and very little grist for the dramatic mill. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a writer, and decided that my best bet was to make stuff up. My first attempts at fiction included a tragic story about a blind Mexican orphan, and a tragic tale about a horse who dies, tragically, in a barn fire.
By the time I got to college and enrolled in a few creative writing classes, I learned the adage, “write what you know,” and began churning out stories about the unhappy love lives of young, thin-skinned, near-sighted, sarcastic, curly haired girls. My first published short story, which appeared in a nationally distributed college magazine, used the structure of the game show Jeopardy! to trace the demise of a relationship. (I’ll take ‘the slow erosion of my self-esteem’ for $200, Alex.) I was pleased that I had finally created fiction out of my two favorite pastimes: tv-watching and borderline obsessive pining over unavailable men.
After college I moved around a bit, living in Washington, DC and then for a while back in Madison, Wisconsin, bravely conducting field research for my stories about lonely women in their twenties who can’t find a date. In graduate school in Minneapolis, I took a brief detour from fiction and began writing about my family’s history and the Holocaust, which was fun.
When I was twenty-six, I met a nice boy from Dublin who put an end to my anthropological studies of loneliness and heartbreak. Luckily, I had gathered enough material to last for a while.
In other words, sisters, she opens her heart and our story spills out.