Thursday, 29 May 2014

THE HUMAN COMEDY BY WILLIAM SAROYAN - THE HARD TASK OF GROWING UP



It’s a story built on very simple facts, very ordinary people, very simple words which aims at transforming history and reality into unheroic epic mythology. That of everyday battles and sufferings. It is a story set in California in the time of WWII but it is actually a story beyond space and time. Homer
the 16-year-old protagonist, Ulysses, his little brother,  and Marcus, his elder brother at war. They live in Ithaca, San Joaquin Valley, California. They’ve got a sister and a mother. But there are no heroes. The Macauleys’ struggles and dreams reflect those of America’s second generation immigrants but-  and especially- also  those of any human being at any time in any place. No , they are not heroic epic figures but real life protagonists of  THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943).

Homer  is the protagonist, in his teen, determined to become the fastest telegraph messenger in the West, happy to be the man of the family in a difficult moment. Happy to ride his bycicle in the wind. But it’s wartime. Time to grow – up for him. Childhood ends when we realize sufference and death exist and are there inescapably for all of us. Homer becomes aware of that little by little: he is a messenger of death. A mother opens the door, he gives her a telegram and …

“It wasn’t  Homer fault. His work was to deliver telegrams. Even so, he felt awkward and almost as if he alone were responsible for what had happened (… )He was on his bycicle suddenly, riding swiftly down the dark street, tears coming out of his eyes, his mouth whispering crazy young curses. When he got back to the telegraph office the tears had stopped, but everything else had started and he knew there would be no stopping them” (pp.26/28)

Monday, 12 May 2014

FROM THE SATIRICAL NOVEL TO SATIRICAL PAINTING - WILLIAM HOGARTH, MARRIAGE A LA MODE

Hogarth was the inventor of the narrative sequence of paintings. Each sequence followed a theme such as the failure of combined marriages or the corruption of political elections, for examples. Hogarth's oil paintings were then engraved and sold as sets of prints, which made them much cheaper and very popular. Hogarth is at once a realistic and comic artist, a satirist.

Let's give a close look at his Marriage à la Mode (fashionable marriage in French) sequence (1743 - 45) .

1. The Marriage Settlement


This is the first scene in this series of paintings on the misfortunes of a marriage between people of fashion. The marriage is being arranged in the Earl of Squander's house. The Earl suffers from gout and rests his bandaged foot on a stool. He is receiving the dowry for his son's marriage to a rich merchant's daughter: her money for his old ancestry - he points to the genealogical tree, on the right. The Earl is in debt because of the expenses for the still unfinished Palladian villa seen through the window. The groom, on the left, is dressed as a perfecto fop and has a black patch on his neck (the sign of a venereal disease) . The bride sits with her back to him and looks sad; she's listening to the lawyer Silvertongue, her secret lover.