~ }{ ~

~ }{ ~

Sonntag, Mai 25, 2008

Special post for Paula

Dear Paula,

plese forgive me for forgetting your birthday, I hope you had a lovely day and please tell me I am not too late! This teddy lady brings you a tulip, and tulips from granny's garden for you too!


Halt dich fest

Wenn der Frühling kommt
Und deine Seele brennt
Du wachst Nachts auf aus deinen Träumen
Aber da ist keiner der bei dir pennt
Wenn der auf den du wartest
Dich sitzen läßt

Halt dich an deiner Liebe fest

A still from the new S&S and lyrics from a song by Wir sind Helden to match

Mittwoch, Mai 21, 2008

Dolly keeps a secret...

Dolly keeps a secret
Safer than a Friend
Dolly's silent sympathy
Lasts without end.

Friends may betray us
Love may Decay
Dolly's Discretion
Outlasts our Day.

Could Dolly tell of us?
Her wax lips are sealed.
Much has she meditated
Much - ah - concealed.

Dolly ever sleepless
Watches above
The shreds and relics
Of our lost Love

Which her small fingers
Never may move.
Dolly is harmless.
We who did harm

Shall become chill as she
Who now are warm
She mocks Eternity
With her sly charm.

From Possession by A.S. Byatt

Now let me introduce the ladies who keep my secrets:

First comes Christabel, my first porcellain doll, named so after Christabel, the poet, from the novel mentioned above. I long wanted to have my own porcellain doll and when I saw this one in the department store I was struck at how much like my image of Christabel she looked! I had only just finished that impressive novel and of course I had to buy Christabel and give her home and love her because her story in the book was not the happiest. So she is my first and favourite.

Next come the three ladies that have travelled a long way from China (I got the three of them when I was interpreting at a home and interiors exhibition in Guangzhou, almost 3 summers back).

My favourite of the three is Iris Ivy May Marianne Rose (yes, quite a long name, I know!). Iris is just because I like the name, Ivy May is from the book I was reading at the time - Fallen Angels by Tracy Chevalier, Marianne is for Marianne in S&S, and also she reminds me a little of Kate Winslet, so Marianne and Rose both come for the names of the heroines Kate Winslet played. KW played an Iris too for that matter, but I did not think of it initially! Names for the other two were a bit hard to choose. Now they are Camille Frances and Arabella Georgina. The former has her name because she is so sweet, and I think the names are becoming to her sweetness (she used to be Amelia, but I changed it to Camille later (associated with camomilles and their sweetnees in my mind, and also with France!) , not to associate my dolly with Amy from Vanity Fair!). Arabella Georgina looks a bit like Arabella from Captain Blood (loved the book when a teenager) and as for her second name, her costume makes me think of Georgian period and of red dahlias (called georginas in Russian)! It's peculiar that in this set of three the three women in our household have different preferences with these three: I like Iris best of all, mum thinks Camille Frances the sweetest and my sister says Arabella Georgina is the best! We also have also ascribed a country to each of them: Iris looks English, Camille is French and Arabella German (I should think up a third German name for her, maybe!)

And here comes the final girl: she is just Anne, named so after Anne Shirley, the inforgettable Anne of Green Gables. The story of how she started living with me is similar to Christabel's. Two years ago I reread Anne of Green Gables and was completely under its spell. And once I met Anne in the children's department store I felt we had a special bond! So I returned to buy her next time I was at the daparment store. I know she's not a redhead, so she's not a 100% Annein looks, but she looks so lovely and endearing all the same.

P.S. It's obvious I am a fan of going into children's sections in stores sometimes. Helps to relieve stress :-) And now when I come home and watch these lovely girls look at me from the chest of drawers it helps to relax too!
No need to say I was just in awe when I happened to be in toy museum in Salzburg, that was absolutely fantastic! I also discovered they have a dolls museum in Baden, if it is Vienna for this summer again, I could visit there too!

Must upload the Salzburg photos some time, the internet speed makes it impossible now!!! :(

Samstag, Mai 10, 2008

Becoming Jane: sorry, hated it

There aren’t so many films I hate but I was awfully disappointed when I recently watched this on DVD. It has very little to do with Jane Austen in my opinion.
First of all, I don’t believe in the story with Tom Lefroy, but at least they could have made the story emotional and appealing. This, on the contrary was a trivial melodrama about two infatuated young people, and the plot was very boring, I found myself falling asleep towards the middle of the movie. Another reason why I might not like it was that James McAvoy is not my type. Absolutely. And I don’t think a Tom Lefroy like this could attract Jane as she really was so much she would consent to an elopement. But then – and here comes the biggest complaint – this Jane was not much of the Jane I picture. Indeed, Anne Hathaway is pretty and sometimes you sympathise with her heroine, but she’s not Jane Austen, just a good romantic girl, at times outwardly passionate about her principles (like Marianne Dashwood), who likes to write a page or two occasionally, with nothing extraordinary in her. Where’s Jane’s wit and her observation? The real Jane who wrote brilliant parodies on popular romances when a teenager would have been different and definitely more interesting. The real Jane hardly needed a critic like Tome Lefroy to prompt her burn her early manuscripts and to influence her writing. And she surely wrote other novels besides “Pride and Prejudice”, though not a word was said in the film about it! The creators of the film chose to overlook that and took whole episodes and characters from “P&P”. How very original, especially that these two young people were much less interesting than Lizzy and Darcy. And one did not even care to use JA’s letters to Cassandra where she writes about Tom Lefroy. (Jane's letters? Why use authentic material if we could make up a story ourselves?) Cassandra in the film is another big complaint: 1) where’s Jane’s relationship whith Cassandra in the film at all? 2) she was just totally miscast, the actress was much better as Bessy in the “North and South”, even if different from the Bessy in the book.
I have some issues with “Mansfield Park” 1999, starring Frances O’Connor, but her heroine (a mixture of Fanny and real Jane, they used her letters and early works in the film) is a deeper and more interesting portrayal of a young heroine who writes. Again, I was not very enthusiastic about the recent “P&P” with Keira Knightley and did not exactly recognize the book by JA I know (though the plot was preserved rather accurately), but at least it made a cute period romantic comedy (not boring!) and was worth watching it for what it is and for the fun comparing with the book (Mr Darcy, a proud owner of Pemberley, sitting in an opened jacket in the yard, chickens around him, waiting for the results of his beloved’s interview with her father, lol!). But this film was an insipid portrayal of Jane and a very unoriginal love story even if you forget it’s a biopic (I did not feel any chemistry at all and kept myself asking what she found in that boy!)). A good idea poorly executed. It has been the second time I’ve hated a JA-related item I bought. Previously I was disappointed by “The Jane Austen Book Club”. But I kept it for the quotes on Jane Austen listed after the novel. This DVD does not have any bonuses why I should keep it, I’m actually thinking to pass it over to someone. Good that I got it cheap. One could use the DVD as practical material if writing a paper on movie translations and dubbing though, because I found some translation mistakes there. I could guess what there was in the original from the mistakes they made in the Russian dubbing, even though the English voicetrack was completely deleted. I liked the film stills where Jane is writing or reading, they looked so inspiring, but since there wasn’t much interesting about her becoming a writer there I’m now thinking the title of the movie is a little inconsistent. The Germans translated it as “Geliebte Jane” (“Beloved Jane”) and I think did the right thing. It was wisely titled “Jane Austen” in Russian, a “play-safe”variant ;-)

I guess I have to insert a picture too. I cropped it to leave Tom Lefroy out because I dislike him ;-)

P.S. Compared to "Becoming Jane", "Miss Potter" was a much better biopic of a writer, I even cried a lot over that sweet litle film. Will make a review next time!

Freitag, Mai 09, 2008

Victory Day

I won’t be original today. I just want to mention a book on WWII on this Victory day. I read “Das Jagdhaus” a little over a month ago and still remember the feeling of being very much impressed. It’s a novel written by Rosemarie Marchner and tells a story of a well-to-do family in Linz during WWII. In September 1939 Antonia and her family gather to celebrate baptizing of Antonia’s second daughter Lilli, and at the ceremony the priest remarks casually that the child is so old as the war (16 days). Antonia doesn’t want to think that her little girl has to do anything with the war, especially when it’s so lovely and peaceful in the town, with sunlight pouring through chestnut leaves and all her family near her. But all of them will have to face the war soon thogh they initially did not have anything to do with it. Antonia’s parents decide to flee from Vienna to Italy, because her father (a University professor) cannot adapt his views to the Nazi ideolology and cannot lie too. They leave Peter, Antonia’s much younger brother (he’s 12 or 13) with Antonia’s family and her parents-in-law. And the boy finds it hard to be left behind. Antonia is uneasy as to how he might be influenced by Nazi propaganda, but he remains true to his father’s ideals of humanism. Meanwhile, the war comes nearer, supplies become shorter, everyone is tense and tired of the war who none of them wanted but was involved into. Antonias husband Ferdinand has to go to the line though he’s about 40, not a young man any more, and he hates it to be a puppet in the deadly game started by Hitler. The war comes even closer, with bombings in Linz and Antonia’s father and mother in law insist she takes her both girls, Enrica and Lilli to the hunting-house in the country, belonging to the family, where they will be safe. There Antonia will discover a secret from her husband’s past – he has another daughter from his first youthful relationship, Marie, and Antonia is to meet her and even get on well with her. In about half a year, when there are just about a couple of days before the war ends, Antonia cannot wait any more and drives back with both the girls to discover Peter was called to defend the city from the enemy troops. In a couple of days Peter returns psychologically traumatized. The war is over but it will take time to build a new life. Besides, Antonia still doesn’t have any news from Ferdinand. He comes back unexpectedly one day in autumn. The family is almost re-united and when Antonia burns his and Peter’s uniform in the garden, she finally burns the dismal past with it and feels inner peace and hope for the future.
So the plot is not particularly exciting and doesn’t have any unexpected twists and turns, but it’s hardly possible to put the book down. I think it’s exactly because it’s so non-exciting on the surface – and so deep and realistic instead. You just grow to care about this family (and how many families were there to live through the events described in the book!) and hope they they live through the war. It’s so particularly moving for us, who see the war as history, to see it as reality. Those people did not know what will come next day but they tried to live normal lives as much as they could. There’s Antonia’s father taking his young son Peter to Stefansdom, Vienna’s historical heart and speaking about him on eternal ideals, Antonia’s old-fashioned father-in-law, comparing the old times with the new war which broke out when he was already old, Antonia’s mother-in-law trying pretend war did not exist unless anyone of her family was directly touched by it, Antonia, becoming stonger with the war getting even more respect from her husband’s parents and becoming a real responsible mistress in the house, serious Enrica, Antonia’s elder girl, very sensible and helpful, the little Lilly who does not know the world before the war (the chills is so old as the war…), Ferdinand, a good man and an assiduous layer for whom the war is completely against his nature, Peter, growing into a handsome young man, ho was to study and dance with girls instead of being made to kill other people at war… Fanny and Paula, the nanny and the cook in the household, staying loyal to their employees…
The time when one wasn’t sure about anything, the official news communicating numerous victories of Wehrmacht and “enemy” radiostations absolutely forbidden (but for Enrica Antonia would have been arrested and never seen her family again for unlawful listening of the BBC), shocking talks about what they did to people in concentration camps, beautiful cities like Hamburg turned to burning hell and later bombs falling on your own house, the already losing Germany taking 15-year old boys to the line in a desperate attempt to defend to the last man in the last days of the war. We never see a battlefield in this book, we just see people who were involved into that chaos against their will and how they were getting through it.
My grandma and her sister told me a lot about the war. They were children then and had to help in the fields all day long, because any pair of working hands, even a child’s hands was needed. My great-grand mother and her three girls having to provide for themselves after the war stole their husband and father, my great-grandfather from them (by the way, he had a heart disease and was a little over 40 when called to the front, but again, by 1944 the front needed any man). Grandmother sometimes said the war stole her childhood. And indeed, she was 8 when it started and almost 13 when it was over. She never went to school further than the basic 4 grades. Her sister, my godmother, told me that the teacher came to great-grandmother and tried to talk her into letting the girls study further, but there was the argument that “they had to work and get something to live by” now that they didn’t have a father. Even now, when they are far past 70 they are so brilliant and intelligent, it’s just heartbreaking they didn’t have an opportunity in life to get a higher education though they had all the potential for it. My grandma says she’s always wanted to be a teacher. I think she would have made a brilliant one. (I’m the one in the family now to put her unfulfilled dream into life!).
And, reading this book, it was interesting to see the other side of the story, what the was was like there, in the country that was “the enemy” then. It wasn’t any easier. Just when my grandma, a country girl, was working hard in the field with other children and her mum, somewhere there in Austria, in the town of Linz, there was a little girl of the same age, Enrica, who sensed trouble when a policeman came into their house and switched off the radio tuned onto the “enemy” station before he could discover it and arrest her mum, taking her from the family forever (Enrica is fictional, but it doesn't matter). And how many such boys and girls were there on both sides who were made serious and responsible in sprite of their age in those circumstances? How many lives destroyed through the war on both sides? Neither side had it easy and both sides had get up from the ruins when it was over. And it was life for them. It’s us who take it as history. But it’s the history that should be remembered. We often forget how happy we are to live today.

When I picked “Das Jagdhaus” up I did not realize the story was connected to another book by Rosemarie Marscher, “Das Bucherzimmer” (highly praised by the assistant in the bookshop near Stefansdom, Vienna, where I bought it). “Das Buecherzummer”, however, is not a direct first part of the story, it’s about Marie, Ferdinand’s unlegitimate daughter and her life in pre-war Linz, the next book, “Das Jagdhaus” focuses on Antonia and Ferdinand’s family, Marie coming as a secondary character. I’m going to read “Das Buecherzimmer” soon and no doubt it will be brilliant, atmospheric and realistic as well. When the shop-assistant praised Rosemarie Marschner she was absolutely right. If only RM would now write another book, focusing on post-war Linz and, say, Enrica this time? I wonder if she ever thought about it herself.

Mittwoch, Mai 07, 2008

In need of something bright and positive

The articles on real estate and nuclear power stations I have to translate just drive me crazy... In a good sort of a way, I'm saying it lovingly for I love my job :-) But texts, texts and texts on a boring topic for a long day seem just too much, so I need something bright and positive... an eye-candy like this Kathleen Francour card. I've been to the supermarket to get my weekly magazine (nothing too much glossy, I read serious press concentrating on politics and especially economy and business issues, lol!) and I saw a card that was absolutely irresistible. The name of the artist is Kathleen Francour and I kind of checked her website now (just had a glance as have no time to waste, must finish my translations by tomorrow morning!) and saved this pic. I'll (probably, if I don't forget) scan the card I bought today and put it here later to share as it's really sweet and made for such dreamers like me :-) But these girls are cute too.

Off to work,
(Link to KF's site hidden in the post title)

Donnerstag, Mai 01, 2008

I love red roses

"I love the red roses, ... I want the crimson ones. They satisfy some craving in me as no other flower does."

Leslie, ("Anne's House of Dreams" by Lucy Maud Montgomery).

This is the red rose my students gave to me on Tuesday. A lovely one and still blooms! Overall, the "Last Bell" day was nice and I really feel sorry to part with my first students!

Guess who is the teacher :-)) (hate my hair here :-( )

Heutige Prinzessin

Today's darwing: princess with a rose in her hair (How typical of me!). Gel pen and oil pencils on brown cardboard.