Welcome to my first Sunday Salon!
As has been the case for the last three or four weeks, I am continuing work on Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. With less than two hundred pages to go, I can already safely say that this has been a very rewarding read. I’ve just finished their account of the two months Paul Gauguin spent with Vincent in Arles in late 1888. Sitting in my to-read stack (now several feet high and ready to topple over at any moment!) is another account of that meeting of famous masters, Martin Gayford’s The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence. I’ll be interested to see to what extent the two accounts are similar, and where they diverge.
This week I finally managed to write and post my review of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. In the works are reviews of a few other books I’ve finished in recent weeks, including two by Haruki Murakami, Underground and 1Q84. Having tackled 1Q84 and the Van Gogh biography almost back-to-back, I think I’ll be looking at books less close to 1,000 pages long for the immediate future!
On the music front, the posting not too long ago of video of a performance of what may be fragments from Jean Sibelius’s Eighth Symphony has piqued my interest in the history of this legendary non-existent work. I’ll be posting a summary of that history soon. Also, it looks like I will be attending a sizable portion of the American Mavericks series the San Francisco Symphony is doing next month. In preparation, I’m going to revisit some of the music I’ve loved over the years by the featured composers. I’m particularly excited about hearing Morton Feldman’s music again after being away from it for a long while. Years ago I wrote about some of Feldman’s delicate, slow-motion music for the AllMusic website. I loved it then, and I’ll let you know soon if that’s still the case (I’m sure it will be).
I’ve been loathe to write much about movies at my blog, as I don’t feel quite qualified, only having gotten acquainted with film theory, and seen a lot of the great films of the past, in the last few years. Not that I’m qualified to write about any of the subjects I write about, but film has been a particular bugaboo for me for some reason. That may change. In the meantime, last night I watched Mysteries of Lisbon, the final film by the recently-deceased Chilean director Raúl Ruiz. Ruiz made over 100 films, but this is the first one I’ve ever seen. I was mightily impressed by the sweep and the beauty of this epic film! Its four-and-a-half hour length felt entirely justified. The film is based on an eponymous novel by Camilo Castelo Branco, one of the most highly regarded and prolific of nineteenth century Portuguese authors. Not ever having encountered Branco’s work (or name!) before, I went to my Kindle and to Amazon.com to see what was available. Both led me to dozens of works in the original Portuguese, but pretty much nothing in English translation. Has anyone ever come across anything of Branco’s in English? I’d be interested in exploring his work further.