A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Poem of the Day: Christina Rossetti

In an Artist's Studio 

One face looks out from all his canvases,
     One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
     We found her hidden behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
     A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
     A saint, an angel -- every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
     And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
     Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
     Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.
--Christina Rossetti

Yes, it's a poem about the obsession of Christina's brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, with his model and wife, Elizabeth Siddal, the quintessential Pre-Raphaelite woman. But it's also a poem about objectification, about what feminist critics refer to as the "male gaze." A fascinating lot, those Rossettis.

Christina Rossetti, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti