The Indian Church by Emily Carr, 1928 (Photo credit: Wiki2.org)
I want to wish you all a Happy New Year. May it be generous and kind.
Ironically, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent their holidays on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which brought back gilded images from the past. My husband and I spent our honeymoon on the west coast of Vancouver Island, but north of the area the Royals chose for their holidays. We were at Wickanninish Inn, before the Trans-Canada Highway reached that far. Therefore, it was the end of an era. Hundreds of people now travel to a formerly desert beach.
We had Long Beach to ourselves: 13.6 kilometers, but much longer… The only live beings we met were sea lions and a dog.
Other guests had flown in, but we had used loggers’ roads. It was a bumpy, but relatively short ride, and well worth the inconvenience. The chef was from New York and the food, excellent.
The Inn was beautiful and smaller than it is today, but it was Paradise. At night we could see an impressive display of stars.
Emily Carr, Blunden Harbour, 1930
Emily Carr, Kitwancool, 1928
Artist Emily Carr (1871 – 1945) had spent time in that area. We explored in the hope of finding signs of her presence. She was everywhere.
Some of you may remember who gave his name to the Inn. It was Amerindian Chief Wickanninish who destroyed the Tonquin, a boat built for John Jacob Astor, the owner of the American Fur Trade Company. It carried voyageurs from New York to the “Oregon country.”
I have erased the beginning of this post. It contained information on an event of extreme cruelty that led to severe losses and still causes episodes of disabling fatigue and life-threatening anxiety. During such episodes, I cannot write or look after myself properly. My blog suffers. It’s a short post.
A Seated Scribe by Gentile Bellini, (Isabella Stewart Gardner Collection)
However, I have done more investigative work on Muslims, Armenians and the concept of nationhood. Religion is a factor in nationhood, but it is not as significant as the use of a common language. Even in the Islamic world, countries accepted plurality. The millet system is a proof of religious tolerance. For instance, in the case of the genocide of Armenians, the Ottomans feared Armenians would enter into an alliance with Christian Russia.
Nationhood is rooted in several factors, but langage overrides faith. State and speech is a product of the Renaissance and a result of Johannes Gutenberg‘s invention, in 1439, of the movable type printing press. Constantinople was defeated in 1453 and its Greek scholars fled to Italy carrying books. The printing press had just been invented when Byzantine scholars inaugurated the Renaissance. Literacy spread, creating a middle class, and it brought the validation of the vernacular, and the writing of songs in the mother tongue, or madrigals, but polyphonic, mixing voices. This is a subject we have covered, but not in the context of nationhood and nationalism.
A colleague told me about the Bellini knot, so I looked at the Metropolitan’s collection and found four Bellini rugs. I also found a Safavid dynasty tapestry or rug featuring the mille-fleursmotif. Keeping fabrics in good condition is difficult. Flanders may therefore have influenced the East. The Franco-Flemish lands were the cultural hub of ‘Europe’ before the Renaissance, in music especially, but tapestries and rugs were made in Flanders, as well as the illuminations of Books of Hours and other illuminated manuscripts. There were exchanges.
Particularly interesting is the position of Venice. It was very close to the Ottoman Empire. Trading led to use the of a lingua franca. A simplified Italian was the lingua franca when Bellini travelled to Constantinople. In 2007, the Metropolitan had an exhibition on Venice and the Islamic World, 828 – 1797.
I will close here, but this discussion will be continued.
Grey Day, Laurentians by A. Y. Jackson, 1928 (Photo credit:wikiart.org)
It is still summer in Sherbrooke. In fact, summer did not begin until late July, if not later. Yet, we will soon be fascinated by autumn’s palette of colours: shades of red, yellow, purple, burgundy: a study in vibrant colours. This type of scenery was depicted by members of the Group of Seven(see Group of Seven, Canadian Encyclopedia). And so was winter. Above is A. Y. Jackson’s Red Maple (1914), an early painting, but most of the paintings I am showing are winter landscapes depicting Quebec. Jackson was born in Montreal, and it would appear we all belong to the land of our youth.
The Red Maple by A. Y. Jackson, 1914 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Therefore, A. Y. Jackson was an unlikely member of the Group of Seven, of which he was a founding member all of whom portrayed Canada’s wilderness. Matters changed, when Jackson exhibited his Edge of the Maple Wood(1910), shown below. The painting drew the attention of the Group ofSeven’s only wealthy member, Lawren Harris, who purchased it. Jackson could not earn a living in Montreal.
Saint-Tite-des-Caps by A. Y. Jackson (Photo credit: Google Images
Barns by A. Y. Jackson (Photo credit: wikiart.org)
A Quebec Village (Photo credit: Heffel Gallery)
The Group of Seven
Recognition worked its magic and induced A. Y. Jackson to move to Toronto where he first shared a studio with Tom Tompson (Canadian Encyclopedia), the artist featured in my last post.
“Jackson taught Thomson aspects of technique, especially colour, while Thomson taught Jackson about the Canadian wilderness (see A. Y. Jackson, Canadian Encyclopedia).”
Jackson visited Algonguin Park, where Thomson built his cabin, loved its scenery and chose to be a landscape artist. He also went west, to the Rocky Mountains, but by and large, he worked in Ontario areas associated with the Group of Seven such as Algonguin Park, the Algoma district, Georgian Bay and the North Shore (Lake Superior), etc. But Jackson also painted Quebec.
“The lion’s cubs [below] are born dead; after three days the father comes and roars over them, and brings them to life.” (fol. 96v) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)
Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 308, Folio 96v
In his Preface to Æsop’s Fables, its translator, George Fyler Townsend, states that “[t]he introduction [in fables] of the animals or fictitious characters should be marked with an unexceptionable care and attention to their natural attributes, and to the qualities attributed to them by universal popular consent. The Fox should be always cunning, the Hare timid, the Lion bold, the Wolf cruel, the Bull strong, the Horse proud, and the Ass patient.” (Bold characters are mine.)
Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 366, Folio 71v
“A fox [above]runs off with a cock, while a woman carrying a distaff gestures angrily.” (fol. 71v) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)
Medieval Animal Lore
The Fox as the Devil, etc.
Townsend’s statement reflects an anthropomorphic vision of animals (humans in disguise), as in George Orwell‘s 1945 Animal Farm). In fables and in beast epics, such as Le Roman de Renart, animals are anthropomorphic. But Townsend’s comment also reflects a will to stereotype animals and transform them into allegorical creatures. In Medieval Bestiaries, they are symbols.
Medieval writers were fond of allegories, hence the questionable, but poetical, qualities bestowed on medieval beasts. The Lion is God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Only a virgin can catch the legendary or mythical Unicorn. (See Unicorn, Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia). The Beavereats its own testicles to avoid being caught by hunters. The fox is not only devious, but the devil himself:
“The fox represents the devil, who pretends to be dead to those who retain their worldly ways, and only reveals himself when he has them in his jaws. To those with perfect faith, the devil is truly dead.” (See David Badke or The Medieval Bestiary[bestiary.ca].)
British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 9r
“Hunted [above] for its testicles, it castrates itself to escape from the hunter.” (fol. 9r) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)
Exceptions to the lore, but…
There are exceptions to the lore. The real Dog is a very loyal animal. It can sniff out nearly anything or anyone. However, a real Dog does not let go of the prey it holds for the prey it might catch. In other words, the fanciful and the fantastic suffuse Medieval Bestiaries, such as the Aberdeen Bestiary or the Ashmole Bestiary (or Bestiaries). The same is true of several extraordinary medieval beasts, not to mention qualities attributed to birds, stones, and other aspects of nature. The merveilleux FR characterizes more than a thousand years of Natural Histories. It is often called le merveilleux chrétien, a Christian magical realism (the fantastic).
Writers of Medieval Bestiaries used Natural Histories such as Claudius Alienus‘ (170 CE – 235 CE) On the Nature of Animals (17 books) as their reference. Yet, these works were rooted in earlier texts, such as Herodotus‘ Histories and Pliny the Elder‘s (c. 23 CE – 24 or 25 August 79 CE) Historia Naturalis. However, as we have seen, the preferred source of writers of Medieval Bestiaries was the anonymous Physiologus, which cannot be considered “scientific.” (See Manuscript shelf.)
The Naming of Reinardus/Renart
This depiction of animals seems all the more anthropomorphic when the animal is given a name. In the Ysengrimus, the Fox is called Reinardus, a Latin form of Renart, the Fox’s name in the Roman de Renart, and La Fontaine’s Renard, the current spelling. The Fox is all too human. Professor Jan M. Ziolkowski writes that animals featured in the Roman de Renart are
so highly individualized that they have names, like human beings.
The naming of the Roman de Renart‘s animal cast begins with the Ysengrimus (1148-1149), the birthplace of Reinardus (Latin) who becomes Renart beginning in 1274-1275, when the first “branches” of theRoman de Renart, written in “Roman,” the vernacular, were published. Animals in the Medieval Bestiary are seldom presented with animal attributes, with the probable exception of illuminations (enluminuresFR).
In other words, beasts inhabiting the Medieval Bestiary are stereotypes, or archetypes. Deviousness is the Fox’s main attribute, but it is a literary attribute, by “universal popular consent.” In fact, Medieval Beast literature is an example of intertextuality EN, a term coined by Julia Kristeva in 1966. Intertextuality is a theory according to which texts are rooted in an earlier text or earlier texts. One could also use the word palimpsest.
Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1511, Folio 21r
British Library, Royal MS 12 C. xix, Folio 6r
“Bear cubs are born as shapeless lumps of flesh, so their mother has to lick them into their proper shape.” (fol. 21r) (Photo credit: The Medieval Bestiary)
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, fr. 1951, Folio 18r
“‘le lyon [above] qui fait revivre ses lyonciaus’ – The lion revives its dead cubs. In the Bestiaire d’amour the man says that in the same way the woman can revive him from his love-death.” (fol. 18r)(Photo credit: BnF)
licking into shape (Pliny the Elder)
Pliny the Elder
In fables and the Reynard the Fox cycle, Renart’s main fictitious characteristic is his devious nature, an attribute bestowed upon him by humans and which he possesses in fables, beast epics, medieval bestiaries, and in Natural Histories, by “universal popular consent.”
Licking into Shape
Pliny the Elder, however, does not mention deviousness with respect to the fox. What Pliny reveals is the birth of incomplete offspring that have to be licked into shape. I have yet to find an image of the Fox licking its offspring into shape, but Bears and Lions also lick their incomplete progeny into shape. (See Fox, in The Medieval Bestiary.) Although this characteristic, i.e. licking into shape, was noted in Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, or Natural History (published c. 77– 79 CE), it may have entered animal lore long before Pliny was born.
As noted above, I have not found an image of the Fox licking unfinished foxes into shape, but I have found images of Bears licking their cubs into shape and Lions breathing life into lions born dead.
Animal “lore” also presents a second image of the Fox. We have seen that in “The Crow and Fox” (« Le Renard et le Corbeau, » (La Fontaine I.3) the fox flatters the crow into singing and dropping its dinner. But the literary fox also plays dead to catch food, which is yet another manifestation of the fox’s deceptive literary “nature.” The theft of fish is motif number 1 in the Aarne-Thompson-Üther classification system.
Abstemius 146, the pseudonym of Lorenzo Bevilaqua.
Abstemius is the author of the Hecatomythium(A Hundred Fables). Abstemius’ real name wasLorenzo Bevilaqua. He was a professor of literature at Urbino in the 15th century. He published the Hecatomythium, (A Hundred Fables) in 1495, followed by 97 fables, the content of his 1499 Hecatomythium Secundum, published in Venice in 1499. Hecatomythium is a Greek word, but Abstemius wrote in Latin. (See Laurentius Abstemius, Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia.)
Several Natural Histories were written in Greco-Roman Antiquity, going back to Herodotus‘ Histories. Herodotus described the crocodile, thehippopotamus and phoenix. Many Natural Histories were also published in the early Middle Ages.
However, animals dwelling in
in beast epics, such as the Reynard the Fox cycle;
in Medieval Bestiaries;
and in Natural Histories are not zoological creatures, but the denizens of literature.
They possess qualities attributed to them “by universal popular consent,” which, in the Middle Ages, may have been the consent of Christian “naturalists,” some of whom were monks and scribes.
The fox, a beloved rascal, was the devil himself. Besides, we owe fox “lore” at least two English expressions: to “lick into shape” and “sour grapes.”
I apologize for my tardiness and send all of you my kindest regards. ♥
I have been trying to work, but I am not feeling well enough to do so. Therefore, please accept this lovely bouquet of flowers painted by one of France’s finest artists: Eugène Delacroix (26 April 1798 – 13 August 1863), rumored to be the illegitimate son of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754 – 1838), a French prince and one of the most enigmatic diplomats in the history of Europe.
My kindest regards to all of you,
Chopin, by Eugène Delacroix (Photo credit: Wikipaintings)
Eugène Delacroix (Romanticism)
0:20 – Liberty Leading the People 0:40 – Ovid Among the Skythen 0:50 – Frédéric Chopin (Unfinished) 1:00 – George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucille Dupin – Unfinished) 1:15 – The Massacre of Chios 1:25 – The Barque of Dante 1:35 – Andromeda 1:55 – The Sultan of Morocco and His Entourage 2:05 – Tiger (Drawing) 2:15 – Aspasia (Drawing) 2:25 – Mounay ben Sultan 2:35 – Christ on the Lake of Gennesaret 2:45 – Tasso in the Madhouse 2:50 – Cleopatra and the Peasant 3:00 – An Arab Horseman at the Gallop 3:30 – The Death of Sardanapalus 3:35 – Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi 3:45 – Girl Seated in a Cemetery 3:55 – Self-Portrait
Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op. 9 No.2 Frédéric Chopin
1810 – 1849
Philip Scott Johnson
I am Belaud (pronounced ‘below’), the little fur person who shares Micheline’s life. She has asked me to write a note on her behalf. She somehow got interested in “The Fox and the Crow” and started writing a post she could not finish.
She is lucky to be able to count on me when such “accidents” occur. The best remedy, I told her, is to slash and slash. She explained that there were times when one could not slash and slash. Since the Syrian crisis and the debt-ceiling crisis, one nearly overlapping the other, she has not been her usual self. What would she do without me?
Micheline is now returning to her post. The arrangement is that she will discuss the moral in one post and will provide additional information in a separate post. I explained that she may run out of pictures, but this does not appear to be the case.
About me, Belaud
I am a pure-bred chartreux and, as we will see, a celebrated cat, but Micheline does not take me to shows. The two of us stick to a humble lifestyle. She says class is irrelevant. After all, she is, on her maternal grandmother’s side, a descendant of Alix de France, one of Eleanor of Aquitaine‘s (1122 or 1124 – 1 April 1204) two daughters by King Louis VII.
During the years she spent in Nova Scotia, she didn’t know this and knowing has not improved her life. She cannot play a musical instrument in this apartment and selling it, the apartment that is, would not buy her a little house or a townhouse however humble.
Joachim du Bellay (c. 1522 – 1 January 1560; aged 37) was the first French author who felt French could be a literary language. He was a member of the Pléiade, an informal academy. He wrote their manifesto: Défense et illustration de la langue française (La Deffence, et Illustration de la Langue Francoyse, 1549.)
Despite lineage, no great author has made Micheline into a celebrity. But Joachim du Bellay eulogized his cat Belaud, one of my ancestors:Sur la mort de Belaud. I don’t think anyone will eulogize Micheline, not even me, except modestly, if I’m still alive. Public speaking scares me.
German-American artist Albert Bierstadt (7 January 1830 – 18 February 1902) studied painting at the Düsseldorf school of painting from 1853 to 1857. He was a member of the Hudson School, a rather informal group of artists. The artwork of members of the Hudson School is characterized by luminism or the use of glowing light. However Bierstadt is also grouped with the Rocky Mountain School because of his interest in Westward Expansion. He is the foremost painter of the American West. He was a prolific and financially successful artist.
“In 1859, he traveled westward in the company of Frederick W. Lander, a land surveyor for the U.S. government, returning with sketches that would result in numerous finished paintings.” (Albert Bierstadt, Wikipedia)
Bierstadt went back West in 1863, traveling with author Fitz Hugh Ludlow, whose wife he would later marry.
When my family moved to British Columbia, I was seduced by the beauty of snow-capped mountains and Giants among trees. I decided I would never leave so beautiful an environment. But destiny had other plans. I am writing a long article and suffering from a bout of myalgic encephalomyelitis. I am, therefore, a little late. My longer blog be will posted today, but I wanted to send you a progress report and a short post. My research took me to Albert Bierstadt.
I receive comments I do not always have time to answer, but I read all of them and wish to thank you for your encouraging words. It touches me that you should appreciate blogs about people who lived a long time ago. They were a little different, but not altogether. Human nature is human nature and that fact overrides the years that may separate us from an “ancestor.” At any rate, I thank you.
If that’s fine with you, I will continue to write about French-Canadian /Quebecois history and literature. But sometimes an event happens that forces me to write about another subject or not to write.
Moreover, there are times when I need to speak about an artist or a musician or a great work of literature. This week, courtly behaviour came up. How reassuring to know that it was not altogether superficial, or a mask.
Some of my readers have asked for longer blogs, such as sprezzatura. Such blogs are useful to students of all ages. Sprezzatura has to do with the behaviour of the courtier. It is described as nonchalance, but it is in fact a certain reserve, or retenue, on the part of Castiglione’s perfect courtier.
I believe people prefer short blogs. A mixture might be my best option.