Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body Joseph Addison, English Essayist, Poet, Dramatist and Statesman. 1672 - 1719

'Clarice's Book Page' is the 'reading room' of the 'Elizannie' page at:

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bob Dylan: Love Minus Zero/No Limit

Yesterday Elizannie published a blog to wish Bob Dylan a happy 70th birthday. Amongst all his other skills, Dylan is a master at using words and his love of language shows in his songs and speech. So today I thought I would illustrate this by showing one of his early songs, written c1964 and recorded on his Bringing It All Back Home* Album in 1965: Love Minus Zero/No Limit

*{The album cover for Bringing It All Back Home is shown above. A proud possession as it is the first Dylan Album {LP} that I ever bought. It cost 30/-
[£1.50p] and I was still at school so to raise the funds I sold all my Cliff Richard LPs to Marion Richards. My friend Shirl still thinks I am mad.}

Whilst LMZ/NL is a love song, written to his forthcoming wife Sara, it is for his fans an early 'showpiece' for Dylan's mastery of musical composition, his power with words and his influences by allusions to works including those by Blake, Edgar Allan Poe and also the Old Testament. It has been recorded by many other artistes including those as diverse as the Walker Brothers and Rod Stewart! Dylan has performed it on many tours over the years.

This is one of my favourite Dylan songs, but then I do have rather a lot of favourites...

Love Minus Zero/No Limit
My love she speaks like silence,
Without ideals or violence,
She doesn't have to say she's faithful,
Yet she's true, like ice, like fire.
People carry roses,
Make promises by the hours,
My love she laughs like the flowers,
Valentines can't buy her.

In the dime stores and bus stations,
People talk of situations,
Read books, repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall.
Some speak of the future,
My love she speaks softly,
She knows there's no success like failure
And that failure's no success at all.

The cloak and dagger dangles,
Madams light the candles.
In ceremonies of the horsemen,
Even the pawn must hold a grudge.
Statues made of match sticks,
Crumble into one another,
My love winks, she does not bother,
She knows too much to argue or to judge.

The bridge at midnight trembles,
The country doctor rambles,
Bankers' nieces seek perfection,
Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring.
The wind howls like a hammer,
The night blows cold and rainy,
My love she's like some raven
At my window with a broken wing.

Slightly miffed!

Usually I write my blogs for my own satisfaction and it is a bonus if anyone else reads or comments on them. Well that is the official line, but I have to admit I do look at the stats every now and again.

But it was rather galling to find that the set of photos that Other Half had taken of my study [one shown above] has had more views than most of mine or my twin sister Elizannie's blogs!:

And yes, a copy of Blogging for Dummies can be seen on one of the shelves....

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Someone at a Distance / Persephone Books

Just as in the years since 1973 when Virago Books first brought a different kind of [feminist] publishing to our attention and introduced many of us to new and previously 'forgotten' authors, Persephone Books have been doing a similar thing for a number of years. This extract from the 'mission statement' on their website explains the sort of authors Persephone publish:

Persephone Books reprints neglected classics by C20th (mostly women) writers..........

Just as I know when picking up a Virago book I am in for a good read, the distinctive Persphone book covers offer the same 'temptation'! So when I recently bought Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple I settled down for a 'good read' and I wasn't disappointed!

I suppose that because I also taught Social History as well as English Literature this novel is a real 'double whammy' for me! It is a snapshot of England in the years just after the second world war, an England that has faded away and probably will not be recognised by anyone under thirty five! An England that had definite divisions between those that had 'daily women' and those who were the 'daily women'. It looks at the social mores and how society looked at divorces and the divorced and how women regarded their place and positions in society.

In the preface to the book, the novelist Nina Bawden describes it as a

a fairly ordinary tale about the destruction of a happy marriage

does the writing an enormous injustice if taken out of context. Bawden goes on to add
it makes compulsive reading

with which I certainly agree! Elsewhere in the preface Whipple is compared to Mrs Gaskell and to me the minutae of the North family life as written by Whipple is as fascinating as that of the Cranford villagers as written by Gaskell!

Apparently, although Dorothy Whipple had been a successful novelist, this was her last novel and her least successful - probably because post war Britain was on the cusp of the big changes that were to come and thus the book was notthen considered modern enough. But perhaps to us sixty years later this novel moves into a different genre, maybe into the 'historical novel' mode? I loved it and have already looked into finding more novels by Dorothy Whipple, to add to my list of loved authors of this time and earlier: Mollie Panter-Downes; Marghanita Laski; Elizabeth Taylor; Winifred Holtby and more. Thank goodness for Virago and Persephone Books!

Picture of the Persephone edition courtesy of The book can also be purchased directly from the Persephone website.