Now that it is the beginning of November and we are in a bit of a lull before the big holidays begin, I am enjoying this peaceful time to catch up with a lot of reading. Staying at home is a real treat when there are lots of good books to read.
The first books I will crack open are the art catalogues that accompanied three art exhibitions I was lucky enough to see. "Beyond Bloomsbury" is an exhibition on the designs of the Omega Workshops that was held at the Courtauld Gallery in London in 2009. When I was in London last month I was able to make an appointment to go behind the scenes and see many of the Omega designs that were in that exhibition. It was very exciting! You can read about it here.
I also saw the exquisitely beautiful "Degas and the Ballet" exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. It was a stunning exhibition that combined some of the artist's best paintings and sculptures with developments that were occurring at the same time in photography and moving images. Most of us think of Degas as the painter of dancers. In fact, Degas once claimed that the his ballet scenes were a pretext for depicting movement. This exhibition at the Royal Academy explores Degas' fascination with movement.
And finally, at the D'Orsay Museum in Paris I saw another beautiful art exhibition called "The Cult of Beauty," which was about the English art movement known as "The Aesthetic Movement." This movement is also known as the "Pre-Raphaelite" movement, or "art for art's sake." The exhibition covered the years1860-1900 and featured artists such as James Whistler, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Morris. This art movement was revolutionary in nature. The artists were rebelling aesthetically against what had gone before in English design and their new theories about art had a huge impact on both interior and fine arts in England. The exhibition included home decor and furnishings as well as paintings. Oscar Wilde was a proponent of the movement and the exhibition included photographs of and writings by Wilde.
With all the controversy swirling around the topic of who wrote the plays and sonnets commonly thought to be written by William Shakespeare, I thought I might go back and look into some of the biographies I have on the Bard.
I have always believed that Shakespeare wrote the plays, but I am interested in understanding what the anti-Shakespearean scholars believe. I will probably go see the new film "Anonymous" which argues that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford and not Shakespeare was the author of the works, so I can hear the other side. In the meantime, I may spend the next couple of days doing a little research of my own!
Of course this new cookbook by Sophie Dahl looks very cozy and nothing is more relaxing than cracking open a new cookbook. The photos in this one are gorgeous.
I bought this new edition of one of my favorite books "The Enchanted April" by Elizabeth Von Armin at Hatchards in London and I just might have to reread this one. That will lead to my watching the movie again, a treat for a chilly November evening. I love this story of four sad and lonely English women who travel to a small medieval castle in Italy and find happiness and love in the sun-drenched Italian countryside.
But my most important goal is to finish this book. I am two thirds of the way through "Of Human Bondage" by W. Somerset Maugham and I know I will finish it in the next couple of days. I have heard several writers say that this book had the greatest impact on their lives and their decision to become a writer. So far the life of the hero Philip Carey is immensely sad, and I am hoping he will find some happiness by the book's end. But I do have my doubts.