Pan-European revolutions of 1830 manifested in different forms in different regions. In Netherlands and France they took a romantic hue, whereas in Poland and Switzerland the impact on the political establishment was less pronounced. In the United Kingdom of Netherlands and in France, the impact of the revolution was to establish constitutional monarchies (also called commonly as ‘popular monarchies’). This meant that the older aristocratic order was dismantled and republicanism was given a new thrust. For example, prior to the revolution, the king held dominion over his country through the mandate of God. His reference as the King of France testified this fact. But after the revolution, his title was changed to King of the French, indicating how his authority is derived from the collective will of the citizens. Likewise, in Belgium, King Leopold I took to the throne under the reconfigured political arrangement. At the same time in Congress Poland the revolt against the . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Leila Marouane’s «La Jeune Fille et la Mere» is a thought provoking novel. Based on the author’s own experiences as an Algerian-French national, the novel is history, autobiography and fiction all at once. It is also a post-colonial work, in that the young girl Djamila’s dilemmas and conflicts are similar to her newly independent nation’s own struggles with identity and choice.
One of the struggles for the mother is with male domination. Even in fundamental questions of choosing a partner or choosing sexual lifestyle, women have little choice in Algeria. Worse, they are sometimes forced into abusive sexual relations and even prostitution. Frequent unwanted pregnancies and abortions are not uncommon. If this blatant abuse of women’s rights were to happen in France it would provoke an outrage. But in the patriarchal social milieu of Algeria, these events go on as a matter of routine. Author Marouane seems to be suggesting that nominal political freedom has no benign . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Thesis: Charles Baudelaire expanded subject matter and vocabulary in French poetry, writing about topics previously considered taboo and using language considered too coarse for poetry. Analyzing To the Reader makes a case for why Baudelaire’s subject matter and language choice belong in poetry.
Any work of art that attracts controversy is also likely to be interesting. This can certainly be said of Charles Baudelaire’s Fleurs Du Mal (Flowers of Evil), of which Au Lecteur (To the Reader) serves as a preface. There are many reasons why I would recommend Au Lecteur to you. The utilization of sharp sensory imagery, deliberation of topics considered taboo and a freestyle choice of vocabulary are major attractions in the poem. But instead of detracting from the value of poetry, these facets of his art only enhance its appeal. Through the rest of the letter I hope to convince you of this, my friend.
Having known you for many years . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
In the excerpt Towards a Definition of Film Noir, authors Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton address the problem of defining film noir. The main issue is the diversity and interrelationships across genres that make the task daunting. While the term film noir may have been coined by influential critics in France, the birthplace of the genre is Hollywood. Many adjectives come to mind when thinking of film noir, but any given film can contain any permutation of these qualities. For example, qualities such as night-marish, weird, erotic, cruel or ambivalent can readily be associated with the genre. Yet this list is not exhaustive. Thrillers such as This Gun for Hire, The Big Sleep and The Lady in the Lake are as much part of the genre as are the more experimental Call Northshid 777, The House on the 92nd Street and The Naked City. Whatmore, compounding the problem of definition of film noir are the various renowned directors who have embraced the genre. Household names like Billy . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
The Second World War was a pivotal event not just for Britain but also for the rest of Europe. In the wake of the end of the war all art forms embraced questions about war in particular and human conflict in general. One of the important British films to emerge in the Second World War milieu was The Battle of the River Plate. Though the film is largely drawn from real historical events surrounding the war, it is a feature film and meant for entertainment. Though the story is broadly consistent with historical record, the dialogues were almost nearly invented. The challenge for the film maker venturing the world war genre is the upkeep of historicity. The British audience has always allowed a fair license for fiction in the genre for the imperatives of the narrative form. Even allowing room for fiction, the ultimate success depends on the degree of authenticity that the filmmaker could bring to his representation of real history. It is for this reason that critics were . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Despite no authentic version of the play extant, Christopher Marlowe’s play Massacre at Paris continues to be of importance. The play is heavily drawn from real historical events happening in French politics at the time of it being written. The Massacre at Paris that was unleashed by the Third Duke of Guise upon all his suspected enemies is both brutal and real. Marlowe portrays Guise as a thorough Machiavellian character who is bent upon usurping power through any means. The killing of his father Francis when he was just 13 is a key event in the development of Guise’ personality. Facing this calamity at a tender age impresses in his mind the motivations for revenge. This would later transpire into a more generic blood and power lust. His immediate ascension to throne after his father’s premature death forced Guise to mature very fast. His chief nemesis would be Henry of Navarre, who is an able and imaginative administrator.
Marlowe devotes so much more . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Geopolitical equations toward the end of the 19th century were as complex as it was fragile. The two broad groupings were the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. These two distinct groupings came into existence in 1882 and lasted till the First World War. But even among alliance partners, there were conflicts of interest and opposition, creating a sense of propensity for military conflict. The Triple Alliance consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. The Triple Entente consisted of Great Britain, France and Russia. Taken in unity, the two groups had formidable economic and military power at their disposal.
During the time of the Triple Entente, Great Britain was the most powerful empire in the world. British colonies existed in every corner of the world and there was no other empire which could boast of the proficiency and reach of the British Navy. The British economy was flourishing during the late 19th century and it had . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
There are many causes that led to the First World War, but the assassination of the monarch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Archduke Franz Ferdinand) acted as a trigger in destabilizing what was then a delicate state of European political balance. A combination of unfortunate timing of the assassination alongside the growing internal tension among European powers gave vent in the form of a war on a massive scale. Alongside these factors, the rise of nationalistic fervor in some European nations, with the attendant tendencies toward imperialism and militarism had made the outbreak of the war inevitable. (Stubbs, 2002)
The rise of Pan-Slavism, which is a form of ethno-nationalism, in Eastern European countries had also precipitated the war. The strong diplomatic, economic and strategic interests in neighboring countries induced a cascade effect in terms of drawing reluctant participants to the war. The Great War was characterized by the long periods spent by the armed . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
In the readings, different perspectives were given regarding ‘the scramble for Africa’. Colonial scholars of the period propagated the idea that native Africans were somewhat barbaric and backward, and that they need guidance from a more civilized people. This assessment is not totally untrue, for Africa (then and now) remains technologically backward, although cultural backwardness is a subjective call. But colonial scholarship will have to be viewed with skepticism, for often it tends to be propagandistic. The internal dynamics of Europe during the period lends credence to the theory that Africa was just another theatre for European power politics. The ‘scramble for Africa’ happened at a time when advances in Naval technology enabled Britain, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Portugal, etc to set imperial sights on far off lands. Hence the view that ‘benevolence’ was the basis of European motivations with respect to Africa is factually and logically feeble. To the . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Pablo Picasso is one of the pre-eminent artists of the twentieth century, having mastered various art forms such as painting, sculpting, print-making, ceramic-making and stage designing. Alongside Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp, Picasso is considered to have revolutionized plastic arts in the early part of the twentieth century. He is also credited with co-founding the Cubist movement and constructed sculpture. The invention of collage is also attributed to him. Although Picasso is a house-hold name across the world, his political views and affiliations are not as well-known as his artistic accomplishments. His political commitments have been one of the most underexplored areas of his life and work. (Kiaer, 2003, p.395) But new scholarship and evidence from exhibitions identify the political facet of Pablo Picasso. This essay will argue that though not much publicized or documented Picasso held strong political beliefs. This is evident from the events of his personal life and the . . . Read MoreContinue Reading