Nature in the form of searing sunlight and raging storms increasingly blotted out the works of man in the later paintings of Turner. This was an ironic juxtaposition of his painterly vision with the spirit of his times. For the progressive spirit of early Victorian Britain was propagating a world view whereby the industrial juggernaut of railroads, steam ships and factories would reshape the world to suit humankind’s fancy.
Femi-lit doesn’t make as many headlines as its younger sister, but it shares certain familial traits. The protagonist is usually a woman in her thirties or forties, intelligent, independent, and confronted with the crises that arise in one’s middle years – the aftermath of a divorce, the death of a parent, a loveless relationship, the seesaw of work and family, the lack of a child. And as with chick lit, it is often love or a change of place that proves the catalyst for change.
A favourite theme which recurred again and again in wall paintings was the satyr creeping up behind a nymph to catch her by surprise. In at least one case the nymph, her veil ripped away, turns out to be a hermaphrodite, to the satyr’s theatrical dismay, and the observer’s amusement. Some wall paintings showed homosexual sex and, because African motifs were popular, another depicted picnicking pygmies enjoying a group orgy under a tent.
Filettino was not always a happy place, in history or in fiction. In the time of the Caesars the people here were Aequi, an Italic tribe of rough herders whom the Romans subdued with difficulty. For many centuries, probably millennia, the Aequi practiced transhumance, leading their herds over the Serra in late autumn to spend the winter in pastures in the Liri valley far below, and returning to the uplands for summer.
His cold restraint, often criticized, is the source of his tremendous power as a novelist. His themes—displacement, power, the value of literature, the fictive possibilities of personal history—are worked and reworked into novels which shine hard like diamonds, unbreakable.
‘Coffee table book’ is a familiar pejorative used to describe an intellectual lounge ornament which, should the need arise, can also serve as a doorstop, table prop or weapon in marital dispute.