Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Conan Doyle and monstrous orchids

Brick cherub

Two more essays done and dusted.

First, for the Victorian Fin de Siecle course, "Metaphors as monstrous as orchids: the language of flowers in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray."

I wrote on The Picture of Dorian Gray as a work which embodies Aestheticism's belief in 'art for art's sake' in its narrative and in the richly gilded prose. Redolent of fin de si├Ęcle decorative excess, I find the novel's symbolic schemes are in themselves rich and productive. I looked at the creation and application of a symbolic language of flowers by Wilde, aiming to demonstrate the influence of contemporary ideas on his construction of an Aesthetic language of flowers in the novel. A veritable whirlwind through Paterian ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, formalism in garden design, Grant Allen’s Physiological Aesthetics and Darwin’s evolutionary botany, Linnaean botanical naming, and Huysmans.


Next up, for Race and the Victorians, "The house is full of Indian curiosities: Colony, metropole and imperial interaction in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four."

Here I looked at Edward Said’s idea that a key narrative of the nineteenth century is the sustaining of British imperial policy through oppositional identities: occident, us, home, metropole set against orient, them, away, colony. I argue that, as a story of a collision between metropole and colony, Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four is an interesting framework through which to consider the ideological representation of these binaries, the blurring of boundaries of race and difference, and Conan Doyle’s view of Empire.

Loved ‘em both. Funny how you write better when you’re passionate about the subject.

I feel a bit melancholic as that’s the end of the taught courses, but it’s been a deeply deeply satisfying time. Possibly one of my better decisions! It’s been creative, challenging and full of original thought … I’m also a lot clearer on what I want from my work life too, having really enjoyed the various digital projects I’ve worked on as a freelancer. Time has rather zoomed by, though!

I’m on my own now with ‘the big one', a 15K word dissertation on Edith Nesbit’s Fabianism to produce by the end of September.  Here we go …


Friday, 17 June 2011


Lovely wildflowers - including poppies and cornflowers - growing randomly at the end of someone's very urban driveway. Gorgeous, huh? You could almost be in a meadow!


Modernism in the sunshine

A rare moment of sunshine in Gospel Oak, and a chance walk-by these amazing Modernist Isokon flats in Lawn Rd. Love those clean white curves...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


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