Tuesday, December 05, 2006



Bugger This for a Lark

Or perhaps that should be SCREW YOUR COURAGE TO THE STICKING PLACE or Pull Thissen Together. Maybe STAND NOT UPON THE ORDER OF YOUR GOING or Fuck Off.

And maybe this marvellous passage of Aeschylus'...

Near the heart the pointed sword
Waits; when Justice gives the word,
Through and through, sour edged and strong,
Strikes the blade. For none can long
Scorn regard of right and wrong,
Break the holy laws of heaven,
And hope to find his deed forgiven.

Justice plants her anvil; Fate
Forges keen the brazen knife.
Murder still will propogate
Murder; life must fall for life,
So the avenging Fiend, renowned
For long resolve and guile profound,
Now the wheel has turned with time,
Pays in blood the ancient crime.

...could be rendered as 'what goes around, comes around'.

And certainly would, if various publishers have their way. I remember being jolted out of a P G Wodehouse inspired Blandings reverie or it may have been a wistful idling away in the world of Mike and Psmith...but anyway, the start might not have been enough to send the bathwater swishing over the sides of the porcelain, yet my rhapsody was rudely truncated by a sudden reference to the cricketers Truman and Compton.

I mean, what!

No doubt that in the most recent editions even these names will have been replaced by those of Harmison and Flintoff which, given this morning's abject performance, just goes to show that any attempt to add relevancy is almost bound to detract from the intended meaning.

Just what were these fellows thinking? That the world of aunts, personal gentlemen's gentlemen, the Drones club and country house breakfasts would be made more relevant and palatable to a modern audience simply by updating the sporting references? It would appear that Krispin and Jocanta have forsaken advertising for the world of publishing.

We've had the abominable Disneyfication of Winnie the Pooh, a computer generated Noddy and now it would appear that even the books of Enid Blyton are to be brought kicking and screaming into 21st century relevance.

"The current publishers, Hodder, made a number of changes to the text this year to reflect changed uses of language. "I say" was replaced by "hey", "queer" with "odd" and "biscuits" with "cookies" - the latter to appeal to American readers."
The Independent

Now, although as a child I read Blyton, I always found her the literary equivalent to the aural wallpaper of easy listening. An unchallenging way of passing the hours of a long car journey for example. I was more a Richmael Crompton and Kipling boy myself. I recently picked up a copy of Five Go off in a Caravan for 50p from Save the Children and, having read it, am content in the knowledge that I have saved at least one child from the bother.

But I stray from my point.

In our ratings driven world there is a desire to make the world of 'the Arts' accessible to a wider audience. So we have this random 'up-dating' of literature, the New English Bible as opposed to the wondrous prose of the King James' Version and classical symphonies recorded and arranged with a 'modern' drum beat.

Bollocks the lot of it. Every book, piece of music, painting...in fact, any work of art is of its time and place, a reflection of its creator and his or her environment. Wherein lies the magic of Shakespeare? In his insight into the human condition? In his story telling? No. It is in the language, purely and simply.

They have it, as so often, completely arse about tit. Instead of modifying the Arts to make them more accessible to a wider audience, here's a radical thought. Why not make a wider audience more succeptible to the Arts through education?

Even then, there are always going to be people for whom the Arts will remain, as it were, a closed book. So what? They will rarely be brought to a greater appreciation by adding a rock beat to a symphony, re-writing Shakespeare in the modern vernacular or by any other kind of dilution. Are their lives any the poorer for it? Who can say? The question would not even arise were the subject say, sport for example.

Oh, well.

Good night, good night; parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night, till it be morrow.

Ah'll sithee.

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