Recent links of note:
“Long-lost Tudor tapestry could be saved for the UK”
Paula Weideger, The Art Newspaper
“The Holy Grail of Tudor tapestry” has been found in Spain, around two hundred years after its disappearance, sans export license, from the British royal collection. The Burning of the Heathen Books, commissioned by Henry VIII in 1536, is one in a nine-part series on the life of St. Paul, woven from designs by the Flemish artist Pieter Coecke van Aalst. The twenty-foot-wide tapestry, interwoven with gold and silver thread, makes a pricey political and religious claim, as well, endorsing the dismantling and destruction of libraries across Reformation-era England during the Suppression of the Monasteries. Experts on Henry’s tapestries call this “the most important work of art that Henry VIII commissioned during . . . the English Reformation,” and they believe that he prized this piece most highly among any in his collection, which once boasted around 2,500 pieces (of which only a few survive). With these claims to ownership, Britain hopes for the tapestry’s return to its original home at Henry’s Hampton Court Palace or to the Victoria & Albert Museum. But only time will tell whether Spain, which already owns part of Coecke van Aalst’s St. Paul series, will be willing to let its Heathen Books go.
“Revealing Sylvia Plath”
Hannah Sullivan, Times Literary Supplement
Sylvia Plath’s letters, perhaps more than any of her other writing, offer the key to the later years of her life. The first volume of her correspondence, edited by Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil and published last year, follows Plath from summer camp in 1940 to her honeymoon with the poet Ted Hughes. But it is only in the second volume, released this week, that Plath becomes the woman and the writer whom we remember: the happy wife and fellow budding poet (early in Ted’s career, she referred to his successes as “ours”) gives way to the abandoned mother and author of the poems and fiction that continue to haunt us today. Plath is not the same woman in her letters as she is in her art; while some see her as innocent and candid, Hannah Sullivan sees in Plath’s frank epistolary voice a falseness, an attempt to make sense of her life as everything goes “queer,” and, at the end, “blown & bubbled & warped & split.” For more on Hughes’s and others’ influence on Plath’s life and letters, look for Carl Rollyson’s review in our December issue.
“Priceless trove of poems by English writer Gerard Manley Hopkins is discovered”
David Wilkes & A. N. Wilson, The Daily Mail
“Glory be to God for Robert Bridges!” This line, adapted from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, echoes the sentiments of those at the Bodleian who recently acquired Bridges’s archive, which contains vital works from both Victorian English poets. Bridges (1844–1930) saved seventy-four poems by the priest-poet Hopkins (1844–89), who published little throughout his short life. In fact, Hopkins burned many of his poems on entering the Jesuit seminary, and many others survive only because he copied them out in letters to Bridges (who was ambivalent about the quality of Hopkins’s unusual, oddly-metered style, but, praise God, preserved and promoted the poems anyway). Hopkins’s reputation has eclipsed that of his friend in recent years, but it is thanks to Bridges that readers can dive into the small, yet singular oeuvre of the poet who created a new way of writing with his “sprung rhythm” technique—and a fresh outlook on the way God “fathers forth” nature, man, and “all things counter, original, spare, [and] strange.” It’s certainly a strange friendship, but one the Bodleian is happy to keep alive in its collection. For more on Hopkins, read Paul Dean’s essay on his diaries and William Giraldi’s review of a recent edition of his poems.
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Titian takes on Ohio