Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Anyone for Swedish murder and fin-de-siècle gloom?

Hjalmar Söderberg (source: Wikipedia)
If you are looking for some good old fin-de-siècle gloom and you happen to be in the vicinity of London, England, you really should take the opportunity to see Dr Glas, starring Swedish actor Krister Henriksson (of Wallander-renown).

Dr Glas is based on a novel, first published in 1905, by Swedish writer Hjalmar Söderberg,  considered to be one of the finest novelists this nation ever produced. It is, admittedly, not a cheerful story. On the other hand, it has murder, adultery, depression and lots and lots of good old misery. Nobody get a HEA, because that was not what Söderberg was about. He was, after all, the man who wrote the legendary phrase: "I believe in the lust of the flesh and the incurable loneliness of the soul" (from the play Gertrud), quoted by generations of Swedish teenagers suffering their first disappointment in love.

If you can't make it to the Wyndham's Theatre, I heartily recommend digging out Doctor Glas as a novel or Söderberg's other novel The Serious Game as they are both excellent and translated to English.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Life around 1900

Just had to share this lovely enhanced video with footage from around 1900 – it really brings the past frighteningly close when you can meet the eyes of strangers from a gap of more than 100 years.

Just lovely!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Fashion Plates Galore!

I just realised I've been a bit bad at sharing some of the truly awesome resources out there and thought I'd remedy that, by letting you in on a pretty little secret - Collection Maciet.

Source: Collection Maciet, Mode. [XIXe siècle]. 1886
It is hosted by Les Arts Décoratifs, which is a private not-for-profit association and recognized as being in the public interest under French law. It originated in 1882, in the wake of the Universal Exhibitions, when a group of collectors banded together with the idea of promoting the applied arts and developing links between industry and culture, design and production. Thus, it is a thoroughly Victorian product which in itself is rather nice, n'est-ce pas?

That's all very well, you're saying now, but what is it good for? Why, old chap, says I. Fashion, of course! Lots and lots of fashion!

Source: Collection Maciet, Mode. [XIXe siècle]. 1842 à 1843, image 10

You see, the Collection Maciet contains a great number of fashion plates, going back to the 18th century and up to 1940. Well, they have later stuff too, but it's not available online, and, anyway, that's not what we're her for, is it? No, we want the 19th century stuff, right? No worries. There's plenty of that to be had.

The trick, however, is that the search function is in French. If you speak the lovely language of Molière and Racine, that's fine of course, but if you don't it's not entirely simple how to find what you are looking for. Because of that, I thought I'd provide a short guide.

Go here, and pick Consulation du Catalogue (or click that link obviously, but I wanted you to be able to hack it for yourselves without having to start here, appreciated that your visit is). Then pick "Recherche simple". If it isn't obvious, it means "simple search". You then get this menu:

Do what I have done here - fill in "mode" under Termes de recherche and select "Album Maciet". Then click Rechercher and you'll get a list of fashion related material, in chronological order. Scroll down to the years you are interested in. Say you want the fashions for 1868, for example. Just scroll down until you find the listing Mode : [XIXe siècle] : 1868 .- ... .- [éditeurs divers] .- 1868 .- Collection Maciet. Click the number next to the listing and you get this window:

Click "Voir les vignettes Maciet" and you get all the images as thumbnails. Select the ones that look interesting and enjoy - you can zoom rather far and also adjust contrasts and lighting, so you won't miss a single detail.

Source: Collection Maciet, Mode. [XIXe siècle]. 1868, image 2

Hope it proves useful to you. If nothing else, there's plenty of eye candy for the Victorian-ly inclined!

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