Wikipedia being helpful

Saw the word “arras” being used and didn’t quite know what it meant. Bit of a castle fortification or something? Turns out it’s a big tapestry hung on a wall. OK. But in looking it up get told this by Wikipedia:

Arras-class aviso, a class of thirty French avisos

Umm, yes, and no doubt when “aviso” is looked up it is defined as one of the 30 that make up the French arras class?

41 thoughts on “Wikipedia being helpful”

  1. That would be Arras. It’s a town. And aviso is a common description of a kind of warship in continental navies, roughly equivalent to a corvette, maybe.

  2. I never, really, have quite “got” Shakespeare. In fact, find the entire canon unutterably tedious. Worse than that I find near everything classed as “literature” exactly that. Virginia Woolf, EM Forster, Dickens, Tolstoy, even Austen. I know, I know, the fault is mine not in the stars but still…..

  3. I agree with Tim’s comment about ‘classic’ literature, which is mainly over-hyped twaddle. The thing about Shakespeare, though, is that he invented a lot of metaphors and similes that we use today, so that makes his work worthy of study by someone – obviously neither Tim nor me. The world would be a poorer place if there wasn’t someone, somewhere, interested in such things, but it is made a poorer place by the insistence that we all do it. Some of the scenes in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’ are worth watching to see a take on where the Bard might have got some of them from.

  4. The Meissen Bison

    Now, what I want is, STEM. Teach these boys and girls nothing but STEM. STEM alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon STEM: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.

  5. TMB

    No. I wanted to do physics or astronomy or similar, but I simply couldn’t do the maths. I turned to what I was actually good at – history. In “the good old days” the fact that I had a humanities degree was not so important, because I could demonstrate to employers that I was able to think, analyse and construct an argument. I worked successfully in IT for 30 years, mostly doing diagnostic work but also sales and marketing, before ill-health forced my retirement.

    It should not matter what one has studied, the important thing is what one takes out of the educational experience.

  6. Why, yes, that’s true:

    Shakespeare, though, is that he invented a lot of metaphors and similes

    From my comment ” the fault is mine not in the stars”…dunno if it’s Cassius to Brutus or t’other way around that I’m playing off there….

  7. It only becomes “literature” if it’s boring. Otherwise it’s just fiction. And, like Shakespeare, we only plough through it to spot the quotations…..

  8. I don’t really understand the antipathy to Shakespeare. Granted the language is getting a bit more difficult now, but it’s still much easier to read than Chaucer.

    Once you get into it, you’ll find that it’s chock full of sex, violence, gore and knob gags. Exactly what is in all the best films now! There’s even some cross dressing to please the trannies.

  9. Even the appalling Dickens wrote one good book.

    ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, …’

  10. The Meissen Bison

    @Otto – you’re perfectly correct, of course, and my tongue was in my cheek.

    Those were the opening lines of a piece of over-hyped twaddle though with the word ‘facts’ replaced by ‘STEM’ because here that’s the only education worth having and Terry Pratchett is the greatest-ever writer of fiction.

  11. “Hamlet: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
    Ophelia: No, my lord.
    Hamlet: DId you think I meant country matters?
    Ophelia: I think nothing, my lord.
    Hamlet: That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs.
    Ophelia: What is, my lord?
    Hamlet: Nothing.”

  12. ” Worse than that I find near everything classed as “literature” exactly that.” (tedious)

    If one’s used to reading modern literature, it’s not surprising. By modern standards, it is. The classics were written when the novel as an art form was in its infancy. Material written today’s got a couple centuries of development behind it. Good modern writers can get a whole lot more out of fewer words. Of course there’s plenty of writers around now who can write in the classical style. They’re the books you might pick up out a charity shop remainders box, give up in the third chapter due to lack of interest & donate back to the store to await their next victim. Or they could end up on the Booker shortlist. Which amounts to the same thing.
    Of course the classics (& Booker list) buffs would say you’re not putting enough work into reading them to enjoy them. Which is a bit like saying you should train for marathons to enjoy running for the bus. The modern reader doesn’t have endless evenings of not much happening to fill.
    Shakespeare I quite enjoy. But I’ve a soft spot for Middle English & it’s easier to untangle than earlier works. But you have to think of why it was written. Simple tales to entertain a not particularly sophisticated audience. I suspect Shakespearean enthusiasts get more out of it than Shakespeare did.

  13. Otto… You. are. missing. out.

    May I reccomend “Nation” by him? It’s written for “young adults” , but he really isn’t holding back his ..attitude to Life.. there. You might particularly like the Afterword.. 😉

  14. English literature has always been bewildering and incomprehensible to me in the printed book. I survived secondary school through discovering classic comics. Suddenly Macbeth and Wuthering Heights made some sort of sense. Mad Comics got me through the damn poets. Did quite well in my exams.

    Glad to discover there are fellow souls out there.

    That said I did eventually learned that “New Zealand literature” is an oxymoron.

  15. I did MacBeth at Olevel,which was great,short and buckets of blood. We were confronted with watching Ian McKellen play him on the school’s video. Even way back then we had him down as a woofter and much derision he and Judi Dench received.

    The set novel was Howard’s End by EM Forster ( another nancy boy). I hated it, with its cardboard cut-out characters and ludicrous plot. It put me off taking English at Alevel. A couple of years later, I wondered if I was being harsh on Forster and read Passage to India. That was worse. The David Lean film was much better than the book and even that was pretty dodgy. The film of Howards End had Emma Thompson in it, so was an automatic no-go zone.

  16. Have to remember Shakespeare is supposed to be performed not read, before all the restrictions we saw a great production of Othello, the scene were doubt is seeded is as much about the timing of the pauses and the tone used as the words themselves

  17. Worse than that I find near everything classed as “literature” exactly that. Virginia Woolf, EM Forster, Dickens, Tolstoy, even Austen.

    Don’t ever try to read Moby Dick. Ever. I did, once, because friends insisted it’s a great work of (US) literature – but that’s a week of my life I won’t get back. I was pleased to read in The Times this weekend that the great Barry Humphries shares my assessment.

  18. Julius Caesar at O level Eng Lit. Not too bad, but the Mayor if Casterbridge as the book was sooooo tedious I never read it. Nor did I pass the exam.

    On my shelves now, complete works of Pratchett, Patrick O’Brian, Michael Connelly and Dick Francis, as far as fiction goes. A ton of historical stuff. One book of poetry, RK of course.

  19. Bloke in North Dorset

    As BniC says, for the average person Shakespeare is for watching not studying, and preferably at Stratford or The Globe.

    I thought I hated Shakespeare after a brief introduction in English Lit at school, but Mrs BiND took me to see Twelfth Night at Stratford and I was hooked. John Thaw played Sir Toby and was brilliant.

  20. Yes, Shakespeare is for performance, but unfortunately is prey to literary types who like to stage ‘Julius Caesar’ on the moon, because only something novel will get them attention, and everything else has been tried. But there is some decent Shakespeare on Youtube.

  21. Then, look up “aviso”. A naval vessel like a sloop or gunboat. What do these STEM advocateshave for brains?

  22. I don’t really understand the antipathy to Shakespeare. Granted the language is getting a bit more difficult now, but it’s still much easier to read than Chaucer.

    That’s because by the time of Shakespeare, the great vowel shift had happened. Shakespeare would have had difficulty understanding Chaucer.

    As for Shakespeare’s work, others have got there before me. They are pretty basic stories that have been told and retold by others both before and after. Also, they are best watched as intended, not read. They were the Hollywood films of their day. And, yes, plenty of base humour. From a historical perspective, they are an object lesson in using history as propaganda. Our perception of Richard III is rooted in Shakespeare’s portrayal.

    Some of the scenes in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’ are worth watching to see a take on where the Bard might have got some of them from.

    That film, while an enjoyable romp, played fast and loose with the historical facts. The Bard would have been proud.

    Even the appalling Dickens wrote one good book.

    I studied David Copperfield for English Literature A Level. Jeebus, that was tedious.

    Simple tales to entertain a not particularly sophisticated audience.

    That’s precisely how you have to look at it – watching it performed.

  23. By the Restoration, Shakespeare was considered old fashioned and tedious. When his plays were performed, they were heavily cut, rewritten and lashings of music added. Most of the revised plays have disappeared, but the music by Purcell or Locke is still being performed.

  24. Longrider, I imagine that some of us would consider your amusements as indescribably dull. It’s subjective. I enjoy the dogmatism of the STEM dullards. It feeds my superiority complex. All you say about “David Cooperfield” is dull. What makes it dull? STEM people never have the intelligence to explain that

  25. The Meissen Bison

    The written entertainment of its day is a testament to the time of its writing and it’s telling that people here, opposed to the closing of National Trust properties on account of some tenuous connection with colonialism or slavery or the cancelling of historical figures and statues because they offend against modern shibboleths, are happy to debunk authors that they find – in the modern idiom – inaccessible.

    The three volume victorian novel is not going to have universal appeal in a world where people require a constant and simultaneous supply of stimuli from a range of sources so that they feel bereft if any of these are suddenly cut off. These novels benefit from sustained attention a chapter at a time and were frequently published in instalments over many months: the nineteenth century equivalent of the “box set”.

    To take an example the first instalment of Pickwick which established Dickens as an author, sold 500 copies and the last 40,000 and these copies were passed around and read aloud, sometimes in public performances.

    To dimiss ‘classical’ literature is to dismiss one’s own historical and social antecedents and the importance of cultural continuity.

  26. CECILY. (Talking about her diary).
    Yes, but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened, and couldn’t possibly have happened. I believe that Memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels that Mudie sends us.

    MISS PRISM.
    Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.

    CECILY.
    Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.

    MISS PRISM.
    The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.

  27. . . . were frequently published in instalments over many months: the nineteenth century equivalent of the “box set”.

    That would be the nineteenth century equivalent of a TV series. Usually with a box set you binge the lot in one go.

  28. Our set text was a book of short stories that I can’t remember the title of, but contained Of Mice And Men, Leiningen Versus the Ants, Walter Mitty, some story about a girl that I kept reading as called Eve Line, The Cask of Amontillado and some others. Much more engaging than the Shakespeare we did, probably because it was a varied collection.

  29. Nation is, absolutely, superb. The Truth is perhaps the best satire of the news business since Scoop.

  30. All you say about “David Cooperfield” is dull. What makes it dull?

    It’s already been mentioned on this discussion that the classics were very much an early form regarding novels. Dickens wrote much of his stuff as serialisations in a magazine. Copperfield was dull, tedious even, because of this. Every character that is introduced gets a full life history, thereby slowing the main story down to a snail’s pace. The whole thing could be cut by two thirds and be a mildly entertaining read. A modern editor, agent or publisher would reject his work for that reason if it was submitted today. The modern novel needs to be around 70-80,000 words and not too much exposition, show not tell wherever possible. Dickens was very much tell not show and he did an awful lot of it. Conrad, on the other hand wrote simple, excellent prose that was easy to follow and the stories cracked along at a decent pace. Pretty good for a man for whom English was a second language.

    STEM people never have the intelligence to explain that

    I just did. Ad hominem is a poor argument, isn’t it?

    Longrider, I imagine that some of us would consider your amusements as indescribably dull.

    Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

    I’d sooner be watching a Shakespeare comedy or reading a novel (even Dickens) than watch a bunch of blokes chasing after a ball for ninety minutes. As you say, it’s subjective.

    … it’s telling that people here, opposed to the closing of National Trust properties on account of some tenuous connection with colonialism or slavery or the cancelling of historical figures and statues because they offend against modern shibboleths, are happy to debunk authors that they find – in the modern idiom – inaccessible.

    Precisely.

  31. Conrad, on the other hand wrote simple, excellent prose that was easy to follow and the stories cracked along at a decent pace. Pretty good for a man for whom English was a second language.

    Third even. Polish and French were his main languages, before coming to Britain.

    I think Conrad is great, by the way.

  32. Over a decade ago I picked up Phantom of the Opera in a secondhand book shop. I’m still struggling to get past the first couple of chapters, the writing style is sooooo turgid. It shows every sign of being a serialisation, but reads like something from 1809 not 1909.

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