Friday, 29 February 2008

Meet Jo Bach

Experts have reconstructed the face of Bach from his bones, according to a recent Reuters report. The Scottish forensic anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson did the work, and he's rather interesting looking, really. Very expressive. Though it does look a little like he's listening to a beginner play one of his cello suites!
Interesting how we often desire to have a likeness, to search for a good likeness of the face, for our heroes. (See the recent attempts to reconstruct the face of Dante, for example)

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Ernesto Illy (1925-2008)

Ernesto Illy, the grandfather of coffee, died earlier this month. He combined a scientific rigour to the development and making of good coffee with a flair for style. A PhD in chemistry, experience on the road selling coffee, Ernesto became managing director of Illy in 1956, the company his father had founded in 1933.

From the Times obit:

'For him, the water temperature should be between 90C and 95C and the coffee the sand-sized grinds of exactly 50 beans roasted at 220C, with 25ml to 30ml of espresso then extracted from it under 9 atmospheres of pressure. The temperature of the coffee to be sipped must be between 80C and 85C, and Illy even designed the shape of a cup for the ideal taste. Milk and sugar he regarded as contaminants.'

Other obits can be read here & here & here.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Dante and the Church & Dante and His Literary Precursors, Four Courts, 2007

My prive scilence over the past few weeks has been due to a hectic HT, but I thought I'd better send a flare up just so that you know I'm alive. Things have been busy here this term, both teaching and getting to interesting lectures. Caroline Bynum Walker gave a lecture at Schools last evening entitled "Visual Matter: Christian Materiality in the Later Middle Ages". Fascinating stuff. Last week Derek Pearsall came to talk about the C-Text of Piers Plowman, a new edition of which will appear with Exeter UP next year. Greatly anticipated.

In other news: I just picked up s/h copies of these two collections of essays, each originally comprising lectures delivered at the Annual Dante Lecture Series at University College Dublin. This lecture series is the main outlet for Dante research in Ireland and its organizers and participants, as well as the UCD Foundation for Italian Studies, are all much to be commended. Both of these collections merit attention. I'm still making my way through them, but I greatly enjoyed George Holmes' 'Dante and the Franciscans' (pp. 25-38) and Alexander Murray's 'Purgatory and the Spatial Imagination' (pp. 61-92), a very fascinating and broad account. I am next going to read Catherine Keen's 'Fathers of Lies: (Mis)readings of Clerical and Civic Duty in Inferno XXIII' (pp. 173-207).

The other volume on Dante's literary precursors has twelve essays. Again, I'm still making my way through it, but have already greatly enjoyed A. Teresa Hankey's 'Dante and Statius' (pp. 37-50, though I'm unconvinced) and Peter Hainsworth's excellent 'Dante and Monte Andrea' (pp. 153-177, and I am convinced). Next will be Claire E. Honess, 'Dante and Political Poetry in the Vernacular' (pp. 117-151).

I guess the appearance to two volumes at once must have to do with the RAE last year. One curiosity (as opposed to a criticism): The Dante and the Church convention for citing the Commedia is Petrocchi's edition, but in Dante and His Literary Precursors, it is to Sanguineti's new edition. I'd love to know if there were any philological reasons for the discrepancy. Also it uses Gorni's Vita nova, and De Robertis' Rime, but in the SISMEL edition of 2005 rather than the 2002 Edizione Nazionale published by Le Lettere, while the Church volume simply refers to the Ricciardi Opere minori for everything except the Commedia. So between the two volumes, we're getting everything, I suppose.


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