Literature is full of ‘doubles’: characters who seem to move in tandem; or twins, whose familial bond and similarities are frequently employed for farcical effect. In Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, for example, the sense of a clear identity becomes a tangled mess as Viola, in disguise as a boy called Cesario, falls in love with Duke Orsino, who loves Olivia; Viola has to deliver Orsino’s love letters to Olivia, who quickly falls in love with her as Cesario. Sebastian, Viola’s twin brother who she thought had died, enters on stage, and Olivia is soon smitten with him.
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Continue reading Legoland by Gerard Woodward
‘He was considered a violent and dangerous patient (…) After he killed his father, his rooms were searched and a portfolio was found containing likenesses of many of his friends all with their throats cut.’
So artist Richard Dadd’s condition was described in his Casenotes from Bethlem, a psychiatric hospital, in 1854.
Continue reading Richard Dadd Exhibition at the Watts Gallery
My favourite word of the moment is ‘Mountweazel’. My curious fingertips stumbled across this short article in the New Yorker from 2005 which explains Mountweazels more succinctly than I ever could. Did you know that dictionaries often add in fictitious words as a copyright trap? The article states that the 2005 edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary contains a made-up word beginning with ‘E’ and a shortlist of six possible Mountweazels surfaced and the list was sent to various lexicography experts and they (correctly) agreed that the word ‘esquivalience’ was the imposter (I admit, of the list, that’s not the one I would have chosen!). I summoned my Dictionary programme that lies in the dock area of my Mac and typed in ‘esquivalience’ and there lies a definition consistent with the false entry from the NOAD:
Continue reading The Adventure of English