(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘English literature

Pages through the ages…

(Roughly) Daily often visits the British Library (as does your correspondent, every time he’s in London: pound for pound, the best museum experience in the world).

Now, as part of that august institution’s on-going efforts to make its extraordinary collection more widely available, the BL has created an online English Language and Literature Timeline.

From the very early (c. 1000)…

Beowulf is the longest epic poem in Old English, the language spoken in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest. It tells the breathtaking story of a struggle between the hero, Beowulf, and a bloodthirsty monster called Grendel. Poems of this kind would often have been recited from memory by a court minstrel, or scop, to the accompaniment of a harp.

This fire-damaged manuscript is the only surviving copy of the story. It was written down in about 1000, but the poem may have been created by storytellers as early as the 700s.

…to the very recent (1970’s)…

Sniffin Glue, the first punk fanzine, was produced by Mark Perry in July 1976 a few days after seeing US punk band The Ramones for the first time at the Roundhouse in London. He took the title from a Ramones song ‘Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue’. Perry’s fanzine was the perfect punk form. It reported the moment immediately as it happened, from an insider’s point of view. Because Perry used everyday tools that were immediately to hand, Sniffin’ Glue fitted with the do-it-yourself ethos which was already an important part of punk culture. A flood of punk zines followed, with identifiable cut and paste graphics, typewritten or felt tip text, misspellings and crossings out. Photocopying also contributed to the punk zine look by limiting graphic experimentation to black and white tones and imagery based on collage, enlargement and reduction. Sniffin’ Glue demonstrated that anyone could easily, cheaply and quickly produce a fanzine.

…and with fascinating contextual call-outs, e.g.

Language in the 11th Century

The Normans transform England, both culturally and linguistically. For over 300 years French is the language spoken by the most powerful people – royalty, aristocrats and high-powered officials – some of whom can’t speak English at all. French is used in political documents, in administration, and in literature. Latin is still the language of the church and of scholars, but most of the general population speak English in their everday lives.

Thousands of French words become embedded in the English vocabulary, most of which are words of power, such as crown, castle, court, parliament, army, mansion, gown, beauty, banquet, art, poet, romance, chess, colour, duke, servant, peasant, traitor  and governor.

…it’s all there– the extraordinary pageant that is our language.

As we re-visit Dr.Johnson, we might recall that it was on this date in 1990 that National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded the Best New Artist Grammy to Milli Vanilli.  NARAS probably wishes that it could take back any number of Grammys awarded over the years; this is the only one they ever did.  Later that year German producer Frank Farian revealed that he had put the names and faces of the beauteous but voice-less Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan on the dance records he had created in his studio using actual (but less sightly) musicians. Four days later, Milli Vanilli’s Grammy honor was withdrawn.

Rob and Fab (source)

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