|I learned two new things last week.
||[Aug. 25th, 2014|09:32 pm]
A positive review in the Guardian sent me to the iPlayer to watch Vienna 1908, the first of a series of three programmes in which someone called James Fox explores a particular year in a particular city which he sees as crucial to the development of the modern world. So we have Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, the Café Central where Freud, Hitler and Trotsky were all regulars... Tom Stoppard spotted a similar constellation in Zurich in 1917, in Travesties, and I am resistant to the argument that a particular place and time have some sort of magical significance: Vienna in 1908, poised between the past and the future... Well, yes, that's where you'll generally find the present.
I kept wanting to argue: I wasn't convinced by his reading of Klimt's The Kiss, and are Freud's explanations still viewed as 'discoveries'? Despite - or maybe because of - this general scepticism, I enjoyed the programme: so many interesting people, so many pretty pictures. I'll be back for 'Paris, 1928' next week.
One of those interesting people was a writer called Else Jerusalem. The programme told me a number of things I hadn't known about a number of people, but she was the one who was entirely new to me: a woman from a Jewish family who, refused admission as a student of the University, managed to study unofficially, a crusading novelist who wrote a best-seller about prostitution called The Red House. This made me feel very ignorant, and I was confident the internet would be full of information, but no: Gutenberg knows nothing of her, the only Wikipedia entry I can find is in German, there's a ridiculously cryptic entry on Amazon.
Random almost relevant fact: the Venus of Willendorf was discovered in 1908 (and is now in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna).
The second thing I learned was something I really should have known, and had somehow managed not to: the Black Gate - the last remnant of the defences of the Castle in Newcastle-upon-Tyne - is called the Black Gate because in the seventeenth century it was leased by a man called Black.