David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

03 September 2009

The Mystery of the Golden Frame

Late last night on SBS TV we watched the first half of the 2003 production of "The Mystery of the Yellow Room".
What fun, what wit!

The Mystery of the Yellow Room: Extraordinary Adventures of Joseph Rouletabille, Reporter (Le mystère de la chambre jaune) by Gaston Leroux, is one of the first locked room mystery crime fiction novels. It was first published in France in the periodical L'Illustration from September 1907 to November 1907, then in its own right in 1908.

It is the first novel starring fictional detective Joseph Rouletabille, and concerns a complex and seemingly impossible crime in which the criminal appears to disappear from a locked room. Leroux provides the reader with detailed, precise diagrams and floorplans illustrating the scene of the crime. The emphasis of the story is firmly on the intellectual challenge to the reader, who will almost certainly be hard pressed to unravel every detail of the situation.

( Wikipedia entry : click here )

CHAPTER VII. In Which Rouletabille Sets Out on an Expedition Under the Bed

Fabulous chapter headings. In this chapter, in the 2003 film version, we see reporter Rouletabille (Roulette Table? Roule ta Bille translates as Roll your Ball) examining his view of the world from under the bed. He is moved to exclaim, "The immensity of what we cannot see." (I noted it in my Moleskine (below): Rouletabille also makes notes in his Moleskine.)


Later, lest the import of this realisation might have escaped us, he repeats it to his photographer assistant. "The immensity of what we cannot see." What can a photographer of the visible do with that?

In Leroux's original, which can be read online here, this observation is given in the third person.

The reporter then reappeared. His eyes were sparkling and his nostrils quivered. He remained on his hands and knees. He could not be better likened than to an admirable sporting dog on the scent of some unusual game. And, indeed, he was scenting the steps of a man,—the man whom he has sworn to report to his master, the manager of the "Epoque." It must not be forgotten that Rouletabille was first and last a journalist.

Thus, on his hands and knees, he made his way to the four corners of the room, so to speak, sniffing and going round everything—everything that we could see, which was not much, and everything that we could not see, which must have been infinite.

Ah yes, the locked room genre : The Mystery of the Golden Frame

Mystery of the Golden Frame
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
someone looks at something . . .