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Posts Tagged ‘Toronto University’

La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896).  Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896). Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

I’ve always been impressed by the (first and second wave) Pre-Raphaelites’ many talents. They were not just artists, and as a lifelong student of languages (medieval languages in particular), William Morris’ work in translating Old French and Old Norse romances and epics, is of particular interest. When I first began researching the use of original medieval works by the Pre-Raphaelites, I was focusing more on such use in their art. Morris’ only painting, of Janey Morris as La Belle Iseult, is an obvious example (look to the left). (more…)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Readers mine, I live in Scotland once again! Life since May began has been decidedly hectic, when I handed in my notice to Sotheby’s Institute of Art, where I have been the Assistant Librarian since January 2008, within a week of returning from France (the two events are not causally related, merely temporally adjacent). Since leaving work at the end of June, I was packing up and saying “Cheerio, not goodbye!” to the six and half years of my London life, and for just over a week now I have since been living in Scotland once again. I didn’t leave the Institute to work elsewhere in London; I left it as part of a larger change in lifestyle. Having been asking myself the question “where do I want my life to be, in the main?”, for a couple of years now, and the obvious follow-up question, “what then must I do to achieve that?”, moving to Scotland was the first part of the answer. It’s about life, not just about work. London was never a permanent move, I always knew that, and I cannot express how strongly I disagree with Samuel Johnson’s famous quote as given below

when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

There is a significant difference between not wanting to live in London and being tired of it. It’s always accessible, always there, and I’ll never stop visiting it. I’ll never stop missing my friends who live there. But there is so much to do, so much to see, here in Scotland. Besides, I needed to get back before September 18, after which the borders will of course be closed :). I jest, of course, but it’s definitely an interesting year to be in Scotland, and I want to be able to have a say in the future of my country. (more…)

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My final Canadian blog post. For this trip at least, she says optimistically. There is so much still to see, and I found it really hard to leave Toronto today. But if you’re not sorry to leave a place, you just can’t have done it right, surely? (more…)

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I had promised myself the treat of going to the Royal Ontario Museum tonight as a reward for giving my conference paper today. While browsing through the museum shop, I found the full-size version of these: sword umbrellas! Which unfortunately I don’t think will fit in my suitcase otherwise I’d have bought one immediately. The Museum itself was great – I did stumble upon the medieval Europe collections but managed to reorient myself to get back to Canada and its history. (more…)

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The Maid of the Mist is a small double-decker boat that heads pluckily into the Horsehoe Falls, getting so close that for several minutes all you can see is the spray of the waterfalls. The fetching blue raincoats are handed out as you head to the boat, and are surprisingly tricky to wear. They keep filling with air, to the point where from a distance we must have looked like a boatload of oversized blueberries. I cannot recommend the boatride highly enough. You travel a good distance along the river, stopping at the American Falls before reaching the larger Horseshoe Falls. The commentary included stories about those foolhardy souls (or lunatics, depending on your worldview) who literally went over the falls in a barrel. Annie Taylor – then aged 63 – was the first to try this out, in 1901. For some reason, a book I looked at later in the gift shop was particularly thrilled about the fact that she succeeded in her endeavour while wearing a skirt. Perhaps bets were placed at the time equating the likelihood of success with her choice of wardrobe on the day. (more…)

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Two weeks today, I’m not sure where I’ll be, even when I’ll be.  Somewhere, somewhen between the UK and Canada, perhaps already in Canada.  The Ninth International Conference of the Book starts on 14 October, at the University of Toronto. I’m working on a paper comparing libraries, gardens and religious buildings, looking at the boundaries between such places and the outside world.

I’ve never been to Canada before, and it is thanks to a bursary from CILIP’s John Campbell Trust, and the support of my employers, that I am able to make this trip. The John Campbell Trust exists to help librarians learn more about their profession, with the expectation that they then disseminate their findings and experiences to their peers, professional community and outside communities as seems appropriate. I’ve set up a blog as a way of telling people about this trip – before, during, and after.

I hope that through this blog I’ll have some company on my travels.

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