The University of Glasgow's French Emblems project hosts thousands of 16th century woodcuts and etchings. The archive boasts an unusually thorough metadata scheme, allowing you to browse cryptic images of beards, birds in cages, pointed fingers, triumphal conquerors, and fabulous animals, among many other categories. [more inside]
It's pretty widely known that there have never been snakes in Ireland, so who did Saint Patrick chase out? The case has been made that the story of Saint Patrick chasing out druids (snake-tattooed pagans) is also a myth (and Patrick wasn't even Irish). But that doesn't mean there are no reptiles in Ireland. The only native land-based reptile is the viviparous lizard, though there are other reptiles that are semi-inhabitants of Ireland. And this brings us to the the amateur survey of Ireland's lizards, newts, frogs and slow worms, one of a number of such surveys hosted by Biology.ie, "Ireland's premier Biodiversity Awareness portal."
This 1987 live-action film version of an allegorical fantasy by Swedish children's author Astrid Lindgren was co-produced by Swedish, Norwegian, and Soviet filmmakers; shot in Sweden, Scotland, and the USSR; and starred a mixed British/Russian/Swedish cast. Among others, it featured confirmed wizard Christopher Lee and an adolescent Christian "This Isn't a Car" Bale, and was scored by Abba's Benny Andersson. [more inside]
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
The Roman de la Rose Digital Library intends "to create an online library of all manuscripts containing the Roman de la Rose poem." The site currently offers illustrations, transcriptions, and bibliographical data for over one hundred manuscripts. One of the most influential poems of the Middle Ages, the Roman de la Rose was authored in part by Guillaume de Lorris, in part by Jean de Meun (who stepped in four decades later to finish it). Depending on which author is at work, the poem offers very different takes on its allegory of courtly love. The Roman de la Rose soon crossed the Channel as The Romaunt of the Rose, which may or may not be a translation by Geoffrey Chaucer. Notably, the poem's attitude to women spawned what came to be known as the "Quarrel of the Rose," led by Christine de Pizan (in French). In its long afterlife, the poem's influence has been felt everywhere from tapestry to pre-Raphaelite painting to allegorical gardens.