Tuesday, 3 August 2010
The Royal Geographical Society was a particular treat for me because it related to my paper topic, the collections relating to Shackleton and Scott's expeditions to the Antarctic. The RGS was formed in the 19th century in order to promote exploration and geographical mapping. The current president is Michael Palin, one of the monty pythons he has done many travel documentaries including one in which he traveled around the world in eighty days.
Monday, 26 July 2010
As one of my additional posts I will describe my trip to the Globe theater. I went to see Henry IV-Part I which sounds dry but is really interesting and exciting (it is shakespeare afterall) and apparently is one of the best loved histories. Shakespeare wrote four plays that are sequential, Richard II, the two Henry IV plays, and Henry V which I didn't know. Going to see the play performed as Shakespeare had intended really opened my mind to how the plays were actually supposed to be seen and experienced. The first thing that I noticed was how the audience was actually a direct part of the performance, I was in the standing section (only £5 a ticket) which while difficult on my back occasionally for a three hour play, brought me into the full immersion of the story. This was the original 3D. Forget Avatar. The actors walk among you to get to the stage and there is a ministage inset to the crowd where action also takes place. Second humor plays a much larger part in the telling of the story. While we traditionally break his plays into either tragedy, comedy, or history (and also the so called problem plays and the Tempest described as a romance) so much of what happened even when it was serious elicited laughs. It just shows that people wanted to be entertained and to see a heightened version of reality, and this usually was followed by comedy. I had very dimly heard of the character of Sir John Falstaff but now am fully acquainted with him and the man who played him was brilliant. Now I want to read all of the four sequential plays and see them performed. huzzah!
Sunday, 25 July 2010
Saturday, 24 July 2010
I am indeed no longer in the nation of Scotland, but back in London. While a part of the country we know as the United Kingdom Scotland from what I saw in four days is distinctly its own nation. Our first visit was to the Scottish National Library where we walked through their various exhibits on Scottish history including an extensive one of that famous Scottish pastime golf. The Scottish landscape is ideal for the game of golf with its vast open spaces.
Then it was on to the Edinburgh Central Library right across the street from the Scottish National Archives. The Edinburgh Central Library is the public lending library for the city of Edinburgh, unlike the Scottish National Library which is a copyright library. The Central Library was funded by Andrew Carnegie and houses both a music library section and a large reading room. The library has branched out to other spaces surrounding the original library in order to accomodate its own growth.
Friday, 16 July 2010
Went to Oxford today by train, starting from Paddington station. Walked around for awhile before taking a tour of the oxford university reading library, both new and old. This image shows the original reading room which we walked through. We looked at an example of the original way books were stored, i.e. chained to the books. The way the books had to be clamped with the chain meant that in order to save space when shelving the books had to be faced with the binding facing towards the bookshelf wall, therefore numbers were written along the pages facing outward, probably easier visualized than explained, but it was interesting nonetheless. We went through a tunnel that connected the old and new library and saw the large conveyor belt that runs all through the underground of the oxford library allowing books to run from one section to the other to fulfill requests. The library does not allow users to take books out and this tradition extends far back. Charles I had an early experience with the limits of monarch power when even he was refused by the librarian to take a book out of the library. He was given some concessions and there remains two cubical walls that run along what are usually open benches where the King could read his books.