Saturday, November 12, 2005

Department of nationalist corrections

Friday's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd), on the "Taste" Page:

Even the Belgian government's own Web site admits: "From 1530 until 1800, two names only deserve mention as concerns French-speaking literature." The country's Flemish half didn't exactly pick up the slack: Only four Dutch-speaking writers merited a mention. In England, meanwhile, just one nine-year span in the 16th century saw the births of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne and Jonson.

Since becoming the last Western European country to gain its independence in 1830, Belgium has been somewhat more prolific.

We can think of a Western European country that got its independence after 1830 and has the Belgians beaten on literary output as well.

And then there's last Sunday's New York Times (yes, we know there's a lapse of time before we got around to it, pesky work commitments). It's an article (subs. maybe req'd) about Nik Cohn, unlikely impresario of New Orleans hip-hop, which God knows could use one right now, but there's a discussion of his unusual upbringing:

Mr. Cohn was born in 1946, the son of Norman Cohn, a historian with a cult following among British university students. In Nik's childhood, his family relocated from London to Londonderry (sic), in Northern Ireland, where he was an outsider top to bottom: in his words, an "Anglo-Irish Russian German South African Jew caught up in the tribal war between Protestant and Catholic, equally unacceptable to both."

Cold and unforgiving, Londonderry (sic) was the opposite of New Orleans

OK, that feels better.

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