Wilhelm von Shadow: detail of fresco of the wise and foolish virgins. Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main.

sixty-seven (The wise and foolish virgins)

The parable of the ten virgins (also known as the parable of the wise and foolish virgins) was enormously popular during the Middle Ages. There are sculptures of the virgins in many French and German cathedrals, including the Notre Dame de Paris and Strasbourg Cathedral. Bach’s chorale cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns … Continue reading

Author : nike
Ellie Davies 'Into the Woods'

sixty-six (torchlight)

Last weekend, I had the enormous privilege of being part of a writer’s event with Kylie Kaden. During Kylie’s interview, she spoke about being a pantser, rather than a plotter, and used the metaphor of driving at night with your headlights on, or walking through the forest with a torch, as a … Continue reading

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What happens when straight men write about lesbian experience ...

The first straw man (on writing about Others)

On September 8, Lionel Shriver gave a keynote address at the Brisbane Writers Festival that galvanised several people into action, commentary and anger. Yassmin Abdel-Magied walked out of the session and wrote about her reasons for doing so. Others have written in defence of what they saw as Shriver’s key … Continue reading

Author : nike
Comments : 8 Comments

‘Richilde’ by Johann Karl August Musäus’s (as translated by William Thomas Beckford)

Perhaps the earliest literary (or written) version of the tale English speakers know as ‘Snow White’ appears in a collection of German folktales that precedes the Grimms’ first publication, in 1812, by about thirty years. In 1782, Johann Karl August Musäus published his Volksmärchen der Deutschen, an early collection of German folktales … Continue reading

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Corinna Sargood illustration for Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales


Sermerssuaq was so powerful that she could lift a kayak on the tips of three fingers. She could kill a seal merely by drumming on its head with her fists. She could rip asunder a fox or hare. Once she arm-wrestled with Qasordlanguaq, another powerful woman, and beat her so … Continue reading

Filed under : Fairy Tales , On Reading
Author : nike

sixty-five (sarasponda)

In 1747 the oldest daughter of a family named Valter had a child, a little girl, who died before her ninth birthday. Nobody remembers what she died of, or why she became a ghost, but there are various stories. Oma told my mother that she believed it was something to do with … Continue reading

Author : nike
Comments : 2 Comments
Picasso's Weeping Woman

sixty-four (1986/suffering machines)

The year of the fire tiger, which should mean that you rise upward: your energy is expansive. Halley’s comet reached its perihelion (its closest point to the sun), during its second visit to our solar system of the last 100 years. Bob Hawke was prime minister, and looked a lot … Continue reading

Author : nike
Actius luna (luna moth)

sixty-three (Actias luna)

The boat slowed and eased towards the shore. The torch that the captain was holding illuminated the truck on the shore and the waiting men, each of them holding a rifle. The soldiers were surrounded by enormous moths, with white wings, their wings flashing reflected light. A magical cloud, attracted to the … Continue reading

Author : nike
Rapeseed (Brassica napus) from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen

sixty-two (tongue. key)

I was born by the side of the road in a year nobody remembers. Meaning not that nobody remembers that year, but that nobody who was there when I was born recorded the fact of my birth, or recalls it, or is still alive. Except for my sister. I don’t … Continue reading

Author : nike
A Finnish man selling wind knots to a group of sailors in Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus, by Olaus Magnus (1555).

Wind Knots and the Polychronicon

The Polychronicon is a chronicle of the British Isles, written by Ranulf Higden (c. 1280-1364), a Benedictine monk of the monastery of St. Werburgh in Chester. Ranulf apparently travelled throughout the north of Great Britain after becoming a monk in 1299, when he was just nineteen years old. The Polychronicon is a work in seven books (in imitation of … Continue reading

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