The couture line that Balenciaga launched this summer is another thing that has permanent residency in my brain. I think that what Demna [Gvasalia, creative director] is doing with sculpture and architecture through fashion is some of the most interesting theatre of our time. It’s like a marriage of Romantic and gothic style – it’s a bit ecclesiastical, almost monastic, and I want it all. There’s this really wonderful circular headpiece that feels like: “I’m going to service, but in the year 3021.”
A 1634 copy of Shakespeare’s The Two Noble Kinsmen unearthed by Professor John Stone at the University of Salamanca in September was, until very recently, considered the oldest preserved edition of one of the great English playwright’s works in Spain.
But it has just been trumped by the recent discovery of an even older volume, this time Shakespeare’s The Famous History of the Life of Henry VIII, found in the library of a private school in Seville.
The discovery was made after Luis Rey Goñi, the principal at San Francisco de Paula International School, walked past the two security doors guarding the library’s rare books section to personally check the date of the edition of a Shakespeare play that he knew to be kept there: it was published two years earlier, in 1632.
This rare edition of the famous play was being stored in a special archive along with documents dating from the 13th to 18th centuries, but it had gone unnoticed since its acquisition.
But Luis Rey Goñi is very familiar with the contents of his school’s library collection, which is one of the most extensive in Seville. “This work is a second edition, and it is probably more highly regarded than the first [from 1623], since it contains more elements,” he says.
But how did it wind up at the school? The school principal is unable to determine the details of the book’s purchase, but attributes its presence to the school’s tradition of collecting volumes of great value for its library. “Acquisitions have been made over the years,” he says. “The collection has been enriched with time. We have always given a lot of importance to the library. The first editions of the Generation of 27 [an influential group of Spanish poets between 1923 and 1927] were purchased as soon as they were published. A school, in our opinion, should be a repository of culture and encourage the generation and accumulation of knowledge.”
The play was part of the so-called First Folio, a collection of 36 Shakespeare plays. With the exception of Pericles, Prince of Tyre; The Two Noble Kinsmen, and the two lost plays, Cardenio and Love’s Labour’s Won, the volume brings together almost all of Shakespeare’s works, including Henry VIII which was separated from the rest when it was taken to Seville.
The San Francisco de Paula library has around 60,000 volumes, which are stored in both the library area and in an archive outside the school. “We have other curious books, such as works by Lope de Vega and encyclopedias,” says the director. “The oldest printed document we have is from 1472. But there are also earlier manuscripts, such as one of the Conceded Privileges by Alfonso X, dated 1256. The majority of the volumes are in Spanish, English, French, and Latin, although there are rare volumes in other languages, such as a manuscript from Burma [present-day Myanmar]. I don’t think there is an antique collection of this caliber in any other school library in Spain.”
The private school is located in the historic center of Seville, and was founded in 1886. Its library, named after former student Francisco Márquez Villanueva, has 12 rooms where the rule of silence can be broken in the event of debate. “Reading is the basis of knowledge, curiosity and research,” says the principal. “We want to encourage debate among students, and more and more of them are doing it. The goal is enjoyment, and reading is a wonderful way to get that.”
The library loans out around 3,000 books per month to parents, students and alumni. “We even have to keep reminding one of our students not to read when he’s coming down the stairs!”says Joao, one of the six librarians who work there.
On my radar: Moses Sumney’s cultural highlights
theguardian– Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, 29, grew up between Ghana and California and studied creative writing and poetry at UCLA. His piercing falsetto and genre-defying music have brought him critical acclaim, starting with his self-recorded 2014 EP Mid-City Island, followed in 2017 by his debut album, Aromanticism, and the 2020 double album Græ. Sumney has collaborated with musicians including Bon Iver and James Blake and toured with Solange and Sufjan Stevens. His latest project is Blackalachia, a self-directed concert film created in association with WePresent, shot over two days in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, where he lives.
Selling Sunset (Netflix)
I pity anyone who hasn’t seen this show. It’s a reality show about a real estate agency in west Hollywood, and it follows the lives and deals of the people who work there, predominantly the female staff who are all ridiculously Barbie-ish – essentially “career Barbie on crack”. It’s incredible. I love reality TV – it tells us a lot about humanity. Reality shows are always inherently dated, so they’re a great capsule of the modern era.
Don’t Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty by Yeule
I don’t know what it is about this song, but I’m addicted to it. Yeule is a Singaporean artist based in London who’s kind of new on the scene, and this song is just so hypnotising – it hints and winks at hyperpop while being an absolutely heart-shattering folk tune. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of a lot of different genres, and it’s stunning. I have a lot of playlists – for driving, for chilling at night, a morning playlist, a folk playlist – and this is in all of them.
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
I’m currently reading this – I put off reading it because it looks like a self-help book – but it’s really fascinating. The author is an artist who works largely in digital art and the book is about how to free yourself from the capitalist trappings of the workforce – not necessarily saying “quit your job”, but suggesting a new path for work. It asks the question: how can we construct our identities apart from defining ourselves by what we do and by our income? It’s a very radical book, and it’s often a hard read. But it has been mind-shifting.
Western North Carolina
I’ve been travelling a lot for work, so I’ve been thinking about how much I would prefer to spend my time in western North Carolina, particularly in the mountains, where I live. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I first arrived in Asheville when I was on tour and knew immediately I wanted to live here. You turn around, 360 degrees in any direction, and you’re surrounded by trees, by the sound of animals, and that’s really a rare feeling for anyone who’s spent most of their life, as I have, living in the city.
Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997)
This stars a young Jurnee Smollett, who recently had a resurgence with Lovecraft Country. She’s 10 years old in the film, which is set in a fictional small town in Louisiana. Samuel L Jackson stars as the patriarch of the family, who is maybe cheating on his wife, his daughter sets out to kill him and punish him, perhaps through witchcraft. It was incredibly critically acclaimed and subsequently snubbed by every major award ceremony. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking film. I first saw it last year and I think about it every day.
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Hong Kong’s famous Tiananmen Square ‘Pillar of Shame’ statue removed from university
Il Divo singer Carlos Marin dies aged 53
bbc– Il Divo’s Carlos Marin has died aged 53, the classical group has announced.
Marin would be “missed by his friends, family and fans”, a statement on social media said. “There will never be another voice or spirit like Carlos.”
The group had said they were praying for Marin’s recovery after he was admitted to hospital this month leading them to postpone a UK Christmas tour.
The male quartet was brought together by Simon Cowell in 2003 and achieved three UK number one albums.
Marin was born in Germany, but moved to Spain at the age of 12 and was a baritone in the group, performing alongside tenors Urs Buhler and David Miller, and pop singer Sebastien Izambard.
“Singing is my way of saying what I feel, my way of life,” he is quoted as saying on the group’s website.
“Singing is what makes me feel alive, so thank you for letting me continue making a living from what I love.”
Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Marin had been taken ill during the UK tour and placed into an induced coma at a hospital in Manchester. The nature of his illness has not been disclosed.
Il Divo’s international composition helped them achieve notable success across several worldwide tours.
Their hits included Regresa a Mi (Unbreak My Heart), The Time Of Our Lives, and I Believe In You – a duet with Celine Dion – as well as a version of Adele’s Hello.
They sold more than 30 million records, and had 160 gold and platinum discs across more than 33 countries, the group’s website said.
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