Pan(ic)demic

  What is terror? Is it that flash of white phosphorescent light that started in the innards and exploded soundlessly? First, a seizure quickened the pulse and the muscles of the heart, and then it dried the mouth, propelling every sinew, every nerve of the four limbs into a rush of running. It is definitely…

Chekhov and Love

Chekhov's (1860-1904) love stories are not romantic accounts of unrequited love or of love at first sight. Or, even of tortured love that is amplified by the agony of being unfulfilled. No, these are Chekhovian tales that surprise and intrigue our imagination. Chekhov, exactly like Ibsen, knows his characters very well. He knows them well…

Death on the Track

My journey back from Hebden Bridge this past Monday was eventful. I had risen early for me, at 6:15 am, in time to get to the train station catch the 07:08 for Manchester. This part of the journey went well. I hurried from Manchester Victoria station to Manchester Piccadilly station and was just in time…

The Journey In My Head

  In 1931, probably in November, Bernardo Soares daydreamed during ‘the journey between Cascais and Lisbon’. He said I went to Cascais in order to pay the tax on a house my boss Vasques owns in Estoril. I looked forward eagerly to the trip, an hour there and an hour back, a chance to watch…

Alphonse Daudet & The Phenomenology Of Pain

  Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897), novelist, playwright, and journalist, contracted syphilis at the age of 17 years, shortly after arriving in Paris in 1857. Syphilis was the HIV of the 19th century. Literary men such as Baudelaire, Flaubert and Maupassant were all afflicted and syphilis was central to Ibsen’s Ghosts and of peripheral importance in Doll’s…

Chekhov in Siberia

  In 1890 Anton Chekhov set off for Sakhalin to conduct a census of the prison and exile population of the island. He was 30 years old at the time and was already suffering from tuberculosis. His letters and the publication of The Island: A Journey to Sakhalin remain compelling documents of the trip, even…