THE WESTERN CANON
I am instigating a paradigm shift in The Western Canon, with a new age post James Joyce, and the desecration of the logos in 'Finnegans Wake', with the reintroduction of the figure of Beatrice, in conjunction with two new literary creations, twin daughters, conceived with Dante, when their souls communed in Heaven after their deaths: April and Vocatio.
The literary figure of April, also, a new form of Shakespeare's 'dark lady' of the sonnets, is now
as important in World Literature as Beatrice herself. Vocatio, her younger twin sister, whose guardian is Boethius, author of 'The Consolation of Philosophy', has been entrusted with a
unique vocation in Heaven: to pray for the souls of priests and religious, that they become pure
and holy, and truthful and honourable. In this way, I hope to access and honour Dante's sense of the sublime. This purely theocentric writing, without a personal agenda, began in earnest, with
'The Christ Sonnets', written when I was 31, which built on themes, already touched upon, in my novel 'Christ'. The formal basis for rebuilding the logos was established in Sonnet IV:
I have unsheathing tweaked and cut, Rouse, that first florid
Effulgency, my first forestation of overflow, lampooningly long,
Of my first sensation of high-rearing newness; one along,
Unyearning for the yearly of first unsheathing leasing;
Ungradual, my curling leaves, flit, Graduale Romanum,
Or, long held Officium Divinum, where pranced Franciscan
Lightened brown of dancing figure, Psalmist's Psalms harp David,
Strummed, those lyring leaves; for, some motion of animating
Choir-monking arcing, the Dominican of studying tercity is an
Education of gooding music, fast inducted to the white habits
Paired, under the cowling, well-greeted black; the music will be pure
Heard again rewooded; past, I abjure all construct of some girling failure:
This is, swooning Joyce, only time, good, whole, logos language stratified
Unethereal, logos-language's resurrection, post Finnegans Wake, vine sonnetry.
'The Christ Sonnets', IV Grattan.
I am introducing two, new, wholly dominant and commanding figures in World Literature, to
wash away, "riverrun" Joyce and the Age of Chaos, and his idea of man and woman in 'Finnegans Wake', Humphrey Chumpden Earwicker (HCE), and Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP), in order to to return full dignity to the human condition: Andrew and April, Prior and Queen of modern day Florence, and 'the library' & 'the librarian' of The Western Canon.
'The Christ Colloquy', is an epic poem, literary "gospel" and didactic summa in seven books,
for William Shakespeare's 'Seven Ages of Man', post James Joyce and the desecration of the logos in 'Finnegans Wake'. 'The Christ Colloquy' is also, a complete theory of the Literature
of The Western Canon, based on Shakespeare's DNA double helix, at the centre of the Canon, which is symbolized, by the concrete reality, of 'Shakespeare's Staircase', the actual metal, spiral staircase, at the core of The British Institute of Florence, the spine of the new poem, paired with the Santa Scala, in Rome, which in turn, are paired with, 'Jacob's Ladder'.
Upon his death, in Ravenna, in 1321, Dante's soul, communed with the soul of Beatrice in Heaven, and April was conceived as an angelic essence, in essentia, as 'the librarian' of The Western Canon, in honour of Our Lady, and as a link, between Dante and Shakespeare, the 'child of April', born and died in April. Upon his beheadal, in London, in 1535, Thomas More's soul, communed with the soul of St. John in Heaven, and Andrew was conceived as an angelic essence, in essentia, as 'the library' of The Western Canon, in honour of the Logos.
Together, 'the library' and 'the librarian', oversee the ages and development, of The Western Canon: the Theocratic, Aristocratic, Democratic and Chaotic Ages, and the New Theocratic Age, with the King James Version of the Bible, as the centrepiece, and More's 'Utopia', as the handbook of the Canon. The pair, were installed in 'the manger of light', a secondary manger, or Moses basket of straw, created in honour of the Blessed Virgin, constructed by cherubim and seraphim in Heaven, their response, to the incarnation of an infant servant Saviour King, Jesus, being born in a stable in Bethlehem, and lain upon a bed of straw. This basket, placed on the sanctuary of Heaven, is the complete opposite, of the golden casket described in Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice', (Act II: Scene VII), and is composed of fibres of gold straw, splinters of 'utopian gold', referencing the remarkable use of gold recorded in More's 'Utopia', the straw, also being the opposite, of Milton's "wretched scrannel pipes of straw" in his monody, 'Lycidas'.
Andrew and April, actually subsume and eclipse, Dante and Beatrice, as a courtly love couple.
April, was conceived in the soul of Beatrice, anticipating her eventual birth by her human mother. Andrew, whose sponsor is More, was set on a converging course, to encounter her
in Florence at the age of 'the pilgrim', 35, in order for the new pupil to accompany the master, through Dante's Inferno, as it is in 2013, as 'the eternal pilgrim' at 40, and compose the
colloquy to become the new 'sommo poeta', in the new, companion 'Commedia' of 2013.
At the conclusion of the seven books, seven, for the seven years of exile, from the age of
28-35, Andrew becomes Prior administrator of the newly ratified papal state of Florence, a permanent deacon, and forms the Order of the Vine, a new religious order of active monks. April becomes Queen of Florence, a Marian handmaiden and forms the Aprilians, an active order of nuns, and they govern modern day Florence from the Guicciardini tower, as a new, utopian, Papal State under the protection of the Holy Spirit and the Holy See in Rome.
Easter Sunday occurred on 31 March in 2013, and the new 'Commedia' concludes on Easter Monday at midnight, 1 April, when a new dynasty and blood-line is founded, The House of
April, in honour of Shakespeare, who was born and died in April, on St George's day, April's blood-line; and a new, thirteenth tribe of Israel for modern day Florence, The tribe of April, Andrew's blood-line, in honour of the April-Jesus, the resurrect Jesus of Easter Monday.
They both die as saints, and return to 'the manger of light' in Heaven.
In my work, I hope, thus, to engage with other, more worldly ideas of authority, love, position and power explored in other literary classics, for example, Spenser's 'The Faerie Queene' and Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice', as well as 'The Divine Comedy' itself. Andrew and April, are contrasted, as a new couple in World Literature with both Dante and Beatrice and Darcy and Elizabeth, and other, worldly ideas of success and happiness. The ideal of a sublime, and personally transforming Roman Catholic marriage, is carefully explored through the means of refining the ideas explored in More's much debated 'Utopia'.
In 'Eucharist', Milton's Adam and Eve are contrasted with miles Christi, the soldier of Christ,
who vanquishes Milton's Satan on the roof of St Peter's on Judgement Day in Rome, with the
spear of light, and Sarah, the new Eve, a bride of the Old Testament, named afer Abraham's Sarah in the Book of Genesis, whom he marrries in the ruins of St Peter's. Milton's fallen Adam and Eve, are paralleled by a perfect couple, post Judgement Day, who never fall, evaluating Miltonic ideas of love before and after the Fall of Man, concupiscence, and the true nature of equal, Roman Catholic marriage, development and fulfilment, for both husband and wife.
In 'Crucifix', Andreas and Catherine, two university academics, court in propriety and dignity, before marrying at the end of the novel in a Roman Catholic nuptial mass, at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, and their pure, intellectual and spiritual union, contrasts with the relationship between Molly and Leopold Bloom in 'Ulysses'.
'We want 'Ulysses' consigned to the dustbin of history, Dr Christianus'. 'Crucifix', Praescriptio, Grattan.
'Crucifix' flashed through his brain, and Joyce's 'Ulysses', was blown away, and burned, in the fireflies of Inferno'. 'Crucifix', Chapter I: Palm Sunday, Grattan.
(PALM SUNDAY: Literary Rome) MONDAY: Classical Rome
TUESDAY: Christian Rome WEDNESDAY: the Rome of Faith & Pilgrimage
MAUNDY THURSDAY: St Peter's & the Vatican GOOD FRIDAY: The Triduum
HOLY SATURDAY: The Triduum EASTER SUNDAY: The Triduum: Romans & Tourists
'I must and will escape 'Ulysses', he thought, 'and overhaul it, with a supremely meaningful novel, and also, the greatest canonical novel, to ever grace the Western Canon. Austen is supremely stylish; Joyce, just intellectually and technically dazzling. Eliot and Dickens are worthy; Proust and Tolstoy, weighty historical authors, but certainly ancillary'.
Crucifix rapidly bloomed in his intellect, dwarfing Ulysses. 'Corpus Christi', Chapter X, p.297, Grattan.
I have developed the figure of Dr Andreas Christianus, who unites Joyce's Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom in a mature synthesis. As the best academic on staff at King's College,
London, a Senior Lecturer, primarily a Miltonist, but specializing too, later on, in his career,
in Dante, and Roman Catholicism and World Literature, he receives a commission to write a technically and intellectually supreme novel for the Western Canon.
Dr Christianus selects the title 'Crucifix', to escape the depiction of life portrayed by Joyce in
'Ulysses', and readily selects the city of Rome and the Seven Days of Holy Week for the argument. Seven, sublime 'Holyweekdays' in 2018 set 'Ulysses' in it's modernist context.
A subtext in the novel, is his academic career at King's. An academic title, 'Wood Imagery
and the Cross of Christ in the Western Canon' is being prepared, while he also inaugurates
New Humanism in memory of Petrarch, Erasmus and More. The School of Concretism, a new school of critical theory founded in honour of Dr. Johnson, examines the impact of great genius
upon lesser writers of the Western Canon.
The King's academic, also works for the Pontifical Council for Culture, as a special advisor to
the Holy See on the theological significance of the life and work of Dante Alighieri, and the true nature of the greyhound in 'The Divine Comedy'. Dante's greyhound, in tandem with the book of 'The Christ Colloquy' itself, can be established, as being an untruthfully exiled,
ex-English Benedictine novice monk, who also experienced courtly love in Florence, as Dante recorded in 'La Vita Nuova', becoming a postulant at Anne Hathaway's age of 'sweet and twenty-six', as Joyce termed it in 'Ulysses', and, who entered the 'selva opaca', or 'light wood',
of the Adonai Abbey wooden choir-stalls, at the same age Thomas More, left the direct influence of the Carthusians and the Charterhouse, before meeting April in Florence at the defining age of 35. The new, eternal 'sommo poeta', the greyhound, combines in his identity, Can Grande della Scala, one of Dante's patrons in exile, Henry VII, and, the dominant and strong personality of Dante himself. The greyhound is capable of writing a new literary 'gospel'.
For this new age in The Western Canon, I am providing a new, counterpart world view, in a fully processed, experience of courtly love in Florence, secondary, to that of Dante and Beatrice. Dante's often excessive "idolatry" of Beatrice, and the familiar pairing of Dante and Beatrice, is being complemented, by the new pairing of Andrew and April, who are equal in the poem, as man and woman, both as a double monastery, and Dominican co-operator brothers. I have also 'corrected' and reimagined, Dante's harshness, and excessive zeal for politics, by filtering him through Cardinal Newman's Idea of Conscience and More's 'Utopia'.
For this new period, I have selected the Catherine wheel to mirror and honour the shape of the
Cross. I am placing a new figure, Catherine of Alexandria, a virgin martyr and bride of Christ, at the very centre of a revised Western Canon, with a second Catherine, a Roman Catholic mother, and a third Catherine, portrayed in 'Crucifix', either side her, a formation, mirroring the Holy Trinity, as the three principle Marian handmaidens before Our Lady in Heaven.
Returned upon their deaths, to 'the manger of light', Andrew and April, are received by their
intellectual and spiritual sponsors, Beatrice Portinari and Thomas More, under Christ on the Cross, and the INRI inscription, the wooden arms of the Cross, being honoured and glorified, by the joined wooden arms of the library shelf and the choirwood shelf.
Dante's Dante and Beatrice Andrew's Andrew and April
Milton's Adam and Eve Grattan's miles Christi and Sarah
Joyce's Leopold and Molly Grattan's Andreas and Catherine
as it is in
The Christ Sonnets
Written at the Pontifical Irish College, in Rome at the age of 31, these sonnets, a collection
of 150, are shot through, with what Harold Bloom once termed the "anxiety of influence". Some are highly autobiographical, with sequences addressed to Dante, Shakespeare, Milton and Joyce; others, are composed on themes such as Christ's Baptism and the Resurrection; others, are dedicated to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They tell of the genesis of the soul of a new poet, Andrew 'of the wood', who dedicates his God-given talent, to singing for the Cross of Christ sole, above any, political or personal agenda.
The Occasional Sonnets
I have a collection of three secondary sonnet sequences which cover a variety of themes, from saluting Andrew Marvell's relationship with John Milton, to poems on diverse occasions, for example, a sonnet 'On the Origin of St John's Gospel'. The collection begins with a meditation on exile: 'On His High Exile: anno aetatis 35', which explores the nature of my relationhsip with Dante, and the harsh pain of exile.
The Roman Observatory
Sourced from news articles recorded in 'L'Osservatore Romano', the official newspaper of the Vatican, these sonnets cover national events and debates globally, and are a counter-statement to both Dante's and Milton's consuming interest in politics, by being purely poetic compositions, designed merely to record, rather than influence. They cover papal visits to foreign countries, new publications by the Vatican, and events in Rome, such as important papal audiences and visitations.
The Aprilian Sonnets
Written in an attempt to engage with great sonnet sequences form the past, especially those of the great humanist poet Petrarch, who wrote of his beloved Laura, and also Sir Philip Sidney's celebrated 'Astrophel and Stella', these are an attempt to unite with one of the
greatest mediums of poetical expression, and to forge something new in the medium, in order to break away entirely, from the Age of Chaos, and return to the preoccupations of truly great and immortal World Literature: sonnet sequences. This is a sonnet sequence addressed to Our Lady, the theotokos of the April Jesus.