Posts Tagged ‘History’

Là-bas (The Damned)

In Novel on March 25, 2008 at 12:19 am


The Damned/Là-bas (1891)

Author: Joris-Karl Huysmans
Publisher: Penguin Classic
Pages: 320 pages
I had this book on my Amazon wish list for a long time even though I didn’t know much about it except for it to be about Gilles de Rais and satanism. When I visited the fascinating Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris and saw the interesting show on author J.K. Huysmans’s fin de siècle (turn-of-the-century) writings in relation to Moreau’s fin de siècle paintings, I finally picked it up.

There’s not much of a plot to this book, in fact it reads more like nonfiction sometimes. But the subject matter is interesting and shocking for its time, hence quite a page turner. The novel starts with the author’s rambling on his dislike for Naturalism through the main character Durtal, a 19th century man bored with unromantic modern life and delved into writing a biography on Gilles de Rais, who’s also known as the “Blue Beard,” the world first known “serial killer” who tortured, raped and killed more than five hundred young boys during the Middle ages. A large part of the novel devoted to Durtal’s biography on Gilles, chronicling his role in aiding Joan of Arc to the very horrific atrocities he committed for Satanism. Dural also attempted to explain “how an honest soldiers and a decent Christian, could suddenly turn into an evil, cowardly, sacrilegious sadist.” These parts are the most captivating parts of the novel. It’s a good source to learn about Gilles de Rais and the medieval time. The author offered some interesting views on the matter through the characters.

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The Bloody Countess

In History on January 1, 2005 at 3:28 am

The Bloody Countess: The Atrocities of Erzsébet Báthory
Author: Valentine Penrose
Release Date: Sep 2000
Publisher: Creation Books
Pages: 189

Erzsébet Báthory, the beautiful 17th century Hungarian Countess who tortured and killed more than 600 girls and bathed in their blood, was not as widely known as the infamous Vlad the Impaler (immortalized as Dracula by Bram Stroker), nevertheless she was a popular gothic icon in horror stories (especially in Japan!? ^^;;). I’ve read dozen of Erzsébet Báthory-inspired characters in girly horror manga when I was young. Horrible but fascinating figure…

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Occult History of the Third Reich (1998)

In Documentary, History on October 11, 2004 at 6:32 am


This documentary film attempted to examine Nazism from a different angle: the occult and mysticism. Interesting as it sounds, the production of this documentary itself is very very POOR! It’s just bunch of slap-together filler footages that has nothing to do with narrations, most of them were from the Hitler propaganda Triumph of the Will. Wagner’s music is playing as background music to give the sinister, Darth Vader evil-empire impression. A little graphic diagrams and captions would have help, especially since it talks often about symbols. This is a 3-parts series and I only watched the first disc The Enigma of the Swastika because I read from review that the next two are just repeating the same idea over and over again. Overall it does offer some interesting alternative understanding of the belief systems that rooted Nazism.

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Celluloid Closet (1995)

In Documentary, History on October 10, 2004 at 7:01 pm


Interesting eye-opening documentary on the portrayal of homosexuality in Hollywood cinema history. From the early days comedic but harmless sissy (who were all stylists, costume designers, interior designers ^^;;), to the dark days of The Hayes Code (started in late 30s) that censored all ‘dirty’ immoral stuffs according to Church, where homosexuality wasn’t allow to exist. Later on gay characters became either condemned monsters or tragic victims (they must died). In 70s the homosexual roles started to change to either self-loathing people full of angst and guilt, or the negative clownish but threatening stock who looks and would served as punching bag for the heroes.

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A Treasury of Royal Scandals

In History on August 22, 2004 at 2:01 am

royalscandal-thumb.jpgA Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History’s Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors (2001)
by Micheal Farquhar

This is the book I’ve always been looking for. A very enjoyable lite but informative read on the European monarchy and Popes throughout the history. What’s facisnating about the misbehaving royalties is that they are people with unlimited power and an inbred sense of their own superioririty, which makes nowadays modern powerful figures far more pale and dull in comparison.

I like the stories about the sickness of inter-marriage for sake of royal lineage and blood purity, such as Spanish’s Joanna the Mad and Phillip the Fair and their freak of nature generations of royal descendents that inherited their mad & deformed gene. Henry VIII and his six wives (and the follow-up feud between Bloody Mary and Elizabeth) is always a great story no matter how many times it was told. I’m amazed how digest and easy-to-understand the author told the story of the complicated ‘War of the Roses.’ The mishaving Popes were outrageously unbelievable, their wickedness rivaled the perversity and cruelty of the worst of Roman Emperors (but they are worst because they justified themselves as speaking for God and Church). Rasputin the mad Russian monk is one crazy story. The gruesome, and sometimes humiliating deaths of kings and Queens are more specular as well. It is also complete with detailed Family Tree (so you’d never get lost who’s who).