Blake's Chimney Sweeps by Stephen Zelnick

William Blake (1757-1827) was unknown in his time. Born in London to a tradesman’s family, he apprenticed at fourteen to an engraver, a craft he practiced all his life. Although he had slight contact with the radical elite -- Godwin and Wollstonecraft, Thomas Paine, and Joseph Priestly -- Blake was not even a casual acquaintance. He lived in obscurity and poverty all his life, a difficult person, an impossible friend, and an uncompromising idealist. Blake despised organized religion and gentle Jesus, but he hated the rationalism of Newton, Voltaire, and the British Empiricists. He pledge allegiance to Albion but loathed empire, kings, and constitutional parliaments. Blake is acknowledged now as a brilliant visual artist; his engravings and water-colors possess rare imaginative force His poetry constitutes the breakthrough
moment of English Romanticism, and most particularly his “Songs of Innocence; Songs of Experience" (1789, printed, 1794).

Thomas Hardy, Poet

Hardy's poetry, as Zelnick highlights, reflects a blend of his architectural precision and his deep connection to the rural landscape and culture of Dorset. His poems, encompassing various forms and themes, from the lightheartedness of "Great Things" to the solemn reflections in "Channel Firing," demonstrate his versatility as a poet. The essay delves into Hardy's ability to intertwine personal experiences and broader existential themes, as seen in his elegies and other poems like "The Last Chrysanthemum" and "Shelley’s Skylark."

Zelnick's analysis also draws attention to Hardy's intricate use of language and form, which often defies conventional poetic norms to convey deeper meanings and emotions. This approach is particularly evident in poems like "The Phantom Horsewoman" and "At Castle Boterel," where Hardy's personal reflections on love, loss, and memory are vividly portrayed.

She Stoops to Conquer

Journey through the comedic brilliance and social satire of a play that deftly intertwines themes of love, marriage, and societal norms. Zelnick's analysis illuminates the complex characters of Marlow and Kate, revealing the subtleties of their romantic entanglements and the societal expectations that shape their actions. Through a detailed exploration of character dynamics, thematic depth, and Goldsmith's unique humor, this essay transcends a mere academic study--it becomes a celebration of a playwright's enduring legacy

Beautiful Films

Delve into the captivating world of cinema with 'Beautiful Films' at The Linnet's Wings. This insightful article explores film noir, silent films, and adaptations of British literature, offering rich analysis of narrative styles and cinematography. Discover the artistic and historical significance of these genres, and the impact of renowned directors and actors in shaping cinematic history. A must-read for film enthusiasts and scholars alike.

Film Noir

In the shadowy world of film noir, where tough-talking detectives, mysterious femme fatales, and moral ambiguity reign supreme, one man is drawn into a web of deceit and danger. As he navigates the treacherous streets of crime-ridden cities, he must confront his own demons and make choices that will determine his fate. In a world where nothing is as it seems, trust is a rare commodity, and the line between good and evil is blurred, the only certainty is the dark allure of film noir.

Mastering the Camera ( excerpted from Beautiful Films)

In the golden era of cinema, Marlene Dietrich's luminous presence and Josef von Sternberg's visionary direction converged in 'Shanghai Express.' This captivating analysis unveils the meticulous artistry of their collaboration, from mesmerizing chiaroscuro cinematography to a rich ensemble of characters, all set against a backdrop of revolution. Join us on a journey through classic black and white cinema, where love, intrigue, and the allure of Dietrich shine brightly on the Shanghai Express.

Screwball Comedy

Delve into the golden era of Hollywood with 'Screwball Comedy,' an excerpt from the insightful work 'Beautiful Films' by Stephen Zelnick. Join Zelnick as he unravels the charm and brilliance of classics like 'The Lady Eve' (1941) and the genius of director Preston Sturges. With wit, humor, and a touch of history, this excerpt transports you to a time when cinema was at its most delightful, offering a glimpse into the artistry and laughter that continues to captivate audiences to this day.

Silent Films

Step into the enchanting world of silent cinema, where emotions speak louder than words. Discover timeless classics like 'La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc' (1928), where close-up shots convey the depth of human experience. Join us on a journey through the artistry and storytelling of silent gems like 'Sunrise,' 'Metropolis,' and 'Greed,' where every frame is a masterpiece of expression. Explore the power of nonverbal communication in these cinematic treasures, where the eyes and faces of the characters reveal the essence of their stories.

Dwindling: the Shrinking Citizen

In a world where the grandeur of power overshadows the voice of the individual, "Dwindling: the Shrinking Citizen" by Stephen Zelnick is a compelling exploration of democracy’s underbelly through the lens of literature and history. This thought-provoking narrative weaves together the tales of classic literary characters and historical figures, all bound by a common theme: the diminishing role of the individual in the face of overarching authority.

The journey begins with John Milton's "Paradise Lost," where the grandiosity of rebel angels belies their own reduction to mere pawns in a cosmic struggle. This motif echoes through Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels," where the physically immense yet politically powerless Gulliver symbolizes the plight of the ordinary citizen in the grips of societal constraints and political machinations.

Zelnick masterfully extends this theme to Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick," portraying Captain Ahab's crew as individuals of great potential, dwarfed by their leader's overwhelming presence. This allegorical odyssey culminates in a contemporary setting, drawing parallels with modern films and societal trends, illustrating how today's citizens, much like their fictional predecessors, are often relegated to the role of spectators in a world dominated by corporate giants and political theatrics.

"Dwindling: the Shrinking Citizen" is not just a reflection on the past but a mirror to our present, urging readers to question the true nature of power and our place within it. It’s a profound call to recognize and resist the subtle forces that seek to diminish the individual's role in shaping the future of democracy.

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