Jottings on Christmas day (Julian style)

1. The art of embedded tale-telling is ancient but when did the enclosed story first become absurdly comical? Wondering whether there is a connection between the tale of a Sachsenhausen tailor in The Master Flea by ETAH, and the story of Captain Kopeykin in The Dead Souls.

2. Four hours after I bought a copy, I opened La vie de Rancé by Chateaubriand on a random page, and — right in the middle of the page — there was this old bon mot:

Souvent femme varie.

Mal habil qui s’y fie.

It is commonly attributed to Francis I, the “hearty king.” Three hours later, I realized most of us had heard a version of the saying’s first line early in life. It is in fact a musical cliché: the beginning of the Duke’s ditty from Rigoletto. The Duke is really Francis I, and Rigoletto his court jester Triboulet as Hugo depicted them in Le Roi s’amuse. For a political reason, Verdi and his librettist had to replace the King of France with an Italian duke.

3. I was trying to pick my favorite 2004 blog posts but I’m suffering from reverse myopia so to say — hope to name a few next time though.

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