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Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

Rosemary Sutcliff  said to the Radio Times in 1977: “I like a child or a dog or an adult according to their merits. I am prone to like more dogs on a percentage basis”! Dogs also feature in many of her books. Katherine Langrish, fantasy novelist, wondered if “perhaps Rosemary wrote about dogs as a way of owning them …?”

In Dawn Wind finds Dog, a young war-hound, by moonlight on the ruins of a battlefield:

… it was something alive in the cold echoing emptiness of a dead world. It stood with one paw raised, looking at him, and Owain called, hoarsely, with stiff lips and aching throat: ‘Dog! Hai! Dog!’ … [It] came, slowly and uncertainly… once it stopped altogether; then it finished at the run and next instant was trembling against his legs. He was a young dog; the beautiful creamy hair of his breast-patch was stained and draggled, and his muzzle bloody in the moonlight… ‘Dog, aiee, dog, we are alone then. There’s no one else. We will go together, you and I.’

  • Brother Dusty-Feet: Hugh runs away from home to protect Argos.
  • The Eagle of the Ninth:  Cub is Esca’s tame wolf cub.
  • Outcast: Canog is a mistreated mongrel owned by  Beric, whose childhood dog was Gelert.
  • The Lantern Bearers: Artos’s dog Cabal. (See also Sword at Sunset)
  • Warrior Scarlet: Whitethroat; Fand the Beautiful.
  • The Bridge-Builders: Math, a Hibernian wolfhound.
  • Knight’s Fee: Joyeuse.
  • Dawn Wind: Dog, a survivor of Owain’s Last Stand.
  • Blood Feud: Brindle is a cattle dog.
  • Bonnie Dundee: Caspa.
  • The Shining Company: Gelert.
  • Sword Song: Bjarni murders a man for kicking Astrid, and Hugin follows him home from Dublin.
  • Sword at Sunset. Cabal. (See also The Lantern Bearers)

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For reasons I cannot divine, my Google alert for new items on <Rosmeary Sutcliff> pointed today to a 2011posting at this blog about  her appearance on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs! At that time, a recording of Rosemary Sutcliff’s appearance with Roy Plomley was not available for downloading. It is now, here.

In the usual way on this radio programme, Rosemary Sutcliff talked (in October 1983) about her life and work and chose eight records to take to the mythical BBC Radio desert island. She said she chose her music just because she loved it—not everyone does, especially these PR-obsessed days. Her choices were:

  1. Record 1: Dvorak’s New World Symphony, played by the London Symphony Orchestra, by Istvan Kertesz.
  2. Record 2: “Eternal father strong to save” – Hymn.
  3. Record 3: L’Apres-midi d’une Faune by Debussy. Royal Philharmonic conducted by Thomas Beecham.
  4. Record 4: “We’ll Gather Lilacs” sung by Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth.
  5. Record 5: “The Flowers of the Forest” played by the pipes & drums of the 1st Battalion of the Scots Guards.
  6. Record 6: Excerpt from “Under Milk Wood”. Polly Garter’s song.
  7. Record 7: “The Lark Ascending” by Vaughan Williams. The Boyd Kneale Orchestra. With Frederick Grinker.
  8. Record 8: “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach. Choir of King’s college, Cambridge, conducted by David Willcocks.
  • If she could only take One Record: The Lark Ascending
  • One Luxury for the island: Roy Plomley refused her request to take her beloved dogs. She chose therefore flowers, “delivered daily by bottle”.
  • One Book for the island: “Kim” by Rudyard Kipling.

Read more about Desert Island Discs, and stream the episode, here

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Cover of Margaret Meek's monograph on historical and children’s novelist Rosemary SutcliffAround 1962 Margaret Meek wrote a monograph about Rosemary Sutcliff, only a decade or so into a writing career that was to last for another 30 years.  She spoke of Rosemary choosing names “with a poet’s care”:

Rosemary Sutcliff’s magic has certain recognizable elements; the names of the characters are chosen with a poet’s care, the dogs have a central place and are characterized with the loving attention children recognize and approve. The villains, such as Placidus in The Eagle of the Ninth and Allectus in The Silver Branch are acidly etched, although there is more reliance on traditional enmity and feud than on personal evil to provide the dark side. Episodic characters, singly or in groups, have a miniaturist’s clarity of outline. Pandarus, the gladiator with his rose in the battle, Galerius the surgeon, the garrulous household slaves, soldiers at a firelit cockfight or warriors at a feast, all are equally memorable.

Others more involved in the developing action, commanding officers, wise men of the tribes, outcasts, especially Guern the Hunter, Evicatos of the Spear and Brother Ninnias, have a legendary quality. Tradui the Chieftain at the making of New Spears, Bruni, dressed in the war gear of a Jutish hero dying as the wild geese fly south, blind Flavian, killed at the hands of marauding Saxons, all carry a dignity and heroism that link this series of tales with the legends Miss Sutcliff loves to tell. Indeed, part of the difficulty in evaluating the achievement of these books comes from the thickly woven texture which is as closely wrought as in many adult novels of quality.

  • Source: Margaret Meek (1962). Rosemary Sutcliff. New York: Henry Z. Walck
  • list of most main characters in Rosemary Sutcliff’s novels. re-tellings and books

(First posted 30 March, 2010; revised,  24 March, 2014)

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June 19th Monday. Over to Burgess Hill , Joan and I in absolutely blistering heat and returned with the most enchanting (? & naughty) old bitch, tiny, pretty & gay & loving, and obviously intelligent. Called Flash, which we are in process of changing to Sophie. Basty very doubtful, but less hostile than I had suspected at this stage.  (more…)

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June 14th Tuesday. The most glorious sunny day for the start of Ascot week. M came for the afternoon, and I took her into the sitting room for tea and to watch the second part of it on TV. (Having taped the first part for watching after supper). Thought she would never go! Barny seems quite over his bad patch. Quiet and sleepy but no more so than he always is in hot weather.

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June 13th Monday. Ray took Barny down for his second injection. Mr Skelton very pleased with him. He seems rather sleepy but quite at ease, and thoroughly enjoying his food again. Agnes, new chiropodist lady came to do my toes. Knows her job and seems a nice soul.

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A Little Dog Like You by Rosemary SutcliffToday’s diary entry about her dog Barny put me in mind of the little book Rosemary Sutcliff published a years earlier, in 1987, A Little Dog Like You. Kirkus reviews wrote at the time of publication in the USA in 1990:

After Pippin, a beloved Chihuahua, dies, he begs St. Francis to let him go back to his beloved mistress, Mammie–who, hoping that her faithful friend will return, manages to puzzle out the time and place of their joyful reunion. Though the plot sounds trite, Sutcliff’s skillful pen turns the story to gold–an unsentimental portrait of an affectionate bond that will be familiar to any dog lover, while the difficulty posed by the painful discrepancy between the life spans of dog and human is resolved with a reincarnation that is both metaphorical and realistic: the new dog is not precisely Pippin–he has new markings and is given a new name–but he does represent a continuation of love. The format is as engagingly diminutive, as Pippin himself; Johnson’s precise, gentle  illustrations add just the right touch. A well-wrought charmer.

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