Brian McFarlane

Great Expectations

Brian McFarlane
26 March 2013

What is it about Great Expectations (1861) that makes it seem indispensable? Can it be its hero, Pip’s, search for a liveable identity? The small, terrified, often bullied child gets a glimpse of ‘the quality’ albeit in desuetude, becomes dissatisfied with being a blacksmith, receives the eponymous expectations, and tries to become a gentleman before se ... More

Wuthering Heights

Brian McFarlane
25 September 2012

Those Brontës. If they’d only had a decent agent with foresight, they could have escaped that dank parsonage on the gloomy moors of windswept Yorkshire and set up on the French Riviera in comfort. Since 1910 there have been at least forty film or television versions of Jane Eyre, most recently in 2011. Now it is Emily’s turn for the latest (seventeenth) ... More

The Deep Blue Sea

Brian McFarlane
23 April 2012

By chance, two of the most famous 1950s plays are in the news again. John Osborne’s historic rant, Look Back in Anger (1956), has been successfully revived on Broadway, while Terence Rattigan’s emotionally taut piece, The Deep Blue Sea (1952), has been filmed by another Terence – Davies, that is. In their day, Osborne railed against the ‘po ... More

Arthur Conan Doyle (read by Robert Lindsay): The Narrative of John Smith

Brian McFarlane
22 February 2012

Posthumous Holmes

Brian McFarlane

 

The Narrative of John Smith
by Arthur Conan Doyle (read by Robert Lindsay)
British Library Board (Inbooks), $39.95 5 CDs, 270 minutes, 9780712351157

 

A century later, the Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes industry shows n ... More

Brian McFarlane reviews 'On Shakespeare' by John Bell

Brian McFarlane
27 September 2011
Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask: Thou smilest and art still,
Out-topping knowledge.
(Matthew Arnold, ‘Shakespeare’)

When Arnold wrote his famous sonnet, he could have been anticipating John Bell’s book, which repeatedly asks provocative questions about the man and the work that have been his ... More

Cloudstreet

Brian McFarlane
23 May 2011

Whereas the miniseries, most often based on revered literary texts, has been a staple of British television for fifty years, I could count on the fingers of More

The Tempest

Brian McFarlane
21 April 2011

Anyone who remembers Julie Taymor’s 1999 version of Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s first published play, will not be expecting a reverential treatment of what is reputedly his last, but Taymor’s new film does move more or less inexorably to the play’s final wisdom: ‘The rarer action is / In virtue than in vengeance.’ The Tempest is a d ... More

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