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Queen Lud

Literary concertina mentions

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I am in the midst of reading Wilkie Collins' 'Woman in White' and have come across this concertina mention concerning a character called Count Fosco:

 

"He was singing Figaro's famous song in the Barber of Seville, with that crisply fluent vocalisation which is never heard from any other than an Italian throat, accompanying himself on the concertina, which he played with ecstatic throwings-up of his arms, and graceful twistings and turnings of his head, like a fat St. Cecilia masquerading in male attire. 'Figaro qua! Figaro la! Figaro su! Figaro giu!' sang the Count, jauntily tossing up the concertina at arm's length, and bowing to us, on one side of the instrument, with the airy grace and elegance of Figaro himself at twenty years of age".

 

 

Surely that can't be good for the bellows?!?!

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Hi

have a look at Allan Atlas's works on concertina.com + lots of other things

chris

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Surely that can't be good for the bellows?!?!

Hi Queen Lud

 

Or the person next to you:

:( :blink: :o

 

Thanks

Leo

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Hi

have a look at Allan Atlas's works on concertina.com + lots of other things

chris

 

Thanks, just had a look. Very interesting - I love Victorian novels so will read that with interest. The concertina being an added bonus.

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Don't know if it counts as "literary," but our new book "The Wee Mad Road" recounts the discovery of my old Wheatstone EC and my struggles with it in pubs across the Highlands. You can get a free preview at amazon.uk, amazon.com or www.theweemadroad.com (shameless plug <_< ). And no, I don't play pub sessions like the animated Italian count - it would send the pints a-flying! :o

Edited by yankeeclipper

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DANIEL AND FOLKS: i've not checked through Google Books. . . but i do know that many references to "concertina" over a wide range of literature refer to "concertina wire". . . . . . . .Allan

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Then there's this passage from Joseph Conrad's tale "The Nigger of the Narcissus":

 

Archie was the owner of the concertina; but after a couple of stinging lectures from Jimmy he refused to play any more. He said: "Yon's an uncanny joker. I dinna ken what's wrang wi' him, but there's something verra wrang, verra wrang. It's nae manner of use asking me. I won't play." Our singers became mute because Jimmy was a dying man.

 

The "Narcissus" was a large sailing-ship, and the period would have been around 1900. Jimmy was the coloured seaman of the title, and was affected by a mysterious ailment that made him unable to work. The mixture of resentment at his idleness and sympathy with his supposed sufferings caused tensions among the rest of the crew. The above quote is to be seen in this context.

 

This is the quote I use to counter the notion, commonly voiced by Americans, that the idea of the concertina-playing Jack Tar is a Disney invention. :P

 

I enjoy Conrad's tales, not only for the meticulously detailed psychograms of his characters, but also because they have a salty flavour, being set either in a ship at sea or somewhere on the coast. The nautical colour of the tales is not just well researched - it was Conrad's own habitat. He was a sailor in English ships all his working life (although Polish by birth), rising from seaman to captain. And when he talks about belaying pins or steering orders, it's from the horse's mouth.

Conrad's English is also very meticulous, and when he writes, "Archie was the owner of the concertina," (not a concertina) he places the instrument on a par with "the helm" or "the pumps" as something that a sailing-ship simply has. In the same breath, he mentions "our singers" without further elaboration - taking musical entertainment in a ship simply for granted. (Neither concertina nor singers had been mentioned earlier, so this was not a reference back to an earlier passage in the book.)

 

Cheers,

John

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