Too Much Passion: Women, the Crucifixion, and Displays of Emotion

Jeanne de Montbaston

Abegg Triptych, by Rogier van der Weyden. c. 1445 Abegg Triptych, by Rogier van der Weyden. c. 1445

I thought I’d start with this image – a triptych probably painted by Rogier van der Weyden in the mid-fifteenth century – because I find it both compelling, and, frankly, creepy. The central panel is full of van der Weyden’s signature images of heightened emotion: bodies arching and sagging with loss, faces contorted. But at the right-hand side, a little further from the dying Christ, stand onlookers whose stance appears more matter-of-fact: gesturing to one another, they might be engaged in devout contemplation (as the clasped hands indicate), but they also look as if they’re in the middle of considering the practicalities of getting Christ’s body down with that ladder. Even more disorientingly, in the left-hand panel kneels the patron, gazing impassively at the scene before him, as if looking through a window in a sunlit colonnade. With neatly tucked-in legs and…

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Recommended Reading: Virginia Woolf’s Diaries

The Daily Post

Most successful writers do one or two things really, really well. Then there’s that small group of word magicians who can keep us riveted while recounting their trip to the greengrocer. Virginia Woolf firmly belongs among the latter. If you ever need proof, check out her diaries, where you’d be hard-pressed to find a non-mesmerizing sentence:

VirginiaWoolf

The heat has come, bringing with it the inexplicably disagreeable memories of parties, and George Duckworth; a fear haunts me even now, as I drive past Park Lane on top of a bus.

Diary entry from May 25, 1926

Beyond the mere pleasure of her prose, however, Woolf’s diaries contain so much wisdom, so much focused insight on the craft, and struggle, and pleasures of writing, that reading through any random entry is worth roughly 73 “How to become a better writer” articles. Case in point:

Yesterday I finished the first part of To the Lighthouse, and…

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India and current politics

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