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Forgery: Modus operandi (British History)
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Best not to upset the Polish, H.

Wincenty Kadłubek (c. 1150 – 8 March 1223) was a Polish Roman Catholic prelate and professed Cistercian who served as the Bishop of Kraków from 1208 until his resignation in 1218.[2][1] He was also a noted historian and prolific writer.[2] His episcopal mission was to reform the diocesan priests to ensure their holiness and sought to invigorate the faithful and cultivate greater participation in ecclesial affairs on their part.[3][1]


His best known work is Chronicles of the Kings and Princes of Poland, it is a historical compendium of Poland in four volumes, rather interestingly it posits a great war with the Alexander the Great.

You might snigger, but we got Ceasar.

You have to hang your origin on something.......


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wincenty_Kad%C5%82ubek
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Wile E. Coyote


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In actual fact we got Augustus. It was later rewritten as Caesar, when the Augustus cult was replaced by the Jesus cult.

Still, you have to take folks through it one small step at a time.
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Mick Harper
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I have been listening to snippets of Stalingrad by Vasily Grossman. This, you will recall, has been lionised as a literary masterpiece from the Stalin era by everyone except me and Hatty who believe it to be a modern fake. Of course it might also be a literary masterpiece but it is as well to decide what kind.

There is no doubt, listening to extracts, that the author of the book could not possibly be an eye witness to the events described. He could not have even got the material from eye witnesses of the events. When he is describing a (Jewish) butcher being ordered to butcher his own children, the only eyewitnesses of the events are those coming onto the scene later and encountering the 'butchered' corpses of the family. It is obvious that we are dealing with a standard atrocity story. I do not say whether it did or did not happen on this occasion but I do say we are dealing with a novel. With fiction. With fiction that could have been written by anybody at any time. But all this is being recounted as if by a novelist who was not only a contemporary but is actually from the town in which the atrocity is taking place and where his mother was 'buried, probably alive to save the price of a bullet'.

'Historian Catherine Merridale chronicles the tortuous journey of Vasily Grossman's novel 'Stalingrad' to print. Victory over the Nazi's brought neither freedom or truth.

Nor good grammar. Sorry about that, but it's important not to be swept away by considerations of good taste.
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Mick Harper
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I mainly felt insulted. There are various times when Grossman could have written this: 1941, 1944, before 1953, before 1964 (when he died). No date makes any sense. This kind of, what might be called, pornographic anti-semitism is not only a very modern taste, it is a very non-Russian taste. It is a very, very non-Soviet taste.

The Russians are very prudish and very anti-Semitic. They (and their governments) are capable of the most lurid stories when recounting (or concocting) anti-fascist atrocities but it would not have occurred to either them, or a writer of their times, to go in for this kind of anti-Semitic atrocity. Nor, I think, would it have occurred to Germans of the time to commit them. Both sides firmly eschewed 'sadism' for the quite simple reason that both sides were so firmly regimented. And for the equally simple reason that 'sadism' takes Nazism off the hook, looked at by either side. When you are ideologically committed to 'ethnic cleansing' you are not allowed to enjoy your work.It muddies the waters too much.

If this kind of thing went on (and I am not disputing that this kind of thing might well have gone on) it is always placed at the door of 'Latvians'. By both sides. One often comes across accounts of the disdain felt by both Germans and Russians for the enjoyment Latvians showed towards their grim work. There is not the slightest chance that an experienced writer like Grossman would think that this kind of thing would be acceptable to either a Stalinist regime or a relatively enlightened Kruschevite regime.

As the subsequent success of Grossman's works shows, it is very acceptable to a post-Communist world, both inside and outside Russia. Though mostly, I think, outside. It is, if you like, a very enlightened taste.
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Mick Harper
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I wrote all this after listening to it on the radio but, having written it, I went back to what we wrote about it entirely theoretically from reviews, Wiki etc (on pages 11 et seq of this thread) and which I had mostly forgotten. We seemed to have been quite prescient.
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Hatty
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This caught my eye in the earlier discussion ( p.11-12)
Mick Harper wrote:
It certainly doesn't seem to have been a straightforward translation gig. One of the translators doesn't even speak Russian! Still Beevor was impressed and I'm a big fan of Beevor so it's not something I'm going out on a limb over.

Not many people would gainsay Sir Antony Beevor. It reminds me of Sir Anthony Blunt of Courtauld fame in a Brian Sewell anecdote explaining how the painter John Singer Sargent was rescued from obscurity by an art dealer offering a bunch of newly-found Sargents to Christie's. The accepted provenance for a bundle of art is a country house preferably somewhat damp (Ireland in this case) so mould can grow. Blunt was convinced of their authenticity so Sewell didn't voice his misgivings (he says at the time rather than later).

The case isn't exactly parallel because Sargent forgeries were exposed by an American buyer. English art dealers simply stashed their Sargents until they could re-introduce them into the art market. It's not clear how long it takes for a forgery scandal to be forgotten...fifty, sixty, years?
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Mick Harper
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It gets weirder. The British experts "can't understand" how Grossman thought he would get away with naming his fictional characters after well-known unpersons executed by Stalin -- and doing all the things the unpersons did in real life. Nor can they understand why Russian commentators haven't picked this up.

Then, since Grossman is modelling Stalingrad after War and Peace, he has to have cutaways to Hitler and Mussolini meeting in Salzburg to plan the campaign that ended at Stalingrad. Grossman "researched this minutely" though nobody knows how because the documents weren't available to ordinary writers. Then, just to make sure of something or other, Grossman decides to keep a detailed diary recording his dealings with Novy Mir (the literary magazine that was to publish the work) even though he says in it he's not anticipating any difficulties. That managed to survive from 1949 which was lucky.

But all this is a difficulty for us as well, since it is becoming one helluva big forgery. But then again the Russians operate by different standards than the slapdash methods that are all that is necessary in the west. They take literature terribly seriously. That's why it's always being banned. 'Underground, overground, wombling free' as one of our own songs had it.
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Mick Harper
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It is hellish trying to do research from the radio so I've probably got my Grossmans awry. As far as I can tell, and don't quote me even on this, his Stalingrad is genuine in the sense that it was largely written by him in the years 1943-9 though what subsequently came out in Novy Mir and in book form bears scant resemblance to his original intention given its savage pruning and rewriting to meet the demands of the various moods of Stalin (who would read the drafts personally) and the subsequent post-Stalin shifts in liberalisation.

The book 'Life and Fate' published under his name is a twenty-first century forgery. Though I wish to emphasise that this is speculation based only on gut instinct.

One aspect that I am sure about is that Professor Catherine Merridale has no business referring to 'fascist armies' in her own commentaries. This is a purely Soviet invention, used alongside 'Hitlerite armies' and is the equivalent of our own popular propaganda tags like Huns and Jerries. They are German armies and even to refer to them by the more accurate 'Nazi armies' would be the equivalent of calling the British army a 'Conservative army' or maybe, after 1940, a 'Coalition army'. No doubt the Russians still call it an 'Imperialist army'.

It is not all that important but it does indicate that Professor Merridale has to some extent gone native. And more seriously reflects a serious and growing tendency among historians to allow their own political predilections to intrude on their judgements.
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Wile E. Coyote


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William the Conqueror endowed Battle Abbey with many religious treasures to atone for bloodshed

Cripes.
A medieval manuscript listing its relics has been analysed and transcribed for the first time by English Heritage historian Michael Carter.

Aha

It reveals that the relics were the most prestigious given to any abbey, more significant even than those at Westminster Abbey.

Double Cripes

Many are directly associated with the story of Christmas, good and bad. They include objects purporting to be from the ground, swaddling and manger where Jesus was born and wood from the cross on which he was crucified.

There is also a rock used to stone St Stephen, whose feast day is Boxing Day; and bones of several of the Holy Innocents killed on the orders of King Herod, a massacre commemorated in the west on 28 December.

St Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, is represented by a finger bone and fragments from his napkin and hair-shirt.

There are bones from the holy innocents!


The extensive gifts from the Norman king to Battle are especially interesting because he gave very little to other abbeys. “William the Conqueror was really mean to English monasteries,” said Carter.

Weird that. but.....


The reason was salvation, Carter said. “The bloodshed at the Battle of Hastings, even by medieval standards, was absolutely horrific. The conqueror knew that unless he made atonement for this and served the penances imposed on him, he was going to go to hell.”

Of course it's atonement!
Carter recalled seeing the manuscript, written in Latin and dating from the early 15th century, for the first time.

Eh? ..... I thought Battle of Battle was in 1066. That's a bit of a gap. Are we sure William did all this? Well 'tis the Christmas season in the Guardian.
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Mick Harper
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We are ten minutes into a programme called Fake or Fortune (BBC-4) when I have to start picking my chin up off the floor my mouth has gaped so wide. They're trying to authenticate a picture by a post-Impressionist called Edouard Vuillard. It's owned by some dude who's just paid £11,000 for it but hopes it will soon be worth more like a million. "Do you know much about Vuillard?" trills Fiona Bruce. "Oh yes," trills the dude back, "he was my favourite artist when I was doing "A" level art at school."

Gordon Bennett, how did the entire crew not burst into laughter, make their excuses and leave at this point? There's a missing painting by a painter nobody's ever heard of and it's owned by a geezer who's a bit of a dab hand at painting and not only has heard of him he was mildly obsessed with him in his youth. Missing paintings are like homing pigeons, they always find themselves winging their way to someone who knows they are coming.

Did I mention that neither Fiona, nor her connoisseur side-kick, nor the Courtauld nor anyone else within expert hailing distance thought fit to mention this preposterous coincidence?
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Hatty
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Edouard Vuillard may not be a household name in England but he seems to have been remarkably prolific

painting some 3,000 works of art in his life with notoriety coming late in his career.


One of his paintings was bought for $7 million dollars at a Christie's auction and his popularity was assured

To such a degree that we have seen an influx of dozens of fake Vuillard works of art in the past few months alone cropping up at auctions and estate sales in Europe and the USA which we have been asked to verify by purchasers and sellers alike, either as Vuillard fakes or carry through authentication and provenance investigations with a view to authenticating as legitimate , works of art by Edouard Vuillard.

It is estimated that nearly a fifth of all Vuillard signed paintings sold on the open market today are illegitimate
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Mick Harper
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"Nearly a fifth", they reckon. I dunno about that. My own researches put it at 20.07%.
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Mick Harper
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Actually 'nearly a fifth' has another purpose. We can, I think, agree that as far as anyone knows the true number might as well be 95% or even 0% as 20% but what does 20% convey to you? It conveys to me that the market in Vuillards is basically sound but you have to proceed with great care. Best rely on experts.

I wonder who the dude relied on when he shelled out eleven big ones for his 'Vuillard'? Though I suppose he could be considered something of an expert himself.
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Hatty
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Fine Books Magazine is excited to tweet

Mills College First Folio to be Sold at Christie’s NY, Estimated at $4-6 Million

William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. Published According to the True Originall Copies. London: Printed by Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623. Estimate: $4,000,000-6,000,000

The inside cover has the so-called Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, very popular in the late 18th century and popularised by a well-known editor of Shakespeare's works called Edmond Malone. Malone liked the portrait so much he commissioned Ozias Humphry, a portraitist, to redraw it.

According to the auctioneers, this edition of the First Folio was indeed 'in the hands of' Edmond Malone

Margaret Ford, International Head of Group, Books & Manuscripts, London comments, “To handle a First Folio by William Shakespeare is always a privilege and even - given its tremendous significance and influence around the globe - a humbling experience. This copy is especially exciting as one of the very few complete copies surviving in private hands and knowing that it was once in the hands of the great Shakespeare scholar Edmond Malone, who himself affirmed its completeness already 200 years ago.”

Its value is in its rarity

It’s one of only six complete copies known to exist in private hands and was once owned by Shakespeare scholar Edmond Malone, according to Christie’s.

Malone appears to be the only recorded owner. Where was the book, or rather copy, during the preceding two centuries?

https://www.finebooksmagazine.com/news/mills-college-first-folio-be-sold-christies-ny-estimated-4-6-million
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Mick Harper
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Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, very popular in the late 18th century

Created in the eighteenth century, we shall be revealing in our new book. Unless someone comes up with anything earlier. But meanwhile here's something you can try at home. Come up with a portrait of your idea of a late seventeenth century playwright. Commoner, intelligent-looking, but a bit of a loser. Make sure he's sort of looking at you straight but also retaining an air of mystery. And obviously he mustn't look like anyone you've ever seen. No cheating now!

PS For 4-6 million I would expect fifty pounds to have been spent on carbon dating a full stop. Oh damn, I forgot, it's National Heritage and we're not allowed to.
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