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Saturday, 17 September 2016

News round-up: Papal plots, David Shrigley & Nick Cave

Today's Guardian asks why are there so many papal plots in fiction? From Dan Brown to Graham Greene, the papacy has long proved fascinating to writers so Mark Lawson examines the mysteries around this powerful figure and the church he leads. He identifies the work of Morris West as particularly prescient:

'West’s novels have an astonishing record of prophecy. The Shoes of the Fisherman was published on the day that John XIII died, and imagined an eastern European anti-Soviet cardinal ending the long line of Italian popes, which duly happened in 1978, when Cardinal Wotyla of Kraków became John Paul II. The unlikely plot of The Clowns of God (1981), in which a pope resigns because he can no longer face the burdens of office, was validated in February 2013 by the retirement of Benedict XVI. In West’s final conclave novel, Eminence (1998), the leading candidate to become pope, a Latin American radical called Cardinal Luca Rossini, now reads as a spooky preview of the Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio becoming Pope Francis.'
Lawson writes on the coincidence of the publication of Conclave this month with The Young Pope starting on Sky Atlantic in October and Doctor Faustus being at the Barbican.

'In two weeks, David Shrigley’s new sculpture will be unveiled on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. At first sight it looks like a work that needs no artspeak to explain its meaning. It’s a giant thumbs-up, cast in bronze. And who doesn’t understand that? Just in case there’s any doubt, Shrigley has titled the piece Really Good. He’s even made the thumb extra long, to emphasise the “really”.' He was interviewed by Marcus Field for the Evening Standard:

'Faith is an occasional theme, although Shrigley treads gently here. His parents are Christians, his mother an Anglican, his father an Evangelical. Shrigley himself went to church until he was 16 “and then I did sociology A-level and I stopped”.

He still has a lot of time for the principles, though. “I’m a sympathiser,” he tells me. “I think if you remove the aspects to do with gender and homosexuality, if you take that out of all the main religions, then I would say that if people lived by their central tenets — love thy neighbour, altruism, compassion, kindness — then the world would probably be a better place. And I think it’s wrong to separate Christianity from politics. What would Jesus do? Well, he certainly wouldn’t vote Conservative. He certainly wouldn’t dismantle the NHS.”'

Alexis Petridis has written an excellent review of Nick Cave's new album Skeleton Tree which scotches the idea that the album is about the death of Cave's son. Petridis concludes, this is 'an album that is no less brilliant, but perhaps less straightforward, than initial reactions suggested: not so much an exploration of grief as an example of how grief overwhelms or seeps into everything – a subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.'


Nick Cave - I Need You.

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