How nimble is that Fiona Shaw. Last year she appeared in Terrence Malik's The Tree of Life and twelve episodes of True Blood. Born in County Cork in 1958, she earned her degree from University College there, then trained at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Long a star of the West End, she broke out to select American audiences in a small role in the very best of all Jane Austen adaptations, Persuasion, in 1995 and the following year wowed New York with her one-person performance of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land for which she won a Drama Desk Award. The year prior she had amazed and angered London audiences when she played Richard II, directed by Deborah Warner, also a lesbian. Collaborating frequently with Warner, notably in the National Theatre adaptation of Jeanette Winterson's The PowerBook, Shaw co-starred with former model Saffron Burrows as lesbian lovers, just as they were in real life. And Warner was partners with Winterson. Both couples have since separated. Shaw still lives in Primrose Hill.
Years before Joyce, Woolf, and Faulkner’s novels, contemporary with Braque, Gris, and Picasso’s cubist paintings, and with Einstein’s shattering theories of physics, Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust created a work of art whose central concern is time. Published over fourteen years, the seven volumes of his epic novel A la recherche du temps perdu radically reshape conventional narrative to recreate the sensation of memory, the past co-existing in thought simultaneous with the present, as each moment of the present becomes the past. Many, many critics, including Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham, consider the work as a whole to be the greatest novel of the century or of all-time. It is also a landmark in gay literature. Volume Four is titled Sodom and Gomorrah and contains lengthy essays on homosexuality (often seen as a rebuttal to Andre Gide's recent Corydon), but every volume encompasses gay characters, observations, and experiences -- the majority of which are negative. One rationale for this dark view is that Proust had co-opted his own happy memories of gay love in trying to imagine heterosexual love for his characters, leaving him only bitter reminiscences when he wrote about aspects of gay life. Another theory is that he himself was uncomfortable with his sexuality, which manifested itself always with the lower classes and especially with his own servants. His deepest relationship was with his chauffeur, Alfred Agostinelli, who lived with his wife in Proust’s townhouse. Proust also had an affair with his secretary, Albert Nahmias, the namesake for the novel’s love interest, Albertine. When he went to sex clubs, Proust liked to be whipped and humiliated. Very, very rich from an inheritance, he typically slept during the day and wrote at night, both while lying in his blue bed, in his bedroom cork-lined for silence, now permanently on display in Paris’s Musée Carnavalet.