For Readers: A (Word)Pressing Question

Over the weekend, one of my very regular readers and commenters pointed out that The Courtier has had the same look since it switched over to WordPress three years ago.  They suggested it might be time for an update, particularly because they have had difficulty reading these pages due to the light text on a dark background.  By way of explanation, I should point out that the darker color scheme of browns, grays, and blacks was deliberately chosen to reference the colors in Raphael’s famous portrait now in The Louvre of this blog’s patron and inspiration, Count Baldassare Castiglione (those are Castiglione’s hands you see in the masthead and blog icon.)

However, far be it from me to appear inflexible before you, gentle reader, so we’re going to have a little poll. Do you like the way things look here now, or would you prefer to see some changes?  Please take a moment to vote below, and I’ll report back on the results at the end of the week. And as always, thank you for your continued readership and feedback.



>Happy New Year! Bon Any!

>Dear Reader:

Very best wishes on this Feast of St. Genevieve, Patroness of Paris, for a happy and prosperous 2011 to you and your family. After a two-week absence, The Courtier is back in the capital and, appropriately enough, already back at court. One can imagine the amount of correspondence which piled up in his absence, meaning that today’s post will have to be rather brief.

Over the course of the Christmas holidays, some thought and work has gone in to some upcoming changes – hopefully to be considered improvements – to this blog as well as to the side project blog Catholic Barcelona. Seeing where each of these efforts leads over the coming year will, one hopes, prove an exciting and enlightening prospect. The end goals will remain the same: to provide cultural commentary from a Catholic perspective, in a civilization which very much needs to remember from whence it sprang, and hopefully to encourage you, the reader, to support such efforts through your own study and patronage of art, literature, architecture, film, travel, food, customs, and so on.

Tomorrow we will be back at a full gallop into this New Year, but in the meantime, many blessings and joy as we head toward the 12th Day of Christmas!

St. Genevieve of Paris, Artist Unknown (c. 1600)
Musée Carnavalet, Paris

And the Winner Is…

I am pleased to announce that the winner of The Blog of the Courtier’s 2nd Birthday Contest is Mrs. A. S., of Dallas, Texas! Mrs. S., your Norton critical edition of Castiglione’s “Book of the Courtier” is on its way to you as I write. As one would expect from a Norton edition, this volume contains contains not only what is generally regarded as the best English translation of the original work presently available, but also a series of essays on the book and Castiglione from several European and American scholars, as well as a chronology of Castiglione’s life and times, extensive annotations, and a full index – the latter in particular is something often lacking in modern printings of this book, and in tandem with the bibliography it will be helpful for further reading and research.

I received many very interesting entries, and thank all of my readers for their suggestions and their congratulations on this small milestone. It is not only a great pleasure for me to be able to write as a general matter, but particularly when my doing so may encourage or enlighten others, and in the process of so doing I may better educate myself. I hope to be able to say the same when this blog turns 3 years old next year.

Mrs. S. asked me to write about the new “City of Culture” being built in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. The project raises numerous issues of interest to me, as regular readers of these virtual pages might imagine: architecture, Spain, Catholicism, history, urban development, contemporary culture, and so on. Naturally this combination of interests made her entry the most appealing of the entries I received.

As I was researching the topic however, I realized that there is so much to write about with respect to this project, that I would need to have some uninterrupted time in which to gather my thoughts. A great deal has been written about this project, but as one might expect much of this is in Spanish – a tongue in which I am fluent, but which still requires a greater level of concentration on my part. Indeed, there is too much for me to synthesize during a regular work week and blog production schedule.

What you may not realize, gentle reader, is that most of my blog entries are written in about 30 to 40 minutes every morning before beginning work. On a typical piece of commentary, neither very short nor very long, I begin by thinking about a topic over my morning coffee, and constructing in my mind what I have to say on the subject. I will then spend some time in fact-checking and assuring myself of issues like spelling and timeline. The writing itself does not take very long, for I have already worked out what I will write before I start to do so. The final process is finding an accompanying image, and doing my best to check my spelling and grammar before I publish.

Because the winning topic in this case involves so many areas of consideration, as indicated above, my intent this Sunday evening – when regular work and chores shall be at an end – is to go over what I have read and seen of this project. In so doing I will reach some conclusions which, I hope, will be of interest not only to Mrs. S., but also to all of my readers. In the meantime, I thank all of you once again for your patronage, your support, and your entries.