What We Are Reading Today: Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner

Updated 20 March 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner

  • Marion Turner reconstructs in unprecedented detail the cosmopolitan world of Chaucer’s adventurous life

More than any other canonical English writer, Geoffrey Chaucer lived and worked at the center of political life—yet his poems are anything but conventional. Edgy, complicated, and often dark, they reflect a conflicted world, and their astonishing diversity and innovative language earned Chaucer renown as the father of English literature. Marion Turner, however, reveals him as a great European writer and thinker. To understand his accomplishment, she reconstructs in unprecedented detail the cosmopolitan world of Chaucer’s adventurous life, focusing on the places and spaces that fired his imagination, according to a review on the Princeton University Press website. 

Uncovering important new information about Chaucer’s travels, private life, and the early circulation of his writings, this innovative biography documents a series of vivid episodes, moving from the commercial wharves of London to the frescoed chapels of Florence and the kingdom of Navarre, where Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived side by side. The narrative recounts Chaucer’s experiences as a prisoner of war in France, as a father visiting his daughter’s nunnery, as a member of a chaotic Parliament, and as a diplomat in Milan, where he encountered the writings of Dante and Boccaccio. The book also offers a comprehensive exploration of Chaucer’s writings.


This new Azzedine Alaia exhibition in Paris is not to be missed

A shared retrospective on Azzedine Alaia and Cristobal Balenciaga opened in Paris on Jan. 21. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 January 2020

This new Azzedine Alaia exhibition in Paris is not to be missed

  • Held under the direction of Olivier Saillard, the new exhibition will run until June 28, 2020
  • The exhibition marks the first time the two couturier’s designs are showcased alongside each other

PARIS: A shared retrospective on Azzedine Alaia and Cristobal Balenciaga, a designer whom the late Tunisian couturier admired, opened in Paris on Jan. 21 and will run until June 28. The six-month long exhibition, entitled “Sculptors of Shapes,” is the second parallel retrospective curated by Association Azzedine Alaia, following the success of last year’s “Adrian and Alaia: The Art of Tailoring.”

The shared retrospective was curated by Olivier Saillard. (Photo: Arab News)

Held under the direction of  Olivier Saillard — who curated “Azzedine Alaïa: Je suis couturier” and “Adrian and Alaia: The Art of Tailoring”— the new exhibition features 56 garments designed over the course of their respective careers in an effort to spotlight the similarities in the couturier’s tailoring, choice of fabrics and cuts.

Alaia was an avid collector of Balenciaga’s work. (Photo: Arab News)

It is the first time the two couturier’s designs are showcased alongside each other. The striking designs are presented in a white labyrinth of white mesh panels that was designed by American multimedia artist Kris Ruhs.

According to Carla Sozzani, a close friend of the late Tunisian couturier and the president of Association Alaia, it was one of Balenciaga’s protégés, Hubert de Givenchy (who died in 2018) who proposed the idea of a duet show on a visit to Alaia’s Marais studio.

Alaia was an avid collector of the Spanish designer’s work. It is said that the late couturier had collected over 400 pieces from Balenciaga over the years, including garments, furniture and art.

The exhibition marks the first time the two couturier’s designs are showcased alongside each other. (Photo: Arab News)

It was almost by chance that the late Tunisian couturier began collecting Balenciaga’s work. Shortly after the Spaniard shuttered his eponymous fashion house in 1968, Alaia was contacted by the deputy director of Balenciaga at the time to take the liberty of cutting new models from the dresses stored in the defunct workshop. However, a young Alaia chose to keep them intact and thus began building up an archive that would mark the beginning of a great collection.

  It was one of Balenciaga’s protégés, the late Hubert de Givenchy, who proposed the idea of a duet show. (Photo: Arab News)

The exhibition comes over two years after the passing of the late couturier, who died of heart failure in November 2017 in Paris.

The Association Azzedine Alaia, which was founded by Alaia, Carla Sozzani and Christoph Von Weyhe in 2007, hopes to organize three exhibitions a year featuring Alaia’s work and his extensive collection of fashion, furniture and photography.