“I’ve heard it said, or maybe read…”

Ever since I started working on you-know-what, Charlemagne has been a frustrating roommate. He can barely sign the rent check, he pretends not to hear you if you don’t flatter him (“O Father of Europe, is the shower free?”), and he can’t be bothered to scrape the meat scraps off the George Foreman. However, to my great delight, he does find himself in the news nearly every week.

If you had hoped to glimpse the holy relics supposedly acquired by Charlemagne, you’re too late: after being displayed for veneration at Aachen during a ten-day period of pilgrimage, they’re going back into the vault, like Disney DVDs, for another seven years. This Deutsche Welle report focuses on the ambivalence, even unease, that relics now inspire. Just try phoning the Vatican for their comment on the subject and you’ll see what I mean.

If you’re interested in Carolingian manuscripts but can’t get to Paris in the next two weeks, take heart: the Bibliothèque Nationale has put its current exhibition on the Web. Thoughtfully, for three of the exhibits, the online version of “Trésors carolingien: Livres manuscrits de Charlemagne à Charles le Chauve” offers one feature that merely gawking at the books under glass does not: it lets you turn the pages.

Best of all, we can expect Charlemagne to stride across the silver screen next year in Love and Virtue, an adaptation of the 16th-century poem Orlando Furioso. I’d prefer a more straightforward take on Karl and friends—but you know, I think I need to see any movie that casts Peter O’Toole as a sorcerer named Atlantes…

3 thoughts on ““I’ve heard it said, or maybe read…”

  1. Jeff,

    I just finished reading your book, and wanted you to know that I really enjoyed it.

    The movie “Love and Virtue” appears to have had financing problems, but that they may have been resolved at Cannes.


    The thing is, from the press releases of the production company it seems more to be based on Boiardo’s epic poem “Orlando Innamorato” more than Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso.”

    Their website is here, http://www.fountainoflifeproductions.com/

    but be forewarned, they don’t update things very often. You can still find mentions that filming was to start last March when they are now planning on filming in August.

    I’d be interested to hear your reaction to reading their description of Charlemagne, whether or not you had a similar response.

    I’ll email you soon about some of my detailed thoughts on your book.

    Linda McCabe


  2. Hi, Linda! Thanks for your kind words. You’re right, it looks like there’s a strong dose of Boiardo in their script, although the company Web site also cites Ariosto and “The Song of Roland” as sources. The movie clearly isn’t going to be a straightforward, historical take, but I think that’s fine; folks have been telling tales about Charlemagne since five minutes after they slid the lid over his coffin, and modern filmmakers and novelists ought to enjoy at least as much creative leeway. Besides, I enjoy a romp through the fictionalized Middle Ages as much as anyone…


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