In Ancient Light, John Banville casts a fictional version of himself in a bit part, as “JB”, a biographer whose work, The Invention of the Past – the life of a disgraced academic, a book not unlike Banville’s own Shroud (2003), only non-fictional, or purportedly non-fictional – is being made into a film.The narrator, Alex Cleave – that is, the narrator of Ancient Light, who is also the narrator of Eclipse (2002) and a character in Shroud – encounters the fictionalised “JB” when he is engaged to play the said disgraced academic in the film.The thickness of the oil affects the capillary action so soaking the wick in oil before lighting it works best. It will burn just as well as any high-grade olive oil, but will be cheaper.Use wicks with a large weave or even tightly twisted strips of cotton cloth. Dip the swab into the oil and then twist the oiled end off of the swab stick and shape it into a teardrop. A little will go along way because it burns quite slowly.The number of lamps found in Britain is much lower than in other parts of the Empire and this is thought to be due to the cost of importing olive oil.Oil, made from olives or other vegetables, was a valuable resource and as such the cost involved in burning oil, which could otherwise be used as fuel, is thought to have been too great for widespread use of the lamps in Roman Britain.Reading the biography to bone up on the part, he notes that JB writes like “a minor court official at Byzantium” and “Walter Pater in a delirium”.But perhaps it’s not just some extravagant sensibility that demands such elaboration by the author, but rather this very piling-up of timeslips and half-rememberings, overlapping selves and fictionalised truths.
People have used olive oil with cotton or linen wicks to cleanse the air around them and to keep flames burning for light for thousand of years.
Wicks were commonly made from pieces of linen, but could also be made from flax or papyrus.
Although there are some known areas in Britain of lamp manufacture, many of the lamps found here would have been imported from areas such as Italy, Gaul (Ancient France), Germany and North Africa.
As in previous books, there’s a remarkable balancing act whereby sharply seen details of the specificities of things (“the broad groove between her breasts had a silvery sheen”) are undermined by a prevailing atmosphere of troublesome vagueness.
This is not a blog exclusively for single girls or even young women specifically.