Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Jim Roots

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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 6:01 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:Fascinatingly, Bulwer-Lytton is now better-known as a statesman than a novelist. I recall from my political science MA days that there was a notable effort to examine his political activities and to pretend he was a major player in that realm.

Jim
Fascinating indeed! Bulwer-Lytton was a statesman?


Yup -- Secretary of State for the Colonies, in which capacity he had some influence on the development of the province of British Columbia here in Canada. Member of Parliament. Close friend of Disraeli. And at one point, believe it or not, he was offered the position of King of Greece!

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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 10:52 am

If we can switch to American authors, I'm going to make a case for James Fenimore Cooper as one Fallen into Relative Obscurity. Back when I was coming up in school, we read either The Deerslayer or Last of the Mohicans in American Lit courses in high school or college. He's still nominally one of the greats of the nineteenth century, but the latest edition of the Norton Anthology of American Literature that I use in my survey course allots only a scant twenty-two pages to Cooper, and no one whom I know in academia assigns his novels anymore, for they're very long and often lugubrious. The many screen versions of Mohicans keep his name alive, and of course I'm going to say that the Tourneur/Brown effort from 1920 remains one of the best.
Last edited by Dean Thompson on Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 11:11 am

Dean Thompson wrote:If we can switch to American authors, I'm going to make a case for James Fenimore Cooper as one Fallen into Relative Obscurity. Back when I was coming up in school, we read either The Deerslayer or Last of the Mohicans in American Lit courses in high school or college. He's still nominally one of the greats of the nineteenth century, but the latest edition of the Norton Anthology of American Literature that I use in my survey course allots only a scant twenty-two pages to Cooper, and no one whom I know in academia assigns his novels anymore, for they're very long and often lugubrious. The many screen versions of Mohicans keep his name alive, and of course I'm going to say that the Tourneur/Brown version from 1920 remains one of the best.


Good choice. And didn't Daniel Day-Lewis remake Mohicans only a couple of years ago, proving that they're still making films from Cooper's "obscure classics" even in the CGI era when not one American in ten million could identify the author without resorting to Wikipedia?

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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 3:10 pm

In general, that also leads to the question if people read any books at all anymore. Possibly the same could be said of Moby Dick.
What if we reverse the question? Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 3:20 pm

MaryGH wrote:There's also "Tom Jones" (1917, UK) based on Henry Fielding's novel (1749) of the same name.

"Robinson Crusoe" (1927, UK) based on Defoe's 1719 novel.

"Die Intrigen der Madame de la Pommeraye" (Madame de La Pommeraye's Intrigues) (1922, Germany) based on Diderot's story.

All are 18th century written stories/novels.

I'm sure there are many more out there...


Again, would not regard 'Tom Jones' or 'Robinson Crusoe' as obscure...
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 4:18 pm

There's a film version from 1920 of Lady Audley's Secret, based on the book by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 4:53 pm

Frederica wrote:There's a film version from 1920 of Lady Audley's Secret, based on the book by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.


That's a classic?

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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 4:57 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:In general, that also leads to the question if people read any books at all anymore. Possibly the same could be said of Moby Dick.
What if we reverse the question? Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


Well, there's been a world-wide huge explosion in the sales of George Orwell's not-so-obscure classic, 1984, as a direct consequence of the election of u-no-hoo. Also in Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here.

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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 5:10 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:In general, that also leads to the question if people read any books at all anymore. Possibly the same could be said of Moby Dick.
What if we reverse the question? Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


Well, there's been a world-wide huge explosion in the sales of George Orwell's not-so-obscure classic, 1984, as a direct consequence of the election of u-no-hoo. Also in Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here.

Jim


As a moderate, I don't have that much to defend as far as the two party system, but I think the Democrats are pretty Orwellian, but then much of modern times is.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 5:19 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Dean Thompson wrote:If we can switch to American authors, I'm going to make a case for James Fenimore Cooper as one Fallen into Relative Obscurity. Back when I was coming up in school, we read either The Deerslayer or Last of the Mohicans in American Lit courses in high school or college. He's still nominally one of the greats of the nineteenth century, but the latest edition of the Norton Anthology of American Literature that I use in my survey course allots only a scant twenty-two pages to Cooper, and no one whom I know in academia assigns his novels anymore, for they're very long and often lugubrious. The many screen versions of Mohicans keep his name alive, and of course I'm going to say that the Tourneur/Brown version from 1920 remains one of the best.


Good choice. And didn't Daniel Day-Lewis remake Mohicans only a couple of years ago, proving that they're still making films from Cooper's "obscure classics" even in the CGI era when not one American in ten million could identify the author without resorting to Wikipedia?

Jim


If by "a couple of years ago" you really mean "a quarter of a century ago," you'd be right. But then 1992 seems like a couple of years ago to me, as well. THE SPOILERS, for example is to me a classic if slightly flawed 1914 film from a 1906 novel, but more movie buffs probably would think of one of the "recent" versions from 1942 or 1955, or at least the talkie version from 1930, if they even know the title at all.

The 1902 novel THE VIRGINIAN is a somewhat better-known title, again filmed in 1914 with at least a half a dozen remakes over the next 100 years. I don't think there's been a movie of THE SPOILERS since the "recent" one in the 50s.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 5:36 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


Still selling in new editions, which someone is reading:

- Charles Dickens - Stoker's DRACULA - Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 6:36 pm

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
MaryGH wrote:There's also "Tom Jones" (1917, UK) based on Henry Fielding's novel (1749) of the same name.

"Robinson Crusoe" (1927, UK) based on Defoe's 1719 novel.

"Die Intrigen der Madame de la Pommeraye" (Madame de La Pommeraye's Intrigues) (1922, Germany) based on Diderot's story.

All are 18th century written stories/novels.

I'm sure there are many more out there...


Again, would not regard 'Tom Jones' or 'Robinson Crusoe' as obscure...



Does it have to be in English?

There is Laila Majnu (1922) silent Bollywood, after Laila and Majnun by Nizami, 12th century (had to read the book back in college).
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostMon Jun 19, 2017 6:39 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


If what my freshmen tell me is anything to go by, high schoolers are still reading their Twain, Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, Stevenson, Hugo, Shakespeare, etc. What concerns me is that they're reading them so early. I've lost count of students who have told me they despise Dickens because they had to read A Tale of Two Cities in 10th grade and hate Shakespeare after having trudged through Julius Caesar in 8th grade(!). I for one am in favor of having students read more recent and accessible fiction first and then easing them into the more venerable classics later, say 11th and 12th grades, when many of them are preparing for AP exams.

Back to the topic, though: I hate to think of Alexandre Dumas' slipping into the second tier, but might we count the Nazimova Camille? Cinephiles know the film versions through the decades, and of course (in a different realm) there's Verdi's La Traviata, but I doubt that many people read the novel itself these days.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 2:17 am

telical wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:In general, that also leads to the question if people read any books at all anymore. Possibly the same could be said of Moby Dick.
What if we reverse the question? Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


Well, there's been a world-wide huge explosion in the sales of George Orwell's not-so-obscure classic, 1984, as a direct consequence of the election of u-no-hoo. Also in Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here.

Jim


As a moderate, I don't have that much to defend as far as the two party system, but I think the Democrats are pretty Orwellian, but then much of modern times is.
The whole idea that the danger is coming from the state is outdated. Robocop is a much more accurate prediction, or even Brave new world. Anyway...
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 2:30 am

Dean Thompson wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


If what my freshmen tell me is anything to go by, high schoolers are still reading their Twain, Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, Stevenson, Hugo, Shakespeare, etc. What concerns me is that they're reading them so early. I've lost count of students who have told me they despise Dickens because they had to read A Tale of Two Cities in 10th grade and hate Shakespeare after having trudged through Julius Caesar in 8th grade(!). I for one am in favor of having students read more recent and accessible fiction first and then easing them into the more venerable classics later, say 11th and 12th grades, when many of them are preparing for AP exams.

Back to the topic, though: I hate to think of Alexandre Dumas' slipping into the second tier, but might we count the Nazimova Camille? Cinephiles know the film versions through the decades, and of course (in a different realm) there's Verdi's La Traviata, but I doubt that many people read the novel itself these days.
So there it seems to depend on the school currriculum?
wich2 wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


Still selling in new editions, which someone is reading:

- Charles Dickens - Stoker's DRACULA - Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN
Funny thing is, some of the examples (in both posts quoted above) are arguably not even literature. Dumas, Stevenson, Dracula, those can be considered light reading. Not that Dracula is an author but you know what I mean.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 8:41 am

Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


JANE AUSTEN COMES FROM BEHIND AND TAKES THE LEAD!
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 9:40 am

boblipton wrote:The Moonstone has been filmed several times.

Bob


According to my wife, Wilkie Collins is by no means second tier. I mean, they get reprints and are in center displays at Barnes and Noble so someone besides her is reading them.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 9:57 am

Mike Gebert wrote:
JANE AUSTEN COMES FROM BEHIND AND TAKES THE LEAD!


D'ohhh! Yes, absolutely. How could we have forgotten her? Everybody except Mike take a dunce cap, go to the corner, and stand in abjection until Miss Crabtree sounds the All Clear.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 11:01 am

Here are the ones I could think of:

Helen's Babies by John Habberton (1924 silent with Clara Bow)
Beau Geste by P.C. Wren (1926 silent with Ronald Coleman)
The Song of Songs by Hermann Sudermann (1918 silent with Elsie Ferguson & talkie)
Beyond the Rocks by Elinor Glyn (1922 silent with Gloria Swanson)
Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn (1914 silent & 1924 silent with Conrad Nagel)
Red Hair by Elinor Glyn (1928 silent with Clara Bow)
The Eagle's Mate by Anna Alice Chapin (1914 silent with Mary Pickford)
The Divine Lady by E. Barrington (1929 silent with Corinne Griffith)
Wild Oranges by Joseph Hergesheimer (1924 silent with Virginia Valli)
The Thirteenth Chair by Bayard Veiller (1919 silent & talkies)
A Lady of Quality by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1913 & 1924 silents)
The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason (1915 & 1921 silents)
Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes (1916 silent & talkies)
Mistress Nell by George C. Hazelton (1915 silent with Mary Pickford)
Souls for Sale by Rupert Hughes (1923 silent with Eleanor Boardman)
Fantomas by Marcel Allain (1913 silent)
The Admirable Crichton by J.M. Barrie (1919 silent Male and Female)
Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore (1920 silent with Madge Bellamy)
The Heart of the Hills by John Fox Jr. (1919 silent with Mary Pickford)
East Lynne by Mrs. Henry Wood (1916, 1921, 1925 silents & talkies)
Within the Law by Bayard Veiller (1917 & 1923 silents)
Show Boat by Edna Ferber (talkies)
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 11:10 am

Mike Gebert wrote:
Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


JANE AUSTEN COMES FROM BEHIND AND TAKES THE LEAD!
Yes, but (I think it was discussed once before), there is NO silent Pride and Prejudice, NO Sepia & Sensibility. In fact her oeuvre seems to do best on television.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 11:31 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:In general, that also leads to the question if people read any books at all anymore. Possibly the same could be said of Moby Dick.
What if we reverse the question? Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


Well, there's been a world-wide huge explosion in the sales of George Orwell's not-so-obscure classic, 1984, as a direct consequence of the election of u-no-hoo. Also in Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here.

Jim


And The Handmaid's Tale.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 11:36 am

wich2 wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


Still selling in new editions, which someone is reading:

- Charles Dickens - Stoker's DRACULA - Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN


My Classics Book Club just finished Mrs. Dalloway, we've also read Dickens, Tolstoy, Wharton, and Dumas. Also Kobo Abe, Raymond Chandler, and P.G. Wodehouse.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 11:59 am

Dean Thompson wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


If what my freshmen tell me is anything to go by, high schoolers are still reading their Twain, Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, Stevenson, Hugo, Shakespeare, etc. What concerns me is that they're reading them so early. I've lost count of students who have told me they despise Dickens because they had to read A Tale of Two Cities in 10th grade and hate Shakespeare after having trudged through Julius Caesar in 8th grade(!). I for one am in favor of having students read more recent and accessible fiction first and then easing them into the more venerable classics later, say 11th and 12th grades, when many of them are preparing for AP exams.


God, I would hope the reading curriculum has widened a bit! I soooo very much agree with you about age appropriateness. I read those books at that age in those classes, too; I've always been a bookworm so I escaped HS freshman English without loathing both Dickens and Shakespeare, but many of my classmates didn't. Just because the book is recent and accessible (and aimed at a younger age group) doesn't mean the writing is bad or that it isn't worthwhile. "Classics" don't have to be punitive reading, either, that critical concept hit room temp decades ago. Some classics are ripping yarns, bless them.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 12:15 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
Who/what are the a-list classics that people actually still read? Mark Twain?


JANE AUSTEN COMES FROM BEHIND AND TAKES THE LEAD!


The Bronte sisters are coming up on the rail and George Eliot has opened up on the backstretch.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 12:53 pm

According to my wife, Wilkie Collins is by no means second tier.


I think he's second tier in the sense that he was friends with Dickens and there's a discernible difference between them. Only one is Dickens.

But I really liked No Name, a terrific ur-feminist drama that would make a great movie (especially if you improved on a somewhat weak ending). Two sisters get screwed out of an inheritance by a quirk of the law, one sort of sinks into being a governess with no dreams of her own, but the other... Edmond Dantes has nothing on her.

* * *

Speaking of high school reading curricula... as the father of a newly minted graduate, I'd say that the curriculum is definitely skewed more toward "diversity" these days, but generally of a high caliber-- I mean, if you read Native Son and To Kill a Mockingbird instead of Huckleberry Finn and David Copperfield, I'm not going to say you had a markedly inferior experience (and we'd already listened to Huck Finn in the car on the way to school, years ago). In any case, I know my son had to read The Scarlet Letter (hated it) and the ever-present Julius Caesar as well as some YA Fiction type books which are not classics, but worthy enough for discussion in class. On his own he asked me what the greatest book ever was, and I said The Brothers Karamazov, and he's about halfway through it. When he's done I'll tell him I lied and it's really The Red and the Black, and he can read that next.

As far as punitive reading, my hands-down Hated, Hated It book is The Faerie Queen which, thanks to an old school education, I was subjected to in both high school and college. The hardest slog of a classic which I nonetheless finished was Willa Cather's My Antonia.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 1:05 pm

To be honest, the first silent that comes to my mind is "The Phantom of the Opera"...but I the novel by Gaston Leroux (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra) was recent when the Lon Chaney version was made. Today people mainly know the Andrew Lloyd Webber version.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 2:57 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Frederica wrote:There's a film version from 1920 of Lady Audley's Secret, based on the book by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.


That's a classic?

Jim


'Lady Audley' has been reissued by the OUP and has also been on local study courses. There is a following for her, but not so much as the big guns....
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 3:23 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:
According to my wife, Wilkie Collins is by no means second tier.


I think he's second tier in the sense that he was friends with Dickens and there's a discernible difference between them. Only one is Dickens.


I reject tiered reading. I read.

But I really liked No Name, a terrific ur-feminist drama that would make a great movie (especially if you improved on a somewhat weak ending). Two sisters get screwed out of an inheritance by a quirk of the law, one sort of sinks into being a governess with no dreams of her own, but the other... Edmond Dantes has nothing on her.
*

Collins is better at women than is Dickens, but it's not like Dickens didn't know his female characters were fantasies. I don't think he realized how gag-making they are. To his credit he did create Florence Dombey.

Speaking of high school reading curricula... as the father of a newly minted graduate, I'd say that the curriculum is definitely skewed more toward "diversity" these days, but generally of a high caliber-- I mean, if you read Native Son and To Kill a Mockingbird instead of Huckleberry Finn and David Copperfield, I'm not going to say you had a markedly inferior experience (and we'd already listened to Huck Finn in the car on the way to school, years ago). In any case, I know my son had to read The Scarlet Letter (hated it) and the ever-present Julius Caesar as well as some YA Fiction type books which are not classics, but worthy enough for discussion in class. On his own he asked me what the greatest book ever was, and I said The Brothers Karamazov, and he's about halfway through it. When he's done I'll tell him I lied and it's really The Red and the Black, and he can read that next.


Ack! Tell him there is no such thing as the greatest book ever. Or are you trying to snake him into reading stuff before he realizes that decision is his to make?

As far as punitive reading, my hands-down Hated, Hated It book is The Faerie Queen which, thanks to an old school education, I was subjected to in both high school and college. The hardest slog of a classic which I nonetheless finished was Willa Cather's My Antonia.


I read both Cather and some others (McCullers, Salinger) at the wrong time in my life, I was far too old. They went in one eye and out the other, but while reading them I realized I would have loved them when I was in my 20s. Age appropriate reading is not just for ten year olds.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 3:31 pm

Ack! Tell him there is no such thing as the greatest book ever. Or are you trying to snake him into reading stuff before he realizes that decision is his to make?


He wanted to stretch himself, which I admired the idea of, so I told him the stretchiest book I could think of.

He has read plenty of other things in the same time frame, from a whole Vonnegut phase to Nabokov's Pnin; I think On The Road is on his desk right now. I think I warned him that he might already be too old for Catcher in the Rye, but to try it anyway and project back to 14 or so if he could.
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Re: Silent Films that were made from obscure classics

PostTue Jun 20, 2017 4:05 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Funny thing is, some of the examples (in both posts quoted above) are arguably not even literature. Dumas, Stevenson, Dracula, those can be considered light reading. Not that Dracula is an author but you know what I mean.


SN, I say with all due respect that you are skating on very thin ice there, on Snobbery Pond!

The argument over, "This is LITERATURE... while that is just WRITING!" is an old one. And I think, kind of a silly one.

For many reasons, but the best being that (as this excellent thread demonstrates) the goalposts of those two designations are often fluid over time.

-Craig
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