It was an ugly house

“It was an ugly house” – Fischer vs. Spassky by Lara Vapnyar

15 thoughts on “It was an ugly house

    1. It’s certainly not cozy, isn’t it? Yes, it could well be a 17th century hospital or jail or something like that. I had a closer look at some of my photos because ot the barren windows. The current owner restored (or is still restoring) the building and the windows are quite new. What looks like bars are the things (beams?) that divide the small rectangular glass compartments of the windows – I don’t even know the German expression for them …
      Thank you!

      Ha, I remembered the German word and the English should be “muntin”. Right?

      1. “Muntin” is exactly the correct name of those narrow strips of wood or metal that separate panes of glass which are called “lights” or “lites.” These architectural terms are mostly known to those in the building trades.

        Not all old castles or manor houses are graceful or beautiful. We visited Grant Castle in Scotland which Queen Victoria described as looking like a factory, and she was not entirely wrong.

        1. Grant Caslte could be the Scottish twin of Entrecasteaux castle: same windows with muntins and lights :-), same high walls, privately owned and refurbished …

  1. That is far from an ugly house and your picture captured it well with a nice range of tones in black and white. Very nicely done. Your quotes from Fischer vs. Spassky interest me, since I vividly remember that chess match as teenager. Our local PBS TV station would broadcast the moves and have chess masters in the studio to analyze each move. They made the match exciting, even though one would not think of a chess match as being all that exciting to watch. I’ll have to read this book for myself.

    1. Thank you very much :-)

      I have just thought about this the other day, how at least in the 80s (I don’t remember the 70’s since I was too young then) and 90’s chess matches and tournaments were broadcasted on TV and everyone at least knew the name of the respective world champion. Seems like all this has completely vanished from public view and interest?
      There has been an excellent commentator on German TV, too.
      And we even had this:

  2. What an odd group of spaces. That dull lump of a building in front of a wall built into rock with a statue in front and that formal garden. Only black and white could capture that amalgam of shapes. None of the elements appeals to me (as you know, my garden is the exact opposite of formal…’s quite rude in fact;-)), but the whole picture is a wonder.

    1. And this, my dear James, is the reason why there are not thousand and thousand of tourists per year visiting your garden!
      But you are totally right about the shapes and spaces. In colour the photo was totally boring – one of hundred touristy snaps of a castle in Southern France.
      I thought I could emphasize the menacing (or like Ed said it much better: institution-like) character with b/w and a little bit of contrast.
      The quote describes a very small dacha near Moscow – that made me smile ;-)

      Thank you very much!

      1. Well we had a tour bus come and empty out tourists into my garden. All we have found so far is a handbag and the rear axle of the bus. When I mow in the Spring I’m sure we’ll locate a few of them!

  3. @all: Some little bit of info …
    That’s the castle of Entrecasteaux.
    The park was designed by André Le Nôtre. That’s the one who also designed the Tuilleries in Paris and the park of Versailles.
    The castle was built in the 16th century on the ruins of an 11th century fort. The castle is privately owned and the owner actually lives there.
    For more see

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