In Pursuit of the Bluebird of Happiness

Haywood, Mark (2008) In Pursuit of the Bluebird of Happiness. In: E-motion: Sentiment and Technology, 17th and 18th May 2008, Fatih University, Istanbul. Full text not available from this repository.

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The proposed paper would consider the factors underpinning the unique affection the British public display towards the Bluebird record breaking cars and boats of Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald. The worldwide popularity of Formula 1 motor racing could be cited as evidence of the seeming universality of mankind (or more accurately, men’s) love of speed and fast cars. However whilst leading racing drivers are well known figures, their exotic machines can seem somwhat anonymous and common when compared to those associated with world speed records. During the past century the World Land Speed Record has been broken sixty-five times by thirty-five men, and another twenty-five have made attempts on the record. Whilst six of these sixty have been killed in the attempt, of the fourteen men who have attempted to break the World Water Speed Record, seven have been killed in the process (the most recent being Donald Campbell). Furthermore three died in record attempts on British lakes and so, for all these reasons, it might seem extraordinary that whether one considers speed records on water, or land, the only names from these sombre statistics that linger in the minds of the British public are those of Campbell and Bluebird. However whereas Bluebirds’ drivers are now often perceived as unfashionable figures, wealthy playboys from a bygone era, their machines continue to inspire great affection and even obsession. The paper would consider factors behind this phenomenon and argue that the colour of the Campbell’s machines was an important element in the enduring affection that they have attracted. The analysis would emphasise the significance of the origins of Bluebird’s name in Maeterlinck’s Symbolist play, The Bluebird of Happiness and their common ancestry in the C19th Romantic writings of Novalis and the metaphysical aspects of the colour theory set out in Goethe’s Farbenlehre.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Journal / Publication Title: E-motion: Sentiment and Technology
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA)
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 11:14
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 20:45
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