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Paper Monitor

15:01 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The opinion columns of the newspapers can often be a serendipitous experience - and today, Paper Monitor was transported back to its childhood by the Telegraph's words of support for the humble flannel.

According to Debenhams, the square piece of cloth (why are they always square?) may be on the "verge of extinction" due to of the growing popularity of time-saving facial wipes, and the preference for fancy shower gels, etc, over good-old fashioned soap.

In response to the news that the department store is launching what it describes as a rescue plan that includes reinventing the flannel as part of one's "everyday beauty therapy", the Telegraph reminds readers of the cloth's "essential purpose". Debenhams is keen to extol the virtues of the flannel in helping to remove facial oils and making dull skin appear brighter.

However, the Telegraph is keen to go back to first principles.

This square of cloth, traditionally, was not a beauty aid but an instrument of enforced cleanliness, scrubbed vigorously across a complaining child's face until the cheeks were raw and rosy. It may seem out of place in this world of creams and unguents, but we shall miss it when it's gone.

Judging by readers' comments on the paper's web page, there aren't too many people lamenting the flannel's demise. "Unless the bathroom face flannel is ruthlessly washed out after use then air-dried every time I would think it to be a minefield for bugs," writes one.

James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is the subject of the Times' third leader. A new edition of this stream-of-consciousness style book has been published - apparently with the mistakes corrected.

But the paper asks whether it is possible to "correct the spelling and grammar of a book that begins in the middle of a sentence, with the word 'riverrun' and, indeed, on its very first page, includes the word 'bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthyntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk', which is probably but not definitely, the sound of thunder".

It is little wonder, then, that the book often elicits the question - "is this the biggest literary joke ever?"

On another literary note, the subject of the Guardian's "In praise of" column on its opinion pages is Shakespeare's sonnet 18. The paper picks its favourite from the
sonnets that were read aloud in different languages at the Globe theatre in London to mark the bard's birthday.

Okay, if you can't immediately recall No 18, then here's a clue: Skal jeg sammenligne deg med en sommers dag? The sonnet continues in Dutch, French, Turkish, Portuguese, Latin etc.

Veel zachter en veel zonniger ben jij

Der Sturm zerreißt des Maien BlüthenKränze,

Och sommarns fröjd hvad är sa kort som den?

As vezes em calor e brilho o Sol se excede

Judging by the readers' comments at the bottom of the piece, many people are not fazed by this multi-lingual approach. But for Paper Monitor, something really has got lost in translation.

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