One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Rereading Their Letters: Flaubert & Sand

Barnes returned me to "A Simple Soul" to see the parrot. That prompted me to return again to the letters. Some three hundred in all, but an easy read.

My selection might insinuate that I'm a mild Flaubertophile. I won't pass judgement.


F. to S.:

At the present time I am disheartened by the populace which rushes by under my windows in pursuit of the fatted calf. And they say that intelligence is to be found in the street!

S. to F.:

I forgot to get three leaves from the tulip tree, you must send them to me in a letter, it is for something cabalistic.

F. to S.:

I a mysterious being, dear master, nonsense! I think that I am sickeningly platitudinous, and I am sometimes exceedingly bored with the bourgeois which I have under my skin. Sainte-Beuve, between ourselves, does not know me at all, no matter what he says. I even swear to you (by the smile of your grandchild) that I know few men less vicious than I am. I have dreamed much and have done very little.

F. to S.:

Of the two portraits, I like that of Couture's the better. As for Marchal's he saw in you only "the good woman," but I who am an old Romantic, find in the other, "the head of the author" who made me dream so much in my youth.

F. to S.:

I have followed your counsel, dear master, I have EXERCISED!!! Am I not splendid; eh? Sunday night, at eleven o'clock, there was such lovely moonlight along the river and on the snow that I was taken with an itch for movement, and I walked for two hours and a half imagining all sorts of things, pretending that I was travelling in Russia or in Norway. When the tide came in and cracked the cakes of ice in the Seine and the thin ice which covered the stream, it was, without any exaggeration, superb. Then I thought of you and I missed you.

Michigan:Thinking Double Digits in a Single Digit Landscape










Xmas Tree & Tether

Not sure why I took this picture: It was the beautiful day (about a week ago now), the clear water (usually murky) and the tether anchored to the bottom.


Monday, December 25, 2017

Barnes "Clip": Flaubert's POV vs Sand's

Has made me want to reread the correspondence: Flaubert & Sand. If not next, soon.


He does, however, restate his aesthetic one final, forceful time. At Nohant they had playfully named a ram after him—the two M. Gustaves had been introduced to each other in 1869—and even in his last tormented years he can still put his head down and charge. Art is not a vomitorium where one relieves one’s personal feelings; the artist must be hidden in the work as God is in Nature; a novel should imply, not state, its moral; form and content are interdependent; the truth of an observation or description is a good in itself; style is not a question of surface gloss—on the contrary, good writing implies good thinking. Of course, he does not convince Sand, any more than she does him: tulips are not going to flower in the potato fields at this late stage.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Barnes "Clip": On Mallarme & Meaning

As for “meaning,” Mallarmé explains his poem “La nuit approbatrice” to Cazalis thus:
It is inverted, by which I mean that its meaning, if there is one (but I’d draw consolation for its lack of meaning from the dose of poetry it contains, at least in my view) is evoked by an internal mirage created by the words themselves. If you murmur it to yourself a couple of times, you get a fairly cabbalistic sensation.  
The key phrase in this—and a fairly crude one by Mallarmé’s normal standards of diction—is “dose of poetry.” It makes the poetic act sound like the plying of a magic syringe. Some poor, untrained clump of words is hanging out at the track, wondering if it will ever make the grade; then along com es Mallarmé with the pot Belge and the EPO.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Richard Cobb ( 1917 - 1996)

Richard Charles Cobb CBE (20 May 1917 – 15 January 1996) was a British historian and essayist, and professor at the University of Oxford. He was the author of numerous influential works about the history of France, particularly the French Revolution. Cobb meticulously researched the Revolutionary era from a ground-level view sometimes described as "history from below".
Cobb is best known for his multi-volume work The People's Armies (1961), a massive study of the composition and mentality of the Revolution's civilian armed forces. He was a prolific writer of essays from which he fashioned numerous book-length collections about France and its people. Cobb also found much inspiration from his own life, and he composed a multitude of autobiographical writings and personal reflections. Much of his writing went unpublished in his lifetime, and several anthologies were assembled from it by other scholars after his death.


Barnes "Clip": France: Richard Cobb

It all got worse (it always does); indeed, it reached a poignant climax in 1989, when Cobb was so disgusted by the Bicentennial celebrations that the Revolution’s great historian resolved never to write about France again. This was a sad, love-lost, and possibly naïve decision. Renan said that “getting its history wrong is part of being a nation,” and a nation rarely gets its history as wrong as when congratulating itself on a famous yet intensely contradictory event. Cobb might have known this. But it is a measure of the largeness and precision of his love for the country that it could in the end so disappoint him.

Walking: Today (12.20.17): Shore Lore

This building has been waiting to be built (I loved the light on the skeleton and the just-visible sand mound behind). The big red crane from another angle (the gull is aping the flag or the other way round). I almost got something of the temporarily-moved and gussied-up-for-Xmas gondolas (as good as or better than a sleigh ride) but rejected the urge. The traffic sign box is seemingly anachronistic (there's no lights even close) but I could be wrong.





Walkinging: Yesterday (12.19.17): Lagoon Pics


From Borges to Barnes

Perhaps, by chance, there's a bit of alphabet logic in my choice? I've finished with Borges anthology on Borges (supposedly) -- good, but missing a lot of Borges "greats," and perhaps a bit too weighted with poems (and not always his best poems). I'm sure more Borges will eventually hit the Kindle menu (if it's not already there).


Just starting another Barnes: essays on all things French: Something to Declare.

A "clip":

La France profonde has disappeared within our century; or at least is now graspable only in tainted form. Edith Wharton saw this about to happen as she roared through France with Henry James at her side. “The trivial motorist,” as she described herself, was to prove the forerunner of other destructive agents: war, peace, communications technology, mass tourism, the industrialization of agriculture, the unfettered free market, Americanization, Eurification, greed, short-termism, complacent ahistoricism.

Sunday, December 17, 2017