What can you say about The Master!!!! His writing just got more and more impossible. But so has my mother and I'm still there every day!!!!
Here is writiWhat can you say about The Master!!!! His writing just got more and more impossible. But so has my mother and I'm still there every day!!!!
Here is writing to revel in and respect - oblique, tortuous AND torturous, circumlocutory (a word especially invented for HJ!!), and ferociously DENSE in his later stories. These are NOT later, so don't run away. But here you WILL get a whiff of what's in store!!
James has such original subjects and original ways of narrating. Dialogue that you scrutinise for clues. A society balanced on a knife-edge. So little happening on view; catastrophes and drama being played out in subterranean depths. Characters you have to hone in on with a magnifying glass to pick up on the slightest subtlety. Of what? Manipulation, rejection, betrayal, confession, declaration.It is a minefield. And believe you me, there ARE explosions!!!
I am hungry to delve into these stories. The ghost ones make me tingle. I'm drugged. Splendid stuff.
Mary McCarthy famously and wittily said of Lilian's 3 volumes of autobiography :"Everything she said is a lie even "and" and "the". Well, I'm here to t Mary McCarthy famously and wittily said of Lilian's 3 volumes of autobiography :"Everything she said is a lie even "and" and "the". Well, I'm here to tell you they're the most entertaining set of lies you're ever likely to read.Even on second and third readings!
"Scoundrel Time" tells of the effect of McCarthyism (not Mary's!) on her life and career and that of her partner DashiellHammett. A bit difficult to lie about this.
"Pentimento" was made famous by the film "Julia" with Jane Fonda as Lilian and Vanessa Redgrave as her anti-Nazi friend Julia. Go to Lil's biographies to read about the huge dispute about "the facts". You'll find it hard to trust ANY writer after that.But you'll be ABSOLUTELY fascinated all the same."What is Truth?" said Pontius and boy, was HE onto something!!!
And "An Unfinished Woman"? Lil's childhood and career. Compare it with Mary Mc's "Memories of a Catholic Girlhood". Both are still among my all time favourites. And how true are they?? How the Hell would I know, I wasn't there . I just read the books!!!! And YOU do the same, or you're gonna die incomplete. ...more
I loved the movie with James Mason, Peter Sellers, Shelley Winters and Sue Lyons.Had not been interested in the book until then. What tipped me over thI loved the movie with James Mason, Peter Sellers, Shelley Winters and Sue Lyons.Had not been interested in the book until then. What tipped me over the edge was this review I found in our local library Gazette by a novelist Debra Adelaide:
"My reading life has included various favourite books but my latest has to be a Nabakov's LOLITA, which I seem to return to every year.Recently I bought yet another copy of LOLITA, although i own several.But they are all annotated ,on loan, too frail and too shabby. And anyway the simple fact is you can never have too many copies of LOLITA. And a fresh one helps the illusion that you're reading it for the first time rather than all over again, which enhances the intimate - even erotic pleasure of the reading experience. Not that LOLITA, despite its notorious reputation, is remotely erotic.Nor is it really about sex.Instead it is a deeply layered,ingenious portrayal of obsession,deception and self-deception, narrated by one of literature's finest creations, a character who is both egregious and beguiling. Satirical and wise,playful and erudite, a mystery, a romance,and a profoundcomment on middle-class,mid 20th century America,it is the perfect novel."
See now why I want to read LOLITA!!??one and all ...more
Have just added two new shelves to this poetry gem - Memoirs-biography and Movie-Seen-As-Well. "Reaching For The Moon",SECOND REVIEW and REREAD - 2014
Have just added two new shelves to this poetry gem - Memoirs-biography and Movie-Seen-As-Well. "Reaching For The Moon", the film of Elizabeth Bishop's meeting with the architect Lota de Macedo in Brazil just released here in Sydney last week. And that makes for a Capital Reason to reread this Favourite; and hopefully lead onto her Collected Works for at least SOME dipping !
FIRST REVIEW and REREAD - 2008.
A little unexpected gem sent to me in 1983 for Xmas by my super-poetic Canadian mate Norma, God bless her, and which has always remained a favourite.It contains "One Art" which I have always regretted not having written myself and so grateful that Elizabeth did it so much better than I ever could have managed!!! It begins: The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Now why would I spoil it by completing this tale of Losses Profound, all done with a shrug and the lightest of touches. Yet the very last line shows she is heroic!!!!
I went out and bought the complete works after this. ...more
UNFINISHED...When I bought this in the early 70's I had never heard of Janet Flanner. It was Paris that I was mad about. Really enjoyed the book but too UNFINISHED...When I bought this in the early 70's I had never heard of Janet Flanner. It was Paris that I was mad about. Really enjoyed the book but took the writer for granted. Janet turned out to be a whole world in herself. Now I'm mad about Janet!!!
In 1998 I saw advertised in the TV program on late night TV, around midnight(and this was to be a real case of the witching hour!!!) a show entitled "Paris was a Woman". Another travelogue!!! I wearily turned it on out of curiosity and stayed rivetted for the next amazing hour.It was about Amazing Women who had lived in Paris in the 20's and 30's: Gertrude Stein and Alice B.Toklas, of course.f
Then, in the local library, came across "Darlingissima", her wonderful correspondence with Natalia Danesi Murray. What solid, intelligent, witty, humane, loving, informative epistles these are!!! What an opus!! Felt flat flat flat when I reached the end.
Then found a biography in a remainder bookshop ..UNFINISHD ...more
"PARIS WAS YESTERDAY 1925 - 1939" was a book and BE Damned who had written it. (It was Janet Flanner of course!!)I came to Janet Flanner via PARIS !!!
"PARIS WAS YESTERDAY 1925 - 1939" was a book and BE Damned who had written it. (It was Janet Flanner of course!!) I was just one of many. I was sick sick sick for PARIS !!!! I bought music ABOUT...musicals and movie themes and OF Paris...French Chansons with Piaf, Trenet,Baker etc., etc.
I'd already done the history of France and was mad about the Artists; and already read Colette and Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, started on Proust, sunk my teeth into Balzac and Guy de Maupassant. I'd read about the culture too and when I finally landed in Paris for the First Time, in Winter, alone, lonely - but soon forgot THAT condition - was very quickly totally entranced and at home very soon ...Janet Flanner was an Unknown Prospect and a Future Treat. It was after that FIRST visit that I was sickkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk !!!
Soon I came across "DARLINGISSIMA - Letters To a Friend". by.....yeah ! Janet Flanner !!! What FANTASTIC letters !!!!!!! (Oh! Yeah!!SHE'S the one who wrote all those articles about French Life in THAT collection I bought years ago.) I dragged out "PARIS WAS YESTERDAY" (NOW by Janet Flanner!!!) and REREAD it.
I'd been back to Gay Paree and beyond in the meantime but had never tired of It; and Thankfully had settled for Reality. So no Longer SICK !!!
AND THEN... along came Brenda Wineapple and "GENET".
I was SO LUCKY to find this book in Australia ! I again don't give A DAMN about the faults, if any !!!! I DEVOURED it. I LOVED being back in Janet's Company; being back in PARIS with someone else who had loved it; learning some more about her that even her letters couldn't tell me.
I'd made friends in France by now. I was yet to return to work in my Friends'Country Garden in the Loire. And soon will be off to live in their Village Home in Provence. Paris has been a bit displaced. I realise I prefer Rustic Solitudes and Mother Nature ...for France is a place as well as a city, and cultures change.
BUT getting back to Brenda. She isn't,can't and won't supply you with the FIRST HAND JANET FLANNER. Come on !!! If an Aussie on the Underside of the Planet can find TWO BOOKS in her Own Voice, You Yankees must be sitting on a Veritable Minefield.
What's more I even have a video of the TV show of the fabulous Book "PARIS WAS A WOMAN" in which Janet declares that Ernest Hemingway stole his style of writing from Gertrude Stein...in her wonderfully superb and gravelly voice.(I never have liked Ernie's overweening Ego.) And at the same time James Joyce was ripping off his GREATEST patron and first publisher...yes, ANOTHER woman, Sylvia Beach....and they were ALL Daughters of Sappho, which Proust would have LOVED, after all, just about EVERYONE in his Magnus Opus turned out to be tres Gai in the END. THE END.
I can remember my Dad's married sisters discussing this book (they were voracious readers always) in the 1960's. I was determined to read it and fina I can remember my Dad's married sisters discussing this book (they were voracious readers always) in the 1960's. I was determined to read it and finally got hold of it in 1967 when I was studying to be a Catholic priest. My Student Director immediately confiscated it, so I knew its reputation was still going strong.(He didn't see my two volumes of Nietzsche I'd also bought with money my Mum had given me for my 20th birthday - I'd only bought them because I'd already seen him confiscate a Nietzsche on the grounds that it could destroy one's faith and I was already seeing large holes in the Church's fabric myself!!) I mentioned what had happened to my History tutor, a Russian woman, at Adelaide University(South Australia) and she gave me her copy of McCarthy which I still have. I have read it three times (2007 was the last time) and seen the movie several times, a very faithful rendition. This book is so eloquent and dry and upfront and honest. All of these make it totally outrageous but dreadfully refreshing.(How many books do this???) It makes me believe in intelligent Americans in a way that Sex and the City doesn't. It's sad to notice that there is only one American male on this site.( Well done, Dave!!!) Aren't they interested in the experiences of their women? Great to see another generation of women responding to this great author. By the way, I never became a priest.I left the monastery two years later an atheist. And I never read the Nietzsche - it was too difficult.I still have them though...like a symbol!! And I'm looking forward to another reread of The Group. Cheers from Wayne,Sydney. PS.Have any of you folk read another magnificent American woman, Janet Flanner, Paris correspondent for the New Yorker?
So looking forward to rereading this. Have yet to complete some of the same territory in James Bradley's "Flags of Our Fathers".These books take all So looking forward to rereading this. Have yet to complete some of the same territory in James Bradley's "Flags of Our Fathers".These books take all the John Wayne Hollywood Glamour out of war and show how politicians so often needlessly commit mere children ie young, poor and naive soldiers to often needless slaughter - Americans and Arabs both in the present conflict....more
Having had lots of holidays in some relatively and very isolated places in Australia and so often finding the return to life in "civilisation" very haHaving had lots of holidays in some relatively and very isolated places in Australia and so often finding the return to life in "civilisation" very hard to readapt to, I was with Brian ALL the way in this one!!!Right inside his skin. No doubt Gary Paulsen knows exactly these feelings.A wonderful, wonderful read. I can only say to those who were disapppointed in this book to try living for a short while in isolation at various times - and I don't necessarily mean in total discomfort and deprivation, but just with the basics. You do develop inner resources, a fuller enjoyment of nature through a keening of the senses in regard to observation, an increase in creativity and a new mindset. No TV, radio, ipods...a log fire and minimum electricity/lamp.Heaven!!! ...more
Deceptively slight, this early James packs a punch full of complexity and resonating depths.It is sad to see so many students on this site dismissingDeceptively slight, this early James packs a punch full of complexity and resonating depths.It is sad to see so many students on this site dismissing it as an easy, and therefore a boring and unchallenging read. God Help America!!!!
1967!! Adelaide University!! Miss Sweetapple doing my first Henry James!! They were both terrifying!!! I LOVED Gertrude Wentworth, the most gutsy, rebellious and unsung of all James' heroines, as far as I'm concerned.
But what is happening?? The subtlety is suffocating...but invisible to superficial readers. They read desperately between the lines for some clue. So it is dismissed as 'light' James. And students are BOOOOOOOrrred. But this thin volume has the weight of a brick!!!
And James is not going to spoonfeed anyone. He is not going to take sides with the ardour of a Patriot. His concerns and sympathies lie elsewhere...
Earthquakes are occurring and prejudices and limitations exposed, and lives never take off. But others do from unexpected quarters. Prissy Robert Acton cannot tell the difference between a lie and a little social manipulation. His Puritan World is religiously black/white. Rather than losing him, the Baroness has a lucky escape from a life of utter stultification with a narrow, unfeeling and supreme bore. Far from the Gentlemen of Boston discovering the Baroness' deceitfulness, they are well and truly outclassed and way in above their heads. Here is a woman who lives in a world of her own creation, while most of the New Englanders are just trying to follow a prescribed set of rules and out of touch with their real feelings. Except for refreshing Gert, who shows up the pinnacle Acton for the weakling he is. As does Felix.
James is anything but black and white. Shades of grey predominate. So those who rush in waving their interpretive tool labelled "Europe versus America", "decadence versus healthy innocence", "artifice versus natural openness", just won't 'get it'. James is endorsing no one ...totally. Gertrude and Eugenia BOTH tell fibs!!!! Gertrude alone appreciates the Baroness.Gertrude is trying to expand beyond the limits imposed by her family and thus act more naturally. She is in touch with her real feelings whereas the other New Englanders are in denial of their feelings largely due to their Puritan ethic.
James mocks the Americans. If the Europeans,Felix and his older sister Eugenia, the Baroness(in fact they are Americans too, - see, no black/white dichotomy!!!) are opportunists, this is much more the image of the classical brash, outgoing, on-the -make American than the New Englanders, who self-seriously stress their past history, what little of it they have;one only need recall Mr Wentworth's 80 year old house, his'George Washington slept here', James' ironic "ancient city of Boston" and a youth dominated by dead and dying parents. This blurring of what are seen by the unwary and unobservant as strict opposites continues. Because James treats the Wentworths with sympathy, gentle irony and humour, so for all their limitations they come across as naive,charming and generous people but out of touch with their true feelings and so victims of self-deception. Eugenia may thus shine but James also shows her as a victim of her self-interest.
It is in Acton that America stands mainly condemned. Despite his travels and wider experience of art and manners in comparison with the limited world of the other New Englanders, he is still unable to act on his feelings. It is a young girl thirsting unwittingly for his experiences, who outstrips him in every way. Gertrude!! The other New Englanders have real passions which they deny by a self-imposed morality. Acton uses his morality as an excuse for his inadequacy of feeling. His worldliness is not rich, profound and wise, but a mere outward trapping. He takes a high moral tone, denouncing Eugenia as a liar and thus saving himself from confronting his inadequate emotional life. Far from being superior and unsusceptible to the Baroness' charms, he is in flight from a superior being whose emotional life he cannot match. Surface flees depth.
Deceptively slight, this early James packs a punch full of complexity and resonating depths. Sad to see so many students on this site dismissing it as an easy and uninteresting read. God Save America!!!! ...more
In 1972 when I found that "Hamlet" was one of 3 Shakespearean tragedies I was to study in my Final Year of English Lit at Sydney Uni, I was delightedIn 1972 when I found that "Hamlet" was one of 3 Shakespearean tragedies I was to study in my Final Year of English Lit at Sydney Uni, I was delighted to find a filmed version of the play by the Great Russian Director Kozintsev was being given a single showing. I went. And everything went downhill from there. Why??
The film was FANTASTIC!!!...see it!! A play is meant to be seen in performance, not read. And then there are the Academic Literary Critics!!!
I was reading a Signet Classic of the play and along with lots of great footnotes and translations of obscure or redundant vocabulary, they had kindly printed several critical essays. The BIG issue was Hamlet's maddness, or was he??? There was the Freudian analysis and others whose views I have happily suppressed!! To read them was a nightmare. To read them was to kill the wonderful film.
I came to treasure Oscar Wilde's summation of Hamlet's critics: "Are Hamlet's critics mad or are they only pretending to be?"
Crew's book is THE REVENGE in the name of all those who have suffered. As the Daily Mail commented on Crews' "absolutely withering destruction of the abuses of academic criticism": '..deadly smash-hits on many paper palaces of literary flatulence.'
And BEST OF ALL, in the tradition of "revenge is sweet" it is all very VERY FUNNY!!!! ...more