This writer has really done his homework and brings Jane out of the shadows with his clever detective work,analysing her juvenilia, her correspondenc This writer has really done his homework and brings Jane out of the shadows with his clever detective work,analysing her juvenilia, her correspondence and what is NOT there ...the omissions and hints and signs.
"I don't believe the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man i WHO WROTE THIS NEGATIVE DESPAIRING RUBBISH???!!
"I don't believe the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise people and nations would have rebelled long ago. There's a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder and kill."
Q: Now who could have written this very negative view of the Human Race on Wednesday, 3rd May, 1944 ???
A: The same diarist who wrote almost the exact opposite only 2 1/2 months later, on 15th July, 1944,the much quoted:
"It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical.Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart."
This quote has been criticised as "sentimental" by the Goodreads author David Epstein.He finds the viewpoint absurd and difficult to swallow, and from a theological perspective "plain wrong".(Mr. Epstein is yet to clarify what exactly he means by this latter statement.) He awards the Diary ONE STAR. The great Swedish actress,Liv Ullmann, had to say these now famous words of Anne's at the end of EVERY production of the play, in which she played the young diarist. But in later years as an adult and rep. of UNICEF, when she experienced the fates of children in war-torn zones,not unreasonably she lost faith in Anne's words of Hope, declaring in an article: "Anne Frank, you died in vain."
HOWEVER,did either of these critics take the time to read this famous quote in context,for Anne Frank had one more paragraph to write before she signed off on this diary entry.
It is here she tells us exactly why she is being so positive about the 'human nature' she criticised so roundly in May. These are the words that follow immediately after the famous quote:
"It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness,I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold onto my ideals. perhaps the day will come when I'll be able to realise them!"
I ASK YOU,is it better to live your life in despair and depression or in a seemingly futile hope which offers at least something with which you can continue to live ?
Can you imagine the mental stress that this young girl was living under when she wrote this. Any pontificating comments we might make about her, mark us out as Supreme Egos of Little Imagination. Or perhaps as very careless readers??
It is comforting to think we may have met our match in a young Jewish girl of 15. She was destroyed, as she so bravely predicted. She lived with cruelty and death in waiting at the hands of a ruthless and fanatical enemy. How would YOU cope in such circumstances??? I feel I may have VERY readily succumbed to despair.
And some find this a mere diary AND "boring"!!!
Anne's remark of Hope in the midst of Nazi Terror and taken in isolation from the words that follow in her diary doesn't merit David Epstein's smug and condescending: "A 14 year old in peril has a right to be sentimental." Sentimentality would be the remotest feeling to be experienced by any victim of Nazi Terror, I'm CERTAIN ! Nor does it merit Liv Ullmann's: "Anne Frank, you died in vain." Her words are more like an heroic struggle not to lose faith, not to despair. And if she did despair at the end, dying alone in horrific conditions, ill and hungry, can we point a condemnatory finger at her, without actually condemning ourselves!!??
I saw this as a film, a wonderful rendition, in 1959 when it was first released.
The next time I saw it almost ten years later, I too was in a monasteI saw this as a film, a wonderful rendition, in 1959 when it was first released.
The next time I saw it almost ten years later, I too was in a monastery, as a monk or priest-to-be. I was struggling with my belief and finally left, a reluctant atheist.I can clearly remember after the film, asking my companion monk why he thought Sister Luke had left her religious order.His reply was that she had lost her vocation.I was startled. Still am!!
To me, Sister Luke's religious order could no longer contain her. She was too much of a realist. She had neither lost her faith or her vocation.She had just kept growing and refused to stop.I, myself, felt that I was growing and regardless of the then bitter pill of atheism, with no Dawkins or Hitchens to support me - there were no popular atheists writing in those days - I followed my reasoned and reasonable doubts right out the Catholic Church's Front Door. I had sought help- to be told by one priest that my atheism was a big problem to me, but NOT a big problem. Another told me to separate my philosophical and theological worlds, as if two contradictory truths could co-exist in one mind.
I hope Sister Luke never regretted her chosen path. Me, I have no regrets about entering the monastery and absolutely none about leaving. And none about my atheism which I now wear comfortably. Today I still can say with a sense of relief:"Thank God I left and Thank God I'm an atheist."(And She says:"That's OK ,mate.")
Sister Luke is a novel based on fact. Kathryn Hulme took her story from a real Belgian nun who in fact felt a deep nostalgia for her convent days. So like me she was reluctant but determined to follow her heart or instinct and has to some extent remained so. I recall that she and Kathryn Hulme lived together and having just done my research Find that she and the woman portrayed in the Nun's Story were lifelong partners. Many gay people entered religious orders to give their lives a sense of purpose, some even becoming popes!!Two I know of in my lifetime.
I have reread "The Nun's Story" and seen the film too several times. It gives the best depiction of a monastic life I have yet encountered and shows how a fictional/storytelling genre can have a distinct advantage over a documentary/factual rendition. It is a read I'm sure you won't regret.
PS In conjunction with this book, the first person account of Monica Baldwin in her "I Leap Over The Wall" also about her convent life and her leaving of it would be worth a look. This is a real Rip Van Winkle Story ,since she entered the convent in 1914 and left about 28 years later during the Second World War when society had made remarkable changes in every area -fashion, media,communications, transport,vocabulary etc etc!!!She does finally reveal why she left and I have not mentioned it here. ...more
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
An Absolutely Delicious Read!!!! Not only do you get to see how very intelligent thinking people get to manage and mis-manage their lives andPOST-READ:
An Absolutely Delicious Read!!!! Not only do you get to see how very intelligent thinking people get to manage and mis-manage their lives and effect all those around them, but you get some insight into how the French lived at that particular period of History. What an amazing people they are/were!!! You won't approve of all of it. eg.,the seeming total disregard of French parents to the future happy lives of their children. Which today compares to our parents' total disregard to the people who have to endure their totally indulged offspring. Neither impresses. Nor this: Madame du Chatelet's daughter was brought home from her convent home, or exile, only to act in the plays her mother and Voltaire loved to perform. At 16 she was married off to an old Neapolitan Duke and never more seen by her mother. Nancy Mitford comments:"Voltaire, more of a human being than most of his contemporaries in such matters, disapproved of the bridegroom and corresponded by fits and starts with the bride." When Madame du Chatelet died in childbirth having her new lover's child(not her husband's or Voltaire's,her virtual husband), Voltaire in his grief commented:"The unhappy little girl who caused her death had no interest for me." The grief expressed by friends was excessive compared to what her newborn received. Says Nancy:"This poor baby herself died a few days later regretted by nobody. Had she lived, she would certainly have been shut up in a cold,damp convent and never heard of again." I will have to read further afield to find the reasons for this careless disregard.My impressions of parental behaviour today in France is quite the opposite,time with one's children being placed ahead of one's business interests.
Do try one of Nancy Mitford's French biographies...they are a real education.
I first heard of the Marquise du Chatelet in recent years - her intellectual brillance, her scientific, mathematical and philosophical writings and her affair with Voltaire that most famous of the Enlightenment French Philosophes. She was married and her husband the Marquis du Chatelet "always behaved perfectly."...so says Nancy!!!
I have this volume by the wonderful Nancy Mitford, translator of "The Princess of Cleves" (a long time favourite and reviewed by me on Goodeads), biographer of Louis XIV in "The Sun King" and of the Mistress of Louis XV in "Madame de Pompadour".
But today I purchased at the local Dulwich Hill branch of Glee Books "La Dame d'Esprit - A Biography of the Marquise Du Chatelet - From a life of frivolity to a life of the mind."...by Judith P. Zinsser. How could I resist!!!!!
Hopefully Nancy will be followed up by Judith!!!!!
I first read this book as a young monk. And then EVERYTHING about her I could lay my hands on!!! Later as a Retired Catholic I visited Lisieux and theI first read this book as a young monk. And then EVERYTHING about her I could lay my hands on!!! Later as a Retired Catholic I visited Lisieux and the convent where Therese lived and died. Revisiting this book after so many years fills me with curiosity and is something I'd like to do before the lights go out.I am interested in my response, now, when I have done some 180 degree turns in some areas of my life. I hesitate to award any star rating yet - not fair to me or the book.
But I do recall two things Therese said. To a nun who defended the rights of Divine Justice: "My sister, you want God's justice, you will get God's justice. The soul receives exactly what it expects from God."
And asked by her sister,Celine, also a Carmelite nun, about the validity of her Little Way (of Spirituality) Therese responded: " Do not doubt my teaching, even if the Pope should disapprove of it. I myself will return to tell you if I have erred." (Recorded in Celine's memoir "Conseils et Souvenirs".) No wonder I lived a monastic life of such Confidence!!!!!...more
This would have to be one of my very favourite Colette books. Sido was Colette's very earthed, very wise,very "french" Maman.Its some years since I reaThis would have to be one of my very favourite Colette books. Sido was Colette's very earthed, very wise,very "french" Maman.Its some years since I read it which is why I have put it in my re-reads. But to savour their rustic village life again is like renewing an old acquaintance. ...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
I am dying to read this one. It lets us know how little we know about ...everything we think we know!! John Peter Russell influenced the young MatisseI am dying to read this one. It lets us know how little we know about ...everything we think we know!! John Peter Russell influenced the young Matisse to change his palette from dull browns to the vibrant colours that history knows. He knew and entertained Rodin when he holidayed with Russell's family on their island home of Belle-Isle and commissioned him to do a bust of his beautiful Italian wife- a copy now in Canberra's National Gallery. He met Monet painting on Belle-Isle, found him better accomodation and a helper to carry his painting gear and took him out in his boat where they almost got stranded. And he befriended the unbefriendable Van Gogh, painted a beautiful portrait of Vincent, now hanging in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which Vincent treasured, and corresponded with him. As well as being a wonderful artist who supported artists less well off. I don't know whether the French have yet acknowledged the existence of this Aussie guy.Australians barely have. ...more