The Immoralist, by André Gide, translated by Dorothy Bussy

An important book I think raising issues which were of interest at the time. The question of attaining authenticity without hurting others is surely, however, still with us. Certain themes about boredom, ennui in French certainly occupied others at the time from Flaubert, Baudelaire and on to Camus. Thanks for posting!

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

1001 Books begins its summary of The Immoralist like this:

A thought-provoking book that still has the power to challenge complacent attitudes and unfounded cultural assumptions, The Immoralist recounts a young Parisian man’s attempt to overcome social and sexual conformity. (1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, ABC Books 2006, p.241)

The novella is prefaced by an attempt to explain that the ‘problem’ of the book existed before it was written.  It is then book-ended at the beginning by a pseudo-letter to the Prime Minister that asks what role in society a young man like the hero might have… and completed by that same friend’s awkward conclusion after the hero’s story has been told.  That story is narrated by Michel, who starts out as an austere young scholar and ends up as a defiant hedonist.

The translation, by Dorothy Bussy, uses the term ‘hero’ in the preface.  But it…

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Born January 14~ Berthe Morisot

Loving Berthe Morisot at the moment. Elegant era; her innovative independent style deserves more recognition. Wonderful artistry.

The Misty Miss Christy

Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot (January 14, 1841-March 2, 1895) was a French Impressionist painter.
Biography on Wikipedia:

Le Cerisier by Berthe Morisot
1891 / Oil on canvas / 60 3/5″x33″ / Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, FR

Berthe Morisot on WikiArt:

Further reading:

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Born January 6~ Ruth Gikow


Thoughts on “The Western Canon” by Harold Bloom

Well, a fascinating and absolutely lengthy list which could understandably convert anyone to intensive analysis of short passages. I certainly wish I had read the Classics in greater depth years ago- esp. Greek drama. The few books that I have managed in French and German have become memorable. Interesting, that you met Bloom and I wonder how you might update the canon?

Stuff Jeff Reads

This is one of those books which was an impulse buy over 20 years ago, which I bought while wandering the aisles of a Borders Bookstore (that should put things into perspective). It has sat on my shelf all this time, waiting to be read, and I finally got around to it. One of the benefits of COVID for book nerds is that it forces us to read what we have and not wander aimlessly in search of more books.

While I was in college, Professor Bloom came and held a lecture at the community college I was attending; quite a coup for a small campus to get a speaker of his eminence. Very few people attended, but I of course showed up early and got to sit with him and have a one-on-one discussion about literature. His knowledge was formidable, to say the least.

In this book, Prof. Bloom…

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Paintings of 1920: Landscapes 3

Some very interesting paintings here from 100 years ago and the advent of Modernism.

The Eclectic Light Company

In this final look at a selection of paintings which were completed in or around 1920, I include more landscapes in more modern styles from around the world.

My first landscape artist is something of a misfit here, as he was on his journey to Surrealism at the time.

nashpcotswoldhills Paul Nash (1892–1946), Cotswold Hills (c 1920), oil on canvas, 49.1 x 59.2 cm, Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth, England. The Athenaeum.

Paul Nash’s view of the Cotswold Hills shows the rolling countryside near his family home in Buckinghamshire, England. Although it breaks from the military regularity and desolation of his war paintings, the shafts of sunlight are disturbingly reminiscent of those in his war painting of the Menin Road from just a couple of years before.

More popular among the landscape artists of the day were various degrees of Impressionism and post-Impressionism.

hillsspellofthesea Anna Althea Hills (1882-1930), Spell of the…

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Unexpected pleasures

Well, I wasn’t too sure about travelling as I like many others have been somewhat locked down. In the midst of packing the stress was a little relieved when an old friend told me of his birdwatching activities somewhere in Suffolk. He had seen some rare type of Artic traveller which no one else in his group had glimpsed. I asked him had he perhaps imagined this. Fortunately my voice modulation must have kicked in and he didn’t hear this question.

My cases were less heavy than expected and I was able to use the bus rack easily.The driver greeted me by name and I realised it was a friend and laconic poet who asked me my destination. He writes amusing and whimsical poems about his experiences at the wheel. A lady on board was telling of her success at University Challenge. She had worked out the origin of a Polish dog as being Pomerania. Upon arriving at the Station I had expected a phalanx of officials impeding any travel. Clearly, I have been reading too many novels like Anna Seghar’s Transit.

Instead I was in fact welcomed by Railway staff with coffee, biscuits and offered drinking water. This is totally unexpected and quite cheering too. Even the usually locked down waiting room was open. Here two elderly fellows were cheering each other like characters in a late Kingsley Amis novel. One was telling of his experiences at a recent wedding where one gentleman was surrounded by multiple ex-wives at the celebration table. Then he remarked of another jolly lady who spent some six hours at the event. “All that time” he related,”she had two glasses, one in each hand”. Hence, people are ticking over in their every day lives. We could do with Molly Panter Downes or her contemporary equivalent to record such matters.

Read Panter-Downes at Persephone Books


Emma Barnes ~ Mr Keynes’ Revolution

Maynard- the man who got the magic money tree to multiply!

Charlie Bury

John Maynard Keynes wanted to change the world through economics. Arguably, he succeeded, because he had to. The world was in a giant slump after the Great War, and Britain had an unprecedented unemployment crisis. He was the intellectual as well as the governmental voice behind, namely, higher government expenditure and lowering of tax rates to help economic demand during the instability between the wars. Yet putting all that aside, Keynes also lived a personal life of great fascination. It is the brilliance of Emma Barnes’ book about him that she manages to capture both the man and the mind in a highly informative and charming novel; one trusts in an important history lesson, whilst one also joins in with the joys and quarrels of ‘high society’.

Lydia Lopokova, a pretty, quirky Russian ballet dancer, is another key element to the tale and our understanding of Keynes’ life. An unlikely…

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Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month~ December 20

Lovely print!!

The Misty Miss Christy

Persimmon and Cicada, with poem by Chikujin (or Takehito)
Attributed to Katsushika Hokusai

Edo period / Surimono woodblock print in shikishiban format
7 11/16″x6 13/16″ / Various collections, including Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA

[There are five embedded links above]

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Paintings of 1920: Genre and landscapes 1

An interesting range of styles of work here from 100 years ago. Only the vivid colours in the last few pictures seem more modern.

The Eclectic Light Company

This week’s look back at paintings from exactly a century ago moves on from the narrative and figurative works I showed last week to a selection of genre paintings, and makes a start on the many landscapes to come.

Although Naturalism and ‘social realism’ are supposed to have faded away by the twentieth century, after the Great War there were still plenty of fine painters who were depicting scenes from everyday life in realist style. Among them was Friedrich Eckenfelder, who reminds us that, while motor taxis may have been crowding the streets of the cities, in the German countryside little had changed.

eckenfelderwhitehorsesjolly Friedrich Eckenfelder (1861–1938), White Horses with a Jolly Peasant Group in the Wagon (c 1920), oil on canvas, 86.5 x 112.5 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

White Horses with a Jolly Peasant Group in the Wagon is one of Eckenfelder’s largest studio paintings, and shows a merry…

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“Sonnet 39: O, how thy worth with manners may I sing” by William Shakespeare

Interesting Sonnet and separated from another interestingly at 37 on a similar theme. Patterson mentions the restless quality of the final sestet.

Stuff Jeff Reads

O, how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring,
And what is’t but mine own when I praise thee?
Even for this, let us divided live,
And our dear love lose name of single one,
That by this separation I may give
That due to thee which thou deserv’st alone.
O absence, what a torment wouldst thou prove,
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave
To entertain the time with thoughts of love,
Which time and thoughts so sweetly dost deceive,
And that thou teachest how to make one twain
By praising him here who doth hence remain!

This seems to me a poignant poem considering what we are all dealing with in regard to the COVID pandemic. In this sonnet, Shakespeare expresses the pain of being separated from…

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