Saturday, February 28, 2015

Quick Review Perruchot's Toulouse-Lautrec

One of the greatest pleasures of used books for me is the all but random read.  New books tend to come with some ballyhoo, if only to the extent of a page in a catalogue or multiple copies being displayed on a table.  I see 'em every day.  I see used books every day, come to that, but there's a lot of the same, most days, and little of it exactly to my taste.  (Which is a good thing, 'cause we are trying to sell used books rather than just acquire them.)  The tempting ones are rarer than one might think, even doing what I do for a living (see name of blog.)  Now and then though one simply pops up, like unexpected flower amidst the dismal, dead weeds of midwinter. For me, the books for which one looks, the authors collected, etc., are and will always be the point of making regular raids on the used shops. In any bookstore, including the one in which I work, browsing is inevitable, but familiarity can make for a kind of shelf-blindness.  More than once I've failed to notice a new book until it's on the returns-cart.  Really it's more often in my weekly trip to the used shop down the street that I make most of my discoveries, even though I know those shelves now nearly as well as my own, not to mention the ones where I actually get paid to shelve. Nonentheless, fortune sometimes smiles on the desultory.

Case in point.  Henri Perruchot's book was sitting on a shelf behind my desk, just waiting to be priced.  How long had it been there?  No idea.  Had I bought it for the store?  I honestly don't remember, but it's certainly possible.  Now, did I want "a definitive biography" of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec?  No, I did not.  But there it was, in a stack to be entered into inventory.  For whatever reason, seeing it waiting to be priced and tagged, the appeal was immediate and irresistible.  Seems I'd never read a full life of Henri de Toulous-Lautrec, though I've pored over his pictures since I was a kid.  I am a fan.  Lautrec's genius must have a special appeal to anyone with an appreciation of masterful line.  Also, the story of his short life would wring tears from a stone. While I've never been a serious student of either his art or of art history in general, this is a painter of whom I never tire.  So, why not?  Not a huge book.  Interesting photos throughout -- including unexpectedly Henri swimming nude.  And there was that word on the cover, "definitive."  Truth be told, what I know of his biography I suspect I owe more to José Ferrer in John Huston's 1952 movie than to any reading I'd done.  Easily corrected then.

Henri Perruchot (1917 - 1967) was a French art critic and editor. In roughly a quarter of a century, he wrote a short shelf of biographies on artists from Cezanne to Van Gogh. His Toulouse-Lautrec (1958) was just one among the half dozen to have been translated into English, all, so far as I can tell by the delightfully named Humphrey Hare. (Couldn't find anything more online about the translator other than his few credits on Perruchot's biographies.  Shame, as I'd rather hoped to discover some connection to the eccentric Victorian diarist and biographer, Augustus Hare -- an old favorite of mine.)

Many of the books I pick up in a random way I can't be bothered to mention here.  This one's worth mentioning for two reasons, one good the other not. I'll try to be quick about both.

First, I can easily recommend Perruchot's biography to anyone wanting a brief life of the artist.  It is an efficient, informative and informed little book.  Perruchot knows the period well and tells his often sad story without sentimentality or pity.

The rough outline of the life of Henri de Toulous-Lautrec (1864 - 1901) should be to familiar to most.  He had an idyllic childhood as the spoiled scion of an aristocratic French family; money, horses, dogs, drawing, a doting mother and a deeply eccentric father, Le Comte Alphonse de Toulous-Lautrec Montfa.  (Perruchot's portrait of this horrible if entertainingly mad father is fascinating.  Let one anecdote speak for the whole: at the funeral for his only son, Henri, Comte Alphonse became impatient at the pace of the hearse, climbed up and took the reins himself.  He whipped the horses into such a furry as to set the mourners behind running to keep up.  Typical, that.)  Toulous-Lautrec's childhood ended, and his life as an artist began when the boy inexplicably all but stopped growing.  His condition was exacerbated by two separate falls in which in short order he broke first one and then the other leg.  As an adult, Henri would stand barely five feet tall and was forced to walk with a stick -- "my button-hook" he called it -- most of his life.  His physical limitations, and his own ugliness, as he and others saw it, were to dictate the direction of both his life and his art.  Rejected by his father as a useless cripple, he was encouraged by his mother and teachers to pursue his studies as a painter.  Had he not suffered as he did, he might have become one of those gentlemen who painted.  Instead, convinced he was all but unlovable, he rejected in turn the high society into which he was born, and the respectability of academic painting.  Instead he embraced both the alcoholic Bohemianism of the Parisian demi-monde and the experimentalism of the rising generation of modern painters.  He loved the prostitutes and the dancers and entertainers in the working-class nightclubs of the Montmartre.  These would be the scenes he immortalized in his paintings, posters and prints.

He basically drank himself to death by his thirty-seventh birthday -- the same age, his biographer points out, at which Toulous-Lautrec's friend, Vincent Van Gogh met his untimely end.

A difficult life then, and all too brief indeed, but productive of extraordinary beauty.  Perruchot's biography concentrates on the personal history of the artist, taking largely as given Toulous-Lautrec's genius -- though always careful to enumerate his production in a given years, his sales, etc., and offering a generous number of quotes from his contemporaries and critics.  Whatever Perruchot's opinion of Lautrec's work, in this biography the critic would seem to have limited himself largely to describing some works as important and other, later efforts as failures, again reflecting the artist's own judgement. 

Above I described the book as unsentimental.  By 21st Century standards, this very mid-century book might almost be called cruel, or at the very least cold.  Words like genius, and less flatteringly, "cripple", "dwarf" and "whore" are used unselfconsciously throughout, as indeed they were used by Toulous-Lautrec's contemporaries and by the artist himself.  Perruchot accepts both the artist's tragedy and the glory of his art as fact.  It's very declarative, very French.

No need to explain here why this analysis can feel a bit reductive, and the language dated.  (See Edmund Wilson's The Wound and the Bow.) It works well enough to the purpose at hand.  If anything, the biographer's cool makes the end of his story all the more moving for being told without flinching, without emotional manipulation.

As for that second, bad reason to write about this book, it is so minor a point as to embarrass, now I come to it.  Still.  It was a feature of much English translation up to and including the period of this biography to leave untranslated in the text any verse quoted from either poetry or song.  (This was true of subtitles in film as well.)  Most annoying.  In a biography of Lautrec who spent his adult life in the company of cabaret performers, poets and singers, this feels specially egregious.  Why not at least a footnote with a literal translation of the quote?!  After all, if I could sing in French, I would presumably be able to read it as well. no?  Well, I can do neither so translators, please, make the effort!

Daily Dose

From Wintering with the Light, by Paal-Helge Haugen, translated by Roger Greenwald


"Work takes his hand
and sets it going"

From (He, I)

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Fortunes of Nigel, by Walter Scott


"Such are the materials to which the Author stands indebted for the composition of the Fortunes of Nigel, a novel which may be perhaps one of those that are more amusing on a second perusal than when read a first time for the sake of the story, the incidents of which are few and meagre."

From the author's Introduction

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick #22

Daily Dose

From Strong Opinions, by Vladimir Nabokov


"To the Editor of Encounter, published February, 1967


I welcome Freud's 'Woodrow Wilson' not only because of its comic appeal, which is great, but because that surely must be the last rusty nail in the Viennese Quack's coffin."

From Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cookies Doodle

Daily Dose

From In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje


"His mind skates across old conversations.  The past drifts into the air like an oasis and he watches himself within it."

From page 128

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hipster Chocolate

Daily Dose

From Assembling California, by John McPhee


"The mobile tectonics of more recent years are a good deal easier to see.  If you look on a world map at Antarctica, South America, Africa, and Australia, you virtually see them exploding away from one another.  You can reassemble Gondwana in your mind and then watch it come apart."

From page 210

Monday, February 23, 2015

Yet Another Bookstore Bird

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From Jubiaba, by Jorge Amado, translated by Margaret A. Neves


"Every night he would go to the docks to watch the sea, looking for the road toward home."

From Chapter 5, Street Kid

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Another Bookstore Bird

A Bookstore Bird

Daily Dose

From One Writer's Beginnings, by Eudora Welty


"'And here is where I first began to read my Dickens,' Mother said, pointing.  'Under that very bed.  Hiding my candle.  To keep them from knowing what I was up to all night.'
'But where did it all come from?' I asked her at last.  'All that Dickens?'
'Why, Papa gave me that set of Dickens for agreeing to let them cut off my hair,' she said, as if surprised that a reason like that wouldn't have occurred to me."

From Chapter II, Learning to See

Saturday, February 21, 2015

From Out of the Dark

"dude you have no life,you post so many videos like you are popular when you are really just an old saggy, crusty man with no also look like santa, but a very ugly one" -- Anonymous Youtube Troll

 What to say?  Made me laugh, anyway.

Now before anyone leaps to my defense, I should admit that I have changed the name above, deleted the comment and blocked the "user" from making further hay.  Wouldn't want to encourage this sort of thing -- huff, puff -- and my years in retail have taught me that the last thing one wants in such circumstances is to engage the angry troll in further conversation.

I did however have a think about the particulars of his complaint and decided it might be worth a closer look here, at a safe distance from the event.  (I doubt very much he can be bothered to trace me here, to beard the lion in his den, as it were -- even such "an old saggy, crusty" lion as me.)  Why?  Well, let's examine the particulars first, and start right at the beginning.


There was a mad old woman who came to the bookstore for years.  Dead now.  She was Hell.  Rude, abrasive, frankly mean, she seemed to delight in both monopolizing and offending anyone unlucky enough to be cornered, clerks and customers alike.  (I once had a customer approach me after witnessing a predictably unpleasant encounter at the Information Desk.  "That woman," said this third party, breathless with shock, "is... not nice." Indeed.)  In her thick, Austrian accent the not nice woman used always to address me as, "man," as in, "Man, you can't be dat stupid," and "You clearly don't know vat you are talking about, man."  It was not endearing.  Based on the little I came to know of this person's history, I assume that her use of "man" as her preferred manner of address came from her first dip in American idioms, presumably some time in the swingin' Sixties.  Of all things, that's what she retained of peace, love and understanding, that one word.  That I should find that one word so grating must have had nearly everything to do with all the other, bitter words in which she nested it.  Yet it was always at "man" that I winced.

Truth be told, the last person who could get away with calling everyone "man" was, in my opinion, George Carlin.  Of course, George Carlin's dead now too. The few greying hippies still asking, "What's up, man?" -- at least to my ear -- may as well start a conversation with, "I prithee, good sira."  That's how dated, man, honest.  And from the mouth of that not nice woman?  Somehow it was worse, but then everything from such a one will be.

So it is now when I'm addressed as "dude."  Whether it's followed by, "spare change?" or "can I bum a cigarette?" or just, "seriously?", no good comes after, "dude."

Off on the wrong foot then.

As to this person's critique of my person, what can I say?  I'm not actually old, though I may well seem so to anyone young enough to address their presumed elders unselfconsciously as "dude."  The beard went white nearly a decade ago and the hair went around roughly the same date.  As to "saggy, crusty," "santa,"  and "only very ugly," I will concede all but the last.  I've never thought myself good looking, but that last modifier seems excessive, surely?

A bit boring and unimaginative, all that, but I suppose de rigueur when trolling.  I can't speak to the wider issue of trolling as either a pastime or a menace.  It hasn't happened often enough to me. (This was not my first troll of course.  There have been a few others; here, and on my Youtube postings, etc.  My favorite to date struck me as specially elegant in it's most inventive and revealing phrasing, "You am a ass," it said.  I treasure that one.)  I never read comment threads on any of the news sources I read online, or anywhere else but on my own efforts.  I rarely comment in such forums myself and on the rare occasions I do it is usually in support of the original post.  Else why bother reading such things, no?  Safe to say, it is not a good thing, trolling.  Neither do I see much point in speculating as to this person's motives in commenting on the video I put up.  When I checked, the user's profile on Youtube was all but empty of content: no personal information, nothing posted or shared, just a few friends.  Looking at their profiles I was unsurprised to find they all looked alike.  That would seem about right for this sort of commentator. 

Really, the only reason I can see to even mention this business at last is all to do with the premise of the whole:

"... you have no life,you post so many videos like you are popular when you are really just an old saggy, crusty man with no life... "

Most obviously, I have what I think a fairly satisfying life, all things considered.  I like my job, love my husband and for the most part enjoy what I do with my leisure.  I read.  I write a little, draw a little, read aloud from the books I like. It may be an unambitious life in many ways, but hardly a negation or a very convincing bid, come to that for popularity.

Part of my surprise at this snark was the video to which it was attached.  There could be few readings less likely to attract attention, negative or otherwise I should have thought than an excerpt from an essay called "My Books" by Leigh Hunt, my selection entitled, "Kissing a Folio."  That video has had all of 19 "views" since it was posted a month ago, including presumably the troll's.  Were I able to do even the fairly basic math required, I could calculate the actual popularity of my readings and posts fairly easily.  As I can't, or can't be bothered to, at a guess I would say the average number of people likely to read what I've written here is between six and twelve.  The number of people who may have watched any given reading I've done for Youtube may be slightly higher, but not if I were to limit the sample to just those I did all by my lonesome in the comfy chair in my office, which constitute the vast majority of the better than 500 video-posts I've made.  (My most popular efforts in this line, much like the podcast I started more recently with my dear friend, Nick, have nearly all featured collaborators, or put it another way, coworkers I'd rather bullied into participating.)

As a bid then for popularity, I clearly lack either the means or the motivation.  But then, in a way, that's rather the point of the person who made the comment, isn't it?  His wording is important though: "you post so many videos like you are  popular", and that's the bit I find intriguing.  What does he mean?  I've looked at videos posted by genuinely popular contributors to Youtube, "vloggers" who have followers in the thousands and they do seem to post with remarkable regularity.  There is an argument to be made that posting videos of one's self at all is not something one does to maintain one's anonymity, certainly.  It takes a certain ego to participate in all this business even at the level I do and yes, I do enjoy the attention when I get it, and the comments when they are flattering.  Were I a shy person, I would not be up at this hour worrying this bone, would I?  Not entirely his fault then, but after some serious thought, I do think my troll has misunderstood me nonetheless.

I have never been popular.  I have however always had friends.  If anything, my life online has brought me more; via social media, putting me back in touch with friends from my past, but also by way of what I do here making me more and new ones.  It's nearly all been lovely, from where I sit.  Popularity, let alone fame, would seem to me to be of most value to younger people; something to be pursued by those with fewer obligations and singular interests, to say nothing of marketable talents.  At fifty-one, five foot six and 280 lbs, I do not see myself becoming a sex-symbol.

Early in Fred Astaire's film career, someone supposedly said of him, "slightly bald, can dance a little," or words to that effect.  (Probably apocryphal, by the way, that story.)  Well, I can't dance. At one time I did dream of an acting career, maybe even a job on Broadway.  But I did little or nothing to further that goal beyond taking freshman classes at a second rate college after failing to make the cut at my audition for Carnegie Mellon University.  Circumstances intervened, it's true, but that was probably the last time I really dreamed of fame and fortune.  Instead, I found a life, mine and I've grown, as I said to enjoy it.  Part of it now is sharing my thoughts and enthusiasms here.

I can understand why a stranger might wonder why I bother or just what the hell I think I'm up to, reading Leigh Hunt to a dozen people, for instance.  I don't say they're wrong.  I wonder sometimes myself.  But I enjoy doing it and now that seems to be enough.  Or rather, it's enough that a few others seem to like what I do.

I wish I could explain this better to my anonymous new not very nice acquaintance, but I don't know that I could.  As another old joke roughly runs, if I am now rather modest, it is because I've got a great deal to be modest about.  I can't imagine trying to explain modesty to someone who posts such comments, come to that, or in an atmosphere where relentless self-promotion has become an established cultural value and "modesty" reduced to a euphemism most often employed in the media by women participating in their own oppression by trying to explain why they think it appropriate to go swimming in floor-length dresses and veils.  From where I sit, I am content to have the friends I've found, to still be startled by the rare bully I encounter, and to think that what I do here amuses the occasional stranger.  That last I think specially marvelous, not to say miraculous, considering just what it is I do.

So, yes, I suppose I do rather post videos, etc. as if I were popular when I clearly am no such thing.  You have me there.  That you may not understand why I might is the only part of this I find rather sad, my new not very nice friend.  I hope someday you may.

Life can be rather wonderful, if you let it, dearie, even for old, saggy. crusty -- if not, I must insist -- very ugly santas.

Daily Dose

From Selected Poems of William Wordsworth, edited by Mark Van Doren


"... From this height I shall not stoop
To humbler matter that detained us oft
In thought or conversation..."

From The Prelude (540)

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Seven Gothic Tales, by Isak Dinesen,


"Now they had to wander in opposite parts of town, in snowy streets and parks, their small hands in muffs, gazing at cold naked statues and frozen birds in the trees."

From The Supper at Elsinore

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Quick Review: Silver Screen Fiend

Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film, by Patton Oswalt.

"How can you be alive and not have seen Sunset Boulevard?"

If that question needs asking, no need to go any further, darling.  This book's not for you.  (And unless you recently escaped from North Korea or a FLDS compound -- in which case the question would be cruel -- I can't imagine having any conversation with an adult that would necessitate it, but there we are.  It happens.)

The question occurs in an imaginary conversation from the first chapter of Patton Oswalt's new book, Silver Screen Fiend.  Chapter One is titled, "Movie Freaks and Sprocket Fiends: The New Beverly Cinema, May 20, 1995."  Let that  sentence serve as something of a summary of the whole, or, if that doesn't make you want to pick up this wry and delightful memoir, let me offer the footnote attached to that question:

"This same conversation is happening, simultaneously, across every facet of the arts.  It's happened before I say this to you, it's happening while I say this to you and it will keep on happening, forever and ever.  Someone at a used record store is admonishing a friend for never having heard Love's Forever Changes.  At a used bookstore, an ever ravenous bookworm shakes their head sadly at their friend, who's never read Charles Portis's Masters of Atlantis.  Or someone's never had the fries at the Apple Pan.  Or encountered Michael C. McMillen's art installation The Central Meridian.  Or visited Joshua Tree.  An infinite crowd of apostles, spreading the word to their unwashed, heathen acquaintances."

That made me laugh, but then, I love me some Patton Oswalt.  As a writer and a stand-up comedian, his style is dense with that kind of reference. It's smart, self-deprecating, and fast.  Keep up.  (Worth noting that I myself have never heard of Love's Forever Changes, or read Charles Portis's Masters of Atlantis, never had the fries at the Apple Pan, "encountered" Michael C. McMillen's anything, or been to Joshua Tree.  Nevertheless, I get what he's saying and it makes me smile.  Moreover, the above at least makes me wonder why I don't know about any of that stuff, without making me blush with even the slightest embarrassment.  There's a certain magic in that.)

Movies I know from.  It may be worth asking how anyone born in the United States in the 20th Century doesn't.  (That's got to be an interesting story.)  Silver Screen Fiend is the interesting story of how not to be become an auteur, but not for want of study.  Basically, Patton Oswalt, already an established stand-up, spent the mid-nineties breaking into TV and movies -- Down Periscope?  Anyone?  No? -- while dreaming away his every other waking hour in a repertory movie theater in Los Angeles.  His idea was to see every interesting and or important movie ever made and thus acquire the sentimental film education that would one day make him a great director.  Spoiler Alert: hasn't happened -- yet.

Along the way, the reader is treated to some truly hilarious set-pieces I won't spoil by paraphrasing here.  Suffice it to say, I will never be able hereafter to watch Citizen Kane without hearing Lawrence Tierney's commentary in my head.  Call that a teaser.  (And if you want to laugh out loud, go ahead and go straight to Chapter Eight, The Day the Clown Didn't Cry: The Powerhouse Theatre, January 27, 1997.  I cried, I laughed so hard.  Honest.)

This isn't just another comedian putting his best routines between covers however.  Nor is it just a diary of one clever fellow's obsession with cinema, yet another "film book" in the long tradition of that weirdly subjective, yet pedantically specific sub-genre of criticism. Though, to give this dear cineaste his due, there are two "Epilogues", pithy thumbnail reviews and lists, and that comes very near to being a satire of every other film book on the bookstore's shelves, rather than just a way to pad this slim book out to something like 200 pages.  That would be a very cynical reading indeed.  Besides, it's all fun, even the lists.  Oswalt might blush at the word, but this is ultimately a book about making and appreciating art and how best to go about it, or not.  More importantly, it is a book in which the reader, if a devoted moviegoer him or herself, will find not only a kindred soul, but the friend we all rather wish we might take to the movies with us, despite his protests that he talks too much.

Almost worth a trip to LA and a ticket to the New Beverly, on the off-chance.  (Don't think even Patton Oswalt could get me to Joshua Tree, come to that, but then, he hasn't asked.)

Daily Dose

From The War with Hannibal, by Livy, translated by Aubrey de Selincourt


"About this time a sudden wave of superstition swept over Rome."

From Book XXIX {9}

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Poems Bewitched and Haunted, selected and edited by John Hollander


"The giant-snouted crags, ho! ho!
How they snort, and how they blow!"

From Walpurgis-Night, from Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe's Faust, translated by Percy Byshe Shelley

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Shipwrecked on a Traffic Island and Other Previously Untranslated Gems, by Colette, translated by Zack Rogow and Renee Morel


"So sell my books anyway you like.  I also know which ones are the best, and if I wanted to, I could cite several sentences to denounce them as a bit disloyal: weren't they more concerned than necessary with their effect on the reader?"

From Letter to My Daughter

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories, by Nikolai Leskov, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky


"I had no definite intentions, but it was my fate that God sent me employment."

From Chapter IX

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Toulouse-Lautrec, by Henri Perruchot, translated by Humphrey Hare

"* Intimate though the fact may be it has its importance and must be mentioned: Lautrec had monstrously developed sexual organs.  He often compared himself to a 'coffee pot with a big spout.'"

From Chapter One, Monsieur Bonnat

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick # 21

Daily Dose

From Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes and Selected other Travel Writings, by Robert Louis Stevenson


"Of what that involves in the way of doctrine I have no idea nor the time to inform myself, but I know right well that we are all embarked upon a troublesome world, the children of one Father, striving in many essential points to do and to become the same."

From In The Valley of the Tarns

Friday, February 13, 2015

Law Say the Gardeners Is the Sun

Daily Dose

From Selected Writings of Washington Irving, edited by Saxe Commins


"His mother, the Duchess of Orleans, expressed his character in a jeu d'esprit, 'The fairies,' said she, 'were invited to be present at his birth, and each one conferring a talent on my son, he possessed them all.  Unfortunately, we had forgotten to invite an old fairy, who, arriving after all the others, exclaimed, 'He shall have all the talents, excepting that to make good use of them.'"

From The Great Mississippi Bubble

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Essays of Elia, by Charles Lamb


"We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams."

From Dream-Children: A Reverie

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Think Continually of Those

Daily Dose

From Elia, First Series: A New Edition, by Charles Lamb


"But what security can I have that what I now send you for truth shall not before you get it unaccountably turn into a lie?"

From Distant Correspondents

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Day Is Done

Daily Dose

From Urn Burial, by Sir Thomas Browne


"Some bones make best Skeletons, some bodies quick and speediest ashes."

From Chapter Three

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nature by Longfellow

Hymn to the Night

Daily Dose

From The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K. Chesterton


"They said my very walk was respectable, and that from behind I looked like the British Constitution."

From Chapter IX, The Man in the Spectacles

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Lost Domain (Le Grand Meaulnes), by Alain-Fournier, translated by Frank Davison


"For a man who prefers not to be happy, there is the attic where he can listen till nightfall to the creaking and groaning of shipwrecks, or the open road where the wind will blow his scarf against his mouth like a sudden kiss that brings tears to the eyes,"

From Chapter 7, The Wedding Day

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Portable Dickens, edited by Angus Wilson


"I might have a misgiving that I am 'meandering' in stopping to say this, but that it brings me to remark that I build these conclusions, in part upon my own experience of myself; and if it should appear from anything I may set down in this narrative that I was a child of close observation, or that as a man I have a strong memory of my childhood, I undoubtedly lay claim to both of these characteristics."

From What a Child Sees (excerpt from David Copperfield)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Breakfast at the Bookstore # 20

Daily Dose

From Religio Medici & Other Writings, by Sir Thomas Browne


"He that is Weak-legg'd must not be in Love with Rome, nor an infirm Head with Venice or Paris."

From Letter to a Friend

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Caricature

Found in a Book

Daily Dose

From Complete Poems and Selected Prose and Letters, by Walt Whitman


"Curious as it may seem, it is in what are call'd the poorest, lowest characters you will sometimes, nay generally, find glints of the most sublime virtues, eligibilities, heroisms."

From Tramp and Strike Questions

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Caricature

Russell Hoban, a friend pointed out earlier, would have been ninety today, bless 'im.  Four years now since his death.  Happy Birthday then to his shade.

Daily Dose

From The Portable Charles Lamb, edited by John Mason Brown


"Fantastic forms, whither are ye fled?  Or, if the like of you exist, why exist they no more for me?"

From The Old Benchers