Posts Tagged ‘Maurice Sendak’

Later that evening Yvette and I brought in Chinese food from a take-out place — the Admiral used to say what distinguishes Kliban cats is how they do improbable things — cheerfully.

This is to tell friends and readers that I had a very good time at the EC/ASECS meeting in Philadelphia. I arrived in time for what was for me a high point of the conference, indeed to hear the tribute paid to my husband was worth a much farther journey. It meant a lot to me to hear someone who had known him praise him in terms which allowed me to recognize my Admiral. There was a second brief tribute to him at luncheon and on the new website he is remembered. See special announcement. People spoke to me of him.

I daresay I enjoyed the panels and papers in ways that reminded me of who and what I am: a literary scholar, a college teacher, a lover of the 18th century. With people who share and value our mutual interests. (I will write separately on the content of those I was able to take notes on on my Austen Reveries blog.) I felt I was among so many friends. A tribe.

To come to my two more specific goals: not to get lost and not to lose it, not to crack up. Well, I was never lost, though I did lose my purple beret (left it on the train) and left behind a lovely long black skirt (which my friend recognized as mine quicker than me and will send on). I always knew where I was and when my train was delayed for two hours on Sunday, I managed to buy a ticket for another train arriving at DC and after an initial confusion (having seen friends on a New York line), got myself to the right line. And I maintained a mostly cheerful demeanor — to the point two different groups of people said I looked peaceful.

I perhaps did say too much now and again: I am a character in a Pirandello play, Six Characters in Search of an Author. I keep looking for my author so as to end my part and let the curtain go down. But I cannot find the author of this play I am acting out to build myself a sort of life, to carry on; he is worse than Godot (of Waiting for Godot fame). On the other hand, I had such good talk with several friends I would not have wanted to be superficial, to make “small talk.” We talked for real.


Aaron Becker, the illustrator

I’m now thinking I might go to the ASECS meeting in Williamsburg this spring. If a fancy dress is wanted for a ball, I’ve got an elegant 1930s number. . To record concrete happenings:

My train arrived an hour and one half late (!), but my generous loyal (angelic?) friends waited at the station near the top of the stairs for me. We had planned to go out to a good restaurant before going to the first night, but there was no time. (We made up for it the next day by lunching at a fine Greek restaurant.)

My panel went very well (really it did) and The oral/aural experience which included an abbreviated performance of Lovers Vows did function to teach me more about the characters in the play and hence Austen’s characters (Count Cassell is a lout, and we are probably intended to see this quality in Rushworth and thus know why Fanny cannot pretend to credit Mary’s assertion about Mrs Rushworth’s luck), but we do these plays and read aloud 18th century verse to one another to be together in these texts.

By staying with friends in a suburb of Philadelphia (Wayne) I saw more of Philadelphia from the train rides than I had in the several times the Admiral and I had come to Philly for conferences. November is a beautiful month with its variegated colors. I saw from the train (there is nothing as good as a train ride) several of the near-by small colleges (some famous), the pretty towns, and we ate in a fine pub on Saturday night. Sunday I read the New York Times Book Review, regaled by the illustration in the childrens’ book section as the newspaper revved up for Christmas sales. It was a break from the Internet. The world of print is different from the worlds of cyberspace.

The admiral would have enjoyed all of it.


Yvette and Ian

The hardest part was coming home. The admiral and home have been one and the same to me for 45 years now and I found myself crying on the train, then the metro (people did look away), and lastly in the car driving back. He was here when Yvette and I came home from the Jane Austen summer program; he picked me up from the station (driving the PriusC himself) when I came home from Sharp, and the knowledge he was there as ever quickened the intensity and speed with which I would drive the last couple of miles. To get back to him.

The cats had suffered some anxiety. First one of the cats’s central presences had disappeared altogether; while I was packing they followed me about: I was doing something different, very suspicious. Still they don’t like these disappearance acts. When my mother died last year, and since it was so sudden, we had not been able to get someone to stay in the house for the two days we were missing, we found them huddled together under my queen-size bed, for all the world as if only some murderous hostile presence was lurking just outside the bedroom. Caroline says they want stafflings; they want secure companionship. Caroline had been here Thursday to play with said cats, and on Saturday she and Yvette planned a re-organization of Yvette’s room and picked out containers to buy in the container store.

What is life without that companionship, or the lesser-demanding word, friendship?

To a Friend on New Year’s Day

Dear friend, for thee, through ev’ry changing year,
Unchang’d affection draws the tie more near;
Treasure most precious, dearest to the heart,
Increas’d in value as the rest depart.
Tho’ kindred bonds may break, and love must fade,
Friendship still brightens in the deep’ning shade.
Time, silent and unseen, pursues his course,
And wearied nature sickens at her source.
Methinks I see the season onward roll,
When age, like winter, comes to chill the soul:
I tremble at that pow’r’s resistless sway
Who bears the flowers and fruit of life away …

Let me not linger on the verge of fate,
Nor weary duty to its utmost date;
Losing, in pain’s impatient gloom confin’d,
Freedom of thought, and dignity of mind;
Till pity views untouch’d the parting breath,
And cold indiff’rence adds a pang to death …

Let me still from self my feelings bear,
To sympathize with sorrow’s starting tear …

Let me remember, in the gloom of age,
To smile at follies happier youth engage;
See them fallacious, but indulgent spare
The fairy dreams experience cannot share.
Nor view the rising morn with jaundice eye,
Because for me no more the sparkling moments fly.

Anne Hunter (1802)



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Beginning Again

Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), Place Vintimille, a room high and wide mural, Paris

Dear friends and readers,

Once again I’m beginning a new blog, and as in the case of my other two, Ellen and Jim have a blog, Two, and Reveries under the Sign of Austen, this is a continuation of a blog started elsewhere: Under the Sign of Sylvia. It’s a kind of Sylvia Part 2 or Sylvia (Cont’d).

Sylvia (for short) is my pseudonym from Miss Sylvia Drake, a minor character in Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night, which I explained in a posting I wrote August 7, 2011 Why Sylvia: at that time I decided to blog on Austen, 18th century matters (a long 18th century) and women’s art and lives under a new blog: Reveries under the Sign of Austen. You might say I bonded with the marginalized comical character and under her name told myself I’d do life-writing (seasonal blogs, writing diaries, reading diaries, anything that pops into my head or is going on around me in immediate time and place) and politics. And that’s what I mean to do there. And I mean to keep up the pseudonyms I’ve been using.

How does life-writing connect to politics. I’m with George Sand who wrote somewhere in her Indiana that politics is a function of our characters. Our political views directly reflect our personalities, moral outlook, which come out of a lifetime of experiences.

I’m migrating and making this continuation because I’ve become dissatisfied with Live-Journal. The site has gone haywire once too often, I get cut off from my blog because my password or username gets screwed up, new changes are foisted on us, the pictures don’t work, I can’t allow comments since to do that allows spam, trolls, and anonymous pestering by people writing in Russian. Anyway to make a comment you have to join Live-Journal. When I opened Reveries under the Sign of Austen in August 2007, I moved the whole of Sylvia that existed then there and just began to add on: this way I saved all the blogs on Austen, Austen films, sequels and 18th century and women’s films I had written over there. I decided not to move the stuff I’ve written since then because I can’t separate everything from 2007 to now (mostly autobiographical and politics) and just move that. I’d be overdoing to replicate the whole blog twice elsewhere, plus word-press seemed to stall at such a large number of postings. Instead I’ll just link in the previous blogs and save my memories that way.

Memories and self: we feel we are a single continuous self because of our memories, physical and “really experienced in the world and imaginative, experienced in our minds. At AU I gave a course I called Memory and Self for two springs in a row. We read autobiography, biography, letters, diaries, travel books.

One good memory I thought I’d begin again with is one longish day where a friend, Jill and I, spent a long day at the National Gallery in DC together, wandering in and out of, standing and staring and taking in rooms and rooms of the art of Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), from his early to latest years painting. Since he was so long-lived he went through many phases, and one, in the 1930s included the painting of huge beautiful (pro-civic) murals. One I remembered ever after were a series (more than one set of panels) of the Place Vintimille, a Paris bourgeois square he could see out his window. He loved the view and painted it again and again, and wrote it was:

so green with spring and full of life! I love this view from my apartment window. Do you see the narrow brown buildings across the park and the double-decker cart in the street below? Look, there is a boy checking his bicycle tire, and nearby, a man sleeping against the fence. Of course, you can always find all sorts of vendors and nannies walking with their little ones. For me, the sidewalk winds around the park like a creamy ribbon, wrapping everything in a package of sparkling color (Englished from the French).

It makes me remember a favorite book from my childhood: Mary Poppins in the Park by P. L. Travers: I grew up in the southeast Bronx and what more natural than I should dream of vast green parks, with appealing characters and things happening in them. So although I could only show a slice, and that a horizontal one out of 3 wall length vertical murals, I went for it as my landscape.

Each of these word-press blogs can have its own icon photo — apart from the general gravatar for the central site, mine Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood standing on a cobb looking out into English channel at the bottom right of each and every one of my WordPress blogs. I don’t want to just repeat Harriet Walter looking meditative as Harriet Vane. Instead I’ll add a new one to my repertoire of images: this time I’ve found such a richly-colored quietude image of a woman by Tammy Cantrell, called “Just Fine Alone:”


You will instantly see she’s not alone, or she’s just fine alone because there’s her sillily ecstatic crinkly-faced cat with her. He or she is straight out of Maurice Sendak. She and her cat will preside over Under the Sign of Sylvia Part 2.


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