Unfolding Afterglow: Letters and Conversations on Teacher Renewal
On waking, I see my body has been rearranged. From then on, you began to speak with your left hand. A whistle sounds. There behind your back is my pain, isolated from my knees. It may snow. View this article in Galician bilingual. I, wearing heron symmetrically opposed over my chest, swore to the five emperors that there was no such thing as balance, that if herons upheld the rivers on all Chinese porcelain it was simply due to a locking mechanism in their joints. I wrote to you a few years later. I even studied a pamphlet from that argues for the communion of swallows, that they gather in wetlands and follow a specific choreography to perch on top of the rushes until they sink.
Atlantic in between us, every anemone is fluttering along with the currents. Its narrative arc—that of a young girl who learns to challenge convention and follow her heart—may not be wholly original, but its presentation, full of detours and side stories, makes for a memorable, smart study of the lives of ordinary people in Shanghai in the s, during the second decade of Communist rule in China.
Shanghai appears in the novel as a city filled with people from other places who share folkloric stories of their villages with each other as they toil as maids, handymen, scow captains, and other blue-collar professions. Yet while Sorrow spans decades, shifting from alleyways to aspirations of stardom, Fu Ping is far more compact, focused on the daily lives of those who serve others. Orphaned as a child, Fu Ping is raised by her aunt and uncle in the country. When she reaches her late teens, in the early s, her family begins the process of marrying her off.
Suitors looking for a traditional housewife come calling, but Fu Ping quickly rebuffs them, refusing to meet or engage in conversation. This changes when a matchmaker presents Li Tianhua as a potential mate. Before long, however, Fu Ping takes on her own jobs and weaves herself into the lives of neighbors and colleagues. The longer she lives in the city, the more she sees herself as an individual responsible for her own fate, leading her to reconsider her impending nuptials.
After the first chapter, for instance, Fu Ping does not make a memorable appearance again until chapter three, nearly thirty pages later. Take the following passage, in which Fu Ping watches the proprietress of a tobacco shop go about her routine:. The proprietress rested against the counter as she ate out of a fine blue-edged porcelain bowl; when a customer entered, she tucked her chopsticks under the bowl, held both in one hand, and handled the purchase with the other.
She greeted familiar passersby, who paused to chat. Most of the time she wore a white woolen cardigan over a Western-style skirt and carried a handbag, like a schoolteacher or office worker. But she was outside rushing around when most people were at work. As the city becomes more concrete, the hardships and adventures faced by its residents also seem more palpable. Fu Ping is a story of breaking with tradition, of facing consequences for such a rebellion, yet ultimately of finding contentment in life.
View this article in Chinese bilingual. This year, we partnered with the Academy of American Poets for our first ever poetry in translation contest. We received poems from poets from 87 countries translated from 55 languages. The winning poems and their date of publication are:. And that honor could not have come at a better time for Norway, when there are so many good books being published and more translation rights being sold than ever before. Norwegian literature just seems to go from strength to strength. And what an honor to be asked to make this selection. And while it may not be immediately apparent, the idea of the dream we carry is a red thread running through the selected texts.
However, most of the dreams in the chosen texts are either unfulfilled or broken. Norway is in many ways living the dream; one of the poorest countries in Europe at the start of the last century, it is now one of the richest in the world. It frequently tops surveys and indexes for quality of life, equality, and happiness.
And the Nordic model is an oft-heralded counterweight to hard free-market capitalism. Norway is a dream that many people carry. When something shines so bright, it is often easy to forget the tarnished edges, the less desirable places and dusty, forgotten corners. Many of the pieces I have chosen are from such places, both physical and psychological. I have tried to make the selection as representative as possible of contemporary Norwegian literature in terms of content, gender, and style. Strikingly, five of the six fiction pieces have a first-person narrator. There is a long tradition of first-person narration in Norway; Knut Hamsun in his day said it was the future of literature, and his first novel, Hunger, was written in the first person, with shifting tenses, also preempting a preference for a present tense narrative.
So, the literary phenomenon Karl Ove Knausgaard did not come out of nowhere, but autofiction has become a dominant trend in the past decade since the first volume of My Struggle was published. It has even spilled over to popular science, where some of the greatest nonfiction successes to come out of Norway in recent years mix fact and science with personal anecdote. In January this year, the literary critic Marta Norheim published an article looking at the main trends in Norwegian literature in While the overarching characteristic was crisis, she identified historical fiction, the future, birth, and old age and death as the four main trends.
Twenty-five authors have participated in the program. Whaling is a controversial issue and some of the descriptions are brutal, but the fact remains that whaling played such an important role in Norwegian history that the possibility of some upset should not be allowed to disqualify the book. This is a beautifully written account of the development of the whaling industry, which gave the possibility of a better life to many families.
And while it is clear to us now that the hunting of the blue whale drove it to near extinction, we also see the dreams and aspirations. I would also like to add that Tjernshaugen bucks the current trend in Norwegian popular nonfiction, where fact is interwoven with personal reflection. And as the title suggests, the stories are about workers, unskilled workers, who have often not finished school and have no training. They come from a small rural community where opportunities are already limited. The main character, Kenneth, does have his own dreams, but lacks the courage and conviction to follow them through.
The story is as deeply Norwegian as it is universal. His stories share a similar social demographic as those of Dale. Here a man whose life is no longer what it used to be goes the extra mile to make sure that others can enjoy theirs. Why did I choose it? Quite simply because it made me cry. The events of the story run parallel with the fate of Sture Bergwall, who was also known for a period as Thomas Quick.
While in a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane in the s, he confessed to more than thirty murders in the Nordic countries and was eventually convicted for eight of them. One of these was that of nine-year-old Terese Johannessen, who had disappeared in from the street outside her home in Drammen, a couple of streets away from where my grandparents lived. The Sture leitmotif adds a sense of lurking menace to the events of this story. Monica Isakstuen has published three novels, all three of which have received critical acclaim.
In Rage , a woman with a daughter from a previous marriage gives birth to twins, and is horrified and frightened by the anger this unleashes. Desperate to be a good mother and to be loved, she cannot control her rage. The book is structured in a series of episodes or sections that range from one line to several pages, from present to past to present; both effective and disturbing, it makes for uncomfortable reading at times.
The title—evidence of her lyrical style—could be the answer to the question: why did this happen, why did things turn out the way they did? Well, because Venus. Ella has accompanied her sister Martha to a hotel in the mountains, to help her recover from a breakdown. Ella also nurtures the hope that they might recover the trust and devotion they shared when they were children.
I am so delighted that the book was published last year and I can include her beautiful, poetic writing. This is when the life she has anticipated would start—her dream certainly did not include moving back in with her parents in the oft-vilified suburb where she grew up. This quiet, uneventful novel about a suburb and a group of friends is at the same time joyous and life-affirming. For a comparatively small nation, Norway offers an incredible wealth of literature.
The reality of daily life there is more complex today than ever before and this is reflected in contemporary Norwegian writing. Given the quality of this writing and the energy and drive of the publishers and literary agencies, I think there will continue to be a buzz around Norwegian literature for a long time to come, well beyond the Frankfurt effect. In this extract from Monica Isakstuen's novel, a wife and mother of three struggles to contain her fury. The story of us, how did it go again. You say: Why do you think I left work so early that day, why do you think I felt such a sudden urge to read up on ginkgo trees and primeval forests, why do you think I got into my car and drove to the neighboring town when I could just as easily have borrowed what I needed from a library closer to home, why do you think I visited your library, of all libraries, at that time, of any?
Please, you say. Sit down, relax. My God, look at all this, look at us! What are you talking about, I ask him, placing my paintbrush down on the kitchen worktop. But when will it be ours, how many coats of paint and repair jobs will it take! One night, all three of them threw up, one after the next in the space of two hours. First on the stairs, then in bed, then all over the hallway carpet.
Imposing order amid the squalor. Do you remember how well we worked together that day. Do you remember that? How unflustered we were. Completing tasks, offering comfort, mopping up. Exchanging glances, each of us instinctively aware of what the other was doing, of what we had to do next. There was vomit all over your legs, and you brought one mattress after the next down to the living room, one child after the next, and there they lay, three washed-out petals clustered around the bright yellow bucket.
What do you reckon, think we could manage with another five, I said. The two youngest threw up once again, neither of them hitting their target. Oh, at least, you said, and ran off to fetch extra towels, more paper towels. My heart pounded so warmly in my chest. Everything that meant anything was here in this room. Not that it matters all that much who plays which part, the trick is to stay in character until the end goal is achieved.
The end goal is the complete and utter surrender of the target. By which I mean the child. What do you think about what just happened, why did you hit your brother. What is it that actually occurs? When my rage gets the better of me and every ounce of patience kindness warmth is driven out, does it happen gradually, or is it more like the flipping of a switch?
Am I more the former than the latter? Recurrent attacks, each worse than the one that came before it, a syndrome without cure. I think something, do something, say something, ask for something, promise something, expect something. Whatever I expect fails to materialize. They stand or sit or lie there and refuse to cooperate, insist on contradicting me.
A caring tone, predictable actions, gentle hands. So what?
Sternberg Press - Books
What now? The hammering of my heart is fierce and menacing, they come too close, ask too much, gorge themselves on my ever-shrinking existence with an insatiable greed. How do other mothers do it? I think of the little group I found myself seated opposite on a train heading south, a mother with two young children, somewhere between four and six years old, I assumed. They wanted this and wanted that and needed this and needed that, their demands were never-ending.
Over the course of those hours she replied to their questions and whinges and wails with quiet composure, occasionally ignoring them, occasionally smiling, and every so often she honored their requests, around ten times all in all, I think. This is it, this will be the thing that tips her over the edge. And I couldn't understand it. I thought to myself: what is she doing? Is this a trick? Perhaps I should take my children on train journeys with me, because witnesses keep you in check, the movement through the landscape seems to have a soothing effect and helps you maintain your composure, your dignity as a mother, it helps you be someone else for just a few short hours, the person you hoped you might become.
I scalp them one-by-one, no mean feat, the largest of them is surprisingly heavy. Are they ready? Are they ready are they ready are they ready? Two hours later, we carry the hollowed-out, decorated vegetables out onto the front steps and light candles inside them. We wait. I nod. The sound of voices outside, laughter and hollering.
Put on your masks, I whisper, and place a hand on the doorknob, let the door slide open, slow and creaky, BOO! Oh, he says. Trick or treat, the other one mumbles. I say. Dracula holds up the bowl of treats. Three pieces each, she says firmly. I reply. He shakes his head. Nonsense, I say, then roar long and hard with laughter before slamming the door shut. Everything falls silent. The skeletons hanging from the ceiling shake, the spider webs quiver, the candles on the chest of drawers are blown out, Dracula is furious.
She stares at me. Why do you have to say those things? The ghosts are in tears. I was only joking! She shakes her head, blood trickles from the corners of her mouth and down her chin, her throat, her chest. Why do you always have to be so cross! I bellow. Skin and flesh and candlewax and sweets and snot and tears everywhere. There was a time when they were calmer as I put them to bed, they smiled as I hummed, their eyes shining darkly from their beds as I turned out the lights, holding my gaze, and I could sit there and witness their surrender, the drowsy shuffling of limbs, as if underwater, eyelids that succumbed to sleep, their breathing eventually slow, steady.
When you love someone, they can feel it. I have it in me. There was a time that different versions of you and I and the children existed. I march from room to room, slamming doors behind me. Now you mention things breaking, I say, have you seen the chunks of plaster that come away from the outside walls when anyone touches them? Have you seen where something has been eating away at the rafters, tiny holes everywhere, the evidence all over the floor, piles of wood dust an inch high?
Have you noticed the musty smell in the hallway between the bedrooms? Can you feel the way the floorboards are beginning to sag beneath our feet? Have you noticed the roof tiles coming loose and the ratholes all over the lawn and the stench of urine in the bathroom? You stare at me, perplexed. What do you mean, what piles, what smell, what stench, what about the floorboards? I shout. You need to calm down, you say, the children are sleeping. What if we've been tricked, what if the previous owner knew that this place was falling apart, what if that was why she sold it to us, what if that's why nobody else wanted it.
But nobody else put an offer in, I say. Not high enough at least, you say. I say, I can't stop myself. We aren't to become hung up on such details. We aren't to curse the river of time, we aren't to grieve. Only shallow people grieve over youthful pictures of themselves, opportunities never taken. Only shallow people find it difficult when confronted by the sight of their own mature reflection in the mirror. Come on, now. Even so, for the odd nanosecond now and then, I catch myself reflecting on things: there should be someone much older here with me, Grandma, for example, someone to educate me in these things, to teach me to take heed, to accept.
Wrinkle cream? What are those? First come the wrinkles, then the teeth fall away, and eventually the mouth collapses and leaves a gaping hole behind it. What's done is done, life goes on. From Rase. Early one Sunday morning in October , a fisherman called Olof Larsson was hunting small game among the smooth rocks on the coast at Askimsviken outside Gothenburg, Sweden. There he spied something unusual sticking up out of the sea some forty meters from the shoreline.
At first he thought it was wreckage. Olof had never seen anything like it before. But he realized it could only be a whale. He rushed off to fetch his brother-in-law, Carl. Carl Hansson had been to sea. He had seen whales out on the North Sea and he knew they were terrible monsters that might, in the worst of cases, try to swallow up your vessel. The two men hoisted sail and tacked towards the beast until they were about twenty-five meters away.
The whale lay on its belly, listing slightly to one side. It was motionless for the most part. About every fifth minute, it would draw in breath, give a jerk and try to hurl itself up into the air. Its flippers flapped like wings. The echo rang against the mountainsides. Olof dared not proceed. He returned to land and could not be persuaded to attack the brute. Carl attempted it alone. But when the boat was three or four meters away, he too became afraid and turned back. Close to shore, he summoned up his courage and set out again.
He attacked the whale with a knife fastened onto a long boathook, just in front of the two blowholes. To no avail. The whale barely noticed it had been stabbed. It continued struggling to get free but instead its efforts carried it ever further into the shallows. When Olof saw he could safely approach the whale, he went out in the boat too. The whale blinked like a human being. The knife and the boathook sank more than half a meter into the eye socket.
A thin stream of blood spurted out. It ran out the way beer does when you poke a hole in the barrel, Carl thought, and it carried on that way for half an hour. The sea around them was dyed red. The whale struck out violently with its tail and fins, but it could no longer lift its head. It merely sank deeper into the sand. As long as he stood in the boat, he achieved no visible results, but eventually he clambered up onto the head and from there, he managed to hack a deep notch just behind the blowholes. Blood welled up from the wound, running down into the blowholes and coloring the spout red.
Soon, Carl was totally drenched in blood as he stood there, hacking away with his ax. The ax blows caused the whale to jerk so forcefully that Carl was obliged to return to the boat on several occasions until it had calmed down. The whale responded especially violently if touched close to its mouth.
Then the men secured the whale to land with a hawser and went home. They told nobody what they were up to out in Askimsviken. The whale was still breathing when they turned up the next morning. Its attempts to break free had carried it even closer to land and the tide was low, so the men could reach it more easily now.
Carl slashed the animal in the eye and the belly with a scythe. The stream of blood that gushed from the eye was as thick as an arm and lasted at least an hour this time. Air began to come out of the wound as the breathing through the two holes on top of the head stilled. As the afternoon wore on, the whale lay almost motionless, although it continued to bleed. The whale lifted clear of the surface of the water, supported only by its head and tail. It had been thirty hours since Olof Larsson discovered the beached whale. If you buy a ticket, you can still see it. Since it was just over sixteen meters long when it died, this was a whale calf that had recently stopped suckling its mother.
It had been born the previous winter, probably somewhere south of the Azores. At that time it would have been about seven meters long, and weighed two or three tons. Over the spring, it followed its mother north. Its mother showed the calf the best grazing spots. Some of them were probably far out to sea, but perhaps they also visited Iceland, the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, or the coast of Finnmark, Northern Norway.
It is possible they were unlucky enough to be shot at. In those days, a few pioneers were trying out something quite new: catching blue whales with the aid of steam power and explosives. On the autumn migration back south, the young male calf took an unusual detour to the east.
Perhaps, being inexperienced, he lost his way. He must have rounded the southern coast of Norway, then Skagen at the northern tip of Denmark, and set a course into the Kattegat between Denmark and Sweden. If he had survived it would have taken him several years to become capable of reproduction. A sexually mature male is at least twenty meters long and at least twice as heavy as the whale that ended up in the museum at Gothenburg. August Wilhelm Malm of the Natural History Museum thought the whale he had bought from the two fishermen was a hitherto unknown species. The name was not adopted by other zoologists.
The truth was, in fact, that there had already been numerous scientific descriptions of the same species. Each time one of these gigantic whales was found in civilized parts, it caused a sensation. Zoologists who got a chance to examine a beached specimen had seldom seen anything like it before. Like August Wilhelm Malm, they often imagined that they had discovered a creature hitherto unknown to science. The result was that as many as twelve different scientific names had previously been proposed for animals that were probably all blue whales.
The shortcomings of the anatomical descriptions and sketches that accompanied the suggested names did little to lessen the confusion. They reflected the unmanageable size of the creatures, the difficult working conditions on the beaches where the carcasses lay, not to mention the decomposition that was often far advanced before the arrival of a scientist with more or less expertise in whale-related matters. But regardless of its species, August Wilhelm Malm had laid his hands on a rare zoological treasure.
He got straight down to organizing the salvage work. It took three steamships and two coal barges to transport the carcass into town, where thirty workers were employed to flay and dismember the animal, in a stinking race against decomposition—and the gawkers who kept stealing scraps of the whale as souvenirs. The sheets of skin were fixed to a specially designed wooden frame using 30, zinc and copper pins. The structure was built in four separable sections, which made it easier to transport the whale.
The museum whale was equipped with hinges in its neck, so that the upper jaw could be flipped open. This allowed visitors to study the remarkable baleen up there. It was even possible to climb into the belly of the whale, just like Jonah in the Bible. The interior was cozily furnished with benches and wallpaper and all. The decision to fit it with a moveable upper jaw may have been made on practical grounds, but it is hardly consistent with baleen whale anatomy.
When a living whale opens its mouth, the lower jaw is the one that moves. The whale was exhibited in Gothenburg and Stockholm with great success. However, a planned tour of Europe got stranded in Berlin, and the wealthy burghers of Gothenburg had to open their wallets to buy back the whale from the creditors.
The Malm Whale, as it was known, enjoyed a brief moment of scientific stardom. Nonetheless, the blue whale in Gothenburg remained a popular museum artifact. On one occasion in the early s, a couple were discovered making love inside the belly of the whale, which prompted the museum to place restrictions on entry into this unusual space.
Nowadays, visitors to the museum are only allowed to clamber in through the jaws of the grotesque, blackened treasure on special occasions. The sixteen-meter long stuffed whale is enormous. Before getting to the whalebones, you pass through exhibitions displaying the remains of Viking ships, along with bronze jewelry and swords. The giant mounted skeletons are packed tightly together.
The blue whale, which dominates the room, was shot with a harpoon cannon from a steamship, then hauled into the Norwegian-run whaling station in Hellisfjord, Iceland, in the summer of At the busy factory the blue whale bones were not, for once, sawn up and boiled down to produce oil. These dimensions would be normal for a tree. No employees are to be seen in this corner of the museum.
He thought the species should now be conserved and protected, for its own sake, as a kind of remnant of the giants of the past. But would people really miss the whales, any more than they missed extinct giant sloths and mastodons? Did they really matter to the well-being of humanity? These questions were posed by one of the speakers in a previous parliamentary debate as early as This is where modern whaling began. Whaling expeditions headed first to the Finnmark coast. Later, they went all over the world. In the Antarctic in particular, the blue whale nearly died out.
They were several dozens of tons heavier. Dozens of tons. We still share the planet with animals so huge that we struggle to imagine whether ten or thirty tons would make any discernible difference. Perhaps he was right. We were living together in Oslo, on his turf and in his mother tongue. Usually, I did. I often wondered whether my relationships and friendships abroad were boosted by this kind of linguistic pleasure.
He liked it when I messed up prepositions. It was a thrill to read his novels while living in the same towns and territories where Hamsun had lived a century earlier—reading first in English, then terribly slowly in the original. I loved best the passage toward the end of his early novel Hunger , in which the protagonist begs his beloved for permission to kneel before her on the carpet:. Farvel, siger jeg! Farewell I say! And you understand me entirely, which rose, I mean, but you will not allow me to kneel there….
I had always been excessively effusive, excessively affectionate—in other words, a touchy-feely breed of New Yorker. In Oslo, I would compliment strangers on their platform sneakers and their ponchos. When my boyfriend and I later wanted to make declarations, they came in phases. I continued to pore through the major Norsk poets, looking for a guide to northern relationships.
Inger Hagerup lived from the start to the end of the twentieth century and filled her time and her country with sensitive, wistful, resistant, romantic, conscientious lyrics that glorified her internal and external landscapes. Hagerup sketched in negative space: unexperienced love, unwritten letters, unlit hearths, and unwalked paths frequently called forth and described what she most desired. I walked in that same lazy contemplation through the Vigeland sculptures in Oslo, taking in their mammoth grace. I felt so devoted to them, so attached to their company, visiting the sculpture park became a compulsion.
Then again, there were moments of physical communication that made up for it. Does physical contact become supercharged, as hearing does for the blind, or is it burdened with misplaced significance? Do we hold sex responsible for communicating more than it ever could? In June following that memorable May, my brother got married.
Schengen Area laws forbade U. The border control officers scanned my passport and prohibited me from entering Norway again for fifteen months. My boyfriend and I tried to stay together long-distance, but here our communication was put to a four-thousand-mile test and failed.
In retrospect, it was wrong of me to conflate person and place, to funnel the discovery of an entire new geography into our single household. But the search for fluency has stuck with me: a relationship, anywhere, still feels like a gathering and sharpening of all possible tools, and the coming together of two minds still feels like an act of translation. Roskva Koritzinsky's short story portrays a young dancer's alienation in a Stockholm gripped by a lurid trial. At the age of nineteen, I went to Stockholm to attend the Ballet Academy. It was around that time when people had started doubting whether or not Sture Bergwall had really committed the murders he had been accused of.
The TV reporters followed him from crime scene to crime scene. He went around in a daze, bug-eyed behind thick lenses and looking like a dying giant insect that had lost all sense of orientation and its ability to fly. Bergwall was discussed during school breaks, in the dance studios with legs propped up on the bar or on the floor during stretches. When the pianist sat down to play, we grew quiet. It was a long, cold winter. I was restless and bored. In the streets of Stockholm, the air was crisp and clear, the air in the dance studios smelled intimate and dispassionate, of sweat and rubber.
I thought of brothels and hospitals; that was the winter I came to understand I would not be a dancer after all. In the afternoons, I read French literature. The books were very thin. I didn't care much about what was written; I liked the melody of the sentences, it calmed me. In the evenings, I went to the top of Skinnarviksberget, I was wearing mittens and a knit hat pulled down over my ears.
It was freezing cold and the streets were empty. I stood at the top of the hill and gazed down across the city without feeling homesick. She appeared one afternoon. We had started practicing for the annual Christmas performance and did not stop until the darkness pressed in hard against the windows of the dance studio.
The darkness made me think about unchartered deep waters; I usually walked home quickly while trying to hold my breath. She stood in the doorway to the dance studio with her arms crossed, looking at us. Her face was empty of expression. Her unbound hair hung down over her shoulders onto a suede sheepskin jacket. When the music stopped, she took a step into the room. Our teacher turned to face her and extended her arms. It sounded like a revelation. She walked over to the girl, placed a hand on each of her shoulders, and turned to present her to us like a luxury clothing item.
Erika did not smile. There was something dismissive about her appearance, an innate disregard, I could immediately sense she was the kind of person to fall silent in an argument, who would watch her opponent build themselves up and flatten out again without uttering a single word. She had nothing to defend. She took off her jacket and hung it over a chair. She laced up her winter dance shoes. She didn't seem to care that we all stood there, watching her quietly. She straightened up again, took a hairband from her wrist, and pulled her reddish hair back into a bun.
Then she walked with long steps over to the corner of the room and began to warm up, keeping her eyes fixed on her reflection in the mirror. But I have to say something about her face. I have never seen anyone dance with a face like that. It was something that could not be learned, it belonged to her being, it was nothing simpler or more complicated than that.
It made me feel sad, but also hopeful. Perhaps it meant there might be something about me that was indescribable and therefore irreplaceable. I saw her a few days later. It was morning and I was on my way to school. A heavy wind blew through the streets and I looked down as I walked across the cobblestones. Something made me look up, and then there she was, behind the window of a passing bus. She was staring straight ahead, not seeming to register the other bus passengers or the city rolling by outside the window.
She merely was. Like a doll, or an old photograph pasted into a collage. What happened next, I will never quite understand: I turned around and went home. I locked myself into my apartment and climbed into bed. Images flamed up and burned to bits before my eyes, and from the ashes, new images bloomed. There was her face, her hands on the table, her hair falling across her forehead.
You can ask yourself what are you supposed to do now. The overgrown beds, the faceless mirror above the bureau, the eyes void of thought, void of emotion. The garden and the body and the rooms. It was something else. Advent came, it would be Christmas soon. The day before our performance, I pulled a tendon in my thigh. I sat in the front row eating oranges and scarcely noticed when a family sat down in the empty seats beside me. I looked up disinterestedly. My body went cold when I saw it was Erika. Her cheeks were red with exasperation and she dug around in her purse and pulled out a little stuffed animal with which she coaxed her son back to her.
Next to Erika, closest to me, sat a moderately attractive man with his arm on the back of her chair. After she calmed down her son and pulled him onto her lap, Erika turned to the man and quickly stroked his cheek. Just then, she saw me and smiled. Now I felt cheated. The performance began. I knew it was beautifully choreographed and that the dancers were talented, and yet—. I only saw skeletons. I saw twitches in tendons and muscles, toe tips that fell heavily against the floor, bruises on elbows and knees, the work that lay behind all of the beauty, the grit beneath all of the magic.
Here was the body-work, the beauty-work, the love-work, I felt dizzy. I dreamed I was walking and walking toward a tall mountain against the horizon. The mountain was covered by a layer of clouds, but when the clouds broke up, the mountain was gone, and the only thing that remained was myself and the other people on the road. Sture Bergwall was acquitted and I went home to my flat and packed my things. I locked the door. I left Stockholm in the belief that I would return in the fall, but I did not. Jan Kristoffer Dale's short story follows a weekend trip derailed by an unexpected participant.
They picked him up on Friday afternoon. He looked a few years younger than Kenneth and the others, and dressed differently too. Not to mention his posh, Eastern Norwegian way of speaking. Terje was in the back, too. As Kenneth climbed in, Terje grinned and smacked him on the thigh. Espen shrugged and turned his attention back to the road. Terje cracked open a beer bottle with a jerk of his keys. He took a swig, closed his eyes, and leaned back against the headrest.
Espen stayed quiet. Stared ahead, with his eyes trained on the narrow, freshly-ploughed gravel road ahead. Beer smells. They stopped off at the Spar in Osedalen to buy beer and food for two days. They couldn't make up their minds about dinner. Let Espen make us something different. You won't regret it. As Espen picked up meat, cheese, cream, potatoes, onions, garlic, and greens, Kenneth was reminded of his TV license bill, and the looming car insurance renewal.
He plonked in tomatoes, garlic, fresh pasta, and two bottles of something Kenneth didn't recognize. Kenneth glanced at Terje, waiting at the back of the queue with his own basket. Terje shook his head and took another swig. Kenneth opened another beer, glaring at Terje. Kenneth cast a sideways glance at Terje, who was checking his phone. Its background was a photo of his partner, Charlotte, and his three-year-old son. Terje had a job making blasting mats for construction work. Nails ground down to his fingertips. Kenneth regretted saying yes to the trip.
He could have stayed home with Heidi this weekend. She had been doing night shifts at the hospital, so this Saturday she would sleep the whole day through. When she woke up late that night, she would be all hot and sweaty. Her blonde, curly hair running wild. He liked her like that. They hadn't slept together for more than two weeks, and he felt his belly getting warm at the thought. The two hundred kroner Kenneth had set aside for the trip should really be going towards the cost of all the food Espen had picked up, but Kenneth had brought along his poker set.
Besides, Kenneth had been looking forward to playing cards and, if all went well, he might be able to get back some of the money he lost down in Osedalen. Kenneth felt his seat belt clamp across his chest and his stomach somersaulting as the car careened off the road. Everyone screamed. The radio cut out.
Kenneth felt himself bite his tongue, and tears sprang from his eyes. The others followed him out, and Terje had to crawl out from Kenneth's side.
Kenneth stayed there in the ditch, gazing up at the road. They had narrowly missed driving straight into a group of birch trees, and only now did Kenneth realize how steep the ditch was. He felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. He spat into the snow, and noticed it was red.
He could taste iron. When he started it and tried to reverse, its wheels spun in the snow. Kenneth watched him thump the steering wheel. Kenneth followed Espen and Terje. The snow reached their knees. Kenneth gave Terje a pat on the shoulder and gestured for him to follow. The car was buried in snow up to its headlights. Terje brushed them clean. They lined up shoulder to shoulder.
It was steep, so Kenneth had to dig his feet into the snow as he leaned against the bonnet with both hands. On one side stood Terje, while Espen was on the other. Kenneth put all of his weight in. He heard the revs rising. The tires spun and sprayed snow high into the air, but the car refused to move an inch.
They took a break and Terje smoked another cigarette. There was now a powerful stench of exhaust, and Kenneth was starting to feel dizzy and sick. He spat out some more blood and looked over at Terje, who was biting down on his lip and pushing. Espen slid backward in the snow and fell flat on his stomach. Espen brushed the snow off his knees and readjusted his puffer jacket. He fell quiet for a moment as he regarded the car. I'll see if he can come tow us. Espen turned round to face Terje. Just popped off the bottle cap and took a big swig. He put it down on the dashboard.
Terje bent down, fished all the other bottles off the floor, and threw them out the window too. He answered it. Slid off the road. Right now we're in a ditch a couple of kilometers from your farm. After half an hour of waiting, Kenneth went to the boot and dug out a bag of crisps. He shared it with the others. The salt burned the cut on his tongue. The bleeding had stopped, but it still felt swollen.
He thought about the books that lay unopened at the end of his kitchen table. It was so much easier to do anything else but open them. Yesterday he had decided he was going to start his Norwegian language textbook the moment he came home from work, but before he knew it he had mopped the corridor, gone upstairs, and run a bath.
Then he had prepared some dough and popped it in the oven. He liked housework. It helped him relax, and he liked seeing things through. When he flicked through the Norwegian textbook after buying it, it had hit home that he didn't even know the difference between masculine and feminine nouns. Or the difference between regular and irregular verbs. More than nine years had gone by since he had left secondary school. Terje hadn't finished high school, instead training to be a welder, and had got a job straight out of school in a factory in Arendal.
He had worked there right up until the day it was knocked down. Which was when he got this job making blasting mats. He worked behind the counter at a Shell in Arendal and delivered copies of the local paper, Agderposten. But one day he made up his mind, and applied to study business and management studies at Agder University.
Now he had a career in Arendal. A house and a good wage. All while Kenneth had been skipping from job to job ever since secondary school. Lately he had been working at a warehouse in Skeidar, out near Stoa. Then he looked up at the sky, opened his mouth and caught a snowflake on his tongue. For a fleeting moment, Kenneth thought he looked like a little boy. Terje held out his lighter and a red packet of Prince. Kenneth took one and lit it. He hadn't smoked for over three years. He felt a tickle in his throat, then the smoke warming his lungs. I can't stand it! He gets too fucking big for his boots.
You remember the last time we went on a night out with them? And he was even saying how he had to go out of his way just to get hold of some beer he could actually drink. Time was, when he used to drink exactly what we drink now. Posh pricks. Are you gonna end up like them as well? They got out of the car. Terje was walking toward the gravel road. Kenneth and the others followed him. When they got to the turning, Terje dropped his bag to the ground. He had a half-drunk beer bottle in his hand. He held it to his lips and chugged until the bottle was empty.
They went back to the car. This is just a little line to tell you how I am getting on. I had a very nice morning. Lizzie and I went out together and did some delightful shopping in Sloane Street and then walked up Piccadilly and up Bond Street and went on myself in a hansom to the National Gallery where I spent a peaceful hour. All the sales are over I'm afraid.
I went to Woollands this afternoon for the sashes, they had nothing approaching the colour, but I will find it somewhere. I am much interested about your gown, though as you rightly supposed a little sorry its black!. John Bailey] and had a delightful long talk with her. I like her so much.
I want some sashes which are either in a cardboard box or on the high shelf outside my bedroom door. If there are any ribbons I should like them too. I went to Audley Square where Henry James appeared. Horace came here about three on Saturday and we walked to Kensington Square, where I took him to call on Mrs.
It was pleasant and amusing. Green told me that Mr. York Powell had said to her-this is not a becoming story, and suited for the ears of one's immediate family only-that I was the only girl he had ever examined who knew how to use books or had read things outside the prescribed course and that he thought I had got into the heart of my subject. What a little daring it takes to deceive his misguided sex! I ordered the buttons today at Woollands. I hope they will prove satisfactory. I regret to announce to you the death of my trumpeter, under which painful circumstances I'm bound to tell you that Lady Edward [Cavendish] has been very complimentary about me to Auntie Mary.
She is pleased to approve of me. The Lytteltons have invited me to a dance of theirs on the 25 th. I shall go if Lady Arthur will take me. I suppose I can ask her. This afternoon I called on the Lushingtons. We dined at Devonshire House. There were there Lady Edward, William Egerton, Alfred Lyttelton and Victor Cavendish [now Duke of Devonshire] who came in from the House announcing that he must be back in 30 minutes but finally stayed till ten.
Victor C. Yesterday such an absurd thing happened. Auntie Mary had gone out; Florence and I were walking together; the boys alone here, hear a ring and a voice asking for Lady Lascelles, then for me, then angrily, "Well, it's a very odd thing for I was told particularly to come here this afternoon. Auntie Maisie had met him at Dover Street at lunch and he had told her he was coming here to teach me--and had asked if he Would be likely to find us in. She had said "no" but he had come all the same. I had another offer of lessons on Saturday afternoon at Miss Green's from Mr.
I feel I shall end by receiving special instruction from the Shah in person. London, Feb. I have been paying a visit to Maclagan this morning. Which I think was wise as I have been feeling tired and unenergetic lately. He gave me a tonic and told me to take care of myself and not do too much. It was pleasant at Mansfield Street.
She is such a nice girl. On Thursday I walked in the afternoon with Flora and went back with her to tea. The Stanley dance was extraordinarily successful. There were about 20 little girls and ten big ones and a few young men. We danced wildly with the children and the young men. At eight a kind of elaborate tea was provided for the children and for us a small dinner of soup and cutlets and so on. Uncle Lyulph was quite taken aback by the splendor of his party, "I knew we should have something to eat," he said, "but this gloat I certainly did not expect.
I have inserted a few extracts from her letters to Flora Russell, recording some of her doings. Huth Jackson]. To the same. Lady Arthur's approval is very well worth having, and I am grateful to you for telling me of it. We have spent a racketing fortnight dancing and acting; I am just beginning to fall back into my usual peaceful frame of mind which is rather difficult to regain. I feel to have got rather behindhand with the whole world during the course of it and that I must hurry along very fast to catch it up again.
But it's the old world I really want to catch up. I have just got to an inviting stage in my Latin when I feel there is really no reason I shouldn't read anything-and as a matter of fact I can read nothing without dictionaries and great labour. The slough of despond is nothing to it. But I mean to wade on diligently for the next fortnight and stumble as best I may over the horrid catching briars of prepositions and conjunctive moods.
We spent a madly amusing five days at Canterbury, of which nothing remains to tell except that we danced every night, saw a good deal of cricket and talked a little. Do you remember discussing what other girls do with their days? I have found out what one particular class does-they spend the entire time in rushing from house to house for cricket weeks, which means cricket all day and dancing all night; your party consists of an eleven and enough girls to pair off with-you discuss byes and wides and Kemp at the wicket and Hearne's batting and any other topic Of a similar nature that may occur to you.
It seems to me to be rather a restless sort of summer. The Lascelles are moved to Teheran which is rather thrilling. They are coming back to England now and my uncle goes to Persia in October, my aunt later, I don't know when. I should like her to take me out with her, Persia is the place I have always longed to see, but I don't know if she will. I expect my aunt will be rather annoyed for she will hate being so far away, but it is a great promotion.
As for me if only I go there this winter everything will have turned out for the best. I wear a blue-green velvet in my hair which is becoming. I have been reading Latin with great energy. It's a language of which I know very little but whose difficulties must be mastered somehow for I constantly find myself brought up against a blank wall by my ignorance of it. It is very interesting to learn but I could wish it were a little easier. This is for the private eye: Bentley wishes to publish my Persian things, but wants more of them, so after much hesitation I have decided to let him and I am writing him another six chapters.
It's rather a bore and what's more I would vastly prefer them to remain unpublished. I wrote them you see to amuse myself and I have got all the fun out of them I ever expect to have, for modesty apart they are extraordinarily feeble. Moreover I do so loathe people who rush into print and fill the world with their cheap and nasty work and now I am going to be one of them.
At first I refused, then my mother thought me mistaken and my father was disappointed and as they are generally right I have given way. But in my heart I hold very firmly to my first opinion. Don't speak of this. I wish them not to be read.
I read a certain amount of history with the children's lessons, for exercise, and the works of Balzac for amusement. Dante for edification. It's an agreeable and a varied programme. Her letters from Persia, of which there were a good many, are like those from Roumania unfortunately not to be found. The only one we have is addressed to her cousin Horace Marshall, written from Gula Hek, the exquisite summer resort of the British Legation.
Here that which is me, which womanlike is an empty jar that the passer by fills at pleasure, is filled with such wine as in England I had never heard of, now the wine is more important than the jar when one is thirsty, therefore I conclude, cousin mine, that it is not the person who danced with you at Mansfield St.
Anyhow I remember you as a dear person in a former existence, whom I should like to drag into this one and to guide whose spiritual coming I will draw paths in ink. And others there are whom I remember yet not with regret but as one might remember people one knew when one was an inhabitant of Mars 20 centuries ago. How big the world is, how big and how wonderful.
It comes to me as ridiculously presumptuous that I should dare to carry my little personality half across it and boldly attempt to measure with it things for which it has no table of measurements that can possibly apply. So under protest I write to you of Persia: I am not me, that is my only excuse. I am merely pouring out for you some of what I have received during the last two months. Well in this country the men wear flowing robes of green and white and brown, the women lift the veil of a Raphael Madonna to look at you as you pass; wherever there is water a luxuriant vegetation springs up and where there is not there is nothing but stone and desert.
Oh the desert round Teheran! I never knew what desert was till I came here; it is a very wonderful thing to see; and suddenly in the middle of it all, out of nothing, out of a little cold water, springs up a garden. Such a garden! Here sits the enchanted prince, solemn, dignified, clothed in long robes. He comes down to meet you as you enter, his house is yours, his garden is yours, better still his tea and fruit are yours, so are his kalyans but I think kalyans are a horrid form of smoke, they taste to me of charcoal and paint and nothing else.
By the grace of God your slave hopes that the health of your nobility is well? It is very well out of his great kindness. Will your magnificence carry itself on to this cushion? Your magnificence sits down and spends ten minutes in bandying florid compliments through an interpreter while ices are served and coffee, after which you ride home refreshed, charmed, and with many blessings on your fortunate head.
And all the time your host was probably a perfect stranger into whose privacy you had forced yourself in this unblushing way. Ah, we have no hospitality in the west and no manners. I felt ashamed almost before the beggars in the street-they wear their rags with a better grace than I my most becoming habit, and the veils of the commonest women now the veil is the touchstone on which to try a woman's toilette are far better put on than mine.
A veil should fall from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, of that I feel convinced, and it should not be transparent. Say, is it not rather refreshing to the spirit to lie in a hammock strung between the plane trees of a Persian garden and read the poems of Hafiz-in the original mark you! That is how I spend my mornings here; a stream murmurs past me which Zoroastrian gardeners guide with long handled spades into tiny sluices leading into the flower beds all around.
THE LETTERS OF GERTRUDE BELL
The dictionary which is also in my hammock is not perhaps so poetic as the other attributes let us hide it under our muslin petticoats. This also is pleasant: to come in at 7 o'clock in the morning after a two hours' ride, hot and dusty, and find one's cold bath waiting for one scented with delicious rose water, and after it an excellent and longed for breakfast spread in a tent in the garden.
What else can I give you but fleeting impressions caught and hardened out of all knowing? I can tell you of a Persian merchant in whose garden, stretching all up the mountain side, we spent a long day, from dawn to sunset, breakfasting, lunching, teaing on nothing but Persian foods. He is noted for his hospitality every evening parties of friends arrive unexpectedly "he goes out, entertains them" said the Persian who told me about it, "spreads a banquet before them and relates to them stories half through the night. Then cushions are brought and carpeted mattresses and they lie down in one of the guest houses in the garden and sleep till dawn when they rise and repair to the bath in the village.
In the garden there are big deep tanks where in the evenings between tennis and dinner I often swim in the coldest of cold water. Before we left Teheran when it was too hot to sleep, I used to go out at dawn and swim under the shadow of the willows. We were very glad to leave Teheran though we liked the house there. It began to be very stuffy and airless; here, though we are only 6 miles away, there is always air, except perhaps between two and four in the afternoon when one generally sleeps. We are much higher up and much nearer the hills and all round us are watered fields where the corn is almost ripe for cutting The joy of this climate!
I do think an English summer will be very nice after it. I learn Persian, not with great energy, one does nothing with energy here. My teacher is a delightful old person bright eyes and a white turban who knows so little French French is our medium that he can neither translate poets to me nor explain any grammatical difficulties.
But we get on admirably nevertheless and spend much of our time in long philosophic discussions carried on by me in French an by him in Persian. His point of view is very much that of an oriental Gibbon, though with this truly oriental distinction, that he would never dream of acknowledging in words or acts his scepticism to one of his own countrymen. It would be tacitly understood between them and their intercourse would be continued on the basis of perfect agreement. Now this is a great simplification and promotes, I should imagine, the best of good manners. Goodbye, write to me and tell me how the world goes with you.
It practically summarises her impressions. We have further records of them in a book she wrote the year after her return, published by Bentley in , entitled "safar Nameh " i. The little book attracted attention and was favourably reviewed.. I have dwelt on it here, for the interest of comparing it in one's mind with the books of Eastern travel Gertrude was to publish many years later, when she was no longer a spectator only, but a sharer to the full in the Eastern life that she described.
She had, as we have seen in many of the letters, a special and very valuable gift, that of forming extremely vivid impressions, whether of places or of human beings. She would dive beneath the surface, estimating, judging, characterising in a few words that were not often mistaken. She would ride through a countryside and report on its conditions, human, agricultural, economic, and her report would be adopted.
When she came into contact with human beings, whether chiefs of the desert or men and women of her own Western world, she would label them, after her first meeting with them, in a sentence. I am not pretending that her judgments were always infallible. But on the whole they were correct often enough to enable her to thread her way successfully through the labyrinth of her experiences. It was characteristic of Gertrude, and it was an inestimable advantage to her, that she insisted on learning Persian before going to Teheran.
She arrived there knowing as it is commonly called, the language, i. But she had not yet reached the stage in which the learner of a language finds with rapture that a new knowledge has been acquired, the illuminating stage when not the literal meaning only of words is being understood, but their values and differences can be critically appreciated. It was not long before Gertrude was reading Persian Poetry by this light and with the added understanding brought to her by her knowledge of Western literature.
She was wont when she was at home and someone asked her a question about history to reply with a laugh " Oh! But in literature it would be hard to say offhand what was her " period. The book includes a life of Hafiz, which is practically a history of his times as well as a critical study of his work. These, and the notes on his poems at the end of the book, show how wide was her field of comparison. She draws a parallel between Hafiz and his contemporary Dante: she notes the similarity of a passage with Goethe: she compares Hafiz with Villon, on every side gathering fructifying examples which link together the inspiration of the West and of the East.
The book on its publication was extremely well received. I quote here from two of the translations. Songs of dead laughter, songs of love once hot, Songs of a cup once flushed rose-red with wine, Songs of a rose whose beauty is forgot, A nightingale that piped hushed lays divine: And still a graver music runs beneath The tender love notes of those songs of thine, Oh, Seeker of the keys of Life and Death! Light of mine eyes and harvest of my heart, And mine at least in changeless memory!
Oh Camel-driver, though the cordage start, For God's sake help me lift my fallen load, And Pity be my comrade of the road! He sought a lodging in the grave--too soon! I had not castled, and the time is gone. What shall I play? Gertrude, who was an ardent lover of poetry all her life long, and who kept abreast of the work of the moderns as well as of their predecessors, seemed, strangely enough, after the book of Hafiz had appeared, to consider her own gift of verse as a secondary pursuit, and to our surprise abandoned it altogether.
But that gift has always seemed to me to underlie all she has written. The spirit of poetry coloured all her prose descriptions, all the pictures that she herself saw and succeeded in making others see. It was a strangely interesting ingredient in a character capable on occasion of very-definite hardness and of a deliberate disregard of sentiment: and also in a mental equipment which included great practical ability and statesmanlike grasp of public affairs.
But in truth the real basis of Gertrude's nature Was her capacity for deep emotion. Great joys came into her life, and also great sorrows. How could it be otherwise with a temperament so avid of experience? Her ardent and magnetic personality drew the lives of others into hers as she passed along. She returned to England from Teheran in December of In January we find her starting for Switzerland and northern Italy with Mary Talbot, a beloved friend who had been with her at Lady Margaret Hall. Mary Talbot married the Rev. Burrows, now Bishop of Chichester, in 18 She died, to Gertrude's great sorrow, in In April she went to Algiers with her father to stay with some of his relations, afterwards going back to Switzerland, and then joining Maurice, who was established in a German family at Weimar that he might learn the language.
Needless to say that as soon as Gertrude arrived at Weimar she arranged to have German lessons, and went three times a week to talk with " a delightful old lady living in whose house do you think? But it is not worth while to take up space by accounts of routes already well- trodden, or places and social surroundings well known.
Baudelaire with Graham Fawcett and Sue Aldred
Gertrude came back to England from Germany in the early summer of and does not seem to have gone abroad again until the spring of There are no letters of the two intervening years. In the spring of Gertrude travelled in the north of Italy, first in the company of Mrs. Norman Grosvenor and then of Mrs. Green, both of whom were her dear friends. Her father was with her part of the time. They stayed in Venice, they stayed in Florence. As might be expected, on her arrival in Italy, Gertrude at once arranged to have Italian lessons.
She writes from Venice "At 3 I had my parlatrice until 4.
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Sir Reginald and Lady Talbot were staying in Florence, which was a great added enjoyment. Lady Talbot was Mrs. Grosvenor's sister. After Gertrude's return from Italy she was at home until the end of the year. One line to say we had a most amusing party at the Portsmouths yesterday. I made the acquaintance of Miss Haldane, whom I have long wished to know, and I am going to tea with her tomorrow. Haldane was most complimentary about my book--which I think he hasn't read by the way.
A delightful review in the Athenaeum. Loe had just finished reviewing my book! Flora lunched to-day and we went out together afterwards. Tomorrow I have a Buddhist Committee lunch. I wrote my review of Lafcadio this morning, the sort of blissful morning when one suddenly realises at the end of a few hours that one has been quite unconscious of the passing Of time.
I'm just going to finish it now. Moll looked charming last night. I Studied my grammar this morning and went to the London Library where I looked through volumes and volumes of Asiatic Societies. I had a very nice evening with the Ritchies--Pinkie Was there and she played the piano, and we talked not wile she played and it was very merry. They are looking very well. I think they are coming to you for Easter. I came away rather early for I had a lesson at 5. My Pundit was extremely pleased with me, he kept congratulating Me on my proficiency in the Arabic tongue!
I think his other pupils must be awful duffers. It is quite extraordinarily interesting to read the Koran with him-and it is such a magnificent book! He has given me some Arabian Nights for the next time and I have given him some Hafiz poems to read, so we shall see what we shall see. He is extremely keen about the Hafiz book. This morning I stayed in and read some most illuminating articles on Sufyism. There's a lot to know but I guess I'll know some of it before I've done. I expect I shall get my reading ticket to-morrow. My Pundit brought back my poems yesterday-he is really pleased with them.
I asked him if he thought they were worth doing and he replied that indeed he did. He is full of offers of assistance and wants to read all that I have done, which from a busy man is, I think, the best proof that he likes what he has seen. Arabic flies along-I shall soon be able to read the Arabian Nights for fun. My domino is going to be so nice and it will cost me very little for it is all made of a beautiful piece of white stuff Papa gave me in Algiers. Lizzie is making it. Give my love to Lisa. Green went in the morning to see Lady Layard, who offered us her gondola to go out and see the arrival of the Emperor.
Dorothy and Arnold walked me home. At 2Mrs. Green and I started out in a splendid gondola and went nearly to the Lido amidst a crowd of boats. It was very gorgeous for the Municipio appeared in splendid gondolas hung with streamers and emblems and rowed by 8 gondoliers in fancy dresses of different colours. About 3 the Hohenzollern steamed in through the Lido port, a magnificent great white ship with all the sailors dressed in white and standing in lines upon the deck. The guns fired, the ships in the harbour saluted and all the people cheered.
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The Hohenzollern anchored nearly opposite the Piazzetta and we saw the King and Queen and a crowd of splendid officers Come up in a steam launch all hung with blue. They went on board the Hohenzollern and presently we saw them all go away again with the Emperor and his two little boys. We were much amused, and for magnificence there never was anything like a festa with the Ducal Palace for background. It was a very imperial way of arriving to steam up in your gorgeous white ship. I only wished it had not been that Particular emperor we were welcoming.
Green and I went out in a gondola and saw the sun set behind the Euganean Hills. Caroline [Grosvenor] is a delightful companion-we are particularly happy. I had a real busy morning and settled all my summer clothes and ordered a gown at Mrs. I hope it will be ready before you come as I should like you to pronounce upon it. Tomorrow I intend to spend an hour or two over my Hafiz things and get them all straight. I went to the British Museum on my bicycle this morning. It adds a great joy to my studies and I feel all the brisker for it. The children have had a tennis court marked in the square.
I am just going out to see! They are looking blooming and are such angels! However we will try not to be too foolish about our family. I was invited to Lady Lockwood's dance but I really couldn't be bothered to hunt up a chaperon and go to it. About the children's flower gowns--we finally decided that the cheapest and best thing we could do was to trim the gowns with field flowers artificial of course , buttercups daisies and forget-me-nots. We have cut a sort of ruche of tulle round the bottom of the skirt with little bunches of flowers tucked into it, and hung flowers from the neck and from the waist in little streams--on the whole I think this plan has made as much show as possible for as little money and the dresses look quite charming.
I hope I've done right about it. The children were extremely anxious to have their gowns very flowery. We had a very merry dinner and started out about ten, along the embankment, the Strand and through the City to the Tower Bridge, then home by Holborn Viaduct and oxford Street. The Strand was pretty full but the City quite empty, all brilliantly lighted and the asphalt pavement excellent good going. It was a delicious night with a little moon and I enjoyed it extremely. We went back to supper with the Tyrrells and I was not in till However I went off after breakfast to the Museum where I asked for a book they' hadn't got!
It is rather funny that I should have exhausted the whole British Museum in a fortnight, but it's also a bore, for I wanted a nice French translation and now I shall have to fall back on the original Persian which they have. I have told Lizzie about the bonnet and cloak so you will find them ready.
Our party last night was a great success, the babies looked charming. I was much complimented upon their appearance. It was most amusing being a chaperon. I sat on a bench and watched them dancing round and knew just what you felt like at Oxford. I think I got at the meaning of it with the help of a Persian dictionary, but a Latin translation is not so clear to me as it might be.
Audley Square was amusing. I am going down to Caroline in Kent for Whitsuntide. I want to bicycle down on Saturday if I can get an escort, it's only 17 miles, and send my luggage by train. London is beginning to feel very Whitsuntidy. Beatrice Clementi came to see me this afternoon just before I went out.
She is to be married in November. It is very close here and has been raining a good deal think of ordering a tasteful costume for Ascot consisting of a short skirt, a waterproof and a large umbrella. Florence and I arranged the flowers at 95 and did the dinner table at 90 most elegantly--I dine there to-night.
Then I had a long talk with Auntie Mary, who seems very brisk and well. I took Florence with me to try on my gown and we walked together in the Square until a storm of rain came on and drove us in. Auntie Maisie asks me to dine with her Friday and go to a ball, and Maurice is to come to dinner if she can possibly find a place for him, and at any rate to come in directly after dinner and go to the ball too. We have had a most delightful day. We started about , Gerald, Florence, Uncle Frank and I, got to Ascot half an hour before the first race, which we saw from the top of the Royal Enclosure Stand; then we lunched in the Bachelors' tent, Billy being our host, and I sat next Colonel Talbot and was much amused.
He had a Carpenter niece with him. Then we went back and saw all the races over the railing of the Royal enclosure, which is just opposite the winning post.
The family had small bets on, mostly unsuccessful I didn't bet, I need not say. At the end of all we had tea in the Guards' tent and came home very comfortably, getting in about I am going again to-morrow. My gown was a dream and was much admired. I am going this evening with Auntie Mary and Florence and the Johnsons to sit out of doors in the Imperial Institute and listen to the band-rather nice as it is very hot. Florence and I did amuse ourselves so much! What a dear Lord Granville is.
Thank you very much for your letter and will you thank the little girls for me, I have no time to write to them to-day. Hugo came up in great form and we started off to Lord's together, but on the way discovered that he had lost the blue tassel on his umbrella, which saddened us dreadfully! So we tried in many shops to get one, and failed alas!
However we were Comforted at Lord's when we saw that many many Eton boys had no tassel! We had the most excellent places, we carried our lunch with us and supplemented it with green-gages, after eating which we both made fervent wishes as they were the first we had eaten this year. I asked Hugo what he had wished, to which he replied, "Why I wished Eton might win--what in the world is there to wish for besides? He was such a darling! I saw Heinemann this morning. He was extremely pleasant. I told him a lot about the book and he expressed a desire to see it. So at any rate it will have a reading.
I shall send him the poems and preface from Berlin, Mr. Strong cannot come to town and has not yet finished the preface. Her first letter is sent from the station at York. YORK, Jan. I can't conceive what I am doing in this station, nor why I am going away. It's too silly. I wish I were stopping quietly at home. All sorts of smart people on this platform! One begins to realise what the world is like when one gets to York, doesn't one. Never mind, I'll be smart too presently!
The reason why I had not sent the poems to H. Strong has not yet sent me back the preface. I hope I may get it by the next bag. Meantime I have sent the 30 poems with their notes to H. To her sister. It was a very fine show. We drove to the Schloss in the glass coach and were saluted by the guard when we arrived. We felt very swell! Then we waited for a long time with all the other dips. We all hastily arranged one another's trains and marched in procession while the band played the march out of Lohengrin. The Emperor and Empress were standing on a dais at the end of the room and we walked through a sort of passage made by rows and rows of pages dressed in pink.
She introduced me and then stood aside while I made two curtseys. The Princess Frederic Leopold's ladies asked when I was going to be introduced to her. We have been skating all the afternoon with surprising energy, A very ridiculous thing happened-I had retired into a secluded corner and put my muff down to make a centre round which to skate a figure, when suddenly I was aware of a short fat German gentleman arriving into the middle of my figure on his back.
He picked up my muff and himself and handed them both to me, so to speak, with a low bow. We propose if the frost lasts making a big party, sledging down to Potsdam and skating there. I hope it will come off, it Would be very amusing. A great 'Probe' at the Kaiserhof to which all the people who were going to dance at the Court Ball came.
After the lesson was over there were a couple of waltzes, so I offed with my coat and danced too. There is a rather nice sort of variant of the 'pas de quatre' which they call the 'pas de patineur' which I quickly learnt. Uncle F. Accordingly we went off by ourselves and sat very comfortably with Countess Keller in the second row of chairs-no one might sit in the front row even when the royalties were not in the box. All the Embassy and a lot of the Court people were with us, the Emperor and Empress were in a little box at the side.
The play was very well done. The Falstaff excellent and the whole thing beautifully staged. There was no pause till the end of the second act when there was a long entr'acte. Countess Keller bustled away and presently came hurrying back and whispered something to Knesebeck and Egloffstein, two of the Court people, and they came and told F. So off we went rather trembling, under the escort of Countess K. We made deep curtseys and kissed the Empress's hand, and then we all sat down, F.
It was rather formidable though they were extremely kind. The Emperor talked nearly all the time; he tells us that no plays of Shakespeare were ever acted in London and that we must have heard tell that it was only the Germans who had really studied or really understood Shakespeare. One couldn't contradict an Emperor, so we said we had always been told so. Egloffstein's chair broke in the middle of the party and he came flat on to the ground which created a pleasing diversion-I was so glad it wasn't mine!
Countess K. After about 20 minutes the Empress got up, we Curtseyed to her, shook hands with the Emperor. Florence thanked him very prettily for sending for us and we bowed ourselves out. Wasn't it amusing! Florence said she felt shy but she looked perfectly self-possessed and had the prettiest little air in the world as she sat talking to the Emperor. I felt rather frightened, but I did not mind much as I knew I need do nothing but follow Florence's lead.
The Empress sits very upright and is rather alarming. He flashes round from one person to the other and talks as fast as possible and is not alarming at all. We go again to-night to the second part. The Court Ball on Wednesday was a fine show. We were asked for eight o'clock and at a quarter past we formed up for waiting.
The ambassadresses sat on a line of chairs to the left of the throne in the Weiser Saal, and we stood meekly behind them. After about half an hour someone tapped tapped on the floor with a wand and in came a long procession of pages followed by the 'Kaiser Paar' and all the 'Furstliche Personen. In to supper. The room was almost empty and the few people that were there were dancing the 'trois temps'--one is only allowed to dance the 'deux temps' when the Empress is there. It was a very delicious half-hour for the floor is peerless and all these officers dance so well.
Then followed the gavotte which Florence danced very prettily. The house is all upside down for the ball. Wherever one goes one finds lines and lines of waiters arranging tables. We can seat people at supper. There are to be tables in all the ball rooms, the Chancery ante-room and even the big bedroom. We all intend to bring our partners up to the big bedroom which makes a delightful supper-room. Florence and I went into the kitchen this morning and inspected the food. I never saw so many eatables together. Florence and I were of course as it was in our own house covered with bows and loaded with flowers.
There were supper tables in all the drawing-rooms--it looked extremely nice. I went to tea with Marie von Bunsen and stayed till past 7. She is most interesting. The Court Ball on Wednesday was much nicer than the first one. The Emperor wore a gorgeous Austrian uniform in honour of an Austrian Archduke who was there--the brother of the man who is heir to the throne. He will be Emperor himself someday as the heir is sickly and unmarried. The Emperor William is disappointing when one sees him close; he looks puffy and ill and I never saw anyone so jumpy.
He is never still a second while he is talking. Uncle Frank is in a great jig about Crete. He thinks there is going to be red war and an intervention of the Powers and all sorts of fine things. I wonder. Florence and I spent the most heavenly morning at the 'Haupt Probe'. Since then we have been bicycling round the house for exercise as it is raining and we could not go out. On Friday Mr. Acton, Mr. Spring Rice and Lord Granville dined with us. After dinner we played hide and seek till we were so hot we could play no longer and finished up the evening with pool and baccarat.
I went to the National Gallery to see the modern pictures. I had been reading about modern German painters and knew what I wanted to look at. Should like to go out but I mayn't go by myself. So I suppose I can't! We were all sent for in the entr'acte. We had a very agreeable tea with the Emperor and Empress and her sister. It was like an act out of another historical drama--but a modern one. A sheaf of telegrams were handed to the Emperor as we sat at tea. He and Uncle fell into an excited conversation in low voices; we talked on to the Empress trying to pretend we heard nothing but catching scraps of the Emperor's remarks, " Crete.
The Empress kept looking up at him anxiously; she is terribly perturbed about it all and no wonder for he is persuaded that we are all on the brink of war. My sister Mary Lascelles died on April 3rd, after three days' illness. Her death made a terrible gap in Gertrude's life. I have been to Clarence to-day-it was no use sitting and moping so I thought I had better make myself useful if I could.
She was at home with us all the rest of the year. On the 29th December Gertrude and her brother Maurice left home for Southampton, to embark on a voyage round the world. Gertrude kept a diary letter on the voyage. She posts from Jamaica, Guatemala, San Francisco--wherever she had an opportunity. It is not worth while reproducing all that she and Maurice saw on this well-known route, which has so often been described.
They enjoyed it all, taking part in the unpretentious diversions of a voyage. They asked the Captain's permission to mark out a golf course on board, which had a great success. It was most luxuriously arranged by nature. In September, after a delightful two months in the West of Scotland--we had taken the Manse at Spean Bridge for the summer--Gertrude is at Redcar again, enchanted to return to her books. Hugo has been playing golf and we are now going to have a game of racquets before settling down to our work.
Oh, how I wish I were going to have a month of this. The bliss of being really at work is past words. Herbert Pease stands for Darlington, I see in the evening papers. Saturday 22nd September, I'm going to Rounton on Sunday. I have been at the Infirmary all the afternoon. I've got another engagement--to lecture at the High School. I've been arranging about my lantern slides.
By the way, confided to Lisa that she felt quite anxious about Elsa because she thought we were all so beautiful and so clever that we couldn't all go on living. Elsa won't mind being the 'offer' to the jealous gods, I hope! That angel of a Mr. Vaughan Williams has found me a real Persian-at least he is an Afghan and his name is Satdar and he speaks beautiful Persian. I have written to him to-day. Isn't it interesting. They are rather a blow to me, I admit.
He is one of the most lovable and livable with people I have ever come across. To her sister Elsa. I thought the braid a little too braidy. A modification of it would be lovely. I should have no braid on the coat just the seams strapped. I went to Prince's this morning and skated. Next time I'm in London I shall have a few lessons there.
It's silly not to be able to skate well when everybody does. My new clothes are very dreamy. You will scream with delight when you see me in them! I have sent off the purple dress and a grey one which is nine guineas and very nice indeed. It has a dark coat and everything suitable to Elsa.
My only doubt is whether the black trimming is not too black. There is another most elegant elephant grey costume strapped with grey, but the coat is quite tight fitting so that it might not be so becoming to Elsa. I write from a sofa. This morning at Prince's I fell violently on my knees and when I shortly after took my skates off, I found I couldn't walk. Maclagan, however, says I must lie up for a few days. Isn't it boring? I'm writing to all the amusing people to come and see me, having dressed the part well in a Japanese tea gown. I shall beguile the time with my pundits while I'm invalided.
I've told them all to come. It is so provoking because I was getting to skate really well. A most successful tour altogether. In Athens they find Dr. Hogarth and go the Museum, " where Mr. Hogarth showed us his recent finds-pots Of B. Doesn't that Make one's brain reel? They listen with breathless interest to his lecture on the Acropolis: "he took us from stone to stone and built up a Wonderful chain of evidence with extraordinary ingenuity until we saw the Athens of B.
I never saw anything better done. He will look smart, bless him. Then to Constantinople, and back again to England in May. Chirol now Sir Valentine Chirol. They go to Nuremberg and Rothenburg on the way, enjoying themselves ecstatically everywhere. She writes] " this is really too charming. You never met a more delightful travelling party.
Florence is in the seventh heaven all the time. His Ex. Chirol, and in fact all of us, endlessly cheerful and delighted with everything. These letters on a subject now almost hackneyed are too long to insert here. She was not, and did not pretend to be, an expert on music but she cared for it very much. Hugo, who was an admirable musician, was conservative in his tastes and was at first prepared to be on the defensive with regard to Wagner.
Gertrude also records some personal social experiences. Frau Cosima has asked us all to a party on Friday evening. Great Larks! The restaurant was crowded when the door opened and in came the whole Wagner family in procession, Frau Cosima first on Siegfried's arm.
There was a great clapping as she passed down the room to her table. This morning about half past 8 came a message from the Grand Duke [of Hesse] asking us whether we could be at the theatre at 9 as he would show us the stage. We bustled up and arrived only a few minutes late. It was most entertaining; we were taken into every corner, above and below. We descended through trap doors and mounted into Valhalla.
We saw all the properties, and all the mechanism of the Rhine maidens; we explored the dressing rooms, sat in the orchestra and rang the Parsifal bells! The Grand Duke was extremely cheerful and agreeable--he's quite young--and of course everyone was hats off and anxious to show us all we wanted to see. It's a very extraordinary place, the stage; the third scene of Siegfried was set. We shall feel quite at home when we see it to-night. Hugo is delighted with it all.
He really is one of the most delightful people in the world. The Harrachs, you will be glad to hear, thought him very beautiful. Well, I'll tell you--it's awful! I think if I had known exactly what was before me I should not have faced it, but fortunately did not, and I look back on it with unmixed satisfaction--and forward to other things with no further apprehension. Two German men turned up at the Refuge. Madame Castillan gave us a very good supper and I went at once to bed.
I got off at and got to the top of the clot at In the afternoon, there arrived a young Englishman called Turner with Rodier as guide and a porter. I went out to watch the beautiful red light fading from the snows and rocks. The Meije looked dreadfully forbidding in the dusk. When I came in I found that Mathon had put my rug in a corner of the shelf which was the bed of us all and what with the straw and my cloak for a pillow I made myself very comfortable. We were packed as tight as herrings, Mr. Turner next to me, then the two Germans and Rodier.
Mathon and the porters lay on the ground beneath us. Our night lasted from 8 till 12, but I didn't sleep at all. Marius lighted a match and looked at his watch. It was ten o'clock. It seemed an odd view of 10 p. We all got up soon after 12 and I went down to the river and washed a little. It was a perfect night, clear stars and the moon not yet over the hills. We left half an hour later, 1 a. Mathon carried a lantern till we got on to the snow when it was light enough with only the moon. At we reached the glacier and all put on our ropes. This was the first time I had put on the rope.
We had about three hours up very nice rock, a long chimney first and then most pleasant climbing. Then we rested again for a few minutes. I had been in high feather for it was so easy, but ere long my hopes were dashed! We had about two hours and a half of awfully difficult rock, very solid fortunately, but perfectly fearful. There were two places which Mathon and Marius literally pulled me up like a parcel. I didn't a bit mind where it was steep up, but round corners where the rope couldn't help me!
And it was absolutely sheer down. The first half-hour I gave myself up for lost. You see, I had practically never been on a rock before. However, I didn't let on and presently it began to seem quite natural to be hanging by my eyelids over an abyss. It was not till I was over it that Mathon told me that it was the dreaded place. The Germans got up a quarter of an hour later having climbed up the rock a different way. We left at 9 and reached the summit at , the rock being quite easy except one place called the Cheval Rouge.
It is a red flat stone, almost perpendicular, some 15 feet high, up which you swarm as best you may with your feet against the Meije, and you sit astride, facing the Meije, on a very pointed crest. I sat there while Marius and Mathon went on and then followed them up an overhanging rock of 20 feet or more.
The rope came in most handy--!