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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Temporary absence

Thursday, May 17th., at sea.

AB is taking a rest from the perpetual grind of writing, writing, writing ....
Here is something to keep in mind until he returns:

Arnold Bennett's quotes, famous and not much - QuotationOf ...

Monday, 7 May 2018

Thoughts of war

Sunday, May 7th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Reading Marcel Dupont's "La Campagne" this evening and last night. There is no genius in it, but it gives a plain notice of what war is, and some things are moving. Curious sensation lying in bed reading, with a nightingale singing furiously across the road, horses and motors passing at intervals, and the thought that exactly similar scenes might be occurring here at any time as in France. This house might be a ruined chateau, and our furniture might be defiled by German officers. I find it hard to actually make myself believe it could happen. What would I do? Hasty retreat? Defend my property? Co-operate? Who can tell!

Anyhow, the theory of the War Office is that an invasion could happen. A period of extreme vigilance is now on. It is a pity here that at new moon high water is at midnight. If high water was at 6 a.m. at new moon the periods of vigilance would be fewer if there were any at all. One night out of three our lieutenants have to spend at the telephone in the Orderly Room - 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The defensive works are being increased all along the coast.

Co-incidentally in a way I was reading some of Hardy's short stories the other night in bed. The invasion scare then was of Napoleon. I enjoyed his story which conjectured a secret night-time visit by Boney himself to Dorset to 'spy-out' the land. There is much anxiety about 'spies' here. Also enjoyed "The Fiddler of the Reels", which is beautifully constructed, rather erotic in parts, and could have been written by no-one else.

Sunday, 6 May 2018


Wednesday, May 6th., Victoria Grove, London.

Sheet Music Download - D'Albert - Piano
Eugene d'Albert
Eugene d'Albert played tonight at the Philharmonic concert. A little, round-shouldered, man with diminutive legs and a shrewd face, who looks as if nature had intended him to wear a large white apron and be a chemist or a druggist. He was coldly received, but when Liszt's notoriously difficult E flat concerto was finished, the audience aroused itself, and an encore was inevitable.

It appears that when Sullivan heard that the Philharmonic had engaged d'Albert, he threatened not only to remove his own name from the membership, but to do all he could to induce the Queen and the Prince of Wales to withdraw their patronage. However he was persuaded to alter his plans. Sullivan helped d'Albert in every possible way when he was a student; obtained engagements for him at the Popular Concerts, the Crystal Palace etc.; and when d'Albert went to the Continent gave him introductions to all the courts. Yet on his return, a year afterwards, d'Albert refused not only to call on Sullivan but threw contempt on him and all Englishmen. In the meantime Liszt had heard him play and spoke enthusiastically of him, dubbing him 'the young Tausig'. D'Albert by the way, once (seriously?) claimed to be a (natural) son of Tausig, though there cannot be a shadow of justification for such a claim.

All this gossip came my way before, and after, the concert. Amazing what people will accept without any substantiation. I said to the person who told me about the Tausig business: "What is your source?" He said: "Well everybody knows it", and gave me an old-fashioned look. We didn't speak again. I have often noticed how ready people are to believe ill of others, and to spread what they have heard, with elaboration.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Personal development

Saturday, May 5th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

I have been in Paris for a week now. I said I would return in time for the 'May Day troubles' and I did. I found nothing but a Sunday calm.

histoire des théâtres parisiens: Première moitié du 20ème ...
La Theatre Antoine
Tonight at Antoine's, "The Wild Duck". An interesting experience to see how one's ideas have developed! There was something after all in the old cry against Ibsen that he was parochial. The play still seems clever; it is sometimes brilliant. But it never strikes one as beautiful. And it does seem fearfully Norwegian. The symbolism is simply deplorable, even in its ingenuity. If anyone had hinted such ideas to me about Ibsen 15 years ago I should have accused them disdainfully of inability to appreciate a masterpiece. Yet now I am pretty well convinced that Ibsen is not a writer of masterpieces. And he is stagey! He who was supposed to have rejuvenated the entire technique of the stage, has become stagey in 15years! I was several times bored by the play, but nevertheless, a most interesting evening of historical retrospect.
One of those nights last night when I slept heavily, and only rose once, but woke up feeling more tired than when I went to bed. I have taken to mental arithmetic recently as a means of getting back to sleep. The problem I find is that if my mind gets into a negative pattern of thought then sleep becomes impossible. Tricky mental arithmetic breaks the pattern. Last night I was working up in my head through the Fibonnaci sequence. I can't remember how far I got!

Friday, 4 May 2018

The little things

Monday, May 4th., Villa des Nefliers.

These are the things that give me the liveliest pleasure among the little things of weekly life: opening and glancing through the Athenaeum and the Nation on Monday mornings, especially the advertisements of new books; walking in the park and in the town in the morning when everything is fresh; eating my lunch; drinking tea; and reading after I am in bed. Formerly the last was a problem as I got sleepy too soon, but now that my afternoon nap is 'institutionalised' I read until quite late. There are few things to compare to settling down to an anticipated read when everywhere is quiet, no distractions. 

I finished my T.P. article at 9 a.m. this morning, and then strolled about the town and forest, finding and arranging ideas for the next chapter of "Old Wives' Tale". But I also found a most charming brocanteur, with lovely Empire gueridons for sale at a reasonable price.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Bad press

Sunday, May 4th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Lillah McCarthy as 'Judith' by Bassano Ltd at Art on ...
Lillah McCarthy as Judith
I never before took so much interest in the production of a play of mine. "Judith" was produced at the Kingsway Theatre, London, last Wednesday, April 30th. It certainly bewildered people. Numerous comic touches were quite lost in the first act. In the second act Lillah McCarthy had put down her dress as low as it was at the first night at Eastbourne (after raising it for later performances at Eastbourne, and for dress rehearsals in London. Above a line drawn about an inch above the 'mont de Venus' she wore nothing except a four inch band of black velvet round the body hiding the breasts, and a similar perpendicular band of velvet strating from between the breats and going down to the skirt and so hiding the navel. Two thin shoulder straps held this contrivance in position. Bracelets and rings of course. the skirt was slit everywhere and showed her legs up to the top of the thigh when she lay down at Holofernes's feet. She looked a magnificent picture thus.

The end of act two might have been spoilt by an untimely descent of the curtain 10 seconds too soon. The performance as a whole was excellent. The disinterested applause was fair. The interested friendly applause was too insistent. House held over £150, the highest first night Kingsway ever had I think. The ordinary first night public was deroute. Common people seemed thoroughly interested and well pleased. The press criticisms next day were without exception unfavourable. The Sunday criticisms I have seen today were not bad though there was much exception taken to Lillah's nudity. In general the Press quite failed to comprehend the play, and said the most ridiculous things about it, showing immense stupidity.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Monday, May 2nd., Hotel Petit Palais, Athens.

Arthur Rubinstein
We left the yacht at 9.30 about, and after landing drove to this hotel. Not an attractive city; but a very good and very small hotel. The first person I saw was Arthur Rubenstein, in a bath-gown, just out of his bath. He joined us at lunch and talked all the time. Kommer called him a 'traveller in music', and enlarged on this definition very well indeed. 

We went to the National Museum. The pre-Phidias things were the best, especially some of the finds from Mycenae. I made up a theory out of this which I shall use. We then drove to the Acropolis. Dust. Great heat. The Acropolis and the Parthenon fully sustained their reputation. The spectacle was really overwhelming. Also the Anterior Room in the Parthenon Museum was equally overwhelming. The blue sky, and the seascape, and the sunshine were simply wonderful. What sensations! Extreme exhaustion. But after tea, despite this, Kommer and Dougherty and I went out shopping, but didn't get all the photos we wanted. They don't exist in Athens, being out of stock. We were recommended to get them in Florence!

Vintage Victorian and Edwardian risque erotic nudes postcards1000+ images about Tarot - Le Tarot des Femmes on ...Doughery did though manage to buy some pornographic postcards. One of the consequences I find in travelling with a group of men is that attention soon turns to women and sex. We were discussing the difference between pornography and eroticism. Between tea and dinner, as a sort of contribution to the debate I wrote the first chapters of a sensual, pornographic story. Only for fun. It is now destroyed. I made the point that it is really impossible, in my view, to write adequately about the sex act; simple description is not enough (just pornography), but any attempt to 'elaborate' simply becomes clumsy and embarrassing. Eroticism on the other hand is well within the scope of literature. I told them that my favourite example of eroticism came, surprisingly, from Thomas Hardy. His short story "On the Western Circuit". In that there is a scene where a young man is flirting with a ladies maid at a fair. The maid's mistress appears and they are thrown together in a press of people. The mistress finds her hand being grasped (in mistake for the maid's) and the young man slips two fingers inside her glove and strokes her palm. That, to me, is erotic!