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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
Monday, 7 May 2018
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
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
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.
|La Theatre Antoine|
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
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
|Lillah McCarthy as Judith|
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
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!
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!