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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, 27 September 2012

Parisian life

Monday, September 28th., Paris

Illustration of the sans-gene of Montmartre. As I was sitting on the terrace of the Cafe de la Place Blanche, a voiture drove up containing two men, two women and a white puppy. One of the men was clearly an actor or singer of some sort, he had the face and especially the mouth; one of the women, aged perhaps 25, short, getting plump, and dressed with a certain rough style, especially as to the chic hat and the jupon, was evidently his petite amie; the other woman was a servant, nu-tete and wearing a white apron; the other man had no striking characteristic. The two men and the petitie amie got out and sat near me. the driver turned away.

La Place Blanche 1911

"Ou allez-vous?" the petite amie shouted curtly in a hoarse, vulgar voice. Whereupon the driver gave a shout of laughter and the servant, who was nursing the puppy, laughed too. "Oh! Il tourne," murmured the petite amie, grimly enjoying the joke at her expense. The driver was only turning round to a quiet corner where he might wait without impeding the traffic. Having drawn up his vehicle he got down and sat in the carriage and produced a coloured comic paper, and shared his amusement over it with the servant. From time to time, the petite amie from her table shouted remarks to the servant.

Afterwards I dined with the Schwobs.

Marcel Schwob was born in Chaville, Hauts-de-Seine on 23 August 1867. He studied Gothic grammar under Ferdinand de Saussure at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in 1893-4, and later earned a doctorate in classic philology and oriental languages. In 1884 he discovered Robert Louis Stevenson, who became one of his models, and whom he translated into French. He was a true symbolist, with a diverse and an innovatory style. He is the author of six collections of short stories: Cœur double ("Double Heart", 1891), Le Roi au masque d’or ("The King in the Golden Mask", 1892), Mimes(1893), Le Livre de Monelle ("The Book of Monelle", 1894), La Croisade des Enfants ("The Children's Crusade", 1896), and Vies imaginaires ("Imaginary Lives", 1896). Alfred Vallette, director of the leading young review, the Mercure de France, thought he was "one of the keenest minds of our time", in 1892. Marcel Schwob worked on Oscar Wilde's play Salome, which was written in French to avoid a British law forbidding the depiction of Bible characters on stage. Wilde struggled with his French, and the play was proof-read and corrected by Marcel Schwob for its first performance, in Paris in 1896.  His work pictures the Greco-Latin culture and the most scandalous characteristics of the romantic period. His stories catch the macabre, sadistic and the terrifying aspects in human beings and life. He became sick in 1894 with a chronic incurable intestinal disorder. He also suffered from recurring illnesses that were generally diagnosed as influenza or pneumonia and received intestinal surgery several times. In the last ten years of his life he seemed to have aged prematurely. In 1900, in England, he married the actress Marguerite Moreno, whom he had met in 1895. His health was rapidly deteriorating, and in 1901 he travelled to Samoa, like his hero Stevenson, in search of a cure. On his return to Paris he lived the life of a recluse until his death in 1905. He died of pneumonia while his wife was away on tour.

First night of Jean Aicard's drama in verse, "La Legende du Coeur", at the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt in which Mme. Schwob plays the hero-troubadour.

Marguerite Moreno (1871–1948) born Lucie Marie Marguerite Monceau was a French stage and film actress. The French writer Marcel Schwob, who was madly in love with her, wrote in 1895: "I am at Marguerite Moréno's complete disposal. She is allowed to do everything she wants with me and that includes killing me". 

Schwob ill and very pale and extremely gloomy and depressed. neither of them could eat and each grumbled at the other for not eating. Before dinner Schwob had described to me the fearful depression of spirit accompanied by inability to work, which has held him for several months. Every morning he got up feeling, "Well, another day and I can do nothing, I have nothing to look forward to, no future." And, speaking of my novel, "Leonora", he said: "You have got hold of the greatest of all themes, the agony of the older geberation in watching the rise of the younger." Yet he is probably not 40. In talking of Kipling's literary power, he said that an artist could not do as he liked with his imagination; it would not stand improper treatment, undue fatigue etc. in youth; and that a man who wrote many short stories early in life was bound to decay prematurely. He said that he himself was going through this experience.

The residue of love

Saturday, September 27th., London.

Max Beaverbrook rang me up on Thursday and again last night.

Marguerite Bennett
On Thursday he said: "Arnold, I want to tell you. The Daily Express has been offered a biography of you written by Mrs. A.B. They wanted to make it a condition that we treat the offer as confidential, secret; but I absolutely refused to do any such thing. So I'm telling you. Our man has read it all through and likes it. Says he wouldn't mind anyone saying of him in his lifetime what is said of you in the book.  If you have any objection, I won't buy it; but if you haven't, I'd like to." I reasoned that if the Express or any other paper refused it, M. would put the refusal down to me and would be accordingly resentful. She would never understand the awful bad taste of the whole thing, whether accurate or inaccurate, praising or blaming, etc. It is bound to be published somewhere; it is bound to make people think that I am partner in the bad taste. But if it to be published I would sooner it be published by someone who is very friendly and will take care that nothing offensive appears in it.

Introduction to M.'s biography

Last night he rang again about M.'s life of me. He said he had now read it all through, and it was unadulterated praise. The parts describing me at work were good and interesting: the literary criticism dull. He said he would certainly put a prefatory note at the beginning, to say that she had been separated from me for some years.

Without that (said he) the thing would be "intolerable", as anyone not in the know would think that I had been conspiring with her to make some advertisement for myself.

Yesterday, after some hesitations, I began the final writing of the 1st. Act of "The Dance Club". I went to Brompton Oratory in the morning to get some colour for the opening. I sat there about fifteen minutes and got one idea, and suddenly saw that I could start. So I came back home and from 12 to 1 wrote my reminiscence from my 1907 journal, so that I should be quite free in the afternoon. After lunch I went to bed and began to work at 3.30 only. I did the two opening scenes, up to the opening of the first big scene between Lucien and Flora, so I was very content, because I worked very conscientiously.

This play was eventually published as "Flora" in 1927. The original title was "Dance Club". It was rejected by several West End managements and was finally produced at the Rusholme Theatre in Manchester on 17 October 1927. A.S. Wallace in The Manchester Guardian found it 'trivial'. The Times said 'it is just possible that a better performance would have given the impression that Bennett had written a better play'; it was 'a rather mechanical and shoddy piece of theatricality'. The play was produced again in October 1935 at the experimental theatre of The Covent Garden Club, and The Times said, 'structurally unsound and weak in that it lacks tension and drama, it is astonishingly successful in its revelation of character'.

I saw it on October 19th. 1927 at Rusholme. I was pleased on the whole with the play. It certainly has holding power, and this power survived even the acting.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Returning home

Monday, September 26th., Paris

Ever since I left Paris I have wanted to come back, and now I have!
I came back on Friday and now I am satisfied. I think I have never enjoyed the return to any place so much before. I could not keep my journal in England; there was no calm. And I was too busy with the Berquand treatment, which has yet to prove if it will ultimately be a success.
My absence has had the effect of showing me how well I am established in Paris. Wherever I go, in restaurants or in shops, I am recognised and greeted with the warmest cordiality. In three places to-day I have been the subject of an ovation. You would not get the same treatment in London under any circumstances. My books and my pictures (a few of each) have safely arrived, and I have bought a new bookcase and some other things, and I feel much more at home in Paris than ever.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Thinking of H.G.

Sunday, September 25th., London.

We drove down to Easton Glebe to see Jane Wells.

The home of H G Wells during the First World War and the centrepiece of his wartime novel Mr Britling Sees it Through (1916). The house, a former rectory, was rented from the Countess of Warwick at Easton Lodge, Wells's colleague in the Fabian Society and the centre of a theatrical circle

Frank Wells was there with fiancee Peggy, and Gyp with wife Marjorie. Jane was too ill to come down or to see anyone. H.G. was visibly very much upset indeed. The Hugh Byngs came to lunch too. I think H.G. likes a lot of people to distract him. We played a bit of ball game in the barn, but not H.G. nor Marjorie.
Basil Dean and Lady Mercy called in about 3.30.

Basil Herbert Dean CBE (1888 – 1978) was an English actor, writer, film producer/film director and theatrical producer/director. Born in Croydon, Surrey, Dean started his career in showbusiness in London as a West End stage actor, and then later became a theatrical producer. He later moved into the film industry and in the early 1930s founded Associated Talking Pictures, which later became Ealing Studios. He publicised and worked alongside Gracie Fields and George Formby, among other entertainers. When the war started he left the film industry and became the head of ENSA, the government-sponsored body responsible for bringing live performances to the armed services. He was awarded the CBE for his work with ENSA. His wives included Lady Mercy Greville.

I have recently been reading David Lodge's book "A Man of Parts" in which he imagines an ailing H.G. sequestered in his blitz-battered Regent's Park house in 1944, looking back on a life crowded with incident, books and women. Lodge depicts a man as contradictory as he was talented: a socialist who enjoyed his affluence; an acclaimed novelist who turned against the literary novel; a feminist womaniser. The book seems to be to be well constructed, well imagined and largely accurate, and yet it is dull - and H.G. was never dull!

I have recently been writing to H.G. to recommend that he consult Raphael Roche about Jane's cancer. Roche made a favourable impression on me when I talked to him for two hours in July. He does not claim any cure but does suggest that his 'treatment' is, at the least, an effective palliative; what is there to lose?

I read most of Jack's (sic) "The New Germany" in the afternoon and evening.

Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Jackh (born 1875 in Urach; died 1959 in New York City ) was a journalist , managing director of the German Werkbund, and university professor at the German University of Politics in Berlin, the New Commonwealth Institute in London and the Columbia University in New York City . Jackh was especially known for his commitment to a liberal parliamentary democracy in Germany after 1918 and for his support of the Young Turk revolution in the German media.

Still going on with Gibbon.

Monday, 24 September 2012

French excursion

Friday, September 24th., Les Nefliers,

Lee Mathews came on Wednesday night.

   William Lee-Mathews (1862-1931), a business executive, was from 1905 (succeeding Shaw) chairman of the Incorporated Stage Society Producing Committee.

Thursday morning Lee M. and I walked in the forest. He said that he had got Tree to come to his flat, and his wife read to Tree the scenario of my "Don Juan", and Tree said he was afraid he hadn't enough dash to carry it off. He took the MS away with him, and Lee M. has heard nothing since.

Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (17 December 1852 – 2 July 1917) was an English actor and theatre manager. He began performing in the 1870s. By 1887, he was managing the Haymarket Theatre, winning praise for adventurous programming and lavish productions, and starring in many of its productions. In 1899, he helped fund the rebuilding, and became manager, of His Majesty's Theatre. Again, he promoted a mix of Shakespeare and classic plays with new works and adaptations of popular novels, giving them spectacular productions in this large house, and often playing leading roles. His wife, actress Helen Maud Holt, often played opposite him and assisted him with management of the theatres. Although Tree was regarded as a versatile and skilled actor, particularly in character roles, by his later years, his technique was seen as mannered and old fashioned. He founded the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1904 and was knighted, for his contributions to theatre, in 1909. 

In the afternoon Mathews and I went to Moret by train, and walked down to St. Mammes and up the Loing to Moret town. Beautiful hot day, with sailing architectural clouds. A great population of barges. We saw a Flemish barge, with white sculpture work on the doors of its cabin, all painted very nattily, with little imitations of the deck of a ship; very clean; a few plants in pots, including a peach tree in full fruit, loaded, in fact; also embroidered lace curtains at the little cabin windows. A delightful object. You never see a French barge like this.

Alfred Sisley: Moret-sur-Loing

Moret-sur-Loing, a medieval town in the Seine-et-Marne, with a little over 4500 inhabitants, has an outstanding location on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau. By the banks of the Loing, which empties into the Seine a short way downstream, this medieval town has an indisputable charm, drawing visitors both to its fortress and many monuments and its natural surroundings.

Its lively past has bequeathed a rich and varied heritage to the present day: Roman and medieval constructions, pages of the history of the Kings of France, visits from the Impressionists, the unparalleled location on the banks of the Loing... The artist Alfred Sisley, one of the great names in the Impressionist movement, lived in Moret from 1889 to 1899 A friend of Monet, Manet, Renoir and Pissarro in particular, Sisley had a difficult life and his work only gained real recognition after his death. His life story reflects a continual struggle to be recognised in the artistic circles of the time.

On getting home I found a letter saying that Pinker had sold "What the Public Wants" as a serial to McClures for £100. The U.S.A. is certainly a very strange market indeed.

What The Public Wants is Arnold Bennett's sly satire on tabloid journalism -- a lively look at life behind the headlines and proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This clever 1909 comedy charts the efforts of media mogul Sir Charles Worgan to boost circulation as well as his social standing. He owns forty different publications and claims to have "revolutionized journalism." He employs over a thousand people and is worth millions -- and yet he wants more -- he wants respect from the "superior people" who look down their noses at him. But is he willing to pay the price?

Yesterday I finished a story "The Heroism of Thomas Chadwick". This makes the third in about a fortnight. One of them, "Hot Potatoes", is just twice too long for the amount of material in it.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Visit from Huxley

Tuesday, September 23rd., London.

Aldous Huxley came yesterday afternoon to do what he had called on the telephone 'pay his homage'. He looked older and more distinguished. His clothes seemed to be Italian and in material if not in fit very nice. Altogether he looked better and talked more easily. We agreed on nearly all literary questions except the value of his "Antic Hay". He likes that book, thinks it has a point to it.

Most people know Aldous Huxley only from having read his Brave New World (1931). It's a good novel, but it's not really a fair representation of what Huxley the novelist was all about. Huxley began his career as a satirist, and Antic Hay is a dark and vicious look at the poseurs and pseuds inhabiting London's bohemian world just after WW I. It follows a half-dozen or so characters who form a kind of sampler pack of bohemians; there's Mercaptan the effete, womanizing writer of irrelevant scholarly articles; Lypiatt the blustering, self-important artist; Coleman the bombastic hedonist; and Theodore Gumbril, the main character, a dissatisfied intellectual who quits his teaching job to pursue a fatuous scheme to invent and sell trousers containing an inflatable seat for added comfort. The women in the group include Myra, a dark muse to two of the male characters, and Rosie, a bored housewife. The plot is a kind of dance in which various characters pair off for an hour, an evening or a day to expound their beliefs, strike intellectual poses or seduce each other. More often than not they come across as monstrously affected, self-absorbed and pretentious. Although Huxley's intention is satirical (characters are given ludicrous names like Bruin Opps), the novel has a dark edge that makes it more than just a benign jab at some ridiculous personalities. Myra appears to be a casually cruel, cold-hearted beauty, but Huxley shows that she's been terribly damaged, like so many others, by the death of a loved one in the war. Similarly, Lypiatt initially comes across as a buffoon, but at the end of the novel he comes to a devastating realization that his artistic life has been a failure and a farce. The last we see of him he's probably on the verge of blowing his brains out. Something that all the characters share is a realization that the world has changed profoundly and that there are no certainties or truths to anchor themselves to anymore. The nineteenth century ended with WW I, and the years following the war saw a sea change in the arts, fashion, politics and music. Huxley's characters are lost in this new world and their eccentric behaviour can be seen as a way of dealing with the stress of these changes. Huxley's writing also reflects the changes going on at the time. On the one hand he flaunts his classical education with references and quotes from Greek and Latin, but on the other hand he abandons a traditional plot structure in favour of something more freewheeling and unpredicatable. Antic Hay is a mostly amusing novel, although at times Huxley's erudite style can be grating, and the changes in tone from comic to serious to philosophical aren't always managed well. The strength of the novel lies in Huxley's ability to tease out the fear and uncertainty at the heart of his main characters. The spirit of the novel is captured best in this passage:

"And besides, when the future and the past are abolished, when it is only the present instant, whether enchanted or unenchanted, that counts, when there are no causes or motives, no future consequences to be considered, how can there be responsibility, even for those who are not clowns?"

He seems to agree with my few criticisms of "Uncle Spencer". He said his wife had driven him in a Citroen from Florence to Ostend, over the Alps etc. Said she was mad about driving and a bit inclined to be a speed-merchant. He told me some funny tales about Fascism. One friend of Mussolini's made 40 million lire in two years. He had four very big motor cars of the .......... Company. It was found out that in exchange for these cars he had let the company off taxation for two years - had promised to do so and had done so. The consideration for this great act seems rather trifling to me. Also he insisted on an edict enforcing the little red glass reflectors on the backs of bicycles. The Cabinet was not in favour of it, but he got it through, apparently behind their backs. I told Aldous there was bound to be a big rumpus in Italy soon. He thought there was too, but he couldn't see quite what was to be done against 400,000 well-armed Fascists, the only power in the country.

Benito Mussolini in 1919 described fascism as a syncretic movement that would strike "against the backwardness of the right and the destructiveness of the left". Later the Italian Fascists described fascism as a right-wing ideology in the political program The Doctrine of Fascism, stating: "We are free to believe that this is the century of authority, a century tending to the 'right,' a fascist century."
However Mussolini clarified that fascism's position on the political spectrum was not a serious issue to 
fascists and stated that:

"Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the centre ... These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don't give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words."

I asked Aldous to come early and he came early. After one and a half hours I had to tell him I had to go out. So he left. very agreeable meeting, this was.

Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel writing, film stories and scripts. Huxley spent the later part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Authorial anxieties

Thursday, September 22nd., Les Nefliers.

"Clayhanger" was published in England on September 15th. In U.S.A. publication is delayed about a fortnight.

This time I will make notes on the newspaper criticisms of my novel. On day of publication, two. Times very good; well written. But a half-hidden unwillingness of admiration and of subjection. This sentence is well meant but quite wrong: "Its aim, not to exalt, or essentialise or satirise, but to present, life." A review nothing like as good as that of  "The O.W.T." but still jolly good (9 inches). The other one on day of publication was in the Evening Standard. Entitled "Under the Microscope". A review full of clumsy but not malignant malice. On the whole a damn silly review (10 inches).
Day after publication. R.A. Scott James in the Daily News. "Mr. Bennett and the Ages".
Very sympathetic and appreciative. "A work that will surely be memorable." But the review was badly done, perhaps from haste. Well meant, but what damned rot and untruth. (1 col. 5 ins.)

Rolfe Arnold Scott-James (1878-1959) was an important British journalist, editor and literary critic in early twentieth-century literature. He is often cited as one of the first people to use the word "modernism" in his 1908 book Modernism and Romance, in which he writes, "there are characteristics of modern life in general which can only be summed up, as Mr. Thomas Hardy and others have summed them up, by the word, modernism". Scott-James was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford and graduated in 1901. The Dictionary of National Biography states that Scott-James "possessed a strongly developed social conscience: this manifested itself at many different points in his career in activities which, if distinct from his literary gifts, at the same time enriched them" (872). In 1914, Scott-James became the editor of the New Weekly, which did not survive the outbreak of war later that year. 
In 1934, Scott-James took over the editorship of the influential magazine, the London Mercury from 
J. C. Squire, in which he published many canonically recognized authors of modernism. The last issue of the London Mercury in April 1939 contained W. H. Auden's "In Memory of W. B. Yeats."

Perfect review in Glasgow Herald on day of publication. Nothing could be more appreciative nor show more insight than this (12 ins.). D. Mail and Observer (9 ins. and 15 ins.). Usual rot about total absence of plot, and about cinematograph, and photograph, and that book might end anywhere or nowhere. "It is unsatisfying because life is" etc. And yet in all this a note of genuine appreciation.
Today a day of mild unpleasantness. The review of "Clayhanger" in m. Guardian, though good, was not as good as I had expected. I expected the eager sympathy of G.H. Mair and Co.!

George Herbert Mair CMG (8 May 1887 – 2 January 1926) was a British journalist and civil servant
He was the son of a Royal Navy surgeon and was educated at the University of Aberdeen, Christ Church, Oxford, and the Sorbonne. In 1909 he got a job as leader writer, drama critic and special correspondent on the Manchester Guardian, and was appointed political correspondent and literary editor in London in 1911. He became assistant editor of the Daily Chronicle in 1914.

The review was signed by strange initials ending in Y. Moreover it was placed after a review of M. Hewlett by Dixon Scott.

When one thinks of the effects of World War I upon English literary culture one recalls the young war poets, who were forced into a sudden flowering and then cut off in their prime. But there was another group of English writers, rather older, whose deaths in the war curtailed careers that had already begun to take shape--writers such as the novelist Saki (H. H. Munro) and the poet Edward Thomas. Among this group was the critic Dixon Scott, whose writing provides a lively record of literary opinion in the decade immediately preceding the war and whose best essays are truly prophetic of how later generations would judge the Edwardian and Georgian writers. Walter Dixon Scott was born in a suburb of Liverpool in July 1881, was educated at local schools, took a commercial course at the Liverpool Institute, and at the age of sixteen became a clerk in the City and Midland Bank, a job he hated, though by all accounts he was good at it. While still working in the bank, Scott began to contribute book reviews and short essays to the Liverpool Courier. At the end of 1906, when he was twenty-five, Scott determined to leave the bank and make his living by journalism. For the next eight years Scott made a precarious living as a stringer for various newspapers and magazines: the Liverpool Courier, the Manchester Guardian, the Bookman, and Country Life. Unlike most aspiring British journalists who have been drawn to London, Scott believed that a provincial or rural perspective was necessary for his kind of writing, so he continued to live in Liverpool, or with his parents, who had retired to Marston Trussell, a village in Northamptonshire. Throughout these years Scott suffered constant ill health that was probably psychosomatic in origin. His letters recount episodes of emotional depression and of chronic gastric problems that could not be relieved even by surgery. In ways that he half recognized, illness was related to his painful slowness in finding the direction that his talent should go. The years 1910 and 1911 seem to have been crucial to him. His illness reached its worst, and he decided to turn from the familiar essays with which he had begun to make a reputation to critical studies of living writers. From then on he devoted most of his effort to a series of brilliant review articles, mostly in the Manchester Guardian and theBookman. Scott's work attracted the attention of editors and authors, and he seemed poised for a real breakthrough in his work when the war broke out.

Now if they had given my book to Dixon Scott. Further, the johnny deprived me almost utterly of the sense of humour and of the sense of beauty - especially in comparison with de Morgan and Wells.
En voila une affaire!
A couple of years ago I said enthusiastically that if "Cupid and Commonsense" was produced in Hanley it would play to £500 in a week. To-day I got the figures for the three performances in Hanley. Total £75 13s. 10d.
Also I made a mess of another water colour. Hence depression, though my affairs are prospering as they never prospered before. Which shows how little content has to do with prosperity.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Health and well-being

Friday, September 21st., Yacht Club, London.

Last Wednesday I was carefully examined by Shufflebotham who decided that I must be X-rayed. He is a pioneer and acknowledged expert in the use of X-rays for diagnosis. He guaranteed that I had had appendicitis several times without knowing it. He also insisted on a new visit to the oculist. All these things added to my gloom due to the sudden and long attack of neuralgia. So, on Wednesday, I attended for an X-ray seance at Harley Street. I lunched with Shufflebotham afterwards at Pagani's, and had another seance, to watch the progress of the bismuth, at 5 p.m. radiographed for the third time yesterday, and nothing found wrong, except the common slight slowness of the work in the colon.

Lunched with Davray and Weil (ex-member of the Reichstag).

Born in Saarlouis on April 4, 1883, Bruno Weil received his doctorate in law at the University of Wuerzburg in 1906, and was a lawyer in Strasbourg, 1910-1914, and Berlin, 1920-1935. He was executive secretary of the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbuerger juedischen Glaubens and active in the Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP). In 1935 he emigrated to Argentina, and he lived in France, 1939-1940, before emigrating to the United States. In America, he was a founder of the Axis Victims League and the American Association of Former European Jurists. Weil died in New York City on November 11, 1961

Addressing the Rhineland Conference of the Central Union of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith (1928) Dr. Bruno Weil said that in all periods of German history they found Jews in Germany. The Constantine edict of the year 321 spoke of a long established settlement of Jews in Cologne. This was the case in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) Mayence, Metz and Speyer. In the first thousand years of German history, it appeared that there had been friendly relations between the Jews and Christians. With the year 1,200 there had started a half-century of distress and persecution of the Jews, which lessened only gradually during the two last centuries and ceased in theory in 1869. They were indissolubly bound up with German soil which for two thousand years had been their fatherland. 

He was dining with Jaures when Jaures was killed in the restaurant.

Jean Auguste Marie Joseph Jaures (1859-1914) was, until the immediate pre-war years, a popular as well as charismatic leader of the French Socialist Party.Involved in the Dreyfus affair in 1894 as a supporter of Dreyfus, Jaures argued that Alfred Dreyfus' treason conviction was based upon forged evidence. It has been suggested that it was Jaures' evidence in the Dreyfus trial that cost him his electoral seat in 1898.A co-founder in 1904 of the socialist newspaper L'Humanite, Jaures was a man of numerous talents. A prolific writer, he proved himself as capable at giving a speech as penning it. With his political instincts inspired by the French Revolution, Jaures conventionally opposed imperialism in all its forms; yet in other aspects he was less orthodox in his socialism, in that he continued to believe in the rights of the individual over the state. A firm advocate of the Second International socialist movement, he never accepted a position within the French cabinet; which meant, given his leadership of the party (since 1905), that the Socialist Party was also denied a role in government. As the storm clouds of war approached, Jaures' popularity waned somewhat, as he continued to advocate closer relations with Germany. As a consequence of this, on 31 July 1914, Jaures was murdered by a 29 year old nationalist fanatic, Raoul Villain; three days later Germany declared war with France.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Literary thoughts

Wednesday, September 20th., Les Nefliers

I have been re-reading Kipling, and thought "Without Benefit of Clergy" fine, and yet perhaps not great. Other things pretty good but certainly not great.

This story first appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine for June 1890 and in Harper’s Weekly on 7 and 14 June the same year.In it John Holden leads a double life. To his colleagues in the civil service he is a bachelor, living in spartan bachelor quarters, and sometimes neglecting his work. But he has set up a young Muslim girl, Ameera, in a little house on the edge of the old city. She is the love of his life, and he of hers. They are idyllically happy together, and when she gives birth to a baby boy, Tota, their happiness is complete. When Tota dies of fever, they are distraught. Then Ameera is stricken with cholera and dies in Holden's arms. He is left desolate, and the house is soon pulled down. The idyll is over as if it had never been. 
By strict definition, 'Benefit of Clergy' was the right of exemption from trial in a secular court by those in Holy Orders: which later included all who could read. (This was abolished by 1841). However, Kipling’s punning use of the expression hinges on the fact that Holden and Ameera are living as man and wife without the blessing of his Church or hers; had one of them converted, they might have married, but such a union would have meant both social and professional ruin for Holden. 

Also William Watson, as to whom I am obliged to revise my estimate. If he isn't sometimes a great poet he comes near to being one.

Sir William Watson (2 August 1858 – 13 August 1935), was an English poet, popular in his time for the political content of his verse. He was born in Burley, in West Yorkshire. He was a prolific poet of the 1890s, and a contributor to The Yellow Book, though without 'decadent' associations. Indeed he was very much on the traditionalist wing of English poetry. He had a gift for resonant phrasing and reiterative rhythms which he mistook (and for 20 years many critics mistook) as a gift for poetry.

And now I am re-reading "Wilhelm Meister" after about twenty years.

Everybody has heard of Goethe, but the English have always had a tricky relationship with him. AS Byatt puts it perfectly: "Little of his major work resembles the forms and values we are comfortable with in our own literatures." That's why I like him. The hero of Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship dreams of a life in the theatre, as exotic to him as space travel might seem to us. When an actress breaks his heart, he sets off with a touring company, encountering strange characters such as Mignon, an androgynous child, and a gloomy harp-playing minstrel whose songs Schubert set so beautifully. Goethe's writing is simple, elegant and uncluttered; the naturalism lures us into a story that gets odder by the page. Coincidences mount; there's a book-within-the-book that seems a complete digression. Then we find ourselves back with Wilhelm, at a mysterious castle where he meets members of the secret Society of the Tower, who have been conducting events all along. Everything connects; Wilhelm's life is a scroll in their library. 

We can see what Byatt meant: this is strange stuff, and one writer hugely influenced by it, surely, was Franz Kafka. So were Walter Scott, James Hogg and Thomas Carlyle: Goethe's sense of the uncanny found a receptive audience in 19th-century Scotland. 

The lesson of the book is that we should give unity to our lives by devoting them with hearty enthusiasm to some pursuit, and that the pursuit is assigned to us by Nature through the capacities she has given us. Sir J. R.Seeley

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Love in Liverpool

Friday, September 19th., Comarques.

"Sacred and Profane Love" was produced at the Playhouse, Liverpool, last Monday 15th, at 7.30.

The Liverpool Playhouse is a theatre in Williamson Square in the city of Liverpool. It originated in 1866 as a music hall, and developed into a repertory theatre. As such it nurtured the early careers of many actors and actresses, some of which went on to achieve national and international reputations. The present theatre was originally named the Star Music Hall. The theatre was improved in 1898 with a new auditorium and foyer, and electricity was installed. In 1911 the Liverpool Repertory Theatre Limited was established, and bought the theatre for £28,000. This made it the first repertory in Britain to own the freehold of a theatre. The theatre was renamed the Liverpool Repertory Theatre, and in 1916 renamed again, as the Liverpool Playhouse.

The audience laughed when Iris Hoey called out 'I cannot bear it' as the hero was playing the piano.

Iris Hoey, 1916

Iris Hoey (17 July 1885–13 May 1979) was a British actress in the first half of the twentieth century, both on stage and in movies. She studied for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
She married twice, first to Max Leeds, then the actor Cyril Raymond but divorced on both occasions. In 1923 by Cyril Raymond she had a son, John North Blagrave Raymond, who was born in Bristol.

True, the playing was appallingly bad. This ruined the first Act Sc. 1. Act 1 Sc.2 went perfectly. The hold of the play gradually increased on the audience, and at the close an emphatic success was undeniable. I took a call because I had to. Then I had to take a second call. A thing I never did before.

This play <http://archive.org/details/sacredandprofan01benngoog> is based on my book of the same title, and was later (1921) made into a film. Herewith a synopsis:

Elsie Ferguson, who played the role of Carlotta Peel on stage, also starred in the film. Carlotta's aunt (Helen Dunbar has kept her innocent of the facts of life, but then the girl meets pianist Emilie Diaz (Conrad Nagel), who is all-too willing to show them to her. On the night he seduces Carlotta, her aunt dies. Left on her own, Carlotta goes to London and becomes a famous author. Her publisher, Frank Ispenlove (Thomas Holding), falls in love with her. Unfortunately, there is also a Mrs. Ispenlove (Winifred Greenwood), so Carlotta rejects him, even after he has followed her to France. In misery, he commits suicide. Carlotta, meanwhile, finds Diaz in Paris. He has become an absinthe addict, and she sets out to regenerate him. With her help, he once again achieves renown as a pianist. Thus their profane love becomes sacred.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Leading the high-life

Saturday, September 18th., Cherkley Court, Leatherhead.

The house was built in 1866-70 for wool manufacturer Abraham Dixon (1820–1900) and re-built for him in 1893 after a fire, being lived in by his wife until her death in 1909. Cherkley Court was acquired in 1910 by Lord Beaverbrook, politician and owner of the Express Newspapers group, with him living there for the next 50 years. During Beaverbrook's time, the house attracted many famous weekend guests including Winston Churchill, Andrew Bonar Law, Rebecca West, H.G. WellsArnold BennettHarold Macmillan and Rudyard Kipling. Beaverbrook passed the house on to his son Max some years before his death in 1964. After the death of Beaverbrook's second wife in 1994, the house became the property of the Beaverbrook Foundation, a charitable foundation set up by Lord Beaverbrook.

Cherkley Court, the country house of Lord Beaverbrook

I left for Cherkley at 2.45 in a car, and after various stoppages en route by thickness of traffic, and losing our way several times after passing Leatherhead - I arrived at 4.15. At first I found only Jean Norton, on the verandah. 

Beaverbrook's personal magnetism had an enormous effect on women, including the writer Rebecca West, who became infatuated with him, and the Honourable Mrs Jean Norton, a society beauty and close friend of Lord Mountbatten, who became Beaverbrook's mistress. 

Then Max appeared. Only the three of us to dinner. I indulged in champagne and peaches and dozed during a film which Max inflicted on us. 

Beaverbrook was a fan of Westerns and Marx Brothers films, which he would play in his private Art Deco styled cinema. The walls of the cinema were lined with original copies of political cartoons. One cartoon, by Giles, features Beaverbrook himself being led to The Tower by six yeomen. However, guests invited to a screening rarely got to watch the film because Beaverbrook was notorious for talking all the way through.

This film, entitled "The City of Sin" is certainly the worst film, from point of view of intelligence, that I ever saw. But it is worth seeing because of its deliberate exploitation of public ingenuous religious feeling and its own staggering ingenuousness. We saw only parts 1, 2, 3 and 6. But I wish we had seen it all. It had to be seen to be believed. After this I felt much better and quite wakeful. A lot of newspaper talk, especially about journalists. I was undecided whether to go to bed or to wait up for Noel Coward, who was due to arrive (fast car) at 12.15. Time passed. I didn't go to bed. Coward arrived just after 12.30 quite fresh. At 12.50 I said: "Well, having glimpsed him, I'm going to bed." But we all went to bed at the same time. 2 a.m. This is twice this week that late bed has happened to me. I was vexed with myself. But I argued: Why not break out sometimes and suffer a little! As a fact, I had quite a good night.

Monday, 17 September 2012


Saturday, September 17th., London.

Young, Kennerley and I rode from Farnham to Witley to inspect the house which Young and I are to rent for the next three years.

Cottage at Witley, Surrey

About four centuries old, this house for the last hundred years had been called The Fowl House, until it was named by its present occupants Godspeace. These occupants are four: C.E.Dawson, a young artist; Morris, a journalist who writes on the connection between Whitman and architecture; Gertrude Dix, the novelist; and Esther Wood, a writer on art. I saw all but Gertrude Dix. They are vegetarians and teetotallers - and they wear sandals. They have the air of living the higher life. All of us were pleased with Esther Wood, a 'New Woman'.

The term “New Woman” was coined by the writer and public speaker Sarah Grand in 1894. It soon became a popular catch-phrase in newspapers and books. The New Woman, a significant cultural icon of the of the fin de siècle, departed from the stereotypical Victorian woman. She was intelligent, educated, emancipated, independent and self-supporting. The New Women were not only middle-class female radicals, but also factory and office workers. As Sally Ledger wrote: "The New Woman was a very fin-de-siecle phenomenon. Contemporary with the new socialism, the new imperialism, the new fiction and the new journalism, she was part of cultural novelties which manifested itself in the 1880s and 1890s." At the end of the nineteenth century, New Woman ideology began to play a significant part in complex social changes that led to the redefining gender roles, consolidating women’s rights, and overcoming masculine supremacy. The discourse on gender relations took place alongside developments in labour relations (increased feminisation of the labour force), divorce legislature, education for women, single motherhood, sanitation and epidemiology as well as female consumer culture. The New Woman soon found advocates among the aesthetes and decadents. The New Woman, a tempting object of ridicule in the press and popular fiction, was generally middle-class, and New Women included social reformers, popular novelists, suffragists, female students and professional women. 

The contemporary satirical representations
of the New Woman usually pictured 
her riding a bicycle in bloomers and 
smoking a cigarette.  Lyn Pykett has observed the ambivalent representations of the New Woman in the late-Victorian discourse: "The New Woman was by turns: a mannish amazon and a Womanly woman; she was oversexed, undersexed, or same sex identified; she was anti-maternal, or a racial supermother; she was male-identified, or manhating and/or man-eating or self-appointed saviour of benighted masculinity; she was anti-domestic or she sought to make domestic values prevail; she was radical, socialist or revolutionary, or she was reactionary and conservative; she was the agent of social and/or racial regeneration, or symptom and agent of decline." 
The New Woman phenomenon found an interesting representation in late Victorian fiction and anticipated various discourses of a new womanhood in the twentieth century.

Tonight I will dream that I wore sandals and was ashamed.
Since seeing the house at Witley I have been quite depressed in anticipation of the time which must elapse before I can leave London permanently for the country. It is as though the next year or two in London will be unbearable.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Other people's business

Tuesday, September 16th., London.

Constance Duchess of Westminster's furniture being sold up today at Cadogan Square. I went to look at it yesterday morning. There is no reason why the furniture of a Duchess should not be showy, or ugly, or dull, yet it shocks one to find it so. I was surprised at the smallness of the house, too. A policeman in the hall.

Cadogan Square, SW1.

Dealers and go-betweens in the porch. One of them asked me if he could do anything for me. I said I'd see; but I saw nothing I wanted. When I came out he gave me his card and he told me he could get me anything I wanted anywhere at any time. He said he knew my face but not my name; he said: "We never forget a face - except those who owe us money."

Erskine told me yesterday that on Friday a young gardener came to him. He stammered terribly - terribly. But he was a 'lovely subject'. He got him to sleep at once. And when he came out he scarcely stammered at all. The man was dazed. He couldn't believe it. He said: "My wife won't know me." He was to return on Saturday morning to be finished off. He never came. Nor did Erskine hear from him. Why didn't he come? Was he scared of a second experience? Or does he think that he is sufficiently cured for practical purposes?

The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, popularly known as Brompton Oratory, is a Roman Catholic church in South Kensington, London. It is situated on Brompton Road, next to the Victoria and Albert Museum, at the junction with Cromwell Gardens

I went into the Oratory yesterday morning to think out characterisation of "The Dance Club" play. Men were tuning the organ and calling out to one another monotonously. Cleaners sweeping an dusting (11.30 a.m.). I chose what I thought was a quiet place in the nave. A cleaner came up behind me and said, "You're getting the dust here, sir. But I'll be as quiet as I can." very polite. I then noticed that the air was full of dust. He had somehow crept up behind me without my noticing it. So I went off into the transept.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

More Zeppelins!

Wednesday, September 15th., Thorpe-le-Soken.

Zeppelin excitements nightly. It was said in the village that a Zeppelin hung over the village church for an hour on Monday night, but I did not believe this. A station-porter, however, told me that they could see a Zeppelin on Sunday night as it passed. He said that another Zeppelin or some Zeppelins had been signalled for that night (Monday). It was dark when I talked to him on the dark platform. (They had instructions as to lights by telegraph)

Thorpe-le-Soken station


The only lights were the reds of the signals, high up. I asked him as to Marguerite's train. He said that the train had 'asked' for the line and would arrive soon. This mysteriousness of unseen things known to be coming - such as Zeppelins and trains - was rather impressive. Then suddenly a red light changes to green in the air. Two engines attached to each other rumble through the station. Then M's train. And after a long delay Marguerite's silhouette very darkly far down the platform.

Friday, 14 September 2012


Saturday, September 14th.,

Yesterday I could not write and had leisure to think about myself. I saw that even now my life was not fully planned out; that I was not giving even an hour a day to scientific reading, to genuine systematic education; and that the central inspiration for my novel was not fine enough.
I began to rectify this, resuming my Spencer. I bought Taine's "Voyage en Italie", and was once again fired to make fuller notes of  the impressions of the moment, of choses vues. Several good books by him consist of nothing else.

Hippolyte Adolphe Taine (21 April 1828 – 5 March 1893) was a French critic and historian. He was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism, a major proponent of sociological positivism, and one of the first practitioners of historicist criticism. Literary historicism as a critical movement has been said to originate with him. Taine is particularly remembered for his three-pronged approach to the contextual study of a work of art, based on the aspects of what he called "race, milieu, and moment". Taine had a profound effect on French literature; the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica asserted that "the tone which pervades the works of Zola, Bourget and Maupassant can be immediately attributed to the influence we call Taine's."

I must surely by this time be a trained philosophic observer - fairly exact and controlled by scientific principles. At the time one can scarcely judge what may be valuable later on. At the present moment I wish for instance, that some school mistress had written down simply her impression of her years of training; I want them for my novel. The whole of life ought to be covered thus by "impressionists", and a vast mass of new material of facts and sensations collected for use by historians, sociologists and novelists. I really must try to do my share of it more completely than I do.

So, today I worked from 6 to 7.45. Then, after breakfast, I read Epictetus and Spencer, did my Italian and my piano. After lunch I read Conrad's new book "The Secret Agent", then went out and collected ideas for my novel.

Joseph Conrad weaves a startling tale of espionage, political unrest, and personal turmoil in his 1907 novel The Secret Agent. Set in 1886, it is the story of a man known as Verloc. Life is a humdrum affair for Verloc, who is a shopkeeper and lives with his wife and in-laws. What Verloc's family doesn't know is that he has befriended a group of revolutionaries who are seeking major political overthrow. One fateful day, Verloc is called to a foreign embassy. There, a mysterious man gives him a task on which his reputation and future as a secret agent will depend: to destroy the town of Greenwich. As Verloc contemplates this grave and terrible mission, he must decide how far he is willing to go for the sake of rebellion. Police begin to trail Verloc's revolutionary circle, hoping to prevent an attack on the city but knowing that the terrorists may strike at any moment. Tension builds towards an unforgettable climax as Verloc's depths of sinister ambition come to light in this painful and astonishing work.

After tea I wrote letters and took a stroll with my wife. After dinner more piano; and French poetry; then this journal. In short a damned virtuous, high-minded day

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A visit to Berlin

Tuesday, September 13th., Berlin.

Visiting Berlin in a party consisting of  Beaverbrook, Venetia Montagu, Lord Castlerosse (Daily Express journalist),  Diana Cooper, and myself.

William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, Bt, PC, ONB, (25 May 1879 – 9 June 1964) was an Anglo-Canadian business tycoon, politician, and writer. Lord Beaverbrook held a tight grip on the British media as an influential Press Baron, owning The Daily Express newspaper, as well as the London Evening Standard and theSunday Express. His political career included serving as a Minister in the British Government during both world wars.
He was an influential and often mentioned figure in British society of the first half of the 20th century.

Beatrice Venetia Stanley Montagu (22 August 1887 – 3 August 1948) was a British aristocrat and socialite best known for the many letters that Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith wrote to her between 1910 and 1915. After converting to Judaism, Venetia married Edwin Samuel Montagu, a Liberal MP, on 26 July 1915. Venetia's marriage to Montagu lasted nine years until his premature death in 1924. Despite the birth of a daughter in 1923, Venetia was unhappy in her marriage. She had affairs with Lord Beaverbrook and others.

We set off on Friday on the SS Deutschland and arrived here on Sunday. The Deutschland is only a 20,000 ton ship but looked enormous when we boarded her at Southampton.

SS Deutschland
Yesterday, before dinner, Max gave a full account of the rise of Baldwin. I wanted this for my first political article. It was a marvellous narrative and full of meat for me. All of us were enthralled.

This morning I went out with Kommer to Charlottenburg to buy books and things. I bought a few German books and some good coloured reproductions of Cezanne, Seurat etc., very cheap. Lunch with Castlerosse, Sinclair Lewis, Bartch of Ufa (a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945), and three American journalists - all very agreeable.

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist,short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." 

No time for sleep. We went at 4 to Potsdam to see Sans Souci.

The Sanssouci palace was the summer residence of Frederick the Great. Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff built it above the terraced vineyard from 1745 to 1747 following the King's ideas and sketches. The palace is considered the major work of Rococo architecture in Germany. Paintings by Watteau, Panini and Pesne are on exhibit in the picture gallery. 

Fine avenues thither, speed-roads etc. Back at 6.25. The girls, Kommer and I went to 'Piscator's' communistic play "Hoppla wir leben" at the Rollenplatz Theatre.

Oops, We're Alive! (German: Hoppla, wir leben!) is a Neue Sachlichkeit (or "New Objectivity") play by the German playwright Ernst Toller. Its second production, directed by the seminal epic theatre director Erwin Piscator in 1927, was a milestone in the history of theatre

Scene from Hoppla wir leben, directed by Erwin Piscator, Berlin, 1927
Interesting perspective on our party by Sefton Delmer:

Sefton Delmer and Lord Beaverbrook, Berlin, 1927

Lord Beaverbrook was not alone when I entered. He was surrounded by the other members of his party: the novelist Arnold Bennett, whom I described in my diary at the time as "sardonic, silent and sallow"; Sunday Express columnist, Lord Castlerosse, "fat, flushed and chortling, a vast cigar sticking out under his arched Edwardian nose"; Mrs. Venetia Montagu, "gracious, erect and smiling"; and Lady Diana Cooper, "brilliant, brittle and blonde, with the palest watery blue eyes".
They all called Lord Beaverbrook 'Max'. I gathered they had come to Berlin in connection with some film which Arnold Bennett was to write, Lady Diana was to star in, and Lord Beaverbrook would finance. I answered telephone calls, took messages in German, replied to questions about Berlin night life. I listened in awe as Lord Beaverbrook, talking to his managers in London, made lightning calculations in his head about the price of the newsprint he was ordering. I ran errands.
For Bennett I went out and bought a stack of the homosexual and nudist magazines I had told him about. No sooner had I given them to him than Lord Castlerosse also wanted a set. I could see wonder about me in the eyes of the woman at the news stand on the Potsdamerplatz, as she sold me the second lot. When I called for the third which Lord Beaverbrook then ordered all her doubts about me had been dispersed. She was certain now of my category. 

Denis Sefton Delmer (born 24 May 1904, Berlin, Germany – died 4 September 1979,Lamarsh, Essex) was a British journalist and propagandist for the British government. Fluent in German, he became friendly with Ernst Röhm who arranged for him to interview Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. During the Second World War he led a black propaganda campaign against Hitler by radio from England and he was named in the Nazi's Black Book for immediate arrest after their invasion of England.