Welcome to our blog!

It's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick!

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.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Lunch with the 'Great Beast'

Friday, April 22nd., Rue de Calais, Paris.

Last night. Gluck's "Iphigenie en Tauride" at the Opera Comique, with Rose Caron as Iphegenie. A beautiful performance; a crowded and brilliant house; in fact I have never seen an audience that I liked better. The whole thing was stupendous.

Rose Caron (1857 – 1930) was a French operatic soprano. She was born at Monnerville and studied at the Paris Conservatoire but was not taken on at the Paris Opera; her husband, an accompanist, encouraged her to take lessons from Marie Sasse who helped her to get engagements at the opera in Brussels (having made her concert debut in 1880). Caron’s first operatic appearance in Brussels was as Alice in Robert le Diable, followed by Salomé in Hérodiade and Marguérite in Faust; noticed by Ernest Reyer, he chose her to create the role of Brunehild in Sigurd in 1884 (and the Paris premiere in 1885). The title role in Salammbo in 1890 was also created by Caron. At the Opéra-Comique she sang Léonore in Fidelio in 1898, Iphigénie en Tauride and Orphée (Gluck). After 1895 she reduced her public appearances considerably and concentrated on teaching at the Paris Conservatoire (1904–09) and then private tuition.

I worked all yesterday and my Empire furniture arrived. Mrs. Stapley had hunted up an Empire secretaire for me, in fact several. After tea we went to view them. The best one had a mirror at the back, above the small drawers. I said to the shopwoman that I objected to the mirror. "Ah!" she said. "But when Madame leans over your shoulder while you are writing .........!" I bought the secretaire and also a clock for 140 francs. Such is my susceptibility to French suggestion!

In response to a telegram I went to lunch with Aleister Crowley and his wife (Kelly's sister) today at Paillard's. he had been made a 'Khan' in the East, and was wearing a heavily jewelled red waistcoat, and the largest ring I ever saw on a human hand. I rather liked him. He said some brain specialist had told him that what made a great brain was not the number of facts or ideas known, but the number of facts or ideas co-ordinated or co-related. I said: "Of course."

Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947), born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast 666, was an English occultist, mystic, ceremonial magician, poet and mountaineer, who was responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. In his role as the founder of the Thelemite philosophy, he came to see himself as the prophet who was entrusted with informing humanity that it was entering the new Aeon of Horus in the early 20th century. Born into a wealthy upper-class family, as a young man he became a member of the esoteric Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Subsequently he claimed that he was contacted by his Holy Guardian Angel, an entity he named Aiwass, while staying in Egypt in 1904, and that he 'received' a text known as The Book of the Law from what he claimed was a divine source, and around which he would come to develop his new philosophy of Thelema. Crowley was also bisexual, a recreational drug experimenter and a social critic. In many of these roles, he "was in revolt against the moral and religious values of his time", espousing a form of libertinism based upon the rule of "Do What Thou Wilt". Because of this, he gained widespread notoriety during his lifetime, and was denounced in the popular press of the day as "the wickedest man in the world". Crowley has remained an influential figure and is widely thought of as the most influential occultist of all time.

It occurred to me at Paillard's that the difference between the most excessively chic restaurant and an ordinary good one is very slight. Paillard's has the reputation of being the best, or one of the three best in Paris, and therefore in the world. Yet it is small, and not in the least luxurious, and the waiting is no better than it is elsewhere. The monde has no special appearance of smartness. The food was very good and so was the wine. But scarcely appreciably better than at Sylvain's, Maire's, or Noel and Peters. And the prices were about 25 percent dearer than at those other places - not more. In the evening, at a Boulant, I had for 6d. a bifteck and souffle potatoes better than which could not possibly be obtained anywhere, at no matter what price. When you have thoroughly good, well-flavoured, tender meat, perfectly cooked, - you cannot surpass that.

Paillard’s was one of the leading restaurants of Paris. The restaurant was created in 1880 when M. Paillard took over an establishment situated at the corner of the Rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin and the Boulevard des Capucines from the Bignon brothers. According to Larousse Gastronomique, ‘Favourite dishes were chicken Archduke, Georgette potatoes, calves’ sweetbreads with asparagus tips, fillets of sole Chauchat and, above all, stuffed duck, rivalling the duck au sang of the Tour d’Argent.’ The culinary term paillard is of course named after the famous chef, who trained under the great Escoffier himself. It is a thin slice of veal (or now, any meat) pounded even thinner until it is translucent and then grilled or fried for a few seconds only.

No comments:

Post a Comment