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

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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The charm of danger

Thursday, November 12th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

I am still reading "Don Quixote", and was much struck with the perfect narrative style of the inserted story "The Ill-advised Curiosity". It is simply charming. And I am with the licentiate who, after censuring the improbabilities, said: "With the manner of the telling I have no fault to find." I should like sometime to write a few stories in that simple style - pure narration, very little dialogue, and what there is, arranged conventionally in long speeches. Hardy's "A Group of Noble Dames" must have been composed under some such influence, I imagine.

"Bostock's Great Animal Arena" at the Hippo. Palace. First night. Vast crowd, very badly controlled. The whole performance consisted of wild-animal tricks. The principal dompteur had some exciting moments in the vast cage with lionesses, a tiger, several bears, a hyena, two superb dogs, and other animals. When a crisis arrived the Frenchmen around me were as impressed as children. "Ils ne sont pas commode," "Il a du sangfroid! Il a du sangfroid!" And, when their nerves were getting strained, "Assez! Assez!" in a nervous tone. Some of the crises were apparently somewhat dangerous. 

During a long bout of opposing wills between the trainer and the tiger, the tiger chewed up a good part of a wooden seat and splintered the gate over which he had to jump. And if, at the end of that bout, the trainer was only acting when he wiped his brow, he was acting very well. At the beginning the crowd was captious and fractious, owing to delays and bad arrangements, but the applause was now tremendous. The performance was really rather out of the way, and I appreciated more than I have done before the charm of danger in a show, real danger.

Frank C. Bostock was born in Basford, Derbyshire in 1866 and started his career in small circuses around the country but by the time he died he had travelled the world, survived attacks by lions and tigers, put on shows in Paris, Indianapolis, New York, Blackpool and other cities, and was known worldwide as “The Animal King”. He was one of the pioneers in his field and even wrote a book, The Training of Wild Animals, which you can still buy today.

Additionally for November 12th., see 'The end of the war' -

We had driven through large crowds part way up the Mall, and were then turned off from Buckingham Palace.
Raining now. An excellent thing to damp hysteria and Bolshevism.

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