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


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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Friends in Florence

Saturday, April 30th., Pension White, Florence.

Sketch made today



After being laid aside I resumed work on Thursday, and wrote 5,000 words of "Clayhanger" in two days. The writing of this book is not the 'lark' which both "The Card" and "The Honeymoon" were, and my persistent, solitary search for ideas and inspiration have exhausted me physically more than I realised. During all this time - that is, for a week - no sight-seeing and almost no sketching. I have largely been confined to my small room looking out across the Arno to San Miniato. But on Thursday I began a watercolour. All I could really do was just to walk about and buy the 'Corriere della Sera' and gaze at fine women.





Pauline Smith is with us, but is not well as the cold winds have affected her weak throat, and against the depression of oncoming illness her work has made little progress. Yet my belief in her as an 'artist' persists. She asked me recently if she had not better give up writing altogether. I said: "Do you think I'd be ... such a damn fool ... as to waste all this time upon you if I didn't know ... the stuff's in you?" I ask her why if I believe in her she cannot believe in herself? I have also been attempting to encourage her development as a conversationalist, but with little success. My own behaviour does me little credit in this regard. I come down from writing and, reasonably, expect her to take part in conversation at table. She is silent. In the obstinate, expectant, and more and more gloomy silences which I maintain whilst awaiting a remark from her she becomes paralysed with nervousness. Slowly, I allow my head to sink onto my upraised hand and emit a deep protesting groan. Or sometimes I will pause in my own talk to break into her silences with a rebuking and embarrassing: "Yes, well ... but we will now await ... a remark from P."
See also, 'A bad night' - November 14th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/a-bad-night.html

Marguerite and I studied somewhat the activities of the men who take gravel out of the bed of the river. Some of them work in their boats in nothing but a shirt with a scolloped edge that comes down a few inches below the middle. I should say that one dredging machine could do as much in an hour as all this sweating does in about a week.

I got Gebhart's book on Florence out of the Library. They said it was good but it isn't. Rotten photographic illustrations and a lot of prettiness in the feeble writing. I haven't yet come across a good book on Florence.

Rickards walked casually in on Thursday evening, twelve hours in advance of his warning postcard, & he took up residence here yesterday morning for three days. he arrived from Carrara where he had been to see the quarrying of some of the marble to be used in one of his buildings. He said the Duomo was chiefly a great feat of engineering, and not really beautiful.

We went up to Fiesole in the afternoon. Crowded, wheel-shrieking, jerking tram to go, and the same to come back. Mrs. Mock introduced me into an old convent or something, a home for women convalescents kept by English & Irish nuns. Extraordinarily beautiful old garden. Cheap little statues of the virgin & of J.C., with a cup of fresh flowers suspended before him. But the whole effect with the views of Florence & all the Arno plain, and the Arno far off flashing like gold, and the hills towards Siena - perfectly enchanting.

Rickards instructed me in the excellence of drawing roofs seen from above, & then set me to trees. He would not let me draw in this Journal, insisted on something larger and 'freer'. We had tea up at Fiesole. Then he & I, after the grinding slide down, had aperitifs in the town.

In the Smoking Room Rickards gave such a violent & feverish description of Venice to us that both Mock & I wanted to start out at once for Venice. "It nearly broke my heart to leave it on Thursday morning", said Rickards in a tragic tone. He said this several times.
See also, 'Eating companions' - December 23rd. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/eating-companions.html   and 'An architectural experience' - December 28th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/an-architectural-experience.html


Monday, 29 April 2013

Self awareness

Wednesday, April 29th., Villa des Nefliers, Avon.



On Thursday last, the 23rd., we moved into our new house, Villa des Nefliers, Avon. By Monday morning we were sufficiently straight for me to resume my novel.







Ullman came down yesterday, fresh from U.S.A. [See also 'Parisian Life' - April 9th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/parisian-life.html ]

I said: "What is your general impression? Is the U.S. a good place to get away from?" He said: "On the whole yes. But for a visit, I am sure it would interest you enormously." He said that I could form no idea of the amount of drinking that went on there. I said I could as I had already heard a great deal about it. He said: "No you can't." He stuck to it, though I tried to treat the statement as an exaggeration, that in the principal clubs everybody got fuddled every night.

Noticed in myself: A distinct feeling of jealousy on reading yesterday and today accounts of another very successful production of a play by Somerset Maugham - the third now running. Also in reading an enthusiastic account of a new novelist in the Daily News today, I looked eagerly for any sign to show that he was not after all a really first class artist. It relieved me to find that his principal character was somewhat conventional, etc., etc. Curious!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Backwards in time

Thursday, April 28th., "Flying Cloud", at sea.

On Tuesday at 1.20 we weighed anchor for Crete, being then 6 hours in front of our scheduled time.
At about 5 p.m. we saw the mountains of Crete, 60 or 70 miles off, the highest rising to over 8,000 feet.  The wind shifted westwards and gave us a slant, but soon after died away. By 5.45 a.m. yesterday morning Crete seemed to be farther off than it had been the previous day. In fact sometimes you couldn't see it at all. I would not go up to the poop to talk to the officer of the watch because I wanted to think about what I should write about Milo which we visited on Tuesday. I wrote the 400 words by 7 a.m.

We dropped anchor in the Candia roadstead about 8.30 a.m. Knossos is the magnet that draws the inquisitive tourist to Candia. You drive two or three short miles, past Venetian fortifications and past vineyards, under a most fervent sun, and are immediately moved backwards several thousand years. The excavations and reconstructions have evidently been carried out with the greatest skill, judgement and imagination. Their achievement is to make you see and feel what at any rate the latest palace actually was.

Well, it is all very marvellous: drainage, sanitary systems, lighting, heating, feats of earthenware manufacture which would cause the potters of the Five Towns today to scratch their heads, wine-presses, flour-mills, bathrooms with baths extraordinarily like those of 1927; all dating from over 3,000 years ago. Yes, it is absolutely fascinating. But I was disappointed with the scale of the whole thing. I had expected the cyclopean, the impressive, the overwhelming, and I doubt whether in the entire congeries called the Labyrinth there was a single apartment as large as my own drawing-room. Nor is the architecture beautiful. Considering that Zeus condescended to be born in Crete (you can see the place), and that Minos was his son, I do permit myself to think that the Minoans ought to have been more grandiose than they apparently were.

The museum of Candia is unique, in that the British Museum has not - yet - spirited away any object which rightly belongs to the only Minoan museum  in the world. You can see Minoan art in the Candia museum and in no other place. Hence no student of the evolution of art who respects himself can afford not to go to Crete. There are designs which really ought to bear the signatures of Matisse or Gaugin. There are small bronzes which having seen them you will never forget and representations of ultra-modern frocks which would make the fortune of any night-club in London.


The slatternly town of Candia is thrilling in a different manner. Its chief characteristic is dust, and it has a water-cart which lays the dust about once an hour and incidentally washes every pair of trousers in the vicinity. It has Cretan male costumes which are voluminous without being elegant, but no Cretan female costumes, no Cretan beauties (so far as I could discern) and little Cretan architecture. It has no posters, but permanently painted advertisements on its Venetian fortification. It has a Venetian palace, but no trams. It has pair-horse cabs, but few motor cars. Like nearly all English boroughs it has no bookshops; but it has many straw-hat shops, and far more cigarette shops than any other city I have ever seen. Almost all the shops have wide-open fronts, - that is, no front wall worth mentioning. Barbers, blacksmiths and cobblers work industriously; you can watch them working industriously. Nobody else works. The great body of the citizens sit in cafes, and play cards all day, or backgammon or chess. The chief card game seems to be a diversion called "Hearts". The Candians have discovered a mode of life which has no apparent sound economic basis, yet Crete is flourishing.

Got back to the ship at 12.20, exhausted. Some of us bathed. We left for Santorini at 6 p.m. Slight head wind. This morning when I got up all plain sail was set, and was drawing nicely.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Not seeing Florence

Wednesday, April 27th., Pension White,  Piazza Cavalleggieri, Florence.


Munich Orchestra, conducted by F Loewe at the Teatro della Pergola on Saturday evening. "Till Eulenspiegel". I began to understand it. The intense vivacity of the thing proclaimed itself. The performance was magnificent. On Sunday I was ill, but I had determined to go to "Aida" at the Politeamo Fiorentino, and I went with Mr. Mock in a shower of rain. We saw three acts, & I enjoyed it very much, though ill. Vast interior. All the cheaper parts crammed; heads stretching away into distances further than at Covent Garden. Then I spent Monday & yesterday in bed. I could not read on Monday, but yesterday I read I don't know how many newspapers, all "Ce Cochon de Morin" and a lot of a new French novel by Jean Canora, sent to me for review. This morning I wrote my Chronicle article in bed, before 8.30. So that seeing Florence has stood still for a time.

"Clayhanger". The more I think of that accursed book the more complicated and un-doable it seems to be. And yet I have written to Pinker from here as follows: "Going strong. Two thirds done"! He seems to want to place it as a serial but I doubt that will be possible. I have told him that it will be 160,000 words. I hesitate to trust the 100,000 words in manuscript to the post and so have sent him the 60,000 that are typewritten. They will probably be enough to discourage any editor. There is nothing in it to shock prudes, as there was in the O.W.T. Not even a confinement. It ends happily!

I have also written to Pinker about the publication of some of my stories. Mrs. Bisland of McClures told me vaguely that they meant to publish "The 19th Hat". She also said they were thinking of publishing the two stories I wrote last for Tillotson. This I absolutely forbade her to arrange, on pain of eternal enmity. I do not want these two stories published in America. Pinker will doubtless be able to convey to them that if they want to keep on intimate terms with their latest darling discovery they will pay £10. A story like "The Death of Simon Fugue" is worth £10. I would like to suppress one or two stories and give them "The Matador" out of The English Review instead. Both "The Death of Simon Fugue" & "The Matador" will give editors something to think about.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Incidents of war.

Wednesday, April 26th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

In addition to marking the opening of the water-colour season yesterday had some importance in the war.

About midnight (previous) an orderly came on a motor bike and looked in the front garden. I challenged from the window. He had an order for Lieut. Myers to report at once at the Orderly Office. Myers was up all night. Then in the morning's papers was the news of the capture of Sir Roger Casement in an attempt at gun-running in Ireland. Then came telegram of riots and seizure of the Post Office at Dublin.

Sir Roger David Casement (1864-1916), the British traitor and Irish nationalist hero, was hanged by the British in mid-1916 for his part in working with Germany and Irish nationalists in planning the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916. On the 24th of April, Easter Monday 1916, about 2,000 Irish Volunteers and 200 from the Irish Citizen Army occupied the General Post Office (GPO) as well as other important buildings in Dublin city. One group of rebels took over the Four Courts and another group took over the South Dublin Union, which is now James’s hospital. They proclaimed the Irish Republic, read the Proclamation and raised the Irish flag for the first time.

Then Myers came in with the news (which he had overheard on the telephone) that a German fleet had been within five miles of Lowestoft between 4 and 5 a.m., and also that Zeppelins had been over. Then came telegram with official news of a short naval action off Lowestoft.

German battle cruiser 1916
The official account of the German naval raid on the East Coast states:-'The bombardment of Lowestoft and Yarmouth began at 4 o'clock in the morning and lasted half an hour. Despite the enemy using heavy guns, the damage caused was relatively slight. A convalescent home,  swimming bath, the pier, and 40 dwellings were extensively damaged, and 200 dwellings slightly damaged. Two men, a woman, and child were killed; three men were seriously, and nine slightly wounded. The enemy bombarded Great Yarmouth simultaneously with the Lowestoft action. A large building was set on fire,and seriously damaged, and another was slightly damaged by shellfire. At Lowestoft the enemy ships were not seen, and they must have fired at long,range. They appeared to dash for the coast from the north and south, firing as rapidly as possible in the short time at their disposal. In Yarmouth people flocked into the streets, regardless of danger and even scrambled for souvenirs in the shape of pieces of shells during the bombardment.

 Then came telegram that Betty Sharpe had had a daughter. Then came the daily French telegram. Then came a telegram as to Zeppelins. To continue the tale, this morning I had a letter  from A. G. Gardiner practically putting an end to my connection with the Daily News. See also, "The writing business" - January 4th. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-writing-business.html>

By the way, the cyclist who called up Myers, going immediately afterwards to Frinton without any lights (as ordered), ran into a car and broke both his legs and fractured his skull. He is supposed to be recovering.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

In Arcadia

Monday, April 25th., "Flying Cloud", Nauplia.

The yacht dropped anchor yesterday at 1.25 p.m. off Getheon, far up in the Marathon Gulf, and we landed there about 3. Sunday. Shops shut, and no work being done. A crowd of over a hundred awaited us on the quay, all boys and men, not one woman or girl. A small town, whose main street is on the quay, with rows of houses above it.

Today we left the yacht at Getheon at 8.3 a.m. and motored to Sparta and Mistra. Sparta is nothing. Nevertheless you have an extraordinary, mysterious satisfaction in being at Sparta - you are at Sparta, and in a month's time, in London, and for ever afterwards, you will have been at Sparta. The feeling illustrates one of the deepest and finest instincts of mankind. It is a feeling as universal as sin.


Palace of the Paleologues
Only a few miles from Sparta, and much higher up in the world, is medieval Mistra, for three hundred years the seat of government of those despots the Paleologues. The town of Mistra is enormous, built of rough stones reinforced with thin bricks. Mistra makes a formidable spectacle of desolation which cannot easily be equalled on earth. There are far more nightingales than tourists in the astonishing region. Mules must transport your food for you. Nuns, who are ladies, will see that you eat in comfort, and they make admirable Turkish coffee for you, and thank you for drinking it.

Then begins a hundred mile drive across the Pelponnesus Peninsula to Nauplia. A crow would measure the distance as forty miles; the odd sixty are made up in loops and hair-pin turns. The scenery is consistently stupendous. This region is the original Arcadia, where the Athenian met the great god Pan and concluded a bargain with him. Considered as Arcadia the countryside is not in the least what it decently ought to be. A few small poplar trees of tender green, some olives, some cypresses, some belled goats, but in the main untilled and very desolate slopes! Plainly many groves must have vanished since Pan helped to win wars, because he could not possibly have stayed in a province which as it now stands must be excessively unsuited to the happiness of persons of the Pan temperament.

The Greek landscape was classical before Greek literature and architecture and sculpture. It is the origin of the Greek spirit. Its secret is that there are no trees bigger than shrubs to niggle and fuss it all to pieces. It is grand, simple; more concerned with fundamental structure than with ornamentation; it gives the light a fair chance to produce large, calm effects of beauty ....

The Gulf of Nauplia is a revelation in the late afternoon light. And that town under you, nearer than Nauplia, is Argos - name rivalling Thebes, name needing no embroidery of description. Argos! A brass band is enlivening the fag-end of the Easter holiday in Argos, and the streets heaped with dust and veiled in dust are full of people sitting out on chairs and stools to enjoy the evening dust.





We dined very well in Nauplia at the Hotel Bretagne.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Understanding life

Tuesday, April 24th., Yacht Club, London.

Great creative weekend. I wrote over 3,000 words of novel on Saturday and Sunday. This novel is to be called "The Roll Call".

I went to town this morning and lunched with the Webbs. Webb told me that Lloyd George, contrary to the usual habit of ministers, would not deal with papers. He preferred to be talked to. Webb said that most ministers were followed about by despatch boxes full of papers which they had to approve and initial. Sometimes hundreds of papers. He said there were several grades of keys; the highest would open all despatch boxes. When he was at the Colonial Office he had a second-grade key, which would open some despatch boxes but not all.

He said that ministers were still unable to get anything done as Ll. G. would not face the labour of deciding and giving authority. Mrs. Webb, who had just returned from a meeting of the Reconstruction Committee, said that at one meeting recently at 4 p.m. just before the meeting started, the Marquis of Salisbury went to the mantelpiece and prayed aloud. She was talking to somebody else and could not hear what he said, but he was certainly praying aloud.

Webbs told me that Russian sailors, fleet enclosed in ice, had put a lot of their officers through the ice, and the ships were therefore useless. Germans knew this and were preparing expedition accordingly. Talk of British and French naval officers going over to take charge, but these officers said they would prefer to take their own crews.

The Webbs live in a house entirely constructed of Blue bricks, a marvel of ingenuity recalling the labours of beavers and coral insects. I get on very well with the Webbs but they do not understand (what I call) life. Squire, now editor of the New Statesman, wants me to gather material on the Russian situation. He also is an A1 chap. But he is a vegetarian & he doesn't understand life either. And either he or his wife doesn't understand shirts!

J. C. Squire (1884-1958) was one of those published in the Georgian poetry collections of Edward Marsh. His own Selections from Modern Poets anthology series, launched in 1921, became definitive of the conservative style of Georgian poetry. He began reviewing for The New Age; through his wife he had met Alfred Orage. His literary reputation was first made by a flair for parody, in a column Imaginary Speeches in The New Age from 1909. His poetry from World War I was satirical; at the time he was reviewing for the New Statesman, using the name Solomon Eagle (taken from a Quaker of the seventeenth century) - one of his reviews from 1915 was of The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence. Squire had been appointed literary editor when the New Statesman was set up in 1912; he was noted as an adept and quick journalist, at ease with contributing to all parts of the journal. He was acting editor of the New Statesman in 1917-18, when Clifford Sharp was in the British Army, and more than competently sustained the periodical. When the war ended he found himself with a network of friends and backers, controlling a substantial part of London's literary press. From 1919 to 1934, Squire was the editor of the monthly periodical, the London Mercury. It showcased the work of the Georgian poets and was an important outlet for new writers. Alec Waugh described the elements of Squire's 'hegemony' as acquired largely by accident, consequent on his rejection for military service for bad sight. Squire's natural persona was of a beer-drinking, cricketing West Countryman; his literary cricket XI, the Invalids, were immortalised in A. G. Macdonell's England, Their England, with Squire as Mr. William Hodge, editor of the London Weekly. In July 1927 he became an early radio commentator on Wimbledon.




Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sailing east

Saturday, April 23rd., "Flying Cloud", between Sicily and Cape Matapan.

I didn't have a great deal of sleep, but felt that I had had enough sleep.
Sore throat which I might have cured if I could have stopped smoking; but I couldn't. The thing would have been much more serious to make me give up this habit even for a time.
I thought about an article on Syracuse; so soon I was determined to write it today.
I was chatting with the Chief Officer on the poop before 6 a.m. Perfect morning. Saw one sail, a brig, about ten miles to the north going westward. Saw nothing else all day. There was a slant of wind, and I reckon that the ship was making 3 or 4 knots under sail only. Four sails set, 2 topsails, 1 top stay-sail, the sky sail and three jibs.
Bridge has been played nearly the whole day. And it has been a simply magnificent day.
Captain Davies said that he was not a yacht-captain but a captain in a yacht. Well, the yacht shows it.

I find that I know all the party on the yacht except one (David Gray - part author of The Best People). Only I had forgotten that I knew them. Jo Davidson the sculptor & Dougherty the painter both reminded me of a previous meeting. Frank Crowninshields of course I knew. Kommer, as usual, seemed to know half the people in the hotel at Syracuse.

Rudolf K Kommer (1888-1943) is best known for his association with Max Reinhardt whom he persuaded to produce The Miracle in London and in America (1923). He was also translator of many American and English plays for German production. An Austrian by birth he became the London correspondent of the Frankfurter Zeitung, a member of the United Press Bureau in Central Europe, and later head of its Geneva office. He lectured in America during 1914 and became a diplomat in the Austrian Government. He lived in America during the last ten years of his life.

I like all the party. I feel sure they are all extremely decent, as they are certainly intelligent.  Jo Davidson has a bushy black beard, & at first I thought he was a Frenchman. He speaks French very fluently. 



Jo Davidson (March 30, 1883 – January 2, 1952) was an American sculptor of Russian-Jewish descent. Although he specialized in realistic, intense portrait busts, Davidson did not require his subjects to formally pose for him; rather, he observed and spoke with them. He worked primarily with clay, while the final products were typically cast in terra-cotta, marble and bronze.



Further, though it is a bit early to conclude thereupon, I think Otto is a very good host. he is bright, doesn't boss (though they all call him 'boss'), & is in favour of everyone feeling perfectly free. Kommer is a great advocate of freedom. When I said to the fellows that I hated sightseeing there was a great outburst of applause.


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.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Illumination in Syracuse

Thursday, April 21st., Hotel des Etrangers, Syracuse.

Lovely morning. We drove down to Taormina station and caught the 10.18 for Syracuse which was ten minutes late. I saw a fourmaster as we entered the town. I said to Kahn: "She's here". But we couldn't be quite sure: I might have seen a four masted trading schooner. The guide awaiting us at the station said that no yacht had come in. We drove to the port and there was the yacht all right - a magnificent object. Thrilling. We went on board and were greeted by Captain Davies (a Chester man), very young for the post, I thought. We looked over the state rooms and saloons. Highly satisfactory. Beautiful. The artists were thrilled by the yacht. So was I, only more so.
See also, 'An invitation to sail' - March 11th. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/an-invitation-to-sail.html>

Syracuse is now perhaps less than a thirtieth of its size in Classical times. It was diminished, like so many other cities, by bad politics, foolish alliances, and mistaken notions concerning the glory and effectiveness of war. But it is still enchantingly beautiful and of surpassing interest.





We went to the Hotel des Etrangers (Casa Polliti) which overlooks the port, and Kahn engaged rooms there. I insisted on some of them having a cup of tea before we rushed off in a terrific haste and pother of dust to the Greek theatre.





This is said to be one of the finest Greek theatres remaining anywhere, built of marble by Dionysius, described and praised by Diodorus and by Cicero, with seating in its tremendous amphitheatre for 11,000 theatre-goers. The classical Greek dramas were originally presented there. It has now been restored to the status of a theatre by the Syracusan Institute of Drama. I went thither to witness The Clouds of Aristophanes performed, as correctly as modern limitations permit, as it was performed two thousand years ago, in regard to diction, dancing, and scenery - but in the Italian language.


I knew nothing of The Clouds except its title and the outline of its plot. My mind was a clean slate. The first impression was not good, for I certainly could not admire the scenic background. But as soon as the piece actually began, within two minutes of the opening, I had the exciting joy of new perceptions about classical drama. Obviously the thing was being very well done. I could hear every word plainly across a space of some seventy five yards - and in the open! (Oh, West End of London, where I must strain my ears at a distance of ten yards and withal be resigned to miss much!) The austere simplicity of the construction of the play, the rise and fall of its emotion, its disdain of what we call realism, and its respect for that truth which the West End of London will not tolerate save under compulsion - these matters were rendered movingly plain to me.

I had slept soundly during Greek plays in London. In this corner of Sicily, under a hot sun, after hours of travelling and sight-seeing, and deprived of my customary siesta, I was as wakeful as a boy at a pantomime.

And when the women personages appeared, and the groups of women dancers and posturers, the tension grew. The women were beautiful; their gestures attitudes and dancing had been very intelligently taken from Greek vases. The function of the choreographic intervals in the comedy became plain. The acting was admirable - large, very robust, and always in taste. Socrates himself dangled in a basket with taste. The elementary comicality of the clowning had taste. I doubt whether a great deal of Aristophanes' alleged wit and humour came through or got across. I don't think it did. But for me the fact richly sufficed that an extraordinary and original beauty was achieved in the rendering of what must I suppose be called a light comedy.

The meaning of the word 'classical' was marvellously illuminated for me. In a couple of hours I comprehended as never before what Greek drama in fact was. I wanted to write a play myself in the Greek spirit with the Greek technique. I would like to see an audience of the world's popular living dramatists humble themselves to the mood of learning at a performance such as I saw, and in such incomparable surroundings. Then I shivered. The shadows were lengthening. I had to choose between my body and my soul.

Additionally we saw the quarry De Pasadora, and heard its echo, and saw the surroundings, all very impressive. Then to the Duomo - Greek, Moorish, and Christian - still more impressive. Then back to the hotel.



Saturday, 20 April 2013

Getting it right

Friday, April 20th., Yacht Club, London.

Yesterday I began to think that the tone of the end of my novel wouldn't do.
So, I spent the day, exhausted, partly in dozing and reading, and one and a half hours at barbers, and generally thinking over climax, which I ultimately got right.
I dined with Wells at Reform. He had worked all day, and arrived only at 8.40. We had champagne.
We tossed for the bill - he lost. This is the second time lately he has lost to me.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Kaiser in the offing

Wednesday, April 19th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Dr. Slimon reports to me that at the meeting of Chairmen of Emergency Committees and Military Representatives at Chelmsford on Friday, which I could not attend, under the chairmanship of General Paget, Paget insisted on the strong probability of an invasion between Harwich and Maldon in July or August.
The naval opinion at Harwich, I hear, is that Harwich Flotilla could not deal with the covering ships of an invading force, and that, so far as the Navy was concerned, the force would land, and the convoy be taken in the rear. It is also said that the German submarines are trying to  mine the course of the proposed expedition, and that we are sweeping their mines and mining contra.
See also:
'False Alarms' - February 20th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/sunday-february-27th.html  and 'An Author's Observations' - November 20th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/an-authors-observations.html

Pauline Smith came on Saturday, having lost her luggage on the way. Voice perhaps feebler than ever. She is highly intelligent.
See also 'A Bad Night' - November 14th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/a-bad-night.html

I have been reading John Buchan. Specifically "Greenmantle". Now Buchan is a marvellous story teller, none better, but this is going too far! As usual he seizes us by the elbow and away we go into a world where every character is at least twice life size, and incredible coincidences are routine. But it is too much. I found myself skimming rather than reading, just to get to the end more quickly. And not because I wanted to 'find out what happens'; just to get the damned thing finished. If it had been any writer other than Buchan I would not have bothered to finish at all. A fast pace is one thing, but let there be at least some credible characterisation along the way. For my money the best drawn character in "Greenmantle" is the Kaiser!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

More potboiling

Tuesday, April 18th., Fulham Park Gardens, London.

I finished the draft of "Anna Tellwright" just before Easter - having written it at the rate of eight or ten thousand words a week - and till that was done I had no leisure for keeping a journal or spare energies for observation. I went home at Easter in order to collect facts useful for the novel, and I got what I wanted.
The novel however is to rest till after Whitsuntide. In the meantime I am doing a one-act farce, "The Arrival", and some short stories - one called "Marooned in London", and a great deal of work for the Academy. I wrote to George Sturt at the end of March to say that the time between Easter and Whitsuntide I propose to spend in 'potboiling'.
As the draft of my novel progressed I got thoroughly interested in it, and I finished it with good hopes of the excellence of the complete thing. It was with difficulty that I resisted the temptation to proceed with the second writing immediately after Easter.

Today I sat on a Coroner's Jury at Fulham and heard four cases, including one suicide through religious mania. I was struck by several things:
     The decency of people in general;
     The common sense and highly-trained skill of the coroner;
     The dramatic quality of sober fact. In two instances, the deceased persons had died from causes absolutely unconnected with the superficial symptoms. Thus a woman who had brought on a miscarriage and died had died from heart disease;
     The sinister influence of the ugliness amid which the lower classes carry on their lives;
     The enormous (as it were) underground activity of the various charitable and philanthropic agencies which spread themselves like a network over London. It would seem that nothing could happen, among a certain class of society, without the cognizance of some philanthropic agency;
     The dullness and the conscientiousness of a jury;
     The absolute thoroughness with which suspicious deaths are inquired into.
   

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Roman Easter

Sunday, April 17th., Rome-Taormina train.

I had another good night, despite trams and other things outside. It was Easter Day in Rome and I hired a car after lots of various letter-writing and note-making, and drove to S. Maria Maggiore.

Just inside the main entrance of this large and imposing building a nun, or perhaps a lay-sister of some sort, was asking alms for charity. She had probably been standing there for hours. Round about the altar rails, and in front of a side-chapel, thick crowds clustered. Some had climbed on benches in order to get a view of the choir. From the choir came gleams of flickering candles, and of a medley of whitish ecclesiastical garments, and the sound of mediocre organ playing and very bad, perfunctory singing.



Then to St. Peter's, S. Giovanni Laterano and Santa Croce.
Here, established under the portico, a merchant was selling rosaries, images and photographs. Big crowds surged outwards - middle class and lower middle class. And they were determined to get away without loss of a moment; they were mad to get away as if fleeing from some frightful peril.




I also drove up to the Garibaldi Monument (Monte Gianicolo). All this in two hours. I did not feel like lunching wholesale in the hotel, so I went out and found a little trattoria, and ate there. About a dozen customers. Two clerkly young men with gay neckties, in confidential discussion. A group of three: an oldish, shabby, tousled woman with back so bowed that her head was almost at the level of the table; an old man, her husband with a hooked nose, very shabby and untidy, who smoked small cheap cigars the whole time; and a chocolate-uniformed friend who looked like a sleeping-car conductor but was not. The hooked nose and the chocolate person argued incessantly and raspingly; but they were excellent friends; the chocolate person felt the old man's pulse and the glands of his neck, and sneered, while the old woman grinned and steadily ate.

Then hired a horse cab, and went to the Pincio Gardens. Very dusty everywhere in Rome.
Paid bill and made arrangements, and then went for a walk. The Terme in front of the station was closed, but the church (I forget the name) was open, and I went in there and found in the vast place a congregation evidently waiting for a sermon. When I looked at my watch it was 5.25. Train due at 6. I hurried off. I only caught the train by six minutes. It left one minute late, but got to Naples on time.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Making adjustments

Friday, April 16th., Cadogan Square, London.

These days, going to bed early, I arise at 6.30 or 6.45, or even earlier, and do an hour's work or so before breakfast, and in addition am dressed for breakfast. I didn't dress for breakfast for years because the masseur came after breakfast. I don't have him at present , as my health is so much better (owing to him). Much of my time now, while Dorothy is in the maternity home, is taken up with her and with arranging things for her. I wrote 700 words of novel "Vanguard" in the morning and 800 in the afternoon. I was at the Home by 12 o'clock, and stayed until after 1 o'clock. Then at two I drove home - (these days I have to drive everywhere to save time; if I can manage to walk to the top of Sloane Street it is all I can do) - and slept and went on with my novel till 4.30. Then I had chores to do.
The baby has to take the air as from Tuesday next, and there is nobody to take her out, and no perambulator for her to go in. The infant still squints a bit. Otherwise she is improving daily in appearance. It is astonishing how the nurse can be genuinely fond of the kid. She must be genuinely fond of dozens of kids every year. She is a very nice woman.

I wrote to my brother Frank after the birth of Virginia:
My Dear Frank,
Official. Failing to get a divorce agreement from Marguerite, I am now in unofficial conjugal relations with one Dorothy Bennett (her own name): a daughter was born of this union at 7.30 a.m. on the 13th, and all is going well. One can never foresee what your morning post will contain. Dorothy is recognised by all friends as my wife.
Yours, A.B.

Parisian evenings

Friday, April 15th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

Last week Moreno sent me an urgent note to go and dine with them. Schwob dined in his bed and we dined at a table at the foot thereof, while the chinaman waited; a singular arrangement!
See also 'Parisian Life' - September 28th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/parisian-life.html
Herz the impresario, had asked Moreno and Coquelin Cadet to do a season in London together, but he wanted a short play, half in French and half in English, to begin the bill, and he wanted it written specially for her and C.C. She asked me whether I would write it if Herz arranged terms with me. I said I would. Both Moreno and Schwob, with their curious sanguine temperaments, seemed to regard the affair as an absolute certainty, but I think it is far from that. Herz hasn't even got a theatre in London yet.

A couple of days later I took Moreno and her precious 'griffon belge', Flip, in a cab to the Gaite Theatre where we saw Henri Herz, and discussed the proposed play. The matter seemed to be arranged subject to Herz getting a London theatre. I liked Herz. He seemed straight and rather English in affairs of business.

Today I dined at the Schwobs again. Moreno expressed her entire satisfaction with the scenario of the play. Schwob was talking a lot about his voyage in the South Seas, on Captain Crawshay's steamer. He said Crawshay was a terrific swearer, with very conventional and proper ideas, and he could only read one author - Washington Irving. He could not understand the craze for R. L. Stevenson. He admitted Stevenson was a man of parts, but stated that his books were impossible.

I spent the afternoon in the Bois, searching for ideas for the book, and I really did find some which contented me.



The Bois de Boulogne is a large public park located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, near the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt and Neuilly-sur-Seine It was created between 1852 and 1858 during the reign of the Emperor Louis Napoleon.




It was beautifully warm, indeed hot; but close and oppressive towards evening. Paris is at its best on these oppressive evenings, when all the cafes are full of crowded languor. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey by bus and steamer to Schwobs. The voyage from the Quai Voltaire to the Ile St. Louis, just before seven o'clock, was extremely impressive. It seemed to me as good as the Thames at its best.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The habit of contentment

Monday, April 14th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Advance of age. I now sit down to brush my hair and put my collar and tie on. I also take a decided pleasure in forming habits, and re-forming old ones connected with the furniture from Fontainebleau, whose little peculiarities of locks and knobs etc. I recognise again with positive satisfaction. The pleasure of doing a thing in the same way at the same time every day, and savouring it, should be noted.

I am now at close on p. 1000 of "War and Peace". Curious the episode of Lavrushka the valet, and Napoleon, in which he takes a historical incident, and feigns that as recounted in history it is all wrong, and gives you what he alleges to be the real truth. Even in this early book his theory of war is already fairly complete and obvious.

In the Evening Standard I have written about E. M. Forster's new volume of short stories, "The Eternal Moment" which can only fortify his reputation as an imaginative writer. It comprises remarkable things, and one quite startling thing - The Machine Stops. This tale, of the far future, is in the vein of H. G. Wells when he is fantastic. Mr. Forster has done the fantastic before; but never with such complete success. Indeed Mr. Wells might have been content to sign The Machine Stops. It is original; it is full of imaginative invention; it hangs together; it is terrible (but with a hopeful close); it is really impressive in a high degree. It ought not to be missed. If the majority of readers who like this sort of story are not enthusiastic about The Machine Stops, then I will enter a retreat for critics who have prophesied falsely, and in future write nothing but reviews of new editions of seventeenth century versifiers whom nobody except their editors has ever heard of.



"The Machine Stops" is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E. M. Forster. After initial publication in The Oxford and Cambridge Review (November 1909), the story was republished in Forster's The Eternal Moment and Other Stories in 1928. After being voted one of the best novellas up to 1965, it was included that same year in the populist anthology Modern Short Stories. In 1973 it was also included in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two. The book is particularly notable for predicting new technologies such as instant messaging and the internet.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

New life

Tuesday, April 13th., Cadogan Square, London.

My daughter, Virginia, was born today at 7.50 a.m.
I went up to Welbeck Street at 9.30 and saw the child at 10 a.m., when she was two hours old. She weighed 8lb. 1 oz. and had a big head.
I have written to Richard to say that all is excellent.
The maternity home is at 27 Welbeck Street and we drove back there on Sunday after dining at the Hanover Restaurant. I heard Dorothy's views about the psychology of nurses, and learnt a few things about the atmosphere of a maternity home. The doctor also threw some light on the mentality of nurses. he said: "Of course you must see the humour of nurses." The nurses were admittedly very nice young women, the night nurse particularly.


The London Welbeck Hospital was established over 90 years ago as a maternity hospital. The hospital’s reputation and facilities were of such a high standard that it became known as one of the best maternity hospitals in the country, and as a result of this many famous people were born here.


Yesterday, at 9 a.m. I received news that Dorothy had slept four and three quarter hours.
I cleared up correspondence, and arrived at Welbeck Street at 11.50. Took Dorothy out for a short walk.
At one o'clock I went to lunch given by International Magazine Company to Ray Long. At 3.15 I left the Ritz and went straight up to Welbeck Street. I left just after 12.30 and drove home.
I met Siegfried Sassoon at the Reform.
I was most dramatically struck when I saw the bassinette or cradle full of clothes lying all ready outside Dorothy's door.
I shall shortly be 59 years old, so today's event is profound indeed.


Friday, 12 April 2013

A reflective mood

Sunday, April 12th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

Ill Friday and Saturday. Migraine. Recovering today, and this evening began to think of Part III of Book II of "Old Wives Tale". Last night I had news of settlement of all questions which might lead to financial worry. Therefore quite free in mind as to this for a long time to come. I felt free.
Yet today, somewhat depressed, entirely without cause, save physical fatigue after indisposition. This shows how 'the state of mild worry' is a habit, even with professed philosophers.

In reflective mood, I re-read the following which I wrote when I was thirty:
"There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul. Because her instinct has told her, or because she has been reliably informed, the faded virgin knows that the supreme joys are not for her; she knows by a process of the intellect; but she can feel her deprivation no more than the young mother can feel the hardship of the virgin's lot. Of all the inhabitants of the Inferno, none but Lucifer knows that hell is hell, and the secret function of purgatory is to make of heaven an effective reality. But to the artist is sometimes granted a sudden, transient insight which serves in this matter for experience. A flash, and where previously the brain held a dead fact, the soul grasps a living truth! At moments we are all artists."
I still think there is something in this, though the overblown language weakens rather than strengthens the argument and my example was not well chosen. I would write it differently today. Nevertheless, to imaginatively inhabit another being, and to convey that imagined experience by force of words, or image, or sound, is the genius of the artist.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Indecent exposure?

Friday, April 11th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

Richard, Marguerite and I went to Eastbourne last Saturday for the first production of "Judith" (Devonshire Park Theatre).


The genesis of this play was in December last when we had a weekend at Dr. Keeble's at Weybridge. Lillah McCarthy was there. In spite of my neuralgia we had a great weekend, full of good and not too serious conversation. I promised to write Lillah a play on the subject of Judith, if a firm contract was made at once. In fact I constructed the play on the spot, after having read 'Judith' myself and having heard it read by Keeble. I finished the play on January 28th. having written it in twenty-three days. I delivered the play in early February and when I met Lillah McCarthy a few days later she nearly fell on her neck in the street from enthusiasm about it. Eaton also wrote that he was "violently enthusiastic" about it. See also 'Busy in Brighton' - Feb. 17th. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/thursday-february-17th.html>


Lillah Mc Carthy behaved very well at Eastbourne, considering her double anxiety of manager and star, - both as it were making a fresh start in life. Lillah had there Dr. Keeble (her fiance), her mother, her sister, and a niece and nephew offspring of another sister (or brother). All these were all over the theatre all the time. She protested that all the creative producing work had been done by me, M. and her. I had to put this right. Ernest Thesiger, the Bagoas, grew sterner as the hour of performance came nearer. I don't think he smiled on Monday at all. He is really an artist. He gave a magnificent performance.

Ernest Frederic Graham Thesiger, CBE (1879 - 1961) was an English stage and film actor best known for his performance as Dr. Septimus Pretorius in James Whale's film Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Esme Hubbard (Haggith) remained light and merry throughout, and gave a magnificent performance. Fredk. Volpe (Ingur) behaved rather like Thesiger and was very fine. Scenery & costumes were by Ricketts. Music by Bantock. Both good. Dance arranged by the ballet master of Russian ballet.

Evidently Lillah is used to authors who will stand no damned nonsense. She got rather excited after both 2nd. and 1st, performances because Bagoas's rushing forth and killing a spy woman detracted from her killing Holofernes, and she had to be soothed.

Lillah McCarthy as Judith
But the charm of the play is the nudity of Lillah McCarthy when she assassinated Holofernes (after kissing him) in the tent. Upwards, from a line drawn round the body one inch above the clitoris the lady is absolutely nude except for a black velvet band (4 inches wide) round the body hiding the breasts, & a ditto going down perpendicularly from between the breasts to the skirt & 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 the legs up to the top of the thigh when she lay down there at Holofernes's feet. She looked a magnificent picture thus. The manager of the theatre had some fear of prosecution. I asked him if he had seen Chu Chin Chow. However, I think Lillah beats anything in Chu Chin Chow. Marguerite wanted the skirt a little higher - not for decency, but for beauty. But Ricketts did not agree with her. Lillah gave an exceedingly fine performance - as good as could be wished for.

The house was very full for the first night. (Capacity about 115-120). I refused the persistent calls for author, and sat with Lillah's maid in Lillah's dressing room until the calls had finished. Terribly silly mishaps occurred with the sack containing Holofernes's head in the 3rd. act, despite the most precise instructions to the crowd. Further instructions to the crowd, and similar mishaps on the 2nd night.
I took supper three nights running and survived it.

More on "Judith" at:
http://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/arnold-bennetts-judith/
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12794/12794-h/12794-h.htm

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Living with a martyr

Saturday, April 10th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I finished the first instalment of "The Lion's Share", 12,500 words, today, having begun it on Good Friday (April 2nd.), and written an article as well.
The novel is light, and of intent not deeply imagined, but it seems to me to be fairly good and interesting.
More problems with Marguerite precipitated this time by her selfishness about access to the car.
I have told her that the consequences of her obstinacy will be serious. Though she has a great deal of talent, and as much charm, the price she demands for them is too high and I can't go on paying it. There are too many, many too many grievances and complaints and humiliating scenes for me and for her, both here and in London. I can't go on living in this strange world in which all maids are idiots, all gardeners are rogues, the secretary is stupid, and the chauffeur is someone who never does a hand's turn, and the mistress of the house is a martyr. Marguerite feels sorry for herself, is too often displeased, criticises me too much, and makes too many scenes.
I know she has attacks of neuralgia, and I feel sorry about that but she is not the only one who has physical ills to contend with. I too have my hereditary illnesses.
It is accepted that she has a difficult temperament with a tendency to depression, but there are limits and she shouldn't overstep them. She has no right to behave to me the way she does, unconsciously or not. The scenes she makes are unbelievable - and over nothing. She has to have a grievance whatever happens; if it isn't a big one a little one will do; but she has to have one.
I remember, and will remember all my life, the quarrel she picked with me in front of Pinker, because I wasn't giving her enough money!! It was an inexcusable and unforgettable scene.
Now it's the car.
What would she say if I put on a martyr act as she does? A change is absolutely essential because my life is being poisoned and all her charm and all her talent will not be enough to prevent a catastrophe. She scolds, she criticises, she whines, and I don't know if she realises what she is doing, but she will have to confront her behaviour this time!
If, as always, she finds that she is completely in the right and I am completely in the wrong, she will force me to leave her.
I am not just a machine for making money, and she would be well advised to treat me with a little consideration as I am becoming dangerous.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Parisian life

Sunday, April 9th., Rue de Calais, Paris.

Cornillier called yesterday morning, and I was telling him about a good early picture by Tissot that Ullman had bought for 200 francs.

Pierre-Émile Cornillier (1862-1933) was a French painter and writer . He married Anna Lyon, a U.S. citizen March 20, 1901 in Paris. His workshop was at 21 Rue Guénégaud in the sixth arrondissement. He exhibited for the first time at the show in 1885 and was included in exhibitions of the National Society of Fine Arts until the beginning of the First World War .

He said that a long time ago Tissot had a mistress, with whom he had continued relations for a considerable period. He decided to break the liaison, and he wrote one letter to his mistress, giving her the gentlest possible hint that the affair must ultimately come to an end, and another letter to an intimate friend, a man, saying brutally that he was sick of the thing and wanted to marry. he mixed the letters up, and the mistress received the wrong one. She committed suicide. Tissot was deeply affected, regarded himself as her murderer, and became devot. This was really the origin of his journeys to Palestine, and the ruin of his art.

Jacques-Joseph Tissot was born in 1836, in Nantes in a seaport on the French coast. In 1856 Tissot went to Paris to train as a painter. Here, at the Ecole des Beaux Arts the young Tissot met the young James McNiell Whistler (1834-1903), one of the most celebrated and unusual figures in 19th century art. At about this time Tissot also met, and became a friend of Degas (1834-1917) the Impressionist painter. In 1873, the painter bought the house in St John's Wood where he was to live for the rest of his time in London. In the mid 1870s Tissot met Kathleen Newton (1854-1882), an Irish divorcee with a distinctly colourful past who became his model, muse, mistress, and the great love of his life. In 1882, the desperately ill Kathleen cheated consumption by committing suicide, and Tissot was devastated by his loss, and never really recovered from it.

In the evening I went with Ullman to Antoine, and saw "Les Avaries", which is an extremely good sermon, and an extremely bad play; and "La Parisienne". I was more enthusiastic than ever about the latter. I can recall no portrait of a woman which is at once so true and so brilliant. But what a storm it would raise in England! Henri Becque, one of the greatest dramatists of the nineteenth century, and certainly the greatest realistic French dramatist, died at the close of the century in all the odour of obliquity. His work is now the chief literary topic in Paris; it has indeed rivalled the Portuguese revolution and the French railway strike as a subject of conversation among people who talk like sheep run. This dizzy popularity has been due to an accident, but it is, nevertheless, a triumph for Becque, who until recently had won the esteem only of the handful of people who think for themselves. The most fantastic and the most exotic foreign plays have been performed in England, but I doubt if the London curtain has ever yet risen on a play of Becque's. Once in Soho, a historic and highly ceremonious repast took place. I entertained a personage to afternoon tea in a restaurant where afternoon tea had never been served before. This personage was the President of the Incorporated Stage Society. He asked me if I knew anything about a French play called "La Parisienne." I replied that I had seen it oftener than any other modern play, and that it was the greatest modern play of my acquaintance. He then inquired whether I would translate it for the Stage Society. I said I should be delighted to translate it for the Stage Society. He expressed joy and said the Committee would sit on the project. I never heard any more.
See also, Being 'in it' or 'out of it', December 2nd. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/being-in-it-or-out-of-it.html>

"La Parisienne," which had its first performance in 1885, was for other reasons a bitter pill to the public. Nobody questioned its wit. It was admitted that the diabolically clever dialogue of the first scene, leading up to the thunderbolt discovery of the audience thatLafont is not Clotilde's husband, but her lover, was alone worth the price of admission. But the critics, most of them, thought that Becque had slandered the Parisian woman. Someone said that the title of the play should be changed from "La Parisienne" to "Une Parisienne"; but what the temper of the time could not forgive was the ruthlessness with which Henry Becque tore the veil of romance from illicit love--from adultery, if you please--and put it on the prosaic basis of every-day marriage. That was too much. However, as Mr. James Huneker remarks in his delightful essay on Becque, the conventional naughty triangle of the French theatre, after the presentation of "La Parisienne," was done forever.

I met the Ullmans last year and have become very friendly with them. I meet a lot of Americans at their home, including women who are pretty with an American prettiness; but none of them could be called really intelligent except Mrs. Ullman, formerly Alice Woods an author of some popularity in America. Occasionally I visit Ullman's studio (he has Sunday morning receptions) and there have found some magnificent pictures, and much praise of my books.

Ullman by William Merritt Chase
Eugene Paul Ullman, American painter, born in New York on March 27, 1877; died in Paris, France, on April 26, 1953. His portrait of the Arnold Bennetts at home, with the famous writer in the background playing the piano while his wife reads a book in the foreground, was reproduced in the fourth volume of the novelist’s letters. Bennett mentions in his Journals the news of Eugene’s marriage to Alice Woods, daughter of Judge William Allen Woods of the Seventh District Court, novelist, short-story writer, and a student of Chase’s. It was through her literary connections that he got to know the Bennetts and Margaret Cravens, who in 1911 commissioned him to do Ezra Pound’s portrait.

I enjoyed myself at the theatre and as I walked home, I thought how fine Paris was, and that in old age, or even earlier, if I quitted it, I should look back on these days and perceive that I had been happy.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Playing hard to get

Thursday, April 8th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

The rain is terrible. But I don't mind because I have given myself a most beautiful new waterproof, and I christened it this morning. A great success.
The days are long but very full. I work. I read. I walk. I do not go to bed before a quarter to twelve, midnight, and when I go to bed my only thought is of getting up the next day.
Beaverbrook has invited us for the weekend. I knew that if I kept quiet the chap would make overtures to me. He told me through Blumenfield, the Editor of the Express, that I had quite deserted him. I sent him a very stiff message through the same intermediary. These millionaires always think that everyone is the same as the over-eager crowd around them. But I find Max very congenial. He has the faults of his qualities - and of his money. And I will need him soon for my next novel. He will be indispensable to me for it. All the same, of course, I refused his invitation. I will see him in London one day. He is very touchy. It will do him good for me to treat him as just anybody. After all, why shouldn't I?

See also:
'Leading the High Life' - September 18th. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/leading-high-life.html>
'A visit to Berlin' - September 13th. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/a-visit-to-berlin.html>
'Country House Politics' - November 26th. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/country-house-politics.html>

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Identity and disguise

Tuesday, April 7th., Cadogan Square, London.

Max Beerbohm, with others, dined here last night. I hadn't seen him for ten years (at the Reform Club). He was more delightful than ever. His mind is sound right through; and he is often witty. Some people have told me that he would dine out and say nothing but the most ordinary things. Last night he said scarcely anything ordinary. He was unaffected, modest, and thoroughly wise, and made a great impression on everybody. After the Maughams and the Parsonses had gone he expanded even more to Kathleen Long, Dorothy and me.

Kathleen Long (1896-1968) was a concert pianist and piano teacher. In her repertoire was Ravel's 'Ondine', and she told an interviewer in 1950 that Ondine had been taught her by the composer himself, ‘a dried up little man’ to whom she was introduced one afternoon by the novelist Arnold Bennett, an erstwhile London neighbour with whom she used to enjoy playing duets.

I asked him what kind of cigarette he preferred, Eastern or Western. He said it didn't matter. He just took whatever came. He didn't care about many things, and as soon as he owned something that he had wanted it ceased to please him.

Sir Henry Maximilian "Max" Beerbohm (1872 – 1956) was an English essayist, parodist, and caricaturist best known today for his 1911 novel Zuleika Dobson. In 1910 he married and went to live the rest of his life in the Villino Chiaro, a small house on the coast road overlooking the Mediterranean at Rapallo, Italy. Max and his wife seem to have had a thoroughly happy life together. There has been speculation that he was a non-active homosexual, that his marriage was never consummated, that he was a natural celibate. The fact is, not much is known of Max's private life. Beerbohm defined caricatures as "the delicious art of exaggerating, without fear or favour, the peculiarities of this or that human body, for the mere sake of exaggeration... The whole man must be melted down, as in a crucible, and then, as from the solution, be fashioned anew. He must emerge with not one particle of himself lost, yet with not a particle of himself as it was before."

His age proved to be 52, whereas mine was 58 in May next. He said he wanted to be 58 - every year was a conquest. He did not envy young people; in fact he felt sorry for them. Their lives also were precarious. They might die any day, and if they did die - what a suck-in for them! How much they would have missed without knowing it. He said he had no feeling for London. He liked to visit it but only on condition that he could leave it and return to Rapallo. He said that he couldn't possibly have the romantic feeling for London that I have, because he was born in it. "The smuts fell on his bassinette." Whereas I could never lose the feeling of the romanticalness of London.


Beerbohm wrote to me once (nearly 20 years ago now) as follows:
"... When I had finished 'The Old Wives Tale' (having gone slow in the later parts of it, being so loth to have no more to read of it), I felt a real void in my life; and this void I instinctively tried to fill a little of by writing a letter to the man who had laid so large an aesthetic debt on me. I wrote the letter and meant to send it, but I said 'Why?' I am always saying 'Why?' That is the curse of the twentieth century (and metropolitan and non-Bursley) nature ..."



Last evening he told me that I was in his new series of "Old celebrities meeting their younger selves", shortly to be seen at the Leicester Galleries. The legend under the drawing of me was:
Old A.B.       Everything worked out according to plan.
Young A.B.  My plan.
What a depth and width of criticism of me in this!




Since the war I have naturally become a target for satire, and I know it. It is partly the price of fame and partly because I have deliberately courted publicity and made myself into a 'character'. I have become a popular cartoon subject, turning up in various guises - at first nights, in the barber's and in the cartoon above. All publicity is essentially good publicity and I have given the press and cartoonists things to seize on - very fine lace shirts, the quiff of my hair, and my fob. I consider these to be both an identity and a disguise.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Trouble and strife

Wednesday, April 6th., 12B, George Street, Hanover Square, London.

My wife is deceiving me.


At the end of March Marguerite went off to Frascati, ostensibly for a holiday, ostensibly alone. Then I discover from her letters that she has 'by chance' met Legros there, 'with his mistress'. She must think me a simpleton! We were introduced to Legros in 1920 by Robert Nichols, the poet. Legros is French and has lectured in French at Bedford College, where Marguerite gave a recital. He is also the tenant of Marguerite's flat in Thackeray Mansions. He is 16 years younger than Marguerite but she has clearly become infatuated with him.


Today I have written to her in these terms:
" ... I notice that you give me no further information about how it has happened that Legros & his mistress are meeting you in Rome or in Frascati. The old policy of secrecy is apparently being followed. In my last letter I referred to Legros, but you know that you also are to blame about this affair. Supposing that I had been behaving as you have: seeing other women nearly every day for months; not telling you where I was; demanding a long holiday alone and insisting that I must be alone; arranging in fact not to be alone. What would you have thought? You would have thought either that I deliberately intended to annoy or insult you; or, alternatively, that I was a perfect fool. You often call yourself a child & a fool. Your action proves that you are not far wrong in doing so. It is inevitable that I should treat you according to your action. I most certainly shall not tolerate such action. No husband who was not an idiot would tolerate it. I expect to receive full apologies from Legros and an expression of regret from you. Otherwise my relations with Legros will be completely changed, and if you take any more holidays 'alone' you will pay for them yourself. No wife could be more free than you are but I object to being kept in the dark and treated as if I did not exist. Do not imagine that I am taking this affair tragically, or that I have ceased to be absurdly fond of you. No! The end of the world has not yet come. You have acted as if I did not count. My intention is to show you that I do count."

I do not know where this will all end.


Friday, 5 April 2013

A parliamentary occasion

Friday, April 5th., Yacht Club, London.

Yesterday I was at the House of Commons.
Lloyd George's introduction of Man Power Bill, for conscripting Ireland and raising military age etc. See also 'War Nerves' - March 27th. <http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/war-nerves.html>


From early 1918, the British Army were dangerously short of troops for the Western Front. In addressing this grave military situation, Prime Minister David Lloyd George and his coalition Government decided to extend conscription to Ireland and to additional older men and workers in Britain, conscription in Great Britain having started in January 1916. The goal was to reach into an untapped reservoir of manpower through a new Military Service Bill. The intent was to connect the conscription legislation to a new Home Rule Bill. This had the effect of alienating both nationalists and unionists in Ireland. Despite opposition from the entire Irish Parliamentary Party, conscription for Ireland was voted through at Westminster. Though large numbers of Irishmen had willingly joined Irish regiments and divisions of the New British Army at the outbreak of war in 1914, the likelihood of enforced conscription created a backlash. The linking of conscription and Home Rule outraged the Irish nationalist parties at Westminster, who walked out in protest and returned to Ireland to organise opposition. Although the crisis was unique in Ireland at the time, it followed similar campaigns in Australia (1916–17) and Canada (1917)

Policeman looks at card outside. Then you go up in a lift. Through an outer room with one or two journalists, hat pegs, etc. Then an inner room, with two Morse instruments tapping, and then into Gallery, at entrance of which your ticket is looked at again by an official (very friendly with all reporters, and doing their little errands etc.) in evening dress with large insignia on his breast.
Two rows of seats with narrow desk all round. A few standing at either corner, including Spender, (see also 'Writing for Victory - Sept. 3rd. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/writing-for-victory.html and 'Writers for Peace - Feb. 11th. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/monday-february-11th.html ) Gardiner and me. Reporters passing in and out all the time, crushing past; a horrible lack of space. No light in House of Commons except through glass roof. No repose in Press Gallery. Sharp corner of elaborate wood carving against which you knock your head if sit or lean in corners. Glimpse of Ladies' Gallery above, with glimpse of a smart woman, past first youth, with complexion soigne but going.

Lloyd George and Churchill

Looking from left, I could just see Ll. G., Churchill, Bonar Law, Cecil, Balfour etc., on right. House full. 12 or so standing between cross benches. (Gallery opposite full. Side galleries half full.) Two M.P.s wearing hats. As the M.P.s left they bowed awkwardly to Speaker in getting up if in front rows or on reaching central space if not; and on coming in they bowed either on entering, or on reaching open space. Speaker under a canopy.


Cheap effects of Ll. G. looking round as if challenging; trick of dropping his voice for last, rather important word of sentence. Unpleasant Noncomformist voice. He did not know his case, and having made a muddle deliberately left the muddle. Truisms about values and will-to-win cheered. Proposal to conscript Ireland loudly cheered a long time by Tories. No applause as he sat down.

Herbert Asquith


The whole thing a vast make-believe, with an audience of which a large part was obviously quite unintelligent and content with the usual hollow rot. Ll. G.'s oratorical effects very poor - like a Lyceum melodrama. Asquith with long hair very dignified, at home, persuasive.