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

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

An absolutely honest artist

Sunday, January 22nd., Rue de Grenelle, Paris.

Friday night, visit with Chateaubriant to Romain Rolland. Found him in a holland-covered room, disguised bed in one corner. Tea at 9.45. Sister, spinster aged 35. Bright, slightly masculine. Mother, an aged body, proud of children, shrewd, came in later. Romain Rolland, arm in sling; large face, pale, calm, kindly, thoughtful, rather taciturn. Giving a marked impression of an absolutely honest artist, and a fine soul. Considerable resemblance to Marcel Schwob; but bigger and more blond. No particular talk. But an impression of rightness, respectability in every sense, conscientiousness, and protestantism (intellectually).

Romain Rolland (1866 – 1944) was a French dramatist, novelist, essayist, art historian and mystic who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915 "as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings". His first book was published in 1902, when he was 36 years old. Through his advocacy for a 'people's theatre', he made a significant contribution towards the democratization of the theatre. As a humanist, he embraced the work of the philosophers of India and was strongly influenced by the Vedanta philosophy.

I wrote 2,000 words of "Hilda" today, to the end of Chapter VI. 15,400 words to date, in 17 days.

How strange memory is. I was awake in the night and for some reason started to think about Greek drama. But I could not remember the name of "Oedipus"; there was some sort of mental block, a wall preventing me from accessing that particular item of information. I could describe the story, remember the name of his wife/mother, and of the blind prophet Tiresias, but not the main character. And I knew the name began with "O". How can this be? Does this say anything about how memory works, or the brain is organised? I don't know, and I don't think anybody else does either. But it is most frustrating. Needless to say, this morning, whilst thinking of something entirely different, the name popped into my head!

Additionally for January 22nd., see 'Feeling reflective' -

I don't know if it is my age, the state of my liver, or the weather (there has been snow on the ground for the best part of a week now) which is causing me to feel more gloomy than usual. Walking does me good, and I like the stillness of a snowy landscape, as well as the magical transformation from a place well-known to somewhere rather mysterious. We are all more or less at the mercy of our body chemistry when it comes to mood, and I am consoled by the thought that Spring will come again.

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