29 May 2017

#146 Pepys Pastiche

So about noon we came to Dogdene, and I was fain to see the house, and that part newly builded whereof Dr Wren did formerly hold converse with me, telling me here was one of the first mansion houses of England contrived as a nobleman's seat rather than a keep moated for warfare. My Lord Sleaford is yet in town, where 'tis said he doth pay court to my Lady Castlemaine, at which the King is not a little displeased, 'tho 'twas thought she had long since lost her place. The Housekeeper was mighty civil, and showed us the Great Hall and stately Galleries, and the picture by P Veronese that my Lord's grandfather did bring with him out of Italy, a most rare and noble thing. Then to the Gardens and Green Houses, where I did marvel to see the quickening of the Sensitive Plant. And so to the Still Room, where a great black maid offered a brave glass of metheglin, and I did have some merry talk with her begging her to show me a painted closet whereof the Housekeeper had spoken, yet had we not seen. Thither the bold wench took me readily enough, where I did kiss her twice or thrice and toyed wantonly with her. I perceive that she would not have denied me que je voudray, yet was I afeared and time was lacking. At which afterwards I was troubled, lest she should speak of what I had done, and her fellows make game of me when we were gone on our road.

Anthony Powell; At Lady Molly's
Contributed by, inter alia, Keith Marshall

20 April 2017

#145 Self Interest

True interest in yourself is comparatively rare, sharply to be differentiated from mere egotism and selfishness; characteristics often immoderately developed in persons not in the least interested in themselves intellectually or objectively. Indeed not everyone can stand the strain of gazing down too long into the personal crater, with its scene of Hieronymus Bosch activities taking place in the depths.

Anthony Powell; To Keep the Ball Rolling
Contributed by Bruce Fleming

25 February 2017

#144 Fiction Style

Compared with Waugh, Powell is not a mythologiser, and there is nothing in his fiction comparable to the recurring image of the doomed gentleman that I have tried to trace in Waugh's novels. Although Powell is acutely interested in the past he does not lament it; change and even decay are seen as inevitable and something to be endured with as good a grace as possible, since, whatever happens, life goes on.

Bernard Bergonzi; Critical Quarterly; Spring 1969
In tribute to Prof. Bergonzi who died recently
Contributed by Keith Marshall

27 January 2017

#143 Robert Burton

Burton himself says he suffered from melancholy ... At Oxford, when plagued with melancholy, Burton, who seems always to have enjoyed a joke, used to go down to the bridge over the river, and listen to the bargemen swearing at each other. That would always make him laugh, and at once feel better.

Anthony Powell, article "Black Humour" about Robert Burton (author of The Anatomy of Melancholy) in Radio Times; 7 May 1977; reproduced in Miscellaneous Verdicts
Contributed by Levi Stahl

17 December 2016

#142 Snowmen

But if the consolation for life is art, what may the artist expect from life?
An incident mentioned quite casually in Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Architects, Painters and Sculptors always seems to me worth recalling. It teaches several lessons: that if you want something done get the best executant available to do it; that minor jobs are often worth taking on; that duration in time should not necessarily be the criterion in producing a work of art.
Vasari says that on a winter day in Florence, when snow was deep on the ground, one of the Medici sent for Michaelangelo to build a snowman in the courtyard of the Medici palace. Notwithstanding those (like Constant Lambert) who dislike the High Renaissance one can scarcely doubt that the finest snowman on record took shape.

Anthony Powell; The Strangers All Are Gone
Contributed by Pictures in Powell