Archive for December, 2019

December 13, 2019

A pile contained within a third of the circular table surface, surface covered with a checkered table cloth, white and light blue squares predominant. Cerulean central flowers in glass jar — green in the glass of stems half cut by water.

A lone advertisement in third adjacent and to the right of the third that contains the pile (magazine offer); a todo list written on the back of an envelope in the third adjacent and to the right of that one (“store, laundry, Dad”); two pencils around, both short, one a pale yellow and the other a US flag, its likeness, wrapped around the pencil.

The bulk of the pile being comprised of refrigerator magnets (exterior of refrigerator surface having been cleaned) — Cairo, Amsterdam, Iceland, a figure of a gnome, a figure of two cats, a bottle opener that says “Vatican”, largest the circular blue Obama/ Biden and assorted post cards [e.g., from Greece, the Lion’s Gate] and pictures [E.g., woman holding child in arms, evincing pleasure]; the pile, at its highest point, about three inches above table level; in width, the radius of the table minus two inches; the light over it, that of the middle of a gray spring morning.

L’injustice des hommes

December 8, 2019

“Quelle douce mort, si alors elle fût venue ! Si j’avais peu goûté les biens de la vie, j’en avais peu senti les malheurs. Mon âme paisible pouvait partir sans le sentiment cruel de l’injustice des hommes, qui empoisonne la vie et la mort.” [*]

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How sweet death would be had it come then! Though I’d tasted few of life’s goods, I’d felt also few of its misfortunes; and my peaceful soul would have left without understanding how unjust man can be, which poisons both life and death.

Napoleon’s disillusionment

December 3, 2019

While reading David Chandler’s history of the Napoleonic campaigns, I’ve been vaguely comparing (because of War and Peace and it’s associations) Napoleon and Tolstoy; and this leapt to mind with particular vehemence this morning when I learned of Napoleon’s emotional devastation on first discovering his wife Josephine’s infidelity. I can’t think, from the time when I was heavy into Tolstoy, of him having experienced a similar devastation; rather Tolstoy was the one who, in his youth at least, was devastating in these matters. Chandler writes of Napoleon’s disillusionment (pp.227):

The whole of Europe was to be affected by this destruction of Bonaparte’s personal happiness. July 25, 1798, was indeed an unfortunate turning point in the life of Bonaparte; from that day, the tyrant began to emerge ever more clearly.

Perhaps Chandler is disposed to romanticize Napoleon’s feelings for Josephine a bit, yet one wonders if there is a kind of sense to the idea of Generals being romantics and Authors being libertines, that or of us thinking of them in that way…. I come across randomly, in the evening, that Stendhal seems not to have known of Josephine’s infidelities (or Napoleon’s):

Au reste, le seul être qu’il ait jamais aimé est Joséphine et elle ne le trahit jamais.

Stendhal an admirer of Napoleon, and Tolstoy a despiser of him, and Tolstoy, though too, an admirer of Stendhal. Interesting trifecta there as (at least, I think I’ve read this) Tolstoy used the opening of La Chartreuse for one of War and Peace’s battle scenes with Pierre.

December 2, 2019

Ngrams: Napoleon,Tolstoy,Stendhal … English language, yet interest in Napoleon, while currently enjoying a resurgence, has clearly dropped to 1810 levels, if the “viewer” can be believed — while remaining higher than interest in Tolstoy has ever been. Tolstoy, Stendhal about even til the 1890’s.

December 2, 2019

“C’est par amour de la perfection que ces figures sont imparfaites…” Journals, Eugène Delacroix