Recent links of note:
Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books
Hemingway’s writings are now entering the public domain, prompting the Library of America to release its first volume of his work, The Sun Also Rises & Other Writings 1918–1926, containing early short stories, letters, and newspaper articles in addition to his first, and arguably most popular, novel. In an essay for The New York Review of Books, Elaine Blair discusses the author’s influence on American coming-of-age fiction by Salinger, Plath, and Hinton, yet argues that Hemingway’s best characters are middle-aged, as he gives “such generous authorial attention to the has-beens and the never-panned-outs that it makes you look forward to being one.” Blair also draws attention to Hemingway’s use of foreign idioms as well his early allegiance to the Kansas City Star style sheet, which ordered reporters to use “short sentences” and “vigorous English.” Those especially interested in the author’s journalism career should try to find a copy of Dateline: Toronto edited by William White and Hemingway: The Toronto Years by William Burrill, which include over a hundred stories Hemingway filed for The Toronto Star from 1920 to 1924 as a local staff writer and as a foreign correspondent in Paris and beyond.
“Meet Mr Kurtz”
Rob Lemkin, The Times Literary Supplement
Did Kurtz, one of literature’s most famous villains, have a real-life counterpart? Francis Ford Coppola and Marlon Brando, preparing to film 1979’s Apocalypse Now (a loose adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness), put their bets on Georges Antoine Klein, an ivory trader who died of illness on a ship Conrad was piloting. Rob Lemkin, who recently directed the BBC Arena documentary African Apocalypse, finds another frightening match in Paul Voulet, a murderous, champagne-glugging French captain who pronounced himself king of Lake Chad in 1899 before being killed by his own troops, convinced he was mad, in a mutiny. (That did not stop rumors from circulating in the 1920s that he was living as an outlaw in Sudan.) The similarity becomes all the more striking when we learn that the French government dispatched Colonel Arsène Klobb to replace him, as Marlow was sent to find Kurtz in Conrad’s novella. Klobb’s diary, written as he tailed Voulet, is filled with shocking imagery: scorched villages, well water poisoned by corpses, children hanging from trees. While Voulet began his violent mission weeks after Conrad had started writing Heart of Darkness, Lemkin explains why he believes Conrad was already familiar with the captain in this fascinating, horrifying, article.
“Sargent, Goya, Degas: Frick Collection welcomes its most significant gift to date of works on paper”
Nancy Kenney, The Art Newspaper
The Frick recently announced that it had received a gift of twenty-six works on paper from the New York collectors Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard. Among the drawings and pastels in the group is one of around a dozen preparatory sketches by Sargent for his daring portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau, Madame X (1883–84), now hanging in the Met. While in the final portrait Mme. Gautreau stands confidently opposite the viewer, head turned to the left, the sketch shows a very different composition, in which she kneels on a couch, facing a shuttered window, with only the back of her head visible. Also in the gift is a sketch by Caillebotte of a man holding an umbrella, who would become one of the figures in his famous Paris Street: Rainy Day (1877), now at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a 1784 pastel of a loose-haired young woman by Marie Antoinette’s portraitist, Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.
“Music for a While #51: From Mozart to Borge.” Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Living with Falstaff,” by Jay Nordlinger. On a fat knight and night thoughts.