Tuesday, July 07, 2009

more literary ephemera

I've got a new mini-book. This one is Charlotte Bronte's Mina Laury, written as an unserious game with her younger sisters when she was 22, and it's great. What I like best about it is the unrepressed mixture of fantasyland, real places, local names, settings remembered from other people's novels, domestic dreams. It begins: "The Cross of Rivaulx! ... It is a green, delightful, and quiet place half way between Angria and the foot of the Sydenham Hills; under the frown of Hawkscliffe, on the edge of its royal forest. You see a fair house, whose sash windows are set in ivy grown thick and kept in trim order..."

I'm not bothering with the niceties on these literary ephemera - there isn't time. So you'll have to put up with the missing diaeresis on Charlotte's surname, no italics, no hyperlinks, etc.

Richard Makin's St Leonards (Google it yourself)is going to be a bigger book, though you don't really have to read it all, and I haven't, but yesterday I came up to speed with the latest chapter (XXXI). SL is both very unlike a novel and very studiously fictive. Apart from its title, it contains so far as I know not a single proper name, i.e. of a person, place or artefact. Like a sea. Remarkable how in this unnerving vacuuum one clings to such momentary definition as a "Martello tower" or an implied family relationship ("Get your kids and leave"). But of course I exaggerate: the latest installment also mentions St Francis, a certain Old Poker, and a city called H.

Been trying to think of something quick to write for IS (fortunately, Peter Larkin has shown up there, so the pressure relaxes). I always imagine it should be easy to just knock out three paragraphs about anything. I opened G.M Hopkins and read about Heraclitean fire. Yes, I like this poem, though it's a bit Victorian. But perhaps I should really know a bit more about how it all fits.... and I start to read around it, and suddenly I know it won't be a quick job. Well, what about something from an anthology? I try D. J. Enright's grotesque anthology Verse 1945-1980 - James K. Baxter, a weird selection of Ted Hughes, then to cheer myself up Children of Albion - Pickard, Turnbull, now this is more like it... But everything I think to say bristles with issues of theory or history that I don't know enough about. It's amazing how many things I don't know enough about, once I think I might publish something.

Anyway, I learnt that a youthful Hopkins once stayed off liquids for a week. I suppose he cheated by eating lots of apples and other watery foods. Hopkins supposed that we all drank far too much liquid and would be healthier if we cut down on it. It strikes me he generally wasn't very happy in his convictions.

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