Monday, May 23, 2016

they had not yet gone greek

It was just about this time that Raymond Duncan, the brother of Isadora, rented an atelier in the rue de Fleurus. Raymond had just come back from his first trip to Greece and had brought back with him a greek girl and greek clothes. Raymond had known Gertrude Stein's elder brother and his wife in San Francisco. At that time Raymond was acting as advance agent for Emma Nevada who had also with her Pablo Casals the violincellist, at that time quite unknown. The Duncan family had been then at the Omar Khayyam stage, they had not yet gone greek. They had after that gone italian renaissance, but now Raymond had gone completely greek and this included a greek girl. Isadora lost interest in him, she found the girl too modern a greek. At any rate Raymond was at this time without any money at all and his wife was enceinte. Gertrude Stein gave him coal and a chair for Penelope to sit in, the rest sat on packing cases. They had another friend who helped them, Kathleen Bruce, a very beautiful, very athletic English girl, a kind of sculptress, she later married and became the widow of the discoverer of the South Pole, Scott. She had at that time no money to speak of either and she used to bring a half portion of her dinner every evening for Penelope. Finally Penelope had her baby, it was named Raymond because when Gertrude Stein's brother and Raymond Duncan went to register it they had not thought of a name. Now he is against his will called Menalkas but he might be gratified if he knew that legally he is Raymond. However that is another matter.
What jumped out at me, of course, is the phrase "became the widow of the discoverer of the South Pole." Stein here refers to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who led the first English party to the south pole. Scott and his men reached the pole some two weeks, I think, after Roald Amundsen and his men planted the Norwegian flag there. Scott and his party died during the march back from the pole to their waiting ship. He'd kept a diary of the expedition, and his final entry read, "For God's sake, look after our people." Scott's people were Kathleen and Peter, their son. The British government had made no provisions for survivors of polar expedition members and Scott worried that his family would be penniless. Kathleen Scott did not end up penniless, however. She married a politician who was eventually made baron.

7 comments:

  1. kind of a bumpy writing style; reminds me of mowing the lawn over a lot of mole hills. no swing or resonance to it, sort of like jack keroac... i always liked strachey's or haggard's styles, so smooth and musical... also gibbon's, with all the subjunctive clauses playing with each other like an antiphonal chorus... something from Monteverdi...

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    1. It is bumpy, yes. That's a good word for it. It actually reminds me of the prose in Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, which is really bumpy and has a strange repetitive rhythm. Once you get used to it, it's actually very enjoyable. Autobiography bumps along quite satisfyingly, very readable and funny. But definitely Modernist, yes.

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  2. "No frenchman or frenchwoman is so poor or so careless or so avaricious but that they can and do constantly take their pet to the vet."

    Stein's comments about the French are always amusing, though doubtfully accurate.

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  3. my daughter's a vet; she might like it over there... maybe ms. stein liked dpgs' or maybe alice did...

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    1. Stein loved dogs. There have been dogs in every book of hers that I've read, and she wrote perceptively about them; you can tell she was someone who really knew dogs, had spent a lot of time with them. She went on long wandering walks across Paris with her dogs.

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    2. When we were in Paris, we saw almost no dogs. Not even in the parks.

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    3. small apartments, one might guess. my brother spends time there and likes to walk around, also. i've never been there, but maybe someday...

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